HC Deb 10 July 1863 vol 172 cc540-51

SUPPLY considered in Committee.

(In the Committee).

(1.) £3,750, Ecclesiastical Commission.


having stated objections to the Vote,


said, the arrangement respecting the Vote had already been sanctioned by Act of Parliament.

Vote agreed to; as were also the following—

(2.) £10,917, to complete the sum for Temporary Commissions.

(3.) £17,015, to complete the sum for Patent Law Amendment Act.

(4.) £9,744, to complete the sum for Board of Fisheries (Scotland).

(5.) £2,000, Board of Manufactures (Scotland).

(6.) £23,928, to complete the sum for Treaties of Reciprocity.


asked whether this was a temporary Vote.


Yes, it will continue for ten years, and then cease, under an Act of Parliament.

Vote agreed to; as were also the following:—

(7.) £1,220, to complete the sum for Inspectors of Corn Returns.

(8.) £800, Boundary Survey (Ireland).

(9.) £1,000, Publication of Ancient Laws and Institutes of Ireland.


stated that the cost of editing and publishing these laws had been £1,500 short of the original Estimate. The translations had been made, and it was now only a question of publication.

Vote agreed to; as were also—

(10.) £3,961, to complete the sum for Census of the Population.

(11.) £680, Malta and Alexandria Telegraph.

(12.) £23,455, Preparations for the Marriage of the Prince of Wales.


called attention to the item of £10,300 for extraordinary charges devolving on the departments of Her Majesty's Household and travelling expenses. He believed that the Civil 'List granted to Her Majesty had, in respect of certain departments, been found to be more than was required, and he desired to know whether on the two heads of "Household and Retiring Allowances" and "Her Majesty's Household" there was any surplus for the current year. If there was a sufficient surplus on those two heads, he thought the sum for extraordinary charges to which he had referred should be defrayed out of it, and it was not fair to charge the country with these expenses.


said, he did not think that it was ever contemplated that the Civil List granted to Her Majesty should defray extraordinary charges of this description.


Is there any surplus on the two heads I have mentioned?


said, that it was quite practicable for the Government upon inquiry to state to the House the exact position of the different departments of the Civil List; but he must confess that he did not carry those figures in his head, and he was not in the least prepared to have a question put to him upon the subject of a Vote which appeared to him so entirely irrelevant to it. This expenditure had no relation to the Civil List. The Civil List was for the support of Her Majesty's person and dignity. It was always understood, that as the members of the Royal Family became of a certain age, they became detached from the Civil List, and came under a different head of expenditure. He might state that the burden on Her Majesty's Civil List on account of superannuations was not only great, but unexampled. The death of the Queen Dowager, and the deaths of the Duchess of Kent and the Prince Consort, occurring within about twelve months of each other, raised at once a very large number of claims which were not positive in their character, and which, if Her Majesty had been disposed to proceed on the principles most convenient for her own interests, might, perhaps, have been very summarily disposed of. But those claims addressing themselves to Her Majesty's generosity and affections, were met by Her Majesty with unexampled liberality; and under circumstances which he was not then quite prepared to say might not have justified a special application to that House. Her Majesty had, however, assumed the very heavy charges connected with those claims without calling upon the public in the slightest degree to share them.


said, that he agreed that this sum of £10,000 ought not to be charged on Her Majesty's Civil List, but he did not see the justice of charging it on the country. The sum should be defrayed out of the revenues of the Prince of Wales.


observed, that if these expenses were defrayed from the revenues of the Duchy, the House would then be called upon to make up the income of the Prince to the amount which it had been agreed he ought to have, which was considered by everybody to be a moderate one. It would therefore have come to the same thing in the end. He was sure that the hon. Gentleman would not object to this charge upon the occasion of an event such as that of the marriage of the Prince of Wales.


called attention to the item charged in the Vote—£2,955—for the opening of the theatres free to the public on the occasion of the Prince of Wales' marriage. Ha doubted whether such a plan was calculated to give satisfaction.


