HC Deb 23 May 1871 vol 206 cc1181-209

Order for Consideration of Lords' Amendments read.

Motion made, and Question proposed, "That the said Amendments be now taken into Consideration."


, in rising to move to leave out the word "now," and add, at the end of the Question, "upon Thursday next," said, that the object of his Notice had nothing to do with the merits of the University Tests Bill; but that his intention in placing it on the Paper had been to protect the rights and privileges of the independent Members of that House. On the 8th of May last the right hon. Gentleman at the head of Her Majesty's Government stated that the object of the Government in asking the House to consent to Morning Sittings being held at so early a period of the Session was to enable the Westmeath Crime and Outrage Bill to be passed as speedily as possible, and the conduct of the Government in putting down the consideration of the Lords' Amendments to the University Tests Bill as the first Order for that day was a distinct breach of the pledge which the right hon. Gentleman had given on the occasion to which he referred, that the Westmeath Crime and Outrage Bill alone should be considered at this unusually early period of the Session. Surely the intention of Her Majesty's Government in thus hastily forcing on the University Tests Bill was not to throw a sop to the discontented among his supporters? He asked the right hon. Gentleman whether, while the discussion upon this Bill was being proceeded with, the inhabitants of the disturbed districts in Ireland were to be left ad infinitum to the mercy of the brigands who were terrifying and murdering them. He called upon the right hon. Gentleman to give a distinct enunciation of his policy with regard to the Westmeath Bill, because it appeared to him that the right hon. Gentleman, in bringing forward that measure, had been trying to execute a mere party move instead of doing his best to remedy the dismal state of things that existed in certain parts of Ireland. He had an- other objection, however, to make to the course that had been pursued by Her Majesty's Government which would have even greater weight in the minds of private Members. He protested against the growing practice of holding these Morning Sittings at this early period of the Session. Before the year 1862 Morning Sittings were rarely held before July, and it was not until 1867 that they began to be held in May. In the two previous Sessions only 10 Morning Sittings were held, and yet in the present year the House had already held four such sittings, which number would be increased to five on Friday next, and thus half the ordinary number of Morning Sittings would have been held by the 26th of May. Under these circumstances, he gave Notice that whenever the Report of the Committee upon Public Business was brought up, he should object to its being adopted. The right hon. Gentleman at the head of Her Majesty's Government had always assigned as an excuse for holding these early Morning Sittings that they were rendered necessary by the growth of Public Business; but looking at what had been the result of the past two Sessions, he should maintain that Public Business, instead of growing, had been decreasing. The right hon. Gentleman had taken his stand entirely upon political measures, having brought in a Reform Bill, and agitated the Irish question from every point of view, thereby preventing measures of domestic legislation being brought forward—measures which the majority of Members of that House, and of the people, would much rather see settled. The Government of the right hon. Gentleman had been one continued series of failures. His foreign policy was a failure; his Irish policy was a failure; his licensing policy was a failure; his financial policy was a failure; his army policy was a failure—["No, no!"]—at least, hon Members would admit that his policy of economy was a failure. Under those circumstances, he submitted that the right hon. Gentleman and his colleagues, who constituted a Cabinet, not of all the talents, but of all the incapables, had no right to ask for these Morning Sittings. ["Order!"] He had not said anything out of order, but he would withdraw the phrase, and substitute for "incapables" "official incapacity." What right had the right hon. Gentleman to filch—he knew no word so fitting to describe what he meant—the modicum of time which independent Members possessed in which to discuss their measures? He felt there was a crisis of affairs in this House. He therefore called upon hon. Members below the gangway on the opposite side to support the Amendment which he had brought forward in defence of their rights and privileges.

Amendment proposed, to leave out the word "now," and at the end of the Question to add the words "upon Thursday next."—(Mr. Cavendish Bentinck.)


said, he thought that this subject of Morning Sittings was one which required very careful consideration on the part of the House. Hon. Members had seen these sittings gradually increasing in number year by year, and no one would deny that, owing to their being held at so early a period of the Session, independent Members did suffer to a great extent in regard to the business which they might have to conduct in that House. As a sequel to Morning Sittings, accidents happened such as that which occurred at an Evening Sitting a few nights back. He was one of the unfortunate Members who came down to the House to assist in carrying on the Business of the House; but he was prevented from doing so by the count out. It had been justly stated that there was no implied understanding on the part of the Government to keep a House. But the circumstances had altered since the last arrangement was made. If the Business of the House was really growing to such an extent that Morning Sittings became indispensable at an early period of the Session, it might well become a question whether the Government might not ask for Morning Sittings on the days of Government nights, instead of on the days the nights of which were devoted to private Members, and whether they might not allow the Morning Business to be suspended at the end of the Morning Sitting so as to be resumed at the Evening Sitting. The advantage of this would be that in any case of urgency like that of Westmeath the continuous sitting throughout the day and evening would have brought the question to an early conclusion. If such a system as this were carried out the Government, being of necessity bound to keep a House on their own nights, there would be no more of those disagreeable circumstances resulting in counts out. He hoped that when the Report of the Select Committee on the Business of the House came to be considered there would be a strong protest on the part of independent Members against any curtailment of their rights.


remarked that it was quite impossible that he and other Gentlemen sitting near him could give any support to the Amendment of the hon. Member for Whitehaven (Mr. C. Bentinck). Looking at the course of proceeding which had lately been adopted by the hon. Gentlemen opposite, it seemed extremely probable that the House would be driven to a very late period of the Session without having accomplished any legislative work whatever. From the repeated Motions, having very much the same object, and the repetition of speeches, very much in the same terms, which had been made on the Army Regulation Bill, it was beginning to be well understood out-of-doors that the policy of hon. Gentlemen opposite was a policy of obstruction to the Public Business. He thought that a considerable amount of satisfaction would be afforded to the country by the statement of the Prime Minister that such a course of policy would not be successful, and that the Government would continue the House in Session until they had procured its verdict in regard to the two great measures before it—namely, the Army Regulation Bill and the Ballot Bill. He was quite willing to sacrifice his privileges as a private Member, in order to support the Government in the course which they had announced.


