HC Deb 09 April 1845 vol 79 cc387-8
Mr. Ewart

moved that the House go into Committee on the Museums of Art Bill.

Mr. Bucke

complained of the absolute power that this Bill gave to town councils to assess the inhabitants for the purposes of the Bill, without any control whatever on the part of the ratepayers. He had no objection to the establishment of museums in large towns, where the inhabitants wished for them; but this Bill extended to small towns as well; and, therefore, he should move that the House go into Committee on that subject this day six months.

Sir J. Graham

hoped the hon. Member would not press his Motion, because that would amount to an absolute rejection of the Bill. He was sorry to say that he had not given that attention to the subject which he should desire to do; but his right hon. Friend at the head of the Government had assented to the principle. At the same time he must say that he thought the Bill, as it now stood, exceeded the understanding which his right hon. Friend entertained of it. If he recollected rightly, his right hon. Friend was favourable to a Bill allowing existing museums in large towns to be assisted out of the borough rate. But he was not aware that his right hon. Friend had adverted to the powers contained in the Bill, namely, to enable the town council to purchase a site, to build, to found, to institute a museum—in fact, to bear the whole costs of an original institution. There was no limitation to this principle, except one contained in the end of the first Clause, specifying that the rate should not exceed one halfpenny in the pound. But, with this exception, towns with a population only of five thousand, and containing a large rural district, might be assessed for many years for this purpose, and that by the vote of a bare majority of the town council. He was, for himself, very friendly to the institution of museums of art and science in manufacturing towns. He agreed with the hon. Gentleman that it would be conducive to the better taste of the manufacturing population, and also that it was a legitimate amusement for the inhabitants and ratepayers. But he thought that in a measure of this kind great caution was necessary; and therefore he hoped the hon. Gentleman would consent to postpone his Bill to Wednesday next; and in the interval he should have an opportunity of conferring with his right hon. Friend, and he would then be ready to inform the hon. Gentleman exactly what were the intentions of Government on the subject.

Mr. Ewart

said, as the right hon. Gentleman had expressed his willingness to co-operate with him in the main principle of the Bill, it would be unfair to press it now. He should, therefore, be happy to agree to the suggestion of the right hon. Gentleman, and postpone the Bill for a week.

Amendment withdrawn. Committee deferred.

House adjourned at seven o'clock.