HL Deb 08 December 1953 vol 184 cc1032-78

3.55 p.m.

House again in Committee.

LORD KINNAIRD moved to leave out subsection (3) of Clause 1. The noble Lord said: Clause 1 (3) is of great interest to all noble Lords who are trustees. It will have been noticed that this subsection practically puts its pen through the trustees appointed under Miss Knapping's will, who were carefully appointed, and transfers the funds of the Trust from one body to another—and that, as the Bill says, a body with very different objects. I should like to emphasise again that this subsection has nothing to do with the main objects of the Bill, and will not affect the Bill in the slightest degree—indeed, one wonders why it was included. In my opinion, this subsection is not wise, it is not justified and it is morally wrong. We have talked a great deal to-day about moral rights, and I was glad to hear the noble Viscount, Lord Swinton, talk of the tradition of the House. In passing, I should like to say how pleased I am to see the noble Viscount back after his long absence.

We have many sacred duties to perform in this country for the sake of the Commonwealth, since we are the centre of the Commonwealth; and one is that we faithfully carry out the terms of a will. In this case, I have the will with me, and if we are going to talk about the will it might be as well if I read a short extract to your Lordships. The will uses the words: … in trust for the Director and Trustees for the time being of the National Gallery England and their heirs executors administrators and assigns Upon trust to apply the annual income thereof in the purchase for public exhibition in England Scotland and Wales of Works of Art being paintings in oil water-colour tempera or any other medium or sculpture by Artists of any Nationality living at or within 25 years before the time of the purchase And I empower the said Director and Trustees to frame a scheme for the administration of the said trust …. The first point one notices is the date of the will, which is important. The date of the will is 1932, and Miss Knapping died in 1935, only eighteen years ago. The date is important, because it raises the point: How soon can the will of a testator be disregarded? That is a difficult question to answer in regard to pictures, but not difficult, I think, with regard to the capital and the scheme.

Your Lordships might have preferred, as my noble friend Lord Saltoun said, that this Bill should be referred to a Select Committee as a hybrid Bill. I could not understand the noble and learned Earl, Lord Jowitt, who said that it did not concern any private matter. It seems to me that if a private individual leaves £40,000 to the National Gallery, with a scheme to be carried out, and so on, then if Parliament says that the bequest is to go to somebody else, we are considerably concerned. It is most disturbing. If the Bill had been referred to a Committee as a hybrid Bill, it would then have been brought before the present trustee of the will. The present trustee seems to me to be a person to whom one would naturally refer. But he has not been referred to. I wonder whether the noble and learned Earl knows that there are still proceeds of the will to come. We have not even got the whole capital sum, and we are already giving away part of what we have got. It will concern a private individual, because he can only give the money to the National Gallery—perhaps that has been provided for, I do not know.

I should like to ask three questions. First, is the will being carried out, or is there some difficulty? Secondly, is there a compelling reason for altering the will? In my view, unless there is some compelling reason we should hesitate to alter a will made in 1932. My third question is: Does Clause 1 (3) carry out the will? With regard to the third question, all I will say is that I cannot accept the reasoning which my noble friend Lord Selkirk put forward on the Second Reading. He said that they were carrying out the will "as nearly as possible." It must be as nearly as possible if a change is made, but to change the Trustees, to give the money to another body, a body which will have completely different ideas as to what the ultimate collection of pictures is to be, is not carrying out "as nearly as possible" the will which Miss Knapping made. I spoke on that point on the Second Reading so I will not detain your Lordships on it again.

Is the will being carried out? Yes, up to a point. The first thing the Trustees had to do was to frame a scheme for the administration of the Trust. There was one thing I meant to say, in order that your Lordships may be clear. The noble and learned Earl, Lord Jowitt, when he interrupted me on the Second Reading, said (OFFICIAL REPORT, Vol. 184 (No. 9), col. 457): Does he know that the Knapping fund has for years been in the hands of the Tate Gallery—that it has been transferred to the Tate Gallery—on the ground that it was intended to deal with contemporary works? That rather surprised me, and I think it was, quite unintentionally, misleading. I went round to the National Gallery and asked them. They told me that they still hold the funds; that they have signed a cheque for every picture which has been bought, and that the only power given to the Tate Gallery was the responsibility for choosing a picture. So the funds are still with the National Gallery. After the scheme had been formed, the next step was to buy works of art for public exhibition in England, Scotland and Wales. Those are not alternatives. The words are not "England, Scotland or Wales": they refer to all three countries. The National Gallery, quite correctly, passed this responsibility to the Tate Gallery, and the Tate Gallery proceeded to purchase the pictures. They bought 191 pictures, of which 118 are hanging in the Tate, sixty are in store, nine are lent to Arts Councils, two to the Ministry of Works, one is in the United States of America, one in New Zealand, none is in Scotland and none in Wales. The will was not carefully adhered to.

The next step was that the Tate Gallery was to buy pictures or works of art by artists "living at or within twenty-five years before the time of purchase." What has misled nearly everybody I spoke to about this will is that they at once said, "Modern pictures—Tate Gallery." The Trustees thought, "They can carry it out. The best thing is to pass it to them." They had a perfect right to pass it to the Tate Gallery, but not to take that control from the fund. As a matter of fact, the pictures purchased—quite a few dozen or so; I have not counted them but the Tate Gallery kindly sent me a list—do not come within the dates mentioned. I mention that point only for one reason—we are not considering to-day whether the will was accurately carried out. I mention it for the reason that I think it shows that it is essential for the Trustees, who have the responsibility of seeing that the will is carried out, to keep control. I think that is the essential point. The pictures may be eighty years old—indeed, since the will, the National Gallery has bought pictures by Degas, Daumier and Renoir, and they are now hanging in that Gallery. History will repeat itself; it may be that the National Gallery will be glad to have the benefit of this money at some time in the future, and I think it is wise for them not to part with the capital fund. My second question is: Is there any compelling reason why the Trust must be altered? I can see no reason. The Trustees can carry it out, and if the Director and Trustees of the National Gallery were not prepared to carry out the Trust, they would not have accepted the trusteeship. I think the corollary is true, that, since they have accepted the trusteeship, we should leave the power with the Trustees of the National Gallery.

Now we come to the important part of the question, and that is the scheme itself. I must read the end of the will, and I would ask your Lordships to think what tremendous power this gives to the Trustees. The will says: … I empower the said Director and Trustees to frame a scheme for the administration of the said Trust including the investment of the trust funds and to declare the trusts upon which the said trust estate and the Works of Arts purchased from the income thereof shall be held as fully as I myself could have done if then living and with power to vary the said scheme from time to time in the discretion of the said Director and Trustees or other Trustees or Trustee of the said Trust. … Miss Knapping was a wonderful woman with a tremendous vision. She created a valuable Trust which must have an income, I think, of some £1,600 a year. The Report and others have referred to £900, but they have recently averaged another £700, and there is still more to come. Think of having that for all time! What power the Trustees have! Power to encourage the right type of art, power to encourage the right artists, power to help any gallery in England, Scotland and Wales. I ask the noble Earl, Lord Selkirk, to listen to this point, because he has said that it is awkward for one gallery to buy for another. But under this Will the Trustees can appoint any gallery to buy for them. They can in their discretion make any scheme as Miss Knapping herself, if living, could have done. It is a wonderful Trust to be given responsibility for. If they find that some direction they had given—for instance, to the Tate Gallery—is not satisfactorily carried out, they can say, "We will give this power to the Victoria and Albert Museum and enable them to buy some statues, or to the National Gallery of Scotland, perhaps one year in ten or something like that, to buy a picture." But, in my view, they must retain control.

I would only say, in conclusion, that if you were giving such powers in your will, would you not be careful to get the right trustees—trustees whose judgment you relied upon and whose integrity was undoubted? Miss Knapping chose the National Gallery, with its great tradition. The question we should think about is not: Do you, in your Lordships' House, think that the best people to administer the Trust are the Tate Gallery? The point which the noble Earl, Lord Selkirk, made on Second Reading was that the main object was how the Trust could most conveniently be carried out. But that is not the point. The point is, what did Miss Knapping say? She chose the National Gallery; and I cannot think that it is right for us, within eighteen years of Miss Knapping's death, to say that we know better. I beg to move.

Amendment moved— Page 1, line 14, leave out subsection (3).—(Lord Kinnaird.)

4.10 p.m.


I rise to support, very briefly, what the noble Lord has said. It seems to me a dangerous precedent that we are considering, in wanting to turn over the terms of a will so soon after the testator's death. I have a copy of the will in my hand, and there is nothing vague in it. It is, indeed, very decisive: there is no question of looseness about what Miss Knapping wants to do. I am no lawyer, but I understand that the money was left to the Trustees of the National Gallery. The only other party that might be favoured in this case is the body in Shoeburyness, supposing those Trustees find that they cannot carry out their Trust. The Tate, it may well be, deals with modern paintings more than the National Gallery does; but I do not think that was what Miss Knapping wanted. No doubt it would appeal to the bureaucratic mind, which likes to make everything neat and tidy, that modern paintings should go to one place and other paintings to another. But personally I do not agree—and I do not think Miss Knapping would have agreed. Therefore, I have much pleasure in supporting the Amendment moved by the noble Lord, Lord Kinnaird.


