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Clause 11 — Donations to charity by individuals

Part of Orders of the Day — Finance Bill – in the House of Commons at 4:30 pm on 13th June 2005.

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Photo of Chris Bryant Chris Bryant Labour, Rhondda 4:30 pm, 13th June 2005

The hon. Gentleman is really putting a question to the Minister, not me. As he was speaking, a picture of the Queen paying admission to go into Windsor castle was going through my mind. However, she is not a top-rate taxpayer, so perhaps gift aid donations would not be relevant—I do not know whether she signs the form.

The hon. Gentleman, like all hon. Members, will know that the number of galleries has expanded, so there is now considerable competition for attendance in the gallery sector. One is often better off if there are two or three galleries in an area because they are able to promote the area and many people will choose to visit several galleries in a day, rather than just one at a time.

I urge people who work in the gallery industry to be open to possible changes to the system because that is likely to be in their interests. As I said to Susan Kramer, I do not accept the argument that if galleries give free admission for a year, it automatically means that they will mathematically lose the full cost of any visits that might have occurred during that year. It is free for me to go to the National Gallery and the National Portrait Gallery. I can now also go to the Victoria and Albert for free—it used to charge admission, but thanks to this Government it no longer does. The fact that it is free means that I visit it more regularly and thus use the bookshop more, drink more cups of tea and eat more chunks of cake there. Many galleries have found that such auxiliary services are not only a good way of making money, but often an important part of the educational and charitable purposes that they want to pursue.