§ 3.0 p.m.
§ Order of the Day for the Second Reading read.
§ THE EARL OF SELKIRK
My Lords, this Bill deals with the National Gallery and the Tate Gallery, of both of which instiutions we are intensely proud, and both of which are very popular. They are each visited annually by about one million people and the quality of both these collections is a matter of world renown. I think we can fairly say that the National Gallery may be regarded as by far the most representative collection of pictures in the world. We are anxious to do all we can to enable it to continue to deserve that title. If I may mention one rather small point, the Tate Gallery has recently been included in the series known as Art and Style, in a very fine edition of coloured plates, produced in Paris which is still regarded, I think, as the home of modern art. We can accept that as a real compliment.
I know that your Lordships will naturally and properly view carefully and, indeed, critically anything which affects, however much or however little, these important institutions. Their well-being is a proper and right subject of national concern and discussion. In order that we may more fully understand the situation, I should like to review the circumstances by which they have reached their present position. I was a little surprised to learn 447 of how relatively recent growth both these institutions are. The National Gallery was founded by a Treasury Minute on the initiative of the Earl of Liverpool in March, 1824, when he took over the collection and, apparently, the house of Mr. J. J. Angerstein for the sum of £57,000. The collection was opened at No. 100, Pall Mall on May 20, 1824, and it was transferred to its present home in Trafalgar Square in 1838. There has been considerable enlargement of the building since then, but there is fortunately still room for extension on the present site.
The Tate Gallery was born in an atmosphere of bitter controversy. Its foundation was due not only to the generosity but also to the perseverance, in face of criticism, of Sir Henry Tate, a native of Chorley, in Lancashire. It was opened by the Prince and Princess of Wales in 1897. It was enlarged and extended by much private generosity, particularly that of Sir J. J. Duveen and his son, Lord Duveen of Millbank, besides important bequests by Mr. George Salting, Mr. Samuel Courtauld and others. Indeed, Lord Curzon, in the early years of this century, said that the most striking feature of the Tate was the exiguous contribution to its development which had been made by the State. Even as late as the time of the Report of the Massey Committee, in 1945, apparently no Government money at all had been expended on the purchase of works of art. The Tate Gallery was originally administered by the Trustees of the National Gallery. In 1917, however, by Treasury Minute, a separate Board of Trustees was set up. But though the Tate Gallery was then given its own Board of Trustees and had its own Director, it still had no separate statutory existence, and all its works of art belonged in law to the National Gallery. That was the position at the end of the Second World War, when, at the request of the then Chancellor of the Exchequer, whom your Lordships now know as Lord Waverley, and the Minister of Education, Mr. Butler, the Right Honourable Vincent Massey, then Chairman of the National Gallery Trustees and now Governor-General of Canada, with the assistance of a strong Committee, made a Report on the functions of the National Gallery and the Tate Gallery.
448 The purpose of this Bill is very largely to implement the intentions which the Massey Committee had in mind. We have in some cases adopted different mechanism, but we have covered, we think, all the intentions of the Committee so far as statutory action is concerned, and the Bill embodies a scheme worked out in consultation with both Boards of Trustees and, I understand, agreeable to both. The first recommendation of the Massey Report was that the Tate Gallery should have an independent status with its contents legally vested in its own Board of Trustees. The Report described the position in these words:The present situation of the National Gallery Board in relation to that of the Tate is the indefensible one of responsibility without knowledge, a situation that is not only wrong in theory but totally impracticable."May I add that I think it is only right and proper, with regard to what is perhaps one of the largest picture galleries in the world, that it should be under the control of its own Trustees directly responsible for its own welfare. The Massey Report noted the rather haphazard way in which our galleries had grown up and suggested that it was time that a clearer conception of the purpose of both these Galleries should be recognised. Under Clause 2 (2) of this Bill, broadly, the National Gallery is to be recognised as a collection of masterpieces of all kinds and all times from all parts of the world, while the Tate Gallery is to be the National Collection of British pictures and modern pictures generally. It has, of course, also a collection of modern sculpture.
It is, I think, implicit in the purposes laid down in the Bill, to which I have referred, that there is a sphere of overlapping between the two Galleries; but. I suggest to your Lordships that in matters of this sort it is not really desirable to be too tidy, to make definitions of too fine a character or, indeed, to be too logical. What the Massey Report essentially emphasises is that galleries are not simply repositories containing works of art but that they are living organisms growing with the public regard in matters of art, with changes of taste, and with developments of technique and of appreciation. Therefore, in making these suggestions with regard to the general purposes of these two Galleries, the Report recognised that it would be necessary from time to time to transfer pictures 449 from one Gallery to another. It is obviously necessary that this should be done in order to retain for the National Gallery its fully representative character, and again, in certain cases, to transfer pictures from the National Gallery to the Tate when they seem more suitable for its purposes. I do not suggest that this is going to happen very often. It is, however, hoped that it will always be done in full agreement between the two Boards of Trustees and only when the two bodies of Trustees find themselves finally incapable of reconciling their differences need recourse be had to the mechanism which is laid down by the Bill. I emphasise that this mechanism is intended to be used only in the last resort. If the Trustees, for instance, were to accept the verdict of an arbiter of their own selection and abide by his decision, there is no reason why they should not do so.
That is one important point in the Bill. The other is to meet the striking increase of public interest and appreciation in the realm of art by making works of art more readily available in different parts of the country. This is what the Massey Report stated:It would, in our view, be regrettable if the resultant quickening of appreciation in the country generally were to decrease in the postwar period. We consider that the National Collections should play an essential part in maintaining and spreading the interest thus aroused, and that, by whatever machinery, a liberal and systematic policy of loans should be developed after the war. Such loans should be one of the accepted responsibilities of the public galleries of London.I should like also, if I may, to refer to the Memorandum accompanying the Massey Report, signed by Lord Stanhope as Chairman of the Standing Commission on Museums and Galleries. It says:We have already remarked that dispersion enables more of the public to enjoy the national treasures than does concentration. We consider the temptation to hoard should be firmly resisted.We accept this policy and we shall endeavour to apply it in three ways.
First of all, when any works of art are left to the nation, such works can be directed either to the National Gallery or the Tate or any of the other national institutions which your Lordships will see in the First Schedule. That includes about twelve different institutions in various parts of the country. Secondly, 450 we shall endeavour to apply the policy by a more liberal policy of lending. Under the Act of 1883 loans could be made in the United Kingdom to any public galleries authorised by Statute. This included public and municipal galleries. Under the Act of 1935 pictures by British artists might be sent on loan for exhibition abroad or for display in British Embassies. We now propose to extend these powers for both the National Gallery and the Tate Gallery, and your Lordships will see under Clause 4 a comprehensive statement which picks up the existing law and extends the lending powers under the Acts to which I have referred. Let me mention the points of this extension. First, pictures may be exhibited in any public building or official residence for which the Minister of Works is responsible. Secondly, they may be displayed in the official residence of a Governor of a Colony. Thirdly, such pictures may include foreign pictures which are in our collections.
