HC Deb 20 July 1923 vol 166 cc2699-766

Subject to the provisions of this Act the Commissioners shall, from and after the first day of January, nineteen hundred and twenty-five, make Statutes and Regulations for the University, its colleges and halls, and any emoluments, endowments, trusts, foundations, gifts, offices, or institutions in or connected with the University in general accordance with the recommendations contained in the Report of the Royal Commission, but with such modifications (not being modifications directly dealing with the curriculum or course of study in the University) as may, after the consideration of any representations made to them, appear to them expedient.


I beg to move, after the word "Commission" ["in the Report of the Royal Commission"], to insert the words including the recommendations of the Cambridge Committee as to the position of women at Cambridge. The object of this Amendment is to ensure that one very important part of the recommendations in the Report of the Royal Commission shall not be discriminated against, but shall receive statutory effect in the same way as the rest of the Report, subject, of course, to such modifications as may be necessary. I would merely remind the House that the question of the position of women at Cambridge was left by the Royal Commission to their Cambridge members The Oxford members did not think it becoming for them to interfere in a matter solely concerning Cambridge, and therefore the recommendations on this head were made by the Cambridge Committee, and not by the whole Commission. The Cambridge Committee, however, though by no means a Bolshevik Committee, came unanimously to the opinion that women ought to be admitted to full membership of the University. They said in the Report unanimously that they considered that the women of Cambridge had suffered under a very real grievance—that is their word—and that the efficiency of the women's colleges, their teaching efficiency, would continue to suffer as long as the present conditions persist. They therefore recommended that women should be admitted as full members of the University, subject to certain limitations with which I will not trouble the House.

There is one thing I should mention, as it is the subject of an Amendment later, and that is they recommend that the number of women undergraduates at Cambridge should be limited to 500. This is considerably above the number of women students at present, which is, I think, something like 420. The women's colleges have no money at present with which to extend themselves or to found other colleges, and this limitation of 500, whatever one may think of it, is not really looked upon by the women's colleges as a practical inconvenience. There is one other limitation proposed which the Cambridge Committee insist upon, and that is that statutory recognition should be given to the prevailing and continuous practice by which no woman can become a member of a man's college. Nobody on any side desires that, and this provision will simply give statutory effect to that. Though the Cambridge Committee were unanimous that women ought to be admitted as full members of the University, they were not unanimous as to how it should be done. There is one paragraph in the report in which they state—the Cambridge Committee—that they are about equally divided as to whether this matter should be done by Parliament along with the rest of the recommendations, or whether it should be left to the University. That is the reason that this Amendment is being moved. In a matter where the Royal Commission was unable to decide how it should be done, it is reasonable and right that Parliament should step in and decide.

We hope very much that on this matter the House of Commons will be allowed a free decision and that the Government Whips will be taken off. We believe that on the question whether this matter should be decided by Parliament or by the University there are very strong reasons indeed why Parliament should intervene. We believe it would be to the interest, both of the women's colleges, and also the University of Cambridge, in the interest of the women's colleges, more particularly, because of the delay and uncertainty that otherwise would result. Nobody can say exactly when the Statutory Commission will issue their recommendation, or say exactly what form it will take. Half the Cambridge Committee would like to see this matter left to the reconstituted University, but nobody knows how the University is to be reconstituted, and therefore there can be no certainty that women will be admitted within a reasonable time if it is left to the University, and in this period of delay and uncertainty there is no doubt the interest of women's colleges will suffer. At their last entrance examinations, in March, Girton and Newnham together had between two and three candidates for every vacancy. Somerville College at Oxford had eight applicants for each vacancy. Lady Margaret Hall, I am told, had six applications for each vacancy last December. No Cambridge man would be willing to admit, other things being equal, that there was any reason whatever why a girl should wish to go to Oxford rather than to Cambridge. These figures should open the eyes of anyone to the disqualifi- cation which women labour under at Cambridge as compared with their position at Oxford, and the abler girls will undoubtedly tend to go to Oxford rather than to Cambridge.

As regards the interests of the University, if this matter is to be left to the University to decide, it will mean that, after the statutory Commission has presented its recommendations, another period of controversy will be opened up, and you will have great friction—greater, I believe, than would arise if this Amendment were adopted. The University will have to tear itself away again for months, possibly for years, from its proper work, and devote itself to this barren academic controversy—barren because everyone tells us on the other side of the House, as well as on this, that this Measure is inevitable and right. It will, therefore, be merely postponing the Measure and causing unnecessary friction. Of course, the question of interference with the University has been raised, but I would venture to suggest that the importance of this particular application of the principle of interference has been very largely exaggerated. People seem to forget that the very act of introducing this Bill has shown that there is to be a great interference with the University.

It is not as if Parliament were suddenly stepping in and saying that this question was to be settled by it and not by the University. The whole constitution of the University is to be remodelled as a result of this Bill, and all that we are pleading for is that one very important controversial question should not be left over for further controversy later on. Hon. Members who are shocked at the thought of Parliament interfering in this matter are, I think, straining at a gnat where they are prepared to swallow a camel. They are prepared to swallow the large-scale interference by Parliament which is represented by the appointment of a statutory Commission, but are afraid of giving statutory effect to this one single recommendation. It will be said on the other side, of course, that this recommendation is far more controversial than the rest, but that, I think, is not the case. There are several extremely controversial recommendations in the Report of the Royal Commission. There is, for instance, the recommendation to which, certainly, a number of people object very strongly, that the ultimate voice in University affairs should be entrusted to those who are resident and engaged in the actual teaching and administrative work of the University. That is very controversial indeed, but no one suggests that it should be excluded from the scope of the Commission. One might, indeed, say that the only reason that this recommendation was not brought forward and submitted to the decision of the Senate, in the same way in which the question of women was, is that there would have been such very strong opposition to it. Therefore, I do not think it is a fair point to say that you must exclude this matter of women from the decision of Parliament simply because it is very controversial.

Parliament stepped in once before, in 1871, in a very similar matter. Nonconformists were allowed to matriculate at the Universities, and even to take titles of degrees, but were not allowed to become members of the Senate. They were, in fact, in very much the same position in which women at Cambridge are now, and Parliament did not think it any slur upon the Universities to step in and pass a Bill admitting them to full membership. Finally, the appeal I would make to the House would be that it should allow the University to start with a clean slate. Great changes are about to take place in the constitution of the University as a result of this Bill, and we hope that we shall be allowed to start with a clean slate, because Parliament and the Commission have made a clean job of the old controversy. We hope that we shall not be saddled with this ancient matter of dispute, but will be allowed to get on with our proper work because Parliament has done its work cleanly and fully.


I beg to second the Amendment.

I trust that, if this Amendment go to a Division, the whips will be taken off, and I hope that, perhaps, my right hon. Friend, the President of the Board of Education, may be found supporting it. I think there has been some misconception as to its scope and effect. There may be some hon. Members like my hon. and gallant Friend the Member for North Portsmouth (Sir B. Falle) who, perhaps, would desire to pull down Girton and Newnham Colleges and to exclude all women from the precincts of the University—


indicated dissent.


—but, after all, that section of opinion is a small one. Indeed, I trust that it does not exist at all, and that all are prepared to allow women to continue to have the advantages of the education which Cambridge affords, and to give to the Statutory Commission the power, if they think fit, to admit women to the full membership of the University. That, certainly, is the view which the President of the Board of Education has expressed, and I think it is the view that his predecessor in office has expressed. I think, also, that my hon. Friends who represent the Universities of Oxford and Cambridge have all expressed the same view.


I never expressed any such view, and, in fact, it was expressly stated in Committee that probably no one at Cambridge desires that this problem should be settled by this House, but that the University should settle it.


Then I have misapprehended the views of the right hon. Gentleman, but I do not think he will disagree that there is a large consensus of opinion that the Statutory Commission ought to have power to admit women to full membership of the University if they think fit to do so. Bearing in mind that for a considerable period this Statutory Commission will be practically the only body that can make Statutes, and that it may well be that, as time moves on, the force of opinion in favour of the admission of women to the University will become stronger and stronger, it would certainly be unfortunate if this body, which is going to be entrusted for two or three, or, it may be, even five years, with the sole power of making Statutes, should not have the power to admit women to full membership of the University if it thinks fit to do so.

Under the Clause as it has come back from the Committee, the Statutory Commission is going to have power to make Statutes in general accordance with the recommendations contained in the Report of the Royal Commission, and everyone, apparently, agrees with that. I thought that those who, in Committee, were opposed to this Amendment, took the view that the recommendations made by the Cambridge Committee were recommendations contained in the Report of the Royal Commission, and that, therefore, the Amendment which was then proposed was unnecessary. Is it the case that the recommendations made by the Cambridge Committee are, in fact, recommendations contained in the Report of the Royal Commission? They are, of course, to be found in the Blue Book which is entitled on the outside "Report of the Royal Commission," but those who have read the Report will observe that the Oxford Commissioners expressly disclaimed having anything to do with this matter at all, and left it to their Cambridge colleagues to make a statement in regard to it. It so happens that the statement, which might just as well have been printed in an appendix or in a foot note, is in fact printed in the middle of the Report itself and the object of this Amendment is to make it plain that the Statutory Commission, if they think fit to do so, will have the power to take steps to carry out the recommendations made by the Cambridge Committee. The President of the Board of Education may say he is advised by the legal advisers of the Government that these words are unnecessary because the recommendations of the Cambridge Committee are recommendations contained in the Report of the Royal Commission within the meaning of the Clause, but it is not always the case that the advice given to His Majesty's Government accords with the decisions given by His Majesty's Judges. We have had somewhat recent experience where there was a divergence of view between that expressed by the highest legal advisers of the Government and the highest Court of the land. When that situation arises it is very embarrassing for humble individuals like myself because, of course, we naturally respect very greatly the opinion of the Law Officers of the Crown, but we also reverence very highly the decisions of the Judges, and it is not for us to say which is right and which is wrong. But may I beg of my right hon. Friend to put it beyond all possibility of doubt that such a situation should arise again. In order not to offend the susceptibilities of the advisers of the Government, may I suggest that we should make the matter so plain that even the Judges cannot make a mistake, and for that purpose let us include, if it is the general desire that it should be included, the words of the Amendment.

I quite agree that if the recommendations of the Cambridge Committee are, in fact, recommendations contained in the Report of the Royal Commission our Amendment is unnecessary, but as there is a doubt about it, why not make the matter quite plain? Objection is raised to giving to the Statutory Commission power to admit women to a full membership of the University if they think fit to do so, but I hope the House will accept the view that the Statutory Commission ought to have this power. It is very difficult to believe that the present position can go on for long. Women will still be at Cambridge in the future. They will still attend the lectures, they will still go through the examinations, they will still be allowed the titular degree, and they will still have even the great advantage of voting for my right hon. Friend below me. Having all these great privileges, is it possible to keep them much longer from the position of being actually on the Senate? A change surely must come. There may be some who wish to keep up the fight to the end, some who would like to keep the door shut as long as possible, but if there is to be an end of the controversy surely it is a more satisfactory way that it should be ended by this Statutory Commission, which, after all, is a Cambridge body, which will only make a change—of this we may be sure—if it is satisfied that there really is a strong consensus of opinion in favour of it, and so bring about a change, and bring it about in a way which will not in the least infringe upon the autonomy of the University. No one holds the view more strongly than I that the autonomy of the University ought to be preserved. No one wants the interference of this House with the University. But if the University is going to receive public moneys, and if women are still to be excluded from full membership of the Universities, is it not reasonable to expect that year by year, as the Vote comes up in this House, there will be found some, perhaps many, Members who will continue to raise the question and in that way interfere with the autonomy of the University?


The subject now under discussion was debated at some length in the Committee, and perhaps hon. Members will bear with me if, from the point of view of membership of the Royal Commission, I try to express our views in this matter. May I refer, first, to the controversy which has been suggested by the last speaker, namely, as to whether the recommendations of the Cambridge Committee embodied in the Report of the Royal Commission are, in fact, the recommendations of the Royal Commission as a whole, because I am sure, if there is the slightest doubt on that question, the House will desire to have it cleared up without delay. Very largely for the purposes of convenience of work in the Royal Commission, it was decided to divide the Commission into two parts, one the Oxford side, dealing with the problem of Oxford University, and the other the Cambridge side, dealing with Cambridge. At one point in our proceedings there was a definite delegation to the members of the Cambridge Committee to consider certain questions particularly affecting Cambridge, and more especially this question of the admission of women to full membership of Cambridge University. I ought to make it plain that in the past few days some doubt has arisen as to the precise meaning of the Report of the Royal Commission. It was argued on one side that the Report of the Cambridge Committee, embodied in the general Report of the Royal Commissioners, was perhaps not binding upon the Royal Commission as a whole. I have always taken the view that there was a definite delegation and that there was not the slightest doubt that what was embodied in the Report of the Royal Commission, preceding the signatures of the members of the Royal Commission, was the general document upon which Parliament has to proceed and that we must regard that as the final statement of the Royal Commissioners. But I hope the right hon. Gentleman will make the point perfectly plain because it seems there is at least one member of the Statutory Commissioners, in the case of Cambridge, who takes the view that it is doubtful whether the Statutory Commissioners would have the power to settle this problem, taking the text of the Report of the Royal Commission on the one side and the text of the present Bill on the other. Let us have that cleared up beyond a shadow of doubt, and if the Amendment makes any contribution to that end that is an additional reason why we should support it.

Now I come to the question that is really at stake in this discussion. In the Committee upstairs there was a sharp division of opinion as to whether the solution of this problem of women at Cambridge should be left simply to the University itself or to the Statutory Commissioners, or whether there should be some definite mention of the matter in the Bill, and the discussion turned partly upon two points, first of all upon the point of the contribution which the State was making to Cambridge University at the moment, and the larger contribution it might make in the future, and the second point, that referring to interference in the affairs of Cambridge. On the first point, referring to taxation, I do not propose to say anything, because we contrived in Committee to set that aspect of the question in proper proportion, and we have, I think, arrived at a substantial agreement on that issue. I, therefore, pass to the second question as to interference with the autonomy or freedom of Cambridge University. Let me try to indicate the view that was taken by the Royal Commission on this matter. I do not think that any hon. Member in any part of the House will suppose that there was anyone on the Royal Commission who was likely to support a policy that would lead to undue State interference with the Universities. That was not the point of view of members of the Royal Commission, and it is not found in their recommendations; but we must remember that this Bill is to some extent an interference with the freedom of the two Universities, in that there is being entrusted to two sets of Statutory Commissioners the power to carry out the recommedations which were made by the Royal Commission. Therefore, broadly and generally, there is interference or direction, or at any rate, a policy laid down by Parliament which the Statutory Commissioners responsible to the two Universities are expected to follow in the next two years.

