HC Deb 20 May 1845 vol 80 cc605-12
Mr. Bernal Osborne

moved that there be laid before this House— A Return of all Moneys derived from Rents of College Lands, Endowments, Bequests, Fees on Matriculations, and taking of Degrees; specifying the amount of Income paid therefrom to the Senior and Junior Fellows, Professors, Scholars, and other Officers of Trinity College, Dublin.

Sir T. Fremantle

was under an impression that the Motion would be postponed, as were several other Motions on the Paper. He hoped the hon. Member would not, under the circumstances, persevere in bringing it forward.

Mr. Osborne

hoped the right hon. Gentleman would fix another day for the Motion, otherwise he would persist in then dividing on the question.

Sir T. Fremantle

said, the House was evidently not prepared to enter on the question at that moment, as it was under an impression that hon. Members who had Notices of Motions would yield precedence to the Order of the Day for the adjourned debate on the Maynooth grant.

Mr. Osborne

said, he should much have preferred that the debate on the Maynooth grant should have been disposed of last night, for he did not at all approve of the principle of withdrawing independent Motions to make way for adjourned debates. He had a Motion on the Paper for throwing open Trinity College to our Catholic fellow subjects; and, as a preparatory measure, he thought it was necessary to have the Return which he moved for. He maintained that the House had a perfect right to order the Return, and he should certainly press his Motion to a division.

Mr. Hume

trusted that there would be no objection to the Motion. As public property, he should like to know what were the resources applicable to education, and what to other purposes, in Trinity College. Any objection to the Motion must have its origin in the fear that something wrong in the system might be exposed by it. At this time, when the country was being called upon to vote money for academical purposes in Ireland, he regarded such a Motion as peculiarly applicable and necessary, and he should therefore give it his most unqualified support.

Mr. Shaw

would object to any such return as that proposed by the hon. Member (Mr. Osborne). He would do so in very few words then, as the House was evidently indisposed to the very irregular course taken by the hon. Member in bringing forward a Notice which stood at the end of a long list; it being supposed that all would acquiesce, as all the other hon. Members in whose names Notices stood, had, in the general understanding of the House, that the adjourned debate on the Maynooth Bill was to be proceeded with—in a word, then, his objection was, that the House, which made no grant to the University of Dublin, had no right to require from them a return of their property; and that the inquiry sought was of a most invidious nature, scrutinizing the emoluments of every officer of the College, from the Provost downwards, where no abuse had been alleged, and no case attempted to be made for such an unusual course of proceeding. The English Universities were not subject to any such inquisitorial exercise of power on the part of that House; and why should the Irish University? The same Motion had been made last Session by the hon. Member for Waterford (Mr. Wyse), and resisted by the Government, on the grounds that he had stated; and, as he could have no doubt the Government would pursue the same course at present, he would not, on that very inopportune occasion, further trouble the House than to say, that he would meet the Motion of the hon. Member with a decided negative.

Mr. Ward

thought the last statement of the right hon. Gentleman was a reason for the Government supporting the Motion this year.

Mr. Warburton

conceived there were sufficient precedents for acceding to the Motion. The inquiry into the charities of England and Wales, afforded a very conclusive one.

Sir T. Fremantle

said, it appeared to him that the precedents were the reverse of what was assumed by the hon. Gentleman. On the occasion of the inquiry alluded to, there was a special exemption in favour of the English Universities, and some of the public schools; and it was now proposed to deny a similar exemption to Trinity College, Dublin. The property held by the corporation of Trinity College was to a certain extent of a private nature; and he would not adopt a precedent in the case of that College from which the English Universities had been so expressly exempted.

Mr. Ewart

said, that the special exemption in favour of the English Universities, which had been so relied on by the right hon. Baronet, was far from being a good reason for refusing an inquiry into the case of Trinity College, Dublin. On the contrary, the fact of the exemption having been claimed, showed that the House had power to inquire.

Sir T. Fremantle

did not deny the power of the House; but he deprecated the exercise of the power in this case.

