§ Motion made, and Question proposed, "That a sum, not exceeding £2,300, be granted to His 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, 1905, for a Grant in Aid of the Expenses of the Queen's Colleges in Ireland."
§ MR. CLANCY (Dublin County, N.)
said, the administration of the Queen's Colleges was a subject in which Catholics of all classes in Ireland took the deepest interest, 789 and as to which they had expressed their opinions in the most emphatic terms. The fact was that the majority of the Catholic youth of Ireland were being deprived of a University education and that was a most vital matter for the country. To condemn the whole Catholic youth of the nation to such a condition of things was to practically condemn the nation itself, and it must lead to stagnation and decay in the field of intellectual and industrial enterprise. He wanted to draw on the actual facts regarding the condition of Irish University education. There were four University institutions—Trinity College, Dublin; Queen's College, Belfast; Queen's College, Galway, and Queen's College, Cork—which were endowed out of public funds. There was, however, another institution which was not endowed, except indirectly, and that only to a small extent, something over £4,000. He meant the University College, Dublin. The figures, which anyone could ascertain for themselves, showing the intellectual results were very remarkable. They showed that University College, Dublin, although endowed to the small extent he had mentioned, was a long way ahead of the Queen's Colleges, which were much more richly endowed. It had been the fashion of some persons to criticise this institution and to make sarcastic and abusive remarks about the alleged low standard of education adopted there. These results, however, which extended for ten years, from 1893 to 1903, ought to put to shame the persons who made such remarks. There was an institution which laboured under many disadvantages actually beating in fair and open competition the institutions munificently endowed by the State.
It was admitted on all hands that these three Queen's Colleges were not attended by such a number of Catholics as might be expected to be in attendance if they were institutions which coud be attended by Catholics without violating their patriotic convictions. The few score Catholics who attended them represented but a tithe of those students who might be expected to bring credit to the institutions if they were carried on under any system of which they could approve. What was 790 their demand? Some years ago there was no doubt the demand of the Catholics of Ireland was for a Catholic University pure and simple in the strictest sense. If the Catholics of Ireland chose to demand such a University, open only to Catholics bound by the strictest tests, they would be quite within their rights. But some years ago the Irish Catholic Bishops, and practically the whole Catholic body in Ireland, altered their demand and expressed their readiness to submit to the principle involved in the abolition of the Test Act of 1871. The University which would please them would be one to which persons of all denominations would be welcome, and the prizes of which would be open to men belonging to every religion on the face of the earth if they were able to obtain them. In 1897 and 1898 the Prime Minister expressed his satisfaction with the frank and straightforward answers of the Bishops. He complained that no effort had been made to carry out the recommendations of the Royal Commission. As usual, the thing had been put on the shelf. In regard to the plan suggested by Lord Dunraven, newspapers in Ireland like the Irish Times, which kept its eye on the Ministerial Bench and shaped its action on almost every subject accordingly, on the day on which it published Lord Dunraven's letter, published also an article approving of the scheme, and saving it did not see why everybody should not adopt this plan. He had there a telegram from the Archbishop of Dublin, which he had better read. It was—You may state on my authority that the Bishops would have accepted either the settlement known as the Dunraven scheme or that recommended by the Royal Commission.That statement, made by a leading member of the hierarchy in Ireland, and a distinguished writer, cleared away any excuses from the path of the Government if they meant business. But did they mean business? There was nothing now to prevent them from taking action save their own unwillingness to do anything.
