HC Deb 19 February 1931 vol 248 cc1455-6

asked the Secretary of State for Scotland, in view of the proposed Treasury grant of £50,000 towards the purchase of the island site at the top of Bank Street, Edinburgh, for the erection of a new sheriff court-house, whether his attention has been drawn to the plea of the Lord Provost that that site be used for new police and other municipal buildings, thereby releasing in exchange a site cap- able of large future expansion for the new national library on the east side of Parliament Square and contiguous with the Law Courts and present advocates' library, which action would in turn permit of the retention of the present advocates' library for the legal part of the new national library and the retention of the present sheriff court-house as such subject to reconditioning; and whether, in view of the admitted need for economy and the difference of at least £70,000 between the cost of such reconditioning and the cost of the erection of a new sheriff courthouse, the Government will take steps to secure a reconsideration of the decision of the national library trustees, with a view to the adoption of the Lord Provost's plan based on the detailed recommendations of the Edinburgh Architectural Association?

The SECRETARY of STATE for SCOTLAND (Mr. William Adamson)

I am aware of the circumstances, but I must not be taken as accepting the estimate of saving implied in the question. I understand that the national library trustees are not prepared to revise the decision arrived at by them and made public in 1928, and reaffirmed at a special meeting on the 5th instant. The Government would not feel justified in exercising pressure on the trustees in a matter which is primarily their responsibility.


Cannot the Government have some say in the matter of the site as well as in the matter of the grant, and is it not really the Government's duty to the whole nation, as well as to the trustees, to reconsider this matter?


In view of what is put rightly enough in the question—the admitted need for economy—could it not be enjoined upon Members to shorten their questions?


If economy is to be the watchword, is there not here, in the question, an opportunity of exercising it now?