HC Deb 03 March 1871 vol 204 cc1326-55

rose to call the attention of the House to the recent establishment, under the orders of the Secretary of State for India, of a College, to the students of which are to be transferred the opportunities until lately afforded to young men possessing the attainments required (wherever they might have been educated) of entering the service of the Government of India as Civil Engineers; and to move the following Resolution:— That, in the opinion of this House, young men qualified by character and attainments for admission into the service of the Government of India as Civil Engineers, ought not to be excluded from such service by reason of their not having been educated at a Government College, The hon. Baronet said that the question raised by this Resolution had been mentioned by him during last week's debate on Indian Finance, but that it had been impossible, amidst the multiplicity of topics which that debate involved, that either he or his hon. Friend the Under Secretary of State for India should discuss this particular subject in a manner worthy of its importance; and that he (Sir Francis Goldsmid) therefore, now asked permission to bring it distinctly under the notice of the House. It was important not only because it affected the competency of the persons to whom was to be entrusted an expenditure amounting, as appeared from the recent Financial Statement, to £7,000,000 or £8,000,000 a-year, but also because the arrangement proposed by the Government was a departure from the entire course of the policy for some years past adopted by them, and approved by the House and the country. It would be remembered that, when the rule of India was transferred, from the East India Company to the Crown, the whole Civil Service of that country had been thrown open to public competition Haileybury College, where formerly young men nominated for appointments in that service received their education, was closed. The Under Secretary of State said that this step was taken not because Haileybury was useless, but because pupils had been admitted to it by nomination only. If, however, this was the reason, why was not admission to Haileybury thrown open to public competition, instead of the institution being abolished? Again, this principle of open competition, which had now for some years been tried with reference to the Civil Service of India, had so commended itself to the general opinion that, when last year the hon. Member for Brighton (Mr. Fawcett) brought forward a Motion for the extension of the same principle to the Civil Service at home, the Prime Minister announced the intention of the Government to make arrangements for at once applying it to nominations in several Departments; and these arrangements were shortly afterwards carried into effect. When the Civil Service of India had thus for years been thrown open to the ablest candidates, wherever educated, when the same principle was being extended by the present Ministry to large branches of the Home Service, how were we to explain the fact that this same Ministry was almost at the same moment announcing that through one door alone should admission be obtained to one particular department of the Indian Civil Service? The only possible reason for so wide a departure from the whole course of recent policy would be that the Government could not get the want that had suddenly arisen for civil engineers, to be employed by them in India, supplied by any other means. And, accordingly, the Under Secretary of State had informed the House that he would show conclusively that the attempts of the Government to obtain the men they required by open competition had failed. He (Sir Francis Goldsmid) did not dispute this; but he said that they failed not through the absence of a special place of education, but because the terms offered had been too low to attract young men of first-rate ability and attainments. Hon. Members might say—"On such a point as the proper rate of remuneration we must necessarily trust the opinion of the Go- vernment, not yours." But on this point it was the opinion of the Government that he asked them to trust. The Secretary of State had shown that he thought his previous offer too low by largely increasing it. The rules of 1869 (p. 1–4) offered £20 a-month, or £240 a-year, and left the time when that salary might be increased wholly uncertain. The prospectus of 1870 offered £420 a-year from the time of admission to the service. Thus the new offer was to the old in the proportion of 7 to 4; or, if one supposed the outfit, which in each case the young engineer would have to pay for himself, to cost £60, the net receipt for the first year was now doubled, being £360 instead of £180. Why did not the Government try this liberal increase of remuneration in the first instance, instead of rushing at once to the foundation of a College? Why were all to be excluded from the Government service, however great their qualifications, who could not afford to pay for their collegiate training £150 a-year? He (Sir Francis Goldsmid) did not know whether hon. Members had had occasion to make themselves acquainted with advertisements of eligible private academies. It appeared to him that the prospectus of the new College bore too close a resemblance to this branch of light literature. The provision in Paragraph 25 that each student would be required to furnish his own linen, &c., for use in his room, reminded one irresistibly of the usual declaration that every pupil must bring six towels; and, though the accompanying silver spoon and fork were not to be found in the present edition, he had little doubt that they would appear in the next. But it was more important that the making of education in this College a necessary preliminary to the admission of young Englishmen to the Civil Engineering Service of India amounted to an announcement that the noble Principal had, by an arrangement with his partners in Downing Street, secured exclusive privileges and patronage for the pupils enjoying the benefit of his care. By not trying, in the first instance, the experiment of raising their rate of remuneration, the Government had lost the most convenient opportunity of ascertaining the necessity for establishing a College. But it was still possible to avoid objectionable exclu- siveness by allowing young men educated elsewhere to compete with the Government Collegians. The Under Secretary of State had intimated in last week's debate disinclination to consent to this, and an opinion that if it were done the money expended on the College would have been thrown away. But he (Sir Francis Goldsmid) had reason to hope that further consideration might have modified this view. The truth was that such an arrangement would afford the best chance of preventing money from being thrown away. It must have one of the three following results:—1. Men from without might in the competitive examinations show themselves, in a large majority of instances, superior to the Collegians. In this case the Government would themselves admit the expediency of closing the College, and avoiding further useless expenditure. 2. The Collegians might habitually show themselves superior to the men from without. In this case the Government would have established the wisdom of their scheme. Or 3. As appeared to him (Sir Francis Goldsmid) most probable, success would be pretty equally divided between the two classes, and an honourable emulation would be kept up which would have a most wholesome effect on the professors and students of the College. The Under Secretary of State had spoken of the value of esprit de corps. He (Sir Francis Goldsmid) thought that its value depended on the meaning you attached to the phrase. If by esprit de corps you meant pride founded on the consciousness of real superiority of the body to which you belonged, it might be beneficial. But if you meant a vain belief in fancied superiority, it was worse than useless, and might be more fitly designated esprit de clique. Which kind of feeling should prevail at the Cooper's Hill College appeared to him to depend on its students being, or not being, protected by a monopoly. If he might be permitted to use two old rhymes to express the feeling which seemed to him likely to be engendered in the Collegians by such injurious protection, he would say— No man can Roman lore acquire, or Attic, Or science physical, or mathematic; Or Indian tongues, or engineering skill, Save in the magic bow'rs of Cooper's Hill. Let the Government guard their new institution against the growth of such enfeebling fancies, and subject it to invigorating rivalry with other institutions, in examinations conducted by independent examiners. If he (Sir Francis Goldsmid) had rightly apprehended some private communications, his hon. Friend the Under Secretary of State thought that this was already authorized by the 18th paragraph of the prospectus. Supposing, however, that to be the meaning, it was very obscurely expressed; and he (Sir Francis Goldsmid) trusted that, by consenting to issue supplemental regulations making that meaning clear, the Government would render it unnecessary to press his Motion to a Division. The hon. Baronet concluded by moving his Resolution.


