HC Deb 20 September 1841 vol 59 cc652-3

On the vote of 21,000l. for the new buildings of the British Museum.

Mr. Hawes

said, he regretted that ill consequence of the librarian and his assistant being engaged in making a new catalogue for the library and occupying the apartments, the public were still excluded from that most interesting part of the building. He hoped that if the object- tion were made, that the dust created by the admission of visitors would injure the books, proper measures would be taken to obviate the conjectured mischief. At all events, he thought the objection not sufficient to justify the exclusion of the public, and he trusted that the trustees, some few of whom were present, would take the subject into consideration.

Dr. Bowring

inquired when it was likely that the catalogue would be completed and printed.

Sir R. Peel

was understood to reply, possibly in the course of a few weeks. With regard to the observations of the hon. Member for Lambeth, the questions whether the public should be allowed promiscuously to enter the library for the purpose of seeing the place, or to examine and read the books, were very different. There was every disposition on the part of the trustees to allow access to the library for the purpose of study, but to make the library a public promenade would certainly be to destroy the design of the institution.

Mr. Hawes

did not think by allowing the public to walk through the room those who went to study would be disturbed, particularly as an apartment was specially provided for their accommodation.

Dr. Bowring

said, there was no difficulty in the public obtaining access to the libraries on the continent.

Sir R. Inglis

ventured to say, that the hon. Gentleman had never seen ten persons at one time in the library of the Vatican; and though the visitors to the library at Paris were numerous, sometimes amounting to 30,000 in a short space of time, there were no readers seen there. The quantity of dust produced by so great an influx of persons must certainly be very great, as hon. Members might well imagine, from the state in which that House was at twelve or one o'clock.

Vote agreed to.