Order read, for resuming Adjourned Debate on Amendment proposed to Question [20th March], "That the Bill be now read a second time;" and which Amendment was,
To leave out from the word "That" to the end of the Question, in order to add the words "this House, though desirous of dealing with the subject of University education in Ireland, is of opinion that any measure relating to that question should be established upon a secure and permanent basis, and for that purpose should be brought in upon the responsibility of Her Majesty's Government, and that no measure of University Education in Ireland can be satisfactory, just, or permanent which does not afford to all Her Majesty's subjects in that Country the right of attaining University degrees without the violation of their conscientious opinions,"—(Mr. Synan,)
§ Question again proposed, "That the words proposed to be left out stand part of the Question."
§ Debate resumed.
said, he was far from thinking that the debate on the Amendment to the second reading of this Bill had been unduly protracted. The subject was one on which the people of Ireland might truly be said to have made up their minds. There could be no mistake as to what they desired, and what they considered absolutely necessary. 701 Parliament and the people of England and Scotland should be thoroughly alive to the decision which had been arrived at in Ireland. This was an attempt, by a piece of legislative dexterity, to take the settlement of Irish University education out of the hands of those most interested in it, best entitled, and certainly most competent to deal with it. The Bill had been introduced by his hon. Friend the Member for Brighton (Mr. Fawcett), and he must ask him, had he satisfied himself that it had the approval of the majority of Irishmen? Did he ascertain that they were willing to accept it as a settlement of that for which they had been long seeking? Was he not aware that they would regard its passing into law, notwithstanding its plausible character, as a serious obstacle in the way of realizing their just demands? If his hon. Friend could point to any section of Irishmen as sanctioning the course which he had taken in this matter, must he not admit that they were the representatives of a very small minority? And was he so unmindful of the obligations of his political creed as to be a party to assist that minority to overrule, even in an indirect or underhand manner, the long-avowed and dearest wishes of the great majority of the people of Ireland? With whom did he concert the measure? With whom did he take counsel? Did he advise with any of those who were the representatives of the majority on the question of Irish University education; with those who were his faithful political allies, united to give effect to the principles of civil and religious liberty, while entertaining the views on education which, as Catholics, they were, he believed, bound in conscience to hold? He had great respect for his hon. Friend; but his abilities, great as they were, would be powerless in this assault upon principles which he regarded as co-ordinate with truth itself, which were implanted in his mind in his earliest youth, which every development of reason had strengthened, and which he hoped to carry with unimpaired vigour to the grave. The House came to the consideration of this matter in an excited frame of mind, because the question of education, and especially that of Irish education, excited religious prejudice, and hence there was on the part of the Liberal party a disposition—he would not say a determination—to deal 702 with the question in violation of its political principles and in accordance with its religious prejudices. If it settled any part of the question of Irish education in a manner which did not meet with the approval of the Irish people, it would violate its political principles, because it would defy the constitutional expression of Irish opinion, and that would be tantamount to a disfranchisement of Ireland. What was the use of Irish Members coming to the House if they could not give a practical shape to the wishes of their constituents? The Irish Members joined the Liberal party, not because they approved that party's object, but because they sought political liberty as a means of attaining certain objects dear to their hearts; they sought it for the purpose for which all nations sought it—that they might be able to regulate their own affairs, and not that others should regulate those affairs for them. He would say to the Liberal party in this country—"When we allied ourselves with you it was well understood that, while in common with you we sought liberty, we sought it for a different purpose, owing to the different circumstances of our respective countries, and our alliance with the Liberal party never would have been made could it have been for one moment imagined that we were to substitute the despotisms of irresponsible kings and oligarchies for a tyranny equally objectionable." He contended that Irishmen only were competent to deal with the question of education as affecting Ireland; it would be a violation of the spirit of the Act of Union if Englishmen and Scotchmen took this matter out of the hands of Irishmen. He would say to them—"The Union was not carried to enable you to interfere in our domestic affairs; it was carried to place the integrity of the Empire upon a secure and immovable foundation. This in no way requires that you should interfere with the regulation of our local affairs, and that is proved by the fact that you do not generally interfere in our local concerns. You don't attempt to assimilate our local regulations to yours; we have different poor laws, jury laws, and currency laws, and now we have different land and ecclesiastical laws; and the truth is, you never would have thought of imposing your will upon us in the question of education had it not happened to be 703 one which excites your religious prejudices." What he was afraid the House contemplated doing was unjust, and when looked at closely it became almost incredible. His constituents had a deep interest in this question, and they had expressed their wishes in the most unmistakable manner; but the constituents of the hon. Member for Brighton had no interest in the question save that which arose from anxiety to force their opinions down the throats of other men, and so to settle this question after their own fashion; and their relative positions illustrated those of the Irish Members as opposed to the majority of the House. While the Irish Members asked for one thing, the Bill pressed upon them another, with an affectation of generosity and liberality. Its chief characteristic appeared to be hostility to all religious training. If the promoters were merely indifferent they would not press upon Irishmen a system of education which they absolutely detested. They denied the alleged offer of equality; at least it was not the equality they wanted; equality was not necessarily good in itself; and that proposed to be established by this Bill was bad, and the means by which it was sought to be established were calculated to be most injurious to Christianity. The carrying out of the principles of the Bill would reduce Christianity to a mere name. Worse than the bigotry of former times, which arrayed denomination against denomination, this professed liberality would prohibit all incitement to piety during the University course, at the most critical and impressionable period of men's lives. The Bill represented the gentlemen of Trinity College as magnanimously pulling down their house for the purpose of enabling others to live with them in the ruins; from being the arrogant champions of an exclusive religion, they became partizans, not of an opposite religion, but of a system opposed to all religion, and the rampant supporters of the Thirty-nine Articles countenanced latitudinarianism and rationalism. Unless the Bill was a sham and a delusion, the representatives of Trinity College gave up everything except their revenues. The great argument in favour of the Bill was that it would put an end to social differences of a sectarian character, and that Irishmen would live together in a state of blessed toleration and jolly good 704 fellowship; but this was an illusory idea; and that no collegiate jumble of men of different religions would produce this effect was shown by the past history of Trinity College, which, notwithstanding the number of Catholics who were passing through it, did not abandon its religious exclusiveness, but opposed Catholic Emancipation, religious equality, and political liberty for Ireland, until its friends were crushed and sat upon by the Liberal party in this House and this country. And yet people had the face to say that Trinity College was the citadel of freedom! The