§ 2. Mrs. Clwyd
asked the Secretary of State for Wales whether he is satisfied that the procedures adopted by the National Museum of Wales for purchasing major works of art, such as the Rubens' cartoons, are satisfactory.
§ The Secretary of State for Wales (Mr. Nicholas Edwards)
Decisions regarding the acquisition of works of art or any other purchases are matters entirely for the museum authorities.
§ Mrs. Clwyd
Is the Secretary of State satisfied that £1.2 million of public money should be spent on the say-so of one expert? There are several questions which the right hon. Gentleman should answer. First, where were the cartoons for over 400 years? Secondly, why were they offered to the National Museum of Wales when the strength of the museum is in post-impressionist and impressionist painters? Thirdly, how can the right hon. Gentleman not urge that their authenticity be established one way or the other when he knows that there has been doubt about them for five years?
§ Mr. Edwards
I cannot help the hon. Lady on the 400-year issue, as I think that the cartoons were probably painted just over 350 years ago. The strength of the collections of the National Museum of Wales is with impressionist painters, and that is why the museum has sought to strengthen its collections in other areas. The art committee and the museum authorities take considerable care and much advice over the difficult decisions involved in art purchasing. I am satisfied that under the royal charter it is for the museum authorities, not Ministers, to take those decisions.