HC Deb 22 January 1897 vol 45 cc305-35

And which Amendment was, at the end of the Question, to add the words,— And we humbly represent to Your Majesty that the Catholics of Ireland have long suffered under an intolerable grievance in respect of University Education; that the existence of this grievance has been recognised by successive Governments; and that it is the duty of the Government immediately to propose legislation with a view to placing Irish Catholics on a footing of equality with their fellow countrymen in all matters concerned with University Education."—(MR. Engledow.)

Question again proposed, "That those words be there added." Debate resumed.


said he wished it to be made clear that the Irish Catholic demand was simply one of equality in the matter of University education. There was no desire on the part of the Catholic people of Ireland or the Catholic hierarchy to take away from existing institutions any privileges they now possessed. All other denominations in Ireland had ample provision made for educational training, yet the Catholics, constituting the vast majority of the people of the country, had practically no provision whatever made for them. This was not a demand on behalf of the Catholic clergy and hierarchy of Ireland alone. The question affected the Catholic laity in a greater degree, and a body representative of the laity had addressed a declaration to the Members of the House of Commons. The request made was simply that in the matter of University education the Catholics of Ireland should be placed on an equality with their Protestant fellow-countrymen. The hon. Member for South Belfast had spoken of the insatiable demands of the Catholic hierarchy. But though the claims of the Catholics had been recognised by all parties from the beginning of the century, what serious steps had ever been taken to satisfy their demands for University education. Speaking at Partick in December, 1889, the present Leader of the House said:— I find there are at this moment four colleges in Ireland enjoying public endowment. There is Trinity College, Dublin, and there are the Queen's colleges of Belfast, Galway and Cork. The Roman Catholic population is, I suppose, about four-fifths of the whole population. They are the poorest as well as the most numerous part of the population; yet I find that only one in seven of the existing students of those endowed colleges belongs to the Roman Catholic religion. And I find that the number in Trinity College, Dublin, is only 6 percent of the whole; and that actually at this moment in Ireland there are enjoying the advantages of higher education in the endowed colleges less than 250 individuals in all who are Roman Catholics."' That was the cool and deliberate opinion of the First Lord of the Treasury, and no language from the Irish Members could put the situation more forcibly. The right hon. Gentleman in that speech further said:— Now, I say that the state of things, whosever fault it is, whether it be the fault of the educational system or the fault of the hierarchy, at all events it is not a creditable state of things; and I, who am one of those who are desirous of seeing higher education promoted in every part of Her Majesty's dominions, cannot look on with equanimity. That was the declaration to which he wished to pin the First Lord and the Government. When the right hon. Gentleman made that declaration he was not in so favourable a position for giving effect to his convictions as he was now; and all that was asked was that he would take immediate steps and fulfil his declaration. The hon. Member for South Belfast had urged that, as a religious test was no longer applied at Trinity College, there was no reason why Catholics should not enter. But it was vain for the House to attempt to examine the reasons which induced Catholics to keep out of the College. They could only deal with the fact as it existed. The abolition of the religious test in 1873 did something to lower the status of Trinity College, but it did nothing to meet the objections of the Catholics. They did not demand that step; and they strenuously resisted it when it was proposed in the House of Commons by Mr. Fawcett. All Irishmen were proud of the traditions of Trinity College; but if the hon. Member for South Belfast and other Protestant Irishmen had this institution for their own benefit, why should they grudge similar advantages to their Catholic fellow-countrymen? Why should Protestants deprive Catholics of all chance of competing with them in the race for life? All departments of the public service were now open to Catholics; but Protestants were endowed with the means of acquiring a University education, and the Catholics were deprived of those means. He would appeal to the hon. Member for South Belfast, whose convictions were at least sincere, to say whether this was fair. He would quote another passage from the speech of the First Lord. The right hon. Gentleman said:— It cannot be denied, and I for one will not affect to regret it, that, by its composition, Trinity College is now what it has been always, a Protestant institution by its general flavour and complexion. I believe that not 7 per cent. of the students are Catholics. Every Sunday in the college chapel, the services of the late Established Church of Ireland are celebrated, and the theological chairs, which have done such service in the advancement of a sound and learned religion, are necessarily filled by members of the late Established Church of Ireland. You cannot ignore the fact that the whole current of thought in such an institution is and must be antagonistic to the current which would be acceptable to the large majority of the Irish people. That was a complete expression of the whole Catholic position. The extract plainly pointed out that Trinity College was a Protestant institution which Catholics could not avail of; its whole atmosphere was Protestant, and it rejoiced in that fact. Irish Catholics had no inten- tion of interfering with the Protestantism of Trinity College, or with its opinions. They made no demand that its great endowments should be diminished by one penny; but they asked that the Government should be just towards the great body of Irishmen, and give them the same facilities for higher education which Protestant Irishmen had enjoyed for centuries.


Scholarships and fellowships in Trinity College are open to Roman Catholics.


Yes; but so late as the year 1854 Roman Catholics were absolutely precluded from possessing a single scholarship in Trinity College, and a late member of this House—Mr. Denis Caulfield Heron—who had actually in competition won the right to a scholarship, was precluded from taking it because he was a Catholic and could not perform the religious conditions required in the College. In the words of the First Lord of the Treasury it was a Protestant institution.


The hon. Member for Waterford was in Trinity College.


He was, and so were several Irish Catholics. He was, himself in the college too, as a student. And why? When he sought his profession at the Bar, owing to his having had to take a pretty prominent part in Irish politics, he would have had to deal with a Bar Committee which could prescribe for him everything they liked in order to disqualify him from the position he was seeking. But by becoming a student of the University of Dublin he had a right to enter the Bar without any further examination. Therefore he availed himself of Trinity College. The very cases the hon. Member opposite cited went to show how rarely Catholics in Ireland could avail themselves of the advantages of Trinity College, and how it was under circumstances of the kind he had mentioned that they were compelled to do so. But the vast majority of the people could not touch it because, in the words of the First Lord of the Treasury, it was "a Protestant institution." Last night the hon. Member for South Belfast had referred to Mr. Gladstone's Bill of 1873, and he had said it was not accepted by the Bishops of Ireland—that there was no satisfying that body.


Hear, hear.


