§ (1) The Board shall consist of a President and twenty-four other members, of whom seventeen shall be appointed members and seven ex-officio members.
§ The ex-officio members shall consist of the following persons:
- The First Commissioner of Works;
- The Principal Librarian of the British Museum;
- The High Commissioner for the Commonwealth of Australia;
- The High Commissioner for the Dominion of Canada;
- The High Commissioner for the Dominion of New Zealand;
- The High Commissioner for the Union of South Africa;
- The High Commissioner for Newfoundland.
§ Amendment made: In paragraph (1) after the word "The" ["The Principal Librarian of the British Museum"] insert the words "Director and."—[Sir A. Mond.]
§ Sir A. MOND
In the drafting of the Bill it was overlooked that the Dominion of Canada, as being our latest Dominion, has precedence. My attention being directed to that fact, we are altering the wording accordingly.
§ Amendment agreed to.
§ Further Amendment made: Leave out "Dominion of Canada" ["the High Commissioner for the Dominion of Canada"] and insert "Commonwealth of Australia."․[Sir A. Mond.]
§ Motion made and Question proposed, "That the Bill be now lead the Third time."
§ 7.0 P.M.
§ Lieut. - Commander KENWORTHY
On the occasion of the Second Reading I stated my objections to the setting up of this War Museum, and I do not propose to go over them again, but those particular objections have been very much strengthened by events since. I said then that I looked upon the whole, object of this Museum as mischievous, as intended simply to foster a spirit which we all hope will die out, and die out quickly. Since then we have had London placarded with posters, at I do not know at what expense, inviting people to come and see this museum and setting it out in the most glowing terms. A public holiday has been made of the opening ceremony—I do not wish in any way to complain of the fact that a very high personage opened it—and it has been boomed in the Press in every sort of way, and I am afraid that it is not going to be used for purposes of study and research, as the right hon. Gentleman (Sir A. Mond) led us to believe, but as propaganda in the war spirit. Owing to the strenuous times in which we live, I have not had the opportunity of visiting the museum, but I have had complaints made to me by those who have, and I wish very briefly to point them out, because I think they add strength to my original objection. The Naval part of the museum, which, as far as these things go, I consider the most important for this country, is not by any means properly displayed, in accordance with its importance. It takes a third place, 703 a very third place indeed. These are not captious criticisms, they have been made to me very seriously by naval officers who have been there, and I think it right to mention them. Another matter was mentioned by the right hon. Baronet (Sir A. Mond) when he replied to my criticism on the Second Reading. He said that, so far from the museum being any propaganda for war, or glorifying the horrible institution of war to the younger generation who were fortunate enough to escape this War, if only people went to see the Royal Army Medical Corps exhibits they would have the disgusting side and the terrible side of an international struggle brought home to them. He rather softened my opposition by that. I am told by the Royal Army Medical Corps section it does contain these horrors, which, so far as they can bring home the awful horrors and waste of war, are to be commended. But that section, I am told, is "skied," to use the Royal Academy expression. It has been put in the gallery and in a corner, and that, I think, is some answer to the arguments then used by the right hon. Gentleman. I make one suggestion. I take it from a source to which I do not often go, the Press. I see that a newspaper suggests that the price of manufacture of every gun, aeroplane, mine-thrower, flame-thrower, gas-projector and all the rest of them should be marked on it in plain figures. That, I think, is a very admirable suggestion, and I hope the right hon. Gentleman will use his influence to have that done. Let Democracy know what it costs to go in for war, and know that besides the pomp and the ceremony and the suffering and the disease and the demoralisation, it is also a costly business, and that we will have to pay even more dearly for it in the future.
§ Colonel GREIG
I think the hon. Member who has just spoken might have visited the Imperial War Museum before attempting to criticise it, to see whether his criticism at all corresponds with the facts.
§ Colonel GREIG
That is exactly what I suggest. Instead of going on secondhand information and getting cheap criticism from the newspapers, he might at least have gone and seen things for him- 704 self. I suppose no description could be more unlike the one he gave of what actually took place. He called it a public holiday. It was not a public holiday. It was a tribute to those we have lost and whose lives were sacrificed for us. It was a religious ceremony carried out from first to last in the best and most reverential manner. And then the hon. Member comes here and says that it was a public holiday. It corresponds not at all with a public holiday.
