HC Deb 30 July 1891 vol 356 cc870-81

Considered in Committee.

(In the Committee.)

Motion made, and Question proposed, That it is expedient to authorise the payment, out of moneys to be provided by Parliament, of any annuity that may be created for the repayment of any Loan made by the Commissioners of Public Works in Ireland under the provisions of any Act of the present Session relating to Expenditure by Training Colleges in Ireland.

*(3.10.) MR. T. W. RUSSELL (Tyrone, S.)

I do not consider that it is expedient to do anything of the kind. Moreover, it is neither expedient nor reasonable for the House at a quarter past 3 o'clock in the morning to be asked to enter upon contentious business. If the Government resolve to carry this Resolution they will do so only after a great struggle. I now beg leave to move to report Progress.

Motion made, and Question proposed, "That the Chairman do report Progress, and ask leave to sit again."—(Mr. T. W. Russell.)


The hon. Member is hardly acting fairly in this matter. I can quite understand his feeling that he ought to have an opportunity of expressing his views on the Bill. But what the Committee is asked to do now is not to pass the Bill, but to pass the formal Resolution which is necessary before we can take operative steps in the Bill as to money. We have determined to proceed in this way, because, in reply to hon. Members who objected to the Bill, I said I would alter the source from which this money is to be drawn. It was to have been advanced—not spent, but only in the first instance advanced—out of the Irish Church Surplus Funds, but I have now agreed that it shall be advanced from funds in charge of the Public Works Department in Ireland, and the hon. Member actually thinks that in spite of the concession we are making it is unreasonable to take the question at this hour of the night. I can assure the hon. Member we will not press on the Committee stage of the Bill at an unreasonable hour of the morning. We do not wish to deprive him of the opportunity of discussing Amendments before 3 o'clock. If the hon. Member is going to attempt to make this formal stage an occasion for defeating the Bill, he is descending to tactics which can only be described as sheer obstruction—tactics which I have always thought the hon. Gentleman would be the last person in the House either to practise or defend.


I do not think that is a fair statement for the right hon. Gentleman the Chief Secretary to make with regard to me. He has no right to say that I am descending to tactics of obstruction.


I said that if he opposed this formal stage, which only comes into existence in consequence of the concession I made to the opponents of the Bill, I snail regard it as obstruction.

*(3.15.) MR. T. W. RUSSELL

Then I am afraid I must descend. There are occasions when a Member is bound by the duty he owes to his constituents, and to a great community beyond his constituency, to object to a Bill root and branch, even though he incur the risk of such a charge as that brought against him by the right hon. Gentleman—though I do not believe the right hon. Gentleman will be able to find anyone outside this House to agree with him that I ever joined in obstructing any measure. In the past I have seldom taken part in opposition to a measure the Government have introduced—and I am proud to acknowledge it—but this is a Bill the object of which is to hand a blank cheque to Archbishop Walsh and a similar blank cheque to Archbishop Plunket. We are to endow a Roman Catholic Training College and a Protestant Training College, and I am informed that the Protestant College it is proposed to buy under the Bill was presented to the Church Society when the Kildare Street Society was abolished, so that it is now proposed to buy back that which was given for nothing. I shall oppose this Resolution and the object with which it is proposed through every stage by every means in my power.

MR. KNOX (Cavan, W.)

I do not wish to discuss this Motion, and so aid the hon. Member in his obstructive tactics, but I would urge the Leader of the House to divide against the proposal to report Progress.

MR. H. BYRON REED (Bradford, E.)

I shall resist to the utmost this attempt to endow the Church of Rome. On most occasions I support the policy of the right hon. Gentleman the Chief Secretary for Ireland, but I must tell him that there are many of his best friends in England who will resist to the utmost of their power this attempt at bargaining with the Church of Rome. He may seek to conciliate the Church of Rome; and I imagine that in his attempt to buy them he will be successful, but, in the long run, he will lose his best friends, and will find that the Church of Rome will sell him—


I would call the attention of the hon. Member to the fact that the Motion before the House is to report Progress.


