HL Deb 29 January 1935 vol 95 cc711-27

Order of the Day for the Second Reading read.


My Lords, the Bill to which I invite your Lordships to accord a Second Reading to-day is one designed to give legislative authority to the carrying out of part of the recommendations of the Royal Commission on National Museums and Galleries, which was set up in 1928, and presided over by the noble Viscount, Lord D'Abernon. Those of your Lordships who are interested in this subject will recollect that a measure similar to this was proposed in 1930. That Bill was designed to let the National Gallery and the British Museum lend their possessions overseas. Owing, however, to very serious differences of opinion which occurred between the two Houses of Parliament, the Bill was not proceeded with, and was ultimately withdrawn. Last year, however, a deputation was received by the Prime Minister, urging the reintroduction of a measure somewhat similar to that proposed in 1930, but in a modified form, and I think it would be for the benefit of the House if I told your Lordships that that deputation included amongst others, the Acting High Commissioner for Australia, the High Commissioner for New Zealand and many of the Agents-General for the Australian States.

After considerable consultation and inquiry, the Trustees of the National Gallery and the Tate Gallery unanimously decided in favour of lending overseas pictures by British artists. Unfortunately no agreement could be reached with the Trustees of the British Museum, and for that reason they are excluded from the contents of this Bill. Many of your Lordships will have had the opportunity of visiting the picture galleries of the great capitals of Europe and elsewhere. During those excursions you will, I think, have realised the very singular lack of pictures representative of the British school of painting, and I would venture to suggest that the discovery of this omission has in no way disposed of the unquenchable hope that your Lordships must have entertained that one day pictures representative of the British school of painting might be exhibited in galleries overseas. The benefits to be derived from a Bill of this character are many, and I think to-day I need only call your Lordships' attention to the major benefits which may, and probably will, result from the Bill. In the first place, an exhibition abroad of the finest classes of British paintings would, I think, come as a revelation to the inhabitants of the fortunate country concerned, and indeed the reciprocal advantage of the interchange of loans would not only have a profound influence on art in general, but would also produce and promote international friendship and cordiality.

May I ask your Lordships to turn to the Bill? Clause 1 provides that the Trustees and the Director of the National Gallery may do two things. First they shall, in their discretion, have power to lend pictures by British artists for public exhibition outside the United Kingdom. On the Committee stage of the Bill of 1030 my noble friend Lord Mersey moved an Amendment restricting loans to a period subsequent to the year 1600. Your Lordships will see that no mention of this restriction is included in the present Bill, for the reason that the elimination of the British Museum from the measure has removed the necessity for such a restriction. Further, there are very few pictures in the National Gallery painted by British artists previous to the year 1600, and as the right of selection is left to the Trustees and the Director, I do not think that any further safeguard is called for. In the second place, paragraph (b) of subsection (1) of Clause 1 provides that the Trustees and the Director of the National Gallery shall, in their discretion, have power to lend pictures by British artists for display in the official house of the British Ambassador in a foreign country.

As your Lordships are no doubt aware the majority, in fast all, of those residences for Ambassadors abroad are provided by the Government, and up till now no pictures have been furnished with the exception of the pictures of their Majesties the King and Queen, which are supplied by the Lord Chamberlain's Department. I think your Lordships will agree it is not within the power of all Ambassadors to-day to produce pictures of a decorative standard which could be Lung in the great British Embassies abroad, and for my own part I could imagine that, having been appointed by His Majesty to be Ambassador to one of the great Powers in Europe, nothing could be more dismal or dreary than to enter that building and find bare and empty walls. There are fifteen such Embassies to which these pictures could go if the Trustees and the Director thought fit, and it may well be that some of your Lordships have fear that the climatic conditions or the absence of expert supervision may make it very undesirable, if not dangerous, to lend. I think that danger has been amply foreseen by the Government, and this clause, which authorises the Trustees and the Director to lend on such conditions as they may think fit and subject to such conditions as they may impose, is a very strong safeguard. Indeed, if those conditions which they saw fit to impose and the conditions under which they thought fit to make this loan could not be met then obviously the pictures would not be sent.

