HC Deb 20 February 1871 vol 204 cc499-528

Order for Committee read.

Motion made, and Question proposed, "That Mr. Speaker do now leave the Chair."—(Mr. Gladstone.)


rose to put a question to the right hon. Gentleman at the head of the Government with reference to this measure. The foundation of this Bill was that it should apply to "Colleges and Universities now subsisting," not to such as might be created in the future. That was the case with the measure introduced last year, and it would be in the recollection of hon. Members that a discussion then ensued upon his Motion that the words "now subsisting" should be omitted, and that the right hon. Gentleman entered into a compromise with respect to the matter under which he undertook, in the event of the Amendment not being pressed, that the Government would introduce a separate Bill, with the view of providing that a charter should not be granted to any College or University for the future without the consent of Parliament. He now wished to ask the right hon. Gentleman whether it was the intention of the Government to carry, pari passû with the present measure, a Bill such as the one he had referred to?


said, that subject to a certain reservation, he thought his hon. and learned Friend was accurate in the reference he had made to the circumstances of last year; but that reservation was this—that it was never intended on the part of the Government, nor was it ever stated, as far as he understood or remembered, that they did intend to make the power of granting charters hereafter subject to the consent of Parliament, or to impose any limitation which did not now exist in the prerogative. What was said, according to his recollection and that of the Solicitor General, was this—that provision should be made that the grant of charters to Colleges or Universities should be so regulated that Parliament should have an opportunity of objecting to it. He had to apologize to the House for having omitted to refer to the matter before, and he would take care that a provision was introduced with the view of carrying out the undertaking of last year.


said, the question whether Her Majesty's Government would sanction the establishment by charter of a Roman Catholic University had been strongly agitated, and he hoped the hon. Member who had recently addressed the House would have an opportunity, in the course of this discussion of stating whether his question had reference to the establishment of such an University, or to the founding of a new University in connection with the Church of England, which was about to be divorced from the existing Universities. The business before the House related to both these subjects; for the Bill under discussion was one step towards the disestablishment of the Church of England, and the Bill standing next upon the Paper (the Ecclesiastical Titles Act Repeal Bill) was one which would, if passed, make a long stride towards the establishment of the Church of Rome.

Bill considered in Committee.

(In the Committee.)

Clauses 1 and 2 agreed to.

Clause 3 (Persons taking lay academical degrees or holding lay academical or collegiate offices not to be required to subscribe any formulary of faith, &c.).


moved, in page 2, lines 8 and 9, to leave out "other than a degree in divinity," his object being to make the body of the Bill more consistent with the intention of the Bill as disclosed in the Preamble than it then was. He moved a similar Amendment last year, when he received the support of a majority of independent Liberal Members. He was met with the objection that if persons not members of the Church of England were allowed to take divinity degrees in the Universities it would be impossible to exclude them from the Professorial chairs in theology. He did not think this consequence would follow, as the Church must always have the power of appointing to its theological Professorships only such persons as were in its opinion theologically sound; and in addition there would be this other safeguard that, as a rule, the occupancy of and emoluments attached to professorial chairs in theology were attached to livings in the Church. All he desired was to remove the barrier which Parliament had imposed by passing the Act of Uniformity and which Parliament ought now to remove. In the University of Glasgow any person who had obtained the degree of M.A., and had passed through a theological course, either in England or Scotland, was entitled, after passing a satisfactory examination, to proceed to the degree of B.D., the subsequent degree of D.D. being simply matter for a further examination in proof of higher theological scholarship. There was no necessity for declaring adhesion to the Established Church of the country. In the other Scotch Universities the principle was substantially the same, though the details were different in some particulars. He dismissed as utterly improbable the fear that opening the divinity degrees in the Universities would be sought by the enemies of Christianity as a footing for attacking its truths. But, apart from that consideration, he moved his Amendment on the broad ground that all University degrees ought not to be confined to the members of one particular Church, but should be free to all.

Amendment proposed, in page 2, lines 8 and 9, to leave out the words "other than a degree in divinity."—(Mr. Stevenson.)


I shall not attempt, on this occasion, to enter at large into the discussion of the Motion of my hon. Friend; but all that I would say bearing on the merits of the proposition is that, according to the account he has given of the Motion, it is perfectly plain it would not go far enough to effect the object he has in view, so far as the practice established in our ancient Universities in England is concerned. And it would not do this, because my hon. Friend says he would not take away the limitation upon the appointment of the Professors who constitute the theological faculty; but it is evident that if he left the Professors subject to the operation of an exclusive test the candidates for degrees who belong to other forms of religion would be in the very peculiar and anomalous position of being liable to be judged exclusively by persons of another faith; and it would be very difficult, indeed, for them to be certain that a perfect impartiality would be exercised in passing judgment upon them. There are many other difficulties in the Motion on which I will not detain the Committee at length; but I must observe that I do not quite understand where it is my hon. Friend wishes to stop. He wishes to have degrees in divinity thrown open; but what is divinity? He says he wishes that the Professors of different Churches should be allowed to obtain their certificates of proficiency in a particular form; but what, again, are Churches? For example, is there a Buddhist Church, and would not my hon. Friend require a test if he wished to prevent Buddhists obtaining divinity degrees in English Universities? By Churches, he probably means the various fragments of the Christian world. I do not know; but it is quite evident that if he means to admit all those who profess Christianity in some form or other to degrees in divinity, and to exclude all who do not, he must discover and provide by law some test in order to determine what is Christianity and what is not. My hon. Friend has not done this. The truth is—his proposal is not in a shape in which it can take practical effect. But I do not intend to do more than point out what appeared to me the defect of my hon. Friend's proposal; I do not intend at all to enter upon the merits of his proposal, because, so far as the Government are concerned, we should be wasting the time of the Committee if we did so. The Government has already ventured to acquaint the House—I use the term "venture" advisedly—that we regard this proceeding as a sequel to what took place last year. We propose to send to the House of Lords the Bill which we sent last year. So far, therefore, as the Government are concerned, it is a question of going forward with this Bill. We do not think it expedient to send to the House of Lords a Bill differing materially from the Bill we sent last year. Consequently, it is not in my power to accept the Amendment of my hon. Friend; and, that being so, it is better that I should waive any lengthened discussion upon its merits. The very same remark, I am bound to say, will apply to the other Amendments that are on the Paper. The Amendment of my hon. Friend opposite (Mr. C. Bentinck) it would not be in our power, under any consideration, to adopt; and with regard to the Amendment of my hon. Friend the Member for Brighton (Mr. Fawcett), my hon. Friend near me (the Solicitor General) will say a word on that subject. The plan now before the House is the only plan that we, as a Government, can go upon on the present occasion. We wish this matter to be brought to a speedy issue. If our plan fail, my hon. Friend, or anyone else, will have an opportunity of trying a different proposal. With these few words, I have only to say that I am sorry to be obliged to say "No" to the Amendment.