, in seconding the Motion, observed, that the question before them had a double aspect—one more immediately affecting England, and another more immediately affecting India. He could not see why the Government of India, which had a large Civil Service formerly, but not now, educated in a College of its own, should be now establishing a College to educate its civil engineers. He asked upon what principle were those enormous outlays and great changes to be made? This was the creation of a service of 1,000 engineers, many with high salaries. Why was all this to be done without any communications to the British Parliament or to the people of India? It was all done by the India Office at home, and they heard nothing whatever about it until the whole thing was completed. He was told on inquiry that it cost £90,000; but looking into the Indian Finance Accounts he could not find any such sum. He was further told that it was a speculation of the East India Council. He objected to the Government undertaking educational institutions without consulting Parliament. He concurred in the proposal made by his hon. Friend the Member for Portsmouth (Sir James Elphinstone) the other day, that those important documents which from time to time were furnished by the Government of India should be presented to the Libraries of both Houses of Parliament for the inspection of Members interested in Indian affairs. It was proposed to distribute through the country 1,000 civil engineers, the cost of whom entailed upon the country a burden of nearly £1,000,000 a-year? To obviate the expense attending the education of engineers this College was established; but there was no provision to encourage the Natives of India to enter this particular branch of the service. It had, in fact, been made entirely an English question and no other, and the result would be that all the public works in India would be exclusively executed by the English Government and English agents. No doubt there was in India an objection to have public works carried out by men unconnected with the Government; but were they to lay down the rule that in future it should only be done by one class of Englishmen and those connected with the Government? It was a case that called for the serious consideration of the Government, and one not to be settled by the mere ipse dixit of the Secretary of State for India in Council.

Amendment proposed, To leave out from the word "That" to the end of the Question, in order to add the words "in the opinion of this House, young men qualified by character and attainments for admission into the service of the Government of India as Civil Engineers, ought not to be excluded from such service by reason of their not having been educated at a Government College,"—(Sir Francis Goldsmid,)

—instead thereof.

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


Sir, I am glad that my hon. Friend (Sir Francis Goldsmid) has given me an opportunity of telling the House our story with regard the Civil Engineering College; for, so far from believing that we deserve the smallest blame in the matter, I think we have done a thing absolutely necessary for India, and very advantageous to England. The state of the case is this—We have, as everyone knows, an immense number of public works to do in India. In the Actual Accounts of last year the sum paid, under the two heads of Public Works Ordinary and Public Works Extraordinary, amounted to close on £8,000,000. All these public woks are carried into effect, and superintended by what is known as the Public Works Department. That department is a creation of quite modern times; for, as long as we were conquering our Indian estate, we had no time, and very little money, to improve it. The year 1842 may be taken as the commencement of the endeavour systematically to improve our Indian estate. Well, when we began to improve it, we used at first the instruments which were ready to our hand—our own officers, engineers, and others; and, up to the year 1854, public works were managed in the military department. In that year they were put upon a new footing, and civil engineers, who had, since 1845, been filtering into our service, were for the first time introduced in some numbers, selected on the nomination of leading civil engineers at home. Many and various inconveniences having, however, arisen from getting men out from England who were already of mature years, it was resolved, in 1859, to recruit the service from the bottom, by admitting young men into it by open competitive examination. These young men having been caught by open competitive examination, were then sent out to a College in India and further trained there. This plan was tried for a year or two, but it did not succeed; partly, because these young men caught by open competitive examination were not sufficiently advanced to be able to profit by the instruction which they got at this Indian College; partly, because there was a difficulty in getting a sufficient number of tutors for this Indian College at any moderate expense; and partly, because the Government in India had so much urgent work to do that it preferred to have half-trained engineers rather than no engineers at all, and so took the students and put them to active work while still only partially qualified.