The last part of Clause 1 is a proviso about bequests which I think needs some explanation. Under the National Gallery (Loan) Act, 1883, the Trustees of the National Gallery, including the Tate Trustees, may not lend to this country a picture vested in them by gift or bequest until after the expiration of a period of fifteen years from the date of the gift or bequest if the terms of such gift or bequest leave them free, or twenty-five years if the conditions of gift or bequest are inconsistent with the loan. In the ease of loans abroad the Government feel that the restrictions on the power of lending should be rather more strict than at present contemplated, and I therefore propose on the Committee stage to move an Amendment debarring Trustees, at any rate in the case of future gifts or bequests, even after fifteen years, from lending abroad in cases where the loan would be inconsistent with any condition attached to the gift or bequest.

I mention the case of future bequests since it will no doubt be agreed that it would be very unfortunate that the Gallery Trustees should be debarred, for example, from lending to a foreign exhibition of British art any part of their superb collection of Turners. On the other hand, it is proposed, following the line of certain recommendations made by the Royal Commission on National Museums and Galleries, that these two rules may be abrogated with the consent of the donor or of his personal representative or of the personal representative of the testator. I do not think that point will be in any way controversial and, as I have said, I propose to move that Amendment on the Committee stage to set out quite clearly what the intentions of the Government are. That is the Bill, and it is one to which I think your Lordships could very safely give a Second Reading to-day. It is one which has been drawn up with mutual agreement between the parties mentioned in the Bill, and it is one which I submit quite confidently to your Lordships fur Second Reading.

Moved, That the Bill be now read 2a.—(The Earl of Munster.)


My Lords, I am sure that the overwhelming majority of your Lordships' House will welcome this Bill, a Bill which in my opinion has been long overdue and one which it is wise to pass, not only in the interests of British art but also to reciprocate the many complimentary loans which have been made to this country by other great countries in Europe and elsewhere. After the way in which the Italian Government sent a profusion of first-class works to this country for exhibition I feel we ought to be in a position, under due safeguards as provided, with the consent of the Trustees and Director, to repay that compliment and enable the people of Italy and the people of other countries to judge of the works of British artists.

The first question I want to put to my noble friend is, Why is the Wallace Collection excluded? It may be said—I do not know—that this is a compromise Bill, and that in order to secure an easy passage for it the promoters have been obliged to exclude this Collection and that class of works of art and simply to concentrate on the National Gallery and the Tate Gallery and only to ask leave to loan British pictures. I would like to know whether an effort has been made to bring in the Wallace Collection. The Wallace Collection is a national asset. As far as I am able to ascertain, that collection was left to the nation by the widow of Sir Richard Wallace. The nation purchased the mansion house in Manchester Square where the collection is now housed and, therefore, unless there is some good reason, including perhaps that of getting an agreed Bill, I would like to know why the Wallace Collection is excluded. After all, we have there—I stand to be corrected—outside France, the finest collection of French pictures in the world, and as we have got it by a lucky chance—and perhaps the French nation felt rather aggrieved that it was not left to some public body in France—I think we ought, if possible, to be in a position to lend sonic of those works of art, subject, as I said, to the approval of the Director and the Trustees.

Then I come to what is, perhaps, a more controversial subject. Why, in logic, exclude all foreign painters and concentrate entirely upon British painters? The only reason that can be given, I suppose, is that we want to make our artists well known—let other nations go to the land of birth of the painter if they want to find other pictures! In passing this Bill, we really have mainly in view, I take it, the object that British artists should be better known through the world. I do not think anybody would put that forward as a main contention. It is not a very high motive. What I think is our consideration in passing this Bill is this: We have unsurpassed art treasures in the public galleries and in private possession in this country—we are fortunate to have inherited the great purchases of the eighteenth century—and we are not so churlish as to want to keep all these wonderful things from the view and the knowledge of other nations. Private collections in this country have been, and are being, freely drawn upon for overseas exhibitions and, therefore, I cannot see any reason why there is any objection to lending the magnificent Velasquez, let us say, from the National Gallery for exhibition overseas, provided those responsible for its safe custody are satisfied no harm would come to it. I would like to know the attitude of His Majesty's Government on these two points—why Hertford House is excluded and why they confine this Bill to British artists. On the answer may depend whether I shall move Amendments in that sense in the Committee stage.


