HC Deb 09 May 1862 vol 166 cc1526-32

House in Committee.

MR. MASSEY in the Chair.

Motion made, and Question proposed, That a sum, not exceeding £116,695, be granted to Her Majesty, to defray the Charge which will tome in course of payment during the year ending on the 3Istday of March 1863, for the General Management of the Department of Science and Art, of the Schools throughout the Kingdom in connection with the Department, and of the Geological Surveys of Great Britain and Ireland, &c.


said, he thought that the directorship of the Museum of Irish Industry, on its becoming vacant, should not be filled up again; and that the Museum of Irish Industry should, as soon as possible, be made one institution with the Royal Dublin Society. Originally the Irish Museum was instituted as a boon to the Roman Catholics, but the present Director, Sir Robert Kane, was also Principal of the Queen's College at Cork. When he was performing his duties at Dublin, he was necessarily neglecting his duties at Cork, and vice versâ; and all he asked the Government was, that when next Sir f Robert Kane betook himself to Cork, he should remain there; and that the directorship should not be filled up. He also hoped that the Irish Museum would be incorporated with the Royal Dublin Society as speedily as possible. He could not move to reduce the Vote, inasmuch as salaries were now due; but he hoped the Government would direct their attention to the subject in future.


said, there was great jus- tice in what the hon. Gentleman had said, and the Government would communicate with the Lord Lieutenant and see if the change could be effected. There was, however, one difficulty in the way, and that was the constitution of the Royal Dublin Society. Its government was in the hands of a committee, who were elected by the Society at large. That point, therefore, would have to be considered, and negotiations taken.


said, he thought that the right hon. Gentleman (Mr. Adderley) had acted with some injustice in attacking an absent Gentleman, Sir Robert Kane. The Museum of Irish Industry was founded by Sir Robert himself, who was a man of high scientific attainments, and by developing its resources he had been of great service to Ireland. It was to be regretted that there was nobody connected with Ireland on the Treasury Bench to explain the objects of so useful an institution. He might add that at the formation of the Queen's Colleges there had been great difficulty in obtaining officers for them, and it was at the earnest solicitation of the Government that Sir Robert had accepted the principalship.


said, he hoped that the Museum of Irish Industry would be maintained as a separate institution, and not amalgamated with the Dublin Society, which was a private association. He thought Government should have ascertained the feelings of the Irish Members before expressing an opinion upon the subject.


admitted that there ought not to be two Museums in Dublin. He thought that the Royal Society effected ten times as much for science and art in Ireland as the other institutions.


said, there was no institution in Ireland of more practical value than the Museum of Irish Industry, which, without explanation or consideration, had been so rashly condemned by the Vice President of the Education Committee. The object of the Museum was to develop the industrial resources of Ire land, and it had fulfilled its mission with remarkable success under the able directorship of Sir Robert Kane. It was to be regretted that Ireland was governed by a body of gentlemen who knew nothing whatever about it, and who were ready at any moment to sweep away its most useful institutions. There were two similar institutions in London, which cost a much larger sum, and he hoped the noble Lord at the head of the Government would, under the circumstances of the case, see the expediency of directing his attention to the subject.


said, that while disclaiming anything like hostility to the South Kensington Museum, he could not but express a doubt as to the propriety of voting the public money for its support. It was not the duty of the Government to give high art education to those who could afford to obtain it for themselves without assistance. He did not think that the recent progress in art had arisen from votes such as that under consideration. But, in some respects, he doubted the existence of progress at all. The Trafalgar fountains, the Duke of Wellington's funeral car, the Guards' monument in Waterloo Place, and the Exhibition building, were not instances in favour of Government teaching in art. The improvement of art as illustrated in our manufactures he attributed, not to Governmental instruction, but rather to the influence of the railway system, the freer intercourse between nation and nation which, as a consequence prevailed, and the existence of such exhibitions as the present and that of 1851. Under those circumstances, he felt disposed to ask the House to reduce the Vote to the amount at which it stood last year, and thus mark its sense of the small value which it set on Government interference, while vested interests were left untouched. On all the items of the Vote that were increased over the sum voted last year he proposed to move a reduction to the amount of the excess. All he wished to do was to lay down a principle. Those who objected to the Government becoming a teacher of drawing throughout the country would support him. He moved that the Vote be reduced by £7,106.


objected to so many Votes being placed together under one head; nine Votes were included in the total sum asked for. In it art, science, and navigation were amalgamated; and he thought that art and science must feel some surprise at the strange company in which they were thus placed. He believed the Government schools of art throughout the kingdom were to a great extent valueless, and that they entailed an expense very much disproportioned to any advantage they conferred. The schools at South Kensington were frequented by the most fashionable young ladies in London, who paid nominal sums for the instruction which they would otherwise derive from private masters, and the private masters wore thrown out of employment. The Vice President of the Board of Education deprecated the increase of Government masters, and, to he consistent, he ought to vote for the Amendment. If the Amendment were carried, no harm would be done, because there was a balance of £22,000 in hand, the surplus of monies already voted by Parliament. He had opposed the photographic establishment, in which item alone there was a decrease, and he doubted whether there were any photographs which would sell for £1,250. The number of visitors fell from 610,000 in 1860 to 604,000 in 1861, and the receipts from the public from £2,000 to £1,400; so that as the expense increased the interest in the department decreased. Captain Fowke was employed to build a picture gallery at South Kensington, and the public were invited to see how cheap and good it was, but the year afterwards £27,000 had to be voted be cause the gallery was unsafe. They had seen what were the powers of Captain Fowke. Those powers had culminated in the Great Exhibition, and they might now be quite sure that whatever advantages his buildings possessed they could not boast of either elegance or beauty. He doubted the expediency of having a Science and Art Department tit all, and he would advise the Government to withdraw the Vote.


