Clause 3. — (Allocation of Gifts and Bequests.)

Orders of the Day — NATIONAL GALLERY AND TATE GALLERY BILL [Lords] – in the House of Commons at 12:00 am on 5 November 1954.

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Photo of Mr Jo Grimond Mr Jo Grimond , Orkney and Shetland 12:00, 5 November 1954

I beg to move, in page 2, line 34, to leave out from "or," to "and," in line 35, and to insert: any gallery or museum which is regularly open to the public and which is deemed appropriate for its retention and exhibition.

Photo of Mr George Thomas Mr George Thomas , Cardiff West

If the Committee agree, this Amendment might be considered with the Amendment in Schedule 1, page 5, line 18, and the Amendment to leave out Schedule 1.

Photo of Mr Jo Grimond Mr Jo Grimond , Orkney and Shetland

I think that would be convenient, Mr. Thomas. The last of the three Amendments is consequential upon the one which I have just moved.

This Clause has nothing to do with loans. There seems to have been some slight confusion in our previous discussion on that point. Loans can be made under Clause 4, but this Clause arises from Section 3 of the Act of 1856. Under that Section, if pictures or works of art are left or given to the nation without it being clearly indicated to what gallery they should go, the trustees of the National Gallery have power to vest them in that gallery. This Clause makes it possible for the Treasury, presumably on the advice of the trustees, in such cases where bequests are made to the nation, to vest such works of art in the galleries which are set out in the First Schedule, or in such other institutions as may from time to time be added to that Schedule. It is clear from that that this Clause will be applicable only to comparatively minor works of art. If any major works are bequeathed, it is fairly obvious that they should go either to one of the national galleries or to the Tate.

Secondly, it is intended that the powers conferred by this Clause should be exercised, if at all, as soon as the bequest is made. I asked a question on this point during the Second Reading debate, because I saw the possibility of applying it to the Lane Collection, but I do not think that it is intended under this Clause to give power to the Treasury or to the trustees of galleries to part with the ownership of pictures which have been in their possession for some time and pass them over to some other gallery. Thirdly, the Clause is permissive. It does not lay an obligation upon anyone.

My Amendment simply strikes out the list, which is given in the First Schedule, of institutions to whom the Treasury may pass bequests or gifts which are made without specifying which gallery should benefit. The reason for the Schedule being included in the Bill was given by the Financial Secretary during the Second Reading debate, when he said: The institutions listed in it are, in fact, the institutions which are at present represented on…the Standing Commission on Museums and Galleries…the final words of the First Schedule…give power to the Treasury, by order, to include other institutions and to add to the Schedule."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 29th October, 1954; Vol. 531, c. 2351.] I submit that that is not a valid consideration in this matter. What we have to consider, surely, is that if some works of art or paintings are bequeathed to the nation they should be exhibited in the most suitable gallery. Any major works of art would be sent to the National Gallery or to the Tate, or to the National Gallery of Scotland; but if we must have a list, it is very strange to exclude the art galleries of Glasgow, Liverpool and Birmingham and, indeed, Belfast, as the present list does, although it includes the National Library for Scotland, the National Library for Wales, the Imperial War Museum and the Maritime Museum. I have nothing at all against those institutions. They are extremely important institutions in their own way, but as art galleries they are certainly not more important, or better places in which to exhibit pictures and other works of art, than some other of the galleries I have mentioned.

1.30 p.m.

The Financial Secretary may say that we can add at any time any gallery that appears the obvious place for a particular picture to be exhibited. Then one wonders why there should be a list in the First Schedule at all. Why not leave it to the Treasury, in consultation with the National and Tate Gallery Trustees, to decide where a picture should be exhibited, and whether or not it should be exhibited in this or that gallery. Surely they are perfectly competent to do that, and surely we can trust them not to have a picture exhibited in some totally unsuitable place.

Moreover, if we are to have this list and the power to add to it, it seems to me that the list becomes indefinitely extensible. There may be good reasons why a work of art should be sent, say, to Aberdeen where there is an excellent gallery or to Exeter. For instance, a picture may have a local interest; or a gallery may have an almost complete collection to which the picture in question naturally belongs; or the picture may be a duplicate of one already exhibited in the National Gallery or the Tate Gallery and so could be passed on to another gallery.