Then, Sir, all I will say is that at such an hour as this contentious business should not have been taken.


I hope the Government will persevere with the measure.

MR. MACARTNEY (Antrim, S.)

I regret that the Government should think it necessary to proceed with the Bill at this time of the Session against, the wish, pretty strongly expressed, of every supporter they have from Ireland. My objection to the Bill has not been removed by the concession made. I object to the measure as framed altogether, as it is merely giving a blank cheque to the ecclesiastics who have been mentioned.

*(3.20.) SIR E. J. HARLAND (Belfast, N.)

I also must express regret at my right hon. Friend having brought forward this Bill at this period of the Session. I can assure my right hon. Friend that in the North of Ireland the objectionable character of the course he has taken will be very keenly felt.

MR. RENTOUL (Down, E.)

The only reason the Ulster Unionist Members are opposing this is because they regard it as the thin end of the wedge of the endowment of denominational education in Ireland.

MR. KELLY (Camberwell, N.)

I support the Motion, because we have never yet discussed this Bill, and because we should do so at an hour when we can get reports of our proceedings in the newspapers to awaken, the conscience of England to the real purport of the Bill. I do not think it right, after all the pledges the Government have given not to take contentious business, that this measure should be taken this Session.


I must say I have been a good deal surprised and a good deal pained at many of the remarks which have been made this evening. I will not say I am pained by the speech of the hon. Member who has just sat down, but I am certainly very much surprised at it; for the change I made in the measure was to meet the views of the hon. Member and his friends, and I had reason to believe that it would meet with his support.

MR. H. J. WILSON (York, W.R., Holmfirth)

I have the greatest objection to religious endowments of every kind, and I certainly must protest against entering upon a new one at this time of night.

MR. LEA (Londonderry, S.)

The right hon. Gentleman says he brings this Resolution in as a concession to those who oppose the Bill, but I hold that he could very well have brought in this Resolution at a later stage. I cannot conceive what his object can be in endeavouring to force it on now when he could easily put it down for a later stage. It is absurd to expect us to discuss it when we have been sitting 12 or 13 hours.

(3.23.) The Committee divided:—Ayes 22; Noes 50.—(Div. List, No. 410.)


As it is now half-past 3, I beg to move that you, Mr. Courtney, do now leave the Chair.


I beg to second the Motion.

Motion made, and Question proposed, "That the Chairman do now leave the Chair."—(Mr. Lea.)


I hope the Motion will not be pressed. Hon. Members must see how important it is that we should finish this business to-night, because we cannot take two stages at one Sitting; and if the present stage be deferred until to-morrow, the next stage would have to be taken on a subsequent occasion, and the business would thus be prolonged.


If we have to go on and discuss this Resolution to-night it will have to be discussed at great length. [An hon. MEMBER: "Why?"] Because some of us think such a course necessary, and we are determined to have the matter fully discussed. I do not wish to use threats, but I have been accused of obstruction—


I did not use the word "obstruction" in reference to the hon. Member, but simply to describe certain conduct which deserved that characterisation.


Under all the circumstances, and notwithstanding what the right hon. Gentleman has said, I shall support my hon. Friend in his Motion.

(3.35.) The Committee divided:—Ayes 23; Noes 52.—(Div. List, No. 411.)

Original Question again proposed.