12 N.

If we keep that consideration very clearly in mind it will remove a great deal of the doubt and apprehension which exists on this problem. We, therefore, arrive at this point, as to whether it is desirable in this Bill to make specific mention of the position of women at Cambridge University, especially as we hope that the Statutory Commission will give effect to the unanimous recommendation of the Cambridge Committee, and the recommendation of the Royal Commission as the whole. I want the House clearly to understand the question from the point of view of the Royal Commission. This was a unanimous recommendation. There was no doubt, in the opinion of Members of the Royal Commission, as to the desirability of admitting women to full membership of Cambridge University. What was the attitude of the Cambridge Committee to which this matter was delegated? The Cambridge Committee was equally united on the question. There was no division of opinion in the Committee on that point, although there were two almost equally balanced sides as to whether this reform should be brought about by legislation in Parliament, or whether it should be left to Cambridge University or to the Statutory Commissioners to carry it out. That was the only difference in the Cambridge Committee, as to the method by which the reform should be carried out. Are we pleading in this Amendment for the full Parliamentary direction on this matter which one side of the Cambridge Committee recommended, and which I as a member of the Royal Commission supported? The Amendment on the Paper falls short of that specific Parliamentary regulation. What my hon. Friend has now proposed is nothing more than the mention of this recommendation of the Royal Commission in the Clause dealing with the powers and duties of the Statutory Commissioners. The Clause which we propose to insert is subject to the later phrase in the Bill which expressly points out that the Statutory Commissioners must carry out these changes, subject to such modifications as they think desirable. The position at which we have now arrived, although it falls short of what we might desire, is one that must commend itself as a reasonable solution. It quite clearly indicates the opinion of Parliament, which was the opinion of the Royal Commission, that at the earliest possible moment women should be admitted into full membership at Cambridge University, a position which I believe the overwhelming majority of members of this House wish them to hold.

It is not sufficient to view this problem simply from the standpoint of the autonomy of the University, however important that may be. We have also to consider the position of women at Cambridge and the way in which they are affected by the present state of affairs. I do not suppose that any hon. Member would suggest that a titular degree is any real solution of the problem. Cambridge women are penalised, and they are hindered in their subsequent educational career by the fact that they are not admitted to full membership. Cambridge is the only University in this country which does not accord to women the same rights as are accorded to men. The argument about a man's University is inappropriate and does not fit the facts at Cambridge at all. It is undesirable that there should be one University in an anomalous position, with all the difficulties that that makes in educational progress. If that be true, surely the House should see that nothing is done to injure or hinder women members of that University.

We feel very strongly that this matter should be left to the free vote of the House of Commons. There are many Members on the opposite side who are entirely with us in this proposition, and if the matter is left to a free vote, I have every reason to believe we shall have their support. I venture to say a few words of a personal character to the Minister. I am sure that his heart, and, I think, also, his head are with us. His personal activities in the past have been more or less in the direction which we are now going. The doubt he has expressed has been in regard to interference. I suggest that we have made a very strong case, not only for a free vote of the House of Commons, but also for the adoption of the Amendment.


Though I differ from the hon. Member who has just addressed the House with respect to this Amendment, I join with him heartily in his appeal to the Government to let the matter be decided by a free vote of the House of Commons. It is obviously a matter upon which Members ought to be able to take their own line. Academic questions depend upon academic considerations, and do not coincide with the ordinary lines of political division, and this is not a matter on which a political party as such in the House of Commons has to express an opinion.

If the Amendment were an invitation to the House of Commons to register its opinion as to the desirability of admitting women to full membership of the University of Cambridge, I should unhesitatingly follow the Mover into the Lobby. As things now are at Cambridge, a tutor at Newnham or Girton can vote for a parliamentary representative of the University at Cambridge, but is debarred from serving on any Committee charged with the duty of drawing up the curriculum which may deal with her life work. She may be as illustrious in mathematics as Mary Somerville, or in science as Madame Curie, or in archæology as Miss Jane Harrison, but under the existing laws and regulations of Cambridge University she is debarred from contributing any idea or suggestion officially towards settling the curriculum of the subject in which she has acquired a reputation which may have contributed lustre to the University. That is a very unhappy condition of affairs. It is essentially unjust and it is contrary to the educational advance of the country and moreover it is essentially unstable. I have the firmest confidence that the reconstituted Senate of the University of Cambridge will take the earliest opportunity of putting an end to this anomalous condition of affairs.

But this Amendment does not invite us to register an abstract opinion on the merits of the case. It asks us to insert what amounts to a specific direction to the Statutory Commission that women shall be admitted by the Statutory Commission to full membership of the University. My hon. and learned Friend, who seconded the Amendment in a very clear and cogent speech, argued that the Statutory Commission ought to be given an option to admit women to full membership if they thought fit. He pointed out that for a period the Statutory Commission would be the only body capable of making statutes for the University of Cambridge, and added that opinion in Cambridge University might advance, and might pronounce, ttself more fully and emphatically than in the past in favour of the immediate admission of women, and that in those circumstances the Statutory Commission should be free to act. My opinion of the Bill as at present drafted is that it does give the Statutory Commission power to act or not.

The Statutory Commission is appointed to carry out the recommendations of the Royal Commission. The Royal Commission was unanimously in favour of the admission of women to full membership of the University of Cambridge. The Cambridge Committee was unanimously in favour of it, though they were divided as to the particular procedure to follow. Therefore I submit to the House that under the terms of the Bill as now drafted the Statutory Commission have the discretion which my hon. and learned Friend desires to confer upon it. He says, "Why not introduce these words to make the matter clear?" If I thought that the proposed words would merely make it clear that the Statutory Commission had this discretion I should have no objection to their introduction, but I think that the acceptance of the Amendment would go a great deal further. I think it would be taken as an instruction, which the Statutory Commission would be bound to obey, to compel them to admit women to membership of Cambridge University whether the University likes or not. That, I think, would be unfortunate. I agree that if the Statutory Commission goes down to Cambridge and finds, as it may, a very general opinion among the residents of Cambridge University, who in future are to have the government of the University, that this change should be carried out by the Statutory Commission, then I agree with my hon. and learned Friend that the Statutory Commission should have power to make that change. In that case it would be acting in deference to the declared opinion of the University itself, and I should have no objection, but it has that power I conceive already under Clause 6 of the Bill.

On the other hand if the Amendment were accepted, the Statutory Commission would feel under compulsion, and would be under compulsion to introduce the change. That would be very unfortunate for the University of Cambridge. The House must remember that the University of Cambridge has been a pioneer in the University education of women and has done great things for it, and it is the natural desire of all University men that a University should be allowed to crown its own work. Again I am sure that in the long run it will not be to the advantage of the women themselves that this change should be imposed upon the Universities from without. I have very little doubt, from a study of the voting that has taken place in the past, that the reconstituted Senate of the University will carry out this change. I received to-day a missive from one of the women's organisations, concerning this matter, which urged me to vote for this Amendment on the ground that delay will be inconvenient. The only ground stated in the document was that of delay. It is assumed, and I think rightly, that the University of Cambridge would carry out the change. I do feel that the University should be allowed to determine this matter and that the Statutory Commission should only act if it should discover on going down to Cambridge that there is a very general desire that they should draw the statute.


I feel that this is a subject on which I cannot give a silent vote. I happen to represent the University which first gave degrees to women. As long ago as 1878 the University of London threw all its degrees and distinctions open to both sexes on terms of absolute equality; and I have had a considerable experience in the governance of that University, having been for 20 years a member of its governing body. I can assure the House that during the whole of that time the women we have had on our Senate and on our boards of study, far from a hindrance, have constantly been of the greatest advantage to our deliberations and have contributed materially to the welfare of the Institution. Personally, I have no fear of co-education. In matters of this sort the decisions a man takes with regard to those nearest and dearest to him are probably a better criterion of his true opinions than his public utterances sometimes are, so I may perhaps be allowed to mention that I have two daughters, both of whom have gone to the University of London and received a University education, and in selecting colleges for them I did not send them to any of our colleges which are confined to women alone, but to those where both men and women are taught in common classes: and I am profoundly convinced that the experiment has been a great success. I see no reason why women as well as men should not receive all the benefits of a Unversity education and should not participate in the common University life. Holding these views, and being extremely proud of the activities and record of the University of London in these matters, I suppose hon. Members will imagine that I should vote for the Amendment which has been put forward. I am, however, going to record my vote against it, and am going to do so largely because I hold it to be my duty on account of these very opinions to preserve for future generations of women those privileges which our Universities at present enjoy.

Let us look back a little. In 1878 the idea of granting degrees to women was a very strange one, and certainly was not supported by the bulk of political thinkers on educational matters. I think that if the question of admitting women on equal terms to all our Universities had then been put to this House the proposition would have been unhesitatingly negatived, but it was because of the independence of the different Universities from one another, and the autonomy they individually enjoyed, that the University of London was able to make that experiment, the success of which, in no small way, accounts for the Debate we are having to-day. What is of infinitely more importance for the educational progress of this country than whether women should receive their full University rights at Cambridge this year, next year, or the year after, is the preservation of the freedom of the Universities, which has been very characteristic in the past. It is of infinitely more importance to women, as well as men, that Universities should retain their autonomy, than that by the particular method proposed women should be able to take part in the governance of the University of Cambridge next year. I have not the slightest doubt that within a very short period we shall see all women graduates admitted to full participation in all matters in the University of Cambridge. At the present time a Statutory Commission is, by this Bill, being set up to put in force the recommendations of the Commissioners.

The ultimate authority in the government of Cambridge has in the past been the Senate which comprised all the full graduates or M.A.'s of the Universities. It is proposed by the Commission that in future its governance shall largely be entrusted to a body which, I believe, is to be called the house of residents or residence. I cannot help saying in passing how deeply I regret that such a name should be given to this body, and how much I desire to go back to the very ancient Cambridge term of regents. The House of Regents will be an admirable name for this body, comprising as it will practically all the magestri regentes in the ancient sense, and I should like to suggest to the Commissioners that they revive that honoured title rather than that of the house of residence, which rather suggests a residential hotel.

It has been found in the past that the graduates who are chiefly in favour of granting facilities for women are the resident masters, the people who are actually concerned with running the University. In recent votes on the subject of admitting women to full University rights, I believe the majority of those living in Cambridge and actively participating in the teaching and work of the University have voted in this sense. I therefore make no doubt that when the government of the University is largely in the hands of the regents women will, within a short period, be admitted to full privileges.

And how much better that this reform should come voluntarily from the University itself rather than be imposed by Parliament. It has been argued that Parliament has a right to impose its will upon the University. Of course, Parliament has the right to interfere with the minutest details of the life of every citizen if it chooses to do so. It is not a question of right, it is a question of wisdom. Parliament has set up a Commission, it is true, to alter the methods by which the University is governed, and has done so with the general approval and consent of all concerned. But Parliament has never in the past, and, I hope, will never in the future interfere with the internal management and economy of the University when it comes to the actual regulations made for the degrees and for internal matters. It is one thing to appoint a Commission to carry out certain reforms in the Constitution. It is another to set up a body, not only to alter the Government of the University, but to prescribe for it a certain line of conduct in the future. It will be equally as wrong for it to decide the terms on which women are to be admitted as for Parliament to decide whether Greek is to be a compulsory subject for the "Little Go." If you once start interfering with the freedom of a University to prescribe those matters which concern its daily life, if you once let Parliament break down the excellent traditions of the autonomy of our Universities, where are you going to end? The Party in power for the moment in this House might easily tune our Universities as Laud and Charles I attempted to tune the pulpits. One of the things, I think, which impressed those of us interested in University education more than anything else in connection with the late war, was the enormous part the Universities of Germany played in forming German opinions and in erecting that curious and utterly false conception of history, that peculiar and erroneous conception of the position of Germany with regard to the rest of the world, that undoubtedly had such a large part in promoting enmity against this country, and inflating the German with the idea that he was not as other men and was not bound by the same code of conduct as the rest of the world. Those of us who had any acquaintance with education in that country have been convinced that it was largely due to the fact that the Universities of Germany were so very strictly controlled by the State, that the politicians were able to impregnate the mind of the country with these false ideas. Heaven forfend that the Universities of this country should ever be amenable to political pressure.

Early in the debate the fact that Dr. Dalton has been put on the Commission by the Government has been referred to, Dr. Dalton's views are very well known, and most of us on this side of the House think that his political views are extreme and wrong. Nevertheless he is a Reader in Commerce in the University of London, teaching at the School of Economics; and I should like to use this school as an illustration of what I think is the true University ideal in respect to politics. There there are men who have stood for Parliament, and hon. Gentlemen who are lecturers there now sit on the benches opposite. There are also at that college teachers who hold possibly more extreme Tory views than even I do myself; but the principle of the University as laid down, and I think rightly, is that while it is not the business of the teacher to propagate his political opinions in the lecture room, it is not the business of the University to control in the least the political opinions and activities of the teacher outside the University. But this attitude on the part of the University entails almost as a corollary a corresponding attitude on the part of the politician. If the University does not interfere with the political activity of the teacher outside its walls, it is equally encumbent on the Government, the legislature, and the politician not to interfere with the University's administration or its free expression of its own activities within the University walls. It is the importance of maintaining the autonomy of the Universities and the freedom from political pressure, more particularly at this time when the Universities are receiving money from the Government that makes me perfectly certain as to where the greater duty lies.