When the original plan of training these young men at a College in India was found too difficult to carry out, the wise thing would, undoubtedly, have been for the Indian authorities immediately to have started in this country the sort of College that they wanted; a College which could, of course, be maintained here much cheaper than in India, because skilled European labour is at least three times as costly in the tropics as it is in Surrey. Unhappily, they did not determine upon taking that wise step. They shared the views which are held by my hon. Friend. They believed that they would get the article they wanted merely by going into the market, stating their conditions, and offering good pay. They did so; and, after some 10 years' experience, it became only too clear that their belief was ill-founded, and that the plan had turned out a hopeless failure. A hopeless failure it, indeed, has been. In 1868 the Indian authorities offered 40 appointments to competitive examination. And how many competed? Fifty-nine. Well, of course, 40 of these passed a brilliant examination and got appointments. Not a bit of it. Only 22 passed the minimum qualifying test; and these were appointed. Again, the same year, the Indian authorities offered 40 more appointments, and the result was that 43 competitors appeared, and 20 of them succeeded in passing the minimum qualifying test. In 1869 things were little better; and in 1870, out of 70 competitors for 40 appointments, only 13 passed the minimum qualifying test. Meantime the Government had entered upon a new policy. They had determined very much to enlarge their Public Works Department, and to increase very much the number and importance of their public works. What were they to do for men to manage them? Their original plan of open competition in England, and College training in India, had not succeeded. Their plan, or no plan, of open competition in England, and happy-go-lucky training in India, had hopelessly failed; and, what was more, the experience of 11 years had taught them that our scientific training in England, like so much of the rest of our training, was in a chaotic, and, indeed, contemptible state. They had learned that an engineer is trained in England as a barrister is trained, by what some people are pleased to call "the practical system"—that is, by rule of thumb; a system under which, no doubt, some great engineers have been produced, just as some great lawyers have been produced; but a system the most absurd and wasteful which it ever entered into the human mind to conceive, and just about the time that a movement, headed by the right hon. and learned Gentleman the Member for Richmond (Sir Roundell Palmer), but the way for which had been prepared by a great many other people, for giving a systematic training to our lawyers and creating a legal University, began to show that it was growing strong and was going to win, the Indian authorities came to the conclusion that they, too, must move with the times—must recognize ttha, although in civil engineering, as in everything else, extraordinary talent will force its way to the front, however ridiculous are your systems of education, yet that, if you want to utilize ordinary talent—that much commoner article—you must provide for it systematic training. So they set to work and devised this College, availing themselves of all the best educational advice and experience which they could get hold of. I need not say that the result was that I know not how many institutions throughout the country which had been contributing one man or two men—or, in some cases, only the fraction of a man—per annum to the list of successful candidates for our Public Works Department, immediately took alarm. They cared no-nothing—why should they?—for Indian exigencies. They were not responsible, but we were; and we determined to go on our own way, quietly answering as they arose the accusations which the craftsmen of Ephesus brought against us.

First, we were told that we were injuring the great and sacred cause of competitive examination—that best of expedients for the distribution of patronage in this bad world; which, however, threatens ere long to become a British fetish. We replied that we never dreamt of anything of the kind; that the examination for entering our College was to be absolutely open and purely competitive. Then we were told that we were narrowing the field of selection. We replied by showing that we were immensely widening it by sweeping away a number of restrictions with which, while the previous plan, or no plan, existed, we had been obliged to fence round our examinations. Then we were told that it was hard that the amount of time spent in special engineering studies at other institutions should be lost to the successful candidates at the examinations. The Government replied that such was not their intention; that all the special training at other institutions would be allowed its full value in cur- tailing the time to be passed at the new institution. They pointed to the following clause in the prospectus:— Although students will ordinarily be required to go through a three years' course, that condition may be dispensed with in the case of those who, on admission, shall satisfy the College authorities that they possess already a competent knowledge of the subjects taught at the College. Such students will be permitted to enter at once on the second year's course of instruction, and to qualify for the public service in two instead of three years. Similarly, the third year's course of practical engineering may be dispensed with in the case of those who can show that they have already gone through an equivalent course. Students consequently who may be found entitled to both of these dispensations will become eligible for appointment to the public service after a single year's residence at the College, and this period may be still further reduced in special cases to a time sufficient to enable the student to go through the various exercises which form a part of the College final examination. Under this clause hon. Members will observe that any youth, trained at any institution, who gives proof, by passing these examinations—first, of having received a sufficiently good general education to render him a proper person to be admitted into a great and responsible public service; who gives proof, secondly, of a sufficient knowledge of the special subject of engineering for Indian purposes, may go out to India after remaining only just so long at the College as to pass our final examination in engineering. I say just so long, for we have come to the determination not to admit anyone into our Public Works Department who does not pass an examination of sufficient length to enable us to test him as well with regard to his power of doing things as with regard to his mere knowledge. In short, we have determined to adopt the method of examination in engineering which is followed in Germany, instead of the perfunctory examination which we have hitherto had. It will be seen, then, that students coming from outside will be really in the same position asour own students; so that I think I may say that never did a Government do a more liberal thing, than just when it has started with infinite trouble a College of its own, to enable students coming from other Colleges to compete against it, provided they show that they have had sufficient general education to make them desirable public servants. But so important is it for us in India to get good engineers, and to get them quickly, that we are quite willing—and, indeed, anxious—to open this door into the service. Then we were told that we were asking too much money—that the Engineering College would be merely a College for the rich. We replied that we asked £150 a-year for three years, in return for which we gave to those young men who passed through the College £420 in their very first year of service; whereas a youth who wished to become an engineer in this country had to pay a premium of from £300 to £500 a-year to the engineer with whom he served his apprenticeship, to say nothing of the fees which he tad to pay at any of the existing institutions where there were engineering classes. And when all is done, instead of getting £420 his very first year, a good position, and admirable prospects, in five cases out of six he gets for some time nothing at all to do, and ends very often by being simply an idler in the market-place waiting for some one to hire him. To quote the words of a man most bitterly opposed to our Engineering College— An apprenticeship to an engineer has hitherto been pretty nearly synonymous with three things—firstly, the payment of a premium, which varies from £200 to £500, or even more, according to the position of the gentleman who condescends to accept the position of tutor in the case; secondly, a period of from three to five years, spent, even under the most favourable circumstances, in work which is mainly of a mechanical character, and in not a few cases, in almost utter idleness; thirdly, as must follow from the two preceding premises, an almost complete ignoring of anything like systematic instruction on the part of the presumptive tutor, especially in those branches of scientific knowledge, such as mathematics and physics, on which the science of engineering itself rests, and which occupy a leading position in the Public Works examination. Of course, there are exceptional cases, to which these observations do not apply—cases in which the master really teaches, and the apprentice really learns something more than it is for the master's interest that he should learn—namely, the routine duties of the office, or factory, in which he happens to be placed. I am describing what is the rule, and what everybody who knows anything about engineering apprenticeship will admit to be so. It is not in the nature of things that a professional man, engaged in active practice, can find time for the kind of tuition which most lads of from 16 to 19 require, even if he be honestly desirous and capable of doing so, and it is simply absurd, to expect it. Then we were told that we were adopting a retrograde policy, and founding a new Haileybury. We might have replied, if it had been legitimate for the Secretary of State in Council to quote Fuller, that Haileybury was like God's ravens in the wilderness—not so black as it had been painted; but we did reply, that most of the defects of Haileybury, such as they were, and they were many, were of a kind which could not possibly exist in a College based not on pure nomination, but on pure competition, and in many other ways entirely different from Haileybury. Then we were told that we ought to follow the example which we ourselves have set in our Civil, our Forest, and our Telegraph Services. As to our Civil Service, we replied it is much easier to get adequate instruction in the branches which a civil probationer has to study than it is to get instruction of the kind which we mean to give to our engineering probationers. And, further, we never said that the system by which we train our young civilians at present is by any means a miracle of human wisdom. As to our Forest Service, we replied if we had institutions ready to our hand in this country or elsewhere, which could be made as useful for our Engineering Service as the Forest schools of Hanover and Nancy are for our Forest Service, we should certainly not have established an Engineering College at Cooper's Hill. As to our Telegraph Service, we replied, its importance is not for a moment to be compared with that of the Engineering Service, and even as it is we are by no means entirely satisfied with the results which we have obtained by the method at present in use. Then we were told that before establishing the College we ought to have tried the effect of raising the pay for the first year. We replied that we feel satisfied that we cannot get the article we want for twice £420 a-year; that it does not exist, and that there are no sufficient means at present for calling it into existence. We, nevertheless, did raise the pay to £420, thinking that sum would not be too much for the new kind of men we mean to turn out. A section of the Royal Engineers contend that the Public Works Department ought to be officered entirely from that body; but that course, although the Government does employ a great many of the Royal Engineers, and will continue to do so, is obviously out of the question. It is said, too, that we are excluding the Natives from competing. So far from this being the case, young English- men are obliged to pay for being educated for the Public Works Department, while young Natives of India are actually paid for allowing themselves to be educated for that service, and the Scholarships available for that purpose are not taken up. "But even admitting," it is said, "that the College may justify all the expectations of its promoters, and maintain an unquestionable superiority over all similar institutions, its establishment will deal a blow to engineering education in this country from which it will take years to recover." Such an argument as this, we said, is really too bad. Is the Government of 150,000,000 of very backward people in Asia not to do what it thinks essential for their welfare, because 30,000,000 of comparatively far advanced people in Europe cannot come to some understanding as to how they shall order their educational institutions? And yet this argument, preposterous as it is, has caught some persons whom it should not have caught. I would not be very much surprised if we heard something like it to-night. We may be told that we ought to have waited till the Royal Commission, which is now investigating the scientific institutions of the country, has made its Report; but we could not wait; while you were deliberating, we were suffering. If anyone is to blame in the matter it is we, who have a right to blame the savants and educationalists of England. Is it not too monstrous that we, the representatives of a nation of Asiatics which has been wandering for so many thousand years in the mazes of science, falsely so called, should be unable to find at either of your great Universities, rich though they are beyond the dreams of avarice, any institution where we could get training for the persons whom we wish to employ on our public works? Do you suppose that if India had belonged to Germany, had belonged to France, had belonged even to Switzerland, it would have been necessary for its representatives to have set up an Engineering College of their own? But here, in this enlightened country, the inheritors of Archimedes have just got the length of persuading the Government to find out whether all was, indeed, for the best with regard to the scientific teaching of this best of all possible Englands.

