HC Deb 05 May 1892 vol 4 cc176-7
DR. FARQUHARSON (Aberdeenshire, W.)

I beg to ask the First Commissioner of Works whether his attention has been called to the following extract from the Report of the Director of the National Gallery for the year 1891:— Meanwhile the collection has been and is being increased by the acquisition, through bequest as well as by purchase, of numerous pictures, for which absolutely no space exists on the walls nor could be provided even at the fatal cost of breaking up the present classification; the adapting of hanging screens as an alternative has had the unfortunate effect of crowding the galleries and impeding the circulation of visitors: it will be impossible to employ this expedient further without causing serious inconvenience"; and whether he can now inform the House what answer Government proposes to give to the memorial of the Trustees, complaining of the increasing inadequacy of space for hanging pictures in the Gallery, and the danger from fire to which the collection is exposed from its close contiguity with St. George's Barracks?


Replying also to a similar question on this subject by Mr. Kenrick, said: The memorial of the Trustees of the National Gallery has received, and will continue to receive, the careful attention of Her Majesty's Government; and while we cannot agree that the want of space is at this moment as absolutely urgent as the Trustees insist that it is, we fully admit that the time will soon come when some addition must be made to the existing buildings. That subject will have to be considered—and I may say is now being considered—in connection with the future arrangements as to St. George's Barracks. Under these circumstances, I cannot add much to the answer I gave the hon. Member last year, except to say that the additional precautions against fire which I then promised have since been carried out.


Does the right hon. Gentleman really believe that anything short of the total demolition of these barracks will remove the risk of fire from the National Gallery? I should also like to know whether the Gallery is only separated by a not particularly thick wall from that portion of the barracks which contains the canteen, the sergeants' mess, and the married couples' quarters?


I did not know that the married couples' quarters are particularly inflammable; but, as I have already informed the hon. Member, we have taken every possible precaution to protect the adjacent part of the National Gallery. I may also say that the future of the barracks is under consideration at the War Office.