Clause 2. — (Transfer to Board of Colections of London and Guildhall Museums and Benefit of Certain Funds.)

Part of Orders of the Day — MUSEUM OF LONDON BILL [Lords] – in the House of Commons at 12:00 am on 10th May 1965.

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Mr. MarDermot:

With your leave, Mr. Deputy-Speaker, and that of the House, I will seek to answer the questions of the right hon. Member for Harrogate (Mr. Ramsden). I sought to answer the first two in my few earlier remarks, but perhaps they were too brief. I was asked, why are we doing the transfer by the Amendment rather than by the Transfer of Functions Order? There is no mystery about it. It is simply that the Transfer of Functions Order can bite only on existing legislation and, as this had not become an Act of Parliament, as we had hoped it might, before the Transfer of Functions Order was laid before the House, it was impossible to make the transfer in that way.

I was asked why none of the functions has been retained by the Treasury but all have been transferred when, as I indicated, we had been canvassing the possibility of retaining some under the Treasury. Again, there is no mystery. There may be dark politics behind museum matters, but if there are, they are so dark that in this case they have never come to light to me. This decision is one to which the Treasury give wholehearted approval. We thought that it would not be right for us to seek to retain the powers. The Treasury have responsibilities for the control of the civil servants, and this applies also to the pay and conditions of service of people in some national museums who are civil servants. Because these cases were parallel we thought that we ought to retain the powers in this case, but in fact it is not analogous. The museum will be under tripartite control, and to show that this is tripartite control, it is probably better that we do not try to retain Treasury control of the staff.

I was asked about the financing of this museum. The hon. Member for Harrogate expressed the hope that it would not suffer in any way by being transferred to the Department of Education and Science in the immensity of that Department's Votes. He hoped that the needs of this museum would in no way suffer. I can give him that assurance, apart from anything else for the simple reason that it is the intention that the Vote which covers this museum and other national museums will remain as a separate Vote. They will not be confused with the requirements and demands from education, and they will be submitted for consideration by the Treasury quite separately.

The hon. Member's final question was on the mystical unity of the Secretary of State. I confess that this took me by surprise when I first encountered it, but it is happy to think that our con- stitution recognises this close unity which blends all Secretaries of State together into one person so that each can perform the functions of all. In fact, it will be that incarnation of this united person which presides over the Department of Education and Science which will exercise these functions, but as a matter of draftsmanship this is the right way to describe it.