§ Motion made, and Question proposed, "That the Clause stand part of the Bill."
§ Mr. E. BROWN
I think we ought to have some explanation of this Clause. Surely we ought not to be expected to grant a new privilege to a special set of voters in another University without adequate discussion. I am quite sure the hon. Member for Windsor (Mr. Somerville) would like to give an explanation as to what the Clause really does.
§ Mr. SOMERVILLE
In the Act which established the Combined English Universities to form one constituency, there was no provision inserted to include automatically other Universities which might subsequently receive a charter. Reading University received a charter a little more than two years ago, and this Bill grants to the graduates of Reading University the privilege enjoyed by other English Universities. It adds only a few hundred electors to a very small constituency of under 7,000 electors. There may be some objection to University representation as a principle, but as long as University representation exists, it seems unfair to deny to the graduates of Reading University the privilege which is at present enjoyed by other Universities. Therefore, I ask hon. Members who object to University representation on principle to allow their sense of justice to prevail and not shut out the graduates of Reading from the privileges now enjoyed by the graduates of other Universities.
I think Reading University well deserves such a privilege. It is a University full of life and progress. At one time it was a constitutent college of the London University, and when it was incorporated as a University those members of the college proceeding to a degree had the choice of becoming graduates of London University or 1365 graduates of the newly-established University at Reading. A large majority of them decided to become graduates of the Reading University. Reading University is an excellent example to other English Universities, because it has established the hostel system, and that is one of the secrets of its success. Many deputations from other Universities have visited Reading University to investigate their hostel system, and, as a result, other Universities are establishing that system. For these reasons, I hope that the Bill will receive favourable consideration.
§ Mr. KELLY
An appeal has just been made to us to allow this privilege to be extended to the University of Reading, but the principle of University representation is bad, and we should not further extend the right of plural voting. For that reason, I am not prepared to extend what is bad even to the Reading University. I have never been able to understand why it is that Universities should have the opportunity of sending Members to this House when other important branches of education have not that opportunity. It has been argued that this privilege has been granted to so many other Universities that it would be an injustice not to allow it to apply to Reading. That is a very fine plea to put forward, but, when a thing is bad with regard to other places, I think we should be doing wrong by extending it. We should not be doing our duty to our constituents if we allowed that bad principle to be extended even to Reading University. For these reasons, I shall certainly oppose this Measure.
§ Mr. STEPHEN
I wish to join in the opposition to this Measure. I feel very strongly that it is a Measure which ought not to be passed. I am myself a University voter, and, although I am personally in that privileged position, I think there is nothing to be said in defence of it. Those responsible for the introduction of this Bill suggest that, although it may be a bad principle, one has to take account of the fact that it is there, and that it applies to other Universities. It has been argued that the graduates of Reading University should not be put in a less favourable position than the graduates of other seats of learning, but I cannot accept that as sound reasoning. 1366 Here you have a principle that is unsound, and yet it is proposed to add to a vested interest for the maintenance of that principle. If you now add the graduates of Reading to the number of University electors, you are only adding to the force that will be in existence when the time conies for the abolition of the University franchise. Consequently, those who say that because other Universities have this privilege, we should go on extending it are in an illogical position.
The idea of the University franchise was that the people who went to Universities and received a University training would become so alert and possess so much knowledge in regard to political affairs that to give them this franchise would be a good thing for the nation, because it was thought that they would be able to give a more satisfactory opinion oil political questions than the ordinary citizen who had not had the privilege of a University education. When, however, you test it out, you find that it altogether fails, that it does not work out in that way at all. Supposing that you were to take, for example, the number of spoiled papers in elections—a very rough-and-ready means of testing—I think you would find that, in university elections, percentage of spoiled papers is higher than the average, over the whole country. Prom the point of view, therefore, of this very ordinary test, which is often applied—because, when people are discussing elections and the number of spoiled papers, these are very largely taken as a sign of the comparative illiteracy of so many of the people who are voting—even that test would seem to suggest that there is a bigger percentage of illiterates among university graduates than is common over the country.
Perhaps the assumption that a spoiled paper is due to comparative illiteracy is a false assumption, and I myself would be disposed to accept that as being the case, but that has been the general assumption. Perhaps it is due to the fact that university people are more absent-minded, their minds being so taken up with great affairs that, when it comes to the affairs of the State, their minds do not function properly. If that be true, however, it is all the more reason for not increasing the university vote, and, consequently, I am utterly opposed 1367 to this Measure and to any such extension. I believe it to be true that a university seat in the past has offered a certain and safe refuge to a distinguished politician who for the time being has been unable to obtain the support of the ordinary men and women in an ordinary constituency in the country; but, again, I do not think that that is a sufficient reason why we should extend this form of representation, because, although some distinguished individual may have found such a refuge, I do not believe that it was really good for the country at all that he should have found it. In his period of unpopularity, it would have been better that he should not have been here, because, largely, his period of unpopularity would be due to the fact that he had become attached to some idea that was deservedly unpopular because it was absolutely reactionary.
