Motion made, and Question proposed,
That a sum not exceeding £2,450 be granted to Her Majesty, to complete the sum necessary to defray the charge which will come in course of payment during the year ending on the 31st day of March, 1900, for a Grant in Aid of the Expenses of the Queen's Colleges in Ireland.
§ MR. DILLON (Mayo, E.)
I propose to move a reduction of this Vote, because I think that it is a great waste of public money to continue to vote sums for a system of university education in Ireland which is not acceptable to the great bulk of the people for whose use these colleges were originally set up. This Vote is an aggravation of the great grievances under which Irish Catholics have suffered so long, and while all remedies for those grievances have been set aside, Ireland is called upon, year after year, to provide funds for a system of education against which she has all along protested. The grievances of the Irish Catholics are in- 459 creasing as year after year passes over, and the hopes of a remedy being found, which had recently been raised much higher, are now growing weaker and weaker, and the chance of their being realised appears to grow less every day. I desire to call the attention of the Committee to the recent history of these grievances. On the 22nd of January, 1897, which is rather more than two years ago, this question was raised upon the Debate on the Address, and the right hon. Gentleman the First Lord of the Treasury, in the course of that Debate 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.That was a very strong statement, and, proceeding, in the course of his speech he went on to say that the Government required information and assurance as to the views of the Irish Catholic bishops and laity on this question. That was a direct invitation to the Irish Catholic bishops and the Catholic laity to lay before the Government their views on certain points which had been raised in the course of that discussion as points of difficulty, and in view of the character of that language which I have just quoted I think the bishops and the Catholic laity were justified in supposing that if they responded to such an invitation the Government would feel themselves under an obligation to remove those grievances. It will be within the recollection of the House that the Irish bishops on the 28th June, 1897, published a statement dealing with all the points which had been raised in the Debate on the Address in that year. I need not read that statement now, because it has already been quoted and read in full to the House, and hon. Members can find it printed in full in Hansard, vol. 53, page 767. I will only quote one short passage from that very important declaration of the bishops. At the conclusion of that declaration they used these words:These are our views, and we trust that they will be considered clear and frank enough upon the fundamental principles which, so far as we can gather, leading statesmen on all sides regard as the governing factor in the problem. Should Her Majesty's Government require any further statement from us, we shall at all times be quite ready to make it.On the night of July 9th, 1897, the Catholic University question was again 460 raised on this very Vote, and in the course of the Debate the First Lord of the Treasury, referring to the declaration of the bishops of the 28th of June in that year, used the following language:Everybody must feel that the Roman Catholic bishops have, 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 university 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 the members of all denominations as any university in the land.That is an extract from the speech of the First Lord of the Treasury commenting upon the declaration of the bishops, and in the course of that speech he told the Committee that he did not require any further information from the bishops, because they had declared that they were willing to clear up any other point, and therefore the Irish bishops and the Catholic laity of Ireland were entitled to assume from the speech of the First Lord of the Treasury upon that occasion that the statement of the bishops had removed all doubts or difficulties which had been indicated in the Debate at the beginning of the session from his mind, and that their assurances were thoroughly satisfactory. That was the history of this question in the year 1897, and I think it will be admitted, from the very brief outline which I have given of the year 1897, that from what occurred the Irish bishops were entitled to expect that the question would be dealt with by the Government in the coming session, because the Leader of the House of Commons would not address his invitations publicly to men like the Catholic bishops of Ireland to state their views on this great question unless he thought the Government were prepared to deal with it. I pass over the last session of Parliament, when the subject was again debated, and there was a remarkable expression of opinion not only from the First Lord of the Treasury, but from the leaders of opinion on both sides of the House. What was most remarkable in the discussion that took place on the Address was that while the leading Members of the House on all sides strongly supported the proposal to deal with the grievances of the Irish Catholics in a generous spirit, not one 461 single commoner or influential Member of the House of Commons during the two nights of that Debate said one single word against this policy. I pass over the remainder of last session, and I come to what occurred in connection with the Conference of Conservative Associations at Bristol. At that conference a resolution was proposed condemning the establishment of a university for the Catholics of Ireland, and after some discussion that resolution was withdrawn. There is a remarkable incident which occurred in connection with that meeting which is worthy of notice. A gentleman from the City of Cork named Hall, who professed to represent the Unionists and Protestants of Cork, protested strongly against the establishment of a university for Irish Catholics and against the policy proposed by the First Lord of the Treasury. On the 8th of December, shortly after that, another resolution was moved at the Cork Board of Guardians in favour of the establishment of a university for Irish Catholics. That was seconded by Mr. Townsend, who is a Protestant, and it was supported by several Protestant ex officio members of the Board, and was passed unanimously. In the course of that discussion Mr. Townsend made the following observations, which I think are worthy of being brought under the notice of the Committee. He said:If they put the Protestants in the position of the Catholics what would they find? Suppose in Trinity College they had twenty or thirty professors Catholics, and suppose that Mass was celebrated each day as the Protestant service was celebrated at present, would Protestant gentlemen be anxious to send their children there? He, for one, would not care to do so; and why should they ask the Catholics to do what they would not do themselves?That is the unchallenged language of a Protestant gentleman in Cork, and I have not heard any protest from the people of Cork against this speech of Mr. Townsend. No grosser error can be made than to suppose that you have only got to face the Catholic opinion of Ireland, for you have to face, I believe, a majority of the Protestants and Unionists of Ireland, who feel warmly in regard to the appeal which we are making that justice should be done to the Catholics of Ireland. They support this appeal because they honestly believe that there is a grievance, and secondly because they are convinced of what is unquestionably true, that apart 462 altogether from religious feelings they recognise that the cause of the Catholics in educational matters is inextricably bound up with their own, and they desire to see that their Catholic fellow-countrymen are better educated than they are at present, and they also recognise that the only means which can be adopted to effect this great object is the establishment of a Catholic University. The next incident in the curious history of this question is the speech of the Lord Lieutenant made in Belfast on the 18th of October, 1898, which excited a great deal of interest. The Lord Lieutenant went to Belfast to lay the foundation stone of the new City Hall, and at a banquet which was subsequently held he used these words: For ninny years he had sympathised entirely with the views of the First Lord of the Treasury on the question of a university for Irish Catholics. The Lord Lieutenant said:I cannot hope immediately to receive any support for that view; but the First Lord of the Treasury explained in his speech in the House of Commons that nothing but the education of his Party could possibly bring his ideas to perfection. But, as I have said, I am entitled to stand here and say that if that Party can be so educated, and if any of you gentlemen can come to change your minds on that subject, or come to look on it from a more patriotic point of view, and, if I might say so, with wore toleration and more sympathy, a way may be found out of the difficulty which, depend upon it, will remain a difficulty and a grievance as long as this country lasts.That language created a good deal of excitement and doubt in the minds of the Irish people, because they saw in that speech an indefinite postponement of the settlement of the question, while others thought that the Lord Lieutenant had boldly taken up his stand in favour of a settlement of the question by declaring that he was a strong supporter of the establishment of a Catholic University, and sympathised with the views of the First Lord of the Treasury. But there was this great ambiguity, which undoubtedly did excite a good deal of uneasiness in the minds of many of the Catholics in Ireland, that he not only spoke of the necessity of educating the Tory Party on this question, but he said also:If any of you gentlemen can come to change your minds on that subject, or come to look on it from a more patriotic point of view, and with more toleration, and with more 463 sympathy, a way may be found out of the difficulty.That was introducing a condition which, so far from indicating any progress, seemed to indicate an indefinite postponement of the question. I do not know myself what is the correct interpretation to put upon that language. I now come to what is infinitely more important—indeed, I think, it is the most important event in the history of the university question in Ireland since it was last discussed in this House. I allude to the letter written to Mr. Orrell by the First Lord of the Treasury on the 23rd of January last. In referring to that letter there are two preliminary points in connection with it which I feel bound to allude to. First of all, while, in common with all Irish Catholics, I admire the courage of the First Lord of the Treasury in publishing that letter and making the speech in which he subsequently defended it before his constituents, I do not think that, as a member of a powerful Government, responsible for the government of Ireland, he was entitled to take up the position that a reform in the university system of Ireland is demanded by the most vital interests of the people of that country—by the overwhelming majority of the people—and that in his own judgment it is expedient and just that it should be granted, and nevertheless go on to say:The question divides opinion so deeply, yet so little in conformity with ordinary Party distinctions, that it cannot be treated with ordinary Party methods, nor its development furthered by the ordinary Party organisation.These words filled me with consternation, because in this language there is no limit of time, and I confess that there seems to be no hope of this question being settled on satisfactory lines unless some great Party in this House does take it up and push it forward with all the strength of Party organisation, getting what support they can from the other side of the House, or unless the Government definitely declare that they are unable to settle the question, and themselves remit it to some body in Ireland for settlement. I think that this dictum, coming from so high an authority, is a curious illustration of the evils Ireland is subject to by being governed by this Parliament. I confess that it is my conviction that, after the strong feeling expressed 464 by all the leaders of public opinion in Ireland, it is the duty of the Government to undertake to find a solution of this problem without delay, and they are bound to deal with this question. The second point in that letter which strikes me is that the First Lord of the Treasury distinctly went a step further in laying down conditions than he had ever gone in his previous declarations or than had been taken up in any of the prominent speeches in the Debate on the Address in 1898, when he said:No public endowment would be given to chairs in philosophy, theology, or modern history.We all agreed that no public endowment should be given for any chair in theology, or for the teaching of any religious opinion in a public university, but to say that there should be no chair given in philosophy and modern history is a different matter. Speaking on my own responsibility I see no insuperable difficulty in the way of this proposal, unreasonable as it may appear, provided always that the endowment for the Irish Catholic University should be such as to place it on a footing of equality with the institutions intended for the benefit of Protestants. There is one other point to which I must allude in that letter, for it marks a great and important epoch in the history of this controversy and this question. The First Lord of the Treasury made it a prominent condition in his letter, and we all recognise that this is one of the most knotty and difficult questions. He said:Professors would have a right of appeal against dismissal, and the number of clergy on the governing body would be strictly-limited.Those were the conditions mentioned by him as essential for the carrying out of this question. This subject of the tenure of professors is one of the greatest importance, because it is manifest to everybody that some machinery must exist for removing a professor who persistently sets at defiance the principles of decency or morality, or who becomes utterly unfitted for his duty. Upon this point I refer with confidence to the declaration of the bishops to which I have alluded. They dealt with this very point at the invitation of the right hon. Gentleman, and they said: 465We think that both conditions—namely, absolute security for the interest of faith and morals in the university, and at the same time, all reasonable protection for the professor—may be met by submitting such questions to the decision of a strong and well-chosen board of visitors in whose independence and judicial character all parties would have confidence.That is the proposal to meet the difficulty. It is hard to imagine how the bishops could be asked or expected even by the most zealous opponent to go beyond this; and I fancy that in dealing with this most difficult question of the security of tenure of professors in a university the machinery indicated in the resolution of the bishops is that which is best adapted to work satisfactorily in any great university, apart altogether from religious considerations. It is manifest that, putting aside religious differences, cases must arise when, in view of persistent breach of fundamental and universally recognised principles of morality and public decency, some means must be available for the removal of professors, and it appears to me that in this resolution of the bishops is to be found a perfectly satisfactory way of dealing with this difficulty—the question of the composition of the board of visitors being a question of adjustment and detail, and the bishops say specifically that the board of visitors ought to be a strong board of such a character as would satisfy everybody concerned. I lay special emphasis on this question, because I know it is one of the difficult questions which have, in the minds of men honestly anxious to remove our grievances, given rise to much doubt and hesitation. I think in these words and in that resolution is indicated a perfectly satisfactory solution of the difficulty, and one which I find it hard to imagine that any Member of this House, whatever views may be, would find it possible to object to. It is not necessary to deal with the suggestion of the First Lord of the Treasury that a Northern university should be established in Belfast to meet the needs of Presbyterians. We have asked for justice for Catholics, and, as regards the Presbyterians of Belfast, we have no objection whatever, if they desire a university in Belfast, to the gratification of this desire. On the contrary, we should heartily welcome the suggestion, and give it our warmest support. I can assure the Presbyterians of Belfast that they 466 would find amongst the Irish Catholics who sit on these benches no disposition to be hostile if any plan is brought forward for the scientific development of the University of Belfast, for which such urgent appeals have been made. As regards the proposed scheme we have nothing to say, except that if it is found to meet the difficulty and to remove the grievance felt by the Northern Presbyterians, we shall give it our heartiest support, because we do not desire to deny to any considerable section of the Irish people the rights and advantages we claim for ourselves. Now, what was the reception given to the proposals contained in the remarkable letter and speech made by the First Lord of the Treasury at Manchester? I claim that there never was a more remarkably unanimous response given to a proposal on a somewhat contentious subject by the Unionist papers of this country. I have made it my business to examine a very large number of the leading newspapers of England and Scotland for the two days following the announcement of the First Lord, and I have discovered the most extraordinary unanimity of opinion in welcoming these proposals. Even such a newspaper as The Times is not hostile, nor are such great Liberal newspapers as the Scotsman and Manchester Guardian. I believe that the Scotsman and Manchester Guardian represent a large body of Nonconformist opinion.
§ MR. DILLON
It represents an important section of Scottish Protestant opinion, which might be supposed to be hostile.
