§ MR. E. ROBERTSON (Dundee)
In risingto move the Resolution which stands in my name, I desire to say at the outset that I do so in no spirit of hostility or disrespect to the Universities. It would ill become me at any time or in any place to speak of these illustrious foundations otherwise than in terms of the warmest affection, and with the most 1761 profound gratitude and esteem. And least of all could I speak in terms of depreciation of the Universities in an assembly which has hitherto consisted, and now largely consists, of men who have sought and found in the Universities the best possible preparation for their duties in the House of Commons. I hold that the proudest boast of the British Universities—that which distinguishes them from similar bodies in other parts of the world—is that they have never failed to furnish to the service of this House and the country an abundant supply of able, accomplished, and honourable public men. Nor, Sir, do I intend by the Motion to cast the slightest reflection upon the fitness for their position of the group of Members who have the high honour of representing the Universities in this House, and if I name one of them more particularly it is not by way of invidious distinction, but because he is the don of the order and I am one of his constituents. I refer to the right hon. Baronet the senior Member for the University of Oxford, and I hope that he will allow me to assure him that I set a high value on his public services in this House, and as one of his constituents I have no fault to find with him, except for the colour of his political opinions. My motion does not deal with any of the academical functions of the Universities; and I wish the House simply to regard them as Parliamentary constituencies. As such, I invite the House to pass sentence of death upon them, because University representation is a unique anomaly, entirely opposed to the plain spirit of the existing Parliamentary system, and productive of no such good results as would, in the mind of any reasonable man, justify such an anomaly. Before I proceed to the practical points which I shall urge in support of the proposition, I hope I may be pardoned if for a moment I venture to glance at the history of the question. The House, no doubt, is aware that the origin of this anomalous system is to be traced back to Letters Patent issued by James I. in the first two days of his reign to the Universities of Oxford and Cambridge, and some time afterwards to the University of Dublin. This anomalous system has not had a legitimate Parliamentary origin. The validity of the Letters Patent was 1762 doubted, I believe, for some considerable time, and steps were taken in this House and in the Courts of Law to test their legal validity. These proceedings, however, came to nothing, and undoubtedly the system has been ratified by long and uninterrupted acquiescence. But it is undeniable that this spurious, illegitimate system has never yet been sanctioned by Parliament—it has never yet deliberately and on principle been ratified by Parliamentary Law. I will just allude to the occasions on which it has come before the House. In 1887 three new University seats were created by the Redistribution Bill of that period—the two Scotch Universities and the University of London. But these seats were created, not because the House approved of the principle of University Parliamentary representation, but rather as a compromise and a kind of set-off to the three older Universities, which had so long been represented in this House. And in support of my theory that in creating these seats the House did not approve of the principle of University representation, I wish to quote an authority for which I may claim the respectful attention of hon. Members opposite. One of the great men in this House, whose loss we have all had occasion to deplore—Mr. John Bright—used the words which I am about to read. Let me say that the Conservative Party has recently exhibited a great deal of significant, and at all events, severe remorse, for the treatment which, in his early days, they meted out to Mr. Bright. This is what he said:I am not in favour of the representation of Universities. The representation of the ancient Universities of Oxford and Cambridge was created in times about the worst in our history, and the Members they have sent to this House, learned as some of them have been and amiable as many of them have been, have not been representatives such as it would be wise for the House of Commons to follow. I therefore say I am not in favour of the representation of the Universities and if I had had the making of the Reform Bill for introduction to this House, I should have done violence to my views in regard to the subject if I had proposed to give a representative to the University of London.I may remind the House of the well-known saying attributed to Lord Beaconsfield in regard to the University of London, that the reason he gave for the creation of that constituency was to accommodate Mr. Robert Lowe with 1763 a seat in this House. On one other occasion this question was brought before the House—namely, at the time of the Redistribution Bill of 1884. The motion to abolish University Parliamentary representation was made by the Member for Aberdeen, and was not resisted on any ground of principle at all by the then Government, but I believe that the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Mid Lothian, then the head of the Government, refrained from expressing any opinion upon the subject, because it was inconsistent with the terms of the compromise into which they had entered, and was outside the scope of the Bill. Therefore I am justified in saying that this system has never really been sanctioned by Parliament. It has never been sanctioned by the House of Commons as at present constituted, fully representing, as it does, the whole of the people of these kingdoms. Now, Sir, I shall state as shortly as I can the reasons which seem to me to justify the Resolution I am proposing. First of all, I invite the attention of the House to the fact that nine seats are involved in this Vote. There are too many Members in this House. Much of the paralysis of business is due to this; and if the number could be reduced, even by nine, that would in itself be a gain. I believe the excessive number of the Members of this House is the source of nearly all its maladies. My next point is that University constituencies are abnormally small and that they are highly overrepresented. Whereas the average number of electors in an ordinary constituency is 9,000, Oxford, which returns two Members, has only 5,799 electors; Cambridge, with its two Members, 6,500; London, 2,838 to its one Member; and Dublin is the worst of all, for it returned two Members with only 4,000 electors. The Scotch Universities do not present such flagrant cases; in fact from this point of view they are by far the most respectable. Edinburgh has 7,389 electors, and Glasgow and Aberdeen 7,454, each of these constituencies returning but one Member. Now let me take exceptions in the other direction. Ayrshire has one Member to 14,750 electors, and West Nottingham one Member to 15,252 electors, and these two constituencies, taken together, have as many electors to 1764 their two Members as the Universities have to their nine Members. My next point is the character of these University constituencies. The character of a University constituency is wholly different to that which was originally intended when the Letters Patent were first issued by James I. And what is now the real character is entirely different to its apparent character. The University is not represented at all. The University, with those who are engaged in the work of education and charged with the administration of great endowments, and who fulfil such noble functions in directing the higher intellectual culture of this country, is not really represented, nor mainly even its present members. It is not the University graduates who are represented in. this House, it is the past members, the clergymen, the lawyers, the doctors, and schoolmasters scattered throughout the country, and who have nothing to do with the University, who are represented. Nor is it the past members generally who are represented, but only a limited fraction. Oxford has 5,799 electors at the present moment. It has on its books 3,100 undergraduates, which means that the annual output of graduates, so to speak, is a thousand annually, and it is, therefore, absurd to suppose that the 5,799 electors fairly represent the University. What, then,. is the explanation? It is that there are two degrees. The degree of B.A., which implies something in the way of learning, gives no vote. To be placed on the electoral register it is necessary to take the formal degree of M.A., which, in regard to learning, implies nothing more than B.A., and which anyone, having taken his Bachelor's Degree, can obtain by merely paying the extra. fees. It is purely an ornamental degree. The fees amount to £20, I think, and many men who do not think it worth while to spend the money, consequently remain Bachelors of Arts. Why any do become Masters of Arts is a problem. I will give the House a little piece of. personal experience. In my time at Oxford there was an obscure, mysterious title, designated by the mysterious letters S.C.L.—Student of the Civil Law. It was noticed that those who obtained this status, a large proportion of whom were clerical gentlemen, seldom proceeded to take their degree in Civil 1765 Law, but rested content with these mystic letters. What was the explanation? It was that it gave them the right to wear the most gorgeous and beautiful of University garments. Very much the same thing may be stated with regard to the degree of M.A., which is purely ornamental. Taking St. John's College, Oxford, which is a fair average college, I have examined its position in regard to this point, and I find that of 252 Masters of Arts on its books, according to the last calendar, 178, or more than two-thirds, are clergymen of the Church of England. Now, Sir, it possibly may not do to condemn the University constituencies as a whole, but, while hon. Members do not represent the University graduates, they do not represent the most select of them. In fact, I do not know in the whole of our political system anything that might be more justly described as the natural selection of the unfittest than is to be found in this system of University representation. My next point is that certain only of the Universities are represented. The University of Durham has no representation here, and, after reading the debate which took place in the House of Commons 20 years ago on that subject, I am convinced that, if we are to have University representation at all, the House did a great injustice to that body in refusing to associate it with the other Universities. Nor is there any representation of Victoria University in this House, or of the Royal University of Ireland, which I understand has absorbed the Queen's University. But the Universities are not the only academic bodies in the country. There are many other learned bodies, and I am glad to say their number is increasing every year. There are at least 12 University Colleges in Great Britain—one of them situated in the town I have the honour to represent—which are discharging University functions in the great centres of population in this country. If there is any sense in University representation at all—and I maintain there is not—these great bodies are just as entitled to be represented in this House as those which already have special representatives. There are besides many other learned bodies which are discharging academic functions—functions relating to the education, either professional or scientific, of large and important bodies 1766 of the community. These have no special representation here. There is no special representation of the College of Physicians, of the Inns of Court, of the Royal Society, or of the Royal Academy. I might give a long list of similar bodies which have no representation in this House, but which, as far as the Government and the country are concerned, stand on precisely the same footing as those Universities which happen to be favoured by the existing system. But my main objection to the present system is that the representation of the Universities in this House is entirely inconsistent with the existing system of Parliamentary representation. That system is based on a well understood and widely accepted theory. We are here as representatives of citizens qua citizens, divided as nearly as possible into equal shares. No doubt there are inequalities which it will be our duty some day to amend. But although there are these inequalities, the constitution of the House, speaking generally, is such as I have described. Now, against this fundamental principle of Parliamentary representation, the group of nine University Members is a standing protest. They are an alien body in this House. They sit by an obsolete tenure—as obsolete as Old Sarum or Midhurst, which sent two Members to this House when it had not a single soul living within its boundaries. It is the one section of this House in which privilege continues to raise its brazen front. Historically it is a mere survival, and politically a mere excrescence on the Constitution. University representation is a distinct denial of the "one man one vote" principle, for practically all the electors of the University constituencies have votes in other divisions of the country. I do not suppose there is any constituency—not even the constituency of the City of London—where the electors have so universally a double representation as the members of the Universities. Well, Sir, is there any practical defence, is there any practical good gained by this ridiculous and unpopular system to justify the anomaly? I submit to the House that nothing of the kind is to be found. There are no constituencies in the whole country where elections are fought on. more strictly Party lines. I am not saying that I blame the electors. As a 1767 constituent of three out of the nine University Members, I do not hesitate to say that I have never thought for a single moment of voting in a University contest otherwise than for the best Radical candidate put forward. I cannot blame the University electors for doing what I invariably do myself. But what is the result? It is that they are not specially concerned in or competent to inform the House about University subjects. They are very much the same as the rest of us. There is nothing in their character or qualifications to justify us in maintaining a system which sends them here in defiance of the fundamental principles of this House. I think it is better that the University electors should vote for Members of this House as British citizens and not as members of Universities, and I think also it is better that all Members of this House should vote with reference to ordinary Party instincts. It would be intolerable to have in this House of Commons nine scientific wobblers, however distinguished they might be, whose votes could not be counted on with certainty by any Party, and who would be unable to make up their scientific minds on any subject whatever. So far I prefer the present system. But the fact that the University members act on ordinary Party lines, while wholesome in itself, destroys the only possible defence which has been set up for this anomalous system. I think that the defence is a bad one. I do not think that the interests of learning require any special or artificial protection in this House. I appeal to Members on both sides to say whether it is not true that at this moment the interests of learning and education