HC Deb 05 June 1840 vol 54 cc960-3

The House in committee of supply on the Irish and Scotch Miscellaneous Estimates.

Several votes were agreed to.

On the question that 76,300l. for law expenses, grants to the Scottish Universities, and other charges formerly paid out of the hereditary revenues of the Crown, and not provided for out of the Consolidated Fund,

Sir James Graham

begged to inquire of the hon. Gentleman opposite, what course was intended to be adopted with regard to a vote of 800l. recommended by the committee of last year, to be placed in the hands of a university court, to be established for the purpose of its distribution? He did not find that there was any mention of it in the estimates.

Mr. Fox Maule

said that if the right hon. Baronet would refer once again to the estimates, he would find that they contained a proposition for a grant of 800l., in lieu of the lease of rents of the archbishopric of Glasgow. All the objects of this vote were set out with the exception of one, which was the establishment of a chair for civil engineering and mechanics. He thought that the importance of this vote would be universally admitted at the present time, and that a sufficient ground of the grant being rather large would be found to exist in the circumstance that the persons who were to be benefited being generally of small means, they could not afford to pay expensive fees. With regard to the disposition of the vote alluded to by the right hon. Baronet, there was no university court yet established, and it was thought best to place the funds in the hands of the Government, with a view to its proper distribution.

Sir J. Graham

did not mean to dispute the propriety of establishing the proposed professorship; but after the explanation of the hon. Under-secretary, it was clear that the appropriation of the fund was not in conformity with the recommendation of the commissioners, nor was it in conformity with former grants. What he wished to know from the hon. Under-secretary was, whether the appropriation of the sum mentioned in the vote was made in conformity with the recommendation of the commissioners? He thought it was not.

Mr. F. Maule

remarked that although there was every wish to conform to the recommendation of the commissioners, he did not consider that the Government were bound by the report of the commission, if they should think it necessary to make a different appropriation of this grant. The recommendation of the commissioners was, that the grant should be continued, and placed on the same footing as the surplus revenues of the university, to be distributed in the manner most conducive to the objects of the institution. It was true that the commissioners had further recommended that this grant should be left in the hands of the University Court for distribution, but that court was not in existence.

Sir J. Graham

observed that the chief recommendation of the commissioners was the establishment of the University Court, in which the heads of the universities would have voices, and would dispose of the money in a manner most conducive to the interests of the university. That recommendation, however, the Government had not adopted, and in the absence of the University Court they took upon themselves the distribution of the grant. And the House was called upon to agree to the vote in the absence of all information upon the subject.

Mr. Gillon

was sure the Government would exercise a strict supervision in the distribution of this fund. He thought it was most important that this professorship of engineering and mechanics, which would so essentially contribute to the improvement of those working classes who were not in a condition to pay high fees, should be established.

Vote agreed to.

The Chancellor of the Exchequer

said he would not go any further into the items of supply at present, and would postpone further proceedings until the bringing up of the report on Thursday.

Colonel Sibthorp

expressed his surprise that so much money should be voted in so short a time. He had just gone to take some refreshment, and on his return he found that above 300,000l. had been voted away in his absence, short as it was. He would certainly oppose these grants when the report was brought up on Thursday. He saw that the noble Lord, the Secretary for Ireland, had also only just come in like himself; in fact, nobody expected such a mass of business to be gone into except those who were in the secret of the juggling policy pursued by the Government.

Mr. Sergeant Jackson

complained that an undue advantage had been taken of the Irish Members on this occasion. He was only absent ten minutes, and found that a sum of 300,000l. had been voted away without opposition. This business had not been expected to be gone into on Friday at such an early hour, as the state of the benches on both sides proved. There were scarcely Members to form a House. When serious questions on Protestant education were brought forward, he had wished to have had an opportunity of expressing his opinions on the outlay of 50,000l. But he perceived the noble Lord, the Secretary for Ireland, had the same misfortune as himself—a misfortune in which, indeed, almost all the Irish Members shared, for there were only six or eight of them in the House—and even the seat of the hon. Member for Kilkenny was vacant, whom he expected on his return to find speaking. He was sure he was absent only ten minutes. He would certainly take the opportunity of expressing his opinions very fully on the subject of Irish education on the bringing up the report. It was his intention to bring under the notice of the Legislature, at an early period in the next Session of Parliament, the system of education pursued in the College of Maynooth.

Mr. J. Grattan

also complained that the Irish estimates had been carried through in the absence of Irish Members.

Sir R. Bateson

expressed himself to a similar effect. Three hundred petitions had been presented during the Session against the grant to the College of Maynooth. That fact alone was sufficient to demonstrate that the vote was one that ought not to be passed as a matter of course. He should state his views upon the point when the report was brought up. It was also his intention to move for a select committee for the purpose of considering the existing system of education at Maynooth.

Lord J. Russell

said, that the manner in which the estimates had been proceeded with was perfectly regular. Friday was the regular day, and the House resolved itself into a committee of supply at six or half-past six o'clock. Surely hon. Members opposite would not expect any set of Ministers to create and to maintain a debate upon the estimates which they themselves brought forward. With respect to the sitting of the House to-morrow, he wished to observe that it was merely intended to proceed with one bill (the Irish Grand Jury Cess Bill), for which the Lords were waiting.

Colonel Sibthorp

said that he supposed that the noble Lord opposite, being at Almack's, or some other fashionable place, could not be present whilst the Irish estimates were brought on, though he thought it was the duty of the noble Lord to be present, holding the lucrative and overpaid office which he did; and he should certainly propose that the noble Lord's salary should be reduced from 5,500l. to 4,000l.

Viscount Morpeth

was sorry that he had not been in his place when the Irish estimates were brought on; but, as they had passed off so smoothly, his regret was diminished; and, knowing that the hon. and gallant Member had often expressed his intention of moving the reduction of his salary, it might be a matter of delicacy with him not to be present on the occasion, and so to avoid the necessity of voting on that subject.

Mr. Darby

said he must admit the perfect regularity of the proceedings. He had come down with the intention of making some objection to certain parts of the estimates; but, seeing the state of the House on his side, he could not do so.

House resumed.