HL Deb 22 March 1955 vol 192 cc9-25

2.55 p.m.

Order of the Day for the Second Reading read.


My Lords, in rising to move the Second Reading of this Bill, I recognise that although it is a small Bill, in which I ask your Lordships to agree to certain reforms, it deals with an important aspect of things in our country. Anybody of my age who is old enough to have been in both wars has a feeling of special regard concerning the Imperial War Museum, which has been established for a long time and which is unique in its presentation of the events of those two great wars. At the present moment it is situated on the other side of the river a short distance from this House; but because it is on the other side of the river far too few people are inclined to visit it. I think it is of great importance in these days that people should visit that exhibition and pay some tribute to those who died fighting in the two world wars, and also to recognise the devoted service of Mr. Bradley and his assistants who have kept the museum up to date. I think it is unique in all the countries which fought in the great wars as allies. This museum presents a more comprehensive view of what took place than any other exhibition of its kind.

The purpose of this Bill is, first, to amend the provisions relating to the constitution of the Board of Trustees, and secondly, to extend the Trustees' powers of lending. It is rather extraordinary that a national museum of this kind should have continued with its present constitution in spite of all the many changes in the British Commonwealth. One of the purposes of the Bill is to bring that constitution up to date and to keep it up to date, because obviously it is a poor reflection on the estimation we have for the museum that for so long it should have been constituted in a way which is not representative of the British Commonwealth. Therefore, those provisions in the Bill are merely to bring it up to date and, by Orders in Council, to keep it up to date should there be any other changes in the organisation of the British Commonwealth.

In regard to the second part of the Bill, which deals with loans of pictures and other exhibits, any noble Lord who goes to the museum and takes the trouble to see the pictures will realise three things, the first being that some of the pictures are by artists of great fame and reputation; they are unique examples of their work. There were, I think, six artists of great fame and reputation who produced those works in the first war, at great personal risk to themselves. If one was oneself a participant in some theatre in those wars and goes and sees those pictures, it is astonishing how the atmosphere and the feeling are brought back. Therefore, in moving the Second Reading of the Bill now before your Lordships, I feel I am moving something more than an ordinary Bill, because we are row at the turn, and there is a change of attitude towards warfare.

When first the Cabinet agreed that there should be an imperial War Museum, there were some, I know, who felt that such an exhibition was wrong: that it would encourage the militant spirit. That is far from being the case. I believe the Imperial War Museum shows people the follies of war; and in these days this is probably the last exhibition that will ever exist of what we choose to call conventional weapons and of the efforts made in their use. In the atomic age, if a war takes place, there will be no memorial of any weapon; there will be nothing left to exhibit. Therefore it seems to me that one can commend this Imperial War Museum as something which deserves the special attention of all your Lordships at the present time.

There are also strong reasons to believe that when visitors from the countries of the Commonwealth who came to the aid of the Mother Country in the wars and united with us in achieving victory come here, it is highly important that they should be able to see exhibited at this museum in London representations of the great efforts that they made to bring about victory in the wars. It is therefore of particular importance that those clauses in respect of lending powers should be accepted by your Lordships' House, so as to spread those powers more widely and to permit the Committee of the Council to lend these pictures, under the strict control of the museum, so that they may be more clearly understood. There are actually more than 4,000 pictures there, a large proportion stacked in a corridor, well looked after but not visible. It seems a waste of the talents of the artists who drew them and of the meaning they have to convey—the efforts that were made to win the wars. If those pictures could be more widely seen by people in the institutions and establishments to which it is proposed to lend them, I cannot conceive that anything but good would result. I hope that the Commonwealth High Commissioners, who have nominally been on the Committee and have done a great deal of work on the Council, will now appoint representatives who can attend more readily and perhaps be more in touch with the feeling of their different countries in the Commonwealth.

