Queen's Speech (Motion for an Address),—Order read, for resuming Adjourned Debate on Main Question [8th February],—
That an humble Address be presented to Her Majesty, as followeth—
Most Gracious Sovereign,
We, Your Majesty's most dutiful and loyal subjects, the Commons of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland, in Parliament assembled, beg leave to offer our humble thanks to Your Majesty for the Gracious Speech which Your Majesty has addressed to both Houses of Parliament."—(Colonel Lockwood.)
§ Question again proposed:—Debate resumed:—
Another Amendment proposed, 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 and still suffer under an intolerable grievance in respect of University education; that the existence and the oppressive character of this grievance have been recognised by successive Governments; and that it is the duty of Your Majesty's Government immediately to propose legislation with a view to placing Irish Catholics on a footing of equality with their fellow countrymen of other religious denominations in all matters concerned with University education."—(Mr. Dillon.)
§ Question proposed, "That those words be there added."
§ *MR. JOHN DILLON (Mayo, E.)
I wish to point out that this Amendment does not seek to commit the House to any particular scheme for removing the religious disabilities of the Irish Catholics. All that we seek to affirm is that upon this subject undoubtedly a great grievance does exist, and that it is the duty of Her Majesty's Government to propose a remedy. The history of this question of University education furnishes, in 755 my mind, a most curious and a most instructive lesson in the enormous difficulty of governing Ireland by a Parliament sitting at Westminster. For half a century this question has been agitated in Ireland, and throughout that period there has existed in Ireland an overwhelming body of opinion in favour of a settlement of this question on such lines as would enable all classes of the population in Ireland to avail themselves of the great benefits of University education without any violation of their conscientious opinions. That great concensus of opinion, that overwhelming majority of opinion in Ireland, has by no means been confined to Irish Roman Catholics; on the contrary, as I shall prove beyond question later on, a large majority of the Protestants of Ireland have shared in that view. Another most remarkable fact is this, that throughout this period, without exception, every English statesman who has become responsible for the Government of Ireland, no matter which Party he belonged to before he was brought into contact with the Irish situation, has arrived at the conclusion that this question should be settled on lines satisfactory to the Irish people. That is true of Conservatives and of Liberals alike, and yet up to the present day, owing to the prejudices and the theories of men who are unacquainted with Irish life and the realities of the Irish constitution, and owing to the clamour of a small and dwindling section of irrational men in the North of Ireland, it has been found impossible to carry in this House, or to induce a Government to carry in this House, a Measure which would throw open the doors of University education in Ireland to Catholics without a violation of their conscientious convictions. Now, Sir, I have heard that some of the Radical Party in this House are opposed to the principle involved in this Amendment, and that they intend to state their opposition in the course of this Debate. I invite these gentlemen to remember that in 1886, and in 1893, their whole Party unanimously supported Measures which would have given to Ireland the power to do for herself what we ask this House now to do for her; that this question was fully debated in the House, and the whole of the Radical Party stand committed to the doctrine that there ought to be set up in Ireland a 756 Parliament which ought to do what we ask this House to do for Ireland. I appeal to those gentlemen, and ask if they can logically defend their present position when they oppose our demand that this Parliament should do for Ireland what they were willing to allow Ireland to do for herself. I would myself greatly prefer that this question should be settled in an Irish Parliament, and if there were any immediate prospects of our having power to settle it in an Irish Parliament, I doubt very much whether I should be found moving in this matter. But, Sir, I say that if this House denies to the people of Ireland, as it at present is determined to deny, the right to deal with its own affairs, and to settle this question in accordance with what nobody can attempt to deny is the overwhelming decision of Irish opinion, then I say that our case is enormously strengthened for claiming that this Parliament should settle the question itself, as it will not allow the Irish people to settle it. Now, let me, in this connection refer to what has always seemed to me to be one of the most powerful statements that ever has been made of the cruel position in which Irish Catholics have been placed by the refusal of this House either to allow the Irish people to settle it themselves or to settle it here in Westminster according to Irish opinion. I take this extract from a declaration signed by the Episcopacy of Ireland, in October, 1896, and I shall read it to the House, because it has always seemed to me to be one of the most eloquent and forcible expositions of the situation. The Irish Bishops say—It is now 23 years since this was made a Cabinet question, and yet, in spite of the protests and the agitation of the Catholics of Ireland in Parliament and out of it in the meantime, we are practically in the same position as we were then. In England such a miscarriage of legislation on a matter of so much importance would be impossible. There Parliament responds to public opinion. The English people are able, through their Parliamentary Representatives, to make and unmake Governments, and their maturely formed wishes must be granted. Unfortunately it is not so in Ireland. Our wishes and our demands count for very little. We get whatever the Cabinet, which has been formed by English public opinion, thinks good for us; but we are made to feel bitterly the uselessness of Constitutional agitation on our part. Violence and excess 757 obtain ready hearing, and lead to the redress of grievances; but the constitutionally-expressed desire of the Irish people through Parliamentary elections and the action of her Members of Parliament count, unfortunately, for very little. It is little wonder, then, that the minds of our people are alienated from their Government, and every day lose confidence in constitutional methods. This is a state of things we regard as deplorable but still quite natural. For over 40 years we have been agitating this grievance of University education. At any time during all these years an overwhelming majority of our countrymen were in favour of our claims. In every way known to the Constitution we have urged them. At this moment at least two-thirds of the Irish Members of Parliament are with us, and speak and vote for us; and yet, while we see one generation after another of our young countrymen pass from the schools into active life, with the mark of educational inferiority upon them, and our country, poor as she is in many respects, denied the opportunity of cultivating the wealth which God has given her, we are powerless to do more than complain, and wait in the hope that some enlightened British statesman may do something for us.Sir, I do not think the situation with regard to Irish Catholics, as stated for 40 years, has ever been described in more forcible and truthful language. I have quoted it to the House because it is the utterance of ecclesiastics who cannot for a moment be considered in favour of a violent course. I turn to another. I recall to the memory of the House a letter which appeared on the 9th of December, and which created a considerable amount of interest at the time. It was written by Edmund Dease, a very prominent Irish Unionist. He said—Should Parliament refuse to deal with this question in a just and equitable spirit, the rock upon which the Unionists stand must crumble beneath their feet.Well, nothing has been done since that letter has been written, and the question stands exactly where it stood then, with this difference, as I shall show before I sit down, that we had reason, judging from the Ministerial statements which have been made—we had more reason to hope in 1889—to hope for an immediate settlement. As was said by the Bishops, we have been for 40 years agitating this question in Ireland. Years ago it was made a Cabinet Question. I think it would be right that I should now give a very brief sketch of the Parliamentary history of this Ques- 758 tion. I commence in the year 1866, because all modern attacks upon the University Question date from that year. In that year, when Lord Russell was Prime Minister, a supplementary charter—we all remember the days we were students—was proposed to give additional power to Universities to grant relief to students. That proposal was in itself shamelessly and ridiculously insufficient, as there was no approach to equality of privileges to the Catholics of Ireland. It immediately broke down because it had been pronounced by the Master of the Rolls to be illegal and of no effect. In 1867, Mr. Fawcett brought in his Bill for the Abolition of Religious Tests for the University of Dublin, and that Bill was defeated in the year 1867 by the casting vote of the Speaker, who voted against it. In 1868, when Mr. Disraeli was Prime Minister, Lord Mayo announced his intention of settling the University Question by a proposal to establish a Catholic University. The Chief Secretary entered into communication, with regard to the details of the scheme, with the Irish Bishops, who were authorised to speak on the subject, but the Government withdrew their proposal on utterly insufficient grounds, and the Bishops protested against their action. Be that as it may, the result of that attempt was that the Government announced in 1868 that they had dropped their proposal, and did not intend to go on with it. I may say that that proposal of Lord Mayo's was, in some respects, the best attempt that has been made to settle the Irish University Question, but it had a fatal defect, that the Government, while offering a good deal to the Catholics, postponed the question of any further endowment to a future date, and their proposal only provided, so far as money was concerned, for the endowment of a certain number of University scholarships, and for the payment of some officers and servants of the University. However, the Catholics were disposed to consider the proposal favourably, because the Government policy was, first of all, to establish a University, and the question of endowment was not denied, and the principle of endowment was not denied. But the question was postponed for future consideration. However, that attempt came to nothing. In 1870 was published the 759 declaration of the Catholic laity, which has been renewed, as the right hon. Gentleman knows, last year. That declaration was so extensively signed by every class and section of the Catholic laity of Ireland, and was so numerous, as to entitle it to be taken as a practically unanimous declaration of the whole Catholic population of Ireland. Here it is—1. That it is the constitutional right of all British subjects to adopt whatever system of Collegiate or University education they prefer. 2. That perfect religious equality involves declaration of Catholic laity, equality in all education advantages afforded by the State. 3. That a large number of Irishmen are at present precluded from the enjoyment of University education, honours, and emoluments, on account of conscientious religious opinions regarding the existing systems of education. 4. That we therefore demand such a change in the system of Collegiate and University education as will place those who entertain these conscientious objections on a footing of equality with the rest of their fellow countrymen, as regards Colleges, University honours and emoluments, University examination, government, and representation.I read the wording of the declaration because in it you will find the deliberate, carefully drawn-up statement of the demand of the Catholics of Ireland. It is a demand of the lay Catholics of Ireland, and after 28 years it has been deiberately renewed—after it stood for that time as the demand of the Catholics—by all sections of the Catholics, and you may take it as the deliberate and considerate demand of the Irish Catholics. It is not a demand for the endowment of a religion, and I shall return to this point later on. It is a demand—and I would impress this upon the Radicals in this House—that a large body of the population in Ireland, comprising three-fourths of the population, shall not be debarred from the enjoyment of advantages given by the State in the matter of University education, in consequence of their conscientious beliefs. It is simply a demand that you shall not say to the Catholics of Ireland, "Sacrifice your conscientious principles, or do without the benefits which the State offers to assist University education." That is our platform, and I ask any man who is in favour of religious equality in its true sense whether he can refuse to the Catholics of Ireland such a demand, and if he does refuse it, how does he justify 760 his action? Now, Sir, I come to the next chapter in this painful business. In the year 1873 Mr. Gladstone introduced his University Bill. That Bill was a proposal for a national University for Ireland, to supersede all present Universities. The basis of this new University was the University of Dublin. It was to be widened. It was to be extended so as to comprise, along with Trinity College, every other college in Ireland, fulfilling certain prescribed conditions, but no endowment was proposed. I will say that in making this proposal Mr. Gladstone based his policy on the original scope and intention of the founders of Trinity College, Dublin. It was described in the very first Charter, but it is undoubtedly true that it was the intention of the original founders that the University of Dublin should be after the model of Cambridge and Oxford, and embrace within its scope many colleges. Since that day the University of Dublin has remained practically a private college. Mr. Gladstone brought this question forward, and in his proposal attempted to do what we have often declared to be impossible—that is, to legislate for the necessities of Irish life in such a way as will conciliate the prejudices of all the men in this House who know anything about it. As long as you attempt to do that, you will go on spoiling your institutions in Ireland, and you will fail to conciliate the prejudices which you are seeking to calm in this House and in this country. Let us put frankly and honestly before the people of this country what those who are responsible for the Irish Government deem to be necessary, and defend it like men; and let those gentlemen who propose to govern Ireland according to abstract theories, or the ideas of England, Scotland, or Wales, propose an alternative. Now, what was the result? Mr. Gladstone, in a vain endeavour to deal with this problem in Ireland, proposed a scheme in which, to use the graphic and memorable words of Sir L. Playfair—In a country which gave birth to Bishop Berkley, philosophy was to be dropped out of academic teaching.It satisfied nobody in Ireland. Trinity College was in revolt, the Catholics opposed it, and the Bill was defeated, in 1873, by a majority of three. 761 Now, I come to one of the most instructive chapters in this long and disastrous history, and I recommend the extracts which I have taken out of "Hansard," in relation to the next attempt, made by Mr. Fawcett, to the notice of the House. Mr. Fawcett introduced a Bill in the very same year—1873—to abolish tests—which was the same Bill he had introduced before as a settlement of this question in the University and Trinity College, Dublin. Now, we all remember the late Mr. Fawcett. There never was a more honest man in this House, and there never was a more liberal-minded man, and yet this attempt was also disastrous, although he applied Radical ideas to the solution of the problem. Now, what was the result? Mr. Fawcett introduced this Bill in Parliament in 1873. It was opposed by all the Irish Members representing Catholic constituencies. The O'Donoghue denounced the Bill as an indirect and unworthy attempt to force upon the people of Ireland a University system against which they had solemnly protested. Then the late Mr. Jonathan Pym, who was a Member for the City of Dublin, and a member of the Society of Friends, said—The Bill would relieve Irish Protestants who were not members of the Episcopal Church from the disabilities under which they at present laboured. But it in no way touched the grievances of Irish Catholics.There you see the difference between a man who was born and bred in Ireland and who knew the circumstances of the country. He was a member of the Society of Friends, and was no favourer of religious endowments and establishment, for he was the last man in the world to support any Measure of that kind. He knew the extent of the problem which the Government were called upon to deal with, and he warned Mr. Fawcett that his Bill in no way touched the grievances of the Irish Catholics. Here is an extract from a speech delivered by the late Mr. Redmond, who was the father of the hon. Member for Waterford. He said—If this Bill should become law, and if they persisted in ignoring the feelings and wishes of the people of Ireland, the question would be more seriously considered by them, and they would say that it was evidence that they must seek for the redress of their grievances in the restoration of their own Parliament, in which Irishmen would have the management of their own affairs.762 That was the way in which that proposal was received, and that was a warning which Ministers would do well to listen to in this House. What was the result of this statement? In his wisdom, Mr. Fawcett undertook to settle it, and the Bill was passed, in spite of the protest of Catholics, and the question was left worse than it was before. The next attempt was in 1879, when Lord Beacons-field was Prime Minister, when the Royal University Bill was passed. It is sufficient for me to say of that Measure that it satisfied nobody, although it undoubtedly has done something to assist higher studies outside the University of Dublin, but it cannot for a moment be maintained that it has made any substantial step towards removing the grievance of Catholics. This is a very important point. I draw attention to this point, that a Royal University not only has failed to satisfy and remove the grievance of the Catholics, but it is not accepted as satisfactory by those who judge this question simply from the point of view of the interests of higher education. I am therefore entitled to say that it was a total failure as an attempt to settle this question. This question was raised on the Queen's College Estimates on the 28th of July, 1885, and Sir Michael Hicks-Beach, who was the Chief Secretary, used the following remarkable language in reply to Mr. Justin McCarthy. He said—I must own that I have always felt, and I still feel, a very deep interest in this matter. Hon. Gentlemen on both sides of the House have referred to my action with regard to Irish education in so kind a spirit that I think I ought to make some observations on the subject. I should wish to say in the first place that this is not a question which ought to be approached with the idea of concession or conciliation. I should wish to approach it with the sole desire of endeavouring to spread as far as possible what I believe to be great blessings of University education in Ireland among all persons.He concluded his speech with the following words—We shall continue to regard this question on the principle I have laid down, with the hope and the flash to do something to make University education move widespread in Ireland; and, if it should be our lot to hold office next Session, to make some proposal which may 763 deal in a satisfactory way with this most important matter.That language was used by the present Chancellor of the Exchequer in July, 1895, but nothing has been done. I don't know whether the Government did intend to carry out that pledge if they had been retained in office through the following year. But, however, as we all remember, the Government were dislodged, and the Home Rule Bill was introduced. The next important Ministerial statement on this question was made on the 28th of August, 1889. An interval took place, during which Home Rule went before all other Irish questions. In a Debate on the Appropriation