HC Deb 15 May 1879 vol 246 cc475-506

, in moving for leave to bring in a Bill upon University Education, Ireland, said, his first duty was to thank the right hon. Gentleman the Chancellor of the Exchequer for affording him an opportunity of mating the Motion he was about to make at an earlier hour than he himself could command. He felt that in making this Motion, and in asking leave to introduce a Bill dealing with University Education in Ireland, he was undertaking a great responsibility. The question was one which had baffled the greatest statesmen, and had tried the strength of the strongest Governments; and at first sight it might seem extreme folly for any private Member to attempt to deal with it. Yet, perhaps, in this, the apparent weakness of the instrument, consisted its real strength; and although he and those who were associated with him had no strong Party at their back, yet, on the other hand, they had no prejudices to conciliate or to fear, and if they were wanting in the strength possessed by a strong Government, they were freed from the anxiety lest their action in the matter should break up their majority and destroy their strength. In addition to that, they possessed the no small advantage that the Bill they introduced was of no Party character, and that its success or failure could not in any way affect Parties in the House; and, consequently, all temptations to raise difficulties, in order to accomplish Party triumphs, were taken away. It was, fortunately, not necessary for him to enter at any length into a consideration of the urgency of the question. The want of legislation had long been admitted, and had been recognized by almost every Government that had come into power during the last 20 years; and the numerous attempts which had been made to settle it, whilst they proved the inherent difficulties connected with the question, established equally incontestably the necessity for legislation. The position of affairs which, six years ago, had been declared to be scandalously bad, continued to be as scandalous to the present day; and if any change at all had taken place, that change tended rather to increase and intensify the inequalities than to remove them. Fortunately, also, it was not necessary for him to argue that a settlement was demanded by all sections of the Catholic community in Ireland; and although he remembered the time when it used to be asserted that no grievance existed on this subject except a clerical grievance, that assertion would no longer be made. Two very remarkable documents had been lately laid on the Table of the House, one emanating from the Catholic community in Ireland, and bearing 1,100 names that no one could deny represented the wealth, respectability, and intelligence of Catholic Ireland; the other coming from the other side of the Atlantic, and attesting the results which had arisen there in the Dominions of Her Majesty from an honest and successful attempt to meet demands similar to those which now came, and for years had come, from Catholic Ireland. These two documents took away all necessity for entering on any elaborate arguments to prove that the demand for a change existed, or that an honest endeavour to meet it would be unsuccessful. He had said that if the state of things had at all altered since 1873, the alteration had been in the direction of increasing rather than diminishing the necessity of dealing with the subject. Last Session an Act had been passed which could not be left to stand alone. Last Session the Government introduced a measure, and successfully carried it, which would immensely increase the demand for University Education, and would intensify the injustice which arose out of the present state of things. He was happy to say that the Irish Intermediate Education Act had turned out a great success. Already the Board had received a large number of applications from candidates for examination, and of these a considerable number were students in the senior grade, who would be turned out on the world next summer ready for entering on a University career, and aided impartially by the State in bringing them up to this point. But under what conditions would they be then left? Some of them would be able to take advantage of existing University institutions; others, holding conscientious convictions which would prevent their adopting that course, would have to stand back, would have to terminate their educational career, and give up all the advantages which their more fortunate and more favoured rivals could enjoy. He asked in what state would these young men find themselves, or what would be their feelings? Hitherto their conscientious convictions had not interfered in any way with their progress or their success; and whether they attended a Protestant school, or a Catholic school, or a purely secular school, all the advantages of the Intermediate Education Act were thrown open to them, and the institutions which successfully instructed them were treated equally impartially by the State. In a couple of months the first fruits of the Intermediate Education Act would be reaped, the necessity for further facilities being given for the attainment of the advantages of University Education would be made more painfully evident, and the inequalities at present existing more clearly demonstrated. They had all hoped, before the commencement of the present Session, that the Government would deal with the question. Everything pointed in this direction. The success of the Bill of last year; the promises with which it had been introduced; the remarkable statements of the Lord Chancellor in "another place;" the admission which he there made that the Bill he was introducing represented merely the walls of the edifice, and that the roof, in the shape of a University Bill, would have to be put on hereafter—led all to believe that the edifice, so successfully built up to the roof, would not be left long uncovered, especially when it was to be inhabited immediately, and when, within the year, the want of the roof would be made manifest to many of those who had entered it. In addition to that, there were various other indications that the subject was one that was to be dealt with. Mysteriously suspicious articles began to appear in some of the public journals. Journals known to be in the confidence of the Ministry began to develop a remarkable interest in the question. Admissions began to be made which went so far in recognizing the justice of previous demands as almost to startle such an old upholder of these demands as himself, and everyone became convinced that the Government had really determined to grapple with the question. In addition to this, rumours were circulated that negotiations—or, if that word were objected to, he would say informal communications—were opened between certain Representatives of the Government and others who represented certain Catholic views on the question; and although these rumours might not have been fully justified, or the articles in the journals might have been strained beyond their legitimate significance, yet he thought he would not be altogether wrong in saying that the belief that the Cabinet did intend to deal with the question was not altogether unfounded. However, shortly before the Session opened, the aspect of affairs completely changed. The journals seemed to receive new inspirations. What was believed just and expedient and possible a few months before became fraught with difficulties and dangers, and the existence of the injustice, or the necessity for removing it, became matters of apparently much less censequence. It was under these circumstances that the Session opened. The total absence of all reference to this important subject in the enumeration of the Government proposals induced his hon. Friend the Member for Tralee (the O'Donoghue) to press the Chancellor of the Exchequer on the point, and then it was authoritatively announced that the Government would not deal with it. Under these circumstances, what was to be done? The subject could not be allowed to drop without at least a protest, or an attempt at a settlement. Immediately the man who had most right to speak, whose authority in regard to it was most universally respected, and whose loss was so generally deplored in the House—he meant his hon., learned, and lamented Friend the late Member for Limerick (Mr. Butt)—gave Notice of two Motions—the one a Resolution, the other a Bill. Shortly after, he was struck down with that illness which since had proved so fatal; and it became evident that even if the recovery which was then so much looked forward to took place, yet for a long time he would not be able to take his place in the House, or to follow up his Motions. After waiting a little to see whether his hon. and learned Friend was likely soon to rally, he (the O'Conor Don) was pressed to take the Motion up, as delay could no longer be permitted. At length, he consented to do so. In doing so, he was quite alive to the difficulties of the position—difficulties immensely aggravated by the unfortunate illness of his hon. and learned Friend. There was no man more capable of dealing with this subject than he was; no man who took a greater interest in it; no man who more thoroughly understood it in all its bearings. A distinguished University student—a man whose whole career, as a student, as a Professor, as a member of the Governing Body of a University, marked him out for peculiar fitness in devising University legislation; his withdrawal by illness was about as great a blow as the withdrawal of the Government itself; and he felt, and he was sure almost all