HC Deb 16 March 1931 vol 249 cc1695-811

The first Amendment—to leave out Sub-section (1)—being a negative, can be discussed on the Question, "That the Clause stand part of the Bill."


I beg to move, to leave out Sub-section (2).

The effect of this Amendment, which stands in my name and the names of my hon. Friend the Member for Down (Mr. Reid), my right hon. Friend the Member for Antrim (Sir H. O'Neill) and my hon. Friend the Member for Belfast University (Colonel Sinclair), if it is accepted and carried, will be to enable the Queen's University of Belfast to continue to return a Member to this House as it has done in the past. It is, perhaps, unfortunate that this Amendment should not have come after the all-embracing Amendment which deals with universities as a whole, because it is perfectly clear that any argument which could be applied to universities as a whole could also be applied to each university individually. It would, of course, be out of the question to endeavour on this Amendment to exhaust all the many arguments which could be put forward for the retention of the university seats as such, and I will try to confine myself as far as possible to those special considerations which should entitle the Queen's University to continue to return a Member to this House. I shall try to keep my arguments within as small a compass as possible, but hon. Members will, no doubt, remember that the question of Irish representation has a long history, and this is a subject on which for any possible analogy one would have to go back a long time.

I maintain that the Bill, as it stands, is wrong in two essential features. First of all, if this Amendment be not accepted, the Government will be altering and reducing the representation of a community in this Parliament which controls all the major issues of that community, and will be doing this against the wishes of that community. Secondly, the Bill as it stands violates what we, at all events, had believed to be a national agreement which established our position to representation over here. It is, perhaps, significant that I should have the honour to move this Amendment, because I am, among those who represent Northern Ireland here, territorially the furthest removed from Belfast and Queen's University, but in this matter we come as representative, not of a class, not of a type of seat, hut as representative of an area and a distinct political entity. We did not create that situation for ourselves. If we had remained part and parcel of the United Kingdom with our representation as it used to be on a very much higher scale, it would have been quite impossible for me to move an Amendment such as this, and it would have been quite unnecessary for the Government to have included such a Clause as the one against which I am speaking.

We were created a separated political entity by the Act of 1920. I am very grateful to the right hon. Gentleman—and I would like to tell him that I am grateful—that he has recognised our separateness, our distinctiveness in every other respect in this Bill. He has not tried to apply to us the other provisions for which there was no demand in Northern Ireland, but, alone of all the provisions of this Bill, he seeks to reduce our representation by the Member for Belfast University. There are many of the older Members of this House who may recall the passage of the 1920 Act—the Government of Ireland Act—and they may remember that Lord Craigavon—Sir James Craig, as he then was—said that he would much prefer to remain part and parcel of the United Kingdom. That was our view. There was not one Ulster vote given in support of the Measure. It was the work of a Government which contained elements of many members, but it was primarily the work of the right hon. Member for Carnarvon Boroughs (Mr. Lloyd George) and the right hon. and learned Member for Ross and Cromarty (Mr. Macpherson), and it was an attempt—an honest attempt—to solve the Irish difficulty. It was not particularly successful—


If I were to allow the hon. Member to proceed on those lines, it would lead to a very prolonged discussion. He must confine himself to the question of the Irish University concerned.


I am keeping, as best I can, to the Unversity, but I must treat it from an Irish standpoint. I must treat this matter from the point of view of how we came to be represented on a scale inferior to any other community in this House. That was produced by the 1920 Act, and I cannot ignore that Act.


I cannot allow any criticism in relation to the Act itself. Its success or otherwise does not arise.


On a point of Order. May I ask you to guide us a little more fully? Some of us feel that it is impossible to discuss this Amendment without referring to the Act of 1920. We do not want to discuss it, but the arrangement which now gives representation to Northern Ireland in this House is the result of that Act. Some of us who were responsible for that Act feel that we are, at least, under a moral obligation, if not more, to preserve the arrangement which was then accepted, and surely, in so far as it is necessary to make an argument, we may refer to the Act of 1920 and the circumstances?


As long as that reference deals with the Queen's University of Belfast.


I can assure you that my reference to the Act will be as short as I can possibly make it, without neglecting to do justice to our position in this matter. The point which I was wishing to make was that the university seat was established by the Act of 1920, and I wished to draw the attention of the Committee to the way in which it was established. Before the Act was passed, the area which constituted Northern Ireland returned, I think, 29 Members. It now returns only 13. That was a very great sacrifice of numbers. As Sir Edward Carson said at the time, "We shall be here in reduced numbers, while you re- tain the power of taxing us to the full." There was one asset which one had hoped that this had secured, and that was that our representation should not continue to be the plaything of British politics, and that this seat, amongst the other pledges given by the Act of 1920, should be left alone. That point has, I think, already been made to the Government. It was answered by an argument of the Minister of Health, which, with respect, I would say was rather a facile argument. He pointed to Section 19, which establishes the representation here of Northern Ireland, and lie pointed to the words: Unless and until the Parliament of the United Kingdom otherwise determine. Of course, everyone who had studied that matter in the slightest degree knew of that Section, and everyone knew that that power had already been exercised. The Parliament of the United Kingdom had already "determined," because it had done away with the representation of the 33 Members who represented Southern Ireland. But the point I want to make is, that this is the first time any attempt has been made to alter or interfere with the representation of either Northern or Southern Ireland as it is constituted, against the expressed wish of the community concerned. We were put in this position by that Act, and we were content with the position in which we were put, but the alteration which has already taken place in representation was made at the express request of our fellow countrymen of the South of Ireland. We do not ask for any alteration, and we have not asked for any alteration. We have only asked to be left with this number as we were constituted by the 1920 Act, which we have found to be satisfactory up to the present, and we hope that that will be continued.

There is a point which I would bring to the notice of the right hon. Gentleman who is in charge of the Bill. The Treaty made with Southern Ireland embodied in its terms a statement that, subject to a Resolution in both Houses of the Northern Ireland Parliament, the Government of Ireland Bill, as far as Northern Ireland was concerned, should continue to be of full force and effect. The position of the Treaty, which is con- tained in the Irish Free State (Agreement) Act, 1922, is not that of any ordinary Act; it is something which cannot properly be violated either by this country or by the Irish Free State. That Treaty recites that the Act of 1920 shall be of full force and effect, and, therefore, I would submit that by the terms of the Treaty, which ensured, by binding contract, the rights of what used to be Southern Ireland, our rights in Northern Ireland are no less protected.

I would go further. Supposing that the right hon. Gentleman is able to find some legal channel of escape from that argument, supposing that he can say that that may appear to be so prima facie, but that legally it can be argued otherwise, I would ask him, does he, in a matter of national agreement—and this is almost a matter of national agreement—consider that the settlement which we got, and which gave us this Member in 1920, is less sacred than the agreement he made with those who did not pride themselves on being the friends of this country in 1922? In our private affairs a debt of honour is generally considered to be as binding as a legal contract, and certainly, from the point of view of Northern Ireland, we had thought that no Member of our rather small representation was going to he taken away by the vote of this House.

As to the strength with which we are represented here, I do not think that any community since the passage of the Reform Bill has been represented on so small a scale in comparison with its numbers. Taking the number of electors in each constituency in Great Britain and in Northern Ireland, if this Bill is passed unamended there is a vast difference. In Great Britain there will be 47,331 electors for every Member; in Northern Ireland there will be 65,506. I would point out to the right hon. Gentleman that we made a sacrifice of representation, and we could not have supposed that our position would have been made worse; that was the maximum extent to which we could be expected to go.

Right hon. Gentlemen below the Gangway will, no doubt, remember that the question of our representation under that Measure was the subject of very considerable negotiation when the Bill was being passed, and probably they will re- member one fact in particular, namely, that as originally planned the Measure did not include representation for this university. They will recall that, in order to make the representation of Northern Ireland more adequate, an Amendment was moved in Committee, and this seat, the abolition of which we are now discussing, was added at that stage; and not one single voice was raised against that proposal. The right hon. Gentleman himself was in the House at that time, and he took a most distinguished part in the Debate. He did not think that there was anything wrong in this seat being added, and, by his very silence, he made us in Northern Ireland suppose that it was a course of which he, at all events, did not disapprove. Why have we no right to say how we shall be represented? We are certainly entitled, and we were certainly considered then to be entitled, to this representation, to these 12 Members with the university Member, which certainly is a far more meagre scale of representation than anyone else has in this House.

Consider what would be the situation supposing that we were fortunate enough to be Indians. We should be viewed with a much more friendly eye by some hon. Members opposite. If we were Indians, and had been given a form of suffrage of which we approved, and a method of election against which no single voice had been raised in India, would the Government be endeavouring to alter the system by which we elected our Members, or the type of Member that we elected? Of course they would not. But because, I suppose, we are people who are just as determined to remain associated with this country and with this House as any Indian has ever been to be dissociated from it, we are treated otherwise. We often discuss the question of education. Many Members pay lip service to education. Is it so unreasonable that we should wish to give some slightly increased civic responsibility to those who have had the most extensive course of education that is now undertaken in these islands? Is it unreasonable that we, of whose countrymen a very large proportion go abroad to serve in the Colonies and in foreign countries, should wish to have one Member who can directly reflect the opinion of those temporary exiles from our country? Has anyone ever suggested, has the right hon. Gentleman suggested, can he suggest, that there has ever been any demand in Ireland for the abolition of university representation?—I say that there has not, either in Northern Ireland or in Southern Ireland, where they have university Members even in the Dail. Mr. McGilligan, who has been over here on many occasions, is one of them.

Contrast the attitude of the Government in reducing our representation, already on such a meagre scale, with the traditional attitude which has always been held towards Irish representation in the past. Throughout the latter half of the 19th century, it was admitted on all sides that Ireland was represented on too ample a scale, that if she had representation in proportion to her numbers she would only have some 80 Members instead of 100, and it was urged that there was a moral obligation that that 100 should not be reduced, that there should be no alteration without the consent of the Irish. And there was no alteration. There was no serious attempt at alteration. But that is a principle which the Government, apparently, do not wish to pursue, because here we have Northern Ireland, with representation on a smaller scale, with more electors per Member than any constituency has ever had before in this Parliament, being deprived of the right to send a University Member here—an express provision of the Act of 1920—in defiance of the wishes of the people of this community. I do not propose to deal with the history of the matter in detail, but, if you look at the Home Rule Bills right down to the 90's, you will never find an attempt to put representation of any part of Ireland in this Parliament, as regards taxing powers, on such a lowly scale as this Bill will put ours.

It may be asked, and there is, perhaps, some slight weight in the argument, though I do not think there is much: Is it logical that, if the old Universities of Oxford and Cambridge are to lose their representation, Queen's should retain it? I say that it is right; and what matters it whether it be logical if it be right and just? The arguments which I have tried to the best of my ability to put to this Committee include many considerations which do not apply at all to the elder Universities. You are depriving an area which was separated off, which was segregated, and which is represented on a different scale, of a Member to whom they feel they are entitled, and of the right of electing a Member in a way which they prefer. I would submit that it is better to treat a community justly than to follow any wooden law of logic to its conclusion, and even in connection with this Bill, as regards the City of London, a free vote of the House was a triumph of common sense over rigid logic. There probably is not a Member on the benches opposite, or a Member on the benches below the Gangway, who does not subscribe to the doctrine of self-determination, and I would recommend this Amendment as a little exercise to which they might apply that doctrine. Can they say that we are not entitled to at least 13 Members in respect of our numbers, and can they deny that a community has a right to consideration of its opinion as to how it shall be represented? This is the system which they prefer.

I will make this offer to the right hon. Gentleman. If he is not content with the views expressed by Members from Ulster who are in this Parliament, there is in the Northern Ireland Parliament Socialist representation. If he can get a Resolution passed in that House desiring the abolition of university representation from this House here, I, for one, would withdraw my opposition. That House is sitting now. I know that it would be given an early opportunity for a Debate, and I know also that the opinion of Northern Ireland, which is more meticulously represented there than, perhaps, here, as there are more Members, would denounce this proposed alteration in the Bill, and would denounce it emphatically. It has been said many times that taxation without representation is tyranny; and taxation with a representation which has been brutally altered and reduced is very near it. It is quite possible to carry this Clause as it now stands. It is not difficult for a Government which commands the big battalions to override the wishes of the part of the British Isles that is concerned with this matter, but it is not generous and it is not just, and it will be a discreditable action, if we are to be de- prived of this Member for the University who was expressly added to make our representation more adequate and one which it will be difficult to forget.


I represent Queen's University in this House of Commons, I am a pro-Chancellor of the University, and I claim to know something of its wants and something of the feelings and opinions expressed by both teachers and graduates. Ireland is a poor country and her graduates have to seek employment outside it. They are not very numerous. The figure is 3,288, but the register is at present being revised and potentially they will amount to 5,000. They represent all the professions. When they seek employment in all parts of the Empire, they would naturally like to keep up some interest in the affairs of their native country and have some share in the counsels of the nation. They cannot do that except by post or by some scheme of modified proportional representation. It is only right that they should be allowed to take that part, and the only way they can do it is by electing a university representative. Consider for a moment the way university members are elected. The students attending the universities represent all the religious persuasions and, I think, must have among them representatives of all forms of political thought. In a more or less fraternal way the various sects or political parties combine in the election of university members. A university member is not strictly a party member. He is prepared to take an interest in all educational matters that come before the House. He is not likely to be a partisan. He will bring more or less detached and considered judgment to a discussion of all matters that come before the House and he is not likely to act, either in speech or in vote, as a mere partisan.

The Home Secretary some time ago in his wisdom, if I may use the expression without impertinence, was good enough to exempt Northern Ireland from the operation of this Bill in two important respects. I ask him, if on no other ground, to exempt Queen's University from the operation of the Bill. It only concerns one seat. Would it not be better for him to regard this as a very trifling matter compared with the larger questions which have already been decided by the Committee? Would it not be better for him to be thorough-going and not leave this single solitary seat more or less of a blemish on the Measure as it is not framed? I should like to make a personal appeal to the Home Secretary to be thorough and complete, having yielded on the other points, to reconsider his decision and perhaps announce from the Front Bench that this solitary seat may also be exempted. I appeal to him to be generous in this small matter.


It would not, I conceive, be proper for me to attempt on this Amendment to go into the general question of University Representation, and it is not for that purpose that I rise. I believe I am at the present time one of only two Members who sat in the Cabinet that passed the Act of 1920. I am also one of the Cabinet that was responsible for the later Irish agreement. I believe the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Carnarvon Boroughs (Mr. Lloyd George) and I are the only two Members of the Cabinet of 1920.


I was a third.


That is so and the right hon. Gentleman has a particular responsibility. At any rate, it is because I was a member of that Cabinet that I ask leave to say a few sentences to reinforce, if I can, and to support, if I may, the case made by my hon. Friend the Member for Londonderry (Mr. Ross) based upon the nature of the agreement by which the present Northern Irish representation in this House was established. Let is be remembered, as my hon. Friend has said, that Ulster had no complaint of her old Parliamentary status, indeed that the most cherished wish of the Ulster people was to preserve it in the form in which it had existed for more than 100 years. It was not they who sought a change but we who begged them to acquiesce. We did that moved by the desire to bring to a close the secular misunderstanding between Ireland and this country. It could only be done by some arrangement which should be both acceptable and accepted by Southern Ireland and acceptable and accepted by Northern Ireland. The first effort was the Act of 1920, which was decisive for the fate of Ulster, and the part of it which applies to Ulster remains in force, not merely in spite of but because of the later Irish agreement which consecrated it afresh. That being so, we, the Government of the United Kingdom, having sought to introduce the change and the Ulster of that day being a party which did not so much accept as reluctantly acquiesce in it in deference to reasons of high policy and national interest, have we the right a few years afterwards to alter the representation which we agreed to allow and they agreed to accept?

I remember well the introduction of the first Home Rule Bill into this House. I remember well—not that I was a Member at that time—the franchise agitation of 1885. I remember that, as long as we retained and meant to retain the right to govern Ireland from this House, it was common ground to all parties and every statesman who dealt with the question that we had no right to interfere with the representation allotted to Ireland under the Act of Union, even though that representation had become strikingly out of proportion with the representation with the rest of the Kingdom. When the new agreement was made, instead of Ulster being over-represented, she was persuaded to accept under-representation. If there was any claim of right, if there was any moral obligation on men of all parties here to maintain the old Irish representation as long as that agreement was in force, there is an ever greater obligation not to reduce the inferior representation which is all that Northern Ireland was allotted and accepted in the arrangement of 1920, confirmed by the later Act embodying the agreement with Southern Ireland.

It is not, therefore, on the ground of the special claims of universities to representation, it is not on any general argument applicable to the whole of the country that I offer my support to the Amendment. It is because I feel that, as one of those responsible for both those Acts, I have a special responsibility as long as I am here, and the whole House has a moral responsibility to keep faith with those with whom it made a twice consecrated bargain. This is really no party issue. We hope we have wiped the Irish troubles off the slate of our political history. The right hon. Gentleman himself, at an earlier stage of the Bill, has recognised how undesirable, how impolitic, how foolish it would be to do anything which could disturb or upset the agreement that was come to. I beg him, even if he does not feel these arguments with the same force and pressure with which they appeal to me, to apply his own principles in this case and not to invite the House to do anything which can be felt by a great section of those whom we represent as a breach of the agreement and the treaty that we made.


I intend to vote for this Amendment, and not to he silent, though my words will be very few. I listened with very great interest to the two speeches delivered by my hon. Friends from Northern Ireland who put the case from different points of view. I have known the hon. and gallant Member for Queen's University (Colonel Sinclair) for a very long time, and I know of no man who is more able to put the case for the representation of that university in the Imperial Parliament on its merits than he can. He has occupied a distinguished position at that university for many years, and in my day in Ireland his name in his profession was a household word. I listened with the very greatest attention to what he had to say, and, on the merits of the position, he made a very excellent case. The speech of my hon. Friend the Member for Londonderry (Mr. Ross) took a different line, and it is the line which I propose to take.

As my right hon. Friend the Member for West Birmingham (Sir A. Chamberlain) has reminded the Committee, I, like him, took a very prominent part in the negotiations which preceded the Home Rule Bill of 1920. Some of those negotiations were public and some of them were private, and, so far as I can personally do it, I propose, by my vote, to fulfil the share which I took in those obligations. There is no doubt in my mind that the six counties, as they were called, of Northern Ireland never wished to break away from the home connections with the Imperial Parliament, and it was after very careful, very prolonged, and, at times, very exacting negotiations that an arrangement was made by means of which the representation of the university should be as it is now, as well as that of Northern Ireland as a whole. There was a great demand in Northern Ireland for representation in the Imperial Parliament of Queen's University, which is a very distinguished university.

I have every reason to know, as my hon. Friend the Member for Londonderry has said, that, if there was a plebiscite at the present moment in Northern Ireland as to whether there should be university representation as far as Queen's University is concerned in the Imperial Parliament, unhesitatingly all classes, all creeds, and all political sections would say that Queen's University, of which they are inordinately proud, should have representation in this House. After 1922, there was the Treaty. I had very little to do with the Treaty, but as my right hon. Friend has said, the Treaty merely sanctified what was embodied in the Act of 1921.

There is, therefore, an even greater obligation, in my judgment, from the point of view of the honour of this House to maintain what was embodied in the Act of 1920. No single Member of this House can say that the Treaty rights of Southern Ireland have not been conserved—in my view they have been more than conserved—and all that Northern Ireland is asking is that their rights, expressly implied under the Treaty, should, as a matter of personal honour, be conserved in the same way by the Imperial Parliament. I am not discussing now the merits of University Representation—though I have my views about it—but what, in my view, is a simple question, namely, whether or not Queen's University is morally entitled to continue its representation in the Imperial Parliament. To that question, I shall unhesitatingly say "Yes," and I propose to fortify that answer by voting in the Lobby in favour of the Amendment.


As the right hon. Gentleman pointed out in the opening part of his speech, we are necessarily discussing this matter within narrow limits and cannot enter into the larger subject which will be the theme of our discussion later on. I hope that I shall not be misunderstood, therefore, if I say that we are now dealing with what is a minor matter in relation to the general proposal of University Representation. There was an impression exhibited in the Second Reading Debate that this Parliament was under a solemn obligation never to change the representation of Northern Ireland in this House. As the Debate travelled, I remember that many Members were impressed by that argument, until my right hon. Friend the Minister of Health quoted the terms of the Act in the speech which he made. He pointed out clearly that the Act begun by stating that, Unless and until the Parliament of the United Kingdom otherwise determines, the following provisions shall have effect."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 2nd February, 1931; col. 1582, Vol. 247.] and included in those provisions was the provision that 13 representatives should come from Northern Ireland to the Imperial Parliament.


Does the right hon. Gentleman claim that that would justify him in turning out all the Irish representatives?


I do not propose to do that. The right hon. Gentleman should keep his mind just within the length of that which I am putting forward and not raise a purely hypothetical, and, if I may say so, quite fanciful notion of something I am not proposing at all. It appears to me that many Members of the House are just as much mistaken, as revealed in the speeches that we have heard, as they were on the occasion of the Second Reading to which I have referred, for the Queen's University of Belfast secured its representation, not by the Act of 1920, not by any agreement which followed, or by any Treaty subsequent to the Act of 1920; representation was conceded to Queen's University of Belfast in the Representation of the People Act which was passed by this House in 1918.


If the right hon. Gentleman will refer to the OFFICIAL REPORT, Volume 130, column 2067, he will see that Queen's University of Belfast got its representation in the 1920 Act in an Amendment, and that it was not originally intended that it should be represented. It only secured representa- tion, after representations had been made, by means of that Amendment, against which the right hon. Gentleman did not speak; nor did he oppose it in this House.


I have here before me the Public Acts, and it will be found—


Will the right hon. Gentleman refer to the OFFICIAL REPORT?


I cannot at the moment, but I will certainly refer to that point. The Representation of the People Act passed in 1918 included a Sixth Schedule in which you have the clear indication that representation, was conceded to Queen's University of Belfast. All the argument so far has been that Queen's University secured representation by the Act of 1920, and that that was confirmed, carried over, and ratified by some subsequent treaty. The whole of this argument goes completely by reference to the Act of 1918. Now the comment is that it does not matter when it got it. If we are to take that argument, we start upon even ground. I think that I am entitled to say that the Act of 1920 never contemplated absolute permanency of representation in this House on the part of either universities or constituencies. You must allow for conditions and probabilities of change according to changing electorates and according to alterations in our Parliamentary system. If we accepted the doctrine that once you do anything it shall never be undone, we shall never enjoy any condition of freedom.

Assume that this House is disposed to agree on general principles to a change in the matter of university representation—and this will be decided later on—as soon as we reach the stage to agree to make a change in the matter of university representation, will anybody say that whatever be the degree of that change and however much we may alter it in respect of English, Welsh or Scottish constituencies, there must be no interference whatever with the position of Northern Ireland. Nobody, I assume, would use an argument of that kind. Therefore, if the House is to agree to a change, it is preposterous that anyone should assume that Northern Ireland should be left entirely unaltered, all the more so because Queen's University is, I will not say quite the least, but very nearly the smallest of the university constituencies. It has in this House a representative for an electorate of only 3,300. That electorate of 3,300 is represented here in a dual sense, because electors, in large part, if not entirely, are also represented by others in the Northern Parliament and by representatives in this House as well. Ordinarily, no man can come into this House unless he secures the support of a constituency numbering round about 50,000 electors.

The hon. Gentleman the Member for Londonderry (Mr. Ross), and, indeed, the seconder of the Amendment as well, seemed to apply to this Amendment the same argument that I applied to the argument on the general question of the Bill with respect to Northern Ireland. I argued then that to apply the general proposals of the Bill in regard to double-member constituencies, plural voting, and the rest, would, in my judgment, be an indefensible interference with the internal affairs of Northern Ireland. But the two positions are wholly different, and, therefore, assuming that the House is disposed to make this change, it is most unreasonable to expect the Government to make an exemption in Northern Ireland, particularly as one man comes here with so small an electorate. Accordingly, I ask the Committee to agree with me in the conclusion that this Amendment should be rejected.

5.0 p.m.


