HL Deb 26 January 1994 vol 551 cc1038-78

7.54 p.m.

The Earl of Perth rose to ask Her Majesty's Government whether the proposed dismantling of the Scottish National Portrait Gallery will be fully considered before any action is taken.

The noble Earl said: My Lords, on 30th November the trustees of the National Galleries of Scotland announced that there is to be a new gallery of Scottish art built on a green site at Kelvingrove Park, Glasgow. The sequel was a widespread outcry against the announcement; against the concept of such a gallery of Scottish art; and above all, against the closure of the National Portrait Gallery in Edinburgh, which will probably be put up for sale.

That announcement has provoked no fewer than 19 of your Lordships to take part in this debate, despite the late hour. More remarkably, there are to be three maiden speeches. I believe that to be something of a record. I must point out also that there are to be three speeches from the Drummond clan, which, again, I believe to be some sort of record: there are to be speeches from the noble Baroness, Lady Strange, my noble friend Lady Willoughby de Eresby, who is to make her maiden speech, which is a treat in store, and myself. Moreover, we look forward to the maiden speech of the noble and learned Lord, Lord Mackenzie-Stuart. It has taken him far too long to do that. We welcome the legal points that he will make. Last but not least, we shall have the maiden speech of the noble Lord, Lord Bruntisfield. I say to those noble Lords that, having made a start, they should keep it up. Indeed, I thank all noble Lords who are to take part in the debate.

Before I develop the reasons why I and many others are totally against the trustees' announcement, I wish to praise the trustees, director and staff of the National Galleries for the splendid work that they have done over the past 10 years. They have rejuvenated the National Gallery and have made fine acquisitions. They have also given us splendid temporary exhibitions. Having paid that tribute to their past role, I must say that I and many others have become fearful in the past two years about what they were up to. We wondered what they were planning and what new ambitions they had. Now we know. The culmination has been the proposal to set up a new edifice in Glasgow.

That edifice would house a gallery of Scottish pictures chosen from—perhaps I should say "plundered"—from three national galleries; that is, the National Gallery, the National Portrait Gallery and the Museum of Modern Art. It is to be a kind of ghetto of Scottish art. The proposal is wholly wrong and I shall touch upon four reasons why that is so.

The first is what I would call the art reason—that is, the concept of having a special gallery confined to Scottish art. That is wrong. I know that the noble Earl, Lord Haig, and others will develop that further. The second is the archival and historic reason, and I shall return to that later. Thirdly, there are legal reasons. I shall rely on and look forward to the remarks made by the noble and learned Lord, Lord Mackenzie-Stuart, in that respect. Last, and in a way most important, there is the economic reason. If it should go through, it will be a scandalous—and I use that word advisedly—waste of money, wherever the money (say, £30 million) comes from. Again, I shall return later to that aspect.

There was a public meeting last week in Edinburgh called by the Saltire Society. No less than 10 other Scottish societies joined in calling for it. I was there. It was a remarkable and moving happening. It took place at night and yet over 1,000 people came to listen, the old and young from all walks of life. They overflowed the conference room, which seated only about 250, and went into the galleries of the Edinburgh College of Art and then even into the streets. Luckily, there were, in degree, loud speakers. The audience listened earnestly and anxiously to the speakers, including Tim Clifford, the director of the National Galleries. But, I have to say that neither the chairman nor any of the trustees turned up. They had been invited jointly and individually. I cannot imagine the reason for their absence. Was it that they had been ordered from on high not to attend? Were they afraid? Alternatively, did they consider themselves superior to the ordinary man and believe that, therefore, they had no need to listen to him? The sequel at the meeting was a very good debate and a motion was passed asking the trustees to think again or to resign. As far as I know, that was carried by 1 vote against and 999 for the motion, if the figures are exact.

I should like to take this opportunity to say thank you to one and all who have written to me. I should also like to thank all those who have written letters to the Scotsman and other Scottish newspapers and those who have written articles in the press about this lamentable business. I could speak for two hours on all the information that I have been given as background. However, I shall not do so. I shall confine myself to three points. First, we are told that there is inadequate space for the many pictures which are in store. Shortly, that argument will be nonsense. I wonder whether noble Lords realise that, in three or four years' time, the National Portrait Gallery will vacate almost half of its space when the "antiquities" go to the new Museum of Scotland. Further, across the road are the York Buildings which would be wholly appropriate as an extension. I feel confident that there is enough space for even the most greedy demands of the trustees. The Pieda report which was specially commissioned by the trustees bears that out.

My second reason concerns cost. The Pieda report concluded that the National Portrait Gallery complex—that is, the York Buildings, and the rest—was the cheapest solution capital-wise and certainly the cheapest solution as regards running costs. Let us remember that the building was given to the nation by Mr. Ritchie Findlay, a Scotsman, and we have just spent about £4 million on its total restoration.

My third ground is what I would call the historical research reason. I have placed in the Library a memorandum on the Scottish National Portrait Gallery and its future written by Basil Skinner. I recommend any noble Lord who is interested in the matter to read it. It was written before—and I stress the word "before"—the trustees made their announcement. The trustees have said, "You did not object earlier", but it is very difficult to make objections when the trustees play their cards so close to their chest. The memorandum shows that over the past 110 years the National Portrait Gallery has collected or been given 3,000 original portraits. It has 20,000 engraved portraits and 120,000 fully indexed photographs of Scottish people. That treasure is housed in the capital, next door or close to Register House and close to the National Library of Scotland. It is the very heart of Scottish history and of the Scottish people and must remain in the capital.

I have one last point to make before I turn to discuss what should be done. The issue has, sadly, degenerated into a contest of Edinburgh versus Glasgow. That should never have happened. However, it was encouraged by the trustees. It was a sort of auction that they put to the cities: "Who will give us most?" It is a most undignified and unfortunate happening. Here I should, perhaps, say that the noble Viscount, Lord Weir, who is a really well-known Glasgow citizen, has asked me to tell the House that he cannot be here this evening. He is in the Near East. He is wholly against the project as put forward, even though he is a Glasgow man.

What is to be done? If the Secretary of State, who has not yet received the official appraisal from the trustees, decided on receipt of the latter that it was wholly unsound and not legally correct, then he might turn it down on those grounds. In that case, I and many others would rejoice. However, it may be difficult for him to take such action because, after all, the trustees were appointed by him.

The second possibility is one that I would like to stress more strongly than any other. The trustees are meeting on Friday. I should like them to tell the Secretary of State that they would welcome the setting up of an independent inquiry. If they believe in their proposals, they should not be afraid of that. I urge them to do so. Such an inquiry should be set up quickly with an urgent ending to it, let us say, by the end of June.

I hope that I have developed sufficiently my total opposition to what has been proposed. Once again, I should like to thank from my head and from my heart all those who have put down their names to speak in the debate. I should especially like to thank the maiden speakers.

8.10 p.m.

Lord Renton

My Lords, I am sure that we are all greatly indebted to the noble Earl, Lord Perth, for raising this matter, which is couched in typically temperate terms. His Motion simply asks that the matter be fully considered before a final decision is taken. As he has pointed out, that means fully reconsidered first by the trustees. Then of course the Government come into it because, as the noble Earl has said, the Government appoint the trustees. If this £30 million for a new building at Kelvingrove is to be found, only the Government can find it.

If I could have the attention of the noble Lord, Lord Jenkins of Hillhead, for just one moment, I should like to mention in his presence as he is a former Chancellor of the Exchequer, that the Government, and I think all concerned in politics in all parties at this time, have a duty to try to save government expenditure of that magnitude unless there are overwhelming reasons for spending it.

I have to confess that I have known both Edinburgh and Glasgow—members of my father's family have held academic posts in both places—those two great cities, since I was a child. I have visited both of them many times over the years. I feel that it would be wrong to approach this matter in a way which arouses rivalry between those two great Scottish cities which, after all, are only an hour's distance from each other.

In these days, to my mind, we have to face the fact and accept the fact that the Scottish National Portrait Gallery in Edinburgh is an elegant, purpose-built building and has served its purpose well for over 100 years. It really does serve both its original purposes and its present purposes pretty adequately. It provides a visible record of people who were notable in Scottish history by means of paintings and sculptures. It provides vast reserves of other paintings, engravings and even photographs of such people, and it provides a valuable source of information and research for historians and genealogists and archivists. In recent years its remit has been enlarged to include portraits of prominent living people and portraits which are a credit to Scottish portraiture, even though they may be of people who are not or were not prominent. If it were dispersed from Edinburgh, Scotland would therefore lose a valuable national asset.

Now a brief word about Scottish art for Scottish art's sake. Of course the present Scottish National Portrait Gallery in Edinburgh contains works by those marvellous Scottish portrait painters: Allan Ramsay and Raeburn, and a few by Wilkie, who is not primarily a portrait painter, and some by Alexander Nasmyth and others. But to take those away to form part of an exhibition of Scottish art in a new building at Kelvingrove would not only deprive the Scottish National Portrait Gallery of some of its most inspired and historic portraits, but it would also surely be quite unnecessary because those were prolific painters and some of their works are already displayed in galleries in and near Glasgow including the famous Burrell Collection which is a marvellous addition to the cultural life of Scotland and of Glasgow. One could multiply the reasons for leaving things well alone but I hope, with the noble Earl, that this matter will be fully considered not only by the Government and by the trustees, but also by academic people, by the art world and even by local authorities. We do not want those concerned to plunge into what could be a most unfortunate decision.

8.15 p.m.

Lord Irvine of Lairg

My Lords, the noble Lord, Lord Renton, has just told your Lordships that he finds the wording of the noble Earl's Question temperate. I find it a little anodyne. Of course the fullest consideration must be given to the position of the National Portrait Gallery in its present form and place. I do not think that anyone could deny that the trustees of the National Galleries of Scotland, aided by the Pieda economic appraisal of a new national gallery of Scottish art, have for their part given the fullest consideration to the issue. Nor has there been anything other than the widest consultation by the trustees—contrary to what has been said in the press—including their own professional staff. If the Question of the noble Earl implies that that is not the case, then that is wrong.

What has truly happened is that controversy has arisen over the recent decision of the trustees of the national galleries about a new national gallery of Scottish art. If the noble Earl will forgive me, I believe he has posed a wholly insufficient Question. The issue is much wider than the National Portrait Gallery. The larger issue is whether Scotland should have a national gallery of Scottish art. The trustees have decided that it should. Then two consequential decisions of the trustees have to be addressed. One is concerning the impact the new gallery will have on the existing galleries: the National Gallery, the National Gallery of Modern Art and the National Portrait Gallery, all of which are in Edinburgh. The second decision is where within the nation of Scotland the new national gallery of Scottish art should be situated. That is really what this debate is about.

It has for long been the policy of the trustees that there should be a gallery devoted to Scottish art. The policy gained independent support in 1981 from the report of the Williams Committee. The national galleries have 2,000 oil paintings by Scottish artists, or of Scottish subjects, and about 900 other paintings besides. Normally almost one-half of those Scottish works languish in store, unseen by the public to whom they belong. There are currently eight Raeburns on display and 70 in store. Consequently, it is Scottish art which has suffered most from lack of space for display. That is what provides the strongest case for a new national gallery of Scottish art for the benefit of Scottish people and visitors to Scotland.

Scotland is a small country but with a fine painting tradition. If we are severe with ourselves we may have to acknowledge that we have not produced a very large number of painters of unquestionably world class, whereas no one would deny that our scholars, David Hume and Adam Smith, are of world class. I agree with the noble Lord, Lord Renton, that Allan Ramsay, Sir Henry Raeburn and Sir David Wilkie must, as painters, surely be major contenders.

Let us get away from the limited form of this Question that has been brought before your Lordships' House by the noble Earl. Let us exclude the bad arguments. First, there is the proposition that the existing national galleries will become national galleries of non-Scottish art if a national gallery of Scottish art is founded. That is simply untrue. The existing national galleries have always included some of the best of Scottish art in its broad European context. The trustees have made it absolutely plain that this will continue to be so, just as before, if the new gallery is founded wherever it is placed. Therefore there is nothing in that argument at all.

