§ Mr. Tebbit
When the then Minister for the Arts was appointed to the office of Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster in 1984, his arts functions were formally vested in that office by virtue of the Transfer of Functions (Arts, Libraries and National Heritage) Order 1984 (No. 1814). They will be the subject of a further transfer of functions order shortly, since my right hon. Friend the present Minister for the Arts does not hold the office of Chancellor. Meanwhile, my right hon. Friend exercises all day-to-day arts functions on my behalf.
§ Mr. Freud
Will the Chancellor tell the House why it has taken from September of last year until now to effect a transfer of functions order? As the right hon. Gentleman is travelling and down the country talking about the incompetence of the arts, will he accept the Government's appalling incompetence in allowing this to go on for so long? Is there not an overwhelming reason for having a Minister for the Arts instead of this nonsense of incompetence in which different people have different responsibilities?
§ Mr. Tebbit
I do not accept a word of what the hon. Gentleman has said. The arts function will formally be passed back to the Lord President of the Council, to whose Department the present Minister for the Arts is technically attached. That was the case between the summer of 1983 and late 1984, before my noble Friend Lord Gowrie was appointed Chancellor of the Duchy. [Interruption.] If the hon. Gentleman would just listen for a moment, he would get the answer. The transfer of functions order will be made shortly. It has taken longer than usual because of a study of possible alternative ways of legally vesting the arts functions without requiring an order every time the ministerial portfolio changes hands. Meanwhile, my right hon. Friend the Minister for the Arts has full authority to 14 conduct the day-to-day arts business, while the ultimate legal power rests with the Chancellor of the Duchy. There are no legal or administrative problems whatsoever about this.
§ Mr. Buchan
But there may be many artistic problems, and it does not give the Opposition much comfort to know that the right hon. Gentleman is in charge of the arts. Does he not think it is time that he gave some consideration to the all-party Select Committee report, which simply said that there should be a Ministry for the Arts, Communication and Tourism, which would bring in films, broadcasting and the arts, and above all strip the responsibility from the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster and make a proper Ministry for the arts?
§ Mr. Tebbit
I notice that the hon. Gentleman's party did not take that view when it was in office, and this Government do not take that view now. I do not think that these problems are best dealt with by permanent restructuring of the Departments in Whitehall. The arrangement is working very well and effectively today, and that is the best way to leave it.