HC Deb 15 December 1888 vol 332 cc346-8
MR. R. W. DUFF (Banffshire)

asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer, If he could state to the House what course the Government proposed to adopt with regard to the Universities (Scotland) Bill?


The House is aware with what great regret the Government would see this Bill abandoned; but the situation in this—that Scottish opinion in this House is very much divided on the subject, and it would be difficult, probably impossible, to pass the Bill, and for such Amendments as might be introduced in the Bill to be considered by the Lords in time for its becoming an Act this Session. At the same time, I understand that many hon. Members from Scotland are anxious not to be brought back to London if the Scottish Estimates are passed to-day. If there is a general view and understanding that the Scottish Estimates will be passed to-day, then the Government think it would not be right to put the Universities (Scotland) Bill down again in order to bring hon. Members back from Scotland, who, after all, might not be able to see the Bill passed. With that understanding we may finally dispose of the rest of the Scottish Estimates to-day.


There is every reason to hope that the Scottish Estimates will be passed to-day; but I am not in a position to say positively. I think, under all the circumstances, we might expect to get a more definite answer from the Chancellor of the Exchequer whether this Bill is to be dropped or not.


I should wish to get a more definite answer from hon. Gentlemen opposite as to whether the Scottish Estimates will be passed to-day. If they should not be passed to-day, and if Scottish Members have to come back to consider the Scottish Estimates on Tuesday or Wednesday, then I do not, see why we should not make an effort to pass the Bill. That is the situation. I trust, however, hon. Members will see that it is better they should make up their minds to pass the Scottish Estimates to-day, in which case I can positively state that the Universities (Scotland) Bill will not be taken.


The arrangement proposed is substantially that which my right hon. Friend desires, and it will suit the convenience not only of the Scottish Members, but the House generally. I think the Government may have the less hesitation in giving up all idea of proceeding with the Bill, because those hon. Members who wish the Bill brought forward only desire it for the purpose of having a discussion, and not in the hope of passing it this Session.


If the Bill should have to be dropped this Session, hon. Members will have a full assurance that it is the intention of the Government to introduce it and proceed with it at the earliest opportunity next Session.

MR. HUNTER (Aberdeen, N.)

I wish to ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer whether, before introducing the Bill next Session, the Government will take some means of ascertaining whether a smaller Commission than that proposed in the Bill could not be adopted; and, also, whether the Commission will consist not of representatives of Glasgow and Edinburgh Universities alone, but of the other Scottish Universities?


I am not in a position to give any pledges on the subject.

MR. ANDERSON (Elgin and Nairn)

asked, if the House would sit beyond 6 o'clock?


If necessary; but I hope it will not be necessary.