§ MR. MOWBRAY
, in rising "To call attention to the recent appointment of the Rev. William Wigan Harvey to the Rectory of Ewelme," said, he was quite aware that the House might at first sight consider the matter a very small one in itself, as concerning the appointment of a single clergyman to a rural parish, unimportant in point of income and inconsiderable in point of population; but when he had stated the facts of the case to the House he hoped to satisfy it that it involved a great constitutional question, inasmuch as the act was done in deliberate violation of the spirit and intention of the statute of last Session, was carried out without regard to the constitution and the statutes of the 1674 University of Oxford, and with an amount of unjustifiable and unnecessary delay, which manifested on the part of the Government a great disregard of the spiritual interests of the parish. Let him at once say that this was in no respect a personal question. In the case of Sir Robert Collier they heard a great many pleas not to make it a personal question. He did not in the present case mean to impugn for a moment the personal fitness of Mr. Harvey. From all that he had heard he believed him to be an excellent and estimable clergyman, and as a scholar and divine of learning above the average, quite fitted to hold any appointment of high distinction in the University of Cambridge. But he was not a person qualified, according to the intentions of the Act of Parliament, to be appointed to the Rectory of Ewelme; and he said that he did not on the 15th of December, when he was appointed to it—and that he did not now—possess the qualifications which legally entitled him to hold that living. The House was tolerably familiar with the facts of the case. In the end of January, 1871, Dr. Payne Smith was appointed to the Deanery of Canterbury, and the appointment appeared in The Gazette of the 4th February. He was then the Regius Professor of Divinity of the University of Oxford, and as such also held a canonry of Christ Church and the Rectory of Ewelme. The Rectory was annexed to the Regius Professorship in 1605 by letters patent of James I., and it had been confirmed in 1709 by an Act of Anne. He would mention that though Dr. Payne Smith was appointed to the Deanery of Canterbury on the 4th February, he continued, for University purposes, which he (Mr. Mowbray) fully recognized, to act as Regius Professor and to give his lectures in the ensuing Term up to Midsummer; and he believed that he held the Rectory of Ewelme with the canonry up to Michaelmas. In the month of March, with a view to the appointment of a new Regius Professor, the right hon. Gentleman at the head of the Government, for reasons that were fully appreciated on both sides of the House, introduced a Bill for severing the Rectory of Ewelme from the Regius Professorship.
§ MR. MOWBRAY
was not, of course, aware what arrangements were made between the Government and Dr. Mozley, who was not appointed to the Professorship till the 7th of October.
wished to explain that it was his duty to advise the Crown, the formal steps being always transacted at another office. The appointment consisted in obtaining the pleasure of the Crown and arranging with the gentleman who was to be appointed. All that was done quite irrespective of any severance of the Rectory from the Professorship, and subsequently thereto.
§ MR. MOWBRAY
said, he could not tell what passed between the right hon. Gentleman and the learned divine whom it was his intention to recommend, that not being within his cognizance. Now, he should have thought it unnecessary to enter into the original provisions of the Bill, for his contention was that the House had nothing to do with anything but the Act, but the right hon. Gentleman had stated what the Bill was. It provided that no person should be presented to the Rectory of Ewelme who would not be eligible to be appointed to the office of Regius Professor of Divinity at Oxford. The Bill was introduced in the House of Commons, and, having been passed by this House unaltered, was sent to the House of Lords. Though he believed some discussion arose on it in the House of Lords, they might search in vain the pages of Hansard for anything said in any of its stages in that House. The provision to which he had just referred was struck out of the Bill in the House of Lords. The right hon. Gentleman seemed to attach some importance to the quarter from which that alteration originated. He said the provision was struck out upon the suggestion of the noble Lord the Chancellor of the University of Oxford. He (Mr. Mowbray) stated on the best authority—and he was sure the right hon. Gentleman would not contradict him—that the words in question were inserted by the Lords on the Motion of the noble and learned Lord Chancellor, himself a Member of the Government. Those words were—After the passing of this Act, the Rectory of Ewelme shall cease to be annexed to the office of Regius Professor in the University of Oxford, and the advowson of the Rectory shall re-vest in Her Majesty, who shall be entitled to present any person being a member of Convocation of the said University to the said Rectory, in the same man- 1676 ner in all respects as if the said Rectory had always been vested in the Crown, and the Rectory had not been annexed to the office.The right hon. Gentleman seemed to think he had a right to put some private interpretation on the Act, because the alterations made in it were suggested in the House of Lords; but it was known as a matter of fact that the Amendment was introduced by the Lord High Chancellor, an organ of the Government in that House, and carried with the assent of the Government in that House. When the Bill came back from the Lords with that alteration, it must have been a Lords' Amendment, and must have been accepted and assented to by the right hon. Gentleman at the head of the Government. In that shape it was accepted by the House of Commons and passed the Legislature; and that alone was the document to which they had to refer. The Act received the Royal Assent on the 16th of June, and then began a very curious part of the transaction. The Act said that after the passing of the Act—that was, after the 16th of June—the Rectory of Ewelme ceased to be annexed to the Regius Professorship, and he believed, for that and other reasons to which he would hereafter allude, it was perfectly clear that at that time, and probably long before, the Rectory of Ewelme was void in law. He called the attention of his hon. and learned Friend the Attorney General to this. However, Dr. Payne Smith still continued to hold it. He asked the right hon. Gentleman if he could tell him when the living became vacant, and the right hon. Gentleman did not answer that Question. He only said—"As to dates you can refer to the registrar of the diocese." He (Mr. Mowbray) accordingly asked the registrar of the diocese, when the living became vacant, and he was told by him that there were several statutes under which it appeared to have become vacant; that there was very little doubt that under the Pluralities Act 1 & 2 Vict.—and he called the attention of the Attorney General to this—the moment Dr. Payne Smith accepted the Deanery of Canterbury and his stall at Christ Church, the living, ipso facto, became void. If so, this living was vacant on the 4th of February. At any rate, provision was made for its avoidance by the Act of the 16th of June, and what did the right hon. 1677 Gentleman do? Surely the right hon. Gentleman was bound to look out for a rector for this parish; but he seemed to have taken six weeks before he looked out for some one to fill it. It might have been supposed that the most obvious course for the right hon. Gentleman to have adopted was to select among the many thousand members of Convocation of the University of Oxford some person who was fit for the living and could fulfil the requirements of the statute. But the right hon. Gentleman told the House he was the first to suggest on the 31st of July last to the Rev. Mr. Harvey that he should become an incorporated member of the University of Oxford.
said, he did not use the words "should become." All they did was to acquaint Mr. Harvey that it was necessary he should be a member of the Convocation of the University of Oxford before he could be appointed.
§ MR. MOWBRAY
observed, that the particular words were of no importance. His point was this—that the suggestion of the condition Mr. Harvey had to fulfil at any rate came from the right hon. Gentleman, for the right hon. Gentleman admitted that it was his duty to inform Mr. Harvey of the conditions that he had to fulfil to hold the living. But the right hon. Gentleman made this extraordinary statement—that with the question whether Mr. Harvey should become a member of Convocation in the University of Oxford he had nothing to do; that this matter rested solely between Mr. Harvey himself and the University; and that if Mr. Harvey had duly qualified, then he was Rector of Ewelme, and if he had not, so much the worse for Mr. Harvey. It seemed strange, indeed, that it should never have occurred to the right hon. Gentleman to say to Mr. Harvey—"The Act prescribes that you are to be a member of Convocation in the University of Oxford. I know that you are a member of the University of Cambridge. It is now long vacation; three months will elapse before Term. How long is the parish to wait while you are qualifying yourself to become a member of Convocation in the University of Oxford?" If the right hon. Gentleman had put these questions—and he was bound to put them—he would have known that it was 1678 not until October that the rev. gentleman could begin to qualify himself; that it was not until the close of November that the residence necessary for qualification would be completed; and that when those 42 days of residence were completed, and after his admission before the Vice Chancellor, 180 days further must elapse before he would be duly qualified to be presented to the Rectory of Ewelme. Now, they passed on from the 31st of July to Michaelmas, when Dr. Payne Smith resigned the canonry, and on the 2nd of October Dr. Mozley was gazetted Regius Professor in his place. But the intended nominee of the right hon. Gentleman to the Rectory of Ewelme was not then in a position to go even to the Vice Chancellor to qualify. It was not until Term began, on the 10th of October, that Mr. Harvey first appeared on the scene. He then goes up to Oxford, and having been incorporated at Oriel and resided 42 days, he presented himself on the 22nd of November before the Vice Chancellor, and he should in the ordinary way have been admitted in the terms prescribed by the 149th page of the statute. He was to be admitted before the Vice Chancellor "in domo Convocationis" in this form—"Licebit tibi post centum et octoginta dies ex hoe die numerandos jus suffragandi in domo Convocationis exercere." Now, he knew that the hon. and learned Gentleman the Attorney General would say that the words on that page referred to re-admitted graduates as distinguished from incorporated graduates. But the fact was, that all the clauses—except some of the minor ones—that were applicable to re-admitted graduates were also applicable to incorporated graduates. The form of admission prescribed for both was the same, and he contended that that form should have been used by the Vice Chancellor. If the form used was the wrong one, then so much the worse for Mr. Harvey. Whether the admission was qualified or absolute, still his hon. and learned Friend could not contend that, under whatever form Mr. Harvey was admitted, he was a full member of Convocation until after the expiration of the 180 days. The same declarations and subscriptions, he must repeat, were to be made, according to the University statutes, by those who were re-admitted to the University, and by those who, coming from another Uni- 1679 versity, wished to be incorporated. And then followed this express provision—"Neque liceat ulli jus suffragandi in domo Convocations exercere, nisi post centum et octoginta dies ex eo die quo coram, Vice-Cancellario comparuerit computandos." Mr. Harvey appeared before the Vice Chancellor on the 22nd of November. He (Mr. Mowbray) therefore contended that Mr. Harvey would not be qualified till the 20th of May to be presented to the Rectory of Ewelme. The Attorney General thought he had discovered some distinction between jus suffragii and jus suffragandi. He would ask the hon. and learned Gentleman the Attorney General whether the distinction he had drawn between jus suffragii and jus suffragandi was recognized by the authorities of the University, or by any man of weight or authority in the University, who was accustomed to the interpretation of University statutes? [Mr. ATTORNEY GENERAL: Hear, hear!] The hon. and learned Gentleman said Hear, hear! but he (Mr. Mowbray) would ask