There is one other matter which I dare to mention. If the country contributes, as it does, considerable sums towards art galleries and museums, it is necessary for Parliament occasionally to consider their constitution and to see whether they are carrying out the purposes for which they were formed. So far as the Imperial War Museum is concerned, from the very day it was opened, except for those periods during the war when the museum suffered forty-one incidents under enemy attack, the directorate has been astonishingly successful in keeping the museum up to date, changing the exhibits from week to week and month to month so that they are always topical. Visitors to the museum can see exhibits showing action not only by the British but, in many cases, by our enemies. I feel it is high time that Parliament took a hand to see that the organisation of museums is really up to date and that full recognition is given to the self-denying sacrifice of those responsible. It is sad that comparatively few people visit this Museum, for so much can be gained by doing so. I feel it is a great privilege to have been allowed to move the Second Reading of this Bill in your Lordships' House, because I believe that more publicity is necessary so that more people may see the work being done by the directorate of the museum. I am sure that great good would result, for visitors can not only enjoy an interesting time but also be well rewarded, on leaving, by the feeling that those who died in war, and made their sacrifice, are well remembered. There is no other organisation of which I know which so represents the weapons and means by which victory was achieved.

The time may now have come to look to other museums and galleries in the country. Such an effort to make them more representative and attractive to the public might be of great assistance to those in charge of their administration. At the moment, for understandable reasons of economy, the Treasury do not permit any expenditure on advertising, but it is to be hoped that the London Transport Executive and similar organisations may make more use of posters to draw public attention to this museum. Housed in the old Bethlem Hospital on the other side of the river, the museum is in a very suitable place, but its surroundings are depressing beyond words, and give one a feeling of desolation similar to that of the battlefield of Ypres. In moving the Second Reading of this Bill, I hope that the House will recognise that in this Imperial War Museum the country possesses an asset of very great value. Our thanks are due to all who have been responsible for its care and maintenance. I beg to move.

Moved, That the Bill be now read 2a.—(Lord Glyn.)

3.5 p.m.


My Lords, we are all grateful to the noble Lord, Lord Glyn, for sponsoring this Bill in your Lordships' House to-day. We on this side of the House bless the Bill in principle, although there are some criticisms and suggestions which I desire to offer. Perhaps like most noble Lords here to-day, I had never entered the Imperial War Museum until yesterday. I had often intended to do so but as the noble Lord, Lord Glyn, said, not only is it off the beaten track but it is off almost any track and not easy to find. As the subject was coming before the House I yesterday visited the museum with my wife. We were glad to find there the noble Earl, Lord Selkirk, who was being shown round by a posse of officials; but there was no-one else, except for a woman who had brought in a small boy for what can only have been domestic reasons, for one of his age could hardly have been interested in the pictures.

When I visit a museum or exhibition I always ask first for a guide book, and I was particularly anxious to have one on this occasion, for it is not easy to find one's way among the many exhibits at the museum. Incidentally, the building was once known as Bethlem Hospital, better know as "Bedlam." It would be interesting to know the exact reasons why the Government of the day, whichever it was, decided to house the Imperial War Museum in Bedlam. Unfortunately, I understood from the custodian that no guide book to the museum is printed. In a museum of this kind, displaying most interesting exhibits, though not in the best of order, there should be a guide book. That is the first criticism I would make.

The museum is in Lambeth and is no doubt very conveniently situated for the most reverend Primate the Lord Archbishop of Canterbury, should he wish to visit it; but it is not particularly convenient for other people. We on this side of the House would like to know the average attendance figures over the year and perhaps, when the noble Minister comes to reply, he will be able to inform us of those figures. He may also be able to explain why it was decided to place this museum in this position and not in the area which the noble Lord, Lord Haldane, called "the Kensington Charlottenberg," where many other museums are situated, an area visited by large numbers of schoolchildren and others in organised parties. On recent occasions when I have visited the Imperial Institute I have been pleased to note that, possibly as the result of the two debates in this House, the Imperial Institute was crowded, especially with children, although unfortunately the authorities have not yet taken my advice to open the main entrance to children and others who pass by.

