HC Deb 16 August 1889 vol 339 cc1512-25

Motion made, and Question proposed That a sum, not exceeding £9,487, be 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, 1890, for the Salaries and Expenses of the National Gallery.


I wish to ask for some explanation with regard to the grant for the purchase of pictures. When an unusually extravagant bargain was concluded some time back, the House was given to understand that the grant would be suspended until the purchase-money had been wiped off. That has not been done, yet a sum of £5,000 for the purchase of pictures is put down in the Estimates.

Motion made, and Question proposed, "That Item D, Purchase of Pictures, be reduced by £3,800."—(Sir George Campbell.)


I am afraid I must admit that in this case, from the hon. Member's point of view, the Government have been guilty of some extrava- gance. It is true that when the purchase to which the hon. Gentleman refers was made it was agreed that for a time the grant for the purchase of pictures should be suspended, though no definite number of years was fixed. No doubt, however, it is in spirit intended that the grant should be suspended to enable the amount to be spread over a number of years. That arrangement has continued, but from time to time appeals are made to the Government when opportunities offer to purchase pictures which in the opinion of authorities ought not to be missed. I believe the plan will work satisfactorily and economically. I believe the Government have done right to give the £5,000. It is a less sum than we have formerly given, and it will continue at that small sum for a period of years.

Question put, and negatived.

Original Question again proposed.

* MR. H. W. LAWSON (St. Pancras)

Mr. Courtney, I wish in a very few words to impress upon the Financial Secretary the growing intensity of interest taken by our Metropolitan population in the movement for nationalising our national collections, in reality as well as in name, by opening them on the Sunday so that the vast majority of the people may be enabled to enjoy and make use of them. The case could not be better put than by one of the Trustees of the British Museum, who said with regard to this Institution— The real question was whether certain public collections formed by the State and paid for by taxation levied on all classes of the community, should he accessible to the great mass of the people during the only day of the week on which it was practicable for them to visit them, He thought there was a strong primâ facie case in favour of the principle of the resolution, and it became stronger when they looked at the size and character of the metropolis. The city in which they lived was the largest capital in the world, and certainly not the most picturesque. Residents in small towns could easily escape from them by a moderate walk; but there were upwards of 2,000,000 of people who lived in the interior of London who could not escape from the long succession of streets, often squalid and generally dreary, and where, certainly on a Sunday, there was nothing to give pleasure or create interest. These are the words of a supporter of the present Government, Lord Derby, who always speaks with great common sense on social questions. I would point out to the hon. Gentleman that we are advancing by leaps and bounds in this matter. Formerly, no public collection was open on the Sunday. Now, more than half the free libraries of the Metropolis are open on that day. There was a great stride made when not only the libraries but the resources of the People's Palace were opened upon Sunday. It was quite in vain that the Lord's Day Observance Society tried to get up a petition amongst the dwellers in the East End to stop the action of the managers of the People's Palace. The Report which has been issued from Birmingham by Mr. Whitworth Wallis gives astounding proofs of the interest taken by the people in this concession. And surely in London we ought not to be in a worse position than they are in Birmingham, Manchester, and others of our large towns. A vote was taken in the County Council this year on the subject, and only nine formed the minority. The Trades Council have unanimously voted in its favour, and twice the Trades Congress by a majority of two to one have affirmed the desirability of opening our National collections on the Sunday. We owe the First Commissioner of Works a debt of gratitude for the manner in which he has dealt with the parks. Kew Gardens, Hampton Court, and Greenwich Hospital are open on Sunday, and there is no reason why the National Gallery should not be thrown open for the enjoyment of the great mass of the people, who have not time to visit it during the week. So far from such a course being detrimental to the interests of true religion, it would be an immense lever in the work of social reform. I hope the hon. Gentleman will consider that some of the most eminent of the trustees have expressed themselves in favour of this course. As to the financial question, recently it was my privilege to forward to the trustees a letter signed by the Duke of Westminster and Lord Thurlow, offering to supply the necessary funds, but I do not think it possible that the Financial Secretary would grudge the small sum needed. I am quite certain that neither he nor any other Member of the Government desires to make Sunday more oppressive and monotonous to the great mass of the people of London than any other day of the week. I hope that during the next few months the Government will consider this subject, and that next year some definite action will be taken with regard to it.


