Select Committee on Culture, Media and Sport Minutes of Evidence

Examination of Witnesses (Questions 70-79)




  Chairman: Thank you very much indeed for coming to see us this morning. We will start with Mr Fabricant.

Michael Fabricant

  70. Good morning. I wonder, first of all, I do not know if you were there for the earlier session, when we were talking to English Heritage, and you nod that you were, I wonder if you could explain the relationship that exists between yourselves and English Heritage, when deciding whether or not to take on a project, and you will have heard my moaning on at length about linseed oil paints and one or two other things? To what degree are your decisions, as to whether you provide Lottery funding, dependent on advice given by English Heritage?

  (Mrs Case) If we take a case in which they are not the applicant to us, a case where the application is from a third party, we would look to English Heritage, on the assumption that it was a listed building we were talking about, for advice about both the quality, in heritage terms, of the building, and the project; so their advice to us would take account, no doubt, of their views on where they stood on the quality spectrum that you were talking about. And if it was a listed building, a scheme to get our approval would ultimately have to have listed building consent, with whatever conditions that came with.

  71. And, just to be clear on this, is that consent absolutely dependent on English Heritage's agreement, do they have ultimate sanction?
  (Mrs Case) As I understand it, in the case of a Grade 1 or Two Star listed building, they are the consenting authority, otherwise it is the local authority conservation department; because I do not think we could be in a position where we put public money into something which had not got listed building consent or planning consent. Nor do we have on our staff experts whose role it is to second-guess English Heritage, or Historic Scotland, or Cadw. On the other hand, our criteria, as a distributor of Lottery money, go beyond simple questions of heritage merit and the conservation criteria of the scheme; we are always looking to see that people will have access to, be able to enjoy the project. And, therefore, in that sense, we are perhaps further towards the kind of pragmatic end of the spectrum, because what we want projects that we fund to deliver is something for people and not just an historic building preserved in aspic, if I can put it like that.

  72. Because, as stewards of Lottery money, it is also your role, is it not, to see that the money is well spent? And, of course, as with all these things, there is a balance between expenditure of money and what we are trying to preserve. Do you ever get into argument, or, shall we put it another way, into discussion with English Heritage as to what is, well, on to some of their specifications, or do you always have to take at face value and fully accept what they say?
  (Mrs Case) I think most of those arguments go on between the applicant and English Heritage, or whoever the conservation authority is, rather than between us and English Heritage; and, at the end of the day, if they are the consent-givers, we would take their views as read. We would not get into long and detailed arguments with them, because we would not have the wherewithal to do so.

  73. Let me move on to a different area now. You will know that we looked at historic ships, as a Committee, some while back, and we wanted a register to be kept of historic ships, and, also, we like to think partly as a recommendation of this Committee, the Heritage Lottery Fund provided funding for the preservation of HMS Cavalier. I wonder if you could say a few more words about where you see this major project going, and, in particular, has there been any statement made to you by the Government regarding any strategic policy they may have on the preservation of ships?
  (Mrs Case) Perhaps I can take the two questions separately. We are very pleased that the register is now complete, recognising that it is not complete coverage of all historic ships. It covers only ships built before a certain date, and over a certain size; but, within that quite wide spectrum, we are finding it very helpful to have an authoritative source of advice. Going back to what I said earlier, that is not the only criterion we use, in deciding whether or not to support an historic ship, but the register has been and will continue to be very worthwhile; and partly on the basis of it, we have just let you have another note on that subject, we have supported quite a range of historic ships. On the question of whether there has been a government statement, the answer is that there has not. There were discussions, some months ago now, with the DCMS, in terms of them formulating a view, but, as far as I understand it, they have not yet finalised their consideration.

  74. Did they give any indication as to when they would be formulating a view, or when they will finally have formulated a view and published it?
  (Mrs Case) I am afraid not, no.

  75. The preservation of ships is one aspect of your work, and, of course, buildings, but ships are one form of transportation, there is also land transport, and, of course, there is air transport. Are you aware that there is some suggestion now that a Vulcan V Bomber, the one last surviving Vulcan V Bomber, should also be preserved; have you had a formal application for this yet?
  (Mrs Case) My understanding is, we have just had a formal application for it, only very recently, within the last week.

  Michael Fabricant: As the very last Vulcan V Bomber, can I just say, if I may make this personal plea, that you look on this particular application with goodwill. Thank you, Chairman.

  Chairman: Thank you, Mr Fabricant, as the last surviving Vulcan Bomber.

Miss Kirkbride

  76. I am just wondering what is happening to your funding, how much did you used to have available and by how much has it fallen?
  (Mrs Case) The amount we have available to commit in any year has stayed fairly constant over the past three years; if we look forward, we expect it to decline slightly. One of the reasons the amount of money we have had to distribute has remained constant is because what we are able to do, to compensate for the decline in income which has been caused by the decline in ticket sales by Camelot, is to commit every year the interest on balances that we hold against projects which have yet to draw down money. So we are talking, roughly speaking, of something like 300 million a year still.

  77. Over the last few years?
  (Mrs Case) Yes.

  78. So that compares with what, five years ago?
  (Mrs Case) I am afraid I do not have the figure in my head. The most we ever committed in a year, I think I am right in saying, was 450 million, but that was slightly more than we were then getting in terms of income.

  79. And presumably you work on the same basis as the other ones, that it has to be matched funding, is it, or it has to be 50/50, or what?
  (Mrs Case) It never has to be 50/50. Our present rules are that, for large projects, i.e. projects over 100,000, we ask for 25 per cent partnership funding, and that for projects below that we ask for only 10 per cent. The question of whether even that degree of partnership funding was causing people difficulty, in terms of an inability to apply to us, or, after they had applied to us and got a grant, an inability to go forward, because they actually could not put the partnership funding together, is something which we looked at during our consultations on our next strategic plan, which we are due to present to Parliament later this month. We will be making changes to the partnership funding rules, to make them even less severe than they are now, in order to help more people apply and more people to carry out their projects when they have applied. But we will be maintaining a view, which I think is the right view, that it is important that people should put some sort of partnership funding into a project. Whether it is of cash or of kind, I think, is less relevant, particularly the smaller projects, but in order that there should be another stakeholder in a project beyond us, who as a funder, is there whilst the project is taking shape, but ultimately will not have a long-term responsibility for it.


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