HC Deb 02 May 1927 vol 205 cc1274-6
46. Lieut.-Colonel HOWARD-BURY

asked the Prime Minister whether he will consider the reopening of the whole question of the Lana pictures, in view of the feeling on the subject in the Irish Free State, or whether he is prepared to make an indefinite loan of all these pictures, either from 1930 or earlier, to the Irish Government?

The PRIME MINISTER (Mr. Baldwin)

The answer to the first part of the question is in the negative. As regards the latter part of the question, I have nothing to add to the reply that I gave on the 5th July last to my hon. and gallant Friend the Member for Ripon (Major Hills).


Having regard to the legal doubt on the question, and the undoubted agreement that the donor intended the Irish Free State to benefit, is not the question one that could be between the Governments, with a view to the Irish Free State benefiting?


Perhaps the right hon. Gentleman has forgotten the reply that I gave last July. The first point in that reply was that we had taken carefully into consideration the question whether it would be right to modify Sir Hugh Lane's will, as it could only be modified, by legislation, and that, after mature consideration, we decided that it would be improper.


I am well aware of that. I also had some doubts about it, and I set up a Committee to determine it. I think everyone who has considered the question does feel that the Irish Free State should benefit—



Lieut.-Colonel HOWARD-BURY

Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that to allow these pictures to go over to Ireland as an indefinite loan from 1930 no legislation would be necessary, that the Dublin Commissioners are willing to provide a building in which to house them, that sentiment and opinion play a very big part in international relationships, and that it would be a very great calamity to the Irish people not to have these pictures?


I think that that is within the competence of the National Gallery, and that would be a question for them to decide.

Lieut.-Colonel HOWARD-BURY

Would the right hon. Gentleman ask the Trustees to look favourably on it?


Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that, since the Report referred to has become more generally known, there is an increasing volume of opinion in this country—not only in Ireland—that the technical defect of the Lane codicil ought in equity and as a matter of bare justice to be rectified by the Government introducing a one-Clause Bill?


I do not think we can argue the matter now.