said, the hon. Member for Warrington (Mr. Rylands), who had just spoken, was perfectly aware that one at least of the direct supporters of the Government agitated the country before the Session began on the question of Army Reform. The Members of the Opposition found themselves in this position with reference to the Army Regulation Bill, that an attempt had been made to prejudice the opinion of the country by agitation, and that it was absolutely necessary to continue the debate on the Bill with the view of removing erroneous impressions. The hon. Gentleman stated that he hoped the Government would use force in order to pass that measure. If it came to the use of force the Government would find that the Opposition would also use force. The Prime Minister had been in the habit of not giving adequate notice of his intention to appoint a Morning Sitting or of the course of Business that was to be pursued. If the House once lost its character as a deliberative assembly it would fall in the estimation of the country. By the uncertainty of these Morning Sittings, by crowding the Order Book with Notices that could not be duly considered on the days for which they were appointed, such elements of uncertainty were introduced into the Business of the House that it was totally impossible for the independent Members duly to consider the vast variety of subjects which were thrust on their attention. There could be no doubt that the policy of the Prime Minister had been a sensational policy. The House had had a great many changes of the Constitution thrust upon it during his Premiership—changes which, whether as to number or extent, were totally unprecedented in the annals of Parliament. The measure with regard to licensing introduced by the Secretary of State for the Home Department did the right hon. Gentleman great honour, though it was extreme in its character; it was unfortunate that the Government, instead of a scheme for providing compensation for the officers of the Army, had not proposed compensation for the holders of publichouses. He felt so strongly that it was the duty of independent Members to insist that an adequate interval for consideration should be given between the introduction of great measures of change such as Her Majesty's Government had brought forward that, whether the Motion of the hon. Member for Whitehaven was opportune or not, he would vote with him in order to mark his sense of the undue hurry with which those measures were pushed through the House.


protested against the appropriation of the Morning Sittings to business of comparatively small importance. They had now been called upon for another Morning Sitting of Irish Members, who had with great pain given their votes to Government on the Protection of Life and Property in certain Parts of Ireland Bill, because they thought it was necessary for the protection of Ireland, and they now found that they had to discuss the University Tests Bill, which, he thought, might have waited until life and property in Ireland had been protected.


agreed with the hon. Gentleman who had just spoken that the proper subjects to be considered at Morning Sittings at this time of the year were matters of urgency. Well, the Bill for the Protection of Life and Property in certain Parts of Ireland was one of an exceptional character; but the Bill relating to the University Tests was not of a sufficiently exceptional character to warrant the Government in submitting it to a Morning Sitting. With regard to the general question raised by the hon. Member for Whitehaven (Mr. C. Bentinck), there, too, there was legitimate ground for complaint. Her Majesty's Government, by introducing a greater number of Bills than they could hope to carry into law during the Session, had produced in the conduct of Public Business a confusion which necessarily gave rise to that discontent which had found vent in the Motion of his hon. Friend. The Government Business in that House had been so managed that they were reduced at this early period of the Session to Morning Sittings, while, at the same time, they were without that prospect of success in the passing of measures of urgent necessity which would justify the appeal for Morning Sittings. It appeared to him that these Morning Sittings ought to be regarded by a prudent Government as a prudent Government would regard the income tax—namely, as an instrument of great force and value if used with discretion and directed to temporary objects of urgent importance. But when it was attempted to make use of these Morning Sittings for the purpose of considering measures of great public importance certainly, but which had not that character of urgency which was requisite to justify Morning Sittings at this period of the Session, then the House was brought into that state of confusion and discontent which led to the Motion of his hon. Friend. He suggested that if they were to have these Morning Sittings at the instance of Government on the days devoted to private Members, whether it was not worth while considering if the Government Business on those days should not be brought on at the Night Sittings, and the Business of private Members be taken at the 2 o'clock sitting. He trusted that after Whitsuntide the House would arrive at a settlement of the question on some such basis as he had spoken of.


I shall pass by with much patience and long suffering all those charges with regard to the incapacity of the Government, their policy, and so forth, with which hon. Members have contrived to intersperse their remarks in the course of this not very long but rather comprehensive debate; but I must say one word with regard to the subject of "breach of faith" which the hon. Member for Whitehaven (Mr. C. Bentinck) has advanced against me very much in accordance with his ordinary custom. [Mr. CAVENDISH BENTINCK: "Breach of engagement."] I consider a breach of faith to be a breach of engagement, and a breach of engagement to be a breach of faith. The hon. Gentleman read an extract from a speech of mine which seemed to show that I referred exclusively to the question of Westmeath. I will read the passage from The Times. ["Order, order!"] I am sorry the hon. Gentleman has had the advantage of me, because, by the aid of the scissors, he was able to read a passage which I am not allowed to quote from the whole newspaper. But with respect to the allegation that independent Members have lost so much of their rights, I must say that there is no Session which I recollect during which independent Members have occupied a larger portion of the time of the House than the present Session. This has been the only year in my recollection in which it has not been possible for the Government, by attention and care, to make a good deal out of odds and ends on Tuesday and Friday evenings, which in the present year has been found entirely impossible. The main question that has been raised is with regard to these Morning Sittings. Two—perhaps more than two—suggestions have been made for an alteration of the practice with respect to them. The noble Lord opposite (Lord John Manners) thinks it would be a great improvement if on Tuesday Morning Sittings Notices of Motion were taken at 2 o'clock in the beginning of the Session, and the Government were free to proceed with their Orders at 9 o'clock. I do not intend to give an opinion on this subject at first hearing the suggestion. The noble Lord must not, however, suppose, that by causing the House to meet at 2 o'clock for the purpose of considering the Motions of private Members, he would get rid of the reasons for counting out, unless he stipulated that the House should sit until 7 o'clock without adjournment. [Lord JOHN MANNERS: Hear, hear.] But this is not a matter which I can undertake to deal with at the present moment, nor is it possible for me to deal with the suggestion made by the hon. Baronet opposite (Sir Henry Selwin-Ibbetson), which would primâ facie take away a considerable amount of time which unquestionably the business of the Government gains under the present arrangement. It is said by the noble Lord that Morning Sittings ought to be devoted to the passing of measures of immediate urgency, as distinguished from those of paramount importance. But I think there was very much force in the declaration of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Buckinghamshire, who pointed out on a recent occasion the convenience of Morning Sittings for despatching business in Committee. As far as our own knowledge went, we had no reason to suppose the disposal of the Lords' Amendments in the University Tests Bill was likely to occupy the five hours between 2 and 7 o'clock. We had also arrived at the conclusion that the Westmeath Bill had been so exhaustively discussed on the three days given to its consideration that it would be in the power of the House to dispose of both the subjects set down for its consideration. With regard to the position of the Government and the time when Morning Sittings are to commence, I am very desirous to avoid matters of a controverted character; but we do not disguise our opinion that, in the present position of Public Business, and with a view to promoting the credit, dignity, and character of the House, to which the hon. Member for North Warwickshire (Mr. Newdegate) so very judiciously alluded, it is necessary to take the most effectual means in our power to forward Public Business. On these grounds it is our intention to propose that Morning Sittings shall commence immediately after Whitsuntide, and continue—I will not say until the end of the Session—but, at any rate, until we see our way more clearly than we do at pre- sent to the disposal of the contested part of the business now before the House. That, as I understand it, is the question raised by the hon. Gentleman, and I shall be glad to hear the judgment of the House pronounced upon it.


