I beg to move, "That the Bill be now read a Second time."
This Bill is a very short one, and, I trust, will be much less contentious than the Bill with which the House has just been concerned. Its object is to secure a practical solution to a practical problem, a solution which, I believe, will be welcomed by all concerned in Scotland. Before I come to the terms of the Bill itself, perhaps I should say a few words about the history of the problem which the Bill seeks to solve.
In November, 1780, the Earl of Buchan proposed the formation of a society of antiquaries in Scotland, and the Society was founded in the following month, December, 1780. Thereafter that Society built up a valuable collection of antiquities, and in 1851 gifted the whole of the collection to the nation. This necessitated adifferent organisation to operate the Museum. Until 1906 the Board of Trustees for Manufacturers was vested with the collection. In 1906 its place was taken by the Trustees of the National Galleries of Scotland, although supervision and management of the Museum itself was left to the Society of Antiquaries, who continued to add to the Society's collection.
This situation, which has persisted since 1906, produced the anomalous position of dual control by the Trustees of the National Galleries and the Societyof Antiquaries. That system has obviously not worked as well as another system might otherwise have done, however much good will—and there was ample good will—there may have been on the part of the two bodies concerned. The matter has been considered by more than one commission of one kind and another, and in 1951 a Departmental Committee under the chairmanship of Sir Randall Philip was appointed to consider how best to reorganise the management of the undertaking.
The Bill is based on the recommendations of the Philip Committee, and I should like to take this opportunity of recognising the clarity and the suitability of the solution that Committee proposed. Indeed, there could be no stronger recommendation for the proposals in its Reportthan the fact that both the Trustees of the National Galleries and the Society of Antiquaries, who are the people primarily concerned with it, welcome the Bill.
The Bill supersedes the dual control operated by those two bodies and sets up a separate governing body for the Museum. The Philip Committee thought that it was only right and proper that the unique service of the Society of Antiquaries should be specially recognised in the new set-up and that the Trustees of the National Galleries should no longer be concerned with a matter which was foreign to the bulk of their other responsibilities.
Accordingly Clause 1 and the Schedule to the Bill provide for the constitution of a new board which is to consist of the President and four Fellows of the Society ofAntiquaries plus five university representatives, one appointed from each of the Scottish universities, and also the Abercrombie Professor of Prehistoric Archaeology in the University of Edinburgh.
In addition to them, there are to be 11 persons appointedby the Secretary of State for Scotland, of whom one is to be representative of the archaeological interests in the West of Scotland, one of the Scottish Regional Group of the Council of British Archaeology, one of the interests of schools and eight
such public interests other than archaeological as the Secretary of State may think fit
to be represented on the governing body. That is in both the Report and the Bill. The chairman is to be appointed by the Secretary of State for Scotland. That is the body which is to take the place of this unsuitable and rather anomalous dual control which has operated hitherto.
Clauses 2 and 3 of the Bill deal with the powers to be conferred on the new board in accordance with the views expressed toy the Philip Committee. Clauses 4 and 5 deal with staff and finances. Clause 6 deals with a separate and independent point—a relatively small point—which arises in this way: at present the Board of Trustees for the National Galleries of Scotland must be reconstituted en bloc every five years, the whole of the members ceasing to hold office together. Under Clause 6 the appointments to the board are to be staggered so as to secure continuity on the Board of Trustees for the National Galleries.
The Bill is submitted for Second Reading as a real contribution to the development and improvement of the Museum. It will secure for the Museum, so far as we can see, the most satisfactory solution of a governing body with the single-minded object of developing the Museum for the benefit of the people of Scotland. I ask the House to give the Bill a Second Reading.
I assure the Lord Advocate that there will be no contention over the Bill from this side of the House, although perhaps I should inform his hon. Friends sitting beside him that in a short time, on matters educational and cultural, there will be a great deal of contention in the House raised by Scottish hon. Members on this side.
First, I am sure that hon. Members on both sides of the House would like to express praise of and gratitude to the Society of Antiquaries of Scotland. Had we known nothing at all about the work of that Society, reading the Report of the Philip Committee would have shown us very clearly thegreat debt which we, as a nation in Scotland, owe to that Society.
