HL Deb 19 March 1886 vol 303 cc1326-49

, in rising to move— That whereas for many years past Parliament has voted, without comment or protest, funds to provide for the Sunday opening of Hampton Court Picture Galleries, Kew Gardens, the Painted Hall of Greenwich Hospital, and the Dublin National Gallery; that whereas a majority of the Trustees of both the British Museum and of the National Gallery have expressed a desire to open those institutions on Sunday afternoons; that whereas for many years museums, libraries, and art galleries have been opened free to the people on Sundays in many large provincial towns, with results of a highly satisfactory character; and further, seeing that no legislative impediment is offered to the Sunday opening of the Zoological Gardens in London to the wealthy classes of society, notwithstanding the much larger proportion of Sunday labour thereby involved as compared with a Government art collection; that, for the above reasons, this House is therefore of opinion that the time has now come when the principle already conceded should, in the interests of religion and education, he extended to the national collections of art and literature in the Metropolis, said, that this was in no sense a Party question; and he was sure their Lordships would dissociate the question from all Party considerations. He had, he believed, as many supporters on one side of the House as on the other, and several on the Cross Benches; so that, in considering it, he must ask their Lordships to forget that he was in any way connected with Her Majesty's present Government, and assure the House that he brought it forward as a private and a very humble Member. It was no new subject, and needed no introduction. He only wanted to do for London what was done elsewhere. Why should London be excluded? He could not tolerate the inconsistency of a thing being laudable in Kew or Manchester, but wicked and sacrilegious in Trafalgar Square or Bloomsbury, where you were furthest removed from green fields, the fresh air, and pleasure of a country walk. If it were new he could understand opposition on the ground of the "small end of the wedge; but that had, happily, been inserted years ago. As it was, Sunday opening was the rule, and London was the exception. Then there was the further inconsistency that, year after year, moneys were voted, without comment or protest, to defray Sunday opening elsewhere. Would anyone dare to try to stop those supplies? As a fact, no one ventured on such a course; but when a few pounds were asked for opening the British Museum for a few hours on Sunday afternoons they were told it was quite a different thing. They also knew that the Trustees—at least, a majority of them, and the world was governed by the majority—he said the Trustees of both the British Museum and the National Gallery had officially expressed their desire to open those institutions on Sunday afternoons. Of course, there were difficulties; but difficulties always abounded, and were made to be overcome. He could not admit for a moment the existence of any financial difficulty. This country could find money to give £70,000 for a picture; it could surely find a few pounds to enable the public to see it—to enable the work- ing classes to have access to it—on the only day in the week at their disposal for this purpose. Then they had the experience of Birmingham, Manchester, Wigan, &c. They knew that at Birmingham several free libraries had been open for years on Sundays, and had had their hundreds of thousands of readers annually. They heard of no difficulties there. He might add that now his noble Friend's (the Earl of Harrowby's) Motion had been accepted in favour of week-day evening opening, one, at any rate, of the difficulties vanished. More hands would have to be necessarily engaged, and the extra service on the Sunday could easily be apportioned so as to involve no more individual labour than at present. He entirely concurred in his noble Friend's proposal, and should not be content until those places were open, not only on three evenings in the week, but on every evening, and on Sunday afternoons as well. The question of employing a few extra hands just now was surely not one to be deprecated. The actual numbers required, and the exact additional Sunday labour, had been much exaggerated. It was dealt with, and practically disposed of, two years ago by the noble Lord (Lord Carlingford), when President of the Council, who stated in that House that he had made official inquiries, and found that the number of attendants that would be required at South Kensington Natural History Museum, in addition to the police, firemen, porters, &c., who were now on duty on Sundays, would not exceed a dozen. For his own part, he (Lord Thurlow) could not consider that that amount of extra labour, well paid for, could be taken into consideration by the side of the pleasure and profit to be derived by hundreds of thousands of working men. The old arguments in favour of Sunday opening existed as hideous as ever. The odious distinction between the rich and the poor—the rich might enjoy works of Art on Sunday because they owned them; but if you were not rich enough to possess ownership it was wicked to open a book or look at a picture on the Sunday. Then take the Zoological Gardens, open to the rich only on Sundays, employing hands enough to open every Museum and Gallery in London. There was Sunday labour for them; but you shut your eyes to it, and the poor man said, and not unnaturally, it was because it was for the benefit of the rich. Well, he knew he had only to convince the House of two things to carry the Resolution. First, that it was not a thrust at religion; secondly, that it was desired by the working classes themselves. First, then, as to religion. It was argued that this proposal was a blow aimed at religion; and he frankly admitted that if he failed to remove that objection his case must fall to the ground. He certainly should never have placed this Motion on the Paper if he thought it was adverse to the interests of religion. But that it was not so was proved by the fact that the movement was begun by ecclesiastics, and had been carried on by them. The late Dean Stanley, one of the most eminent divines of modern times, consistently advocated it. He was President of the Sunday Society, the object of whose existence it was to promote Sunday opening. Then they had a Canon of the English Church, Canon Shuttleworth, who was not only a Canon, but a hardworking East End clergyman. He was the actual President of the parent Society for promoting this object, the National Sunday League, of which the Sunday Society was