§ Order of the Day for the House to be put into Committee read.
§ Moved, That the House do now resolve itself into Committee.—(Lord Amulree.)
§ On Question, Motion agreed to.
§ House in Committee accordingly:
§ [The EARL OF DONOUGHMORE in the Chair.]
§ Clause 1:
§ Power to lend objects belonging to British Museum and National Gallery for exhibition overseas.
§ 1.—(1) The Trustees of the British Museum and the Trustees and the Director of the National Gallery shall, in their dis- 824 cretion and subject to such regulations as they may respectively prescribe, have power at any time to lend for public exhibition in places outside Great Britain on such terms as they think fit any objects which are vested in the Trustees of the British Museum and the Trustees and Director of the National Gallery respectively:
§ Provided that no object which has become vested as aforesaid by virtue of any gift or bequest shall, except with the consent of the donor or of his personal representatives or of the personal representatives of the testator, become subject to the powers of this Act if—
- (a) the lending of the object for exhibition in places outside Great Britain would be inconsistent with any condition attached to the gift or bequest; or
- (b) fifteen years have not elapsed since the date on which the object became vested as aforesaid.
§ (2) The powers of the Trustees and the Directors of the National Gallery under subsection (1) of this section may, as respects any objects vested in them and forming part of the collection of the National Gallery at Millbank known as the Tate Gallery, be delegated by them, with or without any restrictions or conditions as they think fit, to the persons who are for the time the Trustees and the Director of the Tate Gallery.
§ LORD HANWORTH moved, in subsection (1), after "objects," to insert "being objects representative of British arts or crafts." The noble Lord said: I do not intend to trouble your Lordships with anything like a speech in moving this Amendment; but it might be useful to noble Lords who were unable to be present on either of the two occasions when this matter has been before the House if I ventured to remind them that the purpose of the words I propose to insert in this clause is to restrict the powers conferred upon the Trustees of the museums and galleries concerned. They are not framed for the purpose of preventing what is called reciprocity. We are anxious that it should be possible, within reasonable limits, to return the hospitable action adopted by Belgium, Holland and Italy in sending their pictures over here. But it will be remembered that, broadly speaking though not altogether, the pictures they sent were from the national schools of painting of those countries respectively. As the Bill is drawn it allows and permits the Trustees not merely of the National Gallery but of the British Museum to send overseas any of the treasures under their guardianship. That is a very wide power. There are many treasures in the 825 British Museum which, in the opinion of the Trustees, ought not in any circumstances to be allowed to leave these shores.
§ On the other hand, if the Bill was left as it stands, the responsibility for refusing to allow a particular object to go to a foreign country or to the Dominions would lie entirely upon the Trustees. That this is so was made clear by the noble Viscount, Lord Grey, a week ago. Standing at the Table in your Lordships' House he said that in his view if a request were made by a foreign Ambassador or Minister to our own Foreign Secretary it would not be the duty of the Foreign Secretary to act upon his own judgment; he thought it would be the duty of the Foreign Secretary in any event to pass that request on to the Trustees of the gallery or museum concerned, with the result that the onus, it might be the odium, of refusing the request would lie upon the Trustees. The Trustees at the present time are not people to exercise a discretion. They have to keep their treasures in their own custody, and they cannot consider the question as to whether or not it would be wise or prudent, or whether under some political pressure they ought to be able to send away some of these objects to foreign countries.
§ A long time back, as I have told your Lordships, the Trustees considered this matter, and came to the conclusion that it was necessary to add the words, which are the words of my Amendment, to the Bill. The matter has been considered not merely by the Standing Committee of the Trustees, of which I have the honour to be one and on whose behalf I am acting, but also, not once but more than once, by the general body of Trustees, which, perhaps rather curiously, includes the Lord Chancellor and all the members of His Majesty's Government who are responsible, of course, collectively under Cabinet responsibility for proposing the Bill in the terms in which it stands. I need not add more. It is for these reasons I ask your Lordships to insert these words in the Bill, and, if I gather aright from the words used by the Lord President on the last occasion, there will no longer be any opposition from the Government Bench to the insertion of the provision. I beg to move.826
Page 1, line 11, afer ("objects") insert ("being objects representative of British arts or crafts").—(Lord Hanworth.)
With your Lordships' leave, I should like to move the Amendment standing in my name at this point—that is to say after the noble Lord's Amendment. I have given private notice of this to the Lord Chairman.
