Clause 96 - Gifts of real property to charity

Part of Finance Bill – in a Public Bill Committee at 3:30 pm on 13th June 2002.

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Photo of Mr Howard Flight Mr Howard Flight Conservative, Arundel and South Downs 3:30 pm, 13th June 2002

I thank the Economic Secretary for his full, well-considered comments and responses. However, our amendments have been discussed and drafted with the help of representatives of the country's main art galleries. Their view is that, although it sounds great, they do not get much from private treaty sales. They believe that the incentive of the gift scheme has the potential to result in many more works of art for the national collection.

If such measures did not apply only to art galleries and the like, but across the board of charities, which I think would be only fair, I accept that it could result in charities having a large number of works of art to sell, which would then give the galleries a problem in raising the money to purchase them. I think that that is a fair issue of which to take account.

However, notwithstanding the wider practical issues that were touched upon, I do not think that the valuation of major works of art is a major issue. It is already dealt with in different ways. There is an issue of principle, which is where we started. In general, for better or worse, wealth is held predominantly in securities, land and works of art, and if one is going to permit that principle, as in the United States, the arguments for excluding art are somewhat—I will not say contrived—very particular to the territory of works of art. I remain of the view that next year we are likely to be focusing on an extension to works of art when the particular issues to which the Economic Secretary has referred have been thought through. I think that it is quite difficult logically not to go down the US road more fully than we have embarked upon at present.

There is not much point in voting on the issue. The Government have made their stance very clear, and there are some practical issues to address. In begging leave to withdraw, I would make the point that there is a logical inconsistency where we now are, which will need to be addressed. It is better to do that one stage at a time each year, than not to go forward at all. I beg to ask leave to withdraw the amendment.