an offshoot. Then he (Lord Thurlow) had polled the clergy of London, and he found over 200, or about one-half, of the clergy of the Church of England were in favour of it, and he believed the clergy of the Roman Catholic Church supported him almost to a man. Then, the other evening, they heard what the Bishop of Peterborough had to say of the English Sunday. He knew something about those things, and had the courage of his convictions. He told them, in his usual unrivalled eloquence of language, how the poor were now being divorced from the Church, how the great gulf between the rich and the poor was getting wider and deeper—he proved possibly more than he intended; he went on to say, what could the poor man do on Sunday afternoon? He told us of the Weary and the dreary Sunday afternoon walk of the London working man, between monotonous brick walls, shops with all their shutters up, and only two doors open to him, the church and the public-house. And he went on to say that the latter institution proved the more attractive of the two. He thought their Lordships would admit that the picture was faithfully and painfully accurate in all its details. Hear what Mr. George Ellis wrote on the religious aspect of this question, so far back as 1864, in a letter which appeared in the papers. He wrote— I am inclined to think that, even in a religious point of view, the opening of the British Museum would prove spiritually beneficial to the semi-civilized class of the community; for such a collection of Clod's wonders cannot fait to strike the dullest intellect with awe and veneration for the great Creator, for there are 'the trees, from the cedar-tree that is in Lebanon, even unto the hyssop that springeth out of the wall; also beasts, and fowls, and creeping things, and fishes;' and I believe it to be next thing to impossible for anyone to pass through the buildings without being solemnly impressed with a sense of his own insignificance and the transcendant glory of the Almighty Ruler above him. So much for the thrust or blow aimed at religion. Then let them pass on to the next point, as to whether the working men themselves desired this thing. He took it there were two ways of ascertaining the views of working men on this point—first, by the use they made of such opportunities when they were afforded; and, secondly, by their expressions of opinion. If tried by the first test, he held the reply to be conclusive. Bethnal Green Museum had been frequently opened as a test, and had always been thronged by thoroughly appreciative crowds. Last year the Alexandra Palace was opened for seven Sundays, and visited by over 130,000 working men and their families. He went down to see for himself, and did see the genuine working men and their wives and families by the thousand thoroughly enjoying themselves, crowding the picture galleries, orderly and well-behaved, and listening to magnificent sacred music. The work of attendants and custodians was done by a few volunteers, and no injury was done to anything. The same thing happened, without variation, wherever this thing was tried. Then take expressions of opinion. He had polled the working men's clubs of London, and did not know of one in which he had not a large majority in his favour. He could produce resolutions and addresses from them by the hundreds, sent him officially, signed by the presidents and secretaries, and which he was bound to consider as good evidence. Then take the founder of workmen's clubs in London, Mr. Hodgson Pratt—he knew something of the feeling of London men, and he told a public meeting where he (Lord Thurlow) was last night that he believed them to be absolutely in favour of this thing by overwhelming majorities. He knew many societies, such as the Lord's Day Observance or Rest Association, had endeavoured to make capital out of what happened a few months ago at Southport, where the question was discussed for the first time by the Trades' Union Congress that met there. Well, on that occasion both sides claimed the victory. Their Lordships should decide between them—51 delegates, representing 233,050 working men, declared for, and 67 delegates, representing 189,827 working men, declared against Sunday opening. Well, those societies had said a great deal of their majority of 16 delegates, but had said very little—nothing indeed—of the majority of 43,223 of their constituents. But he must say a word more about these 16 delegates. Mr. Murchie, a delegate from the Amalgamated Society of Carpenters, represented 25,700 members, and voted for Sunday opening; but his vote was cancelled by that of Mr. Richards, a delegate from some local society, and who represented only 11 members. He (Lord Thurlow) asked their Lordships which was the vote to guide them in that case—the one representing 25,700 working men, or the one representing 11? Then he wished to say one word about the London Trades' Council, of which Mr. George Shipton was the able political secretary. Well, they all knew Mr. Shipton—at any rate by name—and there were few more widely trusted men. Their Lordships might have seen a letter from him to himself (Lord Thurlow) that lately appeared in the newspapers. He wrote to him officially, forwarding a resolution of the London Trades' Council assuring him of their continued support. Could he reject that expression of opinion? But he had one more word to say on the point. He heard yesterday that the minority of, he thought, 54 of a branch trade society, consisting in all of 275 members, had forwarded a counter-Petition to a noble Lord opposite. He could not, of course, say whether he would use it or not; but this much he would say—that it was the Petition of a minority, and only represented the views of the 50 or 60 people who signed it. But there were other classes to be considered. There were the City clerks, the shopmen and women, and the tailors, and so on, who did piecework at home. From this class he had received thousands of touching letters during the last 18 months. Well, he would not say more. He trusted their Lordships would agree that, to some extent at any rate, he had made out his case that this was not a blow aimed at religion, and that the working classes wished for it themselves; if he had not, things must go on as they were—Sunday drinking must continue to increase, and Monday morning cases in the police courts must continue to increase also; but, whether he might be fortunate enough to have convinced their Lordships or not, he felt sure of one thing, and that was that he should meet, at any rate, with a large measure of sympathy and support. He, therefore, had the honour to move the Resolution which stood in his name.

