§ MR. FAWCETT
asked the Chief Secretary for Ireland, Whether it is the case, as has been alleged, that a proposal on the subject of Irish University Education was made not long since on behalf of the Irish Executive, and that a Petition in favour of this proposal, very influentially signed by the Roman Catholics of Ireland, was forwarded to the Prime Minister; and, if such proposal was made, whether he will inform the House of its nature; and, whether it is the intention of the Government to proceed with the Irish University Bill this Session; and, if so, on what day the Second Reading will be taken?
§ MR. J. LOWTHER
No, Sir, it is not the case that any proposal on the 631 subject of University Education in Ireland has ever been made by the Irish Executive. At the same time, I need hardly say that private communications, unofficially conducted, have from time to time passed upon this, as upon most other subjects of public interest in Ireland, between Members of the Irish Government and persons representing or holding various religious opinions, a course which the experience of successive Governments has found conducive to the interests of Public Business. The hon. Gentleman asks whether a Petition, very influentially signed by the Roman Catholics of Ireland, was forwarded to the Prime Minister? I find that three Memorials, or Declarations, as they appear to be called, have been received by the Prime Minister. Two of these were from the Roman Catholic laity of Ireland, and are already in the hands of hon. Members as Parliamentary Papers. The third, which emanates from the Catholic Union of Ireland, will also be laid upon the Table. I find, on referring to these documents, that one of them expresses itself as follows:—"We, the undersigned, deem it to be our duty to reiterate the opinions expressed by the Roman Catholic laity of Ireland in the year 1869 on University Education in Ireland.It then goes on to reiterate the opinions previously expressed at the date referred to. The other two documents urge the adoption of the Bill of the hon. Member for Roscommon (the O'Conor Don). In none of them, however, is there any reference to any supposed proposal from anybody else. It certainly is the intention of the Government to proceed with the Irish University Bill this Session, and I hope the second reading may be taken in the course of next week; but, in the present state of Business, I cannot name any particular day.
Is it not the fact, that on the basis of those semi-official understandings, proposals, or negotiations, a satisfactory conclusion was arrived at at the time, and that the proposal now before Parliament is almost a complete departure from that understanding?
§ Mr. J. LOWTHER
Sir, I have already frankly stated everything I know, and pointed out that there were no proposals or arrangements, semi-official or otherwise, and I must leave the House to form its own opinion upon the matter.