§ MR. LABOUCHERE
said, he rose to ask the Vice President of the Committee of Council on Education, Whether he is aware that the Charter of Incorporation recently granted to the Central Hall of Arts and Sciences was promulgated without consultation with the subscribers; 597 that much dissatisfaction is felt with respect to certain of its provisions, such as the appointment of an Executive Committee, and the power given to the Provisional Committee to withhold all accounts until one year after the completion of the hall; that under the powers given to the Executive Committee a contract has been entered into of a nature deemed by many subscribers to be improvident, and such as may fail to justify the hopes held out in the statement on the faith of which subscriptions were solicited — namely, that subscribers would obtain for their subscriptions a valuable pecuniary investment; and, whether Her Majesty's Government are prepared on application from subscribers to revise the Charter, and, if necessary, to issue an amended one, affording to subscribers the same powers and the same representation as is usual in joint-stock undertakings?
said, that as the noble Lord (Lord Robert Montagu) had no official connection with that hall, and no official knowledge in reference to it, perhaps as he (Mr. Bruce) was a member of the Provisional and Executive Committee the hon. Member would accept his explanation. The Provisional Committee of the Central Hall of Arts and Sciences was appointed at a meeting of the promoters, who intrusted them with full powers of management until the completion of the hall. The character of the Charter was fully stated in the prospectus, and each subscriber received notice of the Charter, and agreed in writing to accept it. No subscriber had objected to it, nor had any complaint on the subject been received by the Provisional or the Executive Committee. The Provisional Committee being numerous, appointed an Executive Committee, whose appointment was continued by the Charter. The contract was entered into under the powers originally conferred on the Provisional Committee, and continued by the Charter. It was a highly advantageous contract, and no complaint against it had been received by the Committee. It had been carefully examined and approved by the most competent professional authority, and the scale of prices certified by the eminent firm of surveyors, Messrs. Hunt and Stephenson. The accounts were open to the inspection of any subscriber. The management had been conducted in all respects, including even the preparation of legal documents, without any charge to the undertaking. He 598 was not aware that Government had any power to revise the Charter. If its revision were really required by the majority of subscribers, the Board of Trade would, probably make no difficulty about advising Her Majesty to assent to a wish so expressed to agree to a revision.