other hon. Members felt, that if the difficulty of the situation was great before, it became doubly great when they were all deprived of the wise counsels and experienced advice of the great Irishman who had lately been taken from them. They were, however, fortunate in one respect. Before his hon. and learned Friend was struck down with that illness which, during the last few months, prevented his giving any attention to public affairs, he had committed to paper some views as to the way in which this question ought to be approached. To a certain extent, they had the benefit of his opinion; and he was sure he was not weakening his case for the Bill when he stated that those who drew it up had been materially aided by the suggestions of Mr. Butt, and that, to a very great extent, and so far as those opinions were known, his hon. and learned Friend's views and opinions were followed in the drafting of the Bill. The first question which those interested in the matter had to consider was, whether they would proceed by Resolution or by Bill. Many arguments might be adduced in favour of the former course; but, as he did not wish unnecessarily to occupy the attention of the House, he would not touch on them. Eventually, they decided to proceed by a Bill, and they came to that determination mainly for two reasons—first, because they really meant business, because they really desired to have the question settled, and because they believed it could be settled. Secondly, because they did not want that it should be any longer said that their strength consisted in objecting, and that they did not know what they wanted, or how to form a scheme to carry out what they wanted. If they desired merely a discussion, if they wished merely to put on record a further protest, a Resolution would evidently be the best course to adopt. It was obvious, he thought, that if they had no chance of carrying a measure, placing their views in the definite shape of a Bill would be a very hazardous experiment; and, therefore, in adopting that course, they gave an earnest of the sincerity of their wish to settle the question, and an earnest of the sincerity of their belief that it could be settled this Session. In framing the Bill the same object was kept in view, and they had made its provisions as moderate and reasonable as they possibly could, seeking for nothing but what the absolute necessities of the case demanded. He wished to say, in the outset, that tins Bill was not his Bill, in the sense of being his own personal proposal; it was not the Bill exclusively of the community to which he belonged; it was a measure arrived at by communications with Friends on both sides of the House, holding the most opposite political views. It was essentially a compromise, arrived at after mutual concession, and must not be taken in any sense as embodying the separate views of the Roman Catholics, or containing all that they believed they were justly entitled to. In speaking of his action in the matter, he had used the plural number, and he had done so advisedly; and when he mentioned, as he would shortly do, the names of the hon. Members who were joined with him in its introduction, he thought the House would be of opinion that he had rightly used the plural number, and that the Bill was deserving of every attention that could be given to it. In attempting to deal with the question in the shape of a Bill, naturally, the first point they had to consider was, whether they would at all touch existing institutions, whether they would endeavour to open and enlarge their spheres, to re-cast their constitutions, and make them embrace other and newer bodies within their fold. He himself entertained a very strong feeling in favour of that course. Theoretically, the arguments in favour of it wore irresistible. They had been urged, he need not say most eloquently, by the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Greenwich in 1873; and he was bound to say-that, if practicable, the establishment of one great National University for Ireland was the solution that would most please him. But they had to look to what was practicable; and, certainly, in the hands of private Members, a Bill for destroying the University of Dublin and the Queen's University, re-casting their constitutions, and building out of them a new institution, would be, to say the least of it, impracticable. What the late Government and the right hon. Gentleman had failed to bring about they might be forgiven for declining to attempt. But if they could not deal with the two existing Universities, might they not deal with one or other of them? Might they not take the older and grander of these two institutions, and try to mould it so as to meet the requirements of the country? His hon. and learned Friend (Mr. Butt) had tried to do this, and he, too, had failed. He (the O'Conor Don) had the honour of being associated with him in that attempt, and he could not but admit its absolute failure. There then remained the other alternative, of taking the Queen's University and re-modelling it—abolishing it, in the first instance, and re-constituting it on another basis; and as this proposal had formed the subject of much discussion, he would be obliged to consider it at more length. He admitted that there were many arguments to recommend it, and if the subject were to be dealt with by a Government, he thought that probably that was the line of settlement they ought to look to. But, as private Members, they felt enormous difficulties in their way, if they attempted completely to upset and transform any existing institution, no matter how weak it might apparently be. The moment any existing institution was touched, that moment a whole host of little private interests came into play, and opposition was created which no private Member could hope to cope with. Besides that, he wished hon. Gentlemen, who believed that the abolition of the Queen's University was the proper course to adopt, to remember some of the difficulties they would have to encounter. They could not, of course, propose to destroy the Queen's Colleges, and absolutely to disendow them; and if they continued endowed, as they now were, how could equality be established between them and unendowed Collegiate institutions? Or, even if this difficulty could be got over, there remained the important question of the government of the new University. What were they to do with the existing Senate, or Governing Body of the Queen's University? Were they to abolish it, and if they were, were they to abolish the principles on which it was constituted? They should remember that one of the principles of its constitution was election; that it had amongst its members gentlemen elected by the graduates of the University; and if they abolished the existing Body and its elected members, would they also abolish the principle of election? Could they take away from the graduates the rights which, under Royal Charter, they possessed; or was it desirable, even if they could do so, to destroy the principle of representation? On the other hand, if it were not destroyed, how could equality be established? For years and many generations of students the inequality would exist, not merely as to pecuniary matters, for that inequality might possibly be redressed; but as to representation on the Governing Body, and for many generations the students of the Queen's Colleges would have absolute control over the whole elective representation on the Governing Body of the University. The truth of the matter was, there were inherent difficulties in the way of amalgamating old and new institutions, and, small as had been the success of the Queen's Colleges, yet, with their 85 years' start, and their hundreds of fully-finished graduates, it would be a difficult task to place absolutely new institutions on terms of equality with them. The right hon. Gentleman the Member for Greenwich had, in 1877, most eloquently pourtrayed the disadvantage of establishing a new University. He had pictured to them the new University lagging behind its older and more favoured rivals, lame and halting. He (the O'Conor Don) could not deny the truth and force of his picture; but would it not be merely a transformation of personages and a change of name, if they attempted to set up side by side in the same University new Colleges, unendowed and unsupported, devoid of prestige, wanting in all the advantages arising out of the influence of old students, and, having set them up, if they asked them to compete with, and to be on terms of equality with, their older and more favoured rivals? Would they not have the new Colleges lagging behind, lame and halting, and would not the injustice and the inequality, which was to be remedied, be only the more apparent by bringing into such close contact the institutions so differently treated? For these reasons, then, they had come to the conclusion that whatever Government might do, or whatever might be hereafter done, they had no course open to them but to propose the erection of a new University, and to leave all existing institutions as they were. In adopting that course, they were fortified—very strongly fortified—by the opinion of his hon. and learned Friend (Mr. Butt), who, before he was struck down by illness, had placed his views on this point on record, and had very clearly expressed his opinion that it would be a great mistake to attempt a settlement of the University Question on the lines of a re-construction of the Queen's University. He (the O'Conor Don) would next proceed to consider what they proposed should be the constitution and functions of this new