§ Mr. SOMERVILLE
On a point of Order. May I ask if the hon. Member is in order in dealing with university representation generally, seeing that the Bill does not provide for separate representation for the University of Reading?
§ The TEMPORARY CHAIRMAN (Captain Bourne)
I think that the hon. Member is perfectly entitled, on a Bill which seeks to, extend university representation, to advance reasons why it should not be extended, and to introduce parallels of what has happened in the past; but, at the same time, I do not think that it is permissible for him to go too deeply into past history.
§ Mr. STEPHEN
I accept your ruling, Captain Bourne, with all respect, and, if I may say so, it is exactly what I myself should have considered to be possible in connection with this Measure. I do not want to make a Second Reading speech, but I have been trying to show that, if we were to extend this principle and give this privilege to the graduates of Reading University, it might well be that some politician who, owing to his reactionary policy, has been unable to find a resting-place elsewhere, might find it in connection with Reading University. I do not think that that would be for the good of the State, because let it be noted that it is always an individual with reactionary principles who finds such a resting-place. You could never, for 1368 example, think of the possibility of Glasgow University adopting the late Mr. Keir Hardie as its candidate. It is true that he was a candidate for the Lord Rectorship, but the small amount of support that he got on that occasion shows the reactionary character of these institutions. This, therefore, would only add to the opportunities for reactionary politicians to find themselves in a privileged position. While it may be true that those Members of this House who are connected with Reading University feel that—
§ Mr. E. BROWN
The hon. Member is unkind to his own party in saying that University Members are always reactionary. He has forgotten that in the last Parliament there was a Socialist from the University of Wales.
§ Mr. STEPHEN
I am very glad that my hon. Friend has drawn my attention to the fact that Wales is so much more advanced politically than the rest of the country. If Reading were in Wales, I believe that there might, be something to be said for this Measure. [Interruption.] I do not really insist that there should be any guarantee that Reading would return a Socialist, or anything like that, but I do suggest that there should be some indication that this franchise is operating to the advantage of the community, and is tending to send to the House of Commons various types of opinion that would be helpful to the country: but the Members returned under this franchise are practically all of the same type of opinion, with the exception of Wales, because the Welsh people are so much more advanced politically than those of other parts of the country.
In conclusion, I want to say this to the representatives of Reading in the House. Seeing that Reading is not in this privileged position in which other Universities are, it would be greatly to the honour of Reading if the Reading graduates on this occasion were to take their stand and say that they thought that the principle was wrong, and that, therefore, they did not desire this unjust privilege to be extended to them. At the present time, the University of Reading has no great distinctive position in any respect among the Universities of this country, but, if the graduates of Reading were to take up this position, and were to say that, 1369 having considered the matter, they were against this extension of the franchise, because they thought that to put University graduates in a privileged position was a bad thing, then I believe that Reading University would have a very distinguished place among the seats of learning in this country. I am opposed to this extension, and I hope that the House will not agree to add to this evil of plural voting—and plural voting of the most obnoxious kind—by increasing the number of extreme reactionary opinions represented in this House.
Sir A. HOPKINSON
I would like to say that if you pass this Bill, you will not get rid of us a single day sooner. I am one of those very reactionary people who have been brought here by University representation. I do not know whether I am a strict politician or not, but it does not very much matter. I do not intend to follow hon. Members into the question of University representation. This is not the time or place. I want to put a practical point. Reading is a very democratic University. People who go there are very often people who could not afford to go to Oxford or Cambridge. They frequently attend for practical agricultural courses. The point I wish to put is this. At present there are seven Universities which return two very reactionary and terrible politicians—people of the very worst type conceivable. Supposing you put Reading in, you might turn us both out.
Sir A. HOPKINSON
And then, instead of having us, you may have something very much nicer to your order. Do not throw away the opportunity. It is there for you. On the other hand, imitate the generous attitude of my hon. colleague and myself who represent the English Universities, and back up this Bill. We are willing to take the plunge into the unknown, in order to do justice to Beading.