The third way to do this is that, under Clause 5, we enable pictures to be transferred to the Minister of Works' pool or to one or other of the institutions shown in the First Schedule. The reason for this is that such pictures, when transferred, will no longer be the responsibility of the Tate Gallery or the National Gallery, who find it a certain burden to carry the responsibility for pictures which are away from their galleries. Indeed, they are not really equipped to do this sort of work. This power, I may mention, cannot be used for pictures bequeathed or donated to the Tate Gallery or the National Gallery unless such transfer is within the terms of the donation or bequest.
I should like to say a word about foreign pictures. The reason why we include foreign pictures is, frankly, that if we expect to continue to have the benefit in this country of first-class exhibitions of an unusual and remarkable character, such as, for instance, the exhibitions of works by Renoir and Degas which were held recently, we must be willing to reciprocate. If we do not, we cannot expect fine exhibitions to be sent here from abroad. Already that reluctance is being remarked upon to some extent. In regard to foreign pictures, in an extreme case, we might be asked," Why should we have a foreign picture hung in a British Embassy or the residence of a Colonial 451 Governor?" Frankly, I think that will very rarely happen, but it might happen. For instance, I think it would be a pleasant compliment to have a Dutch picture from one of our galleries at our Embassy in the Hague. I do not suggest that would happen very often, but in any case the matter is purely within the discretion of the Trustees of the two Galleries. I would only add the suggestion that in this sphere, while we wish to encourage the artistic ability of our citizens, we do not wish to take too nationalistic a view.
That is the general purpose of the Bill. I will turn to the clauses and deal with them quite briefly. Subsections (1) and (2) of Clause 1 set up the Tate Gallery Trustees on an independent status and vest the pictures in the respective Trustees in a manner which, I understand, is agreed between the two bodies. Subsection (3) establishes by Statute a practice which, I believe, has been given effect to for some years by the Trustees of the National Gallery—that is, that the bequest by Miss Margaret Knapping, authorising the purchase of pictures, paintings and sculpture by artists of any nationality who were alive within the previous twenty-five years, shall be vested in the Tate Gallery Trustees. Clause 2 deals with the transference of pictures between the two Galleries and lays down the mechanism by which it should be done and to which I have already referred. Clause 3 provides that where a bequest is made to the public or to the nation without specifically earmarking a particular institution the Treasury may direct that it be allocated either to the National Gallery or to the Tate Gallery, or to one of the institutions shown in the First Schedule. Clause 4 covers the extension of powers of lending, with which I have already dealt. Subsection (4) of the clause re-enacts the provisions of the Acts of 1883 and 1935 in regard to donations and bequests.
Clause 5 gives the National Gallery and the Tate Gallery power to transfer pictures which they do not require either to the Minister of Works for public exhibition or to one or other of the national institutions shown in the First Schedule. Such powers of transfer, however, cannot be used if they are inconsistent with the terms of a bequest or donation. Clause 6 again is modelled on the Act of 1856. It gives the National Gallery and the Tate 452 Gallery power to sell pictures which they do not require for their collections. However they must obtain Treasury consent to do so and, in respect of any picture which has ever been exhibited in either Gallery, the details of the whole proposed sale must be laid before Parliament for its consideration for a period of forty days. It is now provided that the Trustees will retain the proceeds of any such sale.
In commending this measure to your Lordships, I am able to say that it has the approval of the Trustees of both the National Gallery and the Tate Gallery. What we are proposing is to give to both these bodies of Trustees additional powers. Without them a special Act of Parliament would be required to exercise any one of these powers in any individual case. In speaking of these two Galleries, I am conscious of the great knowledge and experience which many of your Lordships have in this matter and of the personal service which many of your Lordships have given to these two Galleries. I should like to mention particularly his Grace the Duke of Wellington, the noble and learned Earl, Lord Jowitt, and the noble Earl, Lord Crawford and Balcarres, all of whom have served as Chairman of Trustees, and the noble Lords, Lord Methuen and Lord Sandwich. I should also like to mention Lord Harlech, who could not be here to-day but who, with the Duke of Wellington, played an important part in the negotiations preceding this measure. I suggest to your Lordships that the quality of these Trustees is full and adequate assurance that the powers which it is proposed to grant them will not be misused. I beg to move the Bill be read a second time.
§ Moved, That the Bill be now read 2a.—(The Earl of Selkirk.)
§ 3.17 p.m.
§ EARL JOWITT
My Lords, perhaps it is fitting that I should say something about this Bill, both in that I have the honour of leading the Opposition and in that I have had some experience in these matters over the last few years. I had the honour of being appointed Director of the National Gallery, and I served as Director for some seven years. I was selected by the National Gallery Trustees as their representative on the Board of the Tate Gallery, on which I also served for seven years. When Mr. Jasper Ridley 453 died, which was a great loss to the Tate Gallery, I was selected to become Chairman in his place, and I did my best, not always in the most easy circumstances imaginable, to carry out those duties. Both sets of Trustees have been happy bodies and I enjoyed doing what I could to help the work.
I always felt that the position of the Tate Gallery was anomalous. We never quite knew whether we had a separate existence of our own. We never knew whether anything we bought out of our own funds, if we had any funds of our own, was our property or not. It did not matter a great deal because—and it is important to remember this—the Tate Gallery and the National Gallery should never regard themselves as being rivals in business: they are not that in any sense of the word. I never felt that there was the smallest conflict of interests in acting as a Trustee of both bodies. Their function is the same. Their justification, and their function, is to provide the best possible display, in the most convenient circumstances, for the lieges; and to give them an opportunity of seeing these pictures. There always has been a danger that the two institutions might tend to regard themselves as rivals. That would be a profound mistake.
When the difficulties came to a head, as they undoubtedly did, and we considered what should be done, I confess that I played with the idea (I am not sure that I was not in a minority of one) that we should do what they do in France. The noble Earl, Lord Crawford, will be able to tell me whether I am right or wrong, but I believe I am right in saying that in France there is one body of people which deals with and looks after The Louvre, for example, and that that same body looks after L' Orangerie, the exhibition of modern French pictures. That system has worked well there. By having the same body of people to look after both institutions they avoid the possibility of rivalry between the two, which I agree should certainly never exist. It was felt, however—as I say, I think I was a minority of one about it—that although it might be all right in theory, it would be difficult to select any Board which could conveniently embrace within its activities both the one and the other. Obviously, that is a powerful argument against the solution which, in the first place, I was inclined to adopt. Therefore, 454 this solution has been adopted. It was worked out over a long period of time, and certain of the Treasury officials, Mr. Play fair, in particular, rendered the most valuable service in bringing it about. I believe I am right in saying that this solution, in principle at any rate, was agreed unanimously by the Trustees, both of the Tate Gallery and of the National Gallery, and had been agreed in my time, when I was a Trustee of the National Gallery and Chairman of the Tate Gallery. That being so, I support the Bill.
