HC Deb 23 May 1873 vol 216 cc358-75

in rising to move, That a Select Committee be appointed to consider and report upon the Reasons urged by Members of the University of Oxford against the selection of Oxford as a Military Centre, and also to consider and report upon the whole question of the advisability of selecting Oxford as a Military Centre, said, he would first ask his right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for War, whether he had reason to believe there was some great military or strategic necessity for the choice he had made in this respect? Could such necessity be shown, he should not expect the House to give a favourable hearing to objectors, though a few hon. Members might even in that case protest against the evils attending the choice. In the original scheme, however, Oxford was mentioned only as an alternative or secondary depôt, the military advisers of his right hon. Friend apparently preferring High Wycombe. The matter, however, assumed a different aspect when a powerful deputation of his constituents waited on the right hon. Gentleman, introduced and assisted by the potent eloquence of his hon. and learned Friend the Member for the City of Oxford (Mr. Harcourt). They adduced reasons so convincing that the right hon. Gentleman then and there, if the report in The Times was correct, committed himself to the adoption of Oxford as a depot. [Mr. HARCOURT: No.] If his hon. and learned Friend said this was not the case, he of course accepted the correction. The deputation represented the geographical importance of Oxford, that there was no centre equal to it in facilities for the assembling of troops; that it had a weekly cattle and daily provision market; that the 32nd Regiment had precedence over the 85th —a very odd reason; that it had two rifle ranges; that there were excellent sites, high and healthy, accessible to a good country and large stretches of pasture; that the water supply was plentiful, and that there was excellent public bathing. What was his right hon. Friend's reported answer? It might be an incorrect report, but the statement in The Times was, that his right hon. Friend, having carefully read the memorial, found its reasons pertinent and conclusive. Now he (Mr. Herbert) held in his hand the Report of a distinguished officer who had been sent to Oxford to examine into its qualifications for this depôt, and it was therein stated that both the water supply and the drainage of Oxford were most unsatisfactory, and that, as regarded the former, as confirmed by Professor Phillips, the eminent geologist, no water supply sufficient to meet the demands of a barrack could be depended on by means of wells. Indeed, the whole tendency of the Report issued a few days ago was adverse to the selection of Oxford. Moreover, his right hon. Friend had assured him—and he believed members of the University likewise—that no battalion of Regular troops could be placed there; so that, while the object now was to attach regiments to localities, the centre of this locality was never to see the battalion belonging to it. Militia and Volunteers were to be trained at Oxford, but the battalion raised there was never to be stationed at the depôt town. If Oxford was to be a real centre of military activity, then there were strong reasons urged against it on the part of the University. The remonstrance addressed to the Government showed that men in every position in the University were remarkably unanimous on that subject. If Oxford was made a military centre, he understood it was intended to drill close to Oxford the recruits of the Militia and the Regular battalions which belonged to the district, and that the majority of the rank and file at the depôts would be recruits. It was reckoned they would require in the course of the year 444 recruits to keep up the two battalions to their proper strength; the depôts were to be drilled for six months, and it was calculated there would never be more than 200 recruits at the same time, with 50 old soldiers, making a total of 250. The drilling of the recruits was necessarily a work of a very rough and stubborn character; and in the depôts they would have a constant succession of men who would require, in homely phrase, to be licked into shape. The Inspector General of Prisons, in his Report for 1871 said, that in enlisting a large number of men, it was impossible to avoid taking many who would turn out afterwards to be worthless characters, and that many young soldiers did not adapt themselves to the requirements of discipline until they had undergone stern punishment. Therefore, at those depôts, the best side of military life would not be seen, and the proposed experiment would possibly turn out very unsatisfactory. Now, they had lately added to Oxford a large class of unattached students, essentially a poor class, belonging to no College, who took care of themselves, and who lived in the cheapest parts of the town. If the influences to which he was referring had a bad effect on the town, that class of students would suffer in consequence. Then there was the effect upon the maid-servant element to be considered in relation to such a matter. With regard to the City of Oxford, as distinguished from the University, its interest was, that there should be nothing to repel those parents who were beginning to settle there for the sake of educating their sons. It was said the officers who would be stationed at Oxford would be picked. That might be so as regarded the lieutenant-colonel, but he did not understand how they could pick any of the other officers. Moreover, the policy of taking away the best men from the regiments for the depôts was a very doubtful one, and had never answered. Again, the great difficulty of the University had been that a class of men went there for mere social purposes, to make friends and enjoy themselves; although in that respect there had been a great change for the better within the last few years. Now, he did not at all wish to interfere with the amusements of the military; but there were at Oxford already plenty of the elements of folly, and there were distractions from study which he did not wish to see encouraged at the University, and the reason why a great many men of wealth and position did not send their sons to the University was because of the fear they had that they might be led into expensive habits and amusements. Then, as to those Acts which the House had been engaged in discussing a day or two before, was it, he should like to know, intended that they should be carried out at Oxford? If so, would it not be placing the University there in unfair competition with its rival, Cambridge, where a hair, as matters now stood, turned the scale as to which of them a man would send his sons? He thanked his right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for War for the courtesy which he had displayed in listening to the arguments against his scheme which had been advanced in the case of Nottingham, and he trusted his right hon. Friend would meet the appeal which he now made on the part of Oxford; for if there were good reasons against establishing a military centre at Nottingham, the reasons were still stronger in the ease of Oxford. With regard to his hon. and learned Friend the Member for Oxford, he was not all afraid of him; for his hon. and learned Friend had joined him in too many attacks on the British Army, that he should fear him on the present occasion. It was only the other day that his hon. and learned Friend was trying to persuade them that a certain learned society should be abolished, or as he euphemistically termed it, placed in the secondary line. He was sorry his right hon. Friend the Prime Minister had left his place, for as there was a time when he did not prefer Chole to Lydia, he should like to touch another chord in his breast, and induce him to lend even the smallest fraction of his influence in support of the proposal which he was now making. The hon. Gentleman concluded by moving for a Select Committee to consider and report upon the subject.


