HC Deb 28 June 1897 vol 50 cc676-81

Where by reason of the disagreement of the Judicial Commissioners under the Educational Endowments (Ireland) Act 1885, herein-after referred to as "the said Act," a scheme has not been settled or submitted to, or approved by, the Lord Lieutenant in any case, it shall be lawful to the Lord Lieutenant to request the Lord High Chancellor and the Lord Chief Justice of England to nominate and appoint Commissioners for the carrying of the said Act into execution in such case.

MR. W. JOHNSTON (Belfast, S.) moved "That the Chairman do report Progress, and ask leave to sit again."

MR. VESEY KNOX (Londonderry)

expressed the hope that his hon. Friend would not persist in his Motion. The Bill was a simple Measure; it had been fully discussed in Ireland, and there was nothing in it to call for a long discussion in Committee.


said he could not accept the statement that this was a simple Bill. When the Bill was introduced by the hon. Member for Louth the general principle of it was accepted by the Government; that was to say, the Government were prepared to allow the Second Reading to pass, but they did not pledge themselves to support the further stages of the Bill. That made it incumbent on the Government to put down such Amendments as would make the Bill a satisfactory Measure. The Government, however, had been unable to do that. He was, therefore, entirely unable to accept the statement of the hon. Member opposite that the Bill was a simple one, and he should support, and ask the House to support, the Motion of his hon. Friend.


desired to appeal to hon. Gentlemen opposite, who were now the provisional Government of the country—[laughter]—not to push their advantage too far. Hon. Gentlemen had proved that for the moment they held the Government in the hollow of their hand, and he would therefore appeal to them to allow hon. Members on the Government side, who were not sufficiently informed on the subject of the Bill to take up its consideration now, to go away and instruct themselves, to go over to Ireland if necessary—[laughter]—and gather information there, and then come back to the consideration of the Bill. He trusted that the majority were not going to be so unreasonable as to refuse to listen to the voice of reason. The Measure dealt with the future of the education of every child in Ireland, and with the future position of every teacher. [Laughter.]


, on a point of order, suggested that the hon. Member's remarks were not relevant.


, held that the hon. Member was in order.


, continuing, said he was urging in favour of the Motion to report progress, on the ground that hon. Members were insufficiently furnished with information on the subject of the Bill. This was the 29th Order of the Day. Who would have supposed that morning that the House would have hurried through 28 Orders of the Day while the Irish Members were away attending to their superior social duties? [Laughter.] How could they do justice to Ireland in a Bill of this sort at a time when the House was almost empty? [Opposition cries of "No, no!"] The House was not adequately furnished with Members to take into consideration a Bill like this. He thought he had given adequate reasons why the Bill should not be proceeded with now, and if the hon. Member opposite went to a Division he should undoubtedly give his vote against him. ["Hear, hear!"]

Question put, "That the Chairman do report Progress, and ask leave to sit again.

The Committee divided: Ayes, 69, Noes, 70.—(Division List, No. 251.)

The announcement of the numbers was received with loud Nationalist cheers and laughter.


opposed the clause. He said that the object of the promoters of the Bill was to amend the Educational Endowments (Ireland) Act 1885, in such a way as to bring about an alteration in the administration of the Erasmus Smith Endowments. The hon. and learned Member for North Louth and his Friends wanted to throw open to Roman Catholics endowments which were intended exclusively for the Protestants of Ireland. The Erasmus Smith endowments were intended to benefit Protestants and to encourage the conversion of Roman Catholic children to a better faith. [Cries of "Oh!"] There was no reason why in the year of the Queen's Jubilee the intentions of the founder of these endowments should be set aside. He might remind the Committee that Her Majesty had taken an oath to maintain the Protestant form of religion. [Nationalist cries of "Oh!" and laughter].


called attention to the purport of the clause, and pointed out that the hon. Member was going into matters which were hardly relevant to the section.


said that he was aware of the purport of the clause, but there was a good deal behind it. [Laughter.] He trusted that the clause would be negatived.


asked whether, in view of the numbers in the recent Division, and the peculiar circumstances of the case, it would be an abuse of the Rules of the House to move again that progress be reported?


did not think that it would be quite seemly to put a Motion of that kind so soon after the recent decision of the Committee. ["Hear, hear!"]

*MR. ALFRED HOPKINSON (Wilts, Cricklade)

asked for an explanation of the clause, and said that it would only be fair to the Committee to explain it. He doubted whether any Members on his side of the House understood the clause correctly. Apparently it was proposed to make a totally new departure in legislation and to give an appeal from an Irish judicial body to an English tribunal in matters relating to the appointment of Education Commissioners. Why was it that the Members who were constantly asking that the jurisdiction of Irish authorities might be extended desired in this particular case that special jurisdiction should in effect be given to English officials? Such a change of front naturally created some suspicion, and it was hardly treating the Committee with respect to make proposals of this kind without explanation.


expressed astonishment that the appeal of the hon. Member had not met with a response. [Derisive laughter, and an HON. MEMBER: "The Chief Secretary responds!"] The hon. Member was right in saying that this clause as it stood was almost unintelligible—nay, he might go further and say that it was not fully understood even by the hon. Member at present in charge of the Bill. He thought that, in the absence of the hon. Member who introduced the Bill, the hon. Member for Derry might at least have done the House the compliment of telling it what was really meant by the proposal. If a question like that contained in the Bill was to be submitted afresh to another tribunal, he ventured to say that the tribunal chosen should not be two new Commissioners, but that it should be the Appeal Court in Ireland itself, and that there should be a further appeal to the House of Lords. This was a matter in which the Protestants of Ireland had the deepest interest; and he did not think it would be fair or right to them that the decision of this matter should be placed in the hands of two new Commissioners, who, so far as the Bill was concerned, need not even be Judges. He therefore opposed the clause.

MR. WOLFF (Belfast, E.)

said that the Protestants of the North of Ireland took the strongest interest in this Question, and they relied on the Government not to sanction the alteration contemplated by the Bill. They would do their best to prevent the Bill from passing, and at present he opposed the clause.


now understood that after strenuous efforts the Government had been enabled to regain their mastery in the House. [Laughter.] He found, however, that the Government had been placed, not for the first time, in the position of opposing in June what they had supported in January. He did not wish to press too far the advantage he and his hon. Friends had gained, and, therefore, he moved "That the Chairman do report progress, and ask leave to sit again." [Laughter.]

Question put, and agreed to.

Committee report progress; to sit again To-morrow.