My Lords, this Bill is much less controversial than recent measures on the same subject, and, as it is no longer a Bill permitting indiscriminate loans of all pictures of all schools to all countries or any country, my own opposition is very much mitigated. But I should like to say at once in answer to what my noble friend Lord Mount Temple has stated, that the matter is far less simple than he seems to indicate. He says this Bill is illogical because it applies only to British pictures. Why should we not lend our Velasquez to the Prado or our French pictures to the Louvre? The reason is that this practice of sending old master pictures, often of very frail character, careering about from one capital of Europe to another is a source of the most profound disquiet amongst the professional men, curators and keepers, who are responsible for the custody and the good order of these pictures. I do not think my noble friend quite realises how fragile these old masters are. We have no paintings of any value more than five or six hundred years old. Compared with the art of the goldsmith or the sculptor or the enameller, the art of the painter is a mere ephemeral production, and these productions, which are the great emanation of the genius of our race for the last five hundred years, have got to last for five thousand or for fifty thousand years if possible. Every time one of these pictures is sent careering about Europe, its value is reduced by the extent of friction and hydrometric change to which it is subject.


May I interrupt my noble friend? I apologise for doing so. Would not that apply equally to the works of British artists? Do not they run the same danger?


Perhaps I may roach that point later on. I do not wish to be too long. I say, therefore, that the risk of breakage, the risk of change of temperature, and, not least of all, the risk of fire, have been the source of the greatest anxiety during these recent exhibitions that have taken place in London. When my noble friend talked about the gallantry of the Italian Government in sending over that great shipload of treasures a few years ago he spoke quite truly, but I suppose he knows that every responsible curator in this country, not to mention every responsible keeper in Italy, was on tenterhooks until it was known that that ship had safely got over the storms of the Bay of Biscay. Even then, with all the care that is taken, the risk of damage and loss to pictures sent about in these circumstances is very serious indeed. I entirely object to the term "churlish" being applied to those who dissent from this practice of sending pictures to and fro. The attitude of curators all over Europe is hostile to this movement. It is not their initiative. The whole thing is a political move. My noble friend behind me mentioned that a deputation had recently been to the Prime Minister. I did not know there had been such a deputation, but judging from the names he mentioned they were not the names of persons who were prima facie much concerned in fine art. It was apparently a political deputation from the Dominions and the Colonies. It is what is called a gesture. A gesture, when interpreted in terms of fine art, is a very risky thing indeed.

My noble friend talked about agreeing to sending English pictures abroad while objecting to sending others abroad. I object to sending all priceless and fragile pictures about in this manner, but I am quite ready to recognise that a kind of claim has been pegged out by our recent exhibitions in London—and not only during the last ten years—and by a prevailing feeling that gestures of this character are necessary on our part. Therefore I am ready, though not without reluctance, to accept this compromise Bill as a settlement of the problem. It is for that reason that I waive my objection. At least one can say that the pictures of our national school here, being of more recent date, are therefore not painted on the most fragile of all bases—namely, panel—and are probably less liable to damage than the earlier Italian or German masters.

I would, however, like to add one word of caution. My noble friend who introduced the Bill said there were fifteen Embassies, and rather indicated each one of them ought to have a selection. I do not know that that is a proper way in which to dole out our pictures. Under the Bill you could send a Gainsborough to Tokio, but you cannot send one to Amsterdam. That is not the sort of distribution that pleases me. I should like a more general distribution, and I think the Trustees of the National Gallery and the Director should be able to exercise discretion as to the destination of these pictures. There are not very many of them. People seem to think—even the noble Earl, Lord Munster, seems to think—that the place is full of these pictures. At Trafalgar Square you will not find the great masterpieces of Reynolds and Gainsborough and Romney. They are not there. Such pictures as we have are far from excessive in number or quality to represent the history and development of our own school. My support of the Bill, therefore, if cautious, I think, sound, but it will very soon cease to be sound if the noble Earl gives way to my noble friend below the gangway about the Wallace Collection. I beg of him to take the trouble to read the Trust of the Wallace Collection before be considers sending it about for display. The great charm of that Collection is that it is not like the official picture galleries to which we are accustomed all over the world, where each school is segregated in its particular group of rooms. It is the house of a great collector maintained as far as possible in the happy haphazard way in which it was left, and the fact that the Government paid £60,000 to acquire and rearrange the Collection is no reason for taking away the Trust which governs it. I am sure, however, that the Government are not going to extend the Bill beyond its present scope, which I consider quite adequate to the existing situation.