I support in part, if not in whole, the view of the noble Lord who has just spoken. This money was left to the National Gallery in 1935. It seemed to the Trustees of the National Gallery—because the will referred to modern purchases—sensible that the income should be transferred to the Tate Gallery; and, if I may say so, there is very little difference of opinion between what the noble Lord, Lord Kinnaird, said and the intervention of the noble and learned Earl on the Front Bench opposite. In effect, the income was given—whoever paid the cheque—to the Tate Gallery. The National Gallery was no doubt persuaded the more to do so by the fact that at that period the Tate had no Government grant. Three years later, the Trustees of the National Gallery sought legal advice and were told that it was in order for them to allow the Tate to use this income. That position has been accepted by everybody—by the Treasury auditors, by counsel and, indeed, now by Parliament, or at any rate by the Government. It was also accepted by the Standing Commission on Museums, which stated: We have not examined the terms of this bequest, but if it should not be found to be contrary to the testator's wishes we suggest that this fund should be handed over to the Trustees of the Tate Gallery. If the Trustees of the National Gallery have erred, they have erred in good company—or, at any rate, in fairly good company. What they thought they were doing was both sensible and, in the circumstances, convenient. This Bill merely gives legislative effect to what was thought to be uncontroversial.

I find the words in the will absolutely clear. I think, too, that Miss Knapping's intentions are clear. She left this money to the Director and Trustees of the National Gallery, to apply that money for certain purposes; and she empowered them to frame a scheme for the administration of the said Trust. Surely nothing could be clearer than that. Surely all the legal advice to the contrary must fail, in view of the words, which are perfectly clear. If Miss Knapping had wished to leave this bequest to the Tate surely she would have left it to the Tate, and if she had done so, her instruction to make a scheme would have been nonsense. That is sufficient reason to suppose that she meant what she said. We cannot tell, of course, what her purposes were. It may be that she thought it desirable that another purchasing body should be set up, an unofficial and independent body. She might have thought that the Chantrey Bequest, as it was then worked, was Charybdis and the Tate Scylla, and that her new committee would steer a middle course between the two. But whatever her wishes were, is it not a fact that we do not, under these provisions, meet them?

She did not—and here I differ from the noble Lord who has spoken—leave this money to the National Gallery outright, and we must not assume that she did. She left it to the National Gallery to prepare a scheme; and my feeling is that the National Gallery should now set about preparing a scheme. I think that a scheme could be devised which would not only work but would be useful. The scheme should be run, I think, by a committee set up by the National Gallery but independent both of that Gallery and of the Tate Gallery. No doubt the Tate and the National Gallery would wish to have on that committee representatives to deal with the matter. To this committee, as I visualise it, the different Galleries would be able to appeal for help. The Tate could ask for assistance for one picture; Scotland and Wales—which have been forgotten—should most certainly have the right to do so for their countries. I would add that I think provincial museums also should be represented; perhaps even the Arts Council should also have these rights. Miss Knapping, wished to buy modern pictures. She does not say anywhere that they should be confined to the Tate Gallery. Such a scheme as I have suggested would put the Tate and the other Galleries in exactly the same position in relation to the committee as they find themselves to-day with the National Art-Collections Fund or the Contemporary Art Society, to which they turn for help. But what is more, in this case the powers of this new committee would be so limited—or, rather, the purchases that it could make would be so narrow in scope—that within that purpose it would be a far more effective body than any of the others.

I put forward these suggestions merely because the matter clearly needs careful thought. I hope that that thought may be given. As has been said, the provision transferring these funds appears in a clause which deals with the separation of the Tate Gallery and the National Gallery. That is the essential clause of this Bill—indeed, I think it is the only clause which should have been included. This provision relating to the Knapping Bequest is not an essential part of that clause; in fact, it has nothing whatever to do with it. The clause deals with autonomy. The suggestion which I have made will in no way affect the autonomy of the Tate. In no way is it a suggestion that another body should dictate to the Tate what the Tate should have. In no way does it suggest a lack of confidence in the Tate. The relationship of the committee to the Tate would be precisely that of the National Art Collection Fund and the Tate, which no one for one moment suggests is in any way derogatory to the independence of the Tate. But what I regard as the most important part is that we should follow the words and the meaning of this will. Those words and that meaning are perfectly clear. I think Miss Knapping's intention is expressed: that she meant what she said, and that she said what she meant. I hope that my noble friend who will reply to this point will consider that the admirable answer he gave on the last Amendment with regard to the Lane pictures would answer my point completely.

4.22 p.m.


Before the noble Earl replies, I should like to express my view of this matter, which does not quite coincide with the view which has just been expressed. The first thing, as I agree, is to get the meaning of the will clear—and here I part company with the noble Earl who has just spoken. The will gave this money: in trust for the Director and Trustees for the time being of the National Gallery … to apply the annual income thereof in the purchase for public exhibition in England, Scotland and Wales of works of art, being paintings in oil, water-colour, tempora or other media or sculpture by artists of any nationality living at or within twenty-five years of the purchase and it goes on: and I empower the Director and Trustees to frame a scheme. The noble Earl was not quite right in saying it was not given absolutely to Trustees. It was. But in addition to that gift, they had a further right given to them: they were empowered—I repeat "empowered"—to frame a scheme if they wanted to. That was the will.

What happened, if I may just recite it again, was this. The lady died in, I think, 1935, and in November, 1938, the Trustees of the National Gallery took legal advice about this matter. Here I part company with the noble Lord who moved the Amendment. He kept talking about the transfering of this matter from one body to another. That is the whole fallacy, I think. This Bill for the first time constitutes two bodies. Up to this time the National Gallery and the Tate Gallery have been, to all intents and purposes, one. They are Siamese twins and they are being divided. It is a fallacy to talk about money which was given to one body now being transferred to another. What happened, therefore, was this. In that the National Gallery are concerned primarily not with modern pictures but with ancient pictures, and in that the National Gallery have nothing whatever to do with sculpture—and the purchase of sculpture was one of the express objects of the will—it was decided in 1938 by the Trustees of the National Gallery, after taking legal advice, which they were entitled to do, that they would hold this fund and make it available for the Trustees of the Tate Gallery, which is part of the one concern. I am sorry if I misled the noble Lord. I quite see that I did.

What happened, then, was not that the National Gallery divested themselves of the securities representing the fund—I suppose they gave a promise that the income should be paid over to the Tate Gallery. Whether they did so or not, the Tate Gallery thereafter used to make the purchases and send in the bills to the National Gallery, and the National Gallery would pay the money. And year after year, as this was done, the executors of the Knapping estate were informed of what had been done and what had been spent. Nothing was kept back from them. They knew perfectly well that the Tate Gallery was undertaking this task and, as the noble Earl, Lord Crawford, has pointed out, the Standing Commission on Museums suggested that that which was in fact then being done should be regularised and that the fund should be made over to the Tate Gallery in the way I have suggested.


They said they had not read the will.


They did say they had not read the will.


What I said was, not that the executors had not been informed of the purchases, but that they told me that they had not been informed of this Bill.


I am sorry they were not informed of the Bill, but I know nothing about that. No doubt it is true. It is quite true that the Standing Commission said they had not read the will and were not aware of the terms of the will, and their recommendation was conditional. They said: "We have not examined the terms of this bequest, but if it should not be found to be contrary to the testator's wishes, then we suggest …" I did not see the legal advice taken by the National Gallery in 1938; I presume it was given by the Treasury Solicitor or possibly by the Attorney-General: I do not know. I take it, however, that it was based upon the fact that the Tate Gallery was to all intents and purposes in those days, as it is to-day, part of the National Gallery. That should be borne in mind in considering this matter.

I hope that the noble Earl who is to reply to the Government will not accept this Amendment to-day. I should certainly not question for a moment the propriety of his saying that the matter will be looked into carefully to see what the right position is; and, if possible, between now and Report stage some of us who are interested and the noble Lord who moved this Amendment might meet him and see what is the right course to take. But, for my part, I look at it in this way. Here we are separating these Siamese twins for the first time. Therefore it becomes necessary, for the first time, to consider which of the specific bequests shall be allocated to the one and which to the other. This, being a bequest which concerns modern pictures and sculpture, is, I should have thought, more appropriate for the Tate Gallery than for the National Gallery and should go to them. For those reasons, I hope that the Bill will stand as drafted, though, as I say, I welcome inquiry into the matter.

With regard to the other point, the noble Lord stated that some purchases of pictures had been made outside the twenty-five years. I was rather concerned to hear that, because I have been for seven years a Trustee of the National Gallery and also a Trustee of the Tate Gallery. I was a little alarmed to consider that I, as a Trustee of the Tate Gallery and being at the time Lord Chancellor, had been guilty of breaches of the Trust. I looked through the list and I am not conscious that any picture was bought outside the appropriate twenty-five years, except in the year 1939—there may be other instances—when a picture by Copley and two pictures by Ward were bought, manifestly outside the twenty-five years' time. I do not know what the explanation is, but I am glad to say that I was not a Trustee then. I did not become a Trustee until 1946, which was seven years afterwards, so I knew nothing about that. There may be a perfectly good explanation. I confess I do not know what it is, but I do not feel compelled to stand in the dock about that particular breach of the Trust.


I did not intend to intervene at this stage at all, but as the best legal brains have been considering this matter without arriving at a definite conclusion I should like to appeal to the noble Earl, Lord Selkirk, to consider very carefully what my noble friend Lord Crawford has just suggested as a way out of the difficulty. It seems to me admirable in various ways; it gets rid for the moment of this difficult and controversial question about which at first sight my noble friend Lord Kinnaird seemed to be on a pretty good wicket, but which on closer examination (I speak as a past Trustee and I know perfectly well the difficulties) is not practical politics. But I think the ingenious and excellent suggestion by Lord Crawford should be very carefully considered, because I believe it is a way out of the difficulty, and I appeal to the noble Earl in charge of this Bill to give it serious consideration.