Sir, I can see no reason myself why, if Hampton Court, Kew Gardens, and other places are open on Sunday, the National Galleries should not also be open. The opposition comes from a party who think that Sunday ought to be rather a day of punishment than a day of enjoyment. But my hon. Friend opposite is hardly consistent in this matter, for I can recollect a case not very long ago in which he opposed the opening of places of refreshment on Sunday, and voted that they should be all closed on that day. I do not want to raise unpleasant feelings among hon Gentlemen opposite. Nor to doubt their consistency which I dare say they believe they possess to a very great extent. I merely mention this fact, that I think the encouragement of the Salvation Army, and things of that sort have militated against the opening of the National Museum. But I did not rise for the purpose of making these observations. I am, Sir, going to make some criticisms on the action of the Directors of the National Gallery, notwithstanding that they are extremely thin skinned. The misforture of our present system is that our Art and other collections are not under one responsible Minister, who knows something about them. And I wish to call the attention of the Secretary of the Treasury to an extraordinary freak on the part of the Directors of the National Gallery. The matter has been brought before the Government already. I refer to the changes which have been made in the names of the pictures. Claude Lorraine is now called "Geleé." Why should that be? "Guido" is turned into "Reni," Paolo Veronese is called "Caliavi," "Raphael" Sanzi, and so on. The attention of the Government has been called to this matter, and I have been informed that in many cases the names by which the artists are best known are painted on the frames. That is so, but these names have been painted be small that it is almost impossible to discover these old historical names. I would ask the Secretary of the Treasury to give instruction to those who manage the National Gallery, to see that the names by which artists are historically and familiarly known, are written up in larger and more legible letters on the picture frames. It would not cost a great deal to do this. At the Louvre where the system of double nomenclature is adopted, the well-known name of the painter is written in letters quite as large as the proper name. I would urge the Government to have this reform carried out.

* MR. MURPHY (Dublin, St. Patrick's)

I rise to support the appeal of the hon. Member for West St. Pancras (Mr. Lawson) that the National Gallery and kindred Institutions may be open to the public on Sundays. I am in a position to say how the privilege is appreciated in towns where it has been granted. It is largely valued in Dublin. There, the National Gallery and the Museum, which corresponds in some measure with the British Museum, the Zoological Gardens, and the Botanical Gardens are all open to the public on Sunday, and the number of people who attend on that day shows the advantage the public derive from the system. The number of people who attend the National Gallery and Museums on Sunday is larger than on all the other days of the week put together. As I conceive that the object of these exhibitions is that the public shall enjoy them, the fact that they are visited more on Sunday than other days is, to my mind, a conclusive reason why, of all days in the week, they should be open on Sunday. Moreover, I think these places should be open at night. Now that we have the electric light, I think it should be availed of in these places so as to give an opportunity for people who are engaged during the day to visit them. I do not think the small additional expense which would be involved by throwing open the Museums at night and on Sundays should be allowed to stand in the way of this reform, having regard to the benefit which would he conferred on so many people.

SIR F. FITZWYGRAM (Hants, Fareham)

I heartily concur in the proposal for the opening of the National I Gallery and Museums on Sunday. I have always been opposed to those Sabbatarian views which would make the Sunday a black letter day, and I do not think that either religion or morality can be promoted by opening the drinking shops on Sunday and closing the Museums. I would moreover strongly advocate, regardless of the question of expense, the opening of our public Galleries and Museums at night. Night is the time when the majority of the public can best avail themselves of the opportunity of visiting these places which are, and ought to be, National Museums.


I also would support the appeal of the hon. Member for West St. Pancras for Sunday opening, and I would make a suggestion on the subject. I regret that this discussion was not raised on the Vote for the British Museum, as I think Museums are more proper things to open on Sundays than even Picture Galleries. But we refrained from entering upon the subject last night knowing that the Irish Members had a very important question to raise in connection with the Vote for the British Museum. Though I do not believe the people of London care much for this old Art, yet, no doubt, people who come from the country and do not know better, like to visit the public galleries, and I think they should have facilities for doing so at the time most convenient to them. I do not say whether I am a Sabbatarian or an Anti-Sabbatarian, but I think this matter should be decided by the people according to their own views. I say to the people of London, "It is not for me to decide this question, but for you." A feeling is growing up in Scotland for the granting of facilities of this kind, and I hold that the decision of the matter should be left to the public in the different localities. What I would suggest in the present Vote is this: We are told that the County Council of London by a large majority have voted and petitioned in favour of the opening of the Galleries and Museums on Sunday. Well, I think that is a great test of the feeling of the public, but I would carry it further and say to the County Council, "If you are in earnest in this matter bear the extra expense yourself." Though these institutions are, no doubt, national, we cannot lose sight of the fact that the people of London have special facilities for availing themselves of them, and I think they should show their willingness to bear any expense which the acceptance of the proposal of the hon. Member for West St. Pancras would entail. If the localities are willing to incur the expense the Government should raise no difficulty in the matter. As to the grant of £5,000 for new pictures, the Secretary to the Treasury has pleaded guilty to having paid this money in breach of an understanding that no further money was to be granted pending the making of a final arrangement. It is the old story. However much you give the Trustees of the National Gallery they must have more. But much as I dislike this grant, and however contrary it is to the understanding, it is impossible to resist it in such a House as this. I protest against the Vote being taken at such a late period of the Session.