Therefore, although I am a convinced advocate of equal rights for men and women in educational matters and in all University activities, nevertheless the higher good must prevent my voting in favour of the Amendment. Only a few nights ago I was at one of the most important women's clubs in London where there are a large number of Unversity women, and I was speaking to some prominent women teachers of the University of London. I told them that I was probably going to lose many votes at the next election because of the line I was taking on this question and I explained to them the arguments I have just laid before the House. Several of these women are advocates of the admission of women to equal rights with men in every walk of life, but to my astonishment every one of them said they were convinced I was adopting in this matter the right line. Being University teachers, the independence of the Universities was, they felt, infinitely more important than whether women were to gain admission to full rights at Cambridge by one particular method or by another.


I feel a double interest in the question which we are discussing to-day. First, as an ordinary Cambridge man, my pride has been that Cambridge is not "the home of lost causes," and it is to a great many of us a source of irritation that this rather petty resistance should be kept up to the inevitable recognition of women as part of the University. I have another interest, which is a personal one. I have the prospect of sending children of both sexes very soon to the University of Cambridge. Therefore, the question of time is to me, individually, an important one. I do not deny that the ancient tide of prejudice is receding very rapidly even at Cambridge, and I agree that before long it is likely that women will be admitted to the full rights of the University. That is no reason why action should be delayed if this House feels that women should no longer be excluded. After all, the present position is very ridiculous. We are at a sort of halfway house which has this disadvantage, that it may very likely, in the next few years, enable a good many half-hearted people at Cambridge to postpone a final settlement. Women have got the vote and have got titular degrees, but they are not members of the University. Women may be educated at the University but those women who are engaged in teaching are not allowed to be on the boards of studies. Women may have all the advantages of education in the Universities, they may be better students of men and prove it, but they cannot have University scholarships or studentships. They may attend lectures but the best women professors—far better in some cases than men professors—may not be professors. That is a ridiculous halfway house and no one feels that the University is going to stop at it. Why not take the final step?

It is said, and it is the only question about which the House cares, that this is interference by the House of Commons with the freedom of the University. I was not a member of the Committee upstairs, but I read the OFFICIAL REPORT, and I observe that some hon. Member said the Universities were being asked to barter their freedom for the miserable sum of £30,000. To me the question is not one principally of the grant which the Government is going to give or is likely to give to the Universities. It is perfectly true if this House is going to give a larger grant to the Universities, as I hope it will, it will naturally take an increased interest in the way in which the Universities are managed. That does not, however, seem to be a reason why this House should not exercise a sort of predominant jurisdiction—not a day to day jurisdiction—over the Universities. The Universities are a great trust of this House. They stand in much the same position towards us as India does, but for different reasons. In the long run, we in this House must be responsible for the main questions of policy in regard to India, but none of us, whatever our views might be, would wish to interfere with the ordinary executive and legislative concerns of the Indian Government. In the same way this House has, and always must, lay down the general guiding principles under which the Universities are governed. As has been pointed out to-day in the very Bill which we are discussing, fundamental changes are made. The senate is no longer to be dominated by that peculiar combination of London lawyers and country clergymen which the University of Cambridge inherited from the Eighteenth Century. We are sweeping away that system which is a far more radical thing than taking the final step towards the admission of women to their full rights.

What I think this House may with perfect safety do is to lay down the general principles on which the University of Cambridge is to be governed. There was no objection on principle to the admission of dissenters to the advantages of the University in 1870, and the disqualifications of sex are at least as important as the disqualifications of religion. It is no more an interference with the essential independence of the University to admit women to a full share of its privileges than it was to admit dissenters, yet no one would now argue that the House unduly interfered with the government of the Universities, when it admitted dissenters. I hope, therefore, the House is going to support the Amendment, and I should be very grateful if the Government left the House free to act in the matter. I do not know, if they did so, whether the Amendment would be carried or not, but I think it is important that the number of those voting in favour of the Amendment should be large, especially in view of the fact that a considerable proportion of those Members who have expressed their intention of voting against it, think with us in principle. It will be a great disadvantage if the vote against the Amendment is a very large one. It might give a very wrong impression indeed, and I hope, whatever happens, there will be a strong vote to show what the real feeling of the House is on the principle involved in this question.


It is as well to clear the ground as to what is the exact issue before the House, and I think the hon. and learned Member for Londonderry (Sir M. Macnaghten), who seconded the Amendment, rather went wrong on that point. The Mover, my colleague in the representation of Cambridge University (Mr. J. Butler), I think will agree with me that the meaning of his Amendment is perfectly plain. To me, as a lawyer, it is quite plain. By his Amendment, he seeks to say that the Commission which is being set up shall carry into effect the recommendations of the Cambridge Committee, namely, that women shall be given an equal standing in the University with men. If it were not so, and if he merely meant the modified form which my hon. and learned Friend the Member for Londonderry put, what my hon. and learned Friend requires could easily be done by adding to the Amendment as it stands, simply the words, "if they so think fit." Of course, my hon. Friend will not accept that, because he means the much wider position which I have indicated. He has gone even a step further than that, though I do not seek to bind him to it, and I agree thoroughly with him. What he said in Committee was this, that either this House should declare to-day that these recommendations shall be carried out—in short, should insist that these recommendations shall be carried out forthwith—or else it should be left to the new governing body of the University which is being set up under this Bill; and he himself said, and I quite agree, that it is somewhat unfair to throw upon the Commissioners who have to deal with the matters of detail such a matter of principle as this, though I equally agree with my right hon. Friend the Member for the English Universities (Mr. Fisher) when he said that if the Commission found there was in fact practical unanimity the power might be exercised in that way.

Therefore, the question which we have to determine to-day is a perfectly definite one, namely, Shall we force upon the University of Cambridge the decision that women are to have equal privileges with men, to be members of the governing body, and equally open with men to all the emoluments of the University? I submit that it is idle to suggest that that is not interference with the autonomy of the University. The governing body of the University have declared twice absolutely clearly on that point. In the last three years by big majorities they have declared against it. The hon. Member for Central Newcastle (Mr. Trevelyan) has indulged in the ordinary sneer at those who do not reside in Cambridge, and he talked about the strange conglomeration of London lawyers and country clergymen. [HON. MEMBERS: "Hear, hear!"] I expected that to receive cheers. Oddly enough, I have known amongst London lawyers quite intelligent men, and the right hon. Gentleman himself has owed no small amount in political life to the extreme ability of London lawyers who have sat on the Front Bench with him. Does he really suggest that the judgment of a London lawyer who takes the trouble to go down to Cambridge, and has sufficient interest in his old University to vote on such an occasion, is so far below that of the residents of the University? If not, why did he indulge in the sneer?

In addition, we have also the country clergy. I need not trouble very much about defending them, beyond saying that I have known very many able and conscientious men among them, and I am bound to admit that the majority of them voted in favour of women's degrees on that particular occasion, so that, to that extent, the sneer falls particularly flat. You have also, as well as London lawyers, a very large number of London men, medical men and others, for instance, who came down in large numbers to vote, some of them at great personal inconvenience, men who could ill afford to come, but who came because they thought it was to the interests of the University that they should vote. Their vote was given, and the autonomy of the University was upheld. They were not necessarily rich men, but they made a great sacrifice to come, and if hon. Members really believe in democratic institutions and autonomy, what stronger way could they have of finding out the views of the people? I have had a good deal of experience of governing bodies of colleges, both in Universities and at schools, and I believe that a mixture of the resident with the non-resident population is very valuable indeed. Even in schools, schoolmasters often get probably too narrow a view in dealing with any particular question, and the invasion even of a London lawyer on the governing body is not without its uses. Certainly as regards colleges, those colleges which have a certain touch with their old members in London are not by any means worse managed than those which are cut off and keep exclusively amongst their Fellows, people who happen to be in residence at the time.

You are now, by this Commission, going to alter the power of the London lawyer and the country clergyman to a certain extent, and a new house of regents, or house of residents, has to be set up. It is a new principle which is to be carried out. The suggestion that is made here, and which I am supporting, is that this knotty question should be left to the new governing body of the University. If they decide against me, I have no more to say. I can have no more to say, and those whom I represent can have no more to say. If they decide in my favour, you are doing a very wicked thing indeed in overruling the decision of the tribunal which you are yourselves setting up to govern the University. It is not necessary to argue to-day the question of the admission of women into the University, because it is not strictly relevant, but the hon. Member for Central Newcastle raised it, and he assumed, and it has been assumed all the way through, that this state of affairs cannot last. Let us remember America, the home of female influence in various matters—America, where they have women's Universities, men's Universities, and mixed Universities. As I pointed out the other day, the Universities of America, which are most like ours and most familiar to men, Harvard, Yale, and Princeton, have all of them excluded women from any share in the government. Harvard, which came from Cambridge, and which, of course, is a very big University, has admitted women to certain examinations, and there is a college there where women reside, but Harvard has been exceedingly careful never to allow women to have any voice in the government of what is a man's University. It has given the privileges of education and examination, but it has been very careful, and it is not a matter of months. That has been going on for years, and it is never likely to be altered. You have that again with Yale and Princeton in the same way.

Therefore, though it is not necessary for the argument to-day, it is not so absolutely certain that it is an impossible position to be dealing with that a big University like Cambridge should allow the privileges of education, examination, and even titular degrees to a large body of people who have settled near them, and yet should decline at the same time to allow them to have the power of governing the University, which very many of us think is a bad thing, and it is better when you are dealing with men's education to have men to control it, because there are very many points—[An HON. MEMBER: "Why should men govern women's education?]. There is no power given as far as I am aware, to any men's body to deal in any way with Newnham and Girton at all. The University was there, and a long time ago a certain number of women students came and settled near Cambridge, and asked to be admitted to some of the lectures there. Permission was given, and given freely for a long time. They were afterwards admitted to the examinations on the ground that they might see what the result was compared with men. It was never suggested that they should have control. They chose to come to a man's University, because they thought they would get a certain amount of good from some branches of men's education, and now they turn round and say, "Having gone so far, we are entitled to come in and take our share of the government of the University." As I pointed out on the last occasion, it is not a very grateful form of procedure. There is no interference by men, of which I know, over Newnham or Girton as to the way in which they conduct their colleges, and if they come to our examinations or lectures, they must take the University as they find it, and not have power to alter the curriculum, studies or work of education meant for men primarily, and merely incidentally for women.

My hon. Friend who has just sat down spoke about prejudice. A person who disagrees with you is always prejudiced, but I do submit in this case it is not merely prejudice; it is a conscientious view that it is desirable to keep, at least, one men's University in England, as they have done in America, which shall be under the control of men, and men alone. I only want to add one other word. The point you are really determining to-day is whether or not you are to force upon the University a recommendation which has been made by the Cambridge Committee, or whether you are to leave it to the self-governing body to carry out at a particular time. I suggest that to have this bureaucratic control from London, whether by Parliament or anyone else, would be a very great mistake. No greater blow could be struck at your University. Is a Conservative party and Government to be the one to deal that blow? If a Conservative Government do this, how will it be used when my hon. Friends opposite get into power? They will say, "Why, a Conservative Government thought there was no harm in interfering with the autonomy of the University on a point in regard to which the University, by an overwhelming majority, gave a decision a few months before, and at a time when they set up a brand-new governing body in Cambridge"—a body which ought to deal with this particular point.

An appeal has been made to the Government by some hon. Members, with a courage which I admire, to take off the Whips. Here is a Government Bill brought in while this controversy has been raging. The Committee reported some time ago. When the previous Bill was brought in, it was decided to leave the question to the University itself. This Government brings in a Bill again, and no suggestion on the part of the Government is made that this Amendment should be made. The Bill was sent to a Standing Committee, and, by a majority of 22 votes to 14, my hon. Friend's Amendment was rejected. As a matter of fact, the representative of the Government both spoke and voted against it on that occasion. Yet the Government is now asked to take off the Government Whips. Could anyone imagine a greater sign of weakness if they did so?


They did it on the Land Clause in the Finance Bill.


That was a very different matter from this. If I remember rightly, there was an Amendment which the Opposition declined to have withdrawn on that particular occasion. If I managed by some means to get my hon. Friend to ask for the withdrawal of his Amendment, and it was objected to, that might be the position to take up. But the case is different here. You have the decision of the Committee upstairs and the position which the Government have taken up. It is a Government Bill brought in expressly excluding this very contentious Amendment, which the Government opposed upstairs. And then you are asked to throw over the Standing Committee, although we hear so much about upholding the Committees upstairs, where questions have been gone into most carefully. I make a strong appeal to my hon. Friends on these benches that they will either not press the Government to take off the Whips, or, if they do, they will certainly support the Government on the point, because no greater blow could be given to the Government than to accept such an Amendment as this, whether the Whips were on or off, seeing that the opinion of the Government has been so strongly expressed as to the undesirability of this course. It is a matter upon which we feel strongly. We are fighting not only for a principle which I believe to be right, but for the autonomy of the University, and there can be no greater blow at that autonomy than the Amendment of my hon. Friend, who is always most fair and straight, and who has admitted that he means one thing, and one thing only, namely, that if he carries this Amendment, forthwith the Commission shall carry out the recommendation of the Cambridge Committee, and shall force upon Cambridge the admission of women to full membership of the University.


I do not want to take part in the general discussion, because I myself was a member of the Royal Commission, and this is a matter which the Oxford members of the Commission thought it right to leave to the judgment of their Cambridge colleagues. I wish to ask the Minister for Education before we vote on this matter to give us an authoritative statement as to the effect of this Amendment. It is a matter of the greatest importance that we should understand what that effect will be. I would call the attention of the Mover and supporters of the Amendment to a certain doubt which suggests itself as to the effect of the Amendment. By Clause 6 of the Bill the Commissioners who are appointed (the Cambridge Commissioners in this case) shall make statutes and regulations for the University in general accordance with the recommendations contained in the Report of the Royal Commission. Those recommendations include what is contained at the end of paragraph 195 (page 173) of the Report of the Royal Commission. I am anxious to see whether I quite follow the argument of the hon. Member who seconded the Amendment, and what I want to know from the Minister of Education is: does he take the view and do his advisers take the view that this is one of the recommendations: But we are also of opinion that women should be entitled to be admitted on the same conditions as men to membership of the University, subject to certain limitations stated below. 1.0 P.M.