§ Lieut.-Commander KENWORTHY
I do not think the hon. and gallant Gentleman wishes to misrepresent me. Might I point out that "holiday" does not necessarily mean a beanfeast. "Holy day" was the original sense—[HON. MEMBERS: "Oh, oh!]—and I meant no offence. It was a great public ceremony.
§ Colonel GREIG
We all connect the term public holiday with quite other sorts of exhibitions from what we saw when this exhibition was opened, and I wish to make this protest, on behalf of those who were there, against the description the hon. Gentleman has given. Also, he is inconsistent with himself, because after having denounced the exhibition, and denounced the idea altogether, he begins to complain that it is not complete from his own point of view and of those whom he assumes he represents—I mean the great silent Service. I do not wish to pursue the subject, but I think those who have been concerned in bringing this idea to fruition have done a great service to the nation. There is nothing aggressive, there is nothing military about it at all, nothing that wilt conduce to the spirit of militarism. If anything, it will do what the hon. Member who has just spoken suggests, in getting rid of militarism in this country. I think the exhibition, taken in the right spirit, is one of the best means of doing that.
§ Sir D. MACLEAN
I hope my right hon. Friend will be able, before the Bill receives its Third Reading, to give us some sort of estimate of what the annual cost of this exhibition is to be. I have no objection to a national museum for the commemoration of the War, but I am nervous as to the idea of Government Departments in connection with the cost of these matters, and I should like to know whether, before the Session closes, 705 we shall have an opportunity on his estimates of considering, and, if necessary, revising, his idea for what the annual cost should be. There is no desire on the part of the nation to be parsimonious in this matter, but I am quite sure there is also a very genuine desire to see that no unnecessary money is spent, and I hope my right hon. Friend will be able to give us some information on these points.
§ Sir A. MOND
I think the best opportunity of discussing the question my right hon. Friend has just raised will be on the Estimate of the Imperial War Museum, which will come before Parliament in the usual course. All that the Bill does is merely to establish the mode of government, it does not really affect the question of finance. I quite agree that we do not want to spend more money than we can possibly help, and I think I can claim to have got a very valuable collection for relatively very little indeed, but until the trustees have been formally appointed and the future policy of the museum is definitely laid down, I would not like to name any definite figure. We have merely gathered at the Crystal Palace the vast amount of material which we collected through the agency of the various Services, and I would point out to the hon. and gallant Gentleman who spoke first (Lieut.-Commander Kenworthy) that really each branch of the Service was asked to be responsible for its exhibits. The Admiralty had a Subcommittee which was responsible for what they wanted to show and how they wanted to exhibit it. It is impossible, even in the biggest building, to show completely the enormous services performed by the Navy and the other departments. But the hon. Gentleman is quite mistaken when he says that the Navy was given a third place. The space for the Navy is as much as the space for the Army, and I think the public will consider the Naval exhibits the most important in the collection. The hon. Gentleman also said the Royal Army Medical Corps section has been "skied." That is not an accurate description. The Royal Army Medical Corps section is in the gallery upstairs, where there are many other things, including the poster section. Will the hon. Gentleman give me the pleasure of seeing the museum with me? Then he will see that with the amount of space at our disposal we must place certain things upstairs, and naturally the 706 smallest things go upstairs and the heavier armament goes on the ground floor. I can assure him that those whom I had the pleasure of accompanying round the museum yesterday all felt that the museum expressed the terror and horror of war, and the only doubt I had had was whether it is right to set up a memorial which must show so much misery as naturally occurred when the War was on. But we have not got to think of the present century, we have got to think of the century ahead. The object we have had in view has been to enable future generations to see what happened in the greatest event in the world. Of the twenty years of the Napoleonic War, the only relics are five guns and a few hundred cuirasses, and if the hon. Gentleman and others had lived a hundred years hence I am sure they would reproach us if we had not done what we have done. The question of publicity has nothing to do with the Imperial War Museum. No public money is being spent on advertising the museum. It is part of the arrangement with the trustees of the Crystal Palace that they are doing the advertising at their own expense and are receiving the shillings of the people who go there. I want to thank the House and Committee for giving me the Bill.