the hon. and learned Gentleman, whether he had properly interpreted the University statutes? He had consulted several such persons, and their opinion was that the Rev. Mr. Harvey would not be a fully qualified member of Convocation until 180 days had elapsed from the 22nd of November last. He should like to ask the hon. and learned Gentleman where it was in the statute that he found the distinction he had drawn between jus suffragii and jus suffragandi; and whether, if the Rev. Mr. Harvey were to present himself before the Vice Chancellor, and claim to take part in the debates of Convocation on any day before the 21st May next, the Vice Chancellor would not be obliged to refuse him a hearing, and to decline his vote? It seemed remarkable, if that was the law, that on the 15th of December, when the Lord Chancellor issued the presentation, he should have taken it to be a matter of fact that Mr. Harvey was a member of Convocation of the University of Oxford. In a very solemn document issued by the Lord Chancellor under the Great Seal, he found these words—By virtue of these presents, We do present our trusty and well-beloved William Wigan Harvey, clerk, Bachelor in Divinity, a member of the Convocation of our University of Oxford, to the Rectory of Ewelme.Now, he would like to know what steps 1680 the Lord Chancellor took to ascertain the exact facts of the case before affixing the Great Seal of England to a document containing a statement which he (Mr. Mowbray) declared to be contrary to fact and to law. These were the facts of the case, which he stated without exaggeration, and without any attempt to overstate the charge against the Government. These being the facts, the charges he had to bring against Her Majesty's Government were twofold. The first was, that they had been guilty of a deliberate—he might almost venture to say a wanton—invasion of the spirit and intention of an Act of Parliament. He should like to ask the right hon. Gentleman whether he would adopt, in reference to this Act of Parliament, words with which he was probably familiar, as he was their author. On one occasion the right hon. Gentleman said—The true and unambiguous meaning of the words, and therefore to be the only meaning admissible, whether tried by grammar, by reason, by policy, or by any other standard, and not one of several conflicting and competing meanings….but the just meaning which it unequivocally bears."—[3 Hansard, ccix. 85.]He wanted to know whether the right hon. Gentleman held that the Ewelme Rectory Act, read according to his own definition of the proper mode of interpretation, meant that any one other than a man trained and educated at Oxford, one of her own sons, should be presented to the Rectory? The right hon. Gentleman said that the Government, in bringing forward the Bill, intended to compliment the University of Oxford; but it was a strange way of effecting the object to pass over the many divines who were upon the books, and present a graduate of another University. In answer to a Question which he put upon the subject, the right hon. Gentleman said—When the Bill was brought in, desiring to pay all possible respect to the University, although it was needful to separate the Rectory from the Professorship, my object was to leave the Rectory as nearly as possible in the same position as that in which it stood before the severance with reference to the privileges of the University of Oxford.….The Queen could appoint to the Professorship of Divinity any person she pleased, whether a member of the University of Oxford or not, but the Regius Professor of Divinity became, of course, upon his appointment, a member of the Convocation of the University of Oxford….The object was to effect a practical reform, but to leave the patronage where it was."—[3 Hansard, ccix. 293.]1681 Without making any very fine distinctions, the broad common sense of the country repudiated the interpretation of the right hon. Gentleman, and refused to recognize Mr. Harvey as a member of the University of Oxford in any sense. The explanation of the right hon. Gentleman, therefore, only went to show how far and how much he could as a Minister be capable of wielding the Prerogative of the Crown. Everybody knew that the right hon. Gentleman was a master of all the learning of Prerogative, and had shown within the last 12 months that he appreciated the situation, and was capable of wielding the Prerogative with precision and with promptitude. But it was rather a startling doctrine to be propounded now, that the Government was entitled to appoint whomsoever it pleased to such an office. The right hon. Gentleman, moreover, had been driven to justify this exercise of Prerogative from two precedents drawn from Tudor times. In the long list of Professors for more than three centuries, there were only two instances of appointments conferred on men who were not Oxford men. When did they occur? These appointments were made in the troubled and unsettled period which lasted from the beginning of the reign of Edward VI. to the end of Queen Mary's reign. It was quite true that Edward VI. brought over Peter Martyr from the University of Padua, and made him Regius Professor of Divinity. It was also true that Queen Mary conferred the Professorial chair upon Friar John, otherwise Johannes Fraterculus, a Spanish monk, who came from Spain in the train of Philip. These were the only two instances in which men other than such as had been trained in the University of Oxford had been appointed to the Regius Professorship of Divinity. Further, it was a curious fact with respect to the two appointments he had mentioned that they only bridged over an interregnum, for Richard Smith, who was Regius Professor at the death of King Henry VIII., returned again to the office on the accession of Elizabeth, and died Regius Professor of Divinity in the course of her reign. Then with regard to the courtesy shown as the right hon. Gentleman said to the University, it was not on a par with the courtesy shown by Cromwell. Three Professors were sent down in succession by the Parliament and the Pro- 1682 tector between 1648 and 1660, but each of them was an Oxford man, trained in the University, and having graduated there. This doctrine of the right hon. Gentleman was the more startling, because no one could tell where it might end. They might have Welsh literates or Irish graduates appointed to the Professorial chair; or, following the precedents in the cases of Peter Martyr and Friar John, the right hon. Gentleman might appoint an Ultramontane divine from Bologna, or a Greek theologian whose acquaintance the right hon. Gentleman might have chanced to make in Corfu. If such transactions as these were allowed to pass without the attention of Parliament being called to them, the meaning of words would be nullified, the intentions of the Legislature would be frustrated, respect for the Royal Prerogative would be annihilated, and the confidence which ought to be reposed in the Executive would be utterly destroyed. His second charge against Her Majesty's Government was, that their course of action had caused most unnecessary and unjustifiable delay in filling the vacant Rectory. Even according to the showing of the right hon. Gentleman, it was necessary to keep open the Rectory from the 16th of June last to the 22nd of November; but according to his (Mr. Mowbray's) interpretation, the 22nd of November was only the commencement of a further period of 180 days' waiting, and the earliest day on which Mr. Harvey could enter his benefice was the 21st of next May. The right hon. Gentleman told the House that the Ewelme Rectory Bill was intended to bring about a practical reform by giving to Ewelme a resident rector. In that he, and his right hon. Colleague (Mr. G. Hardy), entirely concurred; but it was somewhat strange that the right hon. Gentleman should think a resident rector a necessity at Ewelme, and not at Shoreham. [Mr. GLADSTONE: Why Shoreham?] He alluded to Shoreham in consequence of the Question put by his hon. and learned Friend the Member for Coventry (Mr. Staveley Hill), and replied to by the right hon. Gentleman, the result being that the House was informed of the fact that the present Regius Professor of Divinity continued to hold with his canonry of Christ Church the living of Shoreham, in Sussex. There were several people who were very much to be pitied in connec- 1683 tion with this transaction. The first object of pity was the nominee of the right hon. Gentleman. Mr. Harvey must have thought that the "lines had fallen unto him in pleasant places." A man of studious habits and academic tastes, he looked forward to the enjoyment of this nice Rectory, where he would be within an easy distance of the libraries and pleasant gardens of Oxford. Well might it have been said of him thatOxford to him a dearer name shall beThan his own mother University.Thebes did his green, unknowing youth engage,He chooses Athens in his riper age.But now Mr. Harvey found that all his hopes were frustrated, and all his expectations unfulfilled, and he did not know whether he was a member of Convocation or not; but he sat waiting outside its doors, having only an inchoate and imperfect right, with no voice in its deliberations, and no vote when a suffrage was taken. Mr. Harvey, it was true, had been presented by the Crown to the Rectory of Ewelme, but had not yet been instituted; and he should like to know whether the right hon. Gentleman could say on what day the rev. gentleman was likely to be instituted to the living. There were other people who deserved to be pitied—namely, the parishioners of Ewelme, who, in March last, were led to believe that the day was not far distant when they would have the inestimable comfort of a resident rector constantly engaged in pastoral superintendence over them. But their first experience of the right hon. Gentleman's practical measure of reform was not encouraging, as they found his nominee was uncommonly like the previous Rectors of Ewelme. During the 42 days the new incumbent was obliged to sleep every night in Oxford, and he only went over to Ewelme to do Sunday duty. The parishioners saw him from Michaelmas till the end of November, and since then he had disappeared.Ostendent terris hunc tantum, fata neque ultra Esse sinent.He was not at all surprised to find that the experience of the right hon. Gentleman as a practical reformer had very great influence in the neighbourhood. It was well known that Wallingford was close to Ewelme; the news reached that borough, and when the other day a 1684 Liberal candidate appeared there, he had at once to take his departure, because the electors would not hear a word about practical reforms to be initiated by the right hon. Gentleman at the head of Her Majesty's Government. Many hon. Gentlemen on both sides of the House would, no doubt, think he had made out a strong case, and he would now state the reasons why he should not conclude with a Motion on the subject. First of all, a Motion had been already submitted this Session on a question relating to an appointment to a higher office than the Rectory of Ewelme, and a majority of the House resolved that they would not visit with Parliamentary censure the proceedings connected with the appointment of Sir Robert Collier. He believed, therefore, that the same, if not a greater, majority would be ready to say that the present case, which was smaller in itself, though more aggravated, did not call for Parliamentary censure. He did not know whether he could successfully appeal to the hon. and learned Gentleman the Member for Richmond (Sir Roundell Palmer) to lend him his powerful aid on this occasion. The hon. and learned Gentleman defended the appointment of Sir Robert Collier; but said that if such an appointment were made wantonly or more than once, it could not be justified. Now, he maintained that the appointment to the Rectory of Ewelme was made wantonly, for the right hon. Gentleman told Mr. Harvey, on the 31st of July, that he must become a member of Convocation. The 15th of December came after the 15th of November—the date, he believed, of Sir Robert Collier's appointment—so that here was the second condition laid down by the Member for Richmond. If, then, the hon. and learned Gentleman would promise to divide with him, he should be prepared to submit a Motion to the House. He felt convinced this was a grave subject to which the attention of the House and of the country ought to be called; and he would appeal from the majority of that House who supported the Ministry to the public opinion out-of-doors, which unanimously repudiated and condemned an act like this presentation to the Rectory of Ewelme, and which, he felt assured, would prevent a repetition of such scandals and render impossible for the future a manufacture of colourable qualifications, whe- 1685 ther for high judicial posts or for humble ecclesiastical appointments.
