HC Deb 14 March 1912 vol 35 cc1361-93

Resolution reported, "That a Supplementary sum, not exceeding £3,500, be granted to His Majesty, to defray the Charge which will come in course of payment during the year ending on the 31st day of March, 1912, for the Salaries and Expenses of the Commissioner of Police, the Police Courts, and Metropolitan Police Establishment of Dublin."

Motion made and Question proposed, "That this House doth agree with the Committee in the said Resolution."


I beg to move the reduction of the Vote by £100.

The additional sum of £3,500 is caused by a special Grant for the police employed on extra duty during the Royal visit in 1911, and during the labour troubles from July to October, 1911. I do not raise any question upon the employment of the police during the Royal visit, but I wish to do so in regard to their employment during the strikes. The question was raised in Committee, but met with no satisfactory reply. As the Chief Secretary has had a considerable interval in which to reflect upon the unsatisfactory nature of his replies to the Committee, I had hoped he would have been present to-night to explain his conduct during the period from July to October, 1911. I do not in any way say that the police were in fault during that time, nor that the police themselves of their own initiative could have done anything to put down the strikes. Every man has a right to strike if he likes. I am an individualist, and I do not for a moment suggest that any man has not a right to refuse his labour if he so desires. That is not my point at all. I say, however, that if the Chief Secretary had been in Dublin, where he ought to have been during those months, he might have given directions to the police so to maintain order that persons desirous of working would have been protected and enabled to work.




The hon. Gentleman says nonsense. I do not know what experience he has of this particular case which justifies him in using that rather strong expression. I am afraid I do not agree with it. It will require more than the interjection of nonsense to convince me that I am wrong. Had the Chief Secretary been in his place I maintain that a very considerable amount of these disturbances would not have happened. I feel a little anxious on this point in regard to my language, because I was going to use the word "riot." I see, however, the hon. Gentleman below the gangway, and I know perfectly well that if I used the word "riot" he would get up and say that there were no riots and that the expression was wrong. I would point out that a large quantity of goods which should have gone to their destination were stopped because the Chief Secretary gave no order to the police. [An HON. MEMBER: "No."] Well that is not the evidence which has been put before this House. If the hon. Gentleman the Vice-President can convince me that I am wrong, that is a different matter altogether. But no evidence hitherto has been brought forward that goods and property were not damaged. It it quite true that the hon. Gentleman the Member for Mayo stated that there were no riots, but will the hon. Gentleman the Member for Mayo venture to contradict the hon. Gentleman the Member for Warrington (Mr. Harold Smith) who was actually present apparently in charge of some goods which he could not get delivered?


The hon. Gentleman the Member for Warrington could not get any carter to cart them away. That was because the Dublin carters were on strike.


That is not my recollection of what the hon. Gentleman the Member for Warrington said. My recollection is that he said that he could have got carters provided that the right hon. Gentleman the Chief Secretary had given an assurance that they would be protected. Therefore I object to this increase, because the police did not do what they ought to have done. This was no fault of theirs but the fault of the right hon. Gentleman who was playing golf, or amusing himself in some other way, instead of being at the post of duty. I think I have shown with considerable force and reason that this Supplementary Estimate ought not to be approved by the House, or, if it is approved—because nobody on this side of the House, or, indeed, on the other, would desire to deprive the police of pay which they had earned—it should be shown on this side of the House that, at any rate, we consider the right hon. Gentleman the Chief Secretary was wanting in not turning out at a very exceptional time. Hon. Gentlemen below the Gangway may say that the right hon. Gentleman did all that was necessary. It is quite possible that he did what he was told. I am afraid it is impossible that we should get a satisfactory reply. I trust the hon. Gentleman opposite will convey to the Chief Secretary the sense of the House that it is his duty to be on the spot in times of trouble. If one takes a great position, one has to fulfil the responsibilities of it. No responsibility can be greater than that a chief should be present in times of trouble and distress.


I beg to second the Amendment. I do not, of course, wish to say anything upon what the hon. Baronet who preceded me has mentioned, but I should like to ask the hon. Gentleman opposite if he can explain certain figures which are on the Paper before us. If the Vice-President will look at the figures which are opposite the letter M he will see that the original Estimate seems to have been £56,553 and the revised Estimate £56,053. I should have said that £500 less was required, but apparently, according to these Estimates, £500 more is required. Again, if you deduct £500 from £3,000, it ought to leave £2,500, but, according to this Paper, the amount is £3,500. If they conduct finance in that way in Ireland I do not wonder that there is trouble about Home Rule finance.


This question was fully discussed in Committee, but I offer no objection to it being raised afresh. Even the Members of the Government must have food, and that accounts for the absence for the present of my right hon. Friend the Chief Secretary. It so happens that during the whole of the period referred to I was in Dublin attending to my work there. I was a very careful observer of everything that took place. These strikes, in any case, are most regrettable, for they cause a great deal of inconvenience to business men and a great deal of hardship to the general community; they are regrettable in every sense of the word. I am not here saying one word as to who was to blame, as to who was in the right or who was in the wrong. All I say is that it is a most unfortunate thing that they occur. A strike did occur, but let me point out—and it ought to be reiterated in this House—that if ever there was a peaceful strike it was this one. There were no riots. That is a total misdescription of what took place. The police, acting under the orders of their officers, did what was possible, and did a great deal to facilitate traders in getting their goods delivered and in protecting the carts and the wagons. I saw that with my own eyes. It is altogether wrong to say that the traders of the city had no protection while the strike was going on. Business was not dislocated to that extent. I want to say that from my own knowledge and of what I saw in the streets of Dublin that many wagons under police protection did deliver goods.

It is a total mistake to say that the police were left without orders. The hon. Baronet said that the police did not act because the Chief Secretary was not at his post to give them orders. Really, the police are under the charge of responsible officials of their own. No doubt if the Chief Secretary had been there he would have considered the whole question, but he was not ignorant of what was going on. The authorities at Dublin Castle were not ignorant of his views, and he had a most capable officer in the Under-Secretary for Ireland representing him, and not only was the law carried out but that Gentleman received deputations of traders and everybody else concerned and did what one man really could to settle the dispute, and it was largely owing to him that the strike terminated as it did. Nothing more could be done if the right hon. Gentleman, the Chief Secretary was present. I say, first of all, this was a most peaceable strike; secondly, that everything was done to give protection to the traders who were in need of it. It was not for the Government to step in and stop the strike. No one could stop a strike in that way by the use of police and military. A man has a right to stop work if he likes, and no one has a right to compel him to work, and anyone who tries to do so would find himself in the wrong. I think the hon. Baronet the Member for the City of London has really got a mistaken idea of what took place in Dublin. I do not mean to say there was no trouble or that people were not inconvenienced, but there never was a more peaceable strike and there never was a strike where the police did more to protect the traders of the country in their business than, in that strike. It passed off without disorder, loss of life, or without anyone being injured. Strikes do not always pass away in that way, and if the hon. Baronet will allow me to say so, I do not believe everything I read in the newspapers. The longer I live, the more I am in doubt of what appears in the newspapers, at all events, in Ireland.


At all events in England.


