HC Deb 05 May 1873 vol 215 cc1520-35

Order for Committee read.

Motion made, and Question proposed, "That the House do now go into Committee upon the said Bill." —(Mr. Fawcett.)


said, it would, under ordinary circumstances, be far from his desire to obstruct for a moment the passage of a Bill abolishing tests—but he deemed it necessary to show that the simple abolition of tests would not accomplish the object which the hon. Member for Brighton professed to have in view, that it would not open the College and the University, and that it would not give a fair start in the race to all the natives of Ireland. He missed from the back of this Bill the name of the right hon. Gentleman the senior Member for Dublin University. The omission was a remarkable one; but in Ireland, where the real sentiments of the right hon. Gentleman were well known and appreciated, it occasioned no surprise. The Bill abolished tests in the interest of secularism, but it retained concurrent endowment to the detriment of Catholicism. He would illustrate by a single fact the position in which it left Trinity College in regard of concurrent or denominational endowment. Of the numerous endowed secondary schools in Ireland he would take two classes—the Royal Schools and the Erasmus Smith Schools—and he found that they held exhibitions in Trinity College of the value—computed on a term of five years, being the average period for which exhibitions are held—of £26,110. The head of every one of these schools was a Protestant clergyman. Thus while they abolished tests they perpetuated ascendancy, and while ostentatiously throwing wide the door for the majority, they maintained still for the benefit of the minority a royal road to mathematics. The right hon. Gentleman the Member for Buckinghamshire had gravely assured them that concurrent endowment was dead; and the right hon. Gentleman at the head of the Government had said that Imperial policy could no longer tolerate concurrent endowment. The facts he had stated proved that in Ireland concurrent endowment was not dead but living, and a glance at the Estimates would satisfy hon. Members that it flourished in every part of the Empire. There were Votes there which surely were supplies for the living body, not immortelles to decorate the grave of the departed. Perhaps concurrent endowment ought to die; but if die it ought, it should die fairly. It could not die to the detriment of the majority of the Irish nation, and live for the aggrandizement of the minority. It could not die to the bereavement of Catholicism in Ireland, and live to be the solace of Episcopalianism in England, and Presbyterianism in Scotland. They must greatly extend or fundamentally destroy concurrent endowment—endow all, or disendow all—level up or level down—but let there be equality in the eye of the State between all the subjects of the Queen. The proposition which he begged to submit to the consideration of the House did not raise directly or indirectly the question of endowments. It contemplated only legal privileges. It aimed at giving practical effect to an educational policy propounded by Catholic laymen, accepted by Catholic Bishops, sanctioned by successive Governments, and ratified by decisions of this House. The essence of the Government Bill of this Session was the affiliation of Colleges, and the only objection urged against that portion of the scheme was that it endowed the Mater Universitatis with too numerous a family, some of its members being spoiled children of the State. The affiliation of the Catholic University was in principle accepted on all sides. The terms of the proposed affiliation were disputed, but no opposition was offered to the policy of establishing as a College of the University of Dublin the institution known as the Catholic University. The policy was not a new one—it was as old as Charles II. Under the Acts of Settlement and Explanations, it was provided that— The Lord Lieutenant or other chief governor or governors of this kingdom, by and with the consent of the Privy Council, shall have full power and authority to erect another College to be of the University of Dublin, to be called the King's College, and to endow it for ever out of the Crown lands with an allowance of £2,000 a-year—which would, of course, be represented now by a much larger sum. It was evident from the spirit of the Act of 1793—the 33 Geo. III, c, 21—and from the specific words, "Papists might graduate and be Professors or Fellows of any College hereinafter founded in Dublin University"—that it was then in the contemplation of the Irish Parliament to found another College—necessarily a Catholic College—in Dublin University. It was the policy of the Supplemental Charter; and if he was not misinformed it was the groundwork of a plan framed by a committee of lay Catholics, and approved of by the Catholic Bishops, which was submitted some years ago to the right hon. Gentleman the Secretary of State for the Home Department. The Preamble of the Bill before them stated its object to be to render the University and the College freely accessible to the nation. The best commentary upon this was contained in the words of the right hon. Gentleman at the head of the Government—"It is impossible for them," the people of Ireland, "to have that free access if they are confined to the one mode of teaching which Trinity College affords." The Resolution he (Mr. P. J. Smyth) proposed would introduce another mode of teaching, and by so doing render the access free to the nation. If this Resolution were not accepted, when would the access be made free? Not this Session, nor the next, nor probably the next again, and meanwhile a nation was left out in the cold, discontent was fostered, and agitation encouraged. Free access to the nation! He thanked the hon. Member for Brighton (Mr. Fawcett) for these words. They established his case. They implied a mode of teaching, a system of education in harmony with the traditions, the feelings, and the instincts of the nation. For 80 years Catholic students, as individuals, had had free access to degrees in Trinity College. For 40 years Catholic students, as individuals, had had free access to degrees in London University. But the same free access that was given to them was also provided by the system of local examination for the Hindoo in India, and the Maori in New Zealand. He frankly acknowledged that no Government, Liberal or Conservative, had ever suggested that the claims of Ireland could be satisfied by placing the 4,500,000 Catholics, constituting the nation of Ireland, on a level with the solitary Hindoo or the solitary Maori. Both had admitted that the grievance complained of was a national grievance, and that the remedy provided must be a national remedy. The establishment of the Catholic University as a College in Dublin University would necessarily involve an alteration in the constitution of Dublin University, and possibly in that of the Catholic University itself. Such alterations would, as a matter of course, be made so as to render the constitutions of both conformable to the plan which both had voluntarily accepted. He was not called upon to enter into details upon that point. He simply asked the House to re-affirm a principle, and leave the arrangements to be made by a Commission chosen impartially without reference to creed or party. He believed—and he had reason to believe—that such an arrangement would be made as would astonish by its simplicity and its moderation, and command the assent of all for its fairness and its justice. The House, he conceived, should welcome a proposal that would relieve it of the task of discussing the details of Irish University Bills, and that would lay the foundation at least of an enduring settlement of this embarrassing question. The time approached when some Irish constituencies at least would be addressed by Friends of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Buckinghamshire, or of the right hon. Gentleman at the head of the Government, and there was a natural anxiety to learn what part of the policy of 1868—a charter and endowment for a Catholic University—the one right hon. Gentleman had not abandoned, if he had not abandoned all and every part of it, and to what extent, if any, the other right hon. Gentleman was prepared to allow his Imperial policy to bend to national conviction. Whatever might be the fate of this Amendment, the House, he felt satisfied, would concur with him that the indefinite postponement of a settlement declared to be vital, not alone to the peace and prosperity of Ireland, but to the honour and existence of Government, was opposed alike to sound policy and the true interests of the Empire. The hon. Member concluded by moving the Amendment of which he had given Notice.