Sir, I trust the right hon. Gentleman will not think me disrespectful to him if I throw into two classes the different portions of his speech—namely, those which have to do with me and those which have not to do with me. Though I was willing to obtain for the right hon. Gentleman the information he desired, I was a mere medium and vehicle and nothing more, and I must decline all discussion as to proceedings at Oxford. I have nothing whatever to do with the date at which Dr. Payne Smith ceased to be Dean of Canterbury. The duty of the person who advises the Crown is to see that there is every presumption of legality in what he does, and as to the particulars and details of legal form by which persons appointed to offices qualify themselves, I have nothing to do either in their inception or their completion. Further, I will say that, as far as I understand, they are scarcely matters for discussion in this House. They affect legal rights—the rights of individuals—rights which can only be tried in Courts. They are not acts of the Executive Government, and do not, therefore, come legitimately within the challenge of the House, and I pass by the difference between the jus suffragii and the jus suffragandi as a matter with which I have no more to do than I have with the difference between Tweedledum and Tweedledee. Therefore, though I unceremoniously thrust aside that portion of the speech of the right hon. Gentleman, I mean to deal with other portions which I fully grant were relevant. I gathered four charges out of the right hon. Gentleman's remarks. He, says first, that there has been a deliberate violation of the spirit and intention of the statute; secondly, that this violation has been carried into effect in violation of the statutes of the University of Oxford; thirdly, that there has been unjustifiable delay; and, fourthly, that the lately appointed Regius Professor of Divinity at Oxford holds the living of Shoreham. I begin with the living of Shoreham, and I must say it requires some boldness on the part of the right hon. Gentleman to bring that living into the present discussion. I might just as well retaliate on the right hon. Gentleman, and ask him why he allows the Regius Professor 1686 of Divinity at Oxford to hold the living of Shoreham. The fact is, that neither he nor I have anything to do with the matter. If I could have had anything to do with it, it would have been at the time when the Professorship was offered to Dr. Mozley; but I have already informed the right hon. Gentleman that that was an unconditional offer, which carried with it the living of Ewelme. With regard to the charge of unjustifiable delay, I think the right hon. Gentleman himself is fully disposed not to place much stress upon that. What is the unjustifiable delay with which he charges me? It is—as far as my information goes, and the right hon. Gentleman has rather confirmed its correctness by telling me that the new Professor of Divinity was appointed on the 7th of October—that the living of Ewelme was vacated at Michaelmas.
§ MR. MOWBRAY
I did state in the early part of my speech that Dr. Payne Smith had continued to hold with his Professorship and his canonry of Christ Church the living of Ewelme up to Michaelmas; but I also stated my belief that it was legally void.
But how could he hold it if it were legally void? With regard to delay, I cannot see that there was any unnecessary delay, for the arrangement impeached involved the 42 days of residence at Oxford, during which time the parish of Ewelme enjoyed the ministration of Mr. Harvey—in fact, until he was taken ill, and for that illness I, not being his medical adviser, am hardly accountable. But, perhaps, as the right hon. Gentleman has held me responsible for the Regius Professor of Divinity holding the living of Shoreham, he will also hold me responsible, as the medical adviser of Mr. Harvey, for the state of that gentleman's health. If he likes to invite the support of my hon. and learned Friend the Member for Richmond on that point, he may, of course, include it in the impeachment which is overhanging me. I am charged with a deliberate violation of the spirit and intention of the statute; but the right hon. Gentleman refrains from making this the subject of a Motion. I was in hopes that he was going to give a more candid and dispassionate account of the matter, and that he would have said he was prompted on this occasion by a spirit of equity, and wished to hear 1687 what I had to say before he made up his mind on the point. I find no fault whatever with the right hon. Gentleman for bringing forward the subject. If he thinks there has been a deliberate violation of the spirit and intention of the statute, he only discharges a duty in bringing it forward; but I regret that so much of the time of the House should be wasted, and that I am obliged to go into a number of more or less egotistical details which I would rather have avoided. Far be it from me to insinuate any blame against the right hon. Gentleman; on the contrary, he is acting only in the performance of his duty. He refers to a case of parallel character discussed in this House some weeks ago; but he did not develop the parallelism. When he said we had done it again, I presumed he meant the same act. How far does the alleged parallelism obtain? When the appointment of Sir Robert Collier was mentioned, on the first night of the Session, I admitted that a fair and reasonable construction of the Act of Parliament was that put upon it by our antagonists; but I make no such admission now. I not only contend that we have not been guilty of a deliberate violation of the spirit of the statute—which the right hon. Gentleman totally failed to establish—but I will show how entirely consistent with a rational construction of the statute our conduct has been. What was the pith of the complaint in the case of Sir Robert Collier? It was that we had conferred a qualifying office, and then had conferred the office for which the person qualified. Is that the case here? What have the Government to do with the qualifying office? I have no more to do with it than has the right hon. Gentleman. He is a member of the University of Oxford, and so am I; and either he or I might have opposed the degree which was given to Mr. Harvey. As a Minister, I have nothing to do with it. Had it been a qualifying office given by the Emperor of China or the Mikado of Japan it could not have been more independent of the action of the British Government than it was in this ease. If it was wrong to grant this qualifying office in the view of Mr. Harvey receiving the living of Ewelme, the blame, which I do not admit, is upon those members of the University who procured the granting of this qualifying office to Mr. Harvey; and the 1688 right hon. Gentleman in imputing blame has severely censured his own constituents. The distinguished persons who, being entirely cognizant of Mr. Harvey's view and intention, deliberately and advisedly presented him in the public Convocation to receive his degree, where he received it, not by an executive, but by a legislative act, by the free vote of distinguished members of a distinguished College, who were present in considerable numbers—those are the persons who conferred the qualifying office. In the case we discussed a fortnight ago the argument was that the intention of the statute was, that no ordinary persons were to be appointed to the Court of Appeal; but those persons only were to be appointed who had acquired or displayed capacity as Judges in one of the Superior Courts. Where is the application of that principle to the case now before us? What are the qualifications that are displayed by any man as a member of the Convocation of the University? What experience to be gained by such a member had anything to do with the discharge of the duties of the Rectory of Ewelme? There is no such experience to be gained. There is no relation between the duties of a member of Convocation and the pastoral duties of the Rector of Ewelme. In the case of the appointment recently made, it was plausible—and I fully admit it—to say that a slight was put on a great institution like the Puisne Judgeships by passing a person through such a Judgeship as a matter of form; but no such objection is applicable to passing a person through Convocation. Mr. Harvey does not cease to be a member of Convocation by becoming Rector of Ewelme. The right hon. Member therefore introduced the word "colourable" carelessly, for Mr. Harvey is as good a member of Convocation as he and I are. I am not begging the question as to the law, if he had fulfilled the conditions; but I may adhere to the law of the legal Advisers of the Government as against that of the right hon. Gentleman, and as far as regards my aim and intention there was nothing colourable in the matter. The supposition was, that Mr. Harvey was to become, as he has become, as good a member of Convocation as is the right hon. Gentleman; and he will probably have an opportunity of voting at the next election, when I wish I could 1689 feel as sure of his giving a right vote as I am confident of the discharge of his other duties. I presume it will be admitted that this, after all, is a question of the meaning of the statute, or rather not, but of the intention of the statute, set out according to that extraordinary and most objectionable fashion which has grown up among us, whereby any gentleman or set of gentlemen, applying their own minds to the view of the Legislature, father the responsibility of that mind on the Legislature, and proceed to anathematize everyone who does not agree with them. That is a most extraordinary doctrine, against which I protest. When persons claim that excessive privilege and power they ought to bind themselves to affix to the statute a construction which is substantial and which is consistent. The right hon. Gentleman has not done that; but has thrown upon the Government the responsibility for the words of the statute. I decline it. He says the words were put in by the Lord Chancellor; but, in his Parliamentary experience, has he never heard of communications between persons who differ about an Amendment and of an agreement being arrived at, whereby the author of the Bill accepts an Amendment suggested by the other side? This was no Amendment of the Lord Chancellor; I find no fault with anybody when I say it was suggested to him by others, and he assented to it. The right hon. Gentleman says that I claim to interpret according to my private opinions what took place in the House of Lords; I claim no such thing; but I claim a right to form an opinion as to the meaning and intention of the words, inasmuch as the Act could not pass without the Assent of the Crown, and I was the sole person whose business it was to advise that Assent. I never thought the words an improvement on the original frame of the Bill, and, indeed, they were a concession. We are often accused of making too many concessions to hon. Gentlemen opposite; but they do not seem to be appreciated. This is one among the many which I have made in my lifetime. I thought the words inferior to those I placed in the original draft of the Bill—not that I thought they were liable to any specific objection, but because I thought that what we had to do was to lay down, exactly and simply, the quail- 1690 fication, whatever it was, without entering into those definitions, which was substituted for the previous Professorship of Divinity in the University of Oxford. The right hon. Gentleman says that what the statute means by a member of Convocation is a gentleman educated at Oxford; but if Parliament meant a man educated at Oxford, why did it not say so—why did it not say a man who had taken a degree at Oxford after residing the full number of terms? Again, are all those who have been educated at Oxford members of Convocation? The term "members of Convocation" does not cover all the men who have been educated at Oxford. In 1871, according to the last Calendar, the number of persons admitted to the University for education was 628; but the number who took the degree of M.A. was 266. The right hon. Gentleman knows very well that large numbers who go through the University with credit do not appear as members of Convocation on account of the payment which membership involves; therefore, the meaning the right hon. Gentleman affixes to the statute is one that will not hold water. Those who are educated at Oxford and who do not become members of Convocation are chiefly poor clergymen. By attaching his definition to the term "members of Convocation" the right hon. Gentleman proscribes one-half of those who have been educated in the University, and who, in most eases through poverty, find it inconvenient to keep their names on the books. When first I was Member for the University of Oxford and held a position now occupied by worthier men, it was my misfortune to have among the multitude of my supporters many poor clergymen, who felt it impossible to continue members of Convocation from the heavy burden which it imposed, for two guineas a-year, or 20 guineas as a commutation fee, is a very serious burden upon poor clergymen with £100 or £200 a-year. I will, therefore, show that the right hon. Gentleman's interpretation of the Act will not bear a consistent meaning; because, in order to give it a semblance of consistency, he is obliged to define members of Convocation as synonymous with those who have been educated at Oxford, and I have shown that nearly one-half of those so educated drop off and cease to be members of Convocation. [Mr. MOWBRAY: 1691 I should have no objection to their re-admission.] Good gracious! Having laid down, for the purpose of crushing me, his complete definition of a member of Convocation, the right hon. Gentleman now goes further in his wanton handling of the Act of Parliament, and says—"I should have no objection that men educated at Oxford should be readmitted to Convocation for the purpose of taking the Rectory of Ewelme." That is the way the right hon. Gentleman comes down and spins theories out of his own head, for the purpose of putting an arbitrary and wilful construction on an Act of Parliament. Now, I will suppose that this arbitrary construction of the right hon. Gentleman had been the intention of the Act of Parliament. Was such an Amendment ever signified to me? Never; although I was the person upon whose advice the consent of the Crown depended. Not a syllable of it was ever signified. I wish it had been, and I should have made short work of his Amendment. For what is it? It is to this effect—that the pastoral care of a particular parish should be tied down to a man who has been