Museums and Galleries (Dudley)

Oral Answers to Questions — Culture, Media and Sport – in the House of Commons at 12:00 am on 20th April 1998.

Alert me about debates like this

Photo of Professor Ross Cranston Professor Ross Cranston Labour, Dudley North 12:00 am, 20th April 1998

What measures he has taken to ensure that the new access fund supports museums and galleries in Dudley. [37408]

Photo of Mr Chris Smith Mr Chris Smith Secretary of State, Department for Culture, Media & Sport, The Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport

Perhaps I might be permitted to observe at the outset that access to cultural recreation, particularly sporting activity of all kinds, was something dear to the heart of our late and much loved colleague Denis Howell. We remember him today with great affection.

On the specifics of my hon. Friend's question, museums and galleries in Dudley may apply for support from the heritage lottery fund's access fund in the same way as all other museums and galleries throughout the United Kingdom. A total of £7 million has been set aside for that purpose for 1998–99.

Photo of Professor Ross Cranston Professor Ross Cranston Labour, Dudley North

I thank my right hon. Friend for that answer, and congratulate him on the moneys that have been made available. I raise two issues for the longer term. The first concerns education packs. As a matter of policy, Dudley museum does not charge, but it does have to charge for education packs, even though teachers can freely reproduce them.

The other issue concerns, I am sure, other museums—physical access. Many of the museums are in older buildings. Physical access is difficult for older people and disabled people. For example, in Dudley museum recently, we had an exhibition on the first world war. Many older people had great difficulty getting in. Will my right hon. Friend take those two points into account in the long term?

Photo of Mr Chris Smith Mr Chris Smith Secretary of State, Department for Culture, Media & Sport, The Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport

Yes. Both those issues, which my hon. Friend has rightly raised—the development of educational initiatives in museums and galleries and the ability of people with physical impairment to gain physical access to museums and galleries—would fall specifically within the province of the heritage lottery new fund. Dudley museum will, I am sure, be interested in putting in an application for consideration.