Indeed, the contents which we find in the Museum at the present time are due almost wholly to the work of the Society and the Fellows of the Society. What they have done over many years has given us in this Museum in Edinburgh a collection of antiquities which is easily among the foremost collections in Europe. For that reason I feel we should all show our gratitude to these fine people in Scotland.
If we look at the Report we find, in paragraph 15 on page 8, that the Standing Commission who visited Edinburgh in 1949 said,
that the Museum should be given definite status as a National Institution for which, incidentally, its wonderful possessions eminently qualify it…
That was not a Scottish body giving its opinion but a British body. It is for these
reasons that I feel that at the very beginning we ought to say exactly what we think of the work of that Society.
The Lord Advocate has mentioned what happened in 1906. Then we had the National Galleries of Scotland Act. The national galleries and the National Museum of Antiquities were, under that Act, placed under one board of trustees. It has occurred to me, from examining the position, that this must have been not only an important task for this Board of Trustees but must many times have been an onerous task.
The Board was responsible for two things. First, it was responsible for the nation's art collections in the various galleries which we have, and it was also responsible for promoting the fine arts in Scotland. These were two great responsibilities, because we in Scotland are proud of our heritage, but one must not just be complacent of being proud of what has happened in the past; one must always have a body of people who are interested to ensure that, particularly in the fine arts, we shall continue to do that which will bring real pride to our country.
So this Board had these two duties placed upon it, but in addition it was also responsible for the higher control of the National Museum of Antiquities. During all the years since 1906, although this Board of Trustees had responsibility for the higher control of the Museum, the Society of Antiquaries carried out the day-to-day supervision and management of the Museum.
The Lord Advocate, I am certain, is quite right in saying that dual control was not good. It was not good for our national galleries and it was not good for our National Museum of Antiquities. It has been shown clearly in all the reports that have come from various commissions that the sooner this dual control was ended the better for both those bodies in Scotland.
It has also been shown, of course, that in spite of the onerous duties and in spite of the dual control there was very great co-operation indeed. The Bill is good because it does at least end this dual control. The board that is being set up under the Bill will have full control of the National Museum of Antiquities.
I want to say a word or two about the people who will form that board. I am very glad indeed that it has been decided that five members of the Society of Antiquaries will be on that board of trustees—four Fellows and the President. That seems to me to be right and just.
There is one point which I should like to stress. The Philip Committee said, in paragraph 44, that regional as well as national interests should be represented on the board. The Secretary of State has a chance of doing that in his own appointments. If we look at the Bill we find, in the Schedule, paragraph 1 (e) the provision:
eleven persons appointed by the Secretary of State…
and in paragraph 1 (iv) he has to appoint
eight representing such public interests other than archaeological, as the Secretary of State may think fit.
I hope that in the appointments he makes the Secretary of State will take very great care to ensure that as Scotland can be divided into clear regions every part is represented on the board of trustees. I ask that particularly because this Museum has always been situated in Edinburgh. We know that in the West of Scotland a number of people are very interested in what the Museum holds and I am certain that that obtains in other regions of Scotland.
It is good to have on the board of trustees people who are interested in a matter over which they have control and who can bring a wider knowledge to the subject than would be the case if they were chosen from one district. For that reason, I stress that the Secretary of State should be most careful in his appointments. The Philip Committee thought that the needs of schools and adult educational organisations should be specially considered. I also think that is important. We know that the Museum is used to a great extent by specialists and university students, but all of us would agree that this Museum holds a real national heritage. It is something which belongs to the whole of Scotland.
I hope steps will be taken to ensure that interest in the Museum goes much wider than it has previously gone. There have been suggestions about film strips. Those who live in and around Edinburgh can take their children to the Museum, but those who are much further away.
particularly in the Highlands and Islands, find that impossible. Much could be done by a greater use of film strips to help those children and young people in more distant areas to enjoy this national heritage.
One of my hon. Friends wishes to say something about regional museums. It is suggested in the Philip Committee Report that there should be folk museums in various parts of Scotland. I know how impossible it is to provide new buildings, but I also realise that where there is a will a way will be found. In some areas remote from Edinburgh there may be the possibility of finding temporary accommodation in which to set up folk museums.
