HL Deb 28 February 1881 vol 258 cc1837-8

asked the Lord President of the Council, What were the intentions of the Government with respect to the Museum of Practical Geology in Jermyn Street? He said that the removal of the lectures given at this Museum from Jermyn Street to South Kensington would do away with their practical utility, and the building in Jermyn Street would no longer, as hitherto, be of service to the working classes.


said, he was not aware that the Museum of Practical Geology had been broken up in Jermyn Street. Some change had, no doubt, taken place within the last few years as regarded the lectures in the School of Mines. Some of the scientific lectures formerly delivered there were now given in South Kensington. That had been found necessary in consequence of the bad accommodation in Jermyn Street for those lectures; and it had been carried out in consequence of a strong recommendation by the Royal Commission, known as the Duke of Devonshire's Commission. Indeed, the change recommended by the Commission was much wider than any change which had yet taken place, as they had suggested that all the lectures and the Professors should be removed to South Kensington; and that the Museum building at Jermyn Street should be kept for the Geological Survey and the Museum. With regard to the general question, he was unwilling to enter upon it, because the whole question was being considered by the Department. He had given an undertaking last year to inquire into the matter, and see what could be done, in order to make these lectures as beneficial to the wants and the interests of the country as possible. With the view of fulfilling that promise, the Department had been carefully investigating the subject, and they were now in communication with the Treasury, and he hoped very soon to be able to make public what had been decided. With regard to the lectures to working men, he would take the opportunity of stating that there was no intention whatever on the part of the Government to give up these lectures to the working men at Jermyn Street, which had been continued with great success ever since their establishment in 1851. The lectures which had been held at South Kensington—which were only six courses out of 100 in 30 years—had met with great success, and it was not intended to discontinue them, or those in Jermyn Street. Professor Huxley—who, with the other Professors, deserved the gratitude of the public for the way in which they had conducted these lectures —in the course of a conversation last Saturday, told him that of all the lectures which he had to deliver he liked those best which he delivered to the working classes. Without going further into this subject at present, he might observe that anyone visiting the Museum in Jermyn Street would see that the space was quite inadequate to all the demands upon it; and it was impossible to conduct properly the various experiments illustrative of the subject-matter of the lectures. Indeed, the question would shortly come before the Department as to what should be done with the magnificent collection there, which was said to be unrivalled in the world.