Next—this word found its echo in the noble Earl's speech —it is argued that a national gallery of Scottish art will become a "ghetto of Scottish paintings", pointless outside its European context. That is the most astonishing argument of all. In two to three years' time, as the noble Earl well knows, the National Museum will vacate its half of the building in Queen Street which it shares with the National Portrait Gallery. The antiquities collection will then be moved from that building to a new purpose-built building in Chambers Street in Edinburgh. It will be called the Museum of Scotland. I understand that the Government are funding the whole of the building costs of about £24 million. I believe that the noble Earl, to his great credit, is chairman of the appeal fund. It aims to raise the fitting out costs of some £8 million. That new museum will tell the history of Scotland through its artefacts. No one is stigmatising that museum as a ghetto of Scottish artefacts.

Nor do those who urge the retention of the National Portrait Gallery, as and where it is in Edinburgh, stigmatise that gallery as a ghetto of Scottish portraits. Equally, I do not see how the debate about a national gallery of Scottish art is advanced by stigmatising it as likely to prove to be a ghetto of Scottish art.

Those who peddle that argument sell their country short. There is no reason whatsoever why a national school of painting, remarkable not least because of the smallness of the nation, should not be displayed at its best in a single place and on its own. The people of Scotland and visitors to Scotland will prosper from seeing much of what for far too long has been the stock of basements.

The noble Earl mentioned as one of his reasons the economic argument. Much fewer than 200,000 people visit the National Portrait Gallery each year; 800,000 every year will visit the new national gallery if it is established in accordance with the trustees' decision.

The Earl of Perth

My Lords, perhaps I may ask the noble Lord on what grounds he says that. He will recall that the National Portrait Gallery, almost alone among Scottish galleries, in the past three years has increased the number of visitors from 117,000 to 179,000. The noble Lord's figure of 800,000 is pure guesswork.

Lord Irvine of Lairg

My Lords, it is not guesswork at all, it is the assessment of the trustees. It turns upon the fact that the decision has been that the national gallery will be in Glasgow. The figures for Kelvingrove are of that order and give every ground for belief that a similar figure would be achieved for a national gallery of Scottish art in Glasgow.

Before I leave the ghetto insult perhaps I may say simply that it lacks even factual foundation. Just as it is the case that about 40 per cent. of the oil paintings currently on display in the National Portrait Gallery are by English or foreign artists of Scottish subjects or of Scottish interest, such paintings will also be displayed in the national gallery of Scottish art. In fact, the majority of paintings pre Allan Ramsay in the national collections are by non-Scottish artists.

Let us move in this debate which has been promoted by the noble Earl from bad points to the real point. A new gallery of Scottish art would be a contradiction in terms without the very best of Scotland's distinguished portraiture as its core. It is the consequence for the National Portrait Gallery which is the point in controversy.

I do not diminish the National Portrait Gallery. So far as I know there are only three other galleries of its kind in the world—in London, Dublin and Washington. However, the very existence of the Scottish National Portrait Gallery and the current campaign for its continuance in its present form and place is surely support for the principle of a gallery of Scottish art.

The central issue which the trustees addressed was whether the concept of a gallery of Scottish art, which the National Portrait Gallery currently represents, should be carried further into a new national gallery devoted to the whole development of Scottish fine art, including portraiture. The only serious attempt to dispute that that is the real issue has been made by those —and I would not have mentioned the name of Mr. Skinner but the noble Earl did so —who advance the extraordinary proposition that the National Portrait Gallery is not a gallery of Scottish art at all.

It is they who diminish the purpose of the National Portrait Gallery. They argue that it is not primarily an art gallery but a national archive and that the paintings are there not because of their artistic excellence but because they are authentic likenesses of historically recognised Scots. That argument will not begin to do. The collection is huge, as the noble Earl said. Any art collection of that size will inevitably be of variable quality, but it unquestionably contains many paintings of the highest quality in fine art terms which would have their natural home in a national gallery devoted to the whole development of Scottish fine art, including portraiture.

Therefore, the decision of the trustees. ought to be supported. The Pieda report made clear that the existing portrait gallery could not be the home of a national gallery of Scottish art. An area of 2,597 square metres is required, more than double the gallery space in the portrait gallery, and more than five times the space provided by the new wing in the National Gallery, where Scottish paintings are currently displayed. The fact is that a new gallery is required.

It was assumed by many when the idea for a new national gallery was first mooted that Edinburgh, as the capital, would be bound to win. However, Glasgow has won on its merits. Nevertheless, Edinburgh will not be denuded of Scottish paintings. Some of the very best will continue, as today, to be shown in their international context in the National Gallery and the National Gallery of Modern Art in Edinburgh. Also, Edinburgh has its own City Art Centre with a fine collection of 500 or 600 Scottish paintings.

I hope that I do not nourish unworthy thoughts by wondering whether the current campaign for the preservation of the portrait gallery, as it is and where it is, is a cloak for an absolutist claim by the capital, Edinburgh, to be the home of a national gallery of Scottish art if there is to be one. That is a claim which I heard the noble Earl in terms put at the same time as declaring that he regretted any confrontation between Edinburgh and Glasgow. Such a claim by the capital cannot be accepted. A nation's assets belong to all its people. Although the capital has a claim as such, it cannot be an overriding claim. If Dean College in Edinburgh had been the favoured site I wonder whether there would have been such an orchestration of protest for the preservation of the National Portrait Gallery in its present form and in its present place, or rather whether the current debate would have been what new use the city of Edinburgh could find for that fine building in Queen Street which the National Portrait Gallery currently occupies.

Surely the true issues in this debate are: should there be a national gallery of Scottish art? If yes, where, on the overall merits of the rival proposals by Glasgow and Edinburgh, should that be—Glasgow or Edinburgh? And whether, in whatever location, it should be established only if the National Portrait Gallery in Edinburgh remains without change, as it is and where it is. If that were to be a precondition, a national gallery of Scottish art would never be established at all.

8.30 p.m.

Lord Jenkins of Hillhead

My Lords, I must begin by doing something that I greatly dislike doing: that is, asking to be excused very soon after the completion of my own speech. I have done that only once before in my membership of your Lordships' House and I apologise for doing so. However, a very few days ago I emulated Lord Finchley in Belloc's memorable rhyme: I stood upon a kitchen table in order to mend the electric light. Happily, I was not electrocuted but there was the most appalling crash and I am very doubtfully recovered. Therefore, perhaps I may, please, have your Lordships' indulgence.

Despite that disability, I was extremely anxious to speak in the debate this evening partly because, despite my somewhat ambiguous Scottish credentials, I nonetheless believe that the voice of Hillhead should be heard in your Lordships' House. Hillhead is vividly—some of your Lordships may think too vividly—represented in another place at the present time. However, it is nonetheless desirable that an alternative Hillhead voice should be heard. As many noble Lords will be aware, that constituency, although only one-tenth the city of Glasgow, contains within it about two-thirds of the cultural institutions through which the remarkable Glasgow renaissance of the past 12 or 15 years has expressed itself. Of even more direct relevance, it contains the preferred site, adjacent to the great Kelvingrove Gallery—itself a magnificent expression of Glasgow self-confidence in the last decade of the 19th century—on which the proposed gallery of Scottish art would stand.

Nevertheless, I do not propose to make a long, rolling speech. Indeed, I differ somewhat—not wholly by any means—from the noble Lord, Lord Irvine. I believe that there are good reasons for preserving the Scottish National Portrait Gallery in its present form and on its present site in Queen Street, Edinburgh. I do not believe that that is necessarily destructive of the scheme for a gallery of Scottish art. I believe that the somewhat idiosyncratic but attractive 1889 building has many advantages. There are three reasons for trying to preserve it.

First, the more I contemplate the unnecessary and often destructive change which we have imposed upon us—at the present time of institutions which work reasonably well and have a certain place in the hearts of those who use them—the more cautious I am of destroying good institutions. Secondly, I do not think that the great majority of the building's contents are essential to a gallery of Scottish art. As the noble Lord admitted, many of the artists are not Scottish and many of the portraits are not art, but nonetheless they are extremely interesting mementoes of the history of Scotland. They are a record of the history of a nation, often of its government, and as such are probably well suited to its political capital. Edinburgh is, of course, the political capital. But it is much more doubtfully the artistic capital, certainly not so far as indigenous Scottish art over the past 100 years or so is concerned, as it is also more doubtfully the commercial, intellectual, educational or demotic capital.

The fact is that Scotland is a two-capital country; a two-headed eagle. Neither Edinburgh nor Glasgow is like Paris, London or Vienna on which everything is centred. The position is much more equivalent to that of the United States which is pre-eminently a two-capital country. The same applies to Italy. Except for the somewhat unhappy 74 years when Berlin temporarily dominated, Germany has been a three or four-capital country. There is nothing wrong and a good deal right with such dispersal.

However, what I believe is unique to Scotland is that the two capitals are within 45 miles of each other. That has some advantages and some disadvantages. The advantage is that it makes them almost a single touristic unit. The disadvantage is that it is easy to set them at each other like two contestants in a cock fight. For the purposes of after-dinner speeches, that is amusing and even legitimate and I must confess to being guilty of having sometimes indulged in it myself. But a destructive and bitter battle over the bleeding body of Scottish galleries and museums is a different and more serious matter.

I think that the trustees have made a courageous decision and should be broadly congratulated upon it, although I believe that they should show more flexibility on the subject of the portrait gallery. I am also prepared to admit that there was room for argument about the validity of a purely indigenous gallery. I found the arguments of the noble Lord, Lord Irvine, very convincing on that point. The issue was canvassed a decade-and-a-half ago. But the decision was taken two-and-a-half years ago. There was precious little complaint from Edinburgh until it became clear that the site was to go to Glasgow. Furthermore, there is a great store of good pictures currently not being shown.

I therefore regard the decision in favour of a gallery of Scottish art as taken, and largely unchallenged for more than two years. That being so, I am sure that the right place for the gallery is Glasgow, a co-capital. There are three national galleries already in Edinburgh. Glasgow is a city with a great artistic tradition which, moreover, has provided great enthusiasm, an excellent site as well as a more modest alternative—with two striking designs—and can probably more easily raise both public and private money.

I agree with much of what the noble Earl, Lord Perth, said about the Scottish National Portrait Gallery, but I also believe that any new national gallery in Scotland should be in Glasgow.

8.38 p.m.

Lord Mackenzie-Stuart

My Lords, this is the first time that I have had the honour to address your Lordships' House. I have no intention of being controversial, but should I so seem I certainly do not seek the protection which I know that your Lordships' House so generously accords to a maiden speaker.

Perhaps I may begin, as did the noble Earl, Lord Perth, on a positive note by paying tribute to the trustees, and in particular to the dedicated staff, of the various national galleries of Scotland. We are well served by our national galleries and I hope that that is sufficiently widely recognised. It follows from that that any development which enables more good pictures to be seen by a wider public is to be welcomed. I refer to good pictures in general, be they Scottish or non-Scottish.

However, I do not wish this evening to go into the broader question of whether or not the Scottish National Portrait Gallery should be dismembered to form part of this wider display. That I leave to other speakers. In my view, it should not, because the Scottish National Portrait Gallery is more than a gallery of art; it is an archive, and to that extent it has its own particular function. We can go to the portrait gallery because some of the pictures are indeed superb; we can go to it because we seek an authentic likeness of a notable figure.

My sole object in intervening this evening is to suggest that I have serious doubts and anxieties, as matters now stand, about the legality of the trustees' proposal to close and dismember the National Portrait Gallery. It seems to me that the trustees cannot close the gallery unless they first obtain the authority and permission of a public Act of Parliament.

My reasons for saying so can be quickly explained. As noble Lords know, in the late 1880s Mr. John Ritchie Findlay of the well-known family who were proprietors of the Scotsman newspaper, paid for the construction of the National Portrait Gallery in Edinburgh. One of the curious things about this saga is that it now seems impossible to discover the precise terms and conditions under which Mr. Findlay made this generous gift to the nation. But that he did impose a number of conditions is evident from Section 7 of the National Galleries of Scotland Act 1906 which, in essence, created the present administrative structure of the national galleries. It set up a board of trustees and so on. What Section 7 said is that the Crown—not the trustees, but the Crown—is to hold the portrait gallery: for the purposes and subject to any rights for or subject to which", it was held in 1906. That is a cumbersome and awkward phrase, I am sure your Lordships agree, but it makes clear to my mind that in 1906 the Crown took over the gallery under certain terms and conditions. The most important of them plainly implied, I suggest, that the gallery should be devoted to a historical collection of Scottish portraits, whether or not they were major works of art.

