§ MR. HENRY SEYMOUR
said, he would beg to ask Mr. Chancellor of the Exchequer, Whether he has entered into negotiations with Messrs. Kelk and Lucas for the purchase of the building of the Great Exhibition of 1862, with a view to remove into it a portion of the collections of the British Museum.
§ MR. GREGORY
said, he would also beg to ask the right hon. Gentleman when the Royal Commissioners of the Exhibition of 1862 intend to publish their final Report; and whether the Commissioners of 1851 intend to insist on the removal of the present Exhibition Building within six months after the closing of the Exhibition.
§ THE CHANCELLOR OF THE EXCHEQUER
said, in reply, that the Government had entered into no negotiations with Messrs. Kelk and Lucas, for the purchase of the building of the Great Exhibition of 1862, either with a view to remove into it a portion of the collections of the British Museum, or for any other object. In point of fact, he was not in a condition, as a Minister, to give any information on the subject. His hon. Friend (Mr. Henry Seymour), however, was probably aware that the disposal of the Exhibition building depended upon a concurrence of parties, and not upon Messrs. Kelk and Lucas alone, and that it could only be by 21 an agreement between the Commissions of 1862, the Commissioners of 1851, and Messrs. Kelk and Lucas, that any proposal on that subject could be made. He believed that the Finance Committee of 1851, which was in some sense the organ for such purposes of the Commissioners of 1851, had entertained the question, whether it would be expedient to make a proposal to the Government to take over the building, and might have had, or perhaps had had some communication with Messrs. Kelk and Lucas upon that subject on its own account and responsibility, and not at all on the responsibility of the Government. He might also add, that having heard, not formally or officially, but informally and unofficially, what were the views of the contractors, he did not think, so far as he was able to comprehend them, that those views would be compatible with what the Government would think due to the exigencies of the public service or to the justice of the case. That was all he was able to say. On the part of the Government, indeed, he had absolutely nothing to say, and what he had ventured to say he had said merely to convey to his hon. Friend, in an imperfect form, such information, if it could be called such, as he possessed as a private individual.
With respect to the Question of the hon. Member for Galway (Mr. Gregory), he believed the Commissioners of 1862 had prepared what the hon. Gentleman termed their final Report, though it was not, strictly speaking, a final Report, because the publication of their final Report would, of couse, involve the winding up of all their concerns. No doubt, however, the hon. Member meant their principal Report, in which they gave an account of the transactions connected with the Exhibition. That Report was prepared, was ready for presentation, and only awaited one or two necessary formalities in order to be laid before Parliament. With regard to the latter part of the Question—whether the Commissioners of 1851 intended to insist on the removal of the present Exhibition building within six months after the closing of the Exhibition of 1862—he was not aware that the Commissioners had come to any absolutely final conclusion upon that subject, but he believed that directions had been given to issue to the contractors a notice requiring them to remove the building, so as to keep alive the full rights of the Commissioners as they stood under the original agreement.