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Susan Kramer: My interest is in trying to draw up a provision that will encourage people to bring in youngsters, which frequently means a group of youngsters, wherever possible. If there were something in the provision that did that, I should be entirely satisfied that the clause contained all that I wanted to achieve.
Finally, on amendment No. 36, although I do not pretend to understand the difference between an interactive project and an interactive experiment, we can probably all understand the sense of those words. An interactive approach is being adopted at more and more charitable attractions to engage youngsters. For example, at the Barnes wetlands project in my constituency, and indeed my neighbourhood, an attraction is being set up where youngsters can become engaged through climbing, guessing, touching and drawing to work through issues relating to wetlands, such as climate change and its impact on ecology. Such strategies are being used to draw young people to various attractions. That is important, so there can be nothing disadvantageous in adding the amendment; it can be only advantageous.
Chris Bryant: The hon. Lady is making an important point about the variety of places where we might want to encourage such activity. However, I do not understand why the amendment is necessary; none of the examples advanced so far, including the one that she has just given, cannot be met by some other part of subsection (5G), which refers to "grounds, or other land" used
Susan Kramer: The hon. Gentleman gives me the opportunity to say that the direction shown by the amendment is one for which there is an increasing interest and following. I can see no harm in adding those words. There is nothing in their scope of which the hon. Gentleman would not approve and that he could not support. It at least adds clarity, which is helpful on these occasions.
Mr. Doug Henderson (Newcastle upon Tyne, North) (Lab): I have only one short point to make, but first I declare an interest as a member of the National Trust and a proud member of Beamish, which is a marvellous museum in County Durham.
As has already been said, small museums, as well as private and specialist museums, which often have charitable status, have to compete with the state's museums, which are freealthough I completely support that. However, that situation affects museums such as Beamish, which is quite a large organisation.
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As the Financial Secretary knows, the practice has developed over the past three or four years of paying gift aid with membership subscriptions. The hon. Member for Rayleigh (Mr. Francois) referred to that in his introduction. People standing in the queue eating their ice creams at Beamish, or at the ticket desk, get leaflets about gift aid so they know about it already. When the Government are considering the small print, I urge them to make it clear that we are not worsening the current position but that the measure merely establishes in law rights that are currently applied. I hope that we can mount a campaign on that.
I understand why the Opposition are raising those points, because various museum groups have also raised them, but the important thing is that the Government respond to what is happening and maintain the situation. We must get that message across. I ask the Financial Secretary to be generous in considering some of the suggestions. The suggestion made by the hon. Member for Wimbledon (Stephen Hammond) was a good try, but it would create so many anomalies in our tax legislation that it cannot be a runner.
I do not know whether the period should be 12 months, three months or one month, but I rather suspect that, whatever the provision, it will be theoretical. Museums are ingenious and they can usually find ways of getting round the regulations that we establish. One of the ways of doing thatit is quite legalis to give an annual member privileges that someone who is a member for a day or three months does not have. For example, an annual member may be able to get the kids in a bit cheaper. There are ways in which the institutions can respond to the points that have been made.
I am not absolutely stuck on the 12-month rule, but I think that it is fairly reasonable. Although the points made by the Opposition sound reasonable, they would not apply to most museums. If one joins the Beamish, it is a 12-month deal. Most people visit once a year, but I recognise that some go more frequently. However, the revenue for gift aid comes from those who go once a year.
Mr. Philip Dunne (Ludlow) (Con): I support amendments Nos. 36 and 1. In common with many other Members, I declare an interest as a member of the National TrustI am a life memberand I am expecting to become a trustee of the Ludlow Town Walls trust. I am also a member of the Hereford Cathedral Perpetual Trust.
I support the remarks of my hon. Friend the Member for Rayleigh (Mr. Francois) on amendment No. 36, but ask the Minister for clarification in relation to one of my interests. That may not be good form, but I shall ask the question anyway because the position is not clear. Under the proposed new paragraphs (e) and (f) to section (5G) of the Finance Act 1990, I wonder whether the world-renowned Mappa Mundi and its associated chained library that reside in Hereford in a purpose-built building constructed by the perpetual trust a few
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years ago qualify as either "works of art" or "artefacts". If not, I am sure that the trust would establish an interactive educational exhibition to ensure that they qualify if our amendment is accepted. I should point out that the constituency of Ludlow is in the diocese of Hereford, so I am not interfering in neighbouring Members' affairs.
Amendment No. 1, which was tabled by my hon. Friend the Member for Wimbledon (Stephen Hammond), is eminently sensible. The leaders of many of the groups that visit museums pay the admission fees on behalf of the group as a whole. It would be quite wrong if groups could not benefit museums by being able to take advantage of the gift aid provision.I should perhaps also declare that I am a member of Ludlow Civic Society and the Leintwardine history group, both of which organise group visits to areas of historic interest.
Helen Goodman: We have heard much about queues in the debate, but how would this amendment stop peoplesome would be top-rate taxpayers; others would notgoing along a queue and saying that they were all part of a group?
Mr. Dunne: To answer on behalf of my hon. Friend the Member for Wimbledon, I think that the word "accompany" is useful in assisting the hon. Lady with her point. A group leader pays on behalf of all its members precisely to avoid the need for up to 20 other people to form part of the queue. That is very sensible.
I also wish to refer to the Broseley Conservative Association, because I am particularly familiar with its activities. It runs biannual coach outings to places of historic interest outside the Ludlow constituency and around the country. It is led by the remarkable Mrs. Yvonne Miles, who is a particular favourite of mine as she helped me in my recent campaign. She collects on the coach the subscriptions for her members before they enter a place of interest, and it is precisely to enable people such as Mrs. Miles to maximise the take for the museum or other site that they are visiting that the amendment should be supported.
Chris Bryant: It is important for us to consider the amendments in the context of the dramatic expansion of the number of museums and galleries in this country over the past few years and, for that matter, of attendance at museums and galleries. The fact that the sector has increased significantly has partly been a direct result of additional funding from national Government, from the lottery, especially, and from local government, although that element is often forgotten. Most smaller galleries and museums such as those cited by hon. Members today subsist by virtue of the support that they receive from local government. It is a source of pride in my constituency that the Rhondda heritage park museum has received significant support over the years from the local authority. In the near future, I hope that there will be the opportunity to refurbish the museum completely so that it can meet the needs of the 21st century.
Adam Afriyie (Windsor) (Con):
It is clear from listening to the debate and the contribution that I made last time round that this is quite a complicated area.
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There are thousands, or perhaps even hundreds of thousands, of charities throughout the UK, many of which are in the Windsor constituency. May I ask the hon. Gentlemanor the Minister, in effecthow much, if any, quantitative research has been undertaken to establish which charities in the mix will be affected the change? We hear lots of words such as "many" and "some of these", and hon. Members have cited specific examples from their constituencies, but is the measure based on quantitative research, and will that be considered during our deliberations?
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