Bill, raised in a speech by Mr. Sexton, Mr. Balfour, who was then the Chief Secretary for Ireland, said—The experiment of undenominational higher education 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 Roman Catholic population of the country. This 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.Those words were used in 1889, and Mr. Parnell, who was in the House at the time, said—Speaking for myself and the hon. Members from Ireland who sit with me, I have to say that we wish the Chief Secretary well in his attempt to settle the much-vexed question of University education in Ireland, and we hope that he will succeed to his heart's content. We are anxious to know whether he proposes to embody his attempt at a solution of this question in a Bill early next Session, or what other steps he intends to take in this matter.The reply of the First Lord of the Treasury is very remarkable. He immediately replied—With regard to the question put to me by the hon. Member for Cork, I have to say that there is no possibility of dealing with this question of University education except under a Bill. Of course I cannot give any pledge at this moment as to the exact order in which the various questions will be dealt with by the Government next Session.I say that we were entitled to expect from that statement that a Bill of this kind would have found its place amongst the Measures of next Session, but his reply was that he could not pledge himself as to the exact order in which the 764 Measures would be taken next Session. Now, the next occasion that this question came under the attention of Parliament that I can recall was on the Debate on the Home Rule Bill of 1893, and a very remarkable thing happened in that Debate. There can be no doubt that on that occasion the Radical Party, at all events, were committed to the doctrine that Ireland was to be allowed to have her own way in this respect, with certain safeguards which we then refused, but which we now accept. The representatives of Ireland and the Bishops of Ireland have now accepted those safeguards, and therefore I ask the Government to introduce a Bill with those safeguards embodied in it, and claim, as they are entitled to claim, from the Radical Party their entire support. Now, I turn to a remarkable reference in support of the view which I ventured to lay before the House on the Home Rule Bill of 1893. I quote from a speech made by the right hon. Member for Montrose in the Debate on the Amendment to the Address last year by the right hon. Member, and I find he is reported to have said—No fault can be found with the spirit with which the right hon. Gentleman has approached this problem, as to which we really arrived at a common agreement when on the clause of the Home Rule Bill relating to the Irish University there was a discussion as to whether an Irish Parliament should be allowed to endow a University.As the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Montrose points out, that he and the First Lord of the Treasury on that important question had arrived at an agreement to which the House at large was a party, I claim that on this point there ought to be no difference of opinion between the Liberal Party and the right hon. Gentleman, whose honest desire to settle the question we heartily recognise. I do believe that he and his brother, the Chief Secretary, desire to meet our wishes, and I ask him to have the courage to face the problem, because, I venture to say, there never was a Parliamentary situation more favourable to the settlement of such a problem than the present time. I come now to the events of last year, and I say they have opened up a new chapter in the Parliamentary history of Irish Legislation. The First Lord of the Treasury, 765 speaking last Session on an Amendment to the Address very similar to the present, said—We have got so to contrive a University that it shall meet with the general approval of those classes of the Roman Catholic population who have refused to take advantage of the existing institutions";and the right hon. Gentleman indicated that the Government required information and assurances as to the views of the Irish Catholic Bishops and laity. That, I must point out, was a somewhat novel demand on the part of an English Prime Minister dealing with an Irish Question, and a policy which, if applied to previous occasions, would have prevented many a Minister making numerous failures in Ireland. They required information, and said if they could obtain it they would immediately address themselves to the solution of the problem. We should be the last to complain if immediate steps were taken to meet the request of the right hon. Gentleman, and I may say, with regard to that speech, that, although the language was very guarded, the Irish Members then withdrew their Amendment to the Address which they had proposed last year. Last year the Irish Members believed the difficulty could be removed, as indicated by the right hon. Gentleman, and if satisfactory assurances could be obtained from the Bishops and laity of Ireland that the Government would address themselves without further delay to the removal of this grievance, what was the next step? The Bishops of Ireland publicly on the 28th of June last year made a remarkable declaration. It is all-important, in dealing with this problem, that Members of the House should have clearly before their minds that the difficulties of this question are purely imaginary, and would be easily removed if an authoritative statement were put forward. Now, here are some very important extracts from the Declaration of the Irish bishops. In the course of his speech Mr. Balfour observed that upon this perplexing problem the Government had not as much guidance from the leaders of Irish public opinion as they would like to have. Well, that may be a very reasonable complaint of the right hon. Gentleman, but we have always been ready to place information we possessed at the Government's 766 disposal. We have never refused any information to anyone in authority, and even now we should be glad if anyone on behalf of the Government were to formulate a series of questions where our views might be deemed of importance, and to give our views; but the Bishops said: "We must know precisely what is required." I think it was very sensible on their part. They went on to say that, as no such definite points had been put to them, the best thing they could do was no better than gather from the Debate what points of information were required, which seemed to be as follows:—"I. What should be the proportion of laymen to ecclesiastics on the Governing Body of the projected University? 2. Do we ask endowment for theological teaching? 3. What security should be given to professors and others against arbitrary dismissal? 4. Are we prepared to accept the application of the University of Dublin Tests Act, 1873?" They then went on to say—That in regard to the constitution of the governing body we had to remark that the question of the relative numbers of laymen and ecclesiastics upon it is of very recent origin. For 40 years, during which the Irish Catholics were engaged in agitating for redress in University education, this question was never once raised, nor was any opposition between these classes even suggested, and now we would impress upon the Government that nothing would be more fatal to the future of the University than to approach its constitution in an anticlerical spirit, which is absolutely alien to the whole character and disposition of the people. If, however, such a spirit is excluded, and there is simply a desire to give the University the best and broadest constitution, with a view to attaining the highest educational results, we have to say that, whatever may be thought of the relative merits of ecclesiastics and laymen as the directors of a University in the abstract, we do not consider that, in the particular circumstances of this case, it would be reasonable to suppose that there should be a preponderance of ecclesiastics on the governing body. The new University will be called upon principally to provide secular teaching. Our theological students are provided for at Maynooth and other ecclesiastical colleges, and the need of a Catholic University is mainly to teach secular knowledge to lay students.But, on the other hand, there are some considerations which it is well not to overlook. One of the advantages which we expect from the foundation of a Catholic University is the opportunity which it will afford of giving a higher education to the candidates for the priesthood in Ireland; and these alone, it will be observed, will make, from the first, a large accession to the number of students in the University.767Then the whole system of secondary education, in which thousands of Catholic youths are now pursuing their studies, has come by the spontaneous action of the Catholics of Ireland to be almost entirely under ecclesiastical direction. For many of these students a University course is the natural completion of their studies, and we should hope that with our encouragement large numbers of them would pass on to the new University.Finally, the Catholic University Colleges—notably those of St. Stephen's Green and Black Rock, and the Catholic University School of Medicine—would, with our consent, be merged in the contemplated University, and hence it will be seen that we Bishops approach the settlement of this question, not empty-handed, but that, altogether independently of the rights which our Catholic people recognise as attaching to us as their religious teachers, we have claims to consideration which it would be neither just nor reasonable to ignore.The Bishops then give the following answers—1. On this head, then, we have to say that if, in other respects, the governing body is properly constituted, we do not ask for a preponderance, nor even an equality, in number of ecclesiastics upon it, but are prepared to accept a majority of laymen.2. As to theological teaching, we accept unreservedly the solution suggested by Mr. Morley—a solution which was accepted in principle by all Parties in Parliament in the year 1893—namely, that a theological faculty should not be excluded from the Catholic University, provided that the chairs of the faculty are not endowed out of public funds. We are prepared to assent to such a provision and to any guarantees that may be necessary, that the moneys voted by Parliament shall be applied exclusively to the teaching of secular knowledge.3. As to the appointment and removal of professors, Mr. Lecky raised an important point, and at the same time incidentally indicated the principle at least of its solution.As reported in 'Hansard,' he said, referring to the appointment of 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.'Now, it is perfectly obvious that reasons of religion which would prevent a man's appointment as professor might in given circumstances tell against his continuance in office. But we think that both conditions, namely—absolute security for the interests of faith and morals in the University, and at the same time all reasonable protection for the position of the professor—may be met by submitting such questions to the decision of a strong and well- 768 chosen Board of Visitors, in whose independence and judicial character all parties would have confidence.4. There only remains the condition which Mr. Morley suggests, of the application of the University of Dublin Tests Act of 1873. With reference to this we have to say that with some modifications in the Act, in the sense of the English Acts of 1871 and the Oxford and Cambridge Act of 1877, we have no objection to the opening up of the degrees, honours, and emoluments of the University to all comers.We have to add that in putting forward these views we assume that, if Government deals with the question, it will be by the foundation, not of a College, but of a University; and we venture to express our belief that, by so doing, they will best provide for all interests concerned, especially for those of higher education.Now, Sir, if you will allow me to say so, I have heard an absurd idea, which appears to have fixed itself in the minds of some hon. Members, who have expressed it in the House and out of it, that if a University such as here sketched out by the Bishops of Ireland were to be started, non-Catholics would be barred from all the advantages of the University. No more preposterous notion ever entered into the mind of man. And allow me to say, when I was a student of the Medical School of a Catholic University, where we had no endowment, and practically no scholarships to offer, simply because our Professors there were better Professors than some at Trinity College, Protestants came there and studied by our sides, and nobody troubled them about their religious beliefs. My conviction is that, inasmuch as Protestants do not share, or, at all events, some of them do not show that they share, our conscientious feelings, or do not feel so strongly as we do, at all events, on this question of a University such as set out by the Bishops, a proportion of the Protestants would certainly come there, providing, of course, the professors in any particular department were held to be better than those at Trinity College. The Bishops then go on to say—These are our views, and we trust they will be considered clear and frank enough upon the fundamental principles which, as far as we can gather, the leading Statesmen on all sides regard as the governing factor in the problem.769Should Her Majesty's Government desire any further statement from as we shall at all times be quite ready to make it.In conclusion, we may express the hope that in the best interests of our country—material as well as intellectual—the question will not be again allowed to drop back from the position which it has reached, and that Government will remove this great grievance under which we labour, and, with it, one of the few remaining disabilities still attaching to the Catholic Church in Ireland.Now, I will draw the attention of the House to the leading article in the Daily Express, of Dublin, the Orange organ, and an organ we are entitled to accept as an expression of the most extreme form of Protestant opinion.
§ *MR. DILLON
The Chief Secretary knows what position it holds. It may be described as the high watermark of Protestant opinion in Dublin.
§ *MR. DILLON
What did the Daily Express say? It made a very instructive and significant comment on the declaration of the Bishops, and characterised it as indicating in moderate language a reasonable and satisfactory solution of Roman Catholic claims; and, whatever the hon. Member for South Belfast may say, that is the journal which represents the most extreme form of Protestant opinion in Dublin. On the 9th of July last the question again came before the House, when it was raised, on the Queen's College Estimate, and Mr. Balfour said that—Everybody must feel that the Roman Catholic Bishops here on this occasion made a declaration of the utmost importance, showing that a great change has come over public opinion in Ireland on this question. That they are not only ready but anxious to have a diversity which Roman Catholics might not only attend, but one which would harmonise generally with the views of Roman Catholics, and which would have its doors open as widely to members of all denominations as any University in the land.Now, the First Lord of the Treasury, neither upon that occasion nor upon any subsequent occasion, indicated to the 770 Bishops of Ireland that he required any further information on the subject, and we are entitled to assume that this declaration of the Bishops of Ireland has fully met all the difficulties in which the Government said they were placed, and has, in fact, removed every obstacle from the path of the Government. I should add that not only has it met all those difficulties, but we have it on the authority of the First Lord of the Treasury himself that he was entirely satisfied with that declaration. The First Lord of the Treasury concluded the speech he then made on this subject in very remarkable words, and I shall read them to the House. He said—Certainly the action of the Catholic bishops has done a great deal to forward the cause. It is not, I believe, the cause of any one form of religious denomination; it is not the cause of Roman Catholicism against Protestantism, but it is substantially the cause of higher education against that of higher education and culture under which unfortunately for many years we have condemned so many in Ireland.That is a great and generous admission, because, speaking as the head of the Government in this House, he admitted that the Government has for many years condemned a great majority of the people of Ireland to a want of that higher education, which, he says, is one of the greatest blessings and privileges that can be enjoyed by any people. And, later on in the Debate, when pressed by the right hon. Gentleman the Member for the Montrose Burghs as to the possibility of dealing with the Question, the First Lord of the Treasury interrupted him, and said—I did not say that a Bill could not be passed next year, for I refused to give any definite pledge.Now, Mr. Speaker, since the last Session a great change has come over this Question in Ireland. This Question has been debated for many, many years within a comparatively narrow circle. It was treated as a question not suited for popular agitation, and it was alleged—not truly but still with some shred of justification—that it was a question in which no doubt the Catholic Hierarchy and the Catholic priests of Ireland took an interest, and a certain limited number of laymen, but not one which interested 771 the mass of the Catholic people; but since last Session a great and extraordinary change has come over the situation in Ireland. Meetings have been held from one end of Ireland to the other of a most remarkable and extraordinary character, and this Question has now jumped to the very front of politics as a burning and most important issue. I do not intend to give a detailed catalogue of these meetings, but no man who has been present at the great meeting in the Round Room or the Mansion House, or at any of the great meetings subsequently held in Ireland, could for one moment doubt the intensity of the feeling that gave birth to those meetings, or could fail to be struck by the extraordinarily representative character of that great meeting, because the gathering in the Round Room of the Mansion House was not, in the ordinary sense of the word, a public meeting; it was a meeting of delegates from almost every public body of Ireland of any representative character, and what was still more striking and extraordinary was this: it was not purely a Catholic meeting; Protestants and Catholics at the local Boards had vied with each other for the honour of being sent to represent their respective Boards at that meeting. In that great gathering there was a large proportion of Protestants who accepted appointments as delegates from all parts of Ireland to represent their Boards and public bodies at this meeting in favour of the demand for a Catholic University. I take one or two examples, because I have noticed in this House, and in the Press of England, that there is an absolute want of knowledge as to the totally new phase that has come over this Question in Ireland, and there is an absolute want of knowledge as to the almost practical unanimity of the feeling. I except the class for which the hon. Member for South Belfast will presently speak. But anyone who examines the record of this recent great meeting will bear me out in the statement that a considerable majority of the Protestants of Ireland are with us in this cause. Now I will give a few cases in point. Of course, it will be absurd 772 for me to attempt a prolonged analysis of the meetings. I will take three meetings which I pledge myself I have selected at random. I will give a description of them, and show the character of the union that has taken place on this Question between all sections and classes of all religious creeds. I will take, first of all, the great meeting at Waterford. The Marquess of Waterford wrote to that meeting as follows—I most heartily sympathise with the project of establishing a University for Roman Catholics in Ireland, and hope that the movement will be successful.Mr. Villiers Stuart, a man well known to the Members of this House, High Sheriff of the county, attended that meeting, and spoke—At one time," he said, "he had his doubts on the Question, and it seemed to him that the demand came altogether from the Catholic Hierarchy, and that it was not a burning question with the laity. But this, and the other great meetings that had been held, proved that it was in reality a great and burning question with all Irish Catholic laymen. He heartily supported the demand for a Catholic University.I need