truth was, the authorities of Trinity College and its supporters were driven into such a state of frenzy by the concessions which had been made by Parliament to the people of Ireland that they scarcely knew what side to take, and it was quite clear they were prepared to take any side they could take with safety. The representatives of Trinity College came to Parliament and offered to the Catholics a questionable liberty in the matter of education, provided the latter were prepared to surrender their conscientious convictions as to what ought to be the character of University education. Were not the Catholics bound to reject the offer with contumely? There might, perhaps, be some who thought Catholics had no right to have consciences, and with such persons it would be useless to argue; but addressing himself to those who were prepared to concede to others the rights they claimed for themselves, he protested against this attempt to impose upon the Catholics of Ireland a system of education to which they conscientiously objected. Some people affected to believe that Catholics were always acting under compulsion, and could not differ from their bishops and priests; but the occurrences of almost every day showed that Catholic laymen frequently espoused one side of a question while the bishops and priests arrayed themselves on the other. There were other questions, however, in regard to which the Catholic clergy and laity were as one, and if he were asked why, he could only reply that on those questions conscience forbade any essential divergence of opinion. In dealing with this question it must never be forgotten that Ireland was a Roman Catholic nation, and that she was resolved to remain Roman Catholic. If, then, the Catholics of Ireland wished 705 to place the education of their children under the direction of the clergy, what right had the House to interfere with their natural and inalienable rights? In doing so, it would commit an act of intolerable and unjustifiable tyranny. If, indeed, anyone could say that the priests were inculcators of disaffection and of disloyalty to the Throne and Constitution, he would occupy a position which it would be useless to attempt to assail; but no one could make such an assertion with truth, because in the dominions of our Sovereign Lady the Queen there were no more steadfast supporters of her Throne and of the great institutions of "King, Lords, and Commons" on which the Constitution was based than the Roman Catholic clergy and hierarchy. In fact, the cardinal principle of their system was to inculcate respect for the Throne and for all established authorities. For his own part, he took a deep interest in this question, and, in common with the great majority of his fellow-countrymen, he was anxious to secure for Ireland a complete system of Catholic education. Could this result be brought about or could it not? On the final answer to this question a great deal depended. He was one of those who said that that result could be attained, and that the Imperial Parliament was prepared to govern Ireland justly—a course which necessitated a compliance with her fair and reasonable demands. Now, what could be more fair and reasonable than that she should educate her children as she thought proper? It was no answer to tell him, an Irishman, that the people of England and Scotland had prejudices, and that the Members of the House of Commons were bound to humour the prejudices of their constituents. Let him remind the House that the Irish people had prejudices too, and that it would make things much pleasanter and much more agreeable for the time being always to yield to those prejudices; but that one of the first and most exalted duties of a public man, especially of a public man who had the honour of a seat in Parliament, was to combat and, if possible, to overcome the prejudices of his countrymen. Beyond all doubt the most effectual means of doing this was to adhere rigorously to those principles of justice and obedience which constitute the only solid basis of individual liberty, of the authority of 706 Government, and of the permanent security of Empires. The conduct of the Government in this matter was naturally a source of deep anxiety to everybody in Ireland, and to none more than to those who had been the faithful supporters of the Government. Duty pointed most unmistakably to the course which the Government ought to take—namely, to carry out the wishes of the great majority of the Irish people as expressed by the majority of the Irish Representatives in that House—to do, in fact, what an Irish Parliament would do if it sat in College Green. If the Government did less than this, they could not expect to satisfy the Irish people; and all he would say was, that he hoped the Government would have in the future, as they had had hitherto, the courage to do their duty towards the Irish people.
§ MR. PIM
saw with surprise and regret that the present measure was almost word for word the same as the Bill of last year. In the Preamble, Trinity College was referred to as "a place of religion and learning;" but such a description was a mockery of sacred things, if it was intended to eliminate all religious instruction in order to establish equality between Roman Catholics and Protestants; whereas, if it was meant that the Protestant character of the College was still to be kept up, the hopes held out to the Roman Catholics were delusive. If the religious element was to be eliminated, and Trinity College was to be placed on the same footing with the Queen's Colleges, why should not all be united under the same University? The Queen's Colleges had been called godless; yet the intention of their founders had not been to throw religion and religious instruction aside, but to have united secular instruction and separate religious instruction. Deans of residence were appointed, who were to provide for the religious care and instruction of the students of each communion separately, and power was given to theGoverning Body of the Colleges to assign lecture rooms within the College for the use of such religious teachers.No doubt this attempt at separate religious instruction had proved a failure; but it was the original plan, and it showed that public opinion was not then prepared to throw religion wholly aside. The Fellows and Professors of the Col- 707 lege had new come forward to "declare their cordial approval of the principle of this Bill;" but in 1867 they held a totally different opinion. At that time they put forward a statement of objections, in which they maintained that—The injury which would result to Trinity College from the change proposed would be incalculable. The confidence of Protestants throughout the country (Ireland) would be withdrawn; religious animosity, from which the College is now admittedly exempt, would inevitably be introduced, while the great body of the Roman Catholics would keep aloof from an institution which would not afford them more guarantees for religious instruction than they now possess in the Queen's Colleges.These were sound reasons for objecting to the proposed change, and he (Mr. Pim) believed them to be as well founded and as sound now as they were then. The disestablishment of the Church had been referred to as accounting for the change of opinion on the part of these gentlemen; but was that sufficient to produce such a total change? He feared there were other causes operating also. The immediate effects of the present Bill, if it became law, would be very slight. Things would remain very much as they were now; whatever changes there might be in the Governing Body would be gradual and almost imperceptible, and hardly felt, if at all, during the lives of the present Fellows. Now, what was to be done with the Theological School, which had been the great means of educating the Protestant clergy of Ireland? Was that School to be turned out of the College, or kept in it? If it were turned out, it would be a greater injury to the Protestant Episcopal Church of Ireland than its disestablishment and disendowment. He believed the carrying out of the proposed measure would produce evils of the greatest magnitude, and yet those evils were being forced upon Trinity College by those who ought to be its defenders, on the plea that they were carrying out what they conceived to be religious equality. Other reformers were more thoughtful and considerate than the promoters of this Bill. MR. Lowry Whittle, a Roman Catholic, in his able essay published in 1865, proposed to retain the Divinity School, and to keep up the services in the College Chapel, adding that—It will not suffice to have a Divinity School working collaterally, and in conjunction with the secular courses of the University. The great evil which thoughtful Anglicans now fear for their 708 clergy is the dissociation