§ MR. DILLON
Well, at all events, it is the organ of the Liberal Unionists of Scotland. The great majority of the leading newspapers are favourable to the proposal. On Thursday, February 2nd, a large conference of Irish Catholics was held in the Mansion House, Dublin, at which several Roman Catholic bishops, a very large body of Roman Catholic priests, and a large number of laymen were present. At the conference the following resolution was unanimously passed:That we express our disappointment and regret that the Government have not taken 467 steps to settle the important and urgent question of university education for Irish Catholics.Nothing, however, was said in the course of that conference calculated to convey the impression that the proposals of the First Lord of the Treasury at Manchester were looked upon in a critical or carping spirit by Irish Catholics. I quote from a speech delivered by Dr. Healy, the Bishop of Clonfert, the only Catholic prelate who spoke at that meeting:As Mr. Balfour had shown himself to be animated by a sincere and earnest desire to settle this question in a satisfactory way, so he thought that the public declarations of the Catholic bishops of Ireland afforded ample proof that they also were animated by a sincere and earnest desire to settle this question on a satisfactory basis. When there were two people anxious to meet each other and anxious, each in his own way, to go as far as he possibly could to meet the other, there was every ground for a reasonable hope that the hour of their meeting would not be long delayed.That is the spirit in which the proposal of the right hon. Gentleman was received by the Catholics of Ireland. Now, Sir, I turn to another very remarkable fact. I said that The Times represents the opinion of this country which we should naturally expect to be hostile; but in an article on the 3rd of February, commenting on the meeting in Dublin, The Times made use of this remarkable language:The practical question of the moment is whether or not the demands of the Roman Catholic Church in regard to university education in Ireland can be brought into harmony with the conditions laid down by Mr. Balfour in his letter to Mr. Orrell and in his speech in reply to the deputation on Tuesday.That is a very remarkable declaration, because, if it means anything, it means that if the Irish Catholics can make their demands fit in with the conditions laid down by the First Lord of the Treasury the time has come when the problem ought to be dealt with. When a body of opinion so strong has been evoked by the declaration of the First Lord as to bring The Times to that point, I think the Irish Catholics are certainly entitled to expect that the question would be taken up in earnest. The position of the question at this stage cannot be put better than it was in a leader in the Spectator, which, strongly Unionist as it is, has for years consistently advocated the policy of setting up a university for Irish Catholics. Commenting on Mr. Balfour's letter and 468 speech on the 6th of February 1899, the Spectator says:Is the Government going to take up Mr. Balfour's Irish University scheme? That is the question, naturally enough, everyone now is asking. It is clear that the Government must come to a decision in the matter; and on that decision we believe depend issues of far graver moment to the Unionist Party than are apparent on the surface.… Therefore it is with the strongest sense of the gravity of the situation that we press upon the Government the duty of taking up the matter. The Tory Orange Press is noisy, but not formidable. The Irish will be on the side of the Government, and so will be the moderate Liberals.Now, Sir, that, in my opinion, gives a very good description of the situation at the beginning of this session. The Irish Party did not desire to press the Government to a premature decision, and certainly they did not desire to embarrass the position of the First Lord of the Treasury, who for many years had shown himself to be a very consistent friend in this respect, and they accordingly decided that they would not raise the question on the Address this year, trusting that the extraordinary circumstances of the situation would impress upon the Government the duty of attempting, without further delay, to deal with this great question. But, on Saturday, March 4th, a statement appeared in the Standard newspaper, bearing all the appearance of being semiofficial and inspired, to the following effect:Though communications are still going on with reference to the question of a Roman Catholic University in Ireland, it is practically certain that nothing will be done this session. The support of the leading men on both sides might have been secured for such a scheme as was sketched by Mr. Balfour, but it bas been found that it would be impossible to obtain for it the votes of the rank and file of either of the great parties.This statement was accepted in Ireland as a kind of semi-official announcement of the Government. Mark, there is no indication or hint that any difficulty arose among the Irish Catholics, nor is there any indication or hint that any difficulty arose among the leading men in the parties in the House of Commons. On the contrary, it is stated that the support of the leading men on both sides might have been secured, but that it was impossible to get the support of the rank and file—a proposition which I very seriously doubt. Now, this statement was followed by a speech from the 469 Duke of Devonshire of the most extraordinary character. Speaking to the Liberal Unionist Council on Thursday, March 16th, the Duke of Devonshire said, specially referring to Mr. Balfour's pronouncements:I should be extremely surprised if, dining the existence of the present Government, any practical measure dealing with this subject is brought forward. I acknowledge, Gentlemen—perhaps I ought to be ashamed of so acknowledging—[the Duke has some cause]—that this is a subject to which I have not given any close study or attention. I admit that the arguments put forward by Mr. Balfour sometimes appear to be extremely difficult to answer. But the experience which I attained on the question, which now, I am sorry to say, goes back as far as 1873, when I was a member of Mr. Gladstone's Government, which proposed to deal with the question of university education in Ireland, has led me very much to doubt whether, as a measure of practical politics, it is possible either for a Liberal or a Conservative Government to make any proposals on this subject, which shall not be limited by conditions and restrictions which will fail to make it a satisfactory solution of the problem to Roman Catholic opinion. I have never looked upon the question as one of immediate practical importance.That is a strange declaration after the statements of the First Lord of the Treasury. Now, since the letter and statement of the First Lord of the Treasury and the passage in The Times saying thatthe practical question of the moment is whether or not the demands of the Roman Catholic Church in regard to university education in Ireland can be brought into harmony with the conditions laid down by Mr. Balfour,nothing had occurred which could in the least degree justify these extraordinary pronouncements in the Standard and by the Duke of Devonshire. Never, I think, in the history of Parliamentary Government in this country has a Minister in the position of the First Lord of the Treasury been treated by a colleague as the First Lord is treated in this speech by the Duke of Devonshire. Over and over again, speaking with all the earnestness of deep conviction, the First Lord of the Treasury has declared that this question is one of vital importance to Ireland, and that on its capacity to settle it depends in large measure the moral claim of the British Parliament to rule Ireland. And yet we have the Duke of Devonshire declaring, at this time of day, that he has never looked upon the question as one of 470 immediate practical importance, and is convinced that it is impossible for any British Government to solve it in a manner satisfactory to the Irish Catholics. It must certainly make the Irish people despair of ever getting justice from this Parliament. But let me turn for a moment to another aspect of the case, which has been somewhat overlooked. I allude to the general interests of higher education in Ireland, and the mischief that is being done thereto by the unrest and uncertainty which now exist, and which are paralysing and sapping the energy of all those, even in Protestant institutions, who are responsible for higher education. In that connection desire to draw attention to the most significant and important declaration published yesterday by the bishops of Ireland, a declaration to which I most earnestly invite the attention of our Protestant friends. For the first time the bishops have indicated that they practically despair of getting justice from this House. No wonder they despair. They say that the cries of bigotry have once more been allowed to stifle the voice of justice, and for the first time in recent years they have put forward this most important declaration, that if this question is not settled an agitation must be started to divide the revenues of Trinity College so that the whole population may avail themselves of them. I should deeply regret any such solution as that. I think it would be a misfortune to Ireland and to generations yet unborn if a settlement was to be sought by the destruction of great institutions, instead of by the building up of others which are badly wanted; but if you will deny, absolutely and doggedly, to the Catholics of Ireland any justice in this matter, you will inevitably arouse an agitation which will put Trinity College itself in danger of some great revolution. When we remember the liberal attitude of the bishops hitherto towards Trinity College, this declaration of theirs must be regarded as both significant and important. But, Sir, I do not confine my remarks to Trinity College. What is the condition of Irish university education? It is as bad as bad can be. I abstain from giving my own opinion in any detail on this question, because I am anxious to draw attention to tire most remarkable letter of Dr. Hamilton, who was for many years President of Queen's 471 College, Belfast. What did Dr. Hamilton say in the Belfast News-Letter on the 9th of February last? He said:As regards myself, it ought to be known that so strong is my feeling as to the defective provision for university education in this country, and of the hopelessness of looking for any marked improvement until a radical change is introduced. Two years ago, in my annual report presented to Parliament upon the condition of this college, I used there much stronger words on the subject. 'I consider that I shall fail in my duty, and be untrue to my convictions did I not state in this report that in my opinion the present condition of university education in Ireland is unsatisfactory in the extreme.'And then he goes on to say:I bitterly lament the fact that for the larger part of the youth of Ireland, both in north and south, the only university available is one of the lowest type, a mere board of examiners, created for a special purpose, and never destined to be permanent. I speak of the Royal University with all due respect. I am a member of its senate, and can say that it probably does its work as well as any body of the kind could. But its cardinal principles are vicious, and the conditions under winch it is obliged to work render it impossible for it to be the alma mater which one expects a university to be. In many ways its systems are doing serious damage to the higher education of the country.Then he goes on to elaborate his views in the strongest language, declaring that old Queen's College should be restored and established in Belfast, and that provision should be made for the Catholics. Dr. Hamilton makes one further observation with which I will trouble the Committee, because he deals with a very important point, and one which has been frequently alluded to, and about which a difference of opinion exists. He uses this remarkable language:I observe that in certain quarters the idea is still being pressed forward that a better solution of the problem would be the affiliation of this College to Dublin University. This I regard as wholly utopian. I further very strongly hold the view that the policy of having only one national university is not the best policy for Ireland, or for any country.I heartily endorse that view.Such a policy, indeed, is directly in the teeth of all the best modern ideas. For example, if any country in the world might be expected to be anxious to concentrate all its academic life in one or two centres it would be England, the possessor of two ancient and unrivalled seats of learning. But instead of this what do we find? Why, that, so convinced is England that this would be a mistake, that university after university has been provided—first Lon- 472 don, then Victoria then Wales; and now Birmingham, under the enlightened lead of Mr. Chamberlain, is moving for another.That is the opinion of a man in Ireland who is one of the best qualified to speak on the subject, a man who represents the academic life of Belfast, and he declares that, altogether apart from questions of religious differences, the present system is destroying and degrading the higher character of the youth of Ireland. Now, let me turn to the character of the opposition, which, I say, is based on the most narrow and bigoted opinion. So far as Ireland is concerned, it is confined to a fraction of the Protestant population. I will give a few examples of the ignorance which prevails amongst the opponents of these proposals. First of all, I will take a resolution passed at a meeting of the delegates of the South Tyrone Unionist Association. And what did they say?Whilst fully recognising Mr. T. W. Russell's great services on the land question and in opposing Home Rule, this meeting expresses its deep regret at his continued advocacy of a Roman Catholic University, and therefore cannot place any confidence in a Member who promises to support the expenditure of public money for the establishment of denominational education in any form.Yet the gentlemen representing this Association had not a word to say against the hon. Member for South Tyrone when he supported the grant to denominational schools, a large proportion of which went to Catholic schools. But I will not confine myself to Ireland. I will take Scotland, the country from which the First Lord of the Treasury himself comes. I have myself received a flood of literature on this subject. In one document, which emanates from the United Presbyterian Synod's Disestablishment Committee in Edinburgh, the following paragraph occurs:It is unhappily obvious that the money proposed for Ireland in this matter is to confirm denominational interests, to leave Dublin University to the Episcopalians, to reconstruct the Presbyterian Colleges into a university for Presbyterians, and to found a new university for Roman Catholics. Roman Catholics have already all to themselves the Royal University, with, of course, access to Trinity and to the Queen's Colleges.And yet it was only yesterday that the Chief Secretary for Ireland, in answer to my hon. friend the Member for Galway (Mr. Pinkerton), was obliged to admit that the Senate of the Royal University 473 as now constituted, consists of 19 Protestants and only 16 Catholics. And yet this body of Presbyterians in Scotland give as a reason for opposing our demands that we have it all to ourselves in the Royal University! It is a had university, it is condemned by all the soundest judges in Ireland, and could never survive a total change in its constitution, even if it were governed by Catholics. What we are asking for is a good centre for university teaching. I have denied the charge before, and I deny it again, that this is the demand of a sect for a sectarian institution, because though I for my part place a very high value on the atmosphere of religion, I place a far higher value upon the atmosphere of rationalism and the independent spirit of the people, which has been abolished from our centres of learning for the last three centuries. We are a Roman Catholic people, and the university would be mainly Roman Catholic because of that fact; but I look at it from a far wider view than that. I say it should be a university where the ancient literature and archæology, and the ancient spirit and language of our people would not be banned and boycotted as they are to-day in every institution of the country. We want a university where the soul of Ireland can freely move and make itself heard. We ask for the masses of the Irish people a free and equal university, which shall be pervaded not only by a Roman Catholic, but by a national, atmosphere, and which shall truly represent the sentiment and the feelings of our people. We have all heard recently of men who, in pursuit of gold, have fixed their homes in a distant land—in South africa—a catalogue of whose grievances have been set up and detailed in Blue Books. Amongst those grievances is one with regard to education. These men have gone into an alien land, and as aliens claim rights which are being supported by this Government but we, a Catholic people, who have inhabited our own land from time immemorial, whose forefathers inhabited the land for centuries, before you came and tried to force upon us a new religion, against which the people have been in revolt for the last 300 years, are still crying for the justice which to us is denied. You speak of the Uitlanders—an alien people in a foreign country—as being treated as helots; but we in our own beloved country, so dear to our 474 hearts, have been treated as helots, and we to-day are helots in Ireland, and in vain we call for justice here.
§ THE FIRST LORD OF THE TREASURY (Mr. A. J. BALFOUR,) Manchester, E.
Agreeing as I do with much that has fallen from the hon. Member, I am sorry that he should, from my point of view at all events, have spoilt a good case by that kind of rhetorical exaggeration, contained in the last words of his speech, of which I have on many previous occasions had some complaint to make as a defect in the hon. Member's style. Does he seriously think that the cause of education in Ireland can be benefited by so monstrous an exaggeration as that which draws a parallel between the position of the Uitlander in the matter of education in the Transvaal and the position of the great body of the Irish people in Ireland? We spend—I do not say more than we might or ought—but we do, in fact, spend vast sums annually in Ireland upon education in which the priests of Ireland have in a large measure the controlling voice. We do our best—as far, at all events, as primary and intermediate education are concerned—to meet the wants of the Irish people. We do so at great cost to the British taxpayer; and is it tolerable that our conduct towards Ireland should be compared to that of the Government which compels Englishmen at the cost of Englishmen to be educated at schools where only Dutch is taught? I leave that point, which I regret the hon. Member has introduced into his speech, and I go with satisfaction to that portion of his remarks with which I am more closely in agreement with him. I do agree with the hon. Gentleman that Ireland has in this matter of higher education a grievance, and that this Rouse and the country ought to set themselves earnestly to work to remedy it. The hon. Member appears to think that the fact that the grievance has up to this time remained unremedied is due to the inherent, to the ineradicable, desire on the part of the great masses of Englishmen and Scotsmen not to do justice to their Irish fellow - countrymen. That is not the case. I shall have some comment to make on the views which prevail on this side of St. George's Channel on this matter, but that the cause of the difficulty under which we labour is to be found in any desire on the part of the British public not to do 475 what they can to help Ireland, I am sure the general tenor of the legislation of this House, however much hon. Members may object to certain parts of it, is there to disprove. If there be a grievance, as I think there is, and if this country is anxious to remedy the grievance, we naturally ask ourselves, Why is it so difficult to get this question settled once and for all? I attribute that difficulty to three causes. The first is the indifference, I will not say to higher education, but an imperfect realisation on the part of great bodies of public opinion as to how essential the highest education is to the true development of any community. That is a truth which may seem to be a commonplace to a large number of gentlemen whom I am now addressing. It is a truth which may receive verbal assent from any public meeting, either in England, Scotland, or Ireland; but it does not come home with that mark of earnest conviction to the great body of the public that an education which must necessarily be restricted relatively to a few is nevertheless an integral and essential part of all well-organised national life. I am sure if that conviction were held with that earnest faith with which I hold it—with that earnest faith with which I believe the majority of this House hold it—then there would be a consensus of opinion in all schools of thought in the country that somehow or another the wretched condition of higher education in Ireland, as far as regards a large portion of the population of that country, must be remedied without a long delay. That is the first reason. The second reason may be roughly, though not very accurately, described as the strong Protestant objection to anything which, in the opinion of the objectors, seems to promote the cause of a form of Christianity with which they do not agree, and to whose indirect effects they strongly object. I agree with the hon. Member that a great degree of this prejudice is really due to ignorance—due to an ignorance of the meaning of what we are actually doing in Ireland in the question of denominational education.
