HC Deb 23 May 1911 vol 26 c149

asked the Attorney-General whether his attention has been called to the proposed sale by the committee of the Bedford Literary Institute of Foxe's "Book of Martyrs," which was formerly in the possession of John Bunyan during his imprisonment; and whether, the book having been purchased, by public subscription, in 1841 and deposited in the Bedford Library as a sacred trust, any steps will be taken to prevent such action?

The ATTORNEY-GENERAL (Sir Rufus Isaacs)

I am informed that the Bedford Literary and Scientific Institute is a purely private association, and that the book in question was purchased by some of the members thereof from the general funds of the library, and is the absolute property of the members of the library. In these circumstances and in the absence of any other information, it does not appear to be open to me to take any action on behalf of the public in the matter. If, however, the hon. Member has any further information I shall be pleased to consider it if submitted to me.


As this book is a unique memorial of one of the greatest of Englishmen, and therefore much more of a national treasure than Holbein's "Duchess" or Velasquez's "Venus," towards the purchase of which the Government contributed, will the Government take similar action in this case to prevent the book going abroad?


I am afraid that question does not arise in my Department.