Moved to resolve— That whereas for many years past Parliament has voted, without comment or protest, funds to provide for the Sunday opening of Hampton Court Picture Galleries, Kew Gardens, the Painted Hall of Greenwich Hospital, and the Dublin National Gallery; that where as a majority of the Trustees of both the British Museum and of the National Gallery have expressed a desire to open those institutions on Sunday afternoons; that whereas for many years museums, libraries, and art galleries have been opened free to the people on Sundays in many large provincial towns, with results of a highly satisfactory character; and further, seeing that no legislative impediment is offered to the Sunday opening of the Zoological Gardens in London to the wealthy classes of society, notwithstanding the much larger proportion of Sunday labour thereby involved as compared with a Government art collection; that, for the above reasons, this House is therefore of opinion that the time has now come when the principle already conceded should, in the interests of religion and education, be extended to the national collections of art and literature in the Metropolis."—(The Lord Thurlow.)


, on rising to move as an Amendment to the Motion— That it is not desirable to open the national collections of art and literature in the Metropolis on Sunday, said, that in taking this step he was taking upon himself the duties which had been hitherto so ably discharged by the two noble Earls who were no longer with them. The question raised by the Mo- tion of the noble Lord opposite was so grave and important that he could not allow it to pass unchallenged. Their Lordships who were opposed to this step had a right to complain that this subject was brought before the House year after year at a period of the Session when the attendance of their Lordships was known to be thin, and when those adverse to the proposal were forced to come down and oppose it at great personal inconvenience. His next ground of complaint was that this Motion should be made in the first instance in their Lordships' House, instead of in the House of Commons. It must be remembered that this proposal involved a money question with which their Lordships could not deal. It would be merely beating the air to pass a Bill in that House embodying the principle of the noble Lord's Motion. It was true that at a very small meeting of the Trustees of the National Gallery and of the British Museum a resolution was passed expressing their willingness to open those places of public instruction and amusement on Sunday in the event of Parliament agreeing to that step being taken; but in passing that resolution those Bodies had promised to do only that which it was their duty to do—namely, to submit themselves to the will of Parliament. The Zoological Gardens were already open on Sunday; but they were private property. The premises of the noble Lord he could not grant, and therefore the conclusion was also wrong. They were all agreed upon one point—that if the National Collections were to be opened on Sunday that step must be taken in the interests of the working classes, using that term in the widest sense, and not referring to those employed in manual labour only. But in what way had the wishes of the working classes been expressed upon this subject? The public could approach both Houses of Parliament by means of Petitions, and if they so ardently desired the opening of these places they had never taken the trouble to say so. The Petitions that had been presented to the House in favour of this proposal were only about 1 per cent as compared with those which had been presented against it. The noble Lord had assured them that a majority of the representatives of labour were in favour of this proposition; but he should like to know how the noble Lord obtained that information. His knowledge of the feelings of those persons on the subject had been gained from their public utterances, in which they had strongly condemned the proposal. None had more strenuously opposed the principle of this Motion than the noble Lord's Colleague in Office the Under Secretary for the Home Department (Mr. Broadhurst); and on the last occasion that the proposal had been brought before the House of Commons it was rejected by a majority of 125, only 83 Members voting for it. Mr. Lucraft, another representative of the working classes, had opposed the proposal, on the ground that he did not wish to do seven days' work for six days' pay. In September last a meeting of the Trades Unions' Council discussed the matter and rejected the Motion. Then, again, those who had always been the friends of the working classes were most strongly opposed to this change. The late Earl of Shaftesbury, who, in the prime of life, gave up all ambition and all hope of power in order that he might devote his long and useful life to the service of the working classes, had denounced this proposal in far more eloquent and forcible language than he could command. Then Mr. Mundella, the President of the Board of Trade, who had sprung from the ranks of labour, speaking in the House of Commons, said that no more fatal mistake could be made than for the working men to consent to the passing of a measure such as that now before their Lordships; and he also stated that the town of Nottingham, after full discussion, had decided by a large majority that institutions of that kind should not be open on the Day of Rest. Again, there was a remarkable consensus of opinion among the ministers of religion, to whatever denomination they might belong, against the wisdom and justice of the noble Lord's proposition. It was a fact, he believed, that Cardinal Manning, who was formerly disposed to favour the Motion, was now opposed to it on grounds which