HC Deb 19 October 1916 vol 86 cc839-64

[Mr. MACLEAN, Deputy-Speaker, in the Chair.]

Motion made, and Question proposed, "That the Bill be now read a second time."


I beg to move to leave out the word "now" and at the end of the Question to add the words "upon this day three months."

I think it very regrettable that a Bill of this character should be introduced into this House without a single word being said in its favour. Here we have a Bill vitally altering a great educational trust established not twenty years ago by one of the great Imperial statesmen of our Empire. It is being vitally altered, reduced in amount, robbed of certain endowments, and this proposal is put forward in this House without a single word in justification of it. I consider that a very regrettable state of things. I have approached one or two Ministers upon the subject, and I am disappointed to find how ignorant and uninterested they have been in this important question. I am very pleased to see that we have one member of the Cabinet on the Treasury Bench, and as the Attorney-General is interested in questions of Trusts, he may be able to enlighten us with the views of the Government in this case. The Attorney-General has recently been very much occupied, possibly in framing indictments or accusations against innocent people for fanciful offences under the Defence of the Realm Regulations, and he may not have had time to consider this Bill. I shall, however, invite his reply upon one or two leading points.

I think the whole House will realise that, irrespective of party, we can all be proud, not only of Mr. Cecil Rhodes as a great builder of our Empire, but also as the greatest benefactor of education which this generation has seen. He left enormous sums for the benefit of education, and he died on the 26th March, 1902, leaving property worth £6,000,000, and he endowed a very large number of objects at Oxford. Not only was his own college very largely benefited, but he established a very great number of scholarships, and altogether 160 scholars were enjoying scholarships previous to the War of £250 or £300 a year created by Mr. Cecil Rhodes. A large number of those were enjoyed by foreigners, and the total value of the scholarships founded at Oxford was about £150,000, and of that amount no less than £3,750 were enjoyed yearly by German students appointed from Germany, fifteen in number, and they were appointed on the nomination of the German Kaiser. A large number also came from the United States, and the rest came from various parts of the British Empire. Of course, when the War broke out the German scholarships lapsed, and the sum of no less than £3,750 a year could not be applied, and remained in the hands of the trustees. Early in the War my attention was called to this fact, and by a question I addressed to the Prime Minister I suggested that this sum yearly accruing to the trustees might be made available for the general purposes of the university, which was, and still is, in some financial difficulty. The answer of the Prime Minister to my suggestion is instructive. He replied: I am in communication on this subject with the parties interested. It is, therefore, quite obvious that the sums which were falling into the hands of the Rhodes Trustees were under the consideration of the Prime Minister and the University of Oxford, together with the suggestion that the sum saved might go to the University of Oxford. Later on I asked again whether anything in this way could be or would be effected, and the answer given by the Prime Minister on 26th July last year was as follows: The scholarships held by Germans at Oxford are now in abeyance, and nothing has been or can be paid in respect of them during the War. Any change would require special legislation. I take it from that answer that in July last year the intention of the Government and the trustees was to leave this matter over until the end of the War, which I think would have been the proper course to pursue. During the year I heard that some negotiations for an alteration were on foot, and I again addressed a question to the Prime Minister, and on the 21st of February this year the right hon. Gentleman announced in this House that: A private Bill is being drafted to deal with the matter. That was the first public pronouncement made to the world that this Bill was to be introduced. Later on I asked whether this Bill was the result of any consultation with the Government or the Board of Education, and the answer given on the 27th March last was in the negative. Therefore we may take it that this Bill, dealing as it does with a great Imperial question, and a great national property, has been introduced without any consultation with the Government or the Government Department mainly concerned. That is my first objection.

My second objection to the Bill is that, although it vitally affects Oxford University and abolishes scholarships held at that university, it has been introduced without consulting any university authorities. Neither of the hon. Members representing Oxford University were consulted, nor was the Vice-Chancellor consulted, and I believe I am correct in saying—although not being a member of the Cabinet I am not in Lord Curzon's confidence—that he was not consulted in regard to this Bill before it was introduced. Therefore we may take it that it is a Bill coming from the trustees, and from them alone. What do they propose to do? This Bill has three main objects. First of all, to abolish the scholarships which have been previously held "by German students. Everybody must admit, from whatever point of view he looks at it, that you cannot either at the present time nor immediately after the War get back to the old state of affairs. Even after the War whatever the result may be, or whatever the terms of settlement, we cannot imagine with any pleasure or prospect of hope, the idea of the German Kaiser nominating fifteen scholarships for Oxford University. There must be a change of some sort. How do the Trustees propose to effect that change? They do it by abolishing the trust altogether. If hon. Members will look at the third Clause of the Bill, they will see that it starts on a very extraordinary and unusual principle. It proposes to absolutely abolish an educational trust which the people who propose to abolish it have themselves been carrying out, a trust which is for the benefit of education. It is the usual practice when any trust becomes inapplicable—I may appeal confidently to the Attorney-General to confirm my statement in this respect—to substitute another trust or so alter and modify the trust that the nearest possible approach to the old trust shall be adopted. Instead of this, we have in the third Clause the proposal—it is the fundamental proposal of the Bill—that the codicil which founded these scholarships shall be revoked and annulled. The trust therefore is to be abolished. I admit that another trust will be set up in its place, but legally and also practically it is a very important point that the trustees should bring forward this Bill and start by abolishing the old trust. Since the War broke out, over two years ago, £3,750 per year have been accruing in respect of these scholarships, which cannot now be paid, and this sum, of course, stands still to the account of the trustees. If you abolish the trust and revoke it altogether, that accrued sum, instead of being held still for the purposes of education, will fall back into the residuary estate of Mr. Cecil Rhodes, and that means that every year of the War absolutely robs a public educational trust to the amount of £3,750, and adds that sum to the residuary legatees of Mr. Cecil Rhodes. Stated in that way, this Bill is nothing less than a scandal and nothing less than robbery. Certainly, putting it in the mildest way, I should say that it was the meanest Bill ever introduced by big men.