§ Mr. MORRIS
The point made by the hon. Gentleman the Member for the English Universities (Sir A. Hopkinson) is really a very valid one, namely, that while the other universities have representation, whatever may be said as to the principle, there can be no reason for excluding Reading, whatever may be the 1370 result. Hon. Members of the Labour party have raised an objection to the principle, but the curious thing is that, although the Socialist party object to it in principle, they find it possible to contest nearly all the university seats. You may object to the principle, as I do, of university representation, but the principle is not the issue here, and there can be no reason for objecting to Reading being given the same privileges as other universities. For that reason, I support the Bill.
§ Mr. MAXTON
I rise to enter some criticism against this Bill, and, first, I would express my surprise that the hon. Member for Reading (Mr. H. Williams) and one or two graduates of that seat of learning who are in this House, have not thought it of sufficient importance to be present in support of the Measure.
§ Mr. SOMERVILLE
May I say that the hon. Member for Reading has been called away by another important engagement?
§ 1.0 p.m.
§ Mr. MAXTON
There are about 600 Members of this House who, presumably, think that their engagements outside are much more important than the University of Reading Bill inside the House, and I agree. I myself am only here because I am keenly interested in the Dogs Bill, and I was misled by the usual channels—I am not suggesting it was other than an accident—into the belief that the Dogs Bill would be debated. My objection to this Bill, of course, is on the general principle that the university graduate is not entitled to any more say in the government of this country than the shipyard labourer on the Clyde. I agree with my hon. Friend the Member for Camlachic (Mr. Stephen) that the university voter has not shown his capacity to exercise his vote so intelligently as the shipyard labourer on the Clyde, and has added nothing in particular to the general moral and intellectual status of this House. The hon. Member opposite brings forward as the best argument that can be used in support of the Bill that among de University Members there are one or two nice fellows. But there are nice fellows from other constituencies who have not got this special privilege. They have come in by accident for the universities. My hon. Friend the Member for Leith (Mr. E. Brown) pointed out 1371 that once there came from the Welsh University a representative who sat in the Labour party. That was a great exception, and I understand he was elected not so much because he was a member of the Labour party and an avowed Socialist, but because he was a man known throughout Wales for his Christian character.
§ Mr. E. BROWN
That is quite true, but the point was that the colleges always return reactionaries, and I should regard that party as equally reactionary.
§ Mr. MAXTON
That hon. Member was returned because of his eminent Christian character, and the University of Wales thought it desirable that there should be at least one Christian in this House. After he had served one term, 4 himself came to the conclusion that this was not the place for him, and did not offer himself for re-election. [An HON. MEMBER: "He fought again."] My hon. Friend made this point against the University constituencies that they showed, through the number of spoilt papers, the same lack of capacity as is shown in other constituencies. I want to give other evidence, which seems to be much worse than that which he has given. All the constituencies in Great Britain were asked to put in returns as to the alteration that would be made in the total electorate in their constituencies as a result of the franchise being extended. All the constituencies of Great Britain returned that estimate except the Universities. I see that Leith is going to be 51,000, and Bridgeton only 45,000. That means that I am going to get off a little cheaper than the hon. Member, and as neither of us pays individually, that will not be a very serious matter. In every constituency in Great Britain we are told the number, but in the case of the universities the estimated electorate under the Bill is not available. The University of Oxford, not available, the University of Cambridge, not available. The Universities of Liverpool, Bristol, Glasgow and the rest cannot calculate what their electorate is going to be, and you ask us to give greater voting powers to a constituency that cannot calculate the number of its constituents, although every other constituency can do so. I know the excuses that will be made, but 1372 surely a university, a seat of learning, with expert mathematicians, can make reasonable estimates, just as an actuary makes estimates with reference to life insurance though he cannot tell me positively whether I am going to die next year or not.
To the constituency comprising the University of Durham, the Victoria University of Manchester, the University of Liverpool, the University of Leeds, the University of Sheffield, the University of Birmingham and the University of Bristol, we are asked to add the University of Reading. I am in the constituency of the Scottish Universities. We have only four—Aberdeen, St. Andrew's, Glasgow and Edinburgh—in that constituency. I have been actively concerned in the promotion of Labour candidatures in that constituency. I am Chairman of the Labour Party which exists for the promotion of a Labour candidate in that constituency. No one who has not run such an election has any realisation of the absolute impossibility of establishing contact with the electorate. There is absolutely no possibility of candidates from the various parties becoming personally known to the constituents, and there is no really decent opportunity of the electorate really getting to know the views of the candidates. When you come to examine your voting rolls, when you come to set going all the devices that we normally use in electioneering, you find you have an elector in the Straits Settlements, you have someone running a mission in Northern Nigeria, you have someone in China, someone in Japan. Your people are scattered all over the world and all over Great Britain. They have no geographical interest in the area in which the University is centred and they have no knowledge of the problems affecting the Universities as universities.