in seconding the Motion, said, he took the earliest opportunity of rising in support of his hon. Friend the Member for Nottingham (Mr. Herbert), and to thank him on behalf of the University of Oxford for having brought the question forward. He did not regard the Motion as an attack on the British Army, but to defend the University from the introduction into the City of Oxford of alien and unacademic elements likely to interfere with the working of that University. There was not that unanimity of feeling upon the subject in the City of Oxford that was supposed to exist, because now many of the right hon. Gentleman's active and influential supporters within the City had changed their opinions, since it had become known that only 200 recruits and 50 old soldiers would form the depôt, and that the expenditure of £70,000 per annum on which the tradesman had been calculating was no longer to be relied on. But whatever might be the opinion of the City of Oxford upon the matter, the opinion of the University with regard to it was unmistakable, for a Memorial had been laid upon the Table of the House, signed by 112 members of the University, and representing every shade of academical, theological, and political opinion—embracing High Church, Low Church, Broad Church, University Conservatives, and University Reformers—and everyone engaged in the active teaching of the University, against Oxford being made a depôt centre. Beyond that, the right hon. Gentleman the Secretary of State for War had received a deputation, consisting of all the authorities of the University, who had stated their strong objection to Oxford being made a military centre, on the ground that if the military element were introduced into the City it would be impossible to preserve proper discipline among the undergraduates. It must be remembered that what was permitted to the young officers was not permitted by the laws of the University to the young students, and that the example of the former would prove most injurious to the discipline of the latter. The number of undergraduates now on the books of the Colleges at Oxford was 2,400. The Colleges were overflowing, and a large number of undergraduates now lived in lodgings in the town. Besides which, there was the new class of unattached students, already amounting to 145, whose numbers were daily increasing and all of them lodged in the town. He denied that any national object was to be gained by making Oxford a military centre, and the University contended that they were as much a national institution as the British Army. It was necessary that students should be trained to habits of order and regularity, and Universities and Colleges were places where "true religion and useful learning" were expected to flourish. With increasing numbers connected with the University, an increasing population of the City, the luxuries of the age, and the temptations with which they were surrounded, and the easy access to London, it was difficult for the authorities to maintain discipline; and those difficulties would be increased by the introduction of this non-academic element into the town. High Wycombe, Aylesbury, or Woodstock would be far preferable stations for such a purpose. Indeed, High Wycombe was the place selected by the military authorities, and not Oxford, and recommended to the War Office. Aylesbury was anxious to welcome the establishment of a depôt centre; and the Report of the commandant of the district, the Prince of Saxe Weimar, was in favour of Woodstock. This information had been in possession of the War Office, and ought to have been given to the House at a much earlier date. The Report was dated 23rd January, 1873, but it was not until Tuesday last that it was laid on the Table of the House, and distributed to hon. Members on Wednesday. That Report, which during the interval had not been referred to by the right hon. Gentleman the Secretary of State for War, stated that the selection of Oxford as a military centre was a mistake; because of the difficulty which would be experienced in obtaining water and on account of the bad drainage, and suggested that a site should be fixed upon near Woodstock. If it were a matter of paramount national necessity that Oxford should be made a military centre, he would not object to its being made a military centre, even although the University might suffer some damage. But, as the only object in proposing to make Oxford a military centre was to train 250 recruits, there was no necessity for thus interfering with the University. In a postscript dated the 19th of May, three days after the Notice of this Motion, it appeared that negotiations had been entered into for the purchase of another site, about two miles from Oxford, the local authorities having agreed to provisional arrangements as to the supply of gas and water. He maintained, therefore, that he was entitled to complain of his right hon. Friend for having put forward a document on which he professed to rely, but which really took away the ground of the conclusion on which he relied. His right hon. Friend should rise superior to the small consideration on which he appeared to decide this question, and decide it on grounds of a more national and paramount character. He was sorry to think that the right hon. Gentleman at the head of the Government had left the House while the subject was under consideration; and he had no doubt that the Secretary of State for War had now as much respect for the University of Oxford as he had many years ago, and that he would not do anything injurious to the interest of Oxford; but he could not help saying that there was ample ground for the Motion of his hon. Friend the Member for Nottingham, and that he heartily concurred in it.