The longer I live, the more I am inclined to revise newspaper reports, and sometimes when they are revised the circumstances are found not to have existed at all. There was damage done, but upon a very small scale. The hon. Member for Westmorland asked my attention to the figures in the Estimate. The difficulty arose in Committee, but when the hon. Gentleman talks about the difficulty of dealing with Irish finance I would like to remind him that these are Treasury figures. The Irish Office is not responsible for making up these accounts. The Chief Secretary was himself very well able to decipher the difficulty that arose on the last occasion. I have the answer now. The question raised as to the difference between the original Estimate of £100,656 and the original Estimate of £95,801 in the same Estimate is based on an entire misapprehension. The sum of £100,656 is the total of two items in the original Estimate, namely, £100,026, and incidental expenditure £630, so that the total is £100,656. The total of £95,801, as is noted in the original Estimate, is made up of the total estimated expenditure under eleven Subheads of the Vote, which amounts to £153,354, less the Estimate of Appropriation-in-Aid, made up of £56,553. The figures of A and D are therefore not comparable in any way. This is the Treasury method of making up the account. In Ireland I hope when we do get to making up our accounts we shall be able to put them clearer than I admit these figures seems to be. That is the real explanation as given by the officials, and I hope, therefore, the hon. Gentleman will be content. The Chief Secretary was in Ireland during part of the strike after a holiday. Even the hon. Baronet would not be inclined to grudge him that holiday. My contention is that nothing happened during that strike that would not have happened if the Chief Secretary was there all the time. I say the strike, so far as the police was concerned, was excellently well managed, and we have to congratulate ourselves that it passed off so well and that so little harm was done.


I want some further explanation with regard to the Appropriation-in-Aid. The right hon. Gentleman rightly says these accounts are got out by the Treasury. Yes, but when they are got out with regard to Ireland it seems to me they are always totally different from those of England. In every other case, the Appropriation-in-Aid has always been larger than the original Estimate. When we come to Ireland we find the Appropriation in the revised Estimate is less by £500 than they estimated would be received. We look for the explanation, which is a deficiency in these receipts from the police court fines, but we have no explanation why they have produced less. [An HON. MEMBER: "There was less crime."] No, the explanation I consider is, that the police have not succeeded in capturing the people and getting the fines out of them.


I can only speak again by leave of the House. If the hon. Gentleman knew the city of Dublin he would know there is as competent a police force in that city as there is in any part of the three Kingdoms. The deficit is simply owing to the diminution of crime. The hon. Member says the reduction is due to the inability of the police to capture the criminals. That is not so. It is a bonâ fide reduction due to the reduction of crime.


The hon. Baronet who moved this reduction says that the state of lawlessness in Dublin was due to the absence of the Chief Secretary for Ireland, He instanced the case of the hon. Member for Warrington, who could not get some goods conveyed. I venture to suggest that even if there was no strike in Dublin at all, the moment it became known what the goods were no Nationalist would handle them. It is well known the goods were fifty odd boxes of Tariff Reform and Unionist literature, and even if the men had taken them the horses would not.

Question put, "That '£3,500' stand part of the said Resolution."

The Committee divided: Ayes, 130; Noes, 68.

Division No. 44.] AYES. [9.25 p.m.
Abraham, Rt. Hon. William (Rhondda) Farrell, James Patrick Meehan, Francis E. (Leitrim, N.)
Adamson, William Ffrench, Peter Molteno, Percy Alport
Addison, Dr. Christopher Fitzgibbon, John Mooney, John J.
Agnew, Sir George William Gelder, Sir William Alfred Morrell, Philip
Ainsworth, John Stirling Gill, Alfred Henry Morton, Alpheus Cleophas
Allen, Rt. Hon. Charles P. (Stroud) Goddard, Sir Daniel Ford Nicholson, Sir Charles N. (Doncaster)
Baker, Joseph Allen (Finsbury, E.) Goldstone, Frank Nolan, Joseph
Barnes, George N. Hackett, John Norton, Captain Cecil W.
Beauchamp, Sir Edward Hall, F. (Yorks, Normanton) Nuttall, Harry
Benn, W. W. (T. H'mts, St George) Harcourt, Robert V. (Montrose) O'Brien, Patrick (Kilkenny)
Birrell, Rt. Hon. Augustine Harmsworth, Cecil (Luton, Beds) O'Connor, T. P. (Liverpool)
Boland, John Pius Haslam, James (Derbyshire) O'Doherty, Philip
Booth, Frederick Handel Havelock-Allan, Sir Henry O'Grady, James
Brace, William Helme, Norval Watson O'Neill, Dr. Charles (Armagh, S.)
Brady, Patrick Joseph Henderson, Arthur (Durham) O'Sullivan, Timothy
Brocklehurst, William B. Higham, John Sharp Parker, James (Halifax)
Buckmaster, Stanley O. Holmes, Daniel Turner Pearce, Robert (Staffs, Leek)
Burns, Rt. Hon. John Hope, John Deans (Haddington) Pearce, William (Limehouse)
Byles, Sir William Pollard John, Edward Thomas Pease, Rt. Hon. Joseph A. (Rotherham)
Carr-Gomm, H. W. Johnson, William Pointer, Joseph
Clough, William Jones, William (Carnarvonshire) Ponsonby, Arthur A. W. H.
Clynes, John R. Joyce, Michael (Limerick) Rea, Rt. Hon. Russell (South Shields)
Cotton, William Francis Kilbride, Denis Rea, Waiter Russell (Scarborough)
Crumley, Patrick King, J. Richards, Thomas
Dalziel, Sir James H. (Kirkcaldy) Lamb, Ernest Henry Richardson, Albion (Peckham)
Dawes, J. A. Lambert, Richard (Wilts, Cricklade) Richardson, Thomas (Whitehaven)
De Forest, Baron Lansbury, George Roberts, Charles H. (Lincoln)
Denman, Rt. Hon. R. D. Lewis, John Herbert Roberts, G. H. (Norwich)
Devlin, Joseph Lough, Rt. Hon. Thomas Robertson, J. M. (Tyneside)
Dickinson, W. H. Macdonald, J. Ramsay (Leicester) Roche, Augustine (Louth)
Dillon, John Macnamara, Rt. Hon. Dr. T. J. Russell, Rt. Hon. Thomas W.
Donelan, Captain A. Macpherson, James Ian Samuel, J. (Stockton-on-Tees)
Doris, W. MacVeagh, Jeremiah Seely, Rt. Hon. Col. J. E. B.
Duffy, William J. M'Micking, Major Gilbert Sheehy, David
Duncan, C. (Barrow-in-Furness) Markham, Sir Arthur Basil Shortt, Edward
Duncan, J. Hastings (York, Otley) Marshall, Arthur Harold Simon, Sir John Allsebrook
Esmonde, Dr. John (Tipperary, N.) Martin, Joseph Smith, Albert (Lancs., Clitheroe)
Esslemont, George Birnie Meagher, Michael Stanley, Albert (Staffs, N.W.)
Sutton, John E. White, J. Dundas (Glas., Tradeston) Young, Samuel (Cavan, East)
Taylor, John W. (Durham) Whitehouse, John Howard Young, William (Perth, East)
Toulmin, Sir George Whyte, Alexander F. (Perth)
Wadsworth, John Wiles, Thomas
Ward, John (Stoke-upon-Trent) Wilkie, Alexander TELLERS FOR THE AYES.—Mr. Illingworth and Mr. Gulland.
Wardle, G. J. Williams, Penry (Middlesbrough)
Wedgwood, Josiah Wilson, W. T. (Westhoughton)
Agg-Gardner, James Tynte Dickson, Rt. Hon. C. S. Peel, Captain R. F. (Woodbridge)
Aitken, Sir William Max Duke, Henry Edward Perkins, Walter Frank
Ashley, W. W. Eyres-Monsell, B. M. Peto, Basil Edward
Bagot, Lieut.-Colonel J. Fell, Arthur Pollock, Ernest Murray
Baird, John Lawrence Forster, Henry William Salter, Arthur Clavell
Balcarres, Lord Goldman, Charles Sydney Sanders, Robert A.
Baldwin, Stanley Gordon, Hon. John Edward (Brighton) Smith, Rt. Hon. F. E. (Liv'rp'l, Walton)
Barlow, Montague (Salford, South) Grant, James Augustus Smith, Harold (Warrington)
Barnston, Harry Hall, Fred (Dulwich) Swift, Rigby
Bathurst, Charles (Wilts, Wilton) Henderson, Major H. (Berks, Abingdon) Talbot, Lord Edmund
Benn, Arthur Shirley (Plymouth) Hewins, William Albert Samuel Terrell, George (Wilts, N.W.)
Benn, Ion Hamilton (Greenwich) Hoare, Samuel John Gurney Terrell, Henry (Gloucester)
Bennett-Goldney, Francis Hohler, Gerald Fitzroy Thompson, Robert (Belfast, North)
Bigland, Alfred Hunter, Sir Chas. Rodk. (Bath) Touche, George Alexander
Boyle, W. Lewis (Norfolk, Mid) Larmor, Sir J. Tullibardine, Marquess of
Bridgeman, William Clive Law, Rt. Hon. A. Bonar (Bootle) Ward, Arnold S. (Herts, Watford)
Campbell, Capt. Duncan F. (Ayr, N.) Lloyd, George Ambrose Wheler, Granville C. H.
Cassel, Felix Locker-Lampson, O. (Ramsey) Wood, John (Stalybridge)
Castlereagh, Viscount Mackinder, Halford J. Worthington-Evans, L.
Cecil, Evelyn (Aston Manor) McNeill, Ronald (Kent, St. Augustine) Younger, Sir George
Cecil, Lord R. (Herts, Hitchin) Mount, William Arthur
Chaloner, Col. R. G. W. Newton, Harry Kottingham TELLERS FOR THE NOES.—Sir F. Banbury and Mr. Sanderson.
Dalrymple, Viscount Nield, Herbert
Denniss, E, R. B. Ormsby-Gore, Hon. William