University. It was to consist of a Chancellor, Vice-Chancellor, and a certain number of senators. The total number fixed in the Bill was 24. The Chancellor, Vice-Chancellor, and other senators were to constitute the Senate of the University. They proposed that the first Senate should be named in a Schedule to the Bill. For obvious reasons, that Schedule would be presented to the House a blank. Of course, no gentleman could be asked to allow his name to be placed in it until the main provisions of the Bill had received the sanction of Parliament. Besides, neither he nor those who were associated with him desired to take on themselves the selection of the names; they wished to leave that in the hands of the Govern- ment. If it were thought more expedient, they would not press to have the names given at all in the Schedule; but would leave the selection to be a subsequent act performed by the Lord Lieutenant of Ireland. He did not believe they could leave the selection in better hands than those of the present Lord Lieutenant, than whom no man took a deeper interest in the settlement of the question, and in whom every class in Ireland that would be affected by the Bill had the greatest confidence. But if the House desired, as they had done in regard to the Intermediate Education Act, to learn the names of the Senate before the Bill was passed, it seemed to him that it would be more in accordance with precedent to enter the names in the Schedule. They proposed, in the next place, to constitute a body to be called Convocation, and they created it on the same lines as Convocation was created in the London University. In filling up vacancies on the Senate caused by deaths or resignations, they proposed to follow the precedent of the Queen's University. They proposed that one-fourth of the Body should be elected by Convocation, and that until the full number of elected members—namely, six, was reached, every alternate vacancy should be filled by the Crown and by election. After the full number was reached, they then proposed that on the resignation or death of an elected member his place should be filled by election, and that all other vacancies should be filled by the Crown or the Lord Lieutenant. To the Senate thus formed they proposed to give very ample powers. In a general way, they proposed to intrust to them the carrying out of the intention of the Act—namely, the promotion of University Education in Ireland; but, following out the precedent of the Intermediate Education Act, they proposed to indicate the particular mode in which such education should be promoted—namely, by holding examinations for Matriculation and for Degrees; by granting Exhibitions, Scholarships, and Fellowships, and other rewards, to successful students; and by granting result fees and other advantages to the Colleges producing them. They proposed that the University should be divided into four Faculties—the Faculty of Arts, the Faculty of Medicine, the Faculty of Law, and the Faculty of Engineering. The Arts course they fixed at four years, and, including the Matriculation examination, they proposed that there should be five examinations for all students who went through the complete course. At the end of the third year they proposed that the degree of B.A. should be attainable; and for such students as went in for the Master's Degree they proposed that another examination should be held at the end of the fourth year, when the degree of M.A. would be conferred on those proving worthy of receiving it. Following, then, the precedent of the Intermediate Education Act, they proposed that for every 10 students who passed the Matriculation examination, one Exhibition should be assigned of the value of £20, to be held for the three years' course, up to the taking of the degree of B.A., provided the student continued his University course for that time; at the end of the first year's course they proposed that for every 10 students who passed, one Exhibition of the value of £30 should be assigned, said Exhibition to last during the second and third years of the course; at the end of the second year's course, they proposed that Scholarships of the value of £50 a-year for three years should be granted in the proportion of one for every 10 students, to be retained on the condition that the scholar obtained his degree of B.A. at the end of the third session, and his degree of M.A. at the end of the fourth year. In addition to these Exhibitions and Scholarships, they proposed that a certain limited number of Fellowships should be established. They suggested 20, to be held for five years, and to be given away in the following manner:—Four of them to be competed for each year at the examination for the degree of B.A.; so that in the fifth year the full number of 20 would be complete; and as the term of the holders of the first four would then terminate, there would be four vacancies to be filled up in the following year, and subsequently, in this manner, the full number of 20 would be always kept up, provided there were competent students seeking them. To the holding of these Fellowships certain conditions were to be attached. To retain his Fellowship, the Fellow should take out his degree of M.A. in the following year, and he should be resident in or attendant at, or a Tutor or Pro- fessor in an affiliated College for the remaining four years, or by the special authority of the Senate, he should spend the remaining four years in the pursuit or promotion of science or literature, in any manner the Senate might determine. They proposed also that there should be Exhibitions in the other three Faculties. An Exhibition of £20 for every 10 students who passed in the Faculty of Law, to be held for the three years of the Law course; a similar Exhibition in the Faculty of Medicine, to be held for four years; and a similar one, in Engineering, to be held for three years; the attainment of these Exhibitions, and their retention, to be dependent on the students passing all the necessary examinations in a satisfactory manner, and with sufficient merit. These were the chief proposals they had to make with regard to rewards to the students themselves. He now approached a much more difficult branch of the subject—namely, the assistance in the way of pecuniary grants to the institutions which produced the students. They did not propose that the new University should itself be in any sense a teaching University. At the same time, they thought that it should be something more than a more Examining Board, that its functions should be more extended, and that, although not undertaking teaching itself, it should strive to promote and directly assist higher education and teaching in other and independent institutions. The real want they had most to meet was the want of good Professors in the unendowed Colleges. No solution of the University Question could be satisfactory which did not supply this want; and if they were not prepared directly to recognize or to endow distinct Colleges, which would be carried on in accordance with the religious convictions of a vast number of people, yet they must in some shape or form supply the want, and enable these independent institutions to secure the teaching power so absolutely necessary. Under the Intermediate Education Act, one means of meeting this difficulty existed. By the payment of results fees to the heads of those institutions, a means was afforded to them for providing in some way for the want; but it would be a mistake to apply this system just as it stood in the Intermediate Act to University Educa- tion. There was one essential difference between University Education and the intermediate and primary school education. For the former, they required Professors of the very highest class—men who could not be got without paying them very well, and who, when got, should not have their time thrown away on a mere handful of students. Were they, then, to adopt the system of paying result fees to every institution in the country which sent up University students, they would probably be doing more harm than good. They would be dividing and scattering over the country the literary strength, which, to accomplish any real good, should be united, and they would be rendering the establishment of University training, or of any College which could in the true sense pretend to be a University College, impossible. The consequence would be that they would have a few scattered students from almost all the large intermediate schools; but the results fees received by any particular institution would he far too small to do any real good towards University teaching or towards securing the services of competent Professors; and whilst they would do little or no good to the institutions receiving them, they would prevent the establishment of real Colleges, in which a sufficiently large number of students would be collected to render it possible to secure the services of the best Professors, and thus injury, instead of benefit, might be the result of the experiment. For these reasons, they had come to the conclusion that the pecuniary advantages to be conferred on institutions or Colleges should be confined to a few, and that the result fees and other advantages to which he would presently allude should be restricted to a limited number of Colleges, to be selected or affiliated by the Senate. For the purpose of affiliation, they proposed to define a College in such terms as would exclude—First, all the Colleges of existing Universities; second, all institutions in receipt of result fees under the Intermediate Education Act; and, third, all institutions which