HC Deb 16 May 1878 vol 240 cc36-7

, in rising to call attention to the arrangements for admission to the Bethnal Green Museum, and to move— That it is desirable to give greater facilities for admission by extending the arrangements now existing on the three free days to five days in the week, said, the present arrangements were the same as those in existence at the South Kensington Museum; but arrangements which were suitable for the West End were by no means adapted to the East End of the town. For three days the Museum was open free from 10 A.M. to 10 P.M., and for three days it was open, on a payment of 6d. each person entering, from 10 to 6. That so many pay days, which had been instituted for the sake of students, were not wanted he would be able to show by figures. In the month of March the attendances on pay days only averaged 27 each day, whilst on free days the average was 3,346. On the pay days, therefore, the Museum was practically closed to the public; and he trusted the Government would see the advisability of agreeing practically with his proposal. He quite agreed there ought to be one pay day; because there were many persons, other than students, who wished to examine the works of Art when there were not such crowds present as on the free days. There was, no doubt, some question of expense with respect to gas; but he did not think the question of fees, considering how small they were, was worth considering.

Amendment proposed, To leave out from the word "That" to the end of the Question, in order to add the words "it is desirable to give greater facilities for admission to the Bethnal Green Museum, by extending the arrangements now existing on the three free days to five days in the week,"—(Mr. Ritchie,) —instead thereof.

Question proposed, "That the words proposed to be left out stand part of the Question."


said, the Bethnal Green Museum had, since its opening, more than realized the most sanguine expectations which had been entertained with respect to it. As it was a local institution, and there were many similar institutions, the Education Department undertook to lay down its rules, and those rules were the same as were in force at South Kensington. At the latter place large numbers of persons made use of the Museum on pay days; but in Bethnal Green, the population being of a different character, the number of persons attending on pay days was comparatively small. The Government felt that as there had been a large expenditure on the Bethnal Green Museum, it should be utilized as much as possible. At the same time, it was necessary that any arrangement which might be made with that object should not afford a precedent for placing on the Treasury an undue expenditure for objects of a local character. Before making any considerable change it had been necessary to inquire into various points. The increase in the number of free days would cause a loss of a considerable portion of the fees, and, in addition, a largesum—something like£l,200 a-year—would have to be spent in gas. That was an expenditure he did not think the Treasury ought to undertake. Considering, however, the case which his hon. Friend had presented to the House, he did not think it would be unreasonable to increase the number of free days to five, on the understanding that on the two extra days the gas should not be lighted, but that the Museum should be closed at six.


said, he gladly accepted the proposal of the noble Lord, and hoped that he should obtain from him next year a still further concession.

Question put, and agreed to.