At the close of business on Sunday 10 December, Tate Modern had attracted 3,721,254 visitors.
As one of the 3 million-plus visitors, may I tell my right hon. Friend what a hugely enjoyable experience a visit to Tate Modern provides? Does he agree that this is a complete vindication of the Government's policy to provide free entry for all to the new gallery—a policy in marked contrast to that pursued by the previous Government?
Yes. The wonderful thing about Tate Modern is not just that it has attracted so many visitors, or even that their experience has been excellent, but that the whole spectrum of society is reflected in the people going through the doors. They are from all parts of the country, all incomes and all backgrounds. That is very welcome, and it is thanks to a Labour Government that entry to Tate Modern is free to everyone. We are very proud of that fact.
In responding to the message of Sir Nicholas Serota in his Dimbleby lecture, to the effect that modern and contemporary art are not only appreciated by millions of people in this country but are not accessible to people in other parts of the country—Sir Nicholas drew particular attention to the inadequacies of our regional museums in this respect—will the Secretary of State indicate what remit he is giving to his newly appointed committee, under the chairmanship of Resource, to encourage it to look at the need to sponsor and promote our contemporary arts in Britain?
As the right hon. Gentleman knows, I have asked Resource to establish a working party to look particularly at the needs of regional museums. That working party will include Sir Nicholas Serota as one of its members. I have asked it to look widely at the issues involved, but have asked that its first priority should be to consider the deployment of the £10 million a year extra for regional museums and libraries that we are making available under the new spending review. I have also asked the working party to consider how it may be possible for the nationally funded museums and galleries to assist the regional museums through exchanging and sharing personnel, good practice and exhibitions.