had a smaller number than 20 students over the age of 18 years pursuing the course of study prescribed by the Senate for examinations under the Act. Any College complying with the latter condition, and not being an intermediate school or College in connection with an existing University, would be eligible for affiliation by the Senate. No doubt, some objections might be raised to the proposed exclusion of the intermediate schools, and it might be said that whenever pupils distinguished themselves those who taught them ought to be rewarded; but, after much consideration, they had come to the conclusion that there would be no hardship in requiring the heads of any educational institution to determine whether they would class that institution as a school or a College; and if they selected the former and reaped the advantages derivable from if, they had no right to come under a University Bill and claim the rights of Colleges there. They proposed not to interfere in any way with the students. These might come from any school or College, or no school or College; they would be equally treated, and no difference would be made in their regard. With regard to results fees, they did not propose that any should be paid on the Matriculation examination. Until the student had passed that examination, the University training or teaching had not commenced; and, consequently, the institution whence he came was entitled to no payment. After the first session of the University course, they proposed that payments should be made on the following scale:—In the first year, for a simple pass £20, for a pass with honours £30. In second year, for a simple pass £25, and a pass with honours £35. On taking the degree of B.A., for a simple pass £30, and a pass with honours £40; and on taking the degree of M.A., for a simple pass £35, and a pass with honours £45. Besides this, they proposed that when students from any College had taken either Exhibitions, Scholarships, or Fellowships, the College should receive in each such case double the amount of results fees. They also proposed similar results fees in the professional Faculties of Law, Medicine, and Engineering. At first sight, perhaps these results fees might appear large; but when it was recollected that, according to the statement of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Greenwich, every student educated in the Queen's College, Galway, cost the State £77 a-year, and every one carried on to a degree in Arts cost £231, whilst every graduate in Law cost £308, he thought the amount would appear in- significant. At all events, he need scarcely say that the actual amounts were matters of detail. He was not absolutely bound to them; but he hoped that if Parliament were disposed to approve of the principle, it would not attempt to carry it out in a niggardly spirit. He now came to another important proposal in the Bill. Remembering that the real want they had to supply was a good and efficient teaching staff, and that it would be desirable to secure the services of the best possible Professors in secular subjects, they proposed to meet the want in another way besides the results fees. After all, the results fees pre-supposed the existence of the Professors, an assumption on which they could not safely proceed, for it was not founded on fact. University Education in Ireland could not really be promoted, unless this assumption was turned into a fact, and he thought it might be done without any departure from the principles on which alone they sought public aid. He believed there would be no departure from these principles in giving power to the Senate to pay salaries, not exceeding a certain limited amount, to a limited number of Lecturers or Professors in secular subjects, who should be bound to lecture or profess in some one of the affiliated Colleges, and who might be presented to the Senate from such College, provided that there should be only one such University Professor on any given subject of the University course in any one College, and provided also that such Professor should have at least 15 students attending his lectures. This, he was bound to say, they considered was a point of the greatest importance. It was almost essential in the commencement, in order to give new institutions a start; and as they did not object to any provision being inserted to secure that the money so given should be spent on purely secular teaching, and, if necessary, that the lectures should be open to students of all religious denominations, he trusted that this proposal might find favour with the House. These were the main provisions so far as grants in aid of University Education went. There were one or two minor provisions for permitting the Senate to give assistance towards the erection of laboratories, museums, and libraries in affiliated Colleges; but he did not think it was necessary to dwell on them in detail. The next point they had to consider was, what would be the probable amount required for carrying out this scheme, and whence it was to come? As to its amount, he believed that, at least in the commencement, it would not be nearly as much as might at first be imagined. They believed, from calculations that had been made, that £30,000 would amply cover all expenses; but they proposed in this respect, also, to follow the precedent of the Intermediate Education Act, and to leave the amount to be estimated by the Senate, limiting it so that it should not exceed a certain sum. In fixing this limit, he felt sure the House would not desire to proceed in a niggardly spirit; and when they remembered that close on £50,000 a-year, in one shape or other, was spent on the Queen's University and Colleges, he did not think it would be unreasonable to ask that a capital sum of £1,500,000 should be set aside for the purposes, if necessary, of the new University; and he need scarcely add that that capital sum they proposed to take from the same fund which had already been marked out and selected by the Government for an almost exactly similar purpose last year. They proposed, in fact, in this Bill, exactly similar finance clauses to those in the Bill of last year, merely substituting the Senate for the Board, and increasing the limit from £1,000,000 to £1,500,000. He had now gone over all the main provisions of the Bill, and he would endeavour to close his remarks as speedily as possible. He had said in the commencement that the Bill was not his Bill. He had spoken throughout in the plural number; and when he told the House that there were associated with him in the introduction of the measure the hon. Gentleman the Member for Carlow County (Mr. Kavanagh), his hon. Friend the Member for Galway (Mr. Mitchell Henry), the noble Lord the Member for Waterford County (Lord Charles Beresford), the hon. Member for the County of Cork (Mr. Shaw), and the hon. Member for the County of Meath (Mr. Parnell), he thought tie had said enough to prove that the Bill possessed no Party tendencies, and that it was one which was likely to receive the support of nearly all the Irish Representatives, and certainly one deserving of the greatest attention which the House and the Government could give to it. They offered the Bill not as a final one, or as of a large and comprehensive character. They believed it would be a step in the right direction, which, if passed, might render it more possible hereafter to deal with the question on the large scale suggested in 1873 by the late Government. He would himself desire to see an amalgamation of Universities, and the establishment of one great National University for Ireland; but, strange as it might seem, he believed that result might be facilitated rather than impeded by the establishment of a new University now. It would be very difficult, he thought, to unite together Bodies starting on terms of inequality, and to place together, under the same University, endowed and unendowed Colleges—old and new institutions—Colleges with a large number of ready-made graduates, and Colleges without such. The inequality apparent in the commencement must for generations exist, and the injustice apparent in such inequality must always offer one of the greatest obstacles to such a settlement. They presented the Bill also as a reality, as something they desired not merely to discuss, but to carry. Of course, he knew that private Members could not carry it without the assistance of the Government; but he trusted that if the House and the Government approved of the principle, they would render every facility to its becoming law. Irrespective of the urgency of removing the gross wrong inflicted on so many young men, it was desirable that the subject should be settled in some way, and not bandied back and forward between rival Parties. If this opportunity were lost, and this offer rejected, he would look with anything but pleasure to the future. Matters could not be allowed to stand as they were, and if there were not levelling up in some shape or form, an agitation for levelling down would, he feared, be commenced, the end of which it would be hard to see. In such a struggle the interests of education would be the first to suffer, and he most sincerely trusted that Her Majesty's Government would, by a wise forethought, prevent such arising; and now, when a Bill was presented, arrived at by mutual concession, and devoid of all Party character, he hoped it would not be rejected, and the opportunity be allowed to pass away fruitlessly, either through indifference or English prejudice. Thanking the House for the attention they had given to him, he begged to move for leave to introduce the Bill.