hardly mention that these are both leading Protestant gentlemen—in fact, owing very large property in the county. The Hon. Dudley Fortesque also addressed the meeting in support of the Catholic demand. He thought the Catholics had fully made out their case, and trusted that their claims would be pressed forward, and would be recognised in no grudging spirit. He addressed them as an Englishman and a Protestant. I go to another meeting, that was held in New Ross on Saturday, February 12th. There were several Protestants present at the meeting. I will take an extract from a letter written by a gentleman whom even the Member for South Belfast will recognise as some authority, and that gentleman is Mr. M'Murrough Kavanagh. He says—I wish your meeting every success. The resolution is one which will bring a ready response from most of my co-religionists, and I can assure the promoters of your meeting that in this demand for a Catholic University, or equal educational advantages with ourselves, 773 they will have the support and the hearty good wishes of the majority of their Protestant fellow countrymen.Now I come to a meeting held at Long-ford on the 8th February, and will take an extract from a speech delivered by a man who was one of the Deputy-Lieutenants of the county, who bears a name honoured in Ireland, and especially in the cause of Irish education—I allude to Mr. A. E. Edgeworth, of Edgeworthstown, who used the following language—It was indeed, a cruel irony of fate that Catholic Ireland in the 19th century should be a suppliant for money—her own money—for the endowment of a Catholic University—that same Ireland which in the seventh, eighth, and ninth centuries maintained four most nourishing Universities—Armagh, Cashel, Lismore, and Clonmacnoise—which were thronged, not merely by Irish students, but by the flower of Christendom, eager to take advantage of the best schools in Europe. He was opposed to any further delay in this matter of a Catholic University. The appointment of a Royal Commission, suggested by some, would be a way not to do it. Mr. Balfour had the largest majority of modern times in the House of Commons, and if he brought in a Bill for the creation and endowment of a Catholic University it would become law without serious opposition.These are the words, not of an Irish agitator, but of a Protestant gentleman of large property in the county, who bears an honoured name. I now come to the last of the quotations I shall give, and it is a very interesting quotation. It is from a meeting at Enniscorthy on the 14th February. Mr. C. G. Grey, an English Protestant, addressed the meeting, and he said—He was very glad of having an opportunity of expressing his entire sympathy with the object of the meeting. He thought all the arguments in connection with the question could be summed up in one word 'Justice.' He was an Englishman, but he had come to live in Ireland, where he expected to end his days. Mr. Balfour was hampered in his action in regard to a Catholic University by a few Orangemen in the North of Ireland. He would beg of Mr. Balfour to throw over those men; they were no use to him.I give these as a few specimens taken "honestly at random from the reports of an immense number of meetings, in order, if I can, to impress upon the House the extraordinary condition of public 774 opinion in Ireland at the present moment. And now I will make another effort to bring that home to the Members of the House. There is a man who is authorised to speak with the greatest authority for all those who care for the interests of higher education in the North of Ireland, and that man is Dr. Hamilton, the President of the Queen's College, Belfast. He represents—and I don't think anybody in this House will attempt to deny it—the cultivated, educated opinion of the Presbyterians of the North of Ireland, and he is entitled to speak. Now, Dr. Hamilton, not in a public speech, but in a much more solemn and serious way, in the annual report of the Queen's College, published a few days ago for 1896–97, on page 22, writes the following remarkable passage—Apart from our own particular interests, no one who has an understanding of the times can fail to see that Ireland generally needs such a readjustment of the machinery of University education as will enable all Ireland, in the north and in the south of the island, to enjoy, if they will, the advantages of a true University education, without impediment of any kind.Dr. Hamilton would never have used these words if he thought there was no impediment. These words are the very deliberate convictions of a man who has lived in Ireland, and has been brought face to face with the facts of the situation—a man who recognises that if you are Statesmen, you must apply a system in which some account will be taken of the deep-seated religious convictions of the people. Six years ago, in 1892, the hon. Member for South Tyrone used these words in an article that is frequently quoted—So far as University education is concerned, the Catholic grievance has been ignored. I say the grievance here is great, and it has a right to be dealt with in a liberal and fair spirit.As we all know, the hon. Member for South Tyrone has been taken to task once or twice for that statement, but he has stood by his guns, and has not in the least degree departed from it. That is his deliberate opinion, and he is entitled, although he is an opponent of mine, in politics, to speak for a large body of Protestant and Presbyterian opinion in the North of Ireland. I shall wait with 775 curiosity to hear what the hon. Members for North Armagh and South Tyrone have to offer to this House by way of explanation against these quotations, excepting declamation, and their own eloquence. Turning now to Trinity College, I find that the College, through both its representatives in this House, is in favour of the granting of our claims, and I say also that I am entitled to claim in support of this Amendment the overwhelming body of popular opinion in Ireland, as well as the university culture of the country. I do not know of anyone who is entitled to speak for any considerable body of educated opinion, and who has declared himself against the principle of the Amendment. It has been said, "Why cannot you avail yourselves of Trinity College, Dublin, and Queen's College?" Well, Sir, experience has proved that we will not. That is the complete answer. And is it not a complete answer? Are we not entitled to have our conscientious convictions respected as much as the people of this country? In reply to the sneers implied in the cheers of the hon. Gentlemen opposite, I quote the words of him who was once the greatest Leader the Radical Party ever had. Mr. Gladstone, in, introducing the University Bill of 1873, said—Let me observe, in the first instance, that the question is not whether we agree with them (the Roman Catholics) or not. There is more to say. When it was observed in former times that the great majority of the people of Ireland were Roman Catholics, it was answered, 'So much the worse for them; let them adopt the true religion, and then all differences will disappear.' But Parliament came to the conclusion that it was its duty to recognise the fact, and accept the consequences. It is not our business to inquire whether the Roman Catholics are right in their opinions or wrong. The question for us is rather this—supposing they are wrong; is it right in us, is it wise, that they should be excluded from University culture?That is the opinion of Mr. Gladstone, and I think it ought to be good enough for most Liberals and Radicals. Without going at any greater length with this aspect of the Question, I wish to quote a very remarkable passage from the report of a speech delivered by the hon. Member for West Belfast. He is 776 reported to have used these extraordinary words—I would sooner allow my children to run wild in the woods than allow them to be educated under Catholic influence.
§ MR. H. O. ARNOLD-FORSTER (Belfast, W.)
These words, as quoted by the hon. Member, are not words I used.
§ *MR. DILLON
I took them from a report of the hon. Member's speech. The hon. Member, at all events, ventured a strong opinion, and I think he might extend to Irish Catholics the same liberty he claims for himself. The point of his speech, to which I attach peculiar importance, is that he said, "under Catholic influence."
§ MR. H. O. ARNOLD-FORSTER
I said, "trust them to the guardianship of a Roman Catholic priest as their teacher."
§ *MR. DILLON
I accept that explanation. Now, Sir, what is the actual Catholic demand, and the suggestions made, for a remedy? As regards the actual demand, I have fully stated that we demand equality with other denominations in Ireland. We demand that some alteration shall be made in the present state of University education which will not place upon the Irish Catholic any disability because of his well-ascertained religious opinions and conscientious scruples. We do not demand any endowment for any form of religion. It is well that that should be distinctly understood. We do not demand any endowment for any form of religion. Three plans have been discussed, and the position of the Bishops is very clearly set forth in repeated declarations with regard to these three plans. They have over and over again said that they never claimed but one thing, the establishment and endowment of a Catholic University, having its endowed colleges, and enjoying every advantage that the State confers upon any Protestant or non-Catholic University or college. That is the' demand the Bishops have made, but they have also stated, on every occasion, that they are perfectly prepared to consider any compromise made by the Government, 777 provided it is based on the principle of equality, and provided it involves a sweeping away of all traces of preference and ascendency in favour of any religious denomination, as against the Catholics of Ireland—that is the one condition which they insist upon as necessary, and they are prepared to consider any scheme which the Government may propose. I turn now to a proposal described recently in the Edinburgh Review. The article was well-informed, and so liberal in spirit that we Irish Catholics are bound to notice it. Alluding to the declaration of the Bishops, it speaks as follows—Having thus dealt in a spirit of reasonableness and enlightenment, which cannot be too freely acknowledged with the objections and misgivings most commonly entertained in regard to the endowment of a Roman Catholic University, the Bishops proceed to refer to a point of much importance, and it is the last of their observations to which we need refer. They express their belief that the interests of higher education will be better served by the creation of a University than the establishment of a College.I conclude by saying that claims so generally admitted should continue to be ignored by Parliament in deference to popular prejudice, or to a theory of education, and in opposition to the highest needs of a nation, is neither justice nor statesmanship. That article considers the various schemes for the settlement of this question. It dismisses as impossible the scheme of an endowed college in the University of Dublin, and proceeds to argue in favour of a solution based upon the foundation of an endowed Catholic college affiliated to the Royal University. With regard to that scheme, I have to say, on behalf of the Catholics of Ireland, that if an offer were made to us of an endowed college within the University of Dublin, giving us equality in the University in every respect—in all the respects mentioned in the declaration of the Bishops—we should accept that as a settlement of the question. But the writer of this article in the Edinburgh Review, having examined that solution, declares it to be impossible, and I myself, the more I know of Irish life, think that any such proposal would be met with the most strenuous 778 and fierce opposition on the part of Trinity College and its professors and students. We have said that we have no desire to pull down Trinity College and despoil it; still less since the College has adopted its present liberal attitude towards the Catholic claims. I have for 20 years been convinced that the most satisfactory, as well as the most easy, for the Government, of all the schemes proposed, is the scheme of a separate and independent University, giving to that University a great college in Dublin, endowed equally with Trinity College and embracing also the present colleges in Cork and Galway, which it will be a great pity to destroy. The Protestants of Ulster may have Queen's College, Belfast, because we have no desire to interfere with the facilities of others, and Trinity College and the University of Dublin may be left undisturbed to discharge the great work discharged so long for the Episcopalian Protestants who accept that system. That, in my judgment, is the solution of the method with which the Bishops would be best satisfied, and which would be most likely to advance the cause of higher education in Ireland and least calculated to provoke opposition from the existing interests in Ireland. Such a settlement would leave Trinity College and the University of Dublin untouched, and would enable the Government to give to the Presbyterians of Ulster a University of their own founded on the Queen's College, Belfast. The position of the Irish Hierarchy in this connection has been so clearly set forth in a letter published by the Archbishop of Dublin on the 2nd February, 1896, that I think it well to read to the House an extract from that letter—If we take the three plans that have at any time been contemplated as available for a settlement of the University question on the basis of equality, we shall find indeed that only one of the three has, in any proper sense of the word, ever been 'claimed' by the Irish Bishops. We have claimed but one thing—the establishment and endowment of a Catholic University, having its endowed College or Colleges, and enjoying every advantage that the State confers upon any Protestant or non-Catholic University or Universities, or upon any Protestant or non-Catholic College or Colleges in Ireland. But, whilst putting forward this as their claim, the Bishops have at the same time expressly concurred in the suggestion 779 that the two fundamental conditions—sufficient protection for Catholic interests, on the one hand, and equality on the other—could be secured by the adoption of either of two other plans. In one of these alternative plans a common National University would be established, as was projected in Mr. Gladstone's scheme of 1873; and in such a University our Catholic College or Colleges of University studies should stand on precisely the same level of University status with Trinity College or the Queen's Colleges. In the second of the alternative plans the question, so far as Dublin is concerned, would be settled by widening the University of Dublin, so as to comprise within its organisation, along with Trinity College, a great Catholic College of higher studies, standing upon a footing of perfect equality with Trinity College, as concerns every advantage that the State can confer. Without in any way claiming the adoption of either of those two alternative plans, the Bishops have distinctly expressed themselves as able to consider either of them as satisfactory for all practical purposes, so far as regards the interests with the protection of which they, as Bishops, are charged.I believe it is the method by which the Government will most easily settle the question, but in this article in the Edinburgh Review the writer argues in favour of another alternative scheme—namely, the scheme of an endowed Catholic College in Dublin affiliated with the Royal University College, and the present Queen's College. All I have to say with regard to the proposal is that we could never accept it as a satisfactory settlement, or a granting of equality. It would do something to make the present grievances less intolerable, but it would never settle the question, because, until we are placed on an absolute footing of equality, we can never regard the question as fairly and satisfactorily settled. Now I come to an end, and I must apologise to the House for the length of my remarks. The subject is a complicated one, and one in which I, having felt the bitterness of exclusion when I was young, have taken a most intense interest. It is to us a humiliation to see generation after generation of young men in Ireland, gifted with the most brilliant abilities, pass through life cramped and injured and maimed for the struggle by not having those educational advantages which every civilised nation in Europe confers upon its subjects. What is the actual situation after all these years of effort? It is admirably 780 described in the declaration of the Bishops of 14th of October, 1896—There are in Ireland at this moment but two University institutions deserving the name—Trinity College, Dublin, and the Queen's College, Belfast.… In these two institutions there are 1,500 students, and out of that total less than 100 are Catholics, and the remainder are Protestants.And this in a country with one million Protestants and three and a half million Catholic inhabitants! What is the ideal of the Irish people in this Question? It is for a Catholic and National University, which will bring home to the door of the poorest man in Ireland the opportunity of acquiring the highest learning. I have been asked by friends and sympathetic people in this country: "Where will you find, if we give you a University, a sufficient body of young men to furnish it? "Sir, that question is founded upon the modern English idea of a University, as a place where the sons of gentlemen, who can afford to spend £300 or £400 a year in supporting themselves, pick up an education. But that was not the ideal of the Middle Ages, nor is it the ideal of modern Scotland, nor of Germany. The object of a University is to offer to the children of the poor, without any barrier in the way of great expense, the highest learning which all intellectual nations consider as the greatest gift which can be given to the people, and I should answer those who put that question by bringing them into the primary schools of Ireland and bidding them look into the faces of our children, and I should ask them whether it is not a cruel and shameful injustice to deny to those children, whom God has created with as good intellects and as powerful brains as the children of any race in Europe to-day, that access to higher learning, and those advantages of University training which every civilised country in Europe has now, in these modern days, so freely afforded to its citizens. Mr. Speaker, the wealth of Great Britain lies in her mines and minerals, her industry and her commerce. The wealth of Ireland lies in the brains of her children and the fertility of her soil. You have denied her for years the right to develop her wealth in either of these respects. Was there ever a race 781 more passionately addicted to learning than the Irish? During ages of persecution and tyranny they have sought for learning, and have been obliged to acquire it without a roof over their heads. In my youth it was no uncommon thing, in the wildest part of Mayo, to be introduced to some poor peasant whose clothes were in rags, and who had hardly a shoe to his foot, but who could repeat a book of Homer, and would show familiarity with the poems of Virgil. And if, as the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Montrose has so well said, you deny the right to look forward, they cannot avoid looking back. We cannot forget, when we look back, there was a day when the light of Irish learning shone brightly within the four seas of Ireland, and was carried through every capital of Europe by Irish scholars. And even to this day every scholar who wanders over Europe in search of manuscripts will find in Vienna, in the North of Italy, in Switzerland, and even in Rome itself, traces of those days when Ireland was recognised as one of the greatest seats of learning in the Western world. I ask, was there ever a crueller injustice inflicted upon a nation than to deny the people the opportunity of learning? Speaking here to-day on this question, not only on behalf of the united Catholics of Ireland, but on behalf—and I claim it without fear of contradiction—of everything intelligent, liberal, and broad-minded amongst the Protestants of Ireland, I demand that this grievance shall be forthwith redressed; that the barriers which for so many years have stood between the people of Ireland and the acquisition of University training shall be levelled to the ground, and that, as in Scotland and in Germany to-day, the children of the poor in Ireland shall be enabled to acquire that higher learning the passionate love of which throughout the ages that have gone by has so honourably distinguished the race.