This Bill has reached its present condition from the strong desire of the nation that our great Universities should open up their means of culture and knowledge to all classes of the people. If the Bill be only partial in its operation, then the desire to render these institutions truly national has not been fully accomplished. The Preamble to the Bill is comprehensive in its aspirations, and the securities which it reserves for religious instruction are in no way affected by the Amendment of my hon. Friend (Mr. Stevenson). There are three superior Faculties in the Universities — those of Medicine, Law, and Divinity—all of them professing to teach their several kinds of knowledge, and to give degrees as evidence of an acquired culture in them. In two, as well as in the Faculty of Arts, the Bill proposes to dissever knowledge from belief; but, in one of them, it keeps knowledge and belief in the Episcopal Church firmly bound together. Is there any good reason for the exception? The answer made to us last year by the right hon. Gentleman at the head of the Government is that a degree really means ability to teach the knowledge embraced in it, and that it would be anomalous to confer a degree in theology in a University unless the graduate were allowed to teach in that University. I do not deny that the right hon. Gentleman is correct as a question of ancient University history, and that the title of graduate did imply power to teach. So did the title of Esquire once mean that of shield-bearer to a knight; but its special mean- ing is now obsolete, and so is that of a degree. The title of B.A. certainly does not imply that its possessor is capable of acting as a University teacher, but simply that he possesses a certain amount of culture—generally, indeed, vastly inferior to that of a Tutor or Professor. So completely had degrees lost their original meaning that from the period of the Restoration to the year 1800 the degree of B.A. was given without examination, and simply indicated four years of pupilary residence, and therefore an unknown quantity of knowledge. Well, that is very nearly the position that the degree of B.D. is in at the present time. It has no significance either of high learning or of teaching power. The University of Oxford has cast off its legitimate duties of examination upon the Bishops of the Episcopal Church, for its only evidence of the learning and capacity of the candidate is that he shall be in Priest's Orders, the whole of the University duty being to hear three sermons on subjects contained in the Holy Scriptures. I would prefer to speak of the degrees as being those of theology rather than of divinity, for the former indicates the science of the subject with which we were dealing. Now, I think it will be of great value to these degrees if they are made subjects of knowledge, but not merely of a particular form of belief, for then the University would be forced to resume its proper functions of examination. The field of theological science is a wide one, and ought in national Universities to be open to the members of every Church. The right hon. Gentleman at the head of the Government asks what subjects could be included in such degrees, and how are they to be defined? I will reply by reading an extract from the Edinburgh University CalendarThis degree shall be conferred only after the candidate has completed his theological curriculum with a view to the ministry in the Church or denomination to which he belongs, and after he has passed a satisfactory examination in the various branches of theology which are taught in the University—namely, the Evidences of Revealed Religion, Systematic Theology, Hebrew, Ecclesiastical History, Biblical Criticism, and Biblical Antiquities. Surely, this curriculum is large enough to distinguish theology as a science. In this scheme there is no exclusion of any kind. A Unitarian or a Roman Catholic may take a degree, provided that, in addition to a knowledge of their own dogmas, they are able also to explain the answers which the Trinitarians would give to the former and the Protestants to the latter. The candidates are not asked to express any particular form of belief, far less a special form of it laid down by law, but only to exhibit what they know; and knowledge of dogmas is a part of systematic theology. The Scotch Universities even accept a theological curriculum outside of themselves; but the Amendment of my hon. Friend does not hope to achieve such an instance of liberality. In conclusion, I support his Amendment, because I believe that it will render our Universities wholly national, and because it will raise the standard of theological degrees by fixing upon the Universities their proper functions of examination, and restoring to such degrees those securities of culture and knowledge which their possession professes to imply.


said, he was much obliged to the hon. Gentleman for the very candid admission which he had just made. The hon. Gentleman said the scope of this Bill was to emancipate two out of the three great branches of knowledge from belief. The hon. Gentleman wanted to emancipate the third — theology. Therefore they had the admission plainly and roundly from his own mouth that there was such a thing as unbelieving theology—that theology or divinity might be consistent with unbelief. It was evident that it was his intention, and the intention of the hon. Member who moved this Amendment (Mr. Stevenson), and he supposed of that mysterious majority of independent Liberals who supported the Government, to separate theology from belief, and to set up a great standard of unbelief as the scope of the religious teaching in our English Universities. The hon. Member who had just spoken, notwithstanding his learning and acuteness, had, he regretted to say, committed two great blunders. The hon. Member said he used the word "theology" rather than "divinity," because he assumed it to be of some different colour. But the word "divinity" was simply derived from the Latin word for God, and the word "theology" from the Greek word for God. That was the only difference. But then the hon. Gen- tleman appealed to the old idea that a degree implied teaching, and he talked of emancipating degrees of divinity from the control of the Bishops. Was the hon. Gentleman aware that a person could not take the first degree in divinity till seven years after he had obtained a Master's degree? But, to come to the main question, how were they to work the plan of granting degrees in theology to unbelievers? Were the existing faculties to be the examiners, or was there to be a separate external Board? Or, in the third place, were they to duplicate, triplicate, or multiply twenty-fold the different degrees of divinity? Were all the different denominations to have their own degrees? He traversed the suggestion of the hon. Gentleman that there was any great feeling among the sects of the country for opening the divinity degrees. No doubt the movement for opening the Universities was generally popular, and this Bill was the legitimate expression of it; but there was no expression of a desire on the part of any Nonconformist body for opening the theological degrees, because they knew they could not do so without diminishing their power to enforce their own belief on their own ministers. They knew that to open the divinity degree would be to make a latitudinarian degree. He should certainly vote against the Amendment.


, in supporting the Amendment, said the principle of the Bill was that the Universities ought not to belong to the Church of England, but to the whole country. The desire to carry out that principle was the motive which actuated those who had supported the various Bills for the abolition of tests in the Universities. He could not understand why the hon. Gentleman opposite (Mr. B. Hope) should wish to retain the few miserable scraps remaining of the old system. Now, one of the tests which his hon. Friend (Mr. Stevenson) wished to remove had for its object to confine certain degrees in the University to members of the Church of England. His hon. Friend opposite (Mr. B. Hope) argued that the test must be retained because divinity was of a certain character. He (Mr. Buxton) altogether denied that. He ventured to think there was a science of theology which had no connection with one Church more than another, and it was that, and that alone, which Professors of Theology ought to be permitted to teach. He thought it was most desirable that a Bill like the present, which embodied so important a principle, should be a complete and consistent measure, should carry out that distinctive principle to the uttermost, and should make our Universities just as much the property and privilege of the Nonconformists as of the members of the Established Church.


