HC Deb 20 July 1860 vol 159 cc2277-87

Order for Second Reading read.


said, he rose to move the second reading of this Bill. When the Maynooth Act was introduced in 1845 a provision was contemplated by the Government and Parliament with respect to the annual repairs of the college. It was proposed, according to the statement of Sir Robert Peel, that the Board of Works should undertake the repairs of the college, in order that the business should be conducted with the greatest economy, and that the cost should be included in the annual estimates of the Board. Accordingly, in the Act itself the Board of Works were made Commissioners for the purpose, among others, of enlarging, improving, repairing, and furnishing from time to time the buildings constituting the College of Maynooth. That arrangement continued until 1851, which was the last year in which Parliament voted any sum of money for repairs at Maynooth. There was in the Treasury a balance which served the purpose in 1852. In 1853 the Government included in the estimate for the Board of Works the usual sum for the repairs of the college, but on the Motion of the hon. Member for Warwickshire, that Vote was rejected by a small majority, and no Vote had since been taken for Maynooth. Last year a memorial, praying that the annual Vote should be renewed, was presented to the Irish Government by the authorities of the college. The answer he returned was that it was then too late to consider the subject, and that even with regard to future years he could hold out no expectation that the Government would think it expedient to propose an annual Vote to Parliament. When the trustees of the college held their annual meeting in the present year he directed their attention to the Report of the Harrow by Commission, in which were set forth all the wants which the building now had in order to fit it for the purposes for which it was intended by Parliament. All the money originally appropriated had been expended, but the works were still in an unfinished state, and he could not understand the policy, when we had spent a large sum of money in erecting a building for the education of a number of men who were to be in an important degree the guides of the Irish population, of keeping those persons in a position of discomfort. If the building was not to be allowed to fall to pieces, money from some source must be found. It was hopeless to think of an annual Vote; but the Harrow by Commission had recommended a different arrangement, and the trustees of the college had informed him that, while they could not relinquish their claim to a Vote of Parliament for annual repairs, they felt themselves constrained under present circumstances to accept any reasonable expedient by which the building might be saved from falling to decay, and the health and comfort of its inmates might be secured. Having received that communication, he thought it right immediately to ask the permission of the House to give effect to that arrangement. It was proposed to deal with the sum of £5,000 a year as mentioned in the last paragraph of the Report. That amount was by the Maynooth Act assigned in sums of £20 each to 250 senior students, and the Commissioners recommended that the fund for repairs should be obtained by suspending those payments. Then came the question, how was the amount to be applied? For the annual repairs the whole sum would be more than sufficient, but the whole sum was not immediately available, as the trustees would not suspend the allowances to any of those pupils to whom they were already given. Their interests would continue to be preserved, and it was only by the suspension of the allowances to new pupils that funds could be obtained. At the same time it would not be right to suspend the allowances with respect to the whole of the new students, as it was necessary to afford some encouragement to merit in any scholastic institution. At any rate, the whole sum would not be available for some period. The application of the money would not be limited to mere repairs, but the chapel —a necessary building in any scholastic institution — would be finished, and care would be taken to provide proper ventilation, lighting by gas, and baths. To meet this expense it was proposed to allow, with the previous sanction of the Treasury, the Commissioners of Public Works in Ireland, who had a sum of money in their hands similar to that which the Exchequer Loan Commissioners dispensed, to make advances to complete the college and keep it in repair, on the credit of the sum of £5,000 a year. It was not intended to make any addition to the college directly or indirectly, but simply to complete it and repair that which would otherwise fall to ruin. He was sorry that the hon. Member for Warwickshire intended to offer opposition to the Bill, and he should have thought that the hon. Member, having great objection to the endowments of the pupils of the college, would have supported the Bill, which drew on those endowments for the repairs of the college. The House must either permit a building erected at great expense to fall to ruin—a result which would have most important consequences of a moral and political character'—or, since it would not appropriate funds for the repair of the building, it must consent to the present Bill, which trespassed on the funds assigned to the students.

Motion made, and Question proposed, "That the Bill be now read a second time."