I agree with those hon. Members who have expressed their opinions that the state of Public Business could scarcely be more unsatisfactory than it is at present; but, at the same time, I think my hon. Friend the Member for Whitehaven (Mr. C. Bentinck) was perfectly justified in vindicating the rights of those hon. Gentlemen who are described as private and independent Members. I am satisfied that it would be impossible to carry on the business of the House satisfactorily or agreeably—and it is never satisfactory unless it is agreeable—if the rights of private Members are not treated with respect by the Government of the day; but I should always feel it my duty to support as far as I could any appeal made by the Government to those hon. Members who are not in responsible situations to assist it in so arranging the time of the House that the business of Parliament may be forwarded. The right hon. Gentleman at the head of the Government is at the present moment in such a position that it is necessary for him to make such an appeal; but, at the same time, he must, when making these appeals, bring his mind into that condition which will enable him to endure such criticism as may be uttered by hon. Members. I think it was a great mistake on the part of the right hon. Gentleman, when commencing Morning Sittings this Session, to devote them to the second reading of an Irish Coercion Bill. I feel persuaded that if he had brought forward the Westmeath Bill at an Evening Sitting it would have been read a second time in one evening, and then it might well have been afterwards considered in Committee at Morning Sittings. I mention this because I think the principle involved may apply to the subsequent legislation of the present Session. I am under the impression that Her Majesty's Government stated we should have to consider the Report of the Committee on Public Business before Whitsuntide; but I do not at all press that impression, because the right hon. Gentleman must be very much influenced by events that have occurred after making such a declaration which must always be taken with a liberal interpretation. I cannot sit down without noticing some remarks that have been made by the hon. Member for Warrington (Mr. Rylands). The hon. Member for Warrington is a didactic Member. His experience has not been very long in this House; but he never rises without endeavouring to guide and inform our minds, and striving to regulate the course of our business with more advantage to the public service than could be hoped from the efforts of gentlemen possessing wider experience. That hon. Gentleman finds great fault with those who sit on this side of the House because they debate, and at such length, the Army Bill. I must protest, on the part of my hon. Friends, against this attack upon their Parliamentary conduct. It would be most unreasonable to expect that a Bill of first-rate importance should pass this House without discussion. It is true that this Bill has been discussed at some length; but every division that has been taken upon it has shown a more evenly balanced state of opinion, and I would ask whether such a consequence does not prove the advantage and the necessity of discussion. Such will, it seems to me, be the natural inference drawn from the circumstances out-of-doors—that discussions are necessary when they are not fruitless. I am sure that the right hon. Gentleman the Leader of the House has had too much experience not to be aware that the Army Bill must be the occasion of frequent and long discussion. I shall, under all the circumstances, be glad to assist any proposal which can have the effect of forwarding Public Business; but I hope that, before presenting any such proposal to the House, it will have been well matured, and will not be one of such a nature that subsequent events will render it unadvisable or impossible of execution. I shall support any proposal which will give us a fair prospect of advancing Public Business, and will respect as much as possible the rights of private Members.

Question, "That the word 'now' stand part of the Question," put, and agreed to.

Main Question put, and agreed to.

Lords' Amendments considered.

Amendments, as far as the Amendment in page 2, line 16, read a second time; one amended, and agreed to.

Clause A (Declaration to be made.)

MR. GLADSTONE moved that the House should disagree with Clause A, by which a "negative" test was imposed on all persons appointed to the office of tutor, assistant tutor, dean censor, or lecturer on divinity in any college. He need not weary the House with any observations on the subject, because it had been discussed in substance over and over again. It was the absolute determination of a very large majority in that House to oppose any Bill imposing the taking of a test as the condition of holding an office of the character described in the clause. In the course of the discussion on this subject in 1869, his hon. and learned Friend the Member for Richmond (Sir Roundell Palmer) proposed a negative test; but it met on that side of the House with disapproval as universal as though it had been a substantive and positive test, and he was under the impression it did not meet with extensive favour on the other side of the House. He must also add that he thought it impossible to have a negative test more unfortunately framed than that introduced by the House of Lords in the present Bill. "The Divine authority of the Holy Scriptures" was a phrase which conveyed very clear ideas to the minds of most of his hearers; but, at the same time, no phrase could, in an age of criticism, be worse adapted for receiving the hard and dry legal interpretation of which in a test it ought to be susceptible. On these grounds he moved that the Amendment should be disagreed with.


