HL Deb 05 June 1891 vol 353 cc1693-6


Order of the Day for the Second Reading, read.


My Lords, this Bill has passed through the House of Com- mons without any opposition. It is approved by the Local Government Board, and I am sure its purposes will commend it to your Lordships. The first part relates to museums. At the present moment both Rural and Urban Authorities have power to establish museums free of charge. The object of this Bill is to allow Urban Authorities—not Rural Authorities—to establish museums, and to charge during a part of the week for the use of those museums for the purpose of giving lectures, or other purposes of education. The Bill reserves free of charge three days of the week; during the remainder of the week a museum may, as I have said, be used for lectures or other purposes of instruction. In a great many small towns, where they have not sufficient facilities or room for such purposes, this will be a very useful measure indeed; and, further, the expense of establishing museums which shall be free of charge is very heavy. The object of this Bill is, first of all, to encourage the smaller towns to establish museums by enabling them to earn something in those museums; and, secondly, which is a very good object to afford, as I have said, a place in which the inhabitants may meet, and where lectures may be given and instruction afforded for a small charge. The second branch of the Bill is of wider scope. Gymnasiums can be formed at present, but oddly enough only under the provisions of the Baths and Washhouses Act, which allows swimming baths, used for that purpose during seven months of the year, to be used as a gymnasium daring the winter months. That is the only way in which a gymnasium can be formed. I need not impress upon your Lordships the great advantages of gymnasiums. We all know how much drill and athletics have come into vogue, and how greatly they have been encouraged both in the army for the purpose of expanding the chests of the younger soldiers, and in schools for improving the physical condition of the children. The Swedish drill is, I believe, now used in all our elementary schools. I need not, therefore, insist upon the necessity for gymnasiums, and the object of this part of the Bill is to enable Urban Authorities to establish them without having necessarily to make them out of swimming baths. As in the case of the museums, the gymnasiums are to be open free of charge for not less than three hours a day on five days a week; and the Bill further provides that during 24 days in the year these gymnasiums may be let. Therefore, the second part of the Bill is somewhat different in its scope, though its objects are similar to that comprised in the former part of the Bill. Shortly stated the object is, as I have said, to enable the smaller towns to form gymnasiums, and to maintain them without having the whole amount of the expense thrown upon the rates. It has passed so far without opposition, and I trust your Lordships will give it a Second Reading.

Moved "That the Bill be now read 2a."—(The Lord Thring.)


Will the noble. Lord State to the House what the rating powers are under this Bill, and what is the maximum of the rating it is in the power of the Local Authority to impose for the purpose of carrying out the provisions of the Bill?


The rate is not to exceed a halfpenny in the £1. I should also state that the Act may be adopted without a poll. Under the existing Acts Urban Authorities are required to take a poll; but they may, by resolution, adopt this Act without taking a poll.


Perhaps your Lordships will allow me to say one word on the part of the Government. The noble Lord who has charge of the Bill has explained its objects so fully— and it is a very simple measure—that it is, I think, quite unnecessary for me to make more than two or three remarks upon it. All I have to say is this: it has passed through the House of Commons with the approval of the Local Government Board. The President of the Local Government Board, and those who advise him, approve of it in its present shape, with one or two small exceptions. Some small amendments have been put before the noble Lord who has charge of the Bill. I believe he accepts those amendments, and under those circumstances, on the part of the Government, I have nothing to say except that I approve it.

On Question, agreed to.

Bill read 2a (according to order) and committed to a Committee of the whole House on Monday next.