By whom was this demand opposed? First of all, by the Irish Orangemen, some English Nonconformists, who objected to all religion in teaching institutions, and a section of English 791 Churchmen, who desired to have, denominational education for themselves. The Orangemen were not to be confounded with the Protestants of Ireland, who were in favour of the demand for a University. The Orangemen were opposed to it because they remained what Edmund Burke and Moore had described them long ago. The argument of these poeple—whose only excuse was that they did not understand what they were talking about—was put in this way, "Trinity College and the Queen's Colleges are open to Catholics. We are satisfied, therefore you must be satisfied." The doctrine implied by that argument was the doctrine of the Penal Laws, and would justify the old policy of extermination. Lord Justice FitzGibbon, a distinguished Irish Protestant, had said, in reply to it—Of course it may be said, and it is true, that the competition is equally open to everybody in Trinity College, and therefore that equality so far exists. I admit that, but I humbly object to become the judge of another man's conscience. If these people cannot conscientiously take what is open to them I consider their conscience has as good a right to be consulted as my own.That was the attitude of the ordinary Protestant in Ireland, as distinguished from the Orangemen. But there were other arguments. The first was that the doctrine of the Penal Laws had been long since abandoned by the State, and that with it ought to disappear these restrictions on the intellectual advancement of the people of Ireland. Then, besides, the Orangemen were not the only people who paid taxes in Ireland, and had no night to veto the spending of money for a national purpose of which they did not happen to approve. The present English Solicitor-General was in favour of the Irish demand; the late Mr. Lecky had been in favour of it, and in fact, as he had said, the Irish Protestants, as distinguished from the Orangemen, were in favour of it. What of the English Parties who were opposed to it. There were some Radicals in that position but Lord Spencer and, in fact, every ex-Lord-Lieutenant and Chief Secretary living was in favour of it. The Radicals who objected put themselves in an illogical position, because they voted for the Home Rule Bill of 1893, which gave the power to set up a 792 University in Ireland for Catholics. A strong light was cast on the attitude of the Conservatives who objected to the Act. They demanded denominational education for England and Wales, and yet opposed the granting of an Irish University for Catholics. He challenged the right hon. Gentleman to say that that was not practically his judgment. If that were so was it not trifling with the Roman Catholic Bishops and with the hon. Members on that side of the House, and even trifling with the House itself, to put forth an expression of feeling as if he were going to do something for University education in Ireland, and then to put it out of sight altogether. He begged to move the reduction of the Vote by £100.
Motion made, and Question proposed, "That a sum, not exceeding £2,200, be granted for the said service."—(Mr. Clancy.)
said he had listened with great care and attention to the speech made by the hon. Gentleman opposite, who was himself a graduate of the old Queen's University, and he was greatly pleased that the hon. Gentleman did not make any direct attack on the Queen's Colleges. The hon. Gentleman began by giving the Committee a large number of figures, the burden of which was to prove that the colleges in Ireland least endowed produced the greatest number of successful students. What he wanted to know was, what was the real force of the complaint of the hon. Gentleman and his friends? Formerly their demand was for a Roman Catholic University, but he was glad to say that for tide last few years the Roman Catholic hierachy had given that up. If the Chief Secretary and the Government had the courage to resist the demands of the Roman Catholic hierarchy, he was sure that within a reasonable limit of time the Roman Catholic hierarchy and the hon. Members who represented the Roman Catholic population would find it would be proper and wise to abandon altogether all idea of separate denominational colleges. What he wanted was that what every Irishman, whatever religion he professed, and however he might differ in his political views from 793 other Irishmen, wanted was the best form of University education for their country, and that everything should be done by education to advance the material and social prosperity of the country. Some hon. Members who did not stay in their own country to get their education had different ideas. He did not know where they got those ideas from; but at all events their foreign education did not seem to have improved them. The position of affairs in Ireland with reference to University education did not seem to him to be one with which any fair-minded man could quarrel on the ground of religious inequality. The doors of Trinity were open to any member of the community who chose to go there; and whatever his religion he would be under no disability whatever. He might acquire the highest honours and get a fellowship without in any way interfering with his religion. He knew that a most distinguished Roman Catholic had, the other day, acquired a fellowship in Trinity. It might be his misfortune, or it might be because he was a Protestant, that he took a sensible view of the situation; but at the present moment no one had any right to say that he was debarred from getting a good sound University education in Trinity. He did not want to be misunderstood. He thought that formerly Trinity was managed on far too narrow lines, and that that had much to answer for in regard to the present position of University education in Ireland. He had heard the Prime Minister speak on this question on several occasions, and, so far as he could gather the opinions of the right hon. Gentleman, he regarded the question of giving a Roman Catholic University to Ireland as a matter of expediency; and he thought that the right hon. Gentleman the Chief Secretary was of the same opinion. But he submitted that the argument of expediency ought not to prevail or induce them to do what they believed would not be in the best interests of University education in Ireland.
