The national museums and galleries already have extensive arrangements for loans to the regions, which I hope will be maintained. In addition, the Government indemnity scheme can provide cover for loans, and the Arts Council operates travelling exhibition services and an information bulletin.
I thank my right hon. Friend for that reply. Does he agree that the more that the national museums and galleries centred in London can take selected parts of their massive collections around provincial Britain, the more we shall be able to bring together the entire nation in its enjoyment of the arts? Is this not part of the one-nation concept?
I agree. The national museums do a great deal already in taking their collections to the provinces. I hope that that will continue and, if possible, increase. If my hon. Friend is interested, I shall send him a list of all the exhibitions and loans that are taking place from the national museums.
When considering how to help touring exhibitions, will the right hon. Gentleman please bear in mind the need for exhibitions of decorative arts and history and not merely exhibitions of paintings? Areas and centres such as the Leicester New Walk art gallery are already well served by the Arts Council's provision of painting exhibitions.
Would the provinces not further benefit from the permanent loan of some of the surplus stocks—my hon. Friend the Member for Eastleigh (Sir D. Price) referred to "massive collections"—and large quantities of works of art which the national museums do not have room to display?
Some of the national museums display everything that they own. That is done, for example, by the National gallery. The Tate gallery and other galleries have pictures that they do not show. This problem would be resolved at the Tate gallery to some extent if the Tate gallery north were to go ahead. There are other permanent exhibitions, but I take my hon. Friend's point.