command the interest and sympathy of this House to a degree unparalleled in all former times. Even the special interests of the Universities do not require such representation. A very large proportion of the Members of this House have been prepared for their duties in Parliament by a course of study at the British Universities, and these Members are not less distinguished in scientific attainments than the average University representative. I think the nine muses themselves, if they will allow me so to call them, will admit that I could produce from the rest of the House a batch of nine Members who would equal them in every academic respect, and I could 1768 add another similar batch of nine, and then I could go on for a considerable time naming their equals and parallels in this House. The Members for the Universities are not only Party men, but it happens at the present moment that they are all members of the same Party—the great Unionist Party—which is in a majority in this House. Even the new University constituencies, London and the Scotch Universities, have gone over to the Unionist majority. I am bound to say I think the Liberal Party, in deserting Liberal principles by consenting to the creation of the new University constituencies of London and Scotland, have met with the fate which I trust will always attend them when they desert Liberal principles. The action of the University Liberal Members reminds me of the action of the Peers created by the Liberal. and we know what that is. When the Liberal Party so far forgets itself as to send one of its adherents to the other House, we know what is going to follow. After a decent interval, in which to make a show of political gratitude and fidelity, the noble Liberal seizes the first opportunity of turning tail and running into the camp of the enemy. If he does not do so, it is perfectly certain that his immediate successor will take that course. It seems to me that the fate of the new Universities has been in all respects parallel to that of the Liberal Peers. The new University seats were created as a set-off to the old Conservative seats in Oxford, Cambridge, and Dublin, and they have rewarded their creators by joining the great Conservative majority in this House. Although that fact may be highly complimentary to the hold upon the intelligence of the country of Gentlemen representing the Party opposite, yet from our point of view it is equally gratifying. For what does it mean? It means that we need have no scruple or compunction about sentencing them to death. I should deeply regret if the University constituencies were nearly equally divided between the two Parties in this House. We shall know the exigencies of the political situation, and we know that no Government would feel itself impelled to remedy an abuse of this sort, infinitesimal as it may be in some respects, when the first effect of so doing would 1769 be to sacrifice four of its own seats. That, I take it, will be accepted as justified by the ordinary character of human nature on both sides of this House. But as it is our hands are full. We can lose no political advantage by giving effect to the demands of political justice, and I sincerely hope and trust that in the Parliament which is to follow the present the political colour of the University representation will remain exactly what it is now. If that is so, I do not hesitate to prophesy that, whatever may be the fate of this Motion tonight, whatever the amount of support I shall receive from the Liberal Party in this House, in the first Parliament in which the Liberal Party has a majority the principle which my Motion commends to the House will be adopted. Let me, in a single sentence, sum up my objections to the present system. I say it is in its origin surreptitious and of doubtful legitimacy; it has never been deliberately ratified by Parliament, and never ratified at all by Parliament as at present constituted; that it adds superfluous members to an already overcrowded House; that the Universities are hugely and absurdly over represented, and are not legitimate constituences; that the University Members do not represent the Universities at all, and do not even represent the graduates, who alone have the right of voting; that an invidious distinction is drawn between the Universities and other learned bodies; that the system violates the accepted and fundamental principle on which the rights of representation in this House rest; and finally, I say that the Universities fail to provide for the Members whom they send to this House any special representation of the interests of learning, science, or education. For these reasons I beg to move the Motion which stands in my name.
To leave out from the word 'That' to the end of the Question, in order to add the words, ' in the opinion of this House, the privilege possessed by certain of the Universities of returning Members to Parliament ought to be discontinued.'"—(Mr. Edmund Robertson,)—
§ Question proposed, "That the words proposed to be left out stand part of the Question."
§ *DR. FARQUHARSON (Aberdeenshire, W.)
I well remember the im- 1770 portant debate we had on this question in 1884. Well, we are now in the cold shades of Opposition. The House is now much more representative of the Motion, and a much more democratic House than it was in 1884. [Ironical Ministerial cheers.] I mean on our own side. I am sure Members on this side will welcome this opportunity of expressing their opinion on a condition of things which seems to be a survival and remnant of the bad old times of the past, which is opposed to many of the most cherished convictions of the Liberal and Radical Party, and which is no better than the old fancy franchises. One of the reasons given for the special representation of Universities is that in past days the franchise was more restricted than it is now, and that the present system gives a vote to many who would not otherwise have one. That reason has now entirely disappeared because in these days every capable citizen has the franchise. We are also told that these University seats provide an entrance to this House for certain personages who might not otherwise easily get seats. We know perfectly well that in these days no person of distinction who goes the right way to work can fail to obtain admission to this House. There is also the sentimental defence to deal with. The sentimental ideal has such an arcadian charm of simplicity about it that if the ideal were carried into practice, men would not he readily found to disturb such an arrangement. The ideal is that the ordinary, rough mass of the fighting politicians should be leavened with something of the sweetness and light that comes from the higher culture, and that a certain number of Gentlemen in this House should be kept apart from the rough work of ordinary politics, but should come down occasionally from their Olympian heights of calm contemplation to instruct us on special questions, and that they should he a sort of assessors in matters of Art, Literature, and Science. That is a very charming ideal, but it is just a little bit too fragile and delicate for use in this rough and practical world of ours. I think the day has rather gone past for what we may call lofty and independent political isolation. Constituencies in these days prefer to be represented by strong party men, and distrust indepen- 1771 dent politicians. It often seems to me that the University members must be placed on the horns of a dilemma if they try to carry out the ideal scheme by indulging in the erratic pedestrian exercise of going first into one Lobby and then into the other. They are apt to get into trouble with their constituents if they refrain from voting on important occasions, and still more so if they do not vote on Party lines. The right hon. Gentleman the Member for Leeds (Sir Lyon Playfair) was the type and ideal of a University representative. He did not take much part, when a University member in ordinary political discussions, but contented himself with treating questions of science and education, on which he was an acknowledged expert. Well, towards the end of the Parliament of 1884 he got a very plain intimation from his constituents—in fact a warning that he had better clear out and make room for a gentleman who would, physically at all events, fill the seat more effectually. The hon. Member for the University of London (Sir J. Lubbock) is also a good type of University representative. I read in the papers that a large and representative body of his constituents came to him here the other day and remonstrated with him upon his procedure respecting the Irish Question in this House. We have here also another very distinguished man, whom I am proud to see here to-night and whom we are, I think, all proud to sit in the House with—the hon. Member for the University of Cambridge (Professor Stokes), a gentleman of high scientific distinction and who is no doubt in many respects a highly qualified and almost an ideal University member. On turning to Dod, I find that he is a Conservative, but represents the University rather than any Party. At the same time, I learn that he is opposed to Home Rule and the Disestablishment of the Church and that he expresses opinions on several other important Party questions. If the hon. Gentleman thinks he can take an independent part in politics, I would ask him to come over to this side of the House and give an independent vote just for once. I would recommend him to utilize the Sugar Bounties Question fur the purpose. Now I would mention two other representatives. There is the hon. Member for Shoreditch (Mr. J. Stuart); he is a 1772 man eminent in his University, but he, with all his scientific acquirements, was beaten by a man who is no doubt an admirable politician, but who ought not to have beaten our Professor in competition for University representation. Still worse was the case of Professor Munro, a distinguished educational authority, but he was beaten by an excellent politician, but a purely Party man, having no claim to any distinction of any kind. Indeed, as my hon. Friend has told us, these University seats are fought on purely Party grounds and held by purely Party men, and so it has come to this that they are nothing more or less than pocket boroughs belonging to the Tory Party. I do not want to say anything offensive, but they have become what I may call refugees for the destitute in this way: that when a Party politician of distinction—they are all men of distinction—holds an office under Government, it is very important that he should have a seat in the House, and when the prospect of this is very bare the Government find an open door to the House through a University and pop him securely into the seat. Another pernicious custom has grown up. In two of these seats—Dublin, and Edinburgh and S. Andrews —a very objectionable principle of hereditary succession has been established, succession, I mean, not of individuals, but of officials. For what happens? When a law officer of the Crown in Ireland is unable to find a seat elsewhere he finds a door opened for him in the Dublin University. And so, also, I am sitting opposite a very valued friend of mine, whom I am glad to see in the House, but I am bound to say that if a University door had not been flung open to him he would have lost the opportunity of sitting among us tonight. I say, therefore, these are pocket boroughs for the Tory Party, and in these two cases have become hereditary seats for certain classes of Government officials. In trenching a little upon personal considerations, I speak with some hesitation; but, looking at the question in a practical manner, these University representatives are supposed to sit in the House for the purpose of guiding and instructing us in matters of education, science, and other questions of that kind, a little outside or separate from ordinary Party 1773 and political questions. Now, we have had debates lately on educational subjects and one on vaccination, but I did not get from University Representatives on those occasions that "light and leading" we might have expected from those Gentlemen. To whom do we go when we want information on such matters? Not to University Members, but to the hon. Member for Manchester (Sir H. Roscoe) and the right hon. Member for Leeds (Sir Lyon Playfair), and others on this side, who, when occasion offers, come forward and give us the information we are sorely in need of. My hon. Friend has anticipated me on one point I intended to bring forward, and he has done it much better than I could. Why single out the Universities for this particular form of political representation? If Universities, why not the great public schools of Eton, Harrow, and Rugby? The Royal Academy has been mentioned, and I am sure we should be all the better for listening to the polished eloquence of Sir Frederick Leighton; and the College of Physicians, and I am sure Sir Andrew Clark would be a great addition to our debates. I cannot understand why the Universities were picked out for this special form of representation when other public bodies have no such recognition. My hon. Friend has referred to another anomaly. Of course, the Universities of Oxford, Cambridge, and Dublin are great and important institutions, but there is not much work done by either of these towards popular education. My own University of Edinburgh does a great deal more of the ordinary educational work among the people—the masses, not the classes—but Edinburgh gets half a seat, while oxford, Cambridge, and Dublin have two seats each. Another point is that which I recollect the hon. Member for Stockton put in the former debate, and he did it very effectively. I wish I could recollect his words. He said it was impossible for anyone who represented these old Universities as Members to represent the living University—that is to say, the actual working body, the very small, very consolidated University life—for that has no power in the election. It is overborne by the great mass of outsiders, the clergy and others, who vote, not knowing the wants and wishes of the University—gentlemen whose original 1774 connection with the University was very slight, and who are now out of touch with their Anna Mater, having little knowledge or interest in the matter. There is no healthy political life in these elections; they are simply worked by wirepullers, and the caucus who issues instructions how to vote on sheer Party lines. A few instances were given by the hon. Member for Stockton, and Professor Stuart is a practical instance of selected candidate of the living body of the University, the actual teaching and organizing workers, but whose candidature was simply overborne by the inert votes of outsiders, sent up with very little knowledge of, or interest in, what was going on. My hon. Friend has spoken so clearly and so ably on this question that I do not propose to weary the House with more remarks. To sum up and recapitulate my objections to this old form of fancy franchise in our present system, it is a mischievous anachronism, and any reason that formerly existed for the retention of these seats has passed with the lapse of time; these seats do not carry out even the most sentimental or any of the reasons upon which they were originally founded, for the right class of men are not sent to the House, they are simply worked on Party lines, and the necessity for these seats has disappeared; and finally the gentlemen elected cannot be said in any way to represent the real living and working University. On these grounds I have much pleasure in seconding the Motion, and I hope that, at all events from this side, we shall have a large and solid vote in favour of the abolition of an antiquated and worn out system.