In other words, in terms of the 1906 Act, the Crown took over the National Portrait Gallery on terms and conditions which, to my mind at least, constituted a valid charitable trust. The law of Scotland has always viewed the concept of charity with a perhaps more generous eye than it has in the past been accorded by the law of England. That being so—and this is my anxiety —it seems to me that Mr. Findlay's charitable intention can only be defeated if Parliament, through the medium of a public general statute, chooses otherwise.

I end by putting a question to Her Majesty's Government. Many people in Scotland wish to know whether Her Majesty's Government are prepared to initiate such legislation in order to destroy the Scottish National Portrait Gallery and to set at nought Mr. Findlay's's charitable intention. I have far too high a regard for the Scottish Ministers, both collectively and singly, to attribute to them the characteristics of Attila the Hun. In those circumstances, I look to the noble and learned Lord, Lord Fraser, to set my mind at rest.

8.44 p.m.

Baroness Carnegy of Lour

My Lords, I am sure that I speak for the whole House in congratulating the noble and learned Lord, Lord Mackenzie-Stuart, on an important and highly relevant maiden speech If I may say so, he is a source of great pride to Scots. He is a most distinguished lawyer; he has been a senator of the College of Justice in Scotland; he was the very first British judge of the European Court of Justice and for four years was president of that Court. He has been a Member of this House, I think, since 1988. This is the first time we have had the privilege of hearing him speak and I hope that he will do so again very soon.

There are three main reasons for maintaining a national museum or national picture gallery: to ensure that the nation's collection of treasures is properly cared for and safeguarded; to make the collection available to scholars for research and other purposes; and, very important indeed, to ensure that the public can fully enjoy and appreciate those treasures.

I know from three years' experience—all too short—as a trustee of the National Museums of Scotland that the balancing of those three purposes is by no means easy. Indeed, professional museum people, as well as informed and committed laymen, often disagree deeply about how the balance may best be achieved.

In the case of the National Museums of Scotland, after much consideration the trustees came to the conclusion that the best way to enhance public enjoyment of the Scottish collection was, as the noble Lord, Lord Irvine of Lairg, said, to create a new museum of Scotland alongside the existing Chambers Street building in Edinburgh. The Secretary of State for Scotland agreed to back that with £24 million of taxpayers' money. The project is proceeding and the noble Earl, Lord Perth, is playing a noble part in raising the additional money.

The problem faced by the trustees of the Scottish National Portrait Gallery, it seems to me, is in some ways similar. The existing building, though designed for the purpose not much more than 100 years ago, was given to the nation on whatever terms they turn out to be. In my view, that building does not easily lend itself to modern ways of displaying pictures or to meeting the rising expectations of the modern public, who, when travelling abroad or viewing television, have become used to fine modern galleries elsewhere.

As a result, in my experience—and I do not have the figures—the Scottish National Portrait Gallery is not nearly as well visited as it could be apart, up to a point, from the short summer months at the time of the Edinburgh Festival. Whatever else we may say, I do not think that the status quo will do. As the noble Earl, Lord Perth, said, the accommodation could be extended into the old Museum of Antiquities. The trouble is that that building would be interesting but awkward as well. I do not know what can be done to the inside of the buildings; they are important and cannot be messed about too much. It is, therefore, not difficult to see why the trustees looked elsewhere. I felt they were quite right to look at the idea—as I believe they did—of building on the site which had been occupied by the old Scottish & Newcastle Brewery. It was right beside the Palace of Holyroodhouse and it would have been a wonderful spot for a bright, up-to-date gallery where people could look at the portraits of those who have come and gone at Holyrood over the centuries.

My understanding is that little interest was shown in the idea either by the people of Edinburgh or by Edinburgh District Council and it came to nothing. Since then, as we have heard, Glasgow District Council and others in the west of Scotland have displayed keen enthusiasm which has moved into the vacuum. The trustees have, not unnaturally, responded by going for a much bigger project at Kelvingrove.

Time has moved on since 1880, even since 1980. I agree with the voice of Hillhead; there is, in my view, much to be said for a new gallery containing part of the Scottish collection. It could be sited partly in Glasgow, as suggested, or perhaps the voice of Stirling or Dundee might be heard. Either university would benefit enormously if a museum could be built in one or other of those places. In the case of Dundee, it would be an excellent asset for the College of Art. I am sure that in any of these places such a gallery would be warmly appreciated and very much visited. But again I must say to the noble Lord, Lord Jenkins of Hillhead, that I do not think that the collection of portraits should leave Edinburgh.

These pictures portray the main players in the history of Scotland. I have to say to the noble Lord, Lord Irvine of Lairg, that for scholars they are part of the national archive. They include portraits of all sorts of quality and they include photographs which probably show most of the noble Lords present in the Chamber tonight, and probably one of the noble Lord himself; I am not sure. This archive should stay conveniently close to the Register House and the other homes of the Scottish archives. For Scots themselves and for visitors, they should be viewed in the capital city of the country whose story they represent. In whatever building these portraits are displayed, I would hope it might be possible to show them in a much more attractive way than at present. They should remain in Edinburgh and I believe that most Scots, wherever they live, would agree with that.

I hope that the trustees' startling proposal will at least have two effects. First, it will awake the good people of Edinburgh from their slumbers so that they and the rest of the people of Scotland seek to retain the national collection of portraits in Edinburgh but much more attractively displayed. Secondly, I hope that the trustees will seek the means to proceed with another gallery and perhaps, if they have not already done so, look at one or two other possibilities besides that of Kelvingrove. Wherever the gallery goes, it must be much visited, much enjoyed and very well displayed. I think the noble Earl has done us a very good turn by asking this Question, and I hope that great things will come out of it.

8.53 p.m.

Lord Taylor of Gryfe

My Lords, like the noble Baroness, Lady Carnegy, I too should like to express appreciation to the noble Earl, Lord Perth, for introducing this subject tonight. It is well timed, since I understand that the trustees will meet this week. I hope that copies of Hansard will be available to them to assist them in their proceedings. It is also well timed because last night we had the Scottish Peers' Dinner, an excellent occasion which enabled Scottish Peers to meet informally, and to come to some kind of consensus that we, as Scottish Peers, have some responsibility for the welfare of our nation. We try to come to wise judgments, not as party politicians but, as in a case like this, on what is best for our country.

One of the unfortunate things about this whole debate of course is the "Edinburgh versus Glasgow" syndrome. I suppose it is inevitable in the other place that, if you are a constituency MP from Edinburgh, like the Secretary of State for Defence or Lord James Douglas Hamilton, you will put in a word for Edinburgh and use your authority to do so. Similarly, Glasgow MPs have entered the fray and put the case for Glasgow. Fortunately, in the House of Lords we have no constituency responsibilities, and it gives us freedom to discuss these matters in a quite objective and reasonable manner. In the Glasgow/Edinburgh situation, I remember there used to be a little chap at Glasgow's Queen Street Station who issued tickets to people going to Edinburgh. Whenever anyone came and said, "I want to go to Edinburgh", he would say, "No, no: you don't want to go to Edinburgh; you mean you've got to go to Edinburgh!" So there is an underlying strain which we may not recognise in this discussion.

It is not easy to reject the advice of the trustees. The trustees who have come to this decision are presided over by a very distinguished citizen of Edinburgh. It is one of the better quangos, and the trustees give their services to the best of their ability to do what is right. At the same time, I must say that in this case I reject their decision, but not because it is Glasgow. As has been said, if the decision had been to site the new gallery in Edinburgh there would have been little protest, but as it is to be established in Glasgow there is protest. However, I am not protesting against this decision to site the gallery in Glasgow. I am against the gallery itself. I think we are in great danger in this country of becoming a nation of museum keepers.

I notice that in the projections for this gallery it is estimated that it will cost between £20 million and £30 million to build in Glasgow. The Secretary of State for Scotland has made clear that he is not committing himself to financial support for the proposition, so that £20 million or £30 million will have to be raised elsewhere. I visited the British Library at St. Pancras yesterday. When the Bill concerning that library was passed, the price tag was £120 million—a reasonable figure. But it was a false prospectus. The gallery is now estimated to be costing £450 million. Projects like this tend to get out of hand, and so, while we may say that the new gallery in Kelvingrove will cost £20 million, I suspect that the cost will be substantially greater before it is completed.

So here we are looking at building a new gallery. I appreciate the interest of the noble Earl, Lord Perth, in these matters. I sit on a large charitable trust and try to make judgments about the various claims on our funds that come before us. In fact I have a meeting tomorrow morning at 9.15 in London and will be looking at a mass of claims for financial support. At our last meeting we looked at one claim which happened to be an appeal from the noble Earl, Lord Perth, to contribute to the fitting out of the new Scottish museum. The Secretary of State has already paid £20 odd million for the building, but the noble Earl is looking now for something between £8 million to £6 million for the fitting out of that building in Edinburgh.

Also on my agenda tomorrow I notice another appeal from something called the Dynamic Earth Museum, Edinburgh—the old site of the Scottish & Newcastle breweries at Holyrood. It is a proposal for a new museum depicting man's growth from early times. It is a desirable project. It is estimated that it will cost £14.7 million, of which it is anticipated that £2.2 million will be raised from various charitable institutions.

Tomorrow I shall be looking at appeals for the Dynamic Earth exhibition and from the noble Earl, Lord Perth, for the fitting out of the Museums of Scotland; but I shall also be looking at appeals from the homeless and from the carers associated with caring for cases of Alzheimer's disease and dementia. I shall be looking at the need for people to be taken off the streets and out of cardboard boxes in Scotland. In my priorities, I could not possibly justify additional expenditure on another museum in Glasgow costing £20 million or £30 million. It is all extremely desirable, but we are in a society where we must live within our capacity to produce wealth and we are limited by that to making priority decisions.

I therefore support the noble Earl, Lord Perth, if only because acceptance of his view will frustrate the Glasgow proposition and limit the expenditure that may be involved.

9.2 p.m.

Lord Wilson of Tillyorn

My Lords, I feel that I cannot match the expertise of so many distinguished and knowledgeable speakers or the authoritative maiden speech of my noble and learned friend Lord Mackenzie-Stuart. My only expertise is that for a good deal of the time I now live within a quarter of a mile of the National Portrait Gallery, having spent many years away from Edinburgh, most of them abroad. If that produces some expertise, then that is my only qualification to speak in this debate.

Being away from Edinburgh and then coming back gives me a starting point. It is clear to somebody coming back to Edinburgh after many years' absence that an enormous amount has been done by the national galleries. Instead of those rather gloomy caverns I remember as a boy, we have a splendid National Gallery and a marvellous Gallery of Modern Art and the National Portrait Gallery has been improved beyond recognition. They are all great fun to visit. For that I believe, like other noble Lords, great credit must go to the director, the keepers, the trustees and all the other staff of those galleries.

The other impression I drew on returning to Edinburgh was that there was a need for more wall space. Every museum is presumably like an iceberg, with a great deal more below the surface than on display. In the national galleries of Scotland, there is a shortage of hanging space, with the result that when there is a temporary exhibition much of the permanent exhibition must be hidden. The question then arises of how to provide the new space. I have some doubts about producing a gallery of Scottish art. But equally, knowing that the experts believe that there is a good case for one, I am prepared to listen to them, with the caveat that, if there is to be a new gallery, it should be adequately funded for its running costs as well as all the, problems involved with capital costs mentioned by other noble Lords.

With regard to where the new hanging space should be, my first preference would be to expand the facilities in Edinburgh. However, Glasgow put forward a good case, energetically argued, which was accepted. So be it; good for Glasgow. Let us hope that if it gets the chance, it can make a success of it.

The question of the National Portrait Gallery and what to do with it also arises. In that case we are on different ground. Having the advantage of living nearby, I have been able to visit the gallery many times over the past few months. It contains a mixture of great, medium and relatively unknown Scots painted by brilliant, mediocre and pretty bad painters. As was pointed out, it is certainly not great art, but it is a great archive, and that is a tremendous asset. I cannot see the case for uprooting that great archive, with all that goes with it—not just what is seen on the surface but all the back-up—and transplanting it to another part of the country.