My Lords, I should like to say a word upon this Bill because I was responsible for an Amendment which your Lordships were pleased to accept on a previous occasion when a similar Bill was brought forward. I think this Bill does narrow down very much indeed the damage that could be produced. As regards the question of lending pictures to Embassies, I believe that on the last occasion I spoke in Committee against the proposal, but later visits to some of His Majesty's Embassies abroad have convinced me that there is considerable scope for lending something to some of them. I would refer, for instance, to the way in which British art is represented in Rome, where, I think—the noble Earl will correct me if I am wrong—there is only one rather indifferent picture of George IV by Sir Thomas Lawrence in the Vatican Gallery. I do not recall any other British picture of distinction in Rome. The Ambassador there might be allowed, say, some of the Turners in the Tate Gallery. When we think of what the Italian Ambassador in this Capital has hung on his walls we might be tempted to compete in a modest way.

There is another subject, not quite germane to the Bill but not far removed from it, to which I would like to draw attention; that is the question of testators leaving their pictures to the nation. Very few people are able to retain beautiful things of value in their possession nowadays, and it is still harder for their successors to continue to retain them. I do not think it is suffi- ciently realised either by the public or by the owners of such things that if they allow the National Gallery to acquire them when the estate is liquidated they will not have to pay Estate Duty. That makes a very large difference. Take the ease of a very moderate estate which has to pay duty of 33 per cent. If the successor sells a picture to an American art dealer for £45,000 all he receives in fact to put into the bank is £30,000, because 33 per cent. is at once taken by Somerset House. If he sells to the National Gallery for £30,000 he receives £30,000 net and pays no duty. That is a most important point which ought to be more generally known. It is not a matter which needs legislation, but think it might be made an instruction to the Board of Trustees of the National Gallery that they should take upon themselves the duty, through Somerset House, of informing the executors of estates that are in liquidation that the National Gallery would be prepared at a price to take over one or more of their pictures.

I can quite understand that there is a certain reluctance on the part of successors or executors to go hat in hand to the National Gallery and ask whether the Trustees will take their pictures. The suggestion I make, therefore, is that the onus should be on the shoulders of the Government. The Board of Trustees are very well informed and know pretty well what pictures there are which they would like to acquire, and probably know only too well the financial state of the executors. It would be easy for them to say to Somerset House: "So-and-so has died, his successor may have to get rid of some pictures to pay taxation, and we would like you to tell him when you send your assessment that we would be prepared to take some of those pictures at a figure to be settled." I think that would very much facilitate the position of the successor. People have an idea that if they go around here saying they have this or that picture to sell the matter becomes common knowledge, but that if they sell them abroad it is not generally known. I think that is a wrong idea. It ought to be regarded rather as a distinction to allow a personal possession to be hung on the walls of the National Gallery.

I hope that no Amendments of the kind which have been suggested will be proposed. I think that would be the best way of wrecking the Bill. There was, I think, a large majority on the last occasion in favour of limiting the scope of the Bill to British-produced objects. That is going far enough. Even so somebody might find that the Wilton diptych was painted by an Englishman, which would bring it within the purview of the Bill. We are making a generous gesture and I feel sure that if the noble Earl sticks to the Bill he will get it through.


My Lords, I was one of the opponents of the Bill of four years ago in its much wider form, and I feel sure that the noble Lord below the gangway if he remembers that debate, would not wish to resume the discussion upon the basis which then proved disastrous to the measure. I agree entirely with the view expressed to-day by the noble Earl, Lord Crawford, and although I also regard with some reluctance and misgivings the possible consequences of this Bill, I am prepared to support it on Second Reading. But I should like to have a slightly more explicit statement from the noble Earl in charge of the Bill with regard to one point upon which I feel very strongly. Unfortunately, owing to the acoustic properties of your Lordships' House, I did not quite hear the terms of the Amendment which he proposes to move, but I understood it to be, and I hope I am right, an Amendment to omit paragraph (ii) of subsection (1) of Clause 1, which reads: at least fifteen years have elapsed since the date of the vesting of the picture. I had proposed to move an Amendment to omit those words, but I rather gathered, although I must admit that I did not hear the noble Earl quite clearly, that it was the intention of the Government iii effect to omit those words, and therefore to allow the declared wishes of a testator or donor and the conditions upon which his gift was accepted to be respected and honoured however many years may have elapsed after the gift or, indeed, after his death.

I should like to be reassured upon that point, if the noble Earl will be good enough to give me that assurance, otherwise I shall feel it necessary to move an Amendment at a later stage. Personally, I have a very strong objection to the idea of defeating and ignoring the wishes expressed in a trust unless there are overwhelming reasons for doing so. The noble Lord below the gangway talked quite airily about breaking the Wallace Trust, as if it could be brushed aside without any regard to the original conditions under which that great gift to the nation was made. I think that there is a moral issue here as well as one of expediency, and personally I should very much object to that policy being pursued, whatever the object was or whatever specious excuse might be put forward for departing from the terms of the trust. If the noble Earl turns a deaf ear to those blandishments from below the gangway and proceeds with his Bill in its present form but with what I understood to be the Amendment proposed, I think he may also count on my vote.