Original question put, and agreed to.

Resolution reported, "That a Supplementary sum, not exceeding £17,776, be granted to His Majesty, to defray the Charge which will come in course of payment during the year ending on the 31st day of March, 1912 for the Salaries and Expenses of the National Gallery, including a Grant-in-Aid for the Purchase of Pictures."

Motion made, and Question proposed, "That this House doth agree with the Committee in the said Resolution."


I beg to move to reduce the Vote by £2,776.

I make this Motion not against the purchase of this picture, but against the way the transaction was undertaken, and more particularly with regard to the way in which the Death Duties on this picture were dealt with by the Treasury. Personally, I am more than glad when the Government sees its way to give any Grant to the National Gallery for the purchase of pictures, and one of the worst things about this particular Supplementary Estimate is the withdrawal of the Grant for next year, which means that during the current year the directors of the National Gallery will be unable to buy any works of art for our premier national collection. With regard to this particular picture, I confess I think that £40,000 is a large sum, although I know we have been told that it is worth more. No doubt an American multimillionaire might have been got to pay more, but I do not believe that this particular picture was £40,000 worth of other pictures from our national point of view. Here we have the National Gallery spending all its Grant for last year and next year, and this extra Supplementary Estimate as well, upon one picture by an old master when there are half a dozen first-rate masters of the nineteenth century practically unrepresented in our National Gallery. Under the circumstances I think it is most unwise that this Supplementary Estimate should go unchallenged. Not only are we asked to pay £15,000 towards the purchase of this picture when there are several other pictures which it is infinitely more important that the nation should possess, but we are asked to pay this sum and to pay back as well the Death Duties that were charged to Lady Carlisle for this picture. I understand that this is the only picture which was left to Lady Carlisle absolutely. What has happened with regard to this £2,776? That is the amount of Death Duties on £40,000, and not on the value of the picture, according to the hon. Gentleman who represents the Government in this matter, because he said the other day it was worth considerably more than £40,000. It does not represent the rate at which Death Duties are chargeable upon the whole of the estate. Apparently, this picture has been treated without precedent as an estate in itself, and as a picture apart from all the other pictures in the collection. I think we are entitled to know whether it is to be the established law of the land that if a picture is sold to the nation with a Government Grant towards its purchase Death Duties should not be chargeable upon the full amount, but upon the picture as a separate estate. That is an important point.

There is another point in connection with this matter. Are the works of art of everybody else in the event of their being sold to be valued for Death Duties not at a valuer's estimate, but at the actual amount at which they are sold? A valuer's amount and an auction sum are very often a very different thing, especially in works of art which vary from year to year. A notable instance of that has happened in the case of the Abney Collection. I was present at the Abney auction last year, and again this year, and I saw the same picture sold in the two consecutive years for a very considerably different sum indeed. There was a very considerable decrement this year. The whole method of buying pictures for our national collection and of paying the Death Duties back to the vendor is, I think, a wrong one. Why does not the Government, instead of having year after year these Supplementary Estimates for old Masters, make a proper grant just as the German Government do to their national collection? After all, our National Gallery is one of the most educative, most valuable, and most important subjects for public expenditure. You cannot have too many of these pictures. I believe these big Government Supplementary Estimates for these old Masters are a wrong and a bad policy. Let them make a substantial grant to the National Gallery, and do not let us have these Supplementary Estimates. Above all, let it be an instruction to the governing directors, as a condition of that grant, that they shall buy pictures not of the kind that are open to competition in the American market, not these old Masters, but pictures which are going to be valuable some day, and which any expert can tell you is a good painting. After all, what is this picture? It is a picture by a late Flemish artist in a particular manner which he himself afterwards threw over to adopt a broader style. I do not wish to run down the picture, though I myself am not very appreciative of its merits as a real work of art. There is many a picture by men who are far greater artists than this late Flemish artist. Compare the price given for the Van Eych at Frankfurt or the Van Eych at Berlin, and you will see we have paid a gigantic price. I do not say an American multi-millionaire would not have paid anything for a picture which had been for some years in the famous collection of Lord Carlisle. It is a boom picture, and a well-known picture. It has, as was said the other day, been described by one critic as a piece of cold-hearted capable picture-making. It is nothing else. It is not full really of artistic habit, but is a careful painting which an American would appreciate. Those are not the sort of pictures which we ought to buy for our national collection, and I move this reduction as a protest against the method of buying pictures for the National Gallery and against this particular transaction with regard to the Death Duties.


I rise to second the Amendment for this reason. Recently, when we addressed some remarks from this side of the House with regard to this very question, we were met with most unsatisfactory replies from the hon. Gentleman opposite (Mr. Masterman). I want to ask one specific question with regard to this picture. I quite agree with my hon. Friend, and with all that was said in the House last time. The House of Commons is by no means a competent authority to really decide the value of a work of art of this character, but we are most certainly the right authority to decide how much money should be spent upon these matters, and I want to enter a most energetic protest before this Estimate passes from the House against the manner in which this transaction has been carried out. The purchase of this picture has been advocated on the ground that the nation got the picture at a price very much smaller than its true value. The hon. Member opposite has never yet answered us as to why, if the value was much greater than that named, Estate Duty was not charged on the full value instead of on only £40,000. I should like to ask him this particular question, which, I think, has been put down on the Paper for a later date, but which I think it would be well to have answered in this Debate. I should like to ask "Whether any application was made to the Treasury under Section 20 of the Finance Act, 1896, and as extended by Section 63 of the Finance Act, 1909–10, to exempt from Estate Duty and Legacy Duty the picture recently sold by Lady Carlisle to the Trustees of the National Gallery." I think it would be just as well, before this Estimate passes from the House, that we should have some definite and clear answer to that question. "If so, what is the date of such application, whether such application was granted, and whether there is any precedent for exempting a single picture from duty under the said Section so long as it remains unsold, and what was the date of the sale of the picture by Lady Carlisle to the Trustees of the National Gallery?"