educated at the University of Oxford. Is that the spirit of Parliamentary legislation? It would have been contrary to my duty to assent to such a thing. My duty is not to consent to the limitation of the patronage of the Crown unless it be for some great public object. But what was the public object here? It was to introduce a spice of the old, narrow, worn-out system of monopoly which we were busy in condemning in the earlier part of the evening. The hon. and learned Gentleman (Mr. Osborne Morgan), who came forward to claim for the Welsh people Judges who spoke the Welsh language, took care to admit that you must not limit the area of choice. But here the right hon. Gentleman comes forward to say that I ought to consent to one of those narrow restrictions which were formerly the scandals of Universities, and which it was the object of Parliament for a long series of years to condemn. The right hon. Gentleman therefore is placed in this dilemma—he is either obliged to admit that a very large fraction—I believe one-half of the persons who have been educated and have taken degrees at Oxford—should be excluded from the benefit of this Act, or else that they could only come in by readmission—that is to say, that they should be 1692 made members ad hoc, and be subject to the very disadvantage to which Mr. Harvey is subject. And this the right hon. Gentleman says is no scandal at all, because it falls in with his preconceived notions. I am astonished, I would almost say ashamed of the view which is taken by one of the right hon. Members for the University of Oxford, unless from the pencil-noting which is going forward I am to suppose that the same view will be taken also by the other right hon. Member as to the process which incorporates in one University the distinguished members of another. Go back to what is called the Dark Ages, and see the sisterhood in which all were united, and the manner in which every distinguished member of one University was welcomed to the Fellowship of another. In that spirit Oxford shares, and I can assure the right hon. Gentleman that it is by no means dead. How was Mr. Harvey received when he went to Oxford? It is not to be supposed that Mr. Harvey went into some dark corner, got a certificate from some unknown official which enabled him to take up a degree, and so got himself smuggled into membership of Convocation. Before he became a member of Convocation he had to become a member of the University, and before he became a member of the University he had to become a Member of a college. How did he become a member of a college, and what sort of a college did he select? He selected one of the most distinguished colleges in Oxford—that famous college of Oriel, which has contributed—whether for good or for evil, or for both—more to the thinking movement of the 19th century in England than any similar body ever known in any University in the world. What did he find there? He found at the head of that college a dear friend of his (Mr. Gladstone's), one of the most distinguished men in Oxford, the able and venerable Provost, Dr. Hawkins, who was perfectly cognizant of the object which Mr. Harvey had in view. And what did Dr. Hawkins do? He received Mr. Harvey with open arms, complimented him, and said—"We will welcome you into our University, not only willingly but gladly." That was the view which Dr. Hawkins took when he welcomed a distinguished member of Cambridge University into the distinguished society of Oxford—a very dif- 1693 ferent view from that of the right hon. Gentleman, who sees in this proceeding only a colourable, and almost a base transaction. I have seen in one of those productions which possess all knowledge by intuition, and with the superfluity of which the 19th century is either blessed or cursed, that Mr. Harvey was admitted ad eundem. The right hon. Gentleman has not said so. He knows better. He says that Mr. Harvey has undertaken the same duties as belong to every other member of Convocation. Well, then, he has become a member of the University of Oxford; not that there should be a colourable qualification; not that the qualification, real and substantial as it is, should consist in the memory of an education long past; but that he should assume the character of a member of the University, enjoy the privileges, and discharge the duties attaching to that character. I contend, therefore, that the meaning given by the right hon. Gentleman to this statute is no meaning at all; it is a meaning in rags and tatters; it will not cover what it requires to cover in order to go decently forth to the world. My meaning, on the other hand, is a good, rational, consistent meaning. But the mistake made by the right hon. Gentleman arises from this—that he has got still hanging about him some of those ridiculous, worn-out notions that used to prevail long ago, according to which a man was not allowed to hold a scholarship in a college unless he was born in a particular parish. Now, with respect to this matter, I put to myself the two most pinching questions in the right hon. Gentleman's sense which I have been able to devise. They are these. He might say to me, though he did not say it—"Would you apply exactly the same arguments to the Regius Professorship?" No, I would not; not because the law is different, but because the reason of the case is different. There is some ground for saying, when teaching divinity in Oxford, it is desirable in itself, apart from law and precedent, that the man should have been educated in Oxford. But what in the world has that to do with preaching to the parishioners of Ewelme; and why may not a man preach to them, whether he has been educated at Oxford or not? The other question is this—"Do you consider it to be a matter of entire indifference whether the Rector of Ewelme 1694 is a member of Oxford University or not?" The right hon. Gentleman did not put that question; but I think it the most pinching question of which the case admits. My answer is, I do not consider it a matter of indifference. The rule is—as the right hon. Gentleman says very properly—that the Regius Professor should be a member of the University; but the rule with regard to the Rectorship of Ewelme is not of the same stringency at all, because there are no reasons for that stringency. But I fully admit that, primâ facie, I should not think of hunting for a man not a member of the University of Oxford, getting him made a member of Convocation, or even performing the very innocent function which I did perform in acquainting him about the matter, without reason. I admit the natural course, in the absence of reason to the contrary, would be to take an Oxford man. I feel sure that my proceeding is not the irrational or wanton proceeding which the right hon. Gentleman supposes. I stand firmly on my construction of the Act. But then the question is—"Why did you appoint Mr. Harvey?" Well, though I do think it would be the natural and reasonable course to take an Oxford man, I say because I was justified, and I think rather more than justified in taking a man who had not been educated at Oxford. "Why did I desire to advise the appointment of Mr. Harvey?" I will tell you why. Mr. Harvey had been made known to me in a most authoritative manner by persons of the highest class. I have not got all the documents by me, but they were striking as regards the persons by whom they were signed and attested. Now, I am going to put to myself three questions, and I hope the right hon. Gentleman will see, even if he does not entirely agree with me, that the charge of wantonness was a misplaced one, and that there was reason for the thing done. My first question to myself is—"Why did you recommend the appointment of Mr. Harvey?" My second question is—"Why were you in haste to do it last year?" And my third question is—"Why did you appoint Mr. Harvey to the particular living of Ewelme?" Now, my anxiety to see Mr. Harvey appointed rested upon this—that while he remained in a very obscure and trifling parish, with a very narrow provision, he was recommended to me by the very highest 1695 authorities as one of the best and most learned among the living divines of the Church of England. A great Oriental scholar, an indefatigable student, the editor of a most learned edition of one of the Greek Fathers; he was attested to me by his own diocesan, the Bishop of Rochester, by the Bishop of Ely, who had the largest means of knowing him; by Dr. Jeremie, the Dean of Lincoln; by Canon Selwyn, the Margaret Professor of Divinity at the University of Cambridge; by Dr. Jelf, Principal of King's College; and by Canon Blakesley, the vicar of Ware. I may mention that at the time when this letter was written Mr. Harvey was a candidate for the post of Gresham Professor of Divinity, and Canon Blakesley describes him thus—Mr. Harvey is one of the most learned men whom the Established Church possesses at the present time. As a Churchman he is of the type of the late Bishop of Lincoln (Dr. Kaye), and equally removed from the Puritan and Romanizing parties of the time.I may say here that I did not pay particular attention to the precise character of Mr. Harvey's religious opinions. Canon Blakesley proceeds—The numerous publications which have proceeded from his pen will sufficiently evince this; but I may perhaps be allowed to add that the moderation and kindliness of Mr. Harvey's mind are an effectual remedy against even polemical theology betraying him into an unjust, or uncharitable judgment of an opponent.I will not go further upon that question, but will pass to the next—"Why was I anxious to appoint Mr. Harvey last year?" Not on account of the general and notoriously precarious tenure of political office. That is one of the inevitable incidents of public life which, however detrimental it might have proved to the public interests in this case, must be accepted in the case of Governments generally. It was not on that account, but for a very plain reason, that Mr. Harvey, being thus ill-provided for, made it known to me—I do not remember at what time—that he was warned by his medical advisers that he could not continue to reside at his living throughout the winter without the greatest danger to his health if not to his life. This was the reason why I was anxious to make some immediate arrangement, and I am sorry to say that there lies the secret of the delay in filling up the Rectory of Ewelme. The right 1696 hon. Gentleman seemed to think it my duty to institute Mr. Harvey, and seemed to blame me for not instituting him. But, as the Bishop has informed me, the delay is owing to the state of Mr. Harvey's health. He has, in fact, been caught by the severe infliction from which it was my object to save him by removing him from his living at Buckland before the winter came on. Having thus answered two of the questions I proposed to myself, let me now reply to the third—"Why was Mr. Harvey appointed to the particular living of Ewelme?" Here, I think, I shall bring the controversy to a fair test. I make no excuse or apology for what I have done; I think what I have done is right; I think that had I done anything else I should have done wrong. "But why appoint Mr. Harvey to Ewelme?" It so happened that in the summer of last year I had the choice of recommending Mr. Harvey to Her Majesty for the living of Ewelme, or of recommending him for another living—Shoreham—of much the same value. The right hon. Gentleman will naturally think that, having such a choice, I went out of my way to create this difficulty. When I was at Eton I remember that a master said to one of the boys—"What demon prompted thee to do Greek verses?" And the right hon. Gentleman may perhaps ask me—"What demon prompted you to create this difficulty for yourself?" Well, the demon which prompted me to create this difficulty for myself was simply and solely the desire to appoint the fittest man to the parish fittest for the man. The case of these two parties stood thus—The parish of Shoreham was a large country parish, containing 1,574 people, and, as I am informed, it is what is called a leading parish in Church matters, rendering it desirable that a man of personal activity should be at its head. The living of Ewelme, being very nearly the same in value, contained only one-third of the population—between 600 and 700. Two gentlemen stood foremost in my view at that moment for parochial preferment. One was Mr. Harvey, a man not of strong health or great physical activity, a man of the most studious habits, equal to the care of a small parish, though not of a large one, and to whom it was of the utmost importance, with reference to the prosecution of his useful and valuable labours, that 1697 he should live in the neighbourhood of the University. That was the reason I recommended Mr. Harvey for appointment to Ewelme, 13 miles from Oxford, where he would have every facility for extending his studies, and took the active, vigorous man for the large parish, far from the University, where he would he able to assume the position occupied by his predecessors as an active leading person among the clergy of the district. I do not think I need trouble the House further. I stand on the construction of the Act. I stand upon that which will always guide me as long as I have the honour to administer any ecclesiastical patronage, however uncertain, erroneous, fallible my judgment may be—a determination to recommend for these appointments, according to the best of my judgment, such men as will insure the maximum of spiritual good, and are best fitted by a character for learning, piety, and pastoral care. Those are my plain duties. That is the view of my duties upon which I have acted; and I maintain that I have acted not only without any violation of the spirit of the Act of Parliament, but, as I believe, upon the only reasonable construction of that Act, for the Amendment of which I am not responsible, and to which Amendment I did not assent, except in the sense of having allowed it to pass without objection. Let me, however, fully acquit the right hon. Gentleman opposite of having any but the most upright intentions in bringing forward this case before the House. I believe that it is the equity of the right hon. Gentleman's mind which prompts him, unknown to himself, to refrain from making a Motion by which he would have prematurely committed himself. Whatever the right hon. Gentleman may think as to the construction of the Act, I think he will see that I have not proceeded wantonly in the matter. No man could proceed wantonly in respect to Church preferment who kept studiously in view the object of securing for every pastoral charge no other than the man best suited for it.