THE LORD CHAIRMAN
My noble friend was good enough, as he has told your Lordships, to inform me that he desired to move his Amendment at this early stage. I explained the matter and he agreed it would be better to dispose of Lord Hanworth's Amendment first. Immediately that is done I will call on Lord Mersey to move his Amendment.
§ THE SECRETARY OF STATE FOR AIR (LORD AMULREE)
I regret the absence through sickness of my noble friend, the Leader of the House, who has this Bill in his charge. The Government have given careful consideration to the Amendment, and also to the views expressed in the course of the debate on the Second Reading of this Bill. May I remind your Lordships that the Bill in its present form seeks to confer on the Trustees of the British Museum and the National Gallery, subject to such regulations as they may themselves prescribe, a discretion to lend or refuse to lend any object of art in their collection for public exhibition in places outside Great Britain. Similar powers are already possessed by the Victoria and Albert Museum, the National Portrait Gallery and the National Galleries in Scotland.
The Bill is permissive and not mandatory, but it is also subject to certain provisos which restrict the exercise of the discretion of the Trustees when they consider any proposition put before them for lending any object of art. These provisos deal with the question of any object which has become vested in the Trustees by virtue of any gift or bequest, in which case such object cannot be lent abroad without the consent of the donor or his representatives, and in the ease of bequests, of the representatives of the testator. There is a further provision that that must not be inconsistent with any condition attached to the gift or bequest and that the object in question has not been for fifteen years in the 827 possession of the Trustees. It seemed to be assumed by your Lordships in the course of the debate on the Second Reading that the Trustees would not have the courage to refuse to lend in cases where, in their judgment, they ought not to lend. We do not take that view of the Trustees in the performance of their public duties. We are satisfied that the Trustees would, in every case, act upon their own unfettered judgment, and would not be diverted from their duty by any outside influence, however powerful.
I learn that there is in contemplation an exhibition of French art to be held in London, and, if this exhibition materialises, the bulk of the exhibits will come from France. Already those concerned in the exhibition are scouring countries outside France with the object of obtaining specimens of French art for the exhibition in London. It seems to me it is an undignified position to take up, almost amounting to a lack of international courtesy, that while we invite for a public exhibition objects of art of a particular country, whether from that country or elsewhere, we refuse to reciprocate in lending other than objects of British art to a similar exhibition abroad. I need not repeat the arguments which were adduced when the matter was before the House on the last two occasions. While, after careful consideration, we have not altered our view that the Bill, which embodies the recommendations of the Royal Commission, should be accepted, yet, bearing in mind what my noble friend said on the last occasion when the Bill was before the House, we do not feel that we should resist this Amendment.
§ On Question, Amendment agreed to.
§ VISCOUNT MERSEY moved, in subsection (1), to insert after "objects," "and produced subsequent to the year 1600." The noble Viscount said: I should like to add to the words which Your Lordships have adapted the words "and produced subsequent to the year 1600." I do not wish to waste your Lordships' time. I believe a very large majority of your Lordships in the House this evening are in favour of this very moderate Amendment, but perhaps it would be better, in order that it may be on record, that I should just put the points again, as some of your Lordships 828 who are here to-night were not here on the last occasion. We know that the Trustees were never in favour of this Bill at all. I believe there was a very close division among the Trustees of the two bodies as to whether they should accept it; but they have to admit a certain degree of reciprocity, and their suggestion is that the best examples of British art should be lent abroad—that is to say, the seventeenth, eighteenth and early nineteenth century canvases. The noble Earl, Lord Crawford, whose expert knowledge and very great weight are admitted, I imagine, by everybody, laid particular stress upon the danger to panel pictures. That is one class of thing I wish to protect—the old panel pictures. He mentioned the danger of some of the old galleries; and the noble Viscount, Lord Lee of Fareham, mentioned the danger of the new galleries abroad, through damp. The most rev. Primate, and in fact everyone who spoke, referred to these dangers. I will not develop that point.
§ The objects I wish to protect are the very early English things which have not only an artistic but also an historical value. Perhaps the Trustees sometimes give that quality a second place, but to many of us it has a first place. Many of your Lordships in your own houses possess objects on the walls or on the shelves which are perhaps not of very great artistic or intrinsic value, but which to your Lordships, for family reasons or reasons of sentiment, have a very real value indeed. In England there are many such things which we do not wish to go abroad. I will take two instances only: they are neither of them things that can go abroad. Take the Coronation Stone in Westminster Abbey. That, I suppose, is of no intrinsic value at all, but it would be a very great trouble to many people if it were sunk in a ship. Luckily it is in the custody of a cleric who, I understand, is an absolute autocrat and takes orders from no one. The other instance is Domesday Book. The custodian of Domesday Book is the Master of the Rolls. I do not know if he is an autocrat in this particular instance, but I believe that he is precluded from lending it. That is an object which I am sure it would be a terrible risk to send abroad. There 829 are the early panel pictures of the Kings of England, of no very great artistic value but of great interest; there are a few plays of Shakespeare, the very earliest productions of Caxton's press and the stained glass windows at Fair-ford church. It is a few things of that sort that I am thinking of.
