§ Order of the Day for the Second Reading read.
§ VISCOUNT CANNING
, in rising to move the second reading of this Bill, said, he was sure their Lordships would believe that it was not as a mere matter of form, that he asked for their indulgence on the present occasion. The subject to which the Bill related was one of such vast interest, it raised questions of rights and principles upon which men's minds were so much divided, and which had been contested so keenly, and its results, if their Lordships pased it into a law without material alteration, were likely to reach so far into the future, that he would gladly have seen the advocacy of the measure placed in the hands of some one better able to command their Lordships' support, and to do justice to so important a subject. The only claim which he could make upon their kind consideration was the consciousness, that if he were not convinced that it was a wise and just measure—if he did not think that it had been framed with one intention, the advancement of the honour and usefulness of the University of Oxford—and if he did not believe that its provisions were well calculated to attain that end—no consideration would have induced 1187 him to take any part in recommending it to the approval of their Lordships. He need not use many words to remind them of the origin of the measure, and of the circumstances under which it was now brought forward. For many years past there had been a prevailing feeling in men's minds—perhaps a somewhat vague, but still a very confident feeling—that the two Universities of Oxford and Cambridge did not sufficiently perform their duties in advancing and main; use of their opportunities in educating and in training the youth of England. This feeling was not confined to any one sect or to any particular class, but had equally pervaded the minds of all educated classes. It had been thought that, with their great wealth, their vast machinery, the privileges which by law or by custom they had long enjoyed—it had been thought that if all these means and appliances were better administered, they ought to have produced a larger result. There was a general impression, that the education which the Universities gave had been somewhat too narrow and confined—that it bad not been extended in any reasonable proportion to the means at its command—that very many persons were excluded from the benefits of an University education who were especially intended to enjoy it; that the expenses incurred were unnecessarily large; that, whilst the population of the country had been steadily and rapidly progressing—above all, the educated population—the Universities had been almost stationary in regard to the numbers admitted; that, while the liberal tendencies of all other educational institutions had increased and advanced, the Universities had stood still; and that, whilst schools for all classes had been growing up in all parts of the country, whilst the intelligent middle classes had been year by year sending out more of their number to take a share of the honours and labours of science, literature, and government, the Universities had not sufficiently extended the sphere of their influence. It had been found that even as to those Young men whom the Universities did send out to fight the great battle of life, and to grapple and contend in its rivalries And struggles, there were many utterly unfit, so far as the nature and character of their education, and of the knowledge obtained through it, was concerned, to assume the position in the every-day world which they ought to occupy. It had been 1188 also felt that, apart from the education of youth, the Universities had done little—in comparison with the means at their disposal—to aid the diffusion of scientific researches, to justify the reputation they were reported to enjoy, or to establish the distinction which they ought to have maintained for themselves as centres for the diffusion and development of science, and nurseries of learning. These feelings pervaded all classes; and if proof of this were wanting, it was to be found in the publications of the day, and in the Report which had been for some time on their Lordships' table, emanating front the Commission appointed to inquire into the condition of the University of Oxford. In the evidence attached to that Report were to be found opinions of the necessity of some alteration in the Universities expressed by men of all views—laity and clergy—High Church and Low Church—by men engaged in the active bustle of life, and by those who had devoted themselves to retirement and study; the opinion seemed to be universal—so general, indeed, that for some time past the only point upon which any difference had arisen was, as to the means by which the necessary reform should be effected. The first step for the solution of this question was taken in 1850. In that year a Royal Commission was issued to inquire into the state, discipline, studies, and revenues of the Universities. That step on the part of the Government caused some difference of opinion at the time, and if he referred to it for a moment, it was not for the purpose of reviving old disputes, but because it was useful sometimes to look back in our course, in order to judge of the value and force of present apprehensions by the weight which was attached to those which were entertained under similar circumstances in past times. Various objections were raised at that time—some of them within their Lordships' House. It was urged that the Universities and Colleges being proprietary bodies, such an inquiry as that which the Royal Commission would conduct ought not to take place by those means; that, if it did take place, it ought to be a private inquiry; that the effects of such an inquiry would nut be impartial or fair, because, as the information could not be made compulsory, one-sided evidence only would be considered; and it was further urged that the step was an impolitic one, because the Univer- 1189 sites were at that time busily engaged in reforms of their own, and that such a proceeding on the part of the Government was calculated to check those reforms. Now, he thought he might ask confidently, whether ether those anticipations had been realised? As to the impartiality of the evidence, no doubt some difficulty had been experienced on that head; but many good friends to the Universities had come forward to state the results of their experience, and there was on the whole no dearth of information, though there had been an unwillingness on the part of some of the colleges to give all that was desired by the Commissioners. Instead of checking improvement, he believed the step which had been taken had acted rather as a stimulant to some of the bodies most interested; and although all the good had not arisen which might have been anticipated, still it might be inferred that the activity stimulated by the Commission of Inquiry would not be wanting when the natural sequence of that Commission should take effect in the shape of the present Bill. The result had, indeed, been most important. Of the ability which distinguised the Reports—he spoke especially of that relating to Oxford—of the spirit, zeal, and energy which distinguished the Commissioners—it was impossible to speak too highly; he believed that Parliament and the country at large, even those who differed from the conclusion at which the Commissioners had arrived, admitted it to be one of the most able papers ever laid before either House. Upon the public mind the effect of that Report had been certainly to strengthen the conviction that something was wanting in the condition of Oxford. It had disclosed many facts very little known to the public. In many cases the deficiencies were proved to be owing to impediments, obstacles, and difficulties over which persons apparently responsible had no control; and thereby the Report had shown the necessity of superior interference. But perhaps the most important result was to be seen in the discussions and the proceedings of the Hebdomadal Body in Oxford, consequent on the issuing of the Report. It was impossible to examine what had been done by the graduate members of the University in consequence of the suggestions which had been thrown out, and the matters discussed, without being satisfied that Oxford was not wanting in men who had such a thorough appreciation of the wants and requirements of the times in which they lived, and of 1190 the world without their own walls, as gave all assurance that Oxford herself, when relieved from her disabilities, and placed in the right path, would receive a new impulse and would increase the sphere of her usefulness and influence. He did not know whether, before proceeding to the subject of the provisions of this measure, it was necessary that he should say anything in vindication of the Government from the charge brought against them of having dealt somewhat hastily and impatiently in this matter, and of having been wanting in consideration to the authorities of the University. If he did so, it was not because he admitted the justice of the charge, but because he was speaking in the presence of the Chancellor of the University (the Earl of Derby); and he should greatly regret if the noble Earl, or any of their Lordships, should suppose that the Government had been forgetful either of the dignity and due independence of the University, or of the courtesy which it was their desire as well as their duty to show to the noble Earl, not only as the chosen head of the University, but upon every other account. He was desirous, moreover, to say a word or two on this subject, because it was just possible, after what had been put forth, that such impressions had been created as might influence the feelings of some of their Lordships in that House in regard to the reception of this measure. The facts, however, might be shortly stated. In the summer of 1852 the Reports of the Commissioners were laid before Parliament. In November of that year, on the meeting of the new Parliament, it was announced in the Speech from the Throne that the Reports had been forwarded to the Universities, requesting their recommendations to be taken into consideration. In the winter a change of the Government took place. Shortly after the meeting of Parliament in 1853, the noble Lord the Member for the City of London (Lord J. Russell) announced that it was not intended to take any Parliamentary action on the Reports in that current Session. Nothing was clone till the end of the year, when the Government applied to the noble Earl in the capacity of Chancellor of the University of Oxford, to furnish them with information as to the measures which the University might be disposed to adopt in pursuance of the recommendations contained in the Report of the Commission. That information reached the Government, in various shapes, at intervals during the following two months. 1191 As regarded some of the colleges, the information was satisfactory; but so far as the governing body of the University was concerned, the proposals thrown out by them were not such as in the judgment of the Government to justify them from refraining from taking proceedings in Parliament. For the same reasons the Government were not able to accept the suggestions offered to them by the noble Earl, that in legislating on this question they should limit themselves to the passing of an enabling measure only. A Bill was pre pared by the Government, and laid on the table of the other House of Parliament in March. A comparison of dates would satisfy their Lordships that there had been no haste to prevent the University from taking its own course in the carrying out of such measures as it might deem necessary. At that time, the Report. had been more than a year and a half on the table of Parliament and in the hands of the University; the University having had their attention called to the subject, and being invited to act of themselves, and having shown no sign of any desire on their part to carry out any measure of their own. With respect to the nature of the measure which was thought necessary, he would refer their Lordships back to the occasion on which the noble Lord the Member for the City of London took the opportunity to state that he postponed legislation to the present year. The noble Lord on that occasion pointed out that the heads on which some measure of improvement would be submitted to Parliament would be—first, the reform of the governing body, with the view of establishing an effective system of representation; secondly, an enlargement and extension of the benefits of the University, chiefly with a view to the profit of such students as might not be able to bear the expenses incident upon the course of education at college; thirdly, a consideration and revision of the terms and conditions regulating the eligibility to fellowships and the tenure by which they were held, with the view of making them more effective as a stimulus to learning and a reward of merit; and fourthly, that consideration should be had to the extension within certain limits of new professorships, by apportioning for that purpose such funds of colleges as might be required, always in accordance with the spirit and intention of the donors and founders. These were the main points on which changes were then pointed out as necessary, some 1192 of the changes being compulsory and some permissive. The spirit in which the Bill had been drawn might shortly be described as a desire to lay down absolutely, and beyond all risk of disturbance, the fundamental principle of self-government;—to prescribe also certain other minor changes, carrying in them important principles—but to leave both to the University and the Colleges liberty, and, for a certain time and to a certain extent, the opportunity, of considering and carrying out those principles and effecting those changes in such a manner as might best commend itself to their wisdom and prudence. It had been said that the University of Oxford ought not to be interfered with by Parliament., inasmuch as her dependence was on the Crown, and not on the Parliament, and that therefore the Crown, and not the Parliament, should be the agent in such changes as these. Now in accepting that statement it could not be received without qualification; for Parliament had already acted very positively in the matter. In the reign of Queen Elizabeth it was found necessary to confirm the privileges and rights which the University then possessed, and the Act of the 13th Elizabeth, in its preamble, enunciated the duties of the University, and described them as intended to promote the better increase of learning and the further suppressing of vice. Now, surely if it was in the power of Parliament in the sixteenth century to prescribe the duties of the University of Oxford, it might be affirmed that in the present day Parliament was not disentitled to take into consideration her teaching and discipline. It had been urged that the same effect might have been produced with the same good result, and more agreeably to the University, and more in accordance with precedent, if a Royal Commission had been sent to Oxford, and if certain changes had been specified, and if the governing body had been required to accept those changes on the precept of the Crown. It would, perhaps, be difficult to say what might or what might not have been accepted by the University; but he doubted whether such a measure would have been as satisfactory to the public at large as one carried out by the action of Parliament: and he was quite certain that, in the result, it would have been less satisfactory to Oxford, inasmuch as any proceedings by a Commission of that sort would have conic to be considered as only the act of the 1193 