said, they had now reached a stage in the present controversy when it was necessary that, in the interest of the Universities, some settlement should be arrived at if possible. The very interesting evidence taken by the Committee of the House of Lords had put the issues raised by this Bill in a clearer and more defined light than they had ever been put in before. Before that evidence was taken they had the opinions of the colleges and Universities in their corporate character; but they had never received conclusively the opinions and views of those who took the greatest interest in the University with reference to the changes to be made by this Bill. There were two principles for which they had all along contended—namely, first, the continued connection between religion and education—a principle which, in the action of Parliament with regard to the subject of elementary education and endowed schools, had received legislative sanction—and, secondly, the admission of every student, provided the first principle was acknowledged, to a general participation in the advantages and benefits which the University could confer. With these principles he believed that a negative test such as the one under discussion was perfectly consistent. But he was free to admit that there was a difficulty about the wording of this clause which might touch the scruples of a few conscientious people. From what he had heard from the University of Cambridge, he was given to understand that in the opinion of many who were opposed to this Bill there might be renewed agitation and irritation if this clause were retained in the Bill. So far as he was personally concerned, he should have liked to see some such clause in the Bill; and he could not assent to the disagreement with the clause as far as his own opinion went. But under the circumstances to which he had referred he did not wish to press his own view upon the House, and should not go to a division on this question.


thanked the right hon. Gentleman (Mr. S. Walpole) for not attempting to insist upon a clause which the Liberal Members of the University of Oxford unanimously believed would prove nothing but a snare and an annoyance. Indeed, they would far rather submit to the existing restrictions than see them re-enacted in the form in which they would be embodied by this new clause. He considered that it had been introduced by a wanton caprice of power on the part of the Upper House, and that it was almost an insult to the House of Commons. There was no definite meaning which could be attached to the words in this clause, and the result of it would probably be that many pious men, whose reverence for the Holy Scriptures could not be doubted, would feel themselves very much hampered in the discussion of such subjects as astronomy, science, and geology.


observed, that the test contained in the clause was the same as that proposed by the hon. and learned Member for Richmond (Sir Roundell Palmer) two years ago, and though it was then advocated in one of the ablest speeches he had ever heard in that House, the proposition was very coldly received by hon. Members opposite, and was rejected without a division and almost without discussion. The hon. Member for Chester (Mr. Raikes) had described it as certain to produce the "minimum of utility with the maximum of injustice." Another hon. Member opposite had compared it with the attempt of Mrs. Partington to keep out the Atlantic with a mop; in fact, the only hon. Member on the other side who supported it was the hon. Member for North Warwickshire (Mr. Newdegate), of whom it was only just to say that he had never changed his opinions on anything. For his own part, he had always objected to all tests, on the ground that they kept out the wrong men. They excluded conscientious and high-minded men, and were disregarded by those who preferred their prospects to their principles. Of this he would give a practical illustration. In 1854, shortly after the test for the B.A. was abolished, it was thought necessary still to keep up the distinction between Dissenters and Churchmen, by making candidates either sign a declaration of Dissent, or else submit to an examination in Church divinity. The effect of this was marvellous, and Dissent soon became rampant in the University. He remembered the case of one gentleman who having come up as a churchman broke down in examination on the Thirty-nine Articles. He was accordingly plucked; but in the evening he made a solemn declaration of Dissent. The Examiner told him he was too late, as it was impossible to accept a retrospective declaration, whereupon the candidate exclaimed—"Oh, I am a retrospective Dissenter." These things happened every day. The old test was infinitely better than the one under discussion, which was no doubt skilfully framed to catch the votes of orthodox Dissenters in that House. But he could not help thinking that Dissenters both in and out of the House would care as little for this "soft sawder" as they did for the blows and cuffs that were administered to them in former days.


said, the facts which the last speaker had brought under the notice of the House were such as were not known to anybody but himself. When the declaration was proposed by the hon. and learned Member for Richmond (Sir Roundell Palmer) he thought it would not carry out all that he desired; but when there was a determination to get rid of a liberal and fair test—a test not interfering with consciences, but securing the distinctive religious character of Governing Bodies; and when both branches of the Legislature had agreed to make the Governing Body undenominational, he felt certain that no declaration and no test would be satisfactory, and he did not see his way to any declaration that would give security that the teaching would be of such a character as he could approve of. He had seen on the part of Liberal Members no readiness to accept such a declaration as this; and what he preferred was enacting clauses to direct religious instruction to be given, rather than try by a test to prevent the religious opinions of the youth of the country being influenced by the teaching of any man. He thought the country was greatly indebted to the House of Lords for the inquiry which they had instituted; and if the hon. and learned Gentleman who had last spoken conceived that young men ought to receive any instruction at all in religion it could not be denied that they ought to have it in some definite shape. When young men went to the University they were not fit to be left entirely to themselves, and were not fit to form their conclusions on religious matters, and it was far better that the same kind of teaching which they had before received should be continued. He could not, however, see any hope of a solution of the question in the Amendment; it would give none of the securities he desired, and therefore he did not feel in any way bound to support it.