of the theological from the secular courses of education. The danger is, they think, that their divinity students may become a class apart, partaking less than other professional students of the spirit of the University.Those who had hitherto ranked as opponents of the Church were, he was convinced, more its friends in this matter than its natural defenders. There was a large College for the Roman Catholic clergy endowed with public money, and he did not believe that the Roman Catholics, as a body, would object to proper provision being made for the education of the clergy of what till recently was the Established Church. Then, with respect to the College Chapel, was the service of the late Established Church to be kept up in it or not? He had heard it stated that it was intended that the Church body should claim the College as if it were one of the parish churches; but he could scarcely believe there was any foundation for such a statement. If religious service were not kept up in the chapel, what was to be done with it? Was it to be turned into an examination hall or a debating room? Again, with respect to the Fellows, were they to be clergymen or not, or was that to be left an open question? In 1867, the College authorities had objected strongly to the admission of clerical Fellows of different religious denominations, as likely to prove fatal to the harmony of the College. Had they changed their opinion on this subject or not? One of the most important questions related to the appointment of Provost. The Provost was at present appointed by the Crown; but it was not so originally; for by the Charter of Queen Elizabeth the Fellows were empowered to elect their Provost. There was no provision on this subject in the Bill, but it was very desirable that there should be; for he was convinced that this patronage, if it remained as at present, would prove a source of embarrassment to the Government, and of great evil to the College. It must become a political appointment. Probably it would be found necessary to appoint a Roman Catholic and a Protestant alternately, and if the choice were made in this way, it would indeed be a wide departure from the exercise of that judgment by which suitable men had heretofore been placed in the office. In Ireland in times past they had had enough of political jobbery, and the suc- 709 cess which had hitherto attended the University of Dublin had to a great extent resulted from its freedom in this respect. He trusted, therefore, that no opportunity would be afforded in the appointment of Provost for the exercise of political patronage, for if that were not provided against the consequence might be extremely injurious, not only to the University itself, but to the whole cause of education in Ireland. Then came the important question of Visitors. Up to this time the Visitors had been the Chancellor of the University and the Archbishop of Dublin. Was it intended that the Roman Catholic or the Protestant Archbishop of Dublin was to be the Visitor in future? The hon. Member for Brighton (Mr. Fawcett), in referring to the Amendment of the hon. Member for Limerick (Mr. Synan), had put an interpretation on that Amendment which it did not fairly bear. He (Mr. Pim) did not believe that the Bill would satisfy any person in Ireland; for while it proposed to eliminate religion and religious instruction from the College life, it did not promote religious equality, inasmuch as it gave a very decided preference to the man of no religion over the man who entertained any religious convictions. He knew that the hon. Member for Brighton, and many other hon. Members, were strongly impressed with the importance of united education. He agreed with them on that point, and believed such an education to be of great importance. But the soundest theory would not work well unless the condition of society were suitable for its operation. We could not mould society to suit our views, but we must take men as they were, and suit our legislation to the circumstances which actually exist. He had no doubt that the Bill would pass the second reading, and all that he and his hon. Friends near him now desired was the opportunity of expressing their opinions. He was convinced that the opinions which they had expressed were sound and true in principle, and he believed that the public opinion of this country upon the subject would yet undergo a considerable change. Time was, he trusted, on their side; at present, public opinion in England was prejudiced on the question; but if they gave the people of England time, and if they got them to consider the subject, he felt confident that truth would prevail.
§ MR. D'ARCY
, as a Representative of one of the most Catholic counties of Ireland (Wexford), and as a graduate of Trinity College, wished to point out that if this Bill were passed it would simply be the establishing of another Queen's College in Dublin, and he felt bound to oppose it. Those Catholics, and others in this House, who were pledged to a satisfactory settlement of this question, had a right to insist that that settlement should be carried out by the Government, who had promised to deal with it in that spirit which actuated them when they were dealing with those other great questions—the Irish Land and the Irish Church. He could not help saying that he looked with great suspicion on this movement after the proposition which had so lately been made by the heads of Trinity College and by the students, and he felt that if he gave a silent vote upon the subject he would leave himself open to very grave rebuke from his constituents. Obviously, Trinity College was yielding to the inevitable, and supported this measure only because she feared a worse fate. Endowed by property confiscated from Roman Catholics, she knew that her position was unsound, and that she could not possibly hold what she called her own against the demands of an enlightened public. He would gladly consign to oblivion all recollection of penal days of the past; but in dealing with Irish questions of this sort one could not but allude to those memories which were so sad to Ireland. He trusted, however, that better days were dawning for that country, and that the spirit of fair play and honourable dealing on the part of Englishmen would induce them to give their voices towards the honourable and just settlement of all questions involving the happiness and prosperity of Ireland. In the debate on Orange processions which occupied the House the other night, hon. Gentlemen opposite defended a system which every right-minded man deprecated. This measure was not the remedy the Roman Catholics of Ireland looked for. They hoped for some more generous proposal—a proposal which would put an end to the Protestant monopoly of University education. Ireland had long been termed the "unhappy;" and what brought about her miseries but the misrule of England for ages past. The Minister who ruled the destinies of these king- 711 doms once had it in Ms power to foster a spirit of patriotism and mutual goodwill amongst those of different religions in Ireland. He had the Presbyterians, then loudest in demanding the removal of Catholic disabilities, and calling for the emancipation of their fellow-countrymen; but the Viceroy, pledged to this act of justice, was recalled, and they were, through feelings of oppression, lashed into that rebellion which had Protestant and Presbyterian ranked against Catholic, and hence those miserable scenes annually enacted in Ulster and the North generally, where, instead of the honest rivalry of all towards promoting the interests of their country, they had those Orange demonstrations which were persisted in rather as a means of insulting the Roman Catholics than of celebrating historical events.
said, he had always advocated civil and religious liberty, and he was in favour of throwing open educational institutions, and giving the widest scope to the diffusion of knowledge; but inasmuch as this Bill was intended to be a settlement of the education question, while in reality it was not anything of the sort, he could not support it, and therefore he should abstain from voting altogether.
§ MR. DIGBY
said, as an Irish representative, he should vote for the Amendment, because he believed the Bill would stand in the way of an equitable settlement, which was demanded with one voice by the people, the clergy, and the hierarchy. It was not wished that the system of University education in Ireland should be framed on the model of an ecclesiastical seminary; but what the Roman Catholic bishops, clergy, and laity generally of that country asked for was that there should be some safeguard for the inculcation of sound moral principles in the education of the youth of Ireland. He would support the Amendment of the hon. Member for Limerick (Mr. Synan).