in seconding the Amendment, said, he knew of no reasonable grounds on which it could be resisted, for the hon. Members for the University of Dublin, who on this question represented the Irish Protestants generally, had said that they were not opposed to the affiliation of this College; and it was a well-ascertained fact that the Catholics were not hostile to the principle of affiliation. Floods of eloquence had been poured forth in the late debate, on the social advantages of mixing the youth of both religions in these academic halls; and he mentioned that fact in order to declare that there never was a greater calumny than the assertion that the Catholic Bishops discouraged the social intercourse of Catholics with Protestants. He condemned the Bill of the hon. Member for Brighton (Mr. Fawcett) as useless either as a settlement or a concession. Who wanted the Bill? The Catholics did not want it—the Irish Episcopalians did not want it. It was a mere waste of time to discuss it. Moreover, he contended, that if the Bill were to pass in its present shape, the question of Irish University education would be left exactly in the same position as that in which it now stood. To pass it would be a mere waste of time, unless it was intended for some half-dozen or dozen loose Roman Catholics, who misrepresented the views of their co-religionists. He, for one, protested against the attempt to force on Ireland a University system which was condemned by the Roman Catholic Church; and although' the hon. Member for Brighton might not regard the Bill as a settlement of the question, he believed there were many hon. Gentlemen in that House who had made up their minds to treat it in that light. If so, Irish hon. Members opposite never had a better opportunity to prove their sympathy with the majority of their countrymen than by voting for tile Amendment of the hon. Member for Westmeath. They would not have another opportunity of showing that they could separate themselves from party—not even if the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Buckinghamshire became Prime Minister. They had shown that they could separate themselves from party—party divisions were not always taken on questions of principle. Perhaps those hon. Gentlemen would say that they sympathized with the Motion, but that the time for passing it was inopportune, and at no distant day that sympathy would ripen into a warmer alliance. That would be consolatory, remove much mystery, and pave the way for great things in future. He hoped the hon. Members for the University of Dublin would not be silent on this question, but state whether they were for or against it; and whether now or at any future time they would help to obtain a University education for their Catholic brethren. He hoped hon. Gentlemen would not hesitate till Parliament met on College Green, for whenever that happened, this and other questions would be settled without their assistance.