However, there are difficult questions concerning this matter. First of all, I should like to say a word or two in relation to the question of lending pictures. It must be remembered that pictures are delicate objects; mist be remembered also, that when a picture is lent abroad there is always a risk of that picture sustaining damage. That is not a fanciful, but a real risk. In my time—and I am sure the noble Earl, Lord Crawford, will agree—we have had examples of pictures being lent which, however great the care that was taken, sustained damage. The ideal, therefore, is that pictures should not be lent out of this country. We have had one great advantage under the present set-up: when we have been asked to lend some of our precious, valuable and delicate pictures abroad, we have not had to say, "We do not like you or your country, and we do not trust you." We have simply had to say, "We are sorry, but we cannot do it. By the terms of our Statute, we are not allowed to lend these pictures abroad." That was a desirable position in which to be, but I feel that it is an impossible one to maintain any longer. Was it not Aristotle who said that the test of conduct was what would happen if everybody did the same thing? If other people, whose pictures are just as delicate and valuable as ours, and undergo the same, risk when sent on voyages, said that they were no longer going to lend their pictures, the people over here, in all probability, would not see those foreign pictures. There have been cases in recent years where we have had collections of pictures from abroad only on the basis of reciprocal treatment. We were unable to give the reciprocal treatment at the National Gallery, and I can remember at least one occasion when the King lent some of his pictures; and 455 in that way we surmounted the difficulty. I know that there are differences of opinion about this matter, but with some hesitation, and some sorrow that we are giving up our specially privileged position, I feel that it is almost inevitable that we should agree to the proposals contained in this Bill.
So far as lending pictures to other official residences, whether here or abroad, is concerned, I have always felt that it was a pity we did not do that. I have travelled, I suppose, as much as any of your Lordships. I have visited a large number of our Embassies in foreign countries, and I have visited French Embassies in foreign countries, too. It is always noticeable that the French take care how their Embassies are furnished, seeing that they always have beautiful pictures on the walls. Surely that is right. I have been to British Embassies abroad—I will not mention names—where the Ambassadors have no pictures at all to hang on the walls. Our Embassy bears an unfortunate comparison with the corresponding Embassy of, say, the French. We cannot, of course, lend to our Embassies abroad pictures of the first rank which we wish to exhibit here. But if it be the fact that there are, in the cellars of our institutions here, quite good pictures, but pictures of the second grade, which never see the light of day, then it seems to me a pity that somebody should not have the power to look at the whole matter, if he is so minded, to see that those pictures are sent to decorate the walls of one of Her Majesty's Embassies abroad, or something of that sort. This applies equally to official residences in this country. Those of us who have been members of a Cabinet have been to one official residence where there are pictures on the walls which have been there for years. They have been lent, but I very much doubt whether they have been lent in accordance with the law. Therefore, I think it is right that that matter should be regularised in the way that it is now being regularised. For these reasons, I entirely support this Bill. I believe that it represents a sensible compromise, and I know that infinite care has been taken to work out this matter.
It only remains for me to say a word or two about the right of interchange and 456 the right of selection and, if necessary, of arbitration. The situation arises in this way. It is not unnatural that the Director of the Tate Gallery should be insistent on retaining some of his best French Impressionist pictures. Equally, human nature being what it is, it is natural that the Director of the National Gallery should try to persuade his Trustees to obtain all the best of the French Impressionist pictures, in order that he may have the best available collection. In that way there is a danger of rivalry springing up between these two institutions, and it would be deplorable if it did so arise. I think the suggestion that the Trustees should intervene is a wise one. I hope that the Trustees, if they do come on the scene, will realise, as I am sure they will, that they are not rival institutions, but are both carrying out the same national function—namely, the exhibition of pictures to the public. I believe that the Trustees will generally be able to agree. It would be a great pity (if I may use the expression) if all the "eyes' of the collection of the Tate Gallery were picked out by the National Gallery. If anybody should be foolish enough to think that that could be done, all I will say is that I feel certain that the system of arbitration which we have here will guard against it. I believe that we have here a wise compromise, one that has been worked out with infinite care over many years; and it would be a pity to attempt to alter it. I give this Bill my blessing, for what that is worth, and I hope that it will shortly pass into law.
§ 3.29 p.m.
My Lords, I do not intend to speak with regard to the main objects of the Bill, but I should like to direct your Lordships' attention to Clause 1 (3), which transfers Miss Knapping's bequest from the National Gallery to the Tate Gallery. I suggest that this provision should be dropped from the Bill. I would emphasise the fact that it has no bearing whatever on the main purpose of the Bill. It is purely a clause for transferring this bequest—a considerable bequest; an income of £1,000 a year—from the National Gallery to the Tate Gallery. The change proposed would have a considerable effect, first, on the will and wishes of Miss Knapping; secondly, upon the national galleries of our country and, therefore, 457 on the public, and, thirdly, on the artists of this country.
I ask my noble friend Lord Selkirk whether there is any compelling reason for making a change in this Trust. I think we are agreed that to change the direction of a trust fund does need a compelling reason. The will of Miss Knapping is clear. It directs that the residue goes in trust to the Director and Trustees for the time being of the National Gallery, England, their heirs, executors and assigns, to apply the income for the purchase for public exhibition—and mark these words—in England, Scotland and Wales, of works of art.
§ EARL JOWITT
May I interrupt the noble Lord for one moment? 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?
I am fully aware of that, but I will come to that point in a moment, if I may. I think that the order of the words, "the Director and Trustees of the National Gallery," is arresting. Miss Knapping did not leave her money to the nation, nor, as one might expect, to the National Gallery Trustees, but to the Director and Trustees of the National Gallery. I fancy that she thought most carefully about whom she was leaving her money to, because the Director is a man who is carefully trained, and she carefully brings in the Director of the National Gallery first. The Director of the Tate Gallery is a differently trained man with a different outlook. The thought in Miss Knapping's mind was that it was the people who were trained in the National Gallery outlook who should dispose of her funds. The date of Miss Knapping's will is interesting in this connection, because it is only 1932. As my noble friend Lord Selkirk has pointed out, the Tate Gallery was given its Trustees, and so on, in 1917. The Tate Gallery was well established and going strong in 1932, but Miss Knapping did not say that she would like the Director and Trustees of the Tate Gallery to dispose of her bequest. The will goes onto say that the Trustees may frame a scheme and vary the scheme, which shows that she had care- 458 fully considered the future and given them powers for all time.