Amendment proposed, To leave out from the word "That" to the end of the Question, in order to add the words "a Select Committee be appointed to consider and report upon the reasons urged by Members of the University of Oxford against the selection of Oxford as a military centre, and also to consider and report upon the whole question of the advisability of o. selecting Oxford as a military centre,"—(Mr. Auberon Herbert,)

—instead thereof.

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


said, his right hon. Friend opposite the Member for the University of Oxford (Mr. Mowbray) was right in supposing that he (Mr. Cardwell) should be the very last man to do anything in the slightest degree injurious to the University of Oxford, and he had not the smallest intention of attempting anything of the kind. With regard to the Paper mentioned by his right hon. Friend, it was simply impossible to lay it upon the Table on the 23rd of January, when it was moved for on the 29th of April, and afterwards printed. The only value he attached to it was, that the objections made to the Bullingdon site were removed, because they simply turned upon arrangements as to gas, water, and sewage. One of the great arguments urged against him by his hon. Friend the Member for Nottingham (Mr. Herbert) was, that he (Mr. Cardwell) had been compelled by his constituents to come to the conclusion that Oxford should be made a military centre, and that he did not come to that conclusion upon proper grounds or by military advice. But what said his right hon. Friend opposite? That many of the most influential of his (Mr. Cardwell's) constituents were altogether opposed to the scheme. How did those two propositions hang together? The hon. Member for Nottingham also spoke of the great improvement which had taken place in the University of Oxford. That might be the case, but how did it agree with the statement of his right hon. Friend that the difficulty of enforcing discipline was every clay increasing? He would appeal to a very distinguished Nobleman who spoke last year in the House of Lords on the subject, and who knew a great deal about the Army and the Universities. That Nobleman said he thought it was quite as likely that officers would be deteriorated by University students as that University students would be deteriorated by officers. What were the real facts of the case? In the first place, he congratulated himself that the present Motion was not made by the Members for the University, who had had their attention alive to the subject from the 17th February down to that time, and yet had not thought it their duty to bring the matter under the consideration of the House, but had left it to the free lance of the hon. Member for Nottingham, who, having been in the Army himself, was probably considered the best person to depreciate the Army in that House. Then the Motion itself was irregular, because he was quite taken by surprise when his hon. Friend stated his intention of moving for a Committee—[Mr. AUBERON HERBERT: The words were accidentally omitted from my Notice.] But they should have been put in. His hon. Friend had alluded to certain Acts of Parliament, and implied that they were to be extended to Oxford; but he could assure him that there was no intention whatever of making any such extension of the Acts to Oxford. What had really been done was this—a deputation of his constituents came to him, but, if his memory served him correctly, it was in reply to a deputation from the University. The House had been told that there was a great and unmis- takable objection on the part of the University to the scheme; and, undoubtedly, a large number of eminent members of the University had objected. Their opposition, however, like that which they formerly showed against the introduction of railways, proceeded more from an exaggerated view of what might happen, than from an accurate knowledge of what would be really done. What was the amount of the objection? A Memorial was laid on the Table of the House on the Motion of his right hon. Friend opposite, showing that of 25 