What I want the right hon. Gentleman to tell me in view of the fact that this is one of the statements made in the body of the Report, and that Clause 6 says the Commissioners "shall,"—not "may,"—make Statutes and Regulations and so on—whether that is not the real effect? I am quite aware that there is power in Clause 6, and later, for the Commissioners to frame these new Statutes with such modifications as may, after the consideration of any representations made to them, appear to them expedient. What I have a little difficulty in seeing is why as things stand, under this Bill, this recommendation would not be applied. I have never understood that these recommendations were not included in the scope of what the statutory Commissioners under Clause 6 would be authorised and required to carry out. That being so, I am anxious to know what is the view of the Minister as to the operation. It may be said that there is a second Section which relates to this matter, and that in paragraph 199; for there we read: The question whether effect should be given by Parliamentary legislation to the changes recommended"— That is to say the effect of the admission of women— or whether the University should be left to deal with the matter under the new constitution is one on which we are fairly divided into two fairly equal parties. Be that as it may, I should have thought it was desirable to have a clear statement as to the view of the Government as to what are the duties of the Statutory Commissioners when we are inviting the House to authorise the carrying out of the recommendations of this Commission.


I much appreciate the opportunity of saying a word or two upon this most important question. The amendment now before the House is limited in its scope and application. For that reason it may seem to some Members that this is a parochial question, and a matter which affects the University alone. I should like, however, to suggest that it is a question which extends far beyond the jurisdiction of the University itself. I can assure the House that both the course of this Debate and the Vote will be followed with intense interest not only by the women of Cambridge, but by intellectual women throughout the length and breadth of the country. The issue is a clear and definite one. Are women, or are they not, to be admitted on equal terms and on equal conditions as men to the membership of the University?

Perhaps the House will permit me again to refer to the work of the Royal Commission—a Commission which was so ably presided over by—and I hope the House will forgive me if I venture to say that we on this side of the House—I think, indeed, all sections of the House—recognise that the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Paisley (Mr. Asquith) was singularly qualified to discharge the difficult duties associated with the chairmanship of that Commission, and to report on this delicate and difficult question. The Commission has stated, as has been mentioned, that women should be entitled to be admitted on the same conditions as men to membership of the University. The Chairman of the Committee, the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Paisley, on the Second Reading of this Bill said: I should vote without any hesitation for giving Cambridge the complete equality which exists at Oxford."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 22nd June, 1923; col. 1833, Vol. 165.] The Minister of Education, in the course of that Debate, said: The admission of women to full membership of Cambridge University is both in- evitable and right."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 22nd June, 1923; col. 1828, Vol. 165.] We are entitled to hold that in these pronouncements we have powerful arguments in support of this Resolution. The only or the principal argument of those opposed to this Resolution is that the autonomy of the University will be interfered with. The opponents desire procrastination, or, perhaps, it is true in some cases to suggest that not only do they desire procrastination, but desire to put off the evil day—as it appears to them—when women shall enjoy full, free, untrammelled, unfettered participation in the life and work of the University. I challenge this suggestion of interference with the autonomy of the University. After all, the whole Bill may be held to be an interference with the autonomy of the University. The very setting up of this Commission is to some minds an interference with that autonomy. I suggest that it is no answer to say that we are interfering with the autonomy of the University. Even a German bogey has been trotted out in the course of the Debate this morning, and we have also been told that the University would lose control. I wonder how the University would lose control over its own affairs by the appointment of one or two women in the way which has been suggested.

I suggest that the opposition to this Amendment, in the main, is a flickering and dying opposition to a principle which has long been accepted in this House and long since been decided, namely, the principle of whether women shall be allowed to be on terms of equality with men. That lies at the root of the opposition to this proposal. That principle has been decided by the fact that the legal and medical professions are open to women, that the Parliamentary Election at the University of Cambridge is open to women and that women have been granted degrees at Cambridge. Yet, while all this is open to them, they are to be debarred from and remain ineligible for professorships. They have the same love for educational advancement as men. It is not the sole right and possession of the male sex. I can see no reason why they should be debarred from serving on the board of examiners or being associated with the house of residents. I suggest that, if this Amendment be carried and given effect to, even then nothing desperate will have been done. Women will be in the minority, and, in fact, the proportion there will be very little greater than is the proportion in this House at the present time. I cannot for the life of me apprehend any of the dangers in this representation which are suggested. On the contrary, I see in this change an advantage. The introduction of women in this capacity would prove of the greatest service in the intellectual conquest of knowledge and in the advancement and progress of civilisation.

We are frequently told that education should be—and I hold it to be—a right, and that it should be accessible to all classes. That is a view which, I think, finds general agreement. If education is to be open to all classes, surely it is only right and fair to argue that the highest education should be made accessible to both sexes. I venture to suggest to the House that it should not shirk the issue which now confronts it. The House is and always has been and must always remain the supreme arbiter in questions affecting public policy and public duty. I submit that both those questions are affected in this issue. The House, by its action to-day is setting up a Commission, and the House is wishing well to that Commission. A gentleman who is going to be appointed on that Commission, fought me quite recently in an election, but I wish him and his colleagues well in carrying out the work. At the same time, I do hope that the House will not put a millstone round the neck of the Commission and start by presenting them with a problem which is not their problem but which is one which should be settled by us here assembled in Parliament. I therefore venture to support this Amendment in the hope that the House will be able to free the Commission from this difficulty by solving this question and giving to the women what, I think, is their due, namely, representation in the way that has been suggested.


The right hon. and learned Gentleman the Member for Spen Valley (Sir J. Simon) has raised a very important question, on which no doubt the House would like to have some information from the right hon. Gentleman in charge of the Bill. He raised a question as to whether or not, as the Clause now stands, the Commissioners would be bound to deal with this question of the position of women at Cambridge University, and as to whether or not the Amendment now proposed would make any difference at all. I agree with the right hon. and learned Gentleman that the matter is by no means free from doubt, and, under these circumstances, one has to form one's own conclusion. For my part, having carefully looked into the matter, although I have some doubts, because I am quite aware that other lawyers have presented, or may present, a different view, I have formed an opinion, and I intend to act upon it. It seems to me that the Clause as it stands certainly gives power to the Commissioners to deal with all the recommendations of the Royal Commission. It is quite true that among the recommendations of the Royal Commission is the subject of the position of women at Cambridge, but it must not be forgotten, as the right hon. and learned Gentleman pointed out, that, although they are to deal with these matters "in general accordance with the recommendations," they are also to deal with them as may, after consideration of any representations made to them, appear expedient. It seems to me therefore that, as the Clause stands, it is quite clear that the Commissioners would be entitled to say, "Among the various questions that we have to deal with is the position of women at Cambridge University. We will discuss it and consider it and have representations made to us upon the point." If, after those representations had been made to them, they thought it right that they should go no further, no one could possibly complain that they had exercised their discretion outside the limits given them by the Act. The Act gives them a duty to frame the Clauses in general accordance with the recommendations, and I think they could quite fairly claim that they had carried out that duty if they had formed and framed recommendations in respect of 90 or 95 per cent. of the recommendations which are to be found in the Report of the Royal Commission. No one could say that they are specifically to take up one recommendation rather than another. Generally speaking, they have to deal with the body of them excluding such, as, after representations made to them, appears expedient to them. That is the freedom which I gather is given to the Commissioners under the Clause as it stands.

Let me now deal with the Clause after the Amendment, if it be accepted, is put in. There is a rule of law, well known, and it is also a rule of common sense, that if you refer to a matter in particular it is excluded from the general words; indeed, that by introducing a particular matter you intend that particular matter to be definitely brought into the purview of the Clause. Therefore, while the general considerations that I have pointed out may apply, by adding these words, including the recommendation of the Cambridge Committee as to the position of women in Cambridge, it seems to me that you take that particular matter from the general freedom given to the Commissioners; and I have little doubt—and I think most lawyers would say—that with those words in there, would be a particular duty, apart from the general duty, that the Commissioners should and must deal with the position of women at Cambridge. If they failed to deal with the position of women at Cambridge, it would be said of them that they had not fulfilled their duty, because a particular reference was made to a particular matter, and they were not entitled to lay that aside even after consideration of any representations made to them. I may be right or I may be wrong, but I hold that the introduction of these words does lay upon the Commissioners a particular duty which they will have to perform and one which they cannot exclude on general grounds, and, as to that particular duty, the Clause provides that they shall make Statutes. I have ventured to offer my opinion to the House for what it is worth, but, for my own part, I shall act as holding the opinion that the introduction of these words does impose a particular duty upon the Commissioners. It is really in the nature of an instruction to the Commissioners to deal with and find a solution of the question of the position of women at Cambridge.

Holding that view, I come to the consideration of the question as to whether I am in favour of the Amendment or not. I am one of the London lawyers, at whom the hon. Member for Central Newcastle (Mr. Trevelyan), who is now leaving the House, offered a sneer, who has been down to Cambridge on a number of occasions and has consistently voted for women having as large a position and rights as could possibly be given to them at Cambridge. It is not fair to say that the London lawyers, as a whole, have been down and voted against the women. I suppose the hon. Gentleman has not taken any care to ascertain his facts, and he seems to run away from them. I have been going down to Cambridge to vote for women for something like 20 years or more. Recently I went down at considerable inconvenience. One visit, I remember, was the prelude to all-night sitting. I therefore approach this question as one who has been consistently anxious that the position of women at Cambridge should be enlarged and that they should be given as much right as possible. In that, therefore, I differ from the right hon. and learned Gentleman the Member for the University of Cambridge (Mr. Rawlinson).

But is that the only question we have to consider? I think not. For my own part, I attach immense importance to the autonomy of the Universities, and it is worthy of observation, and note that almost all the University Members in this House have been, or are prepared to be, against this Amendment on the ground that they feel that an inroad would be made upon the autonomy of the University. I think I am right in saying that in the Committee upstairs the right hon. Gentleman opposite (Mr. Fisher), the Noble Lord the Member for Oxford University (Lord Hugh Cecil), and other University Members have all, except the junior Member for Cambridge University (Mr. J. Butler), who moved this Amendment, been against this instruction, on the ground that the autonomy of the Universities might be imperilled if it were admitted to the Bill. It does not stop there. We have been definitely threatened—we were on the Second Reading of this Bill—that a claim would be put forward and established, by reason of the fact that a subsidy was to be given to the University, that there was a right on the part of this House no longer to leave the Universities autonomous, and that such views as were taken by this House should be clearly forced upon the Universities. As one who loves not only my own University, but the system of Universities in this country, I am definitely opposed to any inroads upon the autonomy of the Universities. I should find myself in great difficulty in voting for any Clause which imperilled that autonomy, particularly after the claim which has been made by hon. Members above the Gangway opposite.

I therefore find myself unable to vote for this Amendment, anxious as I am that this question should be settled, and settled in favour of the women. Since the Bill was in this House on Second Reading, I have once more been in touch with a number of those at Cambridge University who are in favour of the women. I find that, strong as their desire is that the question should be settled, and that the women should be given as large privileges as possible, they are extremely uneasy at the possible results of inserting this instruction. They share all the views that I do; they want the question settled; and they want the women to have large privileges, but on the question of the method they have grave misgivings. They think that to insert this instruction would only arouse certain bitterness at the University, and that the question, instead of being happily settled on a basis on which common rights might be preserved to both sexes, a certain amount of irritation would be caused which would be by no means favourable to the cause of women in the long run. I share that misgiving.

My own view is that the women are sure to be admitted to the University, and that undoubtedly full privileges will be given to them when, and as soon as, the new constitution of the University is set up. The difference is but a matter of a year or two at most, and, strong supporter as I am of the privileges for women, I think a grave mistake will be made if through mere haste we arouse irritation at the present time After all what is a year or two in the life of the University or in the course of this grave and important question? Is it not far more important that with good will and greater generosity on both sides this question should be really settled on sound lines, rather than that by haste, an attempted settlement should be imposed upon a very independent body, namely, the University. That, in my view, will not conduce to success in the end. When I vote against this Amendment, it will be not because, as the hon. Member for Cambridge (Sir D. Newton) said, I desire to put off the evil day—I shall welcome the happy day when the question is settled—but because I believe that the method is wrong, and because I believe those who have the best wish to advance the cause of women's education would be well advised to wait a little longer and get the matter more carefully considered. If by so doing we resist the claim to a right of interference by this House because of a subsidy being given, and if by that vote we preserve the autonomy of the University, we shall have conserved and preserved to both sexes a great University and a great principle of University teaching, and that is the large question, the bigger issue, on which I believe this House ought to give its vote to-day.


In the interests of the autonomy of the sister University of Cambridge, I hope very strongly that the House will reject this Amendment, either by a free vote or, as I hope, upon a vote with Whips on. I say that, not because I fear the result the Vote—I have the greatest confidence in that respect—but because in the present state of the controversy in the country regarding the intrusion of the State into the affairs of the Universities, it is desirable that the Government should disassociate itself entirely and clearly from this attempt to govern the University of Cambridge—a very old body, perhaps older than this House—from this House. From a number of things which have been said to-day in favour of the Amendment, one would suppose the position of women at Cambridge is critical. The very contrary is the truth. The great bulk of those privileges and rights which they claim have been conceded and are in operation. The little that remains to do is on the way to be done. In my best belief, it is all a question of quite a short time. From some of the speeches one might have supposed that unless this Amendment were inserted, the Commissioners for Cambridge would be debarred from considering the very question raised in the Amendment. After hearing the clear and lawyer-like speeches of the right hon. Gentlemen who represent Warwick (Sir E. Pollock), and Spen Valley (Sir J. Simon), I think the House is in little doubt that, if the Amendment be left out, the powers of the Commissioners to deal with this particular question, if they think fit, are left unimpaired. In my opinion, that is an added reason why this House should not single out any one recommendation out of the many hundreds of recommendations the Royal Commission made, and ask that it should be given precedence, or that special importance should be attached to it. We have all read the Report of the Royal Commission, or parts of it at least, and we all have our favourite recommendations. We all know parts of the Report we should like to blot out and parts we should like to emphasise, and if some of us are to come down to the House and ask the House to single out the items of our preference, the whole work of the Royal Commission is rendered nugatory, and the proceedings on Report stage would be likely to be somewhat extended. Therefore, I hope the House will take the view that the Commissioners must be trusted with the whole of the recommendations of the Royal Commission, and that if they are not good enough for that, they are not good enough to be Commissioners. I trust the House will not at this stage indicate any distrust of the ladies and gentlemen who have been chosen for these two panels to go into the affairs of the two Universities.