rose to take notice of an expression of the right hon. Gentleman at the head of the Government, that the Bill was a sequel of the events of last Session. On the contrary, he believed that, in the opinion of those out-of-doors, and of a majority of those who supported the right hon. Gentleman in that House, this Bill was not regarded as the proper sequel of the events of last Session. The only fit and legitimate sequel to the dilatory action of the House of Lords would have been a Bill abolishing all religious distinctions whatever in reference to the degrees, honours, and privileges of our Universities; and it would be better that this Bill should not pass than that it should pass in its present shape, retaining any portions, no matter how small, of those distinctions. The hon. Member for the University of Cambridge (Mr. B. Hope) had spoken of dissociating belief from divinity, and he went on to speak of unbelief. Now, he begged to remark that certain persons were too fond of charging with unbelief those who did not hold the same belief as themselves; but he would remind the Committee that sincere and earnest belief might very well exist quite independently of belief in the theological dogmas of the Church of England. The time had certainly come to assert this principle, seeing that Convocation had recently ejected from the task of Biblical revision a most distinguished and competent scholar, simply because his religious opinions differed in some respects from those of the Episcopal Bench. There was a time when the theologians of this country ranked high among their brethren in the world; but he was afraid that that time had gone by, and if they were to put an end to criticism by a hard and fast line like that imposed by the Act of Uniformity, he did not believe the theology of this country would ever re-gain the position which he should like to see it hold as a science.


said, he had not intended to take any part in this discussion, and rose merely to notice a most extraordinary misrepresentation by the hon. Member for Cambridge University (Mr. B. Hope) of a remark which had fallen from the hon. Member for the Edinburgh and St. Andrew's Universities (Dr. Lyon Playfair). The hon. Member opposite had said that his hon. Friend had advocated that theology should be emancipated from belief—that was, from any belief. But that was not the recommendation of his hon. Friend, for what he had said was that he wished theology to be emancipated from the belief imposed by law—in other words, from Church of England belief. Was that unreasonable or wrong? It seemed to him quite the contrary. It meant, in fact, the emancipation of men from the immorality of conforming with their lips to points of doctrine which many who took the test did not believe in their hearts. He had always been a strong opponent of tests for that very reason; and not only for what they excluded, but also for what they admitted. They were injurious to religion; they diminished the sanctity of oaths; and while they opened the door wide to infidels, they shut it in the face of many conscientious believers. No argument was necessary in these days to prove the uselessness of tests as means for securing uniformity of opinion in the Church. Was it not well known that every diversity of belief and unbelief was to be found in those Governing Bodies that had taken all those tests; aye, and even among the clergy of the Church of England itself? Hon. Gentlemen talked of unity of belief as the great duty and advantage. Did they attain it? Were not the diversities of belief in the Church of England a daily scandal, its weakness and its shame? How many tests had been taken from the day of his first degree to that of his consecration by Bishop Colenso? Had not the High Church and the Low Church parties censured the Prime Minister for having appointed to a bishopric a contributor to the Essays and Reviews? From the first day that he entered the House he had always been an enemy of tests. He had opposed them on every occasion, and he should therefore feel bound to support the Amendment.


trusted that when the right hon. Gentleman (Mr. Horsman) again read him a lecture he would inform himself of the point at issue and of the general course of the debate. No one was talking of tests. The question under discussion was divinity degrees, for which no one could be a candidate who was not in Orders in the Church of England. All who had addressed the Committee before the right hon. Gentleman had spoken to the point, though on different sides.

Question put, "That the words proposed to be left out stand part of the Clause."

The Committee divided: — Ayes 185; Noes 140: Majority 45.


rose to propose an Amendment, the object of which, he said, was to render the Bill more complete, logical, and satisfactory. If it were carried the result would be that clerical as well as lay tests would be abolished, and those restrictions done away with which were imposed in favour of clerical Fellowships and. Headships. No proposal, he ventured to state, would meet with a more unanimous support from the Liberals throughout the country than that which he was about to make, and there was not one of them, he felt assured, who would not concur in the opinion that a measure which should continue clerical Fellowships and Headships would not provide a solution of the question at issue even for a single hour. The Committee were well aware of the injustice and the wrong which were inflicted on distinguished students at the Universities, who, after an illustrious career there, were, at the last moment, because they did not happen to belong to the Church of England, deprived of honours which were much coveted and prized. He would not take up the time of hon. Members by entering into the history of such exclusiveness; the country had condemned it, and it was now maintained only by the vote of an irresponsible branch of the Legislature. Mischievous and unjust as were lay tests, clerical tests were not less so in their influence. Anyone who was acquainted with the Universities must be aware of the baneful effect which was produced on young men of 22 or 23 by prizes of £300 a year and a valuable position, tempting them to enter into Holy Orders at a time when their characters and tastes were still unformed, and thus to take an ill-considered step, which afterwards they found it impossible to retrace. Many hon. Members would, no doubt, be surprised to hear that if the Bill were to pass in its present shape one-third of the Fellowships and three-fourths of the Headships at Oxford would be left untouched by its provisions. At Cambridge nearly three-fourths of the Headships and the most valuable of the Fellowships could only be held by persons in Holy Orders. It was a mockery, therefore, to say that this measure would make the Universities great national institutions to which all Her Majesty's subjects, of whatever religious opinions, would be admitted on fair and equitable terms. The Prime Minister did not dispute that the principle advocated by the Amendment was a sound one, nor that clerical Fellowships were indefensible, but gave the extraordinary reason for supporting it that it was necessary to the success of the Bill to send it up to the other House in the same form in which it had been presented last Session. Suppose, being anxious in the same way to consult the feelings of the Peers, the right hon. Gentleman had introduced last year only a partial measure for the disendowment and disestablishment of the Irish Church, and the Peers had practically rejected it by referring the Bill to a Select Committee! He (Mr. Fawcett) did not wish to be disrespectful to the House of Lords; but he thought the best way to treat that Assembly, as well as political opponents in this House, was to be perfectly fair and candid with them. It was not well to send up a measure to the other House with a reservation behind it that a larger proposal should supplement it by-and-by. The fairest plan was to say at once what measure would satisfy the country and the Liberal party in this House. He was sure the Upper House would much more appreciate such a policy. Without pretending to speak in the name of either, he believed he was echoing an opinion shared by many when he said that a settlement of the question would not be obtained and that no solution would be satisfactory until they abolished not only lay tests, but also clerical tests, from our Universities. The hon. Member for Bristol (Mr. Morley), on the opening day of the Session, had stated that it was the wish of the great majority of the nation to settle the question for ever. It was with that view he (Mr. Fawcett) proposed the Amendment. After an agitation which had lasted ten years the Universities required peace and repose. Many men there who were originally in favour of maintaining these tests would say—"Do not let this question he treated piecemeal; if tests are to be abolished, let them be abolished once for all." With such a majority as they had in that House, it was not creditable to the Liberal party to toy and retain what he could not abstain from calling these miserable snips and remnants of ecclesiastical ascendency. With their abolition, and not till then, the Universities would become great national institutions, all classes being equally entitled to the advantages which those ancient seats of learning afforded. The hon. Gentleman concluded by moving to leave out Proviso 1.