§ MR. A. J. BALFOUR
And in England, too. But let us confine ourselves to Ireland, and let us consider to 476 what it is this House devotes money in the way of denominational education, and without the smallest objection from any quarter. In the first place, we have a system of primary education which, by whatever name it may be called, is practically denominational education under a conscience clause. It is a system of primary education in which the priest or the parson, whichever it may be, for the most part, is the manager of the school entirely supported out of public funds. In that school, at certain periods, dogmatic teaching may take place. If we pass from the ordinary primary education and take the secondary education, Parliament annually votes or provides year after year large sums of money for purely denominational schools. If you leave that system of secondary education and go to the singular development of education known as the industrial and reformatory schools in Ireland, you have a sum of £90,000 out of £103,000 used in the form of denominational education. There is no conscience clause, none of the limitations we put on the system of education in our primary and secondary schools. It is denominational education pure and simple, and Roman Catholic denominational education pure and simple; and on that Roman Catholic denominational education we spend every year more than twice as much as would be required for the establishment of a university for Roman Catholics in Ireland. This is done without protest, without comment. Neither Anglicans nor Nonconformists in this country ever raise a word of protest against it; and yet, when the suggestion is made that, instead of dealing with the classes for whom these reformatory schools are intended, or at all events used, you should attempt to provide the highest and, in some respects, the most important form of education in that country, apparently all these passions are at once aroused. In secondary education this House tolerates, and Protestant feeling and the country tolerate, a use of public funds for denominational education which certainly never could take place in any scheme of higher or university teaching which I should ever recommend or sanction, but which takes place under the system which we have set up. I do not know whether the majority of the House are aware—I am quite sure the majority of the country are not aware—that, in fact, a good many thousands a year devoted to the Royal University of Ireland go 477 directly without disguise to the support of the Roman Catholic College in St. Stephen's Green, which is denominational in a sense in which no university I have ever desired to set up can be alleged to be. I confess that if you could bring home to the knowledge and imagination of the great body of my fellow Protestants in this country and in Ireland what is the actual Irish system it would seem the most absurd. The tale is so long it is almost impossible to exhaust it. There are the training colleges, which are avowedly denominational. Of those training colleges two are Roman Catholic and one is Protestant. I knew a great deal about the subject once, but the details have escaped my memory, and at the moment I cannot say with certainty whether we pay nine-tenths of the cost or the whole at the present time. We supply the buildings, and I believe, in fact, we practically cover the expenses; but, however that may be as regards a fraction, the broad case remains as I have stated, that we have got denominational primary education, denominational secondary education, the strictest form of denominational education in the industrial schools and also in our training colleges, and we have got it also, so far as the State is concerned, in the college on St. Stephen's Green. All those are supported out of public funds, and if these facts were brought home to the heart of the country the people would see that to refuse to crown the edifice by founding a university which is no more properly to be described as denominational than the Royal University is, or Queen's College, Belfast, is, is the height of ignorance. I therefore agree that ignorance is largely at the bottom of the difficulties we experience. If it be ignorance, surely there is some hope that this is a question which can be settled once and for all. Ignorance may be dispelled; prejudice may be invincible. But, where it is not so much prejudice as ignorance, I do believe that the study and persistent discussion of this question, the explanation of what actually is going on in Ireland at the present time and of what it is that Ireland wants, will, and must, have their effect on public opinion in this country, and the time must come when, by the common consent of men of all shades of opinion, we shall do for Ireland what has already been done so adequately for the rest of the United Kingdom. That is the 478 second difficulty which to my mind stands in the way. There remains one more, and that is the difficulty based upon the actual constitution of the kind of hybrid university which I desire to see established. The hon. Gentleman has expressed regret that, in the sketch I put forward of what such a university should be, I excluded from any share of public grant professorships of philosophy and modern history.
§ MR. A. J. BALFOUR
I will tell the hon. Gentleman why such an exclusion is absolutely necessary. It is because I do not believe that this House or this country would ever sanction the setting up of such a university for Roman Catholics in Ireland, unless there were professorial freedom secured in that university. I do not wish to trespass on any matters of controversy, but it must be well known to all hon. Gentlemen who take my interest in this question that there have been strictly Roman Catholic universities set up in certain parts of the Continent; and the machinery has worked so badly, as we think, that professorial freedom of teaching has not been secured, to the great detriment of sound learning and the great injury of those universities when compared to universities of freer growth and more natural development. I quite agree it will be very hard to expect a university of the kind I desire to see set up to tolerate a professor of philosophy or a professor of modern history who should base the whole scope of his lectures on those two subjects, so that they were an attack, covert or open, upon the cherished theological beliefs of the great mass of the students. Yet it would be perfectly legitimate to treat both philosophy and modern history in a denominational spirit, and, therefore, I feel that in regard to those chairs those who asked for aid out of public funds would be in this dilemma—either they would have to use public funds to set up professorships where there would not be absolute freedom of teaching, and that would be intolerable from an educational point of view, or we might be in a position of forcing upon the university teaching in philosophy and modern history which was practically nothing short of a direct attack upon the religious views of the students. Therefore, though I quite 479 agree that such professorships should be instituted, I do not think it should be on the Imperial taxpayer that those interested in the university should come for their establishment. Perhaps some of my friends may say this is too great a concession to what they would describe as Roman Catholic prejudice, and that you ought to insist that there should be professorships of philosophy and modern history, and that, when you have got them, they might teach doctrines as contrary to the theological views of the students as they might in any other establishment. Let me remind the Committee that when we set up the Queen's Colleges the most elaborate precautions were taken to prevent such a result, and therefore there is nothing novel in the views I have ventured to express on the subject of those two chairs. Leaving philosophy and modern history, we come to a class of study where, in my judgment, freedom is as absolutely necessary, and where I am not sure that it would not be freely accorded—I mean some of the scientific chairs, such as biology. I do not think that, so long as he confined himself strictly to the subject matter, the teacher of biology should be limited in his teaching. I do not think it would be right to exclude him simply because the tenor of his strictly scientific teaching did not happen to commend itself, perhaps, to certain members of the hierarchy or others interested in the direction educational efforts should take in Ireland. I, therefore, hold strongly that there ought to be every precaution taken outside the chairs of which I have spoken; freedom of teaching in this university should be the rule. I am convinced that those who really have the interests of higher education at heart must feel that the opinions I have ventured to express are really vital to the healthy growth of any university in any part of the world, and not least where that university would have to meet such rivals as Trinity College, Dublin, and the Queen's College, Belfast. Those are the three difficulties that stand in the way of the scheme. I have spoken so often on the subject that I may be absolved from anything more. But I must say one word with regard to a criticism made by the hon. Gentleman upon the position I have taken up. He said that my position was without parallel in the history of political parties in this country—meaning, I sup- 480 pose, that it was without parallel that a Member of the Government should express upon matter of public importance views to which the Government as a whole were in no sense bound. That is no novelty. It has been adopted on more than one occasion, and it must be adopted, I think, where questions of religion come in. There was a far more notable case than any which is likely to arise, or could arise, upon the subject of education in Ireland, and that was the great controversy about Roman Catholic emancipation. There was the spectacle, Parliament after Parliament, session after session, of Ministers getting up on this bench and making the most powerful speeches respectively for and against the proposal then before the House. That is, indeed, a rare spectacle in modern days, but I think it is perfectly in accordance with our best political traditions that certain questions should be left open. There remains only to be considered whether it was or was not right that I should attempt to take a leading part, or a prominent part, in this controversy without having secured the assent of my colleagues on this bench, or of the friends who sit around me, and with whom in general politics I am proud to be associated. Well, Sir, my course has not been made either easier or more pleasant by the line I have taken in this controversy, but it seems to me that if Party politicians are on every subject to be precluded front expressing an opinion, and trying to guide the forces of public opinion inside and outside this House—if they are to be precluded front doing that in every case unless they have the formal and official assent of those with whom they act in other questions—a great limitation, and, I think, a very unfortunate limitation, will be placed upon our activity. It would be easier for me to take the advice given me, as I understand, by the hon. Gentleman, and withdraw from the missionary effort, which I admit has not met with any very great measure of success up to the present time——
§ MR. DILLON
It is hardly fair to say that. The right hon. Gentleman misquotes what I said. What I said was unparalleled in the annals of Parliamentary Government was the action of the Duke of Devonshire, and the comment which the Duke of Devonshire made upon the right hon. Gentleman's speech. All I 481 said in regard to his own speech was that, I thought the Government was bound, in view of what he said, to take up the question. But I said nothing in the nature of hostile criticism of the efforts which he has made in our cause, and for which I warmly thank him.
§ MR. A. J. BALFOUR
The hon. Gentleman will see that if the Government are bound to take up as a Government every question on which I express an opinion, I must ask my colleagues, before I express that opinion, whether they are prepared to take it up. That independence, which, no doubt, should be used with discretion, but which I think is very valuable outside the ordinary Party work of politics, would be entirely destroyed if any such canon of action as the hon. Gentleman desires to establish were forced upon those who sit on this bench, or on the bench opposite. I take a different view of my duty. I repeat now, as I have said persistently ever since this question came up, that until a change takes place in public opinion which has not as yet taken place this cannot be made a Government question, and wheat I make that assertion it must be accepted that I say exactly what I mean. I do not mean that I have some covert commission from my colleagues to sound public opinion, or to announce by a ballon d'essai the future policy of the Government; I say exactly what I mean. This is not a Government question, I do not see how it can be made a Government question; but I, nevertheless, shall endeavour in the future, as I have in the past, to remove one by one the difficulties in Ireland and in this country, arising possibly out of the prejudices of those whom the hon. Gentleman himself represents—arising out of the ignorance, as I think it, of those whose other views, religious and political, I share; difficulties which can be met, which time I think will enable us to meet, but which cannot as yet be met by that apparatus of Party organisation and Party machinery by which we rightly trust to carry on so much of the legislation of this country.
§ MR. ARNOLD - FORSTER (Belfast, West)
It certainly is not for me to comment upon the view the right hon. Gentleman takes with regard to the cause he has followed, but there is a manifest in- 482 convenience in the plan which he has thought it his duty to adopt. I quite accept the view that he has a right to plead this cause apart from the Government to which he belongs, but I cannot see any great public advantage arising therefrom, and I do see great confusion and a considerable amount of disadvantage likely to accrue to the Party of which he is the distinguished leader. There ought certainly to be a little modification of the form of address which he reserves for those who do not agree with him; it is a little hard that the opposition which some of us conscientiously offer to this proposal should be put down to ignorance.
§ Mr. A. J. BALFOUR
I certainly never suggested that in reference to the hon. Member. I was talking of the great mass of public opinion outside.
