HC Deb 02 August 1879 vol 248 cc1945-9

asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer, If he would postpone Vote 10 of the Civil Service Estimates, which was the Vote for the Scotch Universities, and was likely to give rise to a good deal of discussion? If the right hon. Gentleman would agree that it should not be taken this afternoon, but postponed to a later day, he thought it would suit the convenience of the House.


I believe it is proposed to proceed with the Vote to-day. It is too late in the Session now to consent to the postponement of Votes, and I think it is quite reasonable that we should take it.


moved the adjournment of the House in order to protest against taking the Vote this afternoon. He said the House was quite aware that it was the attitude of the Scotch Members which had almost entirely deferred the settlement of University Education in Ireland for another year, and he certainly could not allow them at this time of the Session to throw out a Bill which was brought in for the benefit of the Irish people, and, at the same time, to obtain for themselves all that they desired for the advantage of their own system of education. It was most unjust, he thought, that the Scotch Members, whilst they were obtaining for themselves all they desired, should persistently oppose the extension of similar advantages to Ireland. Under those circumstances, he could be no party to any Supply being voted for University purposes in Scotland. He hoped the Government would not force the Irish Members to take the course of opposing the Vote that day. It would be better that they should undertake the consideration of those Votes upon which there was not such a strong feeling, and that they should postpone this Vote until a future day. If the Government were obstructed in obtaining Supply through persisting in taking this Vote, the fault would rest with the Scotch Members, who were hampering the Government by their opposition to the Irish Bill.


seconded the Motion.

Motion made, and Question proposed, "That this House do now adjourn."—(Mr. A. Moore.)


pointed out that the object of the hon. Member was not against the Estimates being taken that day, but against Supply being taken at all for the Scotch Universities. If anything was to be said against Scotch Universities, Scotch Members would be glad to hear it, and to discuss the objection. If the hon. Member said that all Scotch Members opposed the solution of the Irish University Question—[" Not all."]—he would at least give him (Mr. Lyon Playfair) credit, as a Member for a Scotch University, for avoiding opposition to increased facilities being granted to higher education in Ireland. He believed that increased facilities were required; and when the matter came to be discussed he would be willing to consider what means could be taken for that purpose. Although there were many persons who held strong feelings against secular education being given in Colleges under a religious superintendence, these were not shared by the Scotch Universities. He hoped hon. Members would think it desirable to give these Votes to Scotland, and he would be glad to answer any legitimate objection that might be brought forward.


said, the Irish Members did not desire to make this a contest between the Irish Universities and the Scotch Universities, unless they were forced to do so. What they complained of was, that the Government had put down a Vote for the Scotch Universities in reference to which Notice had been given by the Irish Members that it might be made a matter for serious opposition. Yet they proposed to take it now, only a day before the University Education (Ireland) Bill of the Government was to be brought forward for discussion. He thought the action of the Government in putting this Vote down was calculated to complicate matters very much indeed; because, if this Vote came on, the Irish Members would be bound to oppose it, and they would then incur the imputation—to use the words of the right hon. Gentleman (Mr. Lyon Playfair)—of making it a question between Scotch education and Irish education. Now, they did not desire to do that, if they could possibly avoid it. The Irish people asked for nothing in the matter of education beyond equality; of course, they knew perfectly well that this Parliament would not consent to give the Irish Roman Catholic absolute equality in the matter of education, but he thought some attempt ought to be made to approach it. They could bring about equality in two ways, either by levelling up or by levelling down.


pointed out that any discussion on the matter of University Education in Ireland, until they went into Committee on the Bill that was already before the House, would be irregular.


said, of course, he did not wish to discuss that question, as it was to come forward on another day; but he merely pointed out the course of action which must necessarily be taken by the Irish Members. If the Government persisted in their attempt to bring on the Scotch University Vote to-day, it must result in very great complication; and he should have thought the Chancellor of the Exchequer himself would not wish to bring on a matter at a Saturday Sitting which would involve unnecessary delay. In all probability, there would be no trouble whatever if the right hon. Gentleman waited a few days before bringing on the Vote.


said, the object of meeting today, which, of course, was inconvenient to many Members, was really to make progress with Supply, and among these there was a good supply of Business of a non-contentious character. The Government had no desire to impart into the proceedings of a Saturday any of those great controversies that had been shadowed forth; and if they were allowed to proceed with the Votes to which there was not much opposition, they would be prepared to take the Scotch University Vote at a later day. At the same time, he apprehended there would be no objection to take the Scotch Education Vote. The Universities Vote might be taken when they came to the Queen's Colleges Vote.


said, under the circumstances, he had great pleasure in withdrawing the Motion.


said, before the Motion was withdrawn, he wished to corroborate what had been said by his right hon. Friend the Member for the University of Edinburgh (Mr. Lyon Playfair) as to the opinion of the Scotch Universities. At the same time, if there was any item in the Estimate for Scotch University Education which was considered objectionable, the majority of the Scotch Members would be willing to have the Vote reduced, and especially by the amount proposed to be voted for Theological Chairs. It was not desirable that they should come to a decision upon this question on a false issue; and he wished Irish Members to understand that there was by no means a unanimous opposition on the part of Scotch Members.


said, the Irish Members had no objection to the endowment of Theological Chairs in the Scotch Universities. Everyone knew that the Scotch people were well acquainted with theology, and that their Theological Chairs were of the greatest value. All the Irish people wanted was that similar benefits should be extended to Ireland. It was not likely that any war would be waged between Ireland and Scotland on that account.

Motion, by leave,withdrawn.