HC Deb 17 June 1880 vol 253 cc191-3

asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department, Whether he has given his approval to a Provisional Order relating to Heriot's Trust, Edinburgh, the terms of which are at variance with recommendations of the Endowed Schools (Scotland) Act of 1872, and with those contained in the special report of the Endowed Institutions Commission lately presented to Parliament in certain essential particulars, and especially as not containing any provision for the revision of the governing body?


asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department, If he would explain to the House the exact form of the modified Provisional Order for Heriot's Hospital, as altered by him by virtue of the powers conferred on him by the Act, and then sent to the governors for their approval in terms of the Act, and returned by them unanimously approved of, does not contain provisions in the direction indicated in the Report of the Commissioners as being desirable on the following points, viz.:—whether it contains an obligation binding the governors to take over during the present year, the Watt Institution and School of Arts, now supported by voluntary contributions, and having 2,000 pupils, and to maintain that institution in all time coming as a great technical school or college for the industrial classes, and to provide £12,000 for new buildings, all out of the funds of the hospital; whether it provides additional bursaries for the University of Edinburgh to the extent which the principal of the university stated in his evidence would be satisfactory; whether it prohibits the erection of any additional free schools out of the surplus funds of the hospital, and requires that these should hereafter be applied for the benefit of the new technical school or college; whether it provides for the gradual reduction of the number of foundationers resident in the hospital from 120 to 60; and, with respect to the constitution of the governing body of the hospital, to ask, whether he has received any representation from any of the public bodies in Edinburgh, or from any party or any section of its inhabitants, expressing dissatisfaction with the present large and popularly chosen body of governors, and praying that there might be substituted for it a smaller and more exclusive body, as was recommended by the Commission appointed under the Act of 1872?


Sir, the matter referred to by my hon. Friends is not yet finally concluded. As the subject is one of interest in Scotland, they will, perhaps, wish that I should state exactly how it now stands. The Commissioners have expressly recommended me to approve a Provisional Order authorizing the Governors of Heriot's Hospital to take over the Watt Institution as being a thing desirable in itself apart from all other reforms, and as justifying in itself the Provisional Order. That will be done. At the same time, the Commissioners took objection to the omission of other important reforms which were not provided for in the scheme as originally propounded by the Governors. The Governors have now offered to meet the views of the Commissioners on several of these omitted points. The proposals of the Governors on these particular heads, which are accurately stated in the Question of the hon. Member for Edinburgh (Mr. M'Laren)—namely, the additional bursaries, the reduction of the foundationers resident, and the prohibition of additional free schools—appear to me to be reasonable and conformable to the views of the Commissioners, and to the advantage of higher education in Scotland. I am, therefore, not unwilling to include them in the Provisional Order recommended by the Commissioners. There will be still be some important points left unsettled, which, in the present state of things, it is impossible to insist upon; but the Provisional Order will not prejudice in any way the treatment of these questions in the future. There seems to me no reason for sacrificing the good which is obtainable, because it is impossible to accomplish at once all that might be desired. That was the principle on which the Commissioners have acted in recommending the issuing of a Provisional Order in respect of the Watt Institution, and it seems to me to be equally appropriate to the recent concession of the Governors. I have only to add that I propose immediately to communicate to the Commissioners the recent proposals of the Governors for the final settlement of the matter. With respect to the last part of the Question of the hon. Member for Edinburgh, I can only say I have not received representations from any of the public bodies in Edinburgh, or from any party or section of its inhabitants, expressing any dissatisfaction with the present Governing Body of Heriot's Hospital.