§ MR. T. HARRINGTON (Dublin, Harbour)
I rise to second the Amendment of my hon. Friend, and I think the House will recognise that after the full, able, and eloquent statement just presented by the hon. Member for East Mayo, it will not be necessary for me 782 or for any of those who speak from these benches to occupy the time of the House at any great length. We do not so much complain that the importance of this question has not been recognised in Parliament as that Parliament has taken no efficient steps to settle it. My hon. Friend has quoted from the declarations of Minister after Minister recognising the evil, and admitting the necessity for immediately grappling with it, and our complaint in Ireland is that, after years of recognition by Government after Government, and by statesman after statesman, the position remains to-day precisely as it was a century ago. It is not, that Parliament has not been occupied from time to time with endeavours to settle the question, but the grievance is—and it is a remarkable thing—that there is still a prejudice in the minds of Parties in the House, which I fear is going to find expression to-day, the result of which is that every attempt to settle the question has been approached, not from the Irish point of view, but from the point of view of those who offer something which does not satisfy the demands of the Irish people. I have here an expression of opinion which should have some weight with Radical Members. They are the words of the present Lord Chief Justice of England, uttered a little more than a year ago, as to the manner in which the question of Irish education has been dealt with by the House of Commons. He said—The history of the Education question in Ireland, in primary, in secondary, and ire superior education has been one continual history of offering to Ireland, not what Ireland" wanted, but what external authority thought that Ireland ought, to want, not a responding to the wishes of the people, but a prescription from the outside by those who suppose that they know better than the Irish people what the Irish people ought to want.These are words of authority and of wisdom. They are the words of an Irishman who knew the House of Commons well, and who knew the circumstances of his own country, perhaps, still better. I invite Radical Members of this House, who may express their views on this subject, to say whether they are not still committing themselves to the pursuance of the same policy, and defeating the objects that they have in view, by offering to the people of Ireland, 783 and by forcing on them, a settlement of the Question which is not in accordance with their desires or wishes, and which will never in the least satisfy them? We have had promise after promise, and declaration after declaration, from Governments and from Statesmen on this Question, and I put it to the Government, is it unreasonable on the part of the people of Ireland to press for an immediate recognition of their claims? This is not a clerical Question, it is not a demand by the Irish Hierarchy for religious education, for in that matter the priesthood are already well provided for out of funds provided by Catholic people, but this is essentially a demand on behalf of the laity of Ireland, and I think that it is ungenerous, illiberal, and narrow-minded in the extreme for a section of the Protestants of Ireland, who have the full advantages of University education themselves, and have, so to speak, a monopoly of higher education in Ireland, untrammeled by any religious tests and by any disability, to stand up in this House and oppose the Motion to give to their fellow-countrymen that which they are in full enjoyment of themselves. I say it is contrary to the spirit of the nineteenth century. The hon. Member for Belfast—and I give him full credit for sincerity of conviction—thinks the worst thing that could happen to an Irish Catholic is to be taught by an Irish Catholic, and he asks, Why don't we avail ourselves of Trinity College?
§ MR. HARRINGTON
He was a student, and so was I, and I say it is extraordinary that before a Roman Catholic can enter one of the professions—before he can go to the bar—he must, however strong a Catholic he may be, go to Trinity College.
§ MR. HARRINGTON
The hon. and learned Member is not a member of the Irish bar; he belongs to the English bar. I am speaking in the recollection of members of the Irish bar, and I say it is absolutely essential for candidates for the Irish bar to keep their terms and go through a course of lectures at Trinity College. The very year I happened to be called was the first year in which it was possible to be called without taking lectures and terms in this country. However excellent this position of the case may be in Ireland, it is opposed to the conscientious opinion of three-fourths of the nation in Ireland, who have absolutely refused to avail themselves of it, and you put them in this position, as if you said, Unless you accept, not a system which is in accordance with your wishes, but a system which we find works well with ourselves. I should like to suggest to Radical Members of this House that we are not asking you for a system of education which, if you go to live in Ireland, you will be bound to avail yourselves of. We are asking you to give us our right to manage affairs for ourselves in this country, give us the right, at our own cost, to manage those things, and to give us the right also to manage a system of our own education. I fail to see the bearing of the interruption of the right hon. Gentleman as to its being at our own cost, because it is easy to see that the Imperial Exchequer is used in payment of religious education and in religious services in every part of the British Empire. You pay for the soldiers, you pay for the chaplains for your army, you pay for the chaplains for your navy, and I say it is an absurd piece of doctrine to draw the line at education, which is in accordance with the system of education and religious principles of the people. Now, Mr. Speaker, I should like to show the House that you fail entirely to meet the difficulties of this question by telling the Catholics of Ireland that they can participate in a common university, where there are no religious texts. That experiment has been tried over and over again. You must recognise your position, that you are legislating for us. Last 785 night we heard a great deal in this House, especially from the Liberal side, as to the necessity of taking into consideration the prejudices and affections and religious opinions of the border tribes. We do not belong to the border tribes of the Indian Empire, we belong to a country very much nearer home, and we ask you to legislate for a country much smaller, affecting your future empire, and to give to Ireland, without prejudice, what we call consideration of their convictions. The hon. Member for West Belfast, I am sorry to say, has rather distinguished himself by the opposition which he has offered to the Catholics of Ireland since this question was last before the House. We are sorry for the position which the hon. Member takes up upon these questions, but I think it is thoroughly recognised that he speaks for a very narrow and small circle, even of members of his own faith and his own convictions. I have not the slightest doubt in my own mind that, having known this question as it is agitated in Ireland, if we were dealing with a Parliament in Ireland in which a man, not a Catholic, were there, that he would receive instant recognition, but it is wrong to refuse to concede to Catholics their demand in the matter of education, or to refuse to allow them to have advantages of higher education at all. What is it we are entitled to demand? I think we ask for nothing very unreasonable, because we are three-fourths of the population of Ireland, we would be entitled, as I would remind the hon. Member who said a moment ago we should do these things at our own expense, and apply our own money to the education of the Catholics. How does the money of the Irish Catholics go? It goes exclusively to the education of the Protestant minority in Ireland. That is where this Parliament has sent our money. That is the system this Parliament has maintained, and yet the hon. Member says we are to do these things at our own expense. What we want to enforce as to the Queen's Colleges, is that we should be put on terms of equality with them. But if we were as unreasonable as, the 786 hon. Member, if we were as narrow and intolerant in spirit as the hon. Member who spoke a moment ago, what would be our position? We would say, inasmuch as we are the vast majority of the people in Ireland, we demand that the Government must be altered. We demand from you that Trinity College should be described as an exclusively Catholic institution. We should demand from you that the government of the Queen's Colleges throughout the country should be in the hands of the majority of the people; at least that this portion of the government should be in the hands of the people, and that would be perfectly logical and reasonable. We do not think such demand would be best for the in terests of the country. We do not put forward such a demand in this country but this would lead to a satisfactory settlement of this question. We have no desire to interfere with existing institutions. We have no desire to interfere with education, as it is carried on in this country. We have no desire to injure that system, so far as it works for the Protestant portion of our community in Ireland. But we do demand, and we think it only just that the demand should be conceded, that we should be placed on terms of equality with them; that a system of education should be set up in the country which we could enjoy without violating our convictions. I shall not occupy the time of the House much longer, except by saying that I trust that Members, especially Radical Members, of this House, seem to think that upon a question of this kind we never could have any liberty; but while they have a system which suits themselves, while they freely avail themselves of it, I say, we do not intend to force on them a system which suits us. We do not wish Members to come into the Colleges we wish to establish, but we are bound to draw your attention to the fact that you have established Colleges which can never be of any use to the majority of the people there. We ask you, in a spirit of justice and fair play, we ask you in fulfilment of those pledges which you gave to the people of Ireland; we ask you to recognise their rights, above all things in the 787 world, to a system of education in accordance with our religious views and religious convictions.
§ The SPEAKER then read the Amendment.
MR. GRANT LAWSON (York, N.R., Thirsk)
Mr. Speaker, Sir, I rise to oppose the Amendment now before the House. I do so with some reluctance, but with a reluctance not founded on any lack of hostility to the Amendment, but with a reluctance based on the fact that in this matter am opposed to some of those leaders who usually sit on the bench below me, whose views I so cordially and willingly follow on questions which are purely political. But on this subject there are one or two of my right hon. Friends—one of them has, I am pleased to see, just entered the House at this moment—who have made speeches which have struck me with a feeling of dismay. My right hon. Friend, the First Lord of the Treasury spoke last year on this subject in a manner which I confess was to me somewhat alarming. He seemed to be willing, judging from his speech, to attempt to solve the insoluble and to satisfy the insatiable. Before my right hon. Friend speaks again on this subject, I should like to point out to him the difficulties he is likely to encounter in making any attempt to solve this question in the direction desired by the Mover of the Amendment. I myself, was rather inclined last year to agree with my right hon. Friend. Having heard so much about these grievances of Roman Catholics in Ireland, I felt that there must be some foundation for them, and that the Roman Catholics in Ireland must be suffering from some religious disability. Since then I have looked up the matter for myself, and I find that they are not suffering from any religious disability. It is not a case of the Roman Catholics of Ireland being unable to go to the existing universities, but rather a case of their saying, "We will not go to those universities." This Parliament can say to any religious denomination, "You can have certain privileges, and you can avail yourselves of certain advantages," but we cannot, I confess, say "You shall avail yourselves of these privileges and these advantages." It is our duty rather to give everybody access to all the advan- 788 tages possible, and to leave it to them as to whether they will or will not avail themselves of them. Sir, I should like to lay before the House one or two rather grim precedents out of the Parliamentary history of this question which, I think, might be somewhat of a warning to the right hon. Gentlemen who are desirous of settling this question. My right hon. Friend, were he to attempt a solution of it, would place himself willingly on the horns of a dilemma, because anybody who attempts a solution of this question has two masters to serve. He has, first of all, to serve the Roman Catholic Hierarchy of Ireland, supported by their well-trained laity, and, on the other hand, he has the strong Protestant feeling of England, and also the Protestant feeling of a very strong and by no means inconsiderable portion of Ireland to contend with. He is in this position: If he has in his mind, and is prepared to propose, a university which is sufficiently clerical and sectarian to satisfy the Bishops, then he would have also to please this House. If, on the contrary, he is prepared to give a university with such limitations as regards clerical control as will satisfy this House, then he does not please the bishops. Now, Sir, I will refer to the history of this question. In 1868, on the Motion of Mr. Maguire, Lord Mayo, then Chief Secretary for Ireland, was put up—I presume by the Government—to make a speech, and in that speech he said the Government of that day were ready to grant to the Roman Catholic bishops of Ireland a charter for a new Catholic university, and, in fact, for anything they could possibly ask. This House received even the suggestion—practically before it was put before this House—with the greatest possible indignation, and the result was that six weeks later that proposition of Lord Mayo's had to be somewhat unceremoniously huddled out of sight by Mr. Disraeli. In 1869 an Act was passed, on the subject of an Irish university, through this House and through Parliament, but that Act, though it satisfied Parliament, did not satisfy the bishops, with the result that it did no good work. In 1873 Mr. Gladstone, on this subject, contrived so ingenious an arrangement that he satisfied neither the House nor the Hierarchy, and it was on this that he resigned. It is true that Mr. Glad- 789 stone took office again, Mr. Disraeli refusing to accept office, but it was on this Question that he resigned in 1873. So much for the difficulty of dealing with this matter. Now, I should like to say a word or two on the necessity for dealing with it. The hon. Member who moved the Amendment, in a speech of magnificent eloquence and great detail, based his whole case upon the fact—he alleged it to be a fact—that the Irish Roman Catholics are suffering under an intolerable grievance. What is the real position of university education in Ireland? There are Trinity College, the Royal University, and the three Queen's Colleges. Every post of honour and every post carrying with it emoluments in all these universities is open to Roman Catholics, with the single exception of the chair of theology at Dublin University. There have either never been theological qualifications, or else those qualifications have been long since swept away—and they have been swept away against the protest of the Roman Catholics themselves. Two out of the three Queen's Colleges are presided over by Roman Catholics, and the other one by a gentleman who, at any rate, is not filled with a spirit of antipathy to Roman Catholics. It is a notorious fact that Trinity College is prepared to make arrangements for the separate religious education of Roman Catholics, should they desire it, under the influence of their own priesthood. There is also a provision in the Act under which, the Queen's Colleges were established, which makes it possible for any religious community who should desire it to establish halls of residence, and appoint deans in these colleges for the special instruction of members of their own particular community. Further, they can endow theological lectureships in the interests of their own religion. Can there be wider toleration in any University system that that? This is a state of religious equality which the hon. Member for East Mayo characterises as gross inequality, as an injustice, and as an intolerable grievance. I maintain that the Roman Catholic priesthood in Ireland has no grievance whatever in this matter. They have all the important posts open to members of their community who desire to seek for them, 790 and their only grievance—what they say is a grievance—is that they are refused, in the matter of the control of University education, special privileges which are also refused to every other creed in Ireland. As to the Roman Catholic laity, they have a grievance, but it is not a grievance against this House, or against this Parliament; but it is a grievance against their own priesthood, who sedulously endeavour to shut to them the doors of those Universities which have been thrown open by Parliament. It has been said that Roman Catholics cannot enter the doors of the existing Universities without danger to their faith. That is a direct charge of proselytism against the present Colleges, in support of which no evidence and not one word of proof have ever been offered. If the charge is to be made good, let some evidence be brought forward in favour or in support of it. I will say this, that, greatly to their credit, Roman Catholics cling to their religion with a steadfast ness and with a faith worthy of a better cause. Then why cannot Catholics going to a University be trusted out of clerical leading-strings? I do not think that any Roman Catholic will get up in this House and declare that the Roman Catholic faith is so slightly rooted that it must wither away if it exposed to Protestant atmosphere. I wish to draw a wide distinction between denominational influence in elementary education, and denominational influence in University education. I say it is quite right for every parent, with regard to their children of tender years, to see that they are trained in the doctrines which he himself professes; but, Sir, there can be but little use in such training, if the result of it is that when these children have reached an age when I hey are able to go to a university, they cannot be trusted, without clerical leading-strings, to keep to the faith in which they have been brought up. This is apt to make them either fools or rebels in matters of religion. It cannot be good for Roman Catholic boys that they should be compelled, all through their educational course, to look down every road to knowledge entirely through the spectacles of a Roman Catholic Bishop. Can it be good for the boys themselves, or for the peace and the welfare of the 791 country, that the youths of one particular creed should be set apart in, as it were, a water-tight compartment, and not be allowed to mix with youths of other creeds? It certainly cannot be good. I, therefore, say that to resist this proposal is not to declare oneself in favour of religious inequalities or religious disabilities, because no such inequalities or disabilities exist at the present time in Ireland. Nor is resistance of this proposal a proof of intolerance. On the other hand, it is a protest against the intolerance of the Roman Catholic Hierarchy in Ireland, who have done their best to wreck that system of mixed education which must be best for the welfare of the people, and which certainly is best for the education of Ireland.