I am very glad that the Museum has found new quarters. It has done a wonderful job in the old cramped quarters where it is at present, but it is good to know that in a very short time this exceptional collection in Edinburgh will find quarters much more suitable for it, quarters in which the collection may be shown to much greater advantage, not only to our Scottish people but to many who come from other lands to see it. For these reasons I welcome the Bill.
I hope I may be forgiven at this late hour for detaining the House for a minute or two on this Bill. It is not very often that we have an opportunity of discussing Scottish museums. On this occasion we also have the opportunity of considering the very important Philip Report. The Report contains a great deal more than this Bill attempts to deal with.
As the hon. Lady the Member for Lanarkshire, North (Miss Herbison) has said, the question of accommodation is vital to the future of this Museum, and the Report goes as far as to say:
In describing the Museum's present accommodation, we have drawn attention to the grave congestion which is at present crippling its work.
I understand, as she said, that in fact the Museum is to get some further accommodation. I rather regret that the Lord Advocate did not say anything about it.
Again, the Report deals, as the hon. Lady has also said, with the educational work which the Museum might carry out. It also deals with the subject of its relations with other bodies, which I think are important. Most of the sites of antiquarian interest in Scotland are under the control of the Ministry of Works, which runs the local museums to which reference has been made.
It is most important that there should be the closest co-ordination between the Ministry of Works and the Museum, especially over the question as to whether a particular group of antiquities should be kept on the site, in the local museum or taken off to Edinburgh. Some other sites are under the control of the National Trust for Scotland. When we come to the question of the constitution of the board it may be a point to be considered in Committee whether there might not be a representative of the Trust on the Board.
I want to deal chiefly with two matters which, to me, are vital in a consideration of the future of the Museum and indeed its related institutions. It is obvious that we shall see, more and more, the break up of private collections of antiquities and works of art. We have only to look at the papers almost any day to see that another great house or another great private collection is to be sold.
The toilet set presented by Charles II to Arabella Stuart is to come up for sale at Sotheby's. It is an object of great beauty with great historical associations. It is one of the most living mementos of that rather amorous Monarch and a romantic lady. It will be a great pity, in my view, if that is lost to Scotland; but it almost certainly will be, because there are probably no private collectors or museums in Scotland in a position to buy it. That is an example of the sort of thing which takes place every month.
My point is that the Scottish museums have quite inadequate funds to enable them to retain objects of interest or historical value in their native land. The English museums are badly enough off, but when the grants are reduced to about one-fifth of what is given to the English museums they become quite insufficient in these days. For instance, we have already seen that some of the furniture from Melville House, which is unique in Scotland, has had to go down to the Victoria and Albert Museum.
I suggest that the main way by which that situation is to be rectified is by the giving of more generous grants to this Museum and others. At present I think it gets about £550 a year, which is quite insufficient. But there are other ways in which possibly the situation might be improved. There is the possibility of using the National Land Fund and also the possibility, dealt with in the Bill, of giving greater scope to the Trustees. This is a matter about which there has been considerable public debate. How much latitude should be left to the trustees of museums and collections?
Unfortunately, I think, the recent events at the Tate have rather alarmed the public. No one can approve what appear to have been inadvertent breaches of trust, but there is a danger that what has happened at the Tate will obscure the very great work which is done in these days by the trustees of collections, both in Scotland and in England, and the very great success with which, on the whole, they discharge their trust. I should much regret if the result of what has happened at the Tate were to be an interference with the discretion of the Trustees in any way.
In Clause 2 they are left wide discretion. They are even left a discretion to destroy objects, with the authority of the Secretary of State. They are left with authority to sell, and to lend, and so on. These are admittedly very wide powers. They will have to be exercised with very great care, but so long as Trustees have a very limited amount of money to spend, apart from having a limited staff and accommodation, I think we have to leave considerable discretion to them as to how they use this money and accommodation.
Judging by the increased public interest in museums—not only here in London, but in many parts of the country—obviously we must say that they have been worthy of the trust placed in them; and I welcome, on the whole, those provisions of the Bill about which I have spoken, although the House should take note of some of them, because they are very wide. This power to dispose of, or sell, objects, gives the Trustees a very great responsibility.