We have just been discussing the sending of pictures to the Dublin Gallery. At first I was opposed to that, because it seemed to me a serious matter in principle to establish the power of the Treasury to allocate bequests outside the United Kingdom or outside the Commonwealth. However, I was a little bit moved by the argument for the inclusion of the Dublin Gallery and particularly by the argument that Great Britain and Ireland are in one tradition in art. I have, therefore, an open mind on that proposal, as also, of course, I have an open mind on the drafting of my Amendment. It may not be correctly drafted, but I do think that to lay down a firm list as in the First Schedule will raise difficulties.

Subsection (1) of the Clause talks about the "power of selection." By the 1856 Act a power of selection is given to the Trustees of the National Gallery in cases where, for instance, someone leaves 12 pictures to the Gallery. They can select one or two and return the rest to the residue of the estate. I am not quite clear what happens about this power of selection.

If the bequest is passed over to the National Gallery of Scotland for instance, the power of selection apparently will pass, too, and it will be for the National Gallery of Scotland to decide how many of the pictures they want to take and, if they do not want to take all, to return the rest of the pictures to the testator's residual estate. But it may be convenient to the Treasury to exercise the power and retain some pictures for the National Gallery in London and to give some to the National Gallery of Scotland. I am not quite clear whether this matter is covered by the present drafting of the Clause, and I should be grateful if the Financial Secretary would explain it, if not now, then at some other time.

Photo of Mr Christopher Hollis Mr Christopher Hollis , Devizes

I support the Amendment, but I shall not detain the Committee for more than a minute or two because the hon. Gentleman has covered the ground. The comparatively small point we have in mind is quite clear. Our feeling about the First Schedule as it is at present is that it contains a list that is slightly odd for its purpose. We find in the list of museums some which are slightly odd in this context, and the omission of some others whose names, if a list is to be drawn up, it would seem highly desirable to find in it.

At the end of the Schedule appear the words: Such other institutions in the United Kingdom as the Treasury may by order under this Act add to this Schedule. So no very great harm can come if the Schedule is passed in its present form, but it seems to the hon. Member and me more convenient, instead of trying to make up a precise list, to insert some general words into the Bill similar to those we have suggested.

I do not want to waste time going back over the Irish question again, but I do feel that there is something quite wrong in treating an Irish institution as though it were a foreign institution in a Schedule to a Bill of this kind.

Photo of Sir Barnett Stross Sir Barnett Stross , Stoke-on-Trent Central

My right hon. and hon. Friends and I have tabled an Amendment to the First Schedule that we consider should be called, in page 5, line 18, to leave out from "as," to the end of the Schedule, and to insert: are regularly open to the public, and are deemed appropriate by the Trustees. By this Amendment any provincial art gallery could be considered with the national institutions that are at present in the list in the Schedule. The Amendment expresses our view that the Schedule is too tightly drawn.

We recognise that the 13 institutions listed are listed because they all receive Treasury grants and are almost entirely supported by money from the Exchequer, whereas, by and large, provincial galleries and museums, however notable, are supported by the rates, and the only national income they ever derive is an indirect one, a trifling amount from the Ministry of Education in grants if there is teaching of children in those institutions.

We have heard a good deal about the functions of the trustees of the National Gallery, and we make it quite clear that we think their discretion is quite sufficient to enable us to trust the trustees. We feel that to list four Scottish institutions, two Welsh and seven London ones, even with the proviso that some other institution may by order under the Bill be added, is not good enough. The time has come when there should be an expression of opinion from the Treasury on the subject of a better form of liaison between the great provincial collections and the national institutions here listed. The time has come when there should be more co-ordination and co-operation. Some, of course, exists. We know that, but we should certainly like it to be very much more manifest.

Ever since the Arts Council has been functioning—and it functions very well—it has been establishing a piece of machinery for the display of works of art. It has its offices in the regions, in the great cities. Machinery, at least skeleton machinery, is already available by means of which our treasures could and should be shown more than they are at present. I am not criticising the magnificent work regularly done by the Arts Council in displaying some of our treasures in this way.

I cannot help but say at once that their energy and their work in having here in London under the roof of the Tate Gallery the very marvellous collections in the last two or three years has been of a very high standard indeed.

We think the Metropolis gets a very large bite out of the cherry and a rude phrase has been used—Metropolitan log-rolling—about this matter. After all, we are responsible throughout the whole of the country for taxation and we outside London bear a fair share of it. We know full well that the best of our treasures must be housed here in London for obvious reasons, just as we recognise that the expenditure of money on the arts must, in the main, be here, because it is here that the true standards have to be set. If we do not have enough money or material to be able evenly to spread it through the whole country, London must take the greatest share and have the best. All that we recognise, but we feel the time is now coming when liaison should be better and we consider that the Treasury might ponder the possibility of specialisation not only here in the Metropolis, but in the provinces themselves.