I could see a case being made out for the University of Oxford where you have in residence a nucleus of people who are interested in universities and know the problems of universities and who are there in the geographical area in which the particular university is situated. But that is not the case with any other university except Oxford and Aberdeen. Of course their majority is widely scattered and I think, in the case of those two universities, their special interests can be very well safeguarded by the hon.
1373 Member who represents the constituency in which the University is situated, because there is so much of outstanding interest in the area that the man who is going to be returned for the constituency must necessarily keep contact with university people and university problems. So that the only two cases where there is a constituency existing which has a special interest and a special knowledge, is adequately represented by the ordinary constituency member who comes into this House. But look at this hotchpotch, this collection of small universities. Everyone who has graduated in any one of them, right away back for 60 or 70 years, is on the voting roll and is entitled to vote in a parliamentary election and some who are not graduates as well. [Interruption.] I have some knowledge of this. I have done the electioneering. The hon. Members has only accepted the votes, and he knows that is a different story. I have run the machine, and every graduate of any one of the Universities is on the voters' roll, unless he is dead, and very often long after he is dead he remains on it. While I do not suggest that in the University constituencies that might be made use of by unscrupulous persons, it is a very objectionable thing that you have a roll that you cannot purge in an adequate way at regular periods.
We have turned out engineers, doctors, lawyers, teachers, agricultural experts, missionaries, mining experts, all sorts and conditions of men, and they have got scattered all over the globe. We have developed all sorts of new interests and new knowledge, and yet these people, we are told, must be given power to vote at a General Election as to who are to constitute the Members of this House and decide the problems of the 45,000,000 citizens of Great Britain who are not for the most part University graduates. I think it is a preposterous and a fantastic claim. It is carrying impertinence and intellectual arrogance to extreme lengths to come and ask this House at this period to give a further extension to a principle that is recognised throughout the whole country as being bad. My hon. Friend below the Gangway says we attack the principle as wrong but extend it a little further. I have that same instinct for tidiness that he has, that wants to 1374 round the whole thing off and not leave any ragged edges; but to bring in the University of Reading and make the thing complete—I do not know that that is a sound and a right principle. Because a certain number of dogs have two tails, it is no reason why a few remaining dogs should have another tail added on.
I think, perhaps, we should be very wise to-day if we were to reject the University of Reading Bill as art intimation to the Universities generally that this vicious principle which became inserted in our public life before a number of us here were responsible for the administration of this country is not going to be extended, and that they must arrange their affairs in the future on the assumption that University graduates will get the same share in the political responsibilities of this country as anybody else, and no more responsibility than that. To add Reading complicates a position which is already electorally impossible. I say that a candidate cannot possibly be known to his constituents. He cannot possibly make then aware of his views. He is not even the representative of a party. I know that in the Scottish Universities the decision is made more by a bargain as between the medicos, the theologians, and the educationists. It is a representation of interests, not a representation of seats of learning. The medicos come out with their professional caucus and make bargains with the legal caucus, and they go to the teachers and the educationists and the clergymen to try and bargain as between these professional interests for their support. That is vicious, because the representation of this House is not based upon the principle of the representation of interests or trades.
There is a form of Government conceivable by which the people would not be representative of geographical areas and the populations therein but of trades. There is a tremendous lot to be said for a careful examination of that possibility. But certain professions have no right to use the seats of learning to have themselves put into a special position in this House to enable them to stand up and defend the vested interests of a particular profession rather than to regard the general welfare of the country as a whole. I propose to oppose this Measure, and, having regard to the fact that there is a very small House to-day and that the 1375 Members more particularly interested are not present, I hope that the House will refuse to proceed further with the Bill.
§ Mr. WITHERS
I feel great diffidence in addressing this Committee on this Bill at all, as I am told that I have no business to be here, and that I am a reactionary.
§ Notice taken that 40 Members were not present; Committee counted; and, 40 Members being present—
§ Mr. WITHERS
As I have already said, I am very diffident in addressing the Committee at all on this Bill on the ground that it has been stated that I have no business here and that I have been elected by an unbusinesslike set of people. I do not propose to deal with these points in detail, because they are outside the question. I think it right to say that the spoilt ballot papers are accounted for by the fact that we have, unfortunately, proportional representation in this voting, and, as everybody who has had any experience of it knows, it is a most difficult and perplexing thing to carry out. I have been challenged to explain how it is that we cannot estimate the number of voters that we are going to have. It ought to be understood that at Cambridge, at any rate, and, I suppose, in other Universities, we do not automatically go on the register. Everybody who wants to go on the register has to make application and to pay a fee and one cannot calculate how many people are going to pay 10s. or £1, as the case may he, in the future I hope, at any rate, that this will be regarded as some explanation of the points which have been put.
