HC Deb 01 August 1850 vol 113 cc659-61

(9.) 10,000l., National Gallery, in Scotland.


wished some further information to be laid before the House on this subject.—[Sir W. G. CRAIG: The papers have been laid on the table.] He had not received the papers. Edinburgh was a place whore people were very competent to do these things themselves. He did not see why Edinburgh should have such votes, when Liverpool and Manchester had nothing of the kind. He protested in principle against such a vote for the city of Edinburgh.


said, that some of his Friends around him were very anxious that the House should consider this to be his job. He considered it a reproach to the country that Scotland had not some establishment to promote the fine arts. The school of art had arisen under great disadvantages, and it was now acquiring such a station that the Government might fairly give it some assistance. There were many persons who knew much better than he did, the value of the works done by some of his countrymen. It was for the promotion of science and art generally, that this sum was now asked for. The city of Edinburgh had come forward with 14,000l. It was a grievous thing that on a rainy day the working classes were obliged to have recourse to public-houses, as the only museum they had an opportunity of visiting.


would be glad to know who was responsible for the manner in which this vote was proposed. It was signed "W. G. Hayter," and the vote for the Edinburgh galleries was preceded by these words—"The sum proposed to be contributed by the Government towards this important object is 25,000l." That was the sort of language found in the advertisements of the late Mr. George Robins; but he had never heard of epithets of this description being interlarded in votes of public money. It seemed as if it was thought the Committee were not competent to form an opinion upon the vote, and he hoped this new system of description would not be followed.


said, that the manner in which this vote was originally introduced was very objectionable, but it was now altered. The Government had furnished a great deal of information on this subject. He wished, however, for further information as to how the building was to be carried on, and under whose superintendence. It appeared that the building was to be erected on the Mound at Edinburgh, which was certainly one of the finest sites in Europe; and he hoped, now his hon. Friend the Member for Edinburgh had got this vote, he would get those to superintend the work who would produce an edifice worthy of the nation and of the purpose for which it was designed.


said, that on looking over this item he found something which made him think that the whole of this detail was done for the purpose of making things pleasant in the House. He had had an opportunity of speaking under the gallery one evening with a gentleman high in authority in Edinburgh on this subject, and although he understood that the city of Edinburgh was to give the site for this building for some 1,000l., there seemed to have been put down a sum of 4,000l. That was one point which made him doubt the accuracy of the whole of this statement. He had learnt, on very good authority, that the city of Edinburgh was afflicted with a superabundance of money in the charitable institutions. There had been foolish old men who had died and left large sums of money for charitable purposes, and he had it on the best authority that the population of Edinburgh was suffering from the extraordinary amount of money which was constantly going through the hospitals, by which children were withdrawn from the superintendence of their parents, and reared in a manner not favourable to their own good or the public good. If the city of Edinburgh, having this superabundance of money, did this mischief, would it not be better for the House to pass an Act of Parliament to apply some of these funds mischievously employed for purposes of this nature? It might be a better thing than coming to the House for a vote of 10,000l. In the ease of Heriot's Hospital an Act of Parliament had been obtained by which a considerable portion of the funds had been applied from the will of the founder. There were three schools in various parts of this city. The money got in this way was laid out in the adornment of magnificent buildings, because there was no other object upon which you could bestow it.


said, that that portion of the site on the Mound which belonged to the corporation of Edinburgh would be purchased for 1,000l., but the other portion of ground which would be required, belonging to the Royal Society, would cost 3,000l. Mr. Playfair, the greatest living architect in Scotland, would have the superintendence of the building, and he would take care that the money was properly expended. As for the charitable institutions alluded to by the hon. Member for Manchester, he would remind him that they were strictly laid up for particular objects, and they could not divert the funds belonging to them. An attempt was made last year to mate a very slight change in one of their charities, but the Bill was rejected by the House of Lords on the ground of such interference.

Vote agreed to.

House resumed. Resolutions to be reported To-morrow.