MR. GATHORNE HARDY
Sir, the right hon. Gentleman seems to me to have wandered very far from the subject. No one has disputed the qualifications of Mr. Harvey. We have not disputed his fitness for the particular post; nor can we admit that any amount 1698 of the most excellent intentions can justify the right hon. Gentleman in treating as a nullity words in an Act of Parliament, whether he has assented to the terms of it or not. The right hon. Gentleman has told us that he did not approve the Amendment made in the Act in "another place." Why did he not approve it? Did it, or did it not, in any degree alter that which had been inserted in the Bill before? If it did, it restricted be rights of the Crown in respect of this appointment. If it did not, why did he not approve the Amendment? As I understand the right hon. Gentleman, he lays down this principle—that by the words of the clause, when the Ewelme Rectory Bill was brought in, he would have been at liberty to have appointed to the living anybody who was qualified to be the Regius Professor of Divinity. These were the first terms of the Bill. Therefore a qualification of some sort was required then. But when the Bill was before the House of Lords, the Lord Chancellor consented to adopt certain words as an Amendment, which conveyed to every mind the simple and distinct impression that what the limitation of that Act of Parliament meant was, that at the time the living was offered to a man he should be a member of the Convocation of Oxford. It raised no question of admission or incorporation, and therefore the right hon. Gentleman must be mistaken in saying he would not have assented to any such limitations, for that was what he actually did; for the Act clearly precludes him from appointing a B.A. or a literate, who, however well fitted they might be, could not by admission ad eundem or incorporation become members of Convocation. The right hon. Gentleman says we should be ashamed to resist the incorporation of a learned man into the University of Oxford. [Mr. GLADSTONE: I said I was almost ashamed to deal with such an argument.] But nobody has put forward such a view. The Provost of Oriel could not inquire into the motive of Mr. Harvey for applying to become a member of the University of Oxford. The right hon. Gentleman knows perfectly well that the admission or incorporation of a Cambridge graduate is a matter of course, unless his moral character is under suspicion. A Cambridge graduate, therefore, is always welcomed to Oxford, especially if he is a learned 1699 man; and it is absurd to throw on the University of Oxford the blame which the right hon. Gentleman discards from his own shoulders. As to there being any limitation of the power of the Crown to appoint to this living, which the right hon. Gentleman has distinctly questioned, it has been associated with the Regius Professorship since the reign of James I., and no distinct appointment had therefore been made since that time. Had the living been simply severed from the Professorship, I would admit that any gentleman in holy Orders might have been appointed to it; but the Act expressly limits it to a member of the Convocation of Oxford University, and therefore it was not in the power of the Crown to appoint, except under certain defined conditions. If the right hon. Gentleman then agreed to the Amendment made in the Act, he must admit that the person so appointed shall be a member of the Convocation of the University of Oxford. Now, a B.A. might be on the point of acquiring the qualification, but would the right hon. Gentleman have been entitled to wait his own time? It is not with the Crown as with private livings; nullum tempus occurrit regi; but what would be thought if the right hon. Gentleman took an undergraduate or a literate and waited till he became a member of Convocation? It is, however, just as unjustifiable to tell Mr. Harvey to go up and prepare himself for nomination. When the right hon. Gentleman spoke to Mr. Harvey on the 31st of July and told him he should have the living if he qualified, he really offered him the living. The qualification is a statutory one, and the right hon. Gentleman had no right to set it aside. We have been told that this is a mere question of red tape and parchment; but any hon. Gentleman adopting that view of the case shows that he cannot be really cognizant of what has taken place. When a man is appointed a Lord of the Admiralty, on his accepting the office his seat is instantly vacated; yet it is a notorious fact that the appointment is not actually made out till weeks after he has come back and taken his seat in this House. But the case is the same here, and it is a clear proof that the time when an office is offered and accepted is the time when the person ought to possess the qualification, otherwise no limitation in an Act of Par- 1700 liament can be made available. The right hon. Gentleman has referred to a debate in the early part of the evening. Well, suppose there had been an Act of Parliament prescribing that nobody should be appointed a County Court Judge in Wales who could not speak Welsh, would it be a justifiable exercise of the Prerogative in the right hon. Gentleman, or any other Minister of the Crown, to tell a man to go and learn the language, and he should, when he had mastered it, fill the vacant appointment. Certainly not. The appointment under such circumstances would be a violation of the statute, and a contradiction of that which Parliament declared ought to be done. Yet that is analogous to what the right hon. Gentleman has done in this case. I confess I cannot understand his arguments. It is to me a metaphysical difficulty to understand the workings of the right hon. Gentleman's mind on this question. He seems to set aside plain terms which to all plain men have but one meaning. Why was the qualification inserted in the Act? Why, because the House of Lords felt that the living belonged to the University of Oxford from time immemorial, and they wished that it should continue to be held by a member of that University. Well, when the Bill went up to the House of Lords, in order to make this qualification clear, the words "member of Convocation" were inserted, with the distinct view and intention that the living should not be given to anyone who was not a member of Convocation. I frankly admit that if Mr. Harvey had previously—I do not care how long before—become an incorporated member of the University of Oxford—if he had been when the cure was offered a member of Convocation—it might be looked upon as a legal appointment, and one which we should have no right to carp at, though I could not say that it would have been a wise one. But looking at the facts of the case as they present themselves before us, the right hon. Gentleman appears to me to be guilty of what he spoke of as "arbitrary wilfulness" in the interpretation he gives of this Act. Why, the world at large, in commenting upon this appointment, has imputed to the right hon. Gentleman the exercise of the most arbitrary will in this matter. With the exception of possibly one paper, 1701 all the organs of public opinion have taken a widely different view of the case from that of the right hon. Gentleman. The facts are plain and manifest to all mankind; and yet the right hon. Gentleman gives an interpretation of them wholly different from nearly the whole of the British public. I must say, then, that if you allow such interpretations as that given by the right hon. Gentleman to be put upon your laws, there will be no difficulty in setting aside whole Acts of Parliament; the difficulty will be to invent language sufficiently strong to bind the people to their observance. The right hon. Gentleman says—"I am not bound to know what Mr. Harvey will do;" and he tells him that he must go to Oxford. But I will not go into the question of what occurred at Oxford, for the only question we are discussing now is, whether the Act has been violated. The right hon. Gentleman says—it is for Mr. Harvey to settle the question whether he has fulfilled the requirements of the Act under which he was appointed. I cannot help asking, whether Mr. Harvey has received such a certificate as a member of the University of Oxford as will enable him to claim institution from the Bishop of his diocese; or whether he is not bound to wait till the 21st of May, when he will have fulfilled the 180 days' before he can put forward such claim? Indeed, there is a further serious question for Mr. Harvey and the right hon. Gentleman to consider—namely, whether, on the 21st of May the proceedings must not begin again, ab initio, to make the appointment valid? The right hon. Gentleman told us that we ought to suspend our judgment until we had heard his explanation. Well, my surprise and astonishment since his explanation is greater than ever. I really thought that he had received some legal opinion before the appointment in favour of his peculiar interpretation of the Act. But I find that he has no such support or excuse to fall back upon. It is his own view exclusively from the beginning. The right hon. Gentleman evidently wished to appoint a particular person to this Rectory of Ewelme; and, utterly regardless of consequences, he has made the words of the statute bend to his own individual will. He did not, as he states, approve its terms, so he made them suit the meaning of the terms he preferred. He 1702 admits that on the face of the Act, and in strict equity, it was desirable to have an Oxford man; but he flings aside this consideration, and in the face of a statute requiring in the most distinct and precise terms certain qualifications, he appoints a gentleman to the Rectory of Ewelme for one reason—on the ground of his delicate health—a reason which, I confess, appears to me one of an extraordinary and dangerous character, when I consider the nature of the duties and the place in which they are to be performed. If his health failed in a parish with only 300 inhabitants, Ewelme has 600 or 700. [Mr. GLADSTONE: There is climate to be considered.] But I am not aware that the climate of Oxfordshire is thought one of the most beneficial. The right hon. Gentleman has not consulted lawyers as to the interpretation of the Act, and I do not suppose he has consulted medical men to ascertain whether Mr. Harvey's health will be benefited by removal to Ewelme as much as his income and convenience are benefited by his being brought into the neighbourhood of Oxford. But there are higher duties than those which the right hon. Gentleman has so eloquently described. It is, no doubt, the duty of the right hon. Gentleman to fill up every living which falls into his power in the best manner possible; and he must have had plenty of opportunities of giving one to Mr. Harvey, much more suitable than that which he has received. It is still more the duty of the right hon. Gentleman to consult the authority upon which he acts in all such cases. It is, I say, much more important that the right hon. Gentleman should do justice to the laws under which he lives, than—be the motives what they may, and the objects of his patronage the most worthy—to violate the spirit and intentions of a plain Act of Parliament. I assume that the right hon. Gentleman has been actuated by conscientious motives; but it appears to me that his notion that this particular law has been badly constructed, by no means excuses this ill-advised appointment of Mr. Harvey to the Rectory of Ewelme.