*(3.48.) MR. T. W. RUSSELL

I think this is the most unreasonable course the Government have ever pursued, namely, that they should call upon me and on many of their best supporters to continue this Debate at the bidding of their bitterest enemies. The charge which has been made against myself, and, of course, by implication hurled at every man who has supported and stood by the Government in their bitterest hour of trial, is one which I and my friends resent and repudiate. The Resolution which has been put from the Chair declares that it is expedient to authorise the expenditure of a certain sum of money for a certain purpose which I need not recapitulate. I shall show to the House that this sum is not named in the Resolution, nor is it named in the Bill, and that is one of the great objections I have to the whole operation. We are called upon to give blank cheques to Archbishop Walsh and Archbishop Plunket, and to leave it to those gentlemen to fill up these cheques as they may think proper, and as the Board of Works may think proper. If it be expedient to expend this money we ought, first of all, to know how much we are to spend; and, secondly, we ought thoroughly to understand what it is to be spent for. We cannot do the first, because the Bill does not tell us, and we can only find out what the money is to be spent for by examining the objects the Government have in view. What are the objects of the Government as indicated by this Resolution and the Bill on which it is founded? The system of national education in Ireland is 60 years old. It is a mixed system, as the Chief Secretary knows. It has been attacked for the last 30 or 40 years; but, notwithstanding that, it has done enormous good in Ireland. What are we asked to do now? We are asked to supply money to attack one of the outworks of that system, which has been so long assailed by the Roman Catholic hierarchy. I say it is not wise or expedient to do this, and that we ought not to be called upon to do it at 20 minutes to 4 o'clock in the morning. Where is the promise of the Government about contentious business to-night? How can they expect that we can treat with anything like respect the promises which come from that Bench in the future? We were told no contentious business was to be taken. Here is a question on which nearly half the House will to-night vote against their own Government, and yet, in face of the statement of the First Lord of the Treasury, who is not here to take care of himself and his own honour, we are asked to go into this contentious business which one-half of us are determined not to go into if we can help it. The system of Training Colleges to which the Resolution points, and with which the Bill deals, was first assailed in 1883 by the then Government, and an arrangement was made by which certain denominational colleges received three-fourths of the cost of the teachers. This is practically what has been done in England, but it is not satisfactory. Nevertheless, we are asked to authorise a grant under this Resolution to enable these two right rev. gentlemen to recoup themselves for the buildings, the sites, the appurtenances, the fixtures, and, if some gentlemen below the Gangway get their way, the furniture also. I asked the right hon. Gentleman to make no concession, but I say his proposal to take this money out of the Irish Church surplus outrages the feelings of a large portion of the Irish people. It is a proposal that is not creditable to the Government. The first attack was made under the administration of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Bridgeton. We are now called on to complete the work, and to do this at the bidding of hon. Gentlemen below the Gangway, and against the opinion of every supporter the Government have in Ireland. Is this reasonable or fair? The House has been sitting for 13 hours, and yet the Chief Secretary forces me and others to remain here for some hours longer by pressing this Resolution. I say it is not only unreasonable and unfair, but in the course he is taking the right hon. Gentleman is inflicting great injury on the Government, because it is a course which does not commend itself to many of their supporters. I shall resist this Motion to the very last.

(3.55.) MR. SEXTON (Belfast, W.)

I think the hon. Member for Tyrone ought to be ashamed of himself for describing this Resolution as contentious business. The hon. Gentleman objects to taking this business after 12 o'clock, I presume, because he was afraid his speech would not be reported if it were delivered after that hour; but I would remind the House that in my presence and hearing the hon. Member for Tyrone appealed to the hon. Member for Camberwell to withdraw his opposition to the Bill, and that being so, it will require more cogent arguments than the hon. Member for Tyrone has employed to explain his own position in regard to this matter, and how it is he has been led to take two positions diametrically opposite to each other in as many weeks. The hon. Gentleman has taunted the Chief Secretary with accepting this measure at the suggestion and bidding of hon. Members on this side of the House. He does not seem to have taken the trouble to have read the public letter on which the Bill is founded. He does not tell us that the Resolution is supported by the unanimous vote of the Education Board itself. The hon. Member thinks himself a more valuable defender of the mixed system of education than the regular garrison. Who are they? The Education Board-gentlemen of undoubted status. These gentlemen unanimously supported the resolution of the Synod of Dublin, and have pressed it on the right hon. Gentleman the Chief Secretary. It is, indeed, at the instance of all the clerical representatives of the Protestants of Dublin—Protestants appointed to guard the interests of education—that this Bill is introduced. The hon. Member says this Bill is a blank cheque given to the Archbishops. I say it is nothing of the sort. He calls it an attack on the outworks of the mixed system of education. I say that neither in Ireland nor in England has it ever been possible to apply the mixed system of education. If he refers to the Report of the Commission of 1870, he will find that they were unanimous in stating that it was of no use to attempt to do this. With regard to the 44 training colleges referred to, three only are secular, 41 being denominational. These colleges and buildings were provided 40 years ago at the cost of the State, and yet, at the present moment, the hon. Member sees something revolutionary in the proposal to apply this system to Ireland. All that is asked by the Chief Secretary is that what is done in England and Wales with the view of treating denominational colleges on an equal system should be done in Ireland, and in the opposition the hon. Member has offered to this proposal I can only infer that he is influenced by motives which he is either ashamed or afraid to avow.