I had intended to delay speaking until I had heard the noble Earl's reply, but the Committee will recollect that a few moments ago he was with the crowd round Caesar's corpse shouting "The will!" and now, I suppose, he will be on the other side: he will be deluded by the passionate eloquence of Mark Antony (the noble and learned Earl) into forgetting the will altogether. However, this seems to me to be a question of the strict interpretation of a private will. After giving full weight to the "Siamese twin" operation that is being carried out by this Bill, that is still my opinion. I cannot help being very much surprised by the finding of the Examiners, in the light of the remarks of my noble friend Lord Kinnaird on Second Reading. I think it must be a borderline case, and I beg the noble Earl to examine this subsection before the next stage of the Bill, to see whether we cannot drop it until such time as the Trustees of the National Gallery may have framed a scheme.

I should like to add a point about one of the main purposes of this bequest, which is to buy modern pictures. The taste of the present age is that our modern pictures shall be hung in the Tate Gallery. I am not going to enter into the argument that as London is the capital of England, Scotland and Wales, the Tate Gallery is in all three kingdoms. I do say, however, that the taste of the future may be to hang modern pictures as closely as possible to ancient pictures, for the value of comparison. If tastes change in that way it will naturally be better that this bequest should be vested where it was originally vested, in those ladies and gentlemen who are par excellence—the Trustees of the National Gallery. Therefore, I beg the noble Earl who is to reply, to say something conciliatory on those lines and to set this question at rest for the moment.


As the present chairman of the Trustees of the National Gallery, I feel that I should intervene shortly in this debate. I should like first to defend the wisdom of my predecessors in 1935, and above all in 1938, when under the very competent chairmanship and guidance of my noble friend Lord Crawford they decided that the most sensible thing to do was to hand over the administration of the Knapping Fund to the Tate. At that time, it was, I repeat, Lord Crawford who was chairman of the Trustees. Certain play has been made with the fact that Miss Knapping made the Trustees of the National Gallery her Trustees rather than those of the Tate, at a time when the Tate was in existence and had Trustees. I think that her lawyers told her that the Trustees of the Tate did not possess the property which they administered, and it was for that reason that she chose the perfectly well constituted body of the Trustees of the National Gallery to administer her estate. But she gave them very wide powers.

We have been told that they did not draw up a scheme. What exactly does that mean? You can take a piece of paper and write at the top "A scheme" and below you can write "We hereby devise under the will of the late Miss Knapping, to the Trustees of the Tate Gallery …." That would have been drawing up a scheme, and in point of fact that was what the Trustees did. We had a special meeting of the Board of the National Gallery this morning, and we were somewhat disturbed to find, as the noble Lord, Lord Kinnaird, has "nosed out," that the terms of Miss Knapping's will have not invariably been observed by those who were administering her funds. In view of that, the Board of the National Gallery do not wish to press for the retention of this clause in the Bill, and they would not mind the dropping of the clause. If that were done, I think we could promise that some sort of ad hoc committee on the lines suggested by the noble Earl, Lord Crawford, would be set up, which would, I think, be a more satisfactory way of administering the Trust than that which has hitherto been followed.

4.35 p.m.


Clearly, we are going to have a rather controversial afternoon. Perhaps I might remind the Committee of the main purpose of Clause 1. It is to separate the Tate from the National Gallery. If I may make one other observation, the Government have no anxiety—after all, we have had agreement on the principles of this Bill—to force through every detail of the Bill at the point of a bayonet. What we want is this. These are national treasures and, so far as we can, we want to get the common-sense judgment of your Lordships as to what is the most sensible way of handling this matter. Lord Kinnaird has done a useful thing in casting a spotlight on a piece of public property. He has, however, approached this matter rather in the manner of a Scotland Yard detective, pulling up a board and finding a skeleton in a Government Department, and then accusing the Department of knowing that it was there and doing nothing about it. That is not really the case.

I disagree with my noble friends Lord Crawford and Lord Amulree, who say that it is a clear will. I venture to suggest that it is an exceedingly difficult will to interpret. That is the basis of our trouble. If it had been a simple will to interpret, this difficulty would never have arisen. I would ask the Committee to look at the matter a little more closely. My impression is that Miss Knapping had a fairly clear idea of her purpose, but a very slight idea of the means of carrying it out—indeed, that appears from other passages of her will. She has left the residue of the estate to be dealt with under paragraph 9, which says: The Trustees"— that is, her executors— shall stand possessed of the residue … in trust for the Director and Trustees for the time being of the National Gallery, England, their heirs, executors, administrators and assigns, upon trust. I think it must be fairly clear that in regard to the National Gallery, the words "heirs, executors and administrators" are nonsense. Then we come to the word "assigns." Of that word "assigns" I think, you can take two views. One is that it is sui generis of the previous words and is equally nonsense. That is fortified by the view that for trustees to have the power of assignation is contrary to the whole principle of trusteeship. Alternatively, you can take the opposite view, that if anyone puts such an odd word into a trust document it is put there for a special purpose and we have to accept it; and in any case, as it stands the effect is to give the trustees the power of assignation. I think it is anyone's guess what this word really means—indeed, this whole sentence has little meaning.

With regard to the next paragraph in the will (I will not read it again) I think that is the central point of the clause. It is the clear intention that the money should be used for buying what I should describe as modern works of art. I do not think that the noble Lord can escape from that. It is a provision for buying modern paintings and sculpture. Now I come to the last part. There are here two matters: one is the framing of a scheme, and the other the power to vary. It is a fairly wide power. I think there is no doubt that the National Gallery Trustees were correct in what they did. They were fully empowered to take the action which they did. Lord Kinnaird has suggested that we are disregarding the will. I really do not think we are doing that. I think the noble Lord should attach some importance to the words in Clause 1 (1), independent of the National Gallery Trustees"— that is to say, that the Tate Gallery should be entirely independent. I suggest that we should not set up a situation in which one Gallery is buying pictures for another Gallery. If we do that, I am sure that we shall get very much into the old kind of controversy which used to reign in respect of the Chantrey Bequest and all the problems which were involved.

Lord Kinnaird asked what is the compelling reason for this provision. The compelling reason, as Lord Jowitt has said, is a division of partnership. We are now in a sense dividing up a partnership of two, one very senior and the other very junior; and it is not unreasonable, apart from other considerations, to make some provision, where it is clearly appropriate, for the former junior partner. I suggest that the central intention of the will is the purchase of modern pictures for public exhibition. For many years it has been the accepted policy that the Tate should buy modern pictures. Now, for the first time, Parliament, by Statute, is giving formal recognition of this situation. We are laying down the duty of the National Gallery as being to purchase works of significance, of established merit or significance, of all countries and all periods, whereas the Tate Gallery should buy British pictures and modern pictures. I think one must assume that the Tate Gallery Trustees are peculiarly well qualified for that sort of thing.

The noble Earl, Lord Crawford, has suggested the setting up of a separate committee. But there are difficulties about the scheme which he suggested. First with regard to ownership. To whom would pictures belong under a separate scheme? Secondly, I doubt whether the words in the will are enough to set up such a trust. We can certainly frame a scheme, but I doubt whether the words "frame a scheme" are enough to do more than deal with administration, as opposed to the vesting of a trust. Supposing they did that, that scheme would certainly be revoked. I suggest that it is difficult to set up a committee whose powers may at any time be revoked by someone outside. I ask the noble Earl: Does he want to set up another committee? Is the amount concerned here sufficient to justify the setting up of an entirely new organisation for the purchase of works of art? I still think that what we propose is the common-sense thing to do at the present time. I think that we have put a common-sense interpretation upon the intention of this will, and I certainly think that the most satisfactory course, from the point of view of the administration, is to do what is suggested in the Bill. The Trustees have known about the Bill; they have known what is happening, and they have raised no objection to it. I think this is a successful way of clarifying the administrative position. If your Lordships think it does not do so, we will certainly try again. I shall be glad to arrange any meetings, between now and the Report stage, that may seem desirable.


The noble Earl seemed to me to identify the Trustees of the National Gallery very closely with the National Gallery itself. Is it impossible for them to exercise a trust without special reference to the National Gallery?


I am sorry but I am afraid I have not understood the noble Lord's point.


May I intervene for a few moments just to say this? Surely there is one point which ought to be considered here, and that is a point which particularly occurred to me after I had heard what the noble Duke the Duke of Wellington said. Ought we not to consider whether it would not be competent for the Director and Trustees of the National Gallery to frame a scheme which would be identical with the provisions of this will. I throw out that suggestion. It is exactly what the Duke of Wellington and his co-Trustees have in fact done, though, as he has said, they have not written it down on paper. It seems to me, after studying this matter carefully, that they could make a scheme which would incorporate the terms of this Bill. If so, they can assent by way of a scheme to the terms of the Bill. The only doubt I have had about it arose when I read the words at the conclusion of the Trust: with power to vary the said scheme from time to time. It seemed to me that if the scheme were embodied in an Act of Parliament that was a power which they could fairly disclaim. So, if your Lordships will forgive my intervention I suggest that we should get together and consider, before the Report stage, whether that aspect is not worth considering and whether the Bill cannot stand as it is, it being recognised, as is stated in the Preamble, that this is a scheme of which the Director and Trustees of the National Gallery have approved. I throw out that suggestion.


I think, if I may say so, that is a very valuable suggestion. If it were followed out I believe that we should get the substance of the Bill and we should get it in a way which would be entirely unexceptionable. If I can be of any assistance I shall be very glad to take part in discussions on the lines which have been suggested.


I think I may say, on behalf of the Trustees of the National Gallery, that we should be most ready, in consultation with others interested, to undertake the task which the Lord Chancellor has indicated.


