ST. Stephen's Hall (Painting).

Oral Answers to Questions — Trade and Commerce. – in the House of Commons on 27th June 1927.

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Photo of Mr James Couper Mr James Couper , Glasgow Maryhill

34.

asked the Under-Secretary of State for the Home Department, as representing the First Commissioner of Works, whether it is proposed to remove the painting depicting the Unknown Warrior's Grave from St. Stephen's Hall; and, if so, whether it will be placed in some other part of the House of Commons where it would be of ready access to the public view?

Photo of Lieut-Colonel Sir Gilbert Acland-Troyte Lieut-Colonel Sir Gilbert Acland-Troyte , Tiverton

35.

asked the Under-Secretary of State for the Home Department, as representing the First Commissioner of Works, whether he is aware that it is proposed to move the picture of the Burial of the Unknown Warrior into the King's Robing Room and place it so as to hide a very beautiful piece of tapestry; and whether, if it is necessary to move the picture at all, he will take steps to have it placed in a position to which the public has more easy access.

Photo of Sir Douglas Hacking Sir Douglas Hacking , Chorley

The picture in question will, with the consent of the Lord Great Chamberlain, be placed for the time being in the King's Robing Room, in a position where it will not affect the tapestry. The decision to place the picture in the Robing Room, which is the first apartment on the line of route followed by visitors to the Houses of Parliament, was reached after very careful consideration, and my right hon. Friend is unaware of any more suitable position.

Photo of Lieut-Colonel Sir Gilbert Acland-Troyte Lieut-Colonel Sir Gilbert Acland-Troyte , Tiverton

Is the hon. and gallant Gentleman aware that this room is not open to the public at all when the House is not sitting, and is only open to those who go round with Members of the House, and that no one will have a chance of seeing the picture at all?

Photo of Sir Douglas Hacking Sir Douglas Hacking , Chorley

My hon. and gallant Friend is mistaken. The Robing Room is open on Saturdays for visitors without Members being present.

Photo of Mr Herbert Williams Mr Herbert Williams , Reading

Is the hon. and gallant Gentleman aware that the removal of this picture from St. Stephen's Hall is very unpopular?

Photo of Sir Douglas Hacking Sir Douglas Hacking , Chorley

It would not fit in with the scheme of pictures in St. Stephen's Hall, which are to be unveiled on Tuesday, and that is the only reason it had to be removed. It is out of no feeling of disrespect to the artist or the donor or anyone connected with the picture. We are trying to find the best alternative position.

Photo of Mr Arthur Hayday Mr Arthur Hayday , Nottingham West

I would like to ask the hon. and gallant Gentleman not to take the decision to place the picture in the King's Robing Room as a definite decision, for I heard many adverse comments this morning when showing parties round, the feeling being that such a national picture deserves a more suitable place.

Photo of Sir Douglas Hacking Sir Douglas Hacking , Chorley

I was very careful in my answer to say that the picture would only be in the Robing Room for the time being. If any hon. Member has any suggestions to make as to a better position for this picture, my right hon. Friend will be prepared very carefully to consider such suggestions.

Photo of Mr Ernest Brown Mr Ernest Brown , Leith

Does not the hon. and gallant Gentleman think a permanent place in Westminster Hall would afford the greatest access to the public to view the picture, and that it would not interfere with any scheme of decorations at all in the building?

Photo of Sir Douglas Hacking Sir Douglas Hacking , Chorley

That position has been suggested to my right hon. Friend. The only drawback I can think of at the moment is that Westminster Hall is not heated, and it is possible that the picture might in consequence be damaged, but that alternative position will be taken into consideration.

Photo of Sir Harry Brittain Sir Harry Brittain , Acton

Can my hon. and gallant Friend say who has the final say in the removal of any gifts by Members of this House to any other section of the Palace at Westminster?

Photo of Sir Douglas Hacking Sir Douglas Hacking , Chorley

In my reply I said that with the consent of the Lord Great Chamberlain it had been placed in the present position. There are several people who always are consulted in connection with the position of the pictures, but I think I am right in saying that the Lord Great Chamberlain is primarily responsible.

Sir WILLIAM LANE MITCHELL:

Is the picture depicting the Speaker being held down in the Chair opposite where the Speaker's Chair used to stand to be replaced again?

Photo of Sir Douglas Hacking Sir Douglas Hacking , Chorley

No, Sir. That picture is now in Committee Room No. 14.

Sir W. LANE MITCHELL:

That is a downright shame!

Photo of Sir Douglas Hacking Sir Douglas Hacking , Chorley

Again, I understand there is a probability of Room No. 14 being placed in the grand tour of the Houses of Parliament.

Photo of Lieut-Colonel Sir Gilbert Acland-Troyte Lieut-Colonel Sir Gilbert Acland-Troyte , Tiverton

Is my hon. and gallant Friend aware that this picture is of much more interest to the public than most of the pictures are, and will he not consider putting it in the place of some other pictures, even if it does not match the decorations?

Photo of Sir Douglas Hacking Sir Douglas Hacking , Chorley

I am afraid it is too late to do anything in relation to the present scheme in St. Stephen's entrance—[HON. MEMBERS: "Why?"]—but from the point of view of prominence, perhaps it would satisfy the House if it were placed in Westminster Hall. That position will certainly receive consideration.

Photo of Mr Herbert Williams Mr Herbert Williams , Reading

Can my hon. and gallant Friend say why these removals were made without any consultations with Members of the House?

Photo of Sir Douglas Hacking Sir Douglas Hacking , Chorley

I do not think it is necessary to ask permission of Members of the House, but I may add that their wishes will be given every possible consideration.

Photo of Sir William Davison Sir William Davison , Kensington South

Is there any Committee of Members of the House of all parties to consider the removal of any pictures from one part of the House to another?

Photo of Sir Douglas Hacking Sir Douglas Hacking , Chorley

No, Sir, not at present.