Ministry of the day, and therefore would have carried with them much less of permanence and finality than a law of Parliament, enacted after free discussion in both Houses. Referring now to the provisions of the Bill, those which were first in order related to the constitution of the governing body of the University. Their Lordships were aware that at present the government of Oxford was lodged the Hebdomadal Board, consisting of the Chancellor, represented by the Vice Chancellor, and of the heads of houses and proctors; all the legislation—all the Statutes of the University—originated with the Hebdomadal Board, and were afterwards submitted to Convocation, and, on the approval of Convocation—which, however, could only approve or reject, and had no power to amend—they became law. It was clear, therefore, that practically the whole character and tendency of academical legislation rested with the Hebdomadal Board. Now, the Hebdomadal Board was not coeval by any means with the University of Oxford itself. It first began to take effect in the time of Chancellor Leicester, and it afterwards acquired more consistency in the reign of Charles I. It was worthy of remark, that the government which was proposed for the University of Oxford in the reign of Charles I. was—I will not. say forced, but was certainly imposed upon it, by the act of the Crown and the Chancellor alone, superseding a previous Act of Parliament passed in the reign of Queen Elizabeth. He regretted to say that the powers of the Hebdomadal Board could not be said to have been exercised altogether advantageously to the interests of the University. The Commissioners stated in their Report that the dissatisfaction respecting the Board was very strong; and it was a fact that no fewer than six different schemes had been brought before the Government, suggesting the substitution of something else in lieu of it. But although these schemes had emanated from very high authority—two of them from heads of houses, one from the residents, and one from the Hebdomadal Board itself—none of them had been such as Her Majesty's Government had considered it consistent with their duty to accept. It was hardly to he wondered at that the government of the Hebdomadal Board, constituted as it was, had not been attended with greater advantage to the University. The heads of 1194 houses, as their Lordships were aware, were elected primarily for the government of their own society. They were not supposed to have any special qualification for the government of the University, or for the advancement of its interests. The field from which they were chosen was a narrow one; they were elected by the fellows of the colleges over which they were to preside; in some cases the societies were required, before proceeding to the election, to set aside all other considerations, and to choose the person whose election was most likely to conduce to the interests of their own college; the consequence was, that they came to the discharge of their duty as members of the Hebdomadal Board with a very imperfect knowledge of the wants and interests of the community in whose government they were to take a part. It would have been marvellous indeed if a body so constituted—isolated from the rest of the University, and placed in such a relation towards those whose cooperation in governing the University was essential to them—it would have been marvellous, I say, if such a body, so constituted, and so placed, had been found well fitted to advance the interests of the University;—but it becomes almost impossible when it is considered that their responsibility was very slight, and that the interests to which they had to look as heads of houses were frequently in conflict with those which it was their duty to promote as members of the governing body of the University. These, then, being the faults of the system of government at present, it appeared to Her Majesty's Government that the best mode of remedying them would be to call into action that principle which, whenever the duties and interests of men of English race are to he dealt with, has never yet been found to fail—the principle of self-government by representation. With this view the scheme which they proposed was to substitute for the Hebdomadal Board a body called the Hebdomadal Council, which was to be composed of twenty-two members—the Vice Chancellor and proctors ex officio, six heads of houses, seven professors, and six members of Convocation, to be elected by a body the name of which was not unknown to the University, although its functions had fallen into desuetude—a body called the Congregation. The elected members of the Council, it was proposed, should hold their offices for six years; but an arrangement would be made by which 1195 one-half would go out triennially, and each individual was to be eligible to re-election. The functions of this body would so far resemble those of the Hebdomadal Board that all Statutes would originate with the Hebdomadal Council; they would then be carried to Congregation, and Congregation would have the power of accepting or rejecting them; and after they had passed through Congregation they would be submitted, in the last resort, to Convocation. Convocation would consist, as at present, of all masters of arts and doctors who had taken out their regency, and who were members of a college or hall, and would remain undisturbed in all its elements. Congregation would have to discharge two important functions. It would have to elect those members of the Hebdomadal Council who were neither professors nor heads of houses; those who were heads of houses being elected by heads of houses, and those who were professors by professors. It would also have to consider, and either to accept or to reject, those measures which the Hebdomadal Council might bring before it. It was proposed that Congregation should consist of all the chief functionaries of the University—the tutors and professors, and all residents, including the chaplains; and as far as could be calculated, although it was not easy to estimate the numbers precisely, it would be a body of between 250 and 300 members. This was the constitution which it was proposed to give to Oxford—a constitution which was based on representation, and which secured responsibility, inasmuch as the gradual removal and possible re-election of the members of the Hebdomadal Council divested it of the character which now belonged to the Hebdomadal Board, as a body nominated and placed in office for life. There was every reason to believe that it would act harmoniously within its own limits, as well as with the body of the Congregation. The objections which had been made to this constitution he thought he might venture to say had been very few; and the feeling not only out of Oxford, but also within its walls, was, he believed, decidedly in its favour. An objection had, indeed, been made to the disturbance by election of a body which especially required quiet and repose; but, without arguing in favour of elections for their own sake, or denying that disturbance was an evil, he thought it was better that the waters should now and then be ruffled than that they should become stagnant; and that, if 1196 confidence and friendly co-operation could be secured by adopting the representative system, the price was not too high to pay for those advantages. He must not leave this part of the subject without explaining to their Lordships that the form of the new constitution, in that part of it which related to Congregation, was not that which Her Majesty's Government had proposed when they introduced this Bill into the other House of Parliament. It was proposed at first that all the elected members of the Hebdomadal Council should be chosen by the Congregation. Objections, however, were taken in the other House mainly on the ground that Congregation would be liable to be biassed by some of the many impulses or feelings which are apt to affect educated bodies; and in order to check the influence of such impulses in these elections, it had been thought desirable that the professors and the heads of houses who were to be members of the Council should be chosen each by their own body. This certainly was a change not in accordance with the views of Her Majesty's Government, who thought that the advantages to be derived from it would be much more than counterbalanced by the disadvantages of perpetuating, or, at all events, encouraging sectional rivalry; and that it would tend greatly to destroy the true spirit of representation, as originally proposed by them. The House of Commons, however, had decided in favour of the change, and hence the Bill had come up to their Lordships' House in the shape which he had just described. The next head of the Bill was that which provided fur the extension of the University beyond the walls of the colleges: and by which it sought to accomplish one of the main objects with which the measure had been brought forward, by enabling poor students to have the benefit of an University education without being obliged to incur the heavy expenses incidental to a residence in college. The importance of obtaining this boon had been repeatedly brought before the members of the University. In the year 1846 it was especially brought before them in an address numerously signed—signed, among others, by many Members of their Lordships' House—an address which seemed to be received very favourably by the governing body of the University, but which had been followed by an interval of eight years without anything being clone, down to the time when the Government thought it necessary 1197 to introduce a measure on the subject of University reform to the attention of Parliament; and they had thought it their duty, therefore, to include in that measure the provision to which he now referred. It had been said, and he thought very wisely, that when it is wished to infuse new vigour into an old institution, there was no course so sure, or so safe, as that of recalling it to its first principles, and. of reanimating those fundamental ideas which underlie its form. This was what the Government proposed to do with respect to the object to which he was now referring. The spirit of Oxford in early days was essentially liberal; the teaching which she gave was almost free; liberty of access to her was complete; and, although it might be difficult to believe what they were told, of there having been at one time as many as 300 halls within the limits of the University, still there could be no doubt that the effect of her liberality, co-operating with other causes, had been this—that, at a time when the population of the country scarcely exceeded two-fifths of what it was now, the number of students within the halls and colleges of Oxford was five times as numerous as at present. Now, although this was to be accounted for in part by the state of society in those days—by the condition of the Church—by the functions then discharged by the Church—by the dearth of books—and by other matters of minor consideration—yet, when they found that at the present time the matriculations which took place at Oxford every year rarely amounted to 400, and that they had not increased for the last forty years—and when they remembered how greatly the population of the country had increased, and how large a number there must be among that population who, from what they knew of their tastes and habits, they had every reason to believe would gladly avail themselves of the advantages which an academical education conferred—they had every right to suppose that there must at bottom be some discouraging causes in operation; and he thought it not unreasonable to argue that a recurrence to the liberal, expansive, and energetic system of former days, under which so great a development had been given to the University, so far as the number of its members was concerned, might have a wholesome effect. The teaching of the University of Oxford, in the days to which he referred, was by no means limited 1198 to those who resided within or became members of colleges; on the contrary, by far the greater number of the members were resident in the houses of masters and resident graduates of the University, and had no connection with the University beyond simple matriculation and licence to attend the lectures. It was not until the time of Leicester that the limitation of the establishment of these halls and private houses kept by masters began to take effect. Leicester, however, not content with the large power which he placed in the Hebdomadal Board, obtained for himself and for his successors the sole power of nominating to halls. And as, at that time, the interests and sympathies of the Chancellor of the University were more in unison with the interests of the colleges than with those of the students and of the community at large, it was not, perhaps, much to be wondered at that the effect of the power thus obtained was the discouragement of private halls. This was greatly aided by the fact that at the time of the Reformation the number of students fell off, and many of the halls which had no foundation to rest upon disappeared. The consequence was, that the colleges gradually took every means of securing to themselves both the education and the custody of the students resident in the University. This they practised successfully; but many years elapsed before the colleges approached to anything like their full numbers, and before, therefore, there was any place or any liberty under the new system for the establishment of private halls. He had stated that one great reason for recurring to the establishment of such halls was the limitation of expense. He knew that there was great differences of opinion on the subject—that there had been a great difference not only as to where the blame lay in relation to the great expense of education at Oxford, but also in regard to what was the actual amount of that expense. He believed, however, he was not far from the mark when he stated that, under the most favourable circumstances, the cost of the education of an undergraduate at a college or hall, could not be estimated at much less than 600l. Now this was a considerable sum. He did not say that in some cases, by great self denial and under extraordinary circumstances, students did not keep within that sum, but he was sure that it was not an unfair average; and he was equally sure that it was an 1199 average which ought to be greatly diminished. He believed that a better system could not be adopted of ascertaining the real value of an article than that of competition and in this case no competition would be so complete as placing it in the power of every master of the University, under certain restrictions, and subject to certain qualifications, to use his abilities and his means in the way of establishing in his own house, lodgings for such students as might be willing to resort to him—conducting that establishment on the most economical principles, and giving to the students the further advantage of a shelter from the risks and temptations to extravagance and reckless expenditure which beset all young men on their entering into the larger colleges of the University. He would not, however, be understood as resting on the establishment of these halls any expectation of the realisation of a visionary scheme of redressing the inequalities of fortune. He did not believe it would be possible, or even desirable, to bring within the teaching of the University any lame number of the humbler or poorer classes; but he knew that above these classes there were a large number of men belonging to the liberal profession, officers in the Army or Navy, clergymen, and members of the bar, whose incomes were not only small, but often very