Opposite the Imperial War Museum is another interesting link with the past—the house where Admiral Bligh once lived. As your Lordships know, he was the only man to have the melancholy distinction of being twice turned off his ship owing to mutiny—once as Captain, in the South Seas, and once as Admiral at the Nore. Reverting to the Imperial War Museum itself, the exhibits, as Lord Glyn has told us, deal with the last two wars. They do not deal with more ancient ones, as do the exhibits in the old Banqueting Hall in Whitehall. Nor does this museum give any indication of future wars. The exhibits deal with what are called "conventional'' weapons, though I think that the term "conventional" is rather ridi- culous, because I imagine that it is just as objectionable to be killed by a conventional weapon as by any other. Then, possibly because of lack of space, modern methods of museum display are not obvious at the Imperial War Museum. Moreover—though I think it is only fair to say that the building was badly damaged in the war by flying bombs and so on—not all the galleries are available for the exhibits. Still, if your Lordships go to the Imperial Institute, which is of great interest in these days, you will see there a great difference in the display of articles, and objects of interest as compared with the rather higgledy-piggledy methods—if one can call them methods—which are followed at the Imperial War Museum.

Coming now to the Bill and the proposals in it, we find that the Board of Trustees is to be constituted as set out in the Schedule; and the first question which comes to my mind relates to the number of members to be appointed and by whom they are to be appointed. No fewer than nine members are to be appointed by the Treasury. The Admiralty and the Departments of the Secretary of State for War and the Secretary of State for Air—which are, of course, particularly concerned with the Museum—have only one each, and great Dominions like Canada and Australia also have only one each. When we come to the Colonies, we find that, except for the Federation of Rhodesia and Nyasaland, they have none at all. Nor have the Ministry of Defence, who I should have thought might have been given one. So we would first ask why the nomination of nine members lies with the Treasury—which has no particular connection with war, except for having to find the means to pay for it—while the Service Departments have only one each, and the Ministry of Defence none. We should also like to ask why important Colonial Territories, such as the Gold Coast, Nigeria, Malaya and the West Indies, have no right of nomination, whereas the Federation of Rhodesia and Nyasaland has the right to nominate one member. I have no objection to that, of course—in fact I am delighted that they should have a member; but I fail to see why those other territories to which I have referred have none, especially in view of the fact that the West African Frontier Force played a great part in the last war and that they, or their predecessors, also played a considerable part in the war before that. I feel, therefore, that if there are to be nominations these places should have one each.

Then I turn to the question of loans of exhibits, provided for in Clause 2. I assume there is no doubt that exhibits can be loaned to Colonial Territories, Protectorates and so on, if they are needed for their purposes. I should like to ask what is the purpose of Clause 2 (2). I take it as a sort of pious hint to the Board, because it does not seem to carry the Bill forward, in view of the very wide terms of Clause 2 (1). Perhaps we can have some indication upon that point.

Then there is the question of Treasury sanction. Why should it be necessary for the Board to obtain the sanction of the Treasury before loans of exhibits are made to places abroad? I should not have thought that this was a matter in which the Treasury had any particular claim for their sanction to be a prerequisite for the loan of exhibits abroad. Here again I should have thought it was a matter for the Service Departments, the Ministry of Defence, and the Ministry of Works, rather than for the Treasury. I do not see why, before any exhibit is loaned, not only abroad but for public exhibition in the United Kingdom or else-where, or to any Government Department or other authority, Treasury consent should have to be obtained.

If the Secretary of State for War wants to have an exhibit relating to the Army, in either the First or Second World War, he will have to go to the Treasury and get their consent. I should have thought that that was a most improper procedure. Certainly it is calculated still more to place the Treasury in the position which we know it has been getting into in recent years—that of being a sort of Pooh Bah, and having the final say in almost anything. When it comes to the case of whether exhibits should be loaned to anyone, one would think that that was a matter which the trustees could well decide for themselves, and that, if any other decision is called for, it should be that of some functionary other than the Treasury—some Department such as the Ministry of Works or something of that kind. Generally speaking, we on this side of the House have no objection to the main principle of the Bill. I have outlined a few criticisms and suggestions which we desire to make. We shall be glad to have an answer upon them from the noble Earl who is to reply on behalf of Her Majesty's Government.

3.17 p.m.