could very well be conceived. The Rev. Mr. Arthur, late President of the Wesleyan Body, the Rev. Newman Hall, and other eminent Nonconformist ministers, all took the same view of the impolicy, to say the least, of carrying any such Motion as the present one. All that surely indi- cated that the working classes and their friends could look a little below the surface and discern what would be the ultimate result of the adoption of that proposal. Almost all who had practical experience in that matter had come to the conclusion that even if it were not wrong it was impolitic, inexpedient, and unwise to take any further step in that direction. Mr. Mundella had told them that out of 154 towns in the United Kingdom which had an opportunity, if their Governing Bodies thought fit, of opening those institutions on Sunday five had done so and 149 had refused, and that several of those places which had at first decided to open them afterwards rescinded their original resolution. He had read the opinion of an intelligent French artizan, written at the time of the Exhibition, in which he spoke of the English Sunday as the most democratic of all the institutions of this country; while an eminent French ecclesiastic also declared that he had seen nothing so wise, so beneficent, so humane as the English Sunday. He was speaking himself the other day to a manufacturer who had two houses of business—one in England, and the other in France—and who told him that he was virtually compelled to run his mills during the whole of Sunday in France because, although some of the workmen were prepared to take a holiday, others considered it was their right to earn wages on that day. It was utterly impossible, if the present proposal became law, that though they began there they should end there. The next move would be to open the theatres and music saloons on Sunday; and then would come at no great distance, what Mr. Broadhurst said he so much dreaded—namely, that Sunday would be gradually whittled down, and that from Sunday amusements they would come to Sunday labour. In Manchester alone 30 men were on duty five or six hours every Sunday at the libraries and similar institutions to meet the needs of those who visited those places of resort. He knew it was suggested that the paid servants of the country should be replaced on Sunday by volunteers at those institutions; but it was obvious that any such proposal must be entirely nugatory. It was quite impossible, with the priceless treasures of Art they possessed there, that their proper custodians should be off duty while the Museums were open; and, therefore, if those places were opened on Sunday there must be either a considerable increase of the permanent staff or a large addition to the labour of those now employed there. He did not wish to press the pecuniary argument, seeing how much the nation had spent on works of Art; but he earnestly begged their Lordships to remember that, although just at the present moment, when there existed great depression of trade, it was possible that they would have no immediate proposals that manufacturers should be permitted, if they thought proper, to open their establishments on Sunday; but if a time of revival came, and they were again doing the roaring trade that they did 10 or 12 years ago, they would probably hear arguments in favour of not allowing machinery to stand idle for 24 hours together, and as to the loss of the capital employed in mills caused by squeamish scruples in regard to Sunday. Lord Beaconsfield once said in that House that of all Divine institutions the most Divine was the Day of Rest; and he fully agreed with him. All, too, who had made physiological researches held the opinion that the man who had an opportunity of enjoying one day of rest out of seven was in all moral as well as physical respects better than the man who had no such opportunity. He contended, then, first, that the noble Lord had shown no great or general want to exist that required to be supplied by such means as that Motion contemplated; and, secondly, that the whole weight of authority from all classes of society was distinctly opposed to the present proposal; and, although he did not deny that a certain minority were anxious to see that plan carried out, that minority was not of such dimensions, and the arguments were not such, as to justify the overriding what he believed to be the great majority of the working classes. Thirdly, he submitted that the opening of the institutions comprised in that Motion would lead to the opening of other institutions, the result of which would scarcely be deemed desirable even by the friends of the present proposal. Fourthly, he contended that from Sunday amusement they would go on to Sunday labour; and the end of it would be that the working classes of this country would be deprived of the most valuable privilege which they possessed. Lastly, another objection to this proposition was that it inserted the thin end of the wedge. If we were living in an ideal world, dealing with ideal men and women, such a Motion might not be productive of any harmful consequences; but their Lordships knew that this was not the case. They had stubborn facts to deal with. They had the experience of other countries; they had the authority of those who had studied this question in a practical form, who had arrived at conclusions diametrically opposed to those of the noble Lord. They had also the fact that if the law was to be changed the onus probandi rested emphatically on those who made the proposition, and not upon those who defended it. He assorted that the noble Lord had made out no adequate case for the Motion which he had submitted; and he asked their Lordships respectfully, but earnestly, to meet it with an emphatic negative.

