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Child Support Agency

Earl Russell asked Her Majesty's Government:

Baroness Hollis of Heigham: We will be assessing the department's current programme of changes to ensure further improvements in the efficiency and effectiveness of the Child Support Agency, including a better service to all its clients and better value for money. The receipt of regular maintenance is a key part of the Government's strategy for helping lone mothers into work. With this in mind, my right honourable friend the Secretary of State for Social Security announced on 2 July that an extra £15 million a year will be made available to the agency from April 1998 specifically aimed at getting more absent parents to pay the maintenance which is due.

Harbour Porpoises

Lord Beaumont of Whitley asked Her Majesty's Government:

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of the Environment, Transport and the Regions (Baroness Hayman): There are no SAC proposals for this species because the available scientific evidence is insufficient to identify sites which meet the requirements set out in Article 4(1) of the directive relating to aquatic species which range over wide areas.

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Museums: Admission Charges

Lord Freyberg asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Which national museums are considering the introduction of admission charges.

Lord McIntosh of Haringey: The Trustees of the National Museums and Galleries on Merseyside have decided to proceed with the extension of their existing admission charges arrangements with effect from 8 July. However, they have agreed to review this policy later this year. The British Museum Trustees decided in December 1996 to maintain free admission. However, they have stated that the introduction of admission charges could not be ruled out for the future, although they would regret such a move. No other national museums and galleries which offer free entry have notified this department that they are considering the introduction of admission charges.

Lord Freyberg asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What would be the total monetary cost of the abolition of admission charges at national museums, indicating the figures for each museum that currently imposes admission charges.

Lord McIntosh of Haringey: The five national museums in England which charge for admission (excluding the Royal Armouries) recently estimated that the cost to them of abolishing general admission charges would amount to some £19.86 million. This includes both £11.45 million for admissions income and £8.41 million reclaimable VAT. The estimated cost is broken down as follows: the Imperial War Museum--£5.55 million; the National Maritime Museum-- £1.49 million; the Natural History Museum-- £5.13 million; the National Museum of Science & Industry--£5.38 million; and the Victoria & Albert Museum--£2.31 million. The cost, however, to the Exchequer would only amount to some £11.45 million. The Government are aware that the National Museums & Galleries on Merseyside will extend admissions charges to all of their sites from 8 July. The cost of the abolition of admissions charges to the institution is estimated to amount to some £1.50 million in a full year.

Museums and Galleries: Grant-in-Aid

Lord Freyberg asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether there has been a year-by-year reduction in real terms since 1979 of their grant-in-aid to national museums; and, if so, whether they will list the amount of grant-in-aid for each year.

Lord McIntosh of Haringey: The grant-in-aid for the eleven national museums and galleries in England (excluding the Royal Armouries) in the financial year 1997-98 is £188.8 million, which represents a real terms increase of 78.6 per cent. since 1979-80. However, direct comparisons between years prior to 1988-89 and subsequent years are misleading because in 1988-89 the national museums' and galleries' funding was substantially increased to reflect their new

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responsibilities for the maintenance of their estates, which had previously rested with the Property Services Agency. The amounts of annual government grant-in-aid to national museums and galleries for each year, both in cash terms and real terms based on 1997-98 prices, are listed in the table set out below.

Financial YearGrant-in-aid Actual £ millionGrant-in-aid in Real Terms £ million

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