If we are to provide further hanging space somewhere else and that place is to be Glasgow, fine. But I find myself sharing the views of the noble Lord, Lord Jenkins of Hillhead, that it is not necessary to have as a fundamental part of the new gallery the collection from the National Portrait Gallery in Edinburgh. It should be possible to have a rotating display from the National Portrait Gallery which could go to whatever new gallery is set up. There are plenty of paintings in order to do that without destroying the National Portrait Gallery collection and all that goes with it.

I am left with only one further point—apart from supporting the view of the noble Earl, Lord Perth, that there should be a chance to think again. We should avoid that great form of planning blight which is indecision blight or future shadow. We should avoid a situation in which, because there is an idea for some great new project which has not yet been funded, the existing projects should be starved of funds. In the national galleries we have plants that have grown and flourished. But they need to be fed with a constant supply of foliar feed so that their lives do not wither away. I hope that not only will there be a chance to think again but also that the process before making the final decision will not be too long.

9.7 p.m.

Lord Bruntisfield

My Lords, I too should like to thank the noble Earl, Lord Perth, for providing the opportunity tonight for your Lordships' House to debate the proposals which have been adopted by its board of trustees for the future of the Scottish national galleries. If the noble Lord, Lord Wilson, feels out of his depth in addressing your Lordships, you can imagine how I feel on this my maiden speech after so many wise and comprehensive speeches. That makes it extremely difficult for me who actually supports the noble Earl to make this speech without repeating much of what he has told your Lordships. If I do so, I crave your Lordships' indulgence and I am sure that you will put it down to my inexperience.

The proposals came as a shock to the public when they were announced on St. Andrew's Day last year. I believe, unlike the noble Lord, Lord Irvine, that there had been the minimum of public consultation. My information, coming, I may say —I do not want to mention names—from the horse's mouth, is that 50 letters were written to various members of the public asking for their views. That is not my idea—and I doubt whether it is the idea of many of your Lordships—of wide public consultation. It is alleged, furthermore, that not even the professional senior staff had been conferred with properly before these far-reaching decisions were announced to an amazed Scottish public. I do not know whether that is true. I can only repeat to your Lordships that I was told it on the best possible authority. Since that day there has been nothing but a deafening silence from the board and from its individual members, and now, not surprisingly, deep concern is rife among those people in Scotland who are interested in our heritage and in our national treasures.

It would be a misapprehension were your Lordships to see this controversy, as some tonight would have it, as just yet another example of Glasgow-Edinburgh wrangling. This is surely a time to put that out of our minds, to forsake prejudice and to look at this problem dispassionately. This time the squabble is alleged to be about the siting of a new museum of Scottish art which the trustees are proposing to build in Glasgow. I do not hear much of that. The main concern that I hear is about the dismantling of the National Portrait Gallery in Edinburgh which will result if the proposals as they now stand are allowed to go forward. The abandonment of its building adds further hurt to injury.

I believe that the silence from the Edinburgh public was caused largely because they thought that the whole project sounded crazy and they simply could not believe that it was true. They waited for an explanation from the trustees but none was forthcoming—only complete and utter silence—until slowly the public realised that the board was serious in this crazy idea. Then the gale of opposition began to rise. The opposition to destroying the portrait gallery, down even to selling its unique home—a splendid Victorian Gothic building, as your Lordships have been told—has now reached gale force; in fact storm force. Its collection was to become part of a new museum of Scottish art and the sale of the building was to help fund the cost of creating this new museum.

The Scottish National Portrait Gallery is not an art gallery at all; it is a portrait gallery. There is a very great difference between the two both in content and in purpose, as some of your Lordships have already pointed out. To the one, visitors go to see works of art and schools of art; to the other, they go to see portraiture. In our case it is a unique and incomparable collection of authentic Scots' portraiture of Scottish people down through our history to the present day. It portrays people of all sorts, not just the great and the famous, but ordinary, everyday people going about their day-to-day business. We see how they looked to their contemporaries; we see their faces and the clothes that they wore. We see them on state occasions, at home, at work and at play.

Some individual pictures are of course masterpieces and worthy of a place in any museum of art, but most, as other noble Lords have said, are not. Some are very moderate pictures indeed, interesting only for their subject matter and not for the manner in which they have been painted. Some of the artists are foreign, some are by English artists and only around one-fifth of the collection is by Scots. That collection would sit ill in a museum of Scottish art where most of it is neither Scottish nor art. But that is the trustees' proposal for this unique collection. It is a collection of authentic portraiture consisting, as your Lordships have been told, of 3,000 portraits—I shall not repeat the figures—a great many engravings and literally thousands of photographs. It is a collection which is one of our most valuable treasures illustrating our history and culture and bringing vividness to our archives and life to the printed word.

In fact, I believe, as my noble friend Lady Carnegie said, that this collection serves the same function as a record office. Moreover, it adds illustration, as does a history book, to our history. It adds vividness to our archives and life to the printed word. I believe that it is more akin to a record office than an art gallery. It is that authenticity of portraiture which makes the collection so valuable and unique. That is why it must be preserved and why the trustees' proposals must be resisted. The effective destruction of such a unique Scottish national treasure would be unforgiveable.

The reason given by the trustees is that the building is now too small, but as your Lordships have heard, that can be a matter for strong doubt. There are simple and obvious solutions. I shall not go through them again. To my mind the desire of Glasgow to house this new museum is completely understandable. If there is a requirement for such a museum —and many in the art world say that there is not—and if the funds can be found to build it (two very big "ifs") then let it go to Glasgow by all means or indeed to Aberdeen or Inverness or any other town or city in Scotland that would like to have it. But never, never must this be allowed to be done at the cost of the loss of the portrait gallery.

I support the noble Earl, Lord Perth, in the Question that he is asking tonight and I hope and trust that the Answer he receives will be in the affirmative.

9.19 p.m.

Lord Macaulay of Bragar

My Lords, in common with other Members of your Lordships' House, I would like to thank the noble Earl, Lord Perth, for introducing this Question even at this late hour. I have a further duty to perform in accordance with the traditions of your Lordships' House and that is to welcome the maiden speech of the noble Lord, Lord Bruntisfield, who has just spoken. At the same time I also welcome the speech of the noble and learned Lord, Lord Mackenzie-Stuart.

I was given certain printed information about the noble Lord, Lord Bruntisfield, which indicated that he was born on 23rd June 1899! Having had the privilege and pleasure of dining with him last night, I realised that he could not possibly have reached the tender stage of 94 years of age. I am glad to see that, on further examination of the information provided, he was born much later than that. That being so, I am glad that your Lordships' House will have the privilege and pleasure of hearing him speak again on whatever subject he decides to contribute. If I may say so, he made a most perceptive and balanced contribution to this important debate on the arts in Scotland.

I hold no brief for anyone on the controversy that has arisen. However, I declare a passing interest in so far as I have developed an interest in the arts, which developed from walking to and from the magnificent Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum in Glasgow. That was where I cultivated my interest. The gallery was free, so people could simply walk in and acquire an interest in the arts. The new proposal to move the gallery to Kelvingrove Park in Glasgow is a pleasant prospect and accords with the situation of the Burrell Collection in Pollock Park which allows people to wander in as they please and to look at the various exhibits there.

I did not know what I was going to say in this debate until I heard what the noble Earl, Lord Perth, meant by the terms of his Unstarred Question in which he focuses on the proposed dismantling of the Scottish National Portrait Gallery. Unfortunately, perhaps inevitably, and despite the noble Lord's efforts to prevent it happening, the debate has widened to include two further issues. The first is whether there should be a new gallery at all and the second is, if so, whether it should be in Edinburgh or Glasgow. That is an unfortunate development.

Much of what I would have said has already been said by my noble friend Lord Irvine of Lairg who is recognised as a connoisseur of the arts, and especially of painting. I go along with what he said. Far from dismantling anything, my noble friend did a demolition job on opposition to the principle of a new gallery and in justifying the siting of that gallery in Glasgow.

Having looked at the position, it is my view that Scotland has a unique opportunity to move into the 21st century without being held back by the past, glorious as it may have been in its time, and by parochial nostalgia for the past. I am afraid that those are great drawbacks to the Scottish character—and not only in relation to the arts. We have a terrible propensity for looking backwards over our shoulders instead of looking forwards. Some of the contributions that we have heard today exemplify that characteristic.

Throughout the world, art galleries are becoming modern, custom-built and, in the main, pleasant places to visit. They are places where information can be obtained and paintings displayed without the need for improvisation in existing buildings which, I understand, was necessary on the first two floors of the National Portrait Gallery because of the light. There is no need for improvisation in custom-built galleries. All the problems of exhibiting and preserving colour, and all the rest of it, would be eliminated by modern methods. As far as I am concerned, we should enter the new century, looking forward to a new national gallery for Scottish painting.

Scotland must not be seen to drag its heels on this matter. As was said in the previous debate, tourism is a big feature of our life nowadays. Tourists come to this country to look at the arts. The more modern the gallery and the better presented the exhibits, the more people will come to see what we have to offer.

The noble Earl, Lord Perth, gave some attendance figures. The figures that have been produced show that between 1991 and 1992, the National Gallery increased its attendances by 43,000; the National Portrait Gallery increased its attendances by 35,000 and the Gallery of Modern Art increased its attendances by 10,000. The Glasgow Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum had just over 1 million visitors in the Year of Culture of 1990. In 1991, its attendances dropped to 893,000 and have now levelled out at a total of 868,000. The figures produced by my noble friend Lord Irvine of Lairg confirmed those published figures. That shows that the gallery will have a large catchment area if it is built in Glasgow. The point was made that moving the portrait gallery would destroy the essential ingredient of the gallery. That does not stand scrutiny when one looks at the trustees' proposals. Far from negating the portrait gallery's purpose, the proposed new setting will enhance it. The new gallery will continue to collect and display historical portraits.

The noble and learned Lord, Lord Mackenzie-Stuart, hoped that he could go and see authentic portraits of people from the past. If Holyrood mythology is anything to go by, it is not a good idea to rely on them. Tourists are told that the portraits of the various Scottish kings in the long dining room of Holyrood Palace were the result of the artist going down to the nearest pub and getting out someone whom he thought might resemble the king. He painted him, paid the sitter, and then went down to the pub to get another one. So it is not a good idea to rely too much upon what one sees in the gallery in relation to Scotland's past.

The noble and learned Lord raised an interesting legal point which will no doubt have to be faced by someone. I believe that he has made the appropriate inquiries. It is up to the objectors to the proposal for a new gallery to justify their objections, because, as my noble friend Lord Irvine said, there was silence for about two years while the trustees were formulating the proposal that they have now put forward. There was wide consultation, if what we are told is to be believed. My view is that if we are in favour of the principle we should get on with it.

The idea of having another commission to examine the trustees' findings, with respect to the noble Earl, Lord Perth, makes a nonsense of the whole thing. If we were to adopt that attitude, we could go on having a commission into a commission and nothing would be done. If Glasgow had taken that view on the Burrell Collection, we should never have had the Burrell Collection. We would never have had the concert hall, because the same arguments were advanced against the concert hall in Glasgow: the money would never be found. Glasgow said that the money would be found, and went ahead. The money was found and the concert hall is now one of Scotland's prize possessions.

I was in the portrait gallery on Sunday. No great, widespread outrage was exhibited there. There were about 50 people in the place spread over three floors. There were no flags or banners outside saying, "Save the portrait gallery", as we have had on other occasions. There is an exhibition there at the moment called "Dynasty", which has nothing to do with the television series, I am glad to say. The exhibition is housed in most unsuitable and gloomy rooms. As the noble Baroness said, such exhibitions could be set out more graphically in new and modern surroundings. There could be video presentations. If one goes to the Usher Hall for a concert one can listen beforehand to a talk on whatever is on in the hall so that one can better understand the music. There are video presentations of what the gallery is all about, and so on. We must move with the times.

The building in which the portrait gallery is housed does not attract people. It is said to be near Register House. It is, but not many people fancy the walk from Register House, over the hill, down to Queen Street and then back up with no bus service serving the gallery. The gallery is past its sell-by date. The time has come to move on.