As things stand, I imagine that if a bequest were made under Clause 3 which was not in paintings or sculptures, but, for argument's sake, a great collection of pottery, it would be bound to go to the Victoria and Albert Museum. I wonder whether I am not right in saying that the Victoria and Albert Museum already cannot show one-third, one-fifth, perhaps even one-eighth of its great collection of pottery.

Would it not be more reasonable if there were powers to send it, without special resolution of this House or the Treasury having to be informed to Stoke-on-Trent, for example, which has the fourth or fifth greatest collection in the world and which is building a new gallery? Manchester has a great reputation with the Whitworth Gallery, which is technically a private gallery but accessible to the public, in which there is one of the greatest collections in the world of water colours. It would be the logical centre for the circulation of water-colour painting. Birmingham has a very fine collection of oil paintings and would be the logical centre for sending to and receiving from small towns and boroughs oil paintings or sculpture or both.

We want to draw this matter to the attention of the Treasury. We think the schedule as drafted is too tight and old-fashioned. We know how this list came to be drawn up. We have heard the explanations but we so no reason why there should not be cameradie from the Treasury and money we spend in the Provinces from rates. We are all citizens and we all pay taxes.

1.45 p.m.

Mr. Dugdale:

I should like to support my hon. Friend's arguments. I entirely agree with the hon. Member for Devizes (Mr. Hollis) that the list seems to be very odd. I cannot understand the basis of it except in so far as it is a financial basis. If it is a financial basis it is understandable. But what we should be concerned with is not purely finance, but getting the pictures seen by as many people as possible.

We can all agree that the pictures would be properly preserved at the best provincial museums and if it were thought that any museum was not able to preserve them, obviously, under this Clause, it would be possible for the Treasury to say the pictures should not be sent to that particular museum. If one is considering the prictures and not the people who should see them, the view may be taken that the only thing that matters is how they are preserved. There was an interesting case—I think it concerned an assistant curator at the National Gallery—during the war when the pictures were under a mountain in Wales. He was so impressed with the excellent state of preservation there that he thought it might be unfortunate if the pictures were taken back to the National Gallery, where they would not be kept in such an excellent state of preservation.

We need to consider where the pictures will be seen by people. There is a concentration of people in London—some would say too great a proportion—but it is very hard for people living, for example, in the Midlands or in Cornwall to be able to come to London when they want to see the pictures. I think we must pay due regard to these people. They pay taxes and cannot be considered as people just receiving gifts when they contribute to the taxes which pay for these pictures and for the upkeep of museums generally. It would be really insulting to some of our great provincial museums—I mention one close to my constituency, the Birmingham Art Gallery—to say they would not be able to preserve and look after pictures as well as the National Maritime Museum, for example. It would be wrong also to say that people in Birmingham would not be as interested in seeing the pictures as would the people in London.

For those reasons, I hope we may extend this list in the way proposed.

Photo of Mr Henry Brooke Mr Henry Brooke , Hampstead

It is so seldom that anybody moves to extend the powers of the Treasury that the hon. Member for Orkney and Shetland (Mr. Grimond) constituted himself my friend straight away when he moved this Amendment.

But in all seriousness, I would say there is an important issue here and it is right that the Committee should spend a few minutes examining it. The hon. Member for Orkney and Shetland asked what would happen if one of these institutions did not want a picture or did not want some of the pictures. As I understand—indeed, I can give this assurance—the intention of the Treasury in using these powers will be to ascertain beforehand whether an institution wants to have a picture. The Treasury will not, as it were, throw the picture at the National Maritime Museum without having first assured itself that the National Maritime Museum wants to accept.

Photo of Mr Jo Grimond Mr Jo Grimond , Orkney and Shetland

This is a very small point, but it arises from the Act of 1856 which empowers the trustees of the National Gallery to select from any collection bequeathed to them. It is a drafting, point as to how this would be affected by this Bill because under the Bill it does not seem to be possible for the Treasury to advise the National Gallery to split up a collection and select from it.

Photo of Mr Henry Brooke Mr Henry Brooke , Hampstead

The Treasury would find an institution which would accept the collection as a whole or the greater part of it, but I think I am right in saying that if one or two pictures were not acceptable to the institution they would revert to the residual legatees. But the object of the Treasury would be to find institutions that would be prepared to accept the whole or greater part of the collection.