Amendment proposed, in page 2, to leave out from the words "Provided, That," in line 28, to the word "office," in line 38."—(Mr. Fawcett.)


said, he had voted against the Amendment last year, but he intended to support it on the present occasion. The principle involved in it was really the principle of the Bill. The question was whether you were entitled to look to a man's theological opinions in considering whether he was entitled to obtain a Fellowship. To his mind the present system was putting a premium upon hypocrisy, and he doubted whether the men got by that bait were worth the having. The whole of the conditions on which Fellowships were held wanted revision. Celibacy, for example, was an absurd condition. So was the condition that a man who had land worth £300 a year must not hold a Fellowship; whereas if he made £5,000 a year at the Bar or £50,000 by commerce it did not matter. He once knew a former Member of that House, a Queen's Counsel, who was a Fellow of Cambridge for 52 years, and who never entered the doors of his College except for the purpose of punishing its wines. He thought the question of Fellowships should be dealt with as a whole.


said, that the right hon. Gentleman at the head of the Government had taken the conduct of the Bill, which had last Session been introduced by the Solicitor General, not because the First Minister believed that he or anyone else could conduct it more ably than the Solicitor General had conducted it, but in order to mark, in the most emphatic way, that it was to be considered as a Government measure. In return for the greater chance which this would afford of the Bill passing, was it unfair that even those who were strongly in favour of the Amendment should be expected to yield to the wish of the Minister that the Bill should be left in its present shape; that they should be expected to say—"As men looking to the practical result of our actions, we cannot vote for the Amendment because Ministers inform us that thereby the Bill will be imperilled, and, indeed, intimate that it will be impossible for them to carry it up to the House of Lords if this Amendment is adopted?" He (Sir Francis Goldsmid) heard Gentlemen cheer just now, because the minority in favour of the former Amendment was larger than had been expected; but if the minority had been converted into a majority, would they have cheered then? If they would, that cheer would have been the knell of the measure. ["No!"] Under this impression, as he would never vote in a minority simply because it was a minority, and as he was convinced that the success of the Amendment would be fatal to the Bill, he thought that, though abstractedly favourable to the Amendment, he was acting quite consistently, as a practical man, in voting against it.


said, the Amendment had been declared to be alien from the character of the Bill. Now, what was the object and character of the Bill? The object of the Bill was to completely overthrow religious inequality at the Universities; but how could anyone admit this object would be carried out as long as the holding of certain Fellowships was confined not only to the members of, but actually to the clergy of, a particular sect? The Amendment of the hon. Member for Brighton (Mr. Fawcett) had been objected to last year on the ground that serious practical difficulties would prevent its being carried out; but those practical difficulties really amounted to next to nothing, and the Amendment of this year, which, had been drawn by gentlemen of great experience in such matters, completely avoided them. It had been said, too, that the Amendment would destroy the prospect of the Bill passing the House of Lords; he, however, thought it would be a material aid to that end. It might be argued that, considering how ready the House of Lords had been to throw out moderate Bills, a violent measure might stand as good a chance with them; in any case they would have the opportunity of sending the Bill back without the Amendment, and passing the rest of it on the basis of the surrender of the clerical Fellowships by this House. That was the really practical view of the matter. He had been in the habit of dividing clerical Fellows into two classes, clerical Fellows with white ties and clerical Fellows without white ties. The first class opposed almost every proposal to liberalize the Colleges; and though they acted from the purest motives, their actions had been by no means beneficial. The other class comprised those gentlemen who took Holy Orders for no other purpose but to enable them to hold Fellowships; for immediately they acquired the position they put aside all the outward and visible signs of the inward and spiritual grace, which they knew they did not possess, and became, to all appearance, non-clerical. It was hard to say which of these two classes it was most desirable to get rid of—the first, which obstructed all progress, or the other, which poisoned it at its source. On a full consideration of the matter he could come to no other conclusion than that those on the Ministerial side of the House should unhesitatingly vote with the hon. Member for Brighton.


presumed it would be no surprise to the hon. Member for Brighton (Mr. Fawcett) to hear that the Government could not possibly accept the Amendment he had proposed; and, although it was no doubt true of the majority of those who sat on that side of the House, as the hon. Member had stated, that they owed their seats mainly to the Nonconformist body—certainly it was his own case as the representative of the city of Exeter—yet the Government did not think that by rejecting this Amendment they did anything to disentitle them to the future support of any fair judging Nonconformist. First of all, whatever might be the opinion of academical reformers within the walls of the Universities, there had been no external action taken by them in any such direction. A deputation, representing a number of the most important Nonconforming Bodies in the country, had an interview with the right hon. Gentleman at the head of the Government, and they deliberately desired that the measure should go up in its present shape with whatever aid the influence of the Government could lend it. Nor did he think that the Government were doing anything inconsistent with the desires of non-academical reformers, being moved by the hope that it would thus speedily become law. The object of the Bill was simply to render the Universities and the Colleges within them, in matters of academical degrees and offices, just as they would have been if no Act of Parliament had been passed in an opposite direction; it repealed all restrictions placed on the Universities by Acts of Parliament; it left untouched all such restrictions as were imposed by their own statutes. To do more than to deal with Parliamentary restriction would be to go beyond the province of the Bill, and in this the Government assumed an intelligent position, which they were entitled to maintain in the face of the House of Commons. Personally, however, he freely admitted, he believed, in common with any fair-minded man on the other side of the House, that the present condition of the Fellowship question was not satisfactory or could be maintained. In fact, it needed speedy amendment. In 1854 the Government of the day endeavoured, in vain, to induce the House of Commons to legislate upon it; but legislation was refused. So far as he knew about his own University, those who were most in earnest for the reform of Oxford were of opinion that there was not at present sufficient information to enable them to legislate satisfactorily or finally on a question which required such great care. It would be understood that he was not speaking to bind anyone but himself; yet, certainly, for his own part, he should be glad to see a proper inquiry ordered into the state of the Colleges and the funds of the Colleges—a thoroughly searching inquiry to ascertain what were the academical resources of the Colleges, and how they could be best applied for fulfilling the objects for which they were designed. By this Amendment it was proposed to deal with only one fragment of the very complicated questions arising out of the statutes. It was proposed to repeal a test which was no test at all—a College statute indicating that certain persons, members of Colleges, should be put to an academical test. The Government dealt with the word test in this Bill in the ordinary acceptation of the word, and left perfectly untouched the anomalies pointed out, because they were connected with another branch of the Bill. Of course, if the anomaly existed of a man with an income of £5,000 holding a Fellowship of £300, it should be at once remedied. The objection to requiring Fellows to be celibates was not so sound, because some difficulty would be found in governing the Colleges of Oxford by a set of married Fellows. He hoped that the great party on which the Government had to lean for support would see that this was a practical question, and not merely one upon which they ought to vote for the sake of giving a vote. The measure had been brought in bonâ fide for the purpose of passing it, and they had every hope that if it were allowed to be pressed forward this year it would be passed into law. It would be a great and beneficial change, both in the Universities and the Colleges as it stood, and he trusted the Committee would do nothing to prevent its passing in its present shape, which was the only form in which it could pass with the approval of the Government.


