HC Deb 08 May 1840 vol 53 cc1324-6

The next vote was 1,300l. for the school of design at Somerset-house.

Mr. W. Williams

said, he had understood when this school of design was established, that its object was to promote the art of designing among the manufacturers of this country. He had, however, made inquiries upon the subject, and he had found that the school was not of the least use whatever. He believed that this was the only country in which manufactures were carried on to any extent in which schools of design had not long been established. In Lyons there was a school of design maintained and supported by the Govern- ment, in which were placed men who not only understood the art of design scientifically, but were also competent to teach its application to articles of manufacture. The superiority of the manufactures of that town were entirely to be attributed to that school of design. In the town, however, which he had the honour to represent, there was no school of design at all until recently. A class of that nature had been attached to the mechanic's institute, from which great advantages were expected. Now, he was quite sure that if a sum so small as even 1001. could be voted to that school, it would be productive of the greatest benefit. IF a few hundred pounds a-year were given for the support of schools in the different manufacturing towns, for the purpose of encouraging the art of design, it would be productive of the greatest service, and would do infinitely more good than ever could be expected from the present school.

Mr. Hume

thought that the Government had begun well in establishing a school of design at Somerset-house, and that this institution might be productive of benefit, but, at the same time, he thought that in great manufacturing towns, and even in London, much might be done by assisting individuals with a room for this purpose.

Mr. Labouchere

entirely agreed with the hon. Member, in thinking that nothing could be more important than for a manufacturing country like this, to encourage the art of design, and it was much to be regretted that the subject had not been taken up at an earlier period. He, however, begged to remind the hon. Member of the very short period of time during which the school had been established— only three years. In France and Germany, the instruction given was not of a light or superficial character, and they must not expect in this country that the seed which had been so recently sown, should already produce its fruits. He had received a report from the council, in which they said, that although the institution had not answered the sanguine anticipations of many, yet it had still been productive of much good. The number of pupils had very considerably increased. As to what had been said about the assistance to be given to different manufacturing towns, that important object had not been lost sight of. It was the intention of the Council to publish cheap elementary works of design, as was done in Prussia, and circulate them in the country. It was also their intention to circulate moulds, and give them away, or sell them at a low price.

Viscount Sandon

hoped the right hon. Gentleman would be able to carry out his intentions.

Vote agreed to.