My Lords, I should like to say a few words in support of this Bill, which I think is very much overdue. It is true that the present housing of the Imperial War Museum is very much out of the ordinary run. I have paid two or three visits to it, but I seem to remember that after the First World War, when it was housed in a corner of the Imperial Institute, though it was all too crowded, what there was to show undoubtedly did attract a large number of people. I cannot help thinking that if in the future it were possible for this museum to be properly housed in Museum Road, or some central area of London, it would attract a large number of people.

I am particularly in sympathy with the noble Lord, Lord Glyn, in what he said about the collection of pictures. It is a very remarkable collection, and, as he said, it includes many works of notable artists who took part in both world wars. One cannot help feeling that their work is wasted if the pictures are merely stacked, though it may be that they are well looked after. It seems to me that it might be a good thing if retrospective exhibitions of these works of either world war were held from time to time—perhaps in a room at the Tate Gallery. I believe that it would arouse a great deal of interest, as we all know special exhibitions at the Tate have done in the past. That is just a suggestion which I throw out, so that these works may be more easily available for viewing by the public. I think such an exhibition would attract a good deal of interest, and perhaps the noble Earl will keep my suggestion in mind. On the whole, I feel that this is a very good Bill, and I hope your Lordships will give it a Second Reading.

3.20 p.m.


My Lords, on behalf of my noble friends on these Benches, I wish to say that we are grateful to the noble Lord, Lord Glyn, for presenting this Bill, and I should like to congratulate him upon his very moving and clear speech, with a great deal of which I agree. But I must say that I am opposed in principle to this new practice of lending pictures from public collections on unrestricted loan to places where they will no longer be readily available. It would be much better, in my view, if museums and galleries built up proper reserve collections of pictures which they have not the space to show publicly. Also I think that greater effort might be made to increase exhibition space generally by a more enlightened policy on the part of the Government. However, I agree that the case of the Imperial War Museum is rather different. Many of these pictures are of little artistic merit; their interest lies mainly in the fact that they are records of one or other of two world wars. I agree that it is right that some of them should hang on the walls of military establishments, particularly those which are not only factual records but are also pleasing works of art. But I submit that there are certain pictures by some of our best artists which should always be kept together as they are important for both historical and stylistic reasons.

When during the First World War it was decided to have a pictorial record made, the first artists to be given permits were mainly those of an academic kind. But it was soon found that these worthy painters were not capable of portraying the psychological horrors of modern warfare. Then it was that the Government were advised by, I think, the noble Lord, Lord Beaverbrook, the late Arnold Bennett, and one or two others, to commission some of the young avant-garde painters; painters who had been influenced by those great stylistic innovations on the Continent which had revolutionised painting during the early years of this century, just prior to 1914. The result is a most impressive series of canvases by artists like Nevinson, Wyndham Lewis, William Roberts and Paul Nash. These are works of art in their own right and some of the finest works ever to be produced by these artists. They are very important, too, for any study of Twentieth Century English painting. Above all, they are moving documents of what modern warfare meant to the ordinary soldier. In their way they are as poignant an epitaph of a lost generation as are the poems, to which they are related, of Wilfrid Owen, Siegfried Sassoon and Rupert Brooke. It is possible to read these and other Georgian poets in one collection of volumes, thanks to the editorship of the late Sir Edward Marsh. I trust that these paintings will likewise be kept together in one collection.

Another group of paintings, by artists like Orpen, Augustus John and Eric Kennington, portrayed the various personalities at the Paris Peace Conference, like Allenby, Lawrence of Arabia and the Emir Feisal. These are magnificent portraits: but they are not only that; they are also pictures of the greatest historical interest. A third group contains the paintings of the Second World War. In this case there was an enlightened policy from the beginning. The War Artists' Advisory Committee, under the chairmanship of Sir Kenneth Clark, at once commissioned some of our leading artists. The result is another fine group of paintings by people like Paul Nash, Graham Sutherland, John Piper, and others, containing unforgettable records of the heroism and anguish of the second conflict.