precarious; who had no capital upon which they could draw, and to whom a saving of 100l. a year, or even in the three years of a son's career at the University, would be an object of great importance. To such men the institution of private halls would be a great advantage; and he further thought that to most of them, feeling, as they must, their inability to risk a large expense on account of their sons, and feeling it also their duty to place their sons out of the reach of the temptations to extravagance, it would be a matter of the greatest satisfaction to be able to put them under a closer, more domestic, and more paternal superintendence than they could obtain in any large college. But the reduction of expense was very far from being the only benefit which he thought the establishment of private halls was likely to secure. Competition, as regarded cost, was a very good thing, but he was far from being sure that competition, as regarded tuition, would not be still better. As it was, the number of the tutors of the colleges were, in many cases, very inadequate to the wants of the mem- 1200 bers of the colleges; and, owing to the system which naturally prevailed of appointing to the tutorial functions those who held fellowships, the field of choice, particularly in the case of the close fellowships, was necessarily very limited, and not very favourable to the students. Without wishing to detract at all from the great merits and the great ability of the tutors of Oxford, as a body—admitting that there were among them men of great mark and acquirements, and deserving the highest praise in the discharge of the tutorial functions—he must still say that it was matter of great regret to all those who were acquainted with Oxford that, year after year, many men who had not been fortunate enough to obtain fellowships, and who had consequently no resting-place in the University, but who were still ripe and accomplished scholars, and who were admitted to possess qualifications for undertaking the duties of tuition beyond many of those to whom the trust was actually committed, were virtually driven away from Oxford, from not being able to End there any opportunity for the employment of their abilities and talents—from not having the means of remaining at the University upon the chance of having their services called for as private tutors, and from the great uncertainty which prevailed as to their finding the means of maintaining themselves in any other way. To such persons as these the institution of private halls would offer an ample field for the employment of their talents; and he was greatly inclined, too, to think that the success which would in all probability attend the students at private halls in their career through the University, inasmuch as for tutors they would have the pick of all the graduates who did not obtain fellowships, would very greatly improve the quality of the teaching at the University generally. It would not be fair to omit to state that since this Bill had been before Parliament the Hebdomadal Board had made a move in the direction of the extension of the University; not by the establishment of private halls, but by the extension of halls connected with the University, by means of affiliated halls, and by allowing members of the University to reside in private lodgings in the town. He could not admit, however, for a moment, that the substitution of these schemes for private halls would answer all the purposes for which private halls were intended, and, he believed, calculated to 1201 effect; but there was no reason why all should not be tried; and they might be sure that that which on trial most recommended itself to the wants of the University was that which must eventually succeed. If it should turn out that the suggestion made by the Hebdomadal Board was better suited to the wants of the University than the scheme proposed by the Government, the scheme proposed by the Hebdomadal Board might perhaps triumph. The provision, however, with respect to private halls was one of great importance, and it was a provision which the Government could on no account consent to remove or to modify as it now stood in the Bill—partly for the reasons which he had already stated, and partly for this further advantage which it possesses over the scheme recommended by the Hebdomadal Board, that it asserted the independence of the University as distinct from the colleges—a principle which hail hitherto, owing to the system of government which had so long prevailed, been kept out of sight. If the Bill had come into their Lordships' House in the shape in which it had been had upon the table of the House of Commons, he should have had occasion to trouble them at much greater length than it would now be necessary to do. It went into minute details upon many points which were not touched by the present Bill, and contained provisions with respect to many upon which, as they were now excluded from the measure, he did not feel called upon to enter. Whether those changes were for the better or not it was useless to discuss; this much, however, was certain, that if these changes in the Bill had not been made, it would not have been possible to have presented it for their Lordships' consideration until a much later period of the Session. Considering what had taken place in the House of Commons, they could hardly have expected to have introduced it into their Lordships' House, in two months to come. It should be remembered, however, that these alterations had not been made until a petition bad been presented to the Government, signed by upwards of 100 residents, including six heads of houses, many of the most distinguished tutors and professors, and other eminent members of the University, praying that the Bill might pass into a law with the least possible delay, and with as few alterations as possible. The measure, in its present form, was decidedly more favourable to the University, for it 1202 left much more liberty to the colleges and to the Commissioners, to whom he would presently refer, to effect such alterations as might be necessary. In some respects, it was now an enabling Bill, where previously it was an imperatively enacting one; but, even in its present shape, it had not been altogether free from cavil and objections. It had been said that, even after all time alterations that had been made in it, it still asserted the principle of spoliation; that it evinced a contempt for the sanctity of endowments, and an ingratitude towards benefactors and founders which Parliament could not and ought not to sanction. Before he proceeded to give a contradiction to those charges, he would state the substance of the provisions by which the Bill enabled the Statutes of the colleges affecting endowments to be altered. First of all, it left original action to the colleges themselves, and they had it in their power to make alterations, more especially with regard to those Statutes which affected the eligibility and tenure of fellowships. These alterations were, however, under this check, that they were subject to the approval of the Commissioners. If the Commissioners approved of them, they became Statutes; if they did not approve, the amendments were remanded to the colleges, and if the colleges did not proceed to alter them in a sense acceptable to the Commissioners, the Commissioners themselves might make the alterations. The Commissioners, on the other hand, were themselves controlled by checks. If, when the Commissioners had made the alterations they desired, two-thirds of the governing body should certify that they considered them prejudicial to the college as a place of learning and education, the alterations would fall to the ground. If no such remonstrance was made, the alterations took the form of regulations and would be submitted to the Queen in Council and published in the Gazette, and any person affected by them might claim to be heard in opposition by five members of the Privy Council, empowered for that purpose. If no opposition was offered, if the alterations passed through these ordeals, they would still be subject to further check. They were to be presented to Parliament; and should Parliament be sitting, they were forthwith to be laid on the table of both Houses; and if within forty days either House agreed to an Address against them, they would not take effect. These checks would appear to guard so effectually the 1203 action of the clauses, that if they had not had good evidence that there were some colleges at Oxford most anxious for improvement, and waiting to have their hands untied, he should despair of seeing any great improvement effected by the action of this Bill. Knowing, however, that there were colleges prepared to act upon this power proposed to be conferred the moment opportunity was given them, he believed that they would set such a worthy example that those colleges which had shown themselves indisposed to give any facilities for reform, would find it impossible to hold out. It had been stated that the control which Parliament claimed to exercise over the endowments and the Statutes of the colleges was in substance, however checked, so new to the law and so dangerous to the University that it ought not to be sanctioned. The endowments of the colleges, it was said, were private gifts and independent of the Legislature, and the colleges ought, therefore, to be left to act for themselves in regard to them. It was impossible to admit the truth of this without qualification. It cannot be asserted that the colleges hold these endowments solely from their founders, for in many cases the founders had never thought that their benefactions could pass from Roman Catholics to the societies of the Reformed Church, and it was, therefore, owing to the confirmation of the State that the University found itself in the possession and enjoyment of its ancient privileges and endowments. If the State, then, had the power to recreate these trusts in favour of the colleges, should it not also have the power to see that the trusts were duly administered and carried out; that the spirit in which they were framed was not overlooked and neglected; and should it not, even in cases in which there had been no wilful negligence or overlooking, see that they be adapted to the intentions of their donors, making allowance for the change of time and the growth of circumstances which had supervened? He thought, considering the trusts and duties of the colleges to the State, that the State and Parliament were justified in following out such a course. If it were admitted that the right existed, it could not be said the exercise of it was unnecessary. There were colleges, and some of them the richest, whose duties, measured strictly by the Statutes of the founders, were very far from fulfilled. The college of Magdalen, for instance, was one in 1204 which, had its Statutes been fully executed, lectureships for the benefit of the University at large should have been established nearly 400 years ago; yet that obligation still remained unperformed. Corpus Christi was very much in the same position, with the exception that, although the obligation was very similar, that college, being one of the foremost to advance the cause of reform, had, of its own good will, proceeded to carry out the first intentions of its founders. But there were other reasons more urgent than even the neglect or indifference on the part of the colleges to their obligations that called for and made it necessary and desirable that the State should exercise a superintendence in these matters. They must remember that most of the colleges in their origin were—and they themselves professed nothing more—little better than literary almshouses: they were founded with this intention by those who gave the funds for their establishment, and the provision for the fellows, as recorded in words, was that of the poorest class: the fellows were not, as now, expected to take any part in tuition: there were no graduates under their control: they were themselves under the control of a bead: they never received, as they did now, considerable sums, arising from a division of the surplus funds after the first charges on the trust had been defrayed: every injunction with regard to poverty, as far as was known, was fully carried out. It was impossible, therefore, to compare the state of the colleges at that time and their condition now. But still it was said that the letter of the founder's will must in all cases be applied when provisions were found in it requiring that a preference should be given to those of a certain district, neighbourhood, or family. That preference appeared rather to have crept into the wills gradually, than to have been placed there by the founders for any deliberate purpose. Probably the first intention of the founder was the establishment of a seat of learning for the benefit of poor scholars, and then he thought he might as well benefit the poor of this or that particular district, in which he felt the most interest. Such an hypothesis might be disputed, and in some cases successfully; but he begged their Lordships to remark that, whilst all the other requirements of the founders' wills had been, from necessity or expediency, freely departed from, those requirements 1205 affecting preference and family privileges had been most rigidly adhered to. If they proceeded to apply the principles enunciated in this Bill, he believed he should be right in saying they would do no more than apply to collegiate endowments the doctrine of cy prés, in Chancery, and, on the whole, the doctrine of common sense. The argument had been put forward, upon such high authority, in a book recently published, that, though the extract was long, he would venture to read it. It was from the Remains of Bishop Coplestone, edited by the Archbishop of Dublin. The Archbishop of Dublin writes—I have often heard Bishop Coplestone express his views on this subject (founders' wills and endowments), and once, in particular, I remember a long discussion between him and a person who held extreme principles on that point. He said, "That endowments and the rules under which they are placed, ought not to be hastily and rashly meddled with, is admitted by all sensible men. But it should be remembered, that a man's disposal of property after his death, is no natural right. It is a right conferred (and within certain limits, very wisely conferred) by law. Now, it is a well known maxim in this country, that "the law abhors perpetuities." When, therefore, an exception to this rule is allowed, as in the case of endowments, it is not too much to require that some reason should be shown for the exception. It may fairly be expected, not only that the funds shall not be expended in a manner positively injurious to the public (for that ought not to be permitted even during the owner's lifetime, but also that their application should be in some degree useful. It would, indeed, be too much to require that the provisions made should always be such as the Legislature for the time being should determine to be the most beneficial possible; for on this, men's opinions will generally differ greatly, and be liable to frequent changes. But it does seem fair to require that an endowment should in some degree answer some good purpose, and not be a mere waste. Moreover, it seems but reasonable that when, from the altered circumstances of the times, or otherwise, a foundation fails altogether of the object designed, a change in the original provisions should be made by the Legislature. If, for instance, it appears that some founder of a college founded also a school, for the express purpose of providing a supply of qualified persons to be scholars and knows of his college, and appointed