Motion made, and Question proposed, That it be an Instruction to the Committee, that they have power to provide for the establishment, as a College of the University of Dublin, of the institution known as the Catholic University."—(Mr. P. J. Smyth.)


said, he inferred from the speeches of the hon. Members for Westmeath and Tralee, that they had come round to his opinion—namely, that the way to improve Ireland and to raise her in the scale of nations was in the matter of education to band Irishmen together, not as followers of Luther or Calvin, or as followers of this or that Pope, but as Irishmen. That such a proposal should have come from his two hon. Friends was to him most gratifying, and it should have his hearty support.


said, on the contrary, he thought that Irish Members would find it difficult to defend themselves from the just reproach which would be brought against them if they supported the present Motion. The Government proposal seemed to him in substance better than that which the hon. Member for Westmeath (Mr. Smyth) now brought forward, and yet it had been rejected by them. For himself, he was not prepared to recede from the demand which had been preferred by the Catholics of Ireland in favour of denominational education in Colleges.


thought the House had better decline to discuss the Motion, as it could not do so without reviving a very wide and important subject—the whole question of University education in Ireland. This was undesirable for many reasons. In the first place, the present was only an abstract Resolution, and it should be remembered that an opportunity was given by the Government for the second reading of the hon. Member for Brighton's Bill on a Government night, on the distinct understanding that it was to be confined to the abolition of religious tests. He therefore suggested to his hon. Friends the Mover and Seconder of the Motion that it would be better for their own interests not to pursue the matter further, but to be satisfied with having stated their views, and left on record the claim which they made; and that the House should proceed to pass what undoubtedly was a great benefit and gain to such members of the Roman Catholic Church as did not think that education in every respect should be united with religious teaching, or require the teachers to hold a particular form of belief.


supported the Motion. The very ground upon which he objected to the Bill was, that it conferred the opportunity upon those Catholics who did not object to united education. He thought the moment chosen very opportune, for if the instruction were adopted, then the Committee would inquire into all the details as to how affiliation could be carried out. The great objection to this Bill was, that it would be accepted by the majority of the House as a settlement of the question.


entirely concurred in the opinion, that it would be desirable to have a Catholic College affiliated to the University of Dublin; but to allow of such a proceeding taking place, it was essential, in the first instance, that the constitution of the Governing Body of that University should be of such a character as to permit of the affiliation of a Catholic College to it. Now, the Bill of the hon. Member for Brighton (Mr. Fawcett) did not in any way propose to alter the constitution of the University of Dublin; nor did the Resolution of his hon. Friend the Member for Westmeath (Mr. Smyth) so far as he could see, give power to the Committee on the Bill to alter it. Under these circumstances, he did not know that he would be justified by Catholic opinion in Ireland in supporting the Motion; and he hoped, therefore, that his hon. Friend would not think it necessary to divide the House upon it, because it might give rise to misunderstanding.


said, he was also opposed to any attempt at a settlement of this question, which proposed affiliation without any change in the constitution of Trinity College. He adopted the principle of the Bill proposed by the right hon. Gentleman at the head of the Government, though he had voted against it. He had voted against it because the right hon. Gentleman himself had given up its principle. The Resolution now proposed would place the Irish Members in a false position, because they would be charged with having rejected, on one day, a measure of broad and liberal principles, and with having accepted, on another, a proposal involving but a small modicum of that principle for which they had been always contending.