*THE SOLICITOR GENERAL FOR SCOTLAND (Mr. M. T. STORMONTH DARLIN,) Edinburgh and Aberdeen Universities
I hope it will not be thought presumptuous if I, the latest recruit to the ranks of University Members, desire to say a few words before the hon. and learned Gentleman succeeds in persuading the House to pronounce upon us a sentence of death. No man can be more aware than I am that my right hon. and honourable colleagues in the representation of Universities possess personal qualifications for defending our position to which I can lay no claim. Some have high academic distinction, others have 1775 a great Parliamentary position; all have rendered signal service to the cause of education. I can lay claim to none of these qualifications; and I do lay claim to nothing but this, which I hold in common with all Members of this House, the desire to render faithful service to the constituency which has done me the honour to send me here. There is something perhaps peculiarly embarrassing in my own personal position, because this Motion to-night has been proposed by one of my constituents and seconded by another; and my only consolation is that of these hon. Gentlemen are of opinion that I ought not to represent the Universities of Edinburgh and Aberdeen, they are equally strongly of opinion that nobody else should. I must return thanks to the hon. and learned men of Dundee because he has gone so far as to express a hope that I may continue to represent him in the next Parliament. My hon. Friend the Member for West Aberdeen has played the part of the candid friend by saying that if I had not obtained my present seat, I would not have obtained anyother. Well, I will not argue with him on that point. All I will say is that I owe my seat to the kindness and forbearance of 5,000 members of his own profession. But all these personal questions are really of comparatively small moment, because I take it that this is a question which ought to be decided on principle, and not upon the personal merits or demerits of those who happen for the time being to be representatives of the Universities. Now, I think I am entitled to say that this is not a practical proposal It is an abstract Resolution, and it is an abstract Resolution not intended to be immediately followed by legislation, and for which there is no popular demand. I venture to think that the two hon. Gentlemen on the other side have not taken to heart the doctrine frequently propounded by the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Mid Lothian, reiterated not long ago in this House, that abstract Resolutions are things to be deprecated, and that you ought not to invite the people to live on your promises rather than on your performances. I venture to think that not only is it a Resolution open to this objection, but it is one for which there is no hint or sign of popular demand. 1776 I observe it has not as yet attained the dignity of being comprised in the list of questions set out in the handbook of political subjects by the hon. Member for Poplar (Mr. Sydney Buxton), although that most useful treatise runs down the whole gamut of political science—from Home Rule to cremation. I should even doubt if the constituents of the hon. Member for Dundee have any very strong opinion on the question; for the City of Dundee, I am glad to think, will in all probability very shortly become intimately associated with the most ancient University of Scotland. and I should think the people of Dundee would not regard this as a very opportune time for making an attack upon the position and influence of Universities. There is this further objection to the Resolution, that there are not at the present time any constituencies knocking at the door of Parliament and clamouring for these nine seats which the hon. Member is asking the House to take away. Indeed, the hon. Member is sensible of this, and does not propose to allocate these nine seats at all. The hon. Member apparently hopes to make a great revolution in the condition of Parliament and to advance its business by reducing the number of its Members by nine, but I rather fancy that if all he is going to do is to strike out the nine Members for the Universities, he will not do much in that direction, for I rather think that whatever may be our other shortcomings, we are not particularly talkative, and in this Session at all events have not done much to obstruct that business which the hon. Member and his friends are so anxious to forward. But I have no wish to shelter myself under the plea that the time for making this proposal is inopportune. The case of the representation of Universities from a Parliamentary point of view seems to me to be absolutely unique in its strength. Not merely has it the sanction of great antiquity; it has also the sanction of recent and deliberate enactment. The hon. Member gave the House the outlines of its history, and gave them, I think, correctly. But after all, what does it come to? The representation of the English Universities is about 300 years old; that of Dublin about the same. In 1832 a Liberal Government confirmed the 1777 principle of University representation by restoring one of the Members to Dublin University. Then in 1868 a Conservative Government, with the approbation of the Liberal Party, conferred representation upon the Universities of Scotland and of London, and in 1885 both political parties deliberately united in preserving that state of matters. Now, can anything be stronger than that? Is it not idle for the hon. Member to talk of some original flaw by which this representation was set up? Can you go back upon an original flaw to which no objection has been made during a period of 300 years? If lapse of time will not satisfy hon. Gentlemen, surely they will bow to the decrees of Parliament, and confess that a representation that survived the reforms of 1832, of 1868, and again of 1885, has as strong a Parliamentary position as any question can have? But I am quite ready to accept the ground the hon. Gentleman has taken up and to oppose the argument he has presented on its merits. I do not propose to defend the representation of Universities merely on the ground that it benefits the Universities themselves. I think there can be no doubt it does benefit the Universities; but I think I may also say without contradiction that if it has been of benefit to them, they have used their advantage with signal moderation, for University Representatives have never claimed more than their fair share of the time and attention of Parliament, and, what is still more important, they have never attempted to dip deep into the National purse. There is no country in the world where Universities receive less support from the State than here. The great Universities of England do not ask any State support at all; and the Universities of Scotland, which unfortunately have very scanty endowments of their own, are subsidized to an extent that such countries as Germany and Holland would consider altogether insignificant. Therefore, I say that if the Universities have derived benefit from Parliamentary representation, they have used their advantage with moderation and fairness. But I desire to base the cause I am upholding on the advantage not to the Universities, but to the Nation at large, and I say it is for the good of the Nation at large that there should be some variety in the representation of the 1778 people. I say, moreover, that this principle of variety has always been found in the Constitution, and is a necessary principle, if Parliament is to be the mirror of the Nation, if it is truly to represent all the great interests of which the Nation is composed. This great principle was formerly attained by a difference in the size of the constituencies, and now it is secured by a difference in their composition. The hon. and learned Gentleman shakes his head, but I say to him surely the effect of your single Member districts, which were established with the assent of both parties, is to produce that variety which is essential to the working of our political system. In one district there is a preponderating representation of manufacturing industry, in another of agriculture, in another of commerce, and nobody has any objection to make to that. I suppose no man is bold enough to challenge the great advantage which is derived by the State from the representation of the City of London? Yet the City of London is, as everybody knows, mainly composed of the great merchants of this country. When you have great classes or interests aggregated in particular localities, it is easy to apply the principle which the hon. and learned Gentleman says is the ruling principle of the Constitution as it now stands. But it is impossible to apply that principle of locality to the great professional classes. They are scattered all over the country; they are always and everywhere in the minority, and if you want to arrive at their mind on a particular question, it is impossible to group them as you group the merchants of the City of London, or the artisans of the East-end, or the agriculturalists of Wiltshire; and therefore the only way to get at their real mind on public questions is by some such expedientas University representation. Well, then, the answer is made that you do not require special representation, because you have the professional classes, the interests of education, of literature, of science, sufficiently represented by other Members of this House who do not directly represent these interests but who are eminent in various walks of intellectual effort. I admit that to the full; I admit it with pride and pleasure, and I should be exceedingly sorry as a University representative if we had not the benefit, as I believe we have, of the 1779 filial devotion of University men like the hon. Member for South Manchester, and the distinguished scientist who preceded me in the representation of the Universities of Edinburgh and St. Andrew's, the right hon. Member for South Leeds. I believe that all these Gentlemen, although they do not happen to represent a University, do regard their University with as much devotion, with as great and as warm an interest, as if they did. But then that is not the point, because it is surely an advantage that you should have a certain number of Members in the House who are specially charged with the duty of looking after the interests of education, of science, of literature, and of the professional classes, and whenever you want to ascertain what is the real mind of these classes on the great questions of the day you look not to the chance representatives of science and literature who may happen to sit in Parliament, but you look, as you are entitled to look, to the chosen representatives of these interests in the House. My hon. Friend who seconded the Resolution seemed to complain that Universities did not select their representatives on purely academic grounds. In this particular he was rather in