Mr. Sheil

said, that the property of Trinity College consisted of a certain endowment by Bishop Thomas Baldwin; and a grant made by Elizabeth of the lands of the Earl of Desmond, which had been confiscated to the Crown. These lands lay principally in the county of Kerry; and they amounted to some hundred thousand acres. The House might perhaps draw a distinction with respect to Bishop Baldwin's endowment; but why was the grant made by the Crown, for a great national purpose, to be exempt from inquiry? What motive had they for hiding the extent of the funds of the College, and concealing the application of them? The other evening he stated that the senior Fellows of the College had 2,000l. a year each. The hon. Gentleman opposite immediately contradicted him; but subsequently conceded that they had nearly 2,000l. each. There were seven senior Fellows, whose offices were nearly sinecures—so here were seven men admittedly in possession of 14,000l. a year between them. That much they knew; but they did not know how the rest of the funds were disposed of. The hon. Member for the University of Dublin resisted this inquiry. He was not inconsistent in doing so; for as Recorder of the Corporation of Dublin, he had also resisted inquiry into the application of the property of that corporation. But in this instance, he had given no reason why they should not ascertain whether the amount of funds at the disposal of the College was exaggerated or not.

Sir R. Inglis

said, that the hon. Member for Dumfries had overstated the powers of the House. The Returns which the hon. Member had alluded to were made by Act of Parliament; but the Returns now required were proposed to be by the Order of the House. That made all the difference. There was no reason assigned for the Returns. He had not heard even an allegation of abuse. The only statement made was, that seven of the Fellows had 2,000l. a year each; but that did not give any right to inquire. They had no more right to call for these Returns from the University of Dublin, than from the Apothecaries' Company; or any other similar corporation. No charge had been made against the College; and they had, therefore, not even a pretext for acceding to the Motion, which he would, for his part, certainly oppose.

Mr. Bellew

contended, that it could not be said that the University of Dublin could make away with its property. It was accountable for its application; and he thought it important that the House should obtain the required Return.

Mr. M. Gibson

said, that the power of Parliament to inquire into such matters had been proved by the issuing of the Commission referred to by the hon. Member for Kendal; and the power of the Universities over Parliament had been proved by their obtaining an exemption from the inquiry. It was precisely the case of applying the principle of free trade to everything except corn and sugar.

Mr. T. Duncombe

supposed that the hon. Baronet the Member for the University of Oxford was fearful, if these Returns were obtained with regard to Trinity College, Dublin, that they would be made to extend to Oxford as well. The right hon. Gentleman the Secretary for Ireland doubted the propriety of that House exercising its power in obtaining an inquiry, but he assigned no reason whatever for such a doubt; and what must the country think, if the Motion were rejected, but that there was something rotten in the University of Dublin, which would not bear investigation? They were about to vote 26,000l. of the public money for Maynooth College—there was no secret as to the salaries of the professors there. They knew also what were to be the salaries of the professors in the new Universities which were to be established in Ireland; and why should there be any secret as to the salaries at Trinity College and Oxford? He trusted that his hon. Friend would persevere with his Motion; for if he did not press it then, he would very probably have no opportunity of bringing it forward again during the present Session.

Sir R. Peel

said, the hon. Member for Dumfries (Mr. Ewart) had stated that there was no reason why the University of Dublin should be exempted from the rule that had been applied to other cases. He doubted whether any such rule as seemed to be referred to had been applied by that House to the Universities of this country. He did not know any case in which that House had on its own authority called upon Oxford or Cambridge, or any University, for returns of its revenues. The question which they were discussing was, whether the House should, by its own authority, and not upon the authority of an Act of Parliament, order the Returns moved for. He doubted whether the House had the power to order such Returns. [Mr. Ewart: It did in the case of the Scotch Universities.] That was done by Royal Commission. The hon. Member's Notice stood as the 16th Order of the Day, and he (Sir R. Peel) had not the slightest conception that it would come on that evening. Notwithstanding what the hon. Member for Sheffield had said, he should give his vote on this occasion as he gave it last Session—against the Motion, because he did not believe that any such principle as that sought to be established had ever been acted upon by that House. The question was one which he thought the House should not too hastily dispose of; but if it were pressed to a division he should certainly oppose it.

