HC Deb 06 February 1891 vol 350 cc142-3
SIR HENRY ROSCOE (Manchester, S.)

I beg to ask the First Commissioner of Works whether any, and if so, what steps have been taken to carry out the undertaking given by him on 1st April, 1890, with regard to the housing of the Science Collections at South Kenesington; whether the plans of the buildings required for this purpose are being drawn; and how far the assurance given by him that the Government are prepared to put buildings on a proper and worthy footing upon the site purchased last year has been fulfilled?


During the past year Her Majesty's Government have given much consideration to the question of buildings at South Kensington, not for the Science and Art Department only, but also for the proposed Gallery of British Art. All these matters are interdependent, and it has not been possible to deal with the requirements of the science collections, otherwise than in combination with those of the Art Collections. It has now been decided to proceed at once with the completion of the buildings on the east side of Exhibition Road. These will ultimately be devoted wholly to art collections, although for some years it is probable that some portions of them may be temporarily available for science collections. The buildings will, however, take several years to complete, and in the meantime the needs of the science collections are undoubtedly somewhat urgent, and more accommodation is also required for science teaching. I am now in communication with the Science and Art Department, as to the best means of providing for these scientific requirements, and I hope soon to submit a proposal to the Treasury. As the buildings on the east side of Exhibition Road will cost some £300,000 or £400,000, it is obvious that any further immediate demands on the Chancellor of the Exchequer must be confined within as narrow limits as possible.


May I ask whether the right hon. Gentleman is aware that the west galleries will be used before long for the National Gallery of Modern Pictures?


That is what renders the case of these science collections urgent, and it is on this subject that I am at present in communication with the Science and Art Department.