We have heard a great deal about interference, and the hon. Member for Cambridge University (Mr. J. Butler), who moved the Amendment, pooh-poohed objections to interference, suggesting "This is only a little one" or, if not exactly a little one, at all events not the largest interference that is contemplated by the State or that is involved, perhaps, in the recommendations. I listened carefully to his speech, but he did not anywhere name the other gross interferences which, in his view, were much more serious than this action of imposing upon Cambridge a status for women by the strong hand of the State. If we may judge by the newspapers and the storm of contention which the proposal raised in Cambridge, if we may judge by all the proceedings in this House, this proposal to impose on Cambridge the concession of full privileges to women by the strong hand of Parliament is the most contentious and the gravest that is before the House as affecting the liberties of Cambridge. There are in this House hon. Members and right hon. Members who believe in State interference as a good thing. The hon. Member for Newcastle (Mr. Trevelyan) and the hon. Member for Edinburgh (Mr. W. Graham) belong to a party which believes—and a few days ago asserted its faith in it in the House—that the State ought to manage everything, which means that State money should be put into everything; and it is easy for hon. Members who hold that general view to seek to apply it to the University of Cambridge. If Members are disposed to pay attention to what came from the Labour Benches on this matter, I beg them to reflect that such views are just one of the habits of that party, and that whatever had been the subject discussed to-day they would have been found standing up for State money being thrown, perhaps by force, upon local or voluntary bodies and for the imposition, following that grant, of the largest measure of State control. Therefore I ask the House to discount everything that came from that quarter of the House. [Interruption.] I have not quite finished with this point about interference. The Commissioners are going down to Cambridge charged with a very wave, burdensome, difficult and delicate task, and it is our duty to ensure as far as possible that no prejudice against the Commissioners at the start shall be set up in Cambridge. If the Commissioners go down to Cambridge, as has been said somewhere else, with a mandate to impose upon Cambridge the grant of the fullest privileges for women, I submit that the pitch of the Commission will be queered at once, and that beginning in contention, and with an act of force majeure, it will go on in the same spirit, and that its course will be not very fruitful as it certainly will not be harmonious.

Lastly, there is a point which has not been mentioned much to-day but which underlies the whole Debate. If it had not been a question of money from the State there would have been no Royal Commission and no Commissioners. The money is the small sum of £30,000, a small proportion of the total expenditure of Oxford or Cambridge upon educational matters—half a million in each case. The real situation is that those who are supporting this Amendment are using a power conferred on the State by the grant of £30,000, a miserable sum out of a total expenditure of £500,000, as a lever to assert the control of the State over an internal matter of economy at the University of Cambridge. To-day, with a growing Socialist party, with an a priori belief in State control and the use of State money, it is a great danger for education that we should admit this first step of bargaining away the freedom of a great and ancient University for the sake of £30,000. We must come down in the end to the money aspect of this matter, and the money aspect is only £30,000. I do not believe in a University getting State money, because it is impossible to take the money and to escape State control. It was said in Committee upstairs by a Socialist Member that much larger sums would be given by the State in future, for the reason that private benefactors are exhausted, and that the general belief in the goodness of the Universities and in the value of the education they give would not induce private persons of means to support them in the future as in the past. That is mere assumption. The way to make that assumption into a truth is to force such an Amendment as we have before us now.

I look forward without alarm to a great diminution of State interference with the Universities, and to the withdrawal or the absence of growth in the support which the State gives to Universities. We have had a great boom in Universities in recent times, and it is a question whether the boom has really done much good. We have quite enough Universities, and possibly too many, in this country. All of them attempt to do too much. There is need for a sifting of their functions, for more co-ordination, for more inter-working, and I believe that if these needs were made plain the nation would come to their support quite as generously as in the past. What is needed is not the grant of more money to any University, but a Commission, a Royal Commission, if you like, to survey the whole field of University teaching and administration in this country with a view to getting a complete change of that field of effort so that—

Mr. DEPUTY-SPEAKER (Mr. James Hope)

I think the hon. Member is getting rather wide of the Amendment.


I was trying to suggest an alternative to that which is embodied in the Amendment, which rests upon the assumption that the State must yield to the demands of certain persons and Universities for money for certain purposes. I say that that is wrong, and that what is needed is a comprehensive inquiry of a drastic character into the whole field of University education, so as to bring out the facts about overlapping and the possibilities and needs of the Universities and to make clear to those Universities what their specific characteristic and distinctive part is in the educational life of the nation, so that they shall not seek by their ambition to go into fields and departments where their efforts could be spared, and set up schemes of teaching and incur expenditure which could well be saved to the nation, without any diminution in educational efficiency or any real narrowing of educational facilities.


I have tried to find out what the last few sentences of the hon. Member who has just spoken have to do with the admission of women to Cambridge University, and I am as perplexed as you were, Mr. Deputy-Speaker. I was equally perplexed with the speech of the right hon. and learned Member for Warwick (Sir E. Pollock), because in the first part of his speech he argued that the powers that we seek to give to the Commissioners in this Amendment were already given to them by his reading of the Report with Clause 6, and then he went on to argue that these powers ought not to be given to them. He seems content to leave the Bill as it is, but it would seem to me that the logic of his remarks should have led him to give notice that he proposed to move at a later stage that the recommendations should be carried out except that relating to the admission of women to the University of Cambridge.

The principal argument advanced against the Amendment is that it interferes with the autonomy of the University. That was advanced with considerable vigour by the right hon. and learned Member for Cambridge University (Mr. Rawlinson). It might be in the power of some hon. Members to advance that argument, but if there is one Member who ought not to use that argument I should have thought that it was the right hon. and learned Member for Cambridge University, because repeatedly this Session his name has appeared on the back of Bills which have been introduced under the Ten Minute Rule to interfere with the autonomy and internal working of trade unions. I notice that the learned Solictor-General laughs. I want to comment upon the different attitudes adopted by hon. Members on the benches opposite. It may, perhaps, be a further matter of amusement to the Solicitor-General to know that the Members on these benches who have given the whole of their lives to the building up of trade unions regard those trade unions with as much affection as the right hon. and learned Member and the rest of us who have been trained at the old Universities regard those Universities. The arguments that have been advanced as to interfering with the autonomy of trade unions apply with equal force to interfering with the autonomy of the Universities in order to secure the particular purpose which this Amendment seems to achieve. The right hon. and learned Member also said that it would be a very wicked thing on the part of this House to insert this Amendment if we afterwards found that the new governing body of the University of Cambridge would not have admitted women to the University. It would be a more wicked act if we left the new governing body of Cambridge the heritage of this ancient squabble, so that the first thing that the new governing body will have to do will be to settle this question. If we do that we shall be doing a more wicked thing than by inserting this Amendment. We desire the new governing body to start to deal with the work of the University, and to bring it more into touch with modern requirements.

The hon. Member for North Portsmouth (Sir B. Falle) said that one reason that women should not be brought into touch with the University of Cambridge was that Cambridge University was founded by men. He is a son of Cambridge, and I imagine that he has heard of the illustrious mother of King Henry VII who founded Christ's and St. John's Colleges, of the foundresses of Clare College and Sidney Sussex College, and other illustrious women who in medieval times founded colleges, not as the men did in order to escape from purgatory, but because they had a genuine and sincere enthusiasm for the cause of popular education in this country. We owe it in this day, when women are once again getting their right place in the intellectual world, that we should give them their rightful place in this ancient University. I hope the House will pass this Amendment. I have followed the Debate with the very closest attention and I have not heard any argument advanced, other than the argument with regard to dealing with the autonomy of the University, which in any way conflicts with the general principle on which we base our case.

The right hon. Gentleman the Member for Cambridge University has said that the education of women at Newnham and Girton was not interfered with because the University was entirely governed by men, but surely the courses of study which have to be taken for the women's degrees, the examinations themselves and everything belonging to the educational side of the University are at present entirely in the hands of men, and I would as soon consult the Mother Superior of a convent with regard to the education of a man as I would consult the senior Member for Cambridge University about the education of a woman. After all we cannot get away from the first two sentences of the Universities of Oxford and Cambridge Report where they say: The word 'University' has no necessary connection either with learning or with groups of colleges. It originally meant the totality or aggregate of persons associated by any common tie. We base our plea for the admission of women to the full life of these Universities on that definition of what a University is, and while you exclude the distinguished daughters of Newnham and Girton from the full life of the University, its Professorships, the Readerships, and all the other places of honour in the University, you are not admitting them to the totality or aggregate of persons animated by a common tie. We do not put the Amendment forward on any other than that general ground, and I think the argument with regard to interfering with the autonomy of the University is the very weakest that can be advanced. If during the 18th century this House had interfered with the autonomy of the Universities, when they were keeping the intellectual life of the country at a low standard, it would have been a good thing for the nation. We should have been a better nation to-day, and when to-day the people who happen to be in control at Cambridge keep the women out of the University at a time when we are bringing women increasingly into public life, we again shall be failing in our duty as representatives of the nation if we do not insist that this great opportunity for intellectual enrichment and comradeship is open as freely to women as it is to men.


I wish to say a few words in favour of the freedom of Cambridge University. The hon. Member who has just sat down has told us he sees no argument against the Amendment except that it would interfere with the autonomy of the University. That is the main and central reason why we oppose the Amendment. May I draw the attention of the Conservative party particularly and of those Liberals who love freedom to the fact that if the Amendment is carried it will be carried by the vote of the Socialist party, and it is a very significant thing that it is the Socialist party, which professes freedom, that is raising its voice in favour of coercion. Indeed, that is only what one might expect, because if and when the Socialist party comes into power one might expect that the process of Prussianising our Universities will begin. The Socialist party cannot avoid trying to Prussianise the Universities. Hon. Members opposite may laugh, but I am quoting from a distinguished Guild Socialist, Mr. G. D. H. Cole, who says that State Socialism is a bureaucratic and Prussianising movement. Will hon. Members opposite question the right of Mr. G. D. H. Cole to call himself a Socialist? The Prussianising movement of the University would inevitably begin, and I hold that it is not for this House, and certainly not for the Conservative party in it, to lend their aid to that attempt, which would certainly be made if ever the Socialist party came into power. Precedents have been quoted in favour of the Amendment both inside the House and outside. I suggest to the Conservative party that if they support this Amendment they will be creating a very real precedent, and by and by, when the Socialist party wishes to interfere still further, and those Conservatives and Liberals who oppose Socialism and the Prussianising movement attempt to raise a protest, what will the answer be? May I say it in French. "Vous l'avez voulu, Georges Dandin," which in other words means, "You have no right to protest. You have already sold the pass." I ask all those Members who care for the Universities and for freedom to unite in opposing this Amendment. All we ask is that the question should be left to the University itself. Cambridge may be wrong, but Cambridge is great enough and generous enough to reconsider and to set right, and it is better to be wrong sometimes and to be free than to be forced to do right and to be for ever in bondage.


I am sorry that hon. Members should have chosen to import into this discussion questions which are quite foreign to it. The Universities in this country are the most complete expression of syndicalism that this country has ever seen, and many of us have no desire whatever to limit the real autonomy of the Universities. It is utter nonsense for hon. Members to pretend that we on these benches wish to place the heavy hand of the State on Universities and every other form of organised life. It is thoroughly untrue. We have as much regard for the liberty of these institutions as hon. Members opposite. Our attitude on this question is determined by the fact that there is no justification in 1923 for any differentiation between the sexes at any place of learning, and we would remind hon. Members who are opposed to the Amendment that Cambridge is the only University left in Great Britain which does not grant equal privileges to men and women members of it. It is not infringing upon the real autonomy of the University to say that it shall offer to all its children equal opportunities and equal privileges. On the contrary, my submission is that, by helping the University of Cambridge in this difficult decision that it must make sooner or later, we shall very substantially help the University itself. I hope that hon. Members will not vote on this question as though it were a matter of Socialism and individualism. It is sheer nonsense, and is an unfair method of dealing with this Amendment, to bring into it questions of State aid and questions of the Socialist party, when the mere point at issue is as to whether, this opportunity having arisen, the Commissioners appointed for the University of Cambridge should be instructed, on this one issue which divides Cambridge from all the other Universities of the country, to bring it into line with University opinion everywhere else.

I do not admit for one moment that the University of Cambridge is against the inclusion of women within all the rights and privileges of University life. I submit that the fact that Cambridge has not taken this step is not due to the people who are in Cambridge and of Cambridge, who are intimately associated with all its life and work, but that it is due to those old gentlemen who have retired to country rectories, and who wish to preserve the University of Cambridge as they knew it a quarter of a century or half a century ago. I think it is clear that, in the University itself, those who will be responsible for its teaching and administration during the next 25 years are by a large majority in favour of this step, and that, instead of the dead hand of the State being pressed upon the University, the truth is that the hand of a dying generation is strangling the freedom of the University at the present time. It is suggested that, if you will only allow Cambridge University time, it will come into line with the prevailing sentiment in University circles in this country; but in the meantime a very serious injustice is being done to hundreds of women at Cambridge University, and we are entitled to put the one against the other. Shall we hurry up this process, which is bound to come sooner or later, or shall we allow women at Cambridge to continue to suffer disabilities which are bound to interfere with the efficiency and the value of the University, and are bound to react unfavourably on these women themselves? Shall we take the plunge and help, so far as we can, to bring Cambridge into line with modern thought and modern practice? I suggest to right hon. and hon. Gentlemen opposite that they should free themselves from prejudices on this matter, and, that even if they feel that it is wrong to interfere in any degree with the automony of the University of Cambridge, they must admit that it would be much better to do a little wrong on this occasion in order to do a great right to the women of Cambridge University.