In another connection, during a recent visit to Tripoli, I visited a custom-built gallery. I was overwhelmed by it. Any child who wants to know about the history and culture of his nation can walk into that gallery, albeit one floor is devoted to a certain individual whose name I shall not mention, and by the time he leaves he will be in no doubt as to what his nation is all about. Everything that a person could possibly want is there.

If the pessimists who do not want this step to take place succeed, it may be that at the end of the day another proposal will go ahead, leaving the National Portrait Gallery in its old Victorian building as an artistic rump while the rest of the artistic world modernises itself.

9.32 p.m.

Baroness Willoughby de Eresby

My Lords, I am most grateful to my noble kinsman Lord Perth for bringing to your Lordships' notice the threat to the Scottish National Portrait Gallery. I realise that the subject is contentious and I crave your Lordships' indulgence. While I am grateful for having been given the opportunity of joining your Lordships' House, my reason for speaking is that I use the research facilities of the Scottish National Portrait Gallery.

The renown of this Victorian Gothic building rests on the integration of the historical portraits, both inside and out, with its architecture, which is somewhat like your Lordships' House. This combination of the building, with its collection of paintings and archive, which makes the portrait gallery not only one of the great cultural institutions of Scotland but also a monument to those who have played their part in making Scotland's history. Dismantling this institution would not only be cultural vandalism but an act against Scotland's historic past.

As we have heard, over the past 10 years Her Majesty's Government have spent well over £4 million. But it was spent not only on the centenary repair programme but on upgrading the exhibition rooms to a standard that will take the gallery well into the next century. The noble Baroness, Lady Carnegy, and others mentioned how gloomy some of the portraits seem to be. But the conservation required nowadays for our early portraits does not allow for a great deal of lighting.

The figures for attendance at the three national galleries of Scotland during the past four years show that the annual increase has been far greater for the portrait gallery than for either of the other two galleries. Now that it has a restaurant, that increase looks set to continue. The paintings not on show are admirably accessible. For the trustees to propose closure now rather than before the start of so much renovation makes a nonsense of planning. The core services of the three national galleries in Edinburgh are presently shared. Removal of the historic portraits and the archives will inevitably lead to a duplication of services, with the attendant increases in government running costs.

Full consideration of the proposal to dismantle the portrait gallery, suggested by my noble kinsman Lord Perth, would allow for curatorial consultation. I agree with the noble Lord, Lord Bruntisfield, that, so far, that has been sadly lacking. It would allow also for public discussion. So far, no public meeting has been called for by the trustees to debate the issue. Full consideration would give the opportunity to consult those who use, visit and mind about their portrait gallery.

It would allow also for the consideration of the trustees' other proposals. Here in England there is a portrait gallery and a gallery of English art in the Tate. No one has felt the need for the Tate to encompass the portrait gallery. I should support any proposal for the provision of a gallery to show the best of the Scottish paintings now in reserve. I should welcome any suggestion which allowed some of those paintings to go to other towns as well as Glasgow. Glasgow has a claim and has a building, which is empty at present, suitable to house some of those paintings. I believe that there is a case for allowing more thought to be given to the proposals to show Scottish paintings.

If the wishes of such a great and imaginative benefactor as John Ritchie Findlay can so easily be ignored, what assurance is there for others who may wish the museums and galleries to benefit? Therefore, I hope that time may be found in which further consideration can be given to the future of the National Portrait Gallery. Above the memorial portrait of Findlay which hangs in the Scottish Portrait Gallery is an inscription which translates as, "Effort on behalf of civic good is never useless". I feel that further effort on behalf of the gallery would be of great benefit.

9.38 p.m.

Lord Quinton

My Lords, it is my great pleasure to congratulate the noble Baroness, Lady Willoughby de Eresby, on her excellent maiden speech, which is based, as mine will not be, on direct personal involvement with the institution on whose behalf she spoke. Even though I disagree with the noble Baroness, that in no way detracts from my admiration for her speech or from the great interest which I am sure noble Lords shared with me in listening to it.

I begin by using the wording of the Unstarred Question asked on our behalf by the noble Earl, Lord Perth. It refers to the "dismantling" of the National Portrait Gallery. I thought to myself that that was rather strong language to use for the proposal that is before us. Whether or not it is dismantling, it seems to be the incorporation of the Scottish National Portrait Gallery into a wider and more inclusive gallery containing works by Scottish artists, having Scottish themes and subject matter. It is not so much dismantling as "remantling" in a substantial aesthetic fur coat.

I say that because my dictionary, in a rather pathetic state of etymological conservatism, defines "dismantling" as, taking off the outer protective covering". But our ordinary sense of the word is either destroying something—that is perhaps rather a loose way of using it —or, more sensibly, taking a thing to pieces. In his speech, the noble Earl used the word "plundering". But surely that is no part of the proposal? It is not as if the contents of the National Portrait Gallery are to be scattered hither and yon. They are to be associated with other comparable and continuous bodies of art with some central Scottish reference in a larger and more inclusive gallery. The form in which the Unstarred Question is asked in a way begs the further question. It ascribes to the proposal a destructive intent which it surely does not have.

I was very interested in what the noble Baroness, Lady Willoughby de Eresby, said in making a comparison between the proposal and the English position, which is a gallery of British art, although I fear that I shall find myself in a fearful state of complication here. As the noble Baroness said, in England at any rate there is the Tate Gallery. The left-hand and generally wonderful side of it is British art and the right-hand—and to my mind not so wonderful—side, a brickyard, broadly speaking, contains modern and international art. That is a curious, contingent and really rather quaint juxtaposition. It is certainly not ideal to have modern art lumped together with British art.

But it would seem to me to be quite intelligible to have on the right-hand side of that great building a little way beyond us along the Thames a national portrait gallery, afforced perhaps with other topographical material in the space vacated by the modern 20th century art, some of it British but most of it foreign, which would be more appropriately housed on its own.

It is not that the proposal is either to disintegrate the. Scottish National Portrait Gallery or to put it into some kind of absurd and irrelevant context. If anything, it is to put it into a context which I think would be quite appropriate for our own English National Portrait Gallery; in other words, the local one. Fine thing though that is, there is no particular reason for it to be isolated from the rest of British art, as the great bulk of its contents is work by British artists—though of course pretty well exclusively, except by some sort of accident, of British sitters or subjects.

I assume that the real argument against the continuation of the present. Scottish National Portrait Gallery, apart from this large and imaginative idea, is the deficiencies of the building itself. I did not just rely upon my own rather superficial observations but went to the length of looking around at one or two artistic guidebooks. I shall just quote a few phrases from them. The general drift is that the Scottish collection of national portraits is ill housed. One says, Its interior is uncongenial and dull". It talks about its "inflexible layout". Another refers to the "lack of intimacy". To modify the cruelty of those observations, I should point out that throughout the remarks are accompanied by praise of the administration of the national galleries of Scotland for doing the best that they could with a building which, alas, is no longer suitable for the display of the kind of material that it contains. It clearly has a place in the hearts of many people but, as one or two other speakers have said, it is not a place which anyone would, de novo, put up for a national portrait gallery today.

There are two main duties which are incumbent upon a national gallery of art or system of art galleries. The first is to display as many of the pictures that it possesses as possible. The second is to display them to as many people as it possibly can who would like to see them or would enjoy seeing them. It is surely the case that this proposal is strictly in conformity with both of those principles. The idea is to get much more space for the display of Scottish art. In the hands of what I must call the national gallery system a large proportion of it is kept in store. This will be an opportunity for more of it to be put out.

It seems on demographic grounds—but not only on those grounds—that a siting in Glasgow would be more beneficial because Glasgow is a conurbation of 2½ million people and Edinburgh, in its glory, is more a sort of "urbation" of half a million. There is not this huge surrounding froth of population that you get in Glasgow like a great cloud over the land. That phenomenon reveals itself in the large numbers who annually visit the City Art Museum in Glasgow, which is of a greater order of magnitude than the galleries in Edinburgh.

I am an enormous admirer of the National Gallery in Edinburgh. It is my favourite, human-sized museum on this side of the Atlantic. It is comparable only to the Frick in the United States. For an idle, fairly philistine man that is the most perfect thing because one can see the whole works between one main meal and another. It is not like launching oneself into some vast aesthetic Harrods, like the Tate, where one department leads on from another. These museums are perfectly designed for the moderate appetite. It is a wonderful thing that Edinburgh has the main national gallery, with its world-class glories of Raphael and Titian, but there surely is alongside that a good case to be made for having a museum of Scottish art.

For a long time everyone on the other side of the Channel despised British art generally, both English art and Scottish art. They both have their distinctive qualities and they both have their strengths. If they are to be given a fair exposure, that must be done in the form of reasonably comprehensive and inclusive national galleries of local art. I hope that the general idea will be supported. I am sure it will make an enormous difference to the artistic potential of Scotland as a place to visit by bringing up to the surface a lot of hidden material. I believe that the gallery will be more likely to achieve the best it can by being placed where the largest number of people who are likely to visit it will be situated. Therefore I do not view the proposals of the trustees of the national galleries of Scotland with anything like the trepidation felt by the noble Earl, Lord Perth.

9.48 p.m.

Lord Balfour of Burleigh

My Lords, I wish first to associate myself with the noble Lord, Lord Quinton, and others before him, in expressing appreciation of our three exceedingly good maiden speakers. I very much hope that we shall benefit from their vigour and clarity many times in the days to come. I also thank the noble Earl, Lord Perth, for initiating a debate which includes three maiden speakers. That is more than I, with my limited memory, can ever remember hearing.

The proposals we are considering today are in respect of the problems the trustees perceive themselves to face. The great and growing collection they now have of 2,900 pictures makes it possible for them to show only 25 per cent. There is frequent disruption for temporary exhibitions. The number of cafés is inadequate and lecture rooms are largely non-existent. The trustees say there is a strong need—I am sure they are right—to bring modem technology to the aid of catalogues, archives and references. These, too, are great and growing problems. I must commend the trustees for the way in which they have planned to put no less than 170 pictures in Duff House near Aberdeen and about half that number in Paxton.

This success in making the great pictures accessible in a physical sense to the people in Scotland is enormously important. In my days at the Arts Council we laboured to bring the performing arts within the reach of all as far as was reasonable. However, that is difficult. I hope that, whatever may happen in terms of the provision of galleries, this goal of providing exhibitions in suitable places around the country to increase that accessibility will continue. Their solution is that, and I quote, A small collection of Scottish art would remain at the Mound and Belford Road to place Scottish art in an international context", and thereby, to separate the vast majority of Scottish pictures from the international collections at the National Gallery and Gallery of Modern Art and to amalgamate them with the existing collection of the Scottish National Portrait Gallery", in a new gallery in Glasgow.

I should like to identify myself with those who hope very much that it will be possible to make a suitable distribution of our great pictures between both Glasgow and Edinburgh to eliminate the ridiculous battle which is constantly alleged between Glasgow and Edinburgh. This morning I asked three people who are not closely associated with the issue what they understood the problem to be. They said that, from the news, it was clearly a battle between Glasgow and Edinburgh.

The solution which the trustees have propounded should answer the critics who continually complain of the difficulties of seeing the Scottish school. In that respect I believe that this proposal should command our support. However, it appears to me to open up a new field of fierce and continuing controversy as to the dividing line between the top tier of Scottish painters in their international context in Edinburgh and what it will be very hard to avoid seeing as a second tier of painters in Glasgow. Views of relative merit will, as we all know, be subject to continuing change. Instead of those changes being reflected discreetly by the gallery staff, they will take place under the searchlight of a transfer of pictures between Glasgow and Edinburgh, and will be seen in terms of promotion and demotion. I cannot help thinking that in that way the trustees will saddle themselves and their successors with a continuing dilemma and embarrassment. No item of news could be less interesting than the promotion of Quinton and the demotion of Balfour, to give two totally fictitious examples.

I believe the portrait gallery to be unquestionably an archive. Its inclusion within a great gallery of Scottish art seems to me to present grave problems. Those have been expanded upon by several of your Lordships and I do not wish to go further than to say that I believe that priority must be given to consideration of the retention of that great portrait gallery, built only 100 years ago with such devotion for its purpose.