I have said that this will affects three bodies of people. The control of this money, if carried out by the Tate Gallery Trustees, will be very different from what Miss Knapping ever regarded as possible. It will affect the National Galleries of England, Scotland and Wales. Your Lordships will notice that Miss Knapping said that the pictures purchased are to be exhibited in England, Scotland and Wales. I should like to ask my noble friend Lord Selkirk whether he can tell us how many of the pictures are exhibited in England, how many in Scotland and how many in Wales. The public will be affected because the difference of choice of these two Galleries is so vast and so marked. Do the public want, as Miss Knapping wished, pictures chosen by the National Gallery, or the more modern pictures which we have seen of the type collected by the Tate?
I say that the artists will be affected for the same reason—that the Director and Trustees of the National Gallery would probably select the works of different artists from those the Tate Gallery would prefer. I should like to ask my noble friend Lord Selkirk two questions. First, have the Director and the Trustees of the National Gallery asked to be relieved of this responsibility? If they have not, is there any compelling reason to make, this change? If they are willing to carry on, cannot they do so? We are fortunate in having in this House three of the Trustees of the National Gallery—the Duke of Wellington, Lord Crawford and Lord Herbert. I hope they will be willing—as I am sure many of your Lordships would wish—to continue to administer these funds for the benefit of the public. I also ask, although I have not given notice of the question, how many pictures were bought under Miss Knapping's bequest in each country. But perhaps the noble Earl will not be able to answer that question.
I would make one other point, and then I will close. Even if there is a compelling reason for making this alteration, I think my noble friend Lord Selkirk will agree that if you change the direction of a trust it is customary to try and alter it in a way which will as nearly as possible carry out the wishes of 459 the testator. I believe that is an old custom, and a right custom. Can any of us believe that, if we wish to carry out this lady's wishes, we can carry out a scheme which may be diametrically opposed to the ideas which were in Miss Knapping's mind? I do not criticise what the Tate Gallery or the National Gallery have done. I have a great regard for the National Gallery Trustees and what they have achieved. But there are differences of opinion as to whether the directions in which the Trustees of the Tate Gallery have gone have been wise. I cannot believe that the two bodies and what they would do are similar. I cannot think that the Tate Gallery would be carrying out the wishes of Miss Knapping. I hope that we shall hear that the National Gallery will continue to administer this Trust, and that your Lordships will agree with me that it was the wish of Miss Knapping, and that there seems no good reason for making the change.
If I may refer to the other parts of the Bill, there is the question of the transfer of pictures under Clause 2. I do not think this refers to the possibility of the other national Galleries lending to the Tate Gallery and the National Gallery. It might be well to consider putting in a clause that gives the other national Galleries power to lend to the National and the Tate. I have an idea that the Scottish National Gallery—the noble Earl, Lord Crawford, will be able to tell me if this is a sensible idea—have not very many Turners. Would it be possible for the Tate Gallery to lend to the National Gallery of Scotland one or two Turners? That Gallery is very full, and perhaps it would be possible to arrange for the loan of one or two Scottish pictures, Raeburns and so forth, to the Tate Gallery or the National Gallery in exchange for the Turners. It would be a good thing to consider inserting a clause in the Bill to that effect.
With regard to the Committee which is going to be set up, I would make it absolutely clear that the Chairman should be an absolutely independent one. I think that under the wording of the Act it could be one of the Trustees. We should make this absolutely clear at the Committee stage. I suggest that instead of having two National Gallery Trustees, 460 there could be one Trustee each from the National Gallery and from the Tate and that the Chairman should appoint two other independent Trustees. The Committee would be the same in size, and it would be a help to the Chairman if he had two other independent men. It might be easier for the Chairman then to give a decision than with the Committee constituted as it is.
§ 3.42 p.m.
§ THE EARL OF HUNTINGDON
My Lords, I desire to welcome this Bill with a few words because I strongly support the possibility of removing the rivalry and friction between these two Galleries; and that seems to me an object which will be ably achieved by this Bill. Secondly, I strongly support the idea of lending pictures, both abroad and to other galleries. It is true that in the past we have had exceedingly good collections generously lent by other galleries. It seems to me that the main thing one wishes to do with pictures is to give as many people as possible the chance of seeing them; and that can be done only by a reciprocal arrangement by which collections can be exchanged with other countries and other galleries. Even though, as the noble and learned Earl, Lord Jowitt, pointed out, there is a danger, it is a danger which, in the general good, we have to risk.
I should like to comment on one or two details of the Bill. With regard, for instance, to Clause 2, subsection (4), paragraph (b), I doubt whether the point is expressed as well as it might be. Obviously, this is a matter that can be thought over and discussed on Committee stage, but there is no mention of sculpture. Surely, sculpture should come into the matter, as well as paintings. I should like to see this point inserted in the Bill. Under Clause 2 (4) (b) again, I wonder whether something could not be done to make a little clearer than it is now that it is modern paintings, foreign and English, which come under this clause. These are only minor details, but it would be desirable if they could be inserted in the Bill.
A bigger question, of which I should like some clarification by the noble Earl who introduced this Bill, arises in connection with Clause 6, which deals with the sale of pictures. If I understand this Bill aright, the Trustees will have the power, given Treasury approval, should they wish, to sell all the paintings. This 461 seems to me to be rather a wide power for them to have without additional safeguards. The trouble, particularly with modern paintings, is that fashions change, and what we regard to-day as extremely good may be regarded by future generations in quite a different way. We ought, therefore, to be extremely careful, in selling paintings which are unfashionable, that we do not prejudice our collections by disposing of pictures which posterity may value very highly. I do not suggest that we should eliminate selling, but I feel that the subject should be studied very carefully. If we do sell bequeathed paintings, I think there should be a limit of so many years within which Trustees should have discretion.
My last point is a financial one—and here I would join issue with the noble Lord who has just sat down. I think the Tale Gallery is greatly in need of funds to buy pictures. I believe that they have something under £6,000 a year to spend—I may be wrong, but the noble Earl will no doubt correct me if I am. This seems to me to be a pitiable sum to allot to a big Gallery for collecting pictures, when one remembers present prices. I do not know whether it is True, as reported in the Press, that the National Gallery has a number of Cézannes purchased at something under £30,000 (and that is by no means a high figure on the present market: I suppose that a Seurat might fetch £20,000). It seems to me a great pity that enough funds are not provided for the Tate to acquire good pictures. I suggest, therefore, that the Government should be a little more generous in their provision of funds for the Tate Gallery to acquire paintings.
Secondly, if there is any question about the Knapping bequest going to the Tate rather than to the National Gallery, which is the crux of subsection (3) of Clause 1—I understand that the bequest has been administered by the Tate—it should be remembered that the need is greater for acquiring modern pictures. The intention of the be queather of this fund was surely ultimately to give the nation the best paintings it can have. After all, paintings bought by the Tate to-day will eventually become the Old Masters of posterity. The French Impressionists are, I think, ready to become the Old Masters now; and if we can acquire to-day at reasonable prices paintings by artists who died perhaps 462 fifty years ago, rather than wait and try to acquire them when they have reached the highest peak of market values, it will save many thousands of pounds. Therefore, I ask the Government to see whether they cannot be more generous in their treatment of this modern Gallery than they have been up to date. I do not want to detain your Lordships any longer, except to say that I support the Bill and hope that it will have a speedy passage into law.
