§ Viscount Mahon
wished to renew the question which he had before put to the right hon. Baronet at the head of Her Majesty's Government with respect to the preservation of works of art, arising out of the recent destruction of the Portland Vase. The House were aware that the punishment inflicted by the police magistrates on the individual who destroyed that valuable monument of antiquity was on account of the destruction, not of the vase itself, but of the glass case by which it was covered. When he before mentioned the subject in the House, his right hon. Friend said that the trustees of the British Museum were about holding a meeting on the subject; and that it would be advisable that that meeting should take place before any discussion was had on the subject in Parliament. That meeting having been since held, he now wished to know from his right hon. Friend, whether it was in contemplation to introduce any measure during the present Session for the better protection or better preservation of works of art.
§ Sir Robert Peel
said, in answer to his noble Friend, he should beg to state that the trustees had since then considered the subject, and that Her Majesty's Government had also given it their consideration. The opinion of all parties was, that the law, as it at present stood, was confessedly defective, and that it afforded no protection for valuable works of art. The Government, therefore, intended to propose to the House a Billon the subject. They were at present in communication with his hon. Friend the Solicitor General about the preparation of the Bill for that purpose, and he trusted that they would be able to lay it on the Table at an early day.