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South Kensington Museum—Natural History Museum

Volume 217: debated on Tuesday 29 July 1873

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Questions

asked the First Commissioner of Works, Whether the public have ever had an opportunity of judging of the plans now being carried out in the construction of the Natural History Museum; and, if not, whether he would permit plans or models to be exhibited in any place to which the public have access?

in reply, said, that the plans were annexed to the contract signed by the contractor, and could not, therefore, be submitted for public inspection. The contract and plans were required at the Office of Works, and it was quite impossible to make an exhibition of them.

said, there could be no difficulty about exhibiting copies of plans.

said, that would require copies to be made. The making of copies would take a considerable time, and would involve expense. [Cries of "Photographs."] A plan would not be an expensive matter; but it would take a considerable time to make copies of the whole.

said, he did not ask for all the details. The plans would be quite sufficient to enable the public to judge of the general character and effect of the building proposed to be erected. He should be glad to know if the plans might to this extent be shown to the public?

said, that a mere plan, as distinct from elevations, could be easily prepared in a short time. The drawings and elevations, to be of any use, must be complete, and the preparation of complete copies would take a considerable time. As the contract was signed for the execution of the works, and could not be altered, he did not see that it would be of any particular use to the public to see them.

said, it was with the view of enabling the public to form a judgment upon the elevation that he was anxious they should see it. There was no difficulty in obtaining photographs, which, for this purpose, were equally as good as the originals. He wished to know whether photographs could be submitted for the inspection of the public.

asked, whether the elevations and designs were generally the same that were exhibited for a short time in the Library of the House of Commons at the close of the Session before last; and whether, if they were the same, they had been altered in consequence of the rise in prices, or for any other reason; and, if so, what was the extent of alteration in the general appearance of the building?

said, that some change was made in the plans after they were exhibited in this House. If the noble Lord wished to know the details, he should be happy to state them if the noble Lord would give Notice of a Question.

said, he was sorry to have to press his point; but he should like to have an answer as to whether copies of the general plans and elevations would be submitted for public inspection? If it was inconvenient to the right hon. Gentleman to answer now, he would give Notice of a Question for to-morrow.

Diplomatic And Consular Service—Foreign Representatives In Morocco—Question

asked the Under Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs, Whether his attention has been drawn to a statement made by Mr. Consul White, in his Report on the Trade of Morocco, that

"In Morocco the foreign representatives reside at a considerable distance from either of the capitals of the empire, and but seldom or never see the Sultan or any save one of his Ministers; and that, so long as the absence of personal intercourse between the representatives of Foreign Powers and the Sultan and his Court continues to exist, it is hopeless to expect useful reforms in the government, or any considerable extension of the trade or civilization of the country;"
whether Sir John Hay, our representative in Morocco, shares in and has repeatedly urged the same opinion upon Government; and, whether the Government can hold out any hope of their taking the matter into consideration, with a view of removing our Embassy to the capital, and securing personal communication between our representative and the Sultan?

Sir, Her Majesty's Government are not prepared to change the residence of the British Mission in Morocco, which, if recommended by Sir John Drummond Hay, would not, it is believed, be agreeable to the Moorish Court, and would entail increased expenditure. There are, besides, countervailing advantages in the residence of the British Minister being at a seaport. Her Majesty's Minister is enabled, under existing arrangements, to obtain private interviews with the Sultan, and reported lately that the results were satisfactory.

France—The New Commercial Treaty—Question

asked the Under Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs, Whether the Treaty between France and this Country, which is reported to have been under consideration by the Parliament of France, is intended to continue, or to establish for some years, obligations binding upon this Country with respect to certain portions of the Revenue analogous to the engagements under the Treaty of 1860; and, if so, whether it is the intention of Her Majesty's Ministers to consult this House with respect to such engagement?

