Works of Art (Export Licences)

Oral Answers to Questions — Education and Science – in the House of Commons at 12:00 am on 11th April 1983.

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Photo of Mr Phillip Whitehead Mr Phillip Whitehead , Derby North 12:00 am, 11th April 1983

asked the Secretary of State for Education and Science on how many occasions he has accepted recommendations from the reviewing committee on the export of works of art for the suspension of export licences for works of art after applications for such licences have been made and his Department has been consulted.

Photo of Mr Paul Channon Mr Paul Channon , Southend West

Since the Government took office 45 such recommendations have been accepted.

Photo of Mr Phillip Whitehead Mr Phillip Whitehead , Derby North

Will the Minister make representations to the Treasury about the effect on some of the great collections still in private hands—which may soon become subject to such a ruling—of the decision to levy VAT when transfer is made to the nation in lieu of capital transfer or death duties? Has he seen the reported remarks of Lord Scarsdale, of Kedleston Hall, that he may have to plunder his own collection and, in his words, "Do a Mentmore" if this ruling is revised?

Photo of Mr Paul Channon Mr Paul Channon , Southend West

I have actually seen the reports in the newspapers, but I must tell the House—as must be crystal clear to hon. Members—that questions about value added tax are for my right hon. and learned Friend the Chancellor, not for me.

Photo of Mr Tam Dalyell Mr Tam Dalyell , West Lothian

It is all very well to pass the buck to the Treasury, but is the Minister saying, as Minister for the Arts, that he has no locus in this matter? Is that the situation?

Photo of Mr Paul Channon Mr Paul Channon , Southend West

With respect to the hon. Gentleman, it is a bit rough to accuse me of passing the buck. As much as I should like to be responsible for the administration of VAT, the Prime Minister has so far not entrusted me with that responsibility. I think that it is extremely unlikely that she will do so. If and when she does, however, I shall take what action I can in a variety of ways. The administration of VAT is a matter for my right hon. and learned Friend the Chancellor of the Exchequer. When the Labour Government were in office the right hon. Member for Leeds, East (Mr. Healey), who served as Chancellor of the Exchequer, had the same responsibility. My right hon. and learned Friend has this responsibility and I dare say that the Chancellor of the Exchequer will retain it for the next five years while a Conservative Government are in office.