that these scholarships should he filled up from that school, then, if it should appear that both the school and the college would be improved, and that better qualified persons would be elected, if there were a perfectly free competition, this might he deemed a sufficient ground for an alteration of the Statutes. Again, in the days when fellowships were founded for natives of certain counties, such a native would usually be one whose ancestors and kindred had long been settled in the county, and, perhaps, possessed property there. But in these days of easy, and cheap, and rapid locomotion, the place where any one (above the lowest classes) happens to have been born, is frequently no indication of 1206 any family connection with that locality. The founders themselves, therefore, if it were possible to consult them, would hardly wish for the continuance of a restriction which answers no good purpose whatever. As for the preference assigned in some cases, to "founder's kin" for ever, it is clearly of the character of a perpetual entail; which is adverse to the spirit of our law.' The chief part of what has here been said, is the substance of what I heard from the Bishop, in the conversation above alluded to, and on other occasions.Now he begged their Lordships to consider that Bishop Coplestone was the head of a college, one of the most distinguished men at Oxford, provost of Oriel, a successful and accomplished tutor, the champion of Oxford against the attacks of the Edinburgh reviewers, and thoroughly imbued with the spirit of Oxford; and vet this was what he thought of the use and abuse of collegiate endowments. The mention of schools reminded him that there were in the Bill two clauses which referred particularly to endowments, exhibitions, or fellowships, whichever they might be, connected with schools; and those clauses provided with regard to them that no change should take place by any act of the Commissioners until the regulations or alterations proposed had been submitted to the governing bodies of the schools, and received the assent of two-thirds of their number. That was a provision which did not enter into the original scheme of the Bill. It was added in the other House, and he was bound to confess that he thought it was pushing the principle of protection to these endowments a little too far; for although, as regarded scholarships or exhibitions intended to benefit the scholars of a particular school on their admission to the University, restriction might fairly be claimed by the governors of the school, when the same restriction came to be applied to fellowships—the interest of the school having long since ceased in particular fellows—it was a great discouragement of open fellowships, and a great hindrance to securing to those fellowships, not only those who were once clever and intelligent boys, but learned, able, and painstaking men. He had now to refer to the clauses which related to the professors. At one time there was considerable opposition, both in the public mind and in Parliament, to those provisions of the Bill. He was disposed to attribute this mainly to the very able, but rather too earnest, advocacy of the professorial system, which was found in the evidence attached to the Commissioners' 1207 Report, and which had appeared in various shapes before the public; the effect of the somewhat overstrained elevation of the professorial functions having been to frighten people into believing that, by the alteration of the constitution of Oxford, they were going to repose in the hands of the professors a dangerous amount of power—that they wished to supersede the functions of the tutors—to "Germanise" the colleges, and to infuse into their system the mysticism, the scepticism, and rationalism, commonly attributed to the German school of philosophy. At least such was the common understanding, and it was feared the result would be to weaken that most valuable characteristic of English Universities, the tutorial system—a characteristic which distinguished them not only from the Universities abroad, but also from those in Scotland, and, to a certain extent, from that of Dublin. This measure, he firmly believed, would not in any way weaken the tutorial system. There was no necessary antagonism between the tutorial and professorial systems. Each was supplementary, or should be so, to the other. Each facilitated time completion and perfection of the other's work. In some of the colleges, especially those less well supplied with tutors, the students themselves felt greatly the want of some stimulus in their reading beyond the hackneyed routine of lectures—of some one able to put before them those inducements and encouragements in the pursuit of their studies which all who had paid attention to lectures, whether written or oral, of able professors must have felt was specially inherent in that sort of teaching, and which the comparative drudgery—he did not use the term in an offensive sense—of the tutors lecture-room failed to supply. It was sought by one of the clauses to give some impulse to the establishment and extension of the professorial system in Oxford; but, with the general satisfaction felt with the tutorial system, he was under no apprehension that the effect would be to promote a too rapid growth of the professorial system in the University. In taking that step they were not without encouragement and example; by more than one of the colleges the system had been received with favour, and some had made offers to contribute and towards the establishment of professors for the University at large; and there was the precedent of Parliament itself, which had dealt with time endowments of Corpus 1208 Christi College, and out of that endowment increased very considerably a very effective body of professors.
He had now touched upon the four points which had been mentioned as those to which the attention of Parliament was to be mainly directed. With respect to the machinery by which the Bill was to be carried out, as would be seen by the first clause, it consisted in the appointment of Commissioners, who were to have powers which he admitted were apparently at the first glance very large—almost dangerous; he thought, however, it would be difficult to find a piece of legislation in which the abuse of such powers was so checked and guarded against in every possible way. If it were said the powers were too great, and that it was a bad precedent to give such powers to any Commissioners whatever, he could only say he believed there were no possible means by which the objects of the Bill—considering how complex, how difficult, and how various were all the interests concerned in it—could be better attained, and that no other machinery could be devised more effective for the end in view.
It was now fit that that he should notice two clauses which occurred towards the end of the Bill, by which the obligation hitherto imposed upon persons entering the University and proceeding to the first degree of bachelor of arts, to subscribe to the Thirty-nine Articles and to go through other formulas was dispensed with, and no oath except the oath of allegiance was required. The object of the clause was to effect the admission of Dissenters to the benefits and studies of the University, and their obtaining a certificate of success in those studies as far as the first degree. He need hardly tell the House that those clauses did not form part of the Bill as originally proposed by Her Majesty's Government, and that being so, their Lord!, ships might expect to receive some explanation of the reasons which had led to their being incorporated in the measure, and submitted to them with the support and recommendation of the Government. From the time this question first occupied the attention of the Government, it was their desire, whilst they made the Bill, as far as the reformation of the University was concerned, as searching and effective as it was in their power to make it, that they should at the same time keep it unclogged with any provision which might tend either to its being rejected by, or 1209 even delayed in its passage through Parliament. They were especially desirous of this because the effect of a Bill dealing with such a body as the University being presented to Parliament, and failing to pass, or being suspended for another year, would be most disastrous to the University itself. The University had been already sufficiently unhinged and disturbed by the necessary preliminary arrangements; and if it were left in doubt as to the decision of Parliament in another Session, it could not but be very grievously damaged. This had been the view of the Government from the beginning, and so long ago as when the noble Lord the President of the Council was at the head of another Administration, and moved for the issue of a royal Commission, that intention was traced out; and Her Majesty's Government, fully approving of the determination, had adhered to it, and had abstained from themselves introducing any provisions affecting the admission of Dissenters to the University. They were less unwilling to do so, because they felt convinced that the cause itself would receive no detriment from that abstinence; and there was good reason to hope that although success might be delayed, still that delay would be of no long duration. They felt assured that in the present temper of the University of Oxford, with its disposition to enlarge the sphere of its duties, to extend its teaching, and to act in the same spirit of liberality and generosity towards others which marked the first institution of Oxford, and which its best friends desired to see reintroduced, they felt confident this question would receive a favourable attention from the University—and he was bound to admit that they would prefer seeing the decision taken by the University itself rather than by Parliament. Moreover, it seemed but reasonable that that course should be taken; because hitherto the University of Oxford had had no fair opportunity of expressing its opinion On this or other questions of a like nature, and the constitution given to it by the present measure would enable it to do so. The Government adhered stedfastly and sincerely to that determination; but a majority in the other House of Parliament—a large majority, composed partly of persons who had been foremost in asserting the rights and privileges of Oxford, decided otherwise, and these clauses extending the rights and privileges of the University had been inserted in the Bill. He did not propose 1210 to go at length into the question of the admission of Dissenters; but he would state simply thus much, that it appeared to him that most of the arguments against their admission—he meant, of course, their admission so far as this Bill proposed to secure it—namely, up to taking the degree of bachelor of arts—were directed to two points; either that it could not be effected without danger to the teaching and influence of the Church of England (which was a question rather of practice than of right), or that, considering the status of the University as regarded the Church, no claim for the admission of others than the members of the Church, whether it came from Parliament or any other quarter, could be raised consistently with reason and justice. But those who used this argument did not sufficiently bear in mind the extent and character of the duties which the University owed directly to the State. If the first of those duties was the education of men to serve the Church of the State, it was not too much to say that the second of those duties was to educate men to serve the State itself. The University, up to a certain moment in the student's career, drew no distinction between its teaching for intended ecclesiastics and for laymen; and as long as the State was content to he served by those alone who were also servants of the Church of England, and as long as the Test and Religious Disabilities Acts, and other laws of a like nature, remained, so long it could not be said any duty remained unfulfilled on the part of the University. But a great change had come over the policy of the State on those matters, and now not Only had a share in the great duties of political life, legislation in great being the first of them, been conceded to Roman Catholics, but, by the repeal of the Test Acts, all impediments had been removed to the accession to office of those who are dissenters from the Church of England, under other denominations. In these circumstances, was it not a fair and legitimate demand on the part of the State to the University that it should take means to extend its teaching to those whom the State no longer considered to be disqualified on religious grounds from serving it; provided always that such extension be given in a manner which in no way should be prejudicial to, or in the smallest degree endanger, the action or teaching of the Church of England, or impair that close 1211 connection which existed between the University, the Church, and the State? It appeared to him that that being the question, if it could be shown, as he firmly believed it could, that there was good-will on the part of the University that Bissell-tees should receive education there, and proceed as far as these clauses allowed, without any interference with the teaching, the discipline of the University, such as the attendance at chapel, and the attendance on lectures and examination—if all those points could be secured, he thought that the University ought not, and would not, refuse its assent to their admission. He would say but one word as regarded any injury to the influence of the Church. It might be argued that, although the Church teaching of the University might not be interfered with, its influence would. But he had come to just the opposite conclusion, and he knew no measure which would conduce more to consolidate and strengthen in every way the influence of the Church than a readiness on the part of the Church, so far as it was represented by the University, to open her gate, and extend to those who had hitherto been debarred from it the enjoyment of all those benefits as to discipline and teaching which she herself possessed.
He had now stated the scope and principal features of the Bill. As regarded some of them, he could not deny that the Government had had to make some sacrifices, and had experienced some disappointment. But the subject was a very large and a very complex one. It was one on which all educated men claimed to have their own opinions—tot homines quot sententiœ—and under these circumstances the measure was still a real and substantial reform. It dealt with the chief points to which the attention of Parliament had been called. It dealt with them cautiously and considerately, and he hoped it would be found that it dealt with them effectually. When a radical defect had to be removed, or when a fundamental principle had to be asserted, this had been done without hesitation; but where it had been possible to leave free action either to University or to the colleges without impairing those principles, that action had been conceded to them. The sentiments and feelings by which they had been actuated in preparing this measure had been a jealous care for the claims of the community, coupled with confidence in 1212 the University itself. If their Lordships were disposed to take that view of the measure, and were willing to pass it into a law, he believed they might safely trust that Oxford herself would not be slow to lengthen her cords and strengthen her stakes; and so to use her new liberties as to extend her powers of usefulness, diffuse more widely her civilising influence, and fulfil more satisfactorily her duties to the great empire which she served and adorned.