§ SIR JOHN GRAY
, as the representative of a Catholic constituency, said, he felt bound to protest against the Bill, which had no meaning unless it was that there should be set up a mixed system of University education covering the whole ground, and leaving no room for a denominational University education. He was sorry to see that question handed over to the tender mercies of a leading 712 advocate of the secular system in England. If any one thing had been placed before the House and the Government more distinctly than another, it was that the Catholics of Ireland would not be content with the mixed system, either in the primary, the intermediate, or the University education of that country. They had a right to complain that the Government which, when it took office, promised to settle the question of Irish education, had never yet introduced any project on the subject, nor even given them any indication whatever of what its intentions were with reference to it. That was not the way in which a powerful Government ought to act in relation to so important a matter. That subject of education had been for centuries one of the most vexed questions in Ireland. The object of those Englishmen who crossed the water and took possession of that country by force was to Anglicanize its people and educate them into their own way of thinking. Attempts were made to establish proselytizing schools in Ireland, with a view to educate the people out of their own faith and their national feelings, and to induce them to adopt the notions and systems which prevailed in England. At one time any Catholic who gave instruction to his countrymen was subject to the penalty of expatriation. The cruel measures by which that policy was at first sought to be carried out having, however, failed, the milder expedient of introducing what was called the mixed system of education was resorted to; but the Irish Catholics saw in that only a more ingenious and deceptive mode of effecting the same object, and they accordingly protested against it as strongly as against the more inhuman methods. To show that the hostility of the Catholic Bishops and laity of Ireland to the mixed system was not baseless or unjustifiable he would quote from the posthumous memoirs of the late Archbishop Whately, the great patron and apostle of that system. Dr. Whately said—The education supplied by the National Board is gradually undermining the fabric of the Catholic Church. I believe that mixed education is training the mass of the people, and that if we give it up we must give up the only hope of winning the Irish from the abuses of Popery; but I cannot venture openly to profess this opinion. I cannot openly support the Education Board as an instrument of conversion. I have to fight its battle with one hand, and that my best hand, tied behind me,713 The old idea of converting the Irish Catholics to their own way of thinking still prevailed among many of the advocates of the mixed system, although, like Archbishop Whately, they dared not plainly avow their object. But whatever might be the intention of the supporters of that system, the Irish Catholic hierarchy, clergy, and laity had emphatically declared by their memorials and petitions that they would not accept it; and whether it was good, middling, or, as they believed, irredeemably bad, they could, not be coerced into receiving it. He protested against this Bill, therefore, as an insidious attempt to get in the point of the wedge with the view of preventing the adoption of the system of University education which the Irish Catholics would alone accept. In 1845 the late Sir Robert Peel established the Queen's Colleges, which received from the late Sir Harry Inglis a name which had ever since stuck to them—namely, that of the "Godless Colleges," because all definite and dogmatic religious teaching—without which they could have no religious earnestness or sincerity among a people—was excluded from them. It was sought to give an electrical vitality to those Colleges by creating a Queen's University; but that did not gather round them the youth of Ireland. A Liberal Government which preceded the present one issued a Queen's letter to the Queen's University, offering them a supplemental charter. The supplemental charter did not propose to permit Roman Catholics to be daily taught in their University the faith which they believed to be true, but simply proposed to break down the Protestant monopoly in the three Queen's Colleges, and to permit Roman Catholics who were educated at other and purely Catholic seminaries, or colleges, to obtain degrees from the Queen's University. That proposition was not accepted by the people of Ireland because it in no sense carried out their wishes with regard to religious education. Indeed, it was practically defeated by the action of the advocates of mixed education before it was formally offered to the public for acceptance. Those who were now in Opposition then came into power, and in dealing with the question of Irish education they brought forward a programme which showed that they had thoroughly mastered the difficulties of 714 the situation, and were prepared boldly to encounter them. The late Governor General of India (Lord Mayo)—whose sad fate not only this country, but the civilized world deplored—was a Member of that Government, and, speaking on this subject in 1868, he said it was desirable that a University should be established in Ireland which would, as far as possible, stand in the same relation to the Roman Catholic population as Trinity College did to the Protestants; and they, therefore, proposed to advise Her Majesty to grant a charter to a Roman Catholic University. With regard to endowment, he added, it would be essential to provide for the necessary expenses, and if Parliament approved the scheme it might not be indisposed to endow University scholarships. There was something definite, statesmanlike, and intelligible in that proposition, though the details were not fully developed so as to be completely satisfactory. And this was no mere eccentricity on the part of Lord Mayo, for he was a practical, painstakings, hard-working statesman, who endeavoured to make himself acquainted with all the facts of a case before dealing with it; and he never took up a subject lightly, or dropped it carelessly. Still stronger evidence that that was a Cabinet scheme might be found in the words uttered by the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Buckinghamshire (Mr. Disraeli), the then head of the Government, who still occupied a prominent place in that House, and who, it must be hoped, would long continue to hold a leading position in the country. After it had been fully declared by Lord Mayo that his Government intended to ask Parliament to give an endowment to the new University then proposed, the right hon. Member for Buckinghamshire said—I am of opinion that there is but one mode by which you can supply the grievous want that has been so long complained of by the Roman Catholics—namely, that they cannot enjoy the advantages of a higher education under the influence of their own priesthood—and that is by the establishment of a Roman Catholic University. And I want to know on what ground of justice such a proposition can be refused."—[3 Hansard, cxc. 1777.]That question he (Sir John Gray) now repeated. If they provided amply for the disestablished Church of Ireland in the University of Dublin, for the Presbyterians in the Queen's Colleges, on what 715 ground of justice could they refuse to provide for the Roman Catholics who constituted fire-sixths of the whole population of the country? Yet they were told that the House would never consent to endow a Catholic University. It had been suggested that the right hon. Gentleman opposite was in advance of his party. This was not so. The late Home Secretary the right hon. Member for Oxford, and other Members of the Cabinet, fully endorsed the scheme as part of their programme. It might be said that the then Premier did not anticipate the manner in which it would be proposed to deal with Trinity College. But he did foresee that such things would be attempted and would end in failure; for he said, in reference to that institution, and on the same occasion—Trinity College, Dublin, is one of the noblest institutions in the United Kingdom. But if you are to delay the enjoyment of University education by the Roman Catholic population until they have settled their affairs with Trinity College, Dublin, or until some speculative plan for a new University is carried, why years and years will elapse without the Roman Catholic population having those advantages."—[Ibid. 1778.]These words indicated one objection to the Bill now before the House. It was delusive, and, even if acceptable, could never be realized. It was the bounden duty of the Government to offer a definite programme on this question; and if the Bill had the effect of stimulating them to do this, he should thank the hon. Member for Brighton (Mr. Fawcett) for introducing it. The Government ought not to ask the Catholic population to wait until years went by, and generation after generation grew up without the advantages of a University education, which were so abundantly provided for all other classes of the community. Of one thing the Ministers and the House might be sure—that was, that the Catholic population of Ireland would never compromise their conscientious convictions for the sake of obtaining those advantages through a system of which they disapproved.