I am very glad indeed to accept the suggestion which has been made, and I thank the noble and learned Lord who sits on the Woolsack for his assistance in finding a solution. If the noble Lord, Lord Kinnaird, will withdraw his Amendment I shall be only too pleased to do what I can to arrange the necessary discussions.


My Lords, I have been greatly interested in what has been said by the noble Earl, Lord Selkirk, and by the noble and learned Lord who sits on the Woolsack. I cannot altogether agree with the interpretation of the noble Earl, Lord Selkirk, on some point of detail. There is the question as to whether the National Gallery Trustees can give to anyone their duty of buying pictures. As Lord Crawford has said, the crux of the matter is the scheme. The noble Duke, the Duke of Wellington, says that he is willing to consider it and the Lord Chancellor has made a most valuable contribution. I understand that if a scheme is considered I shall retain the right to reserve my Amendment and put it down again at the Report stage if necessary. I beg leave to withdraw my Amendment to-day, but retaining the right to put it down on Report stage, though I hope that we shall have reached agreement before then.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Clause 1 agreed to.

Clause 2 agreed to.

Clause 3:

Allocation of gifts and bequests

(2) The Treasury may by order contained in a statutory instrument add any institution in the United Kingdom to those listed in the First Schedule to this Act and the reference in the foregoing subsection to that Schedule shall be construed accordingly.

4.50 p.m.

THE EARL OF HUNTINGDON moved to delete subsection (2). The noble Earl said: I should like to make it clear that in moving this Amendment in no wise do I quarrel or disagree with what is suggested in the Bill. The institutions listed in the First Schedule are unexceptionable and it is perfectly right that they should be there. I also agree that the Government should have power to add institutions to the list, but I disagree with the machinery for doing this; and that is why I have put down this Amendment. I think the powers given are too wide and are not well enough defined.

Subsection (2) reads: The Treasury may by order contained in a statutory instrument add any institution in the United Kingdom to those listed in the First Schedule to this Act. I think that "any institution" is a very wide expression. It could mean, I suppose, a prison or a lunatic asylum. The subsection does not even say "public institution"; it may be a private institution. Manifestly the intention of the Bill is not to use the provision in that way, and I am rather perturbed about this wide use of a term when there is little Parliamentary control over the matter. I would suggest to the noble Earl that if he is going to use such a wide term the procedure should be a positive and not a negative one; and if he would agree to alter that accordingly, I should be only too glad to withdraw my Amendment. Alternatively, he might agree to define "institution" in a more precise way. Perhaps the list could be limited to museums and art galleries of local authorities of a certain size, or something of that kind. Your Lordships will note that this subsection also refers to Clause 5. If paintings of importance and value are going to be lent or transferred under Clause 5 to other institutions, it is important that Parliament should watch carefully the institutions added to the list. I did not put down this Amendment with any hostile intention, but in order to persuade the Government to define the provision more clearly or to put it under closer control of Parliament. I beg to move.

Amendment moved— Page 3, line 5, leave out subsection (2).—(The Earl of Huntingdon.)


I rise to support the noble Earl because I think this provision goes too far, in regard both to subsection (1) of Clause 2 and Clause 5. I have been careful not to put down any Amendments to Clauses 1, 2 and 3, because I have never been a Trustee of the National Gallery and I do not know its practical working. I have, however, been on the boards of most of the other big galleries in London, except the Tate, and I have been on the Standing Commission on Museums for a number of years, so I feel I have some right to say a few words on the matter. We have argued the question of wills, bequests and gifts for the last two hours, and it seems to me that we should ask ourselves: Is any body ever likely to give a bequest again if it is going to be altered within twenty-five or thirty-five years? We ought to be very careful that we do not dry up the source of gifts and bequests. In subsection (1) of this clause there is reference to Section 3 of the National Gallery Act, 1856, which relates to gifts or bequests where the donor or testator has made no special provision. Does it not strike one that thirty or forty years ago a great many people made bequests or gifts without the slightest hesitation, in the belief that those bequests would not be altered? Yet here we are, after a few years, altering them. I do not believe that ever entered anybody's head. They trusted in the good faith of the Trustees and thought it was perfectly all right. Had they realised that their bequests were to be altered, there might have been many more conditions put down in the old days.


I do not think there is any question here of the good faith of Trustees. What will happen under this clause is simply that if someone leaves a picture to the nation, instead of its going automatically to the National Gallery it can go to another institution. I do not think there is any question of good faith involved at all. I feel that the noble Earl, Lord Huntingdon, has a point here. He will see that a certain number of national institutions are named in the Schedule, and, frankly, we do not intend to extend the list beyond national institutions. I agree that the word "institution" is rather wide and it may well be that something better could be thought of. I do not know whether he really wants a positive procedure: that seems to me to be rather cumbersome. If the noble Earl feels strongly about it, we might talk it over. The noble Earl wants to see something more definite, to ensure that these institutions are national institutions of standing. For instance, a national modern gallery might be set up in Scotland or elsewhere. If the noble earl will withdraw his Amendment, I will have the matter looked at between now and Report stage.


The intention of my Amendment is to safeguard these pictures by ensuring that the institutions to which they are loaned or transferred are national. In view of what the noble Earl has said, I beg leave to withdraw my Amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Clause 3 agreed to.

Clause 4:

Powers of lending exercisable by National Gallery Trustees and Tate Gallery Trustees

4.—(1) The National Gallery Trustees and the Tate Gallery Trustees shall respectively have power to lend pictures or other works of art vested in them—

  1. (a) for public exhibition, whether in the United Kingdom or elsewhere; or
  2. (b) for display—
    1. (i) in a public building or official residence in the United Kingdom or elsewhere for the furnishing of which the Minister of Works is responsible; or
    2. (ii) in the official residence of the Governor of a colony.

(2) A loan under paragraph (b) of the foregoing subsection shall require the consent of the Treasury and shall be effected through the Minister of Works.

(3) A loan under this section shall be made for such time and subject to such conditions as the Trustees in question may determine.

(4) In the case of a picture or other work of art which has been given or bequeathed, the powers conferred by this section shall not be exercisable—

  1. (a) until fifteen years have elapsed since the date on which the property passed to the nation, unless the donor or his personal representatives or the personal representatives of the testator, as the case may be, have consented to the exercise of those powers; or
  2. 1053
  3. (b) in any manner inconsistent with any condition attached to the gift or bequest unless either twenty-five years have elapsed since the said date, or the donor or his personal representatives or the personal representatives of the testator, as the case may be, have consented to the exercise of those powers in that manner.

(5) In this section the expression "colony" includes a protectorate or protected State within the meaning of the British Nationality Act, 1948, and a United Kingdom trust territory as defined in that Act, and the expression "Governor" has the same meaning as in that Act.

(6) The provisions of this section shall be in substitution for the provisions of the National Gallery (Loan) Act, 1883, and the National Gallery (Overseas Loans) Act, 1935; but nothing in this subsection shall affect the terms of any loan made before the coming into operation of this Act.

THE EARL OF CRAWFORD AND BALCARRES moved, in subsection (1), to leave out paragraph (a) and insert: (a) for public exhibition in the United Kingdom; or

The noble Earl said: This Amendment and Amendments 10 and 11 are in a sense alternatives. Perhaps it will be for your Lordships' convenience if I speak on them together. They are all designed to protect earlier pictures, in particular foreign pictures, from the dangers of travelling abroad. I think my first Amendment is the best one, because though the words may be incorrect—and they could easily be altered—the intention is to preserve the status quo and allow, as to-day, only British pictures to be lent abroad. The only exception to that is one which personally if am reluctant to accept—namely, that under the first Amendment pictures can be lent to Embassies and the offices of Colonial Governors. It is not that I object to their having the pictures, but because I am certain that the right way to do it, as has been pressed for many years, is that the Ministry of Works should make the equivalent of what is called in France the Garde Meuble, by which they could buy decorative and fine pictures, tapestry and so on, with which to decorate those houses. The Amendment to refuse permission to allow panel pictures to go out of this country is not as good an Amendment, because it allows many of the later masterpieces freedom to travel; and on that point I much prefer the Amendment of the noble Earl, Lord Huntingdon, which would include gesso and metal, as well as the wooden panel to which my Amendment was limited. Even better than that Amendment, I think, would be the Amendment of a date limit of the year 1700, which would, at any rate, protect some of the later masterpieces. But, as I say, these are, in a sense, alternatives, and, from my point of view, by far the best Amendment is that which would prevent the lending abroad of foreign pictures.

As your Lordships will remember, the case for the lending abroad of foreign pictures is not a new one. It came before this House in 1930, and was rejected; it came before your Lordships in 1935, and was again rejected. In 1935, while this House refused to allow foreign pictures to be lent abroad, it made a compromise by which British pictures should be allowed to go abroad. Your Lordships' House did so, I think, for three reasons. The first was that there should be a measure of reciprocity to other countries which lent us their treasures, and that we should therefore be allowed to lend British treasures in return. In the second place, it was because British art was virtually unknown on the Continent, extremely badly represented in the Continental museums, and completely disregarded, and it was felt that it should be better known. Thirdly, it was because the risks to a British picture are, on the whole, far less than the risks to a foreign picture, for the simple reason that, for the most part, British pictures were painted in the eighteenth century and later, whereas the more important foreign picture were painted before that date. But those of your Lordships who accepted this compromise did so, as the debates will show, with considerable reluctance. I am sure they expected that the compromise which they had reached would be honoured, and I, personally, am sorry that we are asked again to reverse the position. I hope that the position will not be reversed and that we shall continue to exercise the status quo.