§ MR. HALDANE (Haddington)
Mr. Speaker, the hon. Member, who has just sat down has made a speech which is important, because I have not the slightest doubt that he represents a very considerable body of feeling and opinion in this country. If the hon. Member were dealing with a new country, where we were proposing to establish new institutions, and if he were laying down the general principles on which we were to act in so doing, then I should be very much disposed to agree with him. But, Mr. Speaker, we are not dealing with a new country; we are dealing with Ireland, a country which is different from England and different from Scotland, and which more resembles other parts of our Empire than it resembles any part we have close at home. To me it seems that the speech of the hon. Member, honest and sincere as I recognise it was, was marked by a degree of insularism and intolerance towards those of a different point of view which makes the hon. Member an unfit judge to pronounce upon the issue before the House. I rise to address the House as the representative of a Presbyterian constituency, as the representative of a constituency that is as anti-Catholic as the constituency of the hon. Member for Thirsk, and I have not the least doubt that in what I am going to say, and in the vote I intend to give, I shall be representing the best, the most valuable and the truly-representative element in my constituency. Mr. 792 Speaker, the hon. Member for the Thirsk Division warned the Government of what they would have to face. He said that to support the Amendment would be to go against the entire Protestant opinion of Ireland, with the exception of "a few details." It is interesting to consider what these "details" are. In the first place there is the right hon. Gentleman the First Lord of the Treasury, there is my right hon. Friend, the Member for Montrose—than whom no one has taken up a stronger position in regard to the emancipation of teaching, not only in the Universities, but in our public schools, from religious control—there is that very substantial "detail," the present Chancellor of the Exchequer, and there are the two hon. Members for the University of Dublin. You have got that list of names of distinguished and prominent laymen who were referred to by the hon. Member for East Mayo in one of the most eloquent and convincing speeches I have ever had the pleasure of listening to in this House. Mr. Speaker, I prefer to be defeated with the "details" than to succeed with the majority in this case. The hon. Member for the Thirsk Division said that the Catholics of Ireland are subjected to no grievance, as the University Colleges of Ireland are open to them. I wonder what would have been the view of the hon. Member, holding these principles sincerely as he does, if he had to deal with a case which has not ccurred in this country, but which might have occurred. Suppose the Universities of Oxford and Cambridge were as much impregnated with Catholicism as they are with Protestantism, and suppose that in every common room were to be found, not clergymen of the Church of England, but priests of the Church of Home. What then would have been the attitude of English Protestants? I believe that English Protestants would have taken up a strictly moderate attitude, and that they would not have denied the right of the majority to do all they could to capture de facto, if not de jure, those ancient Universities. They would have said, "True it is we cannot dispossess the Catholic majority from the hold they have," but they would have asked that provision should be made by which their sons would be able to obtain University education free from the con- 793 trol and domination of Roman Catholic ecclesiastics—a state of things which you could not exclude by any Act of Parliament, which you could not get rid of by tests and conditions, but which you would have to face. That is exactly the position you have in Ireland. I am convinced that much of the opposition that has been formed among hon. Members who sit around me has been formed on an imperfect acquaintance with the real condition of things in Ireland at the present moment. I have received this morning a circular letter from the Liberation Society, declaring that the true view on this question was the disendowment of the Protestant Episcopalian teaching in Trinity College, Dublin. I dare say there is a great deal in that view. If one were dealing with a new country, in which new institutions had to be introduced, I think I should be inclined myself to talk over the matter with the leaders of the Liberation Society. Put we are not dealing with a new country, nor with the leaders of the Liberation Society. It was proved in 1873 that the ascendancy of Protestantism in Ireland is too strong for any attempt to dispossess it of the positions it holds to succeed. It was proved that if you attempted to destroy such a venerable, such a justly-respected institution as Trinity College, Dublin, you would be doing a great wrong to a large number of people whose opinions were entitled to the greatest consideration; and, when I read such speeches as were delivered not long ago à propos of this question, when I read the letter of my hon. Friend the Member for Dublin University, when I read the eloquent expression of conviction that the time has come when, while Protestants preserve, and insist on preserving, their rights, the rights of others must be respected, I feel that the policy of the Liberation Society, much as there is in the abstract to recommend it, is not a practical policy judged by the test of existing facts. One alternative having been shut out—the alternative, namely, of undenominationalism—what is the situation we have to deal with? You have got Trinity College, Dublin, it is perfectly true, by virtue of the Act of 1873, freed from tests, but it is a thoroughly Protestant institution. You have got the 794 greatest liberties there, and large-minded men who wish to do all they can to encourage Catholic students, but the thing is impossible. It cannot be done. It is beyond human power. Then you have the Queen's Colleges, They are perfectly Protestant Colleges, which receive large grants of public money, but at the same time they consist almost exclusively of Protestants. In Belfast, the head of the college is a Protestant, the professors are mainly Protestant, the teachers are Protestant, the tendencies of the lecturer in theology and history are practically Protestant, and, if they ceased to be so there are people who would very soon cause an inquiry to be made into the matter. You have in Ireland a case where the institutions that there are get into the possession of one Party or the other, and they are at present exclusively in the possession of a powerful Protestant minority. The question before the House is not absolute religious equality, but it is, substantially, whether the Catholics of Ireland, four-fifths of the population of the island, are to go without University education. The Royal University of Dublin is a very valuable and useful institution, and I have heard hon. Members in this House ask, "Why should not the Catholic population be content to receive their education elsewhere, and then go up to the Royal University—a purely undenominational examining body—for their degrees, and be satisfied with that?" That is an argument we cannot listen to. It has already been decided in the case of London University that that kind of examination, however useful, cannot take the place of training in the college of a University. We have got, first of all, to recognise that we are face to face with a very grave fact. It is that four-fifths of the people of Ireland, roughly speaking, are Catholic. The Government are, at this moment, proposing a large extension of policy in Ireland, and you are suggesting that what you want is to give people of Irish association, of Irish birth, of Irish responsibility, power to administer the affairs of the country itself. You are suggesting that, in the face of all that increased demand for education with which we stand face to face, you are to continue to shut your eyes to the wishes of four-fifths of the people of Ire- 795 land. Now, to my mind, this is a very grave state of things, and when my hon. Friend opposite speaks of this great principle of undenominational education, which he is going in for, I would remind him that, if I am not mistaken, he was one of those who supported a proposition to give a grant to King's College, in London, made by the present Government; a College subject to tests which the Irish Bishops are willing to forego and are anxious to have removed in the case of a University institution. My hon. Friend may be consistent, but it is very difficult for hon. Members opposite, however strong their Protestant proclivities may be, to maintain the vote to King's College and to refuse, on the floor of the House, to apply the same principle to Ireland. We are face to face with this situation: Will you educate or will you not educate that large majority of the people who are Catholics, and who do not go, at the present time, to the Universities? It is no use saying that they can go to the Universities, for experience has proved that they won't go. You are dealing with facts which you have recognised in other parts of the Empire, which you have recognised in your soldiers in India, and facts which you have got to recognise wherever you try to bring about that very important end of educating a large body of people, who are under the control of a strong sectarian belief. It has been found impossible in Canada to carry it out consistently, so far as the local administration of the Government of that country is concerned, in connection with education, and you cannot carry it out on the present occasion. When I think of the difference between my own country of Scotland and the condition of things that exist in Ireland in this matter I am ashamed. Hon. Members sometimes speak—I don't think that they really speak deliberately after having considered it—but they speak lightly of a University education as if it was a sort of luxury. Well, I can only say, speaking from my own knowledge, that it represents the life and backbone of a large part of the people of Scotland. The Universities that we have in Scotland are not the Universities of the rich, but of the poor, and I venture to say that nothing has done more to make 796 the Government of Scotland staid, and nothing had tended more to destroy caste and privilege and to cement the strong attraction that there is to good government, than the phenomena you have seen in Scotland of the benefits of University education being extended to the very humblest classes. Now, Mr. Speaker, that condition of things is valuable, because it opens up an immense field upon which to draw for the purpose of supplying your Government offices and of filling the higher position in the State. I feel that it is a state of things without which Ireland is incomplete. I feel less responsibility to meet it than I should if I sat upon those Benches opposite, for reasons that I won't enter into now. Surely it is incumbent upon you to do all you can to give them such liberty as is consistent with the present condition of things, the liberty to make the best of their conditions. The case we have to face is one in which we have a peculiar and grave responsibility. It is not a matter to be discussed merely on the Irish Benches; it is not a matter to be discussed merely with hon. Members who represent Ulster constituencies; it is a matter the responsibility for which rests with us. We are called upon to set aside our prejudices, and to come to this matter with the feeling that we are under a solemn obligation to do not what may suit our prejudices, but what is right under the circumstances of the case. And it is because I feel that in the speech which the right hon. Gentleman opposite has made he has been doing the right thing, however inconvenient to himself, and however he may have embarrassed himself with his Party, that I have resolved that in any future steps he may take I will approach the subject with my mind free from any Party bias, and with a desire to solve this great problem in Ireland, whatever his political opinions may be.
§ COLONEL SAUNDERSON (Armagh, North)
The hon. Member has given us instances of what happened in Scotland, but he did not tell us whether or not those Universities were denominational. I do not expect they were, but I suspect those Colleges were open to all classes and creeds. Those are the sort of Colleges with which I have sympathy. Now, with 797 regard to the speech of the hon. Member for Mayo. In the conclusion of his speech—which, perhaps I may be permitted to say, was a very able speech—he put me, I am afraid, out of court. I am more catholic-minded than the hon. Member for Mayo, who, according to his speech, has the general consensus of all the men of ability in Ireland in his favour, and that all men whose opinions are worth anything at all side with him. As I do not sympathise with him, I suppose I have little chance of coming under that head. I go to this extent: I believe that there are a great many very intelligent men in Ireland who hold views upon this question diametrically opposed to those of the hon. Member for Mayo. These are questions which I think we can argue without heat and without offence, and I think they are questions which must be argued out to the very bottom in the House of Commons. In the remarks I shall make I hope the hon. Gentlemen opposite will not imagine that I have any intention whatever, in anything I may say, to find any fault, or even to discuss, the religious opinions of gentlemen and classes who do not agree with me. Holding those opinions, they are justified, no doubt, in the action they have taken. The hon. Member for Mayo has one difficulty, for he finds that the gentlemen above the Gangway, with whom he sits, are not all in accord with his views, and he would remind them that when they swallowed Home Rule they swallowed more than they bargained for. In swallowing Home Rule, according to the Member for Mayo, they also swallowed denominational education for Ireland. Apparently, hon. Members below the Gangway were unaware of that fact, but, at any rate, they know it now, and I am rather surprised that the hon. Member for Mayo and his friends, when the political circumstances of the case were such that the hon. Gentleman's Party were in power—when they could, at will, have turned the Government majority into a minority—that he did not press forward this burning question. Home Rule naturally had prior claims. Why did they not bring up this burning question, which, according to the Member for Mayo, was then a burning question? The Liberal Party were then in a plastic condition. They could have moulded them 798 and twisted them, and stretched them out to any extent. Why did not they force the Party to bring forward this question, which has been burning deep into the hearts of the Irish people for ever so many years? Well, Sir, whether the question of the evicted tenants, in the mind of the hon. Member for Mayo, and the question of a denominational university for Ireland, are about the same level, I do not know, but I really do not think they represent questions which so deeply affect the people of Ireland, as the hon. Member makes out. What did the hon. Member do? He appealed to the future; he appealed to the past; and he appealed to the present; and he pointed out a happy time in years gone by, when Ireland was one of the great educationalist centres of the world. Well, Sir, I am rather surprised that the hon. Member, in supporting a Bill for establishing in Ireland a Roman Catholic University, should have gone back to that period—the seventh and eighth centuries. At the time when Ireland was a centre of educational promise in Europe she was not under the authority of Rome at all.
§ COLONEL SAUNDERSON
The authority of Rome was stamped on the notice of the people of Ireland by the English. I do not deny for a moment that there was a time when the Irish Roman Catholics suffered from grave disabilities. I am talking of the time that preceded the Maynooth Grant. We all know that before that time an Irish Roman Catholic who desired to enter the Church had to go to foreign countries to obtain his education. Ever since the Maynooth Grant, the Roman Catholics had been able to educate their clergy at the expense of the State, and, therefore, an undoubted and admitted grievance had passed away. The next great grievance that struck them was the Established Church. I have never heard that the Irish Church in any way interfered with or injured the Roman Catholics of Ireland. They did not like it; it was entirely a sentimental grievance, and it was disestablished and disendowed. That was supposed to sweep away for ever the main 799 cause of objection on the part of the Roman Catholics of Ireland to legislation which affected their country. Now they want something more. They want a University to be established in Ireland, at the expense of the State, which will be ruled by Irish Catholic priests. The hon. Member for Mayo was especially qualified to bring forward this Measure. The hon. Member is backed up by the Irish priests. If it had not been for the actions of the Irish priests at the late elections, a very large percentage of the Irish Members would now be following the hon. Member for Waterford. Every effort was put forward by them on behalf of the hon. Member for Mayo; therefore, I say, as it must necessarily be so, that he is qualified to speak in the name of the priests. Now, I say that a University, a Roman Catholic University, established in Ireland must, of a necessity, be governed and managed by the Irish Catholic priests. The hon. Members opposite say, "No, no"; but that is the fact necessarily. The hon. Member for Mayo tells us that the laity and the Roman Catholic clergy of Ireland are absolutely united in their views upon this problem, and have always been so, and he referred to a declaration of the Irish laymen. There was no doubt that this declaration assisted their cause, and there was a great deal to be said in favour, but it had been made before the tests were abolished.
§ COLONEL SAUNDERSON
That is quite possible, but even if it was, I have not seen it, and even if I had seen it, it would not have produced the slightest impression on my mind. I do not see how you can—how it is possible, under existing conditions—get an accurate estimate of what the Roman Catholic layman's feeling in Ireland might be. In Ireland the Roman Catholic clergy claim not only to govern the spiritual part of men's minds, but also the moral parts of men's minds, which, although some people may object to my saying so, includes politics; and under those circumstances, what sort of a man would the Irish layman be? He would have to 800 be a brave and a plucky man who got up and deliberately opposed a proposition of this kind, in the face of the Roman Catholic clergy. I have spoken to a good many Roman Catholic gentlemen on the subject, and I found there was a large majority of persons among them who think that these proposals of the hon Member, and the priests and clergy he represents, would be injurious to the best interests of Ireland. I hold in my hand a letter from an Irish priest, whose name I will not mention, but whether the hon Members believe it or not to be genuine I do not care. This gentleman alludes in the letter to the safeguards which the Irish Roman Catholic Bishops were ready to accept if you create a Roman Catholic University in Ireland. They say they were ready to agree to have a majority of laymen on the governing board. I daresay they are, because that means nothing. This gentleman writes home that, although he disagrees on many points with me, he is in accord with the one in which I have opposed this Measure, and this gentleman points out to me that the safeguards would be absolutely worthless, because, he says, that if anyone on that board ventured to differ from the bishops he would be set down as a brébis galeusess which the House knows, I think, is French for rotten sheep, and as an enemy of the Church, and he would be got rid of with all convenient speed; and he goes on to say, referring to some laymen on the Board of the district Catholic University on St. Stephen's Green, who took a different view of their policy, that they were easily got rid of by never being again summoned to attend the Board. That letter shows that the feeling in favour of the creation of a Roman Catholic University is not so unanimous as the hon. Member for Mayo would have us believe. The view I take, and the view my friends take, tend to the fact that there is an overwhelming majority against it. The hon. Member for Mayo attempted to prove that a large proportion of the Unionists were in favour of this, and he proved it by stating that at every meeting speeches were made by people who attended those meetings, and he cited three meetings, and read letters from four people, who ware not present 801 at the meetings at all. One gentleman was Mr. Villiers Stuart.
§ *MR. DILLON
I quoted from passages in different speeches delivered at the meetings, and I might have gone on for an hour, and quoted dozens.
§ COLONEL SAUNDERSON
The hon. Member also mentioned Lord Waterford, and he also quoted Mr. Kavanagh. The latter gentleman had taken no part in public affairs, and therefore the mention of his name conveyed nothing to his mind.