I am astonished at the right hon. Gentleman's answer to the case made out by hon. Members on this side of the House, and particularly the case made by the right hon. Member for Ross and Cromarty (Mr. Macpherson), who was Chief Secretary for Ireland at the time when the Act of 1920 was placed upon the Statute Book. I was only a private Member at that time, but I remember very well the history of that transaction. The Home Secretary is right in saying that the constituency of Queen's University first came into existence in 1918, but what is important is not the date when it actually came into existence but the date when its existence was actually confirmed as part of the agreement made between hon. Members here and hon. Members from Ulster. In the original form of the Act of 1920 Queen's University was not included. My right hon. Friend the Member for Bury St. Edmunds (Mr. Guinness), with whom I was working in very close co-operation at that time, moved an Amendment to include Queen's University and three other universities, and the justice of his case was so unanswerable that that Amendment was accepted unanimously by the House. As a result, Queen's University was definitely included in the moral obligation into which we entered with Northern Ireland.

It may not have been in the strict legal sense of the word a strictly Statutory obligation; it may not have been an obligation such as an obligatoin of the Act of Union, but in my view the very fact that it was a gentlemen's arrangement, that it was a moral obligation—[Interruption]—I mean what I say, and I am not ashamed of it—makes it far more binding upon this House than if it had actually been stated in an Act of Parliament that upon no occasion and under no circumstances should the 13 seats of Northern Ireland ever be altered. Ulster at that time was prepared to take a smaller representation than she was really entitled to owing to the importance of her position in the United Kingdom and owing to the importance of her growing population, The Home Secretary brushes aside this case as if it was not a question of any obligation. He says there can be no permanency as to the constituencies of Northern Ireland. If I understood him aright, that means that you can take away seats from Northern Ireland at will. Of course, as I understood him, we could not take away all the 13 seats, but perhaps in the course of the Debate we may be informed how far we may deprive a party to a bargain of an integral condition to which we agreed when the bargain was made. I should like to know how many seats, and when, may be taken from Ulster, and at what point the moral obligation would actually be broken or not.

I cannot help feeling that the Home Secretary must feel in some difficulty over this Amendment. He told us in a previous Debate that he did not wish to introduce disturbing elements into Northern Ireland, and he reminded us just now that, holding the view that Northern Ireland is a definite political entity whose views ought to be consulted in a discussion of this kind, he was not prepared to apply to Northern Ireland the Alternative Vote, the single-member constituency, and the provisions in regard to motor cars. He said that this ease rests upon an entirely different category. I wonder what he has in his mind. If he means that it rests upon an entirely different category because in this case we are breaking a moral obligation while in regard to the others we should not be breaking an obligation, I think he is right. He used a very curious expression. He said that if we accepted the fact that a thing once done should never be undone, it would be a hopeless position into which we should get. I should have said that if you once start noon the principle that a bargain once made can be unmade by one side, the moral worth of this House will be seriously threatened in the eyes of the country and of the whole world.

I hope that the Home Secretary has not given his final answer. He has heard the right hon. Member who was directly responsible for this arrangement say, quite definitely, that the 13 seats in Ulster, of which the Belfast University seat is one, were a definite part of a long and difficult bargain, in which Ulster gave up much and in which Southern Ireland gained much. He has heard that right hon. Gentleman say that he holds that view so strongly that he is going to show by his vote that a moral obligation of that kind must be kept. I hope that in view of that statement, to which the Home Secretary has given no answer, we shall hear some other response from the Government before we take the serious course that the Home Secretary wishes us to take.


I am very sorry on this occasion to find myself in disagreement with my right hon. Friend the Member for Ross and Cromarty (Mr. Macpherson), but I am glad to think that disagreement very seldom occurs between us. This is not a matter that raises any party issue. It is a comparatively narrow point, that should be dealt with upon its merits. There is one consideration in this case, and it seems to me an exceedingly important one, which has not been mentioned by any hon. Members who have spoken in support of the Amendment, nor by the Home Secretary, and it is this, that this Clause does not seek only to reduce the representation in this Parliament of Northern Ireland by one seat, but it seeks simultaneously to reduce the representation of Great Britain by 11 seats. That is an exceedingly important matter. This is not a one-sided arrangement. When the representation of Northern Ireland was settled in this House in 1920 it was settled only in proportion to the Members of the House of Commons at that time. Ulster was given a representation of 13 Members in a Parliament of 615. Now, she seeks to retain that representation of 13 Members in a House of Commons of 604. Therefore, what the representatives of Northern Ireland are asking today is for a larger representation of Northern Ireland in this House in proportion to its numbers, than was agreed to in 1920. Consequently, it is not a question of breaking a bargain in the interests of Great Britain against Northern Ireland. If this Amendment were carried the arrangement then made would be modified and would be modified mathematically to the advantage of Northern Ireland as against Great Britain.


May I give the right hon. Gentleman a few figures? At present the average number of electors per Member in Great Britain is 46,632. When Great Britain has given up its University seats, that number will be increased to 47,331. With us in Ulster, the average number of electors per Member with our University seat, is 60,467. We have vast constituencies. If you take away our one small constituency, the University seat, our average electorate will go up to 65,506, which shows that we shall be in an infinitely worse position than will Great Britain.


That is partly because the Belfast University has a preposterous electorate of only 3,000, whereas the ordinary constituency has an electorate of 50,000 or 60,000. Naturally, if you abolish that one small constituency, it somewhat affects the average of the rest. That merely enforces the extraordinary anomaly of having this tiny constituency still surviving and entitled to a Member in this House, with equal voting power with the vast populous constituencies which the average Member represents. I will come to the point about voters in a moment. The right hon. Member for West Birmingham (Sir A. Chamberlain) said, taking an extreme case, that if you think that there is a right to modify the Act of 1920 you could say that you have a moral right to abolish the Irish representation altogether. Let me take another extreme case. Suppose there was a redistribution of seats, and the position was entirely altered. Suppose it were felt that this Parliament of 615 Members was much too large, and some later Parliament, holding different views as to the nature of popular representation, thought that a Parliament of 300 Members would be much better. Would the right hon. Gentleman say that in such circumstances you would have no moral right to alter the representation of Northern Ireland in such a House of Commons, because in 1920 they were given 13 Members in a Parliament of 615?


That position was taken by all the great leaders, irrespective of party, in regard to the general representation of Ireland under the Act of Union, and I know of no reason why the representation of Ulster under the Act of 1920 is not as great and as high a moral obligation.


The cases are not analogous, and for this reason, that all through the Irish Home Rule controversy the point was raised that the Irish ought to forfeit part of their representation here on the grounds of population, whilst obtaining no Parliament of their own. But Ulster has a Parliament of her own.


With no power of taxation.


That is the reason why Ulster in 1920 agreed that her representation here could not be maintained at her full level. Now, I come to the point raised in the speeches this afternoon. Hon. Members from Ulster say that it is exceedingly unfair to reduce the Ulster representation by one when already they have only half the Members that they are entitled to on the basis of population. It is quite true, looking at the matter solely from the point of view of United Kingdom legislation as a whole, that they have only half the representation that they would be entitled to on the basis of population but, on the other hand, when we are legislating for Great Britain on, say the Trade Disputes Bill or the Education Bill, we find going into the Lobby Members from Ulster whose constituencies are in no way affected by that legislation.


What about the Scottish Members?


That is different. They have no Parliament of their own. Here there are 13 Members from Ulster, and they have it both ways. They can go to Belfast and deal with half the business there, and if the argument addressed to us were valid they would remain here in full force and deal with all our business and half of their own. The logical position of course, would be that Ulster should have her full representation here for the half business that affects her, but as that was found exceedingly difficult to work out, with that magnificent lack of logic which has always distinguished the British Constitution, we said to Ulster: "You are entitled to full representation for half the business here which affects you, but we cannot give you that, therefore we will give you half representation for all the business." That is the Constitution to-day. That is the reason why Ulster has no ground of complaint when she has to have about 100,000 electors, or whatever the number may be, to return a Member of Parliament while we have only 50,000 or 60,000.

It would be out of order to go into the merits of this Clause, but I would invite the Committee to consider the effect of striking out this Sub-section if the Clause is ultimately retained, and if it is not retained. If the Clause is struck out then all university representation will be retained, Queen's University, with Oxford and Cambridge and all the rest. If the Clause is retained but this Amendment carried then there will be only one university representative in the whole of this House. Oxford and Cambridge and Glasgow and Edinburgh will all disappear, and there will be one university representative, that of Queen's University, Belfast. Is that really a possible proposition? For these reasons I hope the Committee will support the Government and maintain this Sub-section.


The Committee must be amazed at the speech by which the night hon. Member for Darwen (Sir H. Samuel) has come to the rescue of the Government. He is prepared to go a great deal further than the Home Secretary. His argument comes to this, that it does not matter what bargain you make with Ulster, or what has been put into the Act of Parliament by which the Ulster bargain was carried out, if circumstances have changed in your own country you can tear up the whole of that bargain.


Both sides of the balance are affected.


What does that mean? It means that if the Government having made a bargain, a treaty, consider that the circumstances have changed in England, Scotland and Wales, they are then entitled to propose to the House that the whole of the arrangement must be rewritten. It means that the bargain with Ulster was not a bargain, that the settlement was not a settlement, that it was a unilateral arrangement which can be varied at any moment. If the right hon. Member for Darwen had put that proposition to Parliament when the Ulster agreement was being enshrined in an Act of Parliament he would not have found another hon. Member to share his view. He has shown by his speech exactly what are the merits of the proposition. It is not a question of university representation as such. He is prepared to go the whole hog and say that it is not a bargain and can be torn up at any moment. He has put himself in exactly the same position as if he said that any treaty made with a foreign Power might be torn up if circumstances changed in this country; that if you make a commercial treaty and circumstances change, if economic conditions change, and you find it inconvenient to carry out the provisions of the treaty you may tear up the treaty. That is an exact parallel to the present proposition, morally if not legally.

I know that constitutionally this House can revoke any Act of Parliament, but, if we put treaties into Acts of Parliament and enshrine agreements in Acts of Parliament, whatever may be our legal constitutional theoretical right we are nevertheless bound by an honourable obligation which should be as binding on this House as any letter of the con- sitution. Suppose a loan was floated and that people subscribed on the faith that it would be free of Income Tax up to 4s. in the £ the right hon. Member for Darwen holds himself free to say that if Income Tax goes up by another 2s. he can cancel this arrangement with the bondholders; he holds himself free to charge 6s. Income Tax on the people who subscribed to the loan. I am glad the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Darwen has intervened in the Debate because it shows that unless you are prepared to tear up the whole of the Ulster bargain this Sub-section cannot stand.

The SOLICITOR-GENERAL (Sir Stafford Cripps)

I intervene in the Debate on one point only. It is assumed that this was part of the Ulster bargain. It has been pointed out already that this representation was introduced by an Amendment which was accepted by the House, and I should have thought that this showed conclusively that the Government who introduced the Bill containing the bargain did not consider that this was a part of it.


The Chief Secretary for Ireland at the time said that there was a bargain and to my personal knowledge there was a bargain. I was a Member for an Ulster constituency at the time and, although I was not present at the interview, I was told of what happened by Sir William Whitla, the Member for Queen s University. I know that representations were made and that as a result the agreement was that the Amendment should be inserted, and it was accepted. It was part of a bargain.


I can only speak of what is recorded in the OFFICIAL REPORT. I have read through the Debate which took place on this Amendment, and it is quite clear from the speech then made by Mr. Long that he did not consider it was part of any bargain. The only reason which was stressed for the continuance of university representation was because the Southern Unionists would have no representation in this House unless they could get members elected for Trinity College, Dublin. The question of any representation of Northern Ireland was not mentioned in the whole of the Debate on that Amendment. The only mention of it was when Sir William Whitla stated that he was prepared to sacrifice his seat for Queen's University, Belfast, in order to get what he considered desirable, and that was the representation of Southern Unionists by the Trinity College, Dublin, vote. He said it in these words: I have the honour to represent one of these university constituencies, and I feel myself labouring under disadvantage on that account, but if I desire this Amendment to be put with all force it is because I believe in the simple justice which it will give to the southern and western Unionists. Without it they will not be represented. Dublin University has two members, the National University one; and the Queen's University one; but I do not think this is an occasion for any compromise. If I were entirely free I would throw my seat aside, much as I honour the privilege of sitting in this House, if it would help the Unionists in the south and west of Ireland."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 22nd June, 1920; col. 2068, Vol. 130.] It is quite clear that he was not pressing a bargain by which the University of Belfast should be introduced as having a member. What he was pressing was an arrangement by which the southern universities should have representatives in this House so that Unionists in the south and west of Ireland might be represented.


The speech of the Solicitor-General only shows how untruthful history may be. Our own memory sometimes proves that what appears in print may be a very untrue statement of what actually took place. I must draw attention to the arithmetic of the right hon. Member for Darwen (Sir H. Samuel). If he wants to make a balance on this arrangement he must take 46 or 47 Members away from the other side. The position is clear from the words of the right hon. Member for Darwen. He said that. Ulster agreed that representation should not be retained but that half representation should be given to Ulster for all business. These statements can only mean that there was a definite arrangement. The Home Secretary has said that Queen's University was represented under the Act of 1918. I do not see the relevancy of that statement. It is true that Queen's University was represented under the Act of 1918 but the present representation in this House is under the Act of 1520, and the important question now before the Committee is whether the provision in the Act of 1920 was a bargain or not. The question is, was the representation given by the Act of 1920 part of a bargain or not? We say that it was part of a bargain, and we have the personal testimony of Members of the Government at that time who say that it was part of a bargain. We cannot push the

matter any further but I think there is no doubt whatever on the subject.

Question put, "That the words proposed to be left out stand part of the Clause."

The Committee divided: Ayes, 178; Noes, 168.

Division No. 194.] AYES. [5.30 p.m.
Adamson, W. M. (Staff., Cannock) Hall, J. H. (Whitechapel) Oliver, George Harold (Ilkeston)
Addison, Rt. Hon. Dr. Christopher Hardie, George D. Paling, Wilfrid
Aitchison, Rt. Hon. Craigie M. Harris, Percy A. Palmer, E. T.
Alexander, Rt. Hon. A. V. (Hillsbro') Hastings, Dr. Somerville Parkinson, John Allen (Wigan)
Alpass, J. H. Hayes, John Henry Perry, S. F.
Ammon, Charles George Henderson, Right Hon. A. (Burnley) Pethick-Lawrence, F. W.
Angell, Sir Norman Henderson, W. W. (Middx., Enfield) Picton-Turbervill, Edith
Attlee, Clement Richard Herriotts, J. Pole, Major D. G.
Ayles, Walter Hirst, G. H. (York W. R. Wentworth) Potts, John S.
Barnes, Alfred John Hoffman, P. C. Ramsay, T. B. Wilson
Barr, James Hopkin, Daniel Richardson, R. (Houghton-le-Spring)
Batey, Joseph Hore-Bolisha, Leslie Romeril, H. G.
Beckett, John (Camberwell, Peckham) Hudson, James H. (Huddersfield) Rosbotham, D. S. T.
Bennett, Sir E. N. (Cardiff, Central) Hunter, Dr. Joseph Rowson, Guy
Bennett, William (Battersea, South) Johnston, Thomas Salter, Dr. Alfred
Benson, G. Jones, Morgan (Caerphilly) Samuel, Rt. Hon. Sir H. (Darwen)
Blindell, James Jowett, Rt. Hon. F. W. Samuel, H. Walter (Swansea, West)
Bondfield, Rt. Hon. Margaret Kelly, W. T. Sanders, W. S.
Bowen, J. W. Kennedy, Rt. Hon. Thomas Sandham, E.
Bowerman, Rt. Hon. Charles W. Kinley, J. Shaw, Rt. Hon. Thomas (Preston)
Broad, Francis Alfred Knight, Holford Shepherd, Arthur Lewis
Brockway, A. Fenner Lambert, Rt. Hon. George (S. Molton) Shield, George William
Brooke, W. Lang, Gordon Shiels, Dr. Drummond
Brothers, M. Lansbury, Rt. Hon. George Shillaker, J. F.
Brown, Ernest (Leith) Law, A. (Rossendale) Shinwell, E.
Burgess, F. G. Lawson, John James Short, Alfred (Wednesbury)
Buxton, C. R. (Yorks, W. R. Elland) Lawther, W. (Barnard Castle) Simmons, C. J.
Cameron, A. G. Leach, W. Sinclair, Sir A. (Caithness)
Carter, W. (St. Pancras, S.W.) Lee, Frank (Derby, N.E.) Smith, Frank (Nuneaton)
Charleton, H. C. Lee, Jennie (Lanark, Northern) Smith, H. B. Lees (Keighley)
Chater, Daniel Lloyd, C. Ellis Smith, Rennie (Penistone)
Cluse, W. S. Longbottom, A. W. Smith, Tom (Pontefract)
Clynes, Rt. Hon. John R. Longden, F. Smith, W. R. (Norwich)
Cocks, Frederick Seymour Lowth, Thomas Sorensen, R.
Collins, Sir Godfrey (Greenock) Lunn, William Stamford, Thomas W.
Cripps, Sir Stafford Macdonald, Gordon (Ince) Strauss, G, R.
Daggar, George MacDonald, Rt. Hon. J. R. (Seaham) Sutton, J. E.
Dallas, George MacDonald, Malcolm (Bassetlaw) Taylor, W. B. (Norfolk, S.W.)
Dalton, Hugh McElwee, A. Tinker, John Joseph
Davies, Rhys John (Westhoughton) McEntee, V. L. Toole, Joseph
Denman, Hon. R. D. MacLaren, Andrew Townend, A. E
Dukes, C. MacNeill-Weir, L. Trevelyan, Rt. Hon. Sir Charles
Duncan, Charles McShane, John James Viant, S. P.
Ede, James Chuter Malone, C. L'Estrange (N'thampton) Walker, J.
Edwards, E. (Morpeth) Manning, E. L. Wallace, H. W.
Egan, W. H. March, S. Watkins, F. C.
Elmley, Viscount Marley, J. Wellock, Wilfred
Foot, Isaac Marshall, Fred Welsh, James (Paisley)
Freeman, Peter Mathers, George Whiteley, Wilfrid (Birm., Ladywood)
Gardner, B. W. (West Ham, Upton) Matters, L. W. Wilkinson, Ellen C.
Gardner, J. P. (Hammersmith, N.) Melville, Sir James Williams, David (Swansea, East)
George, Rt. Hon. D. Lloyd (Car'vn) Mills. J. E. Williams, T. (York, Don Valley)
Gibson, H. M. (Lanes, Mossley) Montague, Frederick Wilson, C. H. (Sheffield, Attercliffe)
Gillett, George M. Morley, Ralph Wilson, J. (Oldham)
Glassey, A. E. Mort, D. L. Wood, Major McKenzie (Banff)
Gossling, A. G. Muff. G. Young, R. S. (Islington, North)
Graham, Rt. Hon. Wm. (Edin., Cent.) Muggeridge, H. T.
Greenwood, Rt. Hon. A. (Colne) Naylor, T. E. TELLERS FOR THE AYES.
Grenfell, D. R. (Glamorgan) Noel Baker, P. J. Mr. Charles Edwards and Mr.
Griffith, F. Kingsley (Middlesbro' W.) Noel-Buxton, Baroness (Norfolk, N.) Thurtle.
Grundy, Thomas W. Oldfield, J. R.
Albery, Irving James Baldwin, Rt. Hon. Stanley (Bewdley) Bowater, Col. Sir T. Vansittart
Allen, Sir J. Sandeman (Liverp'l., W.) Balniel, Lord Boyce, Leslie
Allen, Lt.-Col. Sir William (Armagh) Beaumont, M. W. Bracken, B.
Amery, Rt. Hon. Leopold C. M. S. Berry, Sir George Brass, Captain Sir William
Aske, Sir Robert Betterton, Sir Henry B. Briscoe, Richard George
Astor, Viscountess Bird, Ernest Roy Buchan, John
Baillie-Hamilton, Hon. Charles W. Bourne, Captain Robert Croft Buchan-Hepburn, P. G. T.
Bullock, Captain Malcoim Hannon, Patrick Joseph Henry Rentoul, Sir Gervals S.
Butier, R. A. Hartington, Marquess of Roberts, Sir Samuel (Ecclesall)
Campbell, E. T. Heneage, Lieut.-Colonel Arthur P. Robertson, Despencer-, Major J. A. F.
Carver, Major W. H. Herbert, Sir Dennis (Hertford) Rodd, Rt. Hon. Sir James Rennell
Castle Stewart, Earl of Hills, Major Rt. Hon. John Waller Ross, Ronald D.
Cautley, Sir Henry S. Hoare, Lt.-Col. Rt. Hon. Sir S. J. G. Ruggles-Brise, Lieut.-Colonel E. A.
Cayzer, Sir C. (Chester, City) Hope, Sir Harry (Forfar) Runciman, Rt. Hon. Walter
Cazalet, Captain Victor A. Hunter-Weston, Lt.-Gen. Sir Aylmer Russell, Alexander West (Tynemouth)
Cecil, Rt. Hon. Lord H. (Ox. Univ.) Hurd, Percy A. Russell Richard John (Eddisbury)
Chamberlain Rt. Hn. Sir J. A. (Birm., W.) Hurst, Sir Gerald B. Salmon, Major I.
Church, Major A. G. Hutchison, Maj.-Gen. Sir R. Samuel, A. M. (Surrey, Farnham)
Churchill, Rt. Hon. Winston Spencer Inskip, Sir Thomas Sandeman, Sir N. Stewart
Clydesdale, Marquess of Iveagh, Countess of Savery, S. S.
Cobb, Sir Cyril Kindersley, Major G. M. Simon, Rt. Hon. Sir John
Colfox, Major William Philip Knox, Sir Alfred Sinclair, Col. T. (Queen's U., Belfst)
Conway, Sir W. Martin Law, Sir Alfred (Derby, High Peak) Skelton, A. N.
Cowan, D. M. Lewis, Oswald (Colchester) Smith, R. W. (Aberd'n & Kinc'dine, C.)
Cranborne, Viscount Little, Graham-, Sir Ernest Smith-Carington, Neville W.
Crichton-Stuart, Lord C. Locker-Lampson, Rt. Hon. Godfrey Smithers, Waldron
Croft, Brigadier-General Sir H. Locker-Lampson, Com. O. (Handsw'th) Somerset, Thomas
Crookshank, Capt. H. C. Long, Major Hon. Eric Somerville, A. A, (Windsor)
Culverwell, C. T. (Bristol, West) Lymington, Viscount Southby, Commander A. R. J,
Cunliffe-Lister, Rt. Hon. Sir Philip McConnell, Sir Joseph Spender-Clay, Colonel H,
Dalkeith, Earl of Macdonald, Capt. P. D. (I. of W.) Stanley, Lord (Fylde)
Dairymple-White, Lt.-Col. Sir Godfrey Macpherson, Rt. Hon. James I. Stephen, Campbell
Davidson, Rt. Hon. J. (Hertford) Macquisten, F. A. Stewart, W. J. (Belfast, South)
Davies, Maj. Geo. F. (Somerset, Yeovil) Maitland, A. (Kent, Faversham) Stuart, Hon. J. (Moray and Nairn)
Davison, Sir W. H. (Kensington, S.) Marjoribanks, Edward Sueter, Rear-Admiral M. F.
Duckworth, G. A. V. Meller, R. J. Thomas, Major L. B. (King's Norton)
Dugdale, Capt. T. L. Millar, J. D. Thomson, Sir F.
Eden, Captain Anthony Milne, Wardlaw-, J. S. Todd, Capt. A. J.
Elliot, Major Walter E. Mitchell, Sir W. Lane (Streatham) Tryon, Rt. Hon. George Clement
Erskine, Lord (Somerset, Weston-s.-M.) Mitchell-Thomson, Rt. Hon. Sir W. Turton, Robert Hugh
Everard, W. Lindsay Moore, Sir Newton J. (Richmond) Vaughan-Morgan, Sir Kenyon
Faile, Sir Bertram G. Moore, Lieut.-Colonel T. C. R. (Ayr) Ward, Lieut.-Col. Sir A. Lambert
Fermoy, Lord Morris, Rhys Hopkins Warrender, Sir Victor
Fielden, E. B. Morris-Jones, Dr. J. H. (Denbigh) Waterhouse, Captain Charles
Forestier-Walker, Sir L. Morrison, W. S. (Glos., Cirencester) Wayland, Sir William A.
Fremantle, Lieut.-Colonel Francis E. Nicholson, Col. Rt. Hn. W. G. (Ptrsf'ld) Williams, Charles (Devon, Torquay)
Galbraith, J. F. W. O'Connor, T. J. Wilson, G. H. A. (Cambridge U.)
Ganzoni, Sir John Oman, Sir Charles William C. Winterton, Rt. Hon. Earl
Gault, Lieut.-Col. A. Hamilton O'Neill, Sir H. Withers, Sir John James
Glyn, Major R. G. C. Peaks, Capt. Osbert Wolmer, Rt. Hon. Viscount
Gower, Sir Robert Percy, Lord Eustace (Hastings) Womersley, W. J.
Graham, Fergus (Cumberland, N.) Peto, Sir Basil E. (Devon, Barnstaple) Wright, Brig.-Gen. W. D. (Tavist'k)
Grattan-Doyle, Sir N. Pownall, Sir Assheton Young, Rt. Hon. Sir Hilton
Gretton, Colonel Rt. Hon. John Preston, Sir Walter Rueben
Guinness, Rt. Hon. Walter E. Ramsbotham, H. TELLERS FOR THE NOES.
Hacking, Rt. Hon. Douglas H. Rathbone, Eleanor Captain Margesson and Captain
Hall, Lieut.-Col. Sir F. (Dulwich) Reid, David D. (County Down) Sir George Bowyer.
Hamilton, Sir George (Ilford) Remer, John R.

