Free museums 'should continue', says peer

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The policy of free admission should continue for museums, despite owners facing a financial squeeze, the spokesman for culture Lord Gardiner of Kimble has told peers.

On 12 June 2013, Conservative Lord Gardiner added: "I think it is really important, having looked at the visitor numbers and the number of children that are visiting the museums, that I think free admission is an important feature of our national and regional museum life."

The Science Museums Group has warned any further cuts in funding from the government might lead to the closure of one of its north of England museums - the National Railway Museum in York, the National Media Museum in Bradford or Manchester's Museum of Science and Industry.

Liberal Democrat Lord Lee of Trafford raised the issue at questions time, and said a closure of the Manchester science museum would be "bordering on the criminal".

A parliamentary inquiry will be held into the future of museums run by Science Museums Group (SMG).

SMG runs the Science Museum in London as well as the threatened museums.

Another Liberal Democrat, Lord Shutt, questioned why it was only museums in the north of England which were under threat of closure.

He said he had looked at the list of trustees and members of the Science Museum Advisory Board and asked: "Would you believe, my Lords, 22 out of the 24 of them are based in either London or Cambridge? Does the minister have any faith that this group of people will have balance when it comes to looking at those national museums which are based in the regions?"

Lord Gardiner said he did not believe there would be discrimination against the north of England.

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