But the most strenuous opposition was offered to that Bill, and he thought reasonably offered, by the senate of Trinity College. He should like also to point out to the hon. Gentleman that that Bill did not include what Ireland most urgently needed—a provision for the endowment of a Catholic University as a teaching body. There were provisions for examinations and for getting degrees. All these were provided by the Dublin University and by the Royal University. Was it not a mockery to tell the Catholics of Ireland that these two Universities are open to them for degrees, if every other section of the community possessed rich endowments for the purposes of teaching and give nothing in that way to the Catholic body? He should like to glance at the Parliamentary history of this question so far as the present Government were concerned. After the rejection of Mr. Gladstone's Bill in 1873, an Act was passed for the abolition of the religious tests in Trinity College. The Irish people didn't demand or desire that Act. They wanted a Catholic College—not a theological chair, but an endowment for a college which would enable them to give secular instruction in the college to their own students, where their faith would be safe. Then there was the question of the Queen's colleges. The objection of the Catholic laity in Ireland was stronger against these institutions, where no form of Christian worship was recognised, than I was their objection to "a Protestant institution" like Trinity College. On July 28th, 1885, this question was brought before the House by the hon. Member for North Longford, and the present Chancellor of the Exchequer, who was then also Chancellor of the Exchequer, used these memorable words:— It is remarkable that a college, not directly endowed with any public money, indirectly receiving only so small an amount as the Catholic University of Dublin receives, having to provide all its buildings and apparatus, still should, in a fair competition in University education with the students of the Queen's colleges, show such surprising results as has been stated to-night. The statement which has been made appeared to me almost to require some explanation; lie-cause I cannot understand how an institution which, according to the Parliamentary returns that had been quoted, only possesses 104 students, should he able to secure so large a proportion of University degrees and honours. He quoted these words to show that there was a burning desire on the part of the Irish people to avail of the advantages of higher education if the colleges in any way conformed to their views and convictions. In the Catholic University College, an institution without any endowment or support—an institution which for years had been appealing in vain to the House to get recognition for it to confer degrees upon its students, the Catholics of Ireland were able to compete with the Queen's colleges and practically to double them in the honours they received in every department of University education. The right hon. Gentleman the Chancellor of the Exchequer went on to say on the same occasion:— The hon. Member for Londonderry (Sir Charles Lewis) has expressed the hope that he will not depart from the old lines on which the whole question has been dealt with. But what are they? The lines on which it has been dealt with successfully are those of the Intermediate Education Act of 1878, and of the Royal University Act, 1879, whereby it was decided that the State should pay for the results of secular education wherever given and however obtained, quite irrespective of the circumstances, whether they were gained by private tuition in a denominational college or in a mixed college. Now these are the principles the Government ought to maintain. We shall continue to regard this question on the principle I have laid down, with the hope and the wish to do something to make University education more general and widespread in Ireland, and if it should be our lot to hold Office next Session, to make some proposal which may deal in a satisfactory way with this most important matter. These words were delivered in the House in the Session of 1885. It was true that early in the next Session the Government went out of office, but again they assumed office at the general election of 1886, and though the Unionist Government had, with a short interval, been in office since, not one attempt had been made to redeem the promise recorded in the speech he had quoted. On the 15th July, 1889, the present First Lord of the Treasury, in reply to a question put by the late Mr. Parnell, said:— The resolutions of the Standing Committee of the Catholic Bishops of Ireland have, I believe, been forwarded to the Prime Minister and the First Lord of the Treasury. I have not seen a copy until to-day. The resolutions deal with many questions, and cover the whole field of education in Ireland. Without giving specific answers to the various points alluded to in them, I may say that some of them—notably higher education—have long been under the consideration of the Government, and in respect of these we hope to he able to make proposals to the House. That speech was made on the 15th July, 1889, and since then no effort had been made to redeem the promise held out. Still later in the same Session of 1889, the right hon. Gentleman, the present First Lord of the Treasury, made the following announcement on the subject:— I repeat in the House what I have said outride the House, that, in my opinion, something ought to be done to give higher University education to the Roman Catholics in Ireland. So far, therefore, as the justice of the demand was concerned, there had been the most complete recognition by the leaders of the present Unionist Party in that House. The First Lord was under no delusion as to the position, for he continued:— I regret—I do not deny that I do regret—that the Roman Catholic clergy in Ireland have felt it their duty to discourage men of their religion from taking full advantages of the Queen's colleges in Galway and Cork, or of Trinity College in Dublin. The right hon. Gentleman had himself spoken of Trinity College as a Protestant institution, and that description was a justification of the position taken up by the Roman Catholic clergy, who would be unworthy to lead their people if they advised them to go into what the right hon. Gentleman had described as a Protestant institution. The right hon. Gentleman continued on that occasion:— But regrets are vain things. The Roman Catholic hierarchy have thought it their duty to adopt this policy, and we have to take the facts as we find them. The experiment of undenominational higher education in Ireland has now been tried sufficiently long to make it, I am afraid, perfectly clear, that nothing Parliament has hitherto done to promote that object, will really meet the wants and wishes of the Catholic population of the country. That being so, we have no alternative but to try and devise some new scheme by which the wants of the Catholic population shall be met. This would not be the proper time for me to suggest, even in outline, the main lines of what the scheme should be; but we ought to make some attempt, if possible, to carry out a scheme of the kind I have indicated. These promises had been repeatedly made, and Government after Government had recognised what was their duty in regard to this matter. The right hon. Gentleman in a later speech laid down three conditions without which, he held, it would be impossible for the Government to settle this question. First, he objected to founding a Catholic University, having regard to the desirability of Catholic and Protestant Irishmen competing in the race for University distinctions. But the Catholic hierarchy raised no objection to a scheme founded on that competition, but by so doing it seemed to them it would be necessary to interfere with the status of the University of Dublin. The Catholics were perfectly willing to be attached to the Dublin University so long as they had endowment for their own education, but they had no desire to force themselves on the University of Dublin or in any way to interfere with its prestige. It seemed to them that the simplest plan, and that which would give the best satisfaction in Ireland, would be to endow a Catholic University for the Catholic people of Ireland, so that they might not interfere with any other existing institution. Another condition which the right hon. Gentleman laid down was that there should be no State endowment of theological training, but there had never been any demand on the part of the Catholic hierarchy that theological training should be taught. They could themselves take care that there was a theological chair if it was necessary. He undertook to say, moreover, that there would be no objection to a conscience clause if it was desired—and that was the third objection of the right hon. Gentleman. The right hon. Gentleman went on to say:— But, subject to these throe conditions, my own opinion is that we ought to give them a well equipped college—a college thoroughly well equipped for all modern purposes of higher education, in which they could learn, as I have said before, Latin, Greek, mathematics, science, medicine, and law. That was the promise held out to them, to which the Irish people were determined to hold the right hon. Gentleman and his Government, and they looked to him, not for any further promise, but for the immediate execution of the schemes which he then foreshadowed. It was right to say that on that occasion the right hon. Gentleman spoke of other conditions; he said:— It is absolutely impossible that anything should be done except by general consent. If nothing was to be done for higher education in Ireland until all Parties in Great Britain as well as Ireland were agreed, then there was very little hope of ever satisfying the desires of the Irish people. The doctrine of satisfying the predominant partner might have some weight so long as it affected to some extent the government of the three countries, but when it was a question of providing education within one of these countries only, he thought the doctrine had no application whatsoever.