I must remind the Committee of what we are seeking to do in this Clause, namely, to solve the problem which arises when a picture is left to the nation without any distinctive words indicating which national institution is to have it. The trustees of the National Gallery have had this power ever since 1856 and in recent years they have frequently allocated to the Tate Gallery some picture which, without further specification, has been left to the nation.

I think it will be agreed that all these Amendments cover the same point. They would widen the Treasury's discretion so that, when a picture was left to the nation, the Treasury would have power to direct it to be sent not only to one of the national institutions but to any gallery or museum which is regularly open to the public and which is deemed appropriate for its retention and exhibition. Sympathetic though I am towards the general desire of ensuring that pictures are exhibited where they can be most appreciated, I cannot advise the Committee to accept the Amendment. If it were accepted, we should find ourselves alienating from the nation some pictures which the testator desired to give to the nation. We all wish that testators should consider very carefully what they were doing when drawing up their will and that they should obtain the best legal advice.

Mr. Dugdale:

And they should be witnessed.

Photo of Mr Henry Brooke Mr Henry Brooke , Hampstead

Yes. If a donor or testator wishes his picture to go to a local museum, there is no difficulty in his arranging accordingly. If a testator leaves a picture to the nation, we must presume that that was what he truly desired to do. The inference is that he gave thought to the matter and that he did not wish to leave it to Glasgow, Liverpool or Birmingham—although no doubt any of those galleries would have excellent and suitable opportunities for exhibiting the picture—but wished it to go to the nation.

Photo of Sir Barnett Stross Sir Barnett Stross , Stoke-on-Trent Central

Will the Financial Secretary bear in mind that in 1856 Liverpool and Manchester had very poor collections compared with those which they hold today and that such places as Stoke-on-Trent had none at all? The picture is rapidly changing.

Photo of Mr Henry Brooke Mr Henry Brooke , Hampstead

I do not think we shall be dealing with many wills drawn up in 1856 or thereabouts and I grant that this problem will grow easier as time goes on.

I remind the Committee that, to whichever of these national institutions a picture may be directed, the decision will be taken only after the most careful consideration by the Treasury as to whether that is the most suitable place. If it is the Tate Gallery, as might well be the case, the Tate Gallery will have the lending powers mentioned later in the Bill.

While I yield to nobody in my desire that pictures shall be exhibited where they can be most suitably seen, I must put it to the Committee that if we accepted the Amendment we should be interfering rather seriously with the expressed wishes of testators.

Mr. Dugdale:

The hon. Gentleman has said that a list has been drawn up of the appropriate galleries and museums and that that has been done for a definite reason. How is it possible to have these words in the Schedule: Such other institutions in the United Kingdom as the Treasury may by order under this Act add to the Schedule"? That gives the Treasury fairly wide powers, which seem to go outside the principle which the Financial Secretary has just laid down.

Photo of Mr Henry Brooke Mr Henry Brooke , Hampstead

I am not quite sure how far I may go in discussing the First Schedule, although presumably it will be in order to do so. The purpose of those words at the end of the First Schedule is to cover the possibility that other national institutions may come into existence in the future. If some other institution were made national by statute, so to speak, then presumably the point would be covered in that statute, but it might well be that no statutory action was required in a certain case, and these words are intended to cover the very slender possibility that on some occasion an institution might become a national institution and there might be no other means, except a Treasury Order of this kind, to bring it within the scope of the First Schedule.

Photo of Mr Kenneth Robinson Mr Kenneth Robinson , St Pancras North

In adducing arguments why the Committee should not accept the Amendment, the Financial Secretary directed himself entirely to Clause 3. He used the argument that we might be setting aside the wishes of a testator if we accepted the Amendment. But the Schedule applies also to Clause 5, and in my view it is very important that the trustees of the Tate Gallery should have wider powers of transfer than are at present permitted in the Schedule. Is there not some way in which the Government can accept the Amendment as applicable merely to Clause 5? None of the hon. Gentleman's arguments could be held to apply in that instance.

Photo of Mr George Strauss Mr George Strauss , Lambeth Vauxhall

I should like to support what was said by my hon. Friend the Member for St. Pancras, North (Mr. K. Robinson), but, first, I must say that the Financial Secretary, who is usually so convincing, did not convince me at all by his argument for rejecting the Amendment in its application to Clause 3. His argument was that if somebody leaves a picture or a collection of pictures to the nation, it follows that the picture or collection must be exhibited in some museum which has the word "national" attached to it. I do not find that logical.

