HL Deb 23 July 1959 vol 218 cc488-9

5.13 p.m.

Order of the Day for the Third Reading read.


My Lords, I beg to move that this Bill be now read a third time.

Moved, That the Bill be now read 3a.—(Lord Forbes.)


My Lords, I should like to raise briefly a point in this Bill, of which I gave notice to the noble Lord, Lord Forbes, yesterday. This is a Bill which sets up a Gallery of Modern Art in Edinburgh at Inverleith House, and perhaps I may remind your Lordships of what was said on Second Reading by the noble Earl, Lord Haddington. Incidentally, I would say that Scotland is deeply grateful to the noble Earl for all his public activities in the domains of antiquity and art, and I would include in that commendation, if I may, the noble Lord, Lord Saltoun, who has just entered the Chamber. The noble Earl, Lord Haddington, said [OFFICIAL REPORT, Vol. 218 (No. 102), col. 91]: There is no collection of modern art in Edinburgh at present—nothing to speak of at all. It will all have to be built up from scratch. And if this collection is going to be worthy of the capital of a great country and is going to be representive of modern British and foreign art, the purchase grant of £7,500 is quite inadequate. It is true that £7,500 is indeed a small sum for the purpose to which it is to be devoted—namely, to the purchase of pictures and sculptures representative of modern art. The point that I should like to emphasise this afternoon is that the pictures are to be representative of the better productions of modern art. We all know that there are great modern artists, lesser modern artists, and also so-called artists, whose products are like nothing on the face of this earth, hideous in the extreme and completely meaningless to the ordinary intelligence.

Now, let it not be thought for a moment that in saying what I am saying, I am presuming to give advice in this matter to the Trustees for whom I, and all Scots, have the greatest admiration and respect. But I think that in saying this I shall have behind me a large number of the public—the long-suffering public in this respect. I express the earnest hope this afternoon that the Trustees will refrain altogether from purchasing the dreadful exhibits of some so-called artists who are egotistical enough to believe that they surpass the skill of the Old Masters and of modern painters, including the painters of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, in depicting on canvas the features of human beings and the realities of animate and inanimate nature.


My Lords, personally, I entirely agree with the sentiments expressed by the noble Viscount. I think that probably we should remember that the Trustees of the Galleries are trying to amass a collection of modern art which will appeal not only to the people of to-day but also to future generations. While obviously the selection of exhibits must remain a matter for the Trustees, it may be of some assurance to the noble Viscount to know that the exhibits are to be entirely of the twentieth century, which, of course, goes back to 1900; and, that being so, I cannot help feeling that the noble Viscount will find some pictures and sculptures which will be pleasing to him.

On Question, Bill read 3a, and passed.