§ 17. Mr. PERCY HARRIS (Padding-ton, S.)
asked the First Commissioner of Works whether he is responsible for the safety of the fabric of the Victoria and Albert Museum; and, if so, whether it is with his knowledge and consent that the ground floor of the museum is being filled with timber and other inflammable materials for the purpose of holding a British Industries Fair?
§ The FIRST COMMISSIONER of WORKS (Sir A. Mond)
The answer to the first part of the question is in the affirmative. The answer to the second is in the negative, so far as consent is concerned.
§ 18. Mr. PARTINGTON
asked the First Commissioner of Works whether the Victoria and Albert Museum, the Natural History Museum, and the Imperial Institute could be made available for the use of new Government Departments which are of a temporary character?
§ Sir A. MOND
The Victoria and Albert Museum has been in part used for public officials, and it is hoped to use that part again when the World's Fair is over. It has been considered that on educational grounds that the rest of the museum should remain open to the public. The 248 Natural History Museum is unsuitable on account of the heavy expense of storing the numerous exhibits. In view of the interest of the Dominions and Colonies in the Imperial Institute, and of the educational research work done there, it has been thought undesirable to interfere with its activities, but I will have the question reexamined.
§ 73. Mr. PERCY HARRIS (Paddington, S.)
asked the President of the Board of Education whether it is with his sanction that the Victoria and Albert Museum is being filled with timber and other inflammable materials for the purpose of holding a British Industries Fair; and, if so, how he justifies this unnecessary risk to national collections for the safety of which he is responsible?
§ The PRESIDENT of the BOARD of EDUCATION (Mr. H. A. L. Fisher)
In October, 1916, my predecessor was asked by the President of the Board of Trade to allow part of the Victoria and Albert Museum to be again used for the purpose, of the British Industries Fair. He carefully considered the question in all its aspects, and decided that the additional risk of fire did not justify him in refusing his consent to the proposal, regard being had to the balance of public interest and to the statements of the Board of Trade as to the national importance of the Fair and the absence of any other building suitable and available for the purpose. When the matter was brought to my notice I saw no reason to reverse my predecessor's decision.
§ Mr. HARRIS
May I ask whether the right hon. Gentleman has obtained the opinion of the Chief Officer of the London Fire Brigade as to the safety of the building under present arrangements?
§ Mr. FISHER
I received a communication in which the officer of the London Fire Brigade admitted that the risk of fire was increased, but at the same time stated that precautions were being taken to reduce that risk to a minimum.