HC Deb 22 March 1833 vol 16 cc990-1

On the Motion of Mr. Baring, the House resolved itself into a Committee of Supply. The hon. Member moved a vote of 16,844l. to defray the expenses of the British Museum up to Christmas, 1833.

Mr. Hawes

suggested, that an improvement should be made in the catalogue of the manuscripts in the British Museum. He wished, that the manuscripts should be arranged alphabetically, and that there should likewise be through the catalogue a facility of inquiring into the subjects of the manuscripts. He also complained of the want of foreign books in the library, and expressed a hope that the arrangements of exchanges between the privileged libraries of France and England might be carried into effect, and that those arrangements should have a retrospective effect. That was to say, that standard works published in either country, before the completion of the arrangement should be exchanged.

Mr. Baring

observed, that the attention of the trustees had been directed to these matters, and no doubt some means would be adopted to supply the defects complained of.

Mr. Hume

thought it desirable, that the Museum should be open for six days in the week, instead of three. If that object could not be accomplished with the present number of officers, they ought to have relays of officers. He thought it would be proper to appoint a Committee to inquire into the whole subject of the Museum. It was a most extraordinary circumstance, that during two months of the year—and two months, precisely those in which most strangers came to London—the British Museum was shut to the public.

Lord Allhorp

was surprised that it should be stated, that the months of August and September were those in which most strangers arrived in town.

Mr. Hume

observed, that the town was not frequented during these months by gentlemen who were in the habit of going out shooting. A Committee was desirable; for it was of importance, considering that the British Museum was supported by the public money, that the greatest possible accommodation should be afforded to the public.

Mr. Emerson Tennant

said, that the British Museum afforded every facility of which such an institution was capable, as well to students as to casual visitors, and he did not think that further accommodation could be given consistently with the purposes for which it was established.

Lord Mahon

bore his testimony to the proper management of the institution, having derived great advantages from it. It would bear comparison with any similar Institution on the Continent, and though perhaps not open for so many days as some of them, it was open for many more hours.

Vote agreed to, and the House resumed.