Surely, if somebody leaves a collection of pictures to the nation, he intends that those pictures should be seen by the people of the nation in the best and most appropriate way and where they will be most appreciated. That does not necessarily mean that they must be exhibited in a gallery which has the word "national" attached to it. There are other museums in the country which are visited by large numbers of people, perhaps many more than the number who visit some museums which are described as "national." It seems to me to be a false argument to say that the Amendment should be rejected because a picture given by a testator to the nation must go to a museum or art gallery which has the word "national" attached to it or that we should be acting contrary to the testator's desires.

May I give an example? I have a few pictures, none of them very great, and when I die I might leave them to the nation. Among them is a picture by a man, who is a very well-known provincial artist and who specialises in painting the back streets of one of our largest provincial towns. It might well be that the right thing for the Treasury to say would be, "Obviously this picture would be best appreciated and most enjoyed in the art gallery of the city concerned or one of the other provincial art galleries." Such a decision would be possible if the Amendment were accepted, but it would not be possible under the principles laid down by the Financial Secretary. Under his principles it would be necessary to show this picture and all the others in a gallery in London or one of the other galleries which has the word "national" attached to it.

I do not find the hon. Gentleman's argument at all convincing and I ask him to think again. He has not much time in which to think again because he wants the Commitee stage and all remaining stages of the Bill to be completed today, but perhaps he can reconsider the matter at a later stage. All the large galleries in this country, we are told, are, in fact, national galleries in the broader sense of that word. I cannot imagine that any testator who leaves his pictures to the nation could possibly object if the Treasury, acting on the best advice, and having regard to the testator's general wishes, said that it would be better if some of these pictures were exhibited in the provinces rather than in London.

2.0 p.m.

Photo of Mr Jo Grimond Mr Jo Grimond , Orkney and Shetland

I, too, found the answer of the hon. Gentleman unconvincing. I cannot believe that a testator in Northern Ireland who leaves a picture to the nation would think that his wishes had been adequately carried out if it went to, say, the Science Museum in London. A testator in Scotland or Ireland who leaves works of art to the nation may well mean the Scottish or Irish nation, not some London institution, even if called "National."

If the Financial Secretary has in mind that bequests to the nation should only be exhibited in institutions called "National," he did not seem to say so on Second Reading. He drew attention to the final words of the First Schedule which will give power to the Treasury, by order, to include other institutions in the United Kingdom and to add to the Schedule."— [OFFICIAL REPORT, 29th October, 1954; Vol. 531, c. 2351.] He never said that only in the event of these institutions being made national they might be added to the Schedule.

I ask him to look at this matter again. Even in the Schedule itself there is nothing about, "Such other national institutions." It says: Such other institutions in the United Kingdom… and I am seriously alarmed by the construction which he has put on it, which greatly narrows the powers of the Treasury and makes it impossible for them to accept things of great local interest for exhibition in Northern Ireland or any other part of Great Britain.

Photo of Dr Mont Follick Dr Mont Follick , Loughborough

I should like to draw a parallel with Germany before the First World War. Then, in Dresden and Munich there were infinitely greater museums and picture galleries than ever there were in Berlin. People went to Munich and Dresden to see the pictures. It was one of the great things to go to Dresden to see the Sistine Madonna, and there was a much broader establishment of art in Germany outside the capital than in the capital itself.

Photo of Mr Woodrow Wyatt Mr Woodrow Wyatt , Birmingham Aston

This is a very puzzling situation, because I thought that the purpose of the Bill was to remove the rigidity which surrounds so much of the work of the museums, so as to enable them to lend freely to one another, lend pictures abroad, and generally make it possible for various collections to be shown to the public in various parts of the world and not only in this country in particular.

How odd it is that the Government should insist on this particular piece of rigidity which compels particular pictures to be kept in one of the museums listed in the Schedule, although other pictures in the galleries listed in the Schedule may be lent to galleries not listed in the Schedule. We may lend pictures to galleries not listed in the Schedule, but not permanently. They may be put in one or other of the galleries considered responsible to look after loans, but they may not be lent permanently to them. May this not conflict with the wishes of the testator? He may think that they have some local significance.

Surely, if the Minister is very carefully discriminating against galleries which are not listed in the Schedule in any matters pertaining to the lending of pictures, and he now comes to the conclusion that they are fit to take exhibitions from our galleries and look after the pictures adequately, why is he insisting that they are not able permanently to look after pictures which might appropriately be put in one of the other galleries?