The reasons against lending foreign pictures, or, indeed, all pictures, are primarily questions of danger. Everyone who knows anything about these matters and who has been concerned in them would accept the fact, without question, that the dangers are often very great indeed. Those dangers are of two kinds. The first is common to all pictures, whether British or foreign; that is to say, dangers of theft, of travel, of fire, of mishandling. I could give your Lordships many examples but I will tell you only of cases with which I have been concerned myself during the last two years. One was a collection of British water colours which was sent abroad. The truck in which this cargo was held was placed in a siding, and next to it was pushed a wagon with film waste. A young man who had a private cinema went through this truck of film waste to see whether there was anything that would suit his own private cinema. I need hardly say that he left behind in that film waste a lighted cigarette: there was a large conflagration, and these drawings were all seriously damaged.

Let me tell your Lordships what has happened in the last two years in Edinburgh, to pictures from the National Gallery of Scotland. Three pictures which we have lent abroad have returned with flakes of paint off their surface. A fourth picture, one of our most famous pictures, was returned from the Continental gallery to which we lent it, with the fillet which we had placed to keep the glass from touching the canvas removed, with the result that the painted surface of this famous and precious picture was rubbing against the glass throughout its journey from the Continent. A fifth picture we sent to Italy. It arrived in Italy with water having been poured over the packing case, and its condition was quite appalling. The paint was flaking off and blistering, and the picture had to undergo a major operation that is to say, the operation of relining, which, as your Lordships know, means putting it on different canvas and cleaning it from top to bottom. In making these inquiries, I asked the Director of the Gallery: "Is it true that every picture we have lent during this year has been damaged?" He answered: "Oh, no. The Greco we lent to France has not been damaged. It arrived back perfectly safely, but it was sent to the Duke of Devonshire at Chatsworth and not to the National Gallery of Scotland." I myself lent to an exhibition in Italy, which closed two months ago, two early Italian pictures. I received a letter to say that they would be returned to me "during the second decade of November." Whatever the "second decade of November" might be, I take it that it was over by Novem- ber 20, but no word about those pictures has been received. This is typical of what we all suffer, and what we all know happens, and typical of the risks which I hope this House will not be prepared to take in regard to the earlier pictures.

Those risks, however, are common risks to every picture, and what we are more particularly concerned with to-day is the special risks which attach more to foreign pictures, and, in particular, to the panel pictures, which are referred to in my Amendment and in the Amendment of the noble Earl, Lord Huntingdon. These panel pictures date from the fourteenth century onwards: they are on wood, friable, dry, worm-eaten, and so fragile and delicate that the least shock may disintegrate them; so much so, that they are affected even by changes of temperature and humidity. Because of the fragility of these pictures, which to-day we are asked to allow to be sent abroad, the National Gallery have made an air-conditioned room. There the conditions are ideal—or at any rate, so the scientists tell us—in that there is a mean level of temperature and a mean level of humidity, which prevents contraction, expansion and all the different things that happen to these fragile and precious pictures.

But while air conditioning removes one danger, it most certainly creates another, and one which is most relevant in your Lordships' consideration to-day. It creates the danger that when once the picture has been kept in an air-conditioned room it becomes more than ever susceptible to the changes in the atmosphere. We saw this in practice very clearly after the pictures had been in their war-time caves, in their war-time hiding place, where we had been able to build rooms where, for the first time, they had the ideal conditions of air-conditioning. But some months after they returned to the rough-and-tumble atmosphere of Trafalgar Square the process of damage began to show. I think it must be laid down, therefore, that no picture which has been in an air-conditioned room should be allowed to travel abroad and suffer the changes of atmosphere and temperature which inevitably would follow such a journey.

This air-conditioned room in the National Gallery is the first of other rooms. Already work is being done on a series of other rooms, which will be open in a few months; and it is intended that ultimately the major part of the Gallery shall be air-conditioned. This means, I maintain, that practically none of the pictures on which we are legislating to-day can be safely allowed out of the Gallery. In my view so much the better for the pictures. But it introduces a rather uncomfortable element into the legislation which we are considering if, ultimately, none of these pictures is to be allowed to be lent. This, after all, is a new point which was not considered when your Lordships rejected the proposal in 1930 and 1935, but I think it is one which needs careful consideration. If we eliminate those pictures from the possibility of export for exhibition, there is another category of pictures which I should be equally reluctant to lend abroad. They may be perfectly stable physically; they may be in perfectly good order; they may be on canvas, but they are pictures which, in my view, are such masterpieces as to make it highly important that they are not subjected to the risks of the type which I have described to your Lordships before.

There have been in Venice a series of magnificent exhibitions—a series of all the great Venetian painters, Titian, Veronese, Tintoretto and, more recently, Lotto. Of every one of those masters the nation possesses great masterpieces. To every one of those exhibitions is it not quite certain that we should have been asked to lend, and would not the Board of Trustees have been profoundly wrong to risk such pictures to the dangers of transport? After all, one of the duties of any Trustee is to keep safely; and the first duty, I think, of Trustees of the National Gallery is to keep safely the works which they hold in trust. Does this not mean that we shall have to prepare "black lists" of pictures which are too good to be lent anywhere? Does it not also mean that we shall have to prepare "black lists" of galleries which are too bad to be lent anything? Such galleries exist, and they include some of the most famous in the world—galleries in which we know the conditions to be such that we could not allow any of our pictures to go there. There are also galleries of which we have no experience. When we are asked to lend a picture, a masterpiece, to Leningrad, we shall not know whether the conditions in the famous Hermitage Gallery in Leningrad are such that we should or should not lend.

I mention these things as some indication of the type of difficulty with which the Trustees will be faced. What are we to tell these galleries when we do not want to lend? Are we to tell them the truth? Are we to tell them that they are on our "black list"; that we do not trust them, and that we are prepared to lend a certain picture to another gallery but not to them? What sort of excuses are we going to trump up to get out of the difficulty which this Bill creates for us? This Bill will, I think, create uncertainty. It will compel the Trustees of the National Gallery to give offence. It will be the cause of international friction. To-day, that does not exist, and the position is perfectly clear. Parliament has laid it down that the Trustees may not lend foreign pictures. That is the law. The law cannot be broken, and the fact that the law cannot be broken most certainly can give no offence. But the position under this provision will make the future very different.

We must not disguise from ourselves the fact that there are political considerations involved, just as, of course, there are political considerations involved in the mammoth International Exhibitions which are held so frequently these days. Will not the Foreign Secretary be pressed by Foreign Ambassadors to ask the Board to lend some masterpiece or other to an exhibition held in that country? Surely, the Foreign Secretary must be compelled to put the case to the Board; and is it right that the Board should have to take the decision of refusing the request put forward in that way by a foreign Government? May I read from a statement made in the previous debate in your Lordships' House (OFFICIAL REPORT, Vol. 79, Col. 703): The situation may be even more difficult than that. The Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs may have no strong feeling himself on the subject, but the political conjuncture may be such that he is really exceedingly anxious to gratify any request made to him by a particular foreign Government. In that case he would certainly pass on the request to the Trustees of the British Museum with a strong recommendation that in the interest of foreign policy they should accede to the request. The Trustees of the British Museum or the National Gallery ought never to be placed in that position. Their duty, and the responsibility placed upon them as Trustees, is to preserve these great national works of art in the interest of the public who visit the museums and in the interest of the nation. That is the responsibility placed upon them. They ought never to be placed in a position where their decision will have political reactions or political responsibility. I quote that—and I could quote many other cases—because those are the words of Lord Grey of Falloden; and he, as Foreign Secretary, spoke with greater authority than anyone else. I do not know whether when the present Foreign Secretary spoke many years ago against this very provision, he had this particular point in mind. That sort of situation is not impossible, and it would place the Trustees in a most unenviable position. They would have to balance diplomatic advantage against the safety of a picture of which they had been placed in trust. To-day they are protected from that dilemma and from such improper pressure. Adoption of the Bill as printed would remove that protection and place them in an intolerable position.

The noble Earl, Lord Selkirk, said in answer to a similar point on Second Reading that in all these difficulties we should trust the Trustees. This is what he said (OFFICIAL REPORT, Vol. 184 (No. 9) Col. 477): I feel that the calibre of the Trustees is the greatest safeguard that we have. I am all for trusting the Trustees. I have been a Trustee of the National Gallery far longer than anyone else in the country; and even to-day, while I have my Chairman to keep me in order and tell your Lordships that my views are not the views of my fellow Trustees, I am still prepared to give views which I expressed years ago and which I still believe to be right. By all means trust the Trustees, but trust them to carry out the purpose for which they were appointed. These Trustees were not appointed to be faced with a dilemma such as I have described.

We have been told that if we did not lend foreign pictures abroad, foreigners would not lend their pictures to us. I think it wrong to use the pictures of the nation as bargaining counters; I think it is wrong to risk injury to the masterpieces belonging to the National Gallery in order that Burlington House may have a loan. I think it is out of perspective to risk a permanent loss in exchange for a temporary gain. But even if it were right to do so, surely this argument—the sole argument we have heard—falls to the ground. We were told in 1930 that people would not lend to us—but they went on doing so. We were told in 1935 that we should not get loans from abroad—and the number of exhibitions from abroad increased and increased, rather than decreased. Then we were told that we should not get loans in 1953. Yet to-day I should say that there are far more exhibitions held in this country, and far more loans from abroad, than ever before. The noble Earl has, perhaps, had bad luck in the timing of the Committee stage of this Bill, for within one week we have had one of the finest and largest exhibitions of Flemish art ever held in the world. It is taking place at the Royal Academy in London. It includes many generous loans from abroad. At the same time, the Royal Academy in Edinburgh has this week opened an exhibition of Raoul Dufy. Of the eighty-seven exhibits, all but one come from abroad. So I think we must agree that it is wrong to say that we shall not get works of art from abroad unless this provision is allowed to stand.