Now I come to this question of accommodation, which was dealt with at length in the Philip Committee's Report. There is, I think, a project for setting up in Queen Street a sort of centre of museums and galleries. This National Museum of Antiquities is in the National Portrait Gallery, which is not a very satisfactory arrangement. I think accommodation has been found in Shandwick Place, but does that mean that the idea of building a proper museum has been abandoned?
Can we be told of the prospects of the development of a site at the east end of Queen Street for the Modern Art Gallery as well as for this new Museum. Financial considerations may make that impossible, but at least we should try to relieve congestion in that somewhat curious and remarkable building in which the collection is now housed. If we cannot have a new building, then I suggest that other houses and buildings in Edinburgh might be considered. Robert Hurd is in charge of reconditioning the Royal Mile. That area is suggested in the Philips' Report. Are there no suitable houses there?
In that connection, I think it well to remember that we have to get away from the accepted conception of what a museum building should be—a vast mausoleum of concrete and sham marble full of glass cases. Smaller buildings can be used with great effect. We have also to break down the division of museums into their specialist categories; for example, there is a great case for showing pictures and furniture and silver together in one building, and there are no better houses for this than somewhere in the Royal Mile or in the eighteenth century terraces of the New Town. Therefore, can we be told something about the accommodation for this Museum, and whether, if we cannot have a new building for it, can we use some of the older buildings in Edinburgh?
After all, Edinburgh can act as a great educational centre. During August there is the great influx of visitors, and the city is a shop window of Scotland and, indeed, for Britain. This Museum was founded not only for antiquities, but for manufactures. Today, there is no permanent exhibition in Edinburgh of textiles, printing, and other manufactures, and it might well be that this original idea of the founders of this Museum should be brought into being.
Much mention is also made in the Report of a Folk Museum. There is one in the Highlands already, and I hope it will get full support from the Government. But there is no Folk Museum in the Lowlands, and that is a great need which we should try to meet. One of the obvious places for it is Edinburgh.
So, like every other hon. Member, I welcome the Bill as far as it goes. But we must not delude ourselves into thinking that it anything like covers the Philip Report or that it meets the need for new museum accommodation and new museum funds in Scotland. I very much hope that the Government regard it only as a beginning and will see if they can implement some of the other recommendations of the Report and make some progress in fulfilling the long-cherished idea of a great centre of art in the neighbourhood of the east end of Queen Street
I support the Bill warmly. In accordance with the custom of the House, I must declare an interest in that I am a Fellow of the Society of Antiquaries of Scotland. The unfriendly may say that that is obvious, so I thought I would say it first.
The change which my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State intends to bring about will be extremely valuable from the point of view not only of Scotland, but also of Great Britain. I am delighted to hear that new premises have been found in Shandwick Place, but I hope it does not mean, as the hon. Member for Orkney and Shetland (Mr. Grimond) said, that it will put a damper on the project for the east end of Queen Street which has been mooted already. However, if it means that it will show off the tremendous treasures which the Museum comprises better than is done at present, it is very much a step in the right direction.
But I do not think the Bill goes far enough. Particularly, I believe that the Highland Museum should come under the aegis and protection of the National Museum of Antiquities. I am sure that my noble Friend the Member for Inverness (Lord Malcolm Douglas-Hamilton) will forgive my mentioning the Highland Folk Museum at Kingussie in Inverness-shire. I do so because I regard it as something representative not merely of Inverness-shire, but of the country of Scotland as a whole. I feel that somehow, without going into the details of how, it should be brought under the wing of the National Museum of Antiquities as part and parcel of it.
This is a collection which has been got together since 1934 by a lady named Dr. Grant. It is the most wonderful collection of antiquities of all kinds representative of Highland life through the ages. In addition, there are recently constructed exact models of Highland houses, fitted up inside with every detail of furniture, cooking arrangements and so on. It is a wonderful thing which one lady has done for Scotland, for the sheer love of it, out of her own purseand without any assistance whatever.
I feel sincerely that this is something which might be taken under the wing of the National Museum of Antiquities as part and parcel of it because it is a treasure house for Scotland, albeit on a slightly smaller scale than that in Edinburgh, but none the less valuable. I hope that my right hon. Friend will give earnest consideration to the matter. I believe it will be a great treasure house and a great addition to the one in Edinburgh.