said, that he had no wish to enter into a discussion upon the Bill which his hon. Friend had asked leave to bring in. He had already given the House a sketch of the proposals embodied in the Bill. The question raised by that measure was one of the greatest importance; but he did not wish then to pursue the subject further than to state the reasons which had induced him to join with his hon. Friend in undertaking the Bill. For a long time it had been felt that this question should be dealt with, and dealt with in a manner which, although it might not be the most pleasing and acceptable to the heads of the different religious denominations in Ireland, yet would enable them to avail themselves of such advantages as the provisions of the Bill gave them, without sacrificing their conscientious scruples and religious convictions. He had hailed with pleasure the introduction into, and the passing through, the House last Session of the Intermediate Education Act, not so much on account of the benefits which he believed that Act would confer, as with the hope that it would prove the prelude to legislation on the part of the Government on the much greater question which had been brought under their notice that night. But the Speech from the Throne delivered at the opening of the Session, and the statements which had been made since then by Ministers, showed that that was not to be the case. It was only then that, at the suggestion of the hon. Member for Roscommon, he had consented to join with him and others in endeavouring to bring before the House, in the shape of a Bill, a proposal of a practical and reasonable character, which they hoped would obtain the support of all moderate sections of opinion, and by so doing might, perhaps, ultimately lead to a settlement of an important question that had been so long open. He frankly admitted that their chances of success might not appear to be very brilliant, and that they had not undertaken an encouraging task. Perhaps their attempt might even be designated as a foolhardy one, and they themselves might even be described as those who "rushed in where angels feared to tread." But, however that might be, he could only say for himself that he considered the proposals brought forward for discussion were moderate and reasonable; and if their endeavours even tended directly or indirectly to facilitate the ultimate settlement of the question, he should feel sufficiently rewarded. It could not be denied that, at the present period of the Session, and looking at the state in which the Order Book was, that it would be impossible for private Members, without some assistance from Her Majesty's Government, to find the requisite opportunities for the proper discussion of this Bill. Unless they got some help to bring forward the discussion of the measure, it was utterly impossible to hope that private Members could get it through in the time at their disposal; but he did hope that if Her Majesty's Government were not opposed in principle to the measure, they would give such assistance as would enable them to have a debate upon the second reading, and then to take the opinion of the House upon the merits of this proposal. He begged to second the Motion of the hon. Member for Roscommon.