Amendment moved, To leave out all the words after ("That,") and insert ("it is not desirable to open the national collections of art and literature in the Metropolis on Sunday.")—(The Viscount Midleton.)


said, his views upon this matter were fully stated when this question was before their Lordships last year. The noble Viscount (Viscount Midleton) raised an objection to the Preamble of the Motion. The part of the Motion in which he himself was interested was that which came after the Preamble— That this House is of opinion that the time has now come when the principle already conceded should, in the interests of religion and education, be extended to the national collections of art and literature in the Metropolis. For his own part, therefore, he would willingly abandon the whole of the Preamble if their Lordships acceded to what followed it. The next objection raised by the noble Viscount was that the Motion should have been proposed in the House of Commons. No doubt; he would be glad if it could be successfully made in the House of Commons; but why not in their Lordships' House also? It was true that their Lordships had not the power to order the expenses incurred if this Resolution was carried; but it had to be remembered that their Lordships were not making a law, but expressing an opinion; and he should like to know why they could not express an opinion on this subject? The noble Viscount also cited the opinion of Lord Shaftesbury in opposition to the Motion. After the last occasion on which this question was discussed by their Lordships, that noble Earl had written him a letter in which he said that, though he should not think it right to make the Sunday a day of recreation or amusement, he could not blame others whose conscience did not forbid them doing so; and his objection to this proposition was that it would impose additional labour on persons connected with these Museums. Then the noble Viscount proceeded to say that he should be very sorry to see this day of rest taken away. So would he, and everyone else who had at all considered the subject and the absolute necessity for one day of the week being a day of abstinence from labour, but not from enjoyment. Everybody must desire to see the day of rest continue. After addressing their Lordships on the last occasion this question was before them, he had been told that he dealt too much with the religious part of the matter. He was perfectly satisfied, however, that it was the religious part of the matter which was at the bottom of the opposition raised to this Motion. England, Scotland, and our Colonies were alone in Christendom in the way they observed Sunday. The authority of Cardinal Manning had been mentioned as being opposed to this Motion; but if his Eminence objected to such a proposition he must naturally object to the way in which every Roman Catholic country in Europe conducted itself on Sunday. In Catholic countries, in Protestant countries, Calvinistic or what not, and even, he believed, where the Greek Church existed, the Sunday was observed in a different form from what it was in this country. He would most respectfully refer their Lordships to the Scripture text which prohibited labour, but which did not prohibit rational enjoyment. He could not but remind their Lordships that the Jews, to whom the Commandment was originally given, protested against our mode of interpreting it. He had received a letter from a distinguished Jewish gentleman in which he protested against its being supposed that the Jewish day of Sabbath was a day of gloom and inanity; it was a day of rational enjoyment on which they abstained from all labour, and on which they enjoyed themselves reasonably and properly. The English view of Sunday was a novelty. It had been in existence about 250 years. In the Reign of James I. a book was published called The Book of Sports, which did not enact or pretend to lay down new rules, but which stated what were then lawful games on week-days, and, among other things, what were the lawful games on Sunday. No doubt if the games mentioned were played now on Sunday the majority of Englishmen would be shocked. The Primate had argued, however, that such was the displeasure of the people at the publication of this Book of Sports that he suggested it had a great deal to do with the great Rebellion. He did not know whether that was the case or not; but he was surprised to find that those persons who disliked The Book of Sports should be cited as an authority, because they were the men who turned out 6,000 ministers of the Church of England from their benefices, who cutoff the King's head, and, more shocking still, who abolished Episcopacy in the Church of England. Those were the people whom the Primate thought their Lordships should follow, and that, because they did not like The Book of Sports, therefore we should not like it. He did not think their Lordships would be of that opinion. His objection to the way in which Sunday was observed in this country was on the ground that it was a day wasted. Let there be an abstinence from labour; let people who thought it right to do so meet for religious worship; let the day be observed in all respects decorously; but he maintained that it was a day of recreation and enjoyment, which at present was not only worse than wasted, but was mischievous in its consequences. A child was told—and the opinion grew up with him to manhood—that the Sunday was to be observed as at present by virtue of a Commandment which was one of several Commandments against the prohibition of stealing, murder, and other crimes. Now, it was utterly impossible for any man to have the same disposition to observe a Commandment with which his conscience did not go, as one that he felt to be right. There was something in our natures which told us that it was wrong for a man to steal, to murder, or to commit other crimes; but there was nothing which told a man that it was wrong for him to enjoy and amuse himself on the seventh day. What was the consequence? The conscience of the man not agreeing with the Commandment, it was broken, and continually broken. There was not a man living who had not done something contrary to the common notion as to how Sunday should be observed. He was led by easy introduction into sin, and from the breach of one Commandment to the breach of another much more easily. It had also to be remembered that the well-to-do classes were in a different position altogether from those in whose interests they claimed the opening of these Museums. The rich were surrounded in their daily life by works of Art and other comforts which made life enjoyable. In contrast with the families of the rich, those of the poor spent melancholy Sundays. We might see at the corners of streets labourers lounging drearily, and not knowing what to do with themselves. Prince Bismarck had thus given his experiences of an English Sunday— When I was in England I always had a painful and uncomfortable impression of the English Sunday, and I was always glad when it was over. I am sure, too, that many Englishmen had the same feeling about it, for they sought to accelerate the march of time, without witnesses, in a manner which I would rather not characterize. Whoever has been in English society will understand what I mean. On the other hand, if you go into the country around Berlin—if it does not exactly happen to be near a brewery—and look at the villagers, you are pleased with the appearance of the people in their holiday garb, and thank God we do not live under the yoke of an English Sunday. He (Lord Bramwell) quoted that from a letter of the Berlin Correspondent of The Times; and those impressions were, at least, deserving of our consideration. The English Sunday, he believed, was largely mis-spent, and the result of it being so mis-spent was that men were led into temptation. It was said that the opening of Museums on Sundays would involve additional labour; but it would not involve so much as opening on weeknights. An extra number of persons would have to be employed, there would have to be a rota, and they would take their holiday in turns. That, it was said, would cost more money. Certainly; and why not? If places were worth while keeping open on six days, they were worth opening on the seventh day. If cost were to be an argument we might as well close the places on Saturday, and save one-sixth of the present outlay. It was surprising to hear that working men feared that the result would be that they would have to do seven days' work for six days' wages. Why, the tendency of the last few years had been to shorten the hours of labour, the Saturday half-holiday was general, and there did not seem to be any reason to apprehend that working men would allow their leisure to be invaded. If this were a proposal to compel working men to attend Museums, he could understand their objection to it; but as it was only a proposal to let them do so if they liked, it was a selfish and inconsiderate thing for those who objected to object that others should be able to do so. Besides, it was not working men only who were concerned. He had received letters from clerks and others praying that Museums might be opened on Sundays, because they could not visit them on week-days or week-nights, and the same representations were made on behalf of women, whose employments rendered it impossible for them to visit Museums at any time but on Sundays. There was nothing in the Commandments to prohibit Sunday opening, which, in many cases, would prevent Sunday being mis-spent; and, as to the extra labour required, it was a mere matter of expense and arrangement. He trusted their Lordships would agree to the Resolution.


