HC Deb 10 June 1969 vol 784 cc1208-10
8. Mr. Dance

asked the Minister of Public Building and Works on what criteria the selection of the pictures which are at present hanging in the Harcourt Room is based.

Mr. Loughlin

The selection is made on the recommendation of the Committee of Members which advises Mr. Speaker and my right hon. Friend on works of art in the House of Commons.

Mr. Dance

Is the hon. Gentleman aware that I have recently entertained several friends from the Commonwealth who have expressed disgust at the low standard of the pictures hanging in this room in the House? Would he confirm that the picture consisting of some straight lines which never meet is a reminder to the Ministry of Transport that the missing link between the M1, the M5 and the M6 is not yet completed?

Mr. Loughlin

The hon. Gentleman and I have a lot in common in this matter. We are both philistines and should leave this to people who understand art.

Mr. Ogden

While not claiming to be one of those people, as least I know what I enjoy. Would my hon. Friend acknowledge that some of these pictures may be excellent financial investments but provide little enjoyment? Would he consider using his powers of patronage to support living artists rather than dead ones, however eminent?

Mr. Loughlin

Practically all of the pictures in the Harcourt Room are on loan to us from the Tate Gallery, so they do not cost the House a halfpenny. It is right that all the schools of thought in art should be represented there for the benefit of hon. Members like the hon. Member for Bromsgrove (Mr. Dance).

Mr. Strauss

Does not my hon. Friend agree that it is highly desirable that hon. Members and their friends should be able to see in a room in this building examples of the outstanding British artists whose work has been bought by the Tate Gallery? Is he aware that the picture referred to in particular by the hon. Member for Bromsgrove (Mr. Dance) is the work of an artist with a very high international reputation?

Mr. Loughlin

I am in complete agreement with my right hon. Friend.

Mr. Gresham Cooke

Is the hon. Gentleman aware that we are getting very tired of the green lady at the end of the room—I do not know whether she is a former Minister of Transport—who looks as if she is suffering from the effects of the breathalyser?