Thus, I feel that this collection is not merely one of historical interest; it contains some of the finest examples of our best modern artists. Indeed, some of these artists are better represented at the Imperial War Museum than they are at the Tate Gallery. It would be unfortunate if any of these particular pictures were dispersed. So that a check can be kept on them, I venture to suggest that they should be included as a Schedule to this Bill as being exempt from its provisions, except, of course, as temporary loans to special exhibitions. I do not think that this should be difficult as they are not many in number. The noble Earl who is to reply for the Government may tell me that this is a matter for the Trustees. But may I remind him of what was said by the noble Earl, Lord Crawford, at the time of the National Gallery Bill. If I may quote from memory, he said: "I trust Trustees to do that for which they are appointed, but I trust Statutes even more."

In conclusion, I should like to remind your Lordships that when the Imperial War Museum was established in 1920, the first Director was Sir Martin Conway, later Lord Conway of Alington, a distinguished art-historian. This shows, I think, the great importance which the Government of the day attached to the artistic side of the picture collection. I feel somehow that this side does not receive sufficient importance to-day. As the noble Lord, Lord Ogmore, has said, there is no catalogue of the pictures available. I have checked up on this and find that the last catalogue was produced in 1924. It has long been out of print, and, of course, it does not contain any pictures done in the Second World War. In my view there should be available for the public an inventory of the whole collection, so that interested persons can see what is there; also, there should be a select catalogue of the most important pictures of the two World Wars. This catalogue, I suggest, might contain an introduction on the rôle of the artist in war time, with a historical sketch of the part played by artists generally in the two wars. I submit that this would provide a worthy memorial of those who served, and also of those who, whilst serving, depicted the struggle.

3.29 p.m.


My Lords, I do not know whether I may be allowed to say a word about this Bill, speaking as a Trustee of the Imperial War Museum. Unfortunately, owing to a public engagement, I have only just been able to reach the House. I can assure the noble Lord who has just spoken that every word he has said will be carefully noted by the Trustees. The Board of Trustees are a body of real enthusiasts and they are just as proud of the collection as the noble Lord. It is difficult to provide at all times an adequate collection of all the exhibits in the museum, partly for reasons of finance. Of course, we are severely restricted by the Treasury in the amount we may spend—quite rightly, because we know it is necessary. But as a Board of Trustees we have never taken the attitude that we know the last word: we are always ready to try to improve not only the collection but the way in which it is displayed and deployed for the benefit of the public.

This Bill will do a great deal to regularise the position with regard to the loan of pictures. I am glad of that, and I know that my colleagues on the Board are, too, because such a provision has been needed for a long time. It is not only a question of what pictures should be loaned, but on what conditions, and where they should be hung when they are loaned. It has been the policy of the trustees to lend pictures to great public art galleries, and the like, and a certain number of pictures have also gone to messes of the Imperial Forces. The Government, too, have made demands on the Imperial War Museum for pictures for Government offices and so on. We take a great deal of trouble to ensure that the pictures we have are properly safeguarded and properly hung.

The speech of the noble Lord, Lord Strabolgi (unfortunately, it is the only one I have been able to hear) was concentrated on pictures; but the Imperial War Museum is concerned with an enormous number of exhibits of war material of all sorts, not only of the last war but of all wars ever since the First World War. The difficulty is to find space in the museum to hang the pictures. There are over 8,000 pictures for which we are custodians and trustees, and obviously no gallery in the country could hang 8,000 pictures, especially when it discharges the duty of displaying many other exhibits, such as those to which I have referred. We do try to space them out evenly, and we do try to vary the selection from time to time. I think that is the right policy—indeed, it is the only one that we can adopt. We feel that our collection of exhibits, and especially the examples of the works of Muirhead Bone and others, are national relics on the highest scale and should be safeguarded as such. I only hope that, as time goes on, the Government will make available to us as much money as possible. We must always have regard to how much money can be spent on this and that, and everybody understands the reasons for it; but if and when the day comes that it is possible for the Government to give approval to the new galleries for which we have asked, and for which plans are all ready, I hope that the Government will do what they can for the Imperial War Museum.