§ MR. ARNOLD - FORSTER
Notwithstanding the explanation of the right hon. Gentleman, I cannot help feeling that the only excuse he made for those who oppose this proposal was a want of appreciation of the facts. I cannot altogether accept that position, and I take it the right hon. Gentleman does not deny the view of the hon. Gentleman opposite that the opposition is due to the obscurantism and ignorance el those who object to the foundation at this time of the Christian era of this particular institution. It would he exceedingly wrong, out of taste, and altogether contrary to my desire to say anything about the Roman Catholic faith as a doctrinal religion, but it is not outside the capacity or the right of Members of this House to hold and occasionally to express their view in regard to the Roman Catholic religion as a matter affecting the life of the State and the people in it, because as a matter of history the Roman Catholic religion has played and always has claimed to play a very large part in political matters. That claim has not been abandoned, and there are many who think, as I do, that we can see in the history of this country, and of all countries, very conspicuous marks of the effect of that political participation of the Roman Catholic religion in the fate and fortunes of those countries. We think we have some ground for the belief that those countries in which the Roman Catholic religion has played a prominent part in the direction of politics have been 483 in our view unfortunate, and we are not desirous to put ourselves in the same position. Where exactly do we stand? Some time ago the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Montrose laid down, with regard to the university which he thought might be established in Ireland, five conditions which seemed eminently reasonable, all of which he thought were essential before we could fairly ask Parliament to sanction the foundation of such a university. I will not trouble the House with those conditions, which were very simple and obvious, but what was the result of laying down those propositions? A very eminent Roman Catholic prelate, the Bishop of Limerick, has said with regard to them:It must be evident to the least informed person that an institution constituted under these five conditions (of Mr. Morley's) cannot be regarded as a Catholic University in the true sense of the word. … In a Catholic University the authority of the Pope would be supreme, and reach directly and indirectly every part of its organisation, and pervade and inform its operations. He would grant its charter and sanction its degrees. All its intellectual life would be carried on under ecclesiastical supervision and control.That is the definition given by the Bishop of Limerick of a real Catholic University. In connection with that I would cite one more quotation from the right hon. Gentleman the First Lord of the Treasury. He says:The first condition is that what we propose to those desiring higher education in Ireland shall be cordially accepted by them as the solution of their difficulties.Where have we it in evidence anywhere that what is proposed by the right hon. Gentleman is accepted, or can be accepted, as the solution of the difficulties of the Roman Catholics in Ireland? He has himself said to-night that he has received no such intimation from the Roman Catholic hierarchy, and I say that no such intimation can ever be given. If they, in synod assembled, were to give us the most positive assurance that a university under these, or any other limitations would satisfy them and meet their view, I could not possibly accept that as a final solution of this matter. For this reason: If we are dealing with a man who is a trustee, we ask what is the nature of his trust. If he has absolutely no right to divest himself of the condition of that trust, but, in a moment of anxiety to please those whom he 484 respects or with whom he wishes to co-operate, departs from the letter of that trust, we must suppose that the time will come, if he is a right-minded man, when he will be compelled to go back to the strict words of the trust which he is administering. The trust which is administered by the Roman Catholic hierarchy is the trust which is imposed upon them by the Roman Catholic religion, and I have no hesitation in saying that no university under any such limitations as have been hinted at this evening by the right hon. Gentleman has ever been or will be regarded as a real Roman Catholic University in the view of the Roman Catholic Church. It is not to the synods of Dublin that you will go to find out what is the true doctrine upon this matter. I was interested and amused by what the right hon. Gentleman said with reference to this university. He said, "We have already endowed every form of Roman Catholic teaching in Ireland," and he cited elementary schools, reformatory schools, secondary schools, and I was astonished to hear him cite the trick by which the endowments of the Royal University have been used for the creation of the Jesuit College, which I think is an exceedingly unfortunate institution, now existing in the City of Dublin. There is this distinction to be noted. What is a university as opposed to these institutions? In the curricula of these institutions you want to include only certain subjects of study; but the very essence of a university is that it should be universal in its teaching, and embrace the latest developments of human knowledge and be, in the true sense of the word, a "university." The parallel at once ceases between any of these subsidiary organisations and a university such as we are referring to. What is this university to consist of? I really do not know what the right hon. Gentleman would dare to trust to this university when it is founded. He will take no responsibility for the chair of theology, the chair of philosophy, or, most important of all, the chair of biology. It is a most serious thing when we are founding what we call a modern university that we fear to entrust the chair of biology to the governing body of the university without taking special precautions such as have been suggested. I do not wonder that the right hon. Gentleman 485 dwelt upon the necessity of taking these precautions, for it is not so very long ago since a doctor of biology was discharged from a Roman Catholic University so called, simply and solely, as far as I am aware, upon the ground that he taught what modern knowledge has enabled men to acquire with regard to the science of biology.
§ MR. T. M. HEALY
There is not one word of foundation for the statement. I know the case, and the less said about it the better.
§ MR. ARNOLD - FORSTER
If the hon. Member has any doubt about the value of my instance, I will only go to my general argument.
§ MR. ARNOLD - FORSTER
I will only call attention to the obvious danger which exists when the right hon. Gentleman has thought it absolutely necessary at this stage to lay down as an almost essential proposition that the ordinary science of biology, which is at the bottom of all medical teaching, should be safeguarded by taking it out of the hands of those who, I suppose, are to be the normal governing body—the ecclesiastical personages who are to rule this university.
§ MR. A. J. BALFOUR
I do not think the hon. Member quite understands what I may call my scheme. No doubt the university will be under a governing 486 body, but there will be in this university a visiting body, to whom there will be an appeal. And certainly, no person, in my judgment, ought to be dismissed merely because he exercises on his own responsibility the liberty of teaching in that subject in which he is engaged.
§ MR. ARNOLD - FORSTER
What I gathered was that there was a probability that when this question of biology came to be taught we should be faced with the difficulty which has always confronted those who desire to see this subject taught in Roman Catholic Universities, and that it may arise in the interference of the dogmatic theology of the Church, with the teaching of biology for medical purposes, which modern science has made absolutely essential. In what country in the whole civilised world has this step been taken which we are reproached and called fanatical and bigoted for not taking? In what country in the world has a Roman Catholic University, conforming to the doctrine of the Roman Catholic Church, been founded and endowed in recent years in response to the demand of the Roman Catholic hierarchy? My proposition is entirely different: it is that there was a period, not so very remote in history, when every country in Europe as a matter of course possessed an endowed, State-controlled, Roman Catholic University, but one by one every nation in Christendom has divested itself of that possession—has found such a university to be incompatible with the progress of civilisation, and has discarded it. There are survivals, I admit. The right hon. Gentleman spoke of the necessity of improving higher education. I agree. But does he wish us to imagine that the foundation of a Roman Catholic University in the centre of the community is admirably calculated to stimulate higher education? Such a view is certainly not supported by any information that I have ever received. The University at Freiburg has been referred to. That university was set up with the object of having a Roman Catholic University fully equipped going into competition with modern university instruction. It was founded by very able and competent men, and I believe it was their honest intention that that university should, as far as a university of that kind could, give as liberal an education as could be obtained. What happened? 487 The whole professoriate was immediately grasped by an outside body—the Dominican clergy—and all the Catholics who had been selected to teach philosophy and other modern subjects in the university found their tenure so impossible under the régime which was instituted that they left in a body and never returned. We are told that all sorts of precautions will be adopted to make all that sort of thing impossible in Ireland. I trust it may be so, but we who have not the same confidence that some hon. Members have would like to be told what is to be the nature of those precautions. We could never reconcile two absolutely irreconcilable things; we should never reconcile the doctrine of the Roman Catholic Church with regard to the education of the young with the view taken by the majority of the civilised world with regard to university education at the present time. We may have some compromise which will satisfy the requirements of the moment, but I have too much respect for the ability and consistency of those who are responsible for the ordering of the secular and the religious affairs of the Roman Catholic religion to suppose that they will ever go one step back upon the claims which they make now and have always made, and which I believe they always will make with regard to the education of the young. We cannot reasonably be asked to accept the charge of being illiberal when we express our belief that a university of this kind will not be in accordance with modern civilisation and modern views. I am honestly open to conviction if the First Lord of the Treasury can influence my reason and move my judgment, but I shall not budge an inch from my position until I see exactly what the proposal is to which we are asked to assent. I shall want to know how this is to be distinguished from other universities, and what are the privileges of a modern university which we are asked to forego in order that this university may be created. I shall want to know also what is the nature of the compact which is to be arrived at with the Roman Catholic hierarchy in Ireland, and I shall want to know what is the assurance we have that that compact is in full and entire satisfaction of the demands of the Roman Catholic Church, not as representing temporarily the views of the Dublin or other 488 synods in Ireland, but as representing the entire body of the Roman Catholic Church as constituted in that country. When we have had an answer to these questions—and a satisfactory answer—I shall be in a more malleable frame of mind than I am at present. I do, however, protest against this matter being brought up upon a side issue in this manner in our discussion of the Irish Estimates in an empty House, because it should be the subject of a serious Debate. I quite understand the strength of the feeling on both sides, but I do think it would be a good thing for us on all sides upon this question to realise exactly where We stand, so that if this matter is to be settled we may prepare ourselves for its settlement.
§ SIR J. BRUNNER (Cheshire, Northwich)
I desire to say a word or two about the allusion made by my hon. and learned friend the Member for North Louth to Dr. Klein of Liverpool. Referring to that gentleman he said "the less said about him the better," and those words were spoken in a tone to be heard all over the House. But a moment later in tones much lower, which could only be heard by those hon. Members sitting near him, he said "Dr. Klein is a Catholic priest who got married."
§ SIR J. BRUNNER
I do not wish to convey that there was any trick intended by the hon Member's action. What I desire to do is to repeat those words so that all should hear that the fault he finds with Dr. Klein is that he was a Catholic priest who got married. It is true that Dr. Klein has been a Roman Catholic priest, and that he is to-day happily married; but he did not get married until a considerable time after he had ceased to be a Catholic priest. Dr. Klein holds to-day a very honourable position, and I should be absolutely disloyal if I did not repudiate the insinuations made by the hon. Member for North Louth in regard to that gentleman.
§ MR. T. M. HEALY
The hon. Gentleman the Member for West Belfast gave an instance of a Roman Catholic college which he was pleased to call the Dublin 489 University, where a [...]cher of biology was discharged on the ground that he taught what modern learning had taught in regard to the science of biology, and he has trotted out Dr. Klein as a victim of Roman Catholic persecution. In regard to that matter I did say that in my judgment the least said about Dr. Klein the better either upon that or any other subject. [AN HON. MEMBER: "Why?"] Well, I should not think it fair without notice to the gentleman to discuss here the case and history of Dr. Klein; but if it should ever be desirable to do so, in defence of the action of the Dublin University College, I should be prepared to defend that action, for there is not a shred of foundation for the statement made by the hon. Member for West Belfast. I should like to put this question to any hon. Gentleman present—if you were a Catholic sending your children to a college and there they were being taught by a priest, and [...]ou found that instead of coaching the Catholic tenets in reference to the celibacy of the priesthood, that priest had broken his vows and married the young lady of the family to which he had been appointed tutor. I do think it is rather hard to say that he was dismissed from his position because of his teaching of biology. I do not think that Dr. Klein was ever[...] dismissed, and my recollection of it is that he alleged conscientious scruples, and became a Unitarian minister [...] Liverpool. I have often noticed [...] in connection with every priest who leaves the Roman Catholic Church there is always a woman at the bottom of it. The lady comes first, and the conscientious scruples of the priest in regard to his faith come after[...] I have not introduced this [...] an attack upon Dr. Klein, but [...] is made a charge against the [...] Church that he wad dismissed [...] grounds it will be my business [...] at case arises to discuss the entire [...] the case. In this instance I only the purpose of making that cor[...] I do not intend at this moment [...] into the general topic; but when[...] 490 painful story attached to it then it is not our fault. What I say is that the whole matter illustrates the readiness with which hon. Gentlemen are willing to believe the worst of those who differ from them either in politics or religion. I have often heard and read the speeches of the hon. Member for West Belfast, and I have sometimes speculated as to what would have happened if he had been born a Catholic, as to how many persons he would have burned at the stake—especially if, besides his belief in the infallibility of the Pope, he had also added the belief in his own infallibility. I can only ask now that he will give us some measure of the pity of his heart for those who have had the terrible misfortune to be born in the depths of superstition which attach to being Catholic. We all appreciate the toleration with which Protestant nations treat the humbler nations, whether at Omdu[...]an or Majuba Hill. I should like to say one or two words upon the more immediate subject. The right hon. Gentleman thé First Lord of the Treasury used some very remarkable language, and I agree with everything the hon. Member for East Mayo said with regard to the fairness, [...]ability, and frankness with which the First Lord of the Treasury has addressed himself to this question. But the right hon. Gentleman to-night has used words of hopelessness and despair the like of which I have not heard him use before in connection with this question. He said two things; firstly, "It is not Government question," and secondly, I do not see how it can be made a Government question."
§ MR. A. J. BALFOUR
As far as I remember, [...] said that I did not see how it could be made a Government question until there was a change in public opinion, which change has not yet taken place.
