THE last surviving relative to have known Sir William Burrell yesterday said her uncle would have been ''furious'' at Glasgow City Council's attempt to change the terms of his bequest.

Mrs Ruth Mackenzie, 87, the daughter of Sir William's youngest sister, Mary, was in Glasgow to attend a Parliamentary Commission hearing on the council's proposals to reverse a clause in the bequest which prevents items from the collection being loaned overseas.

She was accompanying her daughter, Mrs Mona Dickinson, who gave evidence to the inquiry.

Mrs Mackenzie, who lives in Ayrshire, said: ''It's a matter of honour, a question of if you honour your commitment or not. The council gave its word that it would honour his wishes but it has now done its best to overturn them.''

She said she had known Sir William well because of his close relationship with her mother.

''I used to visit Uncle William at Hutton Castle with my mother. She was his youngest and favourite sister. They built up quite a bit of the collection together while travelling on the continent, they used to hunt as a pair.''

She spoke of how she thought Sir William would react to the council's proposals.

''He would be furious if he knew what the council is doing. I don't think he would have given it to Glasgow if he knew this would happen, he would have given it to someone he could have trusted, perhaps Edinburgh as the capital, I think.

''He would have thought the money spent on this hearing would have been better spent adding to the collection.''

Mrs Mona Dickinson, Sir William's great niece, who now lives in Lincolnshire, gave evidence to the inquiry on behalf of the surviving relatives of Sir William.

She told the hearing at the city's Parish Halls in George Street: ''They wish me to represent them at the inquiry to express the family's strong feelings of opposition to the City of Glasgow's proposal to override Sir William Burrell's wishes.''

Presenting mainly hearsay evidence, Mrs Dickinson said that although she never knew Sir William personally, she knew his daughter, Marion, who died in 1992, very well.

She said: ''From my knowledge of Marion, I am in no doubt that she would have been adamantly opposed to the City of Glasgow's proposal to breach the conditions subject to which the collection was given.''

She went on to express concern over the general management of the collection, which is housed in Pollok Park, Glasgow.

''Even before I heard of the proposals by the City of Glasgow Council to change the terms of Sir William Burrell's gift, I was unhappy about the management of the collection. I felt it just looked neglected.

''About five years ago, I wrote to Julian Spalding expressing my concern that the pictures were badly displayed and at the manner in which the collection was being kept. I did not get a reply to that letter.

''I am deeply concerned at the way the City of Glasgow Council is behaving about the collection.

''It was given an enormously generous gift and I cannot understand why it cannot abide by the donor's wishes.

''I have read the conditions of the memorandum of agreement and will and Sir William's letters on the subject.

''His wishes are perfectly rational and clearly expressed. The letters are hand written and are clear and lucid. They are not the ramblings of an old man.

''I am therefore totally opposed to the changes to the memorandum of agreement and will proposed to be made by the City of Glasgow Council.''

Later, under cross examination, Mrs Dickinson admitted the Burrell collection was no longer in the state of disrepair that had caused her concern five years earlier.

Responding to Mrs Dickinson's claims about the state of the collection and her unanswered letter, Mr Julian Spalding, director of Glasgow Museums, said: ''We have a policy of answering all letters and I do not know what happened in this case.

''I do not accept that the collection had an air of neglect and I regret the fact the family don't see the other side of the argument that lending abroad would raise the profile of the collection.''