The attendances at the museum are extremely good—of course, like the attendances at all museums they vary with the weather—and they tend to go up as the location of the museum becomes better known. It is rather off the beaten track of museums to go over to the South Bank and down Lambeth Road, but as we are getting better known an increasing number of people come to the museum. I hope that noble Lords who have not been there will take an opportunity of visiting the museum, because it is really worth while to see the large number of people who go and spend hours studying exhibits of one sort and another. It is not a museum for the glorification of war; it is a museum for the glorification of a national effort unequalled in all our history, and it is as such that we as a Board look upon it. I can assure the noble Lord, Lord Strabolgi, that his remarks are most valuable and that we shall take careful note of them.

3.35 p.m.


My Lords, I rise to welcome the Bill, but I would ask your Lordships to direct your attention for a few moments to the provision in Clause 2 (4) (b). It seems to me a little unfair for the museum to be able after twenty-five years, whether the donor be alive or not, to abrogate any condition attached to the gift or the bequest. If they thought the condition was unreasonable, one assumes that they would not have accepted the gift in the first place. I rise really to ask the noble Earl who is to reply whether there is any precedent for this in any other museum Bill. I am more concerned with gifts than with bequests. For example, if I, at the age of twenty-six, should have something to offer the Imperial War Museum which they consider to be of national interest (unfortunately, I have not anything) and I attach a condition to the gift that it shall not go to my father's regiment—possibly because I had had a disagreement with the regiment about it—it seems to me somewhat unfair that twenty-five years from now, when I am fifty-one, the Imperial War Museum can cheerfully turn round and lend it under the provisions of the Bill. It seems to me that it is more in keeping for any condition which has been accepted by the museum to be observed, at least during the lifetime of the donor.

3.38 p.m.


My Lords, I should like to say a word or two on that last point. Noble Lords will perhaps remember that when Bismarck was considering where to deposit the last volume of his memoirs he hesitated between Pierpont Morgan and the Bank of England, and finally decided in favour of the Bank of England as being the more likely to carry out his instructions and his wishes with exactitude. I am afraid that a clause of this kind will leave people in this world with one possible choice, and that will be Pierpont Morgan.

3.39 p.m.


My Lords, I am sure it is a wholly good thing that we should to-day have emphasised the quality of the museum to which this Bill refers. I am glad that the noble Lord, Lord Glyn, and the noble Lord, Lord Strabolgi, have spoken as they have of the quality and the workmanship to be found there. I was greatly fascinated when I went there, as I believe was the noble Lord, Lord Ogmore—I saw him reading the account of the Armistice of 1918 with a fascination which I think he generally reserves for the evening newspapers. The museum has a characteristic interest of its own which rather distinguishes it from any other. I could not quite agree with the noble Lord, Lord Ogmore, when he used the word "higgledy-piggledy." I thought it was one of the best documented museums that I had seen for a long time, every exhibit having been carefully marked to indicate its history. I was most impressed with the detailed information given.


I should have liked a document which enabled me to see the general layout of the museum; and in view of the lack of space, I am afraid I must stick to "higgledy-piggledy." I do not think it is as well laid out as would be possible if the museum had all its galleries available.


That is true, of course; but I thought the description of each item was extremely good. Several noble Lords have made suggestions about a catalogue. I am informed that the First World War catalogue was published in 1920 and is on sale to-day. A similar catalogue for the 1939–45 War is in typescript and will be published in due course. I hope that that meets the point the noble Lord has in mind.


I do not think there is a catalogue of the pictures. It was the pictures to which I was referring, and not a general catalogue of the whole museum.


I am afraid I have nothing further to add on that matter, but I understood the catalogue would cover all the objects in the museum. Several noble Lords have asked me about the site. This museum started in the Crystal Palace in 1920, and after one or two moves it settled at the site of Bedlam in the year 1936. I rather suspect there was no convenient place at that time in the more usual museum areas of this city. In spite of what the noble Lord says, the building is quite substantial. It is not small, and I think it would be difficult to find, in South Kensington or elsewhere, a suitable place to accommodate the many items which belong to the museum.