said, he rose to move that the Bill be read a second time that day three months. As the House was aware, he dissented altogether to the institution, as he thought it was contrary to the Protestant constitution of this country to do anything in support of a system of education completely subversive of the Protestant religion. He would not enter into details on the present occasion, his general views having been so often stated in respect to a perpetual charge on the Consolidated Fund for Maynooth. He objected to the Bill on two grounds. First, that it enabled the Government to apply grants of public money to the extension of the College of Maynooth, and secondly, that it entailed the cost of the annual repairs of the college upon the country. Ever since 1853 the House had declared that they would have nothing to do with the repairs, and they took away the powers of the Commissioners, not because they grudged the money, but because they thought it an object to which the sanction of Parliament ought not to be given. But he had still stronger objections to the second clause, by which the trustees and Commissioners were authorized to borrow and lend money for that purpose. The moment that was done the country was responsible for the payment of the loan. The House was in reality now asked to give perpetuity to the grant. It was nothing more nor less than paying money in perpetuity for that to which he was conscientiously opposed. He felt no enmity against the Roman Catholics. They ought to enjoy their civil rights, but he did object to any assistance being given by a Protestant Parliament to the propagation of the Roman Catholic religion. The doctrines taught in that college were completely subversive of the articles of our pure Reformed Church, which articles the Sovereign of this country was bound by the Coronation Oath to maintain. These doctrines were, moreover, contrary to the Word of God, and such as a Protestant nation ought not to encourage. He believed that this country owed the great blessings which it had so long enjoyed to its Protestantism; and he believed further, that the judgment of Heaven would fall on us if we diverged from it. As long as he had a seat in the House he felt bound to express his conviction. He had another objection to the Bill. The right hon. Gentleman opposite had put a face upon the question it really did not bear. It was not to keep a public building in repair; it was not to make the pupils in the college comfortable that the Bill was proposed; it was to undo what Parliament had done in 1853, and, by a side wind, to sanction a departure from what Parliament then had enacted, and to introduce a practice entirely contrary and opposed to our pure Protestant Constitution.

Amendment proposed, to leave out the word "now," and at the end of the Question, to add the words "upon this day three months."

Question proposed, "That the word 'now' stand part of the Question."


seconded the Amendment, which he believed would meet with the approbation of the country. He wished to know whether the funds which it was now proposed to apply might not be used for the purpose of extending the present buildings and increasing the number of pupils?


said, he also objected to the Bill, not because the doctrines taught in the College were contrary to the Word of God—not because the object of the Bill might be to increase the number of Roman Catholic pupils in the College, but because the object was to remove the annual grants made to the College from the jurisdiction of Parliament. The 2nd clause enabled the trustees to borrow money on the security of the grant; and immediately that section was passed the grant, instead of being a subject of discussion year by year, whether it should be renewed or not, would be removed from the pale of discussion, for the money borrowed would be borrowed by authority of Parliament. The House had been by a recent Bill supported by the Government, called on to recognize the doctrine, discipline, laws, canons, and usages of the Roman Catholic Church. He had made some inquiry into those matters, and if any one was prepared to contend that the doctrines, discipline, laws, canons, and usages of the Roman Catholic Church were such as to entitle the college to further support, he for one was prepared to enter upon the discussion, if the promoters of the Bill were willing to submit the subject to such discussion; but if not, then this Bill — pretending to be for repairing the buildings of Maynooth, but being really for the purpose of changing altogether the nature of the existing grant by removing it beyond the ordinary control of that House, and thereby preventing future discussion of the doctrines, discipline, laws, canons, and usages there taught and used—ought to be rejected.


said, he should support the second reading. He believed that the principle of the Bill was not that there should be a shilling added to the grant, but that there should be an authority to devote the surplus money already granted to the repairs of the building. Therefore he gave his assent to the second reading.


said, he was not satisfied with the Bill, and could not consent to vote for it if it abrogated a pledge solemnly given by Parliament that there should not be an annual grant to Maynooth for the purpose of repairs. He thought that it did amount to a distinct pledge that the repairs should be defrayed by Parliament, and he hoped that when the Bill went through Committee words would be inserted which would leave open the important question of an annual grant.


