§ Mr. Hawes
wished to put a question to the right hon. Baronet. The committee which had sat for the purpose of seeing how far the fine arts might be promoted in connexion with the new houses of Parliament had pointed out some means of making further inquiry; and he was anxious to know whether the Government had any intention of acting upon the recommendations of that committee, or whether the right hon. Baronet had any information to give to the House upon the subject.
§ Sir R. Peel
said, that he had read with the greatest attention the report of the committee referred to by the hon. Member, and the very interesting evidence taken before that committee. He certainly thought that the opportunity afforded for the encouragement of the arts, by the building of the Houses of Parliament ought to be taken advantage of, at least for the purpose of fully investigating, upon mature reflection, whether or not the construction of those Houses might not be made conducive to the encouragement of the higher branches of the arts, It was, doubtless, a subject deserving of the most serious attention. He thought that the committee which had been appointed last Session, had conducted the inquiry, as far as time had permitted, in a very satisfactory manner, and that it would have been most useful to have carried that inquiry further. That, however, the committee were prevented from doing by the close of the Session, although there were many more persons whose opinions they would have been glad to receive, and many points which they had not an opportunity of fully 1014 considering, which they gladly would have considered. He would have no objection whatever to the re-appointment of that committee, in consequence of the manner in which they discharged the duly with which they had been intrusted, did he not feel that inquiry in that shape was somewhat unsatisfactory. It could only be carried on during the sitting of Parliament. The prorogation, or adjournment, of Parliament necessarily terminated the labours of the committee. He was, therefore, of opinion that this inquiry, which it appeared to him it was of the greatest importance to continue, might be continued with the greatest advantage, by a commission appointed by the Crown, without reference, in the slightest degree, to party distinctions. And considering that the buildings now in progress were for the accommodation of the House of Lords as well as Commons, considering that joint committees, although not without precedent, were rather cumbrous tribunals, and that a commission to be appointed by the Crown was the most advisable, he conceived that such Members in each House of Parliament as had turned their attention to the question of the fine arts, might be invited to constitute that commission. Another advantage to be derived from the appointment of a commission, acting in concert with the executive Government was, that the inquiry might be made with reference to the progress of the arts in other countries, through the intervention of the Crown, in a much more satisfactory manner than it could be effected by a committee of the House of Commons. Above all, the appointment of a commission would enable the inquiry to be continued during the recess, when the Parliament was not sitting; and was, he thought, upon the whole, the most advisable and expedient. He was sure the House and the country would hear with great satisfaction, as this commission would in no respect partake of a party or political character, and as also the new building, when completed, would comprise a part of her Majesty's ancient palace of Westminster, that his Royal Highness Prince Albert had willingly consented to become a member of such a commission, and to add to its labours the advantage, not only of his station and character, but also of his knowledge and taste in all matters connected with the promotion of the fine arts. [Mr. Hawes: I hope the commis- 1015 sioners will not be paid.] The hon. Member hoped that the commission would be unpaid. It certainly would. He was sure that such Members of both Houses, as he suggested, might be invited to assist upon that commission, would find sufficient in their love of the fine arts, to induce them to do so. He thought it would also be desirable to include in the commission some persons not in either Mouse of Parliament, but well known for their admiration and encouragement of the fine arts, which, indeed, he was sure would be a sufficient stimulus to every member of the commission, to apply himself sedulously to the discharge of the duties connected with the inquiry.
§ Sir R. Peel
was happy at the opportunity afforded him of publicly stating, that there would be no remuneration.
§ Subject at an end.