said, the hon. Member for Denbighshire (Mr. Osborne Morgan) had said that he (Mr. Newdegate) was the only Member of the House who never changed his mind. Now, a man who never changed his mind was a fool; but perhaps the hon. Member might not be aware that his (Mr. Newdegate's) conduct in that House was the result of his having been in the habit of considering what he should say, and what he should do before he came down to the House. The whole argument in favour of the abolition of University Tests had been that they ought not to be capable of legal enforcement and inflict legal disabilities. Now, here was a test framed in such terms as not to render it totally incapable of legal enforcement, yet it was a direct appeal to conscience and to honour. He did not fear to appeal to the conscience and honour of Nonconformists any more than he feared to appeal to the conscience and honour of Churchmen in defence of Christian education. The test was originally framed by the hon. and learned Member for Richmond (Sir Roundell Palmer), and his proposal had been adopted by the House of Lords, which had so framed this declaration that it should comprehend everyone who was willing to admit the inspiration of the Holy Scriptures, and accept them as the embodiment of Christian doctrine. If the country was to have Christian teaching, why should not the Legislature say so? He preferred the requirements of a declaration very much to any security in the personal character of the individual teacher, and for this reason—because the teaching must be given in public and on behalf of the University. The public opinion of the University would try that teaching by the standard of the declaration if it was enacted. It was for that reason that he supported the test that had come down from the other House. He regretted to find that some of the right rev. Prelates had objected to this declaration; the course they had taken manifested a great want of moral courage and great imprudence, for if the Bishops were not to teach Christianity according to the Bible, he (Mr. Newdegate) and many other Churchmen would care as little about them as do the Nonconformists. It was a curious fact that the Quakers were the only denomination who had no religious test of communion among themselves. Every other denomination had some test, and it now appeared that the Liberal party had in their objection to all tests adopted this peculiarity of the Quakers. He (Mr. Newdegate) would give an historical illustration of the effects of this system. In 1687 Penn, acting in the interest of James II., was sent to negotiate with the then Prince of Orange, and he held in his hand an account of that negotiation. It was a passage in history which had been much overlooked by Liberal Members, or they would not be so ready to adopt the theory of the Quakers. The whole of these Liberal objections to all tests were objections which prevailed in no denomination in its own government except among the Quakers. He wished to show Liberal Members what in former times had been the consequence of the course then adopted. In Burnett's History of His Own Times he found the following passage:— Complaints come daily over from England of all the things that the priests were everywhere throwing out. Penn, the Quaker, came over to Holland. He was a talking, vain man, who had been long in the King's favour, he being the vice-admiral's son. He had such an opinion of his own faculty of persuading that he thought none could stand before it. Though he was singular in that opinion—for he had a tedious, lucious way, that was not apt to overcome a man's reason, though it might tire his patience—he undertook to persuade the Prince to come into the King's measures, and had two or three long audiences of him upon the subject. And he and I spent some hours together on it. The Prince readily consented to a toleration of Popery as well as of Dissenters, provided it were proposed and passed in Parliament; and he promised his assistance, if there was need of it, to get it to pass. But for the tests, he would enter into no treaty about them. He said it was a plain betraying the security of the Protestant religion to give them up. Nothing was left unsaid that might move him to agree to this in the way of interest. The King would enter into an entire confidence with him, and would put his best friends in the chief trusts. Penn undertook for this so positively that he seemed to believe it himself, for he was a great proficient in the art of dissimulation. Many suspected that he was a concealed Papist. It is certain he was much with Father Peter, and was particularly trusted by the Earl of Sunderland. So, though he did not pretend any commission for what he promised, yet we looked on him as a man employed. To all this the Prince answered that no man was more for toleration in principle than he was; he thought the conscience was only subject to God; and as far as general toleration, even of Papists, would content the King, he would concur in it heartily. But he looked on the tests as such a real security, and, indeed, the only one, when the King was of another religion, that he would join in no counsels with those that intended to repeal those laws that enacted them. Penn said the King would have all or nothing; but that, if this was once done, the King would secure the toleration by a solemn and unalterable law. To this the late repeal of the Edict of Nantes, that was declared perpetual and irrevocable, furnished an answer that admitted of no reply. So Penn's negotiation with the Prince had no effect. He pressed me to go over to England, since I was in principle for toleration; and he assured me the King would prefer me highly. I told him since the tests must go with this toleration, I could never be for it. He had cited this passage as a warning to the House in the course upon which it was now entering; for this distinguished Quaker, who was opposed to all tests, was employed by a Roman Catholic Prince to negotiate with the Prince of Orange for the abolition of all tests. William III. declared for full toleration; but would not consent to the abandonment of tests, and drew a wise distinction between the two. James II., on the contrary, while professing vast Liberalism, was aiming at the establishment of personal government, and in doing so acted consistently with his religion as an Ultramontane Roman Catholic. And what was the result? He aimed at personal government in everything, and the tendency of our legislation at present was a preference for reliance upon individuals rather than upon principles, and on that difference rested the whole difference between the principles of arbitrary government and government by law. It was noteworthy that Dr. Manning had hailed the doctrine of the Pope's Infallibility because he hoped that in the exercise of the supreme authority thus attributed to him, the Pope would be able to annul all effective examination of different religions by the light of history, and thus silence all objection to his authority and to his decrees. Religion had formed a large part of the history of this country, and Parliament was now dealing with the education of those who were to succeed them as legislators; they were now touching the foundation of the future legislation of the country, and his fear was not for religion, but that, if they lost this opportunity of comprehending in one system of education by law all those who were attached to Christianity, they would lose the foundation of that respect for freedom in the future generations of our legislators that it was so essential to maintain. For these reasons, and not on account of any mere religious bias, he should certainly oppose the rejection of the Amendment which had been adopted by the House of Lords.


said, he wished to put himself straight with the House with regard to the course he proposed to take on the question. It was inaccurate to say he was the author of the declaration; it was, so far as it went, in the very words which Parliament had required from the lay Professors of the Scotch Universities when tests were abolished, and had always been made without scruple; and he had recommended its adoption, because, requiring no declaration of religious belief or disbelief in any tenet whatever, it could be made by all men of whatever reli- gious views, and was simply a negative promise to teach nothing contrary to the doctrine of the Divine authority of the Scriptures, no matter what their own opinions might be on the matter. He believed the law at present would require teachers to conform in their teaching to all that this declaration would bind them to; but it would be better if, in addition to the requirements of the law, they were made responsible under their own declaration. He regretted that it had been described as a test, because to do so was almost to make it one; and if, being so regarded, it would deter the scrupulous, as was alleged, from making it, without deterring the unscrupulous, his motive for pressing it was gone. He, on a former occasion, did not press the clause on the House in that state of things: and he could not but hope that it would not be pressed to a division now. After what they had heard from his right hon. Friends the Members for the two Universities (Mr. S. Walpole and Mr. G. Hardy)—men in every sense as eminently qualified to speak for the Universities, and also—if he might venture to say so—for the general body of the Church of England, as any Members of the House could be, it was evident that, in their judgment, the reasons against pressing that clause preponderated over the reasons in its favour. And he would venture to add another reason of his own—namely, that, believing it to aim at the declaration of a true and sacred principle, he should deeply regret that there should appear to be a vote taken by a considerable majority of that House which could by any person be represented as affirming the contrary of that principle.