§ I did propose to the most rev. Primate and to the noble Earl in the first instance a schedule, but they said the difficulties of framing a schedule were very great indeed and I expect that they know a great deal better than I do. My point is—and I hope your Lordships will sympathise with it—why should the British things be sacrificed in order to save the foreign things? Save both if you can. I have got a sheaf of letters in my pocket sent to me by noble Lords who could not come to the House to-day. Some of them are against the whole Bill. They do not want to lend any of these things. This Amendment takes a more moderate course. It only asks that these early English things—documents, panel pictures, ivory carvings, the sort of things which are absolutely unique, quite irreplaceable and bound up with the oldest and most intimate history of this country (not so much of the British Empire as of England) that these things should not be subject to the very great risk to which they would undoubtedly be subject if they were to travel through different temperatures overseas, to go to galleries where people, though they may care for them, know very little about their custody.
§ I had collected some extracts from the speeches of the noble Earl and the most rev. Primate and the noble Viscount, Lord Grey, but I do not think it is necessary now that I should quote them. They are nearly all in support of what I am saying to your Lordships now. The Trustees have made a gesture in agreeing to send abroad the seventeenth and eighteenth-century canvases, which means those of Romney, Reynolds and Gainsborough. This Amendment does not traverse that at all. I personally am quite willing that those things should go. All I want is to save our early English objects, which probably might not be asked for by foreign countries but would certainly be asked for by the Colonies and Dominions. It would sometimes be a very difficult request to refuse, and these loans, as your Lordships know when 830 you lend your own things, though they are supposed to be temporary loans, have a very great tendency to become permanent. Then you would break up the entity of a single collection in the British Museum or the National Gallery, and when somebody has travelled half across the world to see something, he would be told: —"Oh, it is on loan to Australia," or "It has been sent to the Sandwich Islands—it is a Captain Cook's relic, and you cannot see it." Of course, the Amendment does not protect everything which it ought to protect. It is difficult to find a form of words that would do everything.
§ The only other point is one which I made on Second Reading—that I am sure it is the wish of your Lordships that people should come to this country to see these things. Travel is very cheap and we want people to come here. Let them come and look at these marvellous collections in Trafalgar Square or Bloomsbury. People do not hesitate to lend to London: naturally, it is the best advertisement in the world to lend to London. I have a fairly complete knowledge of foreign galleries—not so complete, of course, as that of the noble Earl and the noble Viscount—and it would be a joke to lend to some places. Here things are safe: it is quite different when you send things abroad. There is a great volume of public opinion—opinion not only in this House but all over the country—on this subject. I dare say many of your Lordships read The Times newspaper, and you may perhaps have noticed a leading article this morning in support of this Amendment. I do not think there is anything more I need say, and I beg to move the Amendment of which I have given the Lord Chairman notice.
Page 1, line 11, at end insert ("and produced subsequently to the year 1600").— (Viscount Mersey.)
§ VISCOUNT LEE OF FAREHAM
should like to support the Amendment moved by the noble Viscount, and I will give my reasons in a very few words. Your Lordships have now accepted the principle that authority to lend shall only extend to works of British origin. That is satisfactory, but I think the noble Viscount has made a reasonable case for exempting works prior to 831 the date 1600. There is no special virtue in that date, but works which are much earlier are either so extremely rare that they ought not to be lent at all, or they are exceedingly fragile. I will only refer to two categories. It is well known to your Lordships that this country was celebrated in the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries for its production of alabaster figures. Those figures had great reputation not only in this country but all over Europe. They are exceedingly fragile. It is very rare indeed to see one that is not broken. They are obviously of a material and of a kind that would be almost bound to suffer if sent unnecessarily on travels. That is one class of object. Then there are the exceedingly rare English paintings on panels of the thirteenth, fourteenth and fifteenth centuries. Those also are extremely delicate.