§ 3.49 p.m.
§ THE EARL OF CRAWFORD AND BALCARRES
My Lords, this Bill seems to be rather strangely named. I should have thought that a National Art Collections Bill would have had something to do with a National Art Collections Fund. In fact, it has nothing at all. Failing that, I should have thought it would have implied a much wider and more general Bill; but again, that is not the case. This Bill does not deal with the national art collections of the country: it deals with the internal arrangements of two of the great picture galleries of London. I do not know whether there is anything in the point, but I feel that the Bill might be better described than by these words. Its purpose is concentrated really in Clause 1, which has been described to your Lordships. Clause 1, which separates the Tate from the National Gallery, is a provision which I think will have everybody's agreement and now that the Tate Gallery is at long last to be given a grant in aid, the time has come when it can be given, and should be given, complete autonomy. I think I am right (perhaps the noble Earl who introduced the Bill will confirm it) in supposing that this autonomy is complete: in other words, that the Trustees of the National Gallery will no longer have the right, or indeed the duty, to nominate any Trustee for the Tate Board; and, equally, that the Director of the National Gallery will not sit ex officio on that Board. This is, after all, merely a natural process, which is happening today in Edinburgh where the National Museum of Antiquities of Scotland is being completely separated from the National Gallery of Scotland.
I had supposed until to-day that the clause about the Knapping bequest was uncontroversial, but If am a little puzzled by what the noble Lord who has spoken 463 behind me has said. The position certainly was that the Trustees of the National Gallery felt that, as the terms of this bequest involved, quite clearly, the purchase of modern pictures, it was obviously desirable that the income should be transferred to the Tate Gallery. That has been done for many years, and I had thought that this provision, passing over not the income but the capital funds was merely implementing Miss Knapping's wishes, which perhaps her lawyers had misinterpreted. But if my noble friend is right in supposing that it was her intention to set up a trust for the purpose of buying modern pictures, rather than that modern pictures should be bought by the Tate Gallery, then I think perhaps this point should be looked at again. As f say, I am puzzled by it. The position is not as I had supposed it to be, and in view of what we have been told, I think perhaps the matter should be considered
With regard to transfer between Galleries, the noble Lord, Lord Kinnaird, asked whether the National Gallery of Scotland, for instance, could lend pictures to the Tate Gallery. Indeed it can, so there is no need for such a provision in this Bill. Unfortunately, no one in England realises what a good painter AllanRamsay is, and therefore no one in England happens to want his works. Equally, the Bill would allow a Turner to be lent by the Tate to the National Gallery of Edinburgh—indeed, the Tate very generousy lent to Edinburgh two pictures by Turner of George IV's visit to Edinburgh. We thought they were most appropriate and delightful pictures to have in Edinburgh; unfortunately the generosity of the Tate lasted only a comparatively short time, and they withdrew the pictures, although we felt that they were more appropriately housed with us than on Millbank. The noble Earl, Lord Selkirk, if I heard him aright, stated, with regard to the committee to be set up in the event of a dispute between the Trustees of the Tate and the National Gallery that arbitration was only a last resort, and that the Trustees could appoint the chairman who would arbitrate over the committee to be.
§ THE EARL OF SELKIRK
No, I did not say that. What I did say was this: that if the Trustees agreed on an arbiter themselves, and agreed to accept his decision, 464 then they would not need to have recourse to the provisions of this Act. It is only in the event of their not agreeing that the mechanism of this Act can come into force and an arbiter will be appointed by the Treasury. The point at issue is simply this—I see that the noble and learned Earl opposite does not agree with me—that arbitration could be adopted if the trustees were prepared to accept it. If there were disagreement among the Trustees, there might also be disagreement as to the person of the arbiter. That is why it was felt that some outside appointment should be made.
§ THE EARL OF CRAWFORD AND BALCARRES
That is absolutely clear, is it, because the committee which is to be set up is to consist of:(a) a chairman appointed by the Treasury,and others. It seems to me that that is going rather far. Surely the two bodies of Trustees could decide on an independent chairman, without bringing the Treasury in, to arbitrate on these matters. The position is not quite as either I or the noble Earl have described it, and I think the matter might be further looked into to make certain that this chairman should be appointed not by the Treasury but by the two Boards concerned. Transfer, I think, is generally a very good thing. It could be and should be arranged without difficulty. There should be no difficulty whatever with regard to British pictures, for it is agreed, I think, that the small collection of outstanding British masterpieces shall remain in the National Gallery, and that the great bulk, representing the history of British painting, which would include many other masterpieces, should go to the Tate. There may be controversy over the point that the noble and learned Earl, Lord Jowitt, has mentioned. Indeed, there has perhaps been controversy as to the collection of the French pictures. I agree with him in hoping that both the Boards will look upon their duty as one, and that they will agree to do whatever is best in the common and in the public interest.
I share a little the doubt that has been expressed about the provision for sale. Here again, the Treasury are able, as in many places throughout the Bill—unnecessarily, in my view—to intervene. As has been said, fashion is easily swayed in these matters, and I fear that some of 465 the most unfashionable pictures to-day, which are among the largest and the most tiresome to handle, are the pictures which might be sold to a keen collector at one of these Galleries. And yet these pictures have their value. Many of them were famous in their day for their historical significance. This is a provision which, if it is included, must be used with the greatest of caution. Similarly, I would regret the sale of what might be called duplicate pictures, pictures which are very similar to, though not exact duplicates of, something which exists in the Gallery. I should much prefer that those pictures, if they were good enough, were lent either to Embassies or to provincial galleries, rather than be sold out of the public possession.
I agree, in reference to Clause 4, that foreign pictures should be lendable to public buildings in this country, as they have been lent already for generation s to Embassies abroad and to the Government Houses of our Colonies. There are a number of good and decorative pictures which could safely be lent, although they are not of sufficient quality to hang in one of the galleries in this country. If that were done it would remove some of the desolation which some of us feel characterises Government houses and Embassies abroad. I am right, am I not, in thinking that the responsibility for these pictures will be in the hands of the Ministry of Works, and that the pictures so lent will be handed over to the Ministry of Works pool—in other words, although the Ministry of Works is not listed in the Schedule, the Galleries will have power to hand over to the Ministry of Works pictures for which the Ministry of Works will take full responsibility. I should like also to make a small point, as to whether that applies to the Government houses which are presumably in the responsibility of the Colonial Office.
