The Government are deeply committed to our world-leading museums sector. The recently published Mendoza review of museums in England looked in depth at museums and the challenges and opportunities they face. The review found a thriving sector, supported by more than £800 million of annual Government funding from a variety of sources.
Before I do just that, may I take this opportunity to congratulate my hon. Friend, because I understand that she has just got engaged? I also understand that it was her birthday in the last few days, so double congratulations.
It is Valentine’s day next week as well. To answer the question, the national museums have a strong track record on this issue. Last year, the national collection was lent out to more than 1,300 venues, with long-term loans and partnership galleries, multi- object exhibitions and one-off star loans. To help encourage further loans, Arts Council England has provided £3.6 million to regional museums to help to improve their galleries to protect and display objects.
I join in congratulating the hon. Lady and say to her: engagement, birthday and a tribute from the hon. Gentleman on the Treasury Bench—her cup runneth over! It does not get any better than this.
Burton Latimer, Desborough and Rothwell are small towns in the borough of Kettering that all have excellent local heritage centres run by volunteers. In small communities that are going through rapid change, is it not more important than ever that we encourage such heritage centres?
It is extremely important that we do that, and my hon. Friend is a doughty champion for his constituency. He is absolutely right about the importance of the work that our volunteers do to encourage footfall.