MR. LECKY (Dublin University)

said that, although he did not intend to vote for the Amendment, he hoped that in the course of the present Parliament the Government would see their way to gratify the desire of Irish Catholics to have either a University of their own, or else an endowed college connected with the Royal University. It seemed impossible to deny that the great preponderance not merely of Catholic opinion in Ireland, but of opinion amongst those Catholics who alone could send their sons to a University was in favour of an establishment of a more sectarian and ecclesiastical type than at present existed. It seemed equally evident that the number of Catholics at present enjoying a University education was very inadequate. Much allowance, no doubt, must be made for the fact that an enormous preponderance of the Catholic population of Ireland belonged to a class who were unable to afford their sons a University education, and for the fact that while Divinity students formed a large proportion of the Protestant students at the Universities, Catholic Divinity students were educated at Maynooth. Still, when all this was admitted, it remained an incontestable fact that the number of Catholic students enjoying a University education was smaller than it should be, He did not believe that this was largely due to their dislike of the existing Universities, but the influence of the priesthood in this field was a deterrent one, and if a University was set up which the priesthood actively encouraged, the number of the students would probably increase. If the Government could see their way to found a new college he could assure them that it would experience no unworthy jealousy on the part of Trinity College. Trinity College regretted that Catholic students did not come to it more freely. It regretted that they did not think the University of Moore and Sheil and the immense majority of Catholic laymen who had played the greatest part in recent Irish history good enough for them. But it recognised clearly that the time had come, for some modification in the University system in Ireland, and it only wished well to the Government in the action they might take. [Nationalist cheers.] He said this frankly, but he could not agree with hon. Members opposite as to the extent of their grievance. In the first place, Divinity students were amply provided for at Maynooth. That college was originally set up by the Protestant Parliament of Ireland, it was enlarged by the Imperial Parliament, it received for many years a large grant from Imperial funds, and when that grant was abolished it was compensated for by a large capital sum which was not drawn, as it should have been, from Imperial sources, but from the distinctively Irish Church fund. [Nationalist cheers.] Maynooth was a well-endowed college, entirely and completely in the hands of ecclesiastics without any kind of meddling inspection or control on the part of anyone connected with the Government. Then came his own University—Trinity College. As far back as 1793, before the English Universities had taken such a step, Trinity College threw open her degrees to Catholics. It was a remarkable fact, illustrating its spirit, that the first great advocate of undenominational and liberal Catholic education in Ireland was Hely Hutchinson, one of its Provosts, and that one of the most powerful advocates of Catholic claims who ever appeared in the Imperial Parliament was the great Lord Plunket, Member for Trinity College, at a time when the electing body was purely Academic. In those days many Catholics entered the college, and he believed that nearly all the Catholic judges who had shed so much lustre upon the administration of the law in Ireland had been members of Trinity College. In fact, with the exception of O'Connell, there was scarcely an eminent Catholic lay man who had not been educated there. A great objection, and a just one then, brought against the college was that its great honours and prizes were exclusively in the hands of Protestants. All that, he was happy to say, had been abolished. It was true that there was a Divinity school, but it stood apart from the rest of the college, and had no relation to anyone who was not reading for Anglican orders. For the rest, every post from the highest to the lowest, every honour and prize was open to every denomination in Ireland; the most zealous theological scrutiny could discern nothing in its curriculum which had the smallest sectarian tinge, and he ventured to say that the whole tone of the University, the tone of the undergraduates, as well as of the Fellows, was entirely unsectarian. As an illustration of the tone of Trinity College at the present time, he might read a letter which had been written in 1895 by a Catholic student after passing through the college. It gave a more vivid picture than he could give of actual life in the University. He said:— I entered Trinity College, Dublin, as a Roman Catholic. My tutor Fellow, the late Dr. Maguire (Professor of Moral Philosophy in the University), was a Roman Catholic. From the day I entered the college, in January 1885, until I obtained the degree of Master of Arts in June 1891, I never was asked to what religion I belonged, nor did I ever feel the slightest unpleasantness or disadvantage from any one connected with the University on account of religion. I knew the geographical position of the college chapel, but I was never in it. I never heard any Roman Catholic graduate or undergraduate object to the Divinity school. I found that Roman Catholics are exempt from catechetical (religious) lectures and examinations as well as college chapel, and are not only eligible for all honours, prizes, medals, scholarships, moderator-ships, studentships, and fellowships, etc., but are actually carrying off such distinctions from time to time. I do not believe the religion of any candidate is at all considered in the competitions. One of the present Fellows is a Roman Catholic. The list of eminent Roman Catholics on the Bench, at the Bar, medical, and, in fact, all the learned professions, show a very high percentage of T. C. D. men and the fact also remains that these men invariably send their sons and friends to the college. It might, it is true, be justly objected that there was no definite religious teaching for the Catholics in Trinity College. But he did not think this was altogether its fault. An arrangement had been made under which Protestant pupils belonging to the Episcopal Church had their own catechetical lectures on religion, and certain persons were appointed to look after their spiritual wants. The college now paid Presbyterian ministers to teach the Presbyterian students, and look after their moral welfare. He believed it to be notorious that the college authorities would be delighted to make similar provision for Catholic students if the Catholics would accept it. This was the position of Trinity College. The Queen's Colleges had been condemned by the Church, but they were entirely unsectarian in their teaching. Two of them were presided over by Catholics, and every prize they could offer was open without restriction. As to the Royal University, Catholics there preponderated, and the University was set up specially in the governing body for their benefit. He would ask any fair man, any foreigner from any Catholic country, whether this state of things was one which could be reasonably described as it had been repeatedly described in this House and in Ireland, in language which would scarcely be too weak if it were applied to the persecution of Diocletian. The sum of it all was that Catholic Divinity students were entirely taught at the public expense by their own ecclesiastics, and in the secular Universities every test had been abolished; every sectarian element in the University teaching had been eliminated; every prize had been thrown open to competition regardless of creed. But he thought the time had come to go further, and he hoped the Government would soon see their way to do so. Personally, he was somewhat half-hearted on this question. In his opinion, there could be no greater misfortune for Ireland than that members of the Protestant and Catholic religions in their early days should be entirely separated; that young men, at a time when their hearts were warm, when their enthusiasms were at their height, and when, they were forming friendships which might mould their future lives, were kept apart and knew nothing of each other. [Nationalist cheers.] Then he was sceptical whether purely sectarian education ever produced the same standard of good intellectual work as a more truly Catholic one. The first condition at Trinity College was that the whole of the teaching staff should be appointed, not by any kind of nomination or patronage, but solely by merit totally irrespective of theological opinion. But the teaching of a University did not come merely from its professors. An immense proportion came also from the stimulus of the students, and he believed the more they narrowed the area from which that competition was derived the more feeble that stimulus would become. He had an in curable prejudice against the secular education of laymen being altogether intrusted to ecclesiastics. ["Hear, hear!"] He believed if they educated young laymen more or less in the principles of a monastery, the result would be they would turn out one class of mind—credulous, emasculated, stunted and prejudiced—and another of a stronger class of mind—acidulated and exasperated, inclined to go all lengths in opposition to what they had been taught. [Laughter.] He was very much afraid, too, that when this Catholic University was set up, the efforts of the hierarchy to prevent students of their faith going to any other University would be even stronger that at present. Very strong coercion of this kind goes on already in Ireland. They saw, for example, a Catholic Bishop absolutely declaring he would refuse to administer the Sacrament to any Catholic who sent his children to the National Model schools, and this same Bishop shortly after saying that these schools were an imposture, as the Catholics did not go to them. [Laughter and "Hear, hear!"] They had seen another Catholic Bishop exercising a kind of censorship over the Press, and threatening with spiritual penalties anybody who dared to read a newspaper representing, he believed, the polities of the hon. Member who had last spoken. [Laughter.] He was afraid this sort of thing might extend. There was an extremely remarkable letter in the "Life of Cardinal Manning," written by Dr. Newman in 1864, in which he observed that the only chance of a Catholic college in Dublin succeeding was that there should be the most stringent ecclesiastical prohibition against any Catholic going into any other University either in Ireland or in England. He was happy to say that lately in England there had been some relaxation of that spirit, and he thought it a hopeful sign that in Oxford, at all events, Catholics were allowed to go to the University and mingle with the Protestant students. ["Hear, hear!"] He was afraid hon. Members would say that he had been speaking to two sides of this question, but he had been trying to put the matter as candidly as he could. [Cheers.] He hoped the Government, at all events, in setting up this University would first make certain that their offer would be accepted. ["Hear, hear!"] Their experience in this way had not been very happy. The Queen's colleges were set up and immediately denounced as godless colleges. In 1868 there was the scheme which Mr. Disraeli brought forward, supported by Cardinal Manning in England, but thrown over by the Catholic Bishops. In 1873 Mr. Gladstone's scheme was thrown over by the Catholic Bishops. In 1879 the Conservative Party took up the question with somewhat more success. They established the Royal University in hopes of satisfying the Catholic demand, but as far as he could see there was scarcely any difference either since the opening of Trinity College to Catholics, or since the establishment of the Royal University in the course pursued by the Catholics. ["Hear, hear!"] He thought two points should be made clear before there was any legislation on the subject. One was what proportion of lay influence there was to be on the governing body? He need scarcely say that with the disciplined action that characterised the hierarchy in Ireland if the Bishops formed a majority, or if they even formed an exact half of the body, they might just as well have a monopoly. Another point hardly less important was the position of the professors. Of course, they would be chosen not merely on the ground of competence, but also to a great extent on the ground of creed. This was inevitable, and therefore he did not wish to object to it, but he trusted that, having been chosen, something would be done to give them security of position, and not leave them, like the unfortunate National schoolmaster, liable to be dismissed at the instance of some ecclesiastical authority. ["Hear, hear!"] He would conclude, as he began, by saying he thought the time had come for some change in the University system of Ireland, and that as long as they in Trinity College were left unmolested to do their own work, were allowed to keep their own unsectarian basis, and were not obliged to refuse anybody on account of religion, they would certainly not play the part of the dog in the manger or be hostile to anything that might be set up for the benefit of the Catholics of Ireland. [Cheers.]