conflict with the mover of the Resolution, but whatever might be the case in peaceful times, I think it is vain to expect in a time like the present, when the country is absorbed in one particular question, that these constituencies should renounce their duty as citizens, and not do as others do and record their vote on the leading question of the day. It is idle to complain of them on that account, and, therefore, we return to this, that if it is desirable to ascertain the mind of these classes at all, you can only do it by some such means as University representation. Now I am tempted to ask what have Universities done to deserve this condemnation? It is quite clear that the Scottish Universities at all events are exempt from many of the charges brought by the hon. and learned Gentleman. The constituencies of the Scottish Universities' are large; they consist of all graduates, who are admitted to the constituency without payment of any kind —except a small charge which really has nothing to do with registration—and they at all events are not open to the charge of being in any way exclusive or aristo- 1780 cratic. No man who knows the Scottish Universities as the hon. and learned Gentleman who moved this Motion does can fail to know that it is very often from the cottage on the hillside, from the back shop in the village street, that the students come, and he and I know with what pluck and perseverance and under what tremendous difficulties they push forward through their academic career, and at last are able to rise to positions of honour and distinction. These men form that very middle class which the Liberal Party used never to be tired of holding up to admiration. Is it altogether wise of the Radical Party to direct public attention to the fact that the middle class has turned against them? The Universities have, I admit, committed the unpardonable sin in the eyes of the hon. and learned Member of disagreeing with him and agreeing with the majority of the householders of this country, and it is for that reason, and that reason alone that the House is gravely asked to pronounce upon them a sentence of condemnation. I venture to ask the hon. and learned Gentleman, and those who think with him, another question. I suppose they agree that these are times when education is not only much more widely diffused and more highly thought of than it used to be, but that it is also a time when education is becoming of vital importance to the future of this country, and I ask is it wise at such a time to do anything to discourage or depreciate education in the eyes of the country? I say it is impossible, if the House passes a Resolution of this kind, to avoid flouting and contemning the cause of education, because the moment you strike a blow at the strength and prosperity of the Universities you strike a blow at that which Universities embody and represent. Sir, I venture to base my defence of University representation not merely upon the ancient usage of the realm, but on the broad ground of public policy. I say that this proposal is retrograde and Philistine, and I ask the House to reject it.
§ *MR. HALDANE (Haddington)
It was not my intention to take any part in this discussion until I listened to the speech of the hon. and learned Gentleman who has just sat down. There were certain statements in that speech which, I think deserve a word of notice from a Scottish Member, who like myself 1781 is connected with the Scottish Universities. The hon Gentleman has just told us that opposition to University representation is an opposition which must call in question the influence of that middle class which he accuses us of not sufficiently regarding. He says that the middle class from which the University constituencies are recruited, is a class which has turned against the Liberal Party, and he warns us to take note of the attitude of this class towards us. Well, I think we on this side of the House can take care of ourselves in this regard. But if it were necessary to comment on the argument of the hon. and learned Gentleman that comment is to be discovered in his own statement made in the earlier portion of his speech, that he owes his own election not to the middle class in Scotland, not to the sons of shepherds and other people who have been able to give their children a University education, but to 5,000 members of the medical profession, the bulk of whom reside on this side of the Tweed. That was the argument by which the hon. and learned Gentleman meets the case of my hon. Friend the Member for Aberdeenshire (Dr. Farquharson). Now what is this University representation—what is this education, and this science, and literature and art of which we have heard so much to-night? Of this flower of the House collected on the benches before us four sit as Members of the Government. These representatives of education and literature and science and art, whom we have not only the advantage of listening to, but of constantly seeing before us, are the Postmaster General, my hon. and learned Friend the Solicitor General for Scotland—for whose powers I have the greatest admiration, but whose ability to secure a constituency north of the border other than a University contituency, I very much doubt—and who so far as I am aware, is not especially connected with academic interests either on this or the other side of the border —the right hon. Gentleman whose brilliant oratory it delights us all to listen to on those rare occasions when he favours the House with a speech, the senior Member for the University of Dublin—a gentleman of great eloquence, but not in the cause of science, and great culture, but not specially representative of literature, 1782 and connected with that minority in Ireland which can only find a refuge in the University—and the Solicitor General for Ireland, whom we are glad to see here and to listen to when he favours us with his legal lore, but whose speeches I am bound to say I have listened to in vain to discover in them those references to science, art, and literature which we are told the right hon. Gentleman represents. Suppose we go a little further. There are nine Members who represent Universities. Two of these, and two only, can be said to represent University subjects. There is the hon. Gentleman who represents London University (Sir J. Lubbock), and who at the same time so brilliantly represents science; and there is the hon. Gentleman who sits opposite (Professor Stokes), one of the most distinguished mathematicians whom this country has ever produced. But even two swallows do not a make a summer, and the characteristic of University education in these days is to present to Parliament less and less of that element we should desire to see if there are to be University representatives. It would be idle for me standing as I do on this side of the House to say that I do not approach this question with a considerable amount of Party bias. It is a fact, and a painful fact, that the representation of the Universities has been a representation, which in late years has been more and more adverse to the interests of the Radical Party. There was, I think, up to 1885 one University Member who sat and steadily voted with us —I mean the hon. Baronet the Member for the University of London, but he afterwards left us for reasons I am not here to discuss. What is a University? A University consists of the teachers, lecturers, heads of colleges, and—but not for voting purposes—of the undergraduates. If they were to be enfranchised it is impossible to say what change would take place. But the House has declared against it, and the result is that the representation of the Universities is in the hands of the graduates of a certain class. We have, for instance, five or six thousand non-resident clergymen who have nothing to do with the Universities except that they are entitled to send in their votes from time to time to return representatives to this House. These gentlemen possessed an exceptional privilege in the mode in 1783 which they vote through the post, and the result of the system on which University Members are returned—a system which would not be tolerated anywhere else—has been that the University representatives play, not to the University, but to the gallery of their constituents. They play to the Tory Party and the Carlton Club, whose nominees they are in large measure. I do not complain of that, but let them not come and tell the House of Commons that the Members of Parliament so sent represent science and literature and art, or fulfil anything that may be legitimately described as an academic function. One has only to look at the history of this matter to see how completely it has failed in its purpose. Whatever may have been the case in times past, we have learned that the only basis upon which representation in this country can be justified is the basis of democracy, and that fact must be faced in its full consequences. The principle of University representation stands condemned on two grounds. In the first place, it is contrary to the principle which the House of Commons has recognized and has acted upon. The Solicitor General for Scotland told the House a few moments ago that the principle of University representation was sanctioned as recently as 1885. I had not the honour of a seat in this House at that time, but I have a vivid recollection of the discussion that took place. I remember the speech of Sir Charles Dilke; and what did he say? He said he was heart and soul with the spirit of the Motion, and he condemned the principle of University representation as indefensible. Then there was the famous speech of the right hon. Member for Mid Lothian, who did not defend the principle of University representation or say that it was to be preserved because it carried with it the representation of a special interest which deserved special consideration. On the contrary he pointed out that to amend the Bill as suggested would be to do something not within the scope of the Redistribution Bill of 1885, and to violate the agreement come to with the opposition and the House of Lords—which was as good as saying that if the Bill was to pass it should pass on the basis of the representation being retained, which was the lesser of these two great evils. But it is not alone on 1784 principle that this proposition stands. It stands also on practice, because we have seen over and over again that the University representation has become not the representation of science, literature and art, but of the Tory party in its most ordinary fashion and form. These. University seats have become in England places for finding seats for Cabinet Ministers who are unable to find them elsewhere, and have become in Ireland and Scotland refuges for the destitute. Therefore there is nothing left for us on this side of the House but to vote in favour of this Motion as one embracing principles to which the Liberal Party is bound to give its warm support.