* SIR J. PULESTON (Devonport)

There is a great deal of feeling throughout the country on this question of the Sunday opening of Museums, and I hope it will not be lightly considered on an occasion like the present. I believe that a large preponderance of the working masses are opposed to the principle, and I trust that Her Majesty's Government will hesitate before they accept the advice of hon. Gentlemen opposite.


I would appeal to my hon. Friend not to divide the Committee.


I do not intend to divide the Committee, but I would point out that the Trades Union Council have passed a resolution by a majority of two to one in favour of the Sunday opening of Museums, whilst the London Trades Council have passed a similar resolution unanimously, and the Edinburgh Trades Council have passed one by a large majority.

Question put, and agreed to.

2. £1,291, to complete the sum for the National Portrait Gallery.

3. Motion made, and Question proposed, That a sum, not exceeding £13,000 (including a Supplementary sum of £1,000), be 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 1890, for Grants in Aid of the Expen- diture of certain Learned Societies in Great Britain and Ireland.

DR. CLARK (Caithness)

Under "a" I see an item of £1,000, which it is proposed to grant for a catalogue of scientific papers. I suppose this is to be given to the Royal Society. I want to know on what ground this sum should be given to the Fellows of the Royal Society? I am not prepared to vote a penny to that Institution, or to the Royal Irish Academy, so long as Scotland is treated so shabbily. The Royal Society of Edinburgh only receives £300 a year, which comes back again to the Exchequer in the shape of rent and taxes; whereas the Royal Irish Academy receives £2,000 a year, and the Royal Society of London £4,000 a year, and £15,000 a year for meteorological work. I beg to move the reduction of the Vote by the sum of £1,000.

Motion made, and Question proposed, "That Item A, for the Royal Society, be reduced by £1,000."—(Dr. Clark.)


There have been already published, at the public expense, three volumes of this catalogue, and another volume has now been prepared. These societies come to the Treasury and say that on previous occasions they have come to us and we have paid for these extra volumes. The Government came to the conclusion that, instead of undertaking to pay the whole cost of the pubtion, they should grant £1,000 and leave leave the expenditure, whatever it is, to bemet by the Royal Society. Some small sums have been received as the proceeds of sales, and they have been paid into the Exchequer.


Where are these scientific papers? Are they in the British Museum, or in the Library of the Royal Society, and are they open to the general public, or only to the Fellows of the Society? Is this catalogue a catalogue of papers of the Royal Society, or of scientific papers generally?


Of scientific papers generally.


Where? All over the world?



Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Original Question put, and agreed to.

4. £8,810, to complete the sum for the London University.

5. £21,000, to complete the sum for Universities and Colleges, Great Britain.


There is a sum of £15,000 distributed amongst colleges. I should like to hear the names of the colleges to which the money goes, the grounds on which it is allocated, and whether any of it is given to Scotland.


The question has not been one of England or Scotland, but in what way the objects can best be attained which the grant is intended to promote. I believe that general satisfaction is expressed at the way in which the money has been allocated by the Committee which was appointed for that purpose. The colleges which have received the grants are these:—

Owens College Manchester 1,800
University College, London 1,700
King's College, London 1,700
Liverpool University College 1,500
Mason College, Birmingham 1,400
Yorkshire College, Leeds 1,400
Nottingham University College 1,400
Bristol University College 1,200
Durham College of Science, New-castle-on-Tyne 1,200
Firth College, Sheffield 1,200
Dundee University College 500


What is the basis upon which the grants have been made?