§ Mr. MAXTON
Are there no records upon which the University would he able to base an estimate as to the numbers in a University electorate who are willing to pay 10s.?
§ Mr. DENNIS HERBERT
It depends whether they thought they might have the privilege of voting for the hon. Member.
§ Mr. WITHERS
I wish we could find out everybody who is entitled to pay 10s., 1376 but we do not know how many people are willing to pay 10s. I should be delighted if I did know. As a matter of fact, the question that has been raised with regard to University representation is one of principle. I quite agree with what the hon. Member for Bridgeton (Mr. Maxton) has said. I think that there is a great deal to be said for it. When the time comes we must argue it out. We may or may not be abolished—I cannot say—but here is a case where it is proposed really to differentiate against Reading University, and it seems to me that it is not quite fair. I have no interest in Beading University except that I was asked to back this Bill on a question of principle, and, subject to that, I approve of the Bill. The principle of University representation is quite another matter, and we are not considering that to-day. It is unfair to differentiate against Reading University, and I hope that the Bill will pass into law.
§ Mr. TINKER
The last speaker and the hon. Member who promoted the Bill have put their case very fairly, and we could agree if this Bill only meant what they say. Speaking for myself and other hon. Members on this side, our objection is to the principle of University representation. When I became a Member of this House I was going to put the whole matter right, and I spoke to some of the officials of my party as to how it could be done, my argument being that University representation was not a fair principle; but I was told that it was far too big a matter for a private Member, and that it would have to go before the whole electorate before anything could be done. To-day, we have an opportunity of making our protest, and we could not allow this Bill to go through on the assumption that we agree to University representation. I hope hon. Members will understand that that is our position in taking objection to-day. It is simply because we want to lodge our protest, so that it cannot be said that we allowed an extension of a system in which we do not believe. I have no personal objection to hon. Members who represent the Universities, but my point is that the system is entirely wrong. It is not fair that a few people should have the same privileges of representation as a large constituency. It is on those grounds that we are taking this 1377 opportunity of lodging our protest. When one listens to a Debate in this House and something suddenly arises which calls to one's mind a deep-rooted objection, one cannot but raise that objection. This is the time to lodge our protest, and although it may be ineffective, yet later on we can point to the opportunity which we took on an occasion like this to lodge our objection.
§ Mr. LAWSON
I want to add my protest to that of my hon. Friends against the system which gives two votes to a man simply because he happens to be a graduate of a University. I should have thought that if anyone should have an extra vote it should be those people who have been deprived of the opportunity of being at a University, because the result of that deprivation means that men are condemned to have shorter commons in this life and to submit to lack of opportunities. Because they have not had opportunities to study at a University, they have to do some of the most disagreeable work as well as work that gives the least return. There are masses of very able and intelligent men in the industries of this country, as in my own industry, doing disagreeable and dangerous work who, if the opportunity had come their way, would have rendered splendid service and would have been no mean adornment to the University through which they had had an opportunity of passing. I say quite frankly that rather than give two votes to the man who has had an opportunity of learning, on the assumption that he is a special type of citizen and ought to have some privilege, I would give two votes to the man who has to do the disagreeable work and the work that gives the least return.
§ Mr. LAWSON
I have not had an opportunity of being a graduate of a university, but for two years I was in a university city and the member of a college there and attended lectures in the university. Having gone to that place straight from the pit, I say, quite frankly, looking at the question as one who has sat at the feet of university lecturers, and as one who has been in this House for some years, that I think the time will come in the life of this nation when a 1378 man will be given privileges because he is a scavenger or a miner rather than that he should be penalised because he has been deprived of opportunities for advancement. Take the great industrial areas of this country. You may go to the Black country and to my own part of the country, or to South Wales or Scotland, where great masses of industrial workers are living in congested areas, and what do you find? You find that after eight hours' work, and sometimes longer, these people are sufficiently alive intellectually to give their leisure time either to reading in their homes or to joining classes, university tutorial classes and classes of various kinds. They give all the hours of their leisure to that kind of work, and every spare penny from their meagre earnings they use for the buying of books in order to satisfy the desire of their hearts and minds and to equip themselves as good citizens. If an extra vote is to be given these are the kind of people who should receive it, rather than those who have been fortunate enough to go through a university.
