§ MR. AGNEW
I beg to ask the Prime Minister the following Question, 1878 of which I have given private Notice:—Whether any overtures have been made to the Government and the Trustees of the National Gallery in respect to the purchase of the Blenheim Collection of pictures, or of any portion thereof; and, if not, having regard to the report that the property is for sale, Her Majesty's Government will consider the expediency of negotiating for the purchase of some, at least, of the masterpieces of acknowledged historic value and artistic excellence which form part of that Collection?
Sir, no overtures have been made to Her Majesty's Government, or, to our knowledge, to the Trustees of the National Gallery. Certain rumours have reached Her Majesty's Government and the Trustees of the National Gallery; but I do not think that, upon the ground of those rumours, it would be at all prudent on the part of Her Majesty's Government, or of the Trustees, to take the initiative in this matter. In fact, in my opinion, and as far as I can judge, the question is not mature for any practical measure; and I believe that nothing is yet absolutely settled as to the sale of these pictures, or as to what portion, if any, shall be sold. We have no authentic information.