*MR. MOWBRAY (Lancashire, Prestwich)
Though this discussion may be somewhat of an academic character it appears to me that, after all, there are other Members who have a right to speak upon it besides University Members themselves. I venture to think that the Motion affects not only the representatives of the Universities, but the constituents who send them to this House. I therefore, as a constituent of the University of Oxford, feel bound to protest against the Motion. The hon. Member who has just sat down complains of there being four University Members on the Treasury Bench. I should have thought it was an argument in favour of University representation that we are able to find four University Members sitting on the Front Bench of the House of Commons, on either side. At present I am glad to say they are on this (the Ministerial) side of the House. If this Motion is to be carried it ought to be shown that this representation is injurious, either to the constituencies themselves, to the House, or to the country; but that has not been done. As to the constituencies we have heard to-night a good deal about the difference between the resident bodies of the Universities and those who send Members to represent them. But is the hon. Member who introduced the Motion able to produce from the resident Members of any of the Universities a petition in its favour? And if there is no petition on the other side the reason is because the resident bodies apprehend no danger whatever from this attack. They are not prepared to raise their hands in self-defence until they see that they are actually exposed to some danger. We 1785 heard from the right hon. Gentleman who moved the Motion a good deal as to the anomaly of this representaion and the size of these constituencies. The hon. Member was perfectly right in saying that these constituencies are small. But it appears from a Return which I have here, and which has been presented to Parliament, that in two English and one Welsh county, in 32 English and five Welsh boroughs, the number of the constituents is smaller than in the two older English Universities. In Scotland the case is still stronger, because the Scotch Universities embrace a larger proportion of the population, and 14 counties and 12 boroughs in Scotland have a smaller number of constituents than the Scotch Universities. In Ireland one county and four boroughs have a smaller number of constituents than the Dublin University. I think that disposes of the argument as to the size of the constituencies. If we were discussing the question upon the basis of anomalies there are other anomalies which could be shown to exist. When the Redistribution Bill of 1885 was going through, Sir C. Dilke admitted that Ireland had more Members in proportion to her population than England, and that Wales had more Members than Ireland. If we are to deal with anomalies we must deal with the question all round. We have been very much pressed with the argument of one man, one vote. But it should be remembered that that principle has not been adopted in the House or in the country, and if it were it does not follow that persons who have a University Vote would not desire to retain it, and to vote in their present constituencies in preference to any other. As to the effect of University representation upon the House, I will only say this. If the House were to vote by ballot to the nine Members whom in its own interest it would wish to see excluded, the nine University Members would not, I think, be the first to be excluded. No doubt all University Members cannot be presidents of the Royal Society, or address the jubilee meeting of the British Association, but it is something that two out of the nine have reached such distinction. But, after all, the principle upon which this question was to be decided is not the interests of the Universities, or the interests of the House, but the interests of the country. 1786 I entirely agree with the remark of the Solicitor General for Scotland as to the importance of the element of variety in the constituencies. We have attempted to get that variety by the system of single-membered constituencies, but in carrying that principle out we are running into another great danger. I am glad to see the hon. Member for Aberdeen in the House, because I am going to refer to a book of the hon. Gentleman's which is a storehouse of facts and a treasure house of experience. In his Book on the American Commonwealth, the hon. Member refers to the deterioration of representation in America, owing to the pressure of local considerations. Happily we have not suffered from that in this country up to the present, but everyone knows that local considerations in the choice of Members are becoming greater and greater every day. One of the great values of University constituencies is that they form an element in this House not necessarily confined to local connections. That, sir, is to my mind an additional argument, derived from our experience of foreign countries, why we should maintain the existing system under which the Universities are represented in this House. But though we have heard to-night a good many plausible arguments against this system, I think the hon. Member who opened the debate and the hon. Gentleman who last addressed the House have "let the cat out of the bag." They have shown that they approached this question in a spirit of political bias, because they have told us that the Universities return a solid body of Unionist representatives No doubt it is very annoying to hon. Gentlemen opposite that this should be so, and probably it is all the more so because for the last twenty years or so they have been doing everything they could to throw the doors of the Universities open wider and wider by abolishing tests and encouraging the middle classes to seek the benefits of a University education. and now, notwithstanding all that has been done during the whole of that period, I venture to say there never was a time when a candidate supporting the views of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Mid Lothian (Mr. Gladstone) would have had so poor a chance as at the present moment of being returned for either the Universities. 1787 This is doubtless very annoying to the hon. Member opposite and his friends, and I cannot but think that in this respect, as in many others, the hon. Gentleman has forfeited or changed his old Liberal principles and doctrines. If the hon. Gentleman had been true to his old Liberal traditions he would have proposed to win the University seats by argument and not to destroy them by what used to be considered the old Tory weapon of force. But it is because the hon. Member and those who sit by him know that the spirit of educated intelligence in the country is in favour of the Unionist cause that the hon. Member is so very anxious, if he cannot win nine seats by argument, at all events to cut off by one stroke nine Members who sit on the other side of the House.
§ *SIR J. LUBBOCK (London University)
I shall not stand between the right hon. Gentleman (Sir G. Trevelyan) and the House, but I hope that under the circumstances the House will allow me to say a few words in reply to the Resotion, for although the University Members are naturally interested in this matter, I think they may at the same time be allowed to bring forward such arguments upon it as they think may have weight with the House. The hon. Gentleman who brought forward this Resolution referred to the origin of University representation as surreptitious. Whatever may have been the case with regard to the old Universities, although I do not wish to be supposed to admit the allegation, this certainly does not apply to the University of London and the Scotch Universities, which owe their seats to the deliberate decision of the House. The hon. Gentleman went on to refer to the size of the University constituencies and although upon that point it is hardly necessary for me to say anything, as that argument has been destroyed by the hon. Member who has just sat down (Mr. Mowbray). If not among the largest, the University constituencies are certainly far from being the smallest, and if the lesser constituencies are to be disfranchised, the Universities have very little to fear from the result, as it would certainly be some time before we came to them. But my hon. Friend has asked, if the Universities are represented why should not other academical bodies be represented also—why should not the colleges be represented. But the hon. 1788 Gentleman seems to forget that the colleges are represented through the Universities. For instance, University College and a great many other colleges are represented through the University of London, while the whole of the Scotch and Irish Colleges are represented in a similar way. Who are the voters at the Universities? They are the graduates. But this is complained of by my hon. Friend, who made it a grand accusation that those who vote in respect of the Universities are the graduates of the Universities. The colleges prepare the graduates for the Universities, and those who study with success and distinction at the colleges, go on and take their degrees at the Universities, for which they then become electors. It is the same with regard to the College of Physicians and the other great colleges; a large proportion of their members obtain representation through the Universities. Then the hon. Gentleman complained that the University Members had gone over to the Unionist Party. [Mr. ROBERTSON: No.] The hon. Gentleman says he did not complain of that, but, at any rate, it was one of the reasons he gave in support of his Motion.
§ MR. ROBERTSON
I mentioned it as a regrettable fact. I am quite sure the hon. Baronet does not desire to misrepresent me.
§ *SIR J. LUBBOCK
Whether the hon. Gentleman used it as an argument or merely stated it as a fact I deny it. I say that we have not gone over to the Unionist Party, because we have always belonged to that Party, and belong to it still. It is not we who have gone away and deserted our party, it is our friends who have gone away and deserted us. Then, Sir, my hon. Friend said the University Members had no special connection with the Universities they represent. That certainly does not hold good as a general statement. I may be allowed to say that I have been on the Senate of the University of London for nearly a quarter of a century, and that I was for several years its Vice-Chancellor. The hon. Member for the University of Cambridge again is intimately connected with that University. It is, moreover, a mistake to say that the Universities are all Tory. Certainly not a quarter of my constituents are Tories, though an overwhelming 1789 majority are Unionists. Then, Sir, the hon. Gentleman spoke with some contempt of the University constituencies as being composed of lawyers, doctors, schoolmasters and clergymen. I have yet to learn that a constituency is any the worse for being so composed. Surely it is not undesirable to have in this House a few Members whose special function it is to keep in touch with those professions in order to represent their wants and opinions. We have Members of this House who represent constituencies that are mainly composed of miners, and others whose constituents are mainly agricultural or commercial; and in fact it may be said that most of the occupations in which the people are engaged have their representatives in this House. So that when the hon. Member says that the University constituencies are mainly composed of lawyers, clergymen, doctors, and schoolmasters, I cannot regard that as a valid argument against University representation. Another argument brought forward was that it sometimes happens that the Government find a difficulty for the moment in finding a seat for a distinguished man whom they wish to put into the Ministry, and that they employ the Universities for this purpose. I do not remember many instances of the kind, but even if there be such cases I cannot help thinking that that is an argument for retaining seats which can occasionally be put to such a useful purpose. The hon. Member for Haddington has lastly, objected to University seats as contrary to the spirit of democracy; but it is not contrary to democracy in the true sense, but to that narrow, unfortunate, and mistaken ideal which in the history of the world has so often brought democracy to discredit and to failure.