, who was received with cheers: I do not know whether, after the most interesting and instructive speech of my hon. Friend, the House will think it time for some statement to be made from the Government Bench. I Sir, have unwittingly already, I may say, taken up a good deal of the time of the House this evening and last night in my views on this question, for all certain speeches I have made in this House and out of it appear to have been divided up among Gentlemen opposite, and column after column has been poured out upon a patient House, and after so full an exposition of views which I once held and still hold—["Hear, hear!"]—it may seem almost superfluous that I should address the House in my own person and not entirely trust to the repetition of previous utterances which hon. Gentlemen have so largely favoured us with. But I imagine what the House really wants to know is the view the Government take at the present moment upon this question. I may express, in the first place, my general agreement—I will not say with everything, but with almost everything that fell from my hon. Friend who has just preceded me. Amongst other things, I entirely agree with him in the delicate censure which he passed upon the violence of the language used on the other side in pressing the Irish claims. After all, let it be remembered that in France, in which the proportion of the Roman Catholic to the Protestant population is far greater than in Ireland, the position of higher University education in reference to Roman Catholic teaching is, as far as I understand, not nearly so favourable as it is even now in the case of Ireland. There is, as has already been stated, a method by which a State subvention of Imperial money does go towards the endowment of professors in a distinctively Roman Catholic University. No such privilege exists in France, and it will hardly be maintained that that which is tolerated by the great majority of French Roman Catholics is in itself deserving of all the vehement invective levelled against the Irish system by hon. Gentlemen to-day. [Cheers.]


hoped the right hon. Gentleman did not think he levelled any invective against the Irish system. He certainly did not do so.