Heads of Houses five Heads signed it, while 20 did not; that 24 Professors signed it, and 16 did not; and that out of members of Convocation 112 signed the Memorial, and 169 did not. What did the War Department propose to do? They were going to obtain 20 acres of ground at a distance of about two miles from Oxford. They would not interfere with the maid-servants; they would not interfere in the slightest degree with the unattached students of the University, wherever they resided; and the whole provision was to be—a lieutenant-colonel, a major, six captains, four subalterns, a paymaster, a quartermaster, a surgeon, 45 non-commissioned officers, and 50 old soldiers, many of them married. The remainder would be recruits under strict discipline, and undergoing drill. The hon. Member for Nottingham said that recruits were very troublesome, and that it was very unreasonable they should be brought to Oxford. But the reason why Oxford was selected was because it had a larger population among which enlistments for the Army could be made than any other town which could be selected; and when it was urged that even the opportunity for such an enlistment was an evil in itself, he (Mr. Cardwell) could not help expressing his belief that those who enlisted were improved by the discipline to which they were subjected, and were thereby made better members of society. He was told they should go to Woodstock; but was it likely they would consent to go there when they could have a recruiting market at Oxford? The population of the Parliamentary borough of Oxford was returned at 31,404, while that of Woodstock was only 7,477; so that, whatever exception might be taken to the phrase, Woodstock was a desolate place when compared with Oxford in respect to recruiting population. Again, there were these important considerations. If they went to Woodstock they would be entirely out of the way of the recruiting population; but if anybody would look at the map, they would see that of all places Oxford, although on the outskirts of the country, was, nevertheless, as central as any other place they could pitch upon, and was more accessible by railway. Besides, Oxford was connected with the 52nd Regiment, and was the head-quarters of the Oxford Militia, which corps, he believed, desired to be placed there, and the citizens certainly desired to have the depôt there. The proposed site for the depôt had the approval of the military authorities whom he had consulted on the subject, and General M'Dougall had reported in its favour. The engineering officer who had visited the spot also reported that the site possessed many advantages—it had a light sandy soil, suitable for building and camping purposes; it was in a sheltered situation; its distance from the town of Oxford was sufficient to prevent annoyance to the inhabitants; and the only disadvantage, the difficulty of obtaining an abundant supply of water, had been met by the undertaking of the corporation in that respect. With regard to the harm which it was supposed would result from the presence in the town of the military, as connected with the establishment of a depôt centre, Lord Shaftesbury's opinion contrasted with that of the hon. Member for Nottingham. It was that these institutions were likely to be the best training schools in the country. Besides that, he had in his hand a letter from a gentleman who had long been a tutor and a distinguished ornament of Trinity College, Dublin, and in that letter the writer said that, though he had never heard of any ill-effects to the students arising from the proximity of the garrison to the University, he had known many instances in which the officers of regiments had derived advantage from being quartered in the neighbourhood of the University. There were garrisons not only at Eton and Winchester, but at Edinburgh, Glasgow, and Aberdeen; and Oxford was surely no such sickly plant that it could not bear what other places endured without injury, and that it could not tolerate the presence of 15 chosen officers, 45 non-commissioned officers, 50 old soldiers, and a few recruits.