Let me go on to another point which shows the same mean and unstatesmanlike spirit in the promoters. The Bill, though it abolishes fifteen scholarships of £250 a year each, or a total annual value of £3,750, will set up at some future date which is not named and which may be years and years hence twelve scholarships of £300 a year each, or of the total value of £3,600 a year. It therefore abolishes scholarships of £3,750 aggregate value, and sets up a fewer number of scholarships of a smaller aggregate value. The total value per annum of the scholarships which it is going to give in place of the old ones is actually going to be £150 a year less. I consider that simply means robbery of education and of the educational endowments of Oxford University, and even the Attorney-General, if he is the public custodian of charitable trusts in this country, can hardly get up in this House, though he does some extraordinary things at times, and perform the extraordinary feat of saying that it is a good bargain for the people of this country and for Oxford University to have twelve scholarships of £300 a year each in place of fifteen scholarships of £250 a year each. There is one other point which I must emphasise. This Bill abolishing one set of scholarships and setting up another set makes no promise of any definite date when the new scholarships are to be established, and there is no authority which is to have a locus standi, or the duty imposed upon it to see that by a definite date the new scholarships are established. It may be, and it probably will be, years before these new scholarships are founded, and probably when they are founded they will be founded in such a way that there will be four one year, four the next, and four more the year after, so that they will not all come into operation at once. What does that mean? It means that every year nearly £4,000 is accruing, and it need not go at all into any educational trust until these new scholarships are founded.

I object to this Bill, and even if I am alone in the House I shall fight it at every stage unless some modifications are made which will make it quite clear that by a definite date these new scholarships are to begin, and which will also give to some authority that can be relied upon to carry out their duty a clear indication that they are to insist that they shall begin on a certain date, or that such other educational facilities shall be given as may compensate for deferring the new scholarships which are to be founded. I oppose this Bill, first of all, as a mean Bill which robs education. It is a Bill promoted by men administering an immensely rich trust and is altogether unworthy either of themselves or of this country at the present time. The Bill is totally unnecessary, because anybody who has studied it will see that the Rhodes Trustees have absolute power at the present time to suspend any scholarship. Therefore, suppose we were to go back to peace, and suppose the conditions were such that the Kaiser resumed nominating scholarships at Oxford, there are actual provisions in the will of the late Mr. Cecil Rhodes which are quoted in the Schedule and which show that the trustees may at their own discretion dispense altogether with scholarships appointed under it. There is, therefore, no necessity for this Bill at all at the present time. My own opinion is that this question, as indicated in one of the Prime Minister's answers, might well be left over until after the War. There are several Committees of the Cabinet discussing the whole future of education, and it would be better in every way for a great educational trust like this not to be tampered with, doctored, and especially not robbed, at the present time. Its future development or alteration might well be left until after the War.

I am always glad to see the Noble Lord (Lord H. Cecil) present, and those who have studied the Order Paper will, I am sure, in many cases have welcomed the suggestion which he makes as an Instruction to the Committee. The Noble Lord calls attention to a point I have touched upon. The late Mr. Cecil Rhodes founded these scholarships not for Englishmen but for aliens, and he had the very fine idea, I believe a very true and noble idea, that the amity and progress of the world would greatly be assisted by young men of different nationalities meeting in the universities together. That has been pointed out by one of his biographers in these words: Cecil Rhodes' life was devoted to advance any cause which would make for the greater friendliness of mankind. The "greater friendliness of mankind" is indicative of a great Imperial statesman. I ask myself whether this Bill, passed in the heat of war and depriving our enemies, justly perhaps, of educational advantages in one of our great university cities is really calculated for the "greater friendliness of mankind." I simply prefer to see at this time that if we do rob education or alter to the benefit of one party and the disadvantage of another party great educational trusts, that we should not rob the foreigner and aggrandise our people. If we are forced to take these away, why not offer opportunities to the Allied Nations who are so gallantly lighting by our side? I am sure those who remember what has happened in the case of the University of Louvain may very well feel that it would be a generous thing, at any rate, to give an opportunity to the Rhodes Trustees and at as early a date as possible to offer scholarships to Belgian sufferers. This is a matter which I shall not pursue at this time. I think I have said enough to show that this Bill is neither generous nor wise nor statesmanlike, and that it really robs education, and is unworthy of acceptance by this House.


I beg to second the Amendment. I do not wish to impute anything of an unworthy character to the promoters of this Bill. I am quite sure they wish to make the very best educational use of this money, which cannot be now used in accordance with the provisions of the will of the founder. But I do feel that this is not the moment in which a general reconstruction of the proposals made by Mr. Rhodes should be made. It is perfectly possible under the provisions of the will to suspend the scholarships, at present not available, after the War, for a period, and during that time, calmly and clearly, and in consultation with the university authorities and others concerned, to make whatever new scheme may be desirable. In that scheme, although it may be desirable to take thought for portions of the Empire that have not been properly provided for in the original will owing to accident or the date at which the will was made, yet the main purpose of this particular codicil ought to be borne in mind—the binding together of nations by mutual understanding. I am very glad the Noble Lord (Lord H. Cecil) has put down his Instruction. I hope in some way or other it may be possible for the trustees to bear that in mind, and, if possible, at a later date, to reframe their proposals with that principle in view. I am sure it will be a course which they, in the long run, will not regret, and that it will be for the good of the university and for the good of building up of that international understanding which the great founder of that Trust had in view when he made this proposal in his will.