said, that he only rose for the purpose of supporting the appeal of the hon. Member for Carlow that the Government would give such facilities as were consistent with the pressure of Public Business to enable the House thoroughly and carefully to consider the Bill which had now been brought before it. Although the subject was a complicated and difficult one beyond measure, there could be only one opinion as to the clearness and the ability with which his hon. Friend the Member for Roscommon had explained the measure; there could be but one opinion that it was an advantage to them that they should have an Irish statement of what Irishmen—who were the most interested—considered to be the proper manner for meeting this most difficult question. It was a question that had tried the strength of Governments, and had tried the strength of Parties, almost beyond their powers of endurance; and he thought that it was a very great advantage that they should have the subject brought before them by those men who were most deeply interested in it. He would not, on that occasion, give any definite opinion concerning the Bill, except to say that it was evidently framed with a wish to be a moderate measure, and with a care for the feelings of Englishmen as well as for those of Irishmen. He did not think it would be possible to give an actual opinion on the measure until it was before them; and he merely rose for the purpose of joining in the appeal to the Government to fix a day for the consideration of the measure.


said, that having studied the draft of the Bill most carefully, he really thought that the judgment of the House of Commons would be favourable to it. The question of University Education in Ireland touched so very many interests and raised so many important questions in detail, that it would be impossible for any private Member to expect to get a Bill on the subject through this Session; but he hoped that the earnest endeavour of the hon. Member for Roscommon to bring in his Bill would receive the sanction of the House. This was a question which required settlement, and it had more danger connected with it than any other Irish matter. The Bill which the hon. Member wished to introduce was made out on the exact lines of the Intermediate Education Act which was received last Session by the House with almost unanimous approbation. If that Bill were right, surely a Bill for higher education made out on the same lines would be right. It must be the earnest wish of all hon. Members of that House to settle a question of this class, which provoked such bitter feelings even by its very mention on the other side of the Channel; it must, therefore, be the earnest wish of everyone to see it put at rest for ever. Nobody could deny that the subject was one which required legislation almost before any other subject before the country at the present moment. In fairness and justice to a very large proportion of the people of Ireland—he meant the Roman Catholics—these claims should be fairly considered. They wished for a University giving them equal advantages with people of other denominations. The question had often been thought out, but never fairly argued on the floor of that House, fie himself would go even further than this Bill proposed to do, for he would support a Bill brought in for a Roman Catholic University. It was true this University might become Roman Catholic one day; but he would support any Member who brought in a Bill for the purpose of founding one now, for he believed that a Roman Catholic University would come sooner or later, the same as the Roman Catholic vote came in years gone by. But, although he would support any Member who brought in such a Bill, yet he did not think that such a Bill would be of any use, for it would lead to such strong opposition that it would have no chances of passing. As he was, however, anxious for something to be done, and he thought that the Bill which the hon. Member proposed to introduce would not meet with such opposition as the Bill for a Roman Catholic University, he would support it. He did hope that the Government would see their way to support this Bill. He thought that what the hon. Member had said had been most reasonable and moderate; and he did trust that the House of Commons would see its way to give its judgment in favour of the Bill.


observed, that the noble Lord had struck the note which must be heard again and again in this controversy, however much they might try to avoid it, when he spoke of the wish to have a Roman Catholic University. The question that arose in his mind, having listened to the very clear exposition of the Bill which his hon. Friend the Member for Roscommon had given them, was how did this proposed scheme meet the demand which they had heard so often? He did not see how, in the shape described by the hon. Member, it would be satisfactory, nor how it would meet the demands which they had heard made, or how the present scheme differed from the existing system of University Education in Ireland so as to remove the objection now entertained to the present system. The first part of the Bill proposed to establish a Senate, which would be an Examining Body, and have power to give certain prizes to students when satisfied that their education was completed, and they had finished their three years' course. That part of the scheme, at least, did not differ in any particular from the constitution of the Queen's University. His hon. Friend expressly said that the Senate—upon the position of which the whole character of the Bill depended—would be appointed in the same way as the present Senate of the Queen's University was appointed. So far, then, as the power to hold examinations and to give away prizes were concerned, the result would be precisely the same as the present system of the Queen's University, with this addition—that the students might enter for examination who had not gone through their course of education at the Queen's Colleges. In that respect, the scheme would be what the Queen's University was proposed to be made, as amended by the Supplemental Charter of 1866. So far, the proposal of the Bill would correspond with the amended scheme; but that scheme did not give satisfaction at the time to the people of Ireland, any more than it gave satisfaction to the Queen's University. He did not see how his hon. Friend would thus satisfy the demand which it was the solo object of this Bill to meet. There was, it was true, a different part of the scheme, which he proposed to call "affiliation" of the Colleges to this University. Upon that point, he confessed that he had great difficulty in understanding the explanation given. No existing College, according to what had been said, could be affiliated; and none of the existing institutions which received, or might receive, any grant under the Intermediate Education Act, could be admitted to be affiliated. He would ask, therefore, if there were any institution in Ireland at the present moment which could be affiliated? There might, perhaps, be one institution—namely, that upon St. Stephen's Green—which could possibly be affiliated; but he did not know of any other. Certainly more than 20 students were pursuing their course of education there; and if the rules were complied with, they might be able to go to the proposed University for examination. Not only would the prizes be given to those students, but salaries would be paid to the Professors in those affiliated Colleges. It was proposed that the lecturers should be paid for lecturing on secular subjects, and he understood it was provided that lectures so paid for should be open to students of all creeds. There was, in fact, to be a Conscience Clause, so that all students might come in and attend these lectures. Was it also intended that these students should be allowed to be members of the affiliated Colleges, or were they to come in as outside students attending the particular lectures? If they were to be allowed to be members of the affiliated Colleges, he saw no distinction whatever between the proposal of the present constitution and the Queen's Colleges. But if they were to come in as outside students attending the lectures, there would still be, as far as he could see, little distinction. If there was no distinction, how would this scheme satisfy those aspirations which it was the professed object of the Bill to realize? The hon. Member might be able to explain the difficulties which occurred to him on a future occasion; but, at present, it seemed to him that certain elements in the problem had been passed over; and he did not see how the scheme would satisfy those demands to control not only the education, but the moral life, of the student, which were insisted upon by the Roman Catholic Hierarchy of Ireland.


observed, that there was a difficulty in discussing a Bill which they had not seen. In making that remark, he was not referring to the observations of the hon. Member for Liskeard (Mr. Courtney), and he must not be understood to express any opinion upon that Bill. In the observations which he should make, he would only ask the hon. Member for Roscommon to explain certain points which were not quite clear to him in what they must admit was otherwise a very clear and able statement. It would be paying the hon. Member for Roscommon a poor compliment to judge of his Bill before seeing it; and they ought to be particularly careful on this subject, remembering what took place when the late Government, in 1873, introduced their memorable Bill, and the somewhat foolish position in which some very distinguished Members of that House placed themselves. They listened to the extremely able speech of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Greenwich (Mr. Gladstone), and became quite enthusiastic; but some of those who began by blessing ended by doing exactly the reverse. He should not have uttered a single word on that occasion, had it not been for a remark of the noble Lord the Member for County Waterford (Lord Charles Beresford), who spoke with some responsibility, as his name was upon the back of the Bill. In reference to his remarks, he wished to express a word of caution. The noble Lord said that that Bill was drawn upon the lines of the Intermediate Education Act; and, as that Act was passed by a large majority of that House, he seemed to think that the House was obliged to support beforehand a Bill on University Education drawn upon the same lines. With reference to that remark, he would make two observations. In the first place, no doubt, the Intermediate Education Act of last Session was supported by a large majority; but there was a small minority who had very strong objections to certain parts of that Bill. But that was not the point. An Irish University Bill might be drawn on the same lines as an Irish Intermediate Education Bill; but that was not the slightest reason why those who supported an Intermediate Education Bill should necessarily support an Irish University Education Bill drawn on the same lines. An Irish Intermediate Education Bill dealt with a field unoccupied—there was no system of Intermediate Education in Ireland until last Session; but with regard to Irish University Education, the thing was entirely different. The one ground was not occupied; but in the case of the other edifice they wished to erect, they would have to consider how it would influence the University institutions which were already in existence. He should not express any opinion as to what might be the effect of that measure, considered from the point of view that there were at the present moment two distinct Universities in Ireland; he would only point out to the House—and he thought the House would agree with him in this obvious remark—that it did not necessarily follow that those who were in favour of the Irish Intermediate Education Act would necessarily be in favour of an Irish University Education Bill framed, as had been stated, on the same lines. Farther than that, he would express no opinion, favourable or otherwise, with regard to the Bill; but he was sure that his hon. Friend the Member for Roscommon would only consider that he was expressing the general opinion of the House when he complimented him upon the extremely candid way in which he put his proposals forward. After the candour with which he had approached the subject, they would all feel it due to him, when the Bill was printed, to endeavour to approach the matter in the same spirit of candour; and he was only expressing the opinion of many English Liberals besides himself when he said that they had but one object in view, although they might differ somewhat as to the means of carrying it into effect—namely, the promotion of University Education in Ireland.