We discussed this matter at considerable length the other day, and we received no answer which satisfies us in the least. My right hon. Friend the Leader of the Opposition made the position perfectly clear in one brief sentence when he said he quite agreed that possibly the transaction was not one which affected the finances of the country at all on balance, but, if you were going to have a book-keeping transaction you might just as well do it correctly as not. This is no doubt an in correct book-keeping transaction, which, I think the hon. Gentleman ought to justify to the House. It is an absolutely novel and indefensible principle that any person in the State should be exempted on any ground whatever from paying Death Duties after an Act for the payment of Death Duties has been passed. That is a clear fact which I do not believe any amount of rhetoric can get round, and it seems to me, if the vendor wished to escape Death Duties it would have been perfectly possible and far better to have included the amount of Death Duties in the price asked for the picture. That would have achieved the same object for the vendor, and would not have initiated a very bad and vicious principle, as we on this side of the House think it. I should like to make one other point. It is a most regrettable fact, which I hope the Government will do something to remedy, that our National Gallery, which commands so much attention and interest, should be closed at an unnecessarily early hour at many times in the year—


That does not arise here.


I bow at once to your ruling. I quite thought that under this Estimate we could discuss any matter which affected the National Gallery. I hope the hon. Gentleman will give us some explanation on this point with regard to the Death Duties, and one more explicit than that tendered on the last occasion.


I think we are entitled to further information from the Government on the question of the purchase of this picture by the trustees of the National Gallery, and the point I want some information on has reference to the question of the Estate Duty which was payable upon the picture. I was told the other day by the Chancellor of the Exchequer in answer to a question that the Estate Duty paid for this picture was on the sum of £40,000, and that it was at the rate of 6 per cent. I should like to be more fully informed as to the rate at which the duty was charged and, consequently, the amount on which the duty was charged. As to the rate of 6 per cent., under ordinary circumstances this picture would have been aggregated with the rest of the property passing under the will of the late Lord Carlisle for the purposes of Death. Duty, and as very large real estate and other property passed under that will, the rate for the Estate Duty, if the picture had been aggregated, would have been something like 14 per cent. or 15 per cent., rather than 6 per cent.

I have been at some trouble to try and find out on what ground only 6 per cent. Estate Duty was charged. It has been suggested to me it is just possible application was made to the Treasury under Section 20 of the Finance Act, 1896, as amended by the subsequent Act of 1910, to exempt this picture from Death Duty on the ground that it was a picture of national, or artistic, or historic interest, I should like to ask the right hon. Gentleman if that is so. Was any application of the sort made to the Treasury? If so, when, and was it granted? If it were granted I should be glad to know whether there is any precedent for exempting a single picture from the Death Duties under the Section in question. I am quite aware it is a common occurrence to exempt collections of pictures or works of art from Death Duties under the Section; but is there any precedent for exempting a single picture until it is sold under this Section? This is a matter which affects a much larger interest than the Carlisle estate or the trustees of the National Gallery, because if the Treasury are going to exempt single pictures under the Section I should like to know if they are prepared to exempt every picture of artistic interest under the Section, and, if not, why not? Perhaps the right hon. Gentleman will tell us on what principle the Treasury refuse or grant these applications.

If, on the other hand, no such application was made at all, then it really becomes most important to know why the rate of Death Duty charged was only 6 per cent. instead of something like 14 or 15 per cent. It may be said, quite truly, that in this particular case it does not matter to the Treasury whether it was 6 per cent. or 14 per cent., because the Treasury were going to pay the duty. But it does matter very much, bearing in mind the conditions under which this picture was sold. Supposing a sale were made of some other picture from the Castle Howard or some other collection. It would be extremely important, both for the purchaser and for the seller of the picture, to know at what rate the Death Duty would be charged. I hope the hon. Gentleman will see the importance of this question as affecting the general public, and will give an explanation accordingly.

My second question is as to the value of the picture sold. We were told that the picture was worth something between £90,000 and £100,000, and, in answer to a question I put to the Chancellor of the Exchequer, I was told that the experts employed by the Commissioners of Inland Revenue had stated that the picture was worth far more than the £40,000 paid for it. The question arises, ought not the duty assessed upon this picture to be, not at the amount paid for it, but on its real value. In the case of every item of property which passes on death, the Treasury are bound to find out the value of the property, and, if necessary, to have a valuation made by an expert for the purpose, and to charge duty on the value of the property. In this case I understand no formal valuation was made, but we are assured the picture was worth much more than £40,000. The question, I submit, is this. Why was not duty charged on the value of the picture instead of on the purchase price paid. Let me put a question to the hon. Gentleman showing the importance of this point. Supposing I, or some more important Member of the House, was left a picture worth £100,000, and that was the price it would fetch in the market. Suppose I, out of friendliness to my family, were to sell the picture for £5,000. I should like to know would duty be charged on the nominal sale price of £5,000, or would it be charged on the real value of £100,000? In the interests of the revenue, it should, I submit, be charged on the £100,000. It matters not one iota what I am willing to sell it for. The real question is the value of the picture, and the Treasury, to my mind, are bound to charge interest on that full value. I put a question to the Chancellor of the Exchequer the other day as to the reason why duty was only charged on £40,000, and I got a most astonishing answer. It was to the effect that no valuation of the picture was made by or on behalf of the Commissioners of Inland Revenue, but their expert was satisfied that its value was substantially over the £40,000 paid for it. The hon. Gentleman himself says it was £50,000 or £60,000 more than the £40,000. The Chancellor of the Exchequer went on to say:— In the circumstances, Death Duties were charged on this sum only, as representing such part of the total value as was not in the nature of a gift. Let us work that out. A picture worth £50,000 is sold by me for a £5 note to a friend. The rest of it is a gift. Am I or is the purchaser only to pay—


It was a gift to the nation.


I welcome that interruption because it is quite irrelevant. I am putting the case of my selling my picture worth £50,000 to a friend for £5, and I should be told, if this answer were pushed to its logical conclusion, that because the rest of it was in the nature of a gift either I or the purchaser need only pay duty on the £5. The hon. Gentleman says, "Oh, it is a gift to the nation." It is perfectly true that if a testator who owns a picture makes a gift of it to the nation, that gift is exempt from Death Duty, and very properly. I forget the exact terms of the Section, but if he makes a gift to the National Gallery, or to the nation, or to municipal corporations in some cases, that gift is exempt from Death Duties. That is a very proper and desirable provision in order to encourage gifts to the nation. But the hon. Gentleman will see that this is not a gift by Lord Carlisle, the dead man. It is not a gift by the testator, but it is a gift by a person who inherits it from him, and if a gift by a legatee of the picture to the National Gallery is to be free, so far as it is a national gift, from the duty, why is not a gift by a legatee to a private person to be also exempt from the duty? [An HON. MEMBER: "He could sell it for twice as much."] Yes, but he does not happen to do so. If the reasoning of the hon. Gentleman and his ally the Chancellor of the Exchequer is correct, the test of the amount on which he should pay duty is not the value of the article but the amount which is paid for it. I submit that is an entirely unsound test. If the hon. Gentleman tells me that there is some provision in the Finance Act, 1894, or of the several amending Acts relating to this matter, which enables a legatee to be exempt from this duty so far as he makes a gift in the nature of a free gift, I shall be glad to know what those provisions or those Sections are. I have been unable to find any such provision. This is a matter of importance, far transcending the particular question which arises in this case. I agree with the hon. Gentleman that it does not matter to the nation in this particular case. They agree to pay the Death Duties, and therefore it does not matter whether they are at the rate of 3 per cent. or 20 per cent. But it is an important matter for the purpose of keeping the finance of the nation right, and especially important in the case of gifts from private persons or sales to private persons. I should be glad to know why the Death Duty was only charged at the rate of 6 per cent., and why the amount on which duty was charged was only £40,000, instead of the true value of the picture?