in supporting the Motion, said, that the University of Oxford would be quite willing to allow a military centre to be fixed in or near that city when the military necessities of the nation placed it in the position now occupied by Edinburgh, Glasgow, and Dublin; but the right hon. Gentleman had sat down without giving the House any information whatever as to the military necessities of the case, so far as Oxford was concerned. Indeed, as a proof that the fears of the University authorities were not without foundation, it was well known that at the time when the Militia was out for training the discipline of the University was much more difficult to maintain than at other times. [Mr. CARDWELL: That is just one of those things which, by this plan, we propose to put an end to for ever.] The right hon. Gentleman complained that the Members for the University had taken no active steps in reference to this subject. For his part, he moved in the matter early in the Session. On the 17th of February, he had questioned the right hon. Gentleman as to the site, and had been told that it was not absolutely settled; but when it was decided upon, the right hon. Gentleman said that he would have no objection to produce the Report of Prince Edward of Saxe-Weimar. In the meantime, the present Motion was placed on the Paper; and in consequence, he obtained permission of the right hon. Gentleman to see Prince Edward of Saxe-Weimar's Report in writing, which had since been printed, and laid on the Table. In short, he had simply been waiting for information on the whole subject, and did not see what more he could have done. Had he found that there were cogent military reasons for placing the depôt centre at Oxford, he would not have moved further in the matter but the contrary appeared to be the case. The proposed site was about two miles from Oxford, but the need for it was so little imperative that the question of £50 an acre more or less might make all the difference. It was a question of cost; indeed, upon this very point of its advantages for recruiting purposes there was evidently a diversity of opinion, for the general officer sent down by the right hon. Gentleman to survey the district had himself recommended a place near Woodstock in preference to Oxford; and if they were to look at the military depôts generally, they would find that their selection did not depend upon the considerations which the right hon. Gentleman insisted upon in the case of Oxford. The question was not the training of 250 recruits at Bullingdon, but those recruits would resort to the town as a matter of course when off duty; for there must necessarily be at times large numbers of recruits, and in the train of the soldiers that peculiar element of population which, say what they might, was always to be found in the neighbourhood of garrisons. It seemed to him idle to say that the fact of the station being two miles from town made a great difference. The moment the men were off duty they would direct their steps towards the large town of Oxford, and towards those parts of it to which Militia found their way. The right hon. Gentleman told them what a noble Lord said about the Military Manœuvres, and the way in which the soldiers behaved when they were in strict discipline; but that was entirely irrelevant to the conduct of the recruits who were to be brought into this depôt. One of the military reasons given for the selection of Oxford was, that it was the only city with a large population in the brigade sub-district, and offered, for that reason, the best recruiting district. He did not deny that it offered these facilities; but the military authorities did not think that of such paramount importance as to prevent them from mentioning High Wycombe and Woodstock as appropriate places for a military centre. It was said that Oxford was the headquarters of the Oxford Militia. That was one of the very things of which the deputation to the Secretary of State for War complained. It interfered most materially with the discipline of the University, and therefore they complained of the attempt to make Oxford a military centre. Another reason for this selection was, that Oxford was historically connected with the 52nd Regiment. There was not a more gallant regiment in the service than the 52nd; but he had looked over the history of that regiment, written by one of the old chaplains, and he was riot able to find a single particular in which it was connected with Oxford. The 52nd Regiment, whose distinctions were emblazoned on its banners, had obtained all its honours without ever being brought into connection with Oxford. He was not saying that it was not desirable for a regiment to have an historical connection with a particular city, but they were in this case also bringing a Buckinghamshire regiment into Oxford, and Buckinghamshire had as much right to have its local interests and connection considered as any other place. No doubt Oxford had considerable advantages in the matter of railway communication. There were many other places, however, which had the same advantages, and his experience in going to Oxford led him to say that it was not one of the best places in the kingdom so far as railway accommodation was concerned. Didcot Junction was an unpleasant association in travelling to Oxford, and High Wycombe would have been practically almost as convenient. Was it unreasonable that the University, having found the evils connected with the Militia, should apprehend similar difficulties from this depôt being in the immediate neighbourhood of Oxford? The right hon. Gentleman had told them that the question was still open, and that a site had not yet been purchased—a few pounds might make the difference. He did not know how many pounds it would require to make the Chancellor of the Exchequer put his veto on this purchase, but the memorial which had been addressed to the right hon. Gentleman the Secretary of State for War demanded the greatest attention. It represented practically the whole of the teaching power of the University. Many who were not able to sign it from being absent had expressed their readiness to do so, and. it contained the names of 24 University Professors, and 112 tutors and lecturers in the Colleges and halls. The right hon. Gentleman said that some of the heads of houses had not signed it; but it did not profess to come from them, but only from the Professors, tutors, and lecturers engaged in the practical work of education. It was signed, among others by Dr. Pusey, Mr. Jowett, the Master of Baliol, and Dr. Heurtley, the Margaret Professor of Divinity; and what object could they have but the moral benefit of the University? With respect to the town, there were, he would not say sordid, but money considerations to be taken into account. He thought that they had been falsely taken into account. Oxford was growing; villas were springing up on the Banbury and Woodstock side; and all of them were connected with the education of the University; and would not the selection of Oxford as a military centre affect the minds of those who were coming to the city for the sake of the education, which had been thrown open to the nation? He asked the House to set the interest of the nation against the supposed interest of the locality, to set the moral feeling of the University against the sordid feeling of the town, and to support the Motion of the hon. Member for Nottingham (Mr. Herbert.)


