13 June 2005
Philip Dunne supports an amendment to the Finance Bill regarding donations to charity by individuals

Mr. Philip Dunne (Ludlow) (Con): I support amendments Nos. 36 and 1. In common with many other Members, I declare an interest as a member of the National Trust-I am a life member-and I am expecting to become a trustee of the Ludlow Town Walls trust. I am also a member of the Hereford Cathedral Perpetual Trust.

I support the remarks of my hon. Friend the Member for Rayleigh (Mr. Francois) on amendment No. 36, but ask the Minister for clarification in relation to one of my interests. That may not be good form, but I shall ask the question anyway because the position is not clear. Under the proposed new paragraphs (e) and (f) to section (5G) of the Finance Act 1990, I wonder whether the world-renowned Mappa Mundi and its associated chained library that reside in Hereford and were constructed in a purpose-built building put up by the perpetual trust a few years ago qualify as either "works of art" or "artefacts". If not, I am sure that the trust would establish an interactive educational exhibition to ensure that they qualify if our amendment is accepted. I should point out that the constituency of Ludlow is in the diocese of Hereford, so I am not interfering in neighbouring Members' affairs.

Amendment No. 1, which was tabled by my hon. Friend the Member for Wimbledon (Stephen Hammond), is eminently sensible. The leaders of many of the groups that visit museums pay the admission fees on behalf of the group as a whole. It would be quite wrong if groups could not benefit museums by being able to take advantage of the gift aid provision.I should perhaps also declare that I am a member of Ludlow Civic Society and the Leintwardine history group, both of which organise group visits to areas of historic interest.

Helen Goodman: We have heard much about queues in the debate, but how would this amendment stop people-some would be top rate taxpayers; others would not-going along a queue and saying that they were all part of a group?

Mr. Dunne: To answer on behalf of my hon. Friend the Member for Wimbledon, I think that the word "accompany" is useful in assisting the hon. Lady with her point. A group leader pays on behalf of all its members precisely to avoid the need for up to 20 other people to form part of the queue. That is very sensible.

I also wish to refer to the Broseley Conservative Association, because I am particularly familiar with its activities. It runs biannual coach outings to places of historic interest outside the Ludlow constituency and around the country. It is led by the remarkable Mrs. Yvonne Miles, who is a particular favourite of mine as she helped me in my recent campaign. She collects on the coach the subscriptions for her members before they enter a place of interest, and it is precisely to enable people such as Mrs. Miles to maximise the take for the museum or other site that they are visiting that the amendment should be supported.

Chris Bryant: It is important for us to consider the amendments in the context of the dramatic expansion of the number of museums and galleries in this country over the past few years and, for that matter, of attendance at museums and galleries. The fact that the sector has increased significantly has partly been a direct result of additional funding from national Government, from the lottery, especially, and from local government, although that element is often forgotten. Most smaller galleries and museums such as those cited by hon. Members today subsist by virtue of the support that they receive from local government. It is a source of pride in my constituency that the Rhondda heritage park museum has received significant support over the years from the local authority. In the near future, I hope that there will be the opportunity to refurbish the museum completely so that it can meet the needs of the 21st century.