To go away from Trinity College, and take the comparison between the Queen's Colleges and the Catholic colleges in Ireland, the Protestants got nothing in this matter that was not equally available for Roman Catholics. The Queen's Colleges were perfectly free and open to all. That position was accepted at first by the 794 Roman Catholic hierarchy, and it was a very curious thing that a distinguished Roman Catholic Prelate was in favour of a mixed education at the time when these Queen's Colleges were founded with the idea of giving no religious denomination any advantage whatever. That was acquieseed in for many years, but the truth was that the Roman Catholic hierarchy had banned the Queen's Colleges because they found that they could not get control of them, and consequently they were denounced as godless colleges. The question of faith and morals was raised to give them the right to shut the doors of these institutions to the Roman Catholic youth of Ireland. He contended that the only safety for the education of the people of Ireland was to leave the Universities open to the youth of all denominations, and to allow no religious denomination as such to interfere with the teaching. Reference had been made to the Commission appointed to inquire into the University education of Ireland. He must say that the idea of appointing a Commission of Inquiry into University education in Ireland and leaving out Trinity, was to leave the part of Hamlet out of the play. He maintained that if that Commission was to make a useful investigation into the University question in Ireland, it ought to have had Trinity College and every other educational institution in the country within its control. The Report of that Commission could, therefore, not be accepted as a basis for any future legislation.
Reference had been made to the letter of Lord Dunraven; but of all the schemes suggested for a University in Ireland that was the worst. It was said that they might hive three colleges absolutely free and open to every student in Ireland, and one which was to be purely a denominational college. So far is he could gather each of the four colleges was to have the power of conferring pass degrees and a body of five or six gentlemen were to have the power of conferring honours degrees. They did not want that. They ought to have a high standard of University education and degrees conferred, of which the youth of he country would not be ashamed when they came to face the world. His point 795 was that Irishmen did not want to see four colleges set up competing in the manufacture of degrees. These would be just like some of the degrees conferred by American colleges which nobody in this country valued to the slightest extent. Education for the youth of Ireland should be based on absolutely unsectarian and undenominational principles, and the best sources of education should be thrown open to all, without any attempt to teach any form of religious dogma. He believed that that was the opinion, not only of the intelligent Protestants in Ireland, but of a very considerable section of the intelligent Roman Catholics. There was no question of bigotry about this matter at all. Of course it was said that three-fourths of the people of Ireland were Catholics, and only one-fourth Protestants; but they must take into account the number of people who were likely to take advantage of a University education. He was sure that, even taking the numbers as stated, there would be many more Protestants who would take advantage of a University education than Roman Catholics. What was wanted in Ireland was a better system of higher education below the University standard but above the ordinary school level, and by such a system he believed more good would be done to the youth of the country than could be achieved by the creation of half a dozen Universities.
§ MR. SWIFT MACNEILL
said the reason Catholics did not attend the Queen's Colleges was the same as that which prevented them from entering Protestant churches, viz., they did not believe it to be consonant with their faith and their principles. Speaking as a Protestant, he thought Catholics were entitled to the highest credit when they rejected educational advantages for conscience sake. This question of Catholic education was one of the saddest that could be brought before Parliament. It plainly showed the impotence of the Irish Party in constitutional agitation. The Chief Secretary and the Prime Minister were in favour of the Catholic claim, but, although they were in power, they refused to give Catholics that which they required, simply because a knot of reactionary Ulster Members declined to 796 allow it. He was as good a Protestant as any Ulsterman, but he thanked God he was not a political Protestant, and there was an immense difference between a political Protestant and an Irish Protestant Christian. He knew more about the feelings and sentiments of the Irish Protestant population than hon. Members opposite, and he believed that the vast majority would be very slow indeed to refuse to Catholics, in consonance with their conscientious beliefs, those educational benefits which they themselves were able to receive. By the Vote now under discussion £15,000 was to be voted for the education of thirty students in Queen's College, Cork. There were only thirty students in honours, and there was a foundation in Arts alone of £12,000 a year. That sum of £12,000 would be spent equally advantageously if it were thrown into the River Thames. It was simply an abandoned and a profligate waste of public money. The president of the college, Sir Rowland Blennerhassett, never attended to his duties there, and he had not himself a University degree. What was more, he was appointed to this post, not for any educational qualifications, but in return for his services as the paymaster of Pigott in The Times case. St. Mary's College, an unendowed Catholic college, was able to secure twenty-six first classes at the last University examination, whereas Queen's College had only one. It was indeed a sham, and it was absurd even in its iniquity. The professor of law had three pupils, and there were four scholarships and two exhibitions. The professors of logic, metaphysics, and political economy had no pupils at all. The professor of Greek had three pupils and the professor of Latin four pupils. These professorships were given to political adherents. The sum of £15,000 was to be voted for a college which was of no use whatever to Ireland from an educational point of view. Whilst this was being done, the most miserable stipend was refused to a Catholic University. The object of those who took up this position was to keep all the good things in Ireland for themselves, and to prevent Catholics having a fair chance in life. This was a shocking condition of things. It awakened his keenest indignation as a Protestant. How much more, 797 then, were he a Catholic would he feel this treatment? How could he endure it? The results of the intermediate examinations showed that there was a large class of Catholic youth who could form a distinctly University class. University education ought not to be the exclusive possession of the rich. In Scotland and England it was open to every boy, however poor and humble, provided he had the ability, to secure University education. The extension of such a system to Catholic Ireland would result in great advantages, and it could be done but for the opposition of Irish political Protestants. He had carefully refrained from attacking Trinity College, for which foundation he had the greatest possible respect, but in conclusion he might remind the Committee that every acre belonging to Trinity College was wrested from Catholic hands and Catholic educational purposes.