Try our new institution by any standard which you please, have you any- thing to object to it? Take the open competitive examination by which it is entered. Have either of your two contending parties—the men who believe that science, and the men who believe that language is the best training for boys—anything whatever to complain of? Will not any boy who feels in himself an aptitude for engineering be sure to succeed, if he has had a good education in any of the usual subjects taught in your public or other good schools? Then, when the College is entered, is there any of our arrangements which is open to fair criticism? I can only say that if any scientific man of name and fame does criticize them, we will give the most careful attention to his suggestions, but we believe that we have followed the best models and the newest lights. We certainly have done our best to do so. Then, as to the passing from our College into our public service, have we not by discarding the old fashioned kind of examination, and adopting instead a continuous trial—a trial examination in the course of which a youth will not merely be obliged to write down answers on paper, but to show that he is an efficient surveyor, and that he can make plans with the usual aids which he would have if he were working as an engineer on his own account—made it absolutely certain that we shall have no hard bargains; that every man who enters the public service will be fit for it? Here, in England, if a young man after spending more money than we ask upon his engineering education, turns out inefficient, he is simply not employed; but once in the Indian public service, there he is and must be paid, even if he cannot be utilized. The rough-and-tumble of the battle of life has been in itself an examination for your engineers at home, but even here what millions upon millions would have been saved, if only your engineers had been properly trained. In the new number of Macmillan's Magazine there is a short paper on engineering education, which excellently sets forth the views that are now entertained by the best engineers upon this subject. Mr. Scott Russell, Professor Pole, Professor Fleeming Jenkin, and others, have exactly the same things to tell you about your engineering education, that Professor Bryce, and Mr. Maine, and many more have to tell you about your legal education.