Now I come to the other part of Clause 4, which I am afraid I consider more contentious than any other noble Lord so far has done. This part of the Bill enables the National Gallery to lend pictures abroad. This is not a new matter. A Bill enabling the Galleries to do so was introduced in 1930. It received from your Lordships so frigid a reception that it was dropped. The proposal was again 466 brought up in1935, when it was defeated by your Lordships. A compromise was reached in 1935, that British pictures but not foreign pictures should be lent. Those who accepted the compromise then are, for the most part, not here to state the position on which they accepted that compromise, for we are mortal; but the Treasury pigeonholes are eternal, and from out of one of those Treasury pigeonholes this proposal has been brought, refurbished and presented to your Lordships, asking you for the third time to change your minds and take the opposite view. I see no reason, nor do I think that we have to-day been given any reason, to make us do so. I see no reason why we should even be asked to do so.
This matter has no relevance whatever to the main purpose of the Bill, which is to separate the Tate and the National Galleries, and, speaking purely personally, I think it is a pity to introduce into this Bill, which otherwise would be uncontroversial, this (at any rate to me) very difficult and controversial matter. It is controversial because of the risks and dangers to which the noble Lord has referred. Those dangers are very real, and they are of two kinds. One apples to all pictures, whether British or foreign, and there is another kind which is much more likely to affect foreign pictures. As a general rule, foreign pictures are older than British pictures, which for the most part, date from the 18th Century. It was felt by your Lordships those many years ago that it was legitimate to take the general risk of fire, damage from railways and so on, in the case of British pictures, which, being on canvas and comparatively modern, would be more easily able to withstand such things than the earlier pictures. But it is these earlier pictures, those that run a special risk, which it is now proposed the Trustees should be given power to lend.
Many of these pictures date from the 14th century. They are on panels which, often, are worm-eaten, which have been desiccated, and which are extremely fragile; panels which could be shattered if they were dropped, if they were carelessly handled—if they were handled in the way one sees goods being handled on the railway. They are panels which are particularly susceptible to changes in atmosphere—indeed, so much so, that the National Gallery has created a room 467 which is air conditioned at a stable humidity, and that is the atmosphere in which these panels are retained. That air conditioning is being extended now for this particular purpose, and I think ultimately will include all of the early pictures of the Gallery. When once any one of these early pictures has settled down to the stable atmosphere of an air-conditioned room in the National Gallery, I think that no sane Director would allow that picture to leave the Gallery. It means that sooner or later, even though Parliament allows them to be lent, it will be quite impossible to lend the great bulk of these early foreign pictures to which the Bill refers.
One reason given for this provision is to reciprocate loans from abroad, in order that we should not feel uncomfortable that people lend us things when we will not lend back; and in order that we should continue to receive from abroad loans which we might not get if we did not lend foreign pictures from this country. I cannot accept that argument. I do not think that, in order to secure a loan from abroad, it is right for Trustees of the National Gallery to take risks with one of the nation's great possessions and send it abroad. Even if I did think it right, I do not think the argument would be sound. After all, is it true that foreign countries are reluctant to lend to us? I do not think so for a moment. Certainly, it is true that to-day there are more exhibitions with loans from abroad than there have ever been before in our lifetime. There has been no change in the position during the last century; everyone knows exactly what the law is. They know perfectly well that the National Gallery is unable to lend, and the fact that that is the law, which cannot be broken, is accepted naturally as a perfectly sound and good reason, and it causes no friction whatever when a refusal is necessarily made.
I find these reasons somewhat difficult to swallow, if I may say so. The law today is clear. There can be no friction when a Board refuses to break the law. But if this provision goes through, will not the position be very different? At once there will be uncertainty. At once a refusal which is not backed by law will cause friction with foreign countries. Some of the most famous galleries abroad 468 are galleries to which we could not possibly lend pictures—they are not secure from fire; they are not secure from theft; we know that the way they would handle the pictures which we lent to them would be quite impossible. I could name such galleries. But when such a gallery asks us for a loan, what are we to say? Are we to tell them the truth? Of course we cannot tell them the truth. Of course we cannot say "We cannot lend to you, because we cannot trust you; but we will lend to another gallery because we trust them with the same picture." What excuses are we to make? What fiction are we to invent? I think that as a means of creating international friction this clause of the Bill will play a very high part.
I know that I am in a minority over this, because, while I was not on the Board, the Trustees, I understand, by a majority, accepted this provision. But in my view the Trustees will be placed in a really intolerable position if they do not retain the present protection. I see it from two points of view. I am on the boards of galleries both in London and in Edinburgh. In London, protected as we are, we have no difficulty at all in this matter—there is no friction and no trouble, whereas in Edinburgh, where we are not so protected, this provision is a constant source of friction, anxiety and trouble. Indeed, pictures which we have recently lent have come back damaged from exhibition abroad. I know that these fears which I am expressing are shared by many responsible directors throughout the world. I hope that my noble friend will consider, between now and the next stage of the Bill, some way by which these fears can be allayed.
Would it be possible, for instance, to exclude the National Gallery from this provision, and to allow the Tate Gallery only to come under it; if, indeed, it is desired by the authorities of the Tate that they should have it? The position in respect of that Gallery is not so difficult, because the pictures they would be asked to lend are nineteenth and twentieth century French pictures, which are not susceptible to the special dangers which I have described. Or would it be possible to lay down a date earlier than which pictures may not in any circumstances be lent? Again, would it be possible to say that no pictures painted on panels would be allowed to be lent? Such methods 469 would, I think, to some extent, safeguard the position. The position, I believe, would possibly be safeguarded—and I should feel more satisfied—if Clause 4 (1) (a) were to readfor public exhibition in the United Kingdom.I hope that my noble friend will consider some of these possible ways of allaying what I believe to be real fears concerning possible sources of real danger.
§ 4.12 p.m.
My Lords, my interest in this Bill is confined to Clauses 4, 5, and 6, which deal with loan, transfer and disposal, and much of the small contribution which I intended to make has been tittered for me by the noble and learned Earl Lord Jowitt, and the noble Earls, Lord Huntingdon and Lord Crawford. I agree with them that there should be very great caution indeed about selling any pictures, but, at the same time, I see no reason why sale of a picture which has been bequeathed to either of these Galleries or to any other gallery should be made impossible. If a person leaves his or her collection to a gallery—as may frequently occur—and in that collection there are, we will say, twenty pictures, of which ten are really good, five are sub-standard and five are really bad, in spite of change of fashion, which undoubtedly does occur, it should be possible, I feel, for pictures which it is agreed are really not up to any sort of standard to be sold. A testator's will in that respect should not be absolutely sacrosanct for all time.