With my hon. Friends, on principle, I do not agree with the university graduates having additional votes simply because they are university graduates. The principle is very bad, and I do not see why we should extend to Reading a principle which is admittedly bad. I trust the opportunity will come some day for us to challenge the whole system. This Session we have recognised the principle that women of 21 should have the vote. In all our speeches on this subject we have boasted of equality and yet to-day we are asked to strengthen an evil. We are asked to duplicate a vote, and because other universities have it we are asked to also duplicate it in the case of Reading University. This subject rather tempts one to launch out into a consideration as to what are the real values of different types of people and different classes of workers, mentally, industrially and physically to this nation, but I am not going to be lead into that line of argument. As one who at one time worked in a two-foot seam, hot, with scarcely a rag of clothing, spending all the money I could spare on books, and then going to a University city and seeing the other side of life, the leisure and the opportunities for acquiring knowledge and satisfying the desires of the mind, I say that our values 1379 of things are all wrong and, if it is a question of the duplication of the vote, I plump for the scavenger, the miner, the railway worker and the general navvy, rather than for those who already have these opportunities. I oppose the principle of this Measure which I think is bad in essence.
Dr. VERNON DAVIES
We have just listened to a very remarkable speech. We have been told very often that the exercise of the franchise is one of the highest duties and privileges of the citizen, but now we have the suggestion that the people who are entitled to the largest number of votes are those who are the least educated, whether through their own fault or not. We get this peculiar position, that the more a man or woman tries to advance themselves in life by better education the less electoral privileges they are to receive. That is a ridiculous proposition to come from hon. Members of the Socialist party, and I hope their followers in the country will recognise, on this proposition, that any advance in education is not to be desired by the citizens of this country because they will get penalised more and more. That is what hon. Members are trying to do with the University of Reading. Here we have an up-to-date college which has been formed into a University, showing progress and ambition and a desire to be of some service to their constituents, and because of this desire to improve themselves, to raise their status and become a University, you wish to penalise them. Hon. Members above the Gangway have no right to discuss the question of the plural vote on this Bill, but, having made their protest, I hope they will be satisfied and will not penalise Reading or disgrace this House by opposing this Bill.
§ Mr. T. SHAW
I would not have spoken in this Debate but for the last speech. The hon. Member began by twitting us with saying that we believe the franchise to be the highest privilege and duty of man and then assumed that we were objecting to the franchise. We are doing nothing of the kind. What we object to is the double franchise, a privilege to be conferred on certain people for, assumably, certain qualities they possess. We believe the franchise is one of the finest possessions a human being can have and that he should exercise it, 1380 and we believe in it so much that we do not think one man's franchise should be better than another's. That is why we take the view we do on this matter. Another extraordinary statement made by the hon. Member who spoke last was that we were trying to penalise a man because of his efforts to get a good education; because he had made himself, educationally, fit for the exercise of the franchise. Is that strictly true? Is it not the fact that anybody with sufficient money can go to a University and, if he possesses ordinary brains, he ipso facto, becomes a graduate.
Knowing something of examination papers, I suggest that any boy with ordinary brains and ordinary industry becomes a graduate by the mere fact of having the opportunity of a University education, and the boy who does not graduate fails because he is not industrious or because he only possesses brains of a second-class order. The claim of the second vote on the basis of the good work done will not bear examination. The University student to-day has a wonderful advantage. I should be the last person in the world to deny the advantages of a university. It is quite evident, however hard a man may try to educate himself, that he must work tremendously harder than the student who has at his disposal the wealth of teaching and tradition and method which centuries of experience has learned how to concentrate knowledge in the best possible way for the use of the student. I am not denying the advantages of a university training, any man would be blind to do so. But why should a person who has had all these advantages be given an advantage over a person who has not? That is what it amounts to.
If the graduate from Oxford or Cambridge has a vote then the graduate from Reading should have a vote. But I do not agree that the graduate. from Oxford or Cambridge should have a vote and if I go into the Lobby in favour of the graduates of Reading having a vote, then, by implication, I am agreeing to the principle of the University vote. That is my position, and if my hon. Friends take the matter to a Division I have no alternative but to vote against this principle because I do not believe in it. At the same time, let me repeat for what it may be worth, that it is not out of disrespect to the universities or to education. I 1381 should like myself to have gone to a University, and I should like to try and help every boy and girl to go there. I have no prejudice against the Universities, but it is unjust to give any man or woman in this country two votes, and it is more unjust to give two votes to the persons who already have had more advantages than their fellows.
