§ Lords' Amendments considered.
§ MR. WALPOLE
said, the Amendments introduced in the House of Lords into this Bill were four in number. By the first of those Amendments the time allowed to the Governing Bodies of the Public Schools as constituted by the Bill for exercising their power of proposing new Governing Bodies was extended from the 1st of January, 1869, to the 1st of May in that year, provision being made for a month's further extension by an Order in Council. To 1904 this Amendment he had no objection to offer. The second Amendment empowered the Governing Bodies to found exhibitions to be endowed out of the property of the Schools. To this also he had no objection to offer. The third Amendment, of which he also approved, referred to Westminster School. The House would remember that originally a sum of not less than £3,500, and not more than £4,000, was to be given by the Chapter for the purposes of the School, and certain buildings were to be assigned for its benefit. The Lords had, with the full concurrence of the Chapter and the governing body of the School, altered that provision, in order to make it more effectual. The School might now receive a sum of not less than £4,000, and the difference between the £3,500 and the £4,000 would be capitalized for the benefit of the school during the life-interest of certain persons who have houses to be assigned to the School. The fourth and last of the Amendments altered the number of the Special Commissioners from seven to nine, by adding to the names already agreed upon those of Canon Blakesley and Sir Boundell Palmer. There could be no difference of opinion with respect to the eminent fitness of these two gentlemen for the office; but he might express his conviction that nine was too large a working number; and that, by the addition, the balance of the Commission, both political and professional, would be very materially disturbed. He should move, therefore, that the Lords' Amendments be agreed to, with this exception; and that the fourth Amendment be disagreed to.
§ MR. AYRTON
said, he hoped the Government would adhere to the Bill, as far as regarded the number of the Special Commissioners, as it was sent up by them to the House of Lords. He thought that course would be more likely to give general satisfaction.
§ Amendments agreed to, as far as the Amendment in page 9, line 4.
§ Page 9, line 10, the next Amendment, read a second time.
§ SIR STAFFORD NORTHCOTE
admitted that if it had been desirable to increase the number of the Special Commissioners the names added by the House of Lords would deserve very respectful consideration. But it was from the first thought desirable to limit the Commission to seven Members; and that proposition, after 1905 being carefully considered by the Government, had been accepted by the House, and he thought it would be undesirable to disturb it, even by adding to the Commission two such distinguished names as those which had been proposed. He therefore thought they had better adhere to the arrangement made by the Select Committee, and in that view his Colleagues agreed. He moved that the House should disagree with the Lords' Amendment, which proposed to add to the Commission.
§ Motion made, and Question proposed, "That this House doth disagree with The Lords in the said Amendment."—(Sir Stafford Northcote.)
§ MR. BOUVERIE
said, he did not agree with the right hon. Baronet (Sir Stafford Northcote). It must have been a strong sentiment which had influenced the other House in the matter. He could not believe that the two additional Members added to the Commission by the House of Lords would render the number of Commissioners excessive; and the two names which had been chosen were those of men of distinguished eminence. Probably among the whole of the graduates of Cambridge University there was not one more thoroughly qualified to deal with questions of the nature referred to the Commission than Canon Blakesley, or who by his attainments occupied a more conspicuous position in the world of science. It would, he believed, be a serious loss to the public service, and a great disadvantage to the Public Schools themselves, if they had not upon the Commission the benefit of Canon Blakesley's services. The reason why his name, which had been originally on the list, was struck off, was because St. Paul's School, of which he was an almoner, having been exempted from the operation of the Commission, it was supposed that his name, as representing the School, ought no longer to be retained. That, however, was a great mistake, for it was not in any such representative capacity that he had been originally chosen; and the House of Lords, by a great majority, restored the name, in conjunction with that of the hon. and learned Member for Richmond (Sir Roundell Palmer). Having himself been first to a Public School and afterwards to Cambridge, he was in a position to speak confidently as to the reputation of Canon Blakesley, and the esteem in which his attainments were held. He (Mr. Bouverie) should divide the House upon the Motion.