The aspect of the case which I desire to put forward is a little different from that put forward by the hon. Member (Mr. King). I do not dispute for a moment the necessity of some such Bill. It is evident that it would be an absurdity and a scandal to continue any trust in favour of German subjects at a time like this. The only question which seems to me worthy of discussion in this House is what system you ought to set up in place of any system you are obliged to knock down. The proposal in the Bill is that these scholarships shall be transferred from German subjects to British subjects. I suggest it would be a still better plan for the allocation of these scholarships to be left altogether in the hands of the Trustees. I do not agree with the hon. Member (Mr. King) when he criticised the Bill for leaving things to the discretion of the Trustees. I am persuaded when you have got a board of trustees of great position and well able and qualified to enjoy the confidence of the House and country, that it is much better that they should have a free hand to carry out what they have reason to believe the testator wished, or as nearly as circumstances make possible, and that they should not be tied and bound by Act of Parliament. If this Bill is passed it may regulate conditions for a great number of years to come. No one can tell during that long period of time what the circumstances may be. It may be, and my hon. Friend has informed me of considerations that weighed with the Trustees, that at present by far the wiser thing is to assign the scholarships to various places in the British Empire; but it is not desirable, as it seems to me, unnecessarily to limit the discretion of the trustees in future.

In the first place, it is very lamentable that we are obliged to depart from the intention of the testator at so short a period after his death. As a matter of public policy, it is most important that Parliament should always support, as far as possible, the intentions of testators in educational and charitable trusts, otherwise you discourage so deeply such munificence in the future, especially if Parliament is too ready to change their purposes after they are dead. I am told that the real purpose of Mr. Rhodes was to unite the Teutonic race in one educational system. It seems a very whimsical idea in view of our present experience, but, if that was the intention, it is obvious it would be most nearly carried out by giving scholarships to the Dutch or Scandinavian peoples, the Dutch particularly, because they are the closest of all European peoples to us in race and, on the principle of carrying out the testator's intentions, they might most properly receive the scholarships. As time goes on you will find all sorts of new circumstances arising. You may desire to have educational relations with Russia, or with France, or with Italy. You may find it convenient to move the scholarships from one place to another, sometimes to give them in one place and sometimes in another. In short, you cannot foresee the future. It is, I submit, a far wiser thing to trust the discretion of the trustees and allow them to administer the trust according to their discretion, following up the wishes of the testator as nearly as may be. The only argument I have heard against this course is that it throws a great burden upon the trustees. No doubt it does. No doubt they would have a large number of applications which they would be obliged to reject. But I do not think that is really an argument to which this House ought to give too much weight. Trustees are, in effect, public functionaries. They are performing a public duty and they must not shrink from the labour that duty entails. If it can be said, as I think it can, that in the interests of education it is necessary that they should have a wide discretion for the purpose of carrying out the testator's intentions, then they must bear the trouble that involves, and do the best they can.

As a matter of procedure, it is possible that to proceed by way of Instruction is inconvenient. I do not desire to press that particular course if the Chairman of Ways and Means is of opinion that an Instruction is not the right way of dealing with the matter. I shall be quite satisfied if this matter can be thoroughly looked into in the Committee. The Committee, I understand, consists of the Chairman of Ways and Means and one other Member of Parliament.

The CHAIRMAN of WAYS and MEANS (Mr. Whitley)

Four or five.


It is an Unopposed Bill Committee.




I should be quite satisfied if this Amendment could be thoroughly considered in Committee, and if the views of the trustees can be heard and a reasonable decision come to upon the matter. I can quite believe that it is so small a point as not to be desirable to be dealt by Instruction, but in one way or another I earnestly suggest—I think I represent, not a very large number, but one or two influential people in the University of Oxford, in making the suggestion—that this point should be thoroughly considered in Committee, and that if in the judgment of the Committee the interests of education and the intentions of the testator are better carried out by inserting such an Amendment as I contemplate, they will make that Amendment in the Bill when it is before the Committee.

Colonel YATE

The only point I wish to raise is that in Clause 4 of the Bill mention is made of students from all places within the British Empire, but there is no specific mention of India. I am sorry to say that an Instruction I had drafted was not drafted in time and does not appear on the Notice Paper. The Instruction I would have moved is— That it be an Instruction to the Committee on the Rhodes Estate Bill [Lords] that they shall amend Clause 4 of the Bill, so as to make such number of the scholarships substituted for those established pursuant to the German codicil as the Trustees may think right available for students from India. I entirely agree with the Noble Lord (Lord H. Cecil) as to the advisability of these scholarships not being definitely allocated for all time to any particular university.


They are.

Colonel YATE

I am not speaking of English universities, but of British Imperial universities.


All the students come to Oxford.

Colonel YATE

The proposal is that they should not be allocated definitely, but that the trustees should be able to change them as they might think fit. I would suggest that India should be inserted as a possible recipient of some of these scholarships from time to time when the trustees may think fit or opportunity may offer. Clause 24 in Mr. Rhodes' will lays down: No student shall be qualified or disqualified for election to a scholarship on account of his race or religious opinion. I would ask that India should be taken into consideration with the rest of the British Empire, and that whenever it is possible for India to have a scholarship allotted to her, such should be given; and I also suggest that the word "India" should be specially inserted, so that she might have a share of the benefits of these scholarships with the rest of the British Empire. I would ask the Committee to take this into consideration at the proper time.