I have spoken for a long time, and I apologise to the Committee. Let me, in conclusion, say that in the National Gallery in Edinburgh we have no such protection as that which exists to-day—and which I hope you will not remove—for the National Gallery in London. We are free to lend to whomsoever we wish, and to lend what we wish; and if there is one thing we envy it is the present protection which the Trustees of the National Gallery in London have. I dare say that I am the only person who has at present this double experience. No one would for a moment wish to consent to a change, but all would agree that the position in London is far more satisfactory and far more safe than that in Edinburgh. I hope that my noble friend will consider these points. They are, let me assure him, very important. They would be agreed, I think, by the great majority of the directors of Galleries abroad, because they lend, and are forced by political considerations to do so. They have to lend, even if they dislike and are rather dismayed by what is happening to-day. The only point that I regret about inability to lend—and it is a real point—is that these exhibitions do give scholars a great opportunity of increasing the sum of their knowledge. Against that, however, the risks, which I believe to be very great and very real, must, I think, win the day.

5.26 p.m.


I should like to say a word of congratulation to the noble Earl on his admirable speech. He has covered the ground extremely well. I was going to say a few words on these matters, but he seems to have dealt with them adequately. I still wish, however, to say two or three words which I think may interest your Lordships. I had put down an Amendment to leave out this clause, because I thought it very dangerous in some ways, though good in others. If we can get the three Amendments which he has put down, I feel that we shall be going in the right direction. There are two points with which I should like to deal. The first is that personally I should prefer an Amendment which is going to be moved, I understand, by the noble Earl, Lord Huntingdon, to exclude paintings on gesso and metal, as well as on wood-panels, from those which may be sent outside the United Kingdom. The second question I wish to ask is whether the year "1700" in the new Clause 8 could not be "1800." Otherwise, we should be leaving out our magnificent Reynolds's and Gainsboroughs and a large number of other pictures which it would be possible to send abroad.


May I answer that question now? It was not my intention to exclude Reynolds's because that would not be maintaining the status quo. I think that, as I said, my words are probably wrong. If my words included the word "British" then my noble friend's point would be met. If my first Amendment does exclude Reynolds's that was not my intention, and the wording would have to be altered.


I thank the noble Earl for his explanation. I am delighted that he resisted the dangers of sending pictures abroad. I would mention, by way of addition to the recent occurrences which he mentioned, that about four years ago, when some valuable drawings were sent to Holland, under, I understand, the auspices of the Dutch Government, they were left for a while lying on the quay at Rotterdam, without anyone to look after them. In the result, a man came along, smoking a cigarette. He threw down the cigarette end; in a moment there were flames; and all this very valuable consignment—from the Whitworth Gallery, in Manchester, I think—was destroyed.

Another point to which I should like to draw your Lordships' attention is the dangers which we sometimes bring upon ourselves. In this case, it was a matter of books which were sent over to the great exhibition about two or three years ago at the Bibliothèque Nationale in France. I was asked to lend a valuable manuscript, and my friend who asked me, a keeper at the British Museum, suddenly came to me and said, "I think you ought to know the way your book is going to be sent over with all the other books"—which were to be valued at something like £1 million. It was about this time of the year, and they were to be put on a very small ship which was to go down the Thames, possibly through fog or storm. They were then to go into the Seine and be taken up to Paris. The idea was almost laughable only it was so serious. I said. "Very well, my book shall not go," and I advised everybody else of what was going to happen. I am glad to say that the whole scheme was altered at once. This immensely valuable consignment went over in twelve to fifteen hours by the ferry and it was delivered in Paris the next day. Under the other scheme the journey was to take about three days and the books were to come back the same way. That is the sort of thing one is up against. I think your Lordships should remember those dangers.

My noble friend mentioned the subject of loans from abroad. We at the British Museum have always been very strict indeed. Our rule is strict; we do not allow exhibits to be loaned abroad. On one special occasion, however, we did send over one of the copies of Magna Charta—we have two or three. One of them went overseas but we had to have an Act of Parliament to allow that to be done. There is always that way of doing it. I can assure your Lordships that the number of wretched little suggestions, and some very important suggestions too, that come up to us is great. We are fortunate, and I hope we always shall remain so, in the position that we cannot loan. My noble friend referred to galleries. It is not always the galleries abroad which are dangerous; there are certain galleries in this country which are dangerous, though I think they are fairly well covered now by recent regulations. But there are some very poor galleries and some which are badly invigilated, and that is another matter which ought to be studied. I do not wish to take up more of your Lordships' time, because, if my noble friend's Amendments, which I so strongly support, are carried, I feel we can continue with Clause 4 in the Bill.


I rise to support the noble Earl who moved this Amendment. It is rather difficult, because there are several Amendments on the Paper which are dealing with the same subject. As I understand Amendment No. 5, it would restrict the lending of pictures and paintings to the United Kingdom. In the Second Reading debate I took the line that, with due safeguards, we might lend some of our public treasures abroad as an act of reciprocity. Having listened to the speeches of the noble Earl, Lord Crawford, on this subject, however, both on Second Reading and also to-day, I am quite converted, and I do not think we ought to lend. If there may be as much damage as he says is done to these paintings, I should support the noble Earl in wishing to prohibit their being sent abroad at all. However, if it is the view of your Lordships' House that we should send them abroad, then we must safeguard them, either through the noble Earl's Amendment, through my Amendment or through the Amendment of the noble Lord, Lord Methuen, to see that the early paintings, the panels of the fourteenth, fifteenth or sixteenth centuries, whatever happens, should not go abroad where they might suffer irreparable damage.

Another point that cannot be emphasised enough is the extreme difficulty in which the directors of galleries are placed if they have the responsibility—and they are the people concerned—of refusing to allow pictures to go to certain galleries abroad and allowing them to go to certain other galleries. It is an almost impossible situation. For that reason alone, I think we ought not to allow these paintings to go forward for exhibitions. I do not want to take up any more of your Lordships' time. The case has been well put by the noble Earl who moved this Amendment, and I hope that the noble Lord, Lord Methuen, will also support it with his Amendment. I should like to leave it at that for the moment.


I have an Amendment down later, and I, too, wish to say something after hearing the remarks of the noble Earl, Lord Crawford, which are certainly most convincing. What I had in mind was that the discretion should be left to the Director and Trustees to decide whether or not it was wise to allow certain pictures to go abroad, with the absolute proviso that all pictures painted on gesso, copper, tin or panel ought not to go. I have a perfectly open mind about this matter but I feel largely convinced by what the noble Earl, Lord Crawford, has said about the damage—one has heard so much about it. I remember well the occasion when the water colours in Amsterdam, I think it was, were ruined by sheer carelessness. I think sometimes it happens in this country too. I do not think we should entirely blame the Continent.

I should have thought it was to everybody's advantage to be able from time to time to lend certain pictures of no very great value which are at present on the ground floor of the National Gallery, or perhaps out on exhibition or round some of our so-called public buildings. I should have thought it would be an advantage to rely on the Director and Trustees to send them entirely at their discretion; and perhaps there could be compiled a "black list" of pictures which on no account should be sent abroad. That might satisfy everybody. I should like to know what the noble Earl, Lord Crawford, thinks about it. It is most important that we should be in a position to send abroad if we really want to and if the Director and Trustees are convinced that there is no harm in so doing.

The question is not as simple as it looks. It is not a purely permissive matter, as those who have experience know. Take, for instance, the Bologna exhibition of Guido Reni which is coming on shortly. The National Gallery is not allowed to send. Private owners like myself are taking the risk—perhaps we are fools to do so, but we think we should. I do not see why the National Gallery should not send some of their pictures. I do not suppose they are any more valuable than those in private collections. This artist is not at present very fashionable, but he may be in time. That is what I have in mind when we come to my Amendment. I should like to leave in that clause. Perhaps the noble Earl in charge of this Bill will consider whether, from the administrative point of view, it would be possible to have an absolutely strict rule about certain marked pictures which on no account should go out of the country—including pictures painted on panel and metal—but that there would be no harm in sending out the rest, which are kept down in the basement of the National Gallery. That is my contribution towards this particular subject.

5.41 p.m.


I take it that we are discussing generally Amendments Nos. 5, 6, 10 and 11, and not l3 at the moment. I entirely agree, as everyone must, that there is a certain risk whenever you move a picture. I entirely agree that the trustees of great national collections should not be subjected to unnecessary pressure to do so, and I recognise that they have a high duty to the general public to see that these pictures are available. Of course that is so. The noble Earl, Lord Crawford, speaks with great authority—indeed, I believe it is true that there has been hardly any time in thirty-five yeas when an Earl of Crawford has not been a Trustee of the National Gallery. Of course he speaks with great authority on this subject, and he is absolutely right. But should we not here keep some sense of proportion? These Trustees are men selected by the Prime Minister personally to look after great national treasures. Of course, Prime Ministers, like other human beings, make mistakes, but with any man in that position there can be no doubt of the nature of his responsibility or the authority which necessarily his word will carry. There is a question of principle between the Amendment which the noble Earl. Lord Crawford, has put down and what is in the Bill. Quite frankly, we proceeded in the Bill on the line that you can trust the Trustees, and it seems to me that every Amendment put down here which in some measure, however big or little, restricts the discretion of the Trustees, in fact lowers the responsibility which we are clearly able to place upon them.