§ COLONEL NOLAN (Galway, N.)
said his county was the second largest in Ireland but he certainly did not know half a dozen Catholic residents therein who would not like to see a Catholic University established. He could safely assert that in the whole of Ireland one could not find 100 Catholic families who would not favour such an institution. Farther, they would find plenty of Protestants who would like to see Catholics have the advantage of a University. He asked the House to give full and due weight to what had been said from a Protestant point of view. He would like to know how many hon. Gentlemen opposite would not insist that in the Universities there should be a system of regular religious teaching. Everyone knew that both Oxford and Cambridge turned out very good Protestants and that in those Universities the Catholics would have a better chance because they would be protected by the conscience clause. One hundred and fifty years ago it was not customary to allow a schoolmaster to teach Catholics either reading or writing, but that rule had gradually been relaxed until Catholics were allowed to go in a very subordinate position to Trinity College. It was true that a few had changed their religion for the sake of emolument. If children were sent to Trinity College they were not 798 asked to change their religion, but their faith was weakened because most of the Fellowships were held by Protestants, and everyone knew what that influence meant. He certainly preferred the system of Trinity to that of the Queen's Colleges because at the latter colleges there was no religion. Hon. Gentlemen opposite took precious good care to send their sons to Eton, Harrow, or Rugby, and afterwards to a religious University. Why should Catholics not be allowed to do the same. He knew that this meant £50,000 a year, bat that ought to make no difference. Hon. Members opposite had told them they should be content with secondary education, but he asserted that it was impossible to get good secondary education without a University. They wanted good religious secondary education. In England a University education was a hall-mark, and it was time to give Ireland a similar stamp. Good statesmanship would give to Ireland everything that was given to this country. They had University education in England and Scotland and why not give it to Ireland. Catholics would not accept education unless it was religious. They did not want to exclude Protestants from a Catholic University, because a Protestant would be in exactly the same position as a Catholic was at the present time in Trinity College. They wanted in Ireland the same system which they had at Oxford and Cambridge, but they insisted upon having a Catholic atmosphere. If Catholics would only insist upon it they would get their University, but they would have to insist firmly, and he hoped that during the present recess something would be done to show the Government that Ireland was in earnest in this matter.
§ MR. WOLFF (Belfast, E.)
said he was quite willing to give the Catholics all that, in his humble opinion, they were fairly entitled to. But with all that desire he could not see that they were in any way entitled to a Roman Catholic University for themselves. The Roman Catholic hierarchy would not be satisfied unless they had entire religious control of the students either in the college or the University.
§ MR. WOLFF
said that might be so, but they could not bind another hierarchy. He repeated that what the Bishops wanted was to have the full control and management of the students, and what ever safeguards they might introduce in the way of laymen on the board of management and in other directions would fail to secure their approval. If the Roman Catholic hierarchy in Ireland would forego their demand to have the sole control and management of this institution the difficulty would be settled at once. There was only one Catholic University in the world in which the management was in the hands of the Roman Catholic hierarchy, and in every other State, in Germany, France, and Italy, Universities were non-sectarian.
§ MR. CHARLES DEVLIN (Galway)
said the hon. Member was mistaken. In the city of Quebec there was another instance in the Catholic University established under the Charter granted by Her Majesty Queen Victoria.
