HC Deb 20 July 1835 vol 29 cc735-7
Sir Robert Peel

asked the hon. Member for Aberdeen to postpone, until next Session, his Bill for the Union of King's College and the Marischal College of the University of Aberdeen. He was not unfavourable to the principle of the measure, and would suggest to the hon. Member that, by allowing the measure to lie over till next Session, the consent of the two learned bodies might be obtained, which was most essential to the success of the undertaking.

Mr. Bannerman

, in rising to answer the question of the right hon. Baronet, ex- pressed his acknowledgments for the courtesy which had been shown to him by the right hon. Baronet's not presenting petitions against this Bill during his (Mr. Bannerman's) absence from the House on Friday evening. He was not at all surprised that his hon. Friend, the Member for the county, the right hon. Baronet, and many other hon. Members should be besieged with papers, protests, and petitions against this Bill; for he believed that it had been announced by some parties—to more than one Member even of his Majesty's Government—that he had introduced a measure, which, for atrocity in principle, reckless innovation in details, involving spoliation, robbery, and ruin of the University, and destruction of the national Church of Scotland, was such as no Member of Parliament ever before had nerve to submit to a British House of Commons. Sir (said Mr. Bannerman), if I had introduced such a measure, I know well what fate it would have met with in this House, and as these parties have said I introduced it for the purpose of gaining popularity, I do believe nothing in the world would have made me more unpopular, and in my opinion most deservedly so. I only regret, therefore, that in acceding to the request of the right hon. Baronet, I lose the opportunity for this Session of discussing the clauses of this Bill in detail, for it does appear to me singular, that the parties who pray for delay, and accuse me of want of consideration, seem to have had themselves ample time not only to consider this measure, but to denounce almost its principle, and criticise every clause in the Bill. I now only wish to set myself right with the House, about a misrepresentation industriously circulated, that I have been guilty of great want of respect to the learned men in the north; that I have refused to hold converse or communication with them; that I have stolen this Bill into Parliament, got it read a second time without their knowing of it. Sir, I gave notice of this Bill nearly three months ago; these notices were published in the Aberdeen papers. But I did more than that, I hold in my hand a copy of a letter which I addressed to the principals of both Universities on the 22nd of April. I forwarded also, with that letter, printed copies of the rules, statutes, and ordinances, proposed by the Royal Commissioners, calling the attention of the learned men to these documents, begging their attention to the Treasury Grant for rebuilding Marischal College, and asking them for any practical observations, which should meet with due attention from me, and that it was my intention to bring forward a measure for uniting the two colleges, with the sanction of his Majesty's Government. The gentlemen connected with one of the Universities sent me their observations, for which I felt very much obliged; the learned men connected with the other University wrote me a note, saying they had come to an unanimous resolution, which would he communicated to me when they heard from the heads of the colleges. I know their opinion, I am ignorant of that of the heads of the colleges; and really, Sir, I do feel that I have been guilty of a want of courtesy to the Chancellors of those Universities, unintentional on my part, and to save them trouble. The noble Lord who presides over King's College, whose love of literature and science, and liberal views on this subject are well known in the north, is the first person I should have consulted if I had imagined that I could have done so with any hope of reconciling the learned body over which he presides to any measure which I could possibly hope to carry through the House of Commons. To the noble Earl I owe an apology—to the learned body none is due from me; I will make none. Sir, this Bill is committed for the 24th of July. I am almost ashamed to mention it to the House, but I have been blamed for fixing that day for committing my spoliation measure, because it is the day set aside by the "sacred authority of the General Assembly for humiliation and fasting in Scotland." Fixing any particular day for committing this measure never entered my head. I had proposed the 16th, but accidentally meeting my hon. Friend, the Member for the county, he proposed the 24th; and I wish our pious friends in the north to remark, that their Tory and Whig representatives are on a par, both having forgotten the fast day in Scotland; but I dare say my hon. Friend and myself will be fully as well employed as our pious friends in the north.

Lord Stanley

hoped that the hon. Member for Glasgow would also postpone to next Session, his measure relating to the University of that city.

Mr. Oswald consented.