said, the reasoning of his hon. and learned Friend (the Solicitor General) had failed to convince him. His hon. and learned Friend had said that the Amendment proposed was part of a great question which would have to be dealt with separately; but it was just that part with which the present Bill purported to deal. The preamble of the Bill recited that it was a "Bill for the Abolition of Tests." Now, he could see no distinction in principle between imposing tests at the outset of a man's University career, and telling him ultimately that he would be deprived of the fruits of his learning and intellectual superiority if, within a given time, he did not enter into Holy Orders. In fact, unless this Amendment were adopted, the Bill would be inconsistent. His hon. Friend the Member for Reading (Sir Francis Goldsmid) seemed to imply that hon. Members who were going to support this Amendment would do so because they knew they would be voting in a minority. He voted on the last occasion, as he should do in the coming Division, with no expectation of being in a minority; and he could only regret that the minority was composed of men who were among the most earnest supporters of Her Majesty's Government. He gave full credit to the right hon. Gentleman at the head of the Government for his desire to give effect to the claims of the Nonconformists; but the Government were mistaken in the course which they had adopted. He, for one, could not understand why more respect had been shown to the House of Lords, who had rejected the Bill, than to the great bulk of the Liberal party, who had voted for it. Nor could he understand how respect would be shown to the House of Lords by sending them back the Bill in the same form in which it had been before them on the last occasion. He regretted to find himself at variance with the right hon. Gentleman; but he felt bound to vote for the Amendment.


explained that he had not intended to express any opinion about the expectations with which hon. Members had voted for the Amendment.


My hon. and learned Friend the Member for Dews-bury (Mr. Serjeant Simon) has referred, in very kind terms, to the feelings by which we have been influenced in introducing this Bill, and has shown every disposition to appreciate the position in which we find ourselves placed. I will not go over the general argument of the Solicitor General, because I subscribe to everything which he has stated. Everyone conversant with the state of the Universities will admit that the whole subject of Fellowships requires to be dealt with in a comprehensive manner. This is no new opinion of mine. When the Bill relating to the Universities was introduced in 1854 it was framed very carefully with this object in view; but we found that the difficulties of the time and the circumstances were so great, and the House was so unwilling to entertain the subject, and to deal extensively with the conditions attaching to the tenure of Fellowships, that we were compelled to recede from our undertaking. I wish to grapple with the leading proposition of my hon. and learned Friend who has just sat down. My hon. and learned Friend has made an appeal to me, and I will in turn make one to him. He says it is not respectful to the House of Lords to send back to them a measure which they have rejected. Now, the House of Lords, in the exercise of its discretion—I refer to this as a matter of history—thought fit not to pass this Bill; but they did not reject it. It may be said by those who are disposed to take a strict view of the proceedings of the House of Lords, that they adopted an indirect method of getting rid of it. Any hon. Member who chooses is freely at liberty to entertain and urge that opinion. Her Majesty's Government are not free to urge it; it would not be fair or just, in our view, to say that the House of Lords had taken an oblique course for the purpose of getting rid, indirectly, of what they did not choose to get rid of directly. Consider the facts. It was on the 14th of July that the Bill was presented to the House of Lords last year, and it was the first time that it had been presented to them as a positively enacting measure, and as a measure introduced upon the responsibility of the Government. At that moment we had just sent to the House of Lords the Irish Land Bill and the English Education Bill, in addition to all the other measures of the Session. There were also circumstances connected with the University of Oxford in particular to which I might refer; but I think it would be a harsh and uncharitable judgment to pass upon the House of Lords—much as I regret their proceedings—if we were to assume that their Lordships had definitively rejected this very measure. The Bill is one which has been taken into the hands of the Government, in compliance with the wishes of the great bulk of its supporters; and we, as a Government, are bound to deal with it in accordance with those principles of respect which should regulate the conduct of the Government in dealing with the other branch of the Legislature. We were met last year by the House of Lords with a request for information which we considered totally unnecessary. But remembering that the House of Lords arrived at a different conclusion, and that the search for information made it impossible for them to proceed with the Bill last year, we should have failed in our duty to that House if we had not taken the opportunity of allowing them again to consider the very same measure which they had not rejected, but laid aside. And we should equally have failed in our duty to the supporters of the measure in the House of Commons if we had not used our best diligence and exertion to introduce the Bill at the commencement of the Session, and to pass it with all the expedition and despatch in our power. I was rather surprised at the speech of the hon. Member for Reading (Sir Francis Goldsmid), in which he laid such stress upon the supposed relations between the Government and the House of Lords; but the hon. Gentleman is quite right in supposing that we are desirous that the measure should go to the House of Lords under circumstances giving it the best chance of passing into law. I do not presume to find fault with those who take a different course; but in undertaking the conduct of this Bill, we did not conceal what we thought to be right and possible in the position in which we then stood. Those who are interested in this measure, after learning the decision of the Government, still persist in the request that we should undertake the conduct of the measure, and urge it forward as we best could. It is under these circumstances that we ask the Committee to vote against the Amendment.


reminded the Committee that those hon. Gentlemen who intended to vote for the Amendment would not be adopting any new course in consequence of the rejection of the Bill by the House of Lords last year. The course of the Government was quite consistent. They introduced the Bill last year, and adhered to it in the shape in which it was introduced and proposed to the House of Lords. The course of those who agreed with the hon. Member for Brighton (Mr. Fawcett) was quite as consistent, because they proposed and voted last year for the Amendments for which they were now going to vote. Consequently, whatever had been done by the House of Lords had no effect upon their proceedings. He voted this year as he voted last year; he voted on the same Resolution, and upon the same principles, and he would not be a party to per- Petuating any religious tests in the Universities.

Question put, "That the words proposed to be left out stand part of the Clause."

The Committee divided: — Ayes 182; Noes 160: Majority 22.