I apologise to the hon Gentleman. I had not his speech in my mind when this observation dropped from me. The hon. Member for Donegal indulged last night in a vehemence of rhetoric to which the speech of the hon. Gentleman who has just sat down was a stranger, and it was his eloquence I was thinking of, and not that of the hon. Gentleman. [Laughter and "Hear, hear!"] While I desire entirely to dissent from the attack made upon the existing system in Ireland by hon. Gentlemen opposite, I must also frankly dissociate myself from the views put forward last night by my hon. Friend one of the Members for Belfast. ["Hear, hear!"] I confess myself really quite unable to understand the I attitude of a man who views with perfect serenity a system of primary education in which the manager of the elementary school is a priest, in which the teacher of the elementary school is a Roman Catholic, liable at any moment to be dismissed by the priest, and in which religious emblems specially characteristic of Roman Catholic teaching are exhibited during some hours of the day—I cannot understand the frame of mind which can regard that system with perfect equanimity as in no sense inimical to the Protestant faith, and yet regard with horror the establishment of University education—education that is, which is directed to minds of students at a time when they are far more capable of reacting against the teaching which they listen to than they are at the tender age when they are subjected to primary education. ["Hear, hear!"] It appears to me that nobody who can contemplate the existing system of education in Ireland can object to the establishment of higher education of a kind more acceptable to the Roman Catholic people on grounds of principle. We have gone so far in our primary education, we have even gone so far in what we have already done in regard to University education, that, if principle there be which says that the State abstains, as from an unclean thing, from spending a single sixpence of public money on any system of education in which Roman Catholic teaching is at all concerned, that is so absolutely abandoned that I confess I should think that my hon. Frend and those who think with him would do well to reconsider the uncompromising position which they have consistently taken up upon this matter. ["Hear, hear!"] But whilst I hold that view, as I have always held very strongly, I do not deny anything which my hon. Friend who has just sat down has stated with regard to the evils of segregating one denomination from another in different denominational establishments. Everything my hon. Friend said about those evils has a real existence in fact. But let the House remember that, so far as experience teaches us anything, it teaches us this—that the question is not between having Universities in which Protestant and Roman Catholic, Anglican and Presbyterian are joined together in a common system of education, between that system and a system in which each member of a denomination is taught separately in his own establishment. The choice is not between these two things. If we could find a system which carried out the idea of my hon. Friend, then I for one should abandon every word I have said in regard to the establishment of a Roman Catholic College or University in Ireland. If I could see rise up in Ireland an institution such as Trinity College aspires to be, as my hon. Friend has told us, and which is only prevented from being so by what I cannot help regarding, and what I hope I may call without offence, the prejudices of the Roman Catholic population in Ireland—if I could see that, then I should regard the question as having been solved most profitably for the furtherance of all educational requirements in Ireland. But I am afraid that everybody that knows Ireland, whatever his opinions may be and whatever party of politics he belongs to, is reluctantly compelled to admit that any such prospect is incapable of realisation. ["Hear, hear!"] We have to accept the fact that, unless we are able to contrive some system of higher education in winch the Roman Catholic population will consent to take part, it is vain for us to hope that higher education will be practically brought within the reach of a large number of the members of that community which certainly ought to take advantage of it. ["Hear, hear!"] But in stating this view I hope I shall not be considered as in any way minimising the statements I have made before if I say we ought to be convinced, before any new plan is carried into effect, that it really will give what we want—a good system of higher education. [Cheers.] I used to hold the view, and have expressed it with great confidence, that the higher education should not be given in a Roman Catholic University, but in a Roman Catholic College, the distinction being that while the Roman Catholic University could give degrees the Roman Catholic College could not, and that there might be a prospect of the students of the Roman Catholic College meeting the students of the other Protestant colleges in equal competition, and that the general standard of education would thereby be kept up. In that argument I still see very great force, but I admit that since I made the speeches to which such lavish reference has been made in the course of this Debate I am more impressed than I used to be with the disadvantages from the purely educational point of view of dividing the examining authority from the teaching authority. ["Hear, hear!"] The system prevalent at this moment in London University and in the Royal University of Ireland undoubtedly has some merits, but I think that almost all those who are in terested in higher education will agree with me when I say that the general experience of mankind is that, if you want to get the best results, you cannot and ought not to depend on examinations alone, but that you ought to associate the teaching body with the examining body, and that the same influences which prevail with the ex amining should prevail also with the teaching. ["Hear, hear!"] That is an argument against a Roman Catholic College and in favour of a Roman Catholic University, but it leaves us open to the danger which I hope to avoid by having a college rather than a University—that the University, if or when it were set up, would not maintain at a high level the secular education which is the sole object we have in view in promoting higher education in Ireland at all. ["Hear, hear!"] I confess I should like to have some information as to what the views prevalent in Ireland are with regard to the governing body of the institution which it is desired to set up. I wish I were more intimately acquainted than I am with the efforts which have been made in different parts of the world to deal with the special problem now before us. I understand, for example, that in the United States of America there has been a purely Roman Catholic college instituted under ecclesiastical management. I do not know how far it has yet been a success, or whether, indeed, there has been time to show whether it is likely to be a success or not. It appears, so far as I can discover with such information as is at our disposal, that at present, at all events, judging from the statistics of the courses which the students attend, it is principally for the purpose of educating theological students. That, of course, is not the object we have in view in setting up a new higher educational machinery in Ireland. ["Hear, hear!"] Then I notice that in France, as I have already said, the State jealously, and even brutally, appears to desire to exclude anything in the nature of ecclesiastical influence in the higher education of the country. That may be due perhaps to those rather sharp political divisions which in France have divided the Republican Party, or sections of the Republican Party I should say, from the Roman Catholic hierarchy. But if we go to Germany, I am informed that in Bavaria and Austria, countries in which the general prevalence of Roman Catholicism will not be disputed by anybody, the Universities, which are admirable institutions, are kept entirely free, so far as I know, from anything in the nature of clerical control. ["Hear, hear!"] The Bavarian Universities are in many respects necessarily different from anything we have, or perhaps should desire to have or could have, in this country. But the German Universities have done a work the importance of which to Germany and the world it is impossible to exaggerate—["hear, hear!"]—and I think that, even while it would be absurd to attempt slavishly to imitate their constitutions, there may be lessons to be learned from those constitutions which all persons interested in higher education would do well to take to heart. ["Hear, hear!"] All I want to do in this very brief and very imperfect survey of our existing means of information is to show that here is the real crux in the problem. This House cannot be asked, and should not be asked, to set up an institution which when set up will not fulfil the object we have in view. If the machinery is such that we cannot as reasonable men hope to get from it the very best fruits of the higher learning, then we had better not touch the subject at all. ["Hear, hear!"] We have therefore to meet a double condition. We have got so to contrive a University that it shall meet with the general approval of, or be largely used by—let me put it that way—those classes of the Roman Catholic population who now refuse to take advantage of the existing institution. That is our first object. Our second object must be that, when they carry into effect their willingness to attend the lectures and to gain all the advantages of this new educational institution, the institution itself should be one worthy of the efforts of this House, worthy of the great cause in which it is to be set up, and should be of a character which, if it does not speedily rival Trinity College in its immense services to the civilisation of the United Kingdom and of the world, shall at all events in the course of generations rival that great institution. I confess that upon this perplexing problem we have not had so much guidance from the leaders of Irish public opinion as we should like to have. My hon. Friend has given the House a piece of advice which I think should be laid to heart, and the common-sense of which it is probable everybody will recognise. He said— Don't let us propose a scheme until we are tolerably sure that it will he acceptable. I have indicated the difficulties which must attend the framers of any scheme on the subject. I hope everybody, on whatever side of the House he sits, will recognise that I have approached this question in a spirit which is not hostile—[Irish cheers]—even to the most specially Irish view of the subject. I was amused on looking at a speech delivered many years ago by the present Leader of the Opposition on Mr. Gladstone's University Bill of 1873. The then Mr. Vernon Harcourt observed that— For himself, not being a Home Ruler "[loud laughter], "he had never adopted the idea of governing Ireland according to Irish ideas. [Renewed laughter.] I am not a Home Ruler, but I do not draw from that the doctrine and the corollary drawn from it by the then Mr. Vernon Harcourt. Though not a Home Ruler, I am sincerely anxious that in this matter we should put all sectarian prejudices aside—[cheers]—and attempt to meet the wishes of Ireland in this respect, and I am certain that those who sit on the other side of the House, and who are most opposed to me in general politics, will agree with me, at all events in this, that we should be doing Ireland no service whatever if in our attempt to give them a form of higher education acceptable to the majority of the people we were to set up either a college or a University which would not compare on equal terms with other educational institutions on both sides of St. George's Channel. [Cheers.]