10.0 P.M.


The criticism of the action of the Government in connection with this subject consists really of three suggestions. The first is that the Government ought not to have supported in any way the trustees of the National Gallery in buying this picture at all, because it is a comparatively worthless production. The second is that in some dim fashion, owing to a manipulation of the accounts in connection with the Death Duties, the lady from whom the picture was bought has got more for it than she ought to have done. [HON. MEMBERS: "No, no."] The third is that, although the account is merely a bookkeeping account, and merely represents the transference of money from one Government Department to another, that transference of money ought to represent a different figure. I think that is the point of the last speaker. As to the first, it was fully debated in Committee when the Supplementary Estimate was presented. In Committee I maintained the position that it was no part of my duty to give my private opinion in the least degree as to the value of the picture. My duty was to see whether the Treasury was obtaining good value for the money, in so far as it advanced money for the purchase of the picture. The work of defending the picture itself was taken out of my hands by a most interesting and illuminating speech by the Noble Lord the Member for Chorley (Lord Balcarres), who, as one of the trustees of the National Gallery, was able to assure the Committee not only of the very great value of the picture, but of the very great gain to the nation in having it in its possession, both through pride in its possession and the pleasure that it was giving to large audiences.

As far as the Treasury were concerned their responsibility ended with the promise to give £17,700 for a picture which was purchased for £40,000, and for which an offer of £80,000 had been made. Therefore, without discussing whether the picture is a genuine example of the Flemish school, I simply state, so far as the Treasury is concerned, that the nation has made a very good bargain, and therefore ought to receive the support of the House. As to the second point, I do not know whether it was specifically raised in the House, but it was certainly raised in Committee, and then it confused the minds of some persons. It was thought that the payment of Death Duties was somehow connected as a bequest with the sale of the picture by Lady Carlisle to the nation, and therefore any alteration of a figure of the Death Duties would have made no difference in the amount of the transaction as between the various parties concerned. I want to make that once more perfectly clear. The picture was bequeathed without any kind of reservation at all on the death of Lord Carlisle to his wife. The picture was offered for sale by Lady Carlisle to the trustees of the National Gallery for £40,000, plus an unknown quantity X—that is, the Death Duties which the picture would have paid had it not been sold to the nation. The trustees of the National Gallery came to my predecessor in office and asked how far we would support them in raising that £40,000, plus X, the unknown quantity, and after some negotiation my predecessor agreed that he might rightly invite Parliament to vote the sum of £15,000, plus the unknown quantity, to- wards the purchase of the picture, provided that £25,000 could be raised from private sources. That was agreed to. The picture was sold under these conditions, and the Government is now asking the House to vote the money, of which £15,000 represents an actual Vote, and £2,776 represents a book-keeping transaction, passing from this Vote to the Inland Revenue, as representing the Death Duties. I do not say that charge was made in the House, but I saw it was made in Committee, and it has been very widely circulated, and it is well that I should be allowed to put that clearly before the House. If the Death Duties amounted to £50,000, or had been charged at the rate of 15 per cent. instead of 5 per cent., it would not have made the slightest difference as far as Lady Carlisle was concerned. The third charge is that in this transference of account from the money voted from the National Gallery to the Inland Revenue we ought to have placed the Death Duties at a somewhat higher figure as a bookkeeping transaction. There, I agree, we had not precedents to go upon, because the Bill which permitted the special valuation of an estate by itself to apply to objects of artistic interest was only passed, I think, a year ago, and I cannot tell, though I will inquire, that there has been any definite case in which any pictures have been valued under these conditions as estates in themselves.


Was that the Act of last Session or of 1909–10?


The Finance Act of 1909–10, Section 63.


Under the Act of 1896, was there any case in which a single settled picture was exempted from duty under the conditions of that Act?


I cannot answer that offhand, but I shall be very glad if the hon. and learned Gentleman will give notice of a question. Under the conditions, of course, the Treasury has acted quite rightly in valuing the picture as an estate by itself, quite apart from the further question whether they ought to have valued it at £40,000. There is not the slightest doubt that the Treasury have a clear right in the case of a picture of this kind, forming an estate by itself, to exempt it from Death Duty until it is sold, but when it is sold it has to pay Death Duties up to its value as an estate by itself.


Was there any application for that purpose made by Lady Carlisle to treat the picture as an estate by itself?


I think it was a continuous transaction, as it was done at the time. The result was that the value was taken at £40,000. The duty amounted to 6 per cent. of £40,000—£2,400—and 1 per cent. of Legacy Duty brought it up to £2,776. As to the question of the book-keeping transaction, I agree with the hon. and learned Gentleman that it would be a very dangerous precedent if we agreed that in every case the price, at sale, of the picture should be taken as the value, because, under those circumstances, it would be possible to get out of a considerable quantity of Death Duties. There is, I agree, a case for saying that the picture ought to have been valued by an independent valuer, and a different book-keeping transaction been made in connection with the Supplementary Estimates. The case on the other side is fairly obvious. £40,000 represents the amount which was paid for the picture. If the picture had been given to the nation no Death Duties would have been paid, and any value in the picture over that £40,000 given to the nation represents a value on which no Death Duty is paid. Therefore the only necessity for counting Death Duties, is for the £40,000, which represents the actual cash transaction. If, for instance, this picture consisted of two parts, for one of which £40,000 was paid and the other was given, there would have been no money paid on the picture given, and the other would have been valued at £40,000, and, under those circumstances, with no precedent to guide them, I think the Inland Revenue were perfectly justified in this case in taking the selling value—£40,000—as the value for the purpose of Death Duties.


Would the same principle apply to sales to a private person?


I distinctly said that in a case of a private person, normally the sale would be taken as the accepted price, but if there was any reason to suppose that the picture was being sold under the condition which the hon. and learned Gentleman suggests, of course an independent valuation would be made.


I cannot help feeling that it would have been a little better if the hon. Gentleman had begun by stating fairly the arguments which have been put against this transaction. Take the first one. The hon. Member (Mr. Ormsby-Gore) never suggested that the picture was worthless. On the contrary, he says it was a picture of considerable value. There is no dispute about it. The point was that it was undesirable to spend this very large sum on single works of art, necessarily of a very valuable character because they are painted by old Masters and are therefore very rare, when there is a great lade of representatives of modern painters in the National Gallery. I do not pose as an authority or a judge in these matters. I do not pretend to have any opinions worth addressing to the House, but the question is not whether the picture was worthless, but whether the money for it, which was to be spent by the State, could not have been better applied in the interests of the National Gallery. The other two points are much easier for the House to discuss and come to an opinion upon. Let me disclaim altogether, I believe for my hon. Friend and certainly for myself, any suggestion that Lady Carlisle got any advantage personally out of this transaction. I never should have thought that was a possible contention on the figures as appearing in this Estimate, and I make no such suggestion.


It was made in Committee.


I was not present. The two points made by the hon. and learned Gentleman (Mr. Butcher) were in the first place, was it right to take the selling value as the value under the Act. Of course, normally, the value for Death Duty purposes is the market value, but it is evident that the market value is not necessarily determined by the value at which the particular article passes on a particular sale. In such a case as this it is extremely difficult to arrive at the market value. The market is very restricted, and it may be worth £80,000 one year and £20,000 the next. But the market value is the estimate, and at the same time, differing a little from my hon. and learned Friend, I do not see any very great objections to taking the value at which such an article as this is sold, provided it is not a mere colourable value, and I should not see any great objection to it being the rule in all cases because what the State wants to get at is the advantage which goes to the Exchequer. Therefore as long as the successor does not sell the articles of artistic value, he has not to pay duty at all. When he does sell I do not think it unfair that he should only pay duty on the value actually obtained in the sale, provided it is a fair and reasonable value and not a mere colourable value. It is a point of very great importance to the general taxpayer to know whether any rules or regulations or decisions have been come to in the Inland Revenue. I protest, and always have protested, against the tyranny of the Inland Revenue. I have always said that nothing is more unfair to the ordinary taxpayer than the system of taxation under which we live. The ordinary process of recent Ministries has been to take enormous powers under Statute, very much in excess of those which are ordinarily exercised, particularly in such matters as Income Tax, Death Duties and the like. Then the Inland Revenue does not, in fact, exercise these powers normally. It establishes a rule by which it does not exercise them normally, and that is the understanding; but every now and then, by misapprehension or by over zeal, or something, it exercises these powers to the full, and some individual is penalised to the utmost. The words in the Statute are so large that the Department is entitled to do it. That is a most pernicious system, which ought not to be permitted by Parliament. This seems to me to be an exceedingly good example. As I read the Statute, it seems to me perfectly clear that the value that ought to be taken is the market value. I think myself that the selling value would be the fairer rule, but if that is to be the rule it ought to be put in an Amendment to the Act of Parliament at the earliest possible stage, and not left to the discretion of the Inland Revenue, which may or may not be exercised in favour of the taxpayer.