§ *SIR G. TREVELYAN (Bridgeton, Glasgow)
, who rose together with Mr. W. Redmond, who, however, gave way: I am sorry to stand between an Irish Member and the House [Ministerial cheers]—well, I suppose those are University manners. I am sorry to stand between an Irish Member and the House, because on this question the majority of the people of Ireland suffer specially. The hon. Member for London University told us we are mistaken in thinking that men belonging to certain colleges are not represented, because they are represented by the Universities to which the colleges are affiliated. That 1790 is very true of this country, where a large number of isolated colleges are represented through the London University; but it is not true of Ireland. One of the great grievances of Ireland is that the University which is the special University of the religion to which the enormous majority of the people belong has no Parliamentary representation whatever. The Solicitor General for Scotland, in what I believe to be his first speech on a general political question, has shown us that in his case we have a very real addition to the debating power of the House. He has put forward all the arguments in favour of University representation. He has put their case forward fairly and ably; he has made the best of it: and a poor case it is. But, first, he objected that this is an abstract Resolution, forgetting that abstract Resolutions have preceded legislation on many subjects, including electoral reform, the ballot, the lodger franchise, and the redistribution of seats. It need not be feared but that in this case, too, the passing of an abstract Resolution will be followed by legislation. At any rate, the Opposition desire to take the sense of the House, because for special reasons the Division of 1885 did not represent the collective sense of the House. It was one of the objects of an abstract Resolution to put arguments before the country and to create a popular demand; and that demand already existed so far as evidence was furnished by the meetings that Members of the Opposition were in the habit of addressing. Of course I do not affirm that that is the experience of hon. Members on the Ministerial Benches. This I maintain to be the clearest use of privilege which exists; it is plural voting in an obtrusive and unadulterated form. In other cases plural voters are scattered about the constituencies; but here you have nine constituencies consisting of plural voters. Every one of these electors has a vote for the constituency in which he lives, but in addition to that he has a second vote for his University, and sometimes for a University in which he has not resided. In one of the Scotch Universities there are a thousand voters who have not been educated there, but who, simply by paying fees, have obtained a fagot vote. This is privilege. A plural vote at the University is worth a great deal more than a plural vote else- 1791 where. The plural vote is chiefly exercised in the counties, where there are on the average about 9,500 voters to every Member, whereas in the Universities there are 34,000 electors and nine seats —that is to say, one member for 3,800 electors. But the Scotch Universities have between them 15,000 electors with only two seats, so that in the English and Irish Universities there are seven seats to 19,000 electors—that is to say, one Member to 2,700 voters. The plural vote in one of the Universities is equal in value to three or four times the plural vote anywhere else. Then plural voters in other constituencies — with the exception of Hornsey, I believe, where voters who have property in the City can vote at the Guildhall—have to take the trouble to go and give their votes; but the University voter, if only he can get within reach of a British Justice of the Peace, may sign his voting paper and vote quite comfortably. Plural voting is a great abuse, and the mode of voting for Universities, which I have described, is a great injustice to other classes of voters. Members for the Universities are sent to Parliament to discuss Bills which refer to the Universities. Has it been of advantage in the past to have University members to discuss Bills restating to the Universities? The most important Bill affecting the Universities is that which threw them open to all the citizens of the country, whatever faith they professed; and against that Bill all the University Members voted. That was the result of having privilege. Then University Members opposed the abolition of slavery, the reform of Parliaments, Catholic emancipation, and other great measures which were approved by both sides of the House, and which the whole country agree to have been measures but for the passing of which the country would have been in a much worse position. Now, Sir, the abuse of having these University seats has been very much aggravated of late years. There really was a great deal to be said for them at the beginning of this century, when a great number of Members were returned to Parliament by very small constituencies of 15 or 20 electors, who were absolutely in the pocket of one man. There may have been 170 Members returned by such constituencies in those days, and it was therefore a good thing 1792 to have constituencies which, like the-Universities, had a public opinion of their own. I do not hesitate to say that, if Scotland were in the same condition as she was before the passing of the Reform Act, if there were only 1,500 voters in the Scotch counties and only 1,200 in the Scotch boroughs, I should be very glad to have Members allotted to the Universities of Glasgow and Edinburgh. But now the whole-country is cut up into districts each of which has a public opinion of its own, and the reason for maintaining the University constituencies has vanished. Again, constituencies in olden days were very impure; an enormous amount of expenditure was required to get into Parliament—of even what was called legitimate expenditure, while there was still more illegitimate expenditure. In those days, then, it was something to have a constituency which was not susceptible to bribery—at any rate in the coarser form. In those days there may have been some inducement for the Members of a University to vote for a. Minister for the sake of what he could get, but the constituents at any rate were pure. And though perhaps every constituency in the country now is not thoroughly pure, yet, thanks to the right hon. Gentleman who sits on my left (Sir Henry James), much improvement has been effected in that direction, and I shall always feel the deepest gratitude towards him for his labours in the cause of electoral purity, labours given with an amount of energy and minute industry and enthusiasm such as is generally only given to one's personal affairs. There is now, then, no necessity to keep up the University constituencies on the grounds that they are exceptionally pure. Again, in olden days the University constituency was in many respects, superior; it was a self-contained community in which the men who voted lived together, exchanged their views, had common objects and had individual opinions about their Members. Those were the days in which men were elected for other reasons than that they belonged to a given party. In the course of this debate allusion has been made to St. John's College. I think with respect to that famous College, it cannot be called an average College—I mean St. John's, Cambridge.
§ *SIR GEORGE TREVELYAN
Well, I remember that when Lord Palmerston was a young man, although he did not take honours degree at Cambridge—he could not, being a nobleman—yet two years running he came out at the head of St. John's in the annual examination. When he stood for Parliament he was elected for three reasons. In the first place he got the votes of the Whigs. In the next he was a man of fashion, and he therefore induced other young men, who were masters of art in London, to come down and vote for him; and in the third place he was a Johnian. He was therefore said to be returned by the Dandies, Johnians, and Whigs. St. John's was a strong Tory College, but the Johnians had in those days a patriotic feeling for their College which was stronger than even their feeling for their Party. But in these days, if a young man distinguishes himself in his college, if he prove the most able and most eloquent of men, he would not have the slightest chance of being returned to Parliament unless he belonged to one particular Party in the State. The Solicitor General for Scotland, ignoring this fact, has suggested -that what we want in this House is variety, and to have that he says we must keep up the Universities, while, as my hon. Friend behind me has pointed out, these seats are looked upon as useful on each side of the House as affording constituencies for Members of the Government who have been unable to get elected elsewhere. Now I consider that these defences of University seats are opposed to each other. Why should the Government, on one side of the House, always be able to seat a Minister or Law Officer, while we on this side of the House are forbidden to do that, because you will not grant Parliamentary representation to the three Methodist training Colleges? The defence which has been running all through this debate breaks down. It is not the case that University members are different from other Members in this House. People talk as if University Members were a class apart; as if they were something to wise and good for human nation's daily food. Why after all they are men of the world in the right sense of the word. and they make most excellent candidates for any constituency. Just look opposite, for instance, at the right hon. Gentlemen the junior Member for Cam- 1794 bridge and the senior Member for the University of Dublin (Mr. Plunkett), whom any constituency of their political views would be proud to elect. Nor can it be said that it is the University Members who pre-eminently devoted themselves in this House to the question of education, or are specially consulted on these matters. I wonder whom the noble Lord the Member for Rossendale consulted when he was specially interested in the subject of technical education. Do you want special constituencies to return men who have the cause of education at heart when you have such men as the hon. Member for Rotherham, for Aberdeen, and for South Manchester, or on the other side of the House the hon. Members for North Wiltshire and for Blackpool. Other constituencies besides the Universities are glad to get men of high education if they can to represent their opinions. Look, for instance, at the representation of Leeds. The commercial centre of Leeds is represented by five Members, sitting on both sides of this House, who are admirable specimens of practical ability and culture. Read the list and see how this great place of commerce returns a veritable galaxy of cultivated and able men. I do not think it is necessary to keep up these privileged constituencies. I do not think that Universities profit by their representation. I support the motion on the ground of electoral justice as against privilege, and because the representation of the Universities is unfair to the country at large. Nor can I forget how educational reforms have been retarded, and educational abuses kept up by the Universities in which men do not stand up as they ought, side by side, for educational interests, but are divided as much as elsewhere by political differences. Equality is the only principle which should be applied in electoral matters, and I hope that all Members who are pledged to that principle will vote fen the Resolution, and show that the University seats are moribund and condemned.
§ THE POSTMASTER GENERAL (Mr. H. C. RAIKES,) Cambridge University
I think, perhaps, that this debate has hardly realized the expectations which were formed, for the speeches which have been delivered, although interesting, have not added very much 1795 to the information previously possessed by Members. But my right hon. Friend who last spoke never speaks without adding to our information; he always contributes something which, if it does not bear scrutiny, at any rate amuses the House, I am sure that the House is grateful to my right hon. Friend for having inspired some life into the debate. I cannot, however, but feel a little grudge against my right hon. Friend in respect of his reference to Lord Palmerston, because he clearly indicated a possible candidate for Cambridge at the next election. When my right hon. Friend said that Lord Palmerston was supported by the Whigs, dandies, and Johnians, I feared that he was stirring some little ambition in the breast of the Chairman of Committees. I, therefore, personally enter a caveat against that embarrassing suggestion. I make no objection to the speech of the hon. Member who moved the Amendment. I had expected some fresher contribution to our knowledge of the subject. The hon. Member pointed out that the representation was created in the reign of James I., and cited the charter as requiring that the Members elected should be men skilled in the Imperial laws. That certainly was a new point in this discussion, and I think the charter showed a disposition on the part of the King and Government when it was granted to give to the University representation a wider and more general character than had commonly been attributed to it. Then in 1867 three new University seats were created, because the Liberal Party deemed them a set off to the dominance of the other Party in University representation. The hon. Member quoted Mr. John Bright as being unfavourable to to these additional seats. I think it very probable that this was so, because Mr. Bright opposed giving a seat to the University of Durham, and the hon. Member admitted that it was an illiberal proceeding on the part of the Liberal Party to oppose the granting of a seat to Durham. Now I come to the four grounds on which the hon. Member for Dundee supported his Resolution. He first said that it would be a good thing to reduce the number of Members by nine. That might be so, but it does not follow that the reduction should be at the expense of the Universities. The hon. Member has been good enough to say in regard 1796 to the Irish question, that the necessity of a reduction in our numbers is apparent. Probably it occurred to many Members at the time that if a reduction is to be made, it would be to Ireland that it ought to be applied. Then the hon. Member said that the representation of the Universities had never received the sanction of Parliament. I should have thought that the prescription of nearly three centuries was sufficient sanction. We have, during the last quarter of a century, had the express recognition given by Parliament to University representation. I refer to the Reform Settlement of 1867. We have heard something about the number of University constituencies, and attention has been called to other constituencies less numerous. But, Sir, although the actual number may be as low as that given, yet the graduates represent a larger body of persons who, had they chosen to taken the trouble, might have been added to the constituencies of the respective Universities. It is not too much to say that the 6,000 electors of Oxford or Cambridge represent not less than 30,000 persons who might have taken their degree and become electors had they chosen. Then we have had the objection to the character of the University constituencies, and have been told that the residents are not represented. I will give you no mean authority on such a matter. Oscar Browning told me that there were only 13 Home Rulers among the residents in my University. At any rate there were not more than 33, and when you remember that there are 400 or 500 residents, I think we may claim that the residents are represented by an enormous. majority. It is not because the Universities have turned their backs on the Liberal Party, but because the Liberal Party has turned its back on the Universities, that the latter have abandoned them. A few years ago the Liberal Party was in a majority in both. of the Universities so far as the residents were concerned. Then we had the reference to the clergy. If we have the clergy scattered over the country their fluence on public affairs would be nil; at least all the influence they would have would be derived from their character and calling. One of the strongest arguments that can be put forward in favour of the maintenance of University representation, is that it gives to clergymen of the Church 1797 of England a voice in this House that they are unable in their own persons to exercise. But I do not think the hon. Gentleman's figures with regard to the Universities at large are correct. I do not think