§ COLONEL WILSON-PATTEN
said, he thought the hon. Member who had just sat down would have done much better if, instead of drawing attention away from the Bill by discussing another system of education, he had stated boldly and fairly whether he was opposed to the abolition of tests in the University of Dublin, as proposed by this Bill. For 716 his own part, he intended to support the second reading of the Bill, not because he approved of it altogether, but in the hope that they might in Committee alter it to such a form as would enable it to confer a great benefit upon the. Irish people. He had several reasons for taking this course, and he could assure the hon. Member for Tralee (The O'Donoghue) that they were the reverse of the motives he had ascribed to the supporters of the measure. He supported it solely as an enabling Bill. The question of Irish education must occupy the serious attention of Parliament at a future time. The Government had promised to introduce a measure on the subject, but a third Session had begun without the redemption of that pledge, and this delay was one of his reasons for voting for the present Bill. There were three courses open to the House. They might adopt a system of education in accordance with the views of the hon. Member for Tralee, thereby separating the Protestants and Roman Catholics in Ireland from infancy to manhood. They might establish a University which should be merely an examining body—the plan advocated, he believed, by the Chancellor of the Exchequer, but one which, whenever mentioned, had been condemned by both sides of the House. Next came the question whether they should open the existing Universities, so as to give a more liberal and extensive education. That was the object of this Bill. Notwithstanding what had been said by the hon. Member for Tralee, he thought English Members might be allowed to give their opinions upon this matter. He should do so with the best feelings towards Ireland, for he only desired that it should be prosperous. His belief was that if they once established a system of education in that country which would separate all classes of religions from youth to manhood, instead of a blessing it would be one of the greatest curses which could be inflicted on that country. The hon. Gentleman (Sir John Gray) had said that the whole of Ireland was opposed to mixed education. The remarks, however, of the hon. Member for Dublin (Mr. Pim), and of an hon. Gentleman representing one of the most Catholic constituencies in Ireland (Mr. D'Arcy), who had announced his intention of not voting, scarcely accorded with that statement. 717 The opposition offered to the Bill by many Irish Members could not be founded on principle, because on looking at the division list in reference to the admission of Roman Catholics into the Universities of England, he found that many Irish Members, including the Members for Clonmel, Mayo, Kilkenny, Dundalk, Kinsale, Cork, Wexford, Limerick, Bandon, Ennis, and other constituencies, voted for admitting Roman Catholics into the University of Oxford. He did not mention this with the view of twitting them with inconsistency, for they might think the circumstances of England and Ireland differed, but with the view of asserting the right of English Members to express an opinion on Irish University education, just as Irish Members had done on English University education. The Members for Trinity College having proposed this Bill for the admission of Roman Catholics and others to that institution, he was justified in supporting it without being open to the charge of bigotry or oppression, as a measure in harmony with the course pursued by Parliament towards the English Universities. The hon. Member for Tralee had said that the Bill would forbid the Roman Catholics of Ireland to have their children educated under their own priests; but this was not the ease. The Bill offered no obstacle to their doing so; it simply threw open Trinity College to all who chose to avail themselves of its advantages. It created, moreover, no tax; it imposed no charge on persons who might conscientiously object to the measure, nor did it offer any obstruction to the establishment of any other system of education which this or any other Government might hereafter propose. It would be just as open to the Government to bring forward their scheme after the Bill passed as before it passed, and he thought the Irish Members were taking a rather inconsistent course, after the votes they had given on former occasions with reference to England, in opposing the second reading of the Bill, which he defied them to say offered any opposition to their own ideas, whatever they might be, with regard to education. No doubt it would enable Roman Catholics, who wished to take advantage of the University of Dublin, to send their sons to that University. He knew there were parties in Ireland who would stop them 718 if they could; but he did not believe that any of the Members he saw before him agreed with them. He would vote for this Bill, simply as an enabling Bill, which did not interfere with anyone, but which did enable the Roman Catholics of Ireland to send their sons to be educated in the University of Dublin, and for the life of him he could not see why hon. Members who had always professed and voted for Liberal principles in that House could object to the throwing open of the gates of the University of Dublin in the way proposed by the Bill. As to other matters of education, he would not enter into them at present. He would be prepared to do so when the proper time arrived.
DR. LYON PLAYEAIR
* I did not intend to say a single word on this debate, as I expressed my opinions fully last Session, but I am compelled to make one or two remarks. The right hon. Gentleman at the head of Her Majesty's Government told us he would accept the clauses of the Bill relating to religious disabilities, but he refuses the clauses relating to College and University government. What ground did he give us for such a refusal? Very strong grounds, if they were true. He said that we asked for powers of self-government which were not accorded to Oxford or Cambridge. He truly stated, although they might take the initiative, the statutes required to have the consent of the State before they became valid. But the right hon. Gentleman seems to have been ignorant that these conditions were not required in this Bill, because they exist already. The right hon. Gentleman had probably consulted the charter of Elizabeth, who founded the University of Dublin, and she gave unreserved power to the University to govern itself; but that power was taken away by another charter of Charles I., and ever since then the State has had complete control over the statutes of Trinity College. The statutes of Trinity College are not College or University statutes; they are Royal statutes. Like Oxford and Cambridge, Trinity College may take the initiative; but the proposed statute must be submitted to the Lord Lieutenant and his advisers, and, if approved, it receives the Great Seal, and becomes a Royal statute. This objection—and it was the chief one put forward by the right hon. Gentleman—is there- 719 fore valueless, for the State already possesses what he desires to see it possess. There is this difference, however—that the statutes of the English Universities must be laid before Parliament, and that is not necessary for the Dublin University. I am sure the promoters of this Bill will not offer opposition to an Amendment to this effect, should it be moved in Committee, and then the powers of the State will be exactly the same as those possessed by it in the case of the English Universities. The right hon. Gentleman stated we were asking for extraordinary powers for the Governing Body. Pass this Bill as it is, and you do not add one single power to the University of Dublin. It can only act now with consent of the State, and after this Bill passes its power are as much hedged in and limited by Royal statutes as they are now. The only other argument that struck me that might have effect on the House against the constructive clauses of the Bill was the objection which the right hon. Gentleman took to the mode of admitting Fellows. He asked what would have been the case with Irish Judges if the Protestant Judges elected their own colleagues. Would you in such a case have now nine Roman Catholics among 12 Judges? But the right hon. Gentleman must have known that the practice of electing Fellows is election by merit, not by favour; that they attain their fellowships by examination, not by patronage; and unless the right hon. Gentleman meant by that remark—what I am sure he did not mean—that examinations in the University of Dublin are determined by religious favouritism, his arguments had no bearing on the case. I now turn to the eloquent speech of the hon. Member for Tralee (The O'Donoghue), which had an effect upon the House both for its eloquence and sincerity of conviction. The hon. Gentleman fiercely denounced the illiberality of Trinity College, and told us that in a long line of its Representatives in this House there was not one who advocated religious liberality, or who did not oppose Catholic Emancipation. Little versed as a Scotchman is in the history of Ireland, I confess I could scarcely believe my ears when his eloquent denunciation was made. Upon whom did the mantle of Grattan fall in advocating religious liberty? Was it 720 not on the grandfather of the junior Member for the University of Dublin? [The O'DONOGHUE: That was an exception.] Yes; but it was a very honourable and very important one, and probably secured a much earlier emancipation for the Roman Catholics. Did not Lord Plunket, when representing that University, make speeches in favour of Roman Catholic Emancipation, the memory of which for their vigour and eloquence is a tradition among us still? It was in 1829 that Roman Catholic Emancipation passed in this House. But it was in 1793 that Trinity College abolished religious tests for students, and admitted Roman Catholics within its walls. That was also an emancipation for which all Roman Catholics were at one time grateful to it, and for which many evince their gratitude at the present day; for even now 10 per cent of the students belong to that persuasion. It is strange how short memories are when they are clouded with religious prejudice. The hon. Gentleman has also accused my hon. Friend the Member for Brighton (Mr. Fawcett), and the Liberal side of this House, for what he terms illiberality in not carrying out a policy which is satisfactory to the Roman Catholics. I say we are carrying out a policy which, though not pleasing to the hon. Member for Tralee and his friends, has received the approbation of many enlightened Roman Catholics, and even of Roman Catholic Prelates, such as Bishop Doyle and Archbishop Murray—the policy of united education. We established the primary schools of Ireland on the policy of united secular and separate religious education; we established the Queen's Colleges on the principle of united secular education; and we now desire to remove the disabilities from Trinity College, in order to open its studies, its government, its honours, and its emoluments, to the united education of persons of all creeds and opinions. Well, I do not think the Liberal party is likely to abandon that view. We will do all that in us lies to offer the education of the State on equal terms to all, but we will do nothing to bind up education with creeds, as the hon. Member for Limerick advises us to do by founding a Roman Catholic University. The hon. Gentleman the Member for Tralee tels us that English and Scotch Members show great illiberality when they 721 force Irishmen to take their views relating to education. We do nothing of the kind; all we say is that State institutions for education shall not be bound up with religions of any kind. We will remove every disability as much as you choose, but will not create new institutions, whose very essence is to make them belong exclusively to a single creed. The hon. Gentleman taunts us with illiberality. What more liberal conditions could human ingenuity devise than those contained in this Bill? The gates of the stronghold of Protestantism are thrown widely open to all who choose to enter it, and Roman Catholics and Protestants are invited, as subjects of a common Queen, to partake of all its advantages, and by studying literature and science, which have no country and no religion, to mollify their religious acerbities, and learn to respect and love each other.