With regard to the lending of pictures, Lord Jowitt spoke of loans to Embassies, Government houses and so on. I speak with diffidence in the presence of the Chairman of the Trustees, but I should like to know whether I am rightly informed that in the cellars of the National Gallery there are large numbers of pictures—some fifteen hundred or sixteen hundred. If that is so, surely that is a terrible waste of valuable material. I imagine that those pictures fall into three categories. I know nothing about the Tate Gallery—I am unaware whether or not there are large numbers of pictures in the cellars there—but I can well believe that amongst the pictures in the cellars of the National Gallery there may be some real masterpieces which are either being cleared, or being given a rest from the public view, or held in 470 reserve in order that they may take the place of other masterpieces which are loaned for the time being, we will say, to Scotland, and so on. Then, I imagine, there are some very bad pictures which might well be sold. But the great majority, I imagine, of these sixteen hundred pictures—if that is, indeed, the right number—are really good works, which are considered just not goad enough. Many of them, I daresay, have been bequeathed. Is it not a sad waste of material? Although they are not quite good enough to be hung on the walls of the National Gallery, surely many of them may be worth showing somewhere.
We all know how interest in art of all kinds has increased and is increasing. One has only to go to any of these galleries on a Sunday afternoon to see large and uncomfortable crowds of people—most of them young. We are very well served with galleries in London, but there are many important provincial towns and cities that have no gallery of any sort. Usually, however, they have some sort of hall to which everyone resorts—a town hall, for instance. It is not every mayor whose portrait is painted, thank God! and there are, in these establishments, walls where good pictures could be hung and made available to the people of, shall we say, Hudders field or some similar city which has no art gallery, and who otherwise have not the opportunity of seeing, not the very best things, but the next best things. Therefore, I would urge the Trustees of these Galleries not to keep their secondary masterpieces hidden away in their basements but to concert measures so that they can be shown throughout the country, not only in Embassies and Government houses to which only the privileged have entry, but in places where less fortunate citizens can see them and thus attain some learning in the art which we all love.
§ 4.18 p.m.
§ LORD MOYNE
My Lords, this Bill proposes to make certain changes in the ownership of pictures belonging to the Tate Gallery and the National Gallery, and I would urge on Her Majesty's Government to include in it a provision for the return of the thirty-six, or so, pictures which were collected by the late Sir Hugh Lane as a basis for a modern 471 collection for Ireland. This is a matter upon which the North and the South of Ireland have always agreed. I do not wish to outline the controversy in any detail—indeed your Lordships would not wish it, because it is very long—but the facts are briefly as follows. Owing to a codicil not being signed, the pictures legally belong to the Tate, although a British committee of inquiry found that the last wish of Sir Hugh Lane was that they should go to Dublin if a suitable gallery were built. In the codicil, it was stipulated that it had to be built by a certain time. As the pictures were not forthcoming it was not built by that time. Legally, I think, we in Dublin are out of court; but morally I believe we are right in wanting them back. The gallery was in fact built many years ago and an empty room awaits the pictures. Charlemont House, where the gallery is, is one of the loveliest eighteenth century buildings in Europe and has been converted into a perfect picture gallery. It has been argued that the late Lord Duveen had special rooms built for these pictures at the Tate Gallery. I think that argument is wholly irrelevant. The fact is that none of these pictures are hung in those rooms—at least, none of them were hung in the Duveen rooms when I last looked for them a few months ago. A dozen or more are not hung at all, but they can be seen in the cellar, by appointment. If that is not "dog-in-the-mangerism," I do not know what is.
I hope Her Majesty's Government may consider, as a gesture from Her Majesty's Government and not by an Amendment moved by somebody like myself, introducing an Amendment to put this matter right I was not able to give the noble Earl, Lord Selkirk, more than a few minutes' notice that I intended raising this question, and I do not think he can be expected to give any detailed answer, but I beg him to give the matter his consideration.
§ 4.20 p.m.
§ LORD RUGBY
My Lords, on entering the House I did not intend to speak—in fact, I have never before done so—but now that the noble Lord, Lord Moyne, who has just spoken, has said that he spoke in the interests of Dublin, for which he has a very warm feeling, I should like 472 to say a few words. None of us is indifferent to that great city, but we want to keep our feet on the ground over this question of the Lane pictures. The Lane pictures are in the Tate Gallery because of the will of Sir Hugh Lane. It is a legal fact, and when one starts to try to get away from what is laid down in a will, one is on very slippery ground. The argument about the pictures is based on a codicil which was not signed. Who are we to interpret the reasons which make a man not sign a codicil which he has drafted? To that question the noble Lord may answer that we should interpret this in a liberal and generous spirit. Sir Hugh Lane had certain intentions——
§ LORD MOYNE
My Lords, may I interrupt the noble Lord, Lord Rugby, for a moment to say that that is not my interpretation; it is the interpretation of a very important Committee which considered the matter? They may be wrong, but that was their interpretation.
§ LORD RUGBY
I have read the report of that Committee and it was certainly not unanimous. If a man has written a codicil and not signed it, how are we to presume what his motives were? We must apply common sense to this question. Sir Hugh Lane went down in the "Lusitania" and that was a great many years ago. He did not sign the codicil. In interpreting Sir Hugh Lane's motives to-day we must do so against the background of to-day. Sir Hugh Lane held a title from His Majesty the King. He was a citizen of the United Kingdom and a patriot. He had warm feelings towards the Dublin of that day and to art generally. But what would his feelings be now? However we might interpret his feelings in the light of conditions in 1914, what interpretation could we put on them now? Certain provocations are said to produce post-mortem consequences—people turn in their graves. My view is that if to-day Sir Hugh Lane in his grave knew that these pictures were to be removed to republican Dublin, he would turn in his grave.
§ 4.25 p.m.
§ THE EARL OF SELKIRK
My Lords, I should like to thank your Lordships for the warm reception given to the main purposes of this Bill from all sides of the House. I think I am right in saying 473 that this is the first Bill introduced in your Lordships' House by the Treasury for some time. I am glad that your Lordships have generally approved it. May I take the point the noble Lord, Lord Blackford, mentioned at the end of his speech? The purpose of this Bill is to distribute pictures much more widely than has been done up to now. I am not in a position to say how many pictures are available in the cellars of either the Tate or the National Gallery, but I think most people would be disappointed with the numbers really available and suitable for the purpose. But there are some, and no doubt they may be used.
A good deal of doubt has been expressed on the question of sale, but if noble Lords will look at the terms of the Bill they will see that the Bill does not do much more than repeat the powers which existed under the 1856 Act, and there are considerable safeguards in this Bill. In the first place, a sale has to be permitted by the Treasury. The significance of that, I would say particularly to the noble Earl, Lord Crawford and Balcarres, is that if a Member of either House objects to a sale, questions may be asked in Parliament and he can draw attention to the matter. That is the purpose of the inclusion of this provision. It is not because the Treasury wish to interfere.