§ COLONEL SAUNDERSON
One Irishman and two Englishmen, and it was well-known that Nationalists could get an Englishman to say or do anything. At any rate, he tried to prove the fact that a large proportion of the Irish Unionists were in favour of this Measure, and he brings forward, in support of that proof, the remarks of one Irishman and two Englishmen. In making that assertion—that a large proportion of the Irish Unionists were in favour of this Measure—the hon. Gentleman has surpassed even his own powers of imagination. To-day I represent on this question the overwhelming opinion of the Irish Unionists in regard to establishing a Roman Catholic University. Of course, I know that in opposing a Measure of this kind we will be called bigots, as we always are when we touch anything affecting the honour and authority of the Roman Catholics. I say that a bigot is a man who not only holds strong opinions himself, but who desires to shove those opinions strongly down the throats of other people who disagree with him. That has never been my desire or those of my friends. I am glad to have an opportunity of saying that, having spoken in Ireland during the last 15 years, I have never said anything that ought to give offence to the just susceptibilities of any Roman Catholic. I defy any hon. Gentleman to discover in any speech I have delivered any word to give just offence. I hold, certainly, very strong opinions; but what is our posi- 802 tion? We say that the Roman Catholic and the Protestant ought to start perfectly fair in the race of life in Ireland, whereas it is said they don't start fair—the Protestant is not handicapped, the Roman Catholic is. Who handicapped the Roman Catholic? Is it the State? Nothing of the kind. It is his own Church. The State has removed every obstacle in the way of all denominations of the land; there is no obstacle now that confronts the Protestant, or the Roman Catholic, or the Jew, or the Gentile before the State in Ireland. They all start fair. I am given to understand that the prohibition to attend our great Universities has been withdrawn. The Roman Catholic in England can go to Oxford or Cambridge. They are Catholic Universities just as Trinity College, Dublin is. Why then should their faith be so flimsy as to be injured by rubbing with a Protestant in a Protestant University? I really wonder the Roman Catholic clergy allow the hon. Gentleman opposite to come to this House, which is, after all, a great school, where we rub against heretics and people who disagree with our religious views every day of our lives. Why do they look on it as an injustice to Ireland because the Roman Catholics and the Irish Protestants are asked by the State to go shoulder to shoulder with Englishmen? What harm can there be in Catholic and Protestant students studying together Homer, Thucydides, Sophocles, a proposition in Euclid or the Integral Calculus. The Roman Catholic Bishops and Clergy suggest that it is possible that arithmetic, unsupervised, might be injurious to their faith. Fancy a man's religion being injured by the rule of three or vulgar fractions! That is not a creation of my own imagination. As the House will remember, before Mr. Gladstone brought in his University Bill, a Royal Commission examined Irishmen of different denominations, and amongst others some of the Roman Catholic Bishops, and if you take the trouble to look at the Report published in 1872 you will see what a Roman Catholic Bishop says on the subject. That is most important, seeing that the House is asked to sanction the creation of a University in Dublin, under the authority, and absolutely under the thumb of the Roman Catholic Bishops. Honestly they believe what they say. That is so; that is what the Bishop of 803 Down, Dr. Dorrian, says. The Bishop was asked a question about the authority claimed by the Roman Catholic Church in faith and morals. His answer was this—There are some even of the ordinary branches of education which ought not to be imparted without religious education. Even in arithmetic there might arise points of a metaphysical kind which a teacher might explain injuriously.The motto of the Roman Catholic Church, we know, is always the same—Semper eadem—and can anyone, at the end of the 19th century, imagine an Assembly like the House of Commons deliberately voting public money to establish a University governed by such men as that? I remember, when the Home Rule Debates were on, Mr. Gladstone and others used to cite other countries, to show what a splendid thing Home Rule was; for example, Austria, Norway, and Sweden. I wonder why? I am surprised the hon. Member for East Mayo did not give us some citation from other countries—Germany, Sweden, Austria, and France, or even Spain—in order to show the House of Commons that other countries had adopted the principles contained in his Amendment. He did not, for the best of all reasons, because he could not. Dr. Kane was asked before the Commission whether he could instance any country in the world which had adopted the principle of exclusive control by Bishops of the education of the people in its entirety, and he said he could not. No other civilisation in the world has adopted this principle. And yet the House of Commons, at the end of the 19th century, is asked to adopt it. I suppose that I will be told that I am opposing this from bigoted motives. I do nothing of the kind. I oppose it because it is against what I believe to be the highest things a man can aim for, so far as this world is concerned—that is, the furtherance of the education and knowledge of the people. One thing I have remarked in the course of my Parliamentary career is that Governments, especially when backed by a great majority, have a diabolical ingenuity in devising some means by which they can break up that majority. I am one of the rank and file of the Unionist Party, and few men have fought more strenuously—and, I think, with more 804 success—to build up and create that majority, of which my right hon. Friend the Leader of the House, is the trusted chief. The right hon. Gentleman is a very able and ingenious man, but I do not think that even his ingenuity can conceive a method more likely to break up and shatter and destroy that majority than embarking on this mediaeval principle of denominational Roman Catholic education in Ireland. I can only say this, that the making of such an attempt broke down and shattered the majority that followed Mr. Gladstone in 1874. The Roman Catholic priests at that time, to show their gratitude for his efforts, turned out of their seats every supporter of his in Ireland. No one can deny that the proposal before the House is a retrograde movement and contrary to the principles on which the House has acted with regard to education in England, Scotland, and Ireland, during the last 50 years. To justify the House of Commons in flying in the face of past experience and principles it has been so proud to enunciate in establishing freedom of thought in this country it should require overwhelming reason to induce any Government to take the step proposed. Do you think for one moment that you will buy the permanent support of the Roman Catholic priests? Nothing but permanent domination and exclusion from Ireland of British authority will do that; and in following this political will-o'-the-wisp, which destroyed a former Liberal Government, the present Government will be following steps that will lead them and their great majority, and the noble Party behind them, to everlasting destruction—at any rate, it ought to be everlasting destruction. A great Party that tramples on the principles it formerly supported never deserves to come to the front. Should the Government at some future period introduce a Bill to give Ireland a university, which means supremacy in matters of education of Roman Catholic priests, they will receive from Irish Unionists unhesitating and unswerving opposition. The Amendment at least gives to those who think with me an opportunity of stating what our feeling is as to any policy of the nature suggested, and of warning our leaders—and I do warn them, in my name, which is of but little 805 importance, and in the name of those who act with me, which is of great importance, that in pursuing this course they will wreck and destroy the great Party which has in the past been mainly instrumental in building up the authority and the power of the British Empire.
§ MR. TIMOTHY HEALY (Louth, N.)
The hon. and gallant Gentleman who has just sat down appears to labour under the delusion that this is the first time on which a Motion of this kind has been made in this House. It is certainly true that this is the first time he has spoken, I think, upon such a Motion, and that in itself is a remarkable fact. It is also a remarkable fact that, when Mr. Gladstone proposed in '73 to establish a Catholic University in Ireland, the hon. and gallant Gentleman did not oppose the Motion. He had absolutely no opposition whatever to make. When Motions of this kind have been proposed at other times, the hon. and gallant Gentleman has remained silent, and I would ask the House to draw from that fact the curious deduction that he has been galvanised into his present position on the question by societies outside the House, and that he is simply acting—I do not like to say as a puppet, but at least acting on behalf of those societies but for which he would never have troubled himself to speak on this question. The hon. and gallant Gentleman has stated that he is no bigot. Cromwell said exactly the same thing—I am entirely," he said, "in favour of religious freedom, but if by that you mean the practice of the Mass, then I will take the head off anybody who says the Mass.But Cromwell, we know, was no bigot, and neither is the hon. and gallant Gentleman. The late Dr. Trench, Protestant Archbishop of Dublin, speaks in one of his books of the coarse polemics of Reformation, and I think the hon. and gallant Gentleman has endeavoured to treat us with some of these polemics, because what he desires to engage the House upon is not a discussion as to the desirability of conferring University training upon Catholics, but a Debate as to the rela- 806 tive merits of the Catholic and Protestant systems of religion. Is that a problem which the statesmen who had to deal with the question from the point of view of Imperial interest have to decide? The hon. and gallant Member has asked for a single instance where the British Crown has tolerated such a system as we desire. I will give him one, the Laval University of Canada. And, strange to say, the hon. and learned Gentleman who spoke before him (Mr. Grant Lawson) told us that any person educated under such auspices must be either a rebel or a fool.
MR. GRANT LAWSON
I did not say that. I said a man educated under a certain system might become either a fool or a rebel.
§ MR. T. M. HEALY
But that system is exactly what they have got in Canada, and yet the hon. and learned Gentleman and his friends were the first to enthusiastically welcome, at the late Jubilee celebrations, Sir Wilfred Laurier, one of the most distinguished pupils of the University, who should, under the conditions which the hon. and learned Gentleman postulates, have turned out either a rebel or a fool. The question for the House is this: we are told "We have no quarrel with Catholicity." This is your position—but you in Ireland must accept Protestant institutions, organised by Protestants, and if you do not accept those institutions, the fault is the priests.That was, in effect, stated both by the last speaker and by the hon. and learned Gentleman the Member for South Leeds. I think we might go further back. We may have some quarrel with the priests on this question, but we had a quarrel with a still higher power. We had a quarrel with the Almighty, because that is the position that the Catholics take up. You may dislike it, or you may like it, but the Catholics, and I as one of them, regard our priest as the ministers of God, for that is the position which we occupy when we listen to their teaching. You have three and a half millions of people in Ireland, accepting that position, believing in the religion which these priests teach, believing in the system whose ministers they are; 807 and the question for you, as British statesmen, is this—are you willing that Catholics, believing in your own religion, should be able so to accommodate that religion to a higher training as to take the benefit of University teaching? Of course, I know very well that the arguments which have been used here to-day have been used similarly in former times with great success. There was nothing, for instance, to prevent a Catholic from coming into this House before 1829. He had only to declare that he did not believe in Transubstantiation. It was a simple thing, only a few words on the Bible, but, somehow, the Catholics did not take to it. And what was it that kept them away? Why, the power of the priests, and the call of conscience—a sacred tiling in the Protestant, as certain hon. Gentlemen would have us believe, but a miserable thing in a Catholic.
§ MR. T. M. HEALY
If it be in accordance with the conscience of a Catholic that he must not send his child to a Protestant school organised by Protestants, is that a reason why that child should be kept in ignorance? And that must necessarily be the position taken up by hon. Members opposite. You were logical when you cut priests' throats, you were logical when you put the same price on the heads of priests and Catholic schoolmasters as on the heads of wolves, and you were logical when you decided that Catholicism and clericalism were enemies to be driven out of the land. But you have abandoned your logic. You have come down to different times, and the question you have now to address yourselves to is this: given the existence of something like 4,000,000 of your Catholic fellow-subjects, how to find a University training for them? I know no better way of stating the question. If you begin from the other end, what do you arrive at. Start from the position that Catholicity is superstition, then, by easy stages, you arrive at the conclusion that the Catholic has not the right even to breathe, much less to be educated at the public expense. But, if you start with 808 your modern ideas that in every position in the State, except the Sovereignty, the Catholic is entitled to equal rights with the Protestant, and that University training is equally desirable for all, is not the problem to be solved how, without injury to the State, to bring to the Catholic student the same element of secular good which you instil into the mind of the Protestant? The penal laws were logical, but when once you abandon those great principles—for which, no doubt, a good deal is to be said—and agree that education is a great and good thing in itself, then you arrive at the position of conferring this desirable thing even on the Catholic population.
§ *MR. WILLIAM JOHNSTON (Belfast, S.)
The qualifications of the Orange Order forbid that anyone should be upbraided or injured on account of his religious opinions.
§ MR. T. M. HEALY
I should be glad if some of that spirit was shown by the Orange Order; and I am quite satisfied now that words in that spirit will be found on the books of the institution. But what is persecution? Is it not persecution of me that I can find no University in Ireland to which I can, with satisfaction to my conscience as a Catholic, send my children? Why should my children be brought up in ignorance, so far as University education goes, when your children are not? Of course, you say, "Send your children to Trinity College." Yes, and incur the risk of excommunication. It is quite simple with regard to the conscience of a Catholic. Treat it as a nullity, and then, of course, the other position logically follows. Why do you not treat the French Catholics in Canada in the same way? Why are not the principles of the Orange Order rampant in the University of Laval? Why have I to emigrate to Canada before I can get this University teaching for my children? And how is it that here, in this House, a protest is made against my receiving the same treatment as the French Catholics in Canada receive? Let me say what I think. I think the State is entitled to see that it gets value for its money; that in all matters of secular 809 learning the money of its citizens and taxpayers shall not be thrown away. The hon. Gentleman said of the Liberal Party that when they adopted Home Rule they had to swallow denominational education in Ireland. Has he thought of the converse of that proposition, that when the Unionist Party came uppermost they pledged themselves to do everything for Ireland and for the Irish Catholics included which in reason an Irish Parliament would be allowed to do? Is not your position as Unionists this? Has it not been laid down again and again by every one of those great Unionist Leaders whose principles you prize, that you cannot take their principles by halves? You cannot adopt Unionist principles for the purpose of rejecting Home Rule, and discard them for the purpose of refusing Catholic University Education. Is not the question this, that the House is willing at all times to give to the Irish people, under the sanction of Imperial supremacy, everything in reason which an Irish Parliament would give to its citizens? In this matter Ireland's right is no man's wrong. We do not seek to deprive the Protestants of Trinity College of one acre of their lands, or one shilling of their revenues. We are willing that the Presbyterians of Belfast, if they desire it, should have the Queen's College in Belfast erected into a University. Am I to be told that, when the Catholics make a demand for University training in accordance with the principles of their Church, they are alone to be denied a reasonable satisfaction of their claims? I can quite understand the hon. Gentleman saying of the Government that, as far as he was concerned, he disliked this position, but still, in the interests of the Union, he was willing to swallow all that. We used to hear that class of speeches from the Liberal Unionists when coercion was on the stocks. We used to hear it said, when a Motion was made upon any subject upon which the Unionist Government of the day was supposed to have gone wrong, that in the interests of maintaining a Unionist Government, and a united country, Members would swallow their convictions and go into the Lobby with the Government on these subjects. The whole of the speech of the hon. and gallant Gentleman was an attack in effect upon 810 the First Lord of the Treasury. That right hon. Gentleman long before this question was opened pledged himself at Manchester and Partick, and many other places, to the principles of a Catholic University. He has had the courage boldly and eloquently to defend these principles in this House, and I can assure him that, while we surrender none of our Nationalist principles, we are none the less grateful to him for it. We do not tell the Government, as the hon. and gallant Gentleman supposes we do, that if you do this thing we will bargain with you for the surrender of our country and the surrender of our consciences. We say nothing of the kind. He won't, and I tell him so boldly to-day, by giving Catholic University Education for Ireland, get one single vote more from any man on these Benches. Therefore I am the more confident in appealing to him on this question, upon the broad principles of justice alone. He is an Imperial statesman. He believes, and I do not believe, that under the protecting ægis of this House you can satisfy the aspirations of the Irish race, and give them those reasonable liberties which they are claiming. He says, and, I think, con scientiously believes, that in the course of time—centuries, perhaps, but he is willing to wait—the Irish race will lose their cherished traditions and become as Scotland is, under the Imperial Parliament. I entirely differ from him. But he is bound by virtue of his convictions to carry out the principles in which he believes. He knows that education is a good thing, good both for Catholics and for Protestants. Knowing that, and also knowing that by reason of their principles Catholics are denied and denuded of these opportunities and facilities which Protestants enjoy, he is bound to establish a system of higher University education in Ireland. We should be false to ourselves, and our country if we pretended we were here in any position of treaty or bargaining with him. It has never been pretended, and I am sure the right hon. Gentleman will be the first to declare it, that he will do this thing for the purpose of a sop for Catholics, but he is willing and would do it, because he believes that it is the 811 only means by which higher University education will ever be able to reach the Catholic population. For my own part, I have only to say that in this matter England owes Ireland a very great debt. We are taunted frequently by Englishmen with our poverty when you have stolen our goods, and with our ignorance when you have deprived us of education. Do you suppose that Irishmen forget that it is not yet a century ago when it was impossible for a Catholic to learn to read and write? That in the words of one of your Judges, "The people and the teacher met, feloniously, to learn." Do you suppose these things do not go to make up the Celtic attitude in regard to your rule, which has perplexed so many of your statesmen? I should have thought that the first gentlemen to have endeavoured to give to the Irish people some reasonable satisfaction on this University question would have been those whose Protestantism was the strongest. The fact that you hold your own tenets with so much strength should enable you to allow us to hold ours with the same tenacity. The Member for South Tyrone, the Secretary of the Local Government Board, in those able speeches which he has delivered in Ireland on this question, has well put the difference between Protestants and Catholics. He asks the Catholics—Is your faith so weak that you cannot go to Trinity College and stand shoulder to shoulder there with the youth who are striving to obtain learning?He put this illustration—Supposing Trinity College, instead of having a Protestant service every morning, had the Mass; and supposing that, instead of its Professors and Fellows being members of the Protestant Church they were all Jesuits; and supposing that the works which were taught were books which were approved by the Roman Curia, and had the imprimatur of the Vatican upon them, would you like to have your children set arithmetic under such conditions?You all admit that you would not, and yet you tell us, the Members of more ancient Faith than your own, 812 that we must lower our flag and surrender our convictions, and bow our heads under the yoke which you would refuse to submit to. No, Sir, I say the position which we occupy is a reasonable one. Granted the existence of the Catholic Church, and of Roman Catholics, who believe in and reverence the clergy of that Church as the ministers of God, because we can take up no other position than refuse that boon which we ask, and the Catholic Church at home and abroad will become aware that it is only in Ireland that that kind of destitution must prevail. Do you really think that your rule would be weakened if Catholics enjoy these advantages of University education? I had supposed that, as Unionists boast that they have on their side all the education, the culture, and learning that exists in Ireland, it would be a greater reason why they would allow Catholics to have extended to them some of that culture and learning, to enable them to see whether they cannot accommodate their position to that of England and Unionism. I believe this question, as far as the Government is concerned, has now resolved itself into one of opportunity and want of time. I do not believe that hon. Gentlemen opposite can use the machinery of the Unionist Government, and the ability of Unionist Ministers to uphold the position in Ireland for one purpose alone. It must stand by the declarations of its Ministers, and I shall be surprised to hear that, simply because the Orange Party declare that 10 or 11 Members belonging to that Party will oppose the Government, the Government will withhold from the Catholics of Ireland, what they believe to be just and right.