I am afraid the hon. Gentleman does not read his Parliamentary Papers, because full information has been given on the subject in a paper entitled, "Grant to University Colleges in Great Britain." The concluding words of the Report of the Committee are as follows:— In determining the distribution of the grant, your Committee calculated the amount to he given to each college under two heads, A. and B.; A. being regarded as assisting in providing appliances (professorial staff and apparatus) for adequate and full instruction of a University character in arts and science, and B. being in proportion to the amount of local support and instruction given. In consequence of the suggestion in the Minute that regard should be paid to 'the financial position, especially of the newer and poorer colleges,' your Committee determined that on this occasion no college should receive more than £1,800. Considerable differences of opinion showed themselves on the question of giving chief prominence to tried efficiency, or to poverty and newness. The amounts eventually arrived at harmonise these as far as was found possible. Under A., your Committee allotted a fixed sum to each college, and a grant to the college for each professor or head of a department; under B., they gave a certain percentage on the total amount of local subscriptions and students' fees. It is difficult to award a grant in proportion to the number of students directly, as a distinction must be drawn between those attending a few lectures in a desultory manner and those giving their whole time to college work. To get over this difficulty your Committee have taken the income from students' fees as a basis. A grant so determined will be in direct proportion to the amount of instruction given; those taking short courses or attending some evening classes paying small fees, and so on in proportion. Thus the grant under B. is, roughly, a percentage on the college income from all sources. It was thought that this was the truest way of appropriating the money so as to secure the greatest advantage from the expenditure.


I am glad to have got this information. Probably this Paper is one of those that a Member only obtains by applying for. I have not had one. I tried to get the Librarian to obtain one for me, but he was unable to do it. Now that I know the facts I find that Scotland, as usual, has been neglected. There was no Scotch Member on the Committee, and nothing has been given to Anderson's College, Glasgow, which Dr. Birkbeck, who was a student there, took as his model in establishing colleges throughout England. That college, though all these other colleges practically originated from it, does not get a farthing. The Heriot-Watt College does not get anything, and only £500 out of the £15,000 goes to Scotland. Scotland gets only one-thirtieth of the money. It is too late this Session to raise this question, but undoubtedly next year, if there is no change made, I shall move a reduction of the Vote, and raise a claim for the Scotch colleges.


I really think Scotland has been unfairly treated in this matter. Why should she only receive one-thirtieth part of this grant? The University of St. Andrew's has done much to give an excellent scientific education, and if any institution obtains aid of this kind St. Andrew's ought. I cannot understand why Dundee should get £500, and poor St. Andrew's, with its desire to give scientific instruction, should get nothing at all. I cannot conceive how the thing has been arrived at, and I hope the Secretary to the Treasury will tell us who were the members of the Committee. I gather there was no representative of Scotland upon it.


I had no idea that there was any ignorance as to what was taking place. The members of the Committee were Sir John Lubbock, Sir Henry Boscoe, Dr. Percival, Mr. G. B. Brown, and Mr. R. G. C. Mowbray. I find that in the Report of the Committee it is said there was only one application from Scotland and that that application was met. The application was in respect of the University College of Dundee. Surely it was perfectly well known that a certain sum of money had been set aside by the Chancellor of the Exchequer to be used in this particular way. Of course, all the colleges and institutions which did come within the terms laid down for the apportionment of the grant were open to make application.


I am sure there could not have been a better Committee as far as England was concerned, but as to Scotland not one member of the Committee had the smallest connection or personal knowledge of that country. As to the absence of applications, we find that many Members of the House of Commons did not know much about this matter. Is it surprising, therefore, that the people of Scotland did not know much about it?

MR. CALDWELL (Glasgow, St. Rollox)

I must confess to a good deal of ignorance in this matter. When the Chancellor of the Exchequer told us he was going to set aside a sum for the encouragement of scientific researches in the Universities, I really thought his remarks applied to England and Wales. I know that some of the scientific classes in Glasgow are in a very distressed condition; certainly had we known that the grants would be extended to Scotland we should have applied for aid. However, I am sure the Treasury have no wish to treat Scotland differently to any other part of the United Kingdom, and that now the subject has been broached they will see that the claims of Scotland are properly considered.