In taking up the point made by the hon. and gallant Member for Perth and East Perthshire (Colonel Gomme-Duncan) about the Highland Museum, I wish to say that before we consider abolishing this wonderful piece of private enterprise in Kingussie we ought to deal, on this Second Reading, with the sort of responsibilities which the National Museum of Antiquities should exercise if it were to take over a project such as that.
The Philip Report and the Bill both emphasise that a museum has a dual function. It is a very essential adjunct to scholarship, but I do not want to deal with that side of it at the moment. It is also an essential instrument of education both at school level and adult level. I suppose that if we wanted an average Scottish description of a museum one would say it was a place where one sought refuge on a wet Scottish Sabbath. Certainly, most of the provincial museums in Scotland find that the greater part of their general public interest occurs in that way. I am bound to confess that it was not until I visited the Castle Museum, at York, that I realised the potentialities of a museum properly organised.
One of the important points in the Philip Report was the point raised by the hon. Member for Orkney and Shetland (Mr. Grimond) about the congestion in the Scottish Museum of Antiquities. It is very important that the National Museum should be made more attractive. It is a question of selection of material and the art of display, which, naturally, means a thinning out of the many exhibits crowded together at the moment. What is to be done with that thinned out material. The new Board should consider itself to have a responsibility of providing for other museums in other parts of Scotland. It is very important that the National Museum, as is suggested in one of the Clauses and mentioned in the Philip Report, should operate a general service of professional and expert assistance for other Scottish museums, run exhibitions, loan exhibits, and give other museums every possible help to make them exciting local centres of an interest in Scottish history.
I am a great admirer of the folk museum at Kingussie, and I recently visited the Highland Museum at Fort William. When I was in the Highlands I met a number of people who are greatly interested in the work of these museums. We all owe a great deal to the local enthusiasts, and concern was expressed to me that when a new archaeological discovery, or some other discovery of interest, is made by a local person the expert from Edinburgh arrives and takes over the find. Very often that is the last the local people see of it unless they go to Edinburgh. Even then they complain they do not always get an opportunity of seeing it because the museum in Edinburgh is congested, and there is no room for it to be exhibited. Some consideration should be given to this matter by the new board of trustees when it is appointed. It is important to encourage the widest possible interest in these matters. I know little about it myself, but I understand that archaeology is a field in which the amateur can still make a definite contribution and can still give assistance in uncovering new finds. I hope that the new board will interpret its duties in that spirit.
There are difficulties, of course. It will be said that it is hard for the National Museum of Antiquities to loan its exhibits to local museums because of the difficulty of seeing that they are properly looked after. I would point out that exactly those difficulties were raised when the work of the Arts Council was first considered, but the recent report of the Arts Council shows a magnificent record of travelling exhibitions of pictures having been taken around Scotland—taken to places where that sort of thing had never been considered before. Undoubtedly there were difficulties, but they were overcome, and I am sure that if a similar effort is made by the new Board of the National Museum of Antiquities the difficulties can be overcome there, too.
Finally, I want to comment on the composition of the new board. I notice that, under the terms of the Bill, eight places are to be filled at the discretion of the Secretary of State for Scotland. I am sure that is a very wise decision, because it provides flexibility in the composition of the board. My hon. Friend the Member for Lanarkshire, North (Miss Herbison) has already mentioned the importance of appointing regional representatives, and that links closely with the points I have been making.
I should like to add two other points in that connection. Our museums, both in Edinburgh and elsewhere, have a very close connection with our tourist attractions. An attractively laid out museum can be immensely important to us in this way. I hope some one will be appointed to the new board who will link scholarship with a knowledge of what attracts foreign visitors to the Highlands and Lowlands of Scotland.
It is also important to have on the board someone with an expert knowledge of the rather new field of using the museum as an instrument of school education. Experts at university level are not perhaps the best people to appreciate that aspect of the museum's work. In my constituency, in Dundee, they have a very interesting experiment by which the museum loans out exhibits to the various schools. In Glasgow, the museums and art galleries have done magnificent educational work, so much so that on Saturday mornings children flock into the museums and art galleries for the various activities organised for them there.
If the National Museum of Antiquities interprets its place in Scotland not only as providing a centre in Edinburgh, but also—assuming it has the necessary financial support—as exercising a general service of assistance and encouragement to museums throughout Scotland, it will do a very good job in making our museums an even more important, more exciting and more widely appreciated aspect of our national life.