To sum up then—what we claim is, by the establishment of this Engineering College, to have done, first an imperative duty to India in getting for her the trained engineering ability which she wanted; secondly, to have done many works of supererogation for England, of which the chief are these following:—We have created a new profession on a level with the two great Indian services—the civil and the military. We have not restricted, but widened, the area of competitive examination, by admitting the public schools to compete, which were hitherto, like all the other great schools, discouraged from competing by the necessarily technical character of the examinations. We have offered a first-rate education cheaper than a third-rate education can now be got. We have done service even to those institutions which growl most at us, because such an institution, for example, as University College, will gain much more in its other branches than it will lose in its engineering branch. We have done service to practical men, because, if they can prove while of the proper age, by passing our continuous trial examination and the previous examination that they can be really useful, to India they will go, after merely a few weeks' residence at our College. Lastly, we have done good service to English scientific education by acting, while its other well-wishers have been talking and inquiring. When they have succeeded in creating a scientific institution as creditable to England as the Polytechnic School of Zürich is to Switzerland, then it may well be that our institution may merge in theirs, but before that happy time arrives our Cooper's Hill engineers will have made some thousand miles of railways and canals, have stimulated commerce through wide provinces, and have turned many deserts into fertile fields.


said, he thought this discussion must convince the House that the Committee appointed to inquire into Indian Finance had not been appointed one hour too soon. Here was a new scheme introduced involving considerable expense; but hon. Members did not know now much it would cost, as the Undersecretary of State for India had not condescended to supply any information on that point. Parliament had not been consulted, and if such a system were to be continued, what, he asked, was the use of the House going through the farce of discussing Indian affairs? He hoped his hon. Friend the Member for Reading (Sir Francis Goldsmid) would take the sense of the House on this question, if only by way of protest against the system of spending the money of the people of India in England without consulting Parliament, which, in respect to financial matters, was, to a certain extent, regarded by the people of India as their trustee. Of course, as the hon. Gentleman (Mr. Grant Duff) had remarked, the system of open competition had proved a failure, and no wonder, considering that the Government expected that English youths of great attainments would, after incurring great expense in their education, joyfully accept appointments worth £240 a-year. The hon. Gentleman had remarked that there was a danger lest open competition should become a fetish with the British people; but he would warn the hon. Member against another fetish — the fetish of officialism. Anyone who had listened to the speech of the Under Secretary, would imagine that this Engineering College was an established success, and that the railways and canals had been constructed with greater economy than they had ever been constructed before. But it was necessary to wait before such brilliant anticipations could be realized, and to see whether the Government can do these things better than could be done by private institutions. The Under Secretary had spoken as if it was impossible to obtain a supply of duly qualified engineers. But the whole question turned on this—had they tried to obtain them in the open market? No one acquainted with practical engineering would say that the Government had made a fair trial when they only offered a salary of £240 a-year. The Under Secretary was mistaken as to the necessary expense of obtaining an engineering education. Premiums of £500 or £1,000 a-year were not paid for education, but for going into the chambers of an eminent engineer for the sake of the ulterior connection that might be secured. A good scientific and engineering education could be obtained in Edinburgh, Dublin, Manchester, or London for £50 a-year. No doubt the College would offer to young men who could afford to pay £150 a-year, or say £250 including incidental expenses, great advantages over those who were training themselves at Owen's College, Manchester; Trinity College, Dublin; University College, London, or at Edinburgh; for the Government would have the examinations in their own hands; and this was the reason why the managers of the educational institutions of the country were unanimously opposed to the establishment of this College. There was no analogy whatever between the Military College at Woolwich and an Engineering College, because the Queen was the only employer of skilled military labour, while the business of the whole world demanded the services of engineers. There was no reason why it should not be left to the educational enterprize of the country to supply any amount of engineering talent which India could require. Of course, the examination ought to be severe; but, besides science and mathematics, practical knowledge was required, and that could be obtained better in the towns than in a remote country district in the valley of the Thames. Let the Government decide upon the most severe testing examination they pleased, and if they offered as a reward for the possession of engineering knowledge a fair and reasonable price in the open market, he had no hesitation in saying that the educational authorities throughout the country would quickly adapt themselves to those examinations, and before the lapse of two years there would be no lack of engineering talent whatever. He had been informed that when the Natives of India had got an engineering education they had found it uncommonly difficult to get engineering employment, and that at this time many young men who had been educated in Native Engineering Colleges were reduced almost to manual employment because the Government seemed to have not a dearth but a surplus of engineering talent. He deeply regretted that this College had been established in the way it had been, for Parliament might have been consulted first. When he found that the scheme was progressing, he wrote to the Under Secretary of State for India, asking him whether he did not think it would be well to delay it for a few months until Parliament had been consulted; but the hon. Gentleman seemed to think there was no time for delay, because land was bought and professors were engaged. All this involved a heavy cost; yet Parliament had never been consulted, and the scheme might fail, because other institutions might produce better men. If it failed Parliament would have to bear the blame, and the people of India would look to Parliament for redress. He trusted the independent Members of the House would unite in bringing to a close a policy which threw upon the House a grave responsibility without adequate opportunity for its discharge.


, on behalf of the authorities and students of the Queen's University in Ireland, said, that they looked upon the establishment of this College as putting an end to open competition. A worse species of nomination than that of patronage was nomination by money. Open competition had not failed, because it had not been fairly tried by the offer of adequate remuneration for engineering services. He believed the result of this discussion would do good, because he felt satisfied that everyone was only stimulated by the single thought of doing what was best for the country. When a few years ago the payment in the medical departments of the Army and Navy was so low, and the position of the medical officers so humiliating, that sufficient young men could not be found to enter into those branches of the service, the evil was cured not by establishing a College for the education of these young men, but by increasing their scale of payment and elevating their position. The Under Secretary for India said it was not the amount of salary which prevented candidates from coming forward, and that even if £800 a-year were offered fitting men could not be got. But had such an offer ever been tried? The hon. Gentleman also said that there was no University or College in the kingdom capable of educating an engineer. But if that were so, where were those engineers educated who had been an honour to this country and to the world? Surely the manufactory which had produced them was also open to the Indian market. It was said that Cooper's Hill College would establish no monopoly, for a young man would not be obliged to spend four years there; but if he satisfied the College authorities one year, or even six months, would be sufficient. They all knew what was meant by satisfying the College authorities. What did University College do? It found it necessary, in order to establish an impartial tribunal, to pass a law that no person holding office in the College should be an examiner. Although the examinations were perfectly fair, the new College would, in its very nature, be a monopoly. It would be impossible for pupils from other establishments to get fair play without spending two or three years there at an expense of £150 per annum, while very few of their parents could afford to give that sum. He would not go so far as the Mover in saying that the College should be altogether dispensed with. He was prepared to suggest a compromise. He knew a good deal of competitive examinations. The practical science competitive examination did not test all the requisite qualities of candidates. The knowledge of medicine and engineering might be tested; but in the Army medical service young men who had passed their examination, having shown a knowledge of the theory and principles of their profession, were not at once put in charge of Her Majesty's soldiers or sailors—it was necessary to test their steadiness, quickness of eye, and social and moral qualities, which, could not be determined by competitive examinations. Having passed their competitive examinations, the young men were sent to Netley, where they got pay—at all events, they were supported without expense—for a term of 6 or 12 months. Their other qualities were tested in that way. If found not qualified they had to seek their fortunes elsewhere. Let young men come from what College they might, they never asked where the horse got his oats if he won the race. The only question was, had the young men the requisite knowledge and other good qualities? Do not let them establish a College which was sure to become a monopoly, and where none would be educated but those who could afford to spend a large annual sum.