The noble Lord, Lord Kinnaird, asked a number of questions about the Knapping bequest. We will consider very carefully what he said about this matter, but I should have thought that what we are doing in this Bill is, to use his own words, to carry out as nearly as possible the wishes of the testatrix. I would suggest to the noble Lord that that is a compelling reason. The noble Lord argues that the purpose of the testatrix is better fulfilled by the Trustees of the National Gallery than by the Trustees of the Tate Gallery. I think the view taken up to now is that the Tate Gallery Trustee; are particularly well qualified to buy in the field of modern art, and therefore it is considered more suitable that the Tate Gallery rather than the National Gallery should operate this bequest. If I may use the words of the noble and learned Earl, Lord Jowitt, I would suggest to the noble Lord that it would be a pity to set up any rivalry between the two Galleries. To a certain extent they have 474 different purposes, bat they should not be regarded as rivals. The noble Lord asked me about the transference of Scottish pictures, and his question was really answered by the noble Earl, Lord Crawford and Balcarres. There is no difficulty about lending of pictures by the National Galleries of Scotland.
My Lords, the point I tried to make is that modern pictures could, in my view, be bought better under the guidance of the Trustees of the National Gallery, rather than of the Tate Gallery. They are equally modern pictures, but who chooses them makes all the difference to the ultimate collections.
§ THE EARL OF SELKIRK
That is a matter of taste, and I should not like to enter into a controversy on that point. I do not think I am at all qualified to form an opinion on that matter. I think I have given a compelling reason for this proposal and I should like to leave it at that. The noble Lard also asked a question about the position of the Chairman of the two bodies. If the noble Lord looks at the last line of Clause 2 he will see that it is abundantly clear that the Chairman will not be a Trustee of either of these bodies.
The noble Earl, Lord Huntingdon, asked me about the definition of purposes, particularly of those of the Tate Gallery, in subsection (2). This Bill is concerned only with paintings and we have not specifically included sculptures. As I said in my opening speech, I doubt whether it is desirable to be too tidy in defining the purposes of the two Galleries. If we do that, we may find ourselves eventually restricting the purposes and uses of the Galleries. After all, as Mr. Vincent Massey said, the Tate Gallery has "just growed" like Topsy. It has grown in no particular direction. I think it would be a mistake to lay down by Statute, which cannot easily be changed, every procedure and exactly what ought to be done.
The noble Earl also raised the question of selling. I dealt with that question, but perhaps I ought to point out also that if any exhibit has ever been on the walls of the Tate Gallery or the National Gallery, details of its proposed sale will be laid before Parliament. That means that anyone can ask questions as to why it is being sold, and 475 whoever replies for the Treasury will have to answer. Sales will take place only in rare circumstances; and I feel sure that anyone who is familiar with the Tate Gallery will agree that there may be certain pictures which could be sold. The noble Earl asked about finance. There has been an improvement in the finances of the Tate Gallery since the war. There is the purchase grant, which did not even exist before the war. In addition, I think it is fair to say that the Chantrey bequest is being well used at the present time, added to which we have the Knapping bequest which is already being used by the Tate. Therefore, the Tate Gallery, although they may not have as much as they would like, are not too badly placed in that respect.
The noble Lord, Lord Moyne, raised the question of the Lane bequest. That does not come into the Bill. What the noble Lord said was, I feel, effectively answered by the noble Lord, Lord Rugby. The matter was fully examined by a Select Committee in 1924, and their finding was that it would not be proper to transfer those pictures. If he wishes, the noble Lord can, of course, raise the question. It is not a matter that has been glossed over quickly but has been fully examined by those well qualified to do so. I should now like to turn to the speech of the noble Earl, Lord Crawford, an orator learned in the arts, as his father was before him. The noble Earl is a formidable controversialist on any subject to do with these Galleries. First of all, with regard to the Title of the Bill, it may seem a rather extensive Title, but, as the noble Earl knows, the Schedule covers a fairly large number of the major national art collections in the country so far as pictorial art is concerned.
§ THE EARL OF SELKIRK
It gives them the opportunity of obtaining pictures from the Tate and the National Gallery. I will not argue with the noble Earl, and if he desires to put down an Amendment on the Title, no doubt he will do so.
I should now like to deal with the question of the independent arbiter. As I read it, what Clause 2 (3) means is this: if the Trustees can come to an agreement by any means they like, even if they 476 appoint an arbiter themselves and agree to accept his advice, then there is no dispute between them, for they are agreed as to what should be done with any picture. It is only in the event of their not being able to reach agreement between themselves, if either presumably is not satisfied, that the clause will operate and they will ask the Treasury to appoint an arbiter. The reason for the Treasury coming into it is only that if the two bodies are in sharp disagreement they may also find it difficult to agree on an arbiter. If they can agree on an arbiter, they can settle the matter without going to the Treasury.
§ EARL JOWITT
May I make a suggestion to the noble Earl, which might provide a way of getting out of the difficulty and satisfy everybody? Perhaps he will consider this proposal and, if necessary, put down an Amendment to make it read, "A chairman agreed upon by the respective Trustees or, in default of agreement, appointed by the Treasury." I believe that would satisfy the noble Earl, Lord Crawford, and I should not object. That might be a way out of the difficulty.
§ THE EARL OF SELKIRK
I am always grateful for the suggestions of the noble and learned Earl. The principle is one on which I do not think we disagree.
The main point which the noble Earl, Lord Crawford stressed to-day was that of foreign pictures. I do not think that any of us who heard him were not impressed by what he said, but I feel that to some extent he answered himself when he said that no sane Director would allow certain pictures to leave the Gallery. I have every reason to believe that the Directors are sane, and I feel sure that no one would agree for a moment to the sort of pictures he has in mind leaving the Gallery.
§ THE EARL OF CRAWFORD AND BALCARRES
I was not speaking only of pictures that had been in an air-conditioned room. I feel that, as the whole Gallery is going to be air-conditioned, the whole provision is somewhat disingenuous.
§ THE EARL OF SELKIRK
The noble Earl has stated his case and he obviously wishes to emphasise the position of the older pictures. Personally, I should have thought that the Directors and 477 Trustees would exercise the utmost care and discretion before allowing any old pictures to go; but, after all, the National Gallery are up to the twentieth century now, I think I am right in saying, and there are some relatively modern pictures there at the present time which might be loaned. I am informed that if we do not agree to something of this character, we shall have difficulty in holding some of those magnificent exhibitions which we have held in this country. So far, we have benefited, and possibly we have got more than we deserved. This is not something that has just come out of a pigeonhole of the Treasury, but is something which has been sincerely demanded in other places on many occasions. I feel that the calibre of the Trustees is the greatest safeguard that we have. I appreciate the points which the noble Earl has in mind. I am grateful for all the comments that noble Lords have made, and I hope that the House will now give the Bill a Second Reading.
§ On Question, Bill read 2a, and committed to a Committee of the Whole House.