said, that if anything could reconcile them to this annual Motion it would be the good-natured and entertaining speeches of the noble and learned Lord (Lord Bramwell), who dressed up the old arguments in a new form for each debate. It was not surprising that the noble and learned Lord abandoned the Preamble of the Resolution, because it would not bear close examination. There was, as the noble and learned Lord had said, a total difference between the English and foreign Sunday. In foreign countries places of amusements and the Museums and Exhibitions were all open on Sunday; but there was another wide difference, and that was this—that in all the towns on the Continent of the Latin race the ceaseless sound of labour prevailed throughout the Sunday; whereas in English towns and towns belonging to the English race the sounds of labour were absent. Surely, under these circumstances, when they saw to what the opening of Museums and places of amusement led abroad, they might well be sensitive lest with the introduction of the one they should also bring in the ceaseless sound of labour. The noble and learned Lord had rashly quoted Prince Bismarck; but he would remind the noble and learned Lord of the description of a German Sunday given in that House three years ago by the late Lord Cairns. That noble Lord, on the authority of a German gentleman of eminence, said— The day of rest and of most elevated joy is too often robbed of its honour. The forenoon of Sunday is given up to work and the afternoon to pleasure. That which can elevate man is often despised, but that which degrades him is sought after. On Sunday the policemen reap their most abundant harvest, children occasion the greatest anxiety, the wife anticipates the return of the husband with a foreboding heart, drunkenness and riotousness celebrate their greatest triumph, and most of the misdemeanours are committed. If Sunday acquires a different character the national life will rest on a securer basis. After that he did not think the noble and learned Lord would continue to advocate the German mode of spending Sunday. The noble and learned Lord spoke of such gloomy Sundays, in which the enjoyment of pictures and flowers was forbidden; but one could only wonder from what homes his impressions had been derived. The noble Marquess who was now in Italy (the Marquess of Salisbury) had intended to speak strongly against this Motion, and had expressed to him his earnest desire that the Motion should not be carried. He could only wish that the noble Marquess were present to give his own reasons for opposing the Motion. He must put in a caveat against the way in which the noble Lord who moved this Resolution carried on his warfare out of the House. When it was considered that men of the eminence of the Marquess of Salisbury and of a former Lord Chancellor opposed this Motion it would be well that they should not be spoken of as— Wealthy Pharisees who, clothed in purple and fine linen, see no harm in spending a leisure hour on Sunday afternoon in their private galleries and libraries, or even in the Zoological Gardens, but turn up the whites of their eyes at the idea of satisfying the craving of the people for a share in those innocent delights. If language of that kind were used it had better be used to their faces. The noble Lord should not endeavour to stir up the passions of those who had little against those who had much. He scorned the idea that they were preventing poor men from having enjoyments which they had themselves. They proved that it was not so by their Resolution of the other evening. They did not desire to deprive the working man of the infinite blessing of a day of rest. The Manifestoes of the noble Lord opposite presented all the signs of a failing cause. First, they appealed to the poor against the rich; then they made wild assertions as to facts; then, as a last resource, they appealed to the Temperance Body. The noble Lord talked of opening particular Collections of Science and Art. He meant only the National Collections, and specified the National Gallery and the South Kensington Museum. But this Motion was the pioneer of a great movement, and must not be treated by itself. The noble Lord did not himself dispute that the object was the opening of all places of amusement on Sunday. His speech at the Alexandra Palace sufficiently indicated his views. It would be remembered that in 1876 the Chairman of the National Sunday League had stated that in the future no sermon would be preached in the Metropolis except in competition with Museums and Art Galleries. Now, what did the working men think of that Motion? One hundred and fifty men employed on the Great Northern Railway signed a protest against the increase of Sunday labour which would be involved in the opening of the Alexandra Palace. Those men had expressed their opinion that the National Sunday League was a curse to the nation, and they thought it wrong that a lot of fanatics should rob them of their day of rest. Then in 1878 115 out of 120 employed at the Holborn Restaurant signed a Petition against the opening of Museums on Sunday. In 1882 an attempt was made to enforce Sunday labour at the Landore Steel Works at Swansea, and the men were offered an advance of 6d. in the pound in their wages. But the 1,000 men employed struck rather than consent to lose their day of rest. Then the noble Lord said no Petitions had been presented against the opening of Greenwich Hospital. Now, the fact was that from 1881 to 1883 Petitions were signed by 108,000 persons against the continuance of the present system. The total of Petitions in favour of opening Museums was about 80,000, so that there was no doubt in which direction lay the preponderance of opinion. Then much had been made of the Museums and Galleries in Provincial towns. But what were the many towns? Mr. Mundella had stated that out of 154 Provincial towns there were only four in which Libraries and Museums were opened on Sunday. He had been informed by the librarian of the Free Library in the large town of Stoke that the inhabitants were conspicuous by their absence, and that the Library was chiefly frequented on Sundays by children, who did more damage to the books than was done during the whole of the rest of the week. The noble Lord had spoken of the growth of public opinion in favour of his Motion. Well, he could not but remark that there were before the Dissolution 14 Members of Parliament Vice Presidents of the Society. But where were they now? Of that 14 only four had succeeded in gaining seats in the present House of Commons. Nor was that growth of opinion at all evident in the divisions taken in the House of Commons, for in the last division there were only 82 in favour of the Motion, while there were 208 against it. The opinion of the working men might best be gathered from the full discussion which the question received at the Southport Trade Union Congress, which represented 600,000 artizans. In the division taken at that Congress 67 votes were recorded against Sunday opening and only 51 in its favour. The opinions of the working classes on this matter were really of the utmost importance. The noble Lord had quoted a letter from Mr. George Shipton, Secretary of the London Trades Council; but he had received a letter from the Secretary of the same Council, stating that Mr. Shipton and his associates merely stated their own opinions on the subject, and that no instruction had been given to the delegates as to how they were to vote. He had likewise received a Memorial from the compositors employed in the printing works of Messrs. Harrison, in St. Martin's Lane, request- ing him to use his best efforts to defeat this mischievous proposal. The noble Lord was of opinion that the acceptance of his proposal would do more than any other single measure to check the evil of Sunday drinking, which was so growing. It was amusing to find that in the City of Manchester the number of people taken up for Sunday drinking had increased by about 200 since the Museums were opened. That increase might be set down to the growth of population; but still, if the Sunday opening of Museums were such a panacea as was alleged, they might have expected to see some little improvement. The noble Lord had appealed to them to check the increase of Sunday drinking; but here, again, he wished the noble Lord would look to his facts a little more carefully. Comparing 1884 with 1885, there was a total decrease in England of 1,300 people convicted for drunkenness on Sunday, while in the Metropolis the convictions numbered 3,500 in 1884, and only 3,200 in 1885. The change proposed by the noble Lord was a great and an enormous one, affecting the whole habits of the population; and he trusted their Lordships, in the interest of the working classes, as well as in their own interest, would stand by the old lines and be content with the blessings which a quiet day of rest gave to those classes.