§ Mr. MacLAREN
If other universities had returned to this House as able a representative as the hon. and learned Member for Cambridge University (Mr. Withers) we should perhaps have been somewhat diffident about going into this matter to-day. With the astuteness which characterises him, he told us that it was quite competent for us to make our protest but it would mark out Reading University if we did not accept the proposals of the Bill. The right hon. Member for Preston (Mr. T, Shaw) scarcely put what we want. It is not only that we are making our protest against an extension of the principle at all. What is the constitutional advantage of extension of the principle? Universities have never shown that they have any very sound political judgment when they have been asked to decide whom they will send to this House. Universities as a whole are always reactionary, not only in economics and politics, but in other things. The contention that the universities, in giving men a certain amount of education, give them also better judgment, is not sound. We have had no proof of it in the past, even in this House, if I may say so with all deference to those who represent the universities. In matters political, even in the lectures given, the universities are always reactionary. It would be as much as a man's life were worth to tell the honest truth about economics and politics in the universities. The graduates are not qualified arty more than the average man to give a special judgment on political matters. I contest the view that universities produce a type of man who is specially qualified for endowment with a second vote.
It has been argued that the scavenger or the navvy is more qualified to vote, or indeed has a right to two votes rather than the man from the university. That is sheer nonsense. It is a difficult thing to impose upon a nation, but one feels that it is very necessary at times to enforce some form of examination before 1382 any man or woman is entitled to vote at all. The franchise to-day is treated too lightly, and men and women vote too blindly. In this the universities are no exception. Appeals at election times are not appeals to the intellect, but are often pure claptrap and political catchwords, with the result that the universities do not show any marked degree of intelligence over the ordinary voter. If a man can reason, if he can trace cause to effect, and come to his own conclusions, he is entitled to vote, but that, because he has been to a university, he has a right to another vote, I deny. Because an inherent wrong has been done in the past is no reason why we should extend the wrong.
§ Mr. HARDIE
Most of those engaged in the Debate can claim to have had some connection with a university, however remote it might have been. I cannot do that. When I heard the hon. Member for Royton (Dr. Davies) speaking, it took me a considerable time to realise that he could ever have known what a university meant. His remarks were astounding and showed that he had not the mental capacity to treat logically the remarks previously made. He began to twist those remarks upside down in order to get something on which to found an argument. The hon. Member who had preceded him did not say and did not even insinuate that the man with the least education had the most right to vote; he was replying to an interjection from the other side by one who knew quite well what he was doing. The case put forward to-day is largely this, that while many Members agree that plural voting is wrong, it ought to be extended to Reading. I am surprised that hon. Members who claim to have had a good education should say such a thing. If a thing is bad we ought to get rid of it as soon as and wherever we can. If we try to prevent this stigma being put upon Reading students, they will regard us as their peal friends. No individual has a right to a plural vote. The hon. Member for Loyton was more than rude in his remarks. A man may claim many things after having been through a university, but I say, as one who has not been through a university, that I do not accept this kind of insult from a university man. The best evidence of the hon. Member having been to a university 1383 would be for him to use the power given to him by education in such a way as not to insult other people who have not had the same educational advantage. I might have been rude if I had tried, but I have not tried. I have been attempting only to meet an argument which I think should not have been used.
On a point of personal explanation, I would say that I hope I made no reflection upon any man or class in this House. I was simply trying to follow the argument of another hon. Member who had given us the idea that if there were to be plural voting at all the lower the scale of education the more votes a man should have.
I understood the hon. Member to say that, the scavenger or the workman was entitled to greater voting power than the man who was educated and had graduated from a University. That is what I understood him to say, and it was to that I was replying. I had not the slightest intention of being rude to any Member, any individual or any class.
§ Question put, "That the Clause stand part of the Bill."