Lord. J. Russell

was far from saying that in every case the House should order returns from corporations or colleges with respect either to their rents or their salaries; but he conceived that there had been a case made out for such a return in the present instance. In the first place, they were called upon to vote out of the taxes a considerable sum for the promotion of education and learning in Ireland; and secondly, there was a statement made by a Member of the House that seven of the senior Fellows of Trinity College divided amongst them the sum of 14,000l. a year, whilst they did extremely little for it. Those circumstances formed in his (Lord J. Russell's) opinion a sufficient reason why the House should ask for full information. If, with regard to those Colleges depending on the Crown, it should appear that there was an income not applied to the purposes for which it was originally required and intended, then he thought the House might well take that matter into consideration when they should come to decide the plan of academical education in Ireland. For that reason he should vote for the Motion. If any better way of obtaining the required information were suggested by the Minister of the Crown; if he agreed, for example, to an address to the Crown, by which the Crown might call for the information; or, if he consented to agree to a Bill to be passed immediately, by which they should obtain all the information with respect to the College that they wanted, even such measures, though they might be somewhat dilatory, yet if they would have greater efficacy, and should be brought forward by the Minister, he should be prepared to support, if it would be any convenience to the Government, in preference to the Motion of his hon. Friend; but, after the manner in which the Motion had been opposed by the right hon. Gentleman the Secretary for Ireland, with no promise of obtaining the information sought for in another way, he (Lord J. Russell) had no alternative but to vote for the Motion of his hon. Friend.

Mr. Colquhoun

said, that the noble Lord the Member for London had justified his vote upon two grounds—first, because they were about to vote from the taxes of the country a sum of money for the purposes of Education in Ireland. But they were going to do just the same thing in England; and if that argument were good for an inquiry into Trinity College, Dublin, it was equally good for an inquiry into the Universities of England, though the noble Lord had carefully guarded himself from saying that he was prepared to vote for an inquiry into all the Universities of the country. Then the noble Lord said, that the statement of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Dungarvon, that certain senior Fellows of Trinity College, Dublin, received 2,000l. a year each, was quite sufficient to justify the House in instituting an inquiry. Now, if they were to take all the statements of hon. Members of that House as facts warranting inquiries, they would soon have more inquiries than they would know what to do with. In the noble Lord's grounds, therefore, for supporting that Motion, he (Mr. Colquhoun) could not concur; though at the same time he would say, with the most earnest desire for the maintenance and support of Trinity College, Dublin, that if there were any appropriation of funds in that College beyond what was necessary for the due and adequate maintenance of the Fellows, it would be highly becoming in that Collage to take care that such measures should be adopted as should render such allegations, if again repeated, capable of instant refutation.

Lord J. Russell

, in explanation, said, that the hon. Gentleman had omitted part of his argument. In quoting the authority of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Dungarvon, in reference to the income of the senior Fellows of Trinity College, Dublin, he not only stated that they had 2,000l. a year, but added, what the hon. Member for Newcastle-under-Line omitted, that they received that sum for the performance of very light duties. The question regarding England he was quite prepared to let stand upon its own merits.

Mr. Bright

, who rose amidst loud calls for a division, said, he was anxious that the country should have every information respecting Trinity College; and if there was any thing in that institution not fit to meet the public eye, he did not see why the Government should vote for the concealment of this information. He should consider himself justified in voting against the proposition to endow Government Colleges in Ireland, so long as the Government refused to inform Parliament how the funds of Trinity College were disposed of. He should support the Motion.