SIR ROWLAND BLENNERHASSETT
said, it was not a true description of the Bill to say that it removed, all tests in the University of Dublin. The measure was designed to reform Irish education, and it went to relieve members of Trinity College as regarded the profession of their faith. This Bill appeared to him to affect a question of the greatest importance in Irish education, and the question was one which ought to be dealt with in a large, liberal, and scientific spirit. The passage of such a Bill as this would only have the effect of embittering the struggle. The immense majority of the Irish people objected to the establishment of the Queen's Colleges, and there would be objections on educational and religious grounds against this Bill being passed into law.
Sir, the right hon. and gallant Gentleman opposite (Colonel Wilson-Patten) appears to think that Irish Catholic Members are inconsistent in their policy, inasmuch as many of them voted for the abolition of tests in the Universities of Oxford and Cambridge, and are now opposed to the Bill of the hon. Member for Brighton, who, amongst other so-called reforms, is prepared to abolish tests in the University of Dublin. I think, Sir, I can easily explain that seeming inconsistency. We did vote for the removal of restrictions to Dissenters in the English Universities; but we did so at the desire of those who were immediately interested in the removal of 722 these disabilities—in fact, at the desire of a great section of the people of England; and we did so in the maintenance of those principles which we have ever maintained in this House. There is a strong desire in England to open the English Universities, and we assisted towards that object; but in opposing the Bill of the hon. Member for Brighton, we are acting in accordance with the expressed wishes of our constituents, who are the majority of the people of Ireland; and we do so on clear and definite grounds. Plainly, then, we cannot accept this tinkering attempt at legislation as a settlement of a great question which is very dear to the hearts of the Catholics of Ireland. We cannot accept the Bill of a private Member—who has no authority to deal with a question of which he is but a very imperfect judge—in lieu of the full measure promised by the Government, who alone are capable of dealing with it according to the wishes of our people and the necessities of the case; and if we consented to accept this Bill because of its containing a single good feature, we should be postponing to an indefinite time, and rendering more difficult that thorough settlement to which we have a right, on the distinct promise of the Government, to look with confidence. If we accept this Bill, we would seem to absolve the Government from its solemn pledge to the Irish people. Anxious as we are to see this question settled, and to have that done by the Government, who, in our opinion, are alone competent to the task—we would be content to wait for another year, or if necessary longer, rather than accept the Bill now before the House. In a word, we do not oppose the abolition of tests, as we are not against, but in favour of, its principle; but we cannot accept a Bill which is illusory in itself, and which we believe would be a grievous impediment in the way of a final and satisfactory settlement of a question of the greatest magnitude and importance. I hope, Sir, I have explained our opposition on plain and distinct grounds, such as any candid and fair mind may appreciate. And now I desire to refer to what I regard as the unfairness with which Catholic Members are treated in this House; and it grieves me to see that the hon. Member for Brighton is inclined to adopt a course but too common at both sides and with all parties. I did 723 appeal to him yesterday to allow this Motion to stand, till after Easter, not merely for the convenience of Irish Members, but that any vote come to on this occasion could not fairly represent the feeling of the Catholic people of Ireland in reference to it; but the hon. Member was insensible to the justice of my appeal to his courtesy and sense of fair play. Well, what is the real state of things with respect to the Irish Members at this moment? Of 105 Members, fully 70, if not 75, are absent from London. Many of them are engaged at the Assizes, as grand jurors or as counsel, and others have paired off under the idea that no important business remained to be done between this and Easter; and under such circumstances, and in the absence of two-thirds of the Irish Members, this Bill is forced on the House. Sir, I say this is not consistent with fairness; and I also say that the division at which we are to arrive in a short time cannot adequately express the feelings and convictions of the vast majority of the Irish people. I am within the mark when I assert that more than 70 Irish Members are pledged—have openly pledged themselves—to the denominational system of education in all its gradations—elementary, intermediate, and collegiate. Two-thirds, even more than two-thirds of the Irish Members, are pledged to the denominational as against the mixed system of education, and I believe they thoroughly represent in this respect the feelings of the great majority of their constituents; and yet the hon. Member for Brighton disregards the convictions of a people, and treats as valueless the remonstrances of their representatives. There is another mode of dealing with Catholic Members to which I desire to offer some observations, and to do so with the utmost plainness. Irish Members representing popular constituencies are frequently described, if not openly, at least by implication, as the tools and puppets of the priests and Bishops of Ireland. During the debates on this measure this unworthy slander has been uttered in this House. Now, Sir, I, as one Irish Catholic gentleman, on my own part and that of my fellow-Catholic Members, deny that that is the case. I regard such an assertion, be it openly or be it covertly made, as being in the last degree outrageous and insulting, and I further state that there is not one amongst 724 us who, if it were uttered elsewhere than in this House, would not resent it as a gross, foul, and wanton outrage, degrading alike to his honour and independence. Sir, it is not because Catholic Members agree in opinion and in policy with their Church, that they must be presumed to have lost all sense of manliness and personal dignity. Upon this question there is the most complete unity of opinion on the part of Catholic laity and clergy; and when the Catholic Bishops speak, they speak not in their own name, not in the name of their clergy, but in the name and on behalf of the flocks entrusted to their care. Yes; but it is said this demand for religious teaching, or education based on religious truth, is novel—that it is of recent growth. On the contrary, it is as old as the Church itself. I would ask Protestant Members of this House to go back to those Catholic times when the English banner was borne triumphant in many an historic fight, and let them say in whose hands in those times was the education of the youth and chivalry of this country? In the hands of ecclesiastics. Who founded your grandest halls of learning? Great Prelates, or Kings filled with piety and love of learning. Who taught in them? As a rule, it was priests—the same whom now you are inclined to treat with disdain. The Church was the teacher in Ireland as in England. But in proof of the modern character of this denominational demand, you quote the late Rev. Dr. Murray. I shall come to the case of Dr. Murray presently; but before I do so, I wish to say something of the evidence proving that this feeling which we Catholic Members represent is strong, earnest, and universal. I may refer to two meetings, held some two months since, as illustrations of the character of those held throughout Ireland. I take the meeting in my own city as an example. It was called by public requisition. To that requisition, which was addressed to the Catholic Bishop, more than 10,000 names were attached; and among these names were those of nearly 30 Catholic magistrates, the leading merchants, all the Catholic men of business, almost every Catholic burgess, and vast numbers of the respectable mechanics of the city. I may add, the meeting was got up exclusively by laymen, and, with the exception of the chairman, not a single ecclesiastic took part in it; and 725 the reason for that exclusion was, that the will of the meeting might express the feeling of the Catholic laity of my city on a question dear to every Irish Catholic father in the land. That meeting looked to the Government for a comprehensive measure to settle this grave question, and not to the miserable nostrum of a private Member, whom Irish Catholics will not admit to have any responsibility whatever in the matter. Now, as to the meeting under the able presidency of his Eminence Cardinal Cullen. That meeting was called by a requisition signed by more than 30,000 Catholics of the Archdiocese of Dublin, and to that requisition were attached the names of many of the