However, I believe that the fundamental issue is one that has not yet been mentioned. It is one of management. I was asked recently by one of those most concerned with the proposals of the trustees which we are discussing why I thought the proposals to revolutionise and re-establish the Scottish Museum attracted such slight public criticism in comparison with the torrent of criticism which they are currently facing. I believe that in solving difficult problems the first requirement is to ask the right question. I believe that that person asked the right question and we would do well to ponder why there is such a problem.

A management faced with problems which it believes needs new, bold, and imaginative solutions must develop and make clear its vision. However, that is not enough. The task then is to develop that vision in all its practical detail, with the aid of all the expertise available in the organisation. I do not say for a moment that that is easy. All those who have had to do it know how difficult it can be. It is difficult and time consuming to meet entrenched and opposed views which, however, must be persuaded. Sometimes views which at first sight seem entrenched may turn out to have merits which may modify or be incorporated into an improved vision. But the vision will be translated into successful reality only if it finally engages the loyalty and determination of the staff. I believe that when these issues are suitably rethought, public support will follow.

9.55 p.m.

Baroness Strange

My Lords, I am grateful to my noble kinsman and clan chief for initiating the debate and for his able exposition of the situation. I should also like to congratulate the three maiden speakers: my noble friend Lord Bruntisfield, the noble and learned Lord, Lord Mackenzie-Stuart, and my noble kinswoman, Lady Willoughby de Eresby, all of whom we shall look forward to hearing again. I should like to say that I had the pleasure and honour to know and love my noble kinswoman's noble parents, and how very proud they would have been to have heard her tonight. I first met my noble kinswoman at a children's dance given by other Drummond kinsmen where, for some reason never entirely explained, a horse was led around the ballroom.

On the issue of the Scottish national gallery, there are, I think, three distinct concerns: physical, financial and historic. I shall try to deal with each of them as briefly as possible. First, on the physical concern, we in Scotland are all very grateful to the trustees of the Scottish national galleries and to Mr. Timothy Clifford, the director, for all that they have done over the past few years to expand, renovate, refurbish and generally to bring our Scottish galleries into the eminent place which they now hold in the art world. However, like most galleries, or indeed like dragons, the trustees find themselves sitting on a hoard of treasure which, due to lack of space, they are quite unable to display—and in this case it is a hoard which increases at the rate of some 20 pictures a year. In the present Chinese astrological year of the dog, they must obviously be more dog-like and spread bones around. Two new outlets have been started in Banffshire and in Berwickshire. Pictures are loaned generously and sent on exhibition. Yet still the hoard exists. So the answer seemed to be to start a new gallery as a new Scottish gallery of national art.

Now we come to the financial question. Dr. Mackay of Pieda, who sometimes advises the Scottish Office, pointed out that the attendance rate at the Glasgow Art Gallery was considerably higher than at that in Edinburgh. With between 700,000 and 900,000 attendance figures, there is more scope for financial, profitable infrastructure—shops, restaurants and so on—to maximise income. So, on the face of it, Glasgow certainly seemed the ideal choice, particularly as it is in the European Community development zone and would therefore be eligible to pick up a Community grant of approximately £10 million towards the total cost of a new building, which would cost about £30 million, whereas Edinburgh would not. There would of course be a gap still of £20 million to be found from Government or other sources. However, by 1998 the antiquities section is due to vacate the splendid neo-Gothic Queen Street Gallery and to move to the new building for the Museum of Scotland in Chambers Street, thereby releasing the whole of the building to the Scottish National Portrait Gallery. There are also the York Buildings opposite, which are Crown property, currently used for museum offices. For an expenditure of perhaps £1 million or £2 million, they would convert to another gallery to house surplus pictures. That would save the Government about £18 million in funding and would not eventually prejudice building a new gallery of Scottish art in Glasgow —still leaving the Scottish National Portrait Gallery in Edinburgh—when the financial climate of the country is right.

It might also be worth pointing out that the attendance figures in Glasgow, while much higher than those in Edinburgh, have dropped steadily from over a million in 1990 to somewhere over 800,000 in 1992, whereas attendance at all the national galleries in Edinburgh has been rising steadily over those three years—the attendance at the National Portrait Gallery most steeply of all. Figures are known to be misleading, but on those figures it would be possible to draw a graph where early in the next millennium the attendance figures might converge.

Finally, I come to the historic issue. With the removal of the antiquities, the great Gothic revival building designed by Sir Robert Rowland Anderson would revert to its original use, as envisaged by its donor, John Ritchie Findlay, proprietor of the Scotsman, in his generous gift in 1882, as a National Portrait Gallery for Scotland. His descendants and heirs have been in touch with me and have told me not only of their own pride in their great-grandfather's gift to Scotland, but also of his original intention that it should be a national portrait gallery to house the likenesses of the great men and women who have served Scotland throughout her history. They are deeply distressed and concerned at the suggestion that these pictures should be dispersed and the building sold or put to other use.

The criterion for accepting the pictures was not originally for their artistic merit, as Mr. Basil Skinner, a former deputy director curator, has pointed out, but for the historic importance of the people they represented. The gallery was established with its own directors and staff and an advisory committee. In the early 1980s, the advisory committee was abolished and the criterion for acceptance enlarged, with portraits of living people becoming eligible and also historical landscapes which have since changed.

It seems to run counter to the intentions of the original benefactor that the collection should be divorced not only from its original custom-built magnificent building with its pillared hall and its mural of Bannockburn, but also from the capital of Scotland.

I am aware that Perth, Stirling, Scone and Dunfermline can all lay claim to that distinction, or indeed, if one went back to Pictish times, Abernethy. But certainly since the reign of James IV, Edinburgh has generally been recognised as the capital. The only other national portrait galleries in the world are situated in London, Dublin and Washington, D.C. There is also a new one, again largely funded by a generous private donor, to be opened in Canberra, Australia, in March. I am sure that there would be a tremendous outcry should anyone try to transfer them, say, to Manchester, Cork or Chicago.

Bearing all these points in mind and the very considerable public disquiet over the matter, I would support my noble kinsman and clan chief's suggestion of a commission appointed by my right honourable friend the Secretary of State for Scotland to look into the whole matter.

10.2 p.m.

Lord Morris of Castle Morris

My Lords, I feel tonight like the Irishman as he approached the fracas outside the Dog and Duck and said: "Is this a private fight or can anyone join in?"

As the merest of mere Welshmen, I should not have the lightest velleity, let alone an opinion, as to whether the next national Scottish museum should be in Edinburgh or Glasgow. However, as the Vice-Chairman of the Trustees of the National Portrait Gallery in London, perhaps it might be helpful if I were to offer a word or two about our sister institution, the Scottish National Portrait Gallery.

As has been said, there are very few national portrait galleries in the world. The American in Washington was founded as late as 1962, the Australian in Canberra is about to open this year. The Scottish is by far the most important, after London (founded in 1856) and is at present properly housed in a neo-Venetian palace in Queen Street, Edinburgh, built by Sir Rowland Anderson at the expense of J.R. Findlay, the then owner of the Scotsman, who dedicated its use to: the illustration of Scottish history". We do not seek to interfere in fellow trustees' affairs in any way and we would wish to continue the present very amicable relationship with our Scottish colleagues regarding purchases, exhibitions and research wherever the Scottish National Portrait Gallery is situated; but we would stress, first, the historical significance of the collection, illustrating the annals of a very important country; secondly, our regret if its excellent work, especially its basis in the biographical study of eminent Scots, were to be totally submerged in a larger institution in which the paramount concern was art rather than history; and, thirdly, our worry as to what would happen in a gallery of Scottish art to the many magnificent portraits by non-Scottish artists like Batoni, Gainsborough, Reynolds and Zoffany. If, as I hear, the present proposals reassure us on these three points, it would give us, in the words of the 1662 Book of Common Prayer, a happy issue out of all our afflictions". It is in the public interest to note that half of the Queen Street building devoted to Scottish antiquities will be vacated in 1998 when the collection of Scottish antiquities is transferred to the grand new building in Chambers Street, and that no future use for the premises has been agreed. That building is important. Secondly, we understand that figures in the region of £20 million to £30 million have been suggested for the erection of a new gallery on a greenfield site, and we would advise that this may well be an underestimate and suggest that, first, when a brief and designs were prepared in 1987 for a possible move of the London NPG to purpose-built premises in Docklands—we did not do it in the end—the estimated cost was £70 million. Secondly, when a brief and designs were prepared in 1988 for the demolition of the London NPG's subsequently acquired Orange Street buildings for the construction of purpose-built 20th century galleries with an archive housed beneath, the estimated cost then was over £30 million.

National portrait galleries are essentially Victorian creations: halls of fame with a strong educative and moral purpose. In our own case, the Prime Minister, Lord Palmerston, reflected those Victorian values—"back to basics"—when he stated: There cannot, I feel convinced, be a greater incentive to mental exertion, to noble actions, to good conduct on the part of the living, than for them to see before them the features of those who have done things which are worthy of our admiration". It was in this spirit that the Scottish National Portrait Gallery was born in 1882 and it is significant that it was Thomas Carlyle, the greatest historian of the age, who was its midwife. But it should not be thought that the trustees are always utterly solemn. I recall that at a meeting of the London NPG some years ago the trustees were offered free a drawing of Miss Christine Keeler by Mr. Stephen Ward. One crusty old trustee rose up quivering with rage and said, "We cannot have that woman on the walls of the National Portrait Gallery." "Why not?" said another one from a sedentary position, "We have got Nell Gwynne." The offer was accepted.

There have been many other ways in which the Scottish National Portrait Gallery has developed since its foundation. The great reference archive, established as long ago as the 1930s, now comprises tens of thousands of photographs of Scotsmen and women of all periods. It has become, as we have heard, a most important facility for historical and cultural research. The more recently founded Scottish Photography Archive, based on the collection of portrait photographs by the pioneers D. O. Hill and Robert Adamson, is equally important. It has grown rapidly to embrace every type of subject matter to become a substantial collection of international significance, sending out exhibitions to the Metropolitan Museum in New York and the Musee d'Orsay in Paris. All these developments and many others have extended the scope of the portrait gallery while providing the public with services and expertise unavailable elsewhere in the world.

The National Portrait Gallery in London would fervently hope that in this exciting new development the identity of the Scottish National Portrait Gallery would not be subsumed or lost. We would like to think that half a dozen or so galleries would still be identified as portrait galleries; that exhibitions of portraits, photographs, likenesses of all kinds, would continue at the high standard they have always achieved; that the very valuable archive would maintain an identity, and that the expertise of the staff would be retained. In that hope we send our best wishes to the national galleries of Scotland and to this brave new venture: lang may its lum reek !

10.10 p.m.

Earl Haig

My Lords, I believe the noble Earl, Lord Perth, is right to table this Question for the Government. The preservation of the portrait gallery in Queen Street is one of the main responsibilities of the trustees of the National Galleries. It has been handed down to them since the time of the Society of Antiquities under Lord Buchan, forbear of the noble Earl who is to speak next, and since the time of John Ritchie Findlay, who helped to build the gallery in Queen Street.

Whatever the plans being made by the trustees may he, they should not include the moving of the portrait gallery to Glasgow. As the noble Earl suggests, the least that should happen is for more time to be given to consideration of the plan. The decision to move the portrait gallery arose as part of a package to establish a gallery of Scottish art in Glasgow. That will enable the trustees to exhibit large numbers of Scottish works in the collection which cannot be seen due to lack of space, and to reveal the greatness of the Scottish School.

One of the paramount objectives of trustees over the years has been to show Scottish work of high quality in an international company. Providing that objective is retained and the quality and character of the display in the National Gallery is maintained, the trustees are justified in considering a separate gallery for some of the overflow of Scottish works, if necessary in Glasgow. Having said that, I believe the current plan for a gallery of Scottish art in Glasgow has been inflated and is overambitious.

It is perhaps right to consider the historical justification. We have had some magnificent painters and architects who found their inspiration not only in Scotland, but in France, Italy, Germany and Holland. It would be wrong to over emphasise the Scottish Border as an artistic frontier; separation would not apply since: the days of the Enlightenment. Much as I would. welcome the work of Scottish artists being put more on the map, the effect of present proposals would weaken the presentation of Scottish art in Scotland. It would jeopardise the very good national gallery set-up in Edinburgh; it would use up some of the money needed for the proper management of the national galleries and perhaps some of the purchase grants as well. The plan to indulge in an expensive new gallery would bring no benefit to the creative artists, who are earning little, and no benefit to the commercial galleries, which are under financial strain.

