§ *MR. MORTON (Peterborough)
I rise to Order. I have a Notice on the Paper referring to a Vote which comes before that referred to by the hon. Member, and I presume I shall be allowed to go on with it. I beg to move that the Vote be reduced by £100. I do not desire a Division on this matter. All I want is some information from the right hon. Gentleman the First Commissioner of Works (Mr. Plunket) as to the intentions of the Government respecting Linlithgow Palace. On several occasions during the past few years I have called attention to the bad state of repair which the palaces and public buildings in Scotland have been allowed to fall into. There is a general opinion in Scotland that ever since the Union it has been the policy of the British Government to permit those places to go to ruin, with the view of getting them out of the way as soon as possible. With regard to this particular palace, I may say that the Edinburgh Architectural Association, and other associations in Scotland, have expressed the opinion that the sum of £250 which is proposed to be spent both this year and another £250 next year is not anything like sufficient to put this palace in a proper state of repair. I have had a number of letters from these associations which I will not take up the time of the Committee in reading, although I should like to quote one or two extracts just to show what is the 1937 opinion of these bodies on this matter. Referring to Linlithgow Palace the Edinburgh Architectural Association passed the following Resolution:—That the association feels that the buildings of the palace are presently in a critical state and express a hope that without delay such steps will be taken by the Government as will prevent the further internal decay of the palace through exposure to the weather and remove the immediate risk of the masonry falling, and thereby causing serious destruction to the remainder of the fabric.I may here mention that I have read that this building was wantonly destroyed to a large extent by British troops in 1746, and has never since been put into a thorough state of repair. Within the last few days I have received a copy of the Report of the Committee of Council of the Edinburgh Architectural Association, signed by the hon. sec, in which they say—Looking to the extent of the buildings the sum of £500 which the Committee understand is proposed to be included for repairs, by two instalments in the Estimates of this year and next, is quite insufficient to ensure the safety of the buildings.I hope the right hon. Gentleman will give a full and complete answer as to what is proposed to be done in this matter, and that he will also consider the representations made by this Association, which are well worthy of his attention. No doubt other hon. Members take as much interest in this question as I do, although my profession is such as leads me to notice public buildings especially.
§ Motion made, and Question proposed, "That the Item of £15,000, for the Royal Parks and Pleasure Gardens, be reduced by £100."—(Mr. Morton.)
§ THE FIRST COMMISSIONER OF WORKS (Mr. PLUNKET,) Dublin University
The state of matters with regard to Linlithgow Palace I can very easily explain to the hon. Member for Peterborough. The grounds upon which we have asked for £250 for this year are that the whole matter has been carefully considered by our surveyor in Scotland—who is a very able officer—and he has reported to us that £500 will be sufficient for the purpose of preserving the palace from decay and further ruin. Another proposal which has been made to us is that the palace should be practically restored, and 1938 made in point of fact a habitable building—that it should be restored to the position of a palace of dignity and rank. Well, Sir, that is a proposal I cannot undertake to entertain. We believe that the sum we have asked for is sufficient for the time for which it is asked to preserve the building from any real danger of decay or accident. If, however, the hon. Member (Mr. Morton) should submit to me on the part of the various Associations he has referred to, or any other body, any reasons for thinking that the plans we have proposed and the money we have asked for are not sufficient to maintain in safety and preserve intact the natural beauty of the ruins of the palace, I shall be happy to consider them, but I cannot on behalf of the Government undertake to entertain any proposals that may be made for the restoration of Linlithgow Palace.
§ MR. M'LAGAN (Linlithgow)
The right hon. Gentleman has stated that a proposal has been submitted to him for restoring this palace again to the position of a habitable Royal Palace. I do not go that length, but I think a part of it at least should be so far restored as to be made available as a museum. There was one statement which the right hon. Gentleman made that I received with pleasure — namely, that if the sum voted to-day is not sufficient to put the buildings in order and preserve the ruins, he will be prepared to ask the Committee to vote a larger sum. At the same time, if he could see his way to carry out my suggestion, and add to its attraction as a beautiful ruin that of a museum, I think it would be of great advantage to the people who visit it.
§ MR. MORTON
I have to thank the right hon. Gentleman for what he has said, and I wish to ask him if he will let the Association have a copy of the Report of the surveyor in Scotland he referred to. The right hon. Gentleman, I presume, quite understands that the Association I have referred to do not consider £500 sufficient to put Linlithgow Palace into such a state of repair as to preserve it; and I will take care that they shall have an opportunity of presenting to the right hon. Gentleman any further observations they have to 1939 make on this important matter. I now ask leave to withdraw my Amendment.
§ MR. HUNTER (Aberdeen, N.)
I should like to point out that although what the right hon. Gentleman (Mr. Plunket) said was very satisfactory as far as it went, he did not express any opinion upon what I understand to be the main point of the position. The Edinburgh Architectural Society are of opinion that there is only one possible way by which the ruin can be preserved, and that is by roofing it, and that this £500 falls short of what is required.
§ MR. PLUNKET
In answer to the hon. Member for Peterborough I may say it is not usual to lay these Reports on the Table of the House. I shall, however have pleasure in informing him of the substance of the report of the Surveyor in Scotland, but I have not a copy of it with me just now. As regards the point raised by the hon. Member who has just sat down, I cannot undertake to promise to put a new roof on this building, but we will protect it in every way necessary to preserve it from further decay.