My Lords, my views have been so accurately expressed by my noble friend who spoke earlier that I intend to do no more than say a few words. I have been a persistent opponent of this proposal ever since it was first mooted, and I remain obdurate at the present day. My real reason for that is a sufficient one; it is that we do not want freedom. We accept the loan of wonderful pictures and works of art from foreign countries and we exhibit them in London—to the great advantage incidentally of the pictures themselves—but we do that for our own pleasure. We accept the loan, we show the pictures, and then when they ask us to lend some of ours we cannot do it; it is against the law. So long as it is against the law we have a perfectly good excuse; the directors of a gallery can put forward the fact that they cannot do it unless there is a change in the law. I have been concerned in helping to form one or two loan collections of pictures to be sent to the great Dominions of the Empire. It is impossible to have any dealings with the art authorities of Melbourne, Sydney, Ottawa or wherever it may be, without hearing that in their opinion the London collections of works of art ought to be regarded as Imperial collections, and visitors from overseas should be able to share the knowledge that we possess and enlarge their own experience upon that basis.

I think that is really a stronger point than any other. If this Bill were confined to authorising loans to art galleries of the Dominions I should say, "By all means let us lend"; but there are many countries in this world which have collections of pictures and which might expect to be entrusted with loans from us, and they are not all trustworthy. I do not mean that they would not return the pictures; I mean that they cannot he trusted to take sufficient care of these very tender works of art. That is a matter which is by no means universally borne in mind. There are countries to which we would not like to lend pictures, not because we do not like them and not because they are not most estimable people with wonderful galleries, but simply because we do not think that they know how to take care of pictures. Naturally enough I cannot mention names, but it is within the knowledge of everybody that there are certain galleries in which the pictures are in a desperately bad condition and nothing is done to save them. We do not want to send our pictures into that atmosphere.

This Bill is a great deal better than the previous one. The idea of confining it to pictures of the English school is an improvement, for they can travel with far less danger than almost any other pictures. They go very freely to America and do not suffer very much on the way. There is a great deal to be said for allowing some of our own productions to go, if necessary, to the ends of the earth, but there is, I think, nothing to be said for lending pictures of other descriptions. This could only be the thin edge of the wedge. We should be led by this Bill into lending older pictures and lending foreign pictures, and we should find ourselves lending indiscriminately before we knew where we were. I should oppose the very beginnings of this lending. I think that we are on a perfectly sound footing now. The Government have been driven to exclude the British Museum from the scope of the Bill; and why? Because the contents of the British Museum are of an exceedingly delicate and tender nature and could not be moved with any safety at all. It is only a matter of degree. If you once let the National Gallery and the Tate Gallery lend pictures, you will be driven to allowing the British Museum to lend its art treasures. For those reasons I am unable myself to support this measure and I must vote against it.


My Lords, I would like to say a word or two on this Bill in support of it. I remember thinking four years ago when the original Bill was introduced, that the matter was a very simple one, but after the debate in December, 1930, I fully realised that it was by no means so simple as it appeared on the surface, and I think the Government have been wise in restricting the operation of this Bill as they have done compared with the Bill of four years ago. Undoubtedly the fears expressed by the noble Earl, Lord Crawford, are very real. Perhaps there is nothing of great value that is so perishable as a picture, and I know myself what the noble Earl referred to as the terrible anxiety that artists and gallery directors went through when the Italian loan to this country was so generously made by the Italian Government. I am not at all sure that some amount of harm may not have been done to those pictures, however perfectly packed they may have been, because in the case of panel pictures vibration is apt to bring about a certain amount of harm. In the measure now before us I think these difficulties have been avoided. In the first flush of it, when one thinks that the Governments of foreign countries are so generous as to loan pictures to us, and when these exhibitions are matters of such very great delight to our people, and are very useful indeed in bringing about amicable relations between peoples—it seems that on the first flush it is ungenerous of us not to respond in equivalent terms, but I think there is wisdom in the caution that has been adopted, and so far as it goes I cannot see any objection to the passage of this measure.