sympathized with those who desired to see this College not enter into unfair competition with the existing educational institutions of the kingdom, and had, like his hon. Friend the Member for Brighton (Mr. Fawcett), put himself in communication with the Secretary of State for India, as representing two Universities, one of which had a large engineering depart- ment, and as member of Council of the British Association for the Advancement of Science. The views submitted were met with the greatest attention and consideration, and the evils feared for the scientific institutions of the country were obviated by the regulations which the Government had adopted. In other countries—in Switzerland, Germany, and France, there was a united technical and scientific education of engineers; whereas in this country technical and scientific education were dissociated. That was the root of the whole difficulty the Indian Government had to contend with. They wanted practical men in order immediately to carry out the works of the Indian Government; and the only way of obtaining them was to go to the engineers of the country, who undertook to educate the rising young men of the profession. A fee of from £300 to £500 was required with each pupil, who had the run of the drawing and machine shops, but learnt nothing of the science of engineering except what he could pick up. Apt pupils were generally retained, through a process of natural selection, by the engineers themselves; and it was only the incapables, who were practically rejected by the engineers, that the Indian Government could depend upon. These were found quite unequal to pass the low scientific examination to which they were subjected, and hence the system had broken down from a want of supply of qualified candidates. The College system which existed at the University of Edinburgh, Glasgow, Trinity College, Dublin, Durham, and the Queen's Colleges was a purely theoretic system, which was dissociated from practice. That was not fit for the Indian Government. Only 12 men could be got to answer the combined practical and scientific examination, though purposely kept at a low standard. The hon. Member for Brighton said that was a question of money. He denied it. Whenever men were appointed by that examination they obtained a salary of close upon £300 a-year, and were appointed to the third grade of assistant engineers on probation; but as soon as they had proved themselves capable they were promoted, and there was no difficulty in getting men for the medical service or the Army on such terms. Under the circumstances of the case, there had been three courses open to the Govern- ment. The first course was to reject practical experience altogether, and to trust that theoretical knowledge would bud into practical experience; and the second was to reject theoretical training, and rely on the practical experience of the men derived from an apprenticeship. In a practical profession like engineering the first course would commend itself to no one, while the second was not adapted to a country like India, where engineers were isolated and depended upon themselves. In this country a man with practical aptitude, but deficient in scientific knowledge, could refer to a distinct class of mathematical engineers who made the necessary calculations for him. That separation of practice from science would not do for India. As neither of these two courses would do, the third course open was to wait till the educational institutions of the country and the practical engineers reconciled their differences, and organized a training of young engineers by a combination of scientific and theoretical knowledge with practical experience; but that would be to wait indefinitely, and to leave the opening up of the industrial resources of India to the slow process of educational reform. The Government had done practically what the hon. Member for Dublin (Sir Dominic Corrigan) recommended. They first tested the ability of the persons who came to the College, and if they possessed the scientific knowledge that was required their time was shortened largely; and if in addition to scientific they possessed practical knowledge, their time was shortened still more largely, or they were sent out at once to commence their duties. If the Government had had time to wait until an institution arose like the Polytechnic Institution at Zurich, or the Ecole Centrale at Paris, they would have obtained all they wanted in the shape of practice and science combined. But they could not wait for that; and, therefore, they had joined science to practice in a way which was not a substitution for existing institutions, but a mere supplementary and accessory means of promoting them; and as the representative of the only University that gave engineering degrees he thanked the Government for the care they had taken in giving credit to the work which other institutions were doing in promoting engineering education, instead of monopolizing it all for their new College. The chief argument against the College was the annual charge of £150 a year for pupils. This would practically exclude poor young men of merit. But this evil might be obviated by establishing a certain number of free scholarships for the best pupils. Such a provision, however, did not yet exist.


warned the House that if it was not careful the Scotchmen would be too much for it. The Secretary of State and the Under Secretary having got them into a mess, the hon. Member for the Edinburgh and St. Andrews Universities (Dr. Lyon Playfair) patriotically came forward to defend them. The question lay in a nutshell. The Government of India wanted trained engineers; they said they could not get them, and that that College would produce them. But what means had that College of producing trained engineers which other institutions did not possess? Certainly the Government had boundless pecuniary resources. £90,000 was to be spent on the building, with a large annual sum for the Staff to begin with. But no new method of instruction was proposed. The teaching, it was said, must be theoretical and practical, and no doubt the range of study contemplated embraced an ample field. But other institutions now existing in this country already taught all those very subjects, and if such a handsome market for the young men who had learnt them would be open in India, there could be no doubt that those existing institutions would rapidly provide the necessary training. There were no peculiar facilities possessed by the Government for teaching mathematics, pure and applied, and other subjects required they could be taught equally as well in very good institutions in different parts of the country. The College would only provide what they wanted at an additional cost, and who, either in India or in England, he would ask, would be the better for its establishment? The whole purpose of the Government College was to give a three years' course at £150 a-year to the students; and although it was said that students trained elsewhere might enter the College for a nominal period at the close, yet it was not to be supposed that students who went there for the three years would not be allowed a preference over those who went for six or for three months. As the Govern- ment would decide who were the students to be admitted to the College, it was only to be expected that they would favour those who accepted their whole system and entered for the full term. He protested against that project not only as a gross injustice towards the educational institutions of the country, but as a slur on English education in that particular line in which it had been most successful; for if England had not produced engineers, he did not know what kind of genius she had produced.