joined in the appeal made by his hon. Friend the Member for Roscommon (the O'Conor Don) to his hon. Friend the Member for West- meath (Mr. Smyth) to withdraw his Resolution, as they had strong evidence to prove that the proposal which he made would be repudiated by all parties concerned. He had failed to show that it had any support from any party representing any section of opinion in Ireland. Having refused something like 10s. in the pound of their demands offered them by the right hon. Gentleman at the head of the Government, the Irish Catholic Members were not going now to accept 2s. 6d. in the pound, as proposed by the hon. Member for Westmeath. The present state of University education in Ireland had been characterized by the Prime Minister as a great evil which required to be remedied, and it was acknowledged by him that the present Bill was in no way a settlement of it. It remained to be dealt with in the future; and he trusted that the Prime Minister, notwithstanding the recent failure of his University Bill, with the courage which characterized him, would not shrink from again considering the question, and would not hesitate in a future Session to deal with that great question, which he trusted the right hon. Gentleman would be able to treat in a manner more in accordance with the feelings of the Irish people than before.


said, that the Motion of the hon. Member for Westmeath (Mr. Smyth) demanded due attention, but it was not to be supposed that his hon. Friend had ever contemplated carrying it. He (Mr. Brady) had always thought that the Bill would never be viewed by the Irish people as a settlement of this question, and he was therefore resolved to vote against it. Although the right hon. Gentleman at the head of the Government had failed in his effort to deal with the question of Irish education, he might rest assured that the Irish people would ever remember with gratitude what he had accomplished in their interests and for their benefit.


in supporting the Motion, denied that Irish Members would be guilty of inconsistency in supporting it; indeed, he maintained that the principles advocated by his hon. Friend the Member for Westmeath (Mr. Smyth) were those which Irish Members had always advocated. The Bill of the Government proposed to destroy Trinity College and to raise an entirely new structure upon its foundation, which was to be handed over to the Castle of Dublin. He, on the contrary, had always advocated the maintenance of Trinity College, and he looked with great pleasure upon the attempt of the authorities of that institution to liberalize and reform themselves. Her Majesty's Government and the Opposition having both burnt their fingers in the attempt to settle this purely Irish question, they now asked that those in whom Catholics and Protestants had confidence might be allowed to try if they could not settle this vexed question among themselves in Ireland. The associations of Trinity College were dear to Irishmen, though Roman Catholics, and he could not but recollect that it was to the Bill of the Irish Protestant Parliament of 1793, the Catholics were indebted for the first step towards their emancipation. There was not that antagonism about religion socially in Ireland that the House supposed, and it was only kept up in that House, because each party had been taught for generations to complain here one against the other. The Chancellor of the Exchequer had recommended the Irish people to settle their railway questions at home, and then to come to that House to ratify the settlement. Let them be permitted to follow the advice of the right lion. Gentleman with respect to the University question, and he believed that the best results would follow.


supported the Amendment, on the ground that no proposal could be more in harmony with the wishes of the Catholic University, or of the Dublin University, as expressed in the debate which was held in its Senate, or of the Catholics and Protestants of Ireland, since nothing could tend more to promote the unity of the Empire and the stability of the Throne, than to affiliate the centre of the Roman Catholic education with the centre of Protestant education. He failed to see the inconsistency of voting for this proposal. To say that it was inconsistent to vote now for the affiliation of a Catholic College to the University of Dublin was to say that the great and wise policy of Mr. Burke had been mistaken from beginning to end. The only rule he desired the House to act upon in dealing with this question, as in dealing with other questions affecting Ireland, was that of taking the single-minded course of endeavouring to meet the wishes of the Irish people where those wishes were just and reasonable and could be carried out.