Question, "That this House doth disagree with The Lords in the said Amendment," put, and 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.)

Page 2, line 16, "after the word 'aforesaid,' insert the words, 'except the headship thereof,'" the next Amendment, read a second time.

MR. GLADSTONE moved that the House doth disagree with the Lords in the said Amendment. When the Government acceded before to this Amend- ment they were under the impression that they should, in so doing, be acting in uniformity with the wishes of a large majority of those principally concerned; but that was not so, and as he believed that the exemption would greatly mar the boon which the House was about to confer, and take away from it its consistency as well as its grace, while it would leave them in a position in which they could not hope for even the smallest intermission of Parliamentary agitation on that question, he moved that the House do disagree with the Lords' Amendment.

Question proposed, "That this House doth disagree with The Lords in the said Amendment."—(Mr. Gladstone.)


expressed his extreme disappointment that the Government, while endeavouring to effect a final settlement of this question, could not consent to the retention of the words which had been inserted in the clause by the other House of Parliament. The Bill, in its Preamble, recognized the principle that there ought to be proper safeguards for the maintenance of religious instruction and worship in the Universities, colleges, and halls; and the provision embodied in this Amendment he regarded as an essential safeguard. The heads of colleges should in time to come, as in times past, continue to be members of the Church of England. Last year was the first time in which that question was dealt with as a Government question; and the Bill of 1870 embodied not only the conclusions of the Government, but also the result of their communications with the Universities. All he asked the Government now to do was what they deliberately proposed to do last year; and he hoped the House would adhere to the decision of the House of Lords, and join in bringing the Bill back to the shape in which it was introduced in 1870. He should take the sense of the House upon the question.


rose to protest against the House going to a division in this hurried manner upon a question which so materially affected the Universities. The question was one not of minor importance, as the House seemed to think; but one on which the future of these great national institutions very much turned, and it would be unfair to the Universities, and to the question itself, if it were not regarded with a little more attention. The Universities, and all their emoluments, were to be thrown open to all; but he did hope that the headships of colleges would be reserved to members of that denomination—to put it on its lowest ground—which was the unquestioned religion of a large majority of the people of England. If this concession were refused, and the headships of colleges were thrown open to persons of all denominations, the result would be that the smaller colleges would become a fighting ground and scrambling place for the different denominations, and if a chance majority belonged to a particular denomination, the head of the college would be chosen to represent that denomination. Then, in case, as would be probable in the course of time, the opinions of the majority became changed, the head of the college would find himself in hostility with the fellows who formed the council of advice. On the contrary, the limitation of the choice to persons who belonged to the largest religious Body in the kingdom—the Church of England—would be a pledge of moderation. The head, who was elected on those conditions, would feel that the raison d'être of his office so limited was one of impartiality to all religionisms, none of which would come into collision with himself. In the cause of true liberality he trusted that the House would agree with this Amendment of the Lords.


said, he had been in communication with the Liberal party both at Cambridge and at Oxford, and he believed that there was a strong feeling against the exemption of the heads of colleges from the operation of the Bill. He believed that the extreme of concession had been arrived at, and that it would be impossible for the House to accept the Amendment made in the clause by the other House of Parliament.

Question put.

The House divided:—Ayes 255; Noes 149: Majority 106.

Page 2, line 38, "after the word 'office,' insert the words 'nor shall any such statute or ordinance be repealed, except by authority of Parliament,'" the next Amendment, read a second time.

MR. GLADSTONE moved to disagree with the Lords' Amendment in the said Amendment, the effect of which would be to leave untouched the restrictions in respect to the holding of fellowships. The House had provided that they should not interfere with the statutes of colleges which restricted fellowships in certain cases to persons in holy orders. When it was proposed by a very large minority to absolutely abolish clerical fellowships the Government objected, preferring that the subject should be dealt with by the statutes of colleges. With this the Lords had not been content, and had introduced words the effect of which would be to place all possible restrictions on the holding of fellowships, and induce a state of things to which the existing machinery would not be applicable. This was an unreasonable demand, and one which could not be acceded to in the case of a Bill for the settlement of the question of University education.


said, he regretted that his right hon. Friend had not sought to improve the Lords' Amendment instead of entirely discarding it. He (Mr. Talbot) must protest against allowing Governing Bodies in colleges to make changes without the world knowing what they were doing.


said, he thought it was important if any changes were made they should emanate from the colleges themselves. Nothing, he believed, was more important for the two Universities than that they should remain as free as possible to act for themselves, and that no extraneous agencies should be brought to bear on them. For these reasons, he agreed with his right hon. Friend at the head of the Government.

Question, "That this House doth disagree with The Lords in the said Amendment," put, and agreed to.

Clause B (Religious Instruction), the next Amendment, read a second time.

MR. GLADSTONE moved in line 1, after "college," insert "subsisting at the time of the passing of this Act in any of the said." The clause, as it stood, would actually provide that the authorities in a Roman Catholic college should make provision for religious instruction in the principles of the Church of England.


said, he did not think the clause satisfactory. What was meant by providing religious instruction? Did it mean the same amount as there was in the Universities at present? If so, all he could say was that when he was at college they had no religious instruction at all. They were only compelled to go to Church once every Sunday and once every week-day, under the penalty of being "gated." The hon. Member was proceeding to move the omission of the clause, when—


suggested that he should wait until the question of the Amendment was settled.