I may perhaps be permitted to say that I have in my own possession one of the late fourteenth century which is so delicate that it was not considered safe—and the authorities of the Victoria and Albert Museum entirely concurred—even to send it from my own house to the exhibition of English mediaeval art which was held recently. These objects are not numerous and I do not for a moment believe that they would be greatly desired for exhibition abroad, but I think the Amendment would relieve the Trustees of the undesirable responsibility of refusing demands for the loan of these objects, if unfortunately such demands were made, and, after all, what is wanted abroad, and what we are willing and anxious to display abroad, is English painting subsequently to the year 1600, and particularly eighteenth century pictures. There are certainly some English painters of the seventeenth century, such as William Dobson and Mary Beale, whose works could very well be sent and which would help to round out the exhibits of English painting. For these reasons I hope that your Lordships will be willing to look with favour upon the noble Viscount's Amendment, and in any case I wished to say these few words in support of it.
§ EARL PEEL
I desire in a very few words to support the noble Viscount's Amendment. I think it is a very modest 832 and moderate Amendment. I should have preferred the 1700 limit to the 1600 limit. There is no doubt that a great many people are reluctant to lend these objects if the loan involves great risks. I quite understand the attitude of the Trustees of the British Museum, who feel that there should be some reciprocity, but I really think the Government might willingly agree to this limitation. We want to assist the Trustees as far as possible, and it is much easier for them if they can say that they are not permitted to lend these particular objects. After all, we are at the centre of the Empire, and in these days of easy travel it is perfectly right that anybody who wants to see these objects should come here. I would urge the Government and your Lordships to allow these more ancient relies, if I may so call them, to rest in their shrines, secure from all dangers and vicissitudes of air, sea and land travel. I hope that the Government will accept this Amendment.
§ LORD AMULREE
I do not know that there is very much difference between the desire of the noble Viscount, as expressed in his Amendment, and the actual provisions of the Bill. The Bill gives power to the Trustees to prescribe regulations, and those regulations may, if the Trustees think fit, limit such objects as they may lend to articles subsequent to 1600 or to any other date. If, therefore, the Trustees should wish to draw the line at some particular date, they are at liberty to do so. The whole purport of the Bill is to carry out the recommendations of the Royal Commission which was set up for this purpose by the late Government. That Commission reported substantially in the terms of the Bill now before your Lordships, and the view that they took was that regulations should be made from time to time. The making of regulations from time to time makes the power of the Trustees more elastic and escapes the rigidity that would otherwise be imposed upon them by Statute.
This is what the Royal Commission reported on page 34 of the Report:—We do not think the Act itself should attempt to define the class of objects which should be excluded from the purview of the Act, e.g., fragile objects, panel pictures, unique or type specimens, as we think that such definition can be accomplished better by 833 regulations promulgated and, if need be, modified time to time by the governing authorities.The view that we take of the matter is that the object of this Amendment would be more effectively accomplished by regulations prescribed "and, if need be, modified from time to time' by the Trustees. In those circumstances I hope that the noble Viscount will not press his Amendment, since the Trustees have ample power to deal with this matter.
§ LORD HANWORTH
I am afraid I cannot agree with the interpretation of the Bill that has been given by the noble Lord in charge of it. If that is the right interpretation, he mast put in a good many more words to make it plain. Your Lordships will observe that under Clause 1 the effective words are that the Trustees shall—have power at any time to lend for public exhibition …. on such terms as they think fit any objects which are vested in the Trustees.Those are the operative words. It is quite true that this is subject to such regulations as they may prescribe, but I do not hesitate to say that as those words stand everybody who reads them, all lawyers who read them, would say that they mean that the Trustees have the power to lend any object at all that is vested in them. It is quite true that they can make regulations to say that the objects are to be lent only for a certain time, or to be hung in a certain place, or that they are not to be moved from one place to another, or that the transit is to be effected as far as possible by land and not by sea; but those are the minor points that, can be dealt with by regulation.
I do not think that it would be possible for the Trustees to make a regulation limiting the power that is imposed upon them of lending any objects that are vested in them, or to curtail that power by saying that they will lend only objects which are not earlier than a certain date arbitrarily fixed. If that is what Lord Amulree thinks the Bill does, he must alter the terms of it very drastically. As the matter stands I am quite certain—no, I beg the noble Lord's pardon; I ought not to say that to another lawyer —but at any rate I venture to offer a different opinion from that which has 834 been expressed by the noble and learned Lord who has given the House the benefit of his reading of the clause.
§ On Question, Amendment agreed to.
