HC Deb 03 June 1825 vol 13 cc1033-6
Mr. Brougham

said, that as, upon consideration, it appeared that the London College bill came within the description of a private bill, he should move for the discharge of the order for the second reading of the bill on Tuesday next, with the intention of taking it up as a private measure. As gross misapprehensions had gone forth on the subject, he would shortly state, what the nature of the intended bill was, and what it was not. The only object of the bill was, to enable a certain number of persons to form a corporate body, with power to sue and to be sued. Its object was not to create a joint-stock company; except in so far as it was proposed to incorporate the individuals in question by law, to enable them to transfer their shares, to sue and be sued, and to purchase lands as a corporation. It would not give power to any individual to withdraw himself from the responsibility of the whole amount of the debts that the corporation might incur. With respect to the institution itself, it was not intended to apply to parliament for any exclusive privileges; it was not intended that degrees should be given, fellowships or scholarships conferred; or, in short, any of those exclusive privileges be required, of which the two universities were at present in possession. The object of the proposed measure was, that whereas in London, there were many hundreds of persons who had not the means of obtaining for their children an education at the universities; prevented from so doing, some by the distance, others by an indisposition to let their children go from under their own superintendance; and still a greater number by the expense attendant on a university education; they should have an opportunity, on moderate terms, and near home, of securing so desirable an advantage. If he were to say that 200l. a-year was the smallest sum at which a gentleman's son could be educated at Oxford or Cambridge, he was sure he should be told his estimate was very low, and that the average of the expense was much higher. This evil was accompanied by all the collateral evils usually attendant on the evil of spending money; by idleness and dissipation, which required the most vigilant superintendance, and the most unrelaxed discipline on the part of the university authorities. He spoke from the very highest official authority, when he stated, that the expenses of the students, at the universities, had increased to such a degree, that, if not checked, they bade fair to injure those learned bodies. It was but just to add, that great pains had been taken to remedy the evil, and that sanguine hopes were entertained that the most salutary effects would result. It was also but just to add, that the greatest improvement had of late years been made in other parts of the discipline of both universities. In Cambridge, classical studies had been more attended to; while in Oxford, the severer sciences, which had hitherto been the peculiar object of the sister university, were much more generally pursued. The effect was beneficial in both cases, by the introduction of a more scientific and useful education in both universities, calculated to promote the progress of knowledge, in consequence of the salutary rivalry which it tended to produce. The object of the proposed institution was, to bring home these advantages to the inhabitants of London, and to put them in possession of the means of giving their children a liberal and scientific course of education. The hundreds of tradesmen and other inhabitants of London, who were debarred from sending their children to the universities by considerations of distance and expense, might have them instructed in London at an expense of ten pounds a year, viz. in three classes of three guineas each and a guinea en trance; whereas, it was utterly impossible that a similar education could be obtained at Oxford or Cambridge, for less than front 180l. to 200l. a-year. That was the principle and ground of the proposed establishment; it being intended to secure the assistance of the best professors of the sciences, letters, and the arts, in all their branches. In order that the situations of these professors should, under no circumstances become sinecures, it was intended that they should not have houses at the colleges, and that their salaries should be very moderate, not exceeding 80l. or 100l. a-year; leaving them to rely principally for their remuneration on the number of their pupils; with the exception of the professors of some branches of study, such as Oriental literature, whose lectures, it was probable, would not be attended by many students. One great object would be, to lay the foundation of a good medical school; a thing which could be accomplished only in the neighbourhood of a large hospital or hospitals. The good consequences that would thence result not merely to the civil part of the community, but to the naval and military establishments of the country, were too apparent to require comment. Such places as London and Liverpool were those alone in which so desirable an object could be effectually pursued; and it was therefore intended to lay the foundation of a medical school within a quarter of an hour's walk of one of the hospitals. It was well known that schools for mechanics were now establishing in all parts of the kingdom. He had the satisfaction to say, that thirty of these institutions were nearly completed. The result would be the general diffusion, if not of scientific education, properly so called, of scientific reading. It was not likely that respectable tradesmen would be satisfied to see their sons more ignorant than the sons of their carpenters and their bell-hangers; and he, therefore, confidently expected a great deal of zeal and a great deal of anxiety in support of the new college. It was not intended that there should be any hind of test; it was not intended that there should be any exclusion on theological grounds; theology being, indeed, the only branch of learning which it was proposed not to teach.—The government of the college was to be that of a chancellor, a vice-chancellor, and nineteen directors, who were to have the power of suspending or removing the various pro- fessors, and of otherwise interfering in the discipline of the college. He would now move that the order for the second reading of the bill be discharged; and give notice that on Monday he would present a petition for leave to bring in a private bill on the subject.

After a few words from Mr. M. A. Taylor, the order of the day was discharged.