HC Deb 11 March 1867 vol 185 cc1644-5

said, he wished to ask the First Commissioner of "Works, "Whether the following statement, contained in a letter addressed to him by the architects competing for the New National Gallery, is not correct, namely— We agreed to enter the competition on the distinct understanding with your Lordship's predecessor, the Right Hon. W. Cowper, that one of the competing architects would be selected for employment; and, whether he does not therefore intend to intrust the erection of the new building to one of those gentlemen?


Sir, I do not well understand the object of the hon. Member's Question, nor in what sense he expects me to answer it. If he means whether I place implicit reliance on a statement made by ten gentlemen of high honour and great professional eminence, I answer decidedly in the affirmative, that I do place implicit reliance on their statement. But if he means to ask if I find in the records of the Office of Works any corroboration of that statement, I am bound to say that on looking at the papers I do not find any corroboration of that statement. With respect; to the second Question of the hon. Gentleman, he is no doubt aware that the Judges, in their Report, do not give any recommendation as to the reconstruction of the existing National Gallery or the building of a new one. That question, therefore, is left to the consideration of the Government. It is now under their consideration, and I cannot therefore say what course may be adopted with respect either to the re-construction of the old building or the execution of a new one. When that decision is arrived at, I cannot doubt that Government will give every consideration to the agreement stated to have been entered into with the right hon. Gentleman opposite (Mr. Cowper) by the competing architects.