said, be wished to call the attention of the Committee to the great increase which had of late years taken place in the amount of that Vote. In 1847 it was £8,000, and it had risen to £116,000 a year. He believed it would be better to leave the encouragement of science and art to private enterprise, instead of placing them under the patronage of the Government. As an instance, the Crystal Palace was infinitely better than the new Exhibition building.


said, he believed that the establishment of these schools of design led to great abuse, as many persons who sent their children to them had ample means of giving them a private education in any accomplishment they might think proper. The efforts of private teachers were thus discouraged, and the interference of the Government was productive of real evil.


said, he thought it was high time that some check should be put upon the constantly increasing ex- penditure in the Kensington Museum. Last year it was £18,000, this year £22,000.


observed, that it had been the opinion of that House that the manufactures of the country, though possessing many admirable and durable qualities, were deficient in grace and elegance. That led to the institution of the department now under consideration, and there was no doubt that it had answered the object in view. Specimens in various manufactures now to be seen in the Great Exhibition, and remarkable for their beauty, were the work of persons educated in the Department of Science and Art. A complaint had been made that the Estimate was continually increasing. That was the very merit of it. When the Department was founded 8,000 pupils were learning under the system at £3 5s. 6d. per bead. Now there are 91,000 pupils at only a cost of 8s. per head. It had been said that persons belonging to the highest classes came to the schools; but, if they did, they paid a larger sum than others, and thus it was that the department was able to educate the rest so cheaply, and the terms which a master on receiving his certificate agreed to were that he should teach artisans three times a week at 6d, per week, and give a certain amount of gratuitous instruction to poor children. The proposed Amendment, notwithstanding what had been said to the contrary, really affected vested interests. There was also an increase of £250 for prizes, which was owing to this, that there were a good many more pupils, though the value of the prizes had been diminished. Then, if there were more schools, there should be more masters, which would account for the increase for salaries from £17,500 to £18,000, and so, also, more Inspectors would be required. In the management of the photographic department considerable improvements had been made. They had got rid altogether of positive photographs, and sold only negatives, to purchasers who would give the best terms to the public. Then there was an increase of one-third to the space appropriated to the museum, and that, of course, involved additional expense for stoves, fittings, and furniture. They held examinations for the masters in science in November, and for the pupils of those masters in May every year, and the candidates could not be collected without advertising for them. Owing to a rule which had been laid down by the Marquess of Salisbury and the right hon. Gentleman opposite (Mr. Adderley) an astonishing impulse had been given to the spread of education in science throughout the country, for the master was to be paid only for each pupil who passed an examination. It was not for replacing the picture galleries, which were models of what such galleries should be, and which no one could see without admiration, that the House had voted £27,000, but for buildings to replace the wooden school. He did not think it was the wish of the House to take away their salaries from men who had earned them, or, having built a museum, to deprive those who had charge of it of the means of lighting, warming, and keeping it in order, especially-at a time when so much was being done to spread a knowledge of science and art throughout the country.


said after the explanation which they had just heard from the Vice President of the Committee of Council, he was sure the hon. Member for Swansea would admit, at least, the advantage of having in that House a Minister who was responsible for the control of that institution, for the maintenance of which they were called upon to vote public money. Every one must see the utility of having Ministers who were responsible for the several departments of science and art in that House. Of all the Art Institutions of the country, he agreed with the Vice President, it was the South Kensington Museum which partook most of a national character, and that it was with that institution that the idea had originated of circulating works of art through the country. When the unhappy photographer was near setting fire to the British Museum by his apparatus, the managers thought they could do nothing to prevent the recurrence of such an accident; but that was not the case with those who had charge of the Kensington Museum, for they had devised a scheme which enabled them to light the Museum four nights in the week, and the vast majority of those who visited it at night were composed of the working classes. In proof of the good that the institution had done he would conclude by quoting the words of the Committee which sat upon the subject. They said in their Report that they had arrived at the opinion that the South Kensington Museum in respect of its action, as well throughout the United Kingdom as in the metropolis, was exercising a most beneficial influence, and that it was well deserving the continued and liberal support of Parliament.


would support the Vote, as the South Kensington Museum was the most instructive building in the country.


said, that the salaries of Gentlemen in other departments had not increased in the same ratio as those of the officers of the Kensington Museum, and he did not see that the latter were more deserving of increased salaries than those who belonged to other departments.

Motion made, and Question put, That a sum, not exceeding £109,689, be granted to Her Majesty, to defray the Charge which will come in course of payment during the year ending on the 31st day of March 1863, for the General Management of the Department of Science and Art, of the Schools throughout the Kingdom in connection with the Department, and of the Geological Surveys of Great Britain and Ireland, &c.

The Committee divided;—Ayes 48; Noes 111: Majority 63.

Original Question put, and agreed to.

House resumed. Resolution to be reported on Monday next; Committee to sit again on Monday next.