The Earl of Haddington
presented a Petition from the Senatus Academicus of the University of Edinburgh, praying that a provision might be introduced into the Scotch Reform Bill, for giving the University the power to send a Member to represent it in Parliament. He would not enter at length into an examination of the merits of the subject of this petition, as an important, discussion was expected to come on. He would only mention, that the petitioners stated, that they had observed with much interest the progress of the Reform measure; and that, as the right of voting was to be so much extended, they thought it but just that they should be represented, and trusted that their case would not be deemed unworthy of attention. They said, that it was not necessary for them to show the great utility of the Scottish Universities, since that was universally 968 acknowledged. The English Universities were represented, and the petitioners submitted, that it was highly expedient that there should be some Members in Parliament, whose peculiar duty it would be, to attend to the interests of the Scottish Universities and the Scottish Church. The Scottish Universities, although their constituency was different, from that of the English Universities, had a constituent body, which was most useful, and well worthy of being represented. It was true, that the Law and the Church in Scotland offered no strong temptations to graduate, and that was the reason so few persons, comparatively, graduated at the Scottish Universities. He had been one of the Commissioners appointed to inquire into the state of these Universities; and he and the other Commissioners felt the utmost anxiety to render them as conducive as possible to the promotion of the interests of science and literature, and he was persuaded, that if the right of voting should be extended to the constituent body of the Scottish Universities, this would afford a strong inducement to the students to graduate. He would not say any thing further on this subject at present; but when the proper time came, and the Scottish Reform Bill came to that House, he would take the opportunity of showing at length, that it would be highly expedient to grant the prayer of the petition.
§ Lord Duncan
fully concurred with the noble Earl in his view of the great utility of the Scottish Universities. But the constituency of the English and Scottish Universities were very different from each other, and he had some doubts as to the advantages to be derived from a compliance with the prayer of this petition. The noble Earl, as one of the University Commissioners, might be better able to form an accurate judgment on the subject than he was; but he was of opinion, that there were considerable objections to the granting of the prayer of this petition. He would, however, abstain from stating what occurred to him on that point at present, reserving to himself the privilege of discussing the matter at large at the proper time.
§ Petition laid on the Table.