§ Order for Third Reading read.
§ Motion made, and Question proposed, "That the Bill be now read the third time."
§ MR. WALPOLE
said, that he had to present a petition from the University of Cambridge, signed by thirteen heads of houses, forty-two tutors and lecturers, thirty-four professors, and seventy-four other residents, being Masters of Arts, against the passing of this Bill. In the petition, which would have been more numerously signed at another period of the year, the petitioners called the attention of the House to the fact that only a few years had elapsed since very important changes had been introduced in connection with the University, and that the Commissioners appointed to consider the subject, while recommending strongly that those who were not members of the Universities should be admitted to all the educational privileges, also recommended that the connection between the Universities and the Church of England should be maintained. They further stated that those recommendations were embodied in an Act of Parliament, and that in consequence of that Act persons not members of the Church of England had been admitted to the privileges of the University, with the exception of admission into the governing body and offices hitherto held by members of the Church of England. They further stated that nothing had of late years occurred to warrant any fundamental changes in the constitution of the University, and they prayed the House to sanction no more alterations, such as those which had in some instances already prejudicially affected the interests of the University. He moved that the petition lie on the table.
§ Motion agreed to.
§ SIR MICHAEL HICKS-BEACH
said, that the House had assembled the previous afternoon at two o'clock, and would meet that morning at twelve o'clock. He hoped therefore that the hon. and learned Gentleman who had charge of this measure would not press it to a division at that hour (a quarter to one o'clock), especially as it had not been discussed since its extension to the University of Cambridge.
§ MR. COLERIDGE
said, he should be extremely unwilling to do anything against the wishes of the House, but the Bill had been read a second time, and had now arrived at its third stage. Hon. Gentlemen opposite as well as on his side of the House had expressed themselves on the subject, and the House knew everything that was to be said on the subject. Therefore, as this was the third reading, he hoped the House would go to a division on the question.
§ MR. SELWYN
said, he seconded the Motion. His hon. and learned Friend seemed to have forgotten what had passed at the second reading. The Bill then went into Committee, and then there was a Motion to extend it to the University of Cambridge. He then endeavoured to raise a discussion on the Bill, but his hon. and learned Friend stifled all discussion. This was the first fair opportunity there had been for discussing the present measure. The Bill had been debated with reference to Oxford, but not with reference to Cambridge. They had been told an hour ago that it was too late in the evening to discuss the subject of the Dublin University, and now they were told it was not too late to discuss the Oxford and Cambridge Tests Bill.
MR. GRANT DUFF
I would make an appeal to the generosity of the right hon. Gentleman opposite. The Bill before us has been four times discussed by this and by the late Parliament. On one occasion it was only defeated by a majority of two on the question that this Bill do pass. Everything that can be said on either side has been said. The arguments for and against are worn threadbare. My hon. Friend who has charge of the Bill put it off from the 4th of June to to-night to meet the convenience of the hon. Baronet, who now insists on delay. It is surely an occasion on which we may ask, with good reason, the Government to give us a day.
§ MR. BERESFORD HOPE
denied that, as the hon. Member for the Elgin Burghs asserted, the question was discussed threadbare. On the contrary, this was the first time the Bill had ever come on for discussion at all. The question which had hitherto been discussed, whether threadbare or not, was the abolition of tests at Oxford. The one now before them for the first time was the abolition of tests at Cambridge as well as Oxford. As a Cam- 85 bridge man, he protested against Cambridge being called on in that manner to follow suit to Oxford. It was as great and as large an University, and had its own independent interests. Not only was this matter before the House for the first time, but they were called upon to revolutionize Cambridge before the Bill which was to do this had even been printed. He had asked for a copy of it in the Note Office, and what he received was a copy of the original Oxford Tests Abolition Bill.
I think there is reasonableness on both sides, and perhaps there may be a way out of the difficulty. The hon. and learned Gentleman who has charge of this Bill is afraid, and I think with reason, that there may be no other occasion this Session on which the third reading can be taken. Those who are determined to oppose it at all hazards, if there be such, may be pleased with that view of the case. But, considering that this difficulty arises from the course which the Chancellor of the Exchequer has taken—a course of which I do not complain, and to which the House has acceded—of devoting so much time to the great measure which is in the hands of the Government, it seems a pity that a measure of this nature, brought in by a non-official Member, should suffer from that cause. Therefore, perhaps the right hon. Gentleman would consent in some way or other to make some arrangement by which at some not distant day a discussion and a division might be taken. I admit that at this hour—nearly one o'clock—the Bill cannot be satisfactorily discussed. The House has given up the day and the evening sittings, and almost all the time of the week, to the Bill of the Government. Surely it is only fair that the Government should in compensation, in a case of this nature, make some arrangement with my hon. and learned Friend in order that a discussion may take place, and that the matter may be settled by the final decision of the House. If the Chancellor of the Exchequer will adopt that very reasonable course, there will be no discussion now, and all of us may go home to bed.
§ MR. NEWDEGATE
said, he did not see why the hon. Member for Birmingham should be afraid of leaving this measure to be discussed in a reformed Parliament.
§ THE CHANCELLOR OF THE EXCHEQUER
said, he should be most happy, were it in his power, to assist the hon. and learned Gentleman by finding a day 86 when the third reading of this Bill might be taken; but it was quite out of his power in the present state of the public business. The Government were extremely thankful to independent Members for giving up part of Tuesdays and Fridays, but a great portion of those days still remained, with the Wednesdays, at the disposal of independent Members. It would be only misleading the hon. and learned Gentleman if he gave any vague promise, It would be quite illusory—he saw no prospect of making any such arrangement. He did not wish to deceive the hon. and learned Gentleman by holding out a promise that the measure could be brought on otherwise than in the natural course of business. At the same time, if it were in his power to oblige the hon. and learned Gentleman, or any other Member, he should be glad to do so.
§ After further observations,
§ Motion made, and Question put, "That this House do now adjourn," — (Mr. Henley.)
§ The House divided:—Ayes 80; Noes 95: Majority 15.
§ Question again proposed, "That the Bill be now read the third time."
§ Motion agreed to.
§ Debate adjourned till Wednesday, 26th June.