said, he would state, in a few words, the reasons why he was obliged to vote against the Amendment. It was impossible to vote in its favour, for it proposed to affiliate a Catholic College to a Protestant University without in the least degree altering the constitution of that University. Again, the Amendment was altogether foreign to the Bill, which was not a measure for the re-construction of the University of Dublin; it altered the Governing Body neither of the College nor the University; it was simply a Bill to deal with the abolition of tests, and if an Amendment like that were accepted, the whole question should be re-opened, and then they would have to inquire whether a Presbyterian College should not be affiliated, and whether it would not be better to affiliate the Queen's Colleges and abolish the Queen's University. The hon. Member for Kilkenny (Sir John Gray) supported the Instruction as a protest against the Bill being deemed a settlement of the question; but he forgot that the Government had given facilities to the present Bill, on the express understanding that it was not to be deemed a settlement, or as preventing the re-opening of the question when a favourable opportunity offered. The promoters of the Bill had reluctantly given up what they believed to be an important position, because they were anxious for the abolition of tests; but they felt that the question of Irish education could not be settled without a re-construction of the Dublin University. How that was to be effected the future only could tell, but he believed that no section of the House regarded this Bill as a settlement; and it was therefore unnecessary to press for a decision upon the point raised by the proposed Instruction. They sought to remove the great evil of tests, because they believed that that removal would greatly facilitate future reform.


said, he could not support the Motion of the hon. Member for Westmeath (Mr. Smyth) on the grounds upon which it had generally been urged. The Bill would leave the University in possession of the Protestants, who would be able to secure degrees in Divinity, while the Roman Catholics had no such opportunity. Beyond that, the Instruction seemed to contemplate separating the Roman Catholics from their Protestant fellow-students.

Question put.

The House divided:—Ayes 9; Noes 85: Majority 76.

Original Question put, and agreed to.

Bill considered in Committee.

(In the Committee.)

Clause 2 (Interpretation).


moved, as an Amendment, in page 1, line 17, after "office," to insert "shall not, so long as the University of Dublin shall continue to teach and to grant degrees in the Faculty of Theology, apply to any Professor of Divinity; but, save as aforesaid, the word." The Committee would see that the object of his Amendment was to make an exception in the Bill in favour of the Professors of Theology. He had supported the Bill both last year and this year, and thought it afforded the best foundation which which had yet offered itself for future legislation on the subject. The hon. Member for Tralee (The O'Donoghue) said, that it was a waste of time to pass the Bill. He (Colonel Wilson-Patten) thought that it was a most useful measure. Nobody pretended to regard the Bill as a final settlement of the question; but it would remove one of the obstacles to the settlement. Since the disestablishment of the Irish Church, it was no longer necessary to keep up the restrictions which prevailed in the University of Dublin. Ho, therefore, did not see why they should not clear away, by degrees, the obstacles which stood in the way of legislation on this question. An Amendment similar to his had been put on the Paper by his hon. Friend the Member for the University of Cambridge (Mr. Beresford Hope); but there were objections entertained to the words of his Amendment which did not apply to the one which he (Colonel Wilson-Patten) proposed. He had not heard hon. Members from Ireland who had spoken in this debate take any exception to the maintenance of the Faculty of Theology. He believed that there had been a mistake in the House in regard to the feeling which existed about the University of Dublin in Ireland. That University enjoyed the affection and respect of the whole Irish people, and not a single Irishman would wish it to be destroyed. He believed that the Roman Catholic Members could consistently give support to his proposition, and he trusted that it would be supported by the Government. In conclusion, he could assure the House that in bringing forward the Motion, he was actuated by no party feeling, and he hoped that they would yet arrive at some settlement of the education question which would be satisfactory to all classes in Ireland.


said, he understood that no objection was entertained by the promoters of the Bill to the Amendment, and he wished to say, on the part of the Government, that he had no objection to offer. It was an Amendment perfectly fair in itself, and it had been proposed in a manner to commend it to the acceptance of the House, and that more especially at a time when the whole question of the retention of the Faculty of Theology in the University of Dublin was still sub judice, and awaiting the decision of Parliament. He believed the Amendment would be received in no unfavourable spirit on the part of those of a different religious profession. The Government agreed that the question of University education in Ireland would require, and he hoped that favourable circumstances would offer some opportunity for, further consideration, and this provision, as an intermediate one, recommended itself to general acceptance.


said, that he had a Motion on the Paper similar in scope to that of his right hon. Friend the Member for North Lancashire (Colonel Wilson-Patten); but he accepted, with great pleasure, the form of words which had been proposed, believing that they substantially effected the object he had in view. He could not conceive such a thing as a Professorship of Divinity divorced from doctrine.


said, he was so far satisfied with the Amendment, that he would not move the one he had on the Paper, which was nearly to the same effect.


said, that although as far as he was concerned he would rather not have had the Amendment, yet he accepted it in deference to the great preponderance of feeling in its favour, as expressed by hon. Members on both sides of the House, and in the hope that it would facilitate the progress of the measure.