highest men of the country. Of course, the requisition, so signed, was the object of ridicule with certain of the journals of this city; but had such a requisition been presented on any subject in this country—say in support of secular education—what an impression it would make, and what leading articles would be expended in describing its importance! Yet, because it represented the profound feeling of Irish Catholics, it is to be treated with practical contempt. An address was adopted on the occasion, and was forwarded to the Prime Minister—in fact, was thus presented to the Government and to Parliament. To one or two passages in that address, which may be taken as the voice of Catholic Ireland, I desire most respectfully to call the attention of English gentlemen. Here is one passage—It is our conscientious conviction that, in order to be fruitful of good, education must be based on religion, and that it is the duty of Catholic parents to give to their children an education in accordance with the principles of their religion.I put it to English gentlemen, is not the principle here laid down that believed in, and supported by the vast majority of the people of this country? If English Protestants may with honour and credit, and without reproach, hold this principle in respect, why should not Irish Catholics do exactly the same? Why should that be wrong in the Catholic which is to be commended in the Protestant? Now, Sir, I honour the English Protestant for his devotion to his Church; but while doing so, I ask him to respect the sincerity and strength 726 of Catholic feeling. As we have seen lately in this House, the majority of English parents insist that their children shall be brought up—that is, educated, in their own faith, through a system which combines religious training with secular knowledge. I voted for them in sustainment of their principles, and in deference to their convictions; and I ask Protestant Members to give Catholics credit for the same laudable feelings when they endeavour to procure exactly the same privilege, or rather right, for themselves. Irish Catholics believe that the religious principle is the strongest support of all those institutions which it is good to maintain, and that it should underlie the very foundations of society; and, in my opinion, this is a belief to be respected, and not derided, as it has too often been, because of its being held by Catholics. I come to a second paragraph in this address, and I commend it to the notice of those who hold different opinions from those which we hold. It is in these words—We also beg to remind you that we do not question the right of Protestants to claim for themselves any system of education which they deem desirable. But, at the same time, we protest against their endeavours to dictate for the Catholics of Ireland a system of education which we conscientiously reject, and, further, we emphatically insist that upon the education of Catholic youth, our convictions ought to be regarded, and not the views and opinions of men who differ so widely from us on all matters connected with religion and education, and do not understand or appreciate our feelings and convictions.Sir, that is the appeal made by Irish Catholics to the Premier, to Parliament, and to the English public; and I ask, what can be more fair, more rational, or more moderate? It is nothing more than what we Irish Catholics freely concede to others. I would further ask, who are the best interpreters of Catholic feeling? Surely, Catholics. Catholic gentlemen, Catholic laity, Catholic clergy—not those Members who join with the hon. Member for Brighton in forcing this measure upon them. I say to the hon. Member that, should Providence bless him with as many children as so often fall to the lot of Irish parents, let him educate them as he thinks best for their interests and advancement—in secular schools and colleges, or in denominational schools and colleges—in any way 727 or after any fashion most pleasing to himself; but I do ask him, in the name of common sense and fairness, to allow to us the same freedom that we gladly concede to him. The address from which I quoted refers with just indignation to the slander against the laity, which I have already noticed, and boasts of the entire harmony between the laity and the clergy—between people, priests, and Bishops. But it has been said before, and has been said again to-night, that Archbishop Murray, if he were now alive, would not be found joining his brother Bishops on this occasion—for that he was in favour of the mixed as against the denominational system. Sir, this is a total misrepresentation of the real facts of the case. Dr. Murray was a wise as well as a holy and guileless man, and when education was full of danger to Catholic faith, he accepted the best compromise that could be made at the moment. The national system proposed by the late Lord Derby—proposed, I believe, in good faith, and in a spirit of conciliation—was an immense improvement on the system which followed the actual denial to Catholics of any education whatever. Remember, Ireland had only a short time before been released from the laws that made the education of Catholics penal. I myself, when a boy, knew a venerable priest of my own city, who used to tell how he studied his classics under the shelter of a fence, and how a friendly watch was kept on a neighbouring eminence, so as to give timely warning to the violators of the law in case a spy or informer was on their track. A policy of seduction followed this brutal tyranny; and Dr. Murray would not have been wise or prudent, not true to what he deemed the interests of his country, if he did not turn to the best account a system of education rendered safe, as he thought, by solemn guarantees. Ah, Sir, Dr. Murray was a man without guile, who had no treachery in his nature, who never professed that which he did not believe; and as he pressed in a friendly spirit the hand of the great Anglican Archbishop, when he met him as his brother Commissioner on the national board, he little dreamed that his brother Commissioner was secretly employing the system of education to which they both were pledged, as the readiest means of undermining the fabric of the Catholic 728 Church of Ireland. Had Dr. Murray lived when the indiscreet revelations of duplicity were so recklessly given to the world, that amiable Prelate would have bitterly deplored the day that he was led into a dangerous association by the innocent simplicity of his nature. The guarantees given by Lord Stanley were honestly intended; but no sooner had the Catholic clergy made the national system—yes, made it a reality—for it was they who gave to it life and form and substance—I say, no sooner than the national system was thus established by the Catholics of Ireland, than these guarantees were nibbled at and frittered away, and the barriers against wrong were actually turned against Catholic interests and Catholic faith. When the Catholic clergy witnessed these unworthy attempts, they naturally became alarmed, and demanded a change, as it was their duty to do. Dr. Murray did not live long enough to witness this treachery; but were he alive this moment, we should find him demanding a full measure of collegiate education for his flock, and resisting any attempt to settle the education question by a temporary expedient. Sir, we Catholic Members are not bigots because we refuse an incomplete and demand a complete measure; and I would say to my hon. Friend the Member for Brighton, if he desires to see good feeling maintained between the two countries, let him employ his influence with his supporters of the London Press, who fling all kinds of insults on Catholic Members and those whom they represent, because they hold firmly to their own opinions on a question of immense interest to them. Insult and ridicule may inflame the prejudices of England against us, but it will not deter us from insisting on what we have a right to demand. As an Irishman, I rejoice to see Trinity College advancing on the road to liberality and progress; but neither my Catholic Colleagues nor I can accept a small instalment for a full measure and a final settlement. We demand that those who are responsible for the government of Ireland should deal with this question, and in doing so redeem promises solemnly made in this House and elsewhere. We shall do nothing that would seem to absolve them from what is their manifest duty; and if we accepted this Bill, we should seem to be doing that. Sir, we are determined 729 to enforce the just claims of those who sent us here; and if we cannot do so at present, a time may come when we can do so with more effect. Majorities will not, in future, be so large as they have been, or as possibly they still may be; and if Catholics are trifled with in a matter of such immense moment as the education of a nation, not a few of them may happen to find themselves on some particular occasion in the wrong lobby—for that which they advocate is not a mere ephemeral or idle demand, but the deep-seated conviction of millions of their people.