Sir, I wish to make a few remarks with regard to the position in which the House stands in reference to this Bill. I believe that I can show that the House is asked to stultify itself by agreeing to any such measure. In the first place, the Bill proposes that the same number of students shall be educated at Maynooth as were provided for by the Act of 1845—namely, 520;and next, that the allowance which was deemed to be adequate by the framers of that enactment for the maintenance of the students shall be diminished by the sum considered requisite, not merely for repairs, but for furnishing and finishing the new compartments of the establishment at Maynooth. Parliament must, therefore, have been clearly wrong, according to this Bill, when, in 1845, it decided that£30,000 a year was not more than sufficient for the maintenance and instruction of the pupils at Maynooth. The House is now asked to declare, and particularly those hon. Members who supported the Act of 1845, that the amount they agreed to on that occasion was in excess, and that they did not know at the time how cheaply these Roman Catholic priests might be brought up. That is the first point which the House is now called upon to stultify itself. The second point upon which the House is asked to stultify itself is this:—It is invited to declare that the House has wrongfully refused to provide separately for the repairs of Maynooth since 1851. I fully admit that, as observed by the hon. Member for Youghal, there has been an omission—that the House did not do its work in 1851 so completely as it ought to have done, and that it would have been more consistent to have repealed the statutory obligation which appears to rest upon the Commissioners of Public Works in Ireland, under the Act of 1845. Well, that, I confess, was an oversight; but by the solemn decision of the House, arrived at after a long struggle, it was decided that these annual grants for the repairs of Maynooth should not be continued; and notwithstanding what has been stated by the hon. and learned Member opposite (Mr. Butt), the Government, in deference to the feeling of the House and the country, have accepted the decision of the House that no further money should be voted for repairs. That is the second point in reference to which the House is called upon to stultify itself; because, what is the difference between appropriating money granted for an analogous purpose for repairs, and granting new funds for that specific purpose? It is the same thing, in fact; and that is the operation to which we are now called upon to assent. I must now call to the recollection of the House the circumstances which were so lightly passed over by the right hon. Gentleman the Chief Secretary for Ireland. The right hon. Gentleman says that people build houses and do not count the cost, and that by accident there was an excess in the Estimate of £30,000 for the repairs and new buildings at Maynooth contemplated by the Act of 1845;but that is simply a gloss put upon a grave subject. The facts of the case are these. I have taken great pains in going through the whole of the evidence up to this day, and these are the facts. In 1845 there was not only a sum of £30,000 granted for salaries and the maintenance of the students at Maynooth, but another £30,000 was given to provide adequate accommodation for the residents at Maynooth. Well, Sir, what was done? £30,000 was ample. I have shown on a previous occasion, from the evidence of Mr. Carus Wilson and of Sir Francis Head, that it was far more than ample to provide, by repairs and enlargement of the building, for the accommodation of the 520 students and the requisite staff of professors. What was done? Did they repair the old existing college? Not in the least. Did they merely add such a number of buildings as should provide a separate apartment for each of the students? Not at all. No, the authorities of the college gave Mr. Pugin, the architect, carte blanche for the magnificent scheme he proposed, and carefully asked for no estimate of its cost. That scheme was placed before the Commissioners of 1855, and there are drawings in their Report showing what it is, and how much of it has been completed. It provided, not for the better accommodation of the 520 students already in the institution, but, by adding 215 rooms to the existing ones, and which were quite sufficient, has already provided accommodation for 735 students. Why do I say that the accommodation in 1845, if the repairs were done — and they were done by separate Votes of this House—was quite sufficient for 520 students? Because the visitors who were appointed under the Act of Parliament reviewed in 1846 the state of the college, and found that there were 522 students at college, of whom 512 were resident; that they were not sleeping three in a bed, as was alleged in 1845; but that, with very moderate repairs of the then existing buildings, they were, to use the expression in the concluding paragraph of the Report, "on the whole, in a very satisfactory condition." That Report I have now beside me. I will give you another proof to justify my assertion. There was no haste exhibited on the part of the authorities of Maynooth to undertake the new buildings. Not at all. In 1847 the visitors complained that no steps had been taken beyond laying the foundation of these great buildings, and implied no astonishment at the perfect satisfaction which reigned at Maynooth with the accommodation then existing. Again, in 1851, the principal reported, on behalf of the students, that he had nothing to complain of. He stated it for them, and they stated it for themselves. Yet not one room of the 215 new rooms was then occupied. Since then, it appears that, by falling back upon voluntary contributions and the property which the college possesses, these rooms have been brought into a state fit for habitation, And what do the visitors now report? They report from the president of Maynooth that it is absolutely necessary, if this enormously increased accommodation is to be preserved in a state of repair, that some additional funds should be provided. How are they to be found? The right hon. Gentleman the Chief Secretary has told you, by taking from the provision for the maintenance of the professors and students, which in 1845 was not deemed excessive, the sum of £5,000 a year, or thereabouts. And for what purpose? Why, for the purpose of completing an addition to the college of 215 rooms, thus providing accommodation to that extent in excess of the amount limited by the Act of 1845. I put it to the House, then, are we not asked to stultify ourselves? But beyond that, we are asked to pledge the faith of Parliament to the continuance of the whole sum by the appropriation of this grant. I know that in these days Protestantism is not so rife as in 1851; still I conclude that there are some Protestants left in this House. I know there are in the country; and I do not think that the revelations of the Commission of 1855 have reconciled them to this institution. I do not