Why is there this prejudice against going a short way across the river to the south side? Is there some psychological implication about it?


I am sure the noble Lord will refer his question to the noble Lord sitting in front of him. I personally know of no prejudice against the south side, and I am only trying to answer questions which have been put to me. There is a perfectly good bus service, and there is no difficulty in getting to the present site. The noble Lord asked a number of questions—somewhat critically—about the Treasury appointments to the Board. The Treasury is the Department responsible to Parliament for all museums and galleries. That is the reason they have the power to make a number of appointments. They do not, of course, appoint Treasury officials; they appoint people of distinction to hold office, and they ask the other Departments to come in merely because of this special interest in the subject. I do not think it has been mentioned that the noble and gallant Viscount, Admiral of the Fleet Lord Cunningham of Hyndhope, is the present Chairman. I think we can rest assured, therefore, the well-being of the museum is in sure hands.

I am grateful to the noble Earl, Lord Howe, for giving us the benefit of his first-hand knowledge on the particular points which the noble Lord, Lord Strabolgi, raised and to which I shall refer in a moment. I would also point out to the noble Lord, Lord Ogmore, that the Secretary of State for the Colonies may make an appointment if he wishes, and, I imagine, can make recommendations that may be necessary in regard to Colonial matters. I am not quite certain that there is any need for the Ministry of Defence to make an appointment. I have no doubt that if my right honourable friend the Minister has any recommendations, he can put forward suggestions to that effect. I would also point out what may have escaped the noble Lord's notice. Clause 1 (2) says: Her Majesty may from time to time by Order in Council make further provision with respect to the membership … That means that at any time it may seem reasonable, the Schedule can be altered as thought appropriate.


May I ask why they do not do it now? After all, why trouble Her Majesty at a later stage, when we are dealing with the Bill now? The noble Earl says that the Secretary of State for the Colonies can appoint, but so can the noble Viscount, Lord Swinton. Yet Canada and Australia have the right to appoint also. I do not want to take the right away from the noble Viscount, Lord Swinton. I only say that places like the Gold Coast and Nigeria, which have contributed large Colonial forces, should also be allowed to appoint.


The Committee already numbers twenty-five, and I think it is going a little far. I know the noble Lord has a prejudice against the Treasury in this respect, but it happens to be the Department responsible to Parliament for galleries and museums. I have no reason to suppose that the noble Lord will differ from the selection they will make in making appointments to this Committee.

The noble Viscount, Lord Furness, asked about Clause 2 (4) (b). This is almost common form. A similar clause was included in the National Galleries Bill, 1883, and repeated last year in the Tate Gallery and National Gallery Bills. Actually, this paragraph will seldom apply to this museum, because nearly all the exhibits here are commissioned or purchased by the Government. There are very few donations, and few bequests. I think it is generally felt that museums should not be tied indefinitely by bequests of this character, and the only thing they take here is a statutory right to vary the terms of the bequest after a lapse of time where they think it appropriate. We have on a number of occasions in the past discussed cases where charitable donations can be an unusual and difficult burden on the trustees whose duty it is to carry out the conditions attaching to those donations. I do not think this power has ever been objected to, and certainly I do not think any action would be taken without consulting the donor or the trustees of the donor.

I commend this Bill strongly to your Lordships, because I think it will confer a real boon on many of our military establishments, messes and other buildings, which in many cases are not very well decorated at the present time. A few pictures will go from the museum, but it will not be a large number. I think there are nearly 8,000 pictures of one sort or another in this museum. About 1,500 will be required by the museum, and perhaps 1,000 or 1,500 will be available for loan. I made inquiries, and I was told that the 6,000-odd pictures in reserve were visited by about 200 people a year. This could well mean that on an average a picture is seen once in thirty years. I think some would be much better hanging on the walls of military establishments of one character or another. I hope your Lordships will give the Bill a Second Reading.


My, Lords, before the noble Earl sits down, may I ask whether he can give us any recent figures of attendances?


Yes, I can. About 180,000 attended the museum last year.

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