§ Sir D. MACLEAN
Will my right hon. Friend tell me rather more definitely what he means when he refers to the Estimate? He says he is unable to give us a forecast of what the actual cost is going to be. What I want to know is whether in regard to the Estimate that is going to be submitted to the House he will impress upon his responsible officials that what we on this side want in Committee of Supply is that the Estimate for the current year shall not be framed on the general principle that we must find out for ourselves what a thing costs as we go along. The right hon. Gentleman knows exactly what I mean. I want him to treat this matter just as he would treat a great department in one of his own big businesses. I want him to let us have such an Estimate before us as will show us where we stand. I do not want the Estimate in the form in which, unfortunately, so many Estimates are submitted to Parliament.
§ Sir A. MOND
I think there is a little misunderstanding between my right hon. Friend and myself. I thought he was re- 707 ferring to the final Estimate of cost. I think I can give him what he now asks for. The Estimate for 1920–21 will amount to about £50,000. It will show a considerable reduction on the Estimate of last year. The Imperial War Museum has been on the Estimates of the last two or three years. There is nothing new about the item. I have stated that I cannot give the final cost. We have a large staff at the present time doing cataloguing and other work, but the right hon. Gentleman may take it that the Estimate for this year will not be anything like a permanent charge. In fact, I am convinced that the permanent charge will be much lower in amount.
§ Mr. INSKIP
On the Resolution on which his Bill was founded I made certain observations as to the expediency of spending money on an object of this character, and I now desire to repeat the substance of those observations in order to voice my own opinion that the expenditure of this money is not justified in the circumstances in which we find ourselves. I noticed with some interest that a certain Gentleman wrote to "The Times" a few days ago and abused Members of this House for not having resisted the expenditure of this money. I do not see the hon. Member present in his place this afternoon, but I respectfully think that this £50,000 ought not to be spent, and I shudder at the vista which the right hon. Gentleman has opened to us of a century of expenditure upon this scale. He tells us we are setting up a war museum, not for this generation alone or merely in order to attract persons who may be interested in the War and in the weapons used by their brothers and fathers, but that we are setting up in a permanent form a museum which is to be in existence for more than a century, in order that a century hence people may have the advantage of seeing the kind of guns used in this present War. Clause 4 makes me think that really the Department which is responsible for this institution has lost all sense of proportion. It is proposed to set up a board of directors, a general curator, and a staff of officers, who are all to be paid such salaries as the Treasury may from time to time determine. The right hon. Gentleman the Member for Peebles (Sir D. Maclean) asked pertinently whether proper explanations will be given when the Estimate 708 comes up for consideration. But I have found in my short experience of Parliament that when we come to Estimates hon. Members shrug their shoulders. They say the money has been spent and the liability incurred, and it is too late now to do anything but accept the Estimate placed before them. The time to have objected, they say, was when the Bill was introduced. I do not under, rate the interest of this museum, but what I say is, that when an institution of this character ceases to be self-supporting, by means of fees paid by persons who want to see it, then the museum loses its justification. If there is a public which desires to see this interesting exhibition, opened as it was under august patronage, by all means let them have access to it as long as they take any interest in it and care to pay for it. But when we find £50,000 placed on the Estimates of this year, and a similar sum to be put on the Estimates every year for the next century—
§ Sir A. MOND
I am sure my hon. Friend will excuse me for reminding him that I distinctly pointed out that the House must not look upon this year's Estimate as of the nature of permanent expenditure. The permanent expenditure will, we believe, be very much less.
§ Mr. INSKIP
Quite so, but it may reach or exceed the £50,000 for all that, and the right hon. Gentleman's successors will get this additional argument for their use, that it seems a pity not to spend money on maintaining the museum and in employing a staff to look after it, seeing that it is for the interest of the public. I think if we can save only £20,000 it is well worth saving. If there is a demand for this museum, if it can be supported and paid for by the public, by all means let the public have it; but I do not think we are justified in voting such a large sum out of public funds.
§ Major Sir P. LLOYD-GREAME
I think a museum of this kind is obviously a right and proper institution, and we should regret it very much if we did not set it up. It is not for this country alone; it will be open to visitors from other countries. I quite agree with my hon. Friend in one thing, and that is that when we are incurring expenditure of this kind the institution should as far as possible be self-supporting. I rather gathered from what the right hon. Gentleman said that the shillings of those who pay to see 709 it are going to be handed over to the Trustees of the Crystal Palace. I would like to know if any arrangement has been made limiting the amount of money to be paid over to the Trustees. A certain sum is being paid to the Trustees for the use of the building in which this museum is held, and, should the exhibition prove a great financial success, will any proportion of the admission fees go in reduction of this Vote?