I should like to ask the noble Earl who moved the Second Reading just one or two questions. Do the words "Trustees and the Director of the National Gallery" include Trustees and Directors of the Scottish National Gallery? That is to say, will a Raeburn be allowed to be sent abroad in the same way as a picture in the National Gallery in Trafalgar Square? Next, I would like to ask the noble Earl—perhaps he will not be able to give me this information offhand—whether he can tell us approximately the number of unhung and stored pictures in the National Gallery and the Tate Gallery. I believe there are a considerable number of pictures of value for the exhibition of which there is not sufficient wall space, and those pictures naturally will be of use in filling spaces on the walls for loans abroad. They may not in the least necessarily be of inferior quality, but owing to the restricted wall space there are large numbers of pictures which have been stored.

The third question is this: Have not the Office of Works got a number of pictures in their care? Are they not able now to send these pictures abroad for the decoration of foreign Embassies, and do they not now allow these pictures to be exhibited in Government offices? Have they not also got a store of pictures of that character? I know, for instance, that over the mantelpiece in the Minister's room at the Ministry of Transport there is a very beautiful picture that I very much suspect of being a Wilson, but it is not named, and I believe it comes out of the store of the Office of Works. I think there are also some in Downing Street and elsewhere. I would like to ask the noble Earl whether those pictures can be sent abroad by the Government without application for leave by any one; also, what exactly those pictures consist of, and whether they can be used for the decoration of Embassies at the present time. Perhaps these are rather technical questions to which the noble Earl cannot possibly have the answer in his mind, but I shall be very much obliged if, during the course of the passage of this Bill, he would be good enough to give the answers to them. Meanwhile, I feel that there can be no sort of objection to the passage of this Bill in its present form.


My Lords, I do not think I can complain of the reception which the Bill has received at your Lordships' hands. One or two direct questions have been put to me which I will endeavour to answer. In the first place, Lord Mount Temple was good enough to inform me that he proposed to raise two questions. The first question was whether the Wallace Collection can lend their possessions overseas? The answer is: No, they cannot. I understand that the bequest contained a clause that the Collection should not be added to or taken from, and this clause has been interpreted by successive Boards of Trustees as precluding loans being sent abroad. The second question is why are foreign pictures precluded from this measure? I do not think it is necessary for me to answer that question at any great length, because I think the noble Earl, Lord Crawford, gave more of an answer than I could possibly give; but of course the Bill is admittedly a compromise. If it is passed it will be very much to the benefit of foreign countries who wish to see British pictures, but the noble Lord will see that there would have been no possible chance of the Bill passing if it included pictures by foreign artists.

My noble friend Lord Crawford, who supported the Bill, suggested that I should indicate the names of one or two individuals connected with the Colonies who composed the deputation to see the Prime Minister. No doubt there were others of which he has knowledge, but I would mention Mr. Edward Marsh, Dr. F. A. Bather and Mr. S. F. Markham, and indeed on the Executive Committee was Lord Conway. He said there were fifteen Embassies, but there is no idea of these scrambling together in the basement of the National Gallery, and I imagine that there could be no difficulty about the Trustees and Directors finding one or two pictures suitable to particular Embassies, after taking all the pros and cons into consideration. Lord Lee of Fareham spoke about the latter part of Clause 1, dealing with bequests and gifts. I am sorry that the noble Viscount could not hear me when I addressed the House on the first occasion. It is the Government's intention to introduce an Amendment dealing with the whole of that paragraph and it will I think meet the point which the noble Lord raised, but I would beg him to wait until that Amendment is printed, when I feel sure that he will be able to support the Government and the Bill. I think I can say quite definitely that the Amendment will be in no way controversial and that the noble Viscount will accept it.

Then Lord Ponsonby asked one or two questions. The first was with regard to the National Gallery of Scotland. I am advised that at the present time they are enabled to send any possessions they may have for exhibition overseas, and indeed there is quite a number of various museums and galleries in the country which can already do that. The National Gallery, the Tate Gallery and the British Museum, however, cannot send overseas at all. The noble Lord asked me if I could give, him any indication of the number of unhung pictures in the Tate Gallery and the National Gallery. I am advised that in the National Gallery there are about thirty, and in the Tate Gallery several hundred. The pictures which the noble Lord mentioned as being at the moment in the Office of Works buildings and in other Government Departments are, I am advised, lent from the National Gallery, and these pictures could, with the others, be sent abroad for exhibition purposes if this Bill is passed.

On Question, Bill read 2a, and committed to a Committee of the Whole House.