§ The Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster (Mr. Norman Tebbit)
The appointments were made upon the recommendation of my right hon. Friend the Minister for the Arts, who will assume full responsibility for the Merseyside museums and galleries after the forthcoming transfer of functions order is made.
§ Mr. Alton
I can understand the Chancellor's reticence about assuming responsibility for the arts on Merseyside. Will the right hon. Gentleman say why, under section 46 of the Local Government Act 1985, the order was laid before Parliament setting up the trust before consultation 13 with other political parties and indeed with Parliament itself? What was the particular hurry in proceeding with the appointment of the Duke of Westminster, whose previous affinities with the arts on Merseyside are not especially well known?
§ Mr. Tebbit
The hon. Gentleman chooses one appointment — that of the Duke of Westminster. If I recollect rightly, 13 appointments were made. The appointments make up a group of good, well-balanced people who have had a long interest in Merseyside and in the arts. I think that the hon. Gentleman should be very pleased about that and should stop trying to introduce political factors.
§ Mr. Frank Field
Will the Chancellor accept that not all those living on Merseyside share the views that have just been expressed? Many of us are extremely pleased that the Government have established most of the museums on Merseyside as national museums.
§ Mr. Tebbit
I am grateful to the hon. Gentleman for what he has said. I must confess to the House that those actions were taken primarily on the recommendations of my right hon. Friend the Minister for the Arts, and I am sure that he heard the hon. Gentleman's words.