Moved, That the Bill be now read 2a.
§ THE EARL OF DERBY
My Lords, the connection which I have the honour of holding with the University now proposed to be the subject of legislation will, I hope, be sufficient apology for my offering myself to the attention of your Lordships immediately on the close of the speech of the noble Viscount, who has proposed to yon this Bill. I shall endeavour, in following him through the various subjects to which he has adverted, to imitate the clearness and precision with which he has stated his views. I may, in the first place, congratulate my noble Friend the Postmaster General upon being the first Member of your Lordships House connected with Her Majesty's Government who, though this is the 6th of July, has been able to present to your Lordships any one measure of importance promised to be introduced on the part of Her Majesty's Government, and which has also been so fortunate as to have obtained the sanction of the other House of Parliament. I must also congratulate, if not him and Her Majesty's Government, at least your Lordships and the country, that this single exception to the general rule of rejection or abdication on the part of Government of their measures has been accompanied with such a series of metamorphoses, with changes of being so entirely beyond anything dreamt of, even in the Pythagorean philosophy, by such repeated alterations of the most paramount and important parts of the Bill, that undoubtedly much of the injury which would have been effected by that Bill in its original form has been materially mitigated, and much of your Lordships' time has been saved, and much of the opposition it would have encountered has by these salutary changes been averted. I hold in my hand the first and the fifth printed edition of the Bill. I know not how many more there may have been, but I know there have been five printed editions, for I have them here, and each successive edition has struck out some 1213 important, and, to my mind, mischievous provisions, and inserted provisions less mischievous and less objectionable. But, my Lords, I am compelled to say, notwithstanding the modifications the Bill bas undergone in its passage through the other House, that there still remains in it much matter for serious consideration, that it still contains many provisions which make it extremely difficult to say whether they are sufficiently valuable to outweigh the strong objections which I feel to the principles which are embodied in this Bill.
I confess I was surprised to hear the argument by which my noble Friend asserted the right of Parliament to interfere in the internal constitution of the University. I freely grant the position he adopted, both with regard to the Universities and the colleges, that neither one nor the other are to be considered as purely private bodies, entitled to dispose of their revenues and discharge their functions just as it pleases them, and apart from the control and superintendence of the Legislature. That amount of independence has never been claimed or demanded on the part of the colleges or the Universities; but this they do claim, that so long as they confine themselves within the limits of their assigned duties—so long as they confine themselves to that to which I was glad to hear my noble Friend give more prominence and moral effect than is given by the Bill itself, namely, the original intentions and purposes of their founders—so long they should be allowed to exercise an independent management over their own affairs, unchecked and uncontrolled by the interference of Parliament. My Lords, I do not mean to deny what has been termed the omnipotence of Parliament, or its right to legislate with regard to these or to any other bodies; but my noble Friend must, indeed, have been hard driven for an argument when he referred, in favour of the right of Parliament to legislate for the Universities, to a precedent set by Parliament itself—when he pointed out upon the Statute-book, a Statute to which I confess I should have alluded, as having a precisely opposite tendency and bearing, entitled the 13th of Elizabeth, in proof of the interference of Parliament in the internal affairs of the University. Now, my Lords, from my noble Friend having referred to that single Statute, the 13th of Elizabeth, I am confirmed in the opinion which I entertained, and which every search that I 1214 have been able to make has confirmed also, that in the history of the Universities, in the history of the country, in the history of our legislation, this is the first direct interference of Parliament with the internal constitution and management of either of our great Universities. And alien, my Lords, I say either of our great Universities, let me once for all remind your Lordships that although this Bill is directed against—no, I shall not say that—applies to the University of Oxford alone, yet we have had an authoritative declaration from the noble Earl at the head of Her Majesty's Government, that, if not in this, at least in another Session of Parliament, it is the intention of the Government to apply to the sister University of Cambridge precisely the same principles, and if not perhaps to the same extent, still precisely the same character of legislation, as by means of this Bill they are applying to the University of Oxford. Now, my Lords, I have said that I believed the Act of Elizabeth, to which my noble Friend has referred, was the only instance which he could find on the Statute-book of direct interference with the internal constitution of the Universities. My noble Friend read a portion of the preamble of that Act for the purpose of showing what were understood then, and what will not be denied now—on the contrary, what are contended for by the University itself—as the mans objects and purposes of those institutions; but when he spoke of the interference of Parliament, be did not say in what that interference consisted. My Lords, up to that period the University of Oxford had exercised its privileges and its rights solely under charters and grants made from the Crown itself; but in the reign of Elizabeth it was desired to give to the independent legislation of the University and to the power which it exercised of self-government a more effective and also a more permanent character than was supposed, even in that age, to be derived from the unaided prerogative of the Crown; the 13th of Elizabeth was consequently passed for the benefit of both Universities. The preamble recited, that for the great love and favour which Her Majesty bore towards the Universities. and for the great zeal and care which the Lords and Commons had for the maintenance of letters and for the virtuous education of the youth of the Universities, and to the intent that the ancient privileges and liberties of the said Universities here- 1215 tofore granted by the Crown should be had in greater estimation, and be of greater force and strength for the better increase of learning and the further suppression of vice; and then follows the enactment constituting the Universities corporations: and then an enactment that the various letters patent previously granted by the Crown shall thenceforth he good, effectual, and available in land as amply, fully, and largely as if the same letters patent were recited verbatim in the Act. These, my Lords, are the terms of the Act of Parliament—confirming, establishing, and enforcing for ever the powers, privileges, and immunities of the University previously granted by the Crown—which my noble Friend thinks he is entitled to bring forward as a precedent for a Bill which meddles with every internal detail of the University of Oxford, destroys the whole of its self-government, and places it, or did place it as the Government originally framed the measure, under the absolute and entire legislative control of Commissioners nominated by Parliament. My Lords, my noble Friend in the course of his speech referred to the Commission which was issued in 1850, and he said that we might very well refer to that Commission for the purpose of observing, by the light of experience, how many of the evils and dangers which were anticipated from the issue of that Commission had really proved unfounded, or, at all events, greatly exaggerated causes of alarm. Now, my Lords, my noble Friend must forgive me for saying that I cannot conceive a more dangerous argument to use than this—that because a measure involving a violation of principle has not been attended with all the dangers and bad consequences which were anticipated at the time, therefore the violation of principle itself ceases to be injurious, and may be brought forward as a precedent upon some subsequent occasion for another violation of principle of the same kind.
My noble Friend said, in speaking of the objections which were entertained to the Commission issued in 1840, that those objections were that the issue of the Commission was held to be, on the highest legal authority, an issue exceeding the powers of the Crown, and not binding upon the University; and that if the University as a body had assented to, or had not remonstrated against, the issue of that Commission, the consequence would 1216 have been that the authorities would, as they thought, have betrayed their trust both to themselves and their successors. It may be, my Lords, that much useful information has been derived—I do not deny that it has—from the labours of that Commission; but the irregularity of its original issue and its supposed illegality—for I will not go further—I will not now argue the point, although my opinion at the time was, and still is, that it was illegal—but the belief in its illegality undoubtedly tended, as my noble Friend has admitted, to make the evidence which was given before them of a very partial, and, to a certain extent, of an unsatisfactory character. Those who were disposed to introduce great reforms and great alterations into the University came freely forward to give their evidence against the existing practices of the University; but those who defended the rights and privileges of the University abstained from appearing before the Commission, and from defending those rights and privileges in the presence of an authority, whose legality, or the validity of whose commission, they did not admit. I am far from saying that much valuable information was not derived from the labours of that Commission, or that the inquiry which has taken place has not excited in the University an anxiety to examine into, and an activity in seeking out, whatever may be deficient in that institution, as well as whatever may be capable of remedying those deficiencies, which, perhaps, before the issue of the Commission did not prevail to a sufficient extent. I cannot, at the same time, admit to my noble Friend that bill of indictment which he commenced by brining against the University of Oxford, charging it with its comparative failure, with the great means which he attributes to it, in extending sufficiently the influence of the teaching and the benefits which might be expected would be derived from such an institution. I cannot admit to him that the University has been so negligent of its duty, or that its results have been so unimportant and so inadequate in proportion to its means as my noble Friend appears to suppose; nor can I believe that, whatever course you may take or recommend to be taken by this Bill, you will ever come up to the sanguine expectations of those who imagine that the University will ever be able, in the present day, to provide education for a proportion of the population at all like the proportion which was borne by its students of former days 1217 to the inhabitants of the country. At the same time I am quite ready to say—and in the course of tie observations which I shall have to offer to your Lordships I will endeavour to show—that the University itself neither has been of late years undesirous of extending the range of its studies, or undesirous of increasing the accommodation which it affords, and the means of educating within its wails a larger portion of the community. How far these endeavours have been successful is another point; but what I have stated to your Lordships is an object which the University has always borne in mind, and towards which it has taken effective steps.