Adderley, rt. hon. Sir C. Dyke, W. H.
Amory, J. H. Eastwick, E. B.
Annesley, hon. Col. H. Eaton, H. W.
Arkwright, A. P. Egerton, hon. A. F.
Ayrton, rt. hon. A. S. Egerton, Capt. hon. F.
Baggallay, Sir R. Elliot, G.
Bagwell, J. Enfield, Viscount
Bailey, Sir J. R. Ewing, A. O.
Baring, T. Feilden, H. M.
Barrow, W. H. Fellowes, E.
Barttelot, Colonel FitzGerald, right hon. Lord O. A.
Bathurst, A. A.
Baxter, W. E. Forde, Colonel
Bazley, Sir T. Forester, rt. hon. Gen.
Beach, W. W. B. Forster, rt. hon. W. E.
Bentinck, G. C. Fortescue, rt. hon. C. P.
Bentinck, G. W. P. Fowler, R. N.
Beresford, Lt.-Col. M. Gavin, Major
Bourke, hon. R. Gladstone, rt. hn. W. E.
Bourne, Colonel Gladstone, W. H.
Bowmont, Marquess of Goldney, G.
Brassey, T. Goldsmid, Sir F.
Bristowe, S. B. Gooch, Sir D.
Bruce, rt. hon. Lord E. Gore, W. R. O.
Bruce, rt. hon. H. A. Goschen, rt. hon. G. J.
Buller, Sir E. M. Graves, S. R.
Bury, Viscount Greene, E.
Cardwell, rt. hon. E. Gregory, G. B.
Cartwright, F. Greville, hon. Captain
Cartwright, W. C. Grosvenor, hon. N.
Castlerosse, Viscount Guest, M. J.
Cave, right hon. S. Gurney, rt. hon. R.
Cavendish, Lord F. C. Hambro, C.
Cavendish, Lord G. Hamilton, Lord C.
Cecil, Lord E. H. B. G. Hamilton, Lord C. J.
Chambers, T. Hamilton, Lord G.
Charley, W. T. Hanmer, Sir J.
Cole, Col. hon. H. A. Hardy, rt. hon. G.
Coleridge, Sir J. D. Hardy, J. S.
Collier, Sir R. P. Hartington, Marquess of
Corbett, Colonel Henley, rt. hon. J. W.
Corrigan, Sir D. Hermon, E.
Corry, rt. hon. H. T. L. Hibbert, J. T.
Cowper-Temple, right hon. W. Hick, J.
Hill, A. S.
Crawford, R. W. Holford, J. P. G.
Cross, R. A. Holt, J. M.
Cubitt, G. Hope, A. J. B. B.
Dalrymple, C. Ingram, H. F. M.
Damer, Capt. Dawson- Jardine, R.
Davison, J. R. Jenkinson, Sir G. S.
Denison, C. B. Kennaway, J. H.
Dickinson, S. S. Keown, W.
Dickson, Major A. G. Knatchbull-Hugessen, E. H.
Dimsdale, R.
Disraeli, rt. hon. B. Lacon, Sir E. H. K.
Dowse, R. Laird, J.
Duff, M. E. G. Lambert, N. G.
Duncombe, hon. Col. Lancaster, J.
Du Pre, C. G. Learmonth, A.
Lefevre, G. J. S. Ridley, M. W.
Lewis, J. H. Round, J.
Lindsay, hon. Col. C. Royston, Viscount
Lindsay, Col. R. L. Russell, A.
Lowther, J. Sandon, Viscount
Lowther, W. Sclater-Booth, G.
Mackintosh, E. W. Scourfield, J. H.
Mahon, Viscount Selwin-Ibbetson, Sir H. J.
Manners, rt. hn. Lord J.
Matheson, A. Smith, A.
Matthews, H. Smith, F. C.
Maxwell, W. H. Smith, S. G.
Meyrick, T. Smith, W. H.
Milles, hon. G. W. Stacpoole, W.
Mills, C. H. Stansfeld, rt. hon. J.
Mitford, W. T. Steere, L.
Monsell, rt. hon. W. Stepney, Colonel
Montgomery, Sir G. G. Storks, Sir H. K.
Morgan, C. O. Straight, D.
Morley, S. Sykes, C.
Newport, Viscount Talbot, J. G.
Nicholson, W. Vickers, S.
Noel, hon. G. J. Vivian, Capt. hn. J.C.W.
North, Colonel Walker, Major G. G.
O'Conor, D. M. Walsh, hon. A.
O'Conor Don, The Waters, G.
O'Reilly, M. W. Wheelhouse, W. S. J.
O'Reilly-Dease, M. Whitbread, S.
Palmer, Sir R. Wilmot, H.
Parker, C. S. Yarmouth, Earl of
Patten, rt. hon. Col. W. Young, G.
Peek, H. W.
Peel, A. W. TELLERS.
Percy, Earl Adam, W. P.
Raikes, H. C. Glyn, G. G.
Amcotts, Col. W. C. Ellice, E.
Anderson, G. Erskine, Admiral J. E.
Anstruther, Sir R. Ewing, H. E. C.
Armitstead, G. Eykyn, R.
Baines, E. Fagan, Captain
Bass, A. Fawcett, H.
Beaumont, S. A. Finnie, W.
Beaumont, W. B. Fletcher, I.
Bentall, E. H. Fordyce, W. D.
Biddulph, M. Forster, C.
Bolckow, H. W. F. Fortescue, hon. D. F.
Bowring, E. A. Fothergill, R.
Brand, H. R. Fowler, W.
Brewer, Dr. Gilpin, C.
Bright, J. (Manchester) Goldsmid, J.
Brinckman, Captain Gourley, E. T.
Brown, A. H. Gower, hon. E. F. L.
Browne, G. E. Graham, W.
Cadogan, hon. F. W. Gregory, W. H.
Campbell, H. Greville-Nugent, hon. G. F.
Candlish, J.
Carington, hn. Capt. W. Grieve, J. J.
Carnegie, hon. C. Grove, T. F.
Carter, Mr. Alderman Hamilton, J. G. C.
Clay, J. Harcourt, W.G.G.V.V.
Clifford, C. C. Hardcastle, J. A.
Craufurd, E. H. J. Haviland-Burke, E.
Dalglish, R. Headlam, rt. hon. T. E.
Davies, R. Herbert, hon. A. E. W.
Digby, K. T. Hoare, Sir H. A.
Dilke, Sir C. W. Hodgkinson, G.
Dixon, G. Hodgson, K. D.
Edwardes, hon. Col. W. Holland, S.
Edwards, H. Holms, J.
Horsman, rt. hon. E. Potter, E.
Howard, hon. C. W. G. Potter, T. B.
Howard, J. Reed, C.
Hughes, T. Richard, H.
Hurst, R. H. Rothschild, Brn. L. N. de
James, H. Rothschild, N. M. de
Johnston, A. Russell, H.
Kinnaird, hon. A. F. Russell, Sir W.
Lawrence, Sir J. C. Rylands, P.
Lawrence, W. St. Aubyn, J.
Lawson, Sir W. Salomons, Sir D.
Leatham, E. A. Samuelson, B.
Leeman, G. Samuelson, H. B.
Lewis, J. D. Sartoris, E. J.
Loch, G. Seely, C. (Lincoln)
Locke, J. Seely, C. (Nottingham)
Lubbock, Sir J. Simon, Mr. Serjeant
Lush, Dr. Smith, E.
Lusk, A. Smith, J. B.
M'Arthur, W. Stapleton, J.
M'Clure, T. Stevenson, J. C.
Macfie, R. A. Stone, W. H.
M'Lagan, P. Strutt, hon. H.
M'Laren, D. Stuart, Colonel
M'Mahon, P. Synan, E. J.
Magniac, C. Taylor, P. A.
Maguire, J. F. Tollemache, hon. F. J.
Maitland, Sir A.C.R.G. Torrens, R. R.
Marling, S. S. Torrens, W. T. M'C.
Merry, J. Tracy, hon. C. R. D. Hanbury-
Miall, E.
Miller, J. Trelawny, Sir J. S.
Mitchell, T. A. Trevelyan, G. O.
Monk, C. J. Villiers, rt. hon. C. P.
Morgan, G. O. Vivian, A. P.
Morrison, W. Wedderburn, Sir D.
Mundella, A. J. West, H. W.
Nicol, J. D. Wethered, T. O.
Norwood, C, M. White, J.
O'Brien, Sir P. Whitwell, J.
O'Loghlen, rt. hon. Sir C. M. Williams, W.
Williamson, Sir H.
Otway, A. J. Wingfield, Sir C.
Palmer, J. H. Winterbotham, H. S. P.
Parry, L. Jones- Young, A. W.
Pease, J. W.
Pelham, Lord TELLERS.
Philips, R. N. Buxton, C.
Playfair, L. Fitzmaurice, Lord E.
Plimsoll, S.