thought the hon. Member for Roscommon would not ask anything better from the House or the country than that his Bill should be considered simply on its merits. He only rose for the purpose of deprecating any discussion upon the matter until the Bill was before the House. The hon. Member for Hackney (Mr. Fawcett) was certainly mistaken in his statement that there was no scheme of Intermediate Education in Ireland until the Government measure of last year. He would inform him that there were plenty of intermediate schools in Ireland, but, unfortunately, they were not devoted to the education of the people of the country, but only of one section of it; and the measure adopted by the House of Commons, and introduced by the Government, was designed to fill up the hiatus which existed in that education—and which also existed at that moment in University Education in Ireland—and which arose from the fact that they could not force persons who had conscientious scruples to receive their education in schools or Colleges in which the scheme of education and the whole government of the institution was opposed to their religious convictions. The scheme that had been brought forward by his hon. Friend the Member for Eos-common was designed, as he had observed, to fill this hiatus existing in University Education. No one denied that there was ample means for secular education in Ireland, and plenty of University Colleges; but the people did not fill them. Under that state of circumstances, the Bill now introduced shortly was this—That people who desired to have a University degree could get their education in their own Colleges; and if they brought to an examination an adequate stock of learning, they could obtain that degree—that was the real basis of the Bill of his hon. Friend. It was the system of payment by results. The people were to be allowed to receive their education where they liked; but when they came to the test of an examination, then they were to come up to the standard before they could receive their degree. That was the whole basis of the Bill. It had been most carefully designed to avoid trenching on the religious prejudices and religious feelings of hon. Members on either side of the House; and he thought, when the Bill was considered, it would be found to be one based upon moderation and prompted by a desire for peace, and intended to insure to the people of Ireland, who so long had had reason to complain of being denied the privileges of education, which were so freely extended to the subjects of Her Majesty in other parts of the Kingdom, all the necessary means of obtaining degrees without doing a violence to their religious feelings.


Everyone must acknowledge both the importance of the question which has been brought to our notice, and also the clearness and moderation with which the hon. Member for Roscommon has explained the provisions of the Bill he desires to introduce. Everybody must feel that the House is indebted to him for the pains he has taken and the endeavour he is making to contribute to the solution of a very difficult and important problem. There is also, I think, a general feeling in this House, in which I agree, that it would be impossible for us to express any opinion upon a measure of that kind until we have had an opportunity of seeing the Bill in print, and of giving some consideration to it. As has been well observed by the hon. Member for Hackney (Mr. Fawcett), it is impossible to judge an important scheme of this kind at first sight, and it will be well that some time should be given in order that the scheme should be considered in all its bearings. I hope that the hon. Gentleman will introduce his Bill to-night; and I have no doubt the House will gladly accord him the right to do so, in order that we may shortly have it before us in a shape which will enable us to give it full consideration. It will probably be some little time before the House will have any opportunity of expressing its opinion. The hon. Member will be able, by con- sidering the arrangements of the Order Book, and after communication with his Friends who may desire to help him, to find a day when he can bring his measure before the House, which, I have no doubt, will give it a careful and attentive consideration, and make a most candid examination of all his proposals. I think that I should be doing wrong on the present occasion, if I were to do more than express my obligation to the hon. Member for the pains he has taken in preparing his measure, and to assure him that his proposals will be received and considered by Her Majesty's Government with all the attention and care which they so well deserve.


wished to say one or two words with reference to this subject, without entering upon the discussion of the merits of the Bill. The peculiar combination of names of hon. Members introducing the Bill would show the House that they had gone a long distance in the way of effecting a compromise. But he must state that, so far as he was aware, the Bill had not yet been considered either by the ecclesiastics or by the laity of Ireland; and it was impossible upon that occasion to give any pledge that the Bill would be accepted either by the clergy or by the laity of Ireland. He said that the more emphatically, inasmuch as he had not heard the right hon. Gentleman the Chancellor of the Exchequer give any intimation whatever that the Government were prepared to meet them in the long way in which they had travelled towards a compromise. He wished it to be considered, therefore, that the clergy and laity of Ireland, so far as he knew, had not been consulted with reference to the Bill. Having said so much, he might state that, in his opinion, in the interests of University Education, and judging only from what he had heard from his hon. Friend with reference to the Bill, that it seemed to be one which would give satisfaction. He said this, not only in consequence of what had fallen from his hon. Friend, but because he knew the Bill to be introduced was one that met with the approval of the late Mr. Butt, who had many opportunities of consulting, not only with the laity, but with the ecclesiastics of Ireland. The lines upon which the Bill was founded were perfectly neutral; and he should be surprised if the Bill did not receive, as it was intended to do, a favourable reception. He must not, however, be understood to say that the matter had been considered, or that they, in any way, pledged themselves to accept the compromise which was offered.