assured the hon. Member who had just sat down that his apprehensions were not well founded. Scotchmen were not unanimous on the subject of the College. For himself, he entertained a strong feeling against it, and he found himself in this position—that, sitting on the Conservative side of the House, he had to oppose a monopoly promoted by a Scotch Liberal Member, and supported by Scotch Liberal Members. Hitherto the Government had not given fair play to the young engineers who were to be sent out to India; and let them now see whether the holding out of more adequate inducements would not secure a more luxuriant crop of better educated engineers for service in that country. He was at a loss to know why the Government desired to resort to this new system, which would have the practical effect of handicapping all the educational institutions in this kingdom, and the one educational institution in India, to which reference had been made in the course of the debate. Further, it would be an interference with the Universities which the Government themselves supported. The Chairs of Engineering in the Glasgow and Edinburgh Universities were founded by the Government; but if the scheme they now proposed to introduce were adopted it would at once put an end to the supply of young men educated there for the engineering services in India, and concentrate them into the institution which the Government proposed to establish. The hon. Gentleman the Under Secretary for India adopted the view which had been taken by the Mover of the Resolution, and regarded India rather as a great estate belonging to this country than as a country which ought to be governed for the benefit of the Native population. India being regarded simply as a vast estate, it was, of course, neces- sary, following up the same simile, to have preserves, and the Government theory evidently was that it would be well to create a preserve for the rearing of civil engineers; but he had no doubt that the scheme which had been shadowed forth by the Under Secretary for India would fail, and that utterly. He was not arguing solely with reference to the interests of the Universities, because he understood from his hon. Friend the Member for the Edinburgh and St. Andrews Universities (Dr. Lyon Playfair) that some favour was intended to be shown to those students who had passed an University course; but, so far as he understood, the advantage was only intended to apply to those students who had been a full year in the University.


said, it was only intended that the students should have been in the University a sufficient time to enable them to pass the examination.


Let that be as it might, he ventured to say that the proposal of the Government would, if carried, establish a monopoly opposed not only to the interests of the Universities, but also to the interests of those private schools which had up to the present time afforded a good and sufficient education to those students who were anxious to enter into that particular branch of service under the Indian Government which was then the subject of debate.


said, that while he entirely concurred with what had fallen from the right hon. and learned Member who had just sat down, he (Sir John Lubbock) thought that the discussion had drifted away from the terms of the Motion, which referred not to the establishment of the College, but to the limitation of Indian engineering appointments to the students of that College. He felt bound to say that in the entrance examination for the College, justice had for the first time been done to physical and natural science; and he regretted the more, therefore, that he was unable to support the Government in the matter. If, however, the competitive examination were equally open to students and others, he thought it would very much meet the difficulties of the case. In the interest of general education, and of India itself, he thought it would be wise to accept the proposal of the hon. Baronet the Member for Reading (Sir Francis Goldsmid).


remarked that one point of view of this subject had been entirely overlooked in the course of the debate, and that was that by the present scheme the Natives of India would be entirely excluded from profitable employment as engineers in that country—a result that would lead to considerable dissatisfaction among the people. The people of India were not very well content with the existing state of things, and the scheme would increase their grievances. India had produced engineers capable of constructing the most magnificent works in the world, long before we had ever had anything to do with the country, and it would be very unfair for us to turn round upon the Native engineers and exclude them from employment. The marvellous Taj, at Agra, had been constructed by Native engineers and architects; the dome of Mahomet Shah's tomb at Bejapoor—larger than that of St. Paul's—was supported upon a principle unknown to British architects, which was admitted by the Architectural Society of London, from the inspection of plans and sections which he (Colonel Sykes) had obtained for the society; the celebrated Jumna Canal was designed and completed by a Native engineer; and the gigantic irrigation remains all over India testified that the principles of hydraulics were known and applied in India. In our own times there was the Roorkee College for the express purpose of instructing civil engineers, and all the Universities in India had an engineering class. There should not, therefore, be any difficulty in obtaining competent persons; and if a higher class of engineers were desired, with personal experience of engineering works in Europe, the Government would not have any difficulty in obtaining them, by making it worth their while to give up their prospects in Europe.


said, he had listened to the discussion with very considerable interest, because it appertained to the profession in which he had been engaged for very many years, and if the hon. Member who brought the question before the House (Sir Francis Goldsmid) persisted in going to a Division, he should certainly vote with him. He thought the Government proposal would act unfairly to the other educational institutions of the country, and would further fail to effect the object which the Under Secretary of State for India anticipated from it. As the result of much experience, he was able to express a confident opinion that to send a young and half-educated man—half-educated he meant solely in reference to his particular profession—would have the effect of reducing the engineering staff under the control of the Indian Government to a state of utter inefficiency. In fact, they might just as well send none at all. The salary paid was a very small matter when compared with the necessity for obtaining the services of thoroughly well-educated candidates for the engineering service; he meant educated in the practice as well as in the theory of engineering: and if the Indian Board supposed for a single moment that they could obtain such men for the amount they proposed to pay, they were utterly mistaken. He ventured to inform the hon. Member for Edinburgh and St. Andrews Universities (Dr. Lyon Playfair), that apprentices to engineering are not confined to the run of the plans and specifications prepared in the office—during the first two years they may be so, as during that period their services in practice are not of much value—but afterwards they are engaged in surveys, and designing works, and somewhat generally in superintending works—thereby acquiring a practical knowledge of their profession; therefore to send men out to India learned in theory only, according to the plan of the Secretary for India, would be to transplant from this country men ignorant in practice, and who would have to spend there, as they had to do here, a considerable period in acquiring that practical knowledge essential to their profession, and where the facilities for doing so were less than in this country, and the expense much greater.


