HC Deb 03 August 1888 vol 329 cc1369-71

, in asking the Secretary for Scotland, When he will be in a position to remove the Scottish Antiquarian Museum to the new building of the National Portrait Gallery in Edinburgh? said, that he had no wish to add any remarks to the Question, except to say that the condition of the Museum of Antiquities of Scotland had long been a subject of national disgrace. They had understood that when a private donor had given a large sum for new buildings in which those antiquities could be housed, the Treasury would undertake the cost of removal and keeping the buildings up. He understood, from answers given in "another place" that there was some hitch in the matter, and he was sure that any explanation from the Secretary for Scotland would be exceedingly welcome in Scotland.


said, he was greatly obliged to the noble Earl for having on one or two occasions postponed the Question at his reqnest. His object in asking those postponements was that he had hoped by this time to have been able to give him a satisfactory Answer, and to be able to state with some degree of certainty when it would be possible to remove these antiquities to the new building which had been provided for them by the munificence of a private donor. He was sorry to say that the hopes he had held of being enabled to give him a satisfactory answer were not fulfilled. The noble Earl was perfectly right in saying that there was an arrangement by which, when this most valuable collection of the Society of Antiquities was handed over to the nation, the care of it would be taken by Her Majesty's Government at the expense of the Treasury; but a difference had arisen between the Board of Manufacturers, who had the practical custody and charge of this collection at Edinburgh, and the Treasury, as to the exact meaning of the terms under which they were bound to maintain this collection for public purposes. The question was still under consideration, and he had hoped that it might have been settled before very long. He could not help adding that, as the noble Earl had said, this collection was now not at all adequately housed. A very large portion of it was quite useless from the fact that it was packed down in cellars where it was perfectly unapproachable by the public; and unless some arrangement was made before very long he feared that the donor who had undertaken to erect this magnificent building for the housing of this magnificent collection might withdraw from the promise he had given. He hoped the noble Earl would pat this Question again at a somewhat later period, when he hoped to be able to say that a proper arrangement had been come to.


said, that the noble Marquess's answer was mysterious in its tendency. He did not know whether the noble Lord had any Correspondence or Papers on the subject which he could lay on the Table of the House; but he was quite sure that if they allowed this Session to pass without a satisfactory explanation to the people of Scotland, it would cause great inconvenience.


said, he was unable to say at once whether there was any Correspondence; but he would make inquiries on the subject, and, if possible, he would meet the noble Earl's request.


said, he would ask the noble Marquess a Question on the subject on Tuesday.