§ *MR. LECKY (Dublin University)
The hon. and gallant Member for North Armagh, in an eloquent and somewhat alarming peroration, has suggested the possibility of differences in the Unionist Party, and between Irish 813 Unionists. I do not wish to separate myself more than I can help from my hon. and gallant Friend, and I therefore will begin by saying that I have no intention of voting for an Amendment which declares that in the circumstances of the present year, crowded as it is with Irish Local Government, and other matters, the Government are bound to establish a Catholic University. Nor do I intend to vote for an Amendment ostensibly at least directed against a Government, which has done more than any Government for a very long time past to bring within the range of practical politics, a question which I, like the Mover of the Amendment, think ought now to be in that position. Nobody could be more in favour of purely undenominational and unsectarian University education than I am. I have always believed it to be of the greatest importance to Ireland that the members of the different religions should mix together at the period when friendships are most formed and enthusiasm is at its height. If I could see the very smallest chance of the great body of the Roman Catholics of Ireland accepting this idea, most certainly I should not be on the side of anything like a sectarian University. But the first question we have to ask is: Is it true that a large body of lay Catholics in Ireland of the class which can send their sons to a University desire to have a University of a more sectarian character and find it contrary to their consciences to send their sons to the endowed Colleges already existing? Is it true that, in consequence of this fact, the number of University students in Ireland is appreciably and even scandalously less than on any proper computation they ought to be? It appears to me to be entirely impossible to resist giving an affirmative answer to both of these questions. I fully admit there has been a good deal of exaggeration on the subject. You cannot compare the number of Uni- 814 versity students of the two creeds by the mere test of population, for the vast majority of the Catholics of Ireland are of a class who could not, under any possible circumstances, send their sons to a University. It is quite true, too, as has been said, that divinity students form a large proportion of the Protestant University students, while the Roman Catholic divinity students are amply provided for at Maynooth, which for a long time received £26,000 a year from the Consolidated Fund, and which, when that endowment ceased, obtained a lump sum of £360,000 from the Church Fund. I do not think the Irish priests have anything to complain of, for they have what they desire in the form they wish—they have a college entirely under ecclesiastical control, and largely endowed with public money. I think, too, that the opinion of the Catholic representatives on this question, though it has great weight, may, perhaps, be overvalued. All over Catholic Ireland the representatives are practically returned by two classes: by the priests, who have no children, and by small farmers and agricultural labourers, who are not, perhaps, the best judges of University education. But let us look at the facts broadly, and let us consider whether it is or is not time that the great body of the Catholic laity consider themselves aggrieved by the fact that there is no distinctively Roman Catholic College. We have had memorial after memorial brought forward on the subject—one of them, presented only a few months ago—signed by the very classes who can provide University training for their sons and by the classes who, of all others, are the most independent. The whole body, without exception, of the Roman Catholic peerage in Ireland have signed a memorial in favour of a change in University education. Nearly all the Irish Roman Catholic judges have signed memorials in the same sense, and only within the past few 815 days three of the most eminent among them—two of them graduates of Trinity College—have written letters to a meeting on the subject. A large number of leading Catholic landlords have taken the same course. They can speak with great independence, for under the present condition of Irish politics they are so excluded from political life, that if it had not been for the existence of the House of Lords, which sometimes provides what is wanting in the House of Commons, the loyalist Catholics would have been almost totally unrepresented in Parliament. One hon. Member read a private letter—the name of the writer of it was not given us—protesting against a Catholic University, but there has been no public protest from any Irish Roman Catholic against the scheme. Protests, no doubt, have come in abundance. We have had protests from Methodists, Baptists, Wesleyans, and from the Liberation Society, but from the class of persons specially concerned in this matter, from the Roman Catholics who wish to send their sons to a University, we have had no protest whatever. Are these memorials mere idle words, or do they represent genuine conviction? Is it a fact that the Roman Catholic students in existing colleges in Ireland are in any degree of the number they should be? Take first my own University—Trinity College. It is a University which, I may say without undue boasting, stands in the same rank as the great Universities of England. It has never, I believe, been richer in ability and learning than at present, and during nearly the whole of its history it has been eminently identified with the cause of religious liberty. As far back as 1793 Trinity College threw open its degrees to Roman Catholics, in 1854 it founded a large number of scholarships for their benefit, and in 1873 it swept away every test and threw every honour open to members of all denominations. There is absolutely nothing in its curriculum 816 which the most jealous theological scrutiny could find fault with, or that is in any way offensive to the Catholic religion. There is, it is true, a divinity school, but it is simply for scholars going into the Church of Ireland. It has nothing to do with any other students. The College is so essentially unsectarian that residence is not even necessary, and it is quite possible for a student to live in a monastery while going through his course. Over a long period of its history Roman Catholics came freely to it, and nine-tenths of those who have been most distinguished at the bar, or on the bench, were educated in Trinity College. Yet how many Roman Catholics are there now? The College has been condemned by the bishops, who have warned Roman Catholics not to send their sons there, and what has been the result? I have here an estimate of the number of Roman Catholics who have been there for the six years ending with 1897. In that period there have been 1497 matriculations, and out of these only 114 were Roman Catholics. The largest number was in 1896, when there were 10 per cent.; in 1897 the percentage fell to 8, and at the present moment, I believe, there are a little less than 100 Roman Catholics on the books. Turn next to the Queen's Colleges. They at least are purely unsectarian. They have no divinity school among them. Two of them are in the most Roman Catholic portion of Ireland, and are presided over by Roman Catholics of the highest distinction. Yet what has been the result? They, too, have been condemned by the Church, and Roman Catholics have acted upon the condemnation. The most popular among the Catholics is Cork, and I find from the last report that there are 206 students there, of whom 116 are Roman Catholics. At Galway, out of 105 only 46 are Roman Catholics, and at Belfast, out of 380 there are only 16. The result of all this is that in the colleges 817 endowed by the State in Ireland there are only about 278 Roman Catholics. And remember that this is in a country where considerably more than 3,000,000 of the population are Roman Catholics. Remember, too, that of late years the prosperity of the middle classes has considerably increased, and the most strenuous efforts have been made in favour of education. Some Catholic schools have attained considerable eminence. Between 8,000 and 9,000 pupils, most of them being Catholics, paw annually through the examinations of the intermediate education, and it has been truly said that one of the main objects of that education is to prepare students for University education. Can anyone honestly say that such a state of things is satisfactory, or even tolerable? English Members hardly realise the state of education in Ireland. We have had an excellent system of national education since 1834, and the result is that at the last General Election one out of every five electors professed to be unable to read the name of the candidate on the ballot paper. We have an excellent system of colleges and universities, yet, out of 3,250,000 Roman Catholics, we have not more than 300 Roman Catholic students in colleges endowed by the State. What is the reason of this? It has been said, again and again, it is due to the priests and the attitude they have taken up. This is perfectly true, but it is no real answer. The true question is, what do the laity wish? You are dealing with a country where an independent lay public opinion among Roman Catholics on matters of education can scarcely be said to exist. The laity follow, as a matter of conscience, the orders which are issued by their priests. What the priests think the laity think. Could there be a greater absurdity than for the Liberation Society to say that the true settlement of Irish University education is to make it, if possible, more unsectarian and secular than at present, 818 when its unsectarianism is the very reason why the immense majority of Roman Catholics of the upper and middle classes refuse to have anything to do with it? It may be said that there is the Royal University, but that is merely an examining body, and I think we all agree that an examining body is not sufficient for a University education. Of those who go to it, a large proportion come from colleges unendowed by the State, and they have to compete with pupils from endowed colleges. I think, Sir, that the grounds I have laid down will be sufficient to show what my views on this subject of University education, are. I have not the least desire to see increased denominational education, if it is possible to avoid it, but I am, convinced that it is our duty to enable the Roman Catholic students to compete in all respects with their Protestant countrymen on an equal footing. The best solution would be the appointment of professors to teach Catholic theology and ecclesiastical history to students of their own creed in the existing Universities, allowing those students in all other branches to compete freely with their Protestant fellows; but it is perfectly clear, I am afraid, that this solution will not be accepted by the Roman Catholics. They would rather shut themselves out altogether from University education than accept such a scheme. While this is the case, there is a great evil to be remedied. It is a great evil for a country that one large section of the people are debarred by conscientious motives from having that University education which they ought to have. But there is another aspect to the question. I observe from the speeches which have been made by some of the Roman Catholic prelates that they propose, if a Catholic University is established, to send to it the candidates for the priesthood. The importance of such a step could hardly be exaggerated. The importance of giving a University education to the Irish priests was brought forward very prominently in the last 819 century by Hely Hutchinson, a Provost of Trinity College, and one of the best statesmen of Ireland. He wished to have free diocesan schools for the benefit of Catholic Divinity students; and a Catholic as well as a Protestant Divinity School in Trinity College. He maintained—That it was a matter of the very first political importance that the Catholic priesthood should receive the best possible education at home, and that they should not be educated altogether apart from their fellow-countrymen. He wished that a Divinity Professor should be appointed in Trinity College, Dublin, to superintend their religious education, though in secular education they should all go to examination together.Well, Sir, unfortunately this was not carried out. The great French war came, and it became impossible for the Roman Catholics to be educated as they had been previously on the Continent. And in 1795 the Irish Parliament established Maynooth. It is remarkable, however, that in its original constitution Maynooth was not intended to be exclusively ecclesiastical, but the provision was made that Catholic lay students should be admitted into it. It was by the influence of Archbishop Troy that this conception was abandoned. It is also a remarkable fact that a powerful protest against two features in the new college was presented in the form of a petition by Roman Catholic laymen to the Irish Parliament. It was presented by Henry Grattan, who more than any other man represented lay Catholic opinion in Ireland. The petitioners asked that—As the full and free development of the human faculties and the formation of a virtuous character is the general end of education,it should be as little shackled as possible; and that all posts of honour, power, and emolument in the new college should be thrown open to competition, and given, as in Trinity College, as the result of a free examination. Their third de- 820 mand is so remarkable that I will give it in their own words. They state—That the exclusion of persons professing the Protestant religion, or whose father professes the Protestant religion, appears to the petitioners to be highly inexpedient, inasmuch as it tends to perpetuate that line of separation between His Majesty's subjects of different religions, which the petitioners do humbly conceive it is the interest of the country to obliterate; and the petitioners submit that if the youth of both religions were instructed together in those branches of classical education which are the same for all, their peculiar tenets would in all probability be no hindrance hereafter to a friendly and liberal intercourse through life. That the petitioners having, in common with the rest of their brethren the Catholics of Ireland, received as one of the most important and acceptable benefits bestowed on them by His Majesty and the Legislature, the permission of having their youth educated along with the Protestant youth of the kingdom, in the University of Dublin, and experience having fully demonstrated the wisdom and utility of that permission, petitioners see with deep concern the principle of separation and exclusion, they hoped removed for ever, now likely to be revived and re-enacted, and therefore pray the House may be pleased to take the premises into consideration, and so to alter and modify those parts of the said Bill as to obviate and remove the manifold evils and inconveniences which the petitioners apprehend must arise from the Bill passing in its present state.Unfortunately, Sir, this Catholic protest did not bear fruit. It was contended' that the Catholic priesthood, with their celibacy and their Confession, must be educated entirely apart from laymen. In 1845, when the Maynooth grant was increased, and made permanent, Shiel defended this thesis in a speech of great brilliancy. But if, even at this later day, prelates are prepared to give the priesthood, in common with laymen, a higher University education, great good would result, and I, for my part, earnestly hope that the Government will see their way to do what they can to assist them. I know that, from a political point of view, it is a Measure of doubtful expediency. Many votes will no doubt be lost; those who are looking at the question merely from a Party point of view will say that it is much better left alone, and it is not probable that the Ministry, if it takes up this question, will receive any gratitude from their 821 political opponents in this House; but I thoroughly believe that in carrying out this policy they will find that they are satisfying the wishes and representing the opinions of moderate men on both sides of this House. They will remove one of the few real grievances still remaining in Ireland, and will undoubtedly in that way strengthen their position as a Unionist Government. If they can succeed in raising the level of lay education, and, what is of still more importance, of clerical education, they will do a great deal to ameliorate public opinion in Ireland; and although they may meet with many obstacles and many disappointments, I am inclined to think that, in the long run, even from the point of view of mere Party, the policy which is most just will prove to be most expedient.
§ THE FIRST LORD OF THE TREASURY (Right Hon. A. J. BALFOUR,) Manchester, E.
As the House is aware, I have often had the honour of addressing it on this subject, and though there is no subject of current political interest upon which I feel more deeply, and on which I more desire to please friend and foe alike, of the merits of the policy to which I myself am so deeply committed, yet I have urged the arguments—the main arguments which seem to me to be relevant to the case so often brought to the attention of the House, that it would not be expected or desired of me, that I should make any long address, or spend any great period of time this evening upon the subject. Now, Sir, the Mover of the Amendment from one point of view, and my hon. Friends the Member for Thirsk Division of Yorkshire and the Member for North Armagh from another point of view, have dwelt at some length upon the history of this question, and my hon. Friends who spoke from this side of the House have charged the Roman Catholic Episcopacy in Ireland with having, in the past, neglected to use that educational machinery which Parliament has 822 placed at their disposal. Sir, I am not prepared to defend the action of the Irish Episcopacy in the 50 years or so during which this controversy has lasted. I am not prepared to say that, they have not made grave mistakes. I am not prepared to say that they have, in a spirit of reasonable compromise, always done their best to take advantage of what Parliament has done or intended to do for them, but I would point out to the House, that the question, after all, is not an historical question, that we have not got to deal with what might have been done 20, 30, 40, or 50 years ago—all we have got to deal with now is the question of what the present moment may give us in the shape of a fair solution of this ancient and thorny controversy. Before, however, I dismiss absolutely this side of the question, let me point out to the House one thing the Roman Catholic Episcopacy might have done, no doubt, which would have fitted in at the same time with the theories of my hon. Friends, however much they might have disliked the result of the policy if it were brought to its legitimate issue. The Roman Catholic Episcopacy might have set themselves to work in the year 1872 to capture Trinity College, Dublin. They might have said to the Government—This is the main educational institution in Ireland. It is open to members of all creeds. The majority of the Irish people belong to the Roman Catholic religion. Do your best, by appointing a Roman Catholic head to Trinity College, so as to make that great educational institution to meet with the views of the great majority of the people of Ireland; and we, on our side, the Irish Episcopacy, will do our best to encourage our Roman Catholic youth to go to Trinity College";and had they followed out that policy, which is exactly the policy my hon. Friend the hon. Member for Thirsk desires them to follow, and which my gallant Friend the Member for North Armagh wished them to do, I think it is not impossible that at this moment the majority of the students in Trinity-College would have been Roman Catholics, 823 and that a large portion of the educational machinery would now have been in the hands, not of the Protestant, but of the Catholic members.
§ THE FIRST LORD OF THE TREASURY
That is the result which would follow if those who guide Roman Catholic opinion in Ireland had been prepared to carry it out. Would my hon. Friends have regarded that result with satisfaction?