§ The Committee divided: Ayes, 90; Noes, 45.1383
|Division No. 164.]||AYES.||[1.56 p.m.|
|Alexander, A. V. (Sheffield, Hillsbro')||Greaves-Lord, Sir Walter||Peto, G. (Somerset, Frome)|
|Allen, Lieut-Col. Sir William James||Greenwood, A. (Nelson and Colne)||Pilditch, Sir Philip|
|Applin, Colonel R. V. K.||Hammersley, S. S.||Remer, J. R.|
|Astbury, Lieut.-Commander F. W.||Harvey, Major S. E. (Devon, Totnes)||Rentoul, G. S.|
|Atkinson, C.||Headlam, Lieut.-Colonel C. M.||Richardson, Sir P. W. (Sur'y, Ch'ts'y)|
|Balfour, George (Hampstead)||Henderson, Lieut.-Col. Sir Vivian||Russell, Alexander West (Tynemouth)|
|Barclay-Harvey, C. M.||Heneage, Lieut.-Colonel Arthur P.||Rye, F. G|
|Barr, J.||Hennessy, Major Sir G. R. J.||Salmon, Major I|
|Beamish, Rear-Admiral T. P. H.||Herbert, Dennis (Hertford, Watford)||Samuel, A. M. (Surrey, Farnham)|
|Berry, Sir George||Holbrook, Sir Arthur Richard||Sandeman, N. Stewart|
|Birchall, Major J. Dearman||Hopkins, J. W. W.||Sanders, Sir Robert A.|
|Bourne, Captain Robert Croft||Hopkinson, Sir A. (Eng. Universities)||Simms, Dr. John M. (Co. Down)|
|Briggs, J. Harold||Hudson, Capt. A. U. M. (Hackney, N.)||Sinclair, Col. T. (Queen's Univ., Belfst)|
|Brocklebank, C. E. R.||Hume, Sir G. H.||Slesser, Sir Henry H.|
|Burton, Colonel H. W.||James, Lieut.-Colonel Hon. Cuthbert||Smith, R. W. (Aberd'n & Kinc'dine, C.)|
|Cadogan, Major Hon. Edward||Kennedy, T.||Smith-Carington, Neville W.|
|Cobb, Sir Cyril||Kenworthy, Lt.-Com. Hon. Joseph M.||Smithers, Waldron|
|Cope, Major Sir William||King, Commodore Henry Douglas||Storry-Deans, R.|
|Couper, J. B.||Loder, J. de V.||Thomas, Sir Robert John (Anglesey)|
|Davies, Maj. Geo. F. (Somerset, Yeovil)||Lumley, L. R.||Titchfield, Major the Marquess of|
|Davies, Dr. Vernon||Lynn, Sir R. J.||Trevelyan, Rt. Hon. C. P.|
|Dawson, Sir Philip||MacDonald, Rt. Hon. J. R. (Aberavon)||Warrender, Sir Victor|
|Dean, Arthur Wellesley||Macdonald, Sir Murdoch (Inverness)||Watson, Rt. Hon. W. (Carlisle)|
|Dixey, A. C.||McLean, Major A.||Webb, Rt. Hon. Sidney|
|Dunnico, H.||Makins, Brigadler-General E.||Williams, Com. C. (Devon, Torquay)|
|Edmondson, Major A. J.||Monsell, Eyres, Com. Rt. Hon. B. M.||Williams, Herbert G. (Reading)|
|Fairfax, Captain J. G.||Morden, Colonel Walter Grant||Windsor-Clive, Lieut.-Colonel George|
|Falls, Sir Charles F.||Morris, R. H.||Withers, John James|
|Fremantle, Lieut.-Colonel Francis E.||Newman, Sir R. H. S. D. L. (Exeter)|
|Gower, Sir Robert||Owen, Major G.||TELLERS FOR THE AYES.—|
|Graham, Fergus (Cumberland, N.)||Penny, Frederick George||Brigadler-General Clifton Brown and Mr. Somerville.|
|Adamson, W. M. (Staff., Cannock)||Lawson, John James||Sinclair, Major Sir A. (Caithness)|
|Baker, Walter||Lee, F.||Smith, Rennie (Penistone)|
|Barnes, A.||Lowth, T.||Sneil, Harry|
|Batey, Joseph||MacLaren, Andrew||Stephen, Campbell|
|Bowerman, Rt. Hon. Charles W.||March, S.||Sutton, J. E.|
|Brown, Ernest (Leith)||Montague, Frederick||Thurtle, Ernest|
|Edwards, C. (Monmouth, Bedwellty)||Morrison, R. C. (Tottenham, N.)||Varley, Frank B.|
|Gosling, Harry||Naylor, T. E.||Viant, S. P.|
|Grenfell, D. R. (Glamorgan)||Oliver, George Harold||Wallhead, Richard C.|
|Griffiths, T. (Monmouth, Pontypool)||Potts, John S.||Wedgwood, Rt. Hon. Josiah|
|Hamilton, Sir R. (Orkney & Shetland)||Scrymgeour, E.||Wellock, Wilfred|
|Hardie, George D.||Sexton, James||Whiteley, W.|
|Hayes, John Henry||Shaw, Rt. Hon. Thomas (Preston)||Williams, Dr. J. H. (Llanelly)|
|Hudson, J. H. (Huddersfield)||Shepherd, Arthur Lewis|
|Johnston, Thomas (Dundee)||Shinwell, E.||TELLERS FOR THE NOES.—|
|Jones, T. I. Mardy (Pontypridd)||Short, Alfred (Wednesbury)||Mr. Tinker and Mr. Kelly.|
§ Clause 2 (Short title) ordered to stand part of the Bill.
§ Bill reported, without Amendment; read the Third time and passed.