Letter: Art in high places

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The Independent Culture
Sir: The new paintings in 10 Downing Street were not chosen by the Prime Minister, nor were they "purloined from a public collection" (letter, 20 September). The pictures were lent to No 10 for display by the National Portrait Gallery while it underwent refurbishment.

This reflects the Government's long-standing policy that works of art are never taken from public displays and are always returned the moment the lender plans to put them on show again. As such, the five portraits will be returned to the NPG next May, having been enjoyed by the thousands of people - from schoolchildren to heads of state - who visit No 10 every year. A better solution than simply putting them into storage, surely.

ALAN HOWARTH MP

Minister for the Arts

Department for Culture, Media and Sport

London SW1

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