Photo of Mr Henry Brooke Mr Henry Brooke , Hampstead

I think we must get clear in our minds the distinction between loans and ownership. We are dealing here with gifts to the nation and we must be careful lest we translate that into the words, "Gifts to a local museum."

The right hon. Gentleman the Member for Vauxhall (Mr. G. R. Strauss) mentioned the possibility that one of his pictures might be appropriate to a provincial town. I would certainly hope that in drawing up his will he will specify that he wished that picture to go to that particular place. Surely what we have to do is to try to have as much regard as possible to the views expressed by testators.

I was asked by one hon. Member to give special attention to Clause 5 as well as to Clause 3. All the works which, under Clause 5, may be transferred will be works that were originally either given, bequeathed or bought for the national institutions and I question whether it would be appropriate for works of that kind to be subsequently vested, not lent, to private or municipal institutions.

It is not a question of where works are exhibited; it is a question of who is to own the works. I should like Members of the Committee to cast their minds forward and ask themselves whether, in the future, people will be so much inclined. as many generous people in the past have been, to leave their pictures or works of art to the nation, if, in fact, they discover that that may mean that the picture or work of art may go to a provincial gallery to which they could have given the picture directly but decided not to do so.

Photo of Mr George Strauss Mr George Strauss , Lambeth Vauxhall

Surely if someone particularly wants a picture to be in one of our national or public galleries or the National Gallery of Scotland, he should definitely specify that in his will. If he leaves a general collection to the nation, surely the right thing to do would be to send a particular picture to that part of the country where, in the opinion of the Treasury's advisers, it would best be shown.

Photo of Mr Henry Brooke Mr Henry Brooke , Hampstead

I do not think that that degree of discretion ought to be given to the Treasury or to anybody. I think that one must have regard to the words that have been expressed in the will. It will not be impossible for these pictures, if, in fact, they are directed to the Tate Gallery, to be lent to any of the great provincial art galleries where they may be exhibited. I am sure that is the right way to deal with this matter, and that we should be acting unwisely if we were persuaded by our feelings into accepting this Amendment.

Mr. Glenvil Hall:

We are disappointed with the Minister's reply because we had hoped to find him, for once in a way, although he is a Conservative, rather advanced in his views.

I think he forgets that there are now, and are likely to be more in the future, a very large number of pictures, both at the Tate and at the National Gallery, which will never be able to be shown, although they can, of course, be shown in rotation. After all, when a picture is painted and the nation buys it or the testator gives it, the purpose is not that it should lie in a cellar of one or other of the galleries but that it should be on view.

In these days, although London is a great cultural centre, it is not the only cultural centre, and if local authorities or people who are publicly-spirited have helped to form collections in various parts of the country it seems to me not unnatural that London should help and the Government should make it possible through legislation that they should be helped to enjoy the nation's treasures.

The hon. Member was courteous and good enough to send me particulars of a number of pictures which are not on view at the National Gallery and the Tate Gallery. This was in response to a query which I put to him on the Second Reading. I am very much obliged to him for going to that trouble. There are, apparently, 866 pictures in the reference sections, that is to say not on view, at the National Gallery. Only 717 are on view, so more are stored and not on the walls than can be seen by the public. Many of those stored pictures might be used in the way which my hon. Friends desire. We had the figures for the Tate Gallery last time. My recollection of them is that roughly the same percentage obtains there.

I would ask the Financial Secretary to have second thoughts on this matter. We do not know whether we shall reach the Report stage of this Bill today; possibly we may not. If not, there will be an opportunity for the Financial Secretary to discuss with the Treasury and other interested people whether he can meet us by inserting the words proposed in the Amendment.

Amendment negatived.

Photo of Viscount  Hinchingbrooke Viscount Hinchingbrooke , South Dorset

I beg to move, in page 2, line 46, to leave out subsection (4).

I called attention on the Second Reading of the Bill to the interest taken in this matter in another place and suggested that it had taken them so far as to cause them to import into the Bill some rather unnecessary Parliamentary control. In subsection (4) of the Clause we find that the draft of any Order that the Treasury may make placing an additional gallery in the First Schedule shall be laid before Parliament, for an affirmative Resolution of each House of Parliament.

I have been looking with some care over previous legislation about these galleries, and I cannot find any precedent for this kind of proposal. Indeed, when we get to Clause 6 and to the Second Schedule we shall take away from previous legislation the only other Parliamentary control that there is. By Section 1 of the Act of 1856, when there is to be a sale of pictures sanctioned by the Treasury, a list of them or copies of the Order effecting the sale must be laid on the Table of both Houses of Parliament for six weeks immediately preceding the sale. Unless subsection (4) remains in, there will be only the negative Resolution procedure of Clause 4.

