The Firepower Royal Artilllery Museum is one of the institutions that uses the Firearms (Museums) Order 1997. Image: Glyn Baker, Wikimedia Commons

MA urges caution on Red Tape Challenge

Geraldine Kendall, 01.05.2012
Initiative to cut bureaucratic legislation could have "wide-ranging consequences"
The Museums Association has urged respondents to take a cautious approach to the government's initiative to scrap or streamline cultural legislation.

Launched last year, the Red Tape Challenge aims to cut bureaucracy by consulting interested parties to find out if government legislation could be reformed, implemented more effectively or scrapped altogether.

A consultation on bills relating specifically to the sports and recreation sector, including cultural regulations, will run until Thursday 31 May. When the consultation closes, ministers will have three months to work out what regulation they want to keep.

But the initiative takes a default presumption against burdensome legislation and ministers will have to make a good case to ensure that bills remain in place.

Several of the regulations listed in the initiative relate directly to museum work and the MA has warned that altering or removing them could have unintended outcomes.
One bill up for discussion is the Firearms (Museums) Order 1997. A spokesman from the Firepower Royal Artillery Museum said: “The museum licence is different [from a regular firearms certificate] in the detail of what we are allowed to do with the objects. I don’t see this as a piece of red tape that we can do without.”

Another bill cited in the initiative, the Protection of Cultural Objects on Loan Regulations 2008, was fast-tracked through parliament after the Russian authorities threatened to withhold artworks from a 2008 Royal Academy exhibition. The legislation provides objects on loan with immunity from seizure while on British soil.

Royal Academy chief executive Charles Saumerez Smith said: “The bill was absolutely essential to the success of From Russia and will continue to be for other comparable exhibitions, i.e. whenever there is a risk of seizure.”

MA director Mark Taylor said: “We would urge all of our members to make themselves aware of this initiative, and to respond if they feel it appropriate.

“While it is admirable that the government is seeking to cut excessive bureaucracy, we would urge caution when looking to change or remove legislation that may have wide-reaching consequences for museums across the UK.”

Click here to see the cultural bills listed on Red Tape Challenge


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MA Member
04.05.2012, 08:58
It will be interesting to see whether this scheme to cut 'red tape' will have any tangible outcome. Previous efforts have been a real flop. You know they are desperate when ministers start quoting some obscure piece of legislation last used before the Reform Act. It's an unavoidable fact that most people define 'red tape' as any government requirement with which they disagree, and that is a matter of politics, not bureaucracy. Most of the real red tape in the museum sector is self-imposed and is either empire building, micro-management or pseudo-professionalism. No government can fight those monsters!!