HC Deb 05 February 1948 vol 446 cc1900-1
45. Mr. Skeffington-Lodge

asked the Prime Minister whether in the interests of improving Anglo-Irish relations, he will explore at an early date the possibility of handing over to the Government of Eire the pictures at present housed in the Tate Gallery, and bequeathed by the late Sir Hugh Lane to the Dublin Municipal Gallery.

The Prime Minister (Mr. Attlee)

The question of the Lane Pictures has been considered by successive Governments on various occasions during the past 20 years. I am not in a position to make any further statement on the matter.

Mr. Skeffington-Lodge

Is the Prime Minister aware that there is a real sense of grievance about this matter in Southern Ireland, and that the new Government, which is at present in the ballot box over there, would very greatly appreciate a gesture on our part.

The Prime Minister

A non-existent Government can have no views on anything.

Professor Savory

Will the right hon. Gentleman say whether, in view of the wilful destruction in Dublin of the statue of His Sacred Majesty William III; the recent beheading of the statue of General Gough, and the wilful destruction of the beautiful statue of George II, he will, before handing over these great works of art, demand some guarantee for their security?

Mr. Driberg

Is it not the case that, although legally these pictures are our property, Sir Hugh Lane did intend them to go to Ireland, and has not Eire therefore got a real moral claim to them?

The Prime Minister

I do not intend to make any further statement on this matter.

Sir T. Moore

Is the Prime Minister aware that if we were in a position to hand over some coal to Ireland it would do much more to solidify the relations between the two countries?

Mr. McKay

Is the Prime Minister aware that a better relationship between Eire and this country could be promoted by inviting De Valera here to a public gathering to explain the need for unity in Ireland?