I have been asked to say a few words to the House as representing the views of the promoters of this Bill. The last thing that the promoters of this Bill wanted to do was to be mean towards education. In proof of that, I would like to say at the outset that beyond all the requirements of the will of Mr. Rhodes they have already established out of the residuum, which was left entirely at their disposal, no fewer than eighteen new scholarships beyond those they were required to establish, simply because they wished to benefit education. To charge Trustees who have established eighteen scholarships of £300 a year, tenable at the University of Oxford, with meanness towards education or the University of Oxford, or with defalcation of their charge, is hardly the right way to commence this discussion. Perhaps I had better explain the general facts with regard to this trust. When Mr. Rhodes died he left a very large sum of money, most of it in more or less speculative investments, most of them in South Africa, not all Stock Exchange investments, but some investments in land. A considerable time was necessary in order to realise those investments and to convert an adequate portion of them into gilt-edged or more or less gilt-edged investments. The scholarship fund mentioned in this Bill, which is to be set up at some time under Mr. Rhodes' will, free of all duty whatsoever on the part of the trustees, but entirely at their discretion, they found could not be set up with any advantage to the public until those speculative investments had been realised. The trustees have gone a very long way towards the fulfilment of that which they felt to be their duty, but they have not yet quite completed the duty of making investments suitable for establishing a scholarship fund. Under those circumstances, they come to the House with quite a small Bill affecting a very small portion of the total trust. I take it the House will not want the question of diverting from the gift of the Kaiser of these scholarships argued at any length. It is quite obvious that neither the Kaiser on the one hand nor the University of Oxford on the other, for some considerable period after the War, will probably wish to execute this trust. We might have a very delicate situation. We might have the Kaiser, if there is a Kaiser in the future, or some representative of the German Empire, wishing to send scholars to Oxford at a much earlier date than Oxford was willing to receive; or, on the other hand, we might have the other case of Oxford being willing to receive and the Kaiser not being willing to send. It is most undesirable that we should leave to the future a question of that sort. I do not argue that matter. I assume that the House will wish to see this money usefully employed during the spell of years which must elapse before any German student can possibly be acceptable at the University of Oxford.

9.0 P.M.

The hon. Member (Mr. King) has put down three matters in regard to which he quarrels with this Bill. The first relates to the question of a mere £150 a year. I want to explain how that £150 has arisen; and then I want to say, if it will please the hon. Member and others, that the trustees are perfectly willing to see that the loss does not occur. In the first place, I do not know whether the House appreciates that when we talk of twelve scholarships, we mean twelve scholarships tenable for three years each. That means that each year you only offer four scholarships. So that all that is involved here is an exchange of four scholarships a year of the value of £300 for five scholarships a year of the value of £250. Mr. Rhodes made the German scholarships of less value because travelling expenses are smaller from Germany to Oxford than from distant lands across the ocean to Oxford—from our Colonies, and from America. All that is involved, therefore, is the disposal of four or five scholarships. If you are to make four scholarships of £300 a year, you cannot make them exactly fit with the amount of money which is at your disposal from five scholarships of £250 a year. But a thirteenth scholarship will cause a certain amount of inconvenience to the trustees, and will not be educationally very efficient, because a scholarship offered every third year has by no means the educational value of a scholarship offered in a University or a province every year. You might as well advertise in a newspaper for a scholar casually, and you would get the people who happen to be available for that sort of thing at the time. But if you offer a scholarship annually and steadily, all the schools of the place consider that is one of the prizes that is open to their scholars, and the whole place has its eyes turned upon that great prize, and the effect on the whole province is exactly what Mr. Rhodes wanted to produce, namely, to turn the eyes of the outside lands upon the University of Oxford and upon this country. Therefore the thirteenth scholarship is not really of very great value; but, in order that no one shall say that this great trust is mean, the trustees authorise me to say that, if the Committee feels that it is desirable to give a thirteenth scholarship which will not fit into the rota of years, we are perfectly willing to do it, and, instead of the public losing £150 a year, the public shall gain £150 a year.

The second point which was made by. the hon. Member was in regard to dates. He complained there was no definite date stated in this Bill for bringing into effect the new trust. The words of the Bill are: The trustees shall, as soon as practicable after the passing of this Act. That, at any rate, is a definite duty which is put upon them. With regard to the question of dates, I do not think perhaps that people who have not had experience in educational organisation realise the difficulties that there are in the way of fixing a precise date. In the first place, the trustees, when this Bill has been passed, have to settle to what lands these new scholarships shall be allotted. They then communicate with the Governments of those lands, and those Governments have to communicate with the universities of those lands. The universities, after considering the matter, and after hearing probably the organising secretary of the trust, who will go out to those countries to settle the matter, advertise the scholarships. The Universiy of Oxford has to send out examination papers for the qualifying examination, and the examination has to be held, and after that you have to elect, and when you have elected you have to give a reasonable time to the student elected to make his preparations and to travel to this country. This is a time of war, and all these things will be delayed, and therefore it is very doubtful whether you can bring the more distant places into the scheme within one academic year. At present, according to the routine of the trust, every scholar is elected nine months before the beginning of the next academic year, and I think, therefore, it may be possible to bring part of this scheme into action in one academic year and part in the course of two academic years. There is not the slightest wish on the part of the trustees to cause any undue delay, and surely it is sufficient, considering what responsible men the trustees are, that we should hold to the words proposed in the Bill: "The trustees shall as soon as practicable after the passing of this Act establish, etc."