Will the right hon. Gentleman tell us what has been the whole cost up to and including this £50,000?
§ Sir MARTIN CONWAY
I have refrained from taking part in the Debates on the Imperial War Museum, in mercy to the House, because, having been Director-General of the Museum since the start, I have been afraid I might be tempted to talk at great length on matters in which, naturally, I feel very considerable interest. There are two or three points on which I would like to say a word or two. The first is as to the rent of the Crystal Palace, and the method in which the entrance fees are to be dealt with. The cost of running the Crystal Palace is, I understand, about £75,000 a year. The Imperial War Museum gets the use of the building for £25,000 a year rent, and the difference, it is hoped, may be recouped to the Crystal Palace trustees by means of the shillings to be taken at the door. I cannot think that any bargain which we could have made would have been more profitable to the War Museum than the one I have described. Before the Crystal Palace was taken, it was costing something between £8,000 and £10,000 a year merely to store in warehouses scattered all over the place, the materials which have now been brought together in the Crystal Palace. These materials were, of course, at that time inaccessible and invisible to the public. If they were to be of any use at all, it was necessary to bring them together somewhere, and the Crystal Palace has been secured for that purpose. Therefore, the net cost of housing the War Museum there is really about £15,000 a year. There is another point I would like to make. It is asked, why, at the present time, when, in the mind of every one of us economy is a matter of such high importance, we should spend £50,000 on a War Museum. I would point out, first of all, that the objects which formed 710 the collection existed, and if they had not been collected together at the moment they were, they would ere this, many of them, at any rate, have passed out of existence.
That is particularly true in connection with aircraft. The air machine after it has ceased to be in actual use has to be destroyed practically at once. The entire history of the development of aircraft during the War would have been unrecorded had it not been for the existence of the Imperial War Museum. In years to come the history of the development of aircraft during the War will be one of the most important matters to be remembered in relation to the development of human civilisation. There is no doubt whatever that the future of flying and the future of civilisation will he very much entangled. The development of the flying services during the five years of War has been a matter of really enormous importance in the history of the human race, and were it not for the Imperial War Museum we should not have had a collection in which the whole story is exemplified by aircraft which otherwise would have ceased to exist. As to the general cost of the museum in years to come, I understand that there is no museum in the country of any importance that is self-supporting or ever will be. No museum can ever pay its cost with fees taken at the door. Neither the National Gallery nor the British Museum nor any of the art gaileries or museums in our great provincial cities could be supported on the fees taken at the doors. That does not mean that the museum does not pay. As a matter of fact, the museums of the country pay most handsomely. One of the ways in which they pay is by their relation to the tourist industry. I have no doubt that England must always be in the future a great place of pilgrimage From all the world, and especially the English-speaking world, pilgrims will come to visit the old country from which their race sprang, and where its great developments have their roots. The museums of England are a most paying feature, indirectly, by reason of their attraction to tourists. The tourist industry in the immediate future will be one of our great paying industries. Every year it increases in value, and our museums have a direct relationship to it, quite as much as have hotels or any other factors of that kind.
§ Sir M. CONWAY
That is a question upon which I need not dwell. Finally, there is the question of the future cost of the Museum to the country, and that, of course, entirely depends upon the scheme adopted. You can make the Museum what you please. You can make it a mere storehouse of souvenirs and trophies and guns, but those are the matters of smallest importance in the Museum. It is in the records, the maps actually used by the Generals in the field, the enormous collection of photographs, all the air photographs that were taken, the record of all the work of women throughout the length and breadth of the country during the War in manufacture and substitution, the library, the map room—it is in all those smaller and less striking objects that the main value and importance of the Museum to the historian will consist. If it is to be a real place of research, a real place where the scientific history of the development of the marine engine during War-time, the development of aircraft, the development of the air engine, and all the rest of the scientific side of human activity during those five years of War, is to be recorded and illustrated, it may be necessary to have attached to it a staff of, say, half-a-dozen experts, who will not be cheap. On the other hand, if you like to make it nothing but a kind of raree show, a few police will be enough to keep it in order and look after the exhibits. The ultimate cost of the Museum will depend upon the scheme that is adopted, and that scheme will have to be accepted by the House of Commons. The cost will be grater or less in proportion to the ultimate utility of the collection at the Museum, and no scheme can be made, no plan can be elaborated, until you have the Board of Trustees which this Bill proposes to create. It is for that reason that I think the discussion of the ultimate cost of the Museum is premature. I would ask hon. Members to await developments, and to give attention to that question when the actual plan can be laid before them.