§ MR WOLFF
asked why. If the Catholic hierarchy were satisfied in the places he had mentioned, could they not be satisfied in Ireland. If they would forego their demand to have the sole control and management the thing would be settled at once, and there was no reason why they should not make use of the Queen's Colleges. It was the exclusiveness of the Roman Catholic hierarchy which prevented any arrangement being made. That exclusiveness had done more than anything else to keep Parties asunder in Ireland. If Roman Catholic students were allowed to mix with the Protestant students in other institutions much would be done to remove the antagonism that existed.
§ MR. HEMPHILL
said he did not intend to give a silent vote upon this question. He desired to express his unequivocal support to the granting of a University in which his Catholic fellow- 800 subjects could obtain an adequate education. The very argument of the hon. Member for Belfast that some forty-five years ago there was not so much feeling between Catholics and Protestants as there was at the present time was an argument which showed that so far from the two religions getting reconciled it had become more necessary than ever that an opportunity should be afforded to their Catholic brethren of obtaining a proper education. The argument of the hon. Member for South Londonderry was practically to the effect that no matter how just or expedient the claim for a Catholic University in which the Catholics of Ireland might be educated might be, they ought not to grant this demand because if they only held out long enough in the House of Commons the Catholics of Ireland would be starved into surrendering their claim. That was not a worthy argument. Three-fourths of the population of Ireland were devoted Roman Catholics, and they could not indulge in such ideals in regard to education as the hon. and learned Member for South Londonderry. They might say, "Why not let the lion and the lamb lie down together, and why should there be any difficulty aboutt his question"? In these matters they must have regard to human nature, and they must recollect that the very peculiarities of these people were the outcome of the manner in which their country had been treated in bygone centuries. Up to within the last thirty years every emolument in Ireland was confined strictly to Protestants. As they were all aware, Ireland was a very poor country. It was admitted that in order to enable Ireland to compete with other nations it was essential that every boy in Ireland should be better equipped in regard to education, both technical and scientific, and in every other branch. Trinity College had old traditions and an old system, but it was impossible for a very poor boy to go to Trinity College, because the expense rendered it impossible. Trinity College was one of the most richly endowed Universities in the world.
§ THE SOLICITOR-GENERAL (Sir EDWARD CARSON,) Dublin University
Does the hon. Member know the amount of its endowments?
§ MR. HEMPHILL
said that he did when he remembered that another great college in Ireland only received about £5,000 a year. In the year 1885 the right hon. Gentleman the Member for West Bristol promised that next year he would bring in a Bill establishing a University in Ireland. In 1889 the present Prime Minister promised them a scheme by which the wants of Catholics in Ireland in regard to education would be met. In 1901 the senate of the Royal University passed a resolution admitting its own failure after a twenty years trial, and they called for a Royal Commission to inquire into the subject. That Commission found that the Royal University was a failure, and reported in favour of further educational facilities being given to Ireland. He thought that Report of the Royal Commission disposed of the idea that the Royal University could be used as an argument against conceding what his hon. friends below the Gangway had so urgently demanded. This was not a Party question, for they all wished to see their fellow-creatures raised to as high a level as possible in this miserable world, and without education it was impossible to do this. They knew that Catholics were capable of the utmost development educationally. A good many of the errors of the Irish people might be traced to poverty, and their ignorance was a growth of this poverty. All they wanted in Ireland was a University built up on modest lines like the Scotch Universities and those on the Continent of Europe, which enabled every peasant's son, if he felt so inclined, to go and equip himself with a degree. They wanted a University in which the masses of the Irish people could obtain an adequate University education. What did the Irish Bishops themselves say in 1896. They declared that all they wanted was equality and that the question might be settled by the establishment of a distinct Catholic college or a University. Over and over again since that time the Bishops had declared that all they wanted was educational equality. 802 He felt strongly upon this question, because he took an interest in the wellbeing of the rising generation in Ireland. He was satisfied that unless some further opportunity was afforded to Ireland of improving the general education of her people by means of a Catholic University all other forms of education would be more or less in vain, and Ireland would remain seething in discontent and under miserable conditions.