confessed that when the Act of Parliament was passed he was one of those who thought, as he believed every one thought, that it was a good thing to get rid of pluralities, 1703 and that the arrangement then made was a very good one; but he could not understand why the Crown chose to limit the operation of its choice when what was wanted was to get the best man for the Rectory, unless they wanted a job, which he, for one, did not believe. However, the Act of Parliament was passed in that way, and he knew what was said on the subject in the county where he lived. Everybody said that it must be an Oxford man who would have the Rectory. That was the common phrase of the people, and they never troubled themselves about Convocation and matters of that kind. They believed that there had always been an Oxford man at Ewelme, and they thought it was meant to have one continued there. Now, it seemed that the Government had taken a man, hurrying him up from Cambridge, and said they would turn him into an Oxford man; but nobody would believe it, and the man himself would not believe it, and if they were to ask him where he belonged, he would say Cambridge. It was like making a blackamoor white, which never could be done. Mr. Harvey would be a Cambridge man to the end of his days. But humble people said that this was not honest, and they never could have believed that the right hon. Gentleman at the head of the Government would do such a thing. That was the sort of language which the country people used, and he did not think it fortunate that the Prime Minister had given them the opportunity of saying such things. However it might be attempted to shuffle with all sorts of subtleties, what the matter came to in plain language was, that the people expected to get an Oxford man, and they had not got one. As far as qualification went, it was impossible to have a better qualified man; he had never heard two opinions on that point; but it was unfortunate that the right hon. Gentleman, with no earthly object which anyone could understand, should have given people the opportunity of saying things which were not very pleasant, and which could not very easily be gainsaid. Such was the opinion which he had heard expressed where he lived, and he believed it was pretty well spread all over the country. He regretted that was the case, and he was, therefore, glad this debate had taken place, because it af- 1704 forded the opportunity for a general expression of opinion that the gentleman appointed to Ewelme Rectory was a fit man, which might not otherwise have been thought, with all this unpleasant state of things existing, to be the case. Any erroneous impression on that point would be removed by the present debate, and that he looked on as a lucky circumstance, for it would be a disadvantage for a man to go down to the cure of a parish and have anything of the kind hanging about his neck. But as there were as good fish in the sea as had come out of it, nothing he had heard showed that the right hon. Gentleman might not have had a proper man for the appointment without creating all this bother and boggle.
§ MR. WATKIN WILLIAMS
said, he was anxious to say a few words on that occasion, because he took part in a recent debate when an analogous question was before the House. It was alleged then that in both cases the Government had been guilty of a violation or evasion of the spirit and intention of an Act of Parliament. On that occasion he made it his duty to look into both Acts, and all those internal circumstances belonging to the subject-matter dealt with necessary to form a just opinion of the intention of the Legislature, and having applied to the Act of Parliament relating to the Ewelme Rectory the same canons of construction that he had applied to the Judicial Committee Act, he had come to the conclusion that the suggestion that the Ewelme Rectory case stood on the same footing as the translation of Sir Robert Collier was entirely unfounded. He thought that in the present instance the Government were entirely justified in the view they had taken of the Act of Parliament, and that the appointment of Mr. Harvey was strictly within the true and honest meaning of the statute. The terms of the Act enabled the Government to present to the living any person "being a member of the Convocation of the University of Oxford." In determining the question of whether or not the appointment of Mr. Harvey was in accordance with the real intention of the Legislature, they must be guided by the words and expressions used by the Legislature in the statute, without adding anything to or taking away anything from the language used; but he disclaimed any pos- 1705 sible obligation to look to the debates in Parliament to assist them in construing the words of a statute, because it was impossible to fathom the intentions of so many persons who, from different points of view, and with different and even conflicting ideas, had consented to the introduction of certain words in an Act of Parliament. Of course, effect must be given to the spirit and intention of the words, for that was their true meaning, and a mere compliance with the bare and naked letter might well be an evasion of the substantial meaning, the proper mode of arriving at which was, as Lord Coke and other jurists had laid down, to look at the subject-matter, the context, and the surrounding circumstances, in order to see what was the real spirit and meaning and true object of the statute. It had been urged that the words "being a member of Convocation of the said University" meant not merely a person who had become a member of Convocation for the purpose of qualifying himself for the appointment, but something more. He admitted the propriety of that form of criticism, and would deal fairly and straightforwardly with the inner sense and more extended meaning which these words were said to convey when the subject-matter and context were examined into. It was a most unfair, though very ad captandum way of arguing the question to say, as the right hon. Member for the county of Oxford (Mr. Henley) had said, that the people living around Ewelme did not expect that the Prime Minister would have done such a thing. He would accept the test put to them by the right hon. Gentleman opposite (Mr. G. Hardy), who asked, supposing a statute enacted that no man should be appointed a County Court Judge in Wales who could not speak and understand the Welsh language, whether it would be competent in that case for the Lord Chancellor to select as a Welsh County Court Judge a man who, though ignorant of the Welsh tongue, undertook to make himself master of it in time for his appointment—say, in six months. Now, his answer to that was, that if it were possible for a man to learn the Welsh language in six months—which it was not—and he did so, then he would be duly qualified for the office according to the spirit and intention of the statute. He could not under- 1706 stand how it could be argued, if a Minister said to a man—"If you qualify yourself for an office, I will appoint you to that office," and the man did so qualify himself, that that was not a perfectly good qualification. But it was obvious that statutory and other qualifications for offices must be divided into several kinds. Some qualifications were of such a character that a man might acquire them by the mere fact of taking upon himself the qualification. For example, supposing it were enacted that as a necessary qualification for a mastership of a certain school, a man must be a Master of Arts, would anybody contend that a person could not be selected for that appointment, who was not a Master of Arts at the time, but who was able to obtain, and did obtain that qualification before his actual appointment. Again, in the case of vacancies to subordinate situations under the Government, persons were frequently offered appointments subject to the condition that they should pass through an examination, and obtain a certain certificate of competency, required by law as a qualification for the office; persons so nominated read up for the examination, and having passed and obtained the required certificate, became duly qualified for the situation; and it could not be truly said that the spirit, intention, and object of the rule required that they should have been so qualified before they were selected. That principle, however, did not apply universally, and there were cases, no doubt, in which the full possession of the qualification at the time of the selection was necessary in order to comply with the intention of the law. And whether that was so or not, could not be conclusively determined by looking at the mere letter of the law only, but each particular statute or rule must be read with reference to its subject-matter, its object, and the nature of the qualification under discussion. For example, there was a great distinction between a case like the present, where the qualification was capable of being obtained and acquired independently by the appointee or candidate himself, and a case like Sir Robert Collier's, where it was conferred upon the candidate by the very persons who had the power of appointment. It was said in the present case that the words "being a member of Convocation of 1707 Oxford" meant, according to their substantial and true sense, a man who was an Oxford man, who had been educated at Oxford, and who was a graduate of Oxford, and did not embrace a Cambridge man who had become a member of Convocation. He could not accede to that view. There was certainly nothing in the Act itself requiring the presentee to be an Oxford man other than a member of Convocation, and as an Oxford man himself, familiar with the ins and outs of the matter, he entirely denied that such was the spirit and meaning of the statute. But then he was asked if the qualification did not mean that, what did it mean? He was prepared to answer that question. Previously to this statute the Rectory of Ewelme was always conferred upon the person appointed Regius Professor of Divinity in Oxford. It was not a necessary qualification for the Professorship that a man should have been an Oxford man in the sense now contended for; but the Regius Professor always became a member of Convocation of Oxford, so that the Rectory of Ewelme by a necessary accident was always conferred upon a member of Convocation. Now, this Act, by severing the Rectory from the Professorship, put an end to this accidental connection between Ewelme and Convocation. Now, what was the meaning of the language in question when read by the light thrown upon it by these facts? Using this key to open the windows of the statute, as Lord Coke said, and looking inside, what do we see to have been the mind and intention of the Legislature? Why, surely, that the rector of Ewelme should, notwithstanding the severance of the Rectory from the Professorship, still be, as he always had been, a member of Convocation. But there was nothing in the Act nor in the sense of its provisions requiring anything further, or that the rector should have been an Oxford graduate, or, in other respects, an Oxford man; and unless imaginary clauses were introduced into the statute he could come to no other conclusion than that the Prime Minister, in appointing Mr. Harvey to the Rectory of Ewelme, had acted strictly according to the true spirit and intention of the Act.
