HC Deb 18 February 1836 vol 31 cc531-2
Mr. Wakley

rose for the purpose of presenting a Petition from the Rev. J. A. Emerton, master of a school at Camberwell, and curate of that parish, on the subject of the Charter to be granted for a Metropolitan University. The petitioner had. understood that it was intended to limit degrees to the pupils of only two schools, by which the interests of private schoolmasters would be materially injured. In April last this House had addressed the Crown by a large majority in favour of a charter to the London University, a grant which was solicited from all parts of the country, on account of the manner in which Dissenters were excluded from academical honours at Oxford and Cambridge. He should be opposed to any change which would place Oxford and Cambridge in the hands of persons hostile to those universities; he wished to see abuses corrected, but not the universities subverted; but he wished to know whether, in establishing a new institution of the same kind in London, it was intended to found another monopoly? Were Dissenters to be excluded there also? He exceedingly regretted that the Chancellor of the Exchequer was not in his place, because he was anxious to hear the right Hon. Gentleman state what were his views and intentions upon the subject of the new charter. Was it right that the conditions of that charter should be framed in secret, and that the Members of the House should know nothing about them until the document received the sign manual of the Crown? This was a species of Star-chamber legislation that ought, if it existed, to be abolished; it was an abuse of the royal prerogative that could not be too soon corrected. He hoped that the House would interfere in a matter regarding which it took so much interest, and require that a draft of the intended charter should be laid upon the Table. It might soon become the law of the land; and was it fit that any law should be promulgated, with the nature of which the Legislature of the country was unacquainted? At present there was reason to believe that students in private schools, who were under the moral control of masters, would be shut out from the honours of the new institution; while students who were under no such moral control of the professors, would be allowed to partake of them. Before the charter was confirmed, he trusted that Ministers would, at least, inform the House what were its conditions. True it was, that they might be responsible for the insertion of improper conditions; but he did not see in what way they could be brought to account if they offended. As to the gentleman with whose petition he was intrusted, he could state that he was a well-wisher both to the London University and to King's College, and that he was sincerely friendly to Oxford and Cambridge.

Petition to lie on the Table.

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