2.0 P.M.


As an old member of the University of Cambridge, to which I owe more than it is possible for me to express, I do not like to give a silent vote on this occasion, and I want, in the fewest words possible, to say why I shall vote against this Amendment. It appears to me that this question of the position of women at Cambridge can be much better dealt with, either by the Commissioners whom we are appointing under this Bill, or by the new governing body of Cambridge University which is going to be set up. It will be much better dealt with by one or other of those bodies than by this House, and if the House agree to this Amendment, they will be tying the hands of the Commissioners or of the governing body when they come to deal with it. I agree that there is a large number of questions which must be dealt with by this House, but, in a question involving special considerations affecting the University of Cambridge, do not think that this House of Commons, on a Friday afternoon, is the best possible tribunal for settling it finally. I am asked, why not? Because I do not think the House has sufficient knowledge, and I include myself as one of those who have not sufficient knowledge. On the other hand, the Commissioners whose names have been accepted, and who now include, as the result of an Amendment agreed to to-day, a woman, will have every opportunity for considering this question from the widest point of view. They can take evidence, they can hear representations from everyone interested, and they can devote a large amount of time, which we cannot do to-day, to the consideration and decision of the question; and it appears to me that the Commissioners, with all the possibilities that are open to them for taking evidence upon the matter and considering it, are really a far better body—and in saying that I make no reflection upon this House—to decide this difficult question. Let me add that, under Clause 6 as it stands, it appears quite certain that it is open to the Commissioners to decide this matter, but they have a discretion as to what their decision shall be. What certain hon. Members want to do to-day is to tie the hands of these Commissioners, to take away or to limit the discretion they possess under the Clause, and to give them a sort of mandatory direction that they shall decide this question in a particular way. I venture to think that that would be a disastrous thing to do, and that, if we do it, we shall be acting contrary to what I believe is the true view, namely, that, if you appoint your Commission, you must trust them. You must not tie their hands beforehand; you must leave it to them, on a matter of importance, to decide themselves, unhampered by undue restrictions. Therefore, to sum up my view as regards the Commissioners, first of all, they can deal with this matter under Clause 6; secondly, they ought to deal with it; and, thirdly, we ought not to hamper them. It may be asked, supposing that the Commissioners do not deal with it, what then? My answer is that you will have by that time set up a new governing body, which, presumably, will command the respect of everyone, and, when that new governing body is set up, if the Commissioners do not deal with this question, then the new governing body can deal with it, and it will be a very proper body to do so. Can anyone on the other side of the House assert that this House of Commons to-day is a better tribunal for finally deciding this question affecting the University of Cambridge than the new governing body which it is proposed to set up? If they do not assert that, I venture to think that all the ground, all the reason, for supporting their Amendment, is gone. Therefore, whether it be regarded from the point of view of the action of the Commissioners in the future, or of the possible action of the governing body of the University in the future, I say it is proper to trust those bodies, and not to hamper them or to restrict their discretion. Therefore, I shall vote against the Amendment.


I am sure that no one who has followed the debate will have any cause to regret the very full measure of discussion that has been devoted to this Amendment, nor will anyone who is conversant with the matter which has given rise to so long a discussion feel that it has not been conducted, as it was upstairs in Committee, on a very high plane of argument, in which the respective cases have been marshalled with great lucidity, force and weight. If I intervene now, it is because I think that the House has had an opportunity of forming a very fair judgment upon an issue that in itself is not, I think, complicated, but is one of great importance, and has excited a considerable degree of controversy both inside and outside this House. I would first address myself for a moment or two to some observations made by my right hon. and learned Friend the Member for Spen Valley (Sir J. Simon), on the more legal aspect of the Amendment under discussion. He, in substance, raised a point in legal form, which had been raised, I think, by my hon. and learned Friend below the Gangway at an earlier stage in the debate. He asked whether or not the Government were satisfied that under the Bill as it stands the Commissioners have the power to deal with the question of admitting women to Cambridge if they so desire, and he drew my attention to one of the paragraphs in the report under the heading of "Statement by the Cambridge Committee" in which they state their view that women should be entitled to be admitted on the same conditions as men to membership of the University. The right hon. and learned Gentleman went on to say that he thought that the Commissioners were indeed required under the Section of the Report which he quoted so to exercise their power.

I shall have a word to say about each of those points. I have no doubt, and I think that no responsible person learned in the law has any doubt, that the Commission are fully empowered, under the words of the Report of the Royal Commission, to take the action suggested in the Amendment if they so desire, and I go further and say that so far as I am aware there is no doubt that the recommendations included in the body of the Report, whether from the Cambridge Committee or from the Oxford Committee, have equal weight as if they were in express terms recommendations of the whole body of the Royal Commission, and I base that upon two principal foundations. First, if hon. Members have the Report of the Royal Commission before them they will see that, by the language used by His Majesty the King, express power is given to the Commissioners to divide themelves into three Committees or Divisions: We do by these presents authorise you to sit in three divisions or committees to be styled respectively the Oxford Committee, the Cambridge Committee"— and so forth, and it goes on to constitute the Chairmen, in the letters of issue, for both the Cambridge Committee and the Oxford Committee. That, hon. Members will be aware, is a very unusual form of phraseology to adopt, and to my mind it carries the clear implication that the authority of the Royal Commission, which it chose to delegate to its respective Committees, was not in any way impaired by its so doing. I think that that therefore makes it clear that the Commissioners have the power, if they choose so to act, that is suggested. The right hon. and learned Gentleman went one step further. He said that in his view the Commissioners were not only empowered but were indeed required to give effect to the recommendations of the Cambridge Committee in this respect. He did not, I think, speak with any great degree of certainty because he was conscious of the other paragraph which governs these affairs in which it is stated that the Royal Commission were equally divided as to the method to be adopted to give effect to the recommendations. Therefore, as I shall have occasion to say again, the conclusion which I draw, as to the argument in reference to legal power, on a very careful comparison of those paragraphs, is similar to that of my hon. and learned Friend who has just sat down, that the Commissioners have the power, and also with the power they have full discretion in the matter, either to act or not as they may desire.

If the meaning of the Amendment moved by my hon. Friend in a very attractive speech were merely to leave the Commissioners entirely free, I do not think that I should be disposed to object to it, nor would my hon. and learned Friend his colleague in the representation of Cambridge University, if I understood his speech correctly. But that is not quite the provision. The Amendment goes very much further than that. If the Amendment were carried—and if this were not so hon. Members opposite would not attach great importance to it—it would of course amount to a direct instruction to the Commission to take action in this matter, and to admit women at once to full membership of Cambridge University. The suggestion has been made, I think by the hon. Member for Central Edinburgh (Mr. W. Graham), that in the words of Clause 6, if the Amendment were accepted, it would not be impossible for the Commissioners, by the words empowering them to make modifications to take no action in the direction of admitting women. If that were so the Amendment would be innocuous, but I cannot take that view. It would only really enable the Commissioners to modify the conditions as to time, or number, or anything of that sort. It would not enable them to withhold action on the fundamental question whether or not they should admit women. Therefore, for those reasons, I cannot regard the Amendment as either meaningless or likely, if carried, to have no results. If carried out it would amount, in my judgment, to a very definite instruction to the Commissioners to take a certain line of action on which the Royal Commission deliberately refrained from expressing a decided opinion.

One difficulty is that in this matter, as has been more than once mentioned, the Royal Commission did, in fact, speak with a dual voice. It spoke with unanimity on the general question of principle that women should be admitted to full membership of Cambridge University. On that, there was no division; but it failed to speak with unanimity, and spoke, indeed, with an equal division of opinion, on the question of how that object, on which they were unanimous, was to be obtained. Some were in favour of Parliament taking statutory action, others—I believe, not less numerous—were in favour of leaving it to the free judgment of a reformed University. What the proposal in the Amendment amounts to is that on the point of method, on which, after full examination, the Royal Commission retained a divided judgment, this House should come to a definite decision, and give an instruction in that sense to the Commissioners on a point on which deliberately the Royal Commission fore-bore to pronounce. That is. I think, a rather extreme step to ask the House to take.

It is difficult for a member of another University, as we were reminded on the Second Reading by the right hon. Member for Paisley (Mr. Asquith), to express opinions about the affairs of a University that is not his. The hon. Member for Cambridge University (Mr. Butler), who introduced this instruction, quoted some very interesting figures, to the effect that apparently the female applicants for the advantages of education at Oxford were almost three times as numerous as those applying for the advantages of learning at Cambridge.


I said, the proportion of applicants to vacancies; not the total number.


I stand corrected. That was what I intended to convey, that the proportion of those applying for entry to the Oxford colleges was very largely greater than those applying to the women's colleges at Cambridge.


In proportion to the numbers.


Yes, in proportion to the numbers. This appears to suggest the danger of Oxford being flooded, owing to its superior educational facilities, by an incursion of the ladies. As a son of Oxford, who has indeed been ready to welcome the entry of ladies into full membership of that University, but who still wishes to keep that University predominantly a man's University, I should deprecate any such result as that foreshadowed by the hon. Gentleman. Therefore, purely in self-defence of Oxford, it might be arguable that any action which encouraged Cambridge to take a similar liberal course to that of Oxford might be not only of interest to Cambridge and to the ladies, but also to Oxford. I want to emphasise to the House what the hon. and learned Member for York (Sir J. Butcher) put just now. What is the exact position under the Bill as it stands, before and without the introduction of the Amendment? There may be general agreement in the House, either that this reform in Cambridge University as to the admission of women is desirable, or, if there is not general agreement as to its being desirable, there will probably be general agreement, having regard to votes in recent years, as to its being inevitable. If that be so, it is from that angle that I would invite the House to consider the actual provision made by the Bill to meet that situation.

The Bill establishes a Statutory Commission, with power to deal, in its discretion, with this matter. To that Statutory Commission, in Committee, we have added a woman. Therefore, women need be under no apperehension that it will be impossible or difficult to argue their case as fully and as freely as they like, inside the limits of the Commission itself. That Commission, as the right hon. Member for the English Universities (Mr. Fisher) said, will be able to go down to the University to inform itself as to local opinion; and, after so informing itself, will be able to take whatever action it thinks fit. It is surely true, as my right hon. and learned Friend reminded us, that if you have got a responsible body of Commissioners, to whom you entrust responsible and difficult duties, you must be prepared to trust their discretion and judgment; and, in so far as you limit their discretion and judgment, you are depriving yourself of what is of great service and value. Therefore, the first part of the machine by which this reform can be fully considered, and, if approved, introduced, is the Statutory Commission.

Behind that, you have the reformed University. Hon. Members will be aware that in the Report of the Royal Commission the recommendations call for very drastic reconstitution of the governing body of Cambridge University. There is no question—I have never heard the question disputed—that it will be the duty of the Commissioners to give effect to those reform recommendations. The right hon. Member for Spen Valley (Sir J. Simon), and others in the Debate, have repeated what has been stated before, that on previous occasions, when the proposal to admit women has been made, it has been rejected. By whom? We have had taunts that absentee members of the University assisted to reject the proposal. These taunts may or may not be justified. I do not think they are justified, but those who make them ought to bear in mind that the very fact of making them and their very argument leads them to conclude that there is no doubt at all that once you have disfranchised the absentee members of the University, a reformed University, free from those alien influences, will be likely to grant the reform that the absentees have so far been able to postpone.

Therefore, the argument in favour of a reformed and recast University does seem to be one of great force and power. If you do not do that, what, in fact, are you inviting Parliament to do? The Mover of the Amendment says in effect: Although I have got a body of Statutory Commissioners; although that body now includes a woman; although that body has power to make this reform; although in conjunction with other reforms, it will reform the University and although that reform of the University will be in sympathy with this women's movement—yet, in spite of all that, I am going to invite Parliament to scrap all this machinery, to go out of its way to interfere by direct action and to give instructions to the Commissioners. The hon. Member for Central Edinburgh shakes his head but the whole object of the Amendment is to instruct the Commissioners that they should give effect to this recommendation subject only to certain modifications.


I am sure the hon. Gentleman will permit me to say that that is a very different thing from scrapping the machinery. We merely propose to act through the machinery which he is setting up.


Perhaps I used an exaggerated phrase when I spoke of scrapping the machinery. What I meant to suggest was that the proposal would deprive those working the machinery of all volition and discretion. I think that is the inevitable effect of the Amendment, as I am sure the hon. Member would be the first to admit. Therefore I think the proposal, in the main, is an unreasonable one. We have heard very little to-day of the argument about what I may call the spirit of equality between the sexes, and I do not think we have heard anything at all about the public money argument. We may assume, therefore, that the argument that, because the State is contributing public money, therefore it is necessary to introduce immediate and artificial equality between the sexes in every part of the globe, has fortunately ceased to operate. If any hon. Members are inclined to treat this question on the basis of a woman's question, I appeal to them to examine once again the premises on which they so judge. It is not a question of equality between the sexes or of natural rights between the sexes, or anything of that kind. The only question which the House has to consider in connection with the grant of money to the University is the question whether the University is or is not an efficient institution—whether or not it is doing its work efficiently. It would never be suggested that no institution could claim to be efficient which was not bi-sexual, and, therefore, there is no serious dispute or argument that the Uni- versity having established its claim on the ground of efficiency should be entitled to receive public help if it so desired. Nor is it a question of whether we are to vote in favour of or against women. That is a most illusion way of stating the question. Since the extension of the Franchise, I have voted on almost every occasion in my political life when the question arose, in favour of extending the rights of women. Once they secured the suffrage it seemed to me there was no logical ground where you could well stop. That does not deter me in the slightest degree from recording my vote against this Amendment, because by recording my vote against the Amendment I am merely expressing my opinion that the method suggested by the Mover is not consonant with the best treatment of the Universities by this House, and is not one which in the long run will work out in favour of the best interests of women themselves.