On the Motion of Dr. BALL, the said Amendment amended by inserting the words "or lecturer," after the word "Professor."

Amendment, as amended, agreed to.

Clause agreed to.

Clause 3 (Abolition of Tests.)


moved, as an Amendment, in page 2, line 9, to leave out from "denomination" to "and," in line 10. The hon. Member said, his object in moving the Amendment was to do away with the possibility of any obligation being imposed upon any student to attend any religious service whatever.

Amendment proposed, in page 2, line 9, to leave out the words "to which he does not belong."—(Mr. Eustace Smith.)


said, it was a mistake to suppose that any fines or restrictions were imposed upon Dissenting students to compel their attendance at church. There was, however, a College Chapel within the walls which the students belonging to the Established Church had always been expected to attend, and the Amendment would be opposed to the feeling of the Members of that Body.


said, the Bill provided that no person should be compelled to attend the public worship of any religion to which he did not belong. As one, however, who while a student at Cambridge, had been liable to penalties for not attending three chapels a-week, he did not think that young men should be compelled to attend even the worship of the Church to which they did belong, and he, therefore, supported the Amendment.


said, that if parents belonging to the Established Church intrusted their sons to the care of the College authorities, they would desire to see their attendance at the College Chapel enforced by a system of gentle compulsion.


hoped that the Amendment would not be pressed, as no new power was given by the clause at all; and if the College had not power to compel attendance at chapel now, they would not have any such power under the Bill. This was a Bill, not for altering the constitution of the College, but only for removing certain religious disabilities. To pass the Amendment would be entirely to alter the character of the Bill.


objected to any man being compelled, in order to bring himself within the relief of the clause, to become a member of any Church or religious sect or denomination.


remarked that, while in Mahomedan countries students were punished for breaches of discipline by being excluded from the mosques, the custom in Christian England seemed to be to compel their attendance at chapel. He opposed the Amendment for the reason that it was a direct premium for professing Dissent, inasmuch as a man would thereby relieve himself from attending chapel. He did not think it was any hardship on persons in statu pupillari to require them to attend chapel, provided the services were not contrary to their religious convictions.


supported the Amendment of the hon. Member for Tynemouth (Mr. T. E. Smith), on the ground that the whole system of compulsory attendance was bad, and in the English Universities was on its last legs. In two Colleges at Oxford the practice of compelling attendance at chapel was abolished, and he hoped that before long the practice would be generally got rid of.


said, he should give his support to the Amendment. He wished to add another instance to those of the noble Lord the Member for Calne (Lord Edmond Fitzmaurice). The University of the town he represented had about three times the number of students in the University of Dublin, and no one was compelled to attend any church, and, moreover, there was no chapel to attend. The University had existed 300 years, and there never was a chapel in it. No one should be obliged to attend the chapel of a different denomination to that to which he belonged. Indeed, he objected to giving power to compel a man to attend any place of worship.


said, the existing practice was not felt as a grievance at all. Any student who objected on religious grounds to attend chapel had only to say so, which was tantamount to declaring himself a Dissenter, and then he had a right to remain away, there being no investigation into the matter. There was no compulsory attendance at Trinity College, except in the case of Protestant Episcopalians. In their case the proper guide was the wish of the parent, which was always to be respected. This, he believed, would almost universally be in favour of attendance. He objected to any interference with the domestic regulations of the College.


opposed the Amendment, but granted that, though he objected to compulsory attendance at chapel, he thought the matter should not be settled by the House of Commons, but should be left to the Universities to settle for themselves.


said, he should certainly take the sense of the House upon the Amendment.

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

The Committee divided:—Ayes 112; Noes 43: Majority 69.

Clause agreed to.

Remaining clause agreed to.

Schedule and Preamble agreed to.

House resumed.

Bill reported; as amended, to be considered To-morrow.