asked the Secretary of State for Education and Science what will be the cost of removing to York the Transport Museum now at Clapham; what will be the net effect on public funds of disposing of the existing premises at York and Clapham and acquiring new premises at York; and what estimate he has made of the net annual cost to public funds of running the combined Museum at York.
The estimated cost of moving the selected items to the new Museum is about £100,000. It is expected that capital costs of providing the new Museum at York, including the £100,000 already mentioned, will be met from the proceeds of the sale of the existing museums at Clapham and York. The net annual running cost of the new Museum at York is estimated at about £34,000, compared with a corresponding estimated cost of approximately £50,000 for maintaining the existing museums at Clapham and York.
As the financial savings to be gained from destroying the museums at Clapham and York and building a smaller one at York are so small, are we forced back on the reason advanced by the Minister earlier this year for the move—in spite of the fact that York is a more difficult place to get at—namely, that it is easier for the exhibits to be accommodated? Is this not an extraordinary reason for the move in view of the very small financial saving? Will she please think again?
I can assure my hon. Friend that a good deal of thought has been given to this matter. Clapham is unsuitable, even the Clapham authorities admit this. It is rigid inside, it is immobile. There was a belief that St. Pancras and other buildings in London were available, but that was not so. After a great deal of consideration it was thought that, since the Railways Board is decanting this into our Ministry, to have one really first class museum would be in the best interests of people generally. It is also in keeping with Government policy in having some points of excellence outside of London.
—are grateful that she is standing firm against these onslaughts from the back benchers? Is she aware that the British Railway Museum at York was the only one which made a profit, which is some indication of its attraction as a tourist centre? We hope in York that this combined museum will greatly stimulate the city's tourist trade.
Does the right hon. Lady not agree that one of the important things is that this great collection should not be broken up? Is she absolutely convinced that the site chosen at York is sufficiently large to keep the bulk of this collection together?
I am informed that some items are not first-class and that there will be certain selected items moved from London to York. There is the possibility of mobility and expansion in York which does not exist on any site which could possibly be made available elsewhere.