said, he would ask the House to deal with this question in a practical and business-like manner. Subject to difficulties as to gas, water, and drainage which had been overcome, the military authorities had selected the site near Oxford, and that being so, he was unable to appreciate the reasons which had induced the two right hon. Gentlemen the distinguished Members for the University of Oxford to enlist under the banners of the hon. Member for Nottingham (Mr. Herbert). They had done what was often done before Parliamentary Committees; they had suggested alternative places for this military centre which were not practically before the House, and one of them had mentioned High Wycombe. He did not know if they would have the assent of the right hon. Member for Buckinghamshire (Mr. Disraeli) to that proposal. If the evils produced by the military recruits were so great, and so injurious to the studious shades of Oxford, he felt sure they would have the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Buckinghamshire coming forward, and seconding a Motion refusing to sanction as a military centre a place in which he was so much interested, and whose population including the maid-servants he would naturally desire to protect, from the evils of military settlements. The other Representative of the University had suggested Woodstock—he did not know whether with the assent of the Duke of Marlborough, but he should like to hear the opinion of the hon. Member for Woodstock (Mr. Barnett), on that point, and would ask how he could vote for the Motion, if the result were to save Oxford at the expense of Woodstock? Moreover, why should the Duke of Marlborough have what was described as a moral plague brought to a town in which he was so much interested? The real question to consider was, whether this was an evil at all. Was it an evil which arose from the society of the officers, or the propinquity of the common soldiers? They were accustomed to speak, he believed, not lightly, of British officers as officers and gentlemen; almost every Member of the House had relatives in the Army; and was it to be said, that they would demoralize the University by sending to the City of Oxford the regiments into which they did not hesitate to send their sons? Was it to be said that the members of the University would be degraded by being brought into the society of officers and gentlemen? If the evil contemplated was not likely to arise from the presence of the officers, were they prepared to assert that the Undergraduates would be degraded, and a town of 40,000 inhabitants polluted, by the presence of 200 or 300 soldiers? It would be extremely injurious to their military system if such a view should be taken by the House. At one time, it was considered a degradation to enlist in the British Army; but that was not so now, and a soldier who returned to his native village was looked upon rather as elevated than lowered in the social scale. If that House was about to affirm that a man's becoming a soldier, placed him so low in the social scale that he ought to be removed from society, they were doing their best to destroy the possibility of having a voluntarily-recruited Army. He ventured to say that the apprehension of the University was a sentimental one, and two officers well known to his right hon. Friend opposite, Captain Fane and Colonel Should-ham, had expressed their indignation at the aspersion which had been cast upon the profession to which they belonged. Were they going to toast the Army and Navy at banquets and make great speeches, and then when it was a question of quartering a regiment on a town turn round and say—"Good God! don't do anything of the kind; you will injure and destroy the population?" With respect to the site, it was a curious fact that, notwithstanding the objection which had been made to it, the authorities of Pembroke College were contending with private proprietors for the custom of the Government. It was equally remarkable that the Heads of Houses, who were especially responsible for the discipline of the University, did not sign the memorial to the right hon. Gentleman. Was the House, he asked, about to say that there should not be a military centre in any town? Well, if they were, they ought to go back upon the policy they had adopted up to the present time, and undo all they had done in that direction. Similar apprehensions were entertained by the University with regard to the original construction of the railroad to Oxford, and afterwards to the establishment of the Great Western Railway works, but such fears were unfounded; and he hoped the House would not, by agreeing to the Motion, place in antagonism the University and the town, between which agreeable relations now existed.


