HC Deb 20 April 1964 vol 693 cc857-8
23. Sir B. Stross

asked the Minister of Public Building and Works whether he is aware that during the cleaning of the fresco painting of the Death of Nelson in the Royal Gallery, a small area of damage attributed to shrapnel during an air raid in the 1914–18 war has been repaired; whether he was consulted before the repair was made; and whether he will have the scar made by the shrapnel replaced.

9. Sir J. Duncan

asked the Minister of Public Building and Works whether he will replace the scar on the sailor's knee in the painting in the Royal Gallery of the Death of Nelson, removed through ignorance during the painting's recent cleaning.

Mr. Rippon

I am aware that this small damaged area was repaired while the painting was cleaned. The aim has been to restore the painting as nearly as possible to the condition in which the artist painted it. In all the circumstances I do not think it would be right to restore the scar.

Sir B. Stross

Is the right hon. Gentleman aware how disappointing his Answer will be to the school children of Britain as well as to hon. Members who take children from their constituencies around and show them the difference between the tiny amount of damage done in the First World War and the Churchill Arch, which signifies what happened to this Chamber in the Second World War? Will he not kindly reconsider the decision he has now given and allow either myself or another hon. Member to put the damage right?

Mr. Rippon

I have some sympathy with that point of view, but I do not think that hon. Members on either side of the House are short of patter on these or other occasions. My difficulty in this instance concerns the restoration or rather, the de-restoration of a painting which it took the artist seven years to complete.

Mr. C. Pannell

Was the scar not a scar at all? Was it not the situation that during the war it was kept alive by the assiduous use of an occasional touching up with chalk?

Mr. Rippon

That may well be true.