The other place may wish to debate at very great length in the early hours of the afternoon a question such as whether the Walker Art Gallery should be added in a few years' time to the Schedule by a Treasury Order. The other place has leisure to do so. I cannot imagine this House, in view of the spate and pother of public business, and the narrow divisions between the parties, wishing to devote a special debate to an affirmative Resolution late at night on a question of that kind.

I beg the Government, at this late hour, to say that on Report, in half an hour or an hour's time, they will move a manuscript Amendment to substitute for subsection (4), which we might now omit, the appropriate words for a negative Resolution procedure. I have not put such words in myself because the Statutory Instruments Act, 1946, expresses them in a number of different forms. I have not thought it appropriate to put in a particular form in case it was unsuitable. The Government have all the knowledge and experience in these matters. Indeed, referring to page 3, I suggest that it might be put in the form of a draft. Clause 4 (2) there states: A draft of any such statutory instrument shall be laid before Parliament. That would meet the case.

2.15 p.m.

Photo of Mr Kenneth Robinson Mr Kenneth Robinson , St Pancras North

I support the noble Lord's Amendment. The arguments in support of it are valid, and are made all the more so by the recent remarks of the Financial Secretary, who has now made it clear that there is no intention whatever of adding to the Schedule unless another institution becomes national, which would involve legislation. Opportunity would be given to anyone who wished fully to discuss the matter when that legislation came before us. That is no argument for making an addition to this Schedule by Statutory Instrument on an affirmative Resolution basis.

Photo of Mr Henry Brooke Mr Henry Brooke , Hampstead

I should explain to the noble Lord and to the Committee how the subsection comes into the Bill. It refers back, of course, to subsection (3), which provides for additions by Statutory Instrument to the list of national institutions in the First Schedule. I have said that the intention was to use that power for adding national institutions, but a future Government might use that power much more widely. I cannot bind a future Government or a future Parliament.

Doubts and fears were expressed in another place that the Treasury, if entirely free from Parliamentary control, might make additions to the First Schedule wholesale by making orders that would authorise the transfer of pictures, not merely to galleries of high repute and to galleries that were not national, but even, as one noble Lord said, to a Borstal institution. Very careful consideration was given in another place to the Clause, and it was in an effort to secure unanimity about these provisions that an Amendment was moved and accepted there to include subsection (4), which secures Parliamentary control.

If the Committee were to accept the noble Lord's Amendment it would, I am advised, leave the Treasury free at its sole discretion to make additions to the list of institutions in the First Schedule. There would be no requirement whatever for a draft to be laid before Parliament, and the matter would pass entirely out of Parliamentary control. As we are dealing with national possessions, that would not be right.

I noticed carefully what my noble Friend said about the possibility of establishing a negative Resolution procedure and I see the force of that argument. Nevertheless, the subsection as it stands is the outcome of an agreed settlement in another place, and I should be sorry to upset it. It is an agreed settlement which secures unanimity on these provisions at the cost of a little extra Parliamentary time in the future. I think it is desirable to retain this full Parliamentary control.

Mr. Dugdale:

The Financial Secretary has produced a very odd argument. As I understand it, an agreement was reached in another place and, therefore, no alteration can be made here. Does that mean that we are to be prevented from making any alteration to this Bill because an agreement has been made in another place?

I personally strongly support the line taken by the noble Lord the Member for Dorset, South (Viscount Hinchingbrooke). I think it is desirable that there should

be greater flexibility, and it would be most unfortunate if there were this rigidity for if Parliament did not agree to an affirmative Resolution it would be impossible for any action to be taken. I myself favour the negative Resolution procedure instead of the affirmative, and I hope the Financial Secretary will agree to it and that, even if a compromise arrangement has been agreed to in another place we shall take no cognisance of that but will consider the matter on its merits.

Mr. Glenvil Hall:

I share the view of my right hon. Friend the Member for West Bromwich (Mr. Dugdale) about the Financial Secretary's speech. He was less happy than he normally is when trying to put a case. The argument he used was that because agreement has been reached in another place, we have, therefore, to accept it without question. That seems to me to be the negation of government, certainly government by this House.