believe that it is one whit more popular now than ever it was. Doubts are entertained as to the nature of the teaching in the College of Maynooth; whether it is that tolerant Roman Catholicism which prevailed at the commencement of the century, or whether it is that intolerant ultramontane system which has been of late too manifest. The visitors report that the marked circumstance of this last year is the formal and final rejection of the Galilean doctrines, as inculcated by Baily, by the authorities of Maynooth, and the adoption of the ultramontane which are now dominant at Rome, in the form of the work of Scavini; and that work of Scavini is a compendium of the doctrines of Liguori, which are again derived of the teaching of the Jesuit Bussenbaum. I repeat that you have it stated in the visitor's report that the marked circumstance at Maynooth this year is the formal and final adoption of the teaching of ultramontane or Jesuit doctrines. Considering that it was thought right in 1845 to endow Maynooth, and provide for the wants and comforts of 520 students, in order to conciliate the Roman Catholics, I think the House will decide wrongly if it takes from that sum an amount which is estimated by the surveyor of Maynooth at £32,000, as necessary to complete the buildings and provide furniture, in accordance with Mr. Pugin's plan of enlargement, the whole cost of which has been estimated at £62,000, £30,000 being already spent upon the new buildings. The remaining £32,000, remember, is exclusive of all repairs, and will be applied to completing the accommodation in excess of that which in 1846 was quite sufficient. The Commissioners admit that the number of priests necessary for Ireland, with her diminished population, is not so great as formerly. Upon what grounds, then, of common sense can the House be asked to provide for accommodation for the education and maintenance of more students at Maynooth than were deemed sufficient in 1845? The Commissioners in 1855, and the visitors from year to year declare that that which has been really advantageous and really conciliatory in the Maynooth grant has been the better provision made by the Act of 1845 for the actual maintenance and teaching of the students; and it is that which you are now going to trench upon to the extent I have described by providing for the completion of an extension of the buildings at Maynooth, which is contrary to the Act of 1845. I think I have said enough to show that if you pass this Bill you are not at the end of the course upon which you are entering. You are asked to sanction an unlimited borrowing power. Grant that, and you sanction this grant in perpetuity. You diminish the comforts of the students resident at Maynooth permanently, and adopt a course calculated to prevent that institution from ever reverting to the position upon which it was founded by Mr. Pitt; that is, of being aided by Parliament, but supported mainly by voluntary contributions. Is there any reason to suppose that, if you agree to this measure, you will be able to stop here? Two years ago I ventured to tell certain right hon. Gentlemen sitting on the front bench below, and who were then in the Government, that if they reversed their votes against the grant, from that moment would increased demands be made by the more active members of the Roman Catholic body. I told them that charters would be demanded, that a university would be demanded, and that concession, instead of satisfying, would only stimulate demands. And so it proved. Last year the hon. Member for Dungarvan, and other Members of this House, including the present Attorney General for Ireland, waited on the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Buckinghamshire, then Chancellor of the Exchequer, to demand of him a charter for a Roman Catholic university; and the Attorney General stated, and the hon. Member for Dungarvan stated, that a sum of not less than £80,000 had been subscribed for that purpose. Well, if £80,000 can be so easily found for the establishment of a Roman Catholic university in Ireland, who can believe that funds would not be available for the repairs of the College of Maynooth? Protestants as well as Roman Catholics know that it is far easier to obtain public subscriptions for building purposes than for purposes of endowment; but by the present measure you are creating a building fund, and excluding the application to the maintenance of the fabric of Maynooth of funds which you know are ready for Roman Catholic purposes, while you place the students on short commons. Look around you in this country. It is a well-known fact that large sums are collected in this country which go to the Propaganda. Roman Catholic Members must excuse me. What I am stating is the question, and is fact. It is well known that the Propaganda receive considerable sums from this country and Ireland; but nothing like so large as those which they send hither for what they term the conversion, or, as I interpret it, the subjugation of England. Let them apply some of this money to the maintenance of the College of Maynooth. Look around you, I say again. On all sides you find springing up chapels, convents, monasteries, missions. Who, then, can doubt the abundance of Roman Catholic funds? I contend, therefore, that it is but right Maynooth should revert to its original foundation—the constitution established by Mr. Pitt; and should depend for its repairs and enlargement upon the voluntary contributions of the members of the Roman Catholic persuasion. When Lord Redesdale was Lord Chancellor of Ireland, in 1807, he prayed his Sovereign not to expect him to continue to act as visitor of Maynooth, for he told his Sovereign that he found that he appeared there in a state of ridiculous nullity, totally unable to control a seminary that was conducted upon Jesuit principles. Neither the present nor any Government of this country has any chance of controlling those principles but through the interference of the laity of the Roman Catholic Church. I believe that forcing Maynooth to depend upon voluntary contributions in some degree is the only means of bringing to bear the action of the Roman Catholic laity so as to correct a system of teaching and of discipline which is year by year deteriorating into a form more adverse to the constitution of this country.


said, that with reference to the observations of the hon. Member for North Warwickshire, he might rend an extract from a letter of the President of the College of Maynooth, which stated that "so far from its being true that the £30,000 was applied to any other than building purposes, some money had been paid by the trustees out of other funds, in addition to that £30,000, towards the expenses of building. The number of students never exceeded 520, except in 1853, when there were fourteen attached to the college whose charges were borne by private individuals."

Question put,

The House divided—Ayes 135;Noes 57: Majority 78.

Main Question put, and agreed to.

Bill read 2°, and committed for Monday next.