Sir, it will be seen by the Treaty of which a Copy was laid on the Table of the House yesterday, that it is not intended to continue, as binding on this country, the provisions with regard to tariffs in the Treaty of 1860 beyond 1877, when the Treaties between Great Britain, Austria, and Germany are terminable. The new Treaty provides that it shall be terminable on the 10th of June, 1877, when that with Germany is also terminable. Perhaps the hon. Gentleman will address the latter portion of his Question to my right hon. Friend at the head of the Government.

asked the Prime Minister, whether it was the intention of Her Majesty's Government to consult the House upon the provisions of the Treaty?

said, the state of the case was this—the Government had no such intention, because we were not really contracting any new binding engagement which bore on the tariffs or on the commercial law of this country with regard to exports and imports. When the French Treaty was made in 1860, the House of Commons was consulted upon it in full, and if the Government had been extending its terms it might have been matter for serious consideration whether they should not again consult the House of Commons upon it. In consequence of the French Treaty of 1860 other Treaties were made with Austria and Germany, which gave to them the full benefit of the French Treaty down to 1877, the Treaty with Germany expiring on the 10th of June, 1877. What the Government had done was to prolong the French Treaty until the latter date, and as the French Treaty gave to France the benefit of the Most Favoured Nation Clause, the prolongation of the French Treaty constituted no new engagement.

asked, Whether, if it should be found that the terms of the present Treaty varied from those of the Treaty of 1860—that variation extending to the Most Favoured Nation Clause—the Ministry would reserve to the House of Commons the opportunity of considering any variation from the Treaty of 1860?

in reply, said, the hon. Member would have a more satisfactory means of judging of the matter when he read the Treaty than he could afford by any verbal information. But he might say there was no such variation as the hon. Member appeared to suppose. There was no alteration whatever in the tariff terms of the Treaty. Its ratification would depend on the assent of the French Assembly, which he trusted would be given.

National Education (Ireland)—Teachers In Irish Workhouse Schools—Question

asked the Chief Secretary for Ireland, Why the National School Teachers in the Workhouse Schools in Ireland are not paid for results in addition to their salaries, as is done in the case of the Teachers in other National Schools in Ireland, and the Teachers in the Workhouses in England?

in reply, said, teachers in workhouse schools in England and Wales were not paid in the same way as the National School teachers in the workhouse schools in Ireland. In Ireland the Workhouse teachers were paid directly by the Local Government Board, and without any reference to the results of the teaching or the efficiency of the schools under their management. He had no doubt it would be an improvement to introduce the English system in some form or other; but he must guard himself against admitting that any payment made for results should be a payment in addition to the salaries of the teachers.

The British Museum—Duplicate Books—Question

asked the Right hon. Member for the University of Cambridge, Whether it is possible for the Trustees of the British Museum to furnish for the information of the House and the public, a Return of the number of Duplicate Books in the Library of the Museum; and, whether there would be any objection to such Duplicates being distributed among the Free Libraries of the Country?

in reply, said, there was in the Question an ambiguity as to the meaning of the word "duplicate." The Trustees of the British Museum had always rightly considered that there were three particulars in which what might be termed duplicates in a private gentleman's library would not be superfluous in the Library of the British Museum. In a great National Library it was a matter of primary importance for literary people to have the means of referring to variations in the different works, and time variations in different editions. Again, there were in the British Museum three collections at least which had been given to the nation as integral collections—namely, the King's, the Grenville, and the Bankseian Libraries; and there might be in those collections duplicates which must be preserved distinct from the general library books in the Museum. Moreover, it was for the general advantage of readers that there should be duplicate copies of some books which were in great demand, as it often happened that more than one student required to consult them at the same time. Roughly estimated, the duplicates in the Museum amounted to between 10,000 and 12,000 books, subject to deductions on account of each of the categories to which he had referred. To compare all the books in the British Museum for the purpose of ascertaining whether they were duplicates or not would be a labour of months, if not of years. Under these circumstances, it would not be possible for the Trustees to furnish a Return of' the superfluous duplicate books in the British Museum with a view to their distribution among the Free Libraries of the country.