MR. JOHN MORLEY (Montrose Burghs)

I am sure no fault can or will be found with the spirit in which the right hon. Gentleman has approached this, as he says quite truly, very difficult problem. He has approached it in exactly the spirit which I expected from him in view of the various utterances quoted, as he says, so lavishly in this Debate, and more especially in accordance with the view which he laid before the House four years ago upon an occasion of which I will take the liberty of reminding him and other Members. It is useful to remember it, because on that occasion, contrary to the expectation of the Government of that day, in both Irish quarters of the House—the senior Member for the University of Dublin and Mr. Sexton, who was then, but who is, I am sorry to say, no longer, a Member of this House—we hit upon an agreement as to which both these hon. Gentlemen assented. That was on the occasion of the Irish Government Bill of 1893 being discussed in this House, and the question then raised was whether an Irish Parliament should be or should not be allowed to establish and endow a place for higher or University education. The right hon. Gentleman the Member for Dublin University moved an Amendment to the effect that the Irish Parliament should be prohibited from establishing or endowing any body of that kind. Upon that occasion that right hon. Gentleman said that he still held the view he had always entertained, and was in favour of allowing the Imperial Parliament to do this, although he was against its being done by an Irish Parliament. I then, on behalf of the Government, while desiring to assent to the Amendment in that form, proposed an Amendment of our own, which was eventually, after a certain amount of discussion, assented to by both Parties, and was passed without a division. We did not propose that course without great misgiving. The question was a burning one, and we apprehended that, with the narrow majority which; we then enjoyed, we might have great difficulty in carrying it. What was the proposal we made which, as I have said, commanded universal assent It was that the Irish Parliament should be allowed to establish a place of Catholic University education with two provisoes—first, that they should not endow out of public funds any theological chair; and, secondly, that such an endowment should be subject to all the restrictions which the Act of 1873 imposed upon the University of Dublin. To that proposal the right hon. Gentleman assented. He said that it was a wise and genuine way of meeting a real difficulty, and he also said that, if the Home Rule Bill had no other result, it would not be fruitless if that agreement were carried into effect. Mr. Sexton also regarded the agreement as of very great value, and as being a step in the right direction. That is the history of the proposal. I have heard with the greatest satisfaction the statement which the right hon. Gentleman the First Lord of the Treasury has made to-night. No man in the House would give more than I would to avoid setting up any teaching University in Ireland in which ecclesiastical teaching should be a prominent feature, and I wish it had been in our power to avoid this necessity. I believe that, without that course being adopted, a natural emulation would arise amongst the teachers and students of the Catholic college and Trinity College—a rivalry which might not be to the disadvantage of either. I do not know what view of the matter may be taken by high ecclesiastical personages in Ireland, but I may say, without any breach of confidence, that I had an opportunity of consulting some of them on this point when the Home Rule Bill was before the House, and I understood that they would assent—of course, through an Irish Parliament—to the proposal that no Divinity chair in a Catholic university or college should be endowed out of public funds. Of course, those high ecclesiastical personages may have since seen occasion to change their views on the subject. ["No, no,"from the, Nationalist Members.] That I regard as an important admission. ["Hear, hear!"] The right hon. Gentleman opposite rather minimised the denominational character of Trinity College, but he cannot deny that it is one of the most important institutions in Ireland for the training of ministers for the Protestant Episcopal Church, and I hope that the right hon. Gentleman will not exclude from the Catholic University the theological faculty, provided that the chairs are not endowed out of public funds. ["Hear, hear!"] However, I need not now go into further details. Speaking for myself, I have heard the statement of the right hon. Gentleman with great agreement, and I hope that we shall not go much longer without something being carried out in the direction on which we are both agreed. ["Hear, hear!"]