I am afraid that some of my remarks may sound blunt; but the needs of the gallery must transcend personal feelings. However, I congratulate the director, Timothy Clifford—who I have seen somewhere in this building—on his birthday today.

I confess that the expansionist policies of the trustees fill me with alarm. They run counter to the way things were managed in the days when I was a trustee under the chairmanship of the late Lord Crawford. In those days we had a strong chairman who was an expert in all things pertaining to works of art. The members of the board of trustees, were selected because of their knowledge and expertise in the arts; they were closely in touch with the keepers of the different galleries and with developments in each gallery through a system of advisory committees for each of them.

For a time I was chairman of the advisory committee for the National Portrait Gallery and served on the management committee of the Gallery of Modern Art during its first years. I mention this because, sadly, since the time when the present director, Tim Clifford, took over in 1986, these advisory committees have been scrapped, with the controls centred on one board to whose meetings the keepers are given only rare admittance. As a result, decisions have been made which do not have the support of the staff.

Very little time has been given for the exploration of matters concerning the sale of the portrait gallery, the possibility of using the whole gallery after the departure of the museum of antiquities, its preservation as an historical monument, or ways and means of raising the large sums of money which would be needed to build a new gallery and to cover the cost of running and servicing it. Although the trustees maintain that proper consultation was carried out and that a number of luminaries were written to, I very much doubt whether their policies are in line with the views of an overwhelming number of members of artistic and cultural circles in Scotland. This was clearly demonstrated when more than a thousand people attended a public rally at the Edinburgh College of Art last week.

The issue was quite clear. For the people of Edinburgh and from many corners of Scotland the works of art hanging in their allotted places on the walls of the portrait gallery and the national gallery are occupying places deep in their hearts and in their psyches. To move those works would leave these people with the sense of having been robbed. This feeling transcends the rivalries between Glasgow and Edinburgh and the status of one city as against the other.

I believe that whatever the rights and wrongs of a gallery of Scottish art may be—and there are serious doubts over the wisdom of separating the native school from the European school—quite apart from that, the overriding view of very large numbers of Scottish men and women is against the move of the portrait gallery to Glasgow—a move which would alienate all those who cherish and value the sandstone edifice in Queen Street, a monument which fits so well with the castle, the Scottish National War Memorial and the other historic buildings in the city. In my view the present plans should be examined by some independent board of inquiry set up by the Secretary of State for Scotland. All the options and locations should be considered by a small committee composed of members expert in the visual arts or in architecture.

The very real difficulties over space facing the trustees should be considered in the context both of Edinburgh and Glasgow locations. For instance, in Edinburgh, the York Buildings opposite the portrait gallery in Queen Street might be re-adapted. A new gallery might be built opposite the modern gallery in Belford Road. With regard to cost, the funding required should not be so prohibitive as to delay the implementation of plans into the next century.

Other questions include whether to limit the works in the new gallery to Scottish works only. With regard to the pictures, there are a number of ways to shuffle the pack. The first step might be to decide which works should be excluded from the shuffling on grounds of their significance as part of the national collection either in the portrait gallery, the national gallery or the gallery of modern art. The next step might be to select from the pack to be shuffled those paintings, drawings and water-colours which are of real interest and which are worthy of inclusion in the new gallery. These might include some of the Wilkies and Mactaggarts, the Glasgow Boys, some of the Colourists, something of Mackintosh and painters as late as Gillies and Maxwell. There is a large collection of Victorian art and design which could form a nucleus for the new gallery. One final option: might Glasgow be willing to fund the new gallery on the understanding that national gallery pictures would be lent to it?

It is because there are many avenues still to explore that I support the noble Earl, Lord Perth, in his Question tonight.

10.20 p.m.

The Earl of Buchan

My Lords, I speak to your Lordships' House late at night and of necessity, briefly, in support of my noble friend Lord Perth, on the subject of the dismantling of the Scottish National Portrait Gallery. All right-thinking Scots everywhere will be grateful to the noble Earl for raising this matter at the 11th hour.

As far as maiden speeches are concerned, I feel not unlike the character in "The Importance of Being Earnest". To congratulate on one may be regarded as good fortune, but to have three to do looks like carelessness. I congratulate my noble and learned friend Lord Mackenzie-Stuart, on his maiden speech. To those who wish to save the National Portrait Gallery, his legal point is a very welcome one. As far as the noble Lord, Lord Bruntisfield, is concerned, he is too modest about his speaking ability. He has struck right home with the point about consultation of which there has been none on this subject. I congratulate him both on his speech and on raising that point.

As regards the noble Baroness, Lady Willoughby de Eresby, let not noble Lords think that this is a Drummond monopoly. I myself can claim some distant kinship with the noble Baroness. I congratulate her on her eloquent and detailed defence of the Scottish National Portrait Gallery which is welcome as a counter to certain airy-fairy remarks about Libyan art galleries.

The trouble with speaking late in your Lordships' House is that noble Lords have said it all already. But I would like to make one particular point on the so-called Edinburgh versus Glasgow squabble which does not exist in my mind. However, it is fair to point out that on 15th January, in the Herald, there was a facile and, I hope, premature piece of Glaswegian triumphalism on this subject, both unseemly and unnecessary in my view. On the subject of Glasgow and its existing art galleries, be careful Glasgow: this is what can happen in your fair city.

Intending to visit the Burrell gallery with my family, I arrived at Queen Street station. A noble Lord has already mentioned Queen Street station which, twice in one debate, must be something of a record again. Not knowing my way to the Burrell gallery, I went up to a police sergeant who was accompanied by a constable and his dog—both officers in full uniform—and asked the sergeant the quickest and cheapest way to the Burrell art gallery. Eventually I deciphered what he meant to say—a brusque and brief answer, "never heard of it". I left uninformed and wondered whether I should have put the request to the dog.

Now to the main issue. I have to cover very briefly some of the points already made. Scotland's capital city has a greatly successful National Portrait Gallery. It is a unique building on which a large sum has recently been spent. It has the well-known portraits already mentioned (Raeburn, Ramsay, Wilkie, etc.). It has a helpful and skilful staff. It has an excellent reference library which I know well because I use it. It has obviously got room to expand and it is possible to argue that it could easily move into the Society of Antiquities when it moves out.

My own interest in this has been mentioned by the noble Earl, Lord Haig. It was in fact the 11th Earl of Buchan who founded the Society of Antiquities at the end of the 18th century. It was from this that the Scottish National Portrait Gallery grew. That is a fact which noble Lords probably know. In 1879 the Laing bequest of 26 portraits formed the basis of the Scottish National Portrait Gallery collection. The gallery does not stand on its own. As noble Lords have mentioned already, it is close to the National Library, the Record Office and the Royal Commission on Ancient and Historical Monuments. That is obviously the greatest help to researchers, visitors, international scholars and the like. Why on earth destroy that invaluable national and artistic asset, the envy of the civilised world, and one of the few such galleries in the world? Let other galleries he built anywhere, but please do not dismantle the Scottish National Portrait Gallery.

What can be done about this? Perhaps I can ask the Minister to convey to the Secretary of State for Scotland our feeling that we are fortunate at this time to have such a greatly respected and highly successful Secretary of State. Perhaps I may dwell on some of his recent achievements. They include the White Paper on Scotland's position in the United Kingdom and the local government changes. They are great achievements although they may be slightly controversial. Under his regime, he has managed to reduce unemployment in Scotland and, most important of all, the crime figures for Scotland are improving. Hence we have the popular saying, "Where Lang leads today, Clinton would like to follow". Therefore, how can we not be confident that he will make the right decision over the Scottish National Portrait Gallery, which is to reconsider the whole matter and abandon the decision that was made by the trustees, apparently on behalf of Scotland, but widely believed to he decided by only a very narrow majority?

10.26 p.m.

Lord Carmichael of Kelvingrove

My Lords, we have had an incredibly interesting debate which has shown that almost all those who have spoken have an intimate knowledge of Scottish art. It is not something in which I claim to be an expert, although I enjoy galleries and visit them frequently.

We have heard three maiden speeches today, which is a tribute to the subject that we are discussing. The noble and learned Lord, Lord Mackenzie-Stuart, made an interesting and highly provocative speech in which he suggested that perhaps we are wasting our time and that a new site may need to be publicly agreed before the Scottish National Portrait Gallery can be moved. If my note of his speech is correct, I am sure that it was through inadvertence that he made the same mistake as almost every other noble Lord who has spoken against the idea of the new gallery when he suggested that the old gallery would be destroyed. That has never been on the cards as far as I have been able to gather and, like most other noble Lords, I have read and looked at the figures until I am almost blind.

It is suggested that, wherever it is located, the new gallery of Scottish art will have 2,597 square metres of gallery space, which would comprise 470 square metres in the National Gallery's new wing and 1,185 square metres in the portrait gallery. The existing size of the Findlay building, which the portrait gallery shares with the National Museum, is only 1,980 square metres. In addition to greater space for exhibiting works of art, the proposed gallery of Scottish art will provide the following new or enlarged facilities: a lecture theatre, conference suites, an artists' studio, improved restaurants, improved bookshops and an integrated library of Scottish art.

I have never tried to hide the fact that I am completely a Glasgow person—I could not. I am fond of Edinburgh and enjoy visiting it, but I like getting the train back to Glasgow.

The debate has reminded me that about 20 years ago, as a junior Minister at the Ministry of Transport, I was involved in a similar controversy. British Rail decided that certain functions it had inherited or started had nothing to do with running a railway. One of them was the Railway Museum at Clapham. The suggestion was that it should be given to the Department of Education and Science, which should find another home for it. British Rail was helpful and provided the Roundhouse in York, which was the perfect location for a railway museum. But when the London establishment heard that it was going to lose the Railway Museum we had much the same reaction as we are getting here tonight. I do not believe that the people involved were anti-anything, they just did not want to lose something they already had.

Many meetings were held. Of the people I met while discussing the proposal, I believe that John Betjeman was the only one who had been to the Transport Museum at Clapham. It was a most unsuitable place for a Transport Museum. Access to it was not easy.

I do not want to be too conspiratorial, but the attendance figures for the museum at Clapham were less than for the small, old colliery museum in York. Lo and behold, about a month later and before the final decision was made, one of the most popular television shows on the air at that time did a show from the Railway Museum at Clapham. People were shown around all the sights, and that must have been worth a great deal of money to the museum. I merely give that example to illustrate that people do not like change. Edinburgh people have the portrait gallery and they do not want it to move.

There is a great deal of misunderstanding. There is no intention, and there never has been, to destroy the collection. I gave the figures from the Pieda Report of the independent consultants. The noble Earl always does things with such gallantry and gentleness that he is extremely persuasive, but there is no suggestion that the National Portrait Gallery will be destroyed. That is a travesty. The trustees have made it plain that the new National Gallery of Scottish Art will have a portrait division which will continue all the functions—archival, research, and everything else—carried out by the existing National Portrait Gallery.

The noble Baroness, Lady Carnegy, argued that the portraits should remain in Edinburgh, but I understand that the portraits in the collection represent the core of Scotland's contribution to art. I understand that in this sphere we have made a genuine contribution to international and European art. So one cannot be in favour of the new National Gallery of Scottish Art but say that it should exclude the Scottish portraits. Those more versed in this matter than I am may be able to confirm that that is the position. To argue that the portraits must remain in Edinburgh is to say that the whole gallery must remain there, and that the new gallery should not be established. That is the impression that I have gained from the discussions.

My reasons for believing that we should move the gallery have already been given tonight. I believe that the area covered by Glasgow will mean that many more Scots will see the collection. The attendance at the Kelvingrove gallery is two to two-and-a-half times greater than the attendance at the Edinburgh galleries. If the collection is as important as people say, I want the ordinary people of Scotland to be able to see it.