On the contrary; if the noble Earl will allow me to intervene, it is not a question of restricting the responsibility of the Trustees. Everything established by these Amendments and, on his suggestion, in the Bill, is increasing the responsibility of the Trustees. Nothing here restricts. It is merely a restriction of a proposed increase. There is a great difference. I wish the noble Earl would not keep using the "Trust the Trustees" argument. I trust Trustees; but I trust Trustees to do that for which they are appointed. Even so, I trust Statutes more than I trust Trustees.


That, of course, is perfectly clear—the noble Earl does not trust Trustees. But I do make the point quite clearly, that if you say to trustees——


Would the noble Earl agree with me that we have Trustee Acts establishing investments into which trustees can put trust money, because trustees cannot be given very much discretion?


That is for private beneficiaries, I agree. The trustees are not always appointed by the Prime Minister which seems to me to make some difference in this case. Let us deal with panels. There is no question of panels going out of the country—certainly not panels which have been in air-conditioned rooms. If you say to the Trustees, "We do not trust you not to do a thing like that," you are thereby restricting the measure of their discretion. Clause 4 (3) can be strengthened, perhaps, by including the words "in their absolute discretion" or something of that sort. I do not think that adds anything legally, but at least it emphasises a great deal the nature of their responsibility. One must remember that this is not something that has suddenly come out of nothing. This proposal was recommended by the Royal Commission in 1929, and by the Standing Commission in 1945. I thought the noble Lord was very clever in facing the embarrassment he had with the Flemish Exhibition. It is difficult for us to face that at present, and to say that in no circumstances are we going to let a picture out of any of our national galleries. Let us consider what Sir Gerald Kelly says here in his introduction. I think it is proper that we should recognise the value of these words: If this Exhibition is splendid it is because of the amazing generosity of many owners, among them the Queen, the citizens of Bruges, Brussels, Antwerp, private collectors in Belgium, museums and galleries in France, Italy, and Austria, especialy the Kunsthistorische Museum in Vienna, and perhaps most of all the private owners and galleries in this Island. It seems to me a little difficult for us to go on receiving, without ever allowing anything to go out at all.

I think this is a matter which those responsible can carry without undue burden. We shall be delighted to strengthen their hands if in any way they feel that this is not enough. If they like to make their ideas felt in their own regulations by saying, "This we will do, and this we will not do," they are quite free to do it. If we can strengthen them by putting such a code of conduct into a Treasury minute and giving it extra power we shall be very glad to do so; but to adopt the position of saying that no picture can go out without an Act of Parliament is really to be out of perspective, in view of the great advantages which we have in this country in national collections, particularly at the present time. I have not dealt separately with Lord Huntingdon's Amendment, which goes very much further than he probably intended. We should be glad to hear the noble Earl's opinion, but it seems to me that it is a choice between whether you can trust those who are responsible or whether you cannot. I should have thought that there is no question in regard to the older and more fragile pictures, and those who are in charge can be trusted to carry the responsibility. If they say they cannot carry it, that is a different matter; but I think we can leave it fairly and squarely to the men who are appointed in the way I have described.


I should like to answer one or two of the questions the noble Earl has raised. I think that of the two developments which were mentioned by Lord Crawford, the one which has come most recently is air-conditioning. That is one aspect that was not reviewed in the old times. It is a completely modern development which must very largely alter our minds in regard to this question. I was glad to hear the noble Earl who is promoting this Bill say that he is prepared to strengthen our hands, or do something to satisfy our fears to a certain extent. I suggest that if he believes there is no question at all of these early panels going out of the country, there is no harm in putting a provision into the Bill. It would satisfy the desire that at least these pictures should be protected. I find myself in some difficulty because we are really discussing the Amendments of the noble Lord, Lord Methuen. The noble Earl, Lord Selkirk, said that he assumed we were discussing, the three Amendments together. If the first Amendment—that is, Amendment number 5—is not agreed to by the Government, I would advocate strongly putting words in the Bill which, whatever happened, and whether we can trust the Trustees or not, would prevent paintings on panels and metal from going out of the country, for this would be utterly disastrous. It seems to me that the trouble of putting in a few words for that purpose would be well worth while.

The fact that we refuse to put these words in the Bill might in future lead Trustees to think that they have the right to send these pictures out of the country. They would be able to recall this debate and say: "This matter came up before Parliament; it was proposed that restrictions should be placed on these pictures leaving the country but the proposal was turned down—the Government refused to accept it. Therefore, we have every right, in these particular circumstances, to send any pictures we like out of the country." So I urge the noble Earl, if he does not accept the Amendment, at least to agree to put in some such words as: prevent paintings on panels, on gesso metal or wood, leaving the country. I think that would be well worth while.

5.50 p.m.


May I just add this thought. As the law stands at the present time we are in a very favourable position. We now have the best of both worlds. We can simply say to other nations: "We are sorry, but we cannot lend you any of our pictures. Please will you lend us some of yours?" Thanks to the generosity of foreign peoples, we have had in the last few years some marvellous exhibitions in London. The Italians have lent us some of their finest art treasures including pictures by Botticelli, and the Spaniards have lent us some of their great pictures. Indeed, as the noble Earl has said, we have repeatedly had some most wonderful pictures lent to us. I remember when the Holbein exhibition was being discussed. We were going to get some Holbeins from Basle, and there was just the beginning of a little trouble about it. The people over there said: "Look here, we are lending you our Holbeins; what are we going to get in return?" We were able to say that we could not lend our pictures. I think there was some understanding that Her Majesty was prepared to lend some of tier Holbeins, but I am not sure that I am right about that. Now this Bill has been introduced and this discussion has taken place, it seems to me that we are in a different position from that in which we were formerly. After hearing the noble Earl, I am inclined to wish to God that we had never had this Bill introduced. But the fact is that this Bill has been introduced.

I myself have said—and I expect other noble Lords in recent years have more or less said the same: "We are sorry we cannot lend any of our pictures, but the whole matter is coming up for discussion." Now the matter has come up, and it has been widely canvassed. This debate will be very much reported on and considered. If, now that this matter has been presented to us, we are going to say that we are never in future going to lend any of our pictures, then, my Lords, I tremble to think what is going to happen about other people. I humbly venture to suggest that, faced with the situation which we are in, having got this Bill and having had the talks about it which we have had, we cannot take that line. It is clear that there are some pictures which no sensible body of trustees would ever think of lending. If those could be enumerated, it might be an idea to consider the insertion of the words: "with the consent of the Treasury." Then the Treasury could formulate certain rules. If the Trustees merely formulate rules for themselves they can avoid those rules if they like.

The position, if you follow the course I have outlined, might then be that the Trustees would be able to say: "We are sorry but we cannot lend; it is all the fault of the Treasury." And the Treasury might be able to say: "We are sorry, but it is all the fault of the Trustees." That might be useful. I suggest, however, to the noble Earl, that to say that as a result of this particular discussion we are never going to be able to lend any of our pictures would really have a most unfortunate effect on the prospects of exhibitions coming to us in the future. Though it is the fact, as Lord Selkirk has said, that when you send a picture by sea or rail or car there is always an element of danger, I would respectfully point out that that applies whether the picture is sent somewhere in this country or abroad. Lord Crawford's argument, carried to its logical conclusion, comes to this; that you ought never to lend a picture anywhere. I think that is an impossible proposition. Therefore, I very much hope that the broad, sweeping principle of "No loans at all" will not be accepted.

For myself, I find it extremely difficult to lay down any hard and fast rules as to what may or may not be lent. I do not know enough about these matters even to attempt to do so. I imagine some pictures painted on panels might safely be lent and others it would not be safe to lend. I rather think that each picture must be considered on its own merits. It might be worth while considering whether the consent of some third party, such as the Treasury, should be deemed to be necessary. Clearly this is not a matter to be undertaken in a lighthearted way. In view of what has happened, I cannot feel, now that this Bill has been introduced, that we can stand on the existing position—which, of course, in a sense is far the best for us—that "We lend nothing; you lend everything." I do not believe that that is practicable.


I should like to make one further point in answer to the noble Earl, Lord Huntingdon. Something has been said about the difficulty of making a hard and fast rule. I take only this point. Suppose we take the year 1700 and say that nothing painted before 1700 is to go out of the country. Would not that be to some extent an invitation to send things produced after 1700 out of the country? There may be things produced after that period which are not fit to be sent abroad. If you leave the matter to the discretion of the Trustees in individual cases, as has been pointed out, the fact of doing so is not an indication that we want anything to be sent abroad which is of a fragile nature; it merely emphasises the measure of discretion which we think should be left to the Trustees. I should be glad if the noble Earl would withdraw his Amendment, and we will have discussions on this matter before the next stage of the Bill. I am certainly prepared to take steps to arrange for that to be done.


I am certainly prepared to assent to that if we are going to be enabled to have discussions with some little encouragement from the Government.


I put this question to the noble Earl: Are you really strengthening your position by putting, in a limitation?




I wonder whether you are really doing so. I wonder whether you are not saying, in a way: "We are not trusting the Trustees with these old panels." I should think it would be easier for them to say "No" if they had the whole ambit open to them than if they had merely a restricted one.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

THE EARL OF HUNTINGDON had given notice of an Amendment in subsection (1) (a) to leave out "or" and insert: provided that paintings on gesso, wood or metal shall in no circumstances be sent outside the United Kingdom. The noble Earl said: I am afraid that I am not clear about the position. I take it that we have discussed Amendment No. 6. The Amendment of the noble Earl has been withdrawn and I understand that discussions are to take place between now and the Report stage.