There are many women of importance and distinction who take that view. The hon. Member for London University (Sir S. Russell-Wells) mentioned that among his constituents were many women graduates who, purely from the point of view of the interests of women in securing their rights in Universities by agreement rather than by coercion, were against the principle of this Amendment. I do not think there is any substantial difference of opinion as to the importance of refraining from any suspicion of interference with the internal autonomy of the Universities. I say "suspicion of interference" because hon. Members argue that once you appoint the Statutory Commissioners it is no great extension of interference to give them instructions. I suggest it does make a considerable degree of difference, whether you appoint a Commission composed almost entirely of distinguished and revered sons of the University, to work in conjunction with the University authorities and assist the University to reform itself, or whether, having appointed that Commission, you proceed to invite the House of Commons to fetter and limit their discretion. Parliament, of course, has sovereign power. A very distinguished professor of Oxford University and a member of my own college, wrote a learned treatise upon the British Constitution in which he discussed the extent and implications of this sovereign power, and he said Parliament had the power to do everything except to make a woman a man or a man a woman. No doubt, had that power lain in the hands of Parliament, we should not have had this controversy. Here, however, is a proposal which has excited great controversy, and I suggest it should be our object to endeavour, as well as we may, to allay that controversy, and to restore conditions in which this reform, if it be inevitable, will be carried out with the minimum of difficulty, of friction, of ill-feeling, and of discord. If you have to choose between a course of putting direct pressure by this House on the Universities, and of interfering from the outside with those persons who are regarded by certain hon. Members as the misguided members of Cambridge University, or the alternative course of leaving this matter to the free judgment and volition of the natural order of events, I suggest that you will be better advised to leave it, in full confidence that in so doing you are serving the best interests of those who will benefit by the reform, if and when it is made.

A question has been addressed to me from more than one quarter of the House as to whether the Government were willing to leave this question to the free decision of the House, without putting on the Government Whips, and to that matter the Government have given very careful consideration. I hope that I have left the House under no doubt as to what my judgment, speaking for the Government, is as to the merits of this Amendment or as to the course I would recommend the House to adopt with regard to it. At the same time, the Government are bound to have regard to the fact that in tendering that advice to the House they are advising them to act in a particular way on a subject on which the Royal Commission, as I have said,

were equally divided, and on which, therefore, there is legitimate room, it might be argued, for a difference of opinion. It is also, no doubt, true that this Amendment, important and raising grave considerations as it does, is not vital to the structure of the Bill, and if it were carried, the Bill would not necessarily be defeated and destroyed, but the argument that decided me, and that decided the Government, to leave the matter to the judgment of the House is that I think the case is such a good one that, even unaided, the House wilt be likely to come to a very wise decision about this. I asked myself this question: If the decision of the Committee had been the other way, would the Government have put on their tellers to maintain the decision of the Committee in that event? We certainly should not, and therefore I thought it was more fair and more reasonable to the different points of view in this House that, while giving such guidance as one could as to the view of the Government upon this Amendment, we should leave it free to vote on a matter on which the Royal Commission was so divided.


I beg to move, as an Amendment to the proposed Amendment, to leave out the words "of the Cambridge Committee."

It has been represented to me that certain technical difficulties would be avoided if those words were omitted.


I beg to second the Amendment to the proposed Amendment.

Amendment to proposed Amendment agreed to.

Question put, "That those words, as amended, be there inserted in the Bill."

The House divided: Ayes, 124; Noes, 150.

Division No. 302.] AYES. [2.40 p.m.
Adams D. Cayzer, Sir C. (Chester, City) George, Major G. L. (Pembroke)
Ammon, Charles George Chapple, W. A. Gilbert, James Daniel
Attlee, C. R. Charleton, H. C. Gosling, Harry
Barnes, A. Conway, Sir W. Martin Graham, W. (Edinburgh, Central)
Batey, Joseph Cowan, D. M. (Scottish Universities) Gray, Frank (Oxford)
Becker, Harry Davies, Rhys John (Westhoughton) Greenwood, A. (Nelson and Colne)
Bennett, Sir T. J. (Sevenoaks) Doyle, N. Grattan Grenfell, D. R. (Glamorgan)
Bonwick, A. Dudgeon, Major C. R. Groves, T.
Bowerman, Rt. Hon. Charles W. Duffy, T. Gavan Hall, G. H. (Merthyr Tydvil)
Briant, Frank Duncan, C. Hancock, John George
Broad, F. A. Dunnico, H. Hannon, Patrick Joseph Henry
Brotherton, J. Ede, James Chuter Hardie, George D.
Burnie, Major J. (Bootle) Edmonds, G. Harney, E. A.
Buxton, Charles (Accrington) Edwards, C. (Monmouth, Bedwellty) Harris, Percy A.
Cape, Thomas Ford, Patrick Johnston Hay, Captain J. P. (Cathcart)
Hayes, John Henry (Edge Hill) Millar, J. D. Skelton, A. N.
Henderson, Rt. Hon. A. (N'castle, E.) Morrison, R. C. (Tottenham, N.) Snell, Harry
Henderson, T. (Glasgow) Muir, John W. Spoor, B. G.
Herbert, Col. Hon. A. (Yeovil) Murnin, H. Stewart, J. (St. Rollox)
Hillary, A. E. Murray, R. (Renfrew, Western) Strauss, Edward Anthony
Hinds, John Newman, Sir R. H. S. D. L. (Exeter) Sueter, Rear-Admiral Murray Fraser
Hodge, Rt. Hon. John Newson, Sir Percy Wilson Sugden, Sir Wilfrid H.
Hogge, James Myles Newton, Sir D. G. C. (Cambridge) Thorne, G. R. (Wolverhampton, E.)
Irving, Dan Phillipps, Vivian Thornton, M.
John, William (Rhondda, West) Ponsonby, Arthur Tout, W. J.
Johnston, Thomas (Stirling) Potts, John S. Trevelyan, C. P.
Jowett, F. W. (Bradford, East) Pringle, W. M. R. Wallhead, Richard C.
Kenworthy, Lieut.-Commander J. M. Rankin, Captain James Stuart Watson, W. M. (Dunfermline)
Lawson, John James Richardson, R. (Houghton-le-Spring) Watts-Morgan, Lt.-Col. D. (Rhondda)
Leach, W. Ritson, J. Wedgwood, Colonel Josiah C.
Lees-Smith, H. B. (Keighley) Roberts, C. H. (Derby) Weir, L. M.
Lever, Sir Arthur L. Roberts, Rt. Hon. G. H. (Norwich) Westwood, J.
Linfield, F. C. Rose, Frank H. Whiteley, W.
Lowth, T. Russell, William (Bolton) Williams, David (Swansea, E.)
Lyle-Samuel, Alexander Saklatvala, S. Williams, Dr. J. H. (Llanelly)
MacDonald, J. R. (Aberavon) Sanderson, Sir Frank B. Wilson, C. H. (Sheffield, Attercliffe)
M'Entee, V. L. Scrymgeour, E. Wood, Major M. M. (Aberdeen, C.)
Maclean, Neil (Glasgow, Govan) Sexton, James Wright, W.
Macpherson, Rt. Hon. James I. Shakespeare, G. H. Young, Rt. Hon. E. H. (Norwich)
March, S. Shaw, Thomas (Preston) Young, Robert (Lancaster, Newton)
Martin, F. (Aberd'n & Kinc'dine, E.) Shinwell, Emanuel
Middleton, G. Simpson-Hinchliffe, W. A. TELLERS FOR THE AYES.—
Mr. Butler and Sir M. Macnaghten.
Agg-Gardner, Sir James Tynte Fremantle, Lieut.-Colonel Francis E. Ormsby-Gore, Hon. William
Ainsworth, Captain Charles Furness, G. J. Paget, T. G.
Archer-Shee, Lieut.-Col. Sir Martin Ganzoni, Sir John Parker, Owen (Kettering)
Ashley, Lt.-Col. Wilfrid W. Gardiner, James Pease, William Edwin
Baird, Rt. Hon. Sir John Lawrence Gibbs, Col. Rt. Hon. George Abraham Perkins, Colonel E. K.
Baldwin, Rt. Hon. Stanley Gilmour, Lt.-Col. Rt. Hon. Sir John Perring, William George
Banbury, Rt. Hon. Sir Frederick G. Goff, Sir R. Park Peto, Basil E.
Barnston, Major Harry Gould, James C. Pollock, Rt. Hon. Sir Ernest Murray
Berry, Sir George Gretton, Colonel John Pownall, Lieut.-Colonel Assheton
Betterton, Henry B. Guinness, Lieut.-Col. Hon. W. E. Preston, Sir W. R.
Blundell, F. N. Hacking, Captain Douglas H. Privett, F. J.
Bowyer, Capt. G. E. W. Hall, Rr-Adml Sir W. (Liv'p'l, W. D'by) Reid, D. D. (County Down)
Boyd-Carpenter, Major A. Halstead, Major D. Remer, J. R.
Brass, Captain W. Hamilton, Sir George C. (Altrincham) Rhodes, Lieut.-Col. J. P.
Bridgeman, Rt. Hon. William Clive Hamilton, Sir R. (Orkney & Shetland) Richardson, Sir Alex. (Gravesend)
Brown, Brig.-Gen. Clifton (Newbury) Harrison, F. C. Robertson-Despencer, Major (Islgtn, W.)
Brown, J. W. (Middlesbrough, E.) Hawke, John Anthony Roundell, Colonel R. F.
Bruford, R. Hay, Major T. W. (Norfolk, South) Russell, Alexander West (Tynemouth)
Bruton, Sir James Hennessy, Major J. R. G. Russell-Wells, Sir Sydney
Buckley, Lieut.-Colonel A. Herbert, S. (Scarborough) Samuel, A. M. (Surrey, Farnham)
Burn, Colonel Sir Charles Rosdew Hiley, Sir Ernest Sandon, Lord
Burney, Com. (Middx., Uxbridge) Hogg, Rt. Hon. Sir D. (St. Marylebone) Shaw, Hon. Alex. (Kilmarnock)
Butcher, Sir John George Hopkins, John W. W. Shepperson, E. W.
Butler, H. M. (Leeds, North) Howard, Capt. D. (Cumberland, N.) Simms, Dr. John M. (Co. Down)
Campion, Lieut.-Colonel W. R. Howard-Bury, Lieut.-Col. C. K. Singleton, J. E.
Cautley, Henry Strother Hudson, Capt. A. Somerville, A. A. (Windsor)
Cecil, Rt. Hon. Sir Evelyn (Aston) Hume, G. H. Spender-Clay, Lieut.-Colonel H. H.
Cecil, Rt. Hon. Lord H. (Ox. Univ.) Hurd, Percy A. Steel, Major S. Strang
Chamberlain, Rt. Hon. N. (Ladywood) Hurst, Gerald B. Stewart, Gershom (Wirral)
Clarry, Reginald George Hutchison, G. A. C. (Midlothian, N.) Stott, Lt.-Col. W. H.
Clayton, G. C. Inskip, Sir Thomas Walker H. Stuart, Lord C. Crichton-
Cobb, Sir Cyril Jackson, Lieut.-Colonel Hon. F. S. Sykes, Major-Gen. Sir Frederick H.
Cockerill, Brigadier-General G. K. Kennedy, Captain M. S. Nigel Thomson, F. C. (Aberdeen, South)
Colvin, Brig.-General Richard Beale King, Captain Henry Douglas Titchfield, Marquess of
Cope, Major William Lane-Fox, Lieut.-Colonel G. R. Tubbs, S. W.
Craig, Captain C. C. (Antrim, South) Lloyd, Cyril E. (Dudley) Turton, Edmund Russborough
Craik, Rt. Hon. Sir Henry Lorden, John William Wallace, Captain E.
Croft, Lieut.-Colonel Henry Page Lorimer, H. D. Wells, S. R.
Curzon, Captain Viscount Lort-Williams, J. White, Lt.-Col. G. D. (Southport)
Davidson, J. C. C. (Hemel Hempstead) Loyd, Arthur T. (Abingdon) Wilson, Col. M. J. (Richmond)
Du Pre, Colonel William Baring Makins, Brigadier-General E. Wilson, Lt.-Col. Leslie O. (P'tsm'th, S.)
Edmondson, Major A. J. Margesson, H. D. R. Windsor-Clive, Lieut.-Colonel George
Erskine, Lord (Weston-super-Mare) Mitchell, Sir W. Lane (Streatham) Winterton, Earl
Evans, Capt. H. Arthur (Leicester, E.) Molloy, Major L. G. S. Wise, Frederick
Eyres-Monsell, Com. Rt. Hon. Sir B. M. Morrison-Bell, Major Sir A. C. (Honiton) Wolmer, Viscount
Falle, Major Sir Bertram Godfray Murchison, C. K. Wood, Rt. Hon. Edward F. L. (Ripon)
Fawkes, Major F. H. Nall, Motor Joseph Worthington-Evans, Rt. Hon. Sir L.
Fisher, Rt. Hon. Herbert A. L. Nicholson, Brig.-Gen. J. (Westminster) Yerburgh, R. D. T.
Forestier-Walker, L. Norton-Griffiths, Lieut.-Col. Sir John
Foxcroft, Captain Charles Talbot Oman, Sir Charles William C. TELLERS FOR THE NOES.—
Fraser, Major Sir Keith O'Neill, Rt. Hon. Hugh Mr. Rawlinson and Mr. J. Murray.

The next Amendment standing in the name of the hon. Member for Accrington (Mr. C. Buxton)—at the end of the Clause to insert the words Provided that the number of women to be admitted to membership of Cambridge University shall not be subjected to any limitation which does not also apply to men, is not now in order, having regard to the decision to which the House has just come.


May I very respectfully submit one consideration on the subject of this Amendment? It is true that the House has now decided not to insert the words including the recommendations of the Cambridge Committee as to the position of women at Cambridge. But, as has been pointed out by several speakers, including the Minister himself, that does not prevent these recommendations from being carried out by the governing body of the University. Therefore, so far as the possibility of the admission of women to membership being carried, it remains just as open as it was before, and consequently, if this House thinks that the limitation of the number of women is a wrong policy, it is strictly necessary for this House to say so, because the admission of women is still possible.


I agree that the admission is still possible, and the Commissioners are not bound to a restriction of numbers. What the House decided just now was not to insert any mandatory instruction to the Commissioners regarding the position of women. I think that must cover the question of numbers. The hon. Member can now move the Amendment which he put down as a new Clause.


