§ Mr. Waller
asked the Secretary of State for Education and Science if he will make a statement about the Rayner scrutiny of the Victoria and Albert museum and the Science museum.
§ Mr. Channon
The report of the Rayner scrutiny of the Victoria and Albert museum and the Science museum was received last week. I have decided to publish it at the earliest opportunity, today, and copies are available to Members of both Houses of Parliament.
I shall be consulting all those concerned, including of course the directors of the two museums, their advisory councils and representatives of the staff concerned, about the contents of the report. It will be helpful if all comments on the report can be received by the Office of Arts and Libraries by the beginning of August.
There are, however, some recommendations in the report involving major issues on which, in order to remove uncertainty, the Government have taken decisions which I would like to announce now.
First, the report makes a strong case for providing the Victoria and Albert museum and the Science museum with a high degree of independence and recommends that both museums should cease to be departmental museums. The Government accept this recommendation, and will seek an early opportunity to introduce legislation to establish separate bodies of trustees to be responsible for the management and control of each museum. This will bring 361W them into line with the other national museums in England and Wales. Steps will be taken to safeguard the interests of the staff concerned.
Secondly, the report also contains recommendations concerning the introduction of admission charges for the two museums. The Government do not intend to impose charges for general admission to the main collections of the museums, nor to change the well-established practice of charging for entry to some outstations and special exhibitions. But the Government would not, at this stage, wish to prejudge any proposals which the future trustees may in due course put forward as part of their policy for good management of the museums.
I should like to put on record the Government's appreciation of the efforts which those responsible for the scrutiny have made, and to thank them for the very substantial help which they have provided as a basis for the formulation of future policy.