§ MR. T. M. HEALY
That is a dictum which does not appear to me to be very encouraging, and I do not know that it carries us much further. As far as the life of this Parliament is concerned, the right hon. Gentleman says it is not question within the range of practical politics, and he does not see how it can be made a Government question. Is it for the Catholic bishops of Ireland to show how it can be made a Government question? Whether in this House or out of it, I have always held the view that until the Irish 491 Catholic bishops are prepared to make themselves inconvenient to the Government in Ireland this will never be made a Government question. The Catholic bishops in Ireland are some of them of extreme moderation in politics, but all of them will read with very considerable emotion the statement of the right hon. Gentleman that he does not see how this is to be made a Government question. Sir, we have again and again brought forward the question in this House, and time after time we have been met by accents of despair; but in no speech that has ever been made by the right hon. Gentleman have we ever heard such a statement from the Government, coupled and preceded by this statement, which I also took down, "that this House ought to earnestly set itself to work out a remedy for the grievance". This has not been made a Government question, because it is considered not to be of sufficient importance. There are other matters which have been made Government questions, such as questions like the Undersized Fish Bill, and that measure is of sufficient importance to become a Government questions, and it has actually got a Select Committee appointed to deal with it; but the question of the stunted education of the Irish Catholics is considered altogether unworthy to be made a Government question. That reduces this House, so far as Irishmen are concerned, to a position of absolute absurdity. Only to-day Ireland was refused a little railway 36 miles long, which was supported unanimously by 46 public bodies in Ireland, and which the majority of the Irish Members had petitioned in favour of. We cannot even have a little railway in Ireland, because i[...] cannot be made a Government question, and there is no means of making it a Government question. To-night we are told, upon the question of nniversity education for Ireland, that it is of far less importance than the question of undersized fish. What is the inevitable conclusion that Irishmen of all grades of opinion will come to after such treatment? Only yesterday, without notice, the right hon. Gentleman connected with the War Department—and his success in that Department I certainly look upon with great satisfaction—introduced a Bill for £4,000,000 for extra military works. The question of founding a Roman Catholic University involves only about £1,000,000, or the price of one battleship. That Bill to spend 492 £4,000,000 [...] ranges and a few things of that kind [...] this House without a word, and nobody asks even for the details of it. [...] hon. Member for West Belfast is going to ask for the details as to the expenditure of this £1,000,000, although [...] are to vote the £4,000,000 for works in Wei-hai-wei, Hong-kong, and Zululand, and now there is to be an Antarctic expedition, and Ireland is to pay her share of that. The First Lord of Treasury has also announced that some substantial sum is to be voted to spread civilisation in Victoria Land, and for all these things the Irish Catholics are to see Irish money voted, while the things that are dearest to their hearts are to be treated in this House with contempt, and sneering references to their faith and to their nation by gentlemen in the position of the hon. Member for West Belfast. How is it possible to tolerate treatment of that kind? If Government is to be a thing done with the [...] of the governed, the logical outcome of government of that kind on the part of the people whose feelings either in religion or any other matter are outraged is to throw bombs. I see no other course. You wonder at the want of loyalty on the part of the Irish people, and their want of affection for the English nation [...]and I may add want [...] of affection for the hon. Member for West Belfast, who is, after all, a born Briton; and we are supposed to be able [...] our bosom the nation of which he is the representative, although he thinks no more of crushing the views and sentiments of four millions of Irish Catholics than if he were to walk on a cockroach going through the hall. Why does the hon Member for West Belfast not go and preach[...] soldiers and sailors and tell [...] they are idolaters? Why do [...] and take idolatrous taxes [...] The next time the British tax [...] calls I will plead to him that I [...] idolater. But this question real[...] not only merely a sentimental sid[...] has also a practical side. Th[...] Gentleman the Member for [...] is willing to[...] 493 teaching even of an obscurantist professor than none at all; and yet that is the alternative which is placed before them if this just demand is refused. The hon. Gentleman read out a statement to the effect that the Catholic university should have the approval of the Pope. For my own part I would rather be in a university that had the approval of the Pope than the approval of the hon. Member for West Belfast, because from all I have read about him and heard from the hon. Gentleman I do think that the opinion of the Pope on this matter is preferable to his own. As I understand it, we are asking nothing from you at all, for we are asking only for a share of our own money to be distributed amongst ourselves in our own way, and if you are unable to give it to us, then your system of government in Ireland is doomed. You tell us that all the high positions in the Army, the Navy, the Volunteers, and other Government Departments, are open to us, but at the same time you keep the Irish people in a condition of educational servitude, with the result that the children of the Irish people are unfitted to pass the degrees required for any one of the prizes in connection with those splendid institutions of your Empire. What is this but another form of penal laws? Such laws are fair and frank, and they are, as a matter of fact, far franker than the hypocritical state of things which now exists. Take the case of men at my time of life who have to begin to consider what to do with their children. They have to part with their religion and give up the creed in which they were reared, and to which their fathers belonged, if they desire to compete for these great national prizes. They have either to do that, or else allow their children to be condemned to remain in that ignorance which the hon. Gentleman opposite contends for. It may be a terrible state of mental degradation upon our parts that we prefer our children to be brought up in ignorance rather than they should go to institutions where their faith will be attacked; but surely it ought to be a problem of statesmanship to give the Roman Catholics a chance of education, not in religion or philosophy, but in other higher subjects, which would enable them to gain some of those worldly prizes to which you admit they are entitled, without, at the same time, doing any violence to their religious feelings. That is one 494 of the problems to be solved by English statesmanship. You have solved this question for the French in Canada, and why not try to solve it for the Irish in Ireland? I should like to know what the Canadian French have done for you. Is it because of their race, for they do not pay a shilling of taxes to the Empire, and they protect themselves against your imports coming into Canada. You cannot send any of your goods from Birmingham or Sheffield without the French put a tax upon them. And yet Ireland is not to be allowed to have the poor satisfaction of being voted the £1,000,000, which is all that is required for the solution of this great question. From the English financial point of view this is not a great question, for it is a very moderate question—for what is £1,000,000 to you when you squander £100,000,000 every year? It will only take the price of a single battleship in order to bring about this great satisfaction to the feelings of four millions of people. Just because you differ from us upon certain forms in religion, are our children to be condemned to ignorance? What has the right hon. Gentleman the First Lord of the Treasury just done? He has brought in a Bill, which is to be read a second time on Tuesday next, dealing with the tithe rent-charge, which is to enable the clergy of England to get something like £80,000 or £90,000 a year in relief of their taxes. Now, we Irish Catholics will have to contribute our share to that. ["No, no."] Well, I have my own suspicions about your system of book - keeping. You won't allow us to keep the purse or examine the books, and I have a very strong suspicion that your calculations include us in your charges. You make no bones about this grant to the clergy, who have already large salaries, and who belong to the richest Church in the world, and the right hon. Gentleman the Member for West Belfast will have no hesitation in voting for that Bill on Tuesday next. Let the right hon. Member try to abolish the Divinity School in Trinity College, and he will very quickly get his answer from the Protestant party. So long as you maintain the essentially Protestant character of Trinity College, I say that it is a monstrous thing to pretend that we can have equality or freedom in our educational establishments, or that there is anything like justice in asking us 495 to send our children to a college where the Divinity School is kept up and where the essence of its teaching is that the Catholic faith is essentially a superstition.
§ * MR. CHANNING (Northamptonshire, E.)
I regret that the hon. Member for North Louth is not in his place, as I wish to make a few remarks—I gave him notice of my intention to do so—in regard to one passage in his speech of which I am bound to take cognisance. I cannot but believe that the hon. Member will, on reflection, regret that he was betrayed into a personal attack, and I must say, a series of personal insinuations, against a man so much beloved and respected in Liverpool by many of my personal friends, and whose case was referred to by my hon. friend the hon. Member for West Belfast. The name of Dr. Klein was deliberately demanded from the hon. Member for Belfast, with, I must say, some discourtesy and more than usual Parliamentary persistence. I think it my duty to say that only within the last few days I have had assurances from Liverpool friends, one of whom formerly held a seat in this House for many years, of the high esteem and warm regard in which Dr. Klein is held in Liverpool. I am sure I am right in repudiating on their behalf in the strongest possible terms of condemnation the insinuations against the character of that gentleman because he had divested himself of the position of a Roman Catholic priest, and because he had married a lady to whom he was attached, and also because he had come to hold other views than those he had formerly held. I have thought it my duty to say so much, and to condemn emphatically the attack made on a man worthy of the respect of everyone in the country and in this House. The hon. Member for North Louth has achieved many brilliant successes in this House, but he has never achieved a more conspicuous success than in showing how impossible it is to establish a Catholic University in Ireland. He has exhibited a spirit of intolerance in making these insinuations without proof or warrant, and if we unfortunately assent to the creation of a Roman Catholic University Ireland, we see the spirit to which the professors in that university would be exposed, and it seems to me a lamentable——
§ MR. PINKERTON (Galway)
What has this to do with the Queen's College Vote now before the Committee?
* THE CHAIRMAN
I think it is well that this incident should close. I understand that it has been fully discussed, and it does appear to me very remote from the Vote under discussion.
§ MR. CHANNING
The question under discussion is the advisability of the creation of a Roman Catholic University in Ireland. I was alluding to the remarks of the hon. Member for North Louth as showing the sort of temper to which the occupants of the chairs of the university to be created would be treated, and before the hon. Member for Galway raised his point of Order I was about to make the remark that this gentleman, Dr. Klein, was engaged as a teacher of biology in the Catholic University College of Dublin, and that the hon. and learned Gentleman the Member for North Louth seemed to think that the University College should get rid of him because——
§ MR. ARTHUR J. MOORE (Londonderry)
I object, Mr. Grant Lawson, to the hon. Member for East Northamptonshire persistently evading your ruling.
* THE CHAIRMAN
I understand that the hon. Member only wishes to finish the sentence in which he was interrupted, and then to go on with a new point.
§ MR. CHANNING
I was entitled to use an illustration in this House as to the state to which the professors of a Roman Catholic University would be reduced by the governing body of such a university. One remarkable interruption made by the right hon. the First Lord of the Treasury to the hon. Member for West Belfast was singularly significant. The professoriate that was contemplated by the right hon. Gentleman in the scheme which he has laid before the country, as I understood it before he interrupted the hon. Member for West Belfast, was that theology, modern history, and philosophy are to be excluded from the control of the governing body of the Catholic University. But now the right hon. Gentleman apparently gives the House to understand that these professors would be absolutely responsible to the governing body, and that the only 497 remedy, in case the governing body dealt with the professors in the spirit to which I have alluded, in the case of Dr. Klein, would be an appeal to the visitors to the university. Now I ask the right hon. Gentleman whether the professors of science, history, and philosophy, to be appointed by the Crown, are to be so appointed on the ground of their qualifications to teach these subjects, or whether his proposal would be to endeavour to meet the views of the Roman Catholics in Ireland by introducing the question of religion in the appointment of these chairs. That is the essential point. Although I absolutely dissent from the view taken of this question by the right hon. Gentleman, I wish to say that I honour him for the courage with which he has put his views before the country, and for the claim to complete independence of view with which he has asserted to-night in putting the matter before the House. His views, I think, have fortunately been overruled by his colleagues in the Cabinet, as they have been on the question of silver and on the question of woman's suffrage. His colleagues have been wise, I think, in rejecting these views. As an old university reformer I have always been against religious tests and sectarianism in all its forms So far as I understand the argument of the First Lord of the Treasury, it amounted to this, that as there is so much denominationalism in Ireland at present, in the primary schools, reformatories, and secondary schools, we ought not to criticise too closely a suggestion that we should have a great deal more denominationalism. I absolutely dissent from that point of view and from the facts. The right hon. Gentleman the Member for Montrose, when responsible for Irish affairs, persistently refused to consent to the new rules suggested by the National Education Commissioners, which would, in practice, have turned the Irish educational system into a denominational system. I do not understand that the First Lord of the Treasury, or the present Chief Secretary for Ireland, or the Lord Lieutenant of Ireland, or the Solicitor-General for Ireland, have agreed to the changes in the rules as suggested by the National Education Commissioners; and therefore in Ireland we have now, in principle, the separation of religious teaching and the union of secular teaching in the schools of Ireland. Therefore we are still in the position of having 498 rejected the compromise suggested by the Powys Commission some years ago. The argument of the hon. and learned Member for Louth is that the Roman Catholic youth in Ireland are denied a fair chance of education. I absolutely deny that. The hon. Member for East Mayo, with many parts of whose speech I was much more in sympathy, said that the only university open to Catholics in any sense whatever was Trinity College, but that the Divinity School and the other branches were so permeated by a Protestant atmosphere as to make it impossible for Catholics in Ireland to send their sons to that splendid college and avail themselves of its privileges and advantages. I absolutely challenge the whole of that statement from beginning to end. So far as I understand the constitution of Trinity College, it is practically the same as that of Oxford and Cambridge. Catholics are perfectly free to go to Trinity; no tests are imposed upon them, and they are not required to attend any religious ceremony. It is perfectly notorious that Catholic students who attend Oxford and Cambridge return to their families just as good Catholics as they went. I happen to know the arrangements at Oxford, and to know also the Catholic Canon who is appointed there to look after the interests of the Catholic students; and it is perfectly impossible to assert that these Catholic students are placed in any position of disadvantage whatever. They have the glorious privileges of a great university; they acquire a breadth of mind by mixing with other students; they are not cramped in their ideas; they are brought in contact with men of other conceptions, and that is the best way of making men of them, men of broad sympathies. I say where that is the case it is absurd to allege that the sons of Catholic parents cannot obtain the fullest advantages of university training, and yet remain loyal to their religious opinions. My main objection to sectarianism in university teaching would apply just as strongly to an Episcopalian, a Unitarian, or an Agnostic University. I do not want to see any of these dogmatic principles put ahead of education itself. I say it is a monstrous thing that we should judge professors from the point of view of their being either Catholic or Protestant. They ought to be judged from the point of view of whether they are the very best 499 men that can be obtained to teach the subjects they are called upon to teach. We have seen the temper of the hon. Member for North Louth, and the sort of spirit in which the professors in a Catholic university would be selected and treated if that sort of spirit was applied to the working of a Catholic University in Ireland. We should have a sort of Index Expurgatorius, and any man who ventured to have an opinion of his own would not be judged as to whether he was the best man for a chair of biology, or geology, or chemistry, classics, or history, but whether he was up to the shibboleths of the Catholic hierarchy. It is this that I wish to protest against. The hon. Member for Mayo complained that there was not better provision for the higher education of Catholics in Ireland, and that the Queen's Colleges were poor. What is the reason they are poor? Why do not the Irish Catholics send their sons, with their young, and strong, and vigorous intellects, to till these colleges and thus develop them? That would be better for the colleges, and better for the young men, too, to be brought in contact with others and learn to take broad and generous views. It is because of the bigotry and narrowness and tyranny of the Roman Catholic priesthood. It is because of the bigotry and narrowness and tyranny of the priesthood, which deny the right of the parents to send their sons to these Queen's Colleges. It is because these colleges have been denied pupils that they are not as fully developed as we would like to see them. I, for one, insist on having freedom, and on having the teaching institutions divested of religious bigotry and tyranny, and that is the spirit in which we should approach the university question for Ireland.
§ MR. RENTOUL (Down, E.)