that at the present time anything like two-thirds of the University electorate consists of clergymen. I very much doubt if half of it consists of clergymen. We know that in the University of London the clergymen form a very small minority, if indeed there are any worth counting at all as a matter of fact. If, as the lay element in the University constituency increases, the Liberal Party dwindles, it cannot be supposed that it is because of clerical influences. It is a consequence, or if it is not a consequence it is a sequence, of the Liberal legislation of the last few years that at the present moment, when the Universities have been thrown open to all classes and denominations, the Conservative feeling in the Universities is infinitely stronger than it ever was before. We have also heard that there are other bodies who are equally entitled to be represented, but I do not suppose the House wishes to go into that question now, nor do I suppose the House wishes to consider now the details of a University Reform Bill. If the argument of the hon. Member in this connection is worth anything, it is clear the Universities instead of having only nine Members ought to have a dozen and a half. The main objection which the hon. Member frankly admits he takes to University representation is that it is inconsistent with the existing basis of representation. We have no doubt accepted for the present generation a system by which the constituencies have been rendered much more uniform than in the past, but the House of Commons is not necessarily a body exactly akin to a national assembly. The House represents diverse communities and diverse interests. Although from time to time it has been found necessary and desirable to assimilate constituencies which return Members to the House, it has never been laid down that the time has come when all constituencies must be reduced to the same level, and that the representation of different interests and communities, which was the raison d'être of the House of Commons, is to be for ever obliterated. I do not believe that that is the opinion of the House of Commons and the country, and I expect we shall have a good 1798 many years to wait before we find that bald and naked democracy installed in the place of our ancient and mixed constitution. I pass on to the hon. and learned Gentleman's best point, which is like the postscript of the lady's letter, because probably it contains the meaning of the whole, and that is that University representation is objected to because all Members who now represent Universities are Members of the Unionist Party. This is a curious evidence of the simplicity and honesty with which the hon. Member approaches this question, and I wish that every hon. Member on these benches was as careful as the hon. Gentleman not to endeavour to mislead the House. The hon. Member has thus made it a question which it is difficult for us to argue, but at the same time he has cut away from his own arguments any basis they might otherwise have, inasmuch as he has let us know the motive principle which led to this motion being brought forward. If my hon. Friend the Member for Shore-ditch (Mr. Stuart), had succeeded in obtaining the suffrages of the University of Cambridge, and had been at the present moment occupying the position which it is my privilege to enjoy, I think it is extremely probable that this Motion would never have been submitted to the House. My learned Friend is absent—he is not often absent—perhaps on this occasion he would have found some difficulty in addressing the House. Now is it not a little unreasonable for hon. Members opposite who have taken an active part in University contests, is it not ludicrous for them, because they have lost the game, to go into the Lobby to-night and vote for depriving the successful party of the fruits of a victory which they would have been only too glad to monopolize themselves I noticed in the speech of the seconder of the Motion (Dr. Farquharson), a point which deserves some consideration. The hon. Gentleman referred to the extraordinary position taken up by Sir Charles Dilke at the time the last Reform Bill was before the House. Sir Charles Dilke stated in his place in the House that he was entirely opposed to the bases of the compromise on which the Government were able to pass the Reform Bill, and was prepared to re-open the subject. I remember the painful sensation produced in the House when Sir Charles Dilke made that speech. 1799 Such a speech, I imagine, had never before been made by any Cabinet Minister in regard to a Cabinet Motion, and I was surprised to find the hon. Member for Aberdeenshire (Dr. Farquharson) was candid enough to refer to it as an argument in favour of his position. Now my right hon. Friend (Sir G. Trevelyan) has said that one of the Scotch Universities admits persons to its medical degrees merely for the payment of a sum of money. I think that my right hon. Friend has been imperfectly informed on the subject. The fact is that the regulations of the University of St. Andrew's permit the degree of M.D. to be conferred upon any registered medical practitioner, who, on examination, satisfies the examiners as to the sufficiency of his medical knowledge. The number of persons allowed to obtain this particular degree is limited to ten in each year.
§ *SIR G. TREVELYAN
I was informed, rightly or wrongly, that there was a year of grace in which a large number of these gentlemen were admitted to the degree.
§ *MR. RAIKES
I am only speaking of the constitution of the University at the present time. There may have been some abuses in the past. Another argument which my right hon. Friend was pleased to lay stress upon, was that on matters relating particularly to Universities, the Members for Universities had sometimes been found in the minority. But if so it does not at all follow that Members for Universities did not fairly represent the opinions of the Universities. It does not at all follow that if this House thought proper to make a change in the constitution of the Universities, that change was necessarily acceptable to the Universities. It is the duty of Members for Universities to represent the opinions of their constituencies, and when the House of Commons and the Universities differ, the Members for Universities are not to be blamed for doing their duty. When the Universities were last reformed, who were the Members who brought forward the Bill? The present Lord Cross, who was himself an eminent Member of the University of Cambridge, and Mr. Walpole, who was at that time 1800 the Member for the University of Cambridge. That I think is sufficient evidence that on matters really relating to the interests of the Universities, the Members for Universities are the very best authorities, and I trust and believe that as long as the representation continues, they will be regarded as authorities upon questions upon which it is their duty to be informed. We have been told that Members for the Universities opposed the Emancipation of Slaves, Catholic Emancipation, the great Reform Bill, and other beneficial measures. [Cheers.] It is quite true that they may have done so, but do the hon. Members who cheer remember who were the Members for the Universities in those days? Are they aware that every Prime Minister of England within the last 40 years, with the single exception of Lord Beaconsfield, who, not being a University man, was not qualified, has been a University Member? Sir Robert Peel, the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Mid Lothian (Mr. Gladstone), and Lord Palmerston, were University Members. It is true that throughout their careers they did not continue always to represent Universities. (Opposition cheers.) Yes, I was quite prepared for that cheer. We have been told that the Universities are such slavish constituencies that you can always find a seat in them for any Minister who wants a seat, but it is a proud distinction of the Universities that, in the plentitude of their power, they have rejected three Prime Ministers. Constituencies who have returned Peel, Palmerston and Gladstone may well outlive the sneers of hon. Gentlemen whose sympathies do not carry them back beyond the last 20 years. If there is one part of the representative system which, judged from the utilitarian point of view, has rendered a good service to the country, it is the Universities, and I do not think that the real Liberal party will countenance to-day or to-morrow, or for many years to come, what seems to me an attempt to enfranchise ignorance and to disfranchise education.
§ MR. W. REDMOND (Fermanagh)
It is remarkable that nobody has defended the system of University representation but the Representatives of Universities. But perhaps the most remarkable fact in this debate is the absence of any defence of the representation of Dublin University. I am not at all surprised 1801 that the two Gentlemen who represent Dublin University in this House should sit silently upon the Treasury Bench. I suppose they are extremely anxious that nothing should be said about that institution. And in speaking of the representation of the Dublin University, I wish to find no fault with the Gentlemen who represent that constituency, but merely wish to complain that an electorate of 4,000 in the Dublin University possess the privilege of returning two Members to this House, while all other constituences in Ireland, with vastly larger electorates, have only the power to send one Member. I desire to ask hon. Members who are prepared to argue that Universities are entitled to a certain amount of representation in this House, what argument they can advance to prove that Universities are entitled to double the representation of constituencies with vastly larger numbers of electors. The history of the Dublin University representation is an extremely curious one, and if Her Majesty's Government would be candid in the matter they would defend the representation of that institution in the House not on the ground of the University having the right to representation, but because Dublin University is the only place South of the Boyne from which the Government can get Conservative Members. The Government feel it is absolutely necessary to maintain this constituency as a hot-bed for Tories. In the name of goodness what would have become of the Solicitor General for Ireland (Mr. Madden) if he had not had Dublin University to supply him with the seat in this House? It would have been painful to see the hon. and learned Gentleman scouring about Ireland to see if any constituency would take pity upon him and give him a seat in order that he might hold the office which the Government has given him. University representation affects Ireland very differently to England. The Universities of England are national institutions. In England men of all positions can afford to go to the Universities, but in Ireland that is not so. Dublin University is by no means a national institution. It is, and always has been, an institution of the ascendency party. I do not wish to put the matter upon the sectarian ground, which I am sorry to see introduced in 1802 any debate affecting Ireland, but it must be remembered that Dublin University is an institution which the great mass of the Irish people do not support because it is monopolized to a great extent by people who hold religious opinions differing from those of the majority of the people. There is a Catholic University which is largely supported by the people, but it has not the right to send a single representative to the House of Commons. I am not in favour of either the Protestant Institution of Trinity College or of the Catholic University in Ireland, or of any University, having direct representation, but I contend that is manifestly unjust that whereas Trinity College, which is an institution which the great bulk of the Catholic people of Ireland do not utilize or patronize, has the power to send two Members to this House, the other University, which is supported by the great bulk of the people, has not the power to send a single Representative here. If University representation is good for the institution of the minority, why has it not been extended to the institution of the majority? In the opinion of nine-tenths of the Irish people the representation of Dublin University is retained simply in order to convenience the Government whenever they want to send gentlemen to this House to occupy official positions, such as that of Solicitor General for Ireland. Now, it has been said in debate that it would be a great pity if Universities were not represented in this House, and that they have special claims to that distinction. But the Solicitor General for Ireland will not, I am sure, think I wish to say anything offensive at all if I maintain that he himself cannot claim that he is in the House for the purpose of representing the culture or the education of the Irish people, or even the electorate of Trinity College, Dublin. The hon. and learned Gentleman is here not as the representative of University culture, he is here as the Solicitor General of the Irish Government, and it is perfectly absurd to maintain that he sits here in order that Dublin University culture may be represented in the House. The Solicitor General for Ireland, I believe, wrote an exceedingly dazzling and highly interesting pamphlet on "The Registration of Deeds and Mortgage Judgments," but I do not 1803 think that he himself will claim that by this achievement he received a passport or established a claim to the representation of a University. I think it would not be right for this debate to close without at least one Irish Member entering a protest against what is, after all, an absurdity and an injustice—the allowing a small knot of men the right, which elsewhere in Ireland is accorded only to the largest constituencies, of returning two Members. It is said we object to this because the University has returned Unionist Members. The University of Dublin returns two Conservative Unionists; but it may be said that the University of Dublin is the only place in that part of Ireland that returns a single Unionist; and it should be remembered, in discussing the question of the Union, that, but for this privilege given to 4,000 men in Trinity College, Dublin—who represent no class of the people, for it is only landlords and people of that class who send their sons there, and utilize the University, and who represent the ascendency class—but for this privilege of sending two Members to the House, the magnificent Unionist Party, who make such a triumphant display here, would have only sixteen Irish representatives. But I maintain it is not on the question of Party politics that this ought to be decided. Those who are prepared to maintain this absurdity must show why, in the case of 4,000 men inside the walls of Trinity College, they should be allowed to send two Members to Parliament, while 10,000 outside in the City of Dublin are only allowed to send one representative to this House. If you are not prepared to abolish University representation altogether, you ought to cut it down to one Member, for that would adequately represent the electors of Trinity College, Dublin. As I said before, I do not make any protest on personal grounds, and the senior Member for the University (Mr. Plunket) is very popular in this House; but I think that the right hon. Gentleman, who after all is an Irishman, must be keenly alive to the opinions of his own countrymen, and would not be sorry if he had a legitimate constituency instead of the hot-house, artificial constituency of Trinity College, Dublin. That is the position of these two unfortunates. I do not wish to be offensive, 1804 but imagine the feelings of these two Gentlemen from the Government Bench when they arrive in Dublin. They have to pass through streets where almost every person they meet is a Nationalist and Home Ruler, and throughout the whole of that part of Ireland they cannot feel a breath of Tory atmosphere until they get within the walls of Trinity College, Dublin, where there is a Tory garrison. That is a position they do not find exceedingly comfortable, I am sure. Though they support the Government to-night, in their hearts they must know they are giving a vote for a thing that is unjust, and they must know very well that the time will very soon come when this class, as well as other classes, of privilege will be swept away by the advancing tide of democracy and Home Rule. The hon. Member for Prestwich Division, the single exception among Members who support the Government and is not a University representative, though nearly related to one, said there was in Ireland a constituency smaller than Dublin University. I do not know where this is.