With regard to the third point made by the hon. Member, that certain moneys were going into the purse of the trustees, not being taken up by German scholars, I am authorised to say this: The trustees are under the duty, under the will, to establish a scholarship fund. That scholarship fund will support the scholarships which at present exist. It has always been their intention—it was directed by Mr. Rhodes' will in respect of £1,000, not more—that when they established that fund there should be a considerable margin to meet contingencies over the bare money that is necessary to support these scholarships, and therefore the hon. Member is pushing at an open door; but if it will give satisfaction we are perfectly willing to undertake that when we establish the scholarship fund it shall be sufficient to maintain the scholarships which at present exist, including the scholarships to be substituted for the German scholarships under this Bill, and in addition that it shall be increased by a sum of money equal to the money which would have been paid to the German scholars from the beginning of the War until this scheme comes into action. I do not think the hon. Member can say we are mean after that. We meant to be frank. We always intended to do it, but it was not thought necessary to put some of these things down in the Bill. However, if the hon. Member wishes it, we give that undertaking.


Will you put it in the Bill?


Whether it goes into the Bill or not is, I think, a matter which the Chairman of Committees will consider. Personally I cannot help feeling that probably after this public undertaking given across the floor of the House it will be sufficient to leave the matter to the Trustees. They have shown that they are fully conscious of the responsibility of their duties. They have given a very generous undertaking, and it may be somewhat difficult to impose upon them in the exact wording of an Act of Parliament the duty which they intend to perform.

The Noble Lord (Lord H. Cecil) has urged a change in the Bill, with which, on general principles, I have the very greatest sympathy. That we and the French, for instance, should make an exchange; that there should be an exchange between the Universities of Paris and Oxford, is an ideal which, personally, I have very much at heart, and against which I have absolutely nothing to say. But we have a practical question before us. The original' scheme of Mr. Rhodes, as contained in his will, was to establish scholarships for Anglo-Saxons—for members of this Empire and for the Americans. That is perfectly clear in the wording of his will, and in the allotment of the scholarships under his will. He fixed the particular Colonies which were to have scholarships, and only by a codicil—and I lay stress upon this point—I believe as an after-thought, did he establish these scholarships for Germany. In establishing them he used these remarkable words: The object is that an understanding between the three great Powers will render war impossible. The idea with which he established these German scholarships has been utterly and for ever broken. It is impossible to fulfil the idea which Mr. Rhodes had in mind, and which is placed on record in the codicil of the will establishing these German scholarships. There is no evidence that he had any general idea with regard to the whole world. His aim was simply to add to the scheme which he had created for the Anglo-Saxon world—for the British Empire and for our great cousin realm across the water. His aim was—some say after the magnetic influence of a visit one day to the Kaiser—to add to that scheme certain scholarships for Germany, with the idea, impossible now, that he would bring Germany into a league of peace with this Empire and America. The question is, What would Mr. Rhodes have done in the present situation? That is what the Trustees have had to set themselves to consider.

What situation did we find? The Trustees have four schouarships a year to award. We found that Mr. Rhodes, with the number of scholarships that he had to give, had not been able to cover the whole of the British Empire. He had awarded scholarshops to each of the States of Australia and to each of the Colonies of South Africa which were then within the Empire, also to Quebec and Ontario, which he regarded as upper and lower Canada, and, curiously enough, to Jamaica and the diminutive possession of Bermuda. The Trustees found that they were in a very difficult position. The Canadian provinces not included in the scheme complained that they were ill-treated. They felt very jealous of the two provinces of Ontario and Quebec, and the Trustees, out of the residue which was left absolutely at their discretion by Mr. Rhodes, have, established eighteen new scholarships, to cover the provinces of Canada which were omitted from his will, namely, Prince Edward Island, New Brunswick, Nova Scotia, Manitoba, British Columbia and, as it was then, the North West. Since the scholarships were given the North West has been divided into two important provinces, the great and growing provinces of Alberta and Saskatchewan, and great universities, universities with very digni- fied buildings, and universities that are bound to become important in the west of Canada in the future, have been founded in Alberta and Saskatchewan. The Trustees felt that if that fact had been present to Mr. Rhodes he would undoubtedly have provided each of these great provinces with the scholarship necessary to put them on a par with the remaining provinces and States of the Empire.

In South Africa at the present moment neither the Transvaal nor the Orange River Colony have a scholarship, because those two States were outside the Empire at the time when Mr. Rhodes made his will. We feel convinced, having the interest of South Africa deeply at heart, as is shown in every line almost of his Will, that one of the first things Mr. Rhodes would have done would have been to give scholarships, to complete his scheme, to those two Colonies which have so magnificently rallied to the Empire in its days of trial. There remains another anomally. It is a curious anomaly affecting the Crown Colonies—those great estates of the Empire which we must never forget. Mr. Rhodes, curiously, gave scholarships to Jamaica and Bermuda. I do not want to say one word against the scholarship for Bermuda. I am proud to tell the House that every Bermuda scholar is serving in the War. You cannot deprive any State of the Empire, however small, of its scholarship given to it under Mr. Rhodes's will. It would be an invidious, an impossible and an impracticable thing to do. Therefore, you can only correct these anomalies by giving fresh scholarships. It is a curious fact that Barbadoes, amongst the West Indian Colonies, has in Codrington College perhaps the most distinguished educational establishment in the whole of the West Indies. Trinidad, since the days of Mr. Rhodes, has been coming forward every day in importance, and now ranks as a rival of Jamaica. The feeling, of the trustees, therefore, is that they ought to correct the anomalies in the West Indies by giving an odd scholarship there. But they have only four scholarships to give. One goes to West Canada, two go to correct the anomalies in regard to the new Dutch Provinces in South Africa, and one to correct the anomalies in the West Indies. Thus, with the eighteen scholarships they have already given they will approximately have completed the scheme for the British Empire. They fell that in the present situation, when the Empire has come together as it never before was brought together, we owe it to those whom Mr. Rhodes intended to benefit, and we owe it to the Empire, to see that we consider its requirements educationally before we consider any larger and more ambitious schemes beyond the Empire.