MR. VESEY KNOX (Londonderry)

shared the hope that appeared to be entertained on all sides of the House that something effectual might at length be done in regard to the subject. One argument used by the hon. Member for Trinity College rather told his own position; he pointed to the fact that the overwhelming, proportion of the Irish Catholics who had played a prominent part in the history of their country had been students at Trinity College. That was roughly true, but did it not tend to show how great was the grievance? As a matter of fact a small proportion only of the Catholics of Ireland had been members of Trinity College, but it was found that of that small proportion a very large number had risen to distinction, not merely in Ireland but in other countries. Was it not reasonable to suppose, therefore, that if similar educational advantages had been open to a larger body they would have made simlar use of it, and there would have been a much greater number of distinguished Irish Catholics than there had been. The House had reason to be grateful to the hon. Member for the tone of his speech. That speech was free from sectarian bitterness, and in that respect he was sure it would be approved by the vast majority of educated Irish Protestants. For the most part educated Protestants in Ireland had been free from religious bigotry. It was no small thing for Irish Protestants to point back that it was an Irish Protestant Parliament which, first amongst the Protestant Legislative bodies of the world, established a separate State-endowed college for the education of Catholic priests? The work which was done more than 100 years ago, under the influence of Edmund Burke, in establishing Maynooth, showed that amongst the educated body of Irish Protestants there was no inherent sectarian bitterness which would prevent them giving adequate educational facilities to their Roman Catholic fellow-countrymen. He sometimes heard that the Presbyterians were opposed to any further facilities being given to Roman Catholics for university education, and it was therefore a pleasure to him to read yesterday the speech of the head of the Presbyterian College at Belfast, in which it was declared that this question urgently demanded treatment and that its solution was a task worthy of any Statesman. There were one or two other points he would like to refer to. For instance, he thought the case of the Queen's colleges was not sufficiently stated. When it was said those institutions were unsectarian it would be generally supposed that the Queen's colleges were very much like the colleges of Oxford and Cambridge. But the rules which had been applied to the Queen's colleges were much stronger than most Members of the House no doubt magined. Every Queen's College professor was prohibited from giving any instruction to his class except what was strictly undenominational, and every professor before entering upon his duties must append his signature to the following declaration:— I further promise and enagage that in lecturing and examining, and in the preformance of all other duties connected with my class, I will carefully abstain from teaching or advancing any doctrine or making any statement derogatory to the truths of revealed religion, or injurious or disrespectful to the religious convictions of any portion of my class or audience. He had the honour of the acquaintance of Professor Young, the Professor of English History in the Queen's College, Belfast, and that Gentleman had explained to him the great difficulty in which he was placed when lecturing on the period of the Reformation, because he found it quite impossible to give any effective instruction to students on that subject without saying things which were disrespectful to the religious convictions of some of them. So that in the rules imposed on the Queen's colleges in the vain hope that the Catholics might come to them, they had clone an injury not merely to the Catholics but to the Protestants of Ireland. For the sake of the Queen's colleges themselves it would be well, he thought, if that part of their strict rules was somewhat modified. The effect of such rules as he had mentioned was seen in the state of the Galway Queen's College, and he thought that upon that institution there was a ridiculous waste of public money. According to the last Report the income of that college was £9,000 a year, and the students numbered 105. Only 48 of the students were Catholic—48 in the overwhelmingly Catholic province of Connaught. And the majority of the students were not Connaught men at all; they came from Munster, Leinster, and, in the greater part, from Ulster—43 of the 105 came from Ulster. The fact was there were a large number of Scholarships that were easy to get, and consequently the Ulster Presbyterians who could not win the Scholarships in the Queen's College, Belfast, went to Galway to win them. To spend the large amount now spent at Galway was nothing else than waste, and the sooner the money was applied to the real work of education in Ireland the better. The First Lord of the Treasury referred to the question whether in the interest of education it was better the Catholic college should be part of the University of Dublin, which would also include Trinity College, or whether, on the other hand, there should be a separate Catholic university.


never contemplated including Trinity College in the University.


was sorry if he misunderstood the right hon. Gentleman. If the right hon. Gentleman did not contemplate the union of the new Catholic college with the University of Dublin he was driven at once to the other alternative, a separate Catholic university. He thought that in dealing with this problem the separate circumstances of Ulster should for educational reasons be taken into account. He believed that it would, be possible to set up in Belfast with advantage a separate Catholic college forming part of the University of Belfast. He was told that in the University of Sydney, New South Wales, there were three colleges, one Catholic, one Presbyterian, and one Episcopolian, and that the University was worked effectually and with little religious difficulty. The example of Sydney might be followed in Belfast with useful effect. He trusted that some steps would be taken to give a practical result to the Debate. It had been well said on both sides of the House that no satisfactory solution of the question could be arrived at without arranging a plan in concert with the representatives of the Irish Catholics. Having admitted the grievance he hoped the Government would go further and admit that it was part of their duty to set about ascertaining whether they could not, in concert with the representatives of the Irish Catholics, devise a plan, which would meet with the approbation of Parliament. There was just one other aspect of the question to which he would like to refer in conclusion. It had reference to a grievance which was being aggravated day by day. The Indian Civil Service used to be open to boys of eighteen at the close of their school education. Formerly a very large number of Irish Catholics entered the Indian Civil Service, and some of them had risen to the highest posts. The men upon whom, as Lieutenant Governor of the North West Provinces, the chief duty of battling with the famine today rested, was one of those Irish Catholics, Sir Antony MacDonnell. Most of these young men proved themselves to be efficient servants. But four or five years ago a change was made by the Civil Service Commissioners in the regulations for entering the Indian Civil Service. The age was changed from 18 to 23, and candidates, instead of going up for examination at the close of their school career as boys, were henceforth to go up as young men at the close of a university career. The result of that change was that Catholics were now almost entirely excluded from the service. That fact alone showed that the question was a pressing one, and as they had now arrived at something like an agreement on the main principles of the question it was the duty of the Government to give effect to those principles. The First Lord of the Treasury had shown that he understood the position of the Catholics of Ireland in this matter, and that he, to some extent, sympathised with them in the disadvantages they suffered through the want of adequate university education; and that being so, surely he ought to set about the task of proposing a scheme which Parliament could accept. He thought they ought to receive some sort of promise from the Treasury Bench that steps would be taken by the Government to frame such a measure, acting in concert with the Catholic Bishops of Ireland, as would satisfy the minds and consciences of the Irish people. [Cheers.]