Motion made, and Question proposed, "That the Clause stand part of the Bill."


I rise to advise a negative answer to the question. I must claim the indulgence of the Committee because, in addition to other ailments, I have been suffering from that endemic malady which the physicians call catarrh and the laity call a cold. That, it is well known, affects the vocal organs, so that it is possible I may be reduced to silence through no fault of my own, and not even with the consolation of supposing that it is the oppression of my opponents. I did not have the good fortune to hear the Second Reading Debate, but, with the assistance of the OFFICIAL REPORT, I have been able to make myself acquainted with what, I gather, is the main argument in favour of the Clause. Without attempting any quota- tion, I do not think I am misrepresenting the Home Secretary and those who supported him when I say that University Representation is attacked, not with any bitter reflection on the Members who actually represent the universities, but, in deference to a particular theory of representation, a theory which may be called the theory of equalitarian democracy.

As far as I understand it, the theory comes to this: That all the electors have a right to a vote, and that that right is a political power which must be proportionately shared among the whole 20,000,000 odd people who share in the electoral franchise. Each man has this 20,000,000th share in the representation of the Commons of England; that is the right, and for anyone to have more than a 20,000,000th share is unfair; and that since university Members are elected, first by persons who have two votes, a university vote and an ordinary vote, and, secondly, are elected by a number of votes smaller than is commonly entrusted with the choice of a Member, there is an injustice, and in the name of justice University Representation is to be abolished.

At the outset, of course, that is a mistaken theory. Voting is not a right; voting is a public function. No one has any more right to be a voter than he has to be, let me say, a policeman, or a judge, or a Prime Minister, or a Home Secretary. There is only one good argument for anyone having a vote, and that is the argument that it is in the public interest that he should have a vote; he is merely performing a public function, and, if it is the interest of the public that he should perform that function, that is the only good and sufficient argument why he should perform it. The function which voters exercise is not really a function that gives to each voter an equal share or anything distantly or remotely resembling an equal share in the Government of the country, as has been constantly pointed out by the Proportional Representation Society in the papers that that body has circulated. Everything depends, for example, on a thing so irrelevant to political right as where you happen to live, not in respect of your own opinions but in respect of the opinions of the other voters who share the franchise.

If you are a Liberal and live in the Home Counties, you vote always in a minority, which, though it may be thought of as the exercise of a public right, is a very unsatisfactory right. Even if you are a Liberal living in Wales, where you are a part, not of a minority, but of an assured majority, you still do not matter. But if you are a person who by chance lives where the balance of voters is very nearly equal between the contending parties, you begin to find yourself a very important person, exercising considerable political influence; and, if you combine with a small number of other people of the right way of thinking, you may become one of those organised minorities which make their voices heard with tremendous effect—a small body of people where the con- stituency is balanced. How can anyone who thinks clearly say that this is a political right which in the name of justice must always be equal?

There are inequalities much more subtle than these obvious inequalities. There are all those inequalities which arise from the system of choosing candidates. In a representative system the choice of the candidate is quite as important as the choice of the Member at the poll, and in many respects more important. Lately, wealthy individuals have run candidates in the name of one cause or another, and we read that the hon. Member for Smethwick (Sir O. Mosley) is contemplating no less than 400 candidates, but, in general, candidates are run by political parties and not by the enterprise of wealthy individuals. However those candidates are chosen, they are not chosen democratically. They are not chosen by the people for the people. They are chosen—but I will follow that out in detail in a moment.

Let me narrate, first, my own experience in 1906 as a candidate and then as a voter, and it will be seen how untrue it is to say that this representative system, which is supposed to be founded on justice, really enables either the voter to express his political convictions, or that candidate to be elected who represents the political convictions of a majority. When I stood for Greenwich in 1906 the country was divided and the opinion of voters was divided generally between the Liberal party and the Conservative party on the multiplicity of issues which divided those parties, and also, very prominently, on the issue of Tariff Reform or Free Trade. I was a Free Trader and a Conservative. I stood for Greenwich and I was at the bottom of the poll. But on the issue that Conservatism was, generally speaking, better than Liberalism, my convictions corresponded undoubtedly with the convictions of the majority of the electors. If the votes given to me and the votes given to my Tariff Reform opponent were put together, they represented a considerable majority of the electorate. Again, on the issue of Free Trade or Tariff Reform, my Free Trade convictions also commanded the adherence of the majority of the electors. I agreed with the majority and the majority agreed with me in being a Conservative. I agreed with the majority and the majority agreed with me in being a Free Trader. Yet I was at the bottom of the poll. Is that representative system so permeated with justice that, in the name of justice, we must destroy a particular kind of representative? And let me observe for the edification of hon. Gentlemen below the Gangway on this side, that the Alternative Vote would be no use, because my vote as the representative of those two majorities would have been distributed between the two minorities.

I went on the next day after my own defeat—in those days the election was spread over a considerable period—to record my vote in the city of Oxford. I had a vote for my college chambers, and awaiting me was the literature—which, very wisely, had not been forwarded—issued on behalf of the two candidates. I read, as a voter ought to read, the addresses of both the candidates who were presenting themselves for the suffrages of the people of Oxford, and I found that I thoroughly disagreed with both. That was natural, of course, because the Conservative candidate was a strong Tariff Reformer, and the other candidate was a Liberal. What became of my right to the one-seven millionth, or the one-eight millionth, as it was then, of the government of the country? I was a voter with convictions. I had no opportunity of expressing my convictions at all. I must either vote for a person who was in my judgment wrong on the fiscal question, or for the other person who was wrong on every other question. What becomes of the theory of equalitarian democracy?

Let me further ask how a person desiring to become a Member of Parliament would set out to achieve that object. He would not, I think, present himself to the democracy. If he did, he would almost be thought a lunatic; it would be so eccentric. He would try to get, in modern times perhaps, the support of a wealthly and powerful owner of newspapers, but, in more normal circumstances, he would try to get the support of a political party. I do not know the machinery of all parties. I am only familiar with one, but I suppose that, apart from some slight differences in nomenclature, they are all much the same. He would find that in connection with the party there was a body called the association, which would be a tolerably numerous body. When he came to close quarters with this body, he would find that the function of the association was not really more discriminative than the function of the electorate at large. He would find that the real authority lay in a small body probably called the executive committee, or by some such title, and when he went to the executive committee he would find that two or three individuals of great energy and force of character really controlled the whole affair. It will be seen at once that all that system is oligarchic, and not democratic. The party itself is an oligarchic institution. The association which professes to represent the party is an oligarchy drawn from the larger oligarchy. The executive committee which professes to represent the association is a still smaller oligarchy drawn from the other oligarchy, and the two or three people who really decide the matter are the smallest and most powerful oligarchy of all.

Anyone who thinks that I am exaggerating these matters or stating them from a biased Conservative point of view, I would entreat to read Lord Bryce's great book "Modern Democracies," the last work which he gave to the world before he died. It is the work of an earnest democrat, one who ardently admired democracy and the ideals of democracy, but it is also the work of a man of singularly candid mind, and a deeply learned man who had taken trouble to inform himself about six great democracies, namely, Switzerland, France, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, and the United States. After a careful survey of democratic government in those countries he set out, in the last part of his book, the conclusions at which he arrived. What I have said as to an oligarchy is only a bald inadequate summary of the arguments which he propounds, and he comes to the conclusion that, though there may be such a thing in large communities as "government for the people," and in that sense a democratic ideal may be realised, government "by the people," strictly so-called, or democracy in its strict verbal sense, never exists nor can possibly exist in any large community. His analysis is much more elaborate and learned than that which I am putting before the Committee, but his principal reasons are these which will have been noticed in the sketch which I have already given.

First, there is the mechanical difficulty. In the case of a motor car one person must hold the wheel. That is a matter of mechanism, and directly von have an organisation, only a few people can be concerned with directing it, because, without hopeless confusion, a larger number cannot be consulted. Secondly, there is in human nature undoubtedly a perpetual unceasing trend towards oligarchy. People always prefer to let the few control the many. Let us suppose that a committee is set up in the House of Commons for any purpose, whether it is a serious purpose under the direction of the House, or some relatively frivolous purpose like the organisation of some sports or amusements voluntarily undertaken by Members. Before such a committee has sat for half-an-hour, it becomes plain that two or three people are those who will have to do the whole thing and those who have the ability, the energy, or the force of character or whatever it may be, decide, and the other members of the body are quite willing that it should be so. The trend to oligarchy operates in human nature, and, always, I think, leaves the few to control the many who obey.

6.0 p.m.

That trend accounts, I think, for the disappointment often experienced by young and ardent Members coming into the House of Commons. They find that influence always operating. They experience it, to begin with, in their efforts to obtain a seat. They have climbed the oligarchic staircase, in whatever party to which they belong, and they have reached the House of Commons. But when they are in the House they find that a Member of Parliament has not very much power, that the power lies with the Government of the day, and that the Government of the day, composed as it is of trusted leaders of the party, has commonly been steeped in various oligarchical influences, until it is not what its more ardent supporters would prefer to expect. I read in some of the organs of the Labour Press that, at this moment Labour Members are disillusioned. If it is any consolation to them, from an old Member, let me say that Members below the Gangway on the Ministerial side are always disillusioned. In the Salvation Army there is a special penitents' form. We might call the benches below the Gangway on the Ministerial side the benches of disillusion. That is only an illustration which shows that the whole of this theory of equalitarian democracy is a delusion. There is no such thing. We have been told that the gallant men at Gettysburg died in order that: government of the people, for the people, by the people, should not perish from the earth. If that be what they died for it was a pathetically futile death, because nothing is more certain than that that government only cannot perish from the earth because it has never existed upon it; and "government by the people" in any real sense of the term, has never been in existence, at any rate in any large community. Need we go further than the greatest political decision of our day? Our whole lives have been, and the lives of many generations succeeding us will be, coloured by the decision taken in August, 1914, to go to war. That decision was taken by the Ministry of the day, who called into collaboration the Front Opposition Bench as we term it, or the leaders of the other parties. They came to that decision. The House of Commons was, indeed, nominally consulted on 3rd August and its Members had an opportunity of voting for or against the Motion for the Adjournment. But the real decision had already been taken. Can anyone call that democracy? The whole fate of the country, the whole course of politics, was at stake, yet that decision was taken by quite a small number of persons. Nor could it have been otherwise, because the issue was not before the country, and could not have been, at any Election, and the House of Commons was required to assent, under the ordinary party arrangements, to what its leaders had determined. I would argue, therefore, that the principle of equalitarian democracy is a legendary thing. I view the Home Secretary like some arch-Druid in Stonehenge, preparing to carry out a human sacrifice to a false god that has never existed, nor is existing, nor ever will exist, and we, the Members for the Universities, huddled together like a "flock of slaughter," await his sacrificial knife with the miserable aggravation of our woes that he, fanatically sincere as we know him to be, is offering us up to a god that does not exist!

I should be sorry to leave the argument there, in a merely negative form. There is a theory, and a true theory, of representation which is quite different from the theory which I have been criticising. That is a theory which descends to us, I suppose, for 200 or 300 years and which was made classical by the genius of Burke. That theory does not seek to trace political power from each of the 20,000,000 voters, or whatever the numbers are, up to this House or to the Government of the day. It views representation from another aspect. It seeks to have a House of Commons which shall be representative because it is a microcosm of the whole people. We sit here on that theory, not as being each man with so many thousand voters' political power to exercise, but as being typical commoners, who are so chosen that the decision we come to is likely to be the decision of the whole people.

That is a true claim in the main. Everyone who knows the House of Commons knows that, outside of our differences between one party and the other, there are things which are out of the question, things which are excluded by the general sense of the House and the country; and they are very important things. There are things which nobody could put forward. In old times, we used to have acts of attainder, but no one ever proposes to have an act of attainder now. It is out of the question, and in that true sense we are representative. Such a barbaric thing could not happen; no one would propose it. I daresay there are delightful moments, when one is falling asleep, when I generally think that an American millionaire will leave me all his property, then the hon. Member for Bridgeton (Mr. Maxton) may dream of the Prime Minister on Tower Hill delivering a departing speech on economic truth, while perhaps the hon. Member for Smethwick (Sir O. Mosley), becomingly dressed in crimson, tight-fitting clothes, is to put an end to an ill-omened career.

These are merely dreams. The representative system does not allow proposals of that kind, and it is so in a vast number of things. There are things that are absurdities, errors of economics—great as are the differences between economic theories—which no one would put forward. There are principles of breaking faith and the like which no one would put forward. That is the general sense of the community which we represent. We do not represent it, as I have said, by any arithmetical connection. We represent it because we are typical of the people. We are commons of the realm by representation. That is the old classical phrase. The commons of the realm comprise the whole population except those peers who sit in the other House of Parliament. Everyone else is represented in the Commons; the King and the peers are not. That vast body of opinion we represent, in the sense that a map represents the country over which the traveller wishes to travel. What is found here will be found, in experience, in the commonalty at large. That is the true theory of representation. It is a reality. It is not this dreadful, artificial argument which everyone knows is untrue and which breaks down in a thousand ways directly you begin to test it. It is the truth. What this House says, whether there is a Labour, or a Conservative, or a Liberal majority, will broadly speaking be more or less acceptable to the whole people, because we are the commons by representation, and what seems to us typical commoners to be right will not, on the whole, seem to be wrong to the commoners outside.

From that point of view, and according to that theory, what can be more justifiable than university representation? Is it denied that the university electorate are in many respects leading in thought and in capacity for political leadership? Are they not the class from which political leaders in a very large measure come? And that is so in the case of revolutions. May I say, for the edification of those below the Gangway, that no revolution has ever prospered, has ever been successful, which has not been led by the professional classes? Robespierre was of this class. If Robespierre had lived to-day and been an Englishman, both of which are rather difficult to imagine, he would be undoubtedly a university graduate. I am inclined to think it would rather be of Cambridge than Oxford. The professional class are, beyond all doubt and controversy, an essential part of the popular voice in the true sense of the word. They have to be regarded. Certainly they have not to be regarded only, and if university representation was so expansive that it shut out the claims of other classes, no one would defend it for a moment. It is only as one contribution out of many to the general representative principle, of the representation of the whole by the whole, that it is justified.

Should we be more like the people or less like the people at large if we had no university representation? Should not we shut out a voice which is a really an influential voice, which really goes to make up that mysterious thing called public opinion, which in the end decides so many controversies; and is it not right and important that the whole representative system should have regard to the real sources of political power and influence over public opinion? I am sure that the House of Commons, representing the professional class, and in some way able to speak on behalf of that class, is much more truly the mirror of the commons of the realm than if there were no such representation. Observe that under this theory of representation the absurdities of which I have spoken do not arise. The decision about the War, for example, was a decision taken by the whole House of Commons, which would certainly have been taken by the whole people had it been possible at the time to consult them. That representation of the whole by the whole justifies what then happened.

Do not let us then spoil what has come down to us. Do not let us make the representative system less real in the true sense of the word. Do not let us shut out one important part of public opinion, one important part of the voice of the whole commons of the realm, merely because we have obfuscated our minds by an utterly false theory of representation which cannot stand criticism for a moment. I do appeal to the Committee to act in this matter as the inheritors of a great inheritance. The House of Commons has come down. We represent the whole commons of the realm. Let us take care that we hand it on to our posterity not less the mirror of public opinion than we find it—still, as it has always been, the true voice of Great Britain, where will be found the sense of the commons of the realm as befits a House which is the Commons House of Parliament. For the sake of that august tradition, for the sake of the truth of the representative system as it really is, I invite the Committee to reject this Clause.


In opposing this Clause, I am probably acting in the best interests of representative Government and of those who fought to return me to the constituency for which I was returned to this House. I feel that, particularly at the present time, when the machine of all parties is being questioned in no uncertain voice, when many of us feel blind allegiance to party weakening, when we are feeling that country must come first, and that world problems were never more difficult to solve, we need in the seat of authority men of the ripest judgment, prepared by their training, knowledge and experience to look at world problems and to fit in the problems of this country with those of the world, men who are prepared to look beyond their own selfish interests, men who are not concerned always to be fighting and considering themselves as arrayed in their own country to opposing forces, men and women who are prepared to look at world problems as a whole. I feel that those who have had the advantage of a university training are entitled to some special representation in this House. I do not believe in the principle that one must merely count noses in order to determine representation.

After all, what is it that the Labour party has been striving for during the whole of its existence? We can read the whole of the literature of the Labour party, and we will find all through, permeating every word that is written on the subject of representation and of education, that it is absolutely necessary that there should be a broad, high road to the university. What is the need for this broad, high road to the university? Why is it that in the Labour Year Book of 1918, written before the end of the War, such stress was laid upon the desirability of a university education? The writer on university education said quite definitely that it was to fit the people of this country, or a greater proportion of them, for the great responsibilities which awaited them in the future; and God knows that those responsibilities are greater now than they were even in the last year of the War. The problems facing the world to-day are greater than they have ever been before.

Why has the Labour party philosophy been permeated throughout by this desire for better and more education? If you want to deprive the universities, those ancient and modern seats of learning, of their special representation in this House, why is it that they have always been held up to such regard? Has it been merely to catch the votes of the university graduates, to gain the allegiance of the university men, to keep faithful to the Labour cause those who have risen out of the Labour ranks and gone to the universities by dint of their own exertions, self-sacrifice and perseverance? In none of the universities at present, even in the ancient seats of learning, can you find a big majority of the graduates who are graduates of what might be called the upper classes. The vast majority in all the modern universities are people who have definitely risen from the working classes, people whose fathers and mothers are quite definitely of the class which is represented by Members on these benches.

Even in the ancient seats of learning, you have only to look through the list, not merely of the graduates but of the dons and the professors, to find a large proportion of men of the most humble origin who have fought their way up to the positions they now hold. Every member of the Committee has had a manifesto on university representation, and I would invite attention to the signatories of that document. Consider what many of them are doing in the world at present; consider what contributions they have made to the material benefits which we enjoy, to which the average Member of Parliament has made singularly little contribution; consider the contributions which some of these men have made not merely to the material prosperity of the country and the material comfort of the masses of the people, but to the cultural side; and consider the new light which they have thrown on practically every problem that is facing us, whether in the world of science or of philosophy, or even of religious controversy. Above all, in the sphere of education these men have been responsible for broadening the whole basis of education, and they have been fighting year after year for a more liberal and comprehensive education for the whole of the people. Their names will he found in this manifesto, which asks Parliament to maintain a privilege given to people who have proved themselves by dint of their capacity for work and self sacrifice, and of their desire to put the whole of their energies into increasing the sum of knowledge for the benefit and the enlightenment of their fellows.

I will go further. The right hon. Gentleman the Member for Oxford University (Lord H. Cecil) has already dealt with the question of the oligarchic form of our present government. He did refer specifically to those forces that are contributing to make the Government of the day possible; he did not refer to the administrative services. Governments are completely dependent upon the products of the universities. There is not a Minister of the Crown who is not absolutely dependent for advice upon men in his Department, the majority of whom are university men. [Interruption.] It is suggested that we are in a mess. When Ministers want to get out of a mess, they do not go outside the university ranks for better advice; they call into consultation on their various committees men who, by their specialised knowledge, have proved their capacity for giving an opinion. It is said by my hon. Friends about me that we are still in a mess, but I would like to refer to some other countries, and one country in particular, for which certain Members in my party have a curious affection since it lapsed into the most appalling tyranny, which is something worse in the way of tyranny than the one it displaced. I refer to that particular country because they deliberately, in the height of their enthusiasm, decided that all their university people, except those of one colour, were enemies of the system. They did away with a good many of them, but I find that the whole of their philosophy is now based upon one of them—Professor Pavlov. The whole of the materialistic philosophy of the Union of Socialist Soviet Repub- lics is based upon the philosophy of Pavlov, who has become a god even greater than Lenin. They have destroyed many of their university men and institutions, but because they find that they must have them they are now setting up their own university, and they are getting leadership from the universities—


I do not think that this has any direct bearing upon university representation.


I was saying that there are other countries which have found that after destroying the special privileges once enjoyed by universities, they have had to reverse full cycle and become dependent on them more than ever. I understand, according to a paragraph from an untainted source which I read in a newspaper this morning, that they are actually applying for 15,000 technicians and professional men from outside the country—


I do not see that this has any bearing at all on university representation. The issue before the Committee is not to dispense with universities, but to dispense with university representation—an entirely different matter.


To get back to the special subject under consideration, there are many hon. Members who, if the Government had decided to make special provision for the representation of universities in another place in a reform of the Upper House, would have little objection to the change. Some of us would have welcomed that, for we see no reason why the university as such should not be represented, just as much as the Church is represented, in the other House in a special capacity. If we could have had a liberal measure of reform, comprising a complete revision of our constitution, including the Commons and the Lords, some of us might have been prepared to vote for the abolition of this privilege. The Committee have already decided by their vote on Clause 3 to abolish plural voting. If Clause 4 is not allowed to stand part, it will not violate that principle. Will the Government concede this point: will they be prepared to let this go to a free vote of the Committee, as they did on the ques- tion of the City of London, which is a money interest rather than an intellectual interest? As we have abolished plural voting, will the Government give the university graduates the privilege of voting in their own universities, if they wish to do so? In other words, can they have the option of voting in the university?

There is little possibility, as the country is constituted, and considering how few relatively go to universities, of the university graduates as such exercising any real influence in the average constituency. It is true that a good many university graduates are in this House, but they are not here as university representatives, and they are not men to whom graduates can come and say, "Will you do this?" They are not men upon whom the universities as such have any definite call; they are not men to whom professional bodies will normally gravitate, unless they happen to be representing in a particular sense a particular profession. The professional classes, which are recruited largely from the universities, find themselves in every constituency in a hopeless minority, and they will find themselves more and more in a hopeless minority as time goes on. As far as I can gather, although we are more and more dependent upon the university graduates, and although even the present Government, in every Committee that they set up, appoint a majority of university men to advise them—[Laughter.] There are some people who would like to change the whole situation in five minutes, but I would point out that even some of the leaders of the Labour party, the younger as well as the older men, normally come from one or other of the universities, and not always from the newer universities, but more frequently from the older ones. I need only mention Tawney, our pilot in educational matters, and Cole, for a long time our pilot in economic affairs. These men came from the older universities, and their advice is constantly sought; I find their names appearing again and again on various special committees which the Government have set up. Evidently, therefore, Ministers of the Crown have a special regard for their special knowledge.

It may have been true, as the Home Secretary said, that Lecky said that the political influence of the universities had been almost universally hostile to political progress; but that was written a good many years ago, and I would like to refer to Professor Whitehead, who agrees with Lecky that years ago the professional classes and the universities were hostile to progress, but he says that the trouble in the world now is that the professional classes are on the road to progress, and the world is suffering because it has been unable to attune its political machine to the amazing progress that has been made by the specialist profession. I should prefer the Government to drop this Clause altogether, and give the whole matter a little more consideration. I cannot see that it is vital to any bargain that has been made between the party opposite and the Government, and I cannot think that it is a valuable contribution at the present time. It is dealing with the whole life of Parliament in a hole-and-corner fashion, and it will only excite feelings of the greatest resentment in a large number of people, many of whom I represent in this House; it will lose the Labour party far more than it will gain, and it will definitely set against it a whole class of intellectuals in this country. For a Government which is so dependent, and has shown itself completely dependent, upon the specialist classes, to remove from its ranks the possibility of having these specialists brought to a focus through Members of the universities, will be something for which it will be very sorry now, and more sorry at the time of the next election, when many of those who were in the forefront helping the Labour party at the last election will he found arrayed against it.