My Lords, I have listened very carefully to the speeches of the noble Lord opposite (Viscount Midleton) and of the noble Earl (the Earl of Harrowby), and I have failed to catch any one new argument which has not been addressed to your Lordships before, excepting one argument of the noble Earl who has just sat down. He has told us a great many facts; but a great many of his facts require to be more rigidly examined into before we accept them. A great many of them seem to me to be fallacious, although the noble Earl may believe them to be accurate. The noble Earl spoke of a fact which happened in a district in which he and I are both interested. He said that there was a library and a collection of books there, and I am sorry to hoar from him that they have not been made much use of on Sundays by the people of the Potteries. But because the people of the Potteries do not appreciate their collection of books, how is that any proof that the hundreds of thousands of artizans in this Metropolis would not visit the National Collections of Art on Sunday? There was one extraordinary fact which startled me very much—the extraordinary fact, as affirmed by the noble Earl, that in one colliery in Wales work goes on for seven days in the week. All I can say is that I happened to be next a Conservative Peer more interested in collieries than most men in this country, and who lives in Wales, and I have also had a message from a director of the large steel works, and they all utterly disbelieve that in any part of this country there is a work where men would pursue their regular labour, or would be required to pursue their regular labour, during seven days of the week.


I quoted from Lord Shaftesbury's speech as to the details.


I cannot admit that as a proof. I am perfectly sure that if it were true that there were works where they did seven days' regular labour in a week the whole country would protest against it, because it is absolutely opposed to the whole tendency of recent action with regard to labour, which has been to restrict, and not extend, the hours of labour.


The noble Earl thinks I was alluding to a colliery. What I referred to was Dr. Siemen's Steel Works, which were well known to the late Lord Shaftesbury.


That may be so, and it happens to be these works in which the gentleman I named is a director. No one can deny that there is a great difference of opinion among workmen upon this question. I believe that the great majority of workmen in the Metropolis do desire that these Museums should be open; but be the number great or small, or even a minority, the argument of the noble and learned Lord (Lord Bramwell) has great force when he says that we do not ask this for those who object, but we do not wish to deprive these who desire it of the opportunity of viewing our Collections on Sundays. With regard to one argument that has been urged, I may say that this question has for years been discussed as a purely social question with a certain flavour of religion—it has been not only a non-political, but a non-Party question. Several Peers on the other side of the House have voted for the opening, while several Peers on this side of the House have on former occasions voted against it. For the first time the noble Earl comes down to the House armed with a message from the noble Marquess (the Marquess of Salisbury) to his big battalions, desiring that the character of the question should be changed, and that it should not be considered any longer as a non-Party and a non-political question. He, therefore, desires his Friends to vote in the way that he individually thinks in the matter. That is an argument I cannot use. I believe this to be an absolutely non-Party question. I cannot use my influence as representing Her Majesty's Government, and I do not wish to ask your Lordships to vote one way or the other, and I trust your Lordships will exercise some liberty of action in the matter.


