Right Hon. W. L. MACKENZIE KING (Prime Minister):
Mr. Speaker, as my hon. friend has just said, our collection of national war memorial paintings is without doubt one of the finest that any country possesses, and certainly, I assume, the best collection anywhere of paintings in relation to the recent war. After my hon. friend brought the matter up last session the government did carefully look into the question of the housing of the paintings. We found, as has been represented by my hon. friend, that they were stored, in considerable part, in what is now the basement of the National Museum and Art Gallery. We also discovered that it was not a suitable place for storage, and that it was necessary, if the paintings were to be properly preserved, that they should be stored in a dry atmosphere and in a better environment generally. The Minister of Public Works (Mr. Elliott) and his officers went carefully into the available accommodation in the city and were fortunate in being able to obtain some space in a part of the large Auditorium building. This part the government has leased for storing the paintings. The building is suited admirably for the purpose. It is fireproof, it has a southern exposure, is quite dry, and an even temperature can be readily maintained. From what the director of the art gallery says, I believe it will serve to keep the pictures in perfect condition. So much for the storage. _ _
As for the exhibition of the paintings, that is another matter. Up to the present time the government has not felt it would be justified in asking parliament to appropriate money for an art gallery. There are many public buildings urgently needed. One of them was referred to by the hon. leader of the opposition (Mr. Bennett) only a day or two ago-a building for the Supreme Court of Canada. There are other buildings necessary for departmental purposes, and we feel
we should consider meeting these requirements before undertaking a building for the exhibition of paintings. However, personally, I am not without hope that some public-spirited citizen will be found who one of these days will present the country with a national art gallery.