§ MR. WYNDHAM
said the right hon. and learned Member for North Tyrone ended his speech by an eloquent aspiration for some system of education which would really give to all classes in Ireland what was required in order that they should be properly educated, waiving on one side or the other this or that ultra-sectarian view. He was with him in that aspiration. But in the beginning of his speech he stated that he would give unequivocal support to a Catholic University. That might be what he desired, but in stating that and in adding nothing to it—
§ MR. WYNDHAM
said that was a distinction which ought always to be brought out sharply in any debate on the subject, and unless it was brought out those who spoke of a Catholic University instead of, say, a University for Catholics, failed to make clear what a great number of people in this country failed to see, namely, what was requested by many Irishmen in respect of University education. He dared say that a great many Irishmen desired a Catholic University. He had taken pains to study the subject and unless he was altogether in error, he took it that the real request made by the majority of Irishmen was that there should be started in Ireland a college in the position which would have been reached if, like Trinity College or the colleges of Oxford and Cambridge, it had begun as a denominational institution with tests, and had abandoned those tests and gone on without them until it had become a college the traditions of which would be coloured by the faith of the majority using it. That surely was a wholly different thing from a demand 803 for a State-endowed Catholic University under clerical control, and it was a request which he had always thought very reasonable. When the hon. Member for Belfast said that if the hierarchy gave up their claim he would support the endeavour of his Catholic fellow-countrymen to obtain better University Education he was delighted, but the hon. Member went on to point out that the only wav of having a University free from ecclesiastical control was by accepting the existing institutions as being amply sufficient. They would never agree, he was afraid, in that matter. Those in this country who were in favour of denominational education held that it was reasonable that religion should be taken into account in these matters provided that there was neither clerical control nor religious test; but it was not the opinion of the hon. Member for Belfast and other Members in this House.
He had been led into contributing a few words to this academic debate but he had no idea that the whole question of University education was going to be raised. The Vote to-night was for £1,600 a year to each of the Queen's Colleges. He was always ready to give his views when they were asked for, but his views were not asked for now. Hon. Members always demanded in these debates a statement of the Government's position, and in that connection he would ask the Committee to consider the occasion. Hon. Members accused the Government of trifling with this question. Hon. Members opposite had raised the question twice during the session, once on 3rd August, after such Bills as the Port of London Bill and the Scotch Education Bill had been thrown overboard, and once on 3rd February on the Address, when it was impossible for any Member to vote for an Amendment without voting against the Government. Who was trifling with the question? [ANATIONALIST MEMBER: The Chief Secretary.] During the session the Irish Party had joined in every attempt to turn out the Government; and if they so conducted their political opposition as to make it impossible for the Government to deal with this question, the labourers question, or any other Irish question, then the whole blame did not rest with the Government. He wanted hon. Members for Ireland to think this out. [A 804 NATIONALIST MEMBER: We want you out.] He did not catch from what quarter that remark came. He had been looking up the speeches of Chief Secretaries and Prime Ministers upon this matter, and he found oddly enough that they were almost always given at the very tail end of a session.
§ MR. WYNDHAM
said he found that the next session began with an attempt on the part of the Irish Party, in conjunction with the Liberal Party, to turn out the Government. A statement was made on this subject by the right hon. Gentleman the Member for West Bristol in 1885. He stated that this was a matter that deserved attention. He himself agreed with him.
§ MR. SWIFT MACNEILL
said there was a pledge given in August, 1889, by the Prime Minister, who was then the Chief Secretary for Ireland, in regard to this matter.
§ MR. WYNDHAM
said the right hon. Gentleman the Member for West Bristol gave the classic pledge and stated that this question should be approached with the hope of doing something to make University education more general and widespread in Ireland, and he added—If it should be our lot to hold office next year we hope to make some proposal which will deal in a satisfactory way with this moot important matter.The Government was turned out within three days of the meeting of Parliament. When he considered the treatment meted out to the Labourers Bill he could not help anticipating that hon. Members would, as they did this year, make a determined attempt on the Address to turn the Government out. If that were so, why were the views of any Minister in respect to this matter to be treated in a totally different way from the views held by the Cabinet on, say, Scotch Education? Where was the prior and irrefutable claim that this should be dealt with immediately and at all costs and all hazards. It was impossible to deal with political questions in a repretentative assembly on those lines. There 805 must be some attempt to get the question discussed udder conditions which would permit of all arguments being put forward. The wisest words were used by Lord Salisbury, who, speaking in 1879, said that the difficulties of this question were very great and had hitherto defied solution, but he did not say that a solution was impossible. If he himself said all that he felt on the question he should be told by hon. Members opposite that he was giving pledges which he intended to break, and he would not lay himself open to that charge. In season he would advocate his views as boldly as any man. He thought it was the one gap in the Unionist position that they had not hit on a plan to fulfil the Unionist profession that they would do for Ireland all that any Home Rule Parliament might legitimately do, and when the time came he would do his best to convince any of his hon. friends who might differ from him in regard to this matter. For his part, he could not believe that Lord Salisbury, the right hon. Member for West Bristol, the Prime Minister, the right hon. Member for Thanet, whose illness they all deplored, every Chief Secretary and every responsible person who had been brought face to face with this problem, had been mesmerised and deluded by the atmospheric influences on the other side of the Channel.