The hon. Gentleman has not answered my question—namely, whether this grant is only for the present year or for a number of years? I know that some of the colleges I have mentioned have applied to the Treasury and been refused, and I am not aware that the other colleges had any notice given to them. There was no Scotchman on the Committee, and it is quite evident that Scotland has been neglected. The authorities of the Scottish colleges did not know this money could be got. Otherwise I know they would have made application. If the grant is only for the present year I have no objection to offer, but if it is for a number of years I shall have to take a Division.


It is only for this year; the Vote will have to come up again next year. The hon. Gentleman forgets that we have this year increased the grant to the Scottish Universities by £8,000, and that we help the Scottish Universities as we do not help the English Universities. We now give £42,000 a year to the Scottish Universities, and there is but a very small parallel grant given in England—namely, that given to the London and Victoria Universities. The hon. Member may rest assured he will have an opportunity another year of pressing the claims of any Scotch college.


I understand that as regards the English colleges this Vote is presented in pursuance of a system which is perpetual, but that that is not the case so far as the Scotch colleges to which a grant has been made is concerned. Although an allowance has been made to the Dundee University College that institution has not been placed on the same footing as the English colleges. I am informed there is this difference between the University College of Dundee and all the other colleges—that the average grant made to the English University colleges is about £1,500 per annum, while the amount allowed to the Dundee colleges is only £500. Another difference is that the English colleges are assured that the grant in their case is to be a perpetual grant, whereas the grant to the Dundee College is expressly limited to this one year. Now that, on the face of it, looks very like undue preference. I understand, too, that one reason why the Dundee College received a grant was that in a very short time it will occupy peculiar relations to one of the Scottish Universities. I respectfully submit to the Chancellor of the Exchequer and to the Secretary to the Treasury that, however excellent may be the plan to which they have assented, they have certainly manifested an undue preference for the English colleges.

MR. MOWBRAY (Lancashire, S.E., Prestwich)

As a member of the Committee entrusted with the distribution of this grant, let me say it was precisely because there was an idea that the University College of Dundee might be brought into connection with the University system of Scotland that the Committee considered the case of the Dundee College to be an exceptional one for this year, and we treated it therefore in an exceptional manner. As to the absence of Scotch Members on the Committee, I should like to observe that Dundee was in the very favourable position that the Member for South Manchester (Sir H. Roscoe), who was a member of the Committee, is himself a member of the Governing Body of Dundee, and therefore takes a great interest in the welfare of that institution. As to notice being given to the Scottish colleges, I can only say that as soon as the appointment of the Committee took place, I received a letter from the Principal of Dundee College, laying the claims of the college before me. It appears to me that if the heads of the other colleges, who are now disposed to put in a claim for a share of this grant, had shown the same activity, their cases might also have been considered. As a matter of fact, there was not the slightest suggestion made that any other college in Scotland laid claim to a grant.


There is one point I should like the Chancellor of the Exchequer to consider, and that is that the claims of the Scotch Universities are peculiar, because their maintenance is one of the conditions of the Union. They have no national property to fall back upon, because it has been merged in that of the United Kingdom. The position of the Scotch Universities must be maintained by the Imperial Government. It is a responsibility from which they are not entitled to relieve themselves.


I have not the least doubt that the hon. Gentleman (Mr. Mowbray), and the other members of the Committee, acted in perfect good faith, but it does not seem to me that the hon. Member's statement has bettered the case as far as Scotland is concerned. He says that the Dundee College was really represented in the Committee, and therefore it got a grant. Those who were not in the swim, so to speak, got nothing. I hope that, under the circumstances, the Government will see their way to give some grant to the other Scotch Colleges.


The hon. Gentleman has admitted that the Dundee College is exceptionally treated, because of its probable connection with the University system of Scotland. The Universities of Scotland will be unwilling to encourage this affiliation if they have to pay for it. I protest against the grant to Dundee being so small as it is and being limited to one year.


As this question will come up next year, I will not say much more about it. I think the Chancellor of the Exchequer has scarcely fairly stated the case. In this very Vote there is £12,000 set down for the North Wales Colleges. In Vote 16, £36,000 is taken for the Queen's Colleges in Ireland, of which we get back about £5,000. The three old English Universities were endowed, but all the new Universities started since then get grants from Parliament. I am not prepared to admit the great increase in the grant to the Scottish Universities; but it must be borne in mind that the property by which those Universities were maintained became British property by the Act of Union, and, therefore, you ought to maintain those institutions. I think, too, you ought to maintain them in a decent fashion, and not begrudge every farthing you give them.

Vote agreed to.

Resolutions to be reported.

Forward to