I cannot help thinking that the hon. and gallant Member for Central Wandsworth (Major Church) has under-estimated the public spirit of the intellectual section of the community for whom he has spoken. Does he really think that in order to get them to give their support in the direction in which they honestly believe it should go, they need to be bribed by a special franchise? I cannot think it is so. He has asked us to refer to the manifesto sent round by the supporters of university representation. I wonder whether he has also seen the printed post cards they sent round, post cards which were so far away from the realities of politics that they actually asked Members of this House to vote against this Clause when it came up for discussion in the House of Lords? That does not seem to show a very close appreciation of the realities of the situation. I feel some responsibility in being the first Member to rise to criticise the fascinating speech of the Noble Lord the senior Member for Oxford University (Lord H. Cecil), but, as he spoke, this came inevitably to my mind. He was speaking of this House as a set of typical commoners, but could anyone listening to him—and I say it with the greatest respect—imagine that he is in any sense an example of the typical commoner? Is not the reason why we all come in from all the precincts of this House to hear him when he is speaking the fact that he is not a typical commoner, but something entirely individual?

With a great deal of what the Noble Lord said when he was criticising the workings of democracy hon. Members in all parts of the House will agree. Who is going to stand up and say that democracy is perfect; but because democracy does not always work out as we think it should, because it is often, in fact, oligarchic, that is no reason why we should permit the continuance of unnecessary anomalies. To say that because it is imperfect it does not matter whether we make it quite absurd is not an argument which would appeal to me at all. When he was talking of his own electoral experiences at Greenwich he was arguing very powerfully for Proportional Representation, and nothing else. With that part of his speech I fully agree, but that what happened in that constituency through the lack of Proportional Representation can furnish any kind of support for the retention of the university vote I cannot possibly imagine.


On a point of Order. Proportional Representation exists in the universities. That is the way in which the universities vote.


I am surprised to hear a member of a university giving such an extraordinary example of a point of Order. As the hon. Gentleman is fully aware, Proportional Representation, working with three candidates only, does not give a fair test of Proportional Representation at all.


It works with four candidates.


It is very difficult for men to deal with interruptions which are directed from behind. Considering the constituency he represents, the hon. Gentleman will no doubt have an opportunity of speaking later in this debate. I want to challenge the central proposition of the Noble Lord the Senior Member for Oxford University that the exercise of the vote is only a function. I maintain that there is also a right involved, and a very important right. Democracy, to my mind, does not consist in merely securing a right to decision on points of detail. That is only a part of the problem. Democracy does not even mean that the people always choose right. I have taken part in five elections, and in three of them, I am sorry to say, the people chose wrong. Democracy means not that the people always choose right, but that they have a right to choose wrong if necessary, and that is a part of democracy which I regard as very essential. It is important to have the will of the people, which they have the right to express. Whereas I agree with the Noble Lord's criticism of the imperfections in our system, I am not surprised that if he regards the vote as merely a function and not a right he should uphold this antiquated system.

If I were speaking solely from the point of view of prejudice and personal inclination, I should be supporting the Noble Lord and opposing this Clause, because the university suffrage gives me two votes, and it also gives to my party two very valuable Members, and it is a matter of great regret to me that I should make any speech which might have any adverse effect upon them. But when one cames to consider what real grounds of logic or reason can be put forward for this university representation, one can only come to an adverse conclusion upon it. Why should I be allowed first to register by post my vote in favour of the Noble Lord the Senior Member for Oxford University, and then, later, by the ordinary method of the ballot, register a vote not quite so favourable to the hon. Member for Bromley (Mr. Campbell)? It is true that in some respects, since I cannot vote for both the Members I want amongst the University Members, my votes have failed in both cases. My votes are merely gestures; but why should I be allowed to give two gestures where other people have only one? I am an unashamed equalitarian, as far as I can secure equality, and if we have not obtained complete equality let us get as far towards it as we can. The hon. and gallant Member for Central Wandsworth has suggested that what I am saying does not apply, because the plural vote will no longer exist. I hope that the Home Secretary will clear up that point; there is a considerable amount of confusion as to whether the retention of the university vote would result in the possession of a plural vote or not. It seems to me that university representation would be equally undesirable in either event. If we were to keep university representation while abolishing the plural vote, it would mean that the election would be in the hands of a handful of dons, and whereas those gentlemen are very estimable in many ways, are very nice to have about the place, I cannot see that they are entitled to have an electoral power which would, in effect, in those circumstances, be 30 or 40 times that of the ordinary person.

I am assuming that if the university representation is maintained, the plural voter will be maintained also. If that be so, upon what grounds is this course advocated? It has been suggested that university voters are possessed of some kind of special knowledge. I have no doubt that we all took examinations before we became entitled to the university vote; but logic would demand that we should periodically be re-examined to see whether we retained that knowledge, and I, myself, would shudder, before any such prospect, and so, I think, would most other people. The real fact is that most of those who now exercise the university franchise are far removed from the universities to which they once belonged. They have no particular connection with them, except that of memory and sentiment, which is necessarily strong, but does not, to my mind, confer any right. If they have retained anything of what they gained at the universities they can use their knowledge in the ordinary way in their ordinary constituencies, and I cannot see that they have any other right. If special knowledge is to give a special right to the franchise, why should we stop at universities? Why should there not be votes for the great hospitals? The staffs of the great hospitals have been acquiring special knowledge all their lives. Why should there not be special votes for the Law Society as an entity? The answer would be, that already we have enough lawyers in the House. Those lawyers have won their way to the House, however, through the hurly-burly of the ordinary election, and I am suggesting that university graduates have no special rights as against them.

It was an interesting suggestion of the hon. and gallant Member for Central Wandsworth, and I am inclined to agree with it, that there might be an opportunity of finding a place for university representation in another place. That is a most interesting suggestion, but, unfortunately, it is outside the scope of this Bill. I would certainly say that in another place there should be vocational representation, not only for the universities, but vocational representation of many other kinds—for the trade unions, if you like; but that is outside our discussion to-day. We have to see whether there is any justification for keeping just this little fragment of vocational representation in the middle of the House, the whole of the rest of which is elected on a territorial basis, and I cannot see any such justification. I humbly suggest that, as regards this Clause and this House, university representation cannot be upheld upon any democratic principle, and those who sit on these benches, if they have any regard to the history of the party on electoral reform, will, no doubt, give their votes against university representation. Our party have played a great part in defeating other kinds of unfair and fancy franchises, franchises which gave an undue weight to land or to wealth, and why should we uphold this last remaining privilege? If they do uphold it it will be a great effort for them to convince the bulk of the Members of this House that they are still maintaining the principles for which they ought to stand.


My hon. and gallant Friend the Member for Central Wandsworth (Major Church) made what, I imagine, his colleagues will regard as a most extraordinary speech, puzzling us by the defence which he offered of the existing system of university representation. [HON. MEMBERS: "Speak up!"] What I gathered from his speech was that as the personnel of university graduates and students has changed, a fact which we all recognise, and that as they enjoy the great advantages of exceptional educational opportunities, they ought in after life to count twice as much as anybody else in the making of the laws. I take the very opposite view, my view being that a man, by virtue of his education, is in need not of more, but of less power in the making of the laws.


Why spend so much money on education?


While it is right, in our view, to spend money on education, it is quite wrong, in the matter of our politics and public affairs, from the point of view of Parliamentary action and the making of the laws, to give those who have had those special advantages a double power. Let me give an instance which was referred to by my hon. Friend below the Gangway. Here is a quotation from the manifesto upon the Representation of the Universities to which reference has already been made: Belgium, for instance, an essentially democratic country, follows our example of according additional votes to graduates. My information is that Belgium in her last revision of electoral law abolished that privilege of university graduates.

Let me say to the Noble Lord the Member for Oxford University (Lord H. Cecil) that we recognise that this is a very imperfect world. Some of its imperfections may be more readily borne than others. I sympathise with the Noble Lord in his illness, but I can assure him that we do regard him as an educationist of high standing. I have listened very carefully to the arguments put forward, but I submit that when one man has two votes the question of right does arise—the question, is it right that any section of the community should have two votes when the rest of the community have only half that number? It is not necessary on this occasion for a Minister to make a long speech, but I hope that I shall be able to show in the short time I shall address the Committee that university representation is not an advantage to the public.

From the standpoint of the Noble Lord, let us address ourselves to that question. Most of the speech made by the Noble Lord has been devoted to describing the imperfections in the electoral law. We on this side have had to find out what is best for the benefit of our country and we have done it by the process afforded under the ordinary electoral law, but Parliament after Parliament, and party after party since 1832, has travelled very slowly from the point when the ordinary man who did not possess property had no right to vote at all, to the point where men and women, regardless of possessing property, are able to exercise the function of going to the poll. I think in these days that men of high intellectual attainments could better show their quality by recognising that change rather than by opposing it. The Noble Lord gave us some delightful experiences of his own. I submit that the Noble Lord, while exposing the defects of the system in his closing observations on the question now before the Committee, did not say anything to justify the continuance of university representation in the House of Commons, and, in the end, he asked us to turn to the wisdom shown by Mr. Bryce on this question. Mr. Bryce was a distinguished Member of Parliament, and a great public servant, and I therefore turn to what Mr. Bryce said on 6th March, 1885. Addressing himself to this special question of the privileged position of our universities, this is what Mr. Bryce said: He submitted that while university representation might have been a fair experiment to try, and while there might have been valid reasons for instituting it three centuries ago, and for continuing to give it a chance for some years after 1832, it was an experiment which had been tried long enough, which had altogether failed to bring about any substantial or beneficial results, either to the country or to the universities themselves. The time had now arrived when it became desirable to dismiss this device of the Stuart Kings to the limbo to which so many other of their devices had been relegated. He believed that when that happened, and no university any longer returned a Member to Parliament, no persons would be more pleased than the now misrepresented resident teachers of the universities themselves. I join with the Noble Lord in his praise of Mr. Bryce, who furnishes us with a stronger argument than the speech to which I have just listened. It might very well be said that at one time, when our country was so different and its activities were wholly unlike the state of things that exist at the present time, university representation might have been justified. The public view was that many groups or sections of individuals could not claim the privilege to exercise the vote, but when the law denied them that function a, few were left with that privilege. In 1832 university representation does not seem to have been exposed to any serious attack, but an attempt to secure representation of the Scottish Universiies was defeated. The retention of the university seats at that time was justified not only on the ground that without university represenation the interests of learning would suffer, but on a novel plea introduced by Althorp, the then Chancellor of the Exchequer. He said that it was deemed expedient that Oxford and Clam-bridge should retain their present elective system as a means of protecting the interests of the established church. There is not a Member of this House who would to-day submit an argument of that kind in favour of university representation. I urge that while there might be some justification for endeavouring to prove that university representation was justifiable at one time, it is not a privilege that ought to endure at the present time. I submit that now that a change has come about, whatever ground might have existed in the past for having such separate representation, there is very little to be said for it at all at the present time.

As for the representation of particular interests as distinguished from the representation of localities, even on that score no case can be made out for singling out the universities. The mere possession of a degree does not distinguish a man from his fellows. As education becomes more widespread, the arguments for separate representation of universities become less and less plausible. If university representation is to be retained, it would be equally sensible and fair to give repre- sentation to the great professional interests such as law, medicine, or, better still, on the guild basis, and even to trade unions themselves. [An HON. MEMBER: "They are represented at the present time!"] Yes, trade unions have representation, but they are represented through the ordinary procedure of popular election. [An HON. MEMBER: "They have come in through the front door!"] I urge that there is no ground for continuing university representation, which cannot do any special service to the country. We have not seen in our experience of university representation any great capacity shown for service to the nation reflected in the votes which the university representatives have given in this House.

I would like for a few moments to refer to the collective size of the electorate represented in this House by the 12 university Members. It has been pointed out earlier in the Debate that the ordinary Member of this House represents a constituency numbering, roughly, about 50,000 electors, but the Members of this House representing universities represent constituencies of anything between 43,000 and 3,000 electors. The position is that 12 Members are sent to the House of Commons by the universities, and they represent less than 120,000 electors. It is an intolerable state of things that those 120,000 electors should be allowed to have a second vote for other persons to represent them in the House of Commons. The university electors need not be resident anywhere near the university. As a matter of fact, they are scattered over different parts of the country, and they do not remain in the territory of the university in which they were educated. Nevertheless, all university electors are able to enjoy the privilege of being dual voters, and, in addition, they have the enormous advantage of their college training, which they can use in a double degree to that of any other voter.

It is true that great scholars have come from universities, but when we remember how candidates are selected for the universities, we are driven to the conclusion that there have been great scholars rejected by universities, and men have been preferred who have less qualities to represent universities. I think it is quite true to say that universities, like other institutions, societies and aggregations of men and women are influenced and dominated pretty much by the same conditions, and inasmuch as they resemble other sections of the community in that respect, they should not be allowed to differ from other people in having twice the representation as compared with the rest of the community. For these reasons, I ask the Committee to agree to this provision for securing the equality at which we are aiming.

7.0 p.m.


I have to stand to-night in the ungrateful position of seeming to ask the Committee not to impose this Measure upon me. It is as though I had to submit myself to the Committee and adopt an attitude which is imagined by hon. Members opposite to be against the public interest. This Measure will not affect my future, if it is passed, and I can regard it with perfect equanimity. In the Debates preceding this proposal references were made to a bargain, but no reference was made to the bargain by which female suffrage was won. There was, it will be remembered, a committee presided over by Lord Ullswater which overhauled the whole system of representation. It was a matter of bargain on that committee that, if female suffrage were granted, university representation should be continued. Every woman who has a vote at the present day owes it to the fact that a bargain was made, and the granting of the franchise to women was part of the bargain by which university representation was maintained. It was not only maintained at that time, but it was increased. Two additional Members were added at that time for the Combined Universities. It is not through an ancient Stuart tradition that we sit here; it is due to an enlargement of the number of university members made by this House less than a score of years ago.

It is seldom referred to, but surely we all know that, behind it all, the reason for this proposal is that university constituencies in the past and at the present time have mainly returned Conservatives. Supposing university constituencies to-day returned 12 Labour Members, would any such proposal as this have been made? A misrepresentation largely accounts for this prejudice, which arises on the other side of the House. They think that the universities will always return Conservative Members. As a matter of fact, they return three progressive Members at the present time, one-quarter of the whole representation. If my judgment is of any value, I think that a good many more representatives of the Liberal and Labour parties may be expected to come from the universities in the future than in the past. Universities are no longer preserves of the rich. In my own constituency, 75 per cent. come from the working class families. That number tends to increase and, along with that, there tends to come a change in the complexion of the bulk of university undergraduates. Undergraduates are largely not Conservatives; graduates are largely Conservatives. Let me ask hon. Members opposite, if university education is to have the normal effect of producing Conservatives, what is going to happen to the Labour party when everybody has been fully educated, when everybody has been through the universities, and when everybody has emerged Tory? Will there be any Labour representatives in those days? Surely, it is obvious that they are building their structure on a false foundation.

The number of graduates in these universities is continually increasing. We have had certain figures put before us to show that certain members have been elected by small numbers, 3,000 constituents and so forth. When I was first elected, my constituency numbered 5,000, but at the present day it is over 15,000 and, if a General Election is deferred for 12 months, it will be over 17,000. Potentially, there are over 50,000 graduates in the universities which I represent, but in the past they were not automatically put on the register, and the bulk of them did not know how to get on it. Now every graduate is automatically put on the register, and the register increases by between 2,000 and 3,000 a year, and will go on steadily increasing for 10 years until this constituency will number upwards of 50,000 electors. The idea that these constituencies are in the hands of a handful of dons is quite wrong. My election committee did not include a single don. These committees are all run, as far as I know, by graduates who are for the most part living in the university towns from where they graduated, though not entirely so.

The main charge which is brought against university members is that they are an anomaly. It is supposed that, once you call a thing an anomaly, it must logically be done away with. An hon. Member has referred to that magnificent lack of logic which distinguishes the British institutions. It is conceded that lack of logic distinguishes British institutions. We all, more or less, conclude that there is a certain superiority of Great Britain over all other countries in that we are not logical, that we do not drive theories to extremes. It is anomalies that make the picturesqueness of our institutions and largely the picturesqueness of our lives. What could be more anomalous than the present Government? Here is a Socialist Government in office and in power which does not represent anything like a majority of the electors of the country. On the contrary, the last General Election gave a strong verdict against Socialism, and did not give the Socialist party a majority of any kind in this House. Yet there it sits and does its work. We may differ from it in many ways, but, on the whole, it is the Government, and we support it as the Government against the rest of the world. But it is an anomaly and quite as anomalous as university representation. If you are going to do away with university representatives, do away with the Government, too. [HON. MEMBERS: "Bolshevism."] No, it is not Bolshevism. You can say we are a kind of Soviet representatives. We are; we represent a fraction of a Soviet Government.

The Home Secretary asked those who followed him in the Debate to address themselves to the question of how far university representatives had been an advantage to the country. I will indicate one reason why they are of advantage. They are immensely superior in all respects to the whole of the rest of the House. I will tell hon. Members why. Hon. Members are selected at an election. What is the process of an election? I have been through the ordinary election process 40 years ago, and I know, and we all know, what it is like. The whole business of an electoral campaign is to create excitement, to blackguard your opponent. The atmosphere has a certain warmth, you endeavour as far as possible to raise the temperature of your audiences, you have a meeting and you are not satisfied unless the audience go away in a high state of excitement. You wish to have them roar applause, to have them change from a number of people exercising their private judgment into an excited crowd, so that the psychology of the crowd becomes supreme. What is that psychology? All the members of a crowd become excited with emotion and lose all the use of their brain. That is the effect. You work up an excited crowd, which is an electioneering crowd, into that passion of enthusiasm in which they lose their individuality and become merged in a passionate crowd. Instead of selecting a representative by their intelligence, by quiet thought, they are rushed, in the passion of the election, into expressing not their judgment but their passion, not their intelligence but their emotions.

The result is that all the hon. Members I see around me, with the exception of a few returned unopposed and my university colleagues, have emerged from a passion of excitement. Not a single supporter of theirs has ever had put before them any rational reason why he should vote one way or another, whereas we who are university Members are elected by our constituents all over the world after they have received our election addresses and considered them. They send in their paper and do not hide behind any anonymity, but sign them in the quiet of their own studies, so that we are returned by their intelligence—[Interruption.] For better or worse it is the intelligence of our constituents that chooses us, and not their emotions. We do not represent the emotions or the passions, but we represent the wisdom, the thought and the sober judgment of our constituents. Therefore, I say that, so far from our being an anomaly, all other Members except us are the anomaly. We are the only representatives; we are chosen by intelligent people using their intelligence, and not by howling crowds. [Interruption.]

I have spoken for a somewhat longer time than I intended, but, in view of the attitude of hon. Members opposite, I found it difficult to resist enlarging upon a scientific fact. I have always won- dered why Governments did not appoint Royal Commissions to examine into the state of mind of excited crowds, and contrast it with the views of individuals on intellectual questions. If we could have had the report of such a commission, we should have been guided in our judgment. As it is, we have to do the best that we can. I suggest that hon. Members opposite should forget the passionate crowds from which they have emerged, and behind which exists the scattered wit which brought them here, that they should forget their origin and their past; and that, using their own intelligence and bearing in mind the long history that lies behind us, the excellent work that we do, and the constant manner in which we attend the Debates of this House, they should extend to us their hospitality for a little longer.


I wish to address myself to one or two of the main reasons, some of which have been well stated by the hon. Member for the English Universities (Sir M. Conway), for the continuance of university representation. I think I should be fair in saying that one of the main reasons is the contention that the universities, and education generally, should be specially represented in this House—that men with intimate knowledge of the universities, of broad outlook on educational questions, and uninfluenced by party bias, should come here to represent those interests and should give us their views. The hon. Member for the University of Wales (Mr. E. Evans) put this point the other day by saying that we should have a special representation of the opinions of those who have built up our educational system, who are desirous of its continuance, and who are anxious for its extension. I gladly pay this tribute to those who represent the universities, that they are showing special interest in universities and in education generally.

I was very sorry that another engagement prevented me from being present to hear the speech of the Noble Lord the Member for Oxford University (Lord H. Cecil), but I gladly pay tribute to the place that he has given to education in his speeches, and I would also say that in regard to education and other questions he has shown a certain independence of judgment. I can say the same for the senior Member, and also for the other Members, for the Scottish Universities, and, not least, a similar tribute can be paid to the hon. Lady the Member for the English Universities (Miss Rath-bone), who comes in as an independent representative, and who always exercises independence of judgment and puts education in the foremost place.

I gladly pay that tribute, but, after all, we have to take the university representatives in the mass and to judge them by their deeds. On going into the analysis of the voting, I find that, on the Second Reading of the Education (School Attendance) Bill, six of the university representatives voted against the Bill, three voted for it, and three were absent; while on the occasion of the Third Reading six voted against it, only one for it, and five were absent. From these facts I draw the conclusion that they have not been able to lift themselves, taken in the mass, out of those political considerations which obtain in all parts of this House, and that they have not succeeded, speaking generally—I am making exceptions—in lifting this question outside of purely party relationships.

A subordinate phase of that argument is that men should be here with an intimate knowledge and experience of university questions, men of educational knowledge, of academic zeal, and of high academic attainments. My answer to that argument is that increasingly, in all parts of this House, there are men with just as high academic attainments as those who now represent the universities, and I would venture to say that such men are conversant with the interests of the universities and of education, and that, even if those who now represent the universities were removed, they would increasingly attend to the highest interests of education and of the universities. The hon. Member for the English Universities (Sir M. Conway) said that we were elected on passion and emotion and enthusiasm, but a great French writer said that nothing great was ever done without passion, that nothing great was ever done without enthusiasm, that nothing great was ever done without emotion; while a great writer in this country said that religion itself was but morality touched with emotion. It is because university representatives have been sent here by university electors lacking in emotion, in passion, and in enthusiasm that they have not identified themselves with great causes as they should have done, and as we should have expected them to do.

It is said, however, that there is a class of man whose appeal is academic rather than popular, and who would find difficulty in getting another seat to represent, as such men would not appeal to an ordinary popular constituency; and that there are also men of that type who could not bear the rough-and-tumble of an election. My answer is that, if men will not bear the rough-and-tumble of an election, I cannot see that they have any right to be here. I say that it is essential to democracy that men, from whatever quarter they come in, should come into our sheep-fold, if I may so call it, by the door, and should not climb up by some other way. My hon. Friend the senior Member for the Scottish Universities (Mr. Buchan) has said that he would easily find another seat. I am sure he would—


Not easily.


Perhaps not easily, but he would find it; but I would say, with regard to the junior Member for Oxford University (Sir C. Oman), that I have read his election address, and I think he might perhaps find more difficulty, though I am convinced that there are many constituencies in the country which are sufficiently backward to adopt him as a Member.

The next argument is that university representation leads to independence of political thought. I maintain that quite the opposite is the case. I maintain that the powerful reactionary influence of these universities, and their aloofness and divorcement from the actualities of life, has trammelled independence of mind and has hampered the political independence and progressive thought of their Members. I will give a well-known example. When Mr. Gladstone was still representing Oxford, Lord Palmerston wrote: He is a dangerous man. Keep him in Oxford, and he is partially muzzled; but send him elsewhere and he will run wild. As a matter of fact, Mr. Gladstone was defeated at Oxford. The "Times" wrote that the influence and traditions of Oxford had greatly prevailed over his better judgment; but, after he was defeated, he said in the Free Trade Hall at Manchester, when he was on his way to contest South Lancashire: I come among you, and I come among you unmuzzled. That indicates that university representation, instead of promoting independence of thought, stifles it.

Another point is that the professions, should be represented in this House, and through this special vote, represented twice over. I would point out that the educated classes—the professions—have a wide and special influence apart from anyone else. If I may speak of my own profession, there is not a minister in the country, however much he may eschew politics, that has not a political influence by his sermons, by their context, by his bearing, whether he be an Established Churchman or a Nonconformist. Educated men have a special influence in securing seats in this House. That is why we have clergymen in all parts of the House, though, for obvious reasons, we have more on this side than elsewhere. [Interruption.] If I could be convinced that professional attainments, professional status, and an academic career were a guarantee of political intuition, of political foresight and vision and attainments, I might reconsider my position, but I find quite the opposite when I come to history. Lord Shaftesbury complained that he could hardly get a single clergyman to support him; and if it had depended on the professional classes, the Factory Acts would not have been in operation to this day. He had to contend against official Toryism and official Liberalism, but it might have been expected that he would have got some support, on moral and social grounds, from the clergy and from the medical profession. He got more support from the medical profession, as he admits. I think I might trouble the House with his statement on this matter, because it is important as determining whether these classes are so advanced that they should have a second vote. This is what he says: In very few instances did any mill-owner appear on the platform with me; in still fewer the minister of any religious denomination. At first not one, except the Rev. Mr. Ball of Brierley, near Bradford; and even to the last very few, so cowed were they"— and these are the men to whom you are going to give a special vote— or in themselves so indifferent, by the overwhelming influence of the Cotton Lords. I had more aid from the medical than from the divine profession. Another point was raised by the hon. Member for West Middlesbrough (Mr. K. Griffith), and in this connection I would call attention to a very remarkable article which appeared in the "British Medical Journal" of the 21st February last. It supports the continuance of university representation, but it goes on to say that it would be made more acceptable by having no plural voting, and that, if a man is on the local roll and on the university roll, he should vote in only one constituency according to his choice.