§ THE FIRST LORD OF THE TREASURY
I have no hesitation in saying that I should have regarded it with profound dissatisfaction. Trinity College has a great history behind it—a history up till 1873 necessarily, and by the very operation of the law a Protestant history, and subsequent to 1873 a history practically modified by previous traditions. I think Trinity College has, with admirable liberality, done its best to throw open its educational advantages to every class of the community. Well, Sir, I frequently say that I should regret to see, as the result of any of the forces existing in Ireland, a change effected in the present relations of Trinity College, Dublin, to the religious denomination prevailing there now. I should regard it with profound distaste—with much more than distaste—with alarm; and, if I may say so, with horror. It would be a revolution which would transfer the traditions of that ancient institution into an entirely new set of traditions, and oblige it to carry out educational work with regard to classes entirely different to those which it does at the present moment. But if this House and the country are successfully persuaded that the institutions now existing in Ireland for higher education, are the only ones which ought to exist, that they are amply sufficient for every purpose, and competent to deal with every class of the community whatever its religion may be, then, Sir, it 824 appears to me that the time may come when the Irish Episcopacy may accommodate themselves to the new position, and that, possibly, Trinity College, Dublin, may be transferred by a natural, but nevertheless revolutionary, procedure from their present position to one entirely different. This my hon. Friends would be the first to regret. But, Sir, then they would say that this was improbable. They would say that the Irish Episcopacy, and the leaders of Roman Catholic opinion, are committed to a different theory. That is so, and are they to blame? You say to them—Trinity College, Dublin, is open to all the world; Queen's College, Belfast, is open to all the world. Why do not the Roman Catholics take advantage of these educational opportunities?Is it not evident that before the number of Roman Catholics in these two educational institutions could be so great as to modify their existing character as great teaching centres many years would be spent, during which the Roman Catholic students would be in a very small minority, and would be placed under the care and tuition, in the main, of persons fundamentally differing from them in religious doctrine? And for that reason alone, the process which I have described has possibly never been adopted by the leaders of Roman Catholic opinion in Ireland. They have shrunk from the result which they might desire on other grounds, because they did not choose to go through the necessary preliminary of encouraging their youth to attend these places of education under circumstances which would leave them in a very small minority, both among teachers and taught. Sir, I have no more to say about the historical aspect of this question, but I have something to say with regard to a fallacy which appears to me to have run through every single speech which I have heard delivered in favour of the existing system in Ireland, and, I may add, a fallacy running even through the speech of my right hon. Friend the Member for Trinity College, Dublin, 825 whose views agree substantially with those which I have so often impressed upon the attention of the House. All these gentlemen talked as if the practical proposal now before us was to establish a denominational University. That fallacy occurred with great frequency in the speech of my hon. and learned Friend the Member for the Thirsk Division of Yorkshire, and it occurred with not less frequency in the speech of my hon. and gallant Friend the Member for North Armagh, and my right hon. Friend the Member for Trinity College, Dublin, also made the same mistake. Well, it is true that denominational education is at this present moment in force in Ireland, and, as a matter of fact, in England too. As I have said, it is true that denominational education is in force in Ireland. The proposition before us is not to add to the denominational institutions of the country, but to do something quite different. What have you at this moment in the shape of denominational educational machinery in Ireland? In the first place, practically the whole—three-fourths of the whole—of the elementary schools of the country are denominational. I know that, technically, the system is described as non-denominational, but everybody who knows anything about the actual working of these schools knows that in nine-tenths of the cases the manager of the school—the man who appoints the schoolmaster and controls the school's administration—is either a priest, a clergyman, or a minister. But I am not going beyond the strict bounds of the case when I say that elementary education in Ireland is denominational. In addition to that you have Maynooth, which is a denominational institution surely, if anything ever was denominational. In addition to that, you have your system of industrial schools, which are thoroughly denominational, and are supported practically entirely out of the money of the tax-payers; £100,000 a year for denominational education of the most rigid 826 kind, and avowedly for that purpose, without even the thin disguise which covers our ordinary system of elementary education in that country; and in addition to that, there are Roman Catholic and Protestant training colleges in Ireland, in which not even the contributions from five sources required in England for a training college is exacted from the Irish public. In Ireland, at this present moment, in addition to Maynooth, you educate, at the public expense, Roman Catholic and Protestant teachers. You pay every shilling which is required to give them a denominational training, and the most denominational training that you can well conceive. Well, Sir, my hon. and gallant Friend said that Union or the Unionist Party—I did not quite catch which—would come to an end if the system of denominational education was once recognised by the Government. Sir, the system of denominational education is recognised in every corner of the educational system in Ireland. You may regret it—from many points of view I regret it—but it has been forced upon successive Parliaments, it has been forced upon successive Governments, by men of all parties and all opinions, who, by a study of the necessities of this question as it now exists in Ireland, are competent to speak upon the subject, and I venture to say that no man would ever be found to get up from this Bench, whatever Party may be in power—if he were supported by the most extreme Protestant majority you can imagine, whether it were Liberal or Conservative—and dare to suggest that this denominational machinery should be brought to a summary conclusion. Therefore, my hon. Friend, would have nothing whatever to say, on the grounds of general principle, general policy, and general consistency, if the proposal before us was to add to those numerous denominational bodies one additional one to deal with education from a denominational point of view. 827 As a matter of fact, the proposal is not to add another educational institution to the educational institutions of the country. I cannot conceive that my hon. Friend can have listened with the attention which it deserved to the statement made by the hon. Member for Mayo, or, I should say, to the extracts from the pronouncement made by the Roman Catholic Bishops. They stated explicitly that, so far as they could speak for Roman Catholic opinion in Ireland, they would be content that any new educational institution in that country should be placed under the same limitations—no more and no less than now exist in the Universities of England and Scotland. I put this dilemma to my hon. Friends. Is Trinity College, Dublin, a denominational institution or not? If they think it is a denominational institution, how is it consistent with their doctrine to get up and denounce denominational education in Ireland as they have? If, on the other hand, Trinity College, Dublin, is not a denominational institution, how can they get up in this House and denounce any new College or University for higher education in Ireland because it is to be denominational, when they know there is no suggestion whatever, even from those who speak for the Irish Episcopacy, to found any College or University that should not be under the same limitations in regard to religion as obtain at Trinity College?
§ THE FIRST LORD OF THE TREASURY
The question of the hon. Gentleman is a perfectly pertinent one, and I will proceed to answer it. The House must have noticed, in the course of this Debate, that the words sectarian and denominational have been used ambiguously throughout the whole discussion. They have been used in two different ways. An institution may be open to men of every religion, or to men of no religion, upon equal terms, but 828 that institution may, nevertheless, have its prevailing tone Nonconformist, Anglican, Roman Catholic, or Infidel, if you like. Is that sectarian or unsectarian?
§ THE FIRST LORD OF THE TREASURY
I say there are four alternatives. If the prevailing tone of that University or College is Roman Catholic, then I distinctly understand the views of the leaders of Roman Catholic opinion in Ireland to be that they will gladly accept such an institution if it is placed at their disposal. There was a time when they contended for a denominational institution in the other and more technical sense, when they contended for an institution which should not only he Roman Catholic in the sense that Trinity College is Protestant, or that Belfast, Cambridge, or Oxford are Protestant, but when they desired an institution fenced round in favour of Roman Catholics, as Oxford and Cambridge were before the abolition of the Test Acts. If that claim had been adhered to, it would have been open to my hon. and gallant Friend to say that it was proposed to increase the number of strictly denominational institutions in Ireland. But the leaders of Roman Catholic opinion in Ireland have receded from that position—I shall be corrected if I am wrong by those who are entitled to speak in this House from their point of view—and they no longer ask that the College or the University which I for one desire to see established, should be fenced round with any technical limitations which would prevent Protestants, Anglicans, Presbyterians, men of no religion, or men of any religion, from getting the full advantage of every endowment, scholarship, or fellowship which will be founded by money voted to that institution by the liberality of Parliament. Of course, it is the essence of the case that the College or University should be founded upon such lines as would make it Roman Catholic in the sense that Trinity College is Protestant. That you 829 must do, or you fail in your policy. But, if that is clear on the one side, it is also clear, on the other, that when you have established that general atmosphere of Roman Catholicism which corresponds to the general atmosphere of Protestantism which prevails in Belfast and Trinity College, every single endowment must be open to all creeds alike, and the best men may go in and win as they can now do at Trinity College and Belfast. Is it not evident that the speeches of my hon. Friends behind me have been directed to a proposal which is not now before the House or the country? The proposal before us is quite a different one, and I do not believe it is possible to find an argument by which anybody in this House can seriously think that proposal can be met.
§ THE FIRST LORD OF THE TREASURY
I am very sorry to have been so obscure, but for ten minutes past I have been endeavouring to explain it. The proposal which I understand the leaders of the Roman Catholic Party in Ireland now say they will be content with, and which would meet the difficulty of providing higher education for a majority of the Irish population, is a proposal which would not fence round the endowments given to any institution provided in Ireland with any more limitations than at present exist in Trinity College, Dublin. That, surely, is a clear and definite proposal which I thought would have commended itself to my hon. and gallant Friend.
§ THE FIRST LORD OF THE TREASURY
I am endeavouring to give my views to the House, as I have done on many occasions before, with per- 830 fect frankness, and without any arrière pensée, and, certainly, with no idea of making political capital out of them. I do not wish to divert the attention of the House to my personal position in the matter at all, but I think there are two great reasons which ought to influence at all events every Gentleman sitting upon this side of the House. The first of these two reasons is interesting in the cause of higher education in Ireland. And observe one aspect of the case which has not been referred to in this Debate. At the present moment the inability under which we have hitherto laboured in dealing with this question of Roman Catholic education absolutely blocks the way to any improvement in University education, whether it be Roman Catholic or Protestant. For my part, when I was Chief Secretary for Ireland, the great and pressing needs of the Queen's College, at Belfast, were brought before me in my official capacity, and I feel certain that the matter has been pressed upon the present Chief Secretary. How is it possible for the Government, with any decency, to come to the House and suggest that more money should be spent on the Queen's College, while the claims of the Roman Catholic majority in Ireland receive no consideration at all? You can do nothing. Trinity College has got endowments which, I hope, are adequate to its needs, and is carrying on its work unimpeded; but no Government can do anything for Belfast until some general solution of this Irish University question has been arrived at. I believe myself that a country gains more by its higher education than it does by its elementary education, and that elementary education may in some sense be said to derive its chief utility from the fact that it enables people to obtain the advantages of higher education. That is a view that may not be generally shared, or in which all may not agree with me, but I have taken a great interest in this question for many years, and my view is one to which I have come 831 deliberately after many years. Therefore, it fills me with dismay to find that this House, and this country, are prepared to tamely acquiesce in a condition of things which practically and substantially deprives two-thirds of the population of Ireland of those higher educational advantages which it is in our power to bestow. That brings me to the second reason, which, I think, ought to appeal to my hon. Friends on this side of the House. I cannot conceive how any Unionist is to defend Unionism thoroughly, and in all its aspects, if he refuses to consider the petition earnestly put before us by representatives of the Roman Catholic body in Ireland. We claim, and, I think, in the main justly, that we are not only as capable of legislating for Ireland in a spirit of equity and justice, but more capable than an Irish Legislature could be, that country being torn, as it is, by contending factions. But, while I hold that principle as regards the great body of questions with which this House has to deal, I am forced, reluctantly and with grief, to admit that there is one question vital to any healthy society, a question of enormous importance—an importance which is being daily more recognised in every civilised community throughout the world—which, on our own confession, we are unable to deal with. I cannot by any authority which I can wield, solve that question unless I have behind me the opinion of those with whom I act, the Party to which I belong. But what a condemnation of that Party it is that they cannot deal with this question! How are we to meet our critics when they ask us what becomes of our claims as Unionists to deal with the necessities of Ireland? For my part, if my hon. Friends will supply me with an answer to that question, if they will tell me further what I have to say to an Irishman who asks me whether I would send a youth, for whose education I was responsible, to a University Catholic, in the sense that Trinity College is Protestant, and if I 832 have to reply—as I certainly should reply, in common with nine-tenths of those who now listen to me—that I should not send him, and if I further ask how he could expect an Irishman to do that for his children which are are not prepared to do for ours, then I confess that my own ingenuity has hitherto utterly failed to provide me with an answer to that question. If my right hon. Friends, differing from the policy which, with all the earnestness I can command, I thus recommend to the House, can supply that answer, then I admit, as I have never yet been forced to admit, that they stand upon strong ground. But I have no hope that they will be able to answer that question, and till that answer is given I shall feel myself bound, on every occasion and by every method in my power to do my best to convince my countrymen on this side of St. George's Channel as well as the great body of the Protestants who have done so much for Ireland on the other side of the Channel, that they are bound to throw aside, once and for all, the remnant of any ancient prejudices upon this subject; and that, while the spokesmen of the Roman Catholics in Ireland have come forward and deliberately stated that they ask for nothing in the way of legislative protection for their creed, which is not guaranteed at Oxford or Cambridge, Trinity College Dublin, Edinburgh, Glasgow, Aberdeen, or St. Andrews—when they come forward with that modest demand, I earnestly press upon my hon. Friends the necessity of not committing themselves to any doctrine opposed to that, but of doing their best, with impartiality and consideration, for those who differ from them, to help us to settle, once for all, the solitary outstanding grievance of the Irish people, and to bring to an end, at once and for ever, not, indeed, the political differences which separate us, and which have another and a different origin, but to bring to an end one of those controversies which is the more 833 bitter to us, because I am convinced that in their hearts they know they have no answer to my arguments.
§ MR. R. WALLACE (Edinburgh, E.)
I will not attempt to go minutely or elaborately into any criticism of the subject which the right hon. Gentleman has just made. It is one that calls for much more consideration than even the most powerful intellect in this House can give on the spur of the moment. I think I may be permitted to say that I have heard more luminous and definite statements made by the right hon. Gentleman. It may be through general intellectual defect on my part, or possibly because I am more stupid at this present moment than is my normal condition, but I must say that it strikes me that there is a vagueness and inconclusiveness about the right hon. Gentleman's endeavour to foreshadow what there was in his mind that makes it at this moment appear that there might possibly be more in his mind than he told us in the short time he occupied the House. I notice, however, what seemed to me to be an inconsistency between the introductory and final statements of the right hon. Gentleman. He told us, I think, that there was practically no such thing as undenominational education in Ireland. It may be, in theory, that the mode of its practical management was such that it was sectarian and denominational. The mode of management which he speaks of was the management, I think, of the clergy, the management of the priests, the management of the ministers, or whatever specific name may attach to the different varieties of the clerical element in Ireland. I think it is a most reasonable demand that has been made on the part of my hon. Friend behind me, who is deeply interested in such questions, to know what was to be the species of management of the new University which the right hon. Gentleman has in view. If the governing body is to be of such a nature that it will 834 convert the new Universities into Roman Catholic institutions, then I fall back upon the phrase which my hon. Friend below the Gangway used this afternoon, namely, that the Irish Roman Catholic College will be a denominational and sectarian institution. The very complaint that I have to make about Trinity College is that it is of a practically sectarian and denominational character. If this new University is to be a practical reproduction of Trinity College, then, I think, the country is now face to face with a distinct proposal on the part of the right hon. Gentleman for starting a Catholic and sectarian institution. I do not think the mere fact that he has said a number of prizes would be open to anyone who came to seek them, makes any material alteration in the situation. He told us himself that he would not send any youth in whom he was interested to be instructed in the so far undenominational institution which he has projected,, and which he is to carry forward at some time or other. At the present moment I can come to no other conclusion than this—that what we have to consider realty is the proposal to add to the number of sectarian and denominational educational institutions in Ireland. I wish to ask the attention of the House to one or two words that I have to say in reply to the challenge of some of us Members above the Gangway from Members from below the Gangway. The Mover of the Amendment challenged, as I understood, certain English and Scotch Radicals to vote against this Amendment in view of certain conduct of which they had been either guilty or deserving of condemnation in regard to the discussion of Irish matters in previous years. No English or Scotch Radical, as far as I know, has hitherto had an opportunity of joining in this Debate, and as I myself happen to be—at least, I profess to be—a Radical, according to the best definition of it, I, without any doubt or hesitation, intend to vote against the Amendment proposed by the Member for East Mayo. I would like the opportunity of clearing 835 my position, so far as I am able to make it clear, and I request the indulgence of the House while I do so. I shall not trespass upon any favour the House may extend to me in any statement that I make.
§ The hon. Member was speaking at half past five o'clock when, by the Rules of the House, the Debate stood adjourned.