My noble Friend was good enough to say that on the part of the Government there had been at the outset no desire—quite the contrary—to show any discourtesy either to myself as holding the high office of Chancellor of the University of Oxford or to the University itself in regard to the measure in which they proposed to deal with it; and he went through a statement of dates—with which I have no fault to find—to prove his assertion, namely, that, the Commission having reported in 1852, at the commencement of the Session of 1853 the noble Lord who is now President of the Council intimated in another place the intention of Her Majesty's Government to proceed with a Bill in the next Session of Parliament, and that in the month of November following a communication upon the subject was made to the University by the Government. Now, my Lords, undoubtedly that statement is true; but I remain still of opinion that the Bill as it now stands, recommended to us by Her Majesty's Government—not to speak of it as it was originally introduced into Parliament—goes infinitely beyond anything which was necessary for the purpose of effecting those alterations that were desired in the discipline, in the teaching, and in the extension of the University of Oxford. I am well persuaded, my Lords, that a measure of a purely enabling character, if it had been introduced with a friendly feeling, and introduced after due communication on the part of the Government of their views and wishes to the governing body of the University, would have been freely accepted both by the University and the colleges, and would have enabled them, with the assistance and co-operation of Parliament, which they were desirous of obtaining, to do everything which, for the interests of the University 1218 and the interests of the country at large, it is desirable to effect. My Lords, great complaints have been made that the University, up to the period of the announcement of this Bill at the commencement of the Session of 1853 by the noble Lord the President of the Council, had taken apparently no steps for the purpose of dealing with this question. Now, my Lords, I can speak front my own personal knowledge of that supposed inactivity of the University, which I regret to have heard, to a certain extent, recognised and admitted by some of those who arc sincerely attached to the University, and I have no hesitation in saying that the complaint in question has no foundation whatever; for I ant in a condition to inform your Lordships that at the close of the year 1852—I having then the honour of being at the head of Her Majesty's Government—an application was made to me by the University for the issue of a charter which would have enabled it to deal with what are familiarly called "the Caroline Statutes," and to alter the constitution of the governing body of the University. The University was desirous of obtaining, at the same time, an alteration of the law of mortmain; and, as clearly one of those subjects, and, in the opinion of many gentlemen for whom I entertained the highest respect, both of those objects, would require the co-operation and confirmation of Parliament, I advised that no petition should be presented to the Crown for a charter, until there should have been such an Act passed by Parliament as would enable the University to make all the necessary and desired changes. Within a month after that period—to use the general euphemism of the House, when a Government is turned out—I resigned office; and the Government which succeeded me forthwith intimated, through the medium of the noble Lord the President of the Council, their intention of dealing with the question of the University of Oxford, pointing out, as my noble Friend has stated, the leading features of the measure to which they expected the University would agree. Beyond that announcement of the Government, and beyond the recommendations of the Royal Commissioners, the University had no means of ascertaining what was required and what was expected of them. Now, my Lord, if the University had proceeded to carry into effect the recommendations of the Royal Commissioners, I am afraid that at the expiration of the twelve- 1219 month it would have found itself, as regards the Government and Parliament, in a worse position than it finds itself at the present moment; for although I perfectly concur in the eulogium which my noble Friend has passed upon the ability displayed in the Report of the Royal Commissioners—although I somewhat differ from him as to the prudence and expediency of some of the recommendations contained in that document—yet my noble Friend and Her Majesty's Government can hardly set themselves up as the advocates and supporters of the recommendations of the Royal Commissioners, inasmuch as of about forty-seven recommendations—some of them among the principal recommendations—put forth by the Commissioners, I do not believe there are half a dozen to which effect is given, or is intended to be given, by the present Bill. But, my Lords, immediately after the intimation by the Government that the University of Oxford would be expected to deal with this question in the course of the summer, the University applied itself with diligence to consider the recommendations of the Royal Commissioners, and to take evidence upon those recommendations from persons who had not appeared before the Commissioners, inviting all parties to give their deliberate judgment upon the merits of those recommendations. Finally, at the end of November. it issued a Report, a thick octavo volume, in which it embodied, not only all the evidence which it had taken, but also its own recommendations, stating how far it was prepared to assent to, how far it was prepared to dissent from, and how far to vary, the recommendations of the Royal Commissioners. My Lords, that Report was issued just at the moment when I received from the Secretary of State for the Home Department that letter to which my noble Friend has referred. I immediately put myself in communication with the University; and on account of a desire expressed by the Secretary of State for the Home Department, that the wishes and views of the University should be laid before him at the earliest possible period, so as to enable Her Majesty's Government to prepare in the month of November a measure which they intended to introduce into Parliament during the next Session, the University forthwith applied itself to this subject, not for the first time, but after having carefully considered the recommendations of the Royal Commissioners, and published a Report of its own. The first 1220 topic for its consideration manifestly was the constitution of the governing body of the University—because it would have been an absurdity on the part of the existing governing body of the University first to decide upon the various changes which they would make in the constitution and discipline of the University, and then to transfer the execution or non-execution of those recommendations to another body with which they had nothing to do, and which was to supersede them. The first object, therefore, was the new constitution of the governing body of the University; and the recommendations of the University upon that point were forthwith sent, in the same month of November, to Her Majesty's Government and to the noble Earl the First Lord of the Treasury. Well, the noble Earl objected to the recommendations of the University; but he did not, nor did the Government, make the slightest movement towards suggesting amendments which, if they could have been introduced by the authority of the University itself, would have superseded the necessity of Parliamentary action. On the contrary, the immediate answer was, "The proposition made by the University is wholly unsatisfactory;" and although the noble Earl undoubtedly had the courtesy to send me privately a copy of the Bill one week before it was introduced into the House of Commons, yet it was sent with this singular request—which seemed as if were intended not to consult the University—that it was for my own special information, and that I was not to communicate it to the heads of houses. Within a week from that date the Bill was upon the table of Parliament, and the first intimation which the University of Oxford had of the intentions and requirements of Her Majesty's Government was the Bill introduced and printed for the House of Commons on the 17th of March, 1854. Now, my Lords, I must say that this was not a mode in which the University could consider itself fairly or amicably dealt with upon the part of a Government which professes its desire and I am delighted, though somewhat surprised, to hear my noble Friend admit such to be the object of this Bill—to increase, extend, and promote the liberty of the University itself.
My Lords, to touch the merits of the question with regard to the institution of the governing body, let me recall to your Lordships' recollection what were in substance the recommendations of the Royal 1221 Commissioners upon that point. The Royal Commissioners had recommended that there should be two legislative bodies in the University, and that, instead of retaining to the Hebdomadal Board, consisting of the vice chancellor, the proctors, and the heads of houses, the sole executive and legislative power, they should be permitted and desired to retain the power which they still exercised; but that there should be a second and additional body constituted, which should introduce the principle of representation into the University which should include a certain number of the professors of the University, and which, being elected by the University, and fairly representing its views, should be another branch of the internal legislation. No, I beg pardon, the Commissioners had recommended that the second body should be constituted, not including, if I recollect rightly, that principle of representation at all, but that it should include a certain number of professors and a certain number of tutors, together with the members of the Hebdomadal Board, and, thus formed, was to have coordinate powers of originating or vetoing any measures. That Hebdomadal Board, which has been so much abused, which has been held to be so neglectful of its duty, and so desirous of retaining all the power in its own hands, took into consideration the recommendation of the Royal Commissioners—and what was the course which the members of the Hebdomadal Board recommended? That their own functions, as recommended by the Royal Commissioners, should still continue inviolate and untouched; but that there should be connected with them another body, consisting of an equal number with themselves, a body partly elected by Convocation—for the Hebdomadal Board, unlike the Royal Commissioners, recognised the principle of representation—but in which a number of the members, certainly not less than six or eight, should be professors of the University, in order to secure its due weight and preponderance to that class of teachers. Her Majesty's Government thought fit to intimate their opinion that this was a system of local government which, to use their own expression, was deficient in that "unity and promptitude of action which were so extremely important to the legislative body of the University." I should add that a provision was offered by the Hebdomadal Board, that in the event of any difference 1222 of opinion between themselves and the newly constituted Board, the two should immediately meet together, and that a bare majority of the united Boards should deter mine whether or not the measure in dispute should be submitted to Convocation. My Lords, setting aside all questions of detail as to whether the number of professors was sufficiently large, or whether the members elected by Convocation were sufficiently numerous—setting aside these questions of detail upon which the University would have been ready, I am satisfied, to listen to the recommendations of Her Majesty's Government, with every desire to come to an amicable arrangement—I venture to say that the proposal of the Hebdomadal Board was more liberal than that of the Royal Commissioners, and that it will contrast favourably with the proposition which Her Majesty's Government have embodied in this Bill. Now, my Lords, what is that proposition? In opposition to the views and wishes of the Oxford University, and of the Royal Commission, Her Majesty's Government recommend that the powers of the Hebdomadal Board should cease and determine. My Lords, I think that in doing so they commit a great mistake; for, although, as my noble Friend has said, no person desires to retain in the hands of the Hebdomadal Board the whole control over the legislation of the University, yet I am of opinion that there was a great advantage in having on that Board a representative from each of the colleges and halls of which the University is composed. I differ entirely from my noble Friend in thinking that, because a man is selected to be the head of his college on account of his superior fitness for discharging the duties of that office, therefore that fitness is not consistent with, and can be no argument, a priori, in favour of his equal fitness for sharing in the management of the general affairs of the University—because, a priori, the argument would evidently be in favour of his fitness rather than against it. I think it is a great advantage, with respect to any legislative measure for the University, that it should have to be considered and approved by a Board composed of persons representing the interests of each of the colleges, and who would understand the operation of any general measure upon each of those colleges;—but, unfortunately, my Lords, the mode proposed by the Hebdomadal Board was deficient in "unity and promptitude of 1223 action necessary for the legitimate body,"—at least such was the opinion of Her Majesty's Government, and which could not be obtained by two bodies elected upon different principles and quite independent of each other; and it was overlooked that the members of that Board had recommended the establishment of another body, elected on quite a different principle, and intended to exercise quite a different function. It appears to me, my Lords, that the course adopted by Her Majesty's Government must have received the cordial support of, if indeed it was not suggested by, the noble Duke the Minister of War, who thinks that two bodies differently constituted, elected by different constituencies, must be deficient in "unity and promptitude of action," and that it is necessary, in order to secure that unity and promptitude of action in two legislative bodies, to assimilate and make them as nearly as possible resemble each other. That, however, is not the Constitution of this country; it is not the principle upon which Parliament has proceeded; and if, sometimes, "unity and promptitude of action" is interfered with, by the difference in the constitution of the two branches of the Legislature, I cannot help thinking that the country gains in stability quite as much as it loses—though perhaps it may gain in that respect also—by the absence of promptitude. Well, my Lords, what is the prompt legislative body which the Government propose to substitute for that cumbrous machinery, as they call it, suggested by the University? I will tell your Lordships what it is. They first of all create a body composed of one-third of the heads of houses or part of the existing body, one-third of professors, and one-third of members elected for that purpose; and so far they combine in that one body the various elements of the representation of the colleges through the heads of houses, of the University at large through the elected members, and of the professorial element through the six professors. Well, but having done that, what do they proceed to next? Why, they proceed to create another body, whose functions I am not surprised my noble Friend touched upon very slightly in the course of his speech. I mean that body termed in the Bill Congregation. Now, my Lords, the object of the Government has been to secure "utility and promptitude of action." Observe how they secure it by Congregation. Congre- 1224 gation is to consist of all residents within the University of Oxford, including the various classes of heads of houses, tutors, and professors, and will be a body amounting to between 250 and 260 in number. It is to have two functions, and in each of those functions its action cannot fail to be injurious. First of all, it is to be a constituent assembly and is to elect the members of the Hebdomadal Council, and next, it is to form an intermediate house of—1 was going to say legislation—but I mean obstruction to legislation. Now, I want to know, in the election of the governing body of the University, upon what principle it is that the Government, who are such advocates for the extension of the representative system, and who are such eager opponents to the concentration and monopoly of power by the Hebdomadal Board and heads of houses, have confined their election of the whole governing body of the whole University to 250 or 260 out of the 2,000 or 3,000 members of Convocation, who have a deep interest in the University, although they are not resident on the spot, and who are intrusted with the hardly less important duty of electing those who are to represent the interests of the University in Parliament? You talk of the representative system, and then when you come to choose your legislative body, you not only exclude those who have been the ornament and pride of the University, who have scattered themselves over the country, have mixed with other men, and have their ideas expanded and enlarged, and who would form a most useful and valuable element in the constituency of the University; but you, who complain of the old and foolish prejudices, of the close and monkish views entertained by the University—you confine the election of the governing body wholly to those who are perpetually resident in the University, and who, if any are, must be most subject, to those unhappy influences which you condemn. What becomes first of your representative system, and next of your desire to extend the benefits of the University as widely as possible to the whole country and every department of life, when the whole of the governing body is to be elected only by those 250 or 260 persons who are immediately concerned in the affairs of the University, are resident within its walls, and are connected with its system of teaching? I say, my Lords, that as to the constituent body, to the proposal of Her Majesty's Government I infinitely pre- 1225 for the recommendations of the Royal Commissioners. But what other function, in addition to the election of the Hebdomadal Council, does Congregation perform? Really in the "unity and promptitude of action" view of the case, I think it somewhat extraordinary that the Royal Commissioners recommended that the second body should have an equal power of originating measures with the Hebdomadal Board; but the Government says to Congregation, "No, we establish you, but you shall have no power in originating measures; nay, more, you shall have no power of amending; you shall have the power of debating, but not of amending; you may debate in the English language upon the first promulgation of a Statute, but you must not make any alteration or amendment." It is said, indeed, that any member of Congregation will be able to submit to the Hebdomadal Council any amendment which he may be desirous of having carried upon the first promulgation of a Statute; but so may any of your Lord- ships; for I apprehend any one of us, in his individual capacity, may write a letter, upon the first promulgation of a Statute, to any member of the Hebdomadal Council. requesting such an alteration in that Statute as he may think desirable. When, however, an independent member of Congregation has so submitted his views previously to any discussion in Congregation upon the subject, the Hebdomadal Council may adopt his amendment, and, if so, may promulgate the new Statute; but if they do not, then the question in seven days collies before Congregation, and Congregation has then only the power of saying "aye" or "no;" and in the event of their saying "aye," the measure is not one whit further advanced than before, inasmuch as it has no power, efficacy, or validity, unless it has received the further sanction of Convocation. So much for the promptitude and facilities of legislation which are given by this Bill. What facilities can be given to the legislation of the University by the body called Convocation? It interposes an obstacle, but it will not facilitate legislation in the slightest degree. But, more than that, supposing the Hebdomadal Council should be of opinion that a particular Statute would be exceedingly acceptable to the 2,000 or 3,000 members of Convocation who take a deep interest in the affairs of the University, in that case the 250 members of Congregation may place their 1226 veto upon it, and a bare majority of these 250 persons have the power of saying to the Hebdomadal Council, "The proposition which you think would be acceptable to the University at large shall not ho submitted to them at all; we prohibit Convocation from exercising any judgment in the matter, and the Statute must go no further." Now I say, my Lords, that, for the purposes of legislation, such a body exercising such a power would be not only useless, but that it is obstructive in its character, and absolutely mischievous. My Lords, you may depend upon it that the resident members of the University, in all matters, more especially those concerning the government of the University, will always exercise a preponderating influence, notwithstanding their small numbers, over the non-residents. It is right that they should do so; but it is not right to deprive the University at large of the right of electing those by whom the University is to be governed; nor is it right to deprive them of the privilege of having submitted for their consideration and judgment those measures which the governing body of the University may consider necessary for the advantage of the University itself.