After the manner in which the First Lord of the Treasury has described his own followers in Ulster, I naturally speak with considerable pain, because we were described as densely ignorant and grossly prejudiced. Well, the right hon. Gentleman cheered that, and I merely want to define at the very start the position in which I stand. There are a certain number of people in Ireland who entertain strong views on this matter of university education, entirely apart from political or religious prejudices. I shall try to state what these views are, and 500 why these views are held. The First Lord has referred to those who opposed a Catholic University as ignorant or prejudiced. Well, the hierarchy of the Roman Catholic Church has been frequently referred to to-night, and, I think, with entire respect. I beg to refer to the governing body and clergy of the Church to which I belong, namely, the Presbyterian Church of Ireland. The General Assembly of the Church is, as far as I know, to a single man, strongly opposed to the Catholic University scheme, and in favour of the principle of mixed education. If there is one man who is not so, he has not come out in public and made his views known. That assembly is not ignorant, if university degrees are any test of education, for about nine-tenths of the ministers of the General Assembly hold university degrees, and a very large number of them with very high honours and university distinction. Therefore, they are not incapable of forming a good strong opinion on any university question; and, with the utmost respect for the First Lord of the Treasury, they are quite as capable of forming an opinion on a matter of this sort as the right hon. Gentleman himself. They have formed their opinion, and have stated it again and again. What is the reason they are attached to undenominational education? Is it believed by any gentleman opposite that they take the line they, do simply to spite the Roman Catholics? Do these gentlemen remember the old days of struggle, when, throughout the whole of Ulster, and, indeed, throughout the whole of Ireland, Presbyterian ministers and Catholic priests were side by side fighting the same battle? Do they forget that in all reforms called for by the Roman Catholics in Ireland they found their backers very generally, and very strongly, amongst the ministers of the Presbyterian Church? These Presbyterian ministers take the stand they do because they believe that a mixed education is best for the social life of Ireland. They may be entirely wrong, but that is their firm conviction, and the firm conviction of all of us who have gone through a mixed education. It so happens, if I may be permitted to say so, that I was educated in three different schools, colleges, and universities, and I believe that I never had a single class in school, college, or university in which there were not Roman Catholic students amongst my best and most 501 efficient class-mates. What dreadful and diabolical injury I did to them I cannot say but I can assure the House that they did me no harm whatever. I think, in fact, they did me one good, and that is, if I call judge myself at all, that they rendered me incapable of any bigoted dislike to any man for continuing in the religion in which he happened to be born. I emphasise the word "happened." That being so, I am one of those who look on a mixed education as very beneficial. We are extremely sorry that we are not able to see eye to eye on this question with a large number of our fellow-countrymen, but we wish to ask them to give us as much credit for honesty of purpose and intelligence, and a desire to do what we believe to be right, as we give them. In this matter of university education we frankly say we will beat them if we can, and if they are successful we shall take our beating as best we can. Believing as we do, however, that mixing with those of other denominations in schools and colleges and examination halls, instead of being injurious, is beneficial to the whole of us, that is one of the reasons why we adhere to the present system. I have already referred to the First Lord of the Treasury. Everybody gives him the highest credit for sincerity of conviction and honesty of purpose in this matter, but we desire similar credit at the same time. Some of us, moreover, think we know Ireland quite as well as the First Lord of the Treasury, but we do not wish in the slightest degree to attribute a feeling of prejudice to him for the line he has taken. We only admire him for the fact that what he does he does with all his force, whether he happens to be on the right side or the wrong side. The first speech to-night was that of the hon. Member for East Mayo. It was a most gratifying speech. There has not been a speech for a long time which has done more service to the side which I advocate than that, because the hon. Member put his points quite clearly and let us see exactly where he stood. He told us, in the first place, that it was not merely a Catholic university that he wanted, but a national university. Secondly, he plainly put before us that he means a university entirely in sympathy with himself, not merely in religion, but in politics and everything else. Therefore he was frank and clear in expressing the hope that one of the 502 political parties alone should have a university of its own religion and of its own political creed. Then he went on to say that he would deplore any hand being laid on Trinity College, Dublin, or on Dublin University. In that respect he is turning his back on Archbishop Walsh, for that reverend prelate has said that no university would satisfy Catholic demands so long as Trinity College in Dublin remains untouched. I think the Archbishop is perfectly right. If you endow a university with a million a year it would I not equal Dublin University, nor have the same life, standing, and dignity for 100 years to come. That being so, to leave Dublin University to one small section of the community, with all its history and all its prestige, and to start a gingerbread university, no matter to whom it belonged, would be no fair play to those who claim to be a large proportion of the inhabitants of Ireland. Therefore, no settlement of the Irish University question is possible unless a hand is laid on Trinity College, unless the divinity school and the theological professorships are removed, and the place made in every respect equal for all the people of Ireland. One thing is generally lost sight of by hon. Gentlemen opposite, who undoubtedly I have the interests of the rising generations of Ireland at heart, and that is the value of these degrees if you get a university. In Ireland they may be valuable enough, but the case is different when you come to England or Scotland. Even the ad eundem degree of Durham University is not acknowledged as equal to the same degree at Oxford or Cambridge, and the holder of that degree from the Royal University in Dublin would be looked upon with scorn and contempt in England. Upon one point in erroneous idea has got abroad. It is said that if a university is granted to the Roman Catholics, the Presbyterians would be satisfied with Dublin University. I can assure the House, in the name of the Presbyterians of Ireland, that they would have nothing whatever to do with Dublin University or Trinity College as it is constituted now. We would immeasurably rather send our young people to the new Catholic university than to Dublin University.
§ MR. RENTOUL
The hon. Member makes that statement with a want of caution which is characteristic of him, and I entirely deny his right to give an opinion on this question.
§ MR. RENTOUL
The hon. Member says, "Go to Belfast and say it." I say it in the face of Belfast now. I say that the hon. Member for South Belfast is a Dublin University man, and is not a member of the Presbyterian Church. On that account he is not the man to give an opinion, even through he may be returned for a division in which there are a large number of Presbyterians. I am speaking for those for whom I have authority to speak, and I say that if a university is granted to the Roman Catholics of Ireland it would be absolutely necessary for the Presbyterians to have a university, not under that name, but a Northern university under the name of a Belfast or Ulster University. ("No.") The Member for North Belfast or the Member for South Belfast may make any statements they like. I have made my statement, and that statement I stand by.
§ MR. PINKERTON
The hon. and learned Member who has just sat down said that the General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church declared against denominational education. That is absolutely true. But I ask him to contrast their teaching with their practice. It is a well-known fact that in every school in the North of Ireland they insist on their teachers being in full accord with their religious views. I agree with the First Lord of the Treasury that we are fighting against what is practically an accomplished fact in Ireland. We have denominational education in every Corner of it. The First Lord of the Treasury also spoke of rhetorical exaggeration, and when I contrasted the speech of the hon. Member for East Mayo with that of the hon. Member for West Belfast, I could not help thinking that all the rhetorical exaggerations could be traced to the 504 speech of that gentleman. The First Lord said that an imperfect realisation of the benefits of higher education was one of the drawbacks in Ireland. Now, there is no city in Ireland where the imperfect realisation of the benefits of higher education is more evident than in the City of Belfast. If you go to the Queen's College, Belfast, you will find the students all representing the wealthy middle classes. They are all drawn from the agricultural districts, while it is notorious that all the money-grubbers of Belfast, the moment their sons obtain a certain amount of knowledge, pitchfork them into their offices, and never dream of sending them to the Queen's College. The hon. Member for West Belfast spoke about the prejudicial influence of Catholicism and the broadening influence of Protestantism. The broader ring influence was so well illustrated by the Belfast Members a few days ago that the hon. Gentleman should have been ashamed to mention Catholicism in the same breath. I wish to draw the attention of the Committee to the condition of the Queen's Colleges in Ireland. Owing to the policy that has been adopted, each student in Queen's College, Galway, costs the Government £369 14s. 2d. a year, as compared with about £24 for each student in the Queen's College, Belfast. The derelict condition of Queen's College, Galway, is due to the failure of successive Governments to redeem the pledges they have made. In 1888 I put a question to the then Chief Secretary for Ireland dealing with the position of Catholic professors in the Queen's College, Galway, and I asked whether it was not the fact that Sir Robert Peel, when the colleges were founded, gave a distinct pledge, that so far as was in his power Catholic professors would be appointed to the colleges of Cork and Galway, The First Lord of the Treasury, who was then Chief Secretary for Ireland, replied in the affirmative. I put a further question to the present Chief Secretary on the subject yesterday. But what has happened? The senior Catholic professor at Queen's College, Galway, who is senior for promotion, has been recently passed over, and a Protestant, junior by many years, is appointed. Dealing with the contention of Sir Robert Peel that the best men should be appointed, I will take the liberty of reading a testimonial 505 in favour of the senior Catholic professor from Professor Moffett. He said:Doctor Pye needs no testimony from me of his professional ability, which is well and widely known; but having known him from the time he was a first year's student of this College up to the present when he has been for 14 years an esteemed I professor, I gladly take the opportunity of stating, from intimate knowledge of his character, that it would be impossible to speak too highly of his integrity, his conscientiousness, ant his devotion to his duties.Instead of recognising the claims of the senior professor, the Government have yielded in the most abject fashion to the pressure of the brand-new association which has been started in the North of Ireland. And I can assure the right hon. Gentleman that so far from the senior professor having taken part in political contests he has never made a political speech in his life.
§ THE CHIEF SECRETARY FOR IRELAND (Mr. G. W. BALFOUR,) Leeds, Central
I may say that neither religious nor political views have anything to do with these appointments.
§ MR. PINKERTON
Then I am sorry the right hon. Gentleman has not acted up to the professions of Sir Robert Peel.
§ MR. G. W. BALFOUR
May I ask the hon. Gentleman to give the reference in Hansard where Sir Robert Peel made that statement?
§ MR. PINKERTON
The last time this matter was mentioned the First Lord of the Treasury pointed to the fact that Mr. Starkey, a Catholic, had been appointed; but this House must remember that Mr. Starkey was only appointed for nine months. What I so much object to is the sectarian character given to the Queen's College, Galway, under which it has become very nearly derelict. It is of no use to the persons whom it was built to benefit, and it is no wonder that Catholics should raise the question of higher education when great institutions like that are locked and the doors barred against the Catholics of the country. It struck me that a good solution of this question would have been to hand over the Queen's Colleges of Galway and Cork to Catholic management, but these colleges have been used for the overflow of the Belfast College. Ulster sends 30 students to the College where Connaught 506 sends 33. It is downright robbery to the South of Ireland that all these endowments should he filched away by the North of Ireland. It is evident that the Lord Lieutenant is trying to pave the way to a Catholic university, but to do that he must alter the management of the Queen's Colleges.
§ MR. G. W. BALFOUR
The remarks of the hon. Gentleman who has just sat down call for some explanation from me. Since I have been Chief Secretary he has twice asked me whether Sir Robert Peel did not pledge himself to appoint Catholic professors to the Galway College. He has never given me the reference to the speech in which Sir Robert Peel is supposed to have done so, and I have been unable to find it. I think he refers, not to the speech Sir Robert Peel, but to that of Sir James Graham, who did on one occasion say:I am bound to state, although it is the earnest desire of Her Majesty's Government to meet the reasonable wishes of the great body of the Catholic subjects of Ireland, I cannot conceive it possible that any Government advising Her Majesty as to the nomination of professors would not in the first place endeavour to secure in the different colleges those who by their learning and abilities are the most competent; and, beyond a doubt, on the part of many of the professors, an adherence to the Roman Catholic faith would be an additional recommendation.The Committee will see that the opinion given by Sir James Graham there does not represent anything like the pledges which the hon. Gentleman represents were given by the Government of that day. He laid it down distinctly that the most competent persons should be appointed to the post. In the appointments that have been made since the present Government came into office that is the precedent that has been followed. If two equally competent persons were found, one of whom was a Roman Catholic, I personally should prefer that the appointment was given to him. I can assure the hon. Gentleman that religious or political considerations do not weigh with the Irish Government in regard to these appointments.
§ MR. HEMPHILL (Tyrone, N.)
Though I am in favour of the argument of the hon. Member for East Mayo, and intend to vote with him if he carries this matter to a Division, I think I am bound to state the grounds for doing so; I only speak for myself 507 and have no authority to speak for the right hon. and hon. Gentlemen who sit on these benches. I speak as a Protestant, and having had the inestimable advantages of an university education at Trinity College, Dublin, I am bound to say I believe an university education is essential, and I shall do everything in my power to achieve the object of affording that advantage to my Roman Catholic fellow countrymen. I fear that the speech of the right hon. Gentleman the First Lord of the Treasury to-night will be productive of much disappointment when it is read all over Ireland to-morrow. The First Lord of the Treasury, the highest but one of Her Majesty's Ministers, in a Government which is the most powerful in numbers that has existed during the present century, both by his speeches outside and within this House, and by that historic letter of the 23rd of January, 1899, in language of which he is so eminently the master, in the philosophic vein which gives an interest and a force to every argument he advances, makes out the strongest case for this university as being only a common act of justice to Ireland; and having for two or three years, ever since this Ministry has been in power, dangled as it were before the people of Ireland the hope of this Catholic University, he comes forward at this period of the session and abandons all hope for the present of the Government being able to make such a concession in our favour. That is grievously calculated to disappoint the people of Ireland. While I have no mandate to speak for the bishops and archbishops of Ireland, I can very well understand the feeling which they will entertain when they read the speech of the right hon. Gentleman, and when they find that, after all their negotiations and conferences and public pronouncements as to concessions having been made, the cold shoulder is turned upon them. I think a great mistake is entertained on both sides of this House, and I heard with regret the speech of the hon. Member for East Northamptonshire. It is with the utmost pain that I differ with any hon. Gentleman who sits upon this side of the House, but I feel the hon. Gentleman must have forgotten that this was one of the concessions which were given in Mr. Gladstone's Home Rule Bill of 1893. There was a clause in that Bill expressly empowering the Irish Parlia- 508 ment when constituted to establish a Catholic University with certain checks and conditions. I am now addressing my remarks to the hon. Member for East Northamptonshire and to those who agree with him, and I ask them with what show of consistency can they reconcile their vote on the occasion of that Bill with this negation of an act of common justice. But that, as I have said, was to be done subject to checks and conditions. I say the mistake is in supposing that we, and those agreeing with us—that is to say, the Catholics and Protestants of Ireland who agree with the Catholics on this question—are demanding what is called a Roman Catholic University. We demand a university for the Catholics, which is an altogether different thing. We do not ask for a university which is governed by the Roman Catholic hierarchy; we only ask for a university where the Catholics are not likely to have their religion sapped and undermined by long intercourse with young students of a different faith. It cannot be pretended for a moment that Dublin University is anything but a Protestant University. It is perfectly true that since the Test Act in 1873 the professorships and other emoluments have been thrown open, but the fact remains that upon the senate of the richest University in Europe there is not a single Catholic. The language of the hon. Member for Down is rather calculated to confuse the minds of English Members who do Hot understand the working of our universities. He spoke of the university as an old university, no doubt forgetting that the charter of the Queen's Colleges was only granted in 1849. It is not so old when we remember that Mr. Gladstone reminded the House that there were universities in Ireland in the sixth and seventh centuries, and that they existed in some form or other right up to the date of the Reformation. I think it was only in 1863 that these colleges were made into a university, and they ceased to exist as a university in 1879. One of the great things which we think might rise from this new university is that it will enable the talented young men of Ireland of the humblest rank to obtain that education