§ MR. POWELL,
as a Member of the Select Committee, denied that Canon Blakesley's name had been omitted because St. Paul's School had first been removed from the list. There were other considerations, by no means disrespectful to Canon Blakesley, but arising from the desire to have a well-balanced Commission, which should fairly represent the different views entertained with reference to education, without giving a preponderance to any. He was quite certain that, as at present constituted, advanced views would have great power in the Commission.
§ MR. NEWDEGATE,
as an Oxford man, thought that the addition of the name of the hon. and learned Member for Richmond (Sir Roundell Palmer) to the Commission would give increased confidence in the operation of that body to those who were connected with the University of Oxford and to many Members of this House. He therefore trusted that Her Majesty's Government would not persevere in their opposition to the Amendment. That opposition had the appearance of a party opposition, and there was no reason whatever for differing from the House of Lords in the matter. He (Mr. Newdegate) remembered the distinguished part which the hon. and learned Member for Richmond took in the discussions on the Oxford University Bill, and the great majority of Oxford men felt very grateful to him for the part he took upon that discussion. They found in the hon. and learned Member a person imbued with the spirit of industry, and in every way competent by attainments and ability to deal with the subject of the regulation of the University to which he belonged. As a man who had been to these Public Schools, and as connected with the Governing Body of one of them, he (Mr. Newdegate) most emphatically asserted that there would be greater confidence placed in the constitution of the Commission, and that its operations would carry greater weight if the name of the hon. and learned Member for Richmond was, according to the recommendation of the House of Lords, retained on the Commission. Although the Commission was, of course, nominated by the Government, it was to be a Parliamentary Commission with enormous powers conferred upon it by Parliament. Now, Parliament consisted of the House of Commons and of the House of Lords, and he believed that 1907 if the House of Lords exercised their undoubted privilege of suggesting two additional men to whom individually no possible objection could be taken, it would be a graceless act for this House to object to that addition. The hon. and learned Member for Richmond was eminently qualified for the work, and he stood as high among Members of this House as he stood in the profession to which he was so distinguished an ornament.
§ MR. DENMAN
said, he thought it only reasonable that in this particular instance the House of Lords should have a voice. They had treated with the greatest tenderness the recommendations of the House of Commons; they had not displaced a single one of the seven names which were inserted, but had added the names of two other extremely eminent men, which they felt would add weight to the Commission. A Commission of nine members would only differ from a Commission of seven in the greater knowledge, experience, and inquiring power which it would possess. It would be a most ungracious act to press for the omission of these names. Canon Blakesley, whom he had known for a great many years, was one of the most able and universally well-informed of all the tutors at Trinity College, Cambridge, and so scrupulous was he in his desire to act impartially as a Commissioner that during the two years in which he had now been designated as a Commissioner, he had purposely abstained from taking an active part in the discussion of educational subjects in public, which he would otherwise have been anxious to do. The hon. and learned Member for Richmond (Sir Roundell Palmer) was also admirably qualified for being placed upon the Commission.
§ MR. NEATE
also thought the addition of the name of the hon. and learned Member for Richmond (Sir Roundell Palmer) would be very desirable, as his legal authority would add great weight to the Commission, while his long experience as Attorney General would enable him to moderate between the extreme elements upon the Commission.
said, that if the Commission was now a well-balanced one it would not be advisable to interfere with it by the addition of names, however distinguished, if the effect of so doing would be to destroy the balance of opinion. He should vote with the Secretary of State for India.
§ Question put.
§ The House divided:—Ayes 28; Noes 18: Majority 10.
§ Other Amendments disagreed to.
§ Subsequent Amendments agreed to.
§ Committee appointed, "to draw up Reasons to be assigned to The Lords for disagreeing to the Amendments to which this House hath disagreed:"—Sir STAFFORD NORTRCOTE, Mr. WALPOLE, Lord ROBERT MONTAGU, The JUDGE ADVOCATE, Mr. NOEL, and Mr. WHITMORE:—To withdraw immediately; Three to be the quorum.