Now, my Lords, Her Majesty's Government are proposing to appoint Commissioners, to whom it was originally intended to give the absolute and uncontrolled power of legislation for the University. Some of them are men for whom I entertain the sincerest personal regard and friendship; men who have conferred the highest honour on the University, as well as upon themselves, by the success of their University career; but their appointment is to last only for a limited period;—you intrust them for the space of two years with the whole legislation of the University, but at the expiration of that time they are to have no voice in the legislation of the University, and even no vote in the election of the persons who are to form the permanent governing body of the University. How can you reconcile these contradictions? I ask your Lordships to say whether in this respect the measure proposed by the University—faultless, I do not say it was—was not more liberal, and one wore calculated to promote "unity and promptitude of action" on the part of the governing body than that which Her Majesty's Government have thought proper to substitute in its place? Before I leave this subject of the constitution, I may refer to the remarks of my noble 1227 Friend upon the alterations introduced into the Bill in the other House of Parliament as to the mode of constituting the Hebdomadal Council. My noble Friend did not say whether it was or was not the intention of Her Majesty's Government to adhere to all the changes which have been made in the Bill. With regard to two of the changes to which my noble Friend referred, he certainly assured your Lordships that it was the intention of the Government to adhere to them; but, with respect to that which relates to the constitution of the Hebdomadal Council, my noble Friend did not give your Lordships any such assurance. Now, my Lords, although the Bill has not been introduced to your Lordships by a Member of the Cabinet, still I think we ought to have received a clear and distinct intimation whether Her Majesty's Government do or do not intend to adopt the amendments introduced into the Bill in the other house of Parliament.
My Lords, the observation which I made upon the danger of the precedent set by this Bill, though that precedent may not be followed by any immediate evil, applies with the greatest possible force to that which is a prominent feature of this measure, namely, the appointment of the Commissioners who are to govern the University. I cannot but think that, though that is a fundamental principle of this Bill, and not desiring to prevent legislation on this subject in the present Session, and, looking also to the absence of any distinct declaration of opposition from the University itself, I cannot, I say, but feel that this first interference by Parliament, and this first appointment of Commissioners to superintend the legislation and conduct of the University, is a measure of very dangerous precedent, leading to future intervention by Parliament in a most mischievous manner in the affairs of the University, destructive of that independent character which the University has hitherto always enjoyed, and which I, for one, desire it may ever continue to enjoy; and it is no answer to me to say that, however objectionable the issue of such a Commission may be, and however exorbitant the powers proposed to be intrusted to them, yet the Commissioners themselves are men of unblemished honour, of great ability, great integrity, and men to whom may be safely confided functions of this nature. It may be so, and I know it is so in the present instance; but what security shall we have 1228 that in future there will always be a Government professing equal friendliness with the present towards the University, or that we shall always have Commissioners who will exercise their powers in the same wise and moderate manner as I am sure the proposed Commissioners will do. The adoption of such a Commission by Parliamentary authority, then, is, in my opinion, a most fatal blow and a dangerous precedent, whatever the immediate result may be to the future independent action of the University. But I am satisfied it is too late now to offer any opposition to that proposal—especially, as I have said, when the University itself has not manifested that sensitiveness which I should have expected in regard to such an interference with its legislative independence. The whole Bill is, however, based upon the powers to be given to the Commissioners, and therefore, though reluctantly, I abstain from opposing their appointment. I do wish to obtain a further increase of those limitations which I am glad to see the other House has placed upon the powers which the Government sought to place in the hands of these Commissioners. And here I may fitly touch upon that part of the question to which my noble Friend adverted, namely, the manner in which the functions of the Commissioners are to be administered, and the checks and control to which the exercise of those functions is to be subject. Those checks have undoubtedly been multiplied, and the powers of the Commissioners diminished in the progress of the Bill through the other House. As originally introduced, it is true, the Bill gave to the colleges and the University power to legislate to a certain extent, yet, if their measures did not satisfy the Commissioners, they were to go for nothing, their decision was to be set aside, and if they did not succeed in satisfying the Commissioners by the close of December, 1855, the Commissioners would have nothing to do but to satisfy themselves by legislating as they pleased upon the endowments, rights, and privileges of the University and the colleges. As the Bill originally stood, all the preferences were to be abolished, whether as regarded localities, founder's kin, or particular schools; and the claims of indigence were repudiated specifically and in express terms those claims of indigence for respecting which my noble Friend took so much credit for the Government, and which he wishes to encourage to a degree that would be even prejudicial, instead of beneficial, to those 1229 claims of indigence themselves. All these different claims of preference were by a clause in this Bill at first declared to be of no weight, and were to be set aside, efficiency being made the sole and exclusive test of admission to the emoluments of the University. The wills of the founders were to be disregarded, the fellowships to be remoulded and remodelled according to the will and pleasure of the Commissioners; the obligation imposed on a certain number of the fellows to take holy orders were also to be set at nought; and a number of minute and complicated details were introduced into the Bill, as well as a variety of enactments of a perfectly ridiculous and absurd character; however, inasmuch as all these provisions had been happily since struck out at one fell swoop from the Bill, upon the principle of the maxim "de mortuis nil nisi bonlon," I will not say another word about them. But my noble Friend says that the colleges, like the University, have confided to them the execution of great and important trusts, and it is but right that the State should exercise superintendence and control over their fulfilment of these trusts. Be it so; they certainly have trusts which they arc bound to execute—but what I say is, that if they do not faithfully execute their trusts, if any abuse exists, or any violation takes place of the duties and obligations they have under- taken, the founders' wills and the Statutes of the University recognise a legitimate and constituted authority in the visitors of the colleges, to whom any appeal may be made by any person who feels himself aggrieved, and whose duty it is to see that the rules of the colleges are observed, and the objects of the founders' wills complied with. Thanks to the other House of Parliament, the colleges will now be able to legislate with something more of freedom in their own concerns, and with something Ore of control over the decisions of the Commissioners; but I was glad to hear one expression drop from my noble Friend, and I hope that it is indicative of the feeling of the Government; I allude to the sentence in which he observed that the colleges would now be entitled to legislate, of course with the consent of the visitors. In the Bill as it stands there is no "of course," and it is the object of one of the Amendments which I propose to introduce if this Bill goes into Committee, and to which I am confident I shall have the support of my noble Friend, to provide that the legislation of the colleges in respect to their 1230 Statutes shall require to have the consent and concurrence of the visitors to give it force and validity. Undoubtedly, the colleges have the power of negativing, to a certain extent, the recommendation and the legislation of the Commissioners; but that can only be exercised if two-thirds of the governing body of the college declare, under hand and seal, that the legislation would be injurious to the college as a place of learning and of education. Now, it is quite possible that the Commissioners may pass Statutes which a college may not be able to certify—which, at all events, it may not be able to certify by two-thirds of its governing body—would be injurious to the college as a place of learning and education; and yet these Statutes might be highly objectionable, and might inflict serious evil upon certain parties, and such as they would never think of passing themselves. There are other checks upon the powers of the Commissioners included in the present Bill, with respect to which it will be my duty to submit my views to your Lordships in Committee, but with which I will not now trouble you, as I wish now to deal mainly with the principles and the salient points of the Bill. Yet I must call the attention of your Lordships to the proviso in the 4th clause. I think it right that the Commissioners should have power to inspect all college documents, such as deeds and founders' wills, and one of the strongest grounds—in my opinion the only strong ground—upon which this Commission has been vindicated, is that certain colleges in the University are bound by solemn oath not to propose or consent to any alteration whatever in the Statutes. I think the Bill is perfectly right in abolishing, for the future, the obligation of all these oaths, and leaving the colleges unrestricted in this respect; and if the Bill consisted of only these two provisions, namely, one for enabling the governing body of the University to reform itself in friendly communication with Her Majesty's Government, and the other a permissive power to the colleges to deal with the existing Statutes for the future, notwith standing, the obligation, which should be declared hereafter illegal, I could see no objection to the Bill, and believe it would pass with the concurrence of all parties. Entertaining this opinion, I cannot help thinking, however, that the 4th clause carries the principle too far, because, while empowering the Commissioners to inspect college documents, and even within 1231 a limited period to go back and investigate the accounts of the college, yet the concluding words enact that no oath previously taken by the members of the college, however sanctioned by time and recognised by law, shall be pleadable in bar of the obligation to answer any question that the Commissioners may put to them. That I think will be a serious blow to the freedom of conscience, and may involve very great difficulties, because it will be impossible to argue that when a man conscientiously believes that he has taken an oath which was recognised by the law of the land, and binding upon him to all time, any legislation by Parliament, however it may alter future oaths, will absolve him from the violation of a solemn obligation which he has previously undertaken.