Mr. B. Osborne

was greatly puzzled to understand what objection the Government could have to the Motion. He was glad, however, to find that the right hon. Gentleman the Secretary for Ireland had made a step in advance. At one time he had defended the Church of Ireland, and had denied the right of Parliament to make any inquiry with regard to it. The right hon. Gentleman had, however, that night admitted the right of Parliament to inquire into corporate property, and merely deprecated its doing so in the present instance. As the right hon. Baronet at the head of the Government had not expressed any decided opinion on the subject, but had left himself at perfect liberty to agree to the Motion at some future period, he thought that some hon. Member ought to have moved the adjournment of the debate. He himself was precluded from doing so. With regard to the University of Dublin, he could not help remarking that it was represented in that House by two Gentlemen who had not been brought up in that University. He thought that that of itself almost formed a ground for inquiry. He begged to remind the right hon. Gentleman opposite (Mr. Shaw), that they had obtained Returns of the revenues of all the Bishops of Ireland; and he wished to know upon what ground the Government refused him the Return he had moved for. If the right hon. Baronet would give him a pledge that he would institute an inquiry, he would not trouble the House with dividing.

The House divided:—Ayes 53; Noes 82: Majority 29.

List of the AYES.
Acheson, Visct. Fielden, J.
Archbold, R. Gibson, T. M.
Baine, W. Grey, Sir G.
Barnard, E. G. Guest, Sir J.
Bellew, R. M. Hatton, Capt.
Bright, J. Hawes, B.
Brotherton, J. Heron, Sir R.
Browne, hon. W. Howard, C. W.
Buller, C. Langston, J. H.
Butler, P. S. Layard, Capt.
Cobden, R. McTaggart, Sir J.
Crawford, W. S. Mangles, R. D.
Dashwood, G. S. Muntz, G. F.
Duncan, G. Norreys, Sir D. J.
Duncombe, T. O'Brien, J.
Escott, B. Pechell, Capt.
Evans, W. Plumridge, Capt.
Ewart, W. Rawdon, Col.
Roche, E. B. Tancred, H. W.
Russell, Lord J. Turner, E.
Sheil, R. L. Villiers, C.
Shelburne, Earl of Wall, C. B.
Sheridan, R. B. Warburton, H.
Smith, B. Ward, H. G.
Somerville, Sir W. Yorke, H. R.
Somes, J. TELLERS.
Strickland, Sir G. Osborne, R.
Strutt, E. Hume, J.
List of the NOES.
Acton, Col. Henley, J. W.
Adare, Visct. Herbert, S.
Allix, J. P. Hussey, T.
Arbuthnott, H. Inglis, Sir R. H.
Barkly, H. Jermyn, Earl
Baring, W. B. Kirk, P.
Barrington, Visct. Law, hon. C. E.
Blackburne, J. I. Lawson, A.
Blackstone, W. S. Lincoln, Earl of
Boldero, H. G. Lowther, Sir J.
Borthwick, P. McGeachy, F. A.
Bowles, Adm. Mackenzie, W. F.
Briscoe, M. McNeill, D.
Broadley, H. Mahon, Visct.
Bruce, Lord E. Martin, C. W.
Cardwell, E. Masterman, J.
Cholmondeley, H. Mundy, E. M.
Clerk, Sir G. Neeld, J.
Clive, Visct. O'Brien, A. S.
Colquhoun, J. C. Palmer, G.
Compton, H. C. Peel, Sir R.
Corry, H. Peel, J.
Damer, hon. Col. Plumptre, J. P.
Darby, G. Polhill, F.
Denison, E. B. Pusey, P.
Douglas, Sir H. Richards, R.
Drummond, H. H. Rolleston, Col.
Du Pre, C. G. Round, C. G.
Ferrand, W. B. Russell, C.
Ffolliott, J. Sandon, Visct.
Forman, T. S. Shaw, F.
Fremantle, Sir T. Smith, T. B. C.
Gardner, J. D. Somerset, Lord G.
Gladstone, Capt. Sutton, hon. H. M.
Godson, R. Taylor, E.
Gordon, hon. Capt. Thesiger, Sir F.
Gore, W. O. Verner, Col.
Graham, Sir J. Vernon, G. H.
Greene, T. Wortley, J. S.
Grimsditch, T.
Hamilton, Lord C. TELLERS.
Hampden, R. Young, J.
Harcourt, G. G. Fitzroy, hon. H.