said, he had not much to say in favour of the custom; but the rule adopted was, to do exactly the same in regard to the marriage of the Prince of Wales as was done in regard to the marriage of Her Majesty.


remarked, that a certain sum was allowed to Her Majesty for her Civil List, and to demand in what manner it was expended would, he thought, be a most unreasonable request. It was likewise most unreasonable to expect that any portion of the Civil List assigned to Her Majesty should go to defray extraordinary expenses such as those under discussion.


said, that upon former similar occasions the theatres of London had been opened free to the public, and he saw no reason why the practice should have been deviated from in this instance.

Vote agreed to.

(13.) £4,000, Ship for Storing Merchants' Gunpowder at Dublin.


inquired whether this was a special Vote for Dublin, or whether similar expenses were incurred in other ports of the kingdom. He thought they might be establishing an expensive precedent by this Vote.


said, that the gunpowder for merchants' vessels used to be stored up in Phoenix Park. The site, however, was wanted for military purposes, and he applied to the Treasury to procure an Admiralty ship. He presumed that the merchants were prepared to pay rent for the accommodation required.


said, there was an item of £642 for fitting up the ship, and £600 for removing her from Purfleet to Pigeon House Port. Then there was an item of £2,100 for "dredging a channel to the head of the boat camber." The situation selected for the vessel was extremely ill-chosen.

Vote agreed to.

Motion made, and Question proposed, That a sum, not exceeding £3,781, he granted to Her Majesty, to complete the sum necessary to defray the Charge which will come in course of payment during the year ending on the 31st day of March 1864, for certain Expenses formerly charged upon the Vote for Civil Contingencies.


asked for some information respecting vaccination of sheep, and the result of this practice. It was a question of considerable interest, and it was most important that the results of those experiments upon sheep should be fully made known. The hon. Baronet was understood to doubt the existing state of knowledge as to the diseases of cattle and their remedies. He thought it was the duty of the Government to allay any panic regarding those diseases, rather than encourage them by promoting such practices as the vaccination of sheep. He concluded by moving that the sum of £434 10s., being the item set down for the vaccination of sheep, be postponed for further consideration.


said, that a virulent disease having broken out in sheep in this country, in order to prevent its introduction into Ireland the Irish Government stationed one Inspector at Dublin, another at Dundalk, and a third in another town to examine sheep arriving in Ireland from this country. They were paid so much a day, amounting altogether to about £200. They rendered a great public service. It was probable that it was owing to their care that the introduction of the disease at Ballinasloe, where more than 100,000 sheep were collected, was prevented. The vaccination of sheep was not tried in Ireland, and was confined to this country.


asked for an explanation of the item of £6,000 for expenses connected with the Thames Embankment Bill of 1862.


said, he should not object to the omission of this item. The expenses in question would be repaid as a special charge out of the fund provided by the Thames Embankment Bill.


remarked, that the answer of the hon. Gentleman might be extremely satisfactory to the hon. Member for West Norfolk, but it could not be satisfactory to those who might afterwards have to pay. The Government having chosen to interfere in metropolitan affairs, the charge should be borne by the country.


said, that the House of Commons had determined that this charge should be borne by the metropolis, and the Treasury had no choice in the matter.


submitted that it would be a somewhat difficult matter to deduct £6,000 from the Vote of £3,781.


said, that the Vote was for £3,781, to complete the original Vote for a much larger sum. The hon. Gentleman now proposed to reduce the sum of £3,781 by £6,000, but that was impossible. The only way in which the item could be withdrawn would be by withdrawing the Vote altogether.

Motion, by leave, withdrawn.

(14.) £65,541, to complete the sum for the British Museum.