LORD AMULREE moved, in subsection (1), immediately before the proviso, to insert:—
or to lend any such objects (being pictures) for display in the official house of a British Ambassador or Minister in a foreign country, or in the official house in any part of His Majesty's Dominions outside Great Britain of a representative of His Majesty or of His Majesty's Government in the United Kingdom.
The noble Lord said: On behalf of my noble friend Lord Parmoor, I beg to move the Amendment that stands in his name. The object of the Amendment is to enable the Trustees to lend, not objects of art generally, but only pictures, to the Embassies abroad, and also to Governors and so on. Galleries have more pictures than they can exhibit at one time, and among these may be some suitable for the purpose. The Trustees will, of course, have complete discretion to permit or refuse to permit the pictures to go, and to attach any conditions as to the length of time of the loan and such matters. The Amendment is desired by the Departments concerned, the Office of Works, the Foreign Office and the Dominions Office. I submit that this Amendment would be a very friendly and useful act, and that it would be an improvement of the Bill if some such provision were inserted. I beg to move.
Page 1, line 14, after ("respectively") insert the said wordy.—(Lord Amulree.)
THE EARL OF CRAWFORD
Prima facie the Amendment appears to be attractive, but I think that it deserves rather closer consideration than the noble Lord has given to it. He was good enough to say that the Trustees would retain complete discretion whether to lend or not to lend pictures to British Embassies, Legations and other official houses abroad. I think one must contrast his view about this Amendment, with the statement which he made about the first Amendment on the Paper, where he adopted a very much more censorious attitude towards the Trustees, expressing surprise that they should not have the courage to refuse. Now, when he wishes to extend the power under the Bill, he says that the Trustees have complete dis- 835 cretion, asking us therefore to accept the Amendment on the ground that we can refuse, although he scolded us on the first Amendment because he thought we would refuse to lend.
Your Lordships must remember that these official houses of Ambassadors and Ministers abroad are private residences. They are away from this country, and the pictures would be outside all technical supervision and control. If a picture is sent to a foreign country on a temporary loan we assume that the technical people in that country are doing their best to see that the picture is safeguarded. Nothing of the sort can apply to a British Embassy or Ministry, or to what is called the official house in one of the Dominions of the representative of His Majesty. Therefore these pictures would be away from proper supervision and control. They will be in private houses, subject to the ordinary risk of fire. Our national collections in the British Museum, the Albert and Victoria Museum, the National Gallery, Hertford House, and so forth, are all in isolated buildings, and humanly speaking as safe from fire as any buildings in Great Britain. All this safeguarding goes.
Is the noble and learned Lord quite sure that this Amendment in itself is desirable? He says that the Departments concerned, the Foreign Office, the Dominions Office and Office of Works, are anxious for it. It is very obliging of these Departments to take so fatherly an interest in the British Museum, but does Lord Amulree think that first-class pictures are going to be sent to Vienna or Paris or Washington? In my opinion, unless really first-class pictures are sent to the residences of the representatives of His Majesty abroad it would be better to send none at all. To send second-or third-rate examples of British pictures to the Embassies would be a mistake, and before the Report stage I hope the noble and learned Lord will consult those who are in a position to advise him, to see whether this Amendment should not be reconsidered.
I know that in taking this view I lay myself open to the charges made in his first speech by Lord Amulree of "undignified attitude," "lack of international courtesy," and so forth. We have been charged with all sorts of things for taking the view put forward by 836 my noble friend Lord Lee of Fareham and the Master of the Rolls. For my part I am prepared to stand the risk of those charges, because I know, as I said on the Second Reading—I do not think Lord Amulree was then present—that it is a view which is supported by responsible custodians of works of art all over Europe. One other word in conclusion. The words inserted by Lord Hanworth, which entailed the reflection upon him and upon myself and others this afternoon, were not invented by the Trustees of the British Museum or by Lord Hanworth himself. The words which Lord Hanworth moved, and which brought down upon our heads the censorious utterances of Lord Amulree, were in the original draft of the Bill circulated by the Government to the places concerned. Therefore I would beg your Lordships to observe that in taking the view we have we have not been guilty of any frivolous attitude, but that in the original Bill the words which we have inserted this afternoon were present by action of Ministers themselves.