said, it was not his intention to move the additional clauses of which he had given Notice, as they all had reference to the question raised by the Amendment which had just been rejected. But he thought it right to say this—that the answer was a very remarkable one, for probably a Liberal Government, on a question involving Liberal principles, had never found so few of their supporters voting with them, and been opposed by so many of their strongest and best supporters. He ventured to express a hope that the Government would ponder well upon this matter, and that the constituencies would also look to it. He would not now move the new clauses of which he had given Notice, but he would raise the point again upon the Report.


said, the hon. Member having stated that he hoped the Government would ponder upon this subject, his answer was that they had done so; that their decision was taken, and that it was irrevocable. Of course, the hon. Gentleman could take whatever course he pleased.


moved, so that he might be in order in addressing the Committee, that the Chairman be directed to report Progress. He had not meant to say that the right hon. Gentleman had not pondered upon this question; but it was impossible for the right hon. Gentleman, or for anyone else, to have known beforehand that the question which was rejected by a large majority last Session would have been carried by the narrow majority of 22, made up almost entirely by Conservative votes, this Session. What he asked the right hon. Gentleman to do was to consider not the question itself, but the strong and almost unanimous wish expressed on this subject by his strongest and his best supporters.


assured his hon. Friend, when he said they had pondered this question, he did not mean that he was not sensible of the sentiments so strongly expressed, under such circumstances, by so large a proportion of those who sat on that (the Ministerial) side of the House. He did not undervalue the vote in the slightest degree; but if a Government had stated its decision, and if that decision had been taken in consequence of what it felt to be due from itself as the Executive of the country to one branch of the Legislature, his hon. Friend's candour would show him that it was impossible to uproot that decision in deference to any state of parties represented by a minority in the House of Commons. He did not speak in the slightest degree under the influence of impatience or disappointment; but he simply meant to convey to the hon. Member, in order that he might not be deceived, their settled purpose not to deviate from a perfectly clear and indisputable position of the constitutional duty of the Government in their relations to another branch of the Legislature.


said, he would withdraw his Motion for reporting Progress.

Motion, by leave, withdrawn.


