HC Deb 04 July 1898 vol 60 cc943-5

I beg to ask the Secretary to the Treasury whether the Treasury authorised an annual expenditure of £100 from 1861–2 to 1868–9 for the payment of the intrinsic value of treasure trove found in Ireland to the Receiver of Irish Constabulary, the articles so paid for to be sent to the museum of the Royal Irish Academy; whether from 1869 to the present time the same amount was voted to the Royal Irish Academy for the same purpose; whether it is possible to ascertain how much of the total sum voted by Parliament during these 37 years has been actually expended, and what may be the total intrinsic or metallic value of the gold and silver articles purchased; whether, in reference to Irish treasure trove, the Treasury Minute of the 16th July, 1861, is still in force, and what steps have been taken to make provision by which treasure of a value higher than the intrinsic value would find its way into some collection, either public or private; and whether the order to the Irish Constabulary, made by His Excellency the Lord Lieutenant of Ireland in 1862, to the effect that Her Majesty's Treasury had authorised an arrangement by which all articles of antiquity found in Ireland would be purchased from their possessors at their full value, is in force?


From 1861 to 1868 an annual sum of £100 was included in the Estimate for the Royal Irish Constabulary to provide rewards for discoverers of treasure trove. The valuations were made by the Royal Irish Academy, who had the first refusal of all articles received. Since 1868–9 the provision of £100 has been continued as part of the general grant in aid to the academy, but, being a grant in aid, the Treasury are not informed as to the precise purposes to which it is applied. I cannot without longer notice state the amount expended between 1861 and 1869 out of the provision in the Constabulary Vote, as the information can only be obtained from the books in the constabulary office. I am informed by the treasurer of the academy that out of the £2,900 which has been voted to that institution since 1868–9, a sum of £2,868 5s. 3d. has been expended, but not necessarily, I understand, upon treasure trove; but the academy authorities cannot at short notice furnish a statement of the total intrinsic or metallic value of the gold and silver articles purchased. The procedure laid down in the Treasury Minute of the 16th July does not apply to Irish treasure trove, but I am assured that the museum committee of the academy administer their grant in accordance with the intention of that Minute, and that they use their discretion in granting such an amount above the mere intrinsic value as they think proper in order to guard against the danger of objects being withheld from: the national collections. The order of the Irish Government, directing payment by the constabulary of the full value—which the Treasury meant to be "bullion value" —of all articles of antiquity, ceased, of course, to be directly applicable when the provision for such payments was transferred from the control of the constabulary to that of the academy. But the present regulations of the constabulary contain, full directions to the members of the force as to the treatment of articles brought to them; and all such articles are forwarded to the academy for their decision.