That is correct.


I should like an assurance from the noble Earl that the next Amendment in my name will be discussed also. Would that be discussed, too, or would it be better for me to move my Amendment now? Whatever happens, it seems to me an extremely able device for safeguarding the paintings. If it can come into the general discussions promised, I shall be happy not to move my Amendment, but if not, I shall move it now. If your Lordships reject the first Amendment, this at least would safeguard the greatest treasures. It has been said that it would be difficult to fix a date and that it is extremely difficult to put down a year—1700 or 1648. I think it is possible, however, to fix a line on the materials on which paintings have been done. We know that metal contracts and expands, and we know the flexibility of gesso. My Amendment, I feel, would be a good safeguard. I do not know whether the noble Lord wishes me to put it now or whether there will be discussions on this between now and Report stage.


If the noble Earl moves the Amendment and it is negative don a Division, obviously it would be excluded from the discussions, because the House would have decided the matter. On the other hand, if the noble Earl does not move the Amendment the question of whether the ban should apply to pictures on a metal panel or on a wooden panel can come into the general discussion. I take it that the noble Earl would prefer to have an opportunity of discussing the question, but he cannot have it both ways. He cannot have a long debate and decide upon the matter and then reopen it in discussions.


I shall be happy not to move the Amendment. What I wanted was an assurance from the Government that this would be included in the discussions.


The noble Earl put the Amendment down only this morning. I shall be glad to discuss it with him.


I only wanted that assurance. I shall not move the Amendment.

6.4 p.m.

THE EARL OF HUNTINGDON moved, in subsection (1), to omit paragraph (b). The noble Lord said: the object of this clause is to lend paintings from the National and Tate Galleries to be used for display—

  1. (i) in a public building or official residence in the United Kingdom or elsewhere for the furnishing of which the Minister of Works is responsible; or
  2. (ii) in the official residence of the Governor of a colony."
I am extremely doubtful about this provision. It seems to me that the idea is that the Ministry of Works should get what I might call cheap furnishing for Embassies, Legations, ministries and public buildings by bringing this furnishing out of the stores of the National and Tate Galleries. At first sight, this is an attractive and sensible idea. I should like to know whether the noble Earl can give me a reply to the questions which I have sent him, because I think that the information he may be able to give will help your Lordships in deciding what ought to be done. I know that I have given the noble Earl short notice but perhaps he could let me know the answers.

The questions I sent him were: How many pictures are listed in the inventories and catalogues of the National Gallery? How many of these pictures are exhibited in the National Gallery, excluding loans to the National Gallery? How many of these pictures are exhibited in provincial galleries and museums? How many of these pictures are in store or in buildings other than galleries and museums? How many rooms in the National Gallery suitable for exhibiting pictures are not used for this purpose at the present time? I think that if we knew more about the reserve stocks of these galleries it would be helpful.


I am very sorry but I am not following the noble Earl. He says "these pictures": what does he mean by that?


I am referring only to the National Gallery, not to the Tate. I posted a letter to the noble Earl with these questions. Perhaps he would give me information on Report stage.


I think the last question should be a little more specific, otherwise the noble Earl cannot possible answer it.


I will send the questions to the noble Earl again for Report stage, if I may. In any case, I did not give him notice. As I said, at first sight the idea of using the reserve pictures which are in the cellars of the National and Tate Galleries is an attractive one, but on thinking it over, I wonder whether it is a wise one. These pictures will be sent off to Embassies at Tokio, Rome and Paris, perhaps to the Legation in Bogota. Will they be properly looked after? Will they ever be returned to this country? Once a picture has been sent a thousand miles away, it will be unlikely administratively to come back, and might stay there. After all, these pictures were bought by the Galleries, or bequeathed to them, for the use and pleasure of the public and for the instruction of students in art and in the history of painting. Is it right or fair that we should take these paintings, which for the moment may not be on the walls of the Galleries, and push them out to places where the public have no access and no means of seeing them? I think this is an unwise provision. I think it is particularly unwise to send these pictures abroad. Many of the official residences of Governors of Colonies are in tropical and semi-tropical areas, and tropical heat will be absolutely disastrous to these paintings. I wish the Government would look at this point more carefully.

It may be asked: if we do not use these paintings in this way what are we going to do with them? I suggest that there are many ways in which we can use them. In the first place, I should like to see more of them lent out to provincial galleries. Secondly, they might be used as libraries for research and study. This is an idea that has been taken up in foreign countries. There is a famous library of this sort in Genoa, where the ground floor is taken up by an exhibition of paintings. The upper floor is a library of paintings. You ring a bell and an attendant lets you in, and after you have seen the paintings, you ring a bell and he lets you out again. The pictures are fixed on rails which can be swung out so that the student can see them in different lights. I think that is an idea which might be developed here.

I wonder whether we could not house more pictures in Lancaster House. I understand that at present the public are allowed to view the interior on two days a week. I think it would be an excellent idea if some of the paintings not on view at the Galleries should be used to adorn Lancaster House, to make that a sort of subsidiary gallery, where the public could have a chance of seeing them. Here, incidentally, Government entertaining goes on and pictures would also be seen by distinguished foreign guests. In any case, I do not think that the terms on which these pictures have been bought and given should allow them to be dispersed in this way where the public cannot get at them. I would beg the noble Earl to consider this and to see whether some way cannot be found of obviating the difficulty or of something else being done with the pictures. I beg to move.

Amendment moved— Page 3, line 15, leave out lines 15 to 20.—(The Earl of Huntingdon.)


As I have an Amendment down to be taken a little later, I should like to say that I entirely agree with the noble Earl who has just spoken. The contents of Clauses 4, 5 and 6 seem to me so entirely contrary to the spirit and functions of the National Gallery that it seems necessary, in spite of the presence of the noble Earl, Lord Crawford, and the Duke of Wellington, to say that the National Gallery had two main functions: one to exhibit masterpieces; and the second to form a collection of Old Masters to illustrate as fully as possible the history of paintings of Western Europe as it is generally understood.


I should like to add a third function to those—namely, to preserve the masterpieces which they hold in trust. It is because of that duty that I feel so distressed at what may be happening to-day.


The National Gallery was not formed to provide furnishings for public buildings administered by the Minister of Works, buildings which are hardly ever accessible to the public, as the noble Earl, Lord Huntingdon, has pointed out; nor to provide decorations for the walls of Governors' residences in the Colonies, including those in the tropics which obviously would not be good for our pictures. Because there are many pictures on the ground floor of the National Gallery it does not mean that these are redundant and can be disposed of to Government or public buildings to which, as I have said, the public generally may not have access. Probably all the principal galleries of Europe have a surplus of pictures over and above what can be hung in the exhibition galleries. These surplus pictures should be made easily available to students and artists, and to those who may wish to make a critical study of certain Old Masters.

I am going to repeat something which was said by the noble Earl, Lord Huntingdon, if only to emphasise it. Many galleries overseas do recognise this, and have had their galleries adapted or newly built expressly to house this overflow. I should like to draw your Lordships' attention to the Fogg Museum, a historical museum attached to Harvard University, to the Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam, to the Savoy Gallery in Turin and to the Palazza Bianca in Genoa, which the noble Earl, Lord Huntingdon, has just mentioned and which was badly bombed. The walls, however, were left standing and, as the noble Earl said, the building has recently been renovated and modernised so as to have on the top storey a secondary collection of pictures to study. These pictures are usually hung on small screens placed at right-angles to the walls and can be easily moved by a single attendant, as they usually run on ball bearings. As the screens are placed close together, they occupy very little room, and it follows that a large number of pictures can be housed in this way with a minimum of staff to look after them.

Wishing to refresh my memory—because I have not been a Trustee since the war, and I do not think I have been down to the vaults of the National Gallery since they were bombed, and were consequently empty then—I paid a visit to the National Gallery yesterday, and subsequently to the National Portrait Gallery, to see how they do these things at both places. All surplus pictures on the ground floor of the National Gallery are hung on very heavy screens which must be far too heavy for a single man to move. It must be necessary to take down pictures required to study as the screens themselves are too close to allow of this being done in situ. The lighting leaves a good deal to be desired, though this could be easily remedied with more suitable artificial lighting if a more up-to-date system of screens were adopted in the National Gallery. The National Portrait Gallery has an excellent long gallery well lit from one side and furnished with tall screens which run on ball bearings on rails and which can be easily operated by one attendant. This appears to me to be a very good arrangement, whereby students and others can readily examine any picture they desire by having the screen on which the picture hangs pulled out to the middle of the gallery. What can be done at one end of Trafalgar Square could be done at the other, with the good will of the Ministry of Works, who presumably will have to pay for it.

I have gone into these details to emphasise the desirability of recognising the proper function of a great national gallery such as we have here; it was certainly not intended for the objects suggested in the clause under discussion. The Minister of Works, may I add, has set a noble example in purchasing contemporary paintings for the various public buildings for which he is responsible, for which we painters desire to express our best thanks. We only trust that he will continue in this vein, and leave the Old Masters at the National Gallery severely alone. That is all I have to say about this particular Amendment. I should like to emphasise all that the noble Earl, Lord Huntingdon, has said about this, and to say how important it is to recognise that this secondary collection of pictures which is now on the ground floor of the National Gallery is really a collection for students, historians and critics to examine at their leisure in a properly lit place, and where the pictures can be easily manœuvred. At present, it must cause great trouble to the National Gallery Trustees to arrange to show these pictures to visitors. I know that they have to give twenty-four hours' notice. But what a trouble it must be, compared to the excellent arrangements which are to be found next door in the National Portrait Gallery.

House resumed.