The next point is very much more important. Why was this taken as an estate by itself? The hon. Gentleman puts it aside as a mere matter of book-keeping. If it was a matter of book-keeping it would have been much better to take the sum of £5, but here you have the figure stated at £2,776, which has certainly an air of exactitude that leads one to think that a calculation of some kind has been made, and I should suspect that it has been made in reference to the practice of the Department, that some regulation exists, or that some decision has been taken which the House, I think, ought to know about. But the hon. Gentleman said he was clearly entitled to treat this picture as an estate by itself under Section 63 of the Act. I wish the hon. Gentleman to turn to the Section and to be good enough to follow my reading of it in order to see whether there is any such power whatever. The Section says:— In the case of any person dying on or after the thirtieth day of April, nineteen hundred and nine, Section twenty of the Finance Act, 1896 (which gives an exemption for objects of national, scientific, or historic interest), shall be extended so as to give an exemption from Legacy and Succession Duty as well as from Estate Duty and, as so extended shall take effect whether the property in respect of which the exemption is given is settled or not, and as if the reference therein to national, scientific, or historic interest included a reference to artistic interest, and duty shall only become chargeable when the property is sold, and then only in respect of the last death on which the property passed. That is quite clear, and it does not give the right to charge the article as an estate by itself. I was rather puzzled at first by the words— and then only in respect of the last death on which the property passed. I apprehend they mean that the property is to be treated as if it had passed on the last death that took place, and that can only mean as part of the estate on which it passed. Therefore, there is no authority to treat the picture as an estate by itself, but actually in the teeth of the clear words of the Statute that is what has been done. I should like to know from the Secretary for Scotland (Mr. McKinnon Wood) and the Home Secretary (Mr. McKenna), both of whom have had experience in the office of Financial Secretary to the Treasury, what their opinion of the transaction is. I know that the Home Secretary used to take great delight in these problems and difficulties, and I invite them to give their assistance to the House on this point. I ask them to tell the House how this picture was charged as an estate by itself, a proceeding which seems to me to be absolutely in the teeth of the Section. If it be the rule which has been established by the Department, we ought to know that as a definite fact. I very respectfully ask the Government to answer that question.


When this Estimate was in Committee I raised a small point on which I did not get an answer from the hon. Gentleman, and my hon. Friend the Member for the Denbigh Boroughs (Mr. Ormsby-Gore), who moved a reduction, also failed to get any answer. The point which I raised, and which has been raised again to-day, is as to the withdrawal of the Grant of £5,000 for next year. The hon. Gentleman gave us an account of the transaction between the trustees of the National Gallery and the representatives of the Treasury. He told us that the trustees said that if the Treasury would grant £15,000 and the further sum of £2,776 then the trustees would be able to raise the balance of the purchase money from connoisseurs and lovers of art in this country. If that is a true statement of what occurred, then I submit that this Supplementary Estimate is in the nature of a fraud, and a very shabby fraud upon the lovers of art in this country who were willing to put up the balance of the purchase money, because the State is contributing the £17,000 with one hand and with the other is taking away the Grant of £5,000 which in the ordinary course would go for the purposes of art. Therefore we are entitled to know what was the bargain with the trustees of the National Gallery. Were they told that if the £17,000 were granted the £5,000 would be withdrawn, or were they merely told that if they put up so much the State would put up £l 7,776? Those lovers of art who put up the money are entitled to an answer to this specific question.


I do not quite agree with the hon. Member for Hitchin (Lord Robert Cecil) in what he said just now. I quite welcome the fact that at last the Government have decided that there is some reason for separate valuation on death, and that the system of aggregation is not in all cases being carried out. I raised this particular point with the hon. Member for Chelmsford, and pointed out that in various other matters which are really far more material to the welfare of the country, such as afforestation, aggregation is used against the estate. Having come to the decision to which I have referred I hope sincerely that they will carry it further, and the result will be to give more employment and help the industries of the country.


Am I not to get an answer to my question?


Is not the hon. Gentleman going to give any answer at all.


We ought to get an answer from the Secretary to the Treasury.


I am not permitted, as the hon. Member knows quite well, to answer, but I may say that I remain totally unconvinced by the arguments that have been put forward.


Several questions have been put from this side, of which the hon. Gentleman has taken no notice whatever. My hon. Friend behind me raised a very important point with regard to the Grant which is to be suspended for the next three years owing to the money having already been taken up by the trustees of the National Gallery. The money voted by this House has naturally to be watched over by Members of this House, and I do not know that any body of men, by whomsoever appointed, have any right to dry up a fund for three years owing to the money having been taken for the purchase of a picture. No doubt they have every right to make the purchase on behalf of the Government, but not to dry up this fund, which has been voted by the House, for the next three years. We may have our own opinion with respect to the picture which has been purchased by the trustees of the National Gallery. None of us denies that it is a very important and valuable picture, and no doubt it will be a great addition to the National Gallery. But some of us on this side of the House may hold the opinion very strongly that there are pictures by other masters which should be added to the National Gallery, and there is some possibility within the next three years, owing to the inroad made upon the fund by the Chancellor of the Exchequer, that other pictures far more beneficial to the community in respect of the study of art may come into the market, and there will be no money forthcoming for the purchase of those pictures. That is a very important point in regard to which the hon. Gentleman shelters himself under the Rules of the House. It has been remarked that we are fortunate in having on the Treasury Bench three Members who have had the unique experience of a position of which the hon. Gentleman the Financial Secretary to the Treasury is such a brilliant ornament. There is another point to which I sincerely hope one of the occupants of the Treasury Bench will give an answer, that is with respect to the Death Duties paid by the nation on this picture. What has been done in regard to the pay- ment of these Death Duties is an entirely new departure from anything we have understood in any part of this House. The Death Duties, as a claim on the estate, should have been paid by the vendor of the picture; and I object very strongly to the arrangement, explained in the footnote to the Supplementary Estimate, by which the taxpayer and not the vendor pays these Death Duties. If it were merely a question of book-keeping there would be no loss on either side if it were done in the right way and not in an incorrect manner. The way to do it was for the trustees to name the price plus the Death Duties, and the Death Duties should have been paid by the vendor out of the price of the picture. As the hon. Gentleman has thought fit to treat the House in this way, I beg to move, "That the Debate be now adjourned."


I cannot accept that Motion.


May I ask the Home Secretary, who is reading the Statute, and who has the honour of filling a high position at the Bar, whether he will let the House know what his opinion is now he has read the Statute?


The only inference we can draw from the silence of the Treasury Bench is inability to answer the plain question, put by my hon. and learned Friend (Lord R. Cecil), by what authority did they treat this picture as a separate estate. That is a perfectly simple question, and I really think that the right hon Gentleman the Home Secretary, with his long official experience as Secretary to the Treasury and his legal training, might be able to answer it. While he is thinking over it I will give him an easier question. Under what authority, and I presume there is some statutory authority, will any unexpended balance of this Vote not be surrendered to the Treasury. We know that under the Exchequer and Audit Act of 1865 that all unexpended balances of Votes have to be surrendered to the Treasury. What is the authority which in this case overrides the provisions of that Act and the general financial system of the country? That, I think, is a question which the Treasury ought to be able to explain to us.