But who are these that make up the electorate? They have been spoken of here as a handful of dons—men who have undergone examinations. I speak only of the Scottish universities. A man has not even to be a graduate. The Scottish Universities Act of 1858 includes not only graduates, but those who can satisfy the University Commissioners that they have given attendance as matriculated students for four sessions. That is to say, men who were plucked in examinations—who could not pass a simple degree examination—may have the University vote. Is there any man in any quarter of the House who says that man is more entitled to a vote than a self-taught man who is highly educated and truly cultured? It is said that we are perhaps actuated by political bias. We are told in religious matters not to despair of anyone. I do not despair of any constituency. I do not despair of seeing these constituencies, if they are continued, beginning to vote Labour, but that would not alter my fundamental opposition to University Representation.

It is also said that this is no longer special class legislation, because of the increasing numbers that are coming from the public elementary schools. That can have no influence with us in Scotland. Ever since the first University, St. Andrews, was founded in 1411, we have prided ourselves that most students come from the elementary schools, and, not only so, but I do not know if the Committee knows the very democratic constitution of these universities in Scotland. I heard Mr. Gladstone give his rectorial address to the students of Glasgow University in 1879. He gave a remarkable set of figures, which he got from the professor of humanity. There were 647 students in the humanity clause, of whom 590 gave returns, from which it appeared that no fewer than 391 were engaged in other occupations while they were passing through the university, and 240 of them had to work both summer and winter in order that they might pay their passage through. Every conceivable kind of employment is included. He said: In the humanity classes this year are included joiners, miners, brass founders, bookmakers, tailors, grocers, engineers, shipbuilders, drapers, stewards of steamers, a toll keeper,"— here he turned aside to say he was evidently taking toll of himself: a pocket bookmaker, a blacksmith, with others. That is something of which in Scotland we are proud, but it is no reason for giving a special franchise. It is a reason for these men returning with their added knowledge to the places from which they came, and seeking suffrages and support from the democracy from which they themselves are sprung. I am under no illusions as to the political gain that this Bill may bring to this side or any side. I have no great expectation in these matters, but, in resisting the continuance of the university franchise and university representation, I feel that I am standing on absolutely solid and secure ground. To resist university representation is in accordance with every tenet of political equality for which I have ever stood, is dictated by every canon of electoral justice, and is in keeping with the fundamental principles of the party to which I belong.


I hope I shall not be credited with the conscious superiority with which the hon. Member for the combined English Universities (Sir M. Conway) charged his fellow Members if I say I am sure every Member of the Committee feels that this has been an extraordinarily interesting Debate. We have done what is not very common in our Debates. We have got down to first principles. In fact, we have fairly wallowed in them. I do not propose to follow the hon. Member who has just sat down in the whole of his line of argument. He has stated very fairly and candidly and trenchantly the main arguments for the university vote. I am sorry to say that he did not agree with them. I am not giong to deal with the practical argument for its retention, the ground that, as a matter of fact, university representation gives something of value to the public service which could not be got without it. I always feel a certain delicacy in arguing that, since I might seem to be defending my own merits, but, if anyone will look at the communications to the Press, and at the signatories to the very remarkable demand for the retention of the university vote, I think he will agree that a large number of eminent men and women in every profession, and representing every party, do, as a matter of fact, feel that this system has a certain value.

I want to make one point in reply to the hon. Gentleman. I do not want him to imagine that I and my colleagues put an extravagant value upon a certain kind of academic education. Personally, I would rather take the view of a Border shepherd on most questions than of all the professors in Europe, but the subject matter must be within his sphere of knowledge. Our great argument for the retention of the university vote is that there are certain spheres of knowledge which demand a special representation, and without some such system could not get it.

I want to get back to the final words of the hon. Member's speech. He bases his real objection to the university vote on the ground that it is an infringement of the democratic doctrine of equality. That is the cardinal argument, I agree, against the system. Roughly put, it is this: We are a democracy. In a democracy every citizen should have one vote and no more, and that vote should be on the basis of residence and should have a uniform value. The university vote infringes that principle; therefore, it should be expunged from our system. That, I think, is a fair statement of the main, argument of the party opposite against this system. On that, I have three things to say. In the first place, the system of a simple arithmetical uniform representation does not exist in this country at the moment. Secondly, it cannot exist at any time in any civilised country. Thirdly, even if practicable, it would not be desirable. I propose to say a very few words on these three points.

Take the first. The university voter has two votes, one for his university on a vocational basis, and one for the locality where he happens to reside. But have we no other cryptic plural voters in this country? Is there no other representation of vocational interests, although it may be disguised? What about the trade unionists? As I understand it, a member of a trade union votes for the selection of the candidates put forward by his union. I make no criticism of it. It is the democratic form of selecting candidates which the senior Member for Oxford University (Lord H. Cecil) desires to see. I think, if the universities survive this Debate, some system like that might be very well worth consideration in the selection of candidates. A trade unionist who votes in the selection of candidates has indirectly a real share in their election, for the simple reason, as I understand it, that those candidates usually have seats where the particular union predominates. [Interruption.] I think that is very largely the case, especially among the miners. Besides that, he has a vote for his residence in the constituency where he lives, which may or may not be represented by a man of his union. Can it be denied that in some degree he is a plural voter, and that his extra vote is based on his vocational interest? I admit that it is not the direct, straightforward double vote of the university voter, but, at any rate, surely he has a vote and a bit, and that bit is based on his vocational interest.

It is the same with many other subordinate organisations in the State. It is true of the school teachers. It is true of the co-operative societies. Moreover, at any moment you might have a special question arise which would make it true of many other people. Suppose that you had a movement to disestablish the Church of England. You would certainly find some kind of Church Defence Asso- ciation started, running special ad hoc candidates, and those who had a voice in their selection would have a vote and a bit. Therefore, I submit, as my first point, that the simple, flat, arithmetical system, which is alleged to be the only system consonant with democracy, does not exist with us any more than the system of one vote one value.

My second point is, that such a system could not exist in any civilised country any more than one vote one value. Wherever you have an intricate society elaborately differentiated you are bound to have subordinate organisations which will desire especial representation in the State, and those who have the right of selecting the candidates for such organisations thereby must have something added to their voting power. Of the country squire with only one house, and the country labourer who does not belong to a union, you might say they have but a single unit of voting power and that is based wholly on a residential basis, but surely not with the trade unionist, the co-operator or the school teacher. The fact is that in a very primitive society where there is only one type of interest you could have that simple arithmetical equality, but it becomes a sheer impossibility as soon as any society advances any stage in what we call civilisation.

My third point is that even if this ideal were practicable, it would not be desirable. I am not going to enlarge upon that point. We have already had it discussed in the profound and memorable speech by the Noble Lord the senior Member for Oxford University. I am a firm and staunch democrat. I believe that democracy can yet surmount all its difficulties, but I am convinced that the ordinary crude equalitarian democracy cannot. I am certain that if we are going to defend true democracy against its enemies and its dangers we must put our house in order, and put it on a more rational and scientific basis, so that the mind and the will of the country will be truly and fairly represented. The opponents of the university vote may claim, as my right hon. Friend the Member for Darwen (Sir H. Samuel) has repeatedly claimed, that this is an anomaly—that the university vote is the patch of vocational representation that breaks the uniform pattern of Our simple territorial representation. But, as I have suggested, it is so much of an anomaly after all. If you get behind phrases and look at facts you will not find that this vocational representation of ours is so much an isolated thing. I do not think that the time has yet come when we can recast our whole electoral system in the interests of reason and science. We have too many urgent things to do at the moment. But I believe that that time must assuredly come. I am convinced that if, out of the narrow passion for a barren and impossible uniformity, we abolish one of the few rational elements in an irrational system, our act will be reversed by our more intelligent successors.


It is exceedingly difficult for those who sit on this side of the Committee who have never experienced anything but an elementary education to enter upon a Debate and counter some of the arguments of hon. and right hon. Gentlemen who are very much more learned than ourselves. I have read a great deal of the delightful literature which the hon. Gentleman the Member for the Scottish Universities (Mr. Buchan) has written. I wish he had studied trade unionism a little closer. The ignorance which he has shown of trade union organisation—if I may say so with respect—points, I think, to the fallacy of continuing university representation in this House.

I support this Clause for reasons which have not yet been given. First of all, I want to criticise the method adopted by the universities themselves in their propaganda. They have asked graduates who are voters at universities to canvass all Members of Parliament in support of their system as if to show that it deserves our support. Why should those of us who are elected by what an hon. Gentleman called "the mob" be asked to support university representation when, in fact, we have to stand what is called the racket of the passion of the mob and they have not?

The protest which we have received from several organisations on this Clause makes very interesting reading. I have read the list very carefully, and I hope the Committee will pardon me if I pick out a few of those highly democratic organisations who support the university franchise. The National Union of Manu- facturers support university franchise. I should imagine that they are very interested in the subject. If all the university Members in the House of Commons were Socialists, they would obviously not have joined in the protest. There is another very interesting organisation—the National Constitutional Defence Movement. That almost sounds like Toryism to me. You have the Federation of University Conservative and Unionist Associations—and I should think so too! Then you have the Manchester University Constitutional Association, anothery Tory organisation. [An HON. MEMBER: "Why not?"]

It is argued that the universities ought to be represented as such in this House. I have taken the trouble to analyse the educational attainments of the present membership of the House of Commons, and I will give figures showing how far men and women who have passed through the universities are represented in this House already, apart altogether from those representing universities direct. My figures may not be quite correct, but they are an indication of the position. There are at present in the House of Commons about 53 members of the Labour party who have passed through universities, and who, I suppose, have secured degrees, or, at any rate, ought to have done so. There are about 29 Liberal Members, and 138 Conservative Members of the present House of Commons who have passed through a university. Proportionately, of course, the intelligence is on this side. [An HON MEMBER: "On this side!"] I had forgotten the reduced numbers of the Liberal party. That gives 220 or thereabouts who are Members of the present House of Commons with degrees, apart from those who represent the universities. Surely, when we have already about one-third of the membership of the present House of Commons comprised of men and women who know something about universities and who have secured degrees from them, there is no reason why we should have separate and special representation on behalf of universities. Strange to say, it is not a university franchise at all. No person gets this franchise until he has left the university. [An HON. MEMBER: "Oh, no!"] Yes, it is so.


I have been a resident of my own university for the last 30 years, and I have a vote. [An HON. MEMBER: "You are a don!"] Yes, I happen to be what you call a don.


I will correct myself to this extent, that generally speaking, in the vast majority of cases, especially in the Northern universities, they do not secure this franchise until they have actually left the universities. I will give another point against the existence and continuance of this franchise. I shall have something personal to say a little later. It is not every person who has passed through universities, although he may have secured a degree, who can get this franchise.




No. I think that I am on correct ground when I say that there are some universities, the Manchester University for instance, where some graduates cannot get the vote unless they pay for it.


Everybody has to pay for it.


There are some university students who possess a degree who can get the vote without payment of a fee, while other university students in the same position cannot get the vote without paying a registration fee.


A good many of the universities have, from the beginning, charged a small fee for the preparation of the register and for putting graduates names upon it.


But every person who has secured a degree cannot afford to pay a registration fee.


It is 10 shillings.


Ten shillings means a lot to some of our people. [An HON. MEMBER: "It is mostly a guinea!"] At any rate, it is a payment and that is sufficient for my purpose.

I will pass on to another consideration. I hesitate to use the following illustration, but I think it is the best that I can do. I am very proud to have done something to try and give a university education to a son of mine, and I pay tribute to the universities and to education generally, chiefly because of my lack of opportunity. But having made sacri- fices for a son, what do I find under the electoral law of this country? He is four times as important as his own mother. I object to any young person for the purposes of our electoral or any other system being considered better than his mother, at any rate.

I have another point to make against this franchise. The present system is unfair, because it allows a person to vote here though he may be resident abroad. As far as I know, he can become a naturalised citizen of another country and still vote in this country. [An HON. MEMBER: "No!"] If I am wrong, I should like to be corrected, but I think it is quite possible for 100 or 1,000 persons who have secured degrees in this country to emigrate to the United States of America, reside there long enough to secure naturalisation, and take part in the politics of the United States of America, and still be able to vote in this country.


That is nut correct. A person who is not a British citizen cannot vote in England.


Though he may not be a naturalised subject in a foreign country he can take part in the politics of that country and vote here.


No, he cannot.


Oh, yes, he can, surely. A person resident in the United States of America, though he may not be a naturalised subject, can stand up and speak on political issues in the United States of America, and he can, therefore, take part in the politics of a foreign country and still vote in his homeland.


That is not our land.


So also could a trade union leader go to a foreign country and take part in its politics while being able to vote in his own country.

8.0 p.m.


But he does not reside there permanently. The argument is very often used that there is something special about a degree in order to qualify a student for the extra vote. I should like to know what difference there is in this connection. A boy must matriculate, for instance, before he can become either a chartered accountant or a civil engineer. The cost of training a boy to become a civil engineer or a chartered accountant is as heavy, and the amount of study required to enter those professions is as arduous as if the boy had been studying in the university for a degree. Nevertheless, the boy who takes a degree at the university is entitled to two votes, while the other boys are only entitled to one vote each as ordinary citizens. I object to the principle that gives two votes to the one and only one vote each to the others.

I sincerely trust that the House will abolish the university franchise, once for all. The time has arrived when men and women ought to secure the franchise on their manhood and womanhood and not because of any other qualification. If we measure men on their qualifications, there are some with degrees who ought not to have any vote at all while others who have never been inside a university ought to have 10 votes each because of their greater intellect. There are men who have become Prime Ministers of this country who have never been in a university, while others with several degrees can never secure a seat in the House of Commons.

There is one other point to which I should like to call attention, and I will put it in as delicate a manner as I can. I refer to the two representatives of the combined English universities. I have looked at their votes in the Division Lobbies and the result supports the argument that has been put forward over and over again that representation from the universities, in the final analysis, is based upon party politics. The two representatives of the Combined Universities vote oftener than not in different Lobbies. They vote against each other and cancel each other out on most vital issues. It is wrong that we should continue this system, and I trust that when this Bill becomes law, we shall have seen the end of the university franchise.


On a personal point, may I remind the hon. Member that I am not a member of any political party. I fail to see how the question of my politics has anything to do with the representation of the universities.


In view of the provisions of this Clause and the vigour of some of the speeches delivered in its support, it might not be inappropriate if university Members were to address the House somewhat in the old Roman fashion: Hail Caesar! Those who are about to die salute thee. Perhaps that is to take too gloomy a view of the Division that will take place at 10.30. I am sure that every member of the Committee will agree that the position of a university representative standing here is one of very considerable delicacy and difficulty. Without being at all charitable, those who are listening to him might consider that in some ways he is influenced by self-interest, but I feel certain that the Committee are generous enough to acquit us of any such motives. I should very much have preferred that the case had been put wholly by other university representatives, but we have a duty laid upon us to raise our voice on this occasion so that our constituents, so long as we have them as constituents, may be assured that we do not neglect their interests. Even the worst criminals used to be allowed to make a speech before the guillotine fell.

Coming to the merits of the case, I find myself at considerable variance with the arguments put forward by other representatives. I make no claim for the retention of university representation on the ground of logic or of inherent right. I know that it is argued that as it is a qualitarian qualification, perhaps it is the most logical of all franchises, but I shall base nothing that I have to say upon that argument. My position is this, that although it may be illogical, it is in no way undemocratic. That is to say, that this House, elected by the people, is at liberty, if it so wishes, to co-opt members outwith its full membership for any purpose that seems desirable. Therefore, whether this franchise be illogical or not, it cannot be made good that it is undemocratic. My view is, that university representation is a great privilege, freely granted by Parliament, and a great privilege which has been greatly appreciated and, in spite of all that has been said, it might well be retained.

If this Clause were retained and university representation disappeared, it would be a matter of very great regret to me, but in that regret there would be no tinge whatever of self interest or of self loss. It would simply mean to me that a long connection between this House and the interests of education to which my life has been largely devoted, ha o been broken. I should regret that. I trust that, in spite of what has been said, and well said by its many opponents, that this House, by a free vote, will still keep this link with ancient learning. If there is one interest which should receive special recognition, that interest is education. View it as we please, it is an interest common to us all. We may differ as to methods, means and details, but from the highest to the lowest we have to base the welfare of the country on education. Therefore, on these grounds and not on the grounds of logic or right, but as a recognition of the one great interest in which we are all concerned, I should like to know that this House had retained the representation and the privilege which it has previously granted to the universities.

The Home Secretary, if I mistake not, in his speech on the Second Reading of the Bill, said that university representation was almost wholly of one political colour. I admit that that has been so in the past, but nothing is more interesting than to view the figures at university elections in the past few years. We see a growing number supporting the progressive candidates. While I am not offering that in the nature of an inducement to hon. Members opposite to retain university representation for that purpose, I do say that the university elections afford a very interesting barometer of the political situation and of the feelings among the steadier classes. I should like to add one personal word. Gratitude is not always a lively sense of favours to come. Whatever may be the result of the Division to-night, it will be to me always a great memory that university representation has allowed me to be for some time a Member of this House and to take part in what has been dearest to my heart, some of the social developments of the times.

I have to thank my constituents. It has been urged time and again that university Members have a greater freedom allowed to them than other Members. In my case that has been so. I have been free to vote on this side or on that aide very largely as I pleased, and I believe that had that spirit been carried even further, and had it been possible to have less party feeling in the election of university representatives, the result might have been happier than it has been. At the same time, with all its faults and with all its illogicalities, I hope that this House will retain university representation, apart from any individual Member that university representation may send to this House, because it would be a sympathetic bond forged between this House and the greatest interest in the country.


I find myself in a great measure of agreement with much that has fallen from the hon. Member who has just resumed his seat. I have spent a great part of my life in the universities. I have had the privilege and responsibility of teaching under the auspices of three of the greatest universities in this country, and I attach immense importance to the place of the universities in our national life. I believe that they should and they do make a great contribution through Parliament to the progress and well-being of our nation. I believe that they do and that they should help to provide the spiritual and intellectual force by which our nation and our society are moved. But as I view this question, the fundamental issue really is this—it was stated in the Second Reading Debate by the Prime Minister, and it goes to the root of the whole matter—is it or is it not necessary that there should be university representation in order that the universities can make this contribution to our national life? Do the universities, in fact, most effectively make that contribution through the university seats in Parliament, or in other ways? I suggest that whichever form of that question we choose, the answer, given by experience over a long period of time, must be "no."

A good many arguments on that line have been provided by those who have spoken to-day in favour of the university franchise. My hon. Friend who spoke from these benches spoke of the great power and influence wielded on Government committees and in the Civil Service by university graduates. I think it was Dr. Nansen who said, that universities govern the world through the Civil Service, and, if that is true, why is it necessary to add this second anomalous privilege to that which they already possess?

In this manifesto, circulated over a number of very distinguished signatures, dated 12th March, which has been quoted several times already during the Debate, we are urged in paragraph 4—the only one which seems to have much substance in it—to allow this representation to continue, because it permits the representation of the learned professions. It is said that those who follow the learned professions are scattered throughout the land and that their opinions cannot be focussed in our ordinary electoral system. What are the learned professions? There is the law. Is anyone going to suggest that the law is unrepresented in this assembly? There are the doctors. Are they not represented? There are the university teachers. There are nine of them on the benches on this side of the House. There are the engineers, and there is, as my hon. Friend has said, the Divine profession. Of course, the professions are represented; indeed, they are enormously over-represented in proportion to other sections of the community. And is anyone going to suggest that those who come from the professions to this assembly do not speak here, not only as the mouthpiece of their constituents, but also on matters which concerns their professions as the mouthpiece of their profession as well? I suggest that arguments like that do not hold water.

As a matter of fact, the Noble Lord the Member for Oxford University (Lord H. Cecil), who asks the Committee to reject this Clause knows that these arguments do not hold water; otherwise, he would have advanced them. He advanced, instead, a very elaborate theoretical discussion of the principles upon which democracy should be founded. His case, as he put it, consisted in what he called the negative part and positive part; and I say with great respect, because no one listened to his speech with more delight than I, that both parts of his argument under analysis break down. What was his negative case? He said that the theory of an equalitarian democracy is an illu- sion, that it is a mythical deity, created by the Home Secretary, which has never existed and never will exist. The Noble Lord was challenging the whole theory of the working of our State; challenging the working of every institution in this country at the present day, and I, in my turn, would like to challenge the very fundamentals of the proposition he put forward.

I say that to-day there is in our political life no such thing as an oligarchy of which he spoke, but that there is something very different, something perhaps a little discreditable, but nevertheless a vital factor in everything that we do in our political life; there is not oligarchy, but leadership by consent. The Noble Lord gave us an illustration from the Committees of this House which sit upstairs, and he said that in these Committees, in any Committee, you always have the rule that the few must control and the many must obey. I submit that in reality the rule is that the few must lead and the many must obey; and that it is leadership alone which makes our institutions work. The oligarchy of that leadership breaks down from the moment that active consent is withdrawn. I suggest, and this is why I think his argument is without foundation, that our system is working and giving good results, that it has ceased to be an oligarchy in the old political sense, in the old dangerous and unsatisfactory sense, and has become, instead, true democracy precisely in the proportion as it has been founded upon equality of voting power among the citizens of our land. The positive part of the Noble Lord's case quite equally breaks down. He said that the theory of representation in this House ought to be that Parliament is a true microcosm of the whole. It has become progressively, as the years have gone by since Parliamentary government really began during the last century, a microcosm of the whole, and more and more so in proportion as privilege in voting power has been got rid of and we have approached to an equalitarian democracy. It needs some positive case, something more convincing, to induce us to continue this anomaly of university seats.

Hon. Members, in the Second Reading Debate and again to-day, have en- deavoured to produce a more convincing positive case, and they in their turn have created what I would like to call a legend, a myth, about University Representation. The myth is this, that university seats are in some way different from any other seats, that they are a special kind of constituency, with a special kind of Member, and that their Members make a special kind of contribution to learning and science and knowledge and a special kind of contribution to the progress of what may be called the spiritual leadership of our nation. I want to say that there is nothing personal whatever in what I desire to put forward. I recognise that there are exceptions to every rule, and I have as high a regard as anybody for the personal qualifications of hon. Members who represent universities at the present time.

I want to challenge every one of these four propositions. I do not believe that a university constituency is in any real sense a special constituency. People think of it as consisting of men who are giving their lives to learning, research and the pursuit of knowledge. Nothing of the kind. It consists of those who happen to have taken the university degrees. At the present time in the great university with which I am acquainted nearly 50 per cent. of the resident members are taking pass degrees, and is anyone going to tell me that a member who has taken such a degree is any different in intellectual calibre to an ordinary educated person. I do not believe that in any true sense it can be said that university constituencies are different from ordinary constituencies by which hon. Members are chosen. Equally I am certain that they do not work in any manner that is substantially different. It has been suggested by the hon. Member for the Scottish Universities (Mr. Buchan) that if they survive this ordeal the universities should introduce some such system as that by which trade unions sometimes prepare a list of candidates.




Not all trade unions do it. If the hon. Member knew anything about the work of trade unions he would know that. I want to suggest that university seats are worked in exactly the same way as other seats in the country. The members are chosen by a party caucus, they issue party election addresses, they are chosen for party reasons. It has been said that too often the choice has been narrow and uninspiring. I do not endorse that opinion, but I say that experience has proved that those who represent universities are chosen for precisely the same reasons as we on these benches and hon. Members opposite are chosen, because they are good party men. It follows therefore, and I think it is true, that university members over a period of time have not been very different from other hon. Members of this House. There are 220 Members who have come from universities. Many of them sit on the Front Benches, but only one Member of the two Front Benches represents a university seat. If there is really no distinction, as I think, between Members who represent universities and the generality of Members in this House it is equally true that university Members have not made any special contribution to learning or education. I am not going to argue the question of their voting record. That has been dealt with already by the Home Secretary and other hon. Members.