THE ATTORNEY GENERAL
remarked that the thin state of the House showed the interest in this discussion 1708 was not very absorbing, and he would not have intruded but for the pointed challenge given by his right hon. Friend opposite (Mr. Mowbray), which it would have been discourteous in him not to accept. Before he proceeded to the case to which his right hon. Friend had called his attention, he had respectfully as a lawyer to protest against the new doctrine which had been introduced as to the spirit of an Act of Parliament. It was a most inconvenient doctrine. When one had to deal with an Act of Parliament, then he knew what he was dealing with. One knew the words of it, and construed them by rules of sense and rules of law, and arrived at some definite understanding of what it meant. But when one embarked upon what some hon. Gentlemen was pleased to call the spirit of an Act of Parliament, then he embarked on a vague and hopeless quest, in which people would arrive at utterly different conclusions. Nothing could illustrate the absurdity of the practice better than this discussion. Here were two right hon. Gentlemen—intelligent men, eminent men, representing the University of Oxford, coming forward to attack the Government, and arriving at hopelessly contradictory conclusions between themselves as to what the spirit of the Act really was. The words of the Act were "being a member of the Convocation," and in treating upon them his right hon. Friend (Mr. Mowbray) thought that if a man who had formerly been a member of Convocation, was readmitted for the purpose of qualifying, it would bring him within the spirit of the Act. His right hon. Colleague (Mr. G. Hardy), however, was of a contrary opinion, and thought that to act upon such a qualification would amount to a breach of the spirit of the Act. As regarded the qualification, that was the first time he (the Attorney General) had heard a qualification described as a "colourable" qualification when it was taken for the purpose of an office or benefice, or anything else for which it was by law prescribed to be the qualification. Hon. Members seemed to contend that in the case of a person becoming a member of Convocation for no particular purpose, it would not be a colourable qualification, but that if he became a member of Convocation for a particular purpose, then it would be colourable. That doctrine, however, 1709 would not stand; it arose out of a misapprehension of the meaning of the term "colourable." A colourable qualification meant that which was conferred in language, and was not conferred in substance. In this instance, Mr. Harvey was an actual member of Convocation, and would continue to be so; and this was what the Act of Parliament required. His right hon. Friend opposite (Mr. Mowbray) had challenged him to assert that the law had been fulfilled, and that Mr. Harvey was a member of Convocation at present. He had made himself master of the last edition of the statutes, and had found the words upon which his right hon. Friend relied. Now, he was not going to enter upon a subtle disquisition as to the meaning of the Latin statutes of Convocation, for that meaning, as he understood it, of these statutes was this—they laid down with some precision the conditions under which certain persons should become members of the Convocation, and who, being members, should exercise the right of voting in Convocation. There was the right of deliberating in Convocation, the right of voting in Convocation, and the right to vote, for a man might be admitted to the right of voting, subject to a limitation of the time at which he had the right to vote. They had heard a great deal about the jus suffragii and the jus suffragandi, but the substance of the matter appeared plainly to him to be this—the section in question, after dealing with the cases of those who, having ceased to be members of Convocation, sought to recover their right to vote, proceeded to deal with the cases of those who, being members of other Universities, desired to be incorporated in that of Oxford. By the terms of the section, these latter were required to produce proof of their having resided 42 days within the University to the Vice Chancellor, who thereupon was bound to admit them ad jus suffragii, but they were not entitled to exercise the right of voting until 180 days after they had been thus admitted. Thus such persons, although not actually entitled to vote until 180 days after their admission, were to all other intents and purposes members of the Convocation. The membership, he maintained, became at once complete; the right to be present at the meetings was conferred; and everything that members were competent to do might be 1710 done, with the exception that the right of voting was not for some time to be exercised. ["Hear, hear!"] The right hon. Member opposite cheered that remark, but had he never heard of analogous cases, such as the title of a person to be a Member of Parliament being complete, taking the oath but not voting, or a Member of the House of Peers who lost his seat in that House, but who did not at once acquire the right to vote in the Upper House, although to all other intents and purposes he was a Member of it, so much so that he would be entitled to be tried by his Peers, and to every other privilege attaching to a Peer of the Realm? There were many other analogous cases with which he need not trouble the House, but which were familiar in University and college experience. Upon the clearest construction of the statutes of the University, therefore, he could not bring himself to doubt that this gentleman was a member of the Convocation of the University of Oxford, and, viewing the matter in that light, the discussion appeared to him to be eminently unpractical. The right hon. Gentleman at the head of the Government had given an answer upon the substantial question—a fit man had been appointed to a fit place, he possessing the qualifications which the statute imposed, and being to his mind a perfectly good member of the Convocation of the University of Oxford.
, as a civilian, felt bound to stand up in favour of an Act of Parliament being construed according to its spirit and according to its plain and manifest intention. He hoped the House would not consider it presumption on his part to speak in opposition to the two distinguished lawyers who had addressed them on that occasion, but he could not help saying that the common-place interpretation of the Act appeared to be entirely disregarded. He quite admitted that great danger was incurred by using two ways in the construction of an Act of Parliament; but were they not liable to err as greatly by interpreting it too closely? He did not impute for a moment anything like corruption to the right hon. Gentleman at the head of the Government in this affair; he had acted, no doubt, with the best intentions in appointing a very proper man; but the conduct of the right hon. Gentleman would furnish a dangerous precedent, 1711 and he feared that similar concessions would be claimed hereafter. Precedent was always relied upon in this country, and it would be unfortunate if the violation of the spirit and intention of an Act of Parliament which had occurred in reference to the present case were to be drawn into a precedent.
§ MR. BOUVERIE
Sir, nobody conversant with the character of the right hon. Gentleman at the head of the Government would for a moment impute to him any corrupt or improper motive in making this appointment. No doubt, the right hon. Gentleman was conscientiously satisfied with the gentleman he appointed, and with excellent motives chose the best man he could obtain for the position; but I think that the House and the public have some right to complain that the right hon. Gentleman, always actuated by the most upright and conscientious motives, sees things which other people do not see, and does not see what they do see. It is that disposition of the right hon. Gentleman at which the public and the House have had reason to feel alarmed. We all have our amusements at various times, but that of the right hon. Gentleman, when he has nothing else to do, is to drive coaches and six through Acts of Parliament. This is the second example which we have discussed this Session of the determination of the right hon. Gentleman, in face of the plain common sense meaning of an Act of Parliament—which I do not consent to have interpreted by lawyers alone—to run counter to the good sense and right judgment of his countrymen. The matter in itself, concerning as it does an obscure living in a mere corner of a county, is simple and small enough, but the character of the proceeding adopted by the right hon. Gentleman justifies the criticism of this House, and it is with reference to that that I wish to make a few observations. I ask the House to look at what the Act says, at what it intends, and at what the right hon. Gentleman has done; and I regret that the right hon. Gentleman is not in his place while I dwell on those points. All that the right hon. Gentleman has said as to Mr. Harvey's merits, his motives for appointing that gentleman, and the grounds on which he made the selection, is totally irrelevant to the real question at issue. The Act of Parlia- 1712 ment provides that the clergyman of the Church of England who should have this living should be at the time a member of Convocation of the University of Oxford. That restriction is, undoubtedly, a foolish restriction; but without arguing with the right hon. Gentleman on that point, I will put this question to the House—Would any Member of this House, being patron of a living under such a restriction as that, ever think of writing to suggest to one who had been educated at Cambridge, and taken a degree there—"You go to Oxford, enter your name at a college, call yourself an Oxford man, take an ad eundem degree according to the Oxford statutes, and then I will give you the living, restricted as it is in this way?" I will appeal to the common sense of the House, and ask whether any individual Member of it would have thought of making such a suggestion, or of doing such a thing? The plain natural sense and meaning of the words was undoubtedly this—that the man at the time of the appointment must be a member of Convocation of the University of Oxford, and as such he was to be selected for the living. But his hon. and learned Friend the Attorney General threw the glamour of his eloquence over the question, and said—"Oh, you must not talk about the spirit of the Act; you must look at what it says." That is just what I say, for the intention of an Act is generally conveyed by the words used in the formation of its clauses, and I agree with the hon. and learned Gentleman that, in matters like this, the only question is, with reference either to words or spirit, what is the meaning and intention of the Act? The best evidence of the intention of the Act is the words, which, as a rule, convey the meaning. But if these words are capable, for some reason or other, of a particular interpretation, which may be arrived at by those who use the words, which is obviously contrary to the intention, that is not to be looked upon as the meaning of the Act. We spent a great deal of time a few weeks ago in discussing the meaning of an Act respecting the appointment of a gentleman to a high judicial position, and I think it must have been obvious to anyone with common sense that, at any rate, the meaning of the Act was not that a gentleman from the Bar should 1713 be shoved for a week into the position of a puisne Judge, in order that he might then be appointed a paid Member of the Judicial Committee of the Privy Council. That is obvious to the common sense of the public at large. With regard to the intention of the Bill in the present case, what is its history? Are there any extraneous circumstances by means of which we may arrive at the meaning of the Act now under discussion, for we must bear in mind that the ink of it is scarcely dry, and we have means for discussing it which will not be in the possession of hon. Members of Parliament 50 years to come. The Bill was passed through the Commons and introduced in the House of Lords without any restriction about the University of Oxford, but with the somewhat remarkable Proviso—that no person should be presented to the Rectory of Ewelme who was not eligible for appointment to the Regius Professorship of Divinity. If that Proviso had remained in the Act, it would have been perfectly competent for the right hon. Gentleman to have presented whomsoever he chose to the rectory, for there is no restriction to the power of appointment to the Professorship, although, in compliment to the University, it is usual to appoint an Oxford man. With regard to the progress of the Bill, I have taken the trouble to consult the Journals of the House of Lords, and I find that in Committee the Proviso was struck out, and that words were inserted providing that whoever was presented should be a member of Convocation of the University of Oxford. I think it must be obvious to the House that the House of Lords did not strike out certain words, and introduce certain other words which meant the same thing; but that there must be some further meaning in the words introduced by the House of Lords than that contained in the Proviso which they struck out in Committee. I endeavoured to ascertain the history of that change; and the right hon. Gentleman has indicated indirectly what took place. The right hon. Gentleman said that the words had not been introduced by the Lord Chancellor proprio motu; that they were not the words of the Government, but the result of communications with gentlemen who differed in opinion from the Government on the subject. I happen to know, on 1714 the best authority, that the noble Lord the Chancellor of the University of Oxford did intend to introduce words in Committee which would have strictly limited the patronage to those who had been educated and taken their degree at Oxford. These words, which limited the patronage to members of Convocation of the University of Oxford, were assented to by him; and I am authorized by the noble Marquess (the Marquess of Salisbury) to say it was done on the understanding that they did limit the patronage of the living to those men who had gone through the curriculum of education at Oxford, and were, in common language, called Oxford men. It is therefore obvious that the interpretation put upon it then by the Government—at any rate by the noble Marquess (the Marquess of Salisbury, was the same interpretation for which the right hon. Gentleman opposite (Mr. Mowbray) contended, that it was not a mere qualification of a man becoming at some future time a member of Convocation of the University of Oxford, but it was a preliminary qualification that the man who was to have the appointment must at the time it was offered to him have this qualification at the University of Oxford. In that way I arrive at the intention of the Act of Parliament. Having pointed out what the Act said, and what the Act intended I will now ask—What was it the right hon. Gentleman at the head of the Government did? But before passing on to consider that part of the subject, I must refer to a statement which he has made in the course of the present debate—a statement which is one of the most extraordinary I have ever heard in this House. The right hon. Gentleman at the head of the Government has stated that had he known what was contained in a Bill which had passed both Houses, he would have taken a course which has not been taken for 170 years, and he would have advised the Crown to withhold its assent to the measure. For a Constitutional Minister at the head of the Liberal party, that strikes me as being the most extraordinary statement ever made in this House. Now, let us consider what the right hon. Gentleman did in reference to this appointment. Instead of taking the course which, as it seems to me, would commend itself to anyone reading the Act and knowing its history, he wrote to a quiet country 1715 clergyman, and suggested to him a method of evading a plain Act of Parliament, by going to Oxford and qualifying himself in a roundabout way to take this living. These circumstances are most regretable. I do lament that the right hon. Gentleman, more especially as head of the Government, should have taken a course that is open to question in this way. I admit, as I did at first, his high conscientiousness, his high sense of honour, his determination to do right, but I have often noticed his strong determination always to carry through that which accords with his own wishes. He sees the object which he has in view, but he does not see the force and strength of objections which may be made against what he wishes to carry. It is the business of this House to point the force of those objections, and I hope the discussion of to-night will be a warning to the right hon. Gentleman not to pursue in future these very exceptionable courses in order to evade the provisions of Acts of Parliament.