, on rising to more the British Museum Estimate, said, that the estimate for the year was £90,541, of which £25,000 had been voted on account, leaving the sum of £65,541, which he now asked the Committee to vote. He was happy to say that there was a considerable diminution of expenditure on the Museum Estimate. In 1862–3 the expenditure on account of the British Museum was £99,012, being a diminution in the Vote for the present year of £8,471. He could not, however, represent this as a permanent diminution. As to part of it, it was temporary only. The temporary diminution arose from the fact, that there was a want of accommodation in some departments, by which they were prevented from providing for the extension of certain portions of the collections. The trustees had therefore agreed not to ask for the Vote for Antiquities, Manuscripts, Minerals, and Zoology. The amounts thus omitted, and which he considered a temporary diminution, were divided among the following departments:—Manuscripts, £1,000; Minerals, £200; Zoology, £500; Oriental, British, and Mediaeval Antiquities, £500; Greek and Roman Antiquities, £500; Prints and Drawings, £500; making a total of temporary diminution of £3,200. Last year, owing to the International Exhibition and the great influx of visitors, some temporary expenses were incurred for accommodating the public. That expenditure might be put down at £1,200. So that he estimated the temporary diminution at £4,400; and deducting that sum from the total diminution of £8,741, the permanent diminution amounted in round numbers to £4,000. He thought it due to the Trustees to mention how this reduction was occasioned. The Committee might remember that the repairs and maintenance of the Museum buildings were not formerly under the direction of the Trustees. Since the change, however, by which the officer charged with this duty acted under the authority of the Trustees, a considerable diminution had taken place in the building grant. In 1860 the charge for building and repairs was £22,000; in 1861, £19,000; in 1862, £17,600; in 1863, £17,435; and for the coming year, £14,184. That diminution had gone on concurrently with the improvement of the ventilation and the provision for warming the buildings. He trusted that these figures would satisfy the Committee that the Trustees had kept up the institution intrusted to their control efficiently and economically. A great number of valuable acquisitions had been made during the year in the several departments—among which might be specially named the collection of Solenhofen fossils, purchased of Dr. Häberlein, of Pappenheim. Several valuable manuscripts had also been purchased. This department was improving, and would, he trusted, shortly contain the finest collection of manuscripts to be found in any country. The number of admissions last year was 895,000, against 641,000 visitors in 1861. It had been represented to the Trustees that the reading-room was inconveniently crowded by students under the age of twenty-one, who came to peruse light literature. They therefore issued a regulation limiting the admission, except under special circumstances, to persons who had attained the age of twenty-one. That regulation diminished the number of readers, while the accommodation of those ladies and gentlemen who really visited the reading-room for the purposes of study was much improved. The only other circumstance he had to mention was the loss of one of the elective Trustees by death. The Trustees did not elect each other, but the place of an elective Trustee was always filled up by official and family Trustees. It would be a satisfaction to the House to know that a proposal was made by the official Trustees, and unanimously agreed to, by which the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Bucks (Mr. Disraeli) became an elective Trustee of the British Museum. The right hon. Gentleman concluded by moving the Vote of £65,541, being the balance of the Vote for the British Museum.