which is at present beyond their reach, and begin the world with this evidence of their fitness. If I do not weary the House I should just like to quote upon this subject the words 509 of Dr. Healy, the Bishop of Clonfert, a report of whose speech at the meeting at the Free Trade Hall on the matter appeared in the Freeman's Journal of 24th January last. I will only quote one passage. Dr. Healy said:I have no doubt the call fur a Catholic University endowed by the State has somewhat roused their ire, and led to a very grave mistake. The university that we seek is not a Catholic university in their sense of the word, nor in any strict sense of the word. The proposed university would be an un-sectarian university; it would have no endowed theological chairs; its endowment would not be the endowment of the Catholic religion, nor of distinctively Catholic teaching in any shape or form. The Bishops of Ireland, when these questions were raised in the House of Commons, gave solemn and repeated assurances of the fact. We recognise the difficulties of the Government. We have sympathy for the tenderness of the Nonconformist conscience, as well as for our own. We do not want the ecclesiastical authority to be predominant on the governing body. On the contrary we are prepared to accept a majority of laymen. We seek no endowment for theological teaching. We shall impose no religious tests for admission to our halls, or degrees or offices or emoluments. Our lectures shall be open to all comers, and professors shall enjoy all reasonable fixity of tenure, and shall not be liable to dismissal at the caprice of any man or body of men. What more do they want? In these respects the new university would be as free and open as Trinity College itself; only as Trinity is Protestant in its tone, its atmosphere, its spirit, so the new university would be Catholic exactly in the same sense.That is the language of a very eminent prelate who speaks with great authority, and it is vain for anybody to go into the lobby against this proposal, and hug to himself the idea that he is saving the country from some Catholic institution worthy of the days of Torquemada. I would next refer to a passage in a speech by the Rev. Dr. O'Donnell, in my opinion one of the most high-minded prelates that ever adorned any Christian Church. The speech was delivered on the 25th of November, 1898. I quote from the Freeman's Journal of the 26th. These are the words of Dr. O'Donnell:We only ask an endowment for the highest kind of secular instruction, where we can avail of it with safe consciences. That Irish Catholics are to be left just where they are in want of facilities for Catholic education scarcely anyone contends. (Hear, hear.) There is not a post, from tilling a university chair to managing a railway, or planting a garden, or directing an industrial project, for which Scotchmen cannot be found of exceptional qualifications. Is anything similar true of 510 Ireland, or would anything similar be true of Scotland, if the great bulk of the Scotch people had been excluded from university education? (Applause.) Well, if the non-Catholics of Ireland want the maximum of advantages to themselves, and to the State, from any provision to give university education to Catholics, they would be well advised to advocate the highest facilities of education for us in connection with our own principles. In any case, really those who would give us no facilities, except on lines that please themselves and displease us, have scarcely Hampden's reason for asking the tax-gatherer to call again. (Applause.) But we ace told that our whole project is concerned with the idea of extending clerical influence. Well, if any clergyman thought that the extension of clerical influence in the daily affairs of the people was likely to be enhanced by the establishment of a university for Catholics, he is in for a serious disappointment.Have the great bulk of the Scottish people been excluded from university education? No; for years they have enjoyed the advantage of it, and I understand that men of the humblest farming classes attend universities. They have technical education and agricultural schools; they are taught the arts and sciences too. In every part of Germany also for years university education has been open to every class of society, and consequently Germans, as a whole, are beating in the industrial race almost every other country, thanks to the advantages acquired in their early training. Switzerland, Sweden, France, and Italy enjoy the advantages of university teaching. Why, then, should not Leland also enjoy these advantages? On the ground of mere policy why hesitate to make this concession? We are sometimes asked why it is that Ireland, possessing some natural advantages far in excess of those of any other country in Europe, should have the poorest, worst clothed, and worst fed population of all. Well, one reason is the neglect of education. Trinity College is pervaded by an atmosphere of Protestantism, and no one will deny that that is not a suitable centre for the general education of the inhabitants of a country three - fourths of whom are Roman Catholics. Archbishop Walsh, writing in the Freeman's Journal of the 30th of December, 1898, says:I have here to refer only to the first of those questions. It was this: What, in our view, should be the proportion of laymen to ecclesiastics on the governing body of the projected Catholic University?Our reply to that important question was as definite as the question itself. It was that, 511 so far from laying claim to any 'exclusive control' to be vested in our Episcopal body or in any members of it, we did not think it reasonable to claim that there should be on the governing body of the new University any 'preponderance,' not to say of bishops, but even of ecclesiastics, and that, moreover, so far from seeking any such 'preponderance,' we did not look for even an 'equality' in number as between laymen and ecclesiastics, but were prepared to accept a university having upon its governing body 'a majority of laymen.'The declaration in which our views were thus expressed was widely published, through the leading Press agencies and otherwise, in the newspapers at the time. It is strange how, notwithstanding all this, we still so frequently find it taken for granted that no University for Catholics would satisfy the claims of the bishops unless it were placed under their own exclusive control.I thank the House for the indulgence it has extended to me, and I again say my firm conviction is that the foundation of a Catholic university would open up a new era of prosperity to my poor country. I would remind hon. Members that "they laugh at scars who never felt the wound." There was a meeting at the Mansion House, Dublin, in February, 1899, the Lord Mayor presiding, and I would like to quote some of the resolutions passed. Lord Emly proposed, and Mr. Edmund Dease, Deputy Lieutenant, seconded:That this Conference re-affirms the following declaration of Irish Catholic laymen on the subject of university education, which was adopted at the public meeting held in the Mansion House last year:—'That it is the constitutional right of all British subjects to adopt whatever system of collegiate or university education they prefer.'That perfect religions equality involves equality in all educational advantages afforded by the State.'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.'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.'The next resolution, which expressed disappointment and regret that the Government had not yet taken steps to settle this important and urgent question, was moved by Lord Powerscourt and seconded by the hon. Member for East Mayo, while a third was moved by the 512 Most Rev. Dr. Healy, Bishop of Clonfert, and seconded by Sir Henry Bellingham, Bart. The House will see how all classes support this movement. Let it, then, divest itself of prejudice and not turn an open ear to the contentions of those who have been brought up with the idea that there is nothing good connected with the Catholic religion, and that the best thing would be to hunt all Catholics out of Ireland.
§ * MR. YERBURGH (Chester)
As one of the rank and file of the Conservative. Party, I feel we owe a great deal of gratitude to the Leader of the House for the part he has played in advancing the cause of Catholic university education in Ireland. This is a subject which demands our serious consideration. The right hon. Gentleman has said that the most difficult matters he has to meet on the subject are ignorance and prejudice. As to prejudice, I do think we have it well exemplified to-night in the person of the hon. Member for West Belfast. I do not think I ever heard a speech which showed a greater sense of bitter religious prejudice than the speech of the hon. Member. And as to want of knowledge, I am bound to confess that I did not know until to-night that the educational system of Ireland was so very largely denominational. I had before to-night been in favour of granting a Catholic University to Ireland on board and general grounds, but after hearing that the educational system of Ireland is largely denominational I feel my position very greatly strengthened. What are the objections to the proposal? In the main, as far as I can gather them, they are that the educational facilities in Ireland are sufficient, and all that is required is that the Roman Catholic population should make use of them. But Trinity College and the other colleges have been condemned by the priesthood and by the higher power in Rome, and therefore it is perfectly evident that Roman Catholics cannot make use of those institutions. What are the facts as to those who do use these institutions? Out of 1,500 students at Trinity College and at Queen's College, Belfast, only 100 are Roman Catholics.
§ * MR. YERBURGH
And that shows that they do not consider that they can 513 safely go to these colleges. If further proof be wanted, I think it is to be found in the fact that they have some colleges at which excellent work is done—work which compares in a most favourable light with what is done in the Queen's Colleges. Only two years ago my right hon. friend the Chief Secretary admitted that it was a reproach that these educational advantages were not shared equally between Roman Catholics and Protestants. While I have always held that there is no necessity for a separate Parliament for Ireland, I do believe that Catholics are sincere in their objection to the present colleges, and in the interests not only of Ireland, but also of the Empire, I shall vote in favour of Ireland's claim for a Catholic university.
§ * MR. SHARPE (Kensington, N.)
I am proud to associate myself with the noble speech of the First Lord of the Treasury on this subject, and especially with the pathetic words in which the right hon. Gentleman vindicated his right as a Minister of the Crown to exercise his independent judgment on such far-reaching questions as that of a Roman Catholic University for Ireland. The right hon. Gentleman recognises the difficulties of carrying a large Cabinet with him on this question, but he is justified in saying that he has a right to do what he can to educate the Party he leads so well in this House; and that the right hon. Gentleman will succeed in educating his Party in favour of a Roman Catholic University in Ireland there is not the slightest doubt. We have thrown over the Irish Church, we have dealt with the Irish land question and with the government of the Irish counties, and in order to do justice in all respects we have redressed real and legitimate grievances. It now only remains for us to deal with what may be called the sentimental grievances. If the Irish people desire a Catholic University why not let them have one? Speaking as an Irish Protestant and as a graduate of Dublin University, I am glad the right hon. Gentleman has taken up this position. There is much narrow and bitter sectarian feeling in the country, especially among the Party opposite, but public opinion on this question is ripening, and I hope that during the life of the present Government—I do not say the life of the present Parliament—the legitimate aspirations of the Roman 514 Catholic majority of the Irish people in this matter will be satisfied.
§ MR. SWIFT MACNEILL
The hon. Gentleman is a hopeful man if he thinks we shall get a university which Catholics can accept in the lifetime of the present Parliament. I would have liked to see the two representatives of Dublin University present, for I am bound to say, having regard to the speech of the First Lord of the Treasury, the position of Dublin University is as incompatible with justice as was the position of the Irish Church before Disestablishment. He wound up that speech by saying that the granting to the Irish people of a Catholic University would help to keep up the union as far as Ireland was concerned. So we have it, according to your own confession, that Ireland now is governed not for her own interest, but is made subservient to the interests of another people. There is a jealousy in giving us education. You do not want the Irish people to cultivate the intellects God has given them, because they would take advantage of those intellects to do the best they could for their country, and that is exactly what you do not want. I protest in the strongest way against the denial of justice to Trinity College, because the position of Trinity College is henceforth indefensible. Trinity College is a sectarian institution. Eight years after the Bill of 1873 the Provost of Trinity College died, and there was the greatest desire to appoint a certain Doctor. But he was a layman, and it was decided to have a clerical appointment. The Provost then appointed was followed by Dr. Salmon, one of the greatest theologians——
§ MR. SWIFT MACNEILL
And the greatest controversialist against the Church of Rome of the age. It is an astonishing position the First Lord of the Treasury has taken. He has a majority of 135, and a strong position in the Cabinet—in fact, he is the keystone of the Cabinet; he has enormous influence in the country; and yet he tells us he is unable to carry a Catholic University. I cannot believe that to be so. He says this is not the first time that the Leader of the House of Commons has been unable to carry measures that he 515 personally likes, and he cited one ample in the case of Mr. Pitt; but I will give him three. In 1781 Mr. Pitt raised the standard of Reform, as a pious opinion, but Reform was not carried till 1832. Mr. Pitt was also very much in favour of the emancipation of the slaves, but although he was practically in power from 1773 till his death it was not carried until many years after, and it would never have been carried then if we Irish Members had not got in here and carried it in spite of you. Then there is the cardinal example cited by the right hon. Gentleman. The First Lord of the Treasury, if he went out of Parliament to-morrow, could certainly lead fields of thought in six or seven departments; but his mind, though so beautifully constructed, is not very good for details, and a more unfortunate example than Mr. Pitt's inability to carry Catholic emancipation on account of the opposition of the Cabinet could not well be found. The person who opposed Catholic emancipation was not one of his own colleagues; it was the same person who lost this country America—King George III. The idea of trying to draw a parallel between 1899 and 1801 is simply absurd. If the right hon. Gentleman would put down his foot as Mr. Pitt ought to have done he could carry this question instantly. The matter is not even in so good a position as on the 28th August, 1889. The First Lord gave a definite promise to do his best to introduce a Catholic University Bill. A few days before that he had said that the intermediate education system had many defects, but the higher education system was suffering from a great runny more defects, and should be taken in hand first. No doubt he intended to do it, but he should have the courage to face the music with reference to his own opinions. If he resigned the leadership through it he would come back more powerful than ever; but, even if he lost the office, he has many countervailing resources. He is a great historian, a great metaphysician, a great philosopher—and if he left office tomorrow for the sake of a Catholic University in Ireland we might possibly forget some of the hard things we have said of him and that he has said of us. But he seems to have made the great refusal. He has had a wonderful opportunity of doing good to hundreds of thousands of young men, of giving them a chance in life to 516 rise to an elevated position, of giving them the inestimable blessing of a university education. It is not because he cannot that he does not do this, but because there are difficulties in the way. In the wish that justice should be done and learning advanced, I ask the First Lord not to allow himself to be swayed by the ignorance or prejudices of persons for whom he must have a profound intellectual contempt, but to rise to the situation, and to lead not merely the House of Commons but public opinion in England upon this question, and if he falls he will rise again and rise more gloriously.
§ * MR. WILLIAM MOORE (Antrim, N.)
This is a question which excites a good deal of interest in the North of Ireland. The First Lord of the Treasury has no more loyal supporters than the Conservative Members for Ulster, but in this matter we are, and I say it with regret, with one exception, entirely at issue with him. Since the First Lord made this a part of practical politics we have had four elections in Ulster, at each of which there was a Conservative candidate. Three of those candidates were returned, each pledged to resist this proposal, and it is with profound regret that we Ulster Members cannot follow the First Lord. There seems to be a difference between the right hon. Gentleman's attitude on this question and his attitude on any other. In any other matter he seems to recognise that his opponents—generally on the other side of the House—may have reasons for differing from him, but in this case he appears to assume that the only reason why we differ from him is our ignorance.
§ Mr. A. J. BALFOUR
Perhaps my hon. friend will allow me to say that the ignorance I referred to was the natural ignorance of the average Englishman of the details of the educational system as it obtains in Ireland.
§ * MR. WILLIAM MOORE
No one is more ready than I am to accept at once any disclaimer on the part of the right hon. Gentleman of a general allegation of ignorance against his most loyal followers, and I am exceedingly glad I misunderstood him. But whether it is ignorance of general principles or ignorance of details, his Irish supporters are largely com- 517 mitted to it, and that ignorance, as he terms it, instead of diminishing, is increasing every day, and not only in Ireland but also in Lancashire and other parts of England. As to the treatment which we receive from the other side, there appears to be no room in their vocabulary for any word to apply to those who differ from them on Irish questions except "bigots" and "bigotry." I am not a member of the Presbyterian Church, nor of the Roman Catholic Church, but assuming that the governing body of each church equally desires the welfare of their congregations as well as of the country, I feel bound to treat at least with equal respect the decisions of the Roman Catholic hierarchy to those of the Moderator and heads of the Presbyterian Church. An Englishman, looking at the matter impartially, will find that the heads of one Church meeting at Maynooth support the proposal, while the heads of the other Church meeting in Belfast oppose it. Can a charge of "bigotry" be fairly made against the opponents of the movement when the educated leaders of one of the Protestant churches in the country in equally solemn conclave Object to its terms? If the Roman Catholics style their opponents as bigots, the Presbyterians have an equal right to call their opponents bigots also. There may be bigots on both sides, but there certainly are also reasonable men on both sides. It has been made a subject of reproach by the hon. Member for North Tyrone that the Member for East Northamptonshire was proposing to vote against the establishment of a Roman Catholic University in Ireland, whereas he and his leader supported identically the same proposition when they voted for Home Rule, one of the grounds why the North of Ireland was solid and steadfast against Home Rule.