said, that as on previous occasions he had voted for the Resolution, he wished to be allowed to give his reasons for now voting against it. He could not reconcile himself to a Resolution which was supported by many unbelievers, whilst it was opposed by the majority of the right rev. Bench and by the Cardinal Archbishop of Westminster; and he was convinced that those supporters of Sunday opening had less desire to withdraw people from the public-houses than a desire to injure religion. Besides, after the repeated inroads made in other places upon the latter half of the Ten Commandments, it was necessary to make a stand on behalf of the Fourth. Their Lordships might complain of the inconsistency of the noble Lord who moved the Resolution, and of his blowing hot and cold with the same mouth; for 30 days ago, whilst exonerating the Home Secretary with respect to the riots, he told the House that the Home Secretary had received the Seals on the Saturday, and could not go to the Home Office on the Sunday. He said that, although riots were expected on Monday, and although, whenever it had been necessary, the Foreign Office had been in the habit of working on a Sunday. With respect to what the Resolution said of the Zoological Gardens, so far from more Sunday labour being involved, less was used on a Sunday, when from a fourth to a third of the keepers were off duty. The Resolution showed the result of "evil communications," and that the noble Lord who moved it had caught from Mr. Arch and Mr. Chamberlain, by dining with them, their clap-trap about the wealthy classes. As a matter of fact, the greater number of visitors to the Zoological Gardens on Sunday to whom tickets were given belonged to the poorer classes.

On Question, That the words proposed to be left out stand part of the Motion? Their Lordships divided:—Contents 78; Non-Contents 62: Majority 16.

Spencer, E. (L. President.) Dorchester, L.
Dormer, L.
Bedford, D. Elgin, L. (E. Elgin and Kincardine.)
Portland, D.
Erskine, L.
Northampton, M. FitzGerald, L.
Ripon, M. Foxford, L. (E. Limerick.)
Ashburnham, E. Grantley, L.
Brownlow, E. Greville, L.
Camperdown, E. Harris, L.
Cawdor, E. Hawke, L.
Cowper, E. Hobhouse, L.
Fife, E. Hothfield, L.
Fortescue, E. Houghton, L.
Graham, E. (D. Montrose.) Kintore, L. (E. Kintore.)
Granville, E. Lamington, L.
Kilmorey, E. [Teller.] Lawrence, L.
Malmesbury, E. Leigh, L.
Milltown, E. Lingen, L.
Minto, E. Lovat, L.
Morley, E. Monk Bretton, L.
Northesk, E. Monson, L.
Suffolk and Berkshire, E. Monteagle of Brandon, L.
Vane, E. (M. Londonderry.) Moore, L. (M. Drogheda.)
Napier, L.
Wolseley, V. Northington, L. (L. Henley.)
Kenmare, L. (E. Kenmare.) (L. Chamberlain.) Poltimore, L.
Ponsonby, L. (E. Bessborough.)
Aberdare, L. Romilly, L.
Alcester, L. Rosebery, L. (E. Rosebery.)
Beaumont, L.
Blantyre, L. Sandhurst, L.
Boyle, L. (E. Cork and Orrery.) Sefton, L. (E. Sefton.)
Sherborne, L.
Bramwell, L. Sinclair, L.
Calthorpe, L. Somerton, L. (E. Normanton.)
Clements, L. (E. Leitrim.)
Strafford, L. (V. Enfield)
Coleridge, L.
Crofton, L. Sudeley, L.
De L'Isle and Dudley, L. Sudley, L. (E. Arran)
Thurlow, L. [Teller.]
de Vesci, L. (V. de Vesci.) Walsingham, L.
Wigan, L. (E. Crawford and Balcarres.) Windsor, L.
Wolverton, L.
Canterbury, L. Archp. Bangor, L. Bp.
Herschell, L. (L. Chancellor.) Lichfield, L. Bp.
London, L. Bp.
Newcastle, L. Bp.
Norfolk, D. (E. Marshal.)
Oxford, L. Bp.
Buckingham and Chandos, D. St. Albans, L. Bp.
Ashbourne, L.
Northumberland, D. Ashford, L. (V. Bury.)
Richmond, D. Braye, L.
Ailsa, M. Brodrick, L. (V. Midleton.)
Exeter, M.
Beauchamp, E. Chelmsford, L.
Dartmouth, E. Congleton, L.
Doncaster, E. (D. Buccleuch and Queensberry.) Cottesloe, L.
de Ros, L. [Teller.]
Denman, L.
Essex, E. Deramore, L.
Feversham, E. Douglas, L. (E. Home.)
Harrowby, E. Egerton, L.
Iddesleigh, E. Ellenborough, L.
Lindsey, E. Gage, L. (V. Gage.)
Nelson, E. Halsbury, L.
Powis, E. Lovel and Holland, L. (E. Egmont.)
Ravensworth, E.
Redesdale, E. Northbourne, L.
Romney, E. Norton, L.
Rosslyn, E. Oranmore and Browne, L.
Selborne, E.
Tankerville, E. Robartes, L.
Waldegrave, E. Saltersford, L. (E. Courtown.)
Bangor, V. Shute, L. (V. Barrington.) [Teller.]
Cranbrook, V.
Eversley, V. Stanley of Alderley, L.
Hardinge, V. Templemore, L.
Hood, V. Teynham, L.
Sidmouth, V.

Resolved in the affirmative.

Original Motion agreed to.