said, it was clear that Oxford was the first place for education in the world. No man had a higher attachment to the Army than himself; but he believed that the presence of a large military body brought with it some accompaniments that were not desirable, and he confessed that it might be injurious to the moral character of the University to have a military centre near the city. Men of high position had told him they refused to send their sons to Cambridge on account of the vicinity of New market, and he feared that were Oxford injured in a moral point of view the same objection would apply to it. He believed that there was no military reason why Oxford should be selected; on the contrary, there were reasons against the selection of this special locality.


said, he should not vote for the Motion. With regard to Woodstock, he was not aware till a few days ago that any idea existed of establishing a military depôt in that neighbourhood; but he thought it would suit admirably. He was not authorized by the Duke of Marlborough to express his opinion on the subject; but he had heard his Grace express an opinion like his own, that the apprehensions of the University were much exaggerated. Bullingdon was some distance from the town, and the officers would be men of some standing.


denied that there was any intention of introducing a body of troops into Oxford; on the con- trary, the town would actually be relieved of the periodical assembling of the Militia, who, instead of being trained and billeted in Oxford, would be removed to the depôt two miles distant. The railway accommodation of Oxford was superior to that of Wycombe, and so far from the question being still open, it was only a matter of site, to be governed by price and sanitary and other considerations. He could not think that this depôt would be dangerous to the undergraduates of the University. The hon. Member for Nottingham (Mr. Herbert) had served in a very distinguished regiment, not long indeed, but long enough to know the character of the officers and men, and he was surprised that the hon. Gentleman should repeatedly prefer grave charges against the Army. Indeed, he thought the hon. Member would not dare to repeat in his own mess-room what he had just stated in the House of Commons.


thought he had always guarded himself against such an imputation. He had spoken with severity of the system, and the system alone, not of the Army, for which he entertained respect and affection.


regarded this as a distinction without a difference. He maintained that the system was good, and that the officers and privates were highly honourable men, who would bear comparison with any other class; and he repudiated entirely the charges which the hon. Member had made against the Army.


said, he had yet to learn when the placing of a military centre in the City of Oxford was sanctioned by the House. He wished to offer one or two observations. It was necessary that some of the dust which had been cast into the eyes of hon. Members should be blown away. ["Divide."] He had one or two remarks to make, and he would not detain the House long. The noise arose from hon. Gentlemen about the doorway, who probably knew little about, and were not members of, the University. As to the suggested comparison of University discipline to that of the Army, though both good in their place, their nature was quite distinct as no one knew better than the hon. and learned Member for the City of Oxford. He maintained that the heads of houses at the University were against the establishment of a Military Centre at Oxford.


said, he had no doubt that it would be an uncommonly good thing for the City of Oxford, if the proposals of the Government were carried out, because it would cause a good deal of money to be spent there; it would also be a very good thing for his part of the country, because it would afford an excellent market for their fresh milk, butter and other produce; and besides that it would no doubt give to those living in the neighbourhood many very pleasant acquaintances. Again, the number of roads and railways which converged at Oxford, pointed it out as a situation having many advantages. On the other hand, there was a very peculiar body there—a vast number of persons under pupilage and education; and he had never known any subject on which there had been such a general assent among those who were concerned for the discipline of the University—nor anything like such a universal feeling of apprehension as existed on this matter. It was not easy for persons who were not responsible for the discipline of such a body as that, to judge whether those apprehensions were well or ill founded; he did not pretend to give an opinion on that point; but it would be a great national misfortune if the discipline of the University were interfered with. The proposal therefore was a matter of speculation; and the Government were taking the responsibility on themselves if evil consequences should result.

Question put.

The House divided:—Ayes 134; Noes 90: Majority 44.

Main Question, "That Mr. Speaker do now leave the Chair," again proposed.