The second argument was even stranger, and that was that we could not do it for fear the Treasury might suddenly kick over the traces. It may well be that the Treasury has become extremely revolutionary since the hon. Gentleman went there, but in the past it was usually considered the most reactionary Department of Government whatever Government was in power. If we are to try to prevent the Treasury doing something, it seems to me that either something has happened to the Treasury or the hon. Gentleman is very hard up for an argument. What the noble Lord the Member for Dorset, South (Viscount Hinchingbrooke) said has, for once in a while, a good deal it in and I am sorry that the Financial Secretary has turned it down.

Question put, "That the words proposed to be left out stand part of the Clause."

The Committee divided: Ayes, 68; Noes, 35.

Division No. 228.]AYES[2.24 p.m.
Aitken, W. T.Burden, F. F. A.Digby, S. Wingfield
Baldwin, A. E.Campbell, Sir DavidFell, A.
Bell, Philip (Bolton, E.)Clarke, Col. Ralph (East Grinstead)Fisher, Nigel
Bennett, F. M. (Reading, N.)Craddock, Beresford (Spelthorne)Foster, John
Bishop, F. P.Crookshank, Capt. Rt. Hon. H. F. CGough, C. F. H.
Boyle, Sir EdwardCrosthwaite-Eyre, Col. O. E.Grimston, Sir Robert (Westbury)
Brooke, Henry (Hampstead)Crouch, R. F.Hall, John (Wycombe)
Browne, Jack (Govan)Crowder, Sir John (Finchley)Heath, Edward
Buchan-Hepburn, Rt. Hon. P. G. T.Deedes, W. F.Higgs, J. M. C.
Hollis, M. C.Macmillan, Rt. Hon. Harold (Bromley)Stevens, Geoffrey
Hudson, Sir Austin (Lewisham, N.)Maitland, Patrick (Lanark)Steward, W, A. (Woolwich, W.)
Hylton-Foster, Sir H. B. H.Manningham-Buller Rt. Hn. Sir ReginaldTeeling, W.
Hughes-Hallett, Vice-Admiral J.Mellor, Sir JohnThomas, Leslie (Canterbury)
Jenkins, Robert (Dulwich)Nicolson, Nigel (Bournemouth, E.)Thomas, P. J. M. (Conway)
Johnson, Eric (Blackley)Nugent, G. R. H.Touche, Sir Gordon
Joynson-Hicks, Hon. L. W.O'Neill, Hon. Phelim (Co. Antrim, N.)Turton, R. H.
Kerby, Capt. H. B.Page, R. G.Wakefield, Edward (Derbyshire, W.)
Legge-Bourke, Maj. E. A. HPartridge, E.Wall, Major Patrick
Linstead, Sir H. N.Rees-Davies, W. RWellwood, W.
Lockwood, Lt.-Col. J. C.Ridsdale, J. E.Williams, Gerald (Tonbridge)
Lucas, Sir Jocelyn (Portsmouth, S.)Robertson, Sir David
Lucas-Tooth, Sir HughRobinson, Sir Roland (Blackpool, S.)TELLERS FOR THE AYES:
McCallum, Major D.Russell, R. S.Mr. Richard Thompson and
Maclay, Rt. Hon. JohnSpearman, A. C. M.Colonel J. H. Harrison.
Davies, Rt. Hn. Clement (Montgomery)Hynd, J. B. (Attercliffe)Strauss, Rt. Hon. George (Vauxhall)
Davies, Stephen (Merthyr)Johnson, James (Rugby)Stross, Dr. Barnett
Deer, G.Jones, Rt. Hon. A. CreechTaylor, John (West Lothian)
Ede, Rt. Hon. J. C.King, Dr. H. M.Viant, S. P.
Follick, M.Lipton, Lt.-Col. M.Wallace, H. W.
Grimond, J.Mitchison, G. R.Wilcock, Group Capt. C. A. B.
Hale, LeslieNoel-Baker, Rt. Hon. P J.Williams, W. R. (Droylsden)
Hall, Rt. Hon. Glenvil (Colne Valley)Paget, R. T.Willis, E. G.
Hinchingbrooke, ViscountParker, J.Wyatt, W. L.
Hudson, James (Ealing, N.)Reid, Thomas (Swindon)
Hughes, Hector (Aberdeen, N.)Robinson, Kenneth (St. Pancras, N.)TELLERS FOR THE NOES:
Hyde, Lt.-Col. H. M.Silverman, Julius (Erdington)Mr. Dugdale and
Hynd, H. (Accrington)Silverman, Sydney (Nelson)Mr. Michael Stewart.

Clause ordered to stand part of the Bill.