Richard Luce – 1985 Speech on the Museum of London

Below is the text of the speech made by Richard Luce, the then Minister for the Arts, in the House of Commons on 21 November 1985.

I beg to move, That the Bill be now read a Second time.

The main purpose of this short Bill is to give the Government and the Corporation of the City of London equal shares in the funding of the Museum of London and in the appointment of members of its board of governors, following the abolition of the Greater London council. At present, the Government, the City and the GLC each contribute one third of the members of the board. As the House will recall, last Session the Government announced their intention to divide the GLC’s share equally between the two other partners after abolition. It was not possible to make provision for those new arrangements in the Local Government Act 1985 which abolishes the GLC.

This was partly because the Government wanted to make amendments to the Museum of London Act 1965 and to effect other repeals, neither of which could be done under the terms of that Act. Therefore, the Local Government Act provided for the transfer, from next April, of the whole of the GLC’s share to the Government, as an interim measure. The Bill supersedes the relevant provisions of the Local Government Act before they come into effect, and amends the 1965 Act governing the Museum of London.

The Bill is being treated as a hybrid measure. Hon. Members will recall that that involves special additional parliamentary procedures. The procedures are already under way, and I have no reason to expect any difficulty. They do not affect today’s Second Reading debate.

Before I deal in detail with the contents of the Bill, it may be helpful to remind the House of the history of the Museum of London. The museum had its origins in two long-established institutions—the Guildhall museum, primarily concerned with the square mile of the City, and the London museum, concerned with a much broader survey of London’s history. The two museums were merged into one organisation on 1 June 1975 when the Museum of London Act 1965 came into effect. In December 1976, the present superb Museum of London building in the Barbican, specially designed to accommodate the joint collections, was opened by Her Majesty the Queen.
The Guildhall museum was established in 1826 by the corporation as an adjunct to its newly revitalised library. It was to accommodate

“such antiquities as relate to the City and suburbs”.

The museum was, from the start, intimately associated with the archaeological investigations of building sites in the City. In 1966 the museum became a separate department of the corporation. In 1973 a full department of urban archaeology was established at the museum.

The London museum was founded in 1911, when the first Viscount Harcourt used private funds at his disposal to establish the museum at Kensington palace. Financial support was assumed by the Treasury in 1912. The museum was governed by Treasury minute and administered through a board of trustees.

After the second world war, closer working links were established between the two museums, mainly as the result of arrangements for the excavation of the City’s war-damaged site. By 1960, it had become apparent that the premises in which the museums were housed were ​ inadequate. Negotiations began which had the object of merging the museums into a new and comprehensive institution to be devoted to the history of Greater London. The agreement eventually reached was formalised in the Museum of London Act 1965.

I take this opportunity to pay tribute to the present board of governors of the Museum of London, under the distinguished chairmanship of Mr. Michael Robbins, and to the museum’s talented director, Mr. Max Hebditch. Together they have contributed to an enormous amount to its successful development in the past 10 years, and have enabled it to become widely admired as a jewel in London’s crown. It is fitting also to recognise that this would not have been possible without the tremendous support and encouragement of the Corporation of the City of London, to which we are all indebted, not least for the fine premises which the museum now occupies. We must build on this success and establish the statutory basis for the museum’s development in the decades that lie ahead. The museum and the City welcome the 50:50 sharing arrangement and the clarification of the board’s powers. The Bill has their support.

The Bill’s main purpose is to share the appointment of governors and the funding between the Government and the City on a 50:50 basis. That is achieved by clauses 1 and 3. It also redefines the powers of the board of governors, for the sake of clarity and to bring them more into line with other modern museum legislation. That is the object of clause 2. I shall say more in a moment about the funding of archaeological services in London, which is covered by the new provisions in clause 4.

Clause 1 deals with the appointment of governors and provides that the Prime Minister and City corporation should each appoint nine, in place of the six currently appointed by each of the Prime Minister, the City and the GLC. There are transitional provisions to stagger the terms of office of the new appointees. Clause 1 supersedes the relevant provisions in the Local Government Act 1985.

Richard Luce – 1985 Speech on the Arts Council

Below is the text of the speech made by Richard Luce, the then Conservative Minister for Arts, in the House of Commons on 14 November 1985.

With permission, Mr. Speaker, I should like to make a statement.

I have decided to announce the Arts Council’s grant-in-aid for 1986–87 now to meet the need for the earliest possible sign of provision for the arts after abolition of the GLC and the metropolitan county councils. Subject to parliamentary approval, the grant for the Arts Council next year will be £135·6 million. I understand that this will enable the Arts Council, in accordance with its normal practice, to enter into commitments worth nearly £137 million for the financial year. The grant of £135·6 million is a substantial increase above both the current year’s—1985–86—grant of £105 million and the provisional planning figure of £122 million originally set for next year.

Last year, my predecessor announced £16 million in additional central funding for the performing arts, and £1 million for film, in the abolition areas. Since then, a strong case has been made for more funding. The Government have decided to respond. I am therefore raising the £16 million to £25 million for the Arts Council, and the £1 million to £1·3 million for the British Film Institute. With the £17 million already announced for museums, this brings the total of additional central funding for the arts in the abolition areas next year to over £43 million.

The remaining basic provision of £110·6 million for the Arts Council—a further increase on the originally planned £106 million for next year—is intended to meet other special needs which have been put to me by the Arts Council, especially to continue its strategy of regional arts development. It also includes £0·6 million of continued special support for the Scottish national companies, made necessary following changed responsibilities in local government in Scotland.

These additional sums are a demonstration of my determination to keep up the Government’s support and, in particular, to give arts bodies in the GLC and metropolitan areas a good foundation on which to build. In that context, I invite the districts and boroughs in those areas to give early and constructive thought to the contribution they can make to this joint venture. They have an important role to play.

So have private companies. I hope that business sponsorship of the arts will continue to grow in the abolition areas as in the country as a whole. I shall be looking to see what further action I can take to encourage this through the business sponsorship incentive scheme next year.

Some uncertainty is inevitable at the beginning of a period of transition. For this reason, I propose to give maximum help to the Arts Council in the first year. As time goes on, local authorities which have been relieved of GLC and MCC precepts should be able to increase their share. The central Government’s contribution of £25 million for the Arts Council will accordingly be tapered down. It will be about £21 million in 1987–88, and about £20 million in 1988–89.

All other grants within my arts programme will be announced in a more detailed statement in December. I have not yet taken decisions on the allocations for individual arts bodies, but in overall terms the amounts available will be broadly at the levels which were allowed ​ for in the last public expenditure White Paper, and subsequently communicated for planning purposes to the bodies concerned.

Today’s announcement will now enable the arts to plan ahead with confidence.