I beg to move, at the end of the Clause, to insert the words Provided that in making any Statutes or Regulations under this Act, the Commissioners shall have regard to the need of facilitating the admission of poorer students to the Universities and colleges. I do feel that this Amendment deals with a subject which is very vitally important indeed. Important as I believe the question of the admission of women to be, I do not hesitate to say that, speaking for myself, and, I believe, many of my hon. Friends on these benches, this question is more important, more vital, and more fundamental than the question of the admission of women. Probably the only argument that will be advanced against the insertion of this Amendment is that it is unnecessary, that there are in the Report of the Royal Commission on Oxford and Cambridge Universities recommendations which deal with this subject of the admission of poorer students, and that the Statutory Commissioners are instructed to make Statutes in accordance therewith. But, in answer to that, I should like to put before the House two considerations which I think differentiate this particular subject of the accessibility of the University to poorer students which put that subject in a separate category by itself—first of all, the consideration of the very special importance of the subject from the national point of view, an importance exceeding that of any other of the various topics dealt with by the Commission and, secondly, this consideration, which is definite and precise, and does not apply to other parts of the recommendations, and has to do with finance. Definite and generous recommendations were made in reference to finance. The Commissioners assumed that very generous provision was going to be made for the needs of the University, and, from the point of view of admitting poorer students, it is obvious that finance lies at the very root of the matter. Not much can be done unless finance is liberal. The Commissioners recommended that each University should receive, instead of the existing grant of £30,000, an annual grant of £100,000, in addition to a lump sum grant for pension arrears and of special annual grants. Those were very liberal proposals, and, in addition, they proposed a large increase in the way of scholarships to take students to the Universities. Over and above that they recommended the system of State scholarships to be largely increased. So that, all round, their recommendations for the accessibility to the University of poorer students were backed up and based upon very liberal financial provisions. As we all know, those financial recommendations have very largely gone by the board. In the Estimates of this year, Class 4, Education, Science and Art, you see what is being given to these Universities. Instead of the £100,000, plus £10,000, plus a lump sum, and plus all the rest of it, we have here for Cambridge University £38,500, and to Oxford University £30,500. One may say that the bottom has been knocked out of these proposals for getting liberal financial aid, and the result will be that the various proposals, many excellent in themselves, for making the Universities accessible to poorer students, will simply fall to the ground for want of cash. That is the position.

There is a very real danger that the recommendations made in the Report of the Royal Commission will be rendered quite nugatory, or largely so, because there is nothing to back them up in the way of money. I should like just to put one or two very brief considerations to show that this is really a matter of very vital national importance. We on these benches yield to no one in any part of the House in valuing highly, very highly indeed, the education of Oxford and Cambridge, but the very fact that so much feeling exists amongst those who have not had the opportunity afforded to those in other circles, that is, the poorer people, in itself is a compliment and testimony to those Universities, and to the fact that the people who hitherto have been debarred from them are extremely anxious to go there. It is a great privilege. That is a point upon which everybody is agreed, I think, in this House, and it is a privilege which at present is confined to an extremely small portion of the nation. The President of the Board of Education gave me the other day some figures in answer to a question which were very striking, and which illustrate exactly the point that is in my mind. I asked him what was the percentage of students who came out of our secondary schools and proceeded to the Universities. He told me, in reply, that taking the county council secondary schools, the percentage of those who proceeded to any Universities, not only to Oxford or Cambridge, but other Universities, was only 3.4 per cent. If other schools are included, if, say, the Welsh intermediate schools are added, the percentage is slightly higher, but not more than 4.2 per cent. When you consider the comparatively small number of children leaving the elementary schools who at all go to the secondary schools, we get some idea, some conception of the infinitesimal number of elementary schoolchildren who achieve University education at all under present conditions.

3.0 P.M.

Every Member of this House, to whatever party he may belong, who has been at Oxford or Cambridge, knows very well, from his own experience, that there were in his time very few representatives of the working-class people there. No one can dispute that most of us—I had one or two acquaintances of the kind—but that most of us had not many friends who came from the elementary schools. They were extremely few. In that sense, without any offensive use of the word, it is perfectly true to say that Oxford and Cambridge are "class" Universities. I do not mean that they are class Universities in the sense that they try to promote the interests of a class, but they are emphatically class Universities in the sense that a very large proportion of the nation, including almost the whole of the working classes, is not represented there in anything like the right proportion. I am not saying this in any controversial spirit. One may differ as to the causes of this, but I think no hon. Member will controvert or contradict the fact. I contend that is a very, very serious condition of affairs indeed. I contend that if we can do anything by this Amendment or otherwise to remedy a scandal such as that we shall do well to do it and to take this opportunity of doing it. The demand from the outside is not disputed. There is not the slightest doubt that the quality of the students who would come in under any such scheme as suggested by the Royal Commission for making the Universities more acceptable, would not in any way tend to lower the intellectual quality and the atmosphere of the University. That is a thing which cannot possibly be suggested.

Anyone who has had, as I have had, experience in colleges for working men and women, or of educational work connected with adult workmen and women, could not possibly dispute the fact that if there is any particularly characteristic fault of the working class student more than another, it is over-seriousness, over-intensity, and over-earnestness. There is not the slightest question or fear that the intellectual standard of our University would be lowered in the least degree. I have already said that the Royal Com- mission has recommendations which are of value in themselves, provided that you can bring them into effect. Admirable recommendations have been made as to the cheapening of the cost of living, as to the better use of the scholarships, as to the better co-ordination of the scholarships in the Universities, and there are a number of other points with which I will not detain the House now, but which are of very great importance. I do not dispute that these recommendations are good, but I do contend that the general effect will be very, very little unless there is a far more liberal financial provision than we have any prospect of at present. The scholarship system which the Royal Commission recommended should be increased has, on the contrary, been very largely cut down, and it is far less than now than it was before.

This is a very vital matter, and I want other Members to have the opportunity of saying something upon it. We know that having this Bill before us affords us a great opportunity, one which will not occur certainly for a very long time, the kind of opportunity which is very rare in this House of doing something for the cause of making University education more widely accessible to poorer and working-class people. I contend that it is an opportunity which ought not to be missed. If we do not take advantage of it I am perfectly certain that many hon. Members of this House will regret it afterwards. I should like to call the attention of the House, without enlarging any further upon it, to this great opportunity which presents itself for impressing upon the Commissioners their special duty, and the special interest of this House in that duty on this very vital question, and to say as strongly as I can to hon. Members that this opportunity ought not to be lost.


I beg to second the Amendment.

I understand that the Minister of Education desires to make a communication to the House on the point before us: therefore I am not going to spoil it by making a bad speech in front of him. I do, however, want briefly to draw the attention of the House to the fact that the Commission referred to the system of scholarships in vogue at the time of their report, and they made this observation: These scholarships will provide automatically for expansion in the number of poor boys and girls passing from secondary schools to the Universities generally, and many of the successful candidates will, no doubt, elect to reside at Oxford and Cambridge. Since that time these State scholarships have disappeared, so that there is an additional reason for us to see that the attention of the Commission is particularly directed to this point. I should like, in conclusion, to say that in my opinion there is no more lamentable waste in this country than the waste of undeveloped brain power that goes on every year in the number of children who leave the elementary schools well equipped to get further education, who do not get it, and still further, by those who, having got into the secondary schools, are unable to proceed to the Universities or the technical colleges. If this House can do anything to prevent that appalling waste I am quite sure they will have done a great deal for the welfare of the country.


When I first saw the hon. Gentleman's Amendment, I thought it was scarcely necessary, and I am not sure that I think even now that it is essential for the purpose he has in view. I do not think there is any difference of view as to the general desirability of enabling the Universities to extend their benefits over as wide a field as possible, but always with this proviso, that I hope hon. Members opposite will never lose sight of the fact that in seeking to extend these benefits you will not in fact be conferring any advantage on the University or on those who go to it if you are not careful to maintain the intellectual standard of the education and teaching within its walls. That, I have no doubt, is a matter generally agreed.

On thinking of the Amendment again, it is quite true, as the two hon. Members who moved and seconded it said, that to some extent the situation has been changed since the Royal Commission reported. The Royal Commission, of course, gave a great deal of attention and consideration to the problem of the admission of the poorer students. They devoted much attention to scholarships and various details of domestic economy in order to make the cost of living cheaper within the University. All that was contingent on various other matters, partly financial and partly political, to which hon. Members have referred and which have since then undergone some modifi- cation. While I think the words of Clause 6 will enable and indeed instruct the Commissioners to have all these matters fully before them, in view of the changes that have occurred and although I am not convinced of its necessity, I have no desire to resist this Amendment. If it meets the general sense of the House, I shall be quite willing to accept it. I could not accept it as a new Clause, because that would be out of proportion to the other recommendations, but I would accept it in this form. If that be the view of the House I would ask the House to accept it and pass on to the other Amendments, so that we may get the Third Reading.


We have heard something as to the desirability of the non-interference of parties in the affairs of the Universities more than is absolutely necessary. I should scarcely agree to the whole of that doctrine because, as I understand it, the facilities for the poorer students were really taken away by Parliament itself and action is needed to restore and re-establish the old conditions of the founders. I am not a very envious person; I do not envy men many things. If there is one thing I envy a man more than another it is the fact that many men have had the facilities for education at the centres of learning in the Universities. Men in my walk of life know something of the difficulties of obtaining education. When I was a young man it was even far more difficult than it is at the present moment, owing to the action of educational associations like the Workers' Educational Association and others of that description. I left school at 12½, and I had to fight pretty hard for what little bit I know, and I know the difficulties that lie in the pathway of those who have to go in for self-education and lack the necessary guidance and training that comes from the intellectually trained mind of the University professor.

If I might be permitted to point out the old character of the University, I was just reading with very great interest a book called "Lives of Twelve Good Men," written by John William Burgon, Dean of Chichester. He was there dealing with the life of Dr. Edward Hawkins, the great Provost of Oriel College, and the first thing laid down is that the statutes of the Colleges simply teem with references to poor scholars. In the appendix to that book there are quotations from the various statutes of the colleges which show that in nearly all of them provision was made for the poor scholar. Burgon is speaking there of the Commission of 1854, which compelled the Universities to alter their statutes as against the poor scholar, and he says that there was thrust upon the Universities by an unfriendly House of Commons new ordinances, and thus established that class character of the Universities to which my hon. Friend has referred. Burgon says that Dr. Hawkins said that the Commission of 1854 was nothing less than a moral and constitutional wrong, a shameful perversion of the known intentions of founders and benefactors. He further says: The claims of poverty have been the object of permanent solicitude with founders. This qualification and condition of election to fellowships and scholarships, never omitted among the requirements recited by them, and generally recited first, was now formally abolished. Then he says again of Dr. Hawkins, as an honest man, he deplored the injustice done to the poor by defrauding them of their birthright. He goes on: Since founders and benefactors bestowed their bounty on the express condition that none should partake of it but those who really needed it, he denounced the legislation by which this pious intention of theirs was wholly set aside. He ridiculed the grounds on which it was done, and he went on to say: That the colleges were specially intended for the encouragement of learning in the sons of poor parents has been often proved as well as largely insisted on. Next to a burning jealousy for God's honour and glory, nothing is more conspicuous in the records of these ancient foundations than a holy solicitude on this head, but by the new legislation the sacred claim of poverty is set at naught. It is no longer possible, except at what to such persons would be enormous cost, for a man to obtain the full benefits of a University education. Thus the poor have been robbed of their birthright. I want to say that I am very pleased that the Minister of Education has agreed to this Amendment in order to impress upon the Commissioners the deep desire, the great burning desire, that exists among the men and the women whom we specifically claim to represent, for easy access to education. We have been twitted, I think very unfairly, with our intellectual shortcomings, but those who have done that neglect to say that, if we are intellectually unfitted for certain posts of Government or legislative position, it is largely due to those who have kept from us the facilities and have refused to open to us the avenues to intellectual advancement which we have always desired. It is a most unworthy gibe, and one which I am quite sure no reasonable, thinking, or self-respecting man would attempt to make. With the growing power of the working-class movement in this country it is advisable and good that every avenue of education should be opened wide to those who may before long become a dominating factor in the government of this country, and such wide education and intellectual advancement can only redound to the good of the entire community. Therefore I welcome the slight move we are making in the direction of the restoring the old power of the Universities to extend their educational facilities to the sons of the poor.


I should like to give a word of warning as to what will be the result if everybody goes to the Universities and becomes a professor. How are they going to live? The idea seems to be prevalent nowadays that if you wish to be successful in life all you have to do is to go to a University. My experience is that some of the ablest men at the Universities have been content with a very small income, and in many cases do not earn any income at all. We cannot all have black coats and sit in offices, because if we do, the country will be ruined. It is not by any manner of means certain that the best education for the majority of people is not a good trade.


If the right hon. Baronet intends to present the case that I have tried to put, what he is saying is a travesty of all I said. I was not pleading for that at all. What I want is facilities for education for those who have the necessary ability and the desire for it.


That is rather a different thing. However, I was not alluding particularly to the speech of the hon. Baronet, but to the trend of ideas, not confined to that side of the House, but prevalent among certain people in the country, that the only thing you have to do to make a country successful and prosperous is to give people a University education. There is a good deal of delusion about that, and it is sometimes necessary to tell the truth to people. The best thing to do if you wish to make the vast majority of people prosperous is to teach them a good trade.


I was talking the other day to two Labour Members from Australia, who described to me their system of education. A certain percentage of those in the primary schools are allowed, after competitive examination, to proceed to the secondary schools; and some of those in the secondary schools go, after competitive examination, to the University. Not only is the education free, but where students go to the secondary schools and to the Universities allowance is made to their parents not alone for the cost of their subsistence but for the wage which they might have been earning had they remained at the bench. When this question is being considered by these two Statutory Committees they ought not to consider merely the question of free education for selected individuals but also the question of compensation for their wage-earning capacity. [Laughter.] I notice that that excites risibility amongst hon. Members opposite. They have no conception of the idea of equality of opportunity. We on these benches believe in equality of opportunity, and I think there can be no possibility of it unless you not only provide exceptional educational facilities free but also put those people who may profit by them in a position to take full advantage of those opportunities.

Amendment agreed to.