My Lords, I pass next to another and very important part of the Bill, on which I regret to find that my noble Friend opposite has expressed on the part of the Government a very strong and decided opinion that nothing will induce them to consent to an alteration or modification—I mean the establishment of private halls, unconnected with the University, or with any college, and subject to the control of neither. Your Lordships will recollect that the establishment of such halls is a matter absolutely within the control and competency of the University now, which, if it thought fit, could establish them to-morrow, without requiring any additional powers from Parliament for that purpose. But if you appeal not to the Hebdomadal Board, nor to your new Hebdomadal Council, nor to the Congregation consisting only of residents, but to the whole Convocation, residents and non-residents, you would find them to be almost unanimous in their deprecation of this measure. My noble Friend says that the main object in the establishment of these private halls is to afford greater facilities for the more economical education of the poorer class of students. Now, I think for the poorer class of students, the University is not a fitting place for them to resort to for the purposes of education. [Viscount CANNING said, that the noble Earl had misunderstood the grounds on which he had advocated the establishment of private halls.] Well, if not by my noble Friend, yet there can be no doubt that one of the main recommendations of the establishment of private halls is the assumption that poor students would obtain a cheaper education there than they can get in the more expensive college. In 1232 passing slightly over this question, allow me to remark that I do not think any inference can be drawn as to the failure of the University to perform its duty, because there is a small number of persons compared with the whole of the educated classes of the country who pass through the University. Recollect the period at which education commences at the University is not till seventeen, and in most cases eighteen years of age; and with the exception of persons of leisure and ample means, who do not apply themselves early to any profession, and with the exception of persons intended fur the Church, of which I hope the University will always continue the nursery—with these exceptions, and also that of other young men who are preparing for the other liberal professions—the bar, for instance—the great body of the comparatively educated classes of this country have to enter the struggle of active life at seventeen and eighteen, or to prepare themselves by the time they have attained that age by actual employment in their chosen avocation. And in various parts of the country there are commercial schools for the middle classes where a valuable description of education is given up to a certain period of life; but very few who enter those schools remain there till the age when it would be natural for them to go to the University to finish their education. Consequently, it can be no matter for surprise, even if more ample accommodation were provided at the Universities by the extension of existing or the establishment of new colleges, that a comparatively small proportion of those who have early in life to make their way in the world by the active prosecution of a profession enter the University, whatever advantages the University may hold out to persons differently circumstanced. As regards the question of cheapness, I can assure my noble Friend that he has very greatly exaggerated the necessary or even the probable expenses of the great body of young men at the University—I mean those expenses that arc strictly chargeable to the University and the colleges, and not those which the greater wealth of the parents, and perhaps the folly and imprudence of the young men themselves, lead some of the students into. These latter are not to be taken into account in striking the average expense of an education at the University. Now, without going so far as the case of the servitors of Christ Church (among whom there have been men who have attained high honours), 1233 and whose board and education cost very little over a guinea per week, I am quite sure that many and many a young man passes through the University and attains its highest honours, whose expenses and subscriptions of all kinds—including even board—for a University education, do not exceed from 100l. to 120l. a year; and I am satisfied that I am speaking much within the bounds when I say that the average expenditure of young men for this purpose, which my noble Friend estimates at 600l., certainly does not reach beyond one-half of the amount he has stated. It is impossible that private masters, setting up establishments within the town and neighbourhood of Oxford, can give these young men either as good or as cheap an education as they can obtain at the present moment. And why is this so? There is nothing more clear or more universally recognised than that the larger the establishment the more cheaply it can provide for the maintenance of all its members. But, further, the colleges have endowments which make the education of part of their body, comparatively speaking, gratuitous. The other members pay, some of whom purchase greater luxuries and comforts; and the produce goes to the benefit of the college; and the poorer students, out of the superfluities which the others disburse, enjoy the means of education, and receive advantages which, but for that superfluity, they could nut obtain. Well, sanction these private halls, and in the first place you will benefit not the poor, but the rich, whilst young men in a higher station, who combine the advantages of a private tutor with a residence in college, will, regardless of additional expense, be sent to study with their tutors at their private halls, and will be exempt from all college discipline. If these young men arc withdrawn from the colleges, and confined not to private, but to public lodgings, as they will be, you will, as I have said, deprive the poorer students of the advantage of the contributions of the wealthier portion. But, further, I say, unhesitatingly, that the poor students cannot obtain as good an education in these private halls as they do in the colleges. The complaint against the colleges now is, that the tutors are not able to give instruction in the various and increasing branches of knowledge which are now becoming necessary parts of education, and which are essential to the immediate object of the University studies, namely, the attainment of a degree. It is said that the largest colleges cannot 1234 supply teachers qualified to give instruction in mathematics, in modern history as well as ancient, and in the several sciences—chemistry, for example—as well as in classics. Well, how will young men, placed under the superintendence of a single master of arts in a private hall, and who cannot avail themselves of the services of any one of the tutors of colleges, be able to receive adequate instruction in all the various branches of study requisite in the present day? You throw them on the only resources of the single tutor in whose house they happen to board, and leave them to attain such knowledge as they can imperfectly and perfunctorily pick up by attending the lectures of professors, whom it is not, as I am happy to find, the chief object of the Government, although it has always been a great object with the Commissioners, to substitute, to a great extent, for the college tutors. I object to this proceeding, because, not only will these halls not give a good or an economical classical and scientific education, but they will altogether subvert and destroy the discipline of tile University. You withdraw a certain number of the young men from time control of the University and college authorities, and thus establish a distinction between them and the other members of the University, which, in itself, is highly mischievous, but which also, by their relaxation from the bonds of discipline, will render the members of the other colleges dissatisfied with the restraint to which they are subjected, and thereby interpose a most serious obstacle to the effective management of the University itself. You say it is true that these houses shall not come into operation till the University has passed certain regulations for their management; but I believe the University will encounter insuperable difficulties in attempting to regulate these private halls. For example, take divine worship. What provision is it possible for the University to make for that—which I presume will be conducted according to the practice of the Church of England—and which is to take place, remember, not in the college chapel, or under college authority, but in lodging-houses, where a single master of arts has the superintendence of two, three, or four young men who are living with him? Again, is there any discretionary power vested in the Vice Chancellor, or any other person, as to the refusal to sanction the establishment of these houses by any individual master of arts, however objectionable 1235 he might be. Not at all. Any master of arts has the right to claim leave to set up one of these independent halls in any place within a mile and a half of the centre of Oxford—a limit which those who know anything of Oxford must perceive will allow of young men being placed in the most objectionable parts of that city. Besides, this rule would admit of the establishment of halls as far out as the surrounding country districts, and consequently would take them out of the control and direction of the University authorities. Yet one of the advantages of the University of Oxford is found in the great concentration of the colleges, and the close proximity of one college to another, by means of which all the habitual places of resort and haunts of the students were immediately under the eye and control of the authorities to whom the care of their discipline was intrusted. To give a limit of a mile and a half to young men would be withdrawing them from the beneficial influence and control which are supposed to be exercised by the concentrated association of the colleges. But if masters of arts were to be required to superintend private halls scattered about the rural parishes a mile and a half round, I have heard it jocularly remarked that it will be necessary to give the proctors a stud of four or five horses to enable them to go and see what the young men are about. My noble Friend says that one great object of the Bill is University extension. The extension of the University is no doubt a very important object, but I contend that it may be attained wholly irrespective of these private halls, which it is sought to withdraw from the supervision of the University. My noble Friend says that since the introduction of this Bill, and (arguing, I suppose, on the principle of "post hoc, ergo propter hoc") on account of this Bill, the University authorities have taken certain steps to increase the amount of accommodation for students. But what is it they have done? They have signified their wish to establish affiliated halls—that is, buildings connected with particular colleges, and to be under the superintendence of a master of arts, where—not their education—but their board will be had on a more economical scale; the members, however, to be subject to the supervision and discipline of the colleges. They have further sanctioned—even the heads of houses have sanctioned and recommended to Convocation the presentation of a subscription 1236 of 25,000l. towards the establishment of an independent college for the poorer class of students, if such persons should choose to avail themselves of such an institution—but with this proviso, that the establishment shall be conducted according to the principle and practice of the University. They have gone further than that; learning that there are some parents who are desirous of giving their sons a University education, and of residing themselves at Oxford in order to retain them tinder their own guidance and control, the University authorities have given their sanction to this system. A noble Friend of mine informs me that this practice has prevailed very advantageously at Dublin University, and that lie himself was educated under this system. Well, there is not the slightest objection on the part of the University to the adoption of the system; nay, more, a Statute has been passed to carry the system into effect. If there was any family who, from motives of economy, was desirous of leaving their own homes and taking up their residence in Oxford, there was nothing to prevent any young man belonging to that family availing himself of the advantage of the University, while still remaining under paternal control, provided he became a member of a college, and became associated with and subjected to the discipline of the University. These were the measures which the University have sanctioned, and to which, as far as the governing body is concerned, there is no objection whatever. I ask, then, whether there is even now any limit to the establishing of halls, provided always that those halls are subject to University discipline? The introduction of these private halls to be conducted by masters of arts, without being subjected to the control or discipline of the colleges or of the University, is a principle most dangerous to lie admitted; but it becomes infinitely more dangerous when you connect it with another provision of the Bill which renders it unnecessary for any member of the University to take an oath either on matriculation or on taking a degree. These two propositions being viewed together, each must have a material effect upon the operation and the working of the other. If you sanction the establishment of these private halls under the control of masters of arts, but not subjected to college rules or to the obligations required by the University, and, above all, not subjected to those rules which practically enforce education upon 1237 the principles of the Church of England—if you allow these halls to be established, and to become the nurseries of dissent—if masters of arts (many of whom, unfortunately, have fallen off from the Church of England, and too many of whom would be found ready to admit persons of all kinds of Dissenting communities to congregate in their halls)—I say that if you sanction such a system as this, you will introduce not only confusion into the body, but such a state of things as must be absolutely destructive to the whole system of the University.
Having thus expressed my views upon the propositions contained in the Bill, I pass on to state frankly the opinions I myself—and without speaking for any one else—entertain on some of these points. I have always held that the imposition upon a young man of seventeen or eighteen of the obligation to subscribe to the Thirty-nine Articles on his first entrance to the University is, not as bearing on the Dissenters simply, but on the members of the Church of England themselves, to say the least of it, a most injudicious proceeding. I go further, and say it is trifling with a very solemn and a very serious matter. I think, moreover, that no injury would result to the University, but the contrary, if young men whose parents may have been Dissenters from the Church of England had not the door of the University shut