23 Mar 2011 : Column 5P

23 Mar 2011 : Column 5P


Wednesday 23 March 2011


Culture, Media and Sport

Proposed Sale of Zurbaran Paintings

The Petition of residents of Bishop Auckland, County Durham and the North East,

Declares that the Petitioners believe that the Church Commissioners should not sell Auckland Castle or the Zurbarán Paintings.

The Petitioners therefore request that the House of Commons urges the Church Commissioners not to proceed with the sale.

23 Mar 2011 : Column 6P

And the Petitioners remain, etc.—[Presented by Helen Goodman , Official Report, 16 February 2011; Vol. 523, c. 1095 .]


Observations from the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport:

The Government recognise the strong support in the north-east and elsewhere for preserving Auckland castle and its wonderful collection of paintings by Francisco de Zurbarán. The paintings are not just important works in their own right but have become important symbols of religious, ethnic and social tolerance, issues which were all highly significant at the time and which remain so today. The castle and paintings are the property of the Church Commissioners and it is not for the Government to seek to influence decisions concerning their future. The Government hope, however, that a solution can be found that will satisfy the needs of the Church and ensure that the castle and paintings can continue to be enjoyed by the public.