Question put, "That £17,776 stand part of the Resolution."

The House divided: Ayes, 155; Noes, 73.

Division No. 45.] AYES. [10.35 p.m.
Abraham, Rt. Hon. William (Rhondda) Goddard, Sir Daniel Ford Nolan, Joseph
Adamson, William Goldstone, Frank Norton, Capt. Cecil W.
Addison, Dr. Christopher Greenwood, Hamar (Sunderland) Nuttall, Harry
Agar-Robartes, Hon. T. C. R. Gulland, John W. O'Brien, Patrick (Kilkenny)
Agnew, Sir George William Gwynn, Stephen Lucius (Galway) O'Connor, T. P. (Liverpool)
Ainsworth, John Stirling Hackett, J. O'Doherty, Philip
Allen, Rt. Hon. Charles P. (Stroud) Hall, F. (Yorks, Normanton) O'Grady, James
Anson, Rt. Hon. Sir William R. Harcourt, Robert V. (Montrose) O'Neill, Dr. Charles (Armagh, S.)
Baker, Joseph A. (Finsbury, E.) Hardie, J. Keir (Merthyr Tydvil) O'Sullivan, Timothy
Baring, Sir Godfrey (Barnstaple) Harmsworth, Cecil (Luton, Beds) Parker, James (Halifax)
Barnes, George N. Haslam, James (Derbyshire) Pearce, Robert (Staffs, Leeks)
Beauchamp, Sir Edward Havelock-Allan, Sir Henry Pearce, William (Limehouse)
Birrell, Rt. Hon. Augustine Helme, Norval Watson Pease, Rt. Hon. Joseph A. (Rotherham)
Boland, John Pius Henderson, Arthur (Durham) Pointer, Joseph
Booth, Frederick Handel Higham, John Sharp Pollard, Sir George H.
Brace, William Holmes, Daniel Turner Ponsonby, Arthur A. W. H.
Brady, Patrick Joseph Hope, John Deans (Haddington) Radford, G. H.
Bridgeman, William Clive Illingworth, Percy H. Rea, Walter Russell (Scarborough)
Brocklehurst, W. B. John, Edward Thomas Richardson, Albion (Peckham)
Buckmaster, Stanley O. Johnson, William Richardson, Thomas (Whitehaven)
Buxton, Noel (Norfolk, North) Jowett, Frederick William Roberts, G. H. (Norwich)
Byles, Sir William Pollard Joyce, Michael Roberts, Sir J. H. (Denbighs)
Carr-Gomm, H. W. Kilbride, Denis Robertson, J. M. (Tyneside)
Cawley, Sir Frederick (Prestwich) King, J. Rose, Sir Charles Day
Clough, William Lamb, Ernest Henry Russell, Rt. Hon. Thomas W.
Clynes, John R. Lambert, Richard (Wilts, Cricklade) Scanlan, Thomas
Collins, G. P. (Greenock) Lansbury, George Seely, Colonel Rt. Hon. J. E. B.
Crooks, William Lawson, Sir W. (Cumb'rld, Cockerm'th) Sheehy, David
Crumley, Patrick Lewis, John Herbert Shortt, Edward
Dalziel, Sir James H. (Kirkcaldy) Lough, Rt. Hon. Thomas Simon, Sir John Allsebrook
Davies, Sir W. Howell (Bristol, S.) Lyell, Charles Henry Smith, Albert (Lancs., Clitheroe)
Dawes, J. A. Macdonald, J. Ramsay (Leicester) Stanley, Albert (Staffs, N.W.)
De Forest, Baron Mackinder, Halford J. Sutton, John E.
Denman, Hon. R. D. Macnamara, Rt. Hon. Dr. T. J. Taylor, John W. (Durham)
Devlin, Joseph Macpherson, James Ian Thorne, G. R. (Wolverhampton)
Dickinson, W. H. MacVeagh, Jeremiah Toulmin, Sir George
Dickson, Rt. Hon. C. S. McKenna, Rt. Hon. Reginald Wadsworth, John
Dillon, John M'Micking, Major Gilbert Ward, John (Stoke-upon-Trent)
Doris, William McNeill, Ronald (Kent, St. Augustine) Wardle, G. J
Duffy, William J. Markham, Sir Arthur Basil White, J. Dundas (Glasgow, Tradeston)
Duncan, C. (Barrow-in-Furness) Marshall, Arthur Harold Whitehouse, John Howard
Duncan, J. Hastings (York, Otley) Martin, Joseph Whyte, A. F. (Perth)
Edwards, John Hugh (Glamorgan, Mid) Masterman, C. F. G. Wiles, Thomas
Esmonde, Dr. John (Tipperary N.) Meagher, Michael Wilkie, Alexander
Esslemont, George Birnie Millar, James Duncan Williams, Penry (Middlesbrough)
Farrell, James Patrick Molteno, Percy Alport Wilson, W. T. (Westhoughton)
Ferens, Rt. Hon. Thomas Robinson Montagu, Hon. E. S. Wood, Rt. Hon. T. McKinnon (Glasgow)
Ffrench, Peter Mooney, John J. Young, Samuel (Cavan, E.)
Flavin, Michael Joseph Morgan, George Hay Young, William (Perth, East)
Gelder, Sir William Alfred Morrell, Philip
Gill, Alfred Henry Morton, Atpheus Cleophas TELLERS FOR THE AYES.—Mr. Wedgwood Benn and Mr. W. Jones.
Gladstone, W. G. C. Needham, Christopher T.
Glanville, Harold James Nicholson, Sir Charles N. (Doncaster)
Agg-Gardner, James Tynte Duke, Henry Edward Perkins, Walter F.
Aitken, Sir William Max Eyres-Monsell, B. M. Peto, Basil Edward
Ashley, Wilfrid W. Fell, Arthur Pollock, Ernest Murray
Bagot, Lieut.-Col. J. Forster, Henry William Salter, Arthur Clavell
Baird, John Lawrence Gibbs, G. A. Sanders, Robert Arthur
Baker, Sir Randolf L. (Dorset, N.) Glazebrook, Capt. Philip K. Sanderson, Lancelot
Baldwin, Stanley Grant, J. A. Smith, Harold (Warrington)
Banbury, Sir Frederick George Hall, Fred (Dulwich) Swift, Rigby
Barlow, Montagu (Salford, South) Henderson, Major H. (Berks., Abingdon) Talbot, Lord Edmund
Barnston, Harry Herbert, Hon. A. (Somerset, S.) Terrell, George (Wilts, N.W.)
Bathurst, Charles (Wilts, Wilton) Hewins, William Albert Samuel Terrell, Henry (Gloucester)
Benn, Arthur Shirley (Plymouth) Hoare, S. J. G. Thompson, Robert (Belfast, North)
Benn, Ion Hamilton (Greenwich) Hohler, Gerald Fitzroy Touche, George Alexander
Bennett-Goldney, Francis Hunt, Rowland Tullibardine, Marquess of
Bigland, Alfred Hunter, Sir Charles Rodk. (Bath) Ward, Arnold S. (Herts, Watford)
Boscawen, Sir Arthur S. T. Griffith- Larmor, Sir J. Wheler, Granville C. H.
Boyle, W. Lewis (Norfolk, Mid) Law, Rt. Hon. A. Bonar (Bootle) White, Major G. D. (Lancs., Southport)
Butcher, John George Lawson, Hon. H. (T. H'mts., Mile End) Wolmer, Viscount
Campbell, Capt. Duncan F. (Ayr, N.) Locker-Lampson, G. (Salisbury) Wood, John (Stalybridge)
Cassel, Felix Locker-Lampson, O. (Ramsey) Worthington-Evans, L.
Castlereagh, Viscount Lyttelton, Rt. Hon. J. C. (Droitwich) Younger, Sir George
Cecil, Evelyn (Aston Manor) Mount, William Arthur
Cecil, Lord R. (Herts, Hitchin) Newton, Harry Kottingham
Chaloner, Col. R. G. W. Nield, Herbert TELLERS FOR THE NOES.—Mr. Ormsby-Gore and Mr. Lloyd.
Dalrymple, Viscount Paget, Almeric Hugh
Denniss, E. R. B. Peel, Captain R. F. (Woodbridge)

Original Question again proposed.