§ * MR. WILLIAM MOORE
I am talking of the twenty-three Members who are generally called the "North of Ireland" Members. One of the reasons why that part of Ireland voted against Home Rule was the apprehension which they entertained that the Roman Catholic Church, under a Home Rule Parliament, would be endowed. If this leads in anything like the same direction, the same apprehension 518 would arise. The cry of hon. Members opposite is that we must have in Ireland religious equality. Under the existing state of affairs there is religious equality, and if there is reasonable ground for assuming that the endowment of a Roman Catholic University would destroy that religions equality, we are entitled to object to this proposal. In 1870 there was the Presbyterian Church in Ireland, not established; the Episcopalian Church, which was established; and the Roman Catholic Church. In order to give religious equality the Church of Ireland was disestablished, leaving the three churches in precisely similar positions. Each was independent and left to shift for itself. In order to put the universities on the same footing as the Churches, and so as to prevent one Church having any superior claim over another, Queen's Colleges had been originally founded and were then continued. The complaint against them is that they are universities in which there is no religion, and for that reason they are objected to. It is argued that Roman Catholics have no facilities for obtaining university education. Why? The universities are there—they have had the Queen's Colleges; they have had Trinity College; but the difficulty arises from their own spiritual advisers, who say, "You shall not cutter here." The facilities are there, supplied by the Government, and if they are not made use of it is not the fault of the British taxpayer. It is believed that this proposed university is to be one primarily open for the encouragement of learning among Roman Catholic students. It may be you will let others in; I have no doubt you will be very glad to get them if you can. But the fundamental thing is that, while it is for Roman Catholic students, it is to be governed exclusively by the Roman Catholic bishops and clergy.
§ * MR. WILLIAM MOORE
They are to have the controlling voice in the government, and I understand that otherwise they will not accept it. I may be wrong——
§ * MR. WILLIAM MOORE
I understand that the only question of difference is as to what the proportion of lay representatives on the governing body is to be to the clerical representatives. There is no mistake but that, whether lay or clerical, they are all to belong to the Roman Catholic Church. The popular conception is that this institution is to be one governed and controlled by the Roman Catholic bishops just as it is alleged Trinity College is now governed and controlled by the Protestants.
§ MR. A. J. BALFOUR
The last thing that occurred to me was that the university I desired to see established was to be one under the control of the Catholic hierarchy.
§ * MR. WILLIAM MOORE
I am exceedingly relieved to hear that, but at the same time, with my ordinary knowledge of what is happening, I do not think I am going too far when I say that the Roman Catholic hierarchy will accept nothing else than I have described.
§ MR. DILLON
The hon. Member is absolutely wrong. The Roman Catholic hierarchy, by a unanimous resolution, stated two years ago that they were content that there should be a majority of laymen on the Senate.
§ * MR. WILLIAM MOORE
Then I cannot understand what is the objection of Roman Catholics to the Royal University.
§ * MR. WILLIAM MOORE
If they only wanted to add a teaching staff to the Royal University I would support them, but that is a very different thing from setting up a Roman Catholic University according to the popular conception.
§ MR. T. M. HEALY
You persist in keeping on the Senate of the Royal University a majority of Protestants, as there are at present.
§ * MR. WILLIAM MOORE
One of the objections to Trinity College is the Protestant Divinity School. Speaking for myself, and being anxious to see Trinity College, as it is intended to be, the national university, I would not regret to see that Divinity School less closely connected with it. But at the same time I do not think the Divinity School at Trinity College can be said to stand in any different position from the Divinity School at Maynooth. If it is said that the Divinity School at Trinity College is endowed, it will be in the recollection of the House that the State paid to Maynooth £326,000 in a lump sum in the year 1871, equivalent to £12,000 per annum, on which presumably Maynooth is supported. The great mistake of English statesmen is that they think they can govern Ireland by compartments. You have a Roman Catholic compartment and a Protestant compartment. You will give no satisfaction to the whole of Ireland if you give one of those compartments superiority over the other. It will be the greatest possible mistake if you are going to provide for the Roman Catholic section, which, however large, is still but a section of the entire population, by State money in a manner you would not for the other. It is a misfortune for Ireland that every child is to be labelled from birth as a Protestant or Roman Catholic. We want to know each other better, and have our religious differences and asperities softened into mere religious individuality by mutual intercourse in the other paths of life with each other. I began with an expression with reference to the Irish Bar, and I come back again to it. At the Irish Bar there are men of very different education, and every form of religion, and all round they are the most charitable, and on the best terms with one another, because they mix with one another. That we should not have with a separate university.
§ * MR. DOOGAN (Tyrone, E.)
The hon. and learned Member who has just sat down disclaims all intention of being narrow 521 or bigoted, but still he argues strongly that the great majority of the people of Ireland should be deprived of a university education which they can use consistently with their religious convictions, and that the rest of the community in Ireland should hold all the emoluments. How he can reconcile such an idea with justice, fair play, and equality is beyond my comprehension. The hon. Member says that there is religious equality in Ireland. It is true that the Established Church was disestablished in 1870, but it was left all its emoluments, and its immense endowments are now available for the education of its members. But the Catholics of Ireland have no endowments. He also argues that the establishment of a Catholic university would be an endowment of the Catholic religion, and therefore a denominational endowment. I have the honour of being an Ulster Member myself as well as he, and I think that the majority of the population of Ulster are in accordance with my view that the redress of this long-standing grievance should be pressed strongly on the justice of the House of Commons, and the pressure continued till the just demand be conceded. This question has been before the country for half a century, and still it makes very little headway. I daresay the hon. and learned Member was not in the House when the First Lord of the Treasury referred to the amount of public money which is given as a practical endowment of religion in Ireland. The primary system of education in Ireland is practically denominational, and there is scarcely one Protestant attending a school in Ulster in which the teacher is a Catholic and a priest the manager where the Protestants can get up a school of their own. Not only is primary education in Ireland denominational, but the same remark applies to the intermediate system and also to the Royal University, and there is practically no way out of the difficulty except to establish a university in Ireland which will be Catholic in the sense that Trinity College is Protestant. That would not be a Catholic University, and the majority of its senate would be laymen. The hon. and learned Gentleman seemed very much afraid that the Roman Catholic bishops would have control, and he apparently would prefer to have the Catholics of Ireland remain in ignorance for all eternity, yet he claims that his 522 intercourse with his colleagues at the Irish Bar is always harmonious, and that theological questions never arise. I am glad to hear that, although the sentiments he has enunciated in his speech do not bear it out. But I will give the hon. and learned Member this credit, that there was a marked difference in toleration between his speech and the one delivered by the hon. Member for West Belfast. He was dissatisfied with the First Lord of the Treasury for stating that one of the obstacles to his success with regard to this university question was the ignorance and obscurantism which prevailed. The hon. Member for West Belfast stated that the influence of a Catholic University had a bad effect in all countries where they were established, and he stated distinctly that if the First Lord of the Treasury were entering into an agreement with the people of Ireland on this question he objected altogether to chairs of theology, philosophy, history and biology being endowed. I do not see why chairs of biology, philosophy and history should not be endowed, but as a matter of fact, it has never been proposed that a chair of theology should be endowed by public money. The hon. Member wound up his speech by telling the First Lord in a bland, calm, composed, and self-sufficient manner that he should have no confidence in Catholic bishops, and that they would find an opportunity of evading any compact that might be entered into with the Government by their Synod. That was a monstrously unjust statement to launch forth in this House concerning such a body as the Catholic hierarchy. I do not wonder at the First Lord of the Treasury stating that the great obstacles against forming public opinion in favour of this question were ignorance, prejudice, and bigotry. The right hon. Gentleman said that he would continue in his missionary work. His speech was, to my mind, sympathetic, and he acknowledged the justice and necessity of the demand, although he added that it was not expedient to make it a Government question. But if the Catholic claim is right and just it ought to be given effect to. The right hon. Gentleman held out much hope, but "hope springs eternal in the human breast," and to me it appeared as if his speech was delivered for the purpose of building a golden bridge to retreat from the promises and pledges he had given. All through the penal times education 523 was practically denied to the people of Ireland, and we heard to-day from an hon. and learned Member about the price which was put on the head of a schoolmaster, a priest, and a wolf. These laws were ingeniously constructed with a view to exterminate the people of Ireland, or failing that to bring them up in ignorance, so that they might remain for all time "hewers of wood and drawers of water." Sixty years ago the National system of education was introduced into Ireland. This was the first grant of public money for education since the penal days that Catholics could avail of under that system there was no endowment whatever for Catholics as such, and in comparison with the amount of money lavished in Scotland and England in primary schools, evening schools, technical schools, and colleges, the education of Ireland is in every department starved, especially when it cannot be denied that Ireland has been deprived by over-taxation of an immense sum of money. It does seem to me a very reasonable request that Ireland should claim a share of her own money to establish a Catholic University. Much restitution is due to the people of Ireland for the cruel wrongs done to them in the past, in being not only deprived of all opportunities for education at home, but debarred from seeking it abroad, and also for the many millions which she has undoubtedly paid in over-taxation. That view is held not only by the Catholics of Ireland, but by every intelligent Protestant throughout the country and by the principal Ministers and ex-Ministers in the House. The only objection comes from the north-east corner of Ulster. I fear that the First Lord will have a great deal to do before he converts this small section of the community. There are only fifteen Ulster members in this House who oppose this demand, and that is a very small following to induce the right hon. Gentleman to abandon his pledges through motives of political expediency. We on this side of the House and the people of Ireland confidently expect from the right hon. Gentleman something more substantial than a hope. The people of Ireland are suffering from that sickness of the heart which arises from hope deferred. I hope, therefore, that the First Lord of the Treasury will take a more active part in pressing on his colleagues in the Government the justice of this demand, and that hence- 524 forth he will make it a Government question, as no reform has ever been won by academic "hope" and pious intentions. If he does he will earn the gratitude of the people of Ireland, and he will go far in giving the Irish Catholics a chance of putting themselves in a position of equality, of equipping themselves for the battle of life, and of removing the shackles of inferiority from their necks.
§ MR. JORDAN (Fermanagh, S.)
I would like, as an Irish Protestant, to say that I sympathise strongly with my Catholic fellow-countrymen in their earnest efforts to obtain university education through a medium they can approve of. I am not merely a Protestant, but a Nonconformist of the staunchest type. Not even to the hon. Member for the Louth Division of Lincolnshire would I lower my colours in the matter of Nonconformity or the tenderness of the Nonconformist conscience. And yet as such I most earnestly desire, in the interest of education itself, as well as in the interests of Catholic Irishmen, to see this difficult question settled on some basis satisfactory to all parties. They demand such a settlement. Representative men of all parties in England are agreed that their demand is both reasonable and just, and should be conceded. I cannot therefore see how it is that some plan cannot he devised to settle this matter. The longer it remains unsettled the worse for education and all parties concerned. I hold that Roman Catholics have a right to equality of treatment with Protestants; and specially no minority, as the Protestants of Ireland are, should have exceptional endowments, rights, and privileges which are denied to the majority. I know it is said that Dublin University is open to Catholics. But suppose it is—and I admit it is—that, I say, is not equality of treatment. The whole trend, and tendency, and tone and atmosphere of the Dublin University are Protestant or set to Protestantism, and I freely confess that, unless some other arrangement could be arrived at 525 than now exists, were I a Catholic I would be slow to enter such an institution. Unless compelled by absolute necessity, I freely admit I, as a Protestant, would not go to a Catholic University similarly conditioned to Protestantism as the Dublin University is to Catholicism. And although I think I am as liberal and free from bigotry as any man in the kingdom, yet it I had sons to be trained I would assuredly not send them to a Catholic university. Not that I would dread the companionship of Catholic boys, but I would not on any account wish them to imbibe Roman Catholic principles. I can therefore deeply sympathise with Roman Catholics in their desire to obtain proper facilities for the training of their youths, and I shall support them in any reasonable demand for that purpose, and the sooner these facilities are granted the better. Were I asked which I would prefer—the grafting of a Catholic college on the Dublin University, or the establishment and endowment Of a brand new Catholic University, as a Protestant I distinctly prefer a new university, and if the new university be even a gingerbread one, as the hon. Member for East Down described it, and if the Catholics accept it, and are unable to hold their own with the older university, it is their own loss and to the gain of the Protestants. The solicitude of the Member for East Down as to the value of the respective degrees is useless under those circumstances. Let the Protestants retain the old. Let the Roman Catholics get the new, with which they will be satisfied, and end this unhappy state of affairs.
§ MR. MURNAGHAN (Tyrone, Mid)
The hon. and learned Member for North Antrim is one of the ascendency party in Ireland which possesses all the privileges and advantages, and he therefore does not like that his fellow-countrymen should share them, because he thinks if they had a chance equal to his own his present advantages would be less open to him and his class. I must say that the statement 526 of the First Lord of the Treasury to-day is strangely at variance with his expressions on former occasions, and I doubt if ever in this House there was such a retreat on the part an important Minister as that which we have witnessed. I would wish to direct the attention of the Committee to expressions used on this subject by Ministers of the day on previous occasions, who were not afraid to pledge their Governments to action. In 1885 the then Chancellor of the Exchequer said:If we be in office next year I hope that we shall be able to advance some proposal which will be a satisfactory settlement of this important question.How different are those words from the words that fell from the lips of the right hon. Gentleman today. He could not speak as a member of the Government at all. His missionary labours admittedly have been a failure, and he now tells the people of Ireland that they may have to wait for many a day for the realisation of their hope of having higher education for their children. The Leader of the House in 1889 used these words with reference to this subject on the Appropriation Bill:—We have no alternative but to try to devise some means by which the wants of the Catholic population will be met.In 1889—ten long years ago—a Minister of the Crown had no alternative but to settle this matter——
It being midnight, the Chairman left the chair to make his Report to the House.
Committee report Progress; to sit again upon Monday next.