§ Sir D. MACLEAN
A question has been asked, which perhaps my hon. Friend can answer, as to the total cost 712 up to date, including the £50,000 which the right hon. Gentleman has just indicated as the cost for this year.
§ Sir M. CONWAY
I have not the figures here, but I do not think it has been very much above £100,000. I think £120,000 is about the figure.
§ Commander BELLAIRS
I rise for the purpose of repeating a plea which I have made once before, namely, that we should have a Budget in regard to this Imperial War Museum. We want to see it in a connected form. We want to see what is paid for rent, insurance, salaries, and so forth, and also what is the prospective cost. My hon. Friend has outlined several possibilities for the future, and we might have estimates in regard to all those matters. I was somewhat surprised when my right hon. Friend said that the only relics of the French Revolutionary War were a few guns. We have the "Victory," and we have very many relics in the Royal United Service Institution. Indeed, that Institution houses nearly all the relics of our previous wars, and I am somewhat appalled at the idea of a great museum of relics in regard to this War. I think that what is really worth preserving will be almost crowded out by what is not worth preserving. Supposing that the same policy had been followed in regard to the French Revolutionary War, the Crimean War, or all the great wars we have had, this country would have become a vast museum of war relics. I do not agree with my hon. and gallant Friend who said, that the contemplation of war relics leads to the military instinct. On the contrary, I think it leads to quite the reverse instinct. It is only a generation which has not known war nor contemplated war that ever gets into war again. There is generally an interval of about 40 years before a great civilised power goes into another war. At any rate, as we want to be able to criticise this scheme in a connected form, let my right hon. Friend give us a Budget of the scheme, showing what plans he has in mind in regard to the future. Is the Crystal Palace going to be the permanent home of the Museum, or are we going to be let in for a great building scheme such as some of our architects have outlined? That is a thing which I think this House will not sanction at this present time, when building costs five times as much as it formerly did.
§ Sir ALFRED MOND
Hon. Members seem to have overlooked the fact that details of expenditure in regard to this matter will be found set out in Vote 7, Class 4, of the Civil Service Estimates. Year by year, over a series of years, Estimates have been voted for the Imperial War Museum. This Bill in no way affects the Estimates. Those Estimates have been passed when there has been no Board of Trustees at all. If this Bill is not passed to-day we shall still go on in the same way. My hon. and gallant Friend (Commander Bellairs) asks me really to state what is to be the future policy of the Board, of which I may not even be a member. I must respectfully decline to do that. One of the objects of the exhibition at the Crystal Palace is that we may be able to form an opinion as to whether all this mass of material should be maintained, or what eliminations may have to be made. It is impossible for any human being to forsee the final stage exactly. The present position is that the lease of the Crystal Palace has been taken for four years, and this House and the country will have four years in which to consider whether it is suitable for the purpose, and whether it is to be temporary or permanent. It is not a matter for this country merely; it is an Imperial matter. On the Board of Trustees every Dominion will be represented. It will be the one great thing the Empire will have, and it will always be my conception that it must be the great Imperial War Memorial. If it became the great Imperial War Memorial, this House and the country might consider it more reasonable to enshrine it in a noble and dignified building than to spend large sums of money in monuments and statues scattered all over the country. Those are all questions, not for the present, but for the future. They are questions for the Board of Trustees and for the Cabinet. I sincerely trust that some day the money will be forthcoming, if not from public funds, from private people with hearts large enough to provide a permanent shrine to illustrate the greatest sacrifice this Empire has ever borne in its whole history, to commemorate the 800,000 men who died in one great glorious roll of honour. Whatever I can do in that direction I frankly say, here and now, I shall endeavour to do.