§ VISCOUNT ULLSWATER
I do not take such a stern view as Lord Crawford of this matter. I think we might very well insert these words in the Bill. The pictures which are in the custody of the Trustees of the British Museum, the National Gallery and the National Portrait Gallery, are not, all of them, great works of art. There are many now stored away in the cellars of the buildings which are never seen by the public because they are not of first-rate quality. They may have some historic value, and in the matter of portraiture very likely may have considerable value to the place to which they might be sent. I can well imagine—I do not know—that there may be in the subterranean cellars of our galleries very interesting portraits of British Ambassadors who have played prominent parts in France, Germany, Italy, Austria and elsewhere, which might very well decorate the walls of our official buildings in the capitals of those countries. I do not see why they should not go there. When I inhabited a house at the other end of these buildings a certain number of pictures which belonged to the Trustees of the National Portrait Gallery were loaned to me, and they were hung there. The same sort of thing might take place abroad.
837 The noble Earl said that there is no official inspection, but I do not think he is quite right. I think the official residences of our Ambassadors and Ministers in all parts of the world are under the control of the Office of Works, and that from time to time the Office of Works send representatives to those distant places to see whether the buildings are in proper order, whether the furniture is properly taken care of and in a good state of repair, and whether the pictures also are in a proper condition. Why, as a matter of fact, the Office of Works do send to almost every one of these official residences pictures which belong to the Office of Works. You will never go into any of these residences without seeing pictures of His Majesty and of Her Majesty, or possibly even of King Edward and Queen Alexandra and other Sovereigns. There are other interesting persons whose portraits, as I have said, lie unseen in the cellars, but which might very well decorate the walls of these residences. For that reason I think that it is not an unreasonable Amendment, and I should be very glad to see it inserted in the Bill.
§ VISCOUNT LEE OF FAREHAM
I am sure we all listen with great respect to anything that proceeds from the noble Viscount who has just spoken, but I would remind him of this. He speaks of portraits of distinguished Ambassadors which might very well adorn the Embassies which they served in their lifetime. Those pictures, I take it, are mostly to be found in the reserve stock of the National Portrait Gallery, which already has power to lend, if it so desires, and which is not concerned with this Bill at all. The position is not in the least affected by this Bill, so far as loans from the National Portrait Gallery are concerned. Then he gave the parallel, as he claimed it to be, of the Speaker's official residence. But I suggest there is a great difference between an Embassy abroad and an official residence here in London, where the pictures lent by the National Gallery or the National Portrait Gallery are subject to the inspection of the technical staff of those galleries at all times—not of the Office of Works, but the technical inspectors of the National Gallery and the National Portrait Gallery—who can report on their condition qua pictures, which, with all respect, the officials of 838 the Office of Works are quite incompetent to do.
It is a very short cry from Trafalgar Square to the Speaker's House. There is no difficulty about having a consultation when a picture is showing any signs of disrepair. But let us take the Legation in Peru, or Government House in Queensland. Pictures out there will undoubtedly remain practically on permanent loan. The climate may affect them. Blisters may appear. They may be hung in buildings where they are exposed unduly to sunshine or damp. How is a sporadic inspection by a peripatetic Office of Works minor official, who once in so many years visits these places, and has no more knowledge of pictures, probably, than the people who are already living in that house, to afford any protection for pictures under those conditions? And there is really, as I see it, a very great difference between a picture in a private house, even though that private house be official in the sense that it is where one of His Majesty's representatives lives, and an exhibition or a public gallery, where, for the time being at any rate, the picture will be under more or less expert observation, and from which in due course, and very shortly, it will return to its place of origin. In these houses abroad, the pictures, like the furniture, are absolutely at the mercy of the local housemaid.
If it is ruled that we have in our national collections pictures so uninteresting and so worthless that it does not matter what becomes of them, and we do not want to show them, then there might be an excuse for sending them away, but those are not the pictures for which we shall be asked. And perhaps I may also very respectfully join issue when the noble Viscount talks about pictures stored at the National Gallery in cellars. They are not cellars. They are exhibition rooms in a large airy basement, eight feet above the street level. So that the pictures are not in danger of perishing in the damp of cellars. I do really think there is a distinction between the two cases, and I cannot do otherwise than oppose the Amendment which the Government have moved.
May I be allowed to make a, point which has not 839 yet been made? These pictures which it is proposed to lend, possibly to Embassies and places abroad, are the property of the British public, and should be available, as far as possible at all times, to students and members of the public who wish to see them, and should not be allowed to be put away for indefinite periods in houses or other places abroad.
§ On Question, Amendment negatived.
§ LORD AMULREE
The next Amendment on the Paper is consequential on this Amendment which has not been accepted.
§ Clause 1, as amended, agreed to.
§ Remaining clause agreed to.