I noticed the noble and learned Lord, Lord Fraser, register the point about the Burrell collection. That matter should be cleared up right away. The Burrell collection presented an extremely difficult legal situation that Glasgow spent years trying to break. It was a silly idea and ties up with the other silly idea that the Burrell collection should be 28 miles from Glasgow and four miles from Killearn. I cannot see many people going out there on a regular basis.

I wish to make one other point in favour of reconsideration of the proposal. It was made by the noble Baroness, Lady Willoughby de Eresby, and my noble friend Lord Taylor of Gryfe. Perhaps the gallery that has been suggested is a little grandiose. There is another building in Glasgow which, for other reasons, I prefer should be used. It is the old Sheriff's Court building, which is massive and attractive. More important is the fact that it is right in the heart of the merchant city. It would be available and within walking distance—there would be no need to make a journey out to Kelvingrove Park. I know that the suggestion is controversial, but the building is suitable unless another big gallery is built in Edinburgh, the prospect of which is doubtful. In many ways Edinburgh has a number of attractions, some of which I hope Glasgow can have.

The present gallery is far too small. The idea is that we should have the new Scottish gallery in Glasgow at Kelvingrove but it could be in the Sheriff Court. I am sure that the two Ministers on the Front Bench know the court building well and can tell the House whether, refurbished, it would be a satisfactory building.

This has been an extremely interesting debate. Inevitably, the arguments became repetitious. Indeed, most of what I said has already been said several times. I have enjoyed the debate and I hope that it has gone some way towards clearing up the feelings in Scotland about the gallery.

10.38 p.m.

The Minister of State, Scottish Office (Lord Fraser of Carmyllie)

My Lords, I am sure that the House will be grateful to the noble Earl, Lord Perth, whose Question has given us the opportunity to discuss the future of the Scottish National Portrait Gallery against the background of the proposal by the trustees of the National Galleries of Scotland to establish a new national gallery of Scottish art. I pay tribute to the noble Earl for his long-standing and valuable contribution to the cultural life of Scotland. As one who must regularly pass through Perthshire, the contribution of no fewer than three Drummonds causes me some trepidation because I must reply to the debate.

I add my congratulations to those who made their maiden speeches tonight. I share membership of the Faculty of Advocates with the noble and learned Lord, Lord Mackenzie-Stuart. He was a distinguished President of the European Court of Justice. As your Lordships will have observed, he wears his legal erudition lightly, but that is not at the expense of either the accuracy of his legal analysis or, possibly regrettably for me, the precision of his questions.

I extend my congratulations also to my noble friend Lord Bruntisfield on his contribution. I appreciate that he has a passion and affection for the Scottish Portrait Gallery. That showed itself clearly, as it did in the speech of the noble Baroness, Lady Willoughby. She demonstrated that she is immensely knowledgeable on this subject and made an extremely erudite contribution to the debate. In the light of the warmth with which all those contributions were received, I hope that those speakers will be encouraged to participate in your Lordships' debates in the future.

Noble Lords have mentioned the affection and admiration in which the National Portrait Gallery is held in many quarters. I do not have time this evening to rehearse the origins and history of the portrait gallery, but I cannot let the occasion pass without acknowledging the debt we owe to its founder, John Ritchie Findlay. Without his persistence and generosity, a well-loved and respected national institution might never have taken shape. It is a fitting tribute that the home of the National Portrait Gallery bears his name to this day. As my noble friend Lady Strange emphasised, his contribution was extremely important and I note what she said in relaying the views of Findlay's successors.

I should emphasise at once that my right honourable friend the Secretary of State for Scotland has not yet received fully developed and costed proposals from the trustees. I am sure your Lordships will acknowledge that it would be inappropriate for him to express a view on them in advance of that. The noble Lord, Lord Irvine of Lairg, gave figures as to possible attendances at a new gallery in Glasgow, the space available elsewhere in Scotland and what is needed. I cannot confirm or refute the noble Lord's figures until that appraisal has been considered. But of course my right honourable friend the Secretary of State will consider very carefully all aspects of the proposals when he receives them.

In the meantime, we very much welcome the wide debate which is now taking place on the various issues. Perhaps I may say to the noble Lord, Lord Morris of Castle Morris, that he is very welcome to join in that debate. I have no doubt that the trustees of the national galleries will have been reassured by the firm, warm support which they received from the noble Lords, Lord Irvine of Lairg and Lord Macaulay of Bragar. I suppose that the noble Lord, Lord Carmichael of Kelvingrove, was to be expected to offer his support.

There was an interesting development. The noble Lord, Lord Jenkins of Hillhead, whose absence we understand, offered an altered concept; namely, the preservation of the Scottish National Portrait Gallery. Nevertheless, he indicated his support for the provision of a new gallery. As I understand it, that proposal was supported by my noble friend Lady Carnegy of Lour and the noble Lord, Lord Wilson of Tillyhorn.

I know that my right honourable friend is keen to have your Lordships' contributions and this evening's debate affords the Government the opportunity to set out a number of relevant factors that should be taken into account. The Government have kept an open mind on the proposal to establish a gallery of Scottish art from the outset when in 1991 the Secretary of State agreed to the use of funds by the trustees to carry out a comprehensive investigation and appraisal.

At the same time my right honourable friend has always made it clear that the Government were not committed to providing the funding for the project; and last autumn he confirmed again to the trustees before they announced their proposals that there is no question of government funding for a new gallery for the foreseeable future. That decision was made in the light of public expenditure constraints and the demands of other Scottish Office spending programmes such as health, education and housing over the next few years. With respect to my noble friend Lord Renton, perhaps I may say that I do not think that it can be alleged that the trustees or the director have at any time sought to bounce the Secretary of State for Scotland into a significant item of capital expenditure. The appraisal that I understand is to be put before the Secretary of State is not based on the assumption of a significant public contribution. I see that my noble friend Lord Renton wishes to respond. I give way.

Lord Renton

My Lords, I am much obliged. Perhaps I may make so bold as to correct my noble and learned friend. I did not suggest, either by implication or expressly, that that was what the trustees were trying to do. I said that if the conclusion was reached that public money was needed, we should, this time, be very careful before spending it.

Lord Fraser of Carmyllie

My Lords, if that is my noble friend's point, I am glad that he took the opportunity to correct the position.

Although that position had to be made clear to the trustees, I can assure the House that it does not reflect any disregard for the arts in Scotland. On the contrary, the Government's record in recent years of promoting and funding the arts in Scotland is outstanding. My right honourable friend has allocated some £60 million this year to those arts and cultural organisations for which he is directly responsible. The overall provision is set to increase in 1994–95 when my right honourable friend assumes responsibility for the Scottish Arts Council which has been allocated nearly £24 million.

The Government's record on funding capital projects for the cultural heritage is particularly good. Since the mid-1980s, we have provided £25 million for the three national institutions' major building projects and a further £55 million is programmed for the next five years, including the cost of constructing the new Museum of Scotland. The city of Glasgow has had a share too: we should not forget that the Government contributed over £9 million in the early 1980s towards the construction costs of the home of the Burrell Collection.

From the start, the Secretary of State has not been under any illusion about the magnitude of the task which the trustees set themselves. It was made clear to the national galleries that they would have to develop a sound case for the concept of a gallery of Scottish art and undertake, in investment terms, a comprehensive appraisal of the available options.

It was also stressed that the trustees would have to consider carefully the effect of their proposals on the existing grouping of the national galleries' collections and the buildings in which they are currently house—including, of course, the National Portrait Gallery.

The trustees' proposals have been the subject of some small criticism in Scotland, but we should not overlook the dedication with which they fulfil the onerous task of looking after the national galleries on our behalf. The noble Lord, Lord Balfour, rightly paid tribute to them for their efforts. Under their recent stewardship, the galleries mounted an exciting programme of exhibitions, and visitor numbers have increased from 510,000 in 1988 to nearly 750,000 in 1993, an increase of more than 45 per cent.

The trustees are indeed to be congratulated on their initiative in exploring how and where more of the national galleries' Scottish collections could be displayed. They, with the director of the galleries, have put a great deal of thought, over a long period of time, into the proposals that they have now announced.

There was some reference made during the debate to the meeting held last week in Edinburgh which must have been a difficult one. I think that we ought to have some regard for the director for having the courage of his convictions and being prepared to attend the meeting in the face of such overt hostility. However, having said that, I can assure the House that once the appraisal has been received by my right honourable friend the Secretary of State he will certainly wish to take a little time to pay close attention to what the trustees say in their submission.

No one should be in any doubt that, while it is for the trustees to develop and put forward their proposals, the final decision on any new gallery is for the Secretary of State for Scotland. I hope that the noble Earl, Lord Buchan, is thereby assured.

The Secretary of State has certain statutory and public expenditure responsibilities to observe and I shall turn to those matters in a minute. I can assure the House, however, that in examining the trustees' proposals my right honourable friend will also take full account of the very many representations which he continues to receive from a wide range of interested individuals and organisations on such matters as the case for a gallery of Scottish art, the future of the National Portrait Gallery and the trustees' preference for locating any new gallery in Kelvingrove Park in Glasgow. As I have already said, we have not yet received the trustees' detailed proposals and we are bound to keep an open mind on the various issues until their detailed submission is available.

Perhaps it would be helpful, however, if I said something about the location issue, if only because the trustees' announcement of their preference has aroused considerable interest. I should make it clear that the possible establishment of a new gallery is of national significance, and it is not a matter of contention between Edinburgh and Glasgow. I am grateful to the noble Lord, Lord Taylor of Gryfe, for emphasising that that was the proper basis on which this matter should be examined.

I should also wish to emphasise that the Government have as yet formed no view on the location of any new gallery. Indeed the present position on this has rather put the cart before the horse. The soundness of the case for a new gallery and the economic and funding issues are of prime importance: the location then has to be supported by the outcome of the trustees' formal appraisal of the options.

I hope your Lordships would find it helpful, and reassuring, to have some explanation of my right honourable friend's responsibilities in relation to these matters. Although he has ruled out government funding for the project, the Secretary of State has recognised that the trustees may wish to seek funds from other sources. Even so, under the conditions attached to the payment of grant-in-aid to the National Galleries set out in a financial memorandum, the trustees are still required to submit their proposals to the Secretary of State for consideration.

In addition, in the case of the proposed national gallery of Scottish art, my right honourable friend would have to take into account a number of statutory provisions, particularly certain provisions in the National Galleries of Scotland Act 1906. Firstly, under Section 4A(4) of that Act, the trustees would require the approval of the Secretary of State to acquire land for a new gallery, even if the land were provided free.

But the most important of these statutory provisions relate to the National Portrait Gallery. Section 7 of the Act provides that the National Portrait Gallery building is vested in the Secretary of State for the purposes for which it was held when the Act was passed—that is, in 1906. I would respectfully agree with the view of the noble and learned Lord, Lord Mackenzie-Stuart, that it follows that Section 7 would have to be amended if those purposes were to be changed, for example, by the building ceasing to be used as a National Portrait Gallery.

In addition, my right honourable friend would have to make a statutory order under Section 2 of the Act to prescribe a new gallery as part of the "National Galleries of Scotland" as defined in that Act, and to de-prescribe the existing National Portrait Gallery. It will, therefore, be clear to your Lordships that no fundamental changes can be made to the current arrangements relating to the National Portrait Gallery without the approval of the Secretary of State and, should he wish to take that step, without the agreement of both Houses of Parliament. However, such measures would clearly be some way down the road.

The crucial step now is the submission of the trustees' proposals and any other suggestions from them to my right honourable friend for consideration. I reiterate that he has an open mind and that he welcomes the public debate on this matter. I know that he will study with great care the thoughtful and deeply held views of this House from the views of the noble Earl, Lord Haig, that the Glasgow proposal is over-ambitious, to the warm support given it by my noble friend Lord Quinton.

I am sure that your Lordships will have listened carefully to the assurances that I have given on behalf of the Secretary of State for Scotland and the further safeguards afforded by the provisions of the 1906 Act. I hope that your Lordships will therefore be able to accept the Government's view that at this time a public inquiry into the future of the National Portrait Gallery would be inappropriate.

In closing perhaps I may indicate to the noble Earl, Lord Perth, our thanks for providing the opportunity for this relatively short but nevertheless important debate on a matter which has aroused great interest throughout Scotland.

House adjourned at five minutes before eleven o'clock.