We feel, therefore, that the House must realise how small is what we have to dispose of at the present moment—these German scholarships—and how necessary it is to deal out some sort of equity as between the different portions of the Empire. We feel, also, that the House will realise that, on the whole, the best thing is to dispose of the scholarships in the way proposed The hon. and gallant Gentleman (Colonel Yate) who has spoken on behalf of India, and who always represents the interests of India very happily in this House, has not quite realised the difficulty that would be in our way. In the first place I would like to say that the wording of Clause 4 does not in the least prevent the trustees from giving scholarships to India. It says: Places within the British Empire. There is not the smallest reason why the trustees should not give scholarships to India, if for other reasons they think it desirable to do so, but I have shown that Mr. Rhodes did not originally contemplate that a scholarship should go to India. I have also shown that there are certain vacancies in the scheme at the present time as regards the Dominions of the Empire, and that it is desirable to fill those first. I would remind the hon. and gallant Gentleman that the trustees have a residuum to deal with, and there is nothing to prevent them considering India when they come to deal with the residuum, after they have been able to found the scholarship fund for the maintenance of the scholarships in existence or contemplated under this Bill. When the hon. and gallant Gentleman says that he thinks these scholarships might go round from one university to another, presumably to be given—tenable at Oxford always—to the University of Melbourne this year, to the University of Toronto next year, and to the University of Calcutta the following year, I think he does not grasp the conditions of educational organisation. I must repeat what I said just now, that anyone who knows educational organisation knows perfectly well that no scholarship begins to have its real effect upon education and upon the community until it has been established for several years and awarded for several years. But there is a further danger. Mr. Rhodes had very definite ideas as to how his scholarships should be won. As to three-tenths they are awarded on the result of examination by examiners; as to five-tenths they are awarded by the votes of the fellow scholars of the proposed student in the school, because Mr. Rhodes wanted to get not merely bookworms, but young men who were likely to get on with their fellows and be useful and active in the world. As to the remaining two-tenths, they are to be awarded by the schoolmaster, who would consider whether the student is a person who seemed fit to play a part in public affairs in later life and be useful to the Empire.

It is obvious when you take a system of awarding scholarships in that way you cannot follow a mere examination system which says that all universities can come and compete. More than that, if you put a highly complicated system of selecting scholars into operation, then you have got to establish a habit of doing the thing in the particular university in which the scholarships is awarded. Year after year the students have to know that they are to elect one of their number for that purpose. The schoolmaster has to know that he has to keep his eyes on the students to detect the qualities which Mr. Rhodes wanted. Great experience has been accumulated by the trustees and this great organisation, which they have established should not be interfered with unduly. The trustees have the greatest sympathy with the idea that some day or other they may be able to do something for India. But as things stand at the present moment they ask simply to have these German scholarships disestablished. The sooner it is done the better, because it takes a couple of years before we can get a new system into action, and what we want now is to correct the anomalies which exist in the Imperial system at the present moment. That is the only sound policy which the trustees could have proposed. As the matters which I have covered are practical matters and it is a practical question which is at issue, if anyone suggests, and it has been suggested to me, that the trustees might split up some of these scholarships and use them in some foreign countries in smaller sums—for instance, a Frenchman might come for a single year—then, if that is done, you will drive a coach and four through the whole scheme of Mr Rhodes' Trust, because he has particularly laid down that the scholarships should be for three years, of a particular value, and awarded in a particular way.

With regard to the Noble Lord's suggestion that the matter which he has put forward should go to the Committee, I do not want to seem unreasonable on the point. But the trustees are already bombarded from every part of the Empire and every part of the world. They have received applications, I am told, from fifty foreign places, let alone districts in the Empire. For instance, they have been asked to award a scholarship in Scandinavia because Scandinavia is specially cognate with this country; and in Argentina, and a very good case has been made out, because we are told that there is a large British colony there and that that colony is up against a system of schools which are said to number 200, which were subsidised by Germany before the War. There are applications from Italy, Japan, and Russia, and there have been many applications for scholarships made from France. All this is in connection with four scholarships a year which must be awarded in a way peculiarly adapted to British schools. I submit that it would help the trustees a great deal if in connection with these four annual scholarships the duty were not thrown upon them of considering foreign applications. There is nothing whatever in the will to prevent them from setting up foreign scholarships out of the residuum, and as that residuum is gradually made safe from the development of the estates in South Africa, probably they may be able to consider some such project. In the meantime, if the Committee does throw upon them the duty of considering foreign applications, that greatly increases the cost of the staff, and, I submit, to no real advantage. After all, if you force the trustees to consider the Allies—I forget how many we have at the present moment, but there is a considerable number—and the peoples whom we would desire to have as Allies who are also a considerable number, you would add to their duties and produce no benefit. Therefore, I ask the House to look at this with a practical mind and not throw upon the trustees unnecessary duties.