Proposed Amendment agreed to.


said, if they were to have this provision for the religious instruction of all undergraduates of the Church of England, they at once introduced a distinction between the classes of undergraduates. There would be two distinct camps—a Nonconformist camp and a Church of England camp. He always understood that that was just the very thing they wished to avoid. If the word "all" was to be retained, the authorities of the colleges would be obliged to have a sort of religious census in order to ascertain all who belonged to the Established Church. He objected to that process. If his hon. Friend the Member for Devonport (Mr. J. D. Lewis) should move the omission of the clause, he would go into the lobby with him. In the meantime, he begged to move the omission from the Amendment of the word "all."


begged to ask hon. Gentlemen who held that religious instruction ought to be the basis of all education, why it was to be given only to members of the Established Church and not to members of other denominations. This clause, as now worded, was entirely inconsistent with the principles of the Bill, and, as far as he understood, with the principles of the hon. Gentleman opposite also.


observed, that the question of the hon. and learned Member for Oxford answered itself; it was not given to members of other denominations because they were Nonconformists, for the corner stone of Nonconformity was the protest against interference by the State with its worship or religious instruction. On that account the difficulty had been to admit Nonconformists to the Universities consistently with the connection of the Universities with the Established Church. For years they had been trying to settle that question, and at length it was about to be settled, as the difficulty of the Gordian Knot had been settled, by cutting it. Then came the fact that the Church of England, being Established, did not object to Parliament legislating for its religious education; but the Nonconformists did. If his hon. and learned Friend would move, in the name of the Nonconformists, that religious education should also be provided for the Nonconformists, he would have a good chance of the assistance of Members on the Opposition side in carrying the Motion.


said, it had been suggested to him that if the clause was left in its present form, taking the word "all" in conjunction with the Conscience Clause, the effect would be a Parliamentary compulsion on those students who were members of the Established Church. That would be beyond the province of Parliament, and therefore he agreed with the Motion. With regard to the merits of the clause, the Government would have been glad to have the Bill without it. The true state of the case was this. The House had been going through the Amendments of the Lords to the Bill, and had thus far rejected the whole of those Amendments. They ought to ask themselves this question, whether for the sake of each of the Amendments they had rejected they were prepared to incur the loss of the Bill. The Government had asked themselves that question, and with regard to the three important Amendments which the House had got rid of they were prepared to incur the loss of the Bill. Then came the question whether they ought to incur the loss of the Bill rather than accept this clause, which was not intended to secure an invidious distinction, but to assert, on behalf of Parliament, the importance of religious instruction. It was true it provided religious instruction only for members of the Church of England; but, as his hon. Friend the Member for the University of Cambridge (Mr. B. Hope) had pointed out, it would not mend the clause in the eyes of Nonconformists if this provision were extended to the members of other denominations. The Government would be loth to incur the responsibility of losing this Bill on account of a somewhat vague and indeterminate provision asserting the opinion of Parliament that religious instruction ought to be provided. They did not see anything improper in such a declaration; but, on the contrary, they thought it highly proper to make provision for religious instruction on behalf of the students according to the communion to which they might belong. The only communion which could be introduced in that respect into the Act without risk of giving great offence was the communion of the Church of England; and it would be a misfortune to lose a Bill of this kind when they had apparently reached the last stage of a controversy which had lasted for 40 years, because an alteration had been made of which it was impossible to say that it interfered in any serious manner with the objects and principles of the Bill.


observed, that the House of Lords had practically adhered to the declaration contained in the 4th section, and had, in substance, not interfered with it. With respect to the Amendment of his right hon. Friend the Member for Kilmarnock (Mr. Bouverie), he did not see that it would be modified by the omission of the word "all." As to the clause generally, he thought the House had been met pretty fairly by those who sat on that (the Opposition) side, and he thought the other side should not abuse their position so far as to take away the small advantage which this clause afforded.


objected to the clause on the ground that it was not the business of Parliament to provide religious instruction, but rather the duty of heads of colleges, who would do it as a matter of course. He trusted that the body of the House would pause before they agreed to what was a perfectly needless enactment.


was expressing, as he believed, the opinions of a large number of Protestant Nonconformists, when he stated that the proposal of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Kilmarnock (Mr. Bouverie) was unnecessarily offensive towards the feelings of many. In this Bill the question of religious observances was left to the discretion of the Governing Bodies. Of that they did not complain, and no further security for religious observances would, he maintained, result from the adoption of the course now recommended. He should not think it worth while to trouble the House to divide upon this question; but he thought it right to protest against the insertion of these words. They were unnecessary; and while they were offensive to some, he did not think they would give any advantage to the Universities or colleges.


believed there would be great difficulty in giving effect to the clause; and argued that it was inconsistent with the dignity of Parliament to encumber an Act with provisions which could never be enforced.


desired it to be understood that the omission of the word "all" from the clause was not intended to encourage any undergraduates to stay away from chapel, but was assented to because such an alteration would not affect the meaning of the clause. He would remind the hon. Member for Bradford (Mr. Miall) that if Nonconformists wished for instruction in their own doctrine there was no objection to allowing them to have it; but the House had recently determined, by a large majority, that there should be an Established Church, and so long as it was in existence it would be the duty of Parliament to provide religious instruction in accordance with the doctrines of that Church.

Motion agreed to; the word "all" struck out of the said Amendment.

