HC Deb 05 July 1888 vol 328 cc403-4
MR. BUCHANAN (Edinburgh, W.)

asked the Secretary to the Treasury, Whether by Minute of July 1, 1851, when the collection of antiquities belonging to the Society of Antiquaries in Scotland was by that Body gratuitously handed over to the nation, the Treasury undertook to provide funds for the reception, accommodation, preservation, and maintenance of the Museum as a Public Building; whether it is a fact that the Board of Manufactures has recently called upon the Treasury, through the Secretary for Scotland, to provide funds for the painting, lighting, fitting up, &c., of the new building in Edinburgh to be occupied by the Museum; whether the Treasury has declined to do so; and, if so, on what grounds; and, whether considerable additional expense has been entailed by the suspension of the contracts for the completion of the work?


The arrangement of 1851 contemplated only one building for the collection of the Society of Antiquaries and other public collections in Edinburgh. This has been modified by the conditions on which the Treasury agreed, in 1884, to contribute towards the separate building which has been provided by private munificence, of which we have recently had so many and striking instances in Scotland, for the Antiquaries' Collection and the Portrait Gallery. One of these conditions was that the Treasury should pay for fitting up the Museum part of the building; and the Treasury has accordingly sanctioned an expenditure of £3,200 for this purpose, of which £1,500 is provided in this year's Estimates; but we have not considered that the cost of painting, of heating, lighting, and fire appliances, &c., came within the undertaking of the Treasury. The Society of Antiquaries allege that extra expense has been entailed by the suspension of the works; for such suspension, however, the Government is not responsible, as the Treasury decision was communicated to the Secretary for Scotland in February last.


asked, if the hon. Gentleman would have any objection to lay on the Table the Correspondence on the subject which had passed between the Secretary for Scotland and the Board of Manufactures?


replied that, as had been said by the Chancellor of the Exchequer the other day, he thought there was great objection to laying on the Table of this House Departmental Correspondence; because it would lead in future to letters being written rather with that view than for the promotion of the business in hand.