(4.1.) MR. H. BYRON REED

I do not propose to enter into the merits or the demerits of this question at this hour of the morning. I merely rise to move that you, Mr. Courtney, do report Progress and ask leave to sit again.


The hon. Member is disqualified from making that Motion, as he has already seconded a similar Motion.


I desire to point out that the Synod of the Church of Dublin never made any such proposal as has been stated. What is all this anxiety about? Why is it thought necessary to declare that grown up Catholics cannot go to mixed training colleges without enormous danger to their principles? Again, what is it the right hon. Gentleman is going to pay for? Is it the buildings, and everything on the premises? I may be told that the money is only going to be lent, but there is no real security; the only security will have to be taken from the money necessary for the support of the colleges, and if that security is enforced, then the colleges will have to be shut up. It is absurd to look at this otherwise than as a gift, and I say it is a gift at the thought of which a large proportion of the English people will shudder. The people of England are strongly Protestant; they have no wish to attack their fellow Catholic subjects; they have no desire to inflict pain upon their fellow-countrymen; but they will not support, either directly or indirectly, the errors as they believe of the Catholic faith. In voting against the Resolution I wish to explain that while I stated my principal objection to the Bill in its original form was that the money was to be taken out of the funds of the Disestablished Protestant Church of Ireland, I also declared it was a most unfortunate proposal to endow Roman Catholic training colleges in any shape or form, because the teachers of those colleges were among the most active propagandists of the Catholic faith.

(4.5.) MR. LEA

The hon. Member for West Belfast has censured my hon. Friend the Member for South Tyrone for having, on a recent occasion, objected to the Training Colleges Bill being taken after 12 o'clock. I wonder how many times he has himself used the 12 o'clock Rule to stop Bills being proceeded with. He has done so hundreds of times, and I submit he has no right to charge my hon. Friend with vanity, because he desires that this Bill should be discussed at a time when the Debate may be reported in the Press. I know that my hon. Friend has a large amount of Blue Book evidence which he wishes to lay before the House regarding this Bill, and he certainly could not reasonably be asked to do that at 4 o'clock in the morning. I think the evidence he has to adduce will startle the House. This is a proposal to take the money of the Irish Church and to apply it to the support of denominational training colleges. I voted in 1868 for the disestablishment of the Irish Church, and I venture to say that no follower of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Mid Lothian ever contemplated that the funds of that Church should go to the support of Roman Catholic training colleges.


Are we not discussing a Resolution the very pith of which is to prevent the money being lent out of the Irish Church Fund?


At any rate, it is a Resolution to give the taxpayers' money for the support of Roman Catholic training colleges. The college buildings and appurtenances are to be purchased, and I should like to know if these appurtenances include altars and crosses? Why should the taxpayers of this country have to pay for such things? The funds are to be advanced by the Board of Works. Is it not strange that hon. Members, who for 23 years have in this House attacked and condemned that Board—as the hon. Members for West Belfast and North Longford have done—should now be so enthusiastic in support of a proposal to entrust the Board with these powers in connection with training colleges? I think it is very hard the right hon. Gentleman should try and force this Resolution through at this time of the morning. I trust that Progress will be at once reported, so that the wearied officials of the House may get some rest.