Moved, "That this House doth agree with the Lords in the said Amendment, as amended."—(Mr. Gladstone.)


said, that many hon. Members had been dissatisfied with the Government for insisting on sending the Bill in such a form to the House of Lords; but they assented to it on the suggestion of the Government that the Lords would not object to a Bill in that form. This clause, however, made a material alteration in the Bill, and he thought the Government were not keeping faith with their supporters when they asked the House to agree to such a serious modification, which was inconsistent with previous legislation, and in direct contradiction to the principles adopted in the Bill for education in Scotland. He hoped his hon. Friend would go to a division on the clause.


entirely agreed with the speaker who had just sat down. The introduction of such a clause into the Bill as that proposed would be to throw an entirely new duty upon the heads of colleges; whereas in such matters they ought to be left to their own free will.


said, he had supported the Bill on the representation that it was intended to repeal all University Tests; but this clause seemed to introduce entirely new matter. When he was at Cambridge he did not experience the benefit of any sufficient religious instruction; in fact, he received no religious instruction whatever. They were certainly taught a certain amount of Greek Testament; but that was merely as a lesson, and not as religious instruction at all. This clause was inconsistent with the scope and aim of the Bill.


said, he thought the hon. Member (Mr. Bristowe) had got into some confusion in trying to draw a distinction between religious lessons and religious instruction. The learning of the Greek Testament might and ought to be to a certain extent religious instruction. This clause was intended to give an assurance to English parents that the religious instruction hitherto given at colleges would be continued after the passing of this Bill, and he believed it would be beneficial in its operation.


said, that the clause had nothing whatever to do with the maintenance of religious services in the colleges. If it was passed, the result would be that a new test would be imposed on the Universities.

Question put.

The House divided:—Ayes 197; Noes 165: Majority 32.

Clause, as amended, agreed to.

Clause C (Morning and Evening Prayer to be used as heretofore, but an abridgment may be used on week days on request of governing body).

Amendment read a second time.

MR. GLADSTONE moved, in line 3, after "college," leave out "and hall in the," and insert "subsisting at the time of the passing of this Act in any of the said."


said, he wished to call attention to the exact position of the clause and the Amendment moved by the right hon. Gentleman at the head of the Government. He proposed to confine the operation of the clause to colleges now existing; but supposing there should be in any of the existing colleges at any future time but one single member of the Established Church, were they going by Act of Parliament to declare that that college should have morning and evening service according to the forms of the Established Church? Suppose, also, that the majority of an existing college should belong to some other denomination than the Established Church, they would compel for ever the performance of morning and evening prayer for the minority in that college. They had often contended below the gangway against exclusive proposals even in the interest of the majority; but here it was proposed to enact in favour of the minority provisions to which the majority might disagree.

Amendment agreed to.

Several Amendments made: an Amendment proposed (Mr. Walpole) and withdrawn.

Moved, "That this House doth agree with the Lords in the said Amendment, as amended."—(Mr. Gladstone.)


expressed his regret at the introduction of the clause, and he should ask the judgment of the House on it. The House had nothing to do with prescribing religious teaching in these colleges. He also regretted that the Government should have departed from the position they took up when the Bill was in that House, when they resisted all Amendments to it. The Government had receded from that position, and now adopted such Amendments as they thought fit.


said, the Bill had been sent to the House of Lords in the shape it was believed it would be most acceptable to them; the question now was as to how much of the Lords' Amendments it would be expedient to take—what price, in fact, it would be advisable to pay to secure this settlement of the question. ["Oh!"] He was unconscious of his having said anything to provoke that expression of feeling. He thought he was only speaking the plain truth. If his own personal feeling had been consulted in the last division he should have gone with the minority, and on this occasion his entire sympathy went with the clause. When Parliament deprived the Church of England of the exclusive possession of the Universities it did not seem much to provide that the same services which had been celebrated in the college chapels for many hundred years should be celebrated there still, especially as the majority of those in the Universities would be members of the Established Church. When it came to one member, as the hon. and learned Member for Oxford (Mr. V. Harcourt) had stated, a totally different state of things would arise, when it would be the duty of Parliament to interfere.


looked upon the acceptance of this and the companion clause by the Government as nothing less than a breach of faith on the part of the Government.


said, he read the operation of this clause in a different sense from many hon. Members. The Act of Uniformity required full services to be celebrated in the chapels of the colleges, and this clause was an Amendment of the Act of Uniformity, inasmuch as it allowed an abridgment or adaptation, whatever that might mean, of the services. The services to be held in the chapel must necessarily conform to the custom of one religious Body or another, and as the great body of Dissenters did not object to the prayers of the Church service it was no great hardship to require the Church of England service to be continued in the college chapels.


said, that what he wanted to know was this—Supposing that in a college now subsisting there should at any future time be no member of the Established Church, were they going by Act of Parliament to declare that that college should have morning and evening chapel according to the forms of the Church of England?


said, they had got to the last contested point in this very thorny controversy, and they were asked again to divide in the hope of reversing the judgment of the House, which there was not the slightest possibility to believe would be respected by the other branch of the Legislature. ["Oh, oh!"] He was only stating his opinion; and therefore he thought it was not desirable to have the Bill brought back again and to be asked to eat their own votes; nor, on the other hand, was it desirable for the sake of this point to provide that in certain consecrated buildings of the Church of England there should not be continued those services which had been celebrated there for centuries, and thereby throw over the result of their labour and leave the controversy open.

Question put.

The House divided:—Ayes 229; Noes 99: Majority 130.

Subsequent Amendments read a second time; one amended, and agreed to; several disagreed to.

Committee appointed, "to draw up Reasons to be assigned to The Lords for disagreeing to the Amendments to which this House hath disagreed:" Mr. GLADSTONE, Mr. Secretary BRUCE, Mr. WILLIAM EDWARD FORSTER, Mr. GOSCHEN, Mr. SOLICITOR GENERAL, Mr. DODSON, Mr. KNATCHBULL-HUGESSEN, Mr. WINTERBOTHAM, Lord EDMOND FITZMAURICE, Mr. J. D. LEWIS, Mr. ACLAND, and Mr. PARKER:—To withdraw immediately; Three to be the quorum.

Reasons for disagreeing to certain of The Lords Amendments reported, and agreed to.

To be communicated to The Lords.

And, it being now Seven of the clock, the House suspended its sitting.

The House resumed its sitting at Nine of the clock.