said, that he would make one observation with regard to what had fallen from the hon. Member for Liskeard (Mr. Courtney), as he had no desire that the explanation he had given of the Bill should be in any way misunderstood. It was proposed by the Bill, with regard to affiliated Colleges, that power should be given to the Senate to pay the salaries of certain Professors professing purely secular subjects in the affiliated Colleges. That was the full provision of the Bill; but he stated that if that was not thought sufficiently secure, having regard to the sentiments of the people of England, he would not object to the insertion of a provision that the lectures so paid for should be open to all, irrespective of their religious beliefs. That was the statement made by him; and when his hon. Friend said that, if this were so, the Lecturers in affiliated Colleges would be in no different position from those in the Queen's Colleges, he ventured altogether to differ from him; and he thought that those who most understood what at present existed in Ireland would differ from him essentially. He could not tell how it was that the hon. Gentleman saw no difference. The hon. Gentleman referred to the College upon St. Stephen's Green as being one of those which might be affiliated with the proposed University. Well, he asked, was there no difference between that College and one of the Queen's Colleges? The lectures given by Professors in St. Stephen's Green at the present moment were open to any student who chose to attend, irrespective of the religious belief of such student; yet, surely, no one would say that this did away with all difference between that institution and a Queen's College. He thought he had said sufficient for the present in answer to the point made by the hon. Member for Liskeard. With reference to what had fallen from the right hon. Gentleman the Chancellor of the Exchequer, it must be remembered that a private Member had no opportunity of bringing his Bill on as an Order of the Day except upon Wednesday. But all the Wednes- days up to the end of the Session were occupied; and even if he could secure a Wednesday, the right hon. Gentleman might consider it unreasonable to take the Bill on an early day. Supposing he said next Wednesday, would the right right hon. Gentleman consent to it? [The CHANCELLOR of the EXCHEQUER: Yes.] If they were not able to secure Wednesday for the second reading of the Bill, and were not able to bring it on, say, within the next three or four Wednesdays, would the right hon Gentleman hold out any hope of the Government giving up a day for its consideration? For if they were unable to secure any Wednesday within that time, there would be no chance of their getting the Bill through a second reading without the assistance of the Government. His hon. and gallant Friend the Member for Galway (Major Nolan), who had the first Order for next Wednesday, offered to place that at his disposal. If the Government would consent to the Bill being taken next Wednesday, he would bring it on on that day, and he hoped that it would be in the hands of hon. Members on Saturday morning.


remarked, that he was willing to allow his hon. Friend to take Wednesday for his Bill, on condition that the Government would come to the necessary agreement upon the subject. He would only give up next Wednesday, on condition that the Bill which was next in order would also make way for his.


said, that the Government were in no way masters of the proceedings on Wednesdays, and it was not in their power to say whether or not the Bill would be taken that day. He did not, however, see any objection to the course which was suggested—namely, that the Bill should be put down for Wednesday, May 21st, with a view to getting it discussed then.


thought that to take the Bill next Wednesday would be very rapid work. They were told that the Bill was unknown to the clergy and laity of Ireland, and yet they were asked to discuss it on that day, by which time it could not possibly have been considered by those most interested in it.


said, that the whole proposition with regard to this Bill struck him favourably, although he had, of course, not yet considered the details of the measure. He had listened with very great attention to the statement of his hon. Friend in moving the introduction of the Bill, and he might say that he considered it would commend itself to the people of Ireland. He did not think the objection of the hon. Member for Liskeard was an important one, and he was in favour of the Bill being taken next Wednesday.


stated that he was willing to give up his Bill, which was second in the Order Book, in favour of the hon. Member for Roscommon. That seemed to be the only day on which he would have any chance of bringing it on.


was bound to agree with the hon. Member for Liskeard in thinking that it would be impossible to consider the Bill in all its bearings by Wednesday, particularly remembering the great number of persons interested in the subject. The hon. and learned Member for Kildare (Mr. Meldon) had stated that the Roman Catholic clergy and laity of Ireland had not yet had an opportunity of considering it. He would point out, therefore, to the hon. Member for Roscommon that if he insisted upon bringing on his Bill upon that day, no final Resolution could be arrived at with regard to it. It was necessary to consider the Bill very fully; and he would suggest to the hon. Member that he would make the Bill much more acceptable in the long run, and much more likely to conduce to the higher education of Ireland, if he did not fix the second reading at such an early day as Wednesday next.


observed, that the hon. Member for Roscommon had said that he would be precluded from bringing his Bill on, except on Wednesday next, unless the Government gave him a day. As he understood his hon. Friend, he would have postponed bringing the Bill in on Wednesday if the Government would have given him a day at a later period. No doubt, Wednesday was an earlier day for the consideration of the question; but it must be taken then, unless the Government would give a day later on.


thought that it was undesirable that the Bill should be taken next Wednesday. It was an attempt at a compromise, and anything like a com- promise upon a question such as this I ought not to be hurried through the House. The people of Ireland might not agree with the measure, and it would be far better to give them an opportunity of studying it closely at first. He would also point out to the hon. Member for Roscommon that there was no chance of his carrying his measure through that Session unless the Government really and earnestly gave it facilities. If they wished to do so, they could easily find him a day; and there was no reason why the second reading of the Bill should not be taken before Whitsuntide. The Bill would be distributed on Saturday, and would be in the hands of Irish Members on Monday next; but they could not communicate with their constituents and receive their replies before Tuesday or Wednesday. There was no reason for pressing on the Bill if the Government would give a day for its consideration; and he must remind the hon. Member that the Government alone could secure the passage of the Bill that Session, and without then-aid it would be hopeless for a private Member to try to carry it.


said, that the Bill would not be in Ireland before Monday; but, still, there was a very sound and general idea of the provisions of the measure spread throughout Ireland; and he was very much surprised that hon. Members usually so conversant with matters as the hon. and learned Members for Louth (Mr. Sullivan) and Kildare (Mr. Meldon) should be so behindhand in their knowledge upon the present occasion. With regard to the observations of the hon. Member for Liskeard (Mr. Courtney), he could assure him that the Queen's University had a very sharp and watchful staff in Dublin who would deal with the merits of the Bill; and he might feel certain that it would be canvassed by men quite capable of finding out its defects. He hoped that the hon. Member for Roscommon would push his Bill on as rapidly as possible; and he trusted that the Government would endeavour to facilitate his doing so. As sacrifices were being demanded all round, he had no hesitation, for his own part, in saying that if the Government would enable this question to be discussed, hon. Members would, in return, consent to put aside for a time some very important and engrossing questions which they had engaged to bring forward.

Motion agreed to.

Bill to make bettor provision for University Education in Ireland, ordered to be brought in by The O'CONOR DON, Mr. KAVANAGH, Mr. SHAW, Mr. MITCHELL HENRY, Lord CHARLES BERESFORD, and Mr. PARNELL.

Bill presented, and read the first time. [Bill 183.]