HC Deb 08 July 1831 vol 4 cc991-4

On the Motion that the sum of 11,269l. should be granted to defray the expenses of the Office of Works,

Mr. Ridley Colborne

requested to know from the noble Lord opposite (Lord Dun-cannon), whether any inquiry had been made into his former representation, with respect to the state of the National Gallery at Pall Mall? If inquiry had been made he believed it must have been found, that his statement was correct, and that the building was in a state of dilapidation. The collection of pictures bequeathed to the country by the Rev. Holwell Carr, were so bequeathed with the express understanding that some proper building should be built or selected for their reception. He wished to know, whether it was intended to devote a building, or to erect one, at a comparatively small expense, for that purpose?

Lord Duncannon

said, it was clear, that the pictures could not long remain where they were, as one half of the building must soon be taken down to make room for Carlton terrace. With respect to the Mews, which had been spoken of as a proper site for a gallery, part of it stood in such a position with reference to the street which was to run near St. Martin's Church, that it must come down. Perhaps something might be done with the remainder of the building to meet the wishes of the hon. Member.

Mr. R. Gordon

was afraid the taste for pictures would be productive of serious expense to the country; and therefore he hoped, that with reference either to the alteration or to the erecting of public buildings, all extravagant expense would be avoided.

Mr. C. W. Wynn

hoped, that when the King's Mews were taken down, some proper place would be provided for the records which were now placed there. A fine avenue to St. Martin's Church might be a great ornament; but he trusted, some secure building would be selected for the reception of these records, but that no expense should be incurred without the sanction of Parliament.

Mr. Spring Rice

assured his right hon. friend, that nothing should be, or, indeed, could be, expended, without the sanction of the proper authorities.

Sir G. Warrender

hoped, that the country had not come to that pass that it was unable to erect a national gallery for the reception of a bequest of valuable pictures: no doubt the collection would be increased from time to time; and he hoped, with due and proper encouragement, to see as fine a collection of pictures in this country, as was to be found in any part of the world. He differed from Gentlemen who thought no place should be provided for them; they were at present hung up in a house that was likely to fall down.

Mr. Protheroe

expressed his belief, that the lights in the King's Mews were so disposed, as to render the place unfit for a picture gallery, and he suggested, that some part of the British Museum should be selected for their reception.

Mr. C. W. Wynn

was sure there was one point in which they must all agree, that some place must be found to place these pictures in. They could not be left where they were at present.

Mr. Robert Gordon

said, the country was not in such prosperous circumstances as to warrant any expense in erecting a building for works of art. The patrons of the arts should subscribe to erect such a building; in which case he should like to see it, but the country ought not to be saddled with the expense.

Mr. Hughes Hughes

begged to call the attention of Government to the state of Westminster Hall, the interior was in a most filthy and disgraceful state.

Mr. Alderman. Wood

said, he had many thousand constituents who where no lovers of the Fine Arts. They ought not to be taxed for the erection of such a building; they had not the means of paying such a tax. The pictures might be exhibited in the British Museum.

An Hon. Member hoped, they should not be called upon to erect places for the exhibition of works of the Fine Arts, when a famishing population was crying for bread.

Mr. Spring Rice

thought, that hon. Gentlemen forgot, that no intention had been expressed of erecting a national gallery. The discussion was altogether unnecessary.

Mr. Alderman Wood

trusted, that such an intention, should it ever exist, would be checked by the opinion then expressed.

Mr. Hume

said, there was an empty palace, which had cost 600,000l., and that would afford these pictures a very comfortable resting place. He hoped there was no intention of entering on the erection of a building without the sanction of Parliament.

Sir M. W. Ridley

was anxious to take the present opportunity of correcting a misrepresentation made by the hon. member for Middlesex, on a former evening, relating to repairs at Hampton-court Palace, He had made inquiry, and could affirm, that not one shilling was expended in repairing its private apartments; the individuals who occupied, repaired them. A doubt had been suggested also by the same hon. Member, whether the Crown had a right to dispose of these apartments. He could assure the hon. Member, that such a right had been vested in the Crown for many years. It afforded an opportunity of allowing asylums to distinguished foreigners, who were obliged to seek refuge out of their own country; and also to the widows or relatives of those who had deserved well of their country. The estimated sum allowed for repairs was bestowed on that part which was untenanted. The Treasury had no power, and had not attempted, to put the private apartments in repair, at the public expense.

Mr. Robert Gordon

wished to know, if 39,000l. of the public money was charged for the ordinary repairs of the palace, what sum was to be expected for the extraordinary expenses? He thought the hon. Member was not in order, in bringing the subject at present before the House, when there was nothing about it in the Estimates under consideration.

Mr. Hume

hoped his hon. friend would not think he was improperly censorious, when he remarked on the estimate for the ordinary repairs of Hampton-court Palace, on a previous occasion. He had seen in the Estimates 39,000l. charged for the repairs of Hampton-court and Windsor Palaces; and as he had always heard, that the private apartments were kept in repair by the occupiers, he thought some detailed account of the manner in which the money was expended should be laid before the House. The means of affording asylums to foreigners did not warrant such an expense, in the present state of the country. He admitted, that Lady Hoste was well entitled to the respect paid her, of having apartments free of expense; but it was invidious to confer such favours on the widows of particular officers. Others equally well entitled received no such boon. It would be better if the Palace were let as a lodging-house, than so to appropriate it. The pictures in question might be sent there.

Vote agreed to.