rose, according to notice, to call attention to what he regarded as the remissness of the Trustees in not providing adequate opportunities to the people of the metropolis and those who visited it of seeing the splendid collections at the Museum. At South Kensington it had been found necessary to open the Museum there in the evening, and a Commission of Inquiry had found that picture galleries and museums could be easily and safely lighted by gas. A Committee of the House of Commons had also reported that the British Museum could be safely opened at night provided proper precautions were taken against fire. They also expressed an opinion that the Museum should be opened. Instead of adopting this recommendation the Trustees had taken the course which was most likely to lead them to the conclusion that they ought not to open the Museum in the evening. They sent for Mr. Braidwood, the then superintendent of the Fire Brigade. Naturally enough he saw danger of fire in everything. He reported, that if the Museum was lighted by gas in a particular way, there would be danger of fire. Other opinions were asked, but no plan for a safe mode of lighting the place was suggested. Upon the reports made to them the Trustees passed a resolution against opening the Museum in the evening. All the time, however, the South Kensington Museum was flourishing, and, being lighted with gas, was open in the evenings to the public, who thronged to it in large numbers. All this showed that the managers of the South Kensington Museum had marched with the times, and he thought it proved that the Trustees of the British Museum should be stirred up to renewed efforts. If the gas were allowed to blaze up in the British Museum, it would probably attract some of those who now were drawn to other places where gas flared brilliantly and dissipation ruled. It was surely of the greatest importance that the working men should have an opportunity of seeing the admirable collections in the Museum. If facilities were afforded for that purpose, it could hardly fail to attract them from places where now they were injured both morally and physically. But there were other charges which he had to bring against the Trustees. He did not think that they did their best to make those who were able to visit the Museum comfortable. It was disgraceful to the Trustees that they had neglected to provide accommodation for the crowds of male visitors who were now seen wandering up and down the neighbouring streets in search of the requisite conveniences. Some little consideration had been shown for the female visitors, but he was informed that their retiring room was wholly insufficient. It was monstrous that the Trustees had so long neglected a matter for which such excellent provision was made at South Kensington, and the neglect of which had so long and so seriously interfered with the comfort of the thousands who visited the British Museum. Perhaps the Trustees might not think these things within their duties, and therefore he would not press the subject. But he would say, that if the Trustees had taken proper steps, they might have amply provided for the necessary enlargements of the British Museum. If they had gone to the Duke of Bedford, they might have purchased his right in the land in the neighbourhood, and then, as the leases fell in, there would have been plenty of room for extension purchased, not as had been said at £50,000 an acre, but at less than half the sum. He could not that day submit a Resolution to the House, but he hoped the Trustees would take his remarks into consideration, and do something to give the people more opportunities of seeing the collections under their control. What was wanted was to open it from seven to ten, say on Monday evenings, when so many of the working classes visited South Kensington, The hon. Gentleman concluded by moving his Amendment.


said, he did not think there could be any valid objection to admitting the working classes into the Museum on the Sunday during the hours that the public-houses were open. He would ask his hon. Friend the Member for the Tower Hamlets whether he had consulted the working classes upon this subject. It was quite evident that he had not, or he would not have proposed that the Museum should be kept open during hours when the working classes could not visit it. What the working classes wanted was that the British Museum, the National Gallery, and other national collections, should be open after the hours of Divine Service on Sunday. What right had the hon. Member for Perth (Mr. Kinnaird), or any other persons, to demand restrictions upon the freedom and convenience of the industrious people on the Sunday merely because they might entertain some peculiar notions how that day ought to be observed? The Sabbath was made for the people, not the people for the Sabbath. What injury could happen to the morals of the working classes if they were to visit the collections in the British Museum on the Sunday rather than the tap room or the gin palace? He regretted his hon. Friend had not come forward in a holder and a purer spirit than he had done, and that he did not advocate the opening of the Museum on Sunday.


said, he desired to draw the attention of the Trustees to the inconvenient method of allowing their coins and medals. A sum of £1,500 was asked this year for coins and medals, while only 1,544 visits were last year paid to that department. The visitor had first to obtain an order. He then went to the room and asked to see, for instance, a certain series of coins. An attendant was somewhat unwillingly taken from his work to open the drawers, and he stood by the visitor until he had inspected the coin or medal, when it was returned to its place. A visitor could not help feeling that he was giving a great deal of trouble, and the tendency of this mode of examination was to make people wish to get out of the building as soon as they could. None of the coins were labelled except underneath. The best thing would be to have a certain number of cases, and in one of them to exhibit a series of English, Roman, and Oriental coins; in another, the effigies of distinguished persons; and, in a third, the coins remarkable for their extrinsic beauty. In this manner the collection might be made much more interesting and useful to the public. If it were said that the coins would not he safe under such an arrangement, he would remind the Committee that at the South Kensington Museum last year treasures of great value had been exhibited on loan, and that none had been stolen.