I only rise because, in the first place, it has been suggested that there are various legal points upon which difficulties arise, arid, in the second place, as the House is aware, because the Attorney- General is responsible for trusts in this country, and it might be thought in the circumstances that some advice was necessary as to the course to be taken in relation to this private Bill. The hon. Member who moved the rejection of the Bill raised a number of so-called legal questions in respect of which he invited me to give assistance. I hope that he will forgive me if I say that I think some legal friend of his must have been indulging in pleasantries at his expense. There is no difficulty of the kind in the law, and there is nothing done under this Bill which is not done every day in the Chancery Courts, and with which every Chancery lawyer is not familiar. The House may address itself to this question with the full knowledge that there are no legal difficulties of any kind involved.

When we come to the question of principle involved, it is not necessary, I think, to deal with the somewhat extraordinary attack on the Bill which was made by the hon. Member who moved this rejection. The very powerful and persuasive speech of my hon. Friend who has just sat down makes it unnecessary to make any observations at all on the Bill, except this, that I hope that the trustees will be slow, if on educational grounds they have reached the conclusion that it would be wiser to place this sum of £150 a year in the residuum that has been so properly used in the past, to allow themselves to be persuaded to depart from that conclusions by considerations which they do not themselves believe in and which do not appear to possess any real weight. I think that the House is of opinion that there is only one matter which remains open for consideration. The Noble Lord the Member for Oxford University, who has a special right to speak on these matters, has suggested that at least it should be open to the Committee to consider the question whether or not the trustees should retain the discretion as to whether the allocation of these scholarships should extend to foreign countries. The only difference between the Noble Lord and my hon. Friend is that the trustees come to us and ask that the allocation of the scholarships shall be in the British Empire, and my Noble Friend would empower the trustees to retain in their hands a discretion on this point. It is quite evident that this is the only real point at issue emerged from the Debate. It is a very small point indeed, and the question is whether it should be discussed and decided here or upstairs.

On that my right hon. Friend the Chairman of Ways and Means, who speaks with so much authority on these questions, will make some observations to the House when I resume my seat. It is a very narrow point, and I do not think the House will have much difficulty in dealing with the matter.


On the point which was last referred to by the Attorney-General, I just wish to say this, that in my view the proposal before the House of the hon. Member for Oxford University is one which the House would expect the Committee upstairs to consider at somewhat greater length than the House of Commons is able to do. I should have felt it my duty to resist the Noble Lord's Instruction if he had proposed to move it in a mandatory form—that is to say to order this Committee, without any further looking into the matter, especially in view of what we have just heard as to the practicability of his proposal—and it would have been my duty to advise the House to reject a mandatory Instruction of that kind. If the Noble Lord moved it in the form, "That it be an Instruction to the Committee that they have power, if they think fit, to amend Clause 4 of the Bill in that respect," then I and those who will be my colleagues on the Committee will, of course, approach the matter with an entirely open mind as between the Noble Lord and the hon. Member who has just spoken for the trustees on the question of the practicability of inserting some further words. I think the House might be content with that, and I only suggest the possibility of the House passing an Instruction of that kind because that might be a question where it would be open to the Committee to consider a departure of the kind proposed by the Noble Lord, in view of the original Bill and in view of the scope of the Bill to which the House is asked to give a Second Reading. For that reason the House and the trustees might be content with a limited form of the Instruction on the Paper, and it might be agreed to. I can only give the House the assurance that, if it instructs the Committee, they will properly look into the question and, I hope, arrive at a right conclusion upon it. With regard to the Instruction standing in the name of the hon. Member for North Somerset, I am bound to resist the proposal for the reason that it is not desirable that it should be dealt with in the House, but should be entirely in the hands of the Committee. After the remarkable speech of the hon. Member for Glasgow, who has spoken for the trustees, we can see how well their duties have been carried out in the past, but he would be the very last person to suggest that there should not be any criticism of their method. At the same time, I am prepared to keep a careful and open mind on the questions raised in Debate by hon. Members who have spoken to-night.


With the leave of the House, I may be allowed, before I withdraw my Amendment, to say that I am extremely sorry that I had not heard the hon. Member for Glasgow before I made the remarks I did. I had some slight conversation with him, but the information and the explanation I have now received from him I should have been glad to have had before I rose. But I submit that we have had a very interesting and useful discussion upon this question, and if it had not been for the course I have taken I do not suppose that we should have had the advantage of it. I hope that the House will allow me to withdraw my Amendment, and to say that, so far as I am concerned, I am grateful for the discussion which I have caused.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Question, "That the Bill be now read a second time," put, and agreed to.

Bill read a second time, and committed.


We have already had remarks made upon the Instruction which stands in my name on the Paper, and which I do not propose to press. At the same time, may I suggest that the Chairman of Committees will consider whether it is possible to have some of the assurances which have been given considered in the form of Amendments. The standing of the trustees is so great and so high in connection with the trust that when they make a promise it is really something that we can rely upon. But, in the case of a trust which is going to last, we hope, for centuries, there should be arrangements made in the form of an Act of Parliament and not in the form of a pledge in the House. I hope, therefore, that, if possible, some assurance in connection with this matter will be embodied in the Bill.


The hon. Member for Glasgow has already said that he would gladly leave it to the Committee to see how far, if at all, they would deal with the intentions of the trustees, and that words should afterwards be inserted in the Bill.


I beg to move, the Instruction standing in my name on the Paper in the permissive form suggested by the Chairman of Ways and Means:—"That it be an Instruction to the Committee on the Rhodes Estate Bill that they have power to amend Clause 4 of the Bill, so as to make the scholarships substituted for those established, pursuant to the German codicil, available for students from such places, whether within or without the British Empire, as the trustees may from time to time at their discretion determine."


