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Last Updated: Monday, 2 July 2007, 13:54 GMT 14:54 UK
Motion bids to save manuscripts
Andrew Motion
Motion says the nation is losing important literary treasures
Poet Laureate Andrew Motion has called for new tax breaks to allow literary manuscripts to remain in the UK.

The writer has expressed concerns that work by figures including Tom Stoppard, Ted Hughes and Evelyn Waugh is being snapped up by US institutions.

Professor Motion told BBC Radio 4's Today programme that there are "magical and meaningful" reasons to preserve original documents for the nation.

The British Library has said it cannot pay as much as US universities.

'Black hole'

Campaigners, including Professor Motion, are urging the new Chancellor Alistair Darling to consider introducing new financial inducements to encourage writers to sell their manuscripts to British institutions.

"The incentives are simply not there," he said.

"There is a story here for looking after manuscripts better than we do for general heritage purposes," the poet added, warning that a "black hole" in Britain's cultural inheritance is opening up.

He said that the plea was not an exercise in "bashing US libraries", but wanted the UK's literary heritage to remain here for posterity.

The sale of artworks to institutions overseas is also a concern of the Visual Arts and Galleries Association, who recently told a government committee that the cost of purchasing contemporary art "far exceeds the purchasing power of public sector galleries".

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