HC Deb 10 March 1892 vol 2 cc594-9
(12.31.) MR. BARTLEY (Islington, N.)

I have to move the Address in the terms of which I have given notice. I think under the circumstances it will not be necessary for me to detain the House, but I thank the Government extremely for having agreed to the arrangement which has been come to on all sides of the House. We are quite satisfied with what the Government have done, and think outside the House it will be agreed that the right step has been taken in carrying out the very difficult measure of establishing a really efficient Teaching University for London. I regret extremely to find our motives have been somewhat challenged in the Times, and we have been accused of raising trivial objections. We are all interested in a large Teaching University for London, and the only objections we have made have been made from an educational standpoint. I do not intend to weary the House with the various objections, for we may consider the draft Charter as now dead. Our objections were directed to securing a real Teaching University sufficiently great and important for London, which should be one of the great centres of education.

Motion made, and Question proposed, That an humble Address be presented to Her Majesty, praying Her to withhold Her assent to the proposed Charter for the Gresham University until it shall have been remitted for further consideration and report, in accordance with the recommendation of the University of London Commission, to the late Royal Commissioners, or to such other persons as Her Majesty may be pleased to appoint."—(Mr. Bartley.)

(12.33.) MR. A. H. DYKE ACLAND (York, W. R., Rotherham)

I do not propose to detain the House at any length. Although many different interests were engaged in opposing the draft Charter, I think we are all agreed that on the whole benefit will arise from the consideration given to the subject. A great deal of public interest has been excited and although some slight delay will occur, I think in the long run we shall gain by referring this back to a new Royal Commission. It was absolutely essential, if we were to have a Teaching University worthy of this Metropolis, that we should take exception to the details of this draft Charter. I do not wish to raise the question in any Party sense, but certainly there were provisions bearing on the position of King's College which were not similar, though it was said they were, to the position of Keble College, Oxford, or Selwyn College, Cambridge. We may look upon the draft Charter as dead, and I need not refer to the objections. I know fears have been expressed that if this were thrown out the whole movement would go to pieces, but I would rather say, with all deference, that I agree with the anticipations of the Prime Minister which he expressed the other day when receiving a deputation:— Whatever is done, whether our action is positive or negative, it will not be such as, on the one hand, to put a stop to the agitation, development, and growth of this question, and, on the other hand, that if it takes a positive character, it will leave the door open for the introduction of such improvements and extensions as shall bring together all the educational power and all the educational enthusiasm of this Metropolis in the common search after one end.

(11.30.) SIR ALBERT ROLLIT (Islington, S.)

I should like to say a word with reference to what passed this afternoon when the First Lord of the Treasury answered a question I put to him. I understood the First Lord to say that the present University of London would not be included in the scope of any new inquiry, and that the combination of any new Teaching University with the University of London would not be included. I hope there will be no such limitation or restriction. I acknowledge the difficulty of combining the two, but it is by no means impossible. The London University provides for a large class who cannot give the time to be taught, but who are willing to be examined in the hope of having their knowledge stamped. I hope that the combination of this great supplementary function of a modern City University with any Teaching University will be found feasible, for, in my opinion, the University of a great City should be many-sided.

(11.36.) MR. A. J. BALFOUR

My answer seems to have given the impression that I desired to exclude the consideration of a scheme which would include a Teaching University and the existing London University in one combined body. I had no intention of so limiting the scope of the inquiry. I desired to convey that we do not wish to investigate and criticise the way in which the London University has carried on its great examining work, and which I believe is excellently done. That I think would be outside the inquiry by Royal Commission. If it should be found possible to associate with the existing examining body a new teaching body, that would be a good thing, as making it wider, and of course, so much better.

(11.38.) SIR JOHN LUBBOCK (London University)

I am glad that the right hon. Gentleman has made the matter quite clear, and that the whole question is to be referred back. I am glad most of the educational institutions are of opinion that it would be a misfortune to have two Universities in London. The Senate of the University of London which I have the honour to represent, have not indeed formally opposed the proposed charter, but they concur in this view, and the Convocation of the University have opposed, and will oppose, any similar charter. I speak also for the Working Men's College and kindred institutions, which would prefer to be affiliated to the University of London, the degrees of which deservedly occupy so high a position. The right hon. Gentleman (Mr. A. J. Balfour) draws a distinction between a teaching and an examining University. It is admitted that the University of London has done its work well, but we are told it is not a teaching University. The great plea for some change has been that it is desirable to have a teaching University in London. At present the teaching is given in various colleges, and the degrees are conferred by the University of London. Under the new system the teaching would have continued in the present colleges, and the degrees would have been conferred by the new University. The Gresham University would, in fact, not be a teaching, but only a second examining, University. It is a general opinion of those interested in University education that the multi- plication of Universities would be a mistake, and it should be avoided if possible. So far as the Senate of the London University are concerned, we are most anxious to approach the subject with the most friendly spirit towards the colleges, and a desire to cultivate the most cordial relations. I am glad to hear from the right hon. Gentleman that this will be admitted into the reference to the Commission. I venture to express the hope that it will be suggested, and I think there should be no considerable difficulty in effecting this object, so that there may be one great University worthy of this Metropolis.

(12.42.) MR. F. S. POWELL (Wigan)

I am glad to have taken a humble part in opposition to this charter as a matter of justice to Victoria University. There are many who have taken strong objection to the charter, but who by no means share in the objections raised by my hon. Friend opposite as regards King's College. Our opposition must not in any way whatever be supposed to be connected with the subject of tests. When the question of tests was raised some of us hesitated very much in opposing the charter.

(12.43.) MR. ROBY (Lancashire, S.E., Eccles)

I quite concur that the announcement of the First Lord of the Treasury has saved us a great deal of trouble. My objections were in common with those of many other Members. I should like to point out one particular with regard to the Commission to be appointed, and that is that it would be well to give it greater powers than are conferred on an ordinary Commission. The charter bears on its face the term "Gresham University." Obviously, the suggestion is that the Gresham foundation in the City of London may in some way be made serviceable in forming a University. Now, the Gresham Trust is 300 years old, and it was for four lecturers, to be appointed by the City of London, and three by the Mercers' Company, besides some other Trusts. Sir Thomas Gresham gave them only £50 a year, but now they get about £100. My point is this: I think it is desirable that something more should be done for the University than to give it a name: the foundation should be connected with it. Before, however, the Gresham foundation can be associated with the new University, an alteration of the trusts will be required, and this cannot be done by a Royal Commission. I should be glad if the right hon. Gentleman would consider whether he could not give the Commission Parliamentary powers. I believe a real analogy is to be found in the Commissions for the Universities of Oxford and Cambridge. A body of competent men might draw up schemes for dealing with some of the foundations intended to be joined with the University. It is quite certain that the Gresham Trust could not be joined with the proposed institution except under Parliamentary powers; and it is not desirable to give the name until you are sure the Gresham Trust could be associated with it. With Parliamentary powers a body of competent men might set to work in a businesslike way, to the satisfaction of the inhabitants of the Metropolis, preparing schemes and submitting them to the approval of Parliament.

Motion agreed to.

Resolved, That an humble Address be presented to Her Majesty, praying Her to withhold Her assent to the proposed Charter for the Gresham University until it shall have been remitted for further consideration and report, in accordance with the recommendation of the University of London Commission, to the late Royal Commissioners, or to such other persons as Her Majesty may be pleased to appoint.

To be presented by Privy Councillors.