must assert, in opposition to his hon. Friend (Mr. Ayrton), that the British Museum was essentially a scientific institution for the use of students and men of science, and that it might be diverted from this character by throwing it open at night and lighting it up for the public. It was very doubtful whether the pictures at South Kensington had not been injured by the gas. An improvement of much greater scientific value would be effected if a suggestion of Professor Owen's were adopted, and if the professor and his assistants were allowed by the Trustees to deliver lectures to the public on the objects in their department.


regretted that his hon. Friend (Mr. Locke) had imported into the debate the subject of opening the Museum on Sundays. When that question was formerly discussed in connection with the opening of the British Museum, it was decided by an overwhelming majority that that institution should not be opened to the public on Sunday. At the same time, he agreed with the hon. Member for the Tower Hamlets that it would be a great boon to the working classes to open the building on Monday and two or three other evenings in the week.


said, he was as anxious as the hon. Members for the Tower Hamlets and Perth to open the British Museum in the evening, if it could be done with safety. Those hon. Members represented two classes of the people whose opinions were deserving of the utmost consideration. Considering, however, the immense value of the collections, that step ought not to be taken unless perfect and complete security could be taken against fire. The Trustees consulted the late Mr. Braidwood on this subject, and his report placed the matter in the clearest light. He said that the use of gas dessicated everything in the ceilings and roofs above the lights, thereby rendering the woodwork more inflammable, and the extinction of fire more difficult. He also stated that the heat and products of combustion given out by gas were unfavourable to the preservation of vegetable and animal substances, and that the gas would discolour objects in marble and stone. The Museum must be lit up by oil, by candles, or by gas. The first two were objectionable on the ground of expense, and gas was objectionable on the score of danger from fire, and of injury to books and other objects. [Mr. E. P. BOUVERIE: The books at the A thenæum were destroyed by the effects of gas.] Then had the hon. Member considered the expense of the alteration necessary in lighting up the building, and of the additional attendance it would entail; and would he say that the measure he advocated would be of such advantage as to justify the expense and the risk? The Trustees opened the building last year during the summer months in the evening, and what was the result? From ten o'clock till six the average number in attendance was 5,200, being 600 per hour, while from six o'clock to eight there were only 27 per hour, at a cost of £8 10s. per night. He admitted that the expense was, after all, but a secondary consideration, if they could accommodate the working classes without danger to the building or its contents; but it must he remembered that no money would ever replace the present collection if it were destroyed by fire, and he, for one, was unwilling to incur such an expense without a corresponding result. The hon. Member for Southwark (Mr. Locke) advocated the opening of the Museum on Sundays. As long, however, as the House, by overwhelming majorities, determined that the Government institutions should be closed on Sundays, it would ill become any body of Trustees to act in contravention of that decision. The exhibition of coins adverted to by his hon. Friend the Member for Midhurst (Mr. Mitford) was a very delicate subject. Some of the coins were of immense value, and it would not be safe to allow them to be handled except under supervision. They were now kept in a miserable room; but as soon as the House gave more accommodation, the Trustees would be glad to exhibit specimens of coins and medals. The House ought to look at the British Museum as a great scientific and literary institution, and ought not to spare the sums necessary to make each department complete and accessible to the public.


desired to remind the right hon. Gentleman that the House of Commons was lit by gas, and that all depended upon where the gas was placed.


agreed with the hon. and gallant Member who had just spoken, and believed that the British Museum afforded singular facilities for being lighted at night without injury to the collections. He believed that his proposal would be a great advantage to the working classes. He could not concur in the impracticable follies of the hon. Member for Southwark.


said, that although the House had by large majorities decided against opening the National Gallery, &c. on Sundays, the numbers would, he believed, be very different if the votes were taken by ballot. It would be much better the working classes should visit the British Museum than he invited to attend rat hunts and dog fights in the neighbourhood of London.

Vote agreed to.

House resumed.

Resolutions to be reported on Monday next; Committee to sit again To-morrow, before the other Orders of the Day.