With reference to the purchase of this picture I would desire to protest at the mean way the Government are looking at this question. It is not a very generous attitude on the part of the Exchequer. Here we are the richest nation in the world, and because it is spending £17,000 this year in the purchase of a picture, we say we shall not give to the National Gallery the ordinary annual £5,000. Those of us who travel abroad know that foreign nations set great store by their national galleries, and that the galleries at Rome, in Berlin, Paris, and other parts of the Continent are well supplied and well looked after. They are given large and increasing Votes every year for the purchase of pictures for the nation, and for the pleasure of tourists who go to the galleries. I would therefore appeal to the Government to reconsider the matter, for I consider it is the height of meanness on the part of the Treasury to say that because they are spending £17,000 for a picture, therefore for the present year the National Gallery is not to receive any money at all.


I am bound to say that I echo most heartily the words that have fallen from the hon. Member opposite. A very fine work of art has been purchased by the State, though principally by means of gifts by some rich individuals. I do say, however, that it is really a mean idea that because we have given some money towards the purchase of this picture for the National Gallery, that we should say that for the next year £5,000 should be deducted from the assets of the National Gallery. I appeal to the Chancellor of the Exchequer, or to the Financial Secretary to the Treasury, to give us some assurance that this question shall at any rate be inquired further into. I agree with the hon. Gentleman the Member for Blackpool that the great galleries of Europe are more generously supplied with means for getting pictures than is our National Gallery. I do not think we can afford to run the risk of depriving the Gallery of such a comparatively small sum as £5,000. I therefore appeal most sincerely to the Financial Secretary to again look at the question and withdraw that footnote stating that this £5,000 shall not be allowed.


Is it a fact, if we pass this Vote to-night, that any Government which may come into power, and which may wish to give money for artistic purposes, would be precluded from giving money to the National Gallery in future if this Resolution is passed? Does the announcement that this £5,000 would not be given in future preclude a more generous Government which possibly may come into power from giving this money for this purpose?


As a matter of personal explanation, may I say that the Secretary to the Treasury, when he answered me in a rather discourteous manner a while ago, intimated I regarded this picture as worthless. I did not say anything of the kind. I say we should get a larger Grant for the National Gallery, and that we should have some opportunity of urging the claims of modern painters still living upon the attention of the trustees of the National Gallery. There are hundreds of pictures that come annually into the market which we ought to buy. I have seen pictures bought in London sale rooms by the Berlin Government that ought to remain in this country. From the statement of the Secretary to the Treasury it would appear he cares nothing about our art galleries, but only about these financial transactions. As one of those who has travelled practically all over Europe, I do make an earnest appeal to restore this Grant of £5,000 to the National Gallery.


I hope that the hon. Gentleman the Secretary to the Treasury will do nothing of the kind. We are spending a great deal too much money already, and if the appeal of my hon. Friend below the Gangway, who talks about hundreds of pictures which he knows are in the market and which we ought to buy, is acceded to, this sum of £5,000 will be turned into £50,000. I think we have spent too much money already, and I hope that the Vote will be maintained.


May I ask under what authority the unexpended balances on these Votes are not surrendered?


May I add my appeal to the appeal of the hon. Members who have spoken. It does seem to me altogether unreasonable that because the nation has made an excellent bargain this year that this unexpended balance should not go to the National Gallery. We have added very considerably to the capital value of the National Gallery by the fortunate bargain the Treasury has been able to make, and it seems to me a very curious argument that, having done well this year, we should withdraw the £5,000 next year. I hope the Government may listen to the appeal made from both sides of the House, and restore this £5,000 to the National Gallery.


I only rise to support the question put by my hon. Friend (Mr. Hope). It is a matter on which we ought to have some information. We on this side of the House are extremely anxious to preserve the Government from falling into illegality in these matters, and it surely must be possible, with such an array of ability as the Government Bench presents, for them to tell us by what Statute or authority these unexpended balances will not be surrendered. The question is put perfectly legitimately, and we are entitled to an answer.


I am bound to confess that I do not think it is quite fair to the regular supporters of the Government to bind us, supposing we are in power next year, or to try to bind us, by saying this annual Grant of £5,000 for the purpose of pictures will be suspended for 1912–13. That is the position that no Government, however powerful, can take up. This position can have no other object than to persuade some of us—and it does not persuade me—that the Government wishes to save £5,000 next year because they have done what I think is a perfectly proper thing, namely, taken advantage of the fact that this picture of the Countess of Carlisle's was in the market and purchased it this year. I think that is a reflection upon the artistic tastes and desires of hon. Members upon this side of the House, and I decline to follow the Government in what I call treachery to the best interests of our great National Gallery. I shall support them for £5,000 or £50,000 next year, and I voice whole-heartedly the speech of the hon. Member for Salford and the speech of the hon. Member for Scotland. [HON. MEMBERS: "Limehouse."] Then I beg Scotland's pardon, and I congratulate Limehouse upon having a Member so well fitted to represent the best and most intellectual constituency in Scotland. [HON. MEMBERS: "Oh, oh."] That is a slip of mine. The Government has no right, in the first place, to ask their supporters to consent to the withdrawal of this Grant of £5,000 a year, which is already much too small. In the second place, they can always rely upon the majority of the whole House in any action they take with regard to the purchasing of valuable pictures for our great National Gallery. Because the Government does well this year in the purchase of a great picture, we are now being asked to decline to do anything next year in the name of economy. That is not economy, and I hope one of the many right hon. Gentlemen on the Front Bench will get up and withdraw the last sentence from this Supplementary Estimate on page 13.


I wish to express my regret that there appears to be nobody on the Government Bench ready to get up to answer these questions. I am aware that the Financial Secretary told us that this question has already been discussed fully in Committee, but that is a childish way of answering, and if he had been about Parliament as long as I have he would have known that the Report stage is to discuss matters over again. Why should the Government not reply? I am bound to say, remembering old times, that, if we were on that side of the House, they would have to answer. We have been told that this is a mere matter of book-keeping. I cannot see that. Supposing Lady Carlisle had not given or sold this picture, she would have had to pay Death Duties, as I understand, on its marketable value, and that would have gone into the Inland Revenue for our benefit. Consequently, it is something more than a mere book-keeping account. I quite agree that the House should discuss this matter, because undoubtedly it is our duty to consider the economical spending of other people's money. If it were our own personal money we should not be squandering it. I therefore welcome the discussion of the matter with a view of controlling some of the people who sit on the Front Bench, and other officials who think they can do as they like with other people's money. We have had speeches from both sides of the House calling upon the Government for an explanation, and there is not a single Member there able to give it. I hope what has occurred to-night will be a lesson to the Government and that they will understand that in future they must have somebody here prepared to answer all these questions, and especially questions in regard to the expenditure of public money. I do not see any sign that any Member of the Government is prepared to give us any reply, and I am sorry therefore I shall have to go into the matter a little further. I should have very gladly given way if I had seen any attempt on the part of the Government to reply to the many questions which have been put to them. I want to know something more about the value of this picture. I want to know whether we have not been wasting our money, and whether anybody is in a position to give us any information, in regard to the picture or its value.


On a point of Order, is not this covering the some ground as was covered in the previous Debate?


It is covering some of the same ground, but I do not know that I could rule it out on that account.

And it being Eleven of the clock, the Debate stood adjourned.

Debate to be resumed to-morrow.