I beg leave to second the Motion.

I must say that I have been impressed by what the hon. and learned Member opposite has said as to applications from all parts of the world and the interests of the four scholarships. The words which the Noble Lord suggests are to give the trustees a larger discretion in a trust of this kind. Some of us attach great importance to the maximum discretion being given to trustees of such great authority as these trustees are, and as their successors will no doubt be, and think it would be of advantage in the administration of an educational trust. I am sure the Chairman of Ways and Means and his colleagues will consider this point, which is held widely by persons interested in education. We do not put it beyond this, that we are grateful for the opportunity given, on the suggestion of my right hon. Friend, that this question may be considered upstairs.


This constitutes a very serious change in the general scope and object of the Bill, and a change that will give rise to considerable difficulties. No one looking at the will and its general scope has the least doubt as to Mr. Rhodes' general intentions. They were to found scholarships to attract to English universities men from all parts of the Anglo-Saxon Empire. The trustees are not able adequately to perform that duty, and they are now seeking for more opportunities of performing the work which lay at the heart of Mr. Rhodes, and which is embodied in the general scope of his will. He did make an exception, as we all know, in regard to Germany, because he thought possibly the Anglo-Saxon notion of kith and kin might prevent war. The hon. Member for Somerset (Mr. King) has suggested that this is an early interference with the will of the testator. But interference with a will of a testator does not depend so much upon time as on the completely altered circumstances that have arisen since his death, and we are convinced that if Mr. Rhodes had been alive at this date he would not have put in his will that codicil assigning so many scholarships to Germany. That being cut out, as it must be under present conditions, we should keep as nearly as possible to the broad intention of Mr. Rhodes' will and get back to the general object of that will, which was to link together all parts of the Anglo-Saxon Empire by bringing them together at a university. It is all very well to say we are to go all over the world. If they are to do so, the pressure upon them becomes the greater, and they must exercise a discretion which it is difficult to exercise without drawing an invidious distinction. There will be heartburnings if we so extend the scope. The trustees do not ask us to extend it, and they are the best judges of the limitations of their powers and responsibilities. But I do not wish to oppose this compromise being accepted. I hope the Committee will look upon it with some care, and I really rather doubt whether, in the circumstances, it is not a dangerous Instruction to give the Committee, overriding as it does so completely the particular meaning and intention of the testator as expressed in his will.


I am sorry I am not able altogether to agree with the hon. Member who has just spoken (Sir H. Craik). I was very much in favour of the Instruction which was proposed by my Noble Friend the Member for Oxford University (Lord Hugh Cecil); but after listening to the speech of the hon. Member for Glasgow (Mr. Mackinder), I felt there were great difficulties in the way of accepting the Instruction of the Noble Lord in the words in which it was phrased. I am very grateful to the Chairman of Committees for having said that the whole matter shall be considered by him and his colleagues, and I am quite certain they will give full consideration to the observations that have been made by the hon. Member for the University of Glasgow (Sir H. Craik). One reason why I was prepared to support the Instruction of the Noble Lord was that I was very desirous indeed that these scholarships should, if possible, serve the purpose of establishing something like an educational entente between the Allies of this country and ourselves. It seemed it was really one of the objects of Mr. Rhodes to give some scholarship to a foreign university in order that students at that foreign university might have the arvantage of continuing their studies at Oxford University. That idea may have been in his mind, and might be carried out of the residuum of the estate if in time it should be found possible to grant some of the scholarships to some of our Allies. For that reason I am very grateful to the Chairman of Committees for having undertaken to consider this important question. There are negotiations now going on between our Allies and this country for establishing an educational entente such as I have referred to; and only this evening, just before this Bill came up for discussion, one of the members of a Committee which is taking great interest in the proposed entente asked me if anything could be done, under the Bill now before this House, to further that laudable object.


The Noble Lord has, as I understand, rather changed the form of his Instruction, and has made it permissible for the Committee to insert or not insert these words or some equivalent words. I should like to say this in reply to the right hon. Gentleman opposite. I feel there is a difference between the rights of the trustees in regard to the residual money, which are very indefinite, and words put in this Bill with regard to specific scholarships, which though they may not throw the duty on the trustees yet do imply that the trustees should consider in each case how to handle the matter. There is the distinction. In the one case they have moral or general rights as residual legatees to do certain things, but in the other case, in relation to a certain dozen specific scholarships, you impose upon them that they are to do one thing or the other. There is specific mention of outside or inside the Empire, and, therefore, there is imposed on them the duty of considering both the outside and the inside. These words will be practically empty words. The policy of the trustees I have frankly indicated to the House, and the House has approved of it as far as I can gather. It is just a question whether it will be wise to hold out what one might call a half hope, which, in the nature of things and owing to the limitation of things in regard to these particular scholarships, is not in the least likely to be fulfilled. However, the Chairman of Committees speaks on these matters with great experience, and the Noble Lord is only expressing in this particular form an ideal which I have in common with him and with the hon. Member for the University of London, and in view of the fact that this is merely a direction to the Committee to consider whether these words shall be inserted or not, I do not wish to resist, on behalf of the trustees, what has been proposed.


The hon. Member may rest assured that the Committee will have proper regard to the practical considerations which have been put forward.

Question put, and agreed to.

Ordered, "That it be an Instruction to the Committee on the Bill that they have power, if they think fit, to amend Clause 4 of the Bill so as to make the scholarships substituted for those established pursuant to the German codicil available for students from such places, whether within or without the British Empire, as the trustees may from time to time in their discretion determine."