I am not a Scotsman and I do not represent a Scottish constituency, but I hope I may be forgiven for intervening in the debate in that I bear an English name spelled in a Scots way. I own a few meagre acres of Scottish soil and I am particularly interested in the preservation and display of British antiquities, wherever they may be discovered and wherever they may be lodged.
No one can object to the main Clauses of the Bill. It is based upon a Report which has been universally acclaimed, and its conditions have the support of the National Galleries of Scotland, which stand to lose through the Bill their control over the National Museum of Antiquities.
The Bill raises certain relevant points applicable to museums in general. The hon. Member for Orkney and Shetland (Mr. Grimond) was a little disturbed by the powers given to the new board to destroy, remove, or sell, objects in its care; but I would point out that these powers are limited in two ways. First, by the necessity to confine their disposal of objects to those not donated, by gift or request, by people who presume that these objects will always remain in the care of the museum; secondly, while the power of destruction may seem to be wide, the Bill says that they may, with the consent of the Secretary of State, destroy any work vested in them which appears to them to be infested by destructive organisms, or by reason of deterioration to have become useless for the purposes of the museum. One may suppose that that will cover few objects in the care of the museum—only those which are riddled with vermin which may spread to more valuable objects, and those which have fallen to pieces to such an extent that they are of no practicable use.
Other hon. Members have pointed out that the Bill does not refer to many of the most important points made by the Philip Committee. It hardly deals with the subject of congestion. It was perhaps only by accident that as soon as the Report was published the Museum had the windfall of Shandwick Place. I join with other hon. Members in asking whether this is to be a permanent home, or merely a temporary lodging for the treasures in the Museum's possession. The Earl of Home, when he introduced the Bill in another place, described Shandwick Place as a building ideally situated for the purpose of a national museum, which would enable it to display its treasures to much greater advantage. That suggests that Shandwick Place is to be the museum's permanent home. If so, has it been acquired by gift, loan, or purchase, and is it intended to make this building the home of the proposed National Folk Museum as well as of the treasures in the possession of the Museum of Antiquities?
This Folk Museum, which was given prominence in the Philip Report, has no place in this Bill. If the recommendations in the Report are implemented, will it not be necessary to bring in another Bill to give the board power over the Folk Museum when it is established? Hon. Members will recall that the Philip Committee recommended that the Board should have parental status, as it were, over the National Museum of Antiquities and the proposed Folk Museum. The Report goes on to say that in the Committee's opinion—and I must, in fairness, add, in the opinion of the Permanent Commission of Museums and Galleries—the two museums should be housed in different buildings.
Is this wise or necessary? Different buildings will involve great waste of money. They will have to be purchased or built. They will need separate staffs, and will carry wasteful overheads. Is it in the interest of the public that people should, as in Wales, have to go to different buildings, perhaps separated by many miles, to view the antiquities of their country?
Perhaps my hon. Friend may not realise that one of the main features of the Folk Museum is that it contains replicas of houses in which to show these things in suitable surroundings. Without those, they would lose much of their attraction. Therefore, they could not be moved to Edinburgh.
I am grateful to my hon. and gallant Friend, but judging by St. Fagan's Museum, near Cardiff, which he may not have visited, a folk museum contains not houses but rooms built as replicas of rooms used in different periods of history.
I do not want to pursue this very far, but simply to indicate that it would be advisable, in my opinion, if the new museum, whether it is to be at Shandwick Place or in a totally new building, should incorporate both exhibits suitable to a folk museum and those nationally most important antiquities.
After all, the two types of exhibits, could, without any harm, be displayed in exactly the same place. A student interested in one particular period will not be distracted from his studies by exhibits in an adjoining gallery of objects, household, monumental or archaeological, that illustrate the history of Scotland at periods different from that which he is making his own. Moreover, if there is to be a Folk Museum set up it is under the guardianship of the Board that is to be established by the Bill.
