HC Deb 16 June 1902 vol 109 cc689-90
MR. ASHTON (Bedfordshire, Luton)

To ask the First Commissioner of Works, whether he will state who is responsible for the erection of wooden stands for Coronation Bay in close proximity to and in front of the National Gallery; whether the trustees of the National Gallery have been consulted and given their sanction to these erections; and, seeing that public money has been lately expended, or is in course of expenditure, for the purpose of acquiring brick fabrics in proximity to the Gallery to prevent risk of fire, whether, with the view of preventing risk from fire, he will take steps to prohibit those accumulations of wood; and will he state who will be held responsible in case of the destruction by fire of the works of art in the Gallery.

(Answer.) The responsibility for the erection of these stands rests primarily on the Office of Works; but the trustees have been kept fully informed of what (following the precedent of 1897) has been going on, and they have raised no objection. No pains have been spared to secure the safety of the Gallery. As I stated in answer to a Question on 4th June, these stands are watched at night by police stationed there for the purpose, such police at intervals being visited by the chief police officer in charge of the building. The hose is connected at six points, and all is ready for immediate use. Hand pumps have also been supplied. I arranged a few weeks ago, by the courtesy of the County Council, that all the stands should be visited by firemen periodically, and that Captain Wells should advise as to any steps which he might consider necessary, having regard to the adjacent buildings. His recommendations will, in all cases, be carried out. In the National Gallery, fire buckets, hose, and every appliance are kept in the utmost readiness, and the staff is on the alert. I may add that similar precautions as to watching and as to the provision of hydrants and fire hose have been taken in regard to all stands which have been erected by my Department.—(Office of Works.)