said, that as the Government of India was spending £8,000,000 a-year in public works, he presumed it would be admitted that the disbursement of the money should be carefully looked after, in order that it might effect the largest possible amount of good. The Government of India relied upon three bodies of men for this purpose—first, upon the Royal Engineers, who were out in the country with their corps; secondly, upon the Native engineers, who were educated gratuitously in the College of Roorkee, which had been described as a failure; and, thirdly, upon civil engineers who went out to India from England. The hon. and gallant Member for Aberdeen (Colonel Sykes) mistook the hon. Gentleman the Under Secretary for India when he interpreted that hon. Gentleman's words as conveying that the Native College had proved a failure. All that the hon. Gentleman said was that the system of education of English engineers in that College had not proved successful. And this was quite reasonable, because young Englishmen were placed at a very great disadvantage when learning their profession in a country so different from their own in every respect as India was from England, and it was incurring a needless expense to take competent gentlemen out from England to teach them that which they could obtain better at home. The failure of the system which had been adopted by the Government of India in order to provide itself with civil engineers might have been predicted long ago by impartial witnesses, because it was based upon examining candidates upon highly technical matters in an open competition. In this country, where engineering was in its infancy, or nearly so, if he might so express himself without offence, no one could be surprised that persons were not forthcoming for the engineering service of India, without reference to the money they were to receive. As for the money, he thought a little too much had been made of that. It was supposed that competent men would not compete for positions worth £240 a-year; but he could tell hon. Members that at the English Universities a man thought himself made for life if he could obtain a Fellowship of a like amount; and, he would add further, that to secure the £240 a-year candidates had only to pass an easy examination, with the prospect of speedily rising to a salary of £360, and then in a short time to £440 per annum. Hon. Gentlemen who objected to what was proposed on the part of the Government had nothing better to suggest than that the old system should be continued—a system based upon competition, but under which the majority of the appointments were the result of simple nomination. If they were not to revert to the old system—and he thought no hon. Gentleman who calmly considered the question would advocate such a course—what was to be done? He thought the best course would be to adopt the plan that had answered so well in connection with the appointments to the Indian Civil Service. For appointments in that service three things were required—good natural ability, a good liberal education, and the technical education and knowledge of those branches necessary and useful to the Civil Service of India. They had not instituted a competition in the Hindostanee and Telegu languages, and technical matters of that kind, because it was thought that what was gained in these special technical matters was lost in the general ability of the men. Thus was ensured the greatest possible amount of ability that could be got; and, having got it, the men underwent a period of probation, during which they acquired the other things that fitted them for beginning their work in India. And that system had not been altered. The same principle ought to be adopted in the present instance as in the case of the Civil Service—that is, they should adopt the principle of competition, so far as applicable, and not ruin it by requiring an examination in technical matters, which would only drive candidates away. And that was what Government proposed to do. It required an examination somewhat similar to that instituted in the Civil Service; by the examination, persons were admitted into the College, and then, after their admission, the technical education began which was necessary for forming an engineer. He would not enter into the question whether other interests had a right to be heard in a question of this kind, and whether the Government of India should be prevented from doing what they considered expedient for the sake of English institutions. It was the intention of the Government that no person should be admitted into this College, and from this College into the Indian engineering service, except by competition, and that no one should get a footing in the College at all unless he was a successful competitor for a vacancy. The Government intended that when the number of successful competitors had been ascertained there should be an examination into the amount of knowledge that the successful competitors possessed, and according to their knowledge they would be put through a course of three years, or two years, or one year, or merely retained in the College to enable the authorities to test their fitness to go out. They did not propose, as had been rather invidiously suggested, to put fees into the hands of the College authorities. If the Universities of Oxford and Cambridge now examined their own men, he thought the House might assume that the College authorities would not reject any man at once in order to screw some money out of him in the way of fees for teaching him that which he knew already. It had been suggested that this examination should be placed in perfectly independent hands, so that no suspicion should exist that persons would be forced into this institution merely for the purpose of extracting money from them for teaching them what they knew already; so that if any of those institutions which had been so much recommended sent up a young man to pass the examination, in proportion to the success which he passed the examination, one, two, or the whole three years' course would be dispensed with in his case, and he would be admitted at once to the privileges of the College, just the same as if he had gone through the whole course of three years. That, he trusted, would be satisfactory to the public. It would insure the most perfect fair play and prevent any sort of bias. He maintained, with great confidence, that this system was fair and honest and well-conceived for the purpose that it had in view; that it was founded on a spirit of justice to India, and of enlightened fairness towards all sister institutions. As he had shown that admission to this College might be obtained by those who passed a successful examination without reference to the place where they had been educated, he would suggest to the hon. Member for Reading (Sir Francis Goldsmid) that there was no necessity for passing his Resolution.


said, if there were no other person who would insist on a Division of the House on this question, he would. This proposed College, the building of which would cost £90,000, and the supposition it could teach, practical engineering, was as if the art of war could be learned from the fortifications which Corporal Trim put up in Uncle Toby's garden. There were two kinds of education required—one mathematical and scientific, and the other practical and experimental. The first, he thought, might be taught in the Universities better than in any other institution, whilst the second could only be acquired by actual experience or work.


believed that greater experience was to be gained in England than in India, and that it would be better to send out qualified men to that country than go to the expense of educating them there.

Question put.

The House divided:—Ayes 46; Noes 52: Majority 6.

Words added.

Main Question, as amended, put, and agreed to.

Resolved, That, in the opinion of this House, young men qualified by character and attainments for admission into the service of the Government of India as Civil Engineers, ought not to be excluded from such service by reason of their not having been educated at a Government College.