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

said that after the speech of the First Lord of the Treasury, the question, must become much more largely one of terms, and he thought the hon. Member for Kildare would be well advised not to press the Amendment to a division, because the object he had in view had been practically met by the right hon. Gentleman. ["Hear, hear!"] The First Lord in this question had certainly been consistent, and he would ask the hon. Member for South Belfast to remember that the first thing the present Viceroy did when he arrived in Ireland was to pledge the Government to the establishment of a Catholic university for Ireland. Twice after that the Viceroy was invited to Belfast, and he was received with distinction by the citizens, showing that there was not the strong feeling against the establishment of such a university as the hon. Member suggested. ["Hear, hear!"] The First Lord of the Treasury in his able speech laid down the conditions to which he thought the Irish Members should respond, but abstained from saying anything as to what the Government would do if those conditions were not accepted. It had been admitted—apart from all conditions—that there was a real grievance to be dealt with, and that being so, it was the duty of the Government to deal with it. The right hon. Gentleman adopted a suggestion thrown out by the eloquent Member for Trinity College, to the effect that the Government should not propose any scheme until they were certain that it would be accepted. But how could it possibly be known that a scheme would be accepted until it was proposed? The Irish Members, or Catholics, could not declare in advance their acceptance of a scheme which they had not seen. It would be fairer to ask them to indicate the conditions of a scheme they would accept. The right hon. Gentleman asked for guidance on one point. He said that he should like to have some information and guidance as to the governing body of the proposed university. Now, in everything the right hon. Gentleman had said as to the objects the Government should have in view in the formation of a Catholic university he entirely concurred. Neither the Catholic Bishops nor the Catholic people generally desired to set up anything in the nature of a mere ecclesiastical seminary. What they desired was a university of liberal culture, of liberal training. They had no desire to impose anything like a narrow institution on the country. ["Hear, hear!"] They made no such demand. Those who read the recent declaration of the Irish Bishops would perceive that the Catholic hierarchy did not even claim a dominating position on the governing body of such a university; and, indeed, the general desire of the Catholics of Ireland would be that the lay element should dominate the governing body. But the Catholic Bishops and clergy of Ireland felt very strongly on this matter in the interests of the people. They had long seen that the Catholics of Ireland had been shut out of positions of emolument and positions of liberal attainments, because there was no institution to which they could resort in their youth by reason of the Protestant atmosphere that prevailed in the existing colleges. He would ask the hon. Member for South Belfast whether he would like to send his children to a Jesuits' school—to place them under the care of the Jesuits? Then, why should he be forced to send his children to a Protestant school, and to place them under the care of Protestant clergymen? ["Hear, hear!"] The existing condition of things in Ireland with regard to this question of Catholic university education was not only very unjust, but was absurd in a country like Ireland. Therefore what the Catholic Bishops and people desired and demanded was the establishment of an institution of liberal learning, in which a Catholic atmosphere should prevail. ["Hear, hear!"] To say that they could have this—that they could secure the object they had in view in connection with Trinity College—was little less than an absurdity. He would give an illustration about Trinity College. There fell vacant recently a Gaelic Chair in the college. Now, the ablest professor of Irish, either in Ireland or elsewhere, was a well-known Protestant gentleman—Dr. Douglas Hyde. What did the college do? They gave the position to a gentleman who, he admitted, was also a man of high attainments, and against whom he had not a word to say, but who was a Protestant clergyman. They passed over the layman, and elected the clergyman, because they wished to continue the old policy of Protestant teaching. Under existing circumstances he could not blame the college—

MR. EDWARD CARSON (Dublin University)

said the appointment was not made by the college, but under a private deed, providing certain persons to make it.


did not see that that touched the question, and even if it did it strengthened his case. Even under a private deed it was not obligatory to appoint a parson; that was his point.


said that personally he supported the other candidate.


said that that still further strengthened his case. ["Hear, hear!" and laughter.] But he had only used the illustration for the purpose of showing that Trinity College was immersed in what he called doctrinal and militant Protestantism. ["Hear, hear!"] Whatever endowment was conferred on a Catholic university, no matter how distinguished the gentlemen appointed to manage it might be, it must be many years before it acquired anything like the prestige of Trinity College. The position he took up was this. The Government had now admitted the principle of a Catholic university; but were they, while inquiries were being made, to be delayed for years and years? The right hon. Gentleman had made eloquent and able speeches on this question in former years, when he was not, perhaps, in a position of the same responsibility, and he recognised in the tone of the speech he had made that night a tone of graver responsibility; but he presumed he would not have made that speech unless he had intended that immediate action would be taken in the event of satisfaction being given on the point of the governing body. The right hon. Gentleman had demanded to be satisfied that in the matter of secular learning this institution should be worthy of the intentions of the Government. The Catholic had hardly yet emerged from the restrictions of the penal laws; and could they hope in the course of two or three generations, to rival or distance the Protestants? It was as absurd as to suppose that when the restrictions on the commerce of Ireland were removed, Ireland could compete with Lancashire or Yorkshire. But take the Catholics as they had been, and what was found? Wherever the Catholic had had an equal chance with the Protestant, he not only equalled him but in many instances surpassed him. The position he wished to press on the Government was this. The Bishops in Ireland in putting forward their demand were acting only as the spokesmen of the laity, and they were so acting because their position entitled them to put forward a demand peculiarly concerning men in their position. For his part, he would have no hesitation, if he were asked his opinion, in saying, either in public or in private, what he thought of this proposition or that, in his position of a Member of Parliament. He did not see why they should hold themselves aloof. The Bishops were the trustees for the Catholic laity. They had fought their battle well and long, and no man in dealing with this question could avoid saying a word of thanks to men like the Archbishop of Dublin for their long and skilful battle by voice and pen. The First Lord had not made a merely platonic suggestion that night, and for his speech he thanked the right hon. Gentleman. He was sure he would find himself able when inquiries were made, without wounding the sensitive conscience of any Protestant, to give satisfaction to the legitimate demand of the Catholics of Ireland.


said he was sincerely grateful for the speech of the First Lord, and begged leave to withdraw his Amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.