, in moving, in page 2, line 44, after subsection 2 insert the following:— 3. Nothing in this Act shall open any office to any person who is not a member of the Church of England where such office is by the intention of the founder or donor confined to a member of the said Church, and where the income of such office is payable out of the produce of property or moneys given by private persons out of their own resources since the year one thousand five hundred and sixty-two, said, that last year the House had not the advantage of the presence of the right hon. Gentleman at the head of the Government when they were discussing this question, and, indeed, he had observed that until quite recently the right hon. Gentleman had never been able to look it in the face. Very probably the right hon. Gentleman recollected the number of years during which he was a consistent opponent of the Bill, and it was only since he had been compelled by the pressure of his supporters to introduce the measure as one belonging to the Government that he had been good enough to give the House the benefit of his presence on these discussions. The right hon. Gentleman, in introducing the measure, said the controversy was almost exhausted, and he defied human ingenuity to introduce any novelty into it; but to-night he had had the advantage of seeing that a vast deal of novelty might be introduced into it, and that many of his own supporters would be satisfied with nothing less than the total disestablishment of the Church of England and the abolition of religious education. The speeches which had been made by hon. Gentlemen below the Gangway on the Ministerial side of the House, showed clearly that concession to those hon. Gentlemen was of no use whatever, but would only lead to further demands, and that their Nonconformist supporters would be satisfied with neither more nor less than the utter destruction of the rights of property. The principle of the Amendment which he (Mr. C. Bentinck) now offered to the House was, that when a private person out of his own private resources contributed to or created an endowment for any particular purpose, that endowment ought to stand. That principle was consistent with justice, with equity, and with a due regard to the rights of property, and it had always been acknowledged by the laws of that country. The antecedents of the right hon. Gentleman on this subject were somewhat peculiar. While he was Member for the University of Oxford he always opposed this Bill, and even for two years subsequent to his defeat in 1856 he either abstained from voting or voted against the Bill of the right hon. Member for Kilmarnock (Mr. Bouverie) to abolish the Act of Uniformity. But on the 16th of March, 1868, the right hon. Gentleman rose in his place and denounced all Establishments by declaring against that of the Church of Ireland; and in the following month of July he went into the same Lobby with the right hon. Member for Kilmarnock and the hon. and learned Solicitor General on the University Tests Bill, without offering one word of apology or one word in defence of his conduct. The following year—1869—the right hon. Gentleman brought in his Irish Church Bill; and in that Bill the Government incorporated a proposal exactly similar to that which was embodied in the Amendment, the words of which were taken from the clause in the measure referred to. The ground taken then was that gifts of the property of private persons from private sources should be respected, going back as far as 1660—a date which neither the right hon. Gentleman himself nor anyone else could give any logical reason for choosing. The right hon. Gentleman stated the conditions that ought to attach to such gifts—first, that each ought to be a contribution or endowment from the private resources of a private person; second, that it ought to be devoted to the maintenance of some particular religion; and, third, that it ought to be clear what the religion was. In the other House it was arranged that a lump sum should be taken by the Church in respect of these private endowments. He desired to know what reason there was why the same principle should not be applied to the private endowments of the English Universities. It was impossible to say that the former case, being that of a Church, constituted a difference, for many of the foundations in the Colleges within the Universities were designed to educate men for the ministry of the Church. A great confusion existed in the minds of some with reference to the term "University." It was said that the Universities should be thrown open to all men—and so they were to a very great extent. It was competent for any religious body to create an endowment in one of our Universities, and employ it for the education of members of their particular community. Very few restrictions remained to be removed to throw the Universities open to all Her Majesty's subjects; and he did not apprehend that any considerable number of Members on his own side of the House would object to a measure having that effect only. This measure, however, effected more, for it took property which, according to law, and according to the intentions of the founder, was devoted to the Church of England, from that Church. The grievance alleged by hon. Members opposite, below the Gangway, was that a non-member of the Church of England could not enjoy the privilege of a Fellowship. Could he enjoy the benefit of any other endowment founded by a private person under similar restrictions? Certainly not. Mr. Aldis, a Baptist, who took a high degree at Cambridge a few years ago, and who did not take a Fellowship, had published a pamphlet on the subject of the University Tests, which contained some great misrepresentations. Among other things he stated, in answer to the objection that the Fellowships were private foundations derived from the bequests of members of the Church of England, and that therefore it would be an infraction of the laws of property to throw them open to Nonconformists, that the objection was untrue, for all the Colleges at Cambridge, except three, were founded before the Reformation, and that therefore if they were founded for the benefit of any particular religion it must have been the Roman Catholic one. But Dr. Guest, a most distinguished member of the University of Cambridge, had shown that that statement was far removed from the truth, and that in his own College—King's College—£6,000 a year was derived from endowments given since the Reformation, while 22 Fellowships out of 32, and most of the Scholarships, had been founded since 1658. Dr. Guest went on to say that the Solicitor General proposed to sweep away all those benefactions, and that it would be just as fair for him to lay his hands on Mr. Spurgeon's Tabernacle, and convert it to national uses. If the principle of this Bill were adopted where were we to stop? Last year the Roman Catholics protested against any investigation being made into their property, and it was well known that both in this country and in Ireland they possessed a large amount of private property applied to religious uses; and why should their property be untouched if the property of the Church of England were dealt with in this way? The present Bill had neither logic nor sense to support it—it was a measure of simple confiscation, which might ultimately hit the Nonconformists and the Roman Catholics as hard as it hit the Church of England at the present moment. He quite agreed with his hon. and learned Friend the Solicitor General that the Fellowships were not in a satisfactory state. It was never intended that they should be what they had become—a kind of speculation for undergraduates who went up at a comparatively late period of life, well crammed. Their object was to encourage learning in the university and the better instruction of the Undergraduates at less cost to themselves. The hon. and junior Member for Brighton (Mr. Fawcett) was a Fellow of a College himself—not an honorary Fellow, but a Fellow receiving dividends. He was also a Professor, in receipt of a considerable salary from the University Chest. He was a pluralist, and not only a pluralist, but an abuse. He hoped, therefore, the hon. and junior Member for Brighton would repent, and either immediately resign his Fellowship or his Professorship. ["Divide!"] Considering that hon. Gentlemen below the Gangway on the other side of the House had occupied two hours in badgering the Government, he thought they ought to allow him a quarter of an hour in which to state an intelligible principle. They always wished to stop discussion unless the discussion came from their own part of the House. With regard to the Roman Catholic Members of the House, they were bound by those who sent them to defend every scrap of property belonging to their Church; but seeing that their own endowments at Maynooth had been respected by Parliament, he did not see how they could possibly vote for the confiscation of the private property of the Church of England. He believed that the majority of the Nonconformists of this country did not desire to see the Church of England disestablished, or its University property confiscated; and so far as the Government were concerned, he called upon the right hon. Gentleman at the head of the Government, if he had any particle of political principle left, to abide by his own decision, never yet revoked, and his own principle, never yet denied but used in support of the Irish Church Bill.


said, he did not think the Motion of the hon. Gentleman should be entertained. The hon. Member said that in the case of the Irish Church Bill the Government proposed to reserve to the Church — a religious body about to be disestablished — such of its possessions as might fairly be considered to be in the nature, upon the whole, of donations for the support of a particular religion. If they were able to disestablish the religious education of the Universities at one stroke by this Bill, as they disestablished the Irish Church, he would not say that there might not be a very fair argument to be made in support of some proposition of this kind for the purpose of saving the special character of special foundations. But such was not the effect of this Bill. When it was first introduced many of its supporters were in the habit of urging that it left behind ample securities for religious education in the Universities and Colleges. That was his opinion, and without entertaining a conviction of that kind he could not have brought himself to give his support to the measure; and he thought that the House would be of opinion that in connection with a Bill which did not prohibit the religion of the Church of England, and which did not detach absolutely all the emoluments of the Universities from the offices and professions connected with the Church of England, it would be entirely premature and out of place to except from its operation any of those endowments of the Universities or Colleges which were not in the nature of private bequests.


said, he was unable to see the distinction drawn by the right hon. Gentleman. This Bill, to a certain extent, did disestablish—or, at all events, it diverted—property from one object and applied it to another, different from that intended by the founders. These being trusts under the wills of the founders, the Bill was not dealing with matters under an Act of Parliament, but with private wills and deeds. The acceptance of the Amendment would have the effect of promoting further consideration of the subject of Fellowships, in regard to which there were many questions deserving of discussion. For instance, there was some doubt as to whether life Fellowships were advantageous, and whether the holders of such offices were not deprived of a healthy stimulus to cultivate their intellectual powers, and were not diverted from pursuits which would be honourable to themselves, and useful to society. He could assure the Committee that recent legislation had had the effect of making men think very carefully about the application of these properties to purposes of this kind, for they felt at present that they had no guarantee that their bequests would not be appropriated to uses which they had never contemplated.


said, he had been on a Committee which had inquired respecting a great mass of property provided by Roman Catholics for establishing convents and monasteries. The Roman Catholics professed that they were obliged to keep their trusts secret in order to save their property, as the purposes to which it was appropriated were contrary to law. Now, some of the supporters of the present Bill voted against the appointment of that Committee, with the view of preserving that property thus illegally held, and would have the House divert from its purposes property which was legally held. Such a tendency in legislation showed that Liberalism inclined towards Communism, and he, for one, objected to transferring to other objects property which was now legally and beneficially applied to specified purposes.


said, that after what had fallen from the right hon. Gentleman, and having regard to the hour of the night, he thought he should be doing better service by allowing the Bill to go in its integrity than by pressing his Motion. He would, therefore, withdraw his Motion.

Motion, by leave, withdrawn.

Clause agreed to.

Remaining clauses agreed to.

Bill reported, without Amendment; to be read the third time upon Thursday.