HC Deb 08 May 1891 vol 353 cc359-60

I beg to ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer whether, having regard to the fact that the late Mr. Sheepshanks' collection of pictures was accepted by the nation in 1857 avowedly to establish a Gallery of British Art; that one of the conditions of Mr. Sheepshanks' gift, agreed to by the Government, was that it "should have the advantage of undivided responsibility in its management," the Member of Her Majesty's Government for the time being charged with the promotion of Art education being the ex officio Trustee, "instead of its being subject to the control of any body of Trustees or Managers"; that the deed of gift also provides that, if by future enactment of the Legislature, the disposition of the gift should be interfered with, the pictures and drawings are to be added to and form part of the Fitz-william Collection in the University of Cambridge; and that other valuable gifts and bequests of pictures, such as the Ellison and Dyce Collections, have been added to the Gallery of British Art on the same terms and conditions, Her Majesty's Government will consider whether it is desirable, in the interests of British Art and of the Gallery of British Art already founded by the munificent gifts of Mr. Sheepshanks and others, to establish at South Kensington another Gallery of British Art under a body of Trustees, and not under the responsible management of a Minister of the Crown; and whether the Government will undertake that nothing shall be done which may occasion the loss of the Sheepshanks and other collections to the nation?


My right hon. Friend has requested me to answer this question. Looking to the facts stated in the preamble of my hon. Friend's question, his first point is no doubt one for the consideration of Her Majesty's Government. I have no hesitation in giving an affirmative reply to the second inquiry.