I challenge any one to go further into the history of university representation and to show that university Members have made special contributions to education, learning, the promotion of knowledge, the promotion of research. Of course there is an exception to every rule. I can think of one Member who sat in this House for many years and who was, perhaps, the most distinguished university man of his generation. I mean the late Lord Balfour. He was not only a university man; he was a great philosopher. His books are still read as text-books in the universities to-day. He ended his life as Chancellor of the greatest university in the world. He did more in this House and in the Government for medical and civil research than any other man who has ever taken part in the affairs of our nation. Lord Balfour never in his life sat as Member for a university. It cannot be shown that university Members have made any such special contributions, and equally I argue, on the fourth point, that they have not really made any special contribution to what I call the spiritual leadership or the general progress and well-being of our nation. They have not brought to this Assembly more than any other section of the House that broad vision without which the people perish.

I remember very well a speech made by one university Member, the Noble Lord who sits for Oxford University, during the War. In that speech he defended the conscientious objector. I remember my father, then a Member of the House, telling me that that speech was the finest to which he had ever listened. But I am convinced, as I am sure any other Member will be, that the Noble Lord would have made that speech for whatever seat he might have sat. Of course he would. We have had quoted to us the opinion of various people as to the progressive nature of university representation in times gone by. I have a quotation from John Bright, who once said: If the Parliament of England had been guided according to the councils of the representatives from the universities, England, instead of being a country of law and order, would have been, long before this, a country of anarchy and revolution. From this analogy that the universities are not special constituencies, that they have not a special kind of Member, and that university Members have not made a special kind of contribution in any way, I argue that it follows that the university Members are good, honest, honourable and staightforward party men, who serve with great devotion the parties by whom they are elected. I suggest that any other view than that is a myth which we ought to dismiss, and on the basis of which we ought to allow no further continuation of the anomaly which we are discussing. I suggest that if that be true, if the university representation can be seen in its true light as a relic of the days when privilege ruled this land, then it is just one more privilege that must be swept away in the interests of the community. We want to end it as we want to end minority representation, plural voting, and the other relics of privilege with which the Bill will deal, because we on these benches believe that it is privilege of different kinds which poisons the national life of our country to-day.


I would first like to thank the Committee for the very kindly way in which it has treated this subject. It is a very delicate position for a university Member to be in, in getting up to defend himself, but the task has been greatly facilitated by the kindly references and the absence of any personal matter in the Debate. We all greatly appreciate that fact. But there is one aspect of the Debate which really has amused me, and that is the treatment of this matter as if it was a myth that had come down from long ages past and was a sort of Stuart anachronism. Every single argument that has been put forward to-day existed in 1918. What happened then? There were five constituencies with seven Members, and, apart from the Irish Free State, which we rule out, there are now seven constituencies and 12 Members. The old system of university voting was changed and democratised, and instead of 43,000 voters there became 120,000 voters. If the growth goes on, the number will be doubled again in about 10 years. This "Stuart anachronism" or myth was the settled policy of every party in the House. It is all very well for Liberal Members to talk as if it were an open question. They were in power, and were quite able to deal with the matter, and did.

The whole matter was gone into and settled on the basis of national policy. The system was enlarged; there were more seats and more people to vote. New constituencies were formed, new organisations were built up, and new registers had to be prepared. A large number of these people have paid 10s. for their votes. You are going to disfranchise a lot of those who have paid their 10s. to be enrolled on the register, and it is very hard luck on them. They are now writing and asking me to pay the money back again. I refer them to the Home Secretary. Why, after this definite settlement of policy only 10 years ago, should there be the suggestion of a total reversal? I have looked at the Home Secretary's speech on the Second Reading of the Bill. This is what he then said: Accordingly the view of the Government is that this is a privilege which can no longer be justified, for, whatever else most of these university members may have exhibited as qualities for work in this House they have shown a deplorable ignorance on most occasions of what are the public needs."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 2nd February, 1931; col. 1480, Vol. 247.] That is the reason given for putting an end to the policy. I may be wrong, but I have the feeling that every single Member who comes to this House comes here bona fide to put forward his idea of what the public needs. Some people say that the public needs the present Government. A great many people say that it does not. The Liberals are not quite sure; sometimes they think one thing and sometimes the other. The only meaning which the Home Secretary's statement can have is that most of the present university Members do not agree with the present Government. If that is so, what a democratic idea! Disfranchise your opponents! It is only a step further to shoot them; there is no real reason why you should not. If you disfranchise them and leave them without votes, why on earth should not not shoot them all?

I have a theory that, apart from this, there is at the back of the mind of the Socialist party another idea. I believe Socialists think that university Members are a sort of special feature and that the House does not get value for money. I see that idea going through all the speeches made on the other side. Like all simple people the Socialists want something unusual and picturesque to impress them. I am sure that that is at the back of the whole thing—that we are not sufficiently unusual in intellect or in appearance. [Laughter.] It is all very well for hon. Members to laugh, but let me call attention to one point. The Government have differentiated in favour of the City, although the right hon. Member for Carnarvon Boroughs (Mr. Lloyd George) very recently said that the City "is always wrong." Why did the Government differentiate in favour of the City? Because, according to the Home Secretary, of its historical association, and because the Members for the City sit on the Treasury Bench at the opening of the Session. That shows that there is something picturesque and unusual about them.

Obviously we university Members have made a mistake. We ought to have appeared here in caps and gowns. We could have had the red gowns of doctors for important occasions. We ought to have shown some special technical ability. If we were classical we ought to have denounced the right hon. Gentleman the Home Secretary in the Greek of Demosthenes. If we wanted to get a favour from the hon. Lady the Minister of Labour we ought to have addressed her in Horatian lines, referring to her most suitably as Dulce ridentem, dulce loguentem. Again as physicists we ought to have referred to hon. Members below the Gangway as "waves," or we ought to have addressed you, Sir Robert, as presiding over a four-dimensional continuum. We might have encouraged the Government by saying that 600 Members passing haphazard legislation for the next million years must as a matter of scientific fact succeed in passing Bills carrying out the whole of the professions in Labour and the Nation. Again we might as mathematicians have pointed out that a line of thought passing from these benches in the direction of the place usually occupied by the hon. Member for Bridgeton (Mr. Maxton) and continued to its ultimate length through a limited eternity would come to an end by the side of my hon. Friend the Member for Eastbourne (Mr. Marjoribanks).

But the universities have, unfortunately for themselves, chosen a more serious position. They have tried to send here men who know their wants and who can, effectively if prosaically, discuss the problems of the hour. In fact one hon. Member opposite was kind enough to say that the universities had sent here men who might quite easily be elected for any ordinary constituency. Accordingly the objection really is that the university representatives are not in accord with the Government's views. That is what it all comes to, and I venture to say that it is extremely unwise for the Government to take that course, because, as has been pointed out, the constitution of the university electorates is changing rapidly. In Cambridge we have estimated that about 50 per cent. come from the class whose members have to be assisted with their education, and in due course the university must represent that class whatever their politics may be. Obviously the Government do not believe that that change will result in the universities returning Socialists, because they know that when any class come in contact with higher education their minds are broadened; they refuse to be suckled in the creed outworn of Socialism and look for something more healthy and more ennobling than the materialistic and exploded shibboleths of Karl Marx. But here we are, 12 university Members, like gladiators in the arena, having to ask for our lives. For my colleagues I say that undoubtedly they have well deserved to live. For myself I make no such claim, but I hope that when the time comes hon. Members will say that as a body we are entitled to be preserved, and that we have fought well, and that, if they do not as was done in the old days, show their appreciation of us by turning up their thumbs, they will do so by going into the Lobby when the time comes and saying that this Clause shall not stand part of the Bill.


I have listened with great interest to this Debate, and I have failed to gather any reason why it would be to the advantage of our country that, the representatives of the universities should be excluded from the House of Commons. It appears to me that at a time when we are undoubtedly suffering from a lowered sense of the value of Parliamentary institutions, and indeed of the authority of the House of Commons, we should welcome rather than exclude the leaders of thought in the various departments of university learning, in science, literature and art. In the course of the Debate it has been admitted on all sides that the universities can make a powerful contribution to Parliament. It has been suggested in certain quarters that that contribution could be better made in another place, but I ask why should not the House of Commons have the advantage, if advantage it be, of securing such expressions of opinion? I am prepared to admit that the university franchise has not always been wisely used. From time to time representatives have been returned for the universities merely as party nominees without any real understanding of the needs of the universities themselves, but to my mind that is no reason why one should support the abolition of university representation.

I believe that university representation affords an extraordinarily good opportunity of obtaining an independent type of member. [An HON. MEMBER: "How many are there?"] At the last General Election no fewer than three candidates ran as independents and two were returned. But I venture to hope that the universities themselves in the future even more than in the past, will realise their opportunities in putting forward men and women who have special knowledge and in returning representatives, on the ground of their outstanding qualities of mind rather than on mere party considerations. I should like to see the elimination, to a, large extent of the party caucus in connection with university elections. I cannot understand why our great universities should not select representatives, irrespective of party views—representatives who will do their best in the interests of the universities themselves. In the University of St. Andrews, which is situated in my constituency, the experiment has been made within recent years of nominating Lords Rector on non-party lines, with the result that we have had a series of very distinguished Lords Rector who have been appointed not as representing any one section of political opinion hut as possessing special qualifications for their high office.

The University of St. Andrews, which is the oldest University in Scotland, was founded in 1411. It became early one of the greatest centres of intellectual life and progress in Scotland and rendered then, and still, I believe, continues to render in an increasing degree very signal service to the Scottish nation. It first obtained representation under the Reform Act of 1868, which applied to Scotland. It has been suggested that the great majority of representatives have been representatives of the Conservative party, but on the first occasion when the Combined Universities of St. Andrews and Edinburgh elected their representatives they elected to this House a Liberal, also one of the most distinguished scientists of our day, Sir Lyon Playfair, afterwards known as Lord Playfair, whose name was known throughout the whole world and whose services, not only to this country but to the world of science, were generally recognised. Incidentally, I may mention at the same time that the other representative who was returned on that first occasion was the right hon. James Moncrieff, afterwards Lord Moncrieff, Lord Justice Clerk, who, along with Sir Lyon Playfair, was a Liberal.

On that occasion, as on subsequent occasions, the universities have not shown themselves to be restricted entirely to the Conservative party in regard to the Members which they have elected. We have had a distinguished succession of representatives of the Universities, perhaps not all in the same degree, but is there anyone here who will deny that many of them have rendered marked services to the nation? When my hon. Friend the Member for West Middlesbrough (Mr. Griffith) was referring to the speech delivered by the Senior Member for the University of Oxford (Lord H. Cecil) in the louse to-day, he could not fail to draw attention to the fact of the signal distinction which attaches to the presence of that right hon. Gentleman in this House. Through an experience in this House of many years' standing now, I would like to say that there are few Members in the House w hose speeches have more impressed me as a Member of this House than have the speeches of the right hon. Gentleman the Senior Member for the University of Oxford, on various national occasions when he was able to make a contribution to our Debates of outstanding merit.

We have had an argument presented that the university franchise is undemocratic. Is there any hon. Member sitting opposite, who contests the value of the university franchise, who is not prepared to admit that our universities to-day are becoming increasingly democratized? There is no question about it. I can speak specially for Scotland, where we have an enormous percentage of our students drawn from the humbler classes. Many of them have attended the public elementary schools and, through the endowments provided through the Carnegie Trust and other endowments, have been able to take their place and have a university course and all the facilities afforded to other classes. The same applies to the English universities; I believe that there equally there is a large and overwhelming proportion of students who have attended public elementary schools.

I should like to point out also that if hon. Members who represent the party opposite would have a little vision, as one of their number, who addressed the Committee first on this subject to-day, in a very courageous speech advised them to do, if they would look ahead, they would find that the time may not be far distant when the sons and daughters of those who are engaged in daily toil throughout the land will find their place in our universities. We have also the extension of the university electorate by the Act of 1918, which has still further opened the door for a wider sphere of representation, and I would remind the Committee that we have also got Proportional Representation, which makes it much easier for those who put forward their candidates, of whatever party, to obtain a seat in this House.

We are dealing with only 12 seats, so that this is not a revoluntary proposal by any means. If you consider the fact that at the last General Election, out of the nearly 29,000,000 voters, no fewer than 5,851,000 did not take the trouble to record their votes, it seems to me that it is at least an argument that those who value their vote and who believe that education of the mind brings with it a higher sense of civic responsibility should recognise that in exercising the university vote they have a privilege which is well founded. May I also say that, in my humble judgment, our universities are not only centres of learning and thought, but are increasingly becoming the power houses of our nation in the development of our national character and efficiency, whose work is bound to have a great influence and effect in promoting our national prosperity and in pointing the way to further progress?

It has been suggested that they have a monopoly of the professional classes, but is that so? If you turn to-day to our great industries, what do you find? You find that many of them are specially concerned to take direct from the universities the experts and the leaders of future industry, who will control our great industrial concerns, and many students to-day are being specially trained at the universities to take their place in the development of industry. There is a huge sphere of research work open to the universities, which is continuously being developed, and I am glad to say that at the University of St. Andrews that research work has been steadily pursued. During the War is enabled the university to render services to the nation which were of incomparable value, as indeed other universities were able to render at that time; and I believe that that research work ought to be increasingly developed in our universities and that a great service would be rendered to the nation in consequence.

In conclusion, may I point out that while under the recent Reform Acts the tendency has been to expand the franchise and to remove unfair qualifications and privileges which could not be regarded as well founded, in the case of the university franchise the tendency has been directly to expand and to develop it, instead of seeking to restrict it in any further degree? Since 1603, when representation was given to Oxford and Cambridge, we have had in the later periods, contemporaneous with the great Reform Acts which were passed, enlarging and removing the anomalies of our franchise, the steady expansion of the university representation. In 1867 the University of London obtained its representation in Parliament, and in 1868 the Scottish Universities were accorded their opportunity of being represented here. In 1918 we had the representation increased from seven to 12 as a result of the Speaker's Conference, and I would like to ask hon. Members opposite, some of whose memories, I believe, go back to that time, whether it is not the case that during the consideration of this matter by the Speaker's Conference the Labour Members represented there were keen upon getting an extension of university representation and whether they were not parties to the arrangement which was then come to in the sense that it received their full approval and support.

We have been moving forward in regard to the development of this franchise. We are anxious to secure for all classes an equal opportunity of having their views represented through this franchise, and I feel quite certain that it would be contrary to the best interests of our country and of this House if we were to exclude from it altogether those who are fitted to speak from the seats of learning. I have received representations from the University in my division and from other Scottish Universities and many other sources, from those who belong to different parties, in favour of continuing university representation, but I have re- ceived no representation from any source in my division against university representation. The Committee would do well to continue a franchise which I believe will be used in future to better purpose even than in the past in securing the highest type of representative in this House.


I agree with the hon. and learned Member for East Fife (Mr. Millar) on one point—the excellence of the speech of the Noble Lord the Member for Oxford University (Lord H. Cecil). If anything could soften the hearts of those who propose to abolish the university representation, it would be the charming speech of the Noble Lord. I would like to point out the way in which the Noble Lord argued his case. He took his unfortunate connection with East Greenwich and from that exception built up his whole case. He asked if the House would be less real if the 12 Members representing the universities were absent. If he could show that these 12 Members would have an equal chance with the rest of us in an ordinary constituency, they would have nothing to feel aggrieved about. The hon. and learned Member for East Fife said that 5,000,000 people did not think it worth while to vote in the ordinary constituencies at the last General Election. In the elections for the university Members, however, only 71 per cent. of the electorate voted—


That is hardly a fair comparison. Of course, a very large number of university electors are always absent abroad, and many are beyond reach of voting papers.


I understand from a printed communication I have received that that is one of the four arguments which have been put forward for the representation of the universities. Only 71 per cent. of the electorate voted in the university elections, whereas in the other elections 78 per cent. of the electorate voted.

9.0 p.m.

I wish, particularly, to call the Committee's attention to the arguments put forward by the hon. and gallant Member for Central Wandsworth (Major Church). I was sorry to hear his arguments, because he seemed to fail to grasp the essentials for which this party stands. His argument was that every Member of Parliament should have a university training, but he did not advance a single argument to show why, having had this university training, they should have two votes. I ask any hon. Member opposite to give a plain answer to a plain question. What is the principle upon which the university vote is founded? The basis of an ordinary vote is ordinary citizenship, and the university vote is a privilege. The fundamental basis of the vote for the universities is that of syndicalism. It is a representation of a profession or a special interest, and the only countries in Europe where that is the basis is Italy and, I regret to say, Russia. With other hon. Members, I have had a paper which purports to put forward four reasons for the retention of the university vote, and because of the distinguished signatures which are at the end, it deserves serious attention. The first reason given is this: It has stood the test of realised experience, and has brought into the councils of the nation a type of member who would not otherwise have been available. The arguments in answer to that point have been sufficiently stated in this Committee. I agree with every word of the hon. Member for Coventry (Mr. Noel Baker) when he said that the university Members for the greater part have been sound party men. The second reason is: Our university system, whatever it may have been in the past, has now been thoroughly democratised. Suppose that a family of South Wales miners sends one son to a university to take, it may be, a theological course. Is there any logical reason why that one son should have twice the political power of the other members of the family? The third reason given is: The university vote is the only franchise attainable by British citizens resident abroad. It is forgotten that there is the absent voters' list. In the case of a person who is permanently resident abroad, why should we give the right to a university voter to take a part in British politics, whereas a trader, who has had no university training, has no such vote? The fourth reason is the one upon which the signatories depend: The chief importance of separate university representation lies in the fact that, without it, certain important points of view will not be presented. I have gone one step further than the hon. Member for Westhoughton (Mr. Rhys Davies) and have analysed the Members of this House into groups. Of the Oxford men, there are 72 Conservatives, 3 Liberals, and 16 Labour; of Cambridge men, 45 Conservatives, 13 Liberals, and 14 Labour; London University, 4 Conservatives, 1 Liberal, 10 Labour; Glasgow, 4 Conservatives, 2 Liberals, 6 Labour; Edinburgh, 5 Conservatives, 6 Liberals, 7 Labour provincial universities, 7 Conservatives, 5 Liberals, and 10 Labour. It is idle to argue that the Members who represent the universities can state special points of view any better than any one of the other Members who have been to the universities.


This has been an, evening of surprises, but, before dealing with the greater ones, I would say one word to the hon. Member who has just sat down. The Members for the universities are supposed to be here as specialists. I say with all humility that I am a specialist, and most of my colleagues are specialists in one branch of knowledge or another, and I challenge the hon. Member to say that the Oxford, Cambridge, Edinburgh, or London men whom he catalogued are for the most part specialists of the academic sort. They were not elected as specialists. We have been. We are chosen by an academic body as representative of its studies.


Will the hon. Gentleman tell us how he voted on the Education Bill?


Order. If other hon. Members are to have an opportunity to speak, we must not have so many questions asked.


The hon. Member asked me a question, and I have answered him straight. We are specialists elected by specialists. The people he quoted are not specialists and have been elected by all manner of constituents I think that is a sufficient answer to him. Coming to the more general aspects of the question, I must say that I have been startled by the archaic nature of the arguments which have been brought against the present representation of the universities. John Bright rather disapproved of it. Lord Shaftesbury, somewhere in the 1840's, was, as my hon. Friend opposite said, genuinely shocked by the refusal of the doctors and the clergy to be interested in his admirable humanitarian propaganda. How that bears on the present representation of universities I cannot see. Mr. Gladstone, too, in an Oxford which has long passed by, was rejected by the university and, retiring to other constituencies, observed that he was unmuzzled. I was glad to see the extraordinary enthusiasm which the name of Gladstone still provokes, but I am surprised to find that the opinions of those who represented the Oxford of the early 1860's or the late 1850's can be quoted as having a bearing on the Oxford of to-day.

But of all the archaic arguments that interested me I was most interested in the allusion made by the Home Secretary to the opinions of Mr. Bryce in 1885. I happened to be an intimate friend of Lord Bryce, and in his later years I had a great deal to do with him. He trusted me with much important work, and I was well acquainted with his view. They are well put in that most melancholy book "Modern Democracy," in which he recanted very nearly all the views of his early youth. I can assure the Home Secretary that Lord Bryce in 1910 was a very different person from the Mr. Bryce of 1885. Passing on to the archaic arguments of the other side which may be said to have any bearing on the present universities, I must say a word to the hon. Member for West Middlesbrough (Mr. Griffith). He was apparently under the impression that the Members for the Universities of Oxford and Cambridge are not elected by Proportional Representation.


I did not say so.


But the hon. Member implied it. [Interruption.]


If the hon. Member challenges me, I will answer him.


I challenge the hon. Member to repeat what he said about the universities.


What I said was that Proportional Representation did not work where there were only three or four candidates, and that it was necessary to have larger constituencies. The hon. Member knows that quite well himself.


That is the second part of what the hon. Member said, slightly altered in its verbiage. He said that Proportional Representation would not work with three candidates, and I got up and reminded him that I had tested it myself with four candidates. I have asked him to repeat what he said about university representation and the way in which it was carried out—not the second part of what he said, but the first.


I have said what I did say about it. That was my only reference to the method by which university representation is carried out.


I hope those hon. Members who were present in the House will bear me out in saying that the verbiage used by the hon. Gentleman just now was not an exact representation of what he said in his speech.


I did not use verbiage.


After his two accounts of what he said I am surprised that the hon. Member has the confidence to stand up and answer me. [Interruption.] But I have more important things to say. I wish to show the real cause why this Bill was brought in. A constituent of mine who is also a constituent of the Prime Minister wrote to him asking why he was bringing forward this Measure for the disfranchisement of the universities, and I wish the Committee to listen to what the Prime Minister said in reply, by the hand of his private secretary: I am writing on behalf of the Prime Minister to acknowledge the receipt of your letter dated 2nd February relating to the question of university suffrage. University graduates will no doubt be aware that with some few exceptions the university franchise is entirely used on party lines, and this fact goes far to deprive it of any claims to special consideration when the plural vote is in question. There you have it. According to the Prime Minister, the university suffrage is used on party lines. That I entirely deny. Speaking for Oxford, I can say that we do not "work on party lines." That is to say, we have nothing to do with the Central Office, and in no degree are we subject to the authority or control of any party organisation. We are absolutely independent. We have always chosen our Members, not by a caucus of dons, as one hon. Member said, but by a quite different body. The best proof of our independence is that my colleague and I have repeatedly voted against the party whip on important questions. We can claim to be independent Conservatives. On the question of the granting of the franchise to the younger females, we voted against it, and I could quote half-a-dozen other instances where university Members, voting on their conscience and according to their principles, voted against their party. It is absurd to say that we are working on party lines. We represent an independent body, we vindicate our independence, and we refuse to be the slaves of anyone.

Will those who have to pay their salaries into a common fund and withdraw from it a little more than they put in say that they are independent? I do not hear any applause on that point. We absolutely disclaim party patronage, we claim independence, and for that reason I protest against the Prime Minister's statement that we are elected entirely on party lines. We are elected on principle. No one could expect the voters in any constituency to elect persons whose views are entirely opposed to their own. That would be absurd. The last six elections have shown that the Conservative vote at Oxford University is rather more than double the Liberal and Labour vote combined. Could the Prime Minister expect in those circumstances that we should elect a Liberal or a Labour Member? Is it the idea that the Prime Minister would have been a little more merciful to us if we had elected a Labour or Liberal Member occasionally? It is as reasonable to expect that as that in the mining valleys of South Wales they should occasionally elect a Conservative. It would be against all their views and interests. I know that universities repeatedly elect persons who do not share the views of hon. Members opposite: university representatives do the poor best they can, but hon. Members cannot expect us to vote for anything we do not believe in.

Lastly, we have to remember that this is a disfranching Bill, and something like 15,000 or 20,000 university electors are going to be disfranchised. In my own constituency 1,500 electors will be disfranchised as they do not fit into any local register. They comprise the pick of the Civil Service and Consular Service, teachers, men of business, specialists all round Europe. A week is at present allowed for them to record their votes. They are now all going to be disfranchised simply because they do not answer to the new conditions. The Government are treating the universities in a different way to the City of London. In the case of the Clause dealing with the two votes in the City of London the Government whips were taken off. The Prime Minister has been asked by certain hon. Members to allow a free vote also on this Clause dealing with the university franchise, and they met refusal. The Government are ready to bow down to the interests of the City of London, but not to those of universities to which they have given so much lip service for the last 20 years. I leave hon. Members to their ill-disguised hatred of learning.


