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Chris Bryant: The hon. Gentleman is really putting a question to the Minister, not me. As he was speaking, a picture of the Queen paying admission to go into Windsor castle was going through my mind. However, she is not a top-rate taxpayer, so perhaps gift aid donations would not be relevantI do not know whether she signs the form.
The hon. Gentleman, like all hon. Members, will know that the number of galleries has expanded, so there is now considerable competition for attendance in the gallery sector. One is often better off if there are two or three galleries in an area because they are able to promote the area and many people will choose to visit several galleries in a day, rather than just one at a time.
I urge people who work in the gallery industry to be open to possible changes to the system because that is likely to be in their interests. As I said to the hon. Member for Richmond Park (Susan Kramer), I do not accept the argument that if galleries give free admission for a year, it automatically means that they will mathematically lose the full cost of any visits that might have occurred during that year. It is free for me to go to the National Gallery and the National Portrait Gallery. I can now also go to the Victoria and Albert for freeit used to charge admission, but thanks to this Government it no longer does. The fact that it is free means that I visit it more regularly and thus use the bookshop more, drink more cups of tea and eat more chunks of cake there. Many galleries have found that such auxiliary services are not only a good way of making money, but often an important part of the educational and charitable purposes that they want to pursue.
I am grateful to the hon. Gentleman for determining the precise point at which the giving way takes place. It is always a joya titillating delight, no lessto listen to him. However, although obviously he is central to his own world, he is not necessarily central to the world. Further to the inquiry made by my hon. Friend the Member for Windsor (Adam Afriyie), can the hon. Gentleman extrapolate beyond his example and say what evidence he has that what he is advancing,
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which is perfectly valid in theory, is true in practice? What is the additional spend in cafeterias, bookshops and so on in the examples that he is describing?
Chris Bryant: The Victoria and Albert Museum used to describe itself as a great caff with a museum attached. I do not have the precise figures to hand, but the hon. Gentleman is usually a more encyclopaedic resource than I on such mattersI see that with flattery, he does smile.
I was, of course, trying to scrutinise the amendment, and it was in the interests of scrutiny that I made the point about the pure mathematical equation. Free admission to a gallery for a year does not mean that the gallery automatically loses four £3.50s. I would have thought that if a gallery had a database of people who had become members for a year, it would want to use it to entice them back into the museum as often as possible during that year so that they bought books and used other services.
Mr. Nigel Dodds (Belfast, North) (DUP): I am following the hon. Gentleman's argument with interest. He refers to museums like the Victoria and Albert and other great national museums, but they have the advantage of size, which means that people have to return a number of times to see them in their totality. They also have the advantage of changing exhibitions because they bring in new attractions on a regular basis. Those considerations do not apply to small private museums and galleries.
Chris Bryant: I am not sure that the hon. Gentleman is right in his final assertion that smaller museums and galleries do not change their exhibitions. A small gallery often changes what it exhibits because it does not have the space to exhibit all the material it has. Exhibits at the National Portrait Gallery and the National Gallery barely change because nearly everything they own is up on the walls, whereas that is not true for other galleries, such as the Tate. The important point is that we are talking not about national museums, but about museums such as the Rhondda heritage park, which does not receive national Government funding. In fact, it is in competition with Big Pit, another mining museum in south Wales, which receives money directly from the National Assembly and has free entrance. There is a specific need to help such museums and galleries.
Mr. Dunne: I have another interest to declare in that I am a director of a bookshop, and I hope that I can help the hon. Gentleman in dealing with his point on national museums. The company that I am involved in operates the concession in the Science museum. When admission fees were abolished, the bookshop's revenue increased, I am delighted to say. In the interests of commercial sensitivity, I shall not reveal by how much it increased for fear of prejudicing our negotiations on renewal. I can assure him, however, that it went up not by a multiple of sales, but by a percentage of sales considerably less than 50 per cent. There is an improvement in the other commercial add-on opportunities for museums, but it is not of the order of magnitude that he suggests.
I am grateful to the hon. Gentleman for correcting that. I was merely trying to argue against the
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idea advanced by the hon. Member for Richmond Park, who said that there was a mathematical equation to show the loss of income across the year. Clearly, it is different from that. One thing that we have seen over the past 10 to 15 years is that many museums and galleries have tried to maximise their opportunities.
I was a bit depressed when everyone else declared an interest and I had no museum or gallery of which I was a member and for which I could declare an interest, but I realise that I can now declare one. The only museum that still sells my biography of my hon. Friend the Member for Hampstead and Highgate (Glenda Jackson) is the Theatre museum
Gordon Banks (Ochil and South Perthshire) (Lab): To pick up on the point made by the hon. Member for Ludlow (Mr. Dunne) about the increased sales in the bookshop, if other services that support that main exhibit increase by the same significant amount, the overall effect is positive.
My second point is that the other significant expansion over the past few years is in gift aid. The Government should be congratulated on the way in which they seized hold of what was originally a Conservative idea and made it their own. They have expanded the scheme and made it possible not only for people with significant incomes who make significant charitable donations every year to give that bit extra through the tax system, but for many millions of people throughout the country to do the same. It will be beneficial for many museums and galleries that, after their initial hesitation, the Government have now accepted that and are effectively legitimising it.
Turning to amendment No. 36, as I told the hon. Member for Richmond Park, many museums and galleries have excellent interactive exhibits, which harness young people's desire to learn through play, experimentation and problem solving. However, that does not make the amendment a necessary measure, nor is there a mischief in the Bill that it would correct. Every single example instanced by hon. Members is covered by proposed new section (5G), which is satisfied if any charity
holds buildings, grounds or other land, plants, animals, work of art, artefacts and property of a scientific nature. The Mappa Mundi was mentioned earlier, but the way in which people have tried to exploit it means that it is not usually to be found in the annals of good financial practice, given that the deanery and the cathedral got into trouble financially. The Mappa Mundi is clearly kept in a building. The cathedral is trying to pursue its charitable purposes, and the Mappa Mundi is a work of art or an artefactin fact, it is probably bothso it would be covered by the clause. There is therefore no need for greater clarity. Indeed, sometimes when we
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insert too much clarity into a Bill, provisions are narrowed, creating problems for some organisations. I accept that there are many interactive galleries and museums, but they are already covered by the Bill.
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