The constituency of Kerry, which numbers 3,780, while in Dublin University the electors are 4,094.
§ MR. W. REDMOND
Yes; but the hon. Member forgets that South Kerry returns but one Member, and the 4,000 of the University return two. The hon. Gentleman was also good enough to say that if changes in representation are to be made, then change should take the direction of reducing the number of Members for Ireland. I was extremely surprised to hear that from the hon. Member, for it would be breaking or smashing one of the fundamental articles of that Act of Union of 1800 his Party have sworn never to destroy, for under that Act we are entitled to the representation we now have. However, I agree with the hon. Member, it might not be unwise to reduce the number of Representatives in the House, and going so far with him, I hope he will join in the attempt to reduce that number by two.
§ *THE FIRST COMMISSIONER OF WORKS (Mr. R. D. PLUNKET,) Dublin University
The hon. Member for North Fermanagh, who has just sat down will admit he has hardly dealt justly with me, for while in the first sentence he complained that none but University Members had 1805 taken part in the debate—in which, by the way, he was not quite correct—the next moment he rated me because I had not spoken; and now I think I have reason further to complain that he has left me but very few minutes to reply to the important speech he has just delivered. Let me point out when the hon. Member expresses so much pity for my hon. and learned Colleague and myself, that the course of my hon. and learned Friend at Dublin University was a brilliant one, and that his success at the Bar has won the confidence and admiration of all his constituents. The hon. Member expresses sympathy for our forlorn condition in that we have only the limited number of 4,000 constituents to return us to Parliament, but the hon. Member only had the support of 3,128 votes, and secured his return by a majority of 266.
§ MR. REDMOND
I am loth to interrupt the right hon. Gentleman, and hope he will excuse me. He says I only got 3,000 odd to vote for me, but he will remember he had only 1,800 supporters.
That is to say that I had to ask my friends to cease voting as there was no occasion to continue, seeing that after several days polling my opponents had succeeded in obtaining 60 votes altogether. I can assure the hon. Gentleman that his pity is misplaced. But I do not think the House will, at this hour expect from me that I should go over the general grounds so well covered by hon. Members on this and the other side in opposition to this Motion. I must say that I have never heard so grave a proposition as that contained in the Motion of the hon. Member for Dundee, however ably and forcibly he himself endeavoured to advocate it, supported by arguments so slender and unsatisfactory as those we have heard to-night. The proposal is to make a change in the constitution of Parliament; a change that would affect an institution which has existed for two and a half centuries, the representation of Universities in this House. That principle adopted so long ago has on every occasion when Parliamentary representation has been reconsidered, been re-affirmed, and sometimes extended. The hon. Member who introduced the Resolution tried to explain these various occasions, but how does it come about that whereas at the beginning of the century there were only five University Members, there are now nine? 1806 It is because Parliament, having repeatedly revised the representation of the people since then, has thought it wise and in the interest of the community that the number of University Members should be increased. So it was that in the great Reform Bill of Lord Grey, a Member was restored to the University of Dublin, who had been taken away by the Act of Union. So it was that in 1868 two University Members were given to Scotland, and one to London, which had no such Members before; and so it was that in 1885, when the question was fully debated from every point of view, and every argument brought forward to-night was urged with greater force against University representation, the proposal was scouted in this House by a majority of more than three to one. On a subsequent occasion there was even a more remarkable incident, in which the late Prime Minister re-asserted and vindicated the principle of University representation, and to this I shall refer presently. What are the kind of arguments adduced in favour of this great change? We are told there are too many Members in the House, and that the Irish difficulty might be solved if University Members were taken from the House ! And some of the great obstacles to doing business would be removed! This was one of the first arguments of the hon. Member who introduced the Motion. Then we were told that the University Members did not really represent the Teaching University. Well, I have heard that argument before, and I must say a more bogus argument could not be advanced. Can anyone tell me there is any man more acquainted with the teaching staff of any University than myself? Do I not whenever I can get away from other duties, live amongst them, and do I not personally and intimately know every member of the teaching staff, and a multitude of my constituents as well? It is absurd to urge the House to destroy this representation, only because the Member who represents the University is not himself a member of the teaching staff. It is indeed impossible to be both at the same time teaching there, and representing the teaching staff here. Then it is said that if we do not represent the teaching body we ought to represent the graduates and then there might be a 1807 fair representation. Well, I do not know how it may be in other Universities, but in mine it would not, I believe, make the slightest difference in the Members returned whether it was the teaching staff alone, or the graduates, or the Masters of Arts who had the voting power, or even the undergraduates, though they might be a slightly unruly constituency at times! I do not think this is a very serious argument. The real argument, whatever force there may be in it, is that of Party interest put forward by the hon. Member for Dundee, there are only nine, he said, but that might make 18 in a division, and then the hon. Member went on to say he hoped they would all remain Tories, for otherwise the University representation would not be destroyed even in the next Liberal Parliament. After that I think it is hardly worth while to follow this argument further. But I want the House to bear in mind the proposal is not to reform University representation; that is not the proposal before us to-night, it is destruction pure and simple. It is not to transfer the representation to any other constituencies, it is not to provide for some great commercial centre of population, or for some large working community that has no Member now. No, if this Motion is carried, no new seats will be provided for any constituency it will be simply sweeping away nine Members because of their political views, the hon. Member would "rob us of that which not enriches him, but makes us poor indeed." Only one more point will time allow me to refer to. In 1885 the question was fully thrashed out and what was said then has been said again now, and the Motion similar to the present was rejected by a great majority. But it is said that that was the result of a compromise and that the right hon. Gentleman the late Prime Minister did not express an opinion in that debate, but there was another occasion only a year afterwards on which this question came up again, when in 1886 the right hon. Gentleman introduced his Home Rule Bill. How did he deal with the subject in that Bill? The whole question had been fully debated the year before; everything that could be said had been said against University representation, had especially in reference to the University I have the 1808 honour to represent. What did the right hon. Gentleman do? Did he propose to disfranchise the University of Dublin by his Bill because such representation was wroug on principle—because we had not true University representation, because we were non-national or non-Liberal, or because we were not worthy to be represented in the Irish House of Commons of the future? Nothing of the kind. This is what he said:I ought to say a word about Dublin University. We do not propose to interfere by any action of ours with the existing arrangements of Dublin University in one way or another. But certainly we could not ask the House to adopt a plan at our suggestion which would double the representation of Dublin University. We propose to leave it as it is, but, at the same time, to empower the legislative body, if it should think fit, to appoint a corresponding representation by two members in favour of the Royal University of Ireland. There would be no compulsion to exercise that power, but it would be left to the discretion of the legislative body.'Now that may be a good argument for pressing for the representation of the Royal University of Ireland, but it is, so far as the weight of the authority of the right hon. Gentleman goes, a conclusive argument against the proposal of the hon. and learned Member for Dundee. That was no hurried Resolution in the House, it was not the result of an agreement between parties by way of compromise, it was the ripe fruit of mature deliberation when the right hon. Gentleman had to create a statutory Parliament in Dublin and launch it forward as an assembly to govern the destinies of Ireland in the future. I am sorry that time does not allow me to treat the subject as I would. The argument last referred to cannot be confined to the Irish case alone, it affects University representation in England as well as Ireland, and I maintain that no argument has been brought forward that should lead the House to take any step in the direction of altering this old established principle embedded in the Parliamentary representation of this country except the merely partizan argument which no doubt will weigh with some few that at the present time and probably for some time to come University representatives happen to be and may continue to be opposed and sturdily opposed, to the party from whom the Motion has come.
§ The House divided (Division List No. 105). Ayes 217; Noes 126.
§ House adjourned at five minutes after One o'clock till Monday next.