HC Deb 22 July 1869 vol 198 cc451-3

said, he wished to ask Mr. Solicitor General, Whether, considering that the University Tests Bill will not become Law this Session, the Government would be prepared to include a more comprehensive scheme for the extension of our Universities in the general educational measure they intend to bring forward next year?


In answer, Sir, to the Question of the hon. Gentleman, I need hardly remind the House that my position in relation to the Government is not such that I am able to speak very authoritatively on this matter. Whether the Cabinet has any intentions on this subject, and if so what those intentions may be, I really do not know, and I have not taken upon myself to inquire; but if the hon. Gentleman wishes for any expression of my opinion, I may perhaps be permitted to say that the entire rejection of the wishes of this House by the majority of the other House, in refusing even to consider a Bill which had been sent up after being passed through this House by very large majorities, has certainly freed me from the duty—and I may say has taken away from me the wish—of considering the feelings and prejudices in regard to this measure of the other House of Parliament. And I may add, that if the majority of the House of Lords are unaware that popular and just demands of this kind are in the nature of things—["Oh, oh!"]—


I beg leave, Sir, to ask whether the hon. and learned Gentleman is in Order in commenting upon the conduct of the other House with regard to a Bill lately brought before it in answering a Question?


The rule of this House is that we do not comment upon the debates in the other House, but the public acts of the House of Lords are open to comment.


I was only going to say, Sir, when the noble Viscount interrupted me, that if the majority of the House of Lords are unaware that demands of this kind are in their nature certain to rise if met by contemptuous rejection, they are the only ninety-one persons in England who are so.


I rise to Order, Sir. I wish to know whether, in answering a Question, an hon. Member may be allowed to debate a public matter? ["Oh, oh!"] I beg to state that I have no objection to the hon. and learned Gentleman having this opinion, and taking a proper mode of communicating it to the House; but if an opinion is expressed, and if we are to enter into controversy, it ought to be under circumstances which will allow an answer. Therefore, Sir, I beg to ask your opinion whether, in answering a Question, an hon. Member has a right to enter into an argument such as that which is now being conducted by the hon. and learned Gentleman opposite?


I think it is desirable in answering a Question that as little of controversial matters as possible should be introduced into the answer.