§ MR. RAIKES
said, he was sorry the right hon. Gentleman at the head of the Government had not been in his place to hear the speech of the right hon. Gentleman who had just sat down. He trusted, however, that the speech would be conveyed to the right hon. Gentleman by means of those organs of public opinion for which he did not seem to entertain the highest possible respect. He agreed with the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Kilmarnock (Mr. Bouverie) that it was indeed an extraordinary thing for a Prime Minister to state that he would advise the Crown to refuse assent to a measure agreed upon by both Houses of Parliament.
I beg pardon. My right hon. Friend at the head of the Government did not say that he had any thought of advising the Crown to refuse the Royal Assent to the Bill. What my right hon. Friend meant was—
§ MR. MOWBRAY
I rise to Order. It is competent to any hon. Member to explain his own words, but I never yet understood it was competent for one Minister to explain the meaning of words used by another Minister.
§ MR. RAIKES
said, he should be sorry to misinterpret the words of the right hon. Gentleman at the head of the Government; but the words used by the 1716 right hon. Gentleman were fresh in the recollection of the House, and he was certainly under the belief that he correctly quoted their substance. Well, there was another point he desired to call attention to. The right hon. Gentleman had stated that the Bill severing the Rectory of Ewelme from the Regius Professorship ought not to be connected with the offer of the latter post to Dr. Mozley. But how did the case stand upon the right hon. Gentleman's own showing? Dr. Mozley was offered the Regius Professorship, and with it was connected the Rectory of Ewelme. No conditions were put on his accepting the Professorship; however, it appeared that he held the living of Old Shoreham, which he was naturally unwilling to resign. Under these circumstances he accepted the Professorship, and immediately afterwards the Government introduced the Bill, the consequence of which was that it enabled Dr. Mozley to continue to enjoy the living of Old Shoreham. He did not wish or mean to impute any improper motive; but the facts, as he had stated them, remained; and he ventured to think that if they had been frankly stated at the time they would have been accepted without cavil; but they were not brought forward till now, when the affair had assumed a very different complexion. Considering the scant favours that Cambridge had enjoyed under the present Government, that University ought perhaps to be thankful for any preferment that might be conferred on it; but he was bound to say that the present piece of patronage would have been much more palatable if it had not properly belonged to the University of Oxford.
The right hon. Gentleman opposite (Mr. Mowbray) in the exercise of his undoubted right interrupted me just now when I was explaining what I conceived to be an entire misapprehension of the hon. Gentleman the Member for Chester (Mr. Raikes) as to the language used by my right hon. Friend at the head of the Government. What my right hon. Friend said was, that if he had disapproved the Amendment introduced into the Bill by the House of Lords, he would have felt it to be his duty to withdraw the Bill. ["No, no!"] I deny that my right hon. Friend either said, or intended to say, that he would advise the Crown to ex- 1717 ercise its veto on the Bill after it had passed the two houses of Parliament.
§ MR. HUNT
said, he was bound to say that his recollection of the words used by the right hon. Gentleman at the head of the Government agreed with the version of them given them by the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Kilmarnock. In regard to the general question, he had listened to the debate, and the one part upon which it mainly turned semed to him to be obviously this—with what object was the qualification introduced into the Bill, unless it was intended to confine the selection of the Crown to Oxford men? All the legal ingenuities to which hon. and learned Members of the House had treated them that night failed, and must fail to develope any other reasonable and common sense construction of the Act. Had anyone ventured to assert that by going through the form of incorporation at Oxford, Mr. Wigan Harvey added a single qualification for presentation to the Rectory of Ewelme to those he already possessed? He had heard no such argument, nor did he expect to hear it, and it was clear that the clause had, and could have, but one meaning. In connection with this appointment there was one important point which had not yet been brought under the notice of the House. When was the appointment made? The right hon. Gentleman at the head of the Government had argued that it was made when the formal instrument was signed which gave the Rectory to Mr. Harvey; but his (Mr. Hunt's) contention was, that the appointment ought to date from the day on which the living was offered to Mr. Harvey by the right hon. Gentleman, and no one could say that at that period Mr. Harvey possessed the requisite qualifications. He believed he was justified by analogy in saying that the appointment ought to date from the time when the offer of it was made, because if a hon. Member of that House accepted office under the Crown his seat became vacant, not from the actual day on which he received the seals, or on which his patent was made out, but from the day when the offer was made to and accepted by him. He was glad to perceive that the right hon. Gentleman had now returned to his place, and he wished the right hon. Gentleman had heard the speech of the right hon. Member for Kilmarnock, because it would have taught 1718 him some wholesome truths as to the view taken of this transaction by many of his own supporters, as well as by the public at large. It was most unfortunate that this appointment should have been immediately preceded by the promotion of Sir Robert Collier, which had occupied the attention of the House the other night, because it seemed to show that those occupying the highest places in the land were utterly regardless of the spirit and intention of Acts of Parliament, and did not set by any means a good example of the way in which the law should be administered.
§ COLONEL BARTTELOT
said, that since the right hon. Gentleman at the head of the Government had returned to his place, he would repeat the charge which had been brought forward by the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Kilmarnock, and by his hon. Friend behind him (Mr. Raikes)—namely, that the right hon. Gentleman said that if the Act had been passed by the two Houses of Parliament, he should, if he had understood the qualification in the sense since put upon it, have advised the Crown not to consent to that Act. [Mr. GLADSTONE: No, no!] For his own part, he had distinctly understood such to be the language of the right hon. Gentleman, and he believed that all who heard him were of the same opinion. When the Bill passed the House, it understood this—that the living of Ewelme was to be given only to members of the University of Oxford. Neither the House nor the country had gone into the technicalities in which the right hon. Gentleman had indulged that evening; but he thought the majority of hon. Members present were of opinion that the right hon. Gentleman had ridden through the Act—had driven a hole in it, in order that Ewelme might be given to a Cambridge and not to an Oxford man, and that was a thing that neither the Conservative party nor the country approved of. If the right hon. Gentleman did not approve of the limitation proposed by the Act, he should have stated it distinctly when it was before them, and should have avowed that he understood it as conferring the power of selecting either a Cambridge or an Oxford man for the Rectory of Ewelme; but he (Colonel Barttelot) defied any man to read the Act as it now stood, and avoid coming to the conclusion that 1719 it excluded members of Cambridge University from holding that Rectory. It was one of the traditions of English political life that the highest respect should be entertained for those who ruled the country, for it had always been believed of them, that they would exercise the patronage that fell into their hands in strict accordance with the meaning as well as the letter of Acts of Parliament. Unhappily, the country had recently seen two examples of the Government deliberately violating Acts that they themselves had passed, or interpreting them in a non-natural sense; and for that reason the House had been invited that evening to enter its solemn protest against the transaction now under review.
§ MR. GREENE
said, that there had been almost complete unanimity among the Press of the country respecting the appointment of Mr. Harvey; and unless they were to be asked to believe in the infallibility of the right hon. Gentleman at the head of the Government, he did not know why they should hesitate to adopt the common sense and obvious meaning of the Act. He feared that the Government, by interpreting it contrary to its clear meaning, had descended from that moral dignity which was expected of every English Administration. The conduct of the Government, and the defence offered for it by the right hon. Gentleman, reminded him of a story he had heard from a friend of his, who was staying in a country house. One morning he heard a great noise and confusion in the yard, and looking out he saw one of the kitchen-maids being put on to a horse, and so carried round the yard. When he went down he asked what was the matter, and the groom said—"Oh, sir, it's only that we're going to take the horse to the fair, and we want to say that he has carried a lady." Now, it seemed to him that that was a very good illustration of what the right hon. Gentleman had done. He did not, for a moment, mean to say that the right hon. Gentleman had acted corruptly; but, he was bound to say that he did not think a Minister who could so peculiarly interpret Acts of Parliament was fitted to hold the office of Prime Minister. He hoped that he should never again have to hear a Government charged with having, in any way, thrown themselves open to doubts upon the morality, 1720 honesty, and uprightness with which they had acted.
Sir, with respect to the challenge just made by the hon. and gallant Member for West Sussex (Colonel Barttelot), I wish to say I am astonished anyone could have misunderstood me. What I stated was, that it would have been my duty alone to advise the giving or withholding of the consent of the Crown; but that referred to the usual function of a Member of Parliament charged with a Bill, when that Bill requires, by the Rules of the House, the consent of the Crown to allow it to pass. But to advise the Crown upon the subject of veto—if such a thing is to be imagined at all—is not my function alone; it would be the function of the Cabinet.
If my right hon. Friend is to be allowed, in the excess of his zeal, to make two speeches against me, I must be allowed a similar privilege.
§ LORD JOHN MANNERS
I must be permitted to observe, upon the last statement of the right hon. Gentleman at the head of the Government, that the Amendment in question was permitted by the Government to be introduced, in the Upper House, at a very late stage of the proceedings—long after the right hon. Gentleman, on the part of the Crown, had given his consent to the introduction of the Bill. The Amendment itself was introduced by the Lord Chancellor of England. What, therefore, can the right hon. Gentleman mean by the last explanation he has given? These things will be recorded and will be read all over the country, which will place upon them the interpretation justly placed on them by the right hon. Member for Kilmarnock.