The Board's General Functions

Part of National Heritage Bill [Lords] – in the House of Commons at 8:30 pm on 5th May 1983.

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Mr. Whithead:

With leave of the House, I should like to say that I accept that there might be limiting cases such as those that the hon. Member for Staffordshire, South-West (Mr. Cormack) and the Minister have mentioned where a person is not a bona fide member of the public but is operating as the agent or runner for a commercial concern. We take note of what the Minister has said in his response to the amendment and what he said in the seventh paragraph of his final response to the Rayner recommendations about giving individual members of the public the benefit of the expertise of the staff'. The museum staff may he in a stage of uncertainty as a result of the doubts that have been cast by hon. Members on the authenticity of members of the public, but where there is an element of doubt we hope that the benefit of the doubt will be given to the person seeking advice. We do not want a means test to be levied on any member of the public seeking consultation on an object or problem. If that were so, the educational role of the museums would be gravely diminished. I hope that the Minister's assurance on amendment No. 4 will be taken in a positive way by the museum staff. I beg to ask leave to withdraw the amendment.