I beg to move, in page 4, line 32, at the end to insert:
or any other institution with the approval of the Secretary of State for Education and Science".
The first subsection of Clause 7 is long and complicated, and it seemed to me that it might help the London Museum if it had the power to lend to other institutions with the approval of the Secretary of State for Education and Science. This may seem a strange course of reasoning, having said some rather unkind things about the museum having been transferred to its Department at all,
at an earlier stage in the Bill; but if the Secretary of State for Education and Science is to take considerable responsibilities, and we have arranged for his name to appear in a number of places, it would seem that if there is any difficulty or any loan which the Museum of London would not be empowered to make by the Bill as drafted, perhaps this Amendment would be worth while.
I have not been able to discover in the Act mentioned in subsection (1) that the museum does have the power to lend to any other institution, and I hope that the right hon. and learned Gentleman will be able to explain the position to our satisfaction or, if he cannot, that he will accept the Amendment.
The purpose of the Clause is to give to the Museum of London the power to transfer objects to other national museums or galleries. The proposed Amendment would enable the museum to make transfers to any other institution if the Secretary of State approved. I do not know if the hon. Gentleman has any specific types of institution in mind. His wording is exceedingly wide and would allow transfer to a lunatic asylum, or a fire brigade, or a Conservative club, or all sorts of institutions. However, I imagine that what he has in mind is more likely to be a provincial museum or something of that character.
The practice up to now has been for national museums to confine their power of permanent transfer to other national collections. I do not think there is any good reason, really, to depart from that in this case. It might be that one could envisage circumstances in which, certainly for a time, even a long time, the museum might want to loan an object to a provincial museum, but it will have complete power to do that under Clause 6, under which the power to loan is under no restriction as to time, and the museum could make a loan of indefinite length to a provincial museum. I think that that is sufficiently elastic, and it is probably better to leave the power as it is.