§ MR. FAWCETT
, in reply, said, he could assure Irish Members that there was nothing in the world which he should more deeply regret than to express a single word, or to do a single act, which showed anything like intolerance of their opinions, or which would lead them to believe that he did not place the utmost faith in the sincerity of their convictions. They had as much right to their opinions as he had to those he entertained, and if the Bill forced upon them a system of education to which they conscientiously objected, he agreed with them that it was a measure which no man pretending to be a Liberal ought to support. But he did not intend to force anything upon any one against his conscientious convictions. All he desired by this Bill to do was to throw open an honoured institution with valuable emoluments and honours to those Catholics and Presbyterians who might wish to participate in those honours and emoluments. The Government were going to support the second reading of the Bill with a reservation. It was not for him to say whether that reservation was justifiable or not. He was glad of their support, but they and the House must distinctly understand that he entered into no kind of compact with them, and would do all he could to pass the Bill as it stood, though of course in Committee he should consult the wishes of the House as long as this could be done without infringing upon the principle of the Bill. The First Minister had dwelt at great length upon points which might have been left for Committee, and seemed to impute to him some deep and dark design because he wished to free the University of Dublin from State control, and place it in a different position from Oxford and Cam- 730 bridge. The right hon. Gentleman remarked that in the case of Oxford and Cambridge new statutes had to be laid on the Table of the House, while no such provision appeared in this Bill. Now, such criticism was superfluous; for if the University of Dublin would not otherwise be sufficiently under the control of Parliament, he should be happy to insert the regulation applicable to Oxford and Cambridge. When the Prime Minister said that he would support this Bill, if it only were a Bill for the abolition of tests, did he forget that that was a proposal which he (Mr. Fawcett) had brought forward two years ago? The right hon. Gentleman then treated it as a proposal so unsatisfactory that he said he would consider it as a Vote of Want of Confidence. It was mainly to the right hon Gentleman that that part of the measure was due to which he now objected, for he then urged that the simple abolition of tests would not do justice to the Roman Catholics, since 25 years would elapse before they would be admitted to the Governing Body. Feeling the force of that objection, he had conscientiously endeavoured to frame a scheme which would admit Roman Catholics to a share in the government of the University far more expeditiously than Roman Catholics and Nonconformists would be admitted to a similar position at Oxford and Cambridge. Yet the right hon. Gentleman was now the first to object to those provisions. He would not presume to say that he had solved the great problem of University education in Ireland; but he believed that had he not for five years persevered with the question a solution would be more distant than it now was. In Committee there would be at least one advantage in discovering what hon. Members had long wished to ascertain. It was easy for a Government to criticise a scheme until they stated what their own scheme was. He had no undue partiality for his own Bill, and probably the Treasury bench might devise a far better scheme; but there was this difference between them and him—that they had never had the courage to state what their scheme was, while he had not shrunk from subjecting his to the most prolonged and searching criticism. When their scheme was produced he might possibly be able to support it; but till then he was guilty of no presumption 731 in pressing forward this Bill, and he would spare no effort in bringing the question to a satisfactory solution.
said, he would not have risen but for the remarks of the two hon. Members who had last spoken. The hon. Member for Brighton (Mr. Fawcett) had stated his fear that, if the Government should assist in carrying the part of the Bill of which they approved, they would fail to legislate on the remainder of the subject, as they had promised, at the earliest moment consistently with their obligations as to other measures. Now, he could assure the hon. Gentleman that the partial support given by the Government to this Bill did not, in his opinion, release them in the slightest degree from their undertaking to deal with the matter at the earliest possible moment. [An hon. MEMBER: When?] The hon. Member for Brighton had asked why the Government did not put forward their own scheme. Now, the same taunt was repeatedly addressed to them in the case of the Irish Church and Land questions before they had been able to mature their scheme, and the Session before last it was also addressed to them with regard to the abolition of purchase. The Government must be allowed in all these cases to choose their own time. On those three former occasions the Government had successfully resisted attempts to draw them into a premature disclosure of their views, and he appealed to the House whether, when the proper time arrived, they did not succeed in winning confidence and support. That confidence and support they hoped to obtain when they were able, consistently with their other duties, to lay before the House their plan for dealing with this most difficult question. This Bill had something to recommend it; but it was believed by the Government and by many hon. Members to be an incomplete solution. They did not feel justified in opposing a Bill a portion of which they could honestly support, more especially as the circumstances of the time had prevented them for the last two Sessions from taking up the question. They regarded the Bill as an inadequate settlement, and were bound to deal with the subject in a broader spirit. He wished distinctly to say that, although unfortunate circumstances had delayed the solution of the question, they felt themselves bound 732 to deal with it at the earliest possible moment.
§ Question put.
§ The House divided:—Ayes 94; Noes 21: Majority 73.
§ Main Question put, and agreed to.
§ Bill read a second time, and committed for Tuesday 23rd April.