I fail to understand why any special privilege should be granted to the universities. One of the earlier speakers said that the more the present Government considered this question, the more they would realise that their decision to abolish their representation was wrong. My view is that the more the universities become democratised, the less they will ask for privileges of this kind. We have been reminded by several speakers of the independence of those who represent the universities in this House. It has been admitted by one of the spokesmen for the universities that three-quarters of those who sit in this House representing universities are the adherents or regular supporters of one political party. We are asked to believe that this is merely an accident, and that it is not really the average experience as applied to universities.

I am going to suggest that an examination of the records of all the Members of this House who have sat for universities will show that on the whole they have not been of the progressive temperament which has been mentioned by hon. Members opposite. I have here a list of those who are declared to have been independent representatives, and I find among them the names of Mr. Lecky, the historian, Mr. H. A. L. Fisher, Lord Watson, Sir William Anson, scientists like Lord Playfair, Sir George Stokes, Sir Joseph Larmor, Sir Watson Cheyne, scholars like Sir Richard Jebb and Professor S. H. Butcher, and men of special experience like Sir John Gorst, Sir Michael Foster, Sir Philip Magnus, and Lord Ernie. Three-fourths of the names of those I have mentioned really represented the Conservative point of view. I find in regard to the records of those representatives, who did not claim to be party politicians, that the common opinion about them was that the university Member was a man with Liberal views, but with strong Conservative instincts. I think that is a very fair description of the university representative.

I gather from the speeches which have been made, and especially the speech of the last speaker, how much the cause of learning and the interests of education will suffer if we do not allow these gentlemen to remain Members of this House instead of devoting themselves to the particular work for which they are specially qualified. I think it has been a common experience that when any man distinguished in letters, science, or education comes into this House as a representative of one of the universities, he generally fails to make a great Parliamentary reputation, and he loses something of the usefulness to society which he formerly was able to display. There are quite a number of cases which might be quoted. It was said of Mr. Lecky that: He never acquired the Parliamentary manner. His speaking was so fluent, even, and rapid as to become monotonous, and he excelled rather in set speeches than in debate. Although he had a distinct turn for politics, and his sincerity, ability and wide knowledge always carried weight, he must be ranked among those whom training and character fitted better for other fields, and whom distinction won elsewhere carried too late into the rough and tumble of Parliamentary life. That is an argument for keeping these people in the particular field for which they are fitted, instead of asking them to do two jobs, one of them far different from the other. I see no ground why those who have specialised in education should sit in this House, especially when one-third of the Members of this House are university men, or with degrees, and are qualified to put any particular point of view of the universities quite as well as any special representatives. There is only one ground upon which I should feel reconciled to university representation, and that is that the people who do come here should really forget party politics, detach themselves from partisan issues and exercise their votes in the Division Lobbies, even though it were sometimes against interests which they could hardly be expected not to support. I should be reconciled, in view of my experience since I have been in the House, by the contribution to our Debates of the only hon. Lady who sits for a university. If the Government could see their way to say that every one of those representatives should be a woman, I think we should get a special, independent point of view, but, as things are at present, I see no reason why I should not support the Government's action in this respect. Although, like many other hon. Members, I have received postcards from graduates who enjoy this special privilege and do not desire to relinquish it, and although I have a son and a daughter who are also graduates, I see no reason why they should have two votes when their father can have only one.


The Committee is left in some doubt—at all events, I myself feel considerable doubt—as to the effect of the Amendment if it were carried. Would it leave the university electors with a plural vote or not? I do not think that anything has been said in the Debate to clear up that situation. Clause 3, which has already been passed, says: after the passing of this Act no person shall vote at a General Election for more than one constituency. That being so, if university representation is left, apparently the voters at the universities would have to choose whether they would exercise their votes there or exercise their residential qualification. I hope that when the Minister of Health speaks later he will make it clear whether the Clause that has already been passed will have abolished plural voting for university representation, if university representation is retained.

The hon. Member for Middlesbrough West (Mr. Griffith), in a very effective argument, raised that point, but, as far as I know, it has not been taken up by any other speaker. If, as appears to be the case, the effect of passing the Amendment will be to retain university representation although plural voting is abolished, and if each elector will have to choose whether he will vote in the university or in his home constituency, how many electors will be left for the universities? It is impossible to make any prophecy, but it will not be unfair to say that possibly about one-half of the university voters will choose to vote for the universities, and possibly one-half for their home constituencies. That would mean that the average university constituency would attract only 5,000 votes to return a Member, while 50,000, on the average, are required to return a Member for any other constituency. In two constituencies in particular, Belfast University and the University of Wales, if only one-half of the electors took part in the election, 1,600 voters would be represented in the House of Commons by a Member.

The right hon. Gentleman the Member for Bewdley (Mr. S. Baldwin), who will follow me, belongs to a party which has always acted on the basis of "one vote, one value." It has been one of the principal planks of its political platform, and one of the leading articles of its political creed. How will the right hon. Gentleman be able to defend that system which would enable 5,000 electors in a university to send a Member to Parliament, while it requires 50,000 others to send an ordinary Member to the House of Commons? Even if the Bill were amended, either in another place or by other means, and plural voting were restored to the university constituencies, it would be open to grave objection. You only have 10,000 on the average, and 120,000 university electors, instead of returning two Members to Parliament, would be entitled to 10 Members.

This Debate has really been conducted, to some extent, under a misapprehension with regard to quite a different matter. We thought we were debating university representation, and the phrase "University Representation" is invariably used. It is supposed that the universities send these Members to Parliament and the hon. and gallant Member for Wandsworth (Major Church), who made an amazing speech from the benches opposite, spoke of depriving the ancient seats of learning of their representation. That phrase has been used again and again as though the resident members of Oxford and Cambridge Universities met in conclave and solemnly appointed one of their number to carry the torch of enlightenment to Westminster. Nothing of the kind. The electorate consists of 120,000 individuals scattered throughout the whole country. Except that 15,000 are abroad, and they notwithstanding are entitled to take pare in the elections, although they are not for the time being subject to our laws. The rest also are far removed from the universities, most of them—country parsons in very large numbers, secondary schoolmasters and others, leading blameless lives and no doubt useful careers, but surely not entitled by their own personal virtues or qualifications to exercise in the State 10 times the power of any one of their neighbours?

In opposing the Amendment and supporting the Bill as it stands, I disclaim wholly any lack of respect, indeed of reverence and affection, for my own university and my own college, for which I have, indeed, a real gratitude and a deep love, and I have done what I could to render them such service as is in my power. Nevertheless, I think I love Oxford best when she is least a politician. Indeed, the bringing of a university into political controversies and the forming there of partisan committees, as, I am afraid, most of them are, definitely attached to various parties and fighting one another on party lines, really does not conduce to the full respect, gratitude and good will on the part of university men and women throughout the country for the universities at which they were trained. University representation does increase the direct political power of the universities, but I venture to submit that it somewhat lessens the indirect political influence of the universities, for the very reason that they are brought into party controversy in this way, and are represented in this House by Members of various parties. It lessens the indirect political influence which should be their real power. The true power of education does not come from her winning political privileges for herself, but from her exercising leadership of others. That is the power that she does exercise very effectively to the great advantage of the whole nation.

There have been mentioned in Debate some distinguished names in university representation, over a period of 50 or 60 years—rather few, strangely few, considering the high claims that are made for university representation. I wish to say nothing in any degree in detraction of hon. Members who now sit in this House for the various university constituencies, but I do demur a little to the claims, which, I think, are somewhat exaggerated, that are made on their behalf—claims of remarkable and exceptional impartiality, enlightenment and statesmanship. I do not know, with all respect to them, that they are so exceptionally distinguished from the average of the Members of the House. The junior Member for Oxford University (Sir C. Oman) gave an instance of his own and his colleague's independence of the ties of the Conservative party, but the only instance that he gave was that when the Conservative party, in the last Parliament, did introduce a progressive democratic Measure for the extension of the franchise, he and his colleague had the independence to vote against it. I do not remember ever hearing of a case in which there was some knotty, difficult, troublesome problem before Parliament, when the House was doubtful how to deal with it, and when the Government of the day said: "Ah, well, surely the best thing to do is to appoint a committee consisting of the university Members. They are so impartial, so enlightened and so statesmanlike that they will solve our problem for us." If university representation here is abolished, we shall regret, possibly, the loss of some lion. Members, but I am sure that many of them will have no difficulty in finding ordinary constituencies like the rest of us, and in returning here; although it is possible that some may not.

The House to-day has had one of its far too rare delights, a speech from the Noble Lord the senior Member for Oxford University (Lord H. Cecil). He delighted us all, but I am not sure that he carried complete conviction to all of us. He pointed out most effectively the inequalities of our present electoral system, and the occasional unfairnesses or injustices that arise from it, but he led us, surely, to the conclusion, not that we should retain university representation, but that we should establish proportional representation. In essentials, what he said was this: The whole system is so absurd now, that one absurdity more or less really does not matter.


No, I do not think it is absurd; in my opinion it is very wise.


The Noble Lord says that there are so many inequalities, that representation is so ineffective, and that it is so ridiculous to think that the desires of the people are thoroughly represented in the House of Commons now, that it does not matter if there is one additional failure to represent the desires of the people.


If you aim at a mathematically equalitarian system, it is an absurdity, but if you aim at true representation of the whole by the whole, our system is very good, and university representation is a true policy.


Representation of the whole by the whole is a contradiction in terms, because there is no representation if the whole represents itself. You have to select representatives, and, if you want to select representatives to represent the whole body of a nation, you must represent, so far as you can, the ideas current in the body of the nation. The Noble Lord's argument was that you do not effect that at the present time, and that, since you do not effect it now, you may just as well as not retain university representation, which is as good a form of representation as any other, since no other is really a good form of representation.

The Noble Lord's argument, as I understood it, was that, our present system being anomalous, the more completely anomalous you make it the more self-consistent it becomes; that, being illogical, an additional illogicality becomes itself logical, for the very reason that it is illogical. That is the conclusion to which we are led by a mind which has been trained in the more abstruse forms of theological dialectic. The true conclusion is rather that, if there are absurdities, we should set to work to get rid of them as fast as we can one by one. This Bill deals with, at all events, two obvious illogicalities and absurdities, plural voting and university representation. If we should go on to the Alternative Vote, or, as the Noble Lord, would prefer, to Proportional Representation, we shall be very glad at some future time to have his assistance in enacting that into law. In effect, however, his argument is really an attack upon the very fundamentals of self-government. Every argument that he used might have been used, and, indeed, was used, 100 years ago this very month in the House of Commons in defence of Old Sarum, and these are the arguments that are now used in defence of what are really the present-day pocket boroughs of the professional classes.

It is easy to say, let us have an educational test, and give more weight to learning and more power to those who have passed through the universities; but no test that the mind of man can devise can distinguish the competent voters from the incompetent. John Stuart Mill made various suggestions in his book on "Representative Government," and Disraeli introduced a plan in his Reform Bill of 1867; but both were rejected by the general sense of the nation as a whole, which felt that they were artificial and unreal, and did not distinguish effectively between wise and foolish men. Who can distinguish, by any test, whether of property or of education? The plain, level-headed workman, who can see the wood in spite of the trees, is of more value to the State in the electorate than the sophisticated philosopher who may be very well informed on the details of political questions, hut may be wrong on broad principles.

The science and art of Government are difficult indeed, but the voter's part is limited and comparatively simple. If we did not have the jury system in this country—inherited from a primaeval State—and if someone now proposed to invent it, how hon. Members above the Gangway would say, "What could be more absurd than to take a jury of ordinary men and women out of the street—anybody—and just put them in a box and expect to get a sensible judgment from them?" If they were asked, indeed, to become the judges, or if they were asked to become the advocates, it would be absurd, but everyone who is acquainted with the jury system, every jurist with whom you may discuss it, will say that it is the most valuable element in the whole of our judicial system. Democracy is nothing but the jury writ large. It directs us on the right lines of domestic policy; it directs us on the right, spirit of foreign policy. Learning is valuable, but common sense is more valuable, and you find it best by relying on the equal judgment of the whole people.

These arguments that we have heard to-day from hon. Members who say that they are "democrats, but"—these arguments really challenge the whole fundamental idea of self-government. They are specious and devious arguments, meaning in effect simply that those who use them are unwilling to trust the broad and equal judgment of the whole nation. These are the same arguments which were used, as I have said, in opposition to the Reform Bill of 1831, and the same arguments have been used in opposition to the household franchise, in opposition to the ballot; the same arguments have been used in the past, and to-day, to defend plural voting; the same arguments have been used in the past, and to-day, to defend the control of the House of Lords. I am only sorry that some of my hon. Friends on these benches have failed to detect the ancient and familiar features of the spirit that opposes democratic self-government. For my own part, I have no difficulty in recognising them, and I shall fight that spirit wherever I find it.


I rise this evening to intervene in this Debate, not so much in my capacity as the Leader of the Opposition, hut as one who has enjoyed the signal honour of having been elected by all parties to the high office of Chancellor both of the University of Cambridge and of the University of St. Andrews. I cannot hope to put forward any new argument on a subject of this kind, but I cannot let the Debate draw to a close, nor a vote be taken, without putting forward one or two, I would rather call them thoughts than argu- ments for the earnest consideration of hon. Members opposite. The hon. Member for West Middlesbrough (Mr. Griffith), who always makes a charming speech, objected to my Noble Friend the Member for Oxford University (Lord H. Cecil) on the ground that he was not a typical House of Commons man. Would he accept me, I wonder, as a typical House of Commons man, because it is as such, and as such alone, that I propose to offer the few observations that I shall do? The right hon. Gentleman who has just spoken will forgive me if I do not deal at length with his speech, time being short. There are only two observations that I would make about it. He leaves me quite unconcerned when he complains that we are neglecting our old principle of one vote, one value. I am not fond of bandying tu quoques in this House, hut, after all, he enjoyed office, if "enjoy" be the right word for office—for a considerable period by the votes of constituencies in Ireland smaller than any of the universities which are asking for a continuation of their representation to-day from the House.

I thought it was rather an unworthy and an out of date sneer against the country parsons, because after all, the country parsons to-day are an infinitesimal fragment of the electorate of the whole of the united universities. I cannot speak for Oxford, but I would certainly say with regard to Cambridge that it is like the legend of the Bishops at the Athenaeum, which dies hard. I have been in the Athenaeum but have never seen a bishop, much less had my umbrella taken by one. Nor do I propose, although I listened with great care, to speak for more than a minute on what was said by the Home Secretary, because his argument seemed to me to be out of date. The universities are no longer the homes of privilege or caste. I could hardly believe my ears when he said, as I understood him, and took down, that, the better educated people were, the less they should be represented in this House. He did, as a matter of fact, correct that immediately afterwards into a much less objectionable form. Of course, that was the point of view with which the Soviet started, but I believe they are changing their minds now.


May I just correct the right hon. Gentleman? What I said was that, the more educated people were, the less they required representation.


I am much obliged to the right hon. Gentleman, but I do not quite see why. The argument, if it can be called an argument, that ran up and down the benches during the Debate, seemed to be that because the votes given by most Members for the universities are non-progressive, therefore, the constituencies ought to be disfranchised. I can imagine that as an argument for changing the representation but not as an argument for abolishing the constituencies. Then he said that Mr. Bryce in 1885 was against university representation. I take that from him. I do not know what Mr. Bryce s views were later on, but it is interesting to remember that, 33 years after he made that statement, the Liberal party, the Labour party and our party were all united in the Franchise and Representation Congress in 1918 in not only confirming the privileges of the old universities, but in adding a considerable number of new seats for university representation in this country. That was only in 1918, and why the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Darwen (Sir H. Samuel) should object to any of his supporters remaining true to what they believed was true in 1918, I cannot think. Neither he nor anyone has told us what has occurred in the last 13 years which should make this House go back on the agreement that was assented to, so far as my recollection goes, by all the parties in the House. If you look at sentiment—and sentiment has been mentioned—the case of the universities is far stronger than that of the City of London, on which the House pronounced its judgment the other day. For the purpose of what I am going to say I am not going to be cynical. I am not going to suggest for a moment that the reason why hon. Members opposite wish to abolish these seats is because they will abolish a number of seats that are held by their opponents. Nor will I maintain the view for a moment that it is a quid pro quo for the Alternative Vote. I will believe that they are arguing in perfect sincerity, on logical grounds, against the universities having any representation.

I could not quite make out what it was that hon. Members and the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Darwen objected to so much in the speech of the hon. and gallant Gentleman the Member for Central Wandsworth (Major Church). If I understood his argument, I thought there was a good deal of truth in that speech. I will try to put it in my words and see if I am doing justice to it. It is true that ever since the creation, if that be the right word, of the Labour party, there has beer no more prominent item in its programme than the demand for higher education, and I think the reason is obvious. I have always maintained, and I believe justifiably—for I knew years ago some of the men who were what I may call the fathers of the Labour movement—that, when you get politics in the streets and on the soap box, it very apt to become the politics of bread and butter, and very apt to degenerate merely into a fight between the haves and the have note. But before that time came, what really I think was one of the great motive forces of the whole movement was not so much the material desire for money. It was the desire for food for the mind, the feeling that they were shut out from much of the beauty of this world, to which they felt they had an equal claim with any other class, and with that feeling there is not a man in the House to-day who does not sympathise with all his heart. I think there is nothing in the history of the whole movement that is more worthy of admiration, and that excites my admiration more, than the fight men have made—men who have not had the advantages in early life that I have had—to make up for those disadvantages, and to get that learning that could not be got at that time except with great difficulty in the environment in which they lived.

One of the most remarkable features since the War has been that that desire for learning, not as a means necessarily of making money but learning for learning's sake, has spread South of the Border, and what used to be the proud privilege of the Scot is now claimed, desired, and used by English people, and their desire for learning and for knowledge is just as keen, is sought after just as energetically and pursued with the same fervour as it is North of the Tweed. I think all that is for good and is a thing for which we ought to be thankful. Why is it that men whose spirit is moved in that way, desire a University education? It is not a question of class at all. It is simply this, that after all, even when the lamp of learning has burnt dim, there has been a tradition in the older universities—a tradition nobly sustained by the newest of them—that the standards in every branch of learning, the humanities, science, medicine, history, shall be kept high, and that there shall be no class except the examination class, and that the standard of truth in inquiry, in knowledge and in learning shall be maintained. That is why our universities stand where they do. That is why university education is a thing which our people want. That is why university education is the thing which they are seeking in increasing numbers, and that; is the education which the universities, on their part, are using every endeavour to extend among the people of this country, among all of them, so that they can get hold of those who have the brains to make use of what they learn. All that is something new. All that is the growth of recent years.

I have always regretted that our Debates on education in this House are always confined to the Estimates of the Board of Education. I think that it would have been of the greatest value to this House to have had Debates on the university grants, and for the reason—and it is relevant to what I am going to say—that the universities of the country are the bodies which set the standard of education and the standard of learning. It is very much in accordance with their curricula and their examinations that the whole training of secondary education moves towards the universities. Universities will lead, and must lead, in the changes that are bound to come in the general education of this country. I believe it to be a matter of importance in this House that the universities should be a part of this House, as they have been for so many years, where those things, as they come, can be extended, can be debated, and can be dealt with.

10.0 p.m.

You may say that this is sentiment. I believe more and more that in an age like this, a material age, as it is often stated, and an age when we are so much immersed in the ordinary hard economics of life, it is of great importance to show, even in this symbolic way, that this House of Commons, the most democratic House, perhaps, in the world, a House of great traditions, recognises that the things of the mind, or what stands for the things of the mind, shall be represented here, even in few numbers, in the midst of the struggle and the days in which we live. I cannot help saying—and the Committee will forgive me if my feelings are strong—that. I think, it is a little mean to take advantage of this Bill to disfranchise the universities. I can understand, and, to a certain extent, I can sympathise with much that has been said, but surely at times one can do the big thing. It may be called a gesture—I big thing. It may be called making a gesture—I do not like the phrase—but do the big thing when you have the power. I cannot help feeling that if I sat on those benches to-night, I should like to get up and say, "We, sitting on these benches, owe the universities of the country a great debt. You have stretched out both hands to meet us and to help us. Perhaps we should not have give you this privilege. Perhaps we should not, had we had the power when the privilege was first given, but you have had it; you have it now. We have the power to take it from you, we shall not use that power, and we hope yet that we may convince you that our policy is worthy of support." That, I think, would be a big action and an action that would redound to the credit of the Labour party from one end of the country to the other.

The MINISTER of HEALTH (Mr. Arthur Greenwood)

After listening to a number of extremely interesting speeches during an extremely interesting Debate, as a university voter I am unrepentannt in my attitude towards this Clause. Nothing that has been argued in this Committee to-day has really touched upon the fundamentals of the problem. It is astonishing to hear the Conservative party now inaugurating a great campaign of push for more brains in Parliament. What is the argument to which we listened in the very delightful speech by the Noble Lord the Member for Oxford University (Lord H. Cecil)? His argument, which has been repeated since, was that democracy is a myth, that it is a, dream which cannot be realised, and that the only practical working proposition is an oligarchy. Then he went on to point out how everywhere, as he has seen it—and there is a certain truth in it—whatever organisation it might be, a few people took the burden of responsibility, and he jumped from there to what he called the justifiable conclusion that we ought to maintain the university vote. I suppose that what he had in his mind was that logically and philosophically we ought to abolish all other voters and keep the university vote—one degree one vote, two degrees two votes, American degrees half a vote, and so an all along the scale, whereby people who have accumulated unto themselves some outward mark of an inward learning should be able to be members of the great oligarchy which should run the country, instead of the 20,000,000 stupid electors who to-day do not understand the big problems of policy. That, as I understand it, was the argument used by more than one of the speakers on the other side of the Comittee.


The right hon. Gentleman must not understand that I accept his account of my speech.


I understood the Noble Lord's speech. He first painted a picture of an impossible demand, and then painted something which he called representative government, which to me is democracy, and said that it was something entirely different, and the one thing that would break your oligarchy. There are Members in the Committee who heard the speech who would come to the same conclusion. The effect of that argument is, that the one way to do it is to maintain a select class of voters who within themselves comprehend all human mysteries and are able to deal with the political issues with which ordinary people are not able to deal.

The right hon. Member for Bewdley (Mr. S. Baldwin) said that this Clause was a little mean. To that I reply that, grudgingly, the Tory party have again and again extended the franchise but they have never taken the brake off the people who are permitted to vote. They have persistently maintained the big anomalies which to-day are making political democracy an impossibility, and two of them are the system of plural voting, through the business qualification, and the university franchise. These have been consistently maintained by Conservative Members in this House. They have admitted on the Floor of this House that if the university franchise had never been invented no one would have been so absurd as to try and invent it, but, once having got it, they have tried to keep it. They keep anything which to-day is a weight against the full expression of the views of the ordinary man and woman.

It is assumed that people who have spent a certain number of years at a university are thereby qualified for the 50 years of their subsequent life to speak for the university. Those people for the most part have gone into business, into the law, or medicine, or into teaching work or into the church and various other professions. [An HON. MEMBER: "Into Parliament!"] Yes, and they have gone into Parliament in very large numbers, and that is why I see no reason why there should be more of them here. They have no more claim to represent university feeling, the living and throbbing feeling in the university centres, than the ordinary man in the street, because even universities change. These people who left their university 40 years ago and still claim the university vote have no moral right to speak on behalf of the universities of which they are members.

It is assumed, why, I have not been able to understand, that there is some special quality attaching to the representatives of universities who sit in this House. I am reminded of the speech made by Mr. Asquith, as he was then, a long time ago, in 1906, when he explained that modern university representation was the invention of Lord Beaconsfield, who on a celebrated occasion told the House of Commons that he invented the seat for London University in order to provide Mr. Lowe with a place in this House, which otherwise he did not think he could have easily got. I imagine that that may have been true of other university Members in this House. Mr. Asquith went on to declare: While he quite agreed that the ancient universities had been represented by very distinguished Members, yet he thought some hon. Members must have thought from time to time as they had seen those great scholars and mathematicians sitting silent on these benches hour after hour, and trudging drearily through the Division Lobbies, that perhaps their time and energies might have been better occupied if they had remained in the sequestered seclusion of the great seats of learning from which they were unhappily sent to mix in the uncongenial turmoil of political parties in this House. Therefore, the people who represent the universities in this House have brought nothing that has added special lustre to this House. I do not wish in the least to be disrespectful to university representatives, but, as I pointed out on the Second Reading, if we were to parade in this House 12 visitors and introduce them to 12 university Members and 12 Members elected from geographical constituencies they would detect nothing in their appearance, their intellectual quality, their moral fervour or their sincerity which would distinguish the one group from the other.