Ought not the Board to have slightly wider representation than is suggested in the Schedule to the Bill? We have already heard that of the 21 members of the Board eight are to be professional archaeologists dealing with prehistorical times, five are to be delegates from the universities and schools, and the remaining eight are to be chosen at the decision of the Secretary of State. There is obviously already a bias in favour of the antiquaries, and if there is to bea Folk Museum dealing with periods right up to our own times—because that is the object of a folk museum—there must be people on the Board who are versed in later history, and, indeed, versed in the history of religion in Scotland, and even in the industrial history of Scotland, so that those aspects of history can be adequately represented.
The claims of the more immediate past must not be lost when we talk of the claims of Scotland's prehistory, which has, as has been shown in recent years, largely owing to the excavations in the constituency of the hon. Gentleman the Member for Orkney and Shetland (Mr. Grimond), made a contribution to the culture of Europe.
I welcome, as everybody else does, this Bill, which is of great importance to the future of Scottish scholarship, and, as an Englishman, I hope that it will not be long before I can visit the museum in its new setting.
I, like the hon. and gallant Member for Perth and East Perthshire (Colonel Gomme-Duncan), want to be very brief. I think all Scots Members present will join with me in saying to the hon. Member for Bournemouth, East and Christchurch (Mr. N. Nicolson) that it is quite wrong to suppose that we Scots resent it when an Englishman joins in a Scottish debate. The contribution which the hon. Member has made bears out, I think, the contention made by the hon. Member for Orkney and Shetland (Mr. Grimond) that many more Members would be very glad to join in a wider debate on museums and galleries if it could be arranged, but, unfortunately, tonight we are tied to the proposals contained in this Bill which, as I understand it, is merely a machinery Bill.
Some of the points I wanted to make, concerning the value of arts and treasures and the study of these things for the benefit of our country, I shall have to let pass. They have already been made, one particularly by the hon. Member for Perth and East Perthshire. The Bill is the outcome of the work of a Departmental Committee and before that, the recommendation of a Royal Commission that at least dual control should be ended in the matter of museums. I think it is part of the answer to the hon. Member for Bournemouth, East and Christchurch to say that this Bill creates the conditions which will make some of the suggestions which he has made to the House possible to be met at some future date, even in the matter of closing the negotiations about the site and the contents of the Museum. It would be very interesting, and I think hon. Members would be glad of the opportunity, to pursue the interesting suggestions contained in the Report, between paragraphs 39 to 46, which deals with the suggestion of linking up regional museums between themselves, national museums and something between local museums, or regional museums and national ones.
I believe that the best reasons for this change are contained in paragraph 18 of the Report, which puts three main points. First, that history and archaeology are increasingly becoming specialised studies in universities, and, therefore, that under the present control of the Museum of Antiquities it is difficult for the same Board to look after their primary purpose of fine arts in Scotland and also the Museum and its future developments Secondly, that because of the dual control the trustees do not have, at the moment, the power and authority necessary to accomplish some of the things which the hon. Member suggests and that the Museum cannot even acquire the necessary knowledge to enable it to make arrangements for the future. Thirdly, that if the Museum is to fulfil its functions control should be representative of public and special interest.
I agree with the hon. Member for Dundee (Mr. G. M. Thomson), who mentioned the great value of the Museum in the educational field. My hon. Friend referred to Glasgow, and I think that what Glasgow has done ought to be better known to hon. Members of the House. It was in 1939 that the director of the art galleries and museums there, a gentleman well known to those who are interested in these matters, Dr. T. J. Honeyman, who is now the Lord Rector of Glasgow University, felt that the Museum was not fulfilling its purposes and was failing to make use of its material.
Development in 1940 gave an impetus and helped in this matter by making better use of the Museum. Organised parties came from the schools and it was agreed that after three years the matter should be discussed. It was a marked success and, after 10 years, further developments are being considered. It is true, as my hon. Friend said, that the enthusiasm that has been aroused, not only among pupils but teachers, is remarkable in the extreme. On Saturdays and now on Saturday afternoons teachers are coming with parties of children, particularly from the Kelvingrove district, to attend nature studies and see film strips and little cinema shows, then going through the Museum and having lectures from the attendants. This would be worth the study of the board of trustees, who later will be in charge of the Museum.
I am glad to be able to support this Bill very fully in the confidence that the trustees will make the best use of the material and do all they can to fulfil the functions which the Report suggests and that it will be for the ultimate betterment of the culture and learning of the people of Scotland.