*(4.14.) MR. T. W. RUSSELL

The hon. Member for West Belfast assumes a position towards Members of this House which he has no right to assume. He has no right to ask why I dare do this or that. As a matter of fact, he is wrong in what he says, and I will now explain to the House the position I have taken up in this matter. The Bill has, no doubt, been before the House a very long time, but I think many Members have not had time to examine its provisions. After the speech of the First Lord of the Treasury on the 15th June I assumed the Bill would not be pressed, as it was not included in the right hon. Gentleman's list. Therefore, it was not deemed necessary to take active steps to oppose it. But when we found the Government determined to force it through the House, the Ulster Members were compelled to take active measures. The pressure from our constituents was such that we could not resist it. We know that hon. Members below the Gangway have shown they are quite as open to such pressure as we are. The hon. Member asks how I dare do such and such a thing. I ask him, in return, "Who made him ruler over me, and who gave him authority thus to question me?" I dare do it because it is my duty to do it, and I deny his right to question me in such a tone and such a manner. In 1883 the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Bridgeton said the Government were prepared to encourage and facilitate the establishment of training colleges under local management in Ireland by authorising the Commissioners to make grants towards their maintenance, and as the English system of training colleges was the outcome of vast official experience the Government were of opinion it might with advantage be adopted by the Commissioners of National Education.


The difficulty is this: In England all colleges are treated alike: in Ireland one college is placed on a different footing from the rest.


The English principle is to give grants in aid, and this was done under the scheme of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Bridgeton.




It was up to a certain point.


The Marlborough Street College was treated differently from the rest.


And one of the main reasons for opposing this Resolution is that the Marlborough Street College will be destroyed. By carrying this Bill you will cause the undenominational system to be doomed. The Catholic Bishops of Ireland were the first to strike at that system, and it was their action which necessitated the action which the Synod of the Protestant Church took in 1885. I wish to urge on the House that we are already doing in Ireland what is done in England. We are giving grants in aid. It is quite true there is an undenominational College in Dublin maintained by the State, but that is a result of the system. But if this Bill is carried we shall be going further than we have gone in England. Buildings have never been paid for in England.


Yes they have.


Only partly.

MR. T. M. HEALY (Longford, N.)

Then give us a part.


That is not the object of the Resolution, which is to give the whole cost of the building and appurtenances. That is entirely different to the English system, and I shall oppose it by every means in my power.

(4.22.) MR. CREMER (Shoreditch, Haggerston)

Fifty minutes have now elapsed since the last Division was taken. I beg, consequently, to move that you do now report Progress. It is monstrous that the House should be called upon to sit here till 20 past 4 discussing a question of a very contentious character. I think the Government will be wise in consenting to my Motion.

Motion made, and Question proposed, "That the Chairman do report Progress, and ask leave to sit again."—(Mr. Cremer.)

(4.23.) MR. A. J. BALFOUR

We have now had an opportunity of judging the merits of the case put forward by the opponents of this Bill. I will not discuss it now, but I shall be prepared at the proper time to show that this is not an attempt to promote Popery, as has been suggested, and that it will not effect a breach in the system of mixed education which now obtains in Ireland. I will further pledge myself to show that the Bill has been brought in in the interests of the Marlborough Street Training College, of which the hon. Member for South Tyrone seems to regard himself as the special guardian. But this is not an occasion on which to deal with these particular issues. I put down the Amendment transferring the duty of granting the loan from the Irish Church Surplus Fund to the Board of Works at the instance of that friend of denominational education the Member for North Camberwell. It was done to meet the objections of those opposed to the Bill, and that attempt to meet their wishes has been received in this way: that a Motion which is universally recognised as a formal Motion has been employed at a time when the House of Commons is utterly exhausted by its protracted labours, has been made use of to compel us to sit an indefinite period, and to force us—by a process of torture—to abandon the Bill. But I do not hold that I am obliged, after what has occurred, to adhere to this particular provision. I shall not ask the House to continue the