§ MR. JOHN REDMOND
said that if anything was wanted to convince the Irish people that the Chief Secretary was not in reality what he was represented to be, a sincere friend to the settlement of the University question, it was the speech to which the House had just listened. If he might use the phrase without any breach of Parliamentary order, he would say that it was an impudent speech. The right hon. Gentleman had accused hon. Members from Ireland of deliberately bringing on the discussion at a time when it was impossible for the subject to be adequately or seriously discussed. It would perhaps surprise Members of the House to know that personally, and through the ordinary channels, he had urged upon the right hon. Gentleman that there should be a discussion of this question, not at a nine o'clock sitting, but at the 806 commencement of the sitting of the House. The question had been put on one side in order that an altogether fruitless and ridiculous discussion should take place on the treatment of Constable Anderson. The right hon. Gentleman at the commencement of the session was questioned on this matter, and to the amazement of many Members of the House, certainly to the amazement of the Irish Party, he stated that not only was the Government not going to introduce legislation on the subject, but that in his view the Government ought not to legislate on it; although, as he had repeated again to-night, every Governor of Ireland who had been in the position of Lord-Lieutenant or Chief Secretary, everybody, from whatever Party drawn, who had been connected with the Government of Ireland for many years past, was a declared supporter of this policy. The speech of the right hon. Gentleman to-night was an unsatisfactory and an impudent speech. The right hon. Gentleman said that if they had asked a day for the discussion of the subject it would have been given to them. He, who opened the session by declaring that the Government would not legislate, said that they ought to have asked a day for the discussion of an academic Motion on which the Government and their supporters could vote with a free hand, knowing that there was no intention of following it up by legislation. For himself, he would refuse to lend himself to such a transparent dodge as that, and to whitewash the Government for having broken all their pledges.
The classic pledge was not that which the right hon. Gentleman had referred to, but the one made in 1889 when the present Prime Minister said that legislation upon the question was necessary, and would be introduced, and when he was asked by Mr. Parnell for something more definite and if he would say that the Bill would be the first measure introduced next session, the Prime Minister added that it would be impossible to state beforehand the precise order in which the Government measures would be introduced. That was an absolute pledge on the part of the Government that they would legislate on the question. They had been in 807 office for he did not know how many years, and they had made no effort to legislate. All the time they had been endeavouring to hoodwink public opinion in Ireland, and the public opinion of Irishmen in this country. The right hon. Gentleman had said nothing at all about the Dunraven letter or about the negotiations going on in Dublin last autumn and winter, when it was represented to them on behalf of the Government that this scheme which had been put forward was a scheme which had the consent of the Government. He had heard it stated that it was a mere matter of chance that Lord Dunraven's name was put to that letter at all, and that it was doubtful whether the name of the right hon. Gentleman himself would not be appended. That letter had been put forward by the Government, and was so represented to them and to the hierarchy.
§ MR. WYNDHAM
I emphatically contradict that statement. I am not at all ashamed to say that I thought it my duty to see a number of Presbyterians and members of Trinity College, and to see the two Archbishops. I asked them to state their views in black and white, as I thought it was my duty to know their views. But I did not pledge myself or the Government.
§ MR. JOHN REDMOND
said that was the way in which the right hon. Gentleman deliberately attempted to trick and hoodwink public opinion. It appeared that he went to the hierarchy with a scheme and got them to make concessions they had never been asked to make before, and then, having tricked them into making concessions, he came forward and said—" Oh, I was only speaking for myself and not for the Government." The right hon. Gentleman's action was a disgrace to the Government to which he belonged, and he hoped it would be thoroughly understood in Ireland.
And, it being Midnight, the Chairman left the Chair to make his Report to the House.
Committee report Progress; to sit again To-morrow.