I should like to say a word in support of what was said by my hon. and gallant Friend the Member for Perth and East Perthshire (Colonel Gomme-Duncan) about the very interesting Highland Museum at Kingussie. Excellent work has been put in by Dr. Grant in past years and that has taken an immense amout of time, trouble and money. She has made a unique and priceless collection and it would be a real loss to Scotland if we were to lose it. I know that in the last couple of years she has had considerable financial worry in maintaining the Museum as it is.
About 18 months ago I wrote to my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State but at that time he was unable to do anything about it. It seems that the introduction of this Bill provides an opportunity to raise the matter again. I notice that in Clause I it is said:
The Board shall have the general management and control of the Museum and for that purpose may—
accept gifts or bequests of money or objects or other property;
I should like to know whether the museum at Kingussie, which is such a priceless asset, could be maintained by the board accepting it as a gift. I am sure that Dr. Grant would be pleased to know that.
I am sure that we have all found great pleasure in the harmonious atmosphere in which the debate has taken place. I wish to thank the hon. Lady the Member for Lanarkshire, North (Miss Herbison) for the very pleasant speech she made in opening the debate and the support which she offered the Bill. I can assure her that my right hon. Friend will carefully consider the suggestions she made about spreading the representation on the board over the country as a whole. She, of course, knows that other considerations have to be taken into account in accordance with the recommendations of the Philip Committee, but her suggestions will be carefully considered.
The hon. Member for Orkney and Shetland (Mr. Grimond), who, we know, is interested in these matters, asked me about the funds. I am sure he will be glad to learn that my right hon. Friend hopes quite soon to be able to announce a fairly substantial increase in the purchase grants which are to be made. The hon. Member will know that special grants can be sought for special purposes.
I observed that the hon. Member, like my hon. and gallant Friend the Member for Perth and East Perthshire (Colonel Gamine-Duncan) rather favoured the distribution of these interesting objects in houses or buildings suitable to the character of the object.
On the other hand, my hon. Friend the Member for Bournemouth, East and Christchurch (Mr. N. Nicolson) felt that they should all be in one building. That is a matter which will perhaps be considered. I am sure the new board will be well aware of the pros and cons. For my part, I rather favour the view that if there is an ideal house which suits a certain class of exhibit then that is the right thing to do; but that is a matter very much for the board to consider.
Several hon. Members asked about accommodation. The Shandwick Place premises will provide supplementary accommodation for three purposes. First, there is the display of exhibits; secondly, research, and thirdly, storage. I think that my hon. Friends should know that the Museum authorities are very happy about Shandwick Place. They feel that it will be a real asset to them. It will supplement present accommodation and it will remain in use temporarily until the new Museum is built.
We have a site in mind for the new Museum. As soon as the board is set up we propose to consult them about it and thereafter to make contact with Edinburgh Corporation about the planning arrangements. In due course we hope that something effective will be done.
Two hon. Members, one on either side, seemed to want the Queen Street site, yet the Report of the Philip Committee is against the Queen Street site. In paragraph 37, it says:
…the Queen Street site is not on any of the main tourist routes, and, as one witness described it, is 'psychologically not a good site.'
The hon. Lady is quite right. She will know that the site of the proposed Gallery of Modern Art will be York Buildings, which is in Queen Street. I suppose that it has been difficult to meet everybody's view about sites, but she can rest assured that this site isearmarked for that purpose. Most people feel that it is not a bad site for a gallery of modern art and that we may well go along in that direction.
The hon. Member for Dundee, East (Mr. G. M. Thomson) raised an interesting question which I am sure will be borne in mind by the new board. He hoped that they would make their exhibits available to people in other parts of the country. That is exactly what we hope they will do. That is provided for in Clause 2(1). I am sure that the members of the new board will want to do that, because it has obviously had such splendid results. I was most interested to hear the hon. Member for Maryhill (Mr. Hannan) speak about what has been happening in Glasgow. I know that it is true. That is another matter which will be carefully and sympathetically considered by the board.
It is suggested that the National Museum should take over the folk museums. I am not able to say very much about that at the moment. Hon. Members will appreciate that it might involve a considerable liability to the National Museum, but it is a matter which ought to be considered. Whether it will be possible, I do not know. If there was an offer of a free gift that might overcome the difficulty.