It has been pointed out with perfect truth that men of unquestioned intellectual eminence have been refused representation in Parliament by university graduates. That is true to-day. I am not saying anything of the work of distinguished Members of this House who represent universities, but as regards their work in the realm of knowledge there are men who sit in this House to-day who stand as high in their own sphere of learning as the people who represent the universities, and it seems to me to be absurd to suggest that the only way to get into the House of Commons people of rare intellectual distinction and of independent mind is to send them from the universities. The right hon. Member for Bewdley holds high office in two universities, and I say this of a political opponent that he is as good as any Member that a university seat could produce, and a good deal better than many of them. There are men of great, quality and great distinction in their own walks of life who are quite as good and in many respects better than a number of the people who have represented university constituencies.

The right hon. Gentleman the Member for Bewdley spoke with very great feeling and with very great sincerity about education. I suppose I have talked about education as much as any Member of this House, and I suppose that I believe in it as many Members of this House. It does not follow that because people have had special opportunities for education not enjoyed by the rest of their fellows that they are thereby in a stronger position to lay down a sound view on questions of big public policy. Some of the most stupid people I have ever known have been the most learned. Big issues of policy are questions which the ordinary man and the ordinary woman can understand in their broad outline. We want more education and we ask for it, and it has been denied to us by the party opposite, not in order to increase the number of university voters, but in order to increase the number of educated electors. We think that education is a good thing in itself.

The Leader of the Opposition spoke as though what we wanted to abolish was not the university vote but university education. The whole of his plea was that we must not destroy university education. We do not want to destroy it. The more education there is carried on by the universities the better I shall like it, and the better most of us on these benches will like it. The more universities keep out of politics the higher will be their standing amongst the great mass of the people of this country. It has been argued that because universities are to-day being democratised, in the sense that a larger proportion of students are coming from public elementary schools, that, therefore, it is an argument for the retention of the university vote. It is an attempt on the part of the Tory party to justify sticking to this vote.

Our fundamental objection to the university vote is that it is a special kind of franchise conferred upon a very tiny proportion of the electors of this country, and any kind of fancy franchise in our view is wrong. If the party opposite had not deprived us of giving a longer educational life to the masses of the people—[Interruption]—we should have been able to take every boy and girl a year nearer the university, but that would not have altered our view of this question. The real demand for the maintenance of the university vote comes from those who have possessed it for years and not from those who are in the universities to-day. I see as much of our undergraduate population as most hon. Members, and you will not find amongst the young men and women in the universities to-day this passion for the university vote which has been expressed by university Members. [Interruption.] Hon. Members may take it from me as quite definite that the feeling in favour of the university vote in the university world of younger students is not the view that has been expressed in this House to-day.




It is no use hon. Members who have never seen any of these students saying "nonsense."


I have two sons there, and I gather from them the opinion of the young men in the universities.


Will the right hon. Gentleman explain how it is that at every convocation meeting in all the younger universities a resolution against the abolition of the university vote has been carried by overwhelming majorities?


The intervention of the hon. Member for Hampstead (Mr. Balfour) is not very helpful.

Viscountess ASTOR

What about the lady's?


The Prime Minister informs me that he has three children at universities and, therefore, I presume he is in a better position to judge than the hon. Member for Hampstead. As to the remarks of the hon. Member for the English Universities (Miss Rathbone) it is perfectly true that the bodies of convocation of the new universities have by overwhelming majorities passed a resolution in favour of retaining the university vote, for the reason I have already given, that they are the older members of the universities.


On the contrary, they are the younger members.


I shall be very glad to meet the hon. Member for the English Universities and discuss this point.

Viscountess ASTOR

It will be too late then.


I am afraid that hon. Members opposite are not quite confident about this matter. I come now to my last point. It has been suggested time after time in this Debate, and lastly by the Leader of the Opposition, that the real motive behind this Clause is our desire to abolish seats which invariably return representatives who are opposed to Labour principles. My reply to that is that the real reason why the Conservative party is so anxious to retain every shred of privilege that it can, is that it does not trust the people. [Interruption.] We have had a demand made by the Conservative party for the retention of votes for privileged sections of the community because they believe that the strongholds of privilege are among the bulwarks against the onward march of the ordinary elector. In this country there will not be any effective political system so long as any man, whether by position or wealth or education, can exercise more influence than is due to the possession of his own powers.

It has been pointed out by an hon. Friend that a considerable proportion of Members of the House is made up of graduates of universities. That is the real way in which education should express itself in the service of the people. This fictitious method of social service, which allows an additional vote to be cast for a party which has recently shown its interest in education in no mistakable way—that kind of influence is bad. I want to see the influence of education extended to the whole of our land. I want to see educated people put what they have at the service of the nation, but no one will convince me that by giving a graduate a vote you are doing anything either for education or for the nation.

We have come back in this Bill to something which ought to have been done many years ago, which it was not possible to do because of the continued and bitter opposition of the Conservative party. We are going to take a very big step forward. We are getting rid of serious anomalies which have hampered the working of the democratic machine. All that has been said by the Leader of the Opposition about education I believe in, but it is quite clear that many of his followers do not, and they have proved it to-night. I want the people of the country to feel that no man counts for more than his quality warrants. You will never get —[Interruption.] Hon. Members opposite are not doing themselves any good. What we want our people to feel is that they can pull their rightful share in the boat. Too long have the privileged classes had the pull. That is the reason for this Bill. This Bill represents, and this Clause represents, another step along the road to a position where the masses of the people shall control their own political destiny. They will do it better as education extends, and they can do it without the assistance of the university vote.


After what the right hon. Gentleman has said I feel that I would not be doing my duty if I did not speak on behalf of the university franchise. [HON. MEMBERS "Divide!"] I remember some years ago when I was at the university I wondered if I would ever be able to repay in the slightest degree for what I had received from that great University of Oxford, and, even at this late hour, I seek to repay something of that debt by standing up to speak for the right of the university to send its representatives to Parliament. In the 12th century there were 30,000 students—[Interruption.]


I must ask hon. Members on both sides to refrain from interruption.


There are many people who would wish to see the University of Oxford and our other universities as democratic as they were in the twelfth century and the folly of the Socialist party is that they do not recognise the development which is taking place in the universities year by year. The Universities of Oxford and Cambridge are not preserves of plutocracy or aristocracy but are, year by year, becoming more representative of the people. University education is the education that really counts. It is only a short time since hon. Members opposite were arguing in favour of another year at the elementary schools—

It being Half-past Ten of the Clock, the CHAIRMAN proceeded, pursuant to the Order of the House of 3rd March, to put forthwith the Question already proposed from the Chair.

Question put, "That the Clause stand part of the Bill."

The Committee divided: Ayes, 242; Noes, 246.

Division No. 195.] AYES. [10.30 p.m.
Adamson, Rt. Hon. W. (Fife, West) Groves, Thomas E. Mort, D. L.
Adamson, W. M. (Staff., Cannock) Grundy, Thomas W. Muff, G.
Addison, Rt. Hon. Dr. Christopher Hall, F. (York, W.R., Normanton) Muggeridge, H. T.
Altchison, Rt. Hon. Craigie M. Hall, J. H. (Whitechapel) Murnin, Hugh
Alexander, Rt. Hon. A. V. (Hillsbro') Hall, Capt. W. G. (Portsmouth, C.) Naylor, T. E.
Alpass, J. H. Hamilton, Mary Agnes (Blackburn) Noel Baker, P. J.
Ammon, Charles George Hardie, George D. Noel-Buxton, Baroness (Norfolk, N.)
Arnott, John Harris, Percy A. Oldfield, J. R.
Attlee, Clement Richard Hastings, Dr. Somerville Oliver, George Harold (Ilkeston)
Ayles, Walter Haycock, A. W. Palin, John Henry
Baker, John (Wolverhampton, Bilston) Hayday, Arthur Paling, Wilfrid
Barnes, Alfred John Hayes, John Henry Palmer, E. T.
Barr, James Henderson, Right Hon. A. (Burnley) Parkinson, John Allen (Wigan)
Batey, Joseph Henderson, Arthur, Junr. (Cardiff, S.) Perry, S. F.
Beckett, John (Camberwell, Peckham) Henderson, Thomas (Glasgow) Pethick-Lawrence, F. W.
Benn, Rt. Hon. Wedgwood Henderson, W. W. (Middx., Enfield) Picton-Turbervill, Edith
Bennett, Sir E. N. (Cardiff, Central) Herriotts, J. Pole, Major D. G.
Bennett, William (Battersea, South) Hirst, G. H. (York W. R. Wentworth) Potts, John S.
Benson, G. Hirst, W. (Bradford, South) Price, M. P.
Bevan, Aneurin (Ebbw Vale) Hoffman, P. C. Ramsay, T. B. Wilson
Birkett, W. Norman Hopkin, Daniel Richards, R.
Blindell, James Hore-Belisha, Leslie Richardson, R. (Houghton-le-Spring)
Bondfield, Rt. Hon. Margaret Hudson, James H. (Huddersfield) Ritson, J.
Bowen, J. W. Hunter, Dr. Joseph Romeril, H. G.
Bowerman, Rt. Hon. Charles W. Isaacs, George Rosbotham, D. S. T.
Broad, Franc's Alfred Jones, Rt. Hon. Leif (Camborne) Rowson, Guy
Brockway, A. Fenner Jones, Morgan (Caerphilly) Salter, Dr. Alfred
Bromfield, William Jowett, Rt. Hon. F. W. Samuel, Rt. Hon. Sir H. (Darwen)
Bromley, J. Kelly, W. T. Samuel, H. Walter (Swansea, West)
Brooke, W. Kennedy, Rt. Hon. Thomas Sanders, W. S.
Brothers, M. Kenworthy, Lt.-Com. Hon. Joseph M Sandham, E.
Brown, C. W. E. (Notts. Mansfield) Kinley, J. Sawyer, G. F.
Brown, Ernest (Leith) Lang, Gordon Sexton, Sir James
Brown, Rt. Hon. J. (South Ayrshire) Lansbury, Rt. Hon. George Shaw, Rt. Hon. Thomas (Preston)
Buchanan, G. Lathan, G. Shepherd, Arthur Lewis
Burgess, F. G. Law, Albert (Bolton) Sherwood, G. H.
Burgin, Dr. E. L. Law, A. (Rossendale) Shield, George William
Buxton, C. R. (Yorks, W. R. Elland) Lawson, John James Shiels, Dr. Drummond
Caine, Derwent Hall- Lawther, W. (Barnard Castle) Shillaker, J. F.
Cameron, A. G. Leach, W. Shinwell, E.
Cape, Thomas Lee, Frank (Derby, N.E.) Short, Alfred (Wednesbury)
Carter, W. (St. Pancras, S.W.) Lee, Jennie (Lanark, Northern) Simmons, C. J.
Chater, Daniel Lees, J. Sinclair, Sir A. (Caithness)
Cluse, W. S. Lindley, Fred W. Smith, Ben (Bermondsey, Rotherhithe)
Clynes, Rt. Hon. John R. Lloyd, C. Ellis Smith, Frank (Nuneaton)
Cocks, Frederick Seymour Logan, David Gilbert Smith, H. B. Lees- (Keighley)
Compton, Joseph Longbottom, A. W. Smith, Rennie (Penistone)
Cove, William G. Longden, F. Smith, Tom (Pontefract)
Cripps, Sir Stafford Lunn, William Smith, W. R. (Norwich)
Daggar, George Macdonald, Gordon (Ince) Sorensen, R.
Dallas, George MacDonald, Rt. Hon. J. R. (Seaham) Stamford, Thomas W.
Dalton, Hugh MacDonald, Malcolm (Bassetlaw) Strauss, G. R.
Davies, Rhys John (Westhoughton) McElwee, A. Sullivan, J.
Day, Harry McEntee, V. L. Sutton, J. E.
Denman, Hon. R. D. McKinlay, A. Taylor, R. A. (Lincoln)
Dukes, C. MacLaren, Andrew Taylor, W. B. (Norfolk, S.W.)
Duncan, Charles Maclean, Neil (Glasgow, Govan) Thomas, Rt. Hon. J. H. (Derby)
Ede, James Chuter MacNeill-Weir, L. Thorne, W. (West Ham, Plaistow)
Edmunds, J. E. McShane, John James Thurtle, Ernest
Edwards, E. (Morpeth) Malone, C. L'Estrange (N'thampton) Tillett, Ben
Egan, W. H. Mander, Geoffrey le M. Tinker, John Joseph
Elmley, Viscount Manning, E. L. Toole, Joseph
Foot, Isaac March, S. Tout, W. J.
Freeman, Peter Marcus, M. Townend, A. E.
Gardner, B. W. (West Ham, Upton) Marley, J. Trevelyan, Rt. Hon. Sir Charles
Gardner, J. P. (Hammersmith, N.) Marshall, Fred Viant, S. P.
George, Rt. Hon. D. Lloyd (Car'vn) Mathers, George Walkden, A. G.
Gibson, H. M. (Lancs, Mossley) Matters, L. W. Walker, J.
Gill, T. H. Maxton, James Wallace, H. W.
Gillett, George M. Melville, Sir James Watkins, F. C.
Glassey, A. E. Messer, Fred Watson, W. M. (Dunfermline)
Gossling, A. G. Middleton, G. Wellock, Wilfred
Gould, F. Mills, J. E. Welsh, James (Paisley)
Graham, Rt. Hon. Wm. (Edin., Cent.) Milner, Major J. West, F. R.
Greenwood, Rt. Hon. A. (Colne) Montague, Frederick Westwood, Joseph
Grenfell, D. R. (Glamorgan) Morgan, Dr. H. B. White, H. G.
Griffith, F. Kingsley (Middlesbro' W.) Morley, Ralph Whiteley, Wilfrid (Birm., Ladywood)
Griffiths, T. (Monmouth, Pontypool) Morrison, Robert C. (Tottenham, N.) Wilkinson, Ellen C.
Williams, David (Swansea, East) Winterton, G. E. (Leicester, Loughb'gh) TELLERS FOR THE AYES.—
Williams, T. (York, Don Valley) Wise, E. F. Mr. Charles Edwards and Mr.
Wilson, C. H. (Sheffield, Attercliffe) Wood, Major McKenzie (Banff) Charleton.
Wilson, J. (Oldham) Young, R. S. (Islington, North)
Acland-Troyte, Lieut.-Colonel Duckworth, G. A. V. Mitchell-Thomson, Rt. Hon. Sir W.
Ainsworth, Lieut.-Col. Charles Dugdale, Capt. T. L. Monsell, Eyres, Com. Rt. Hon. Sir B.
Albery, Irving James Eden, Captain Anthony Moore, Sir Newton J. (Richmond)
Alexander, Sir Wm. (Glasgow, Cent'l) Edmondson, Major A. J. Moore, Lieut.-Colonel T. C. R. (Ayr)
Allen, Sir J. Sandeman (Liverp'l., W.) Elliot, Major Walter E. Morris-Jones, Dr. J. H. (Denbigh)
Allen, Lt.-Col. Sir William (Armagh) England, Colonel A. Morrison, W. S. (Glos., Cirencester)
Amery, Rt. Hon. Leopold C. M. S. Erskine, Lord (Somerset, Weston-s.M.) Muirhead, A. J.
Ashley, Lt.-Col. Rt. Hon. Wilfrid W. Everard, W. Lindsay Nathan, Major H. L.
Astor, Viscountess Falle, Sir Bertram G. Nelson, Sir Frank
Atholl, Duchess of Ferguson, Sir John Newton, Sir D. G. C. (Cambridge)
Baillie-Hamilton, Hon. Charles W. Fermoy, Lord Nicholson, O. (Westminster)
Baldwin, Rt. Hon. Stanley (Bewdley) Fielden, E. B. Nicholson, Col. Rt. Hn. W. G. (Ptrsf'ld)
Balfour, George (Hampstead) Fison, F. G. Clavering Nield, Rt. Hon. Sir Herbert
Balfour, Captain H. H. (I. of Thanet) Forestier-Walker, Sir L. O'Connor, T. J.
Balniel, Lord Fremantle, Lieut.-Colonel Francis E. Oman, Sir Charles William C.
Beamish, Rear-Admiral T. P. H. Galbraith, J. F. W. O'Neill, Sir H.
Beaumont, M. W. Ganzoni, Sir John Ormsby-Gore, Rt. Hon. William
Bellairs, Commander Carlyon Gault, Lieut.-Col. A. Hamilton Peake, Captain Osbert
Berry, Sir George Gibson, C. G. (Pudsey & Otley) Percy, Lord Eustace (Hastings)
Betterton, Sir Henry B. Glyn, Major R. G. C. Peto, Sir Basil E. (Devon, Barnstaple)
Bevan, S. J. (Holborn) Gower, Sir Robert Pilditch, Sir Philip
Birchall, Major Sir John Dearman Grace, John Power, Sir John Cecil
Bird, Ernest Roy Graham, Fergus (Cumberland, N.) Pownall, Sir Assheton
Bourne, Captain Robert Croft Grattan-Doyle, Sir N. Preston, Sir Walter Rueben
Bowater, Col. Sir T. Vansittart Greene, W. P. Crawford Purbrick, R.
Bowyer, Captain Sir George E. W. Grenfell, Edward C. (City of London) Ramsbotham, H.
Boyce, Leslie Gretton, Colonel Rt. Hon. John Rathbone, Eleanor
Bracken, B. Gritten, W. G. Howard Rawson, Sir Cooper
Braithwaite, Major A. N. Guinness, Rt. Hon. Walter E. Reid, David D. (County Down)
Brass, Captain Sir William Gunston, Captain D. W. Remer, John R.
Briscoe, Richard George Hacking, Rt. Hon. Douglas H. Rentoul, Sir Gervais S.
Brown, Col. D. C. (N'th'l'd., Hexham) Hall, Lieut.-Col. Sir F. (Dulwich) Reynolds, Col. Sir James
Brown, Brig.-Gen. H. C. (Berks, Newb'y) Hamilton, Sir George (Ilford) Richardson, Sir P. W. (Sur'y, Ch't'sy)
Buchan, John Hannon, Patrick Joseph Henry Roberts, Sir Samuel (Ecclesall)
Buchan-Hepburn, P. G. T. Hartington, Marquess of Robertson, Despencer-, Major J. A. F.
Bullock, Captain Malcolm Harvey, Major S. E. (Devon, Totnes) Rodd, Rt. Hon. Sir James Rennell
Burton, Colonel H. W. Haslam, Henry C. Ross, Ronald D.
Butler, R. A. Henderson, Capt. R. R. (Oxf'd, Henley) Ruggles-Brise, Lieut.-Colonel E. A.
Butt, Sir Alfred Heneage, Lieut.-Colonel Arthur P. Runciman, Rt. Hon. Walter
Cadogan, Major Hon. Edward Herbert, Sir Dennis (Hertford) Russell, Alexander West (Tynemouth)
Campbell, E. T. Hills, Major Rt. Hon. John Waller Russell, Richard John (Eddisbury)
Carver, Major W. H. Hoare, Lt.-Col. Rt. Hon. Sir S. J. G. Salmon, Major I.
Castle Stewart, Earl of Hope, Sir Harry (Forfar) Samuel, A. M. (Surrey, Farnham)
Cautley, Sir Henry S. Horne, Rt. Hon. Sir Robert S. Samuel, Samuel (W'dsworth, Putney)
Cayzer, Sir C. (Chester, City) Hudson, Capt. A. U. M. (Hackney, N.) Sandeman, Sir N. Stewart
Cayzer, Maj. Sir Herbt. R. (Prtsmth, S.) Hunter-Waston, Lt.-Gen. Sir Aylmer Sassoon, Rt. Hon. Sir Philip A. G. D.
Cazalet, Captain Victor A. Hurd, Percy A. Savery, S. S.
Cecil, Rt. Hon. Lord H. (Ox. Univ.) Hurst, Sir Gerald B. Shepperson, Sir Ernest Whittome
Chamberlain, Rt. Hn. Sir J. A. (Birm-,W.) Hutchison, Maj.-Gen. Sir R. Simon, Rt. Hon. Sir John
Chamberlain, Rt. Hon. N. (Edgbaston) Inskip, Sir Thomas Sinclair, Col. T. (Queen's U., Belfast)
Chapman, Sir S. Iveagh, Countess of Skelton, A. N.
Christie, J. A. Jones, Sir G. W. H. (Stoke New'gton) Smith, Louis W. (Sheffield, Hallam)
Church, Major A. G. Kindersley, Major G. M. Smith, R. W. (Aberd'n & Kinc'dine, C.)
Churchill, Rt. Hon. Winston Spencer Knox, Sir Alfred Smith-Carington, Neville W.
Clydesdale, Marquess of Lamb, Sir J. Q. Smithers, Waldron
Cobb, Sir Cyril Lane Fox, Col. Rt. Hon. George R. Somerset, Thomas
Cockerill, Brig.-General Sir George Law, Sir Alfred (Derby, High Peak) Somerville, A. A. (Windsor)
Cohen, Major J. Brunel Leigh, Sir John (Clapham) Somerville, D. G. (Willesden, East)
Colfox, Major William Philip Leighton, Major B. E. P. Southby, Commander A. R. J.
Colman, N. C. D. Lewis, Oswald (Colchester) Spender-Clay, Colonel H.
Conway, Sir W. Martin Little, Graham- Sir Ernest Stanley, Lord (Fylde)
Courtauld, Major J. S. Llewellin, Major J. J. Steel-Maitland, Rt. Hon. Sir Arthur
Courthope, Colonel Sir G. L. Locker-Lampson, Rt. Hon. Godfrey Stewart, W. J. (Belfast, South)
Cowan, D. M. Locker-Lampson, Com. O. (Handsw'th) Stuart, Hon. J. (Moray and Nairn)
Crichton-Stuart, Lord C. Long, Major Hon. Eric Suetar, Rear-Admiral M. F.
Croft, Brigadier-General Sir H. Lymington, Viscount Taylor, Vice-Admiral E. A.
Crookshank, Capt. H. C. McConnell, Sir Joseph Thomas, Major L. B. (King's Norton)
Croom-Johnson, R. P. Macdonald, Capt. P. D. (I. of W.) Titchfield, Major the Marquess of
Culverwell, C. T. (Bristol, West) Maclean, Sir Donald (Cornwall, N.) Todd, Capt. A. J.
Cunliffe-Lister, Rt. Hon. Sir Philip Macquisten, F. A. Train, J.
Dalkeith, Earl of Maitland, A. (Kent, Faversham) Tryon, Rt. Hon. George Clement
Dairymple-White. Lt.-Col. Sir Godfrey Marjoribanks, Edward Turton, Robert Hugh
Davidson, Rt. Hon. J. (Hertford) Mason, Colonel Glyn K. Vaughan-Morgan, Sir Kenyon
Davies, Dr. Vernon Meller, R. J. Wallace, Capt. D. E. (Hornsey)
Davies, Maj. Geo. F. (Somerset, Yeovil) Merriman, Sir F. Boyd Ward, Lieut.-Col. Sir A. Lambert
Davison, Sir W. H. (Kensington, S.) Millar, J. D. Warrender, Sir Victor
Dawson, Sir Philip Milne, Wardlaw-, J. S. Waterhouse, Captain Charles
Dixey, A. C. Mitchell, Sir W. Lane (Streatham) Wayland, Sir William A.
Wedgwood, Rt. Hon. Josiah Winterton, Rt. Hon. Earl Wright, Brig.-Gen. W. D. (Tavist'k)
Wells, Sydney R. Withers, Sir John James Young, Rt. Hon. Sir Hilton
Williams, Charles (Devon, Torquay) Wolmer, Rt. Hon. Viscount
Wilson, G. H. A. (Cambridge U.) Womersley, W. J. TELLERS FOR THE NOES.
Windsor-Clive, Lieut.-Colonel George Wood, Rt. Hon. Sir Kingsley Sir Frederick Thomson and Captain

Question put, and agreed to.

Mr. S. BALDWIN rose


According to the terms of the Resolution passed by the House, Clauses 4 and 5 of the Bill have to be submitted to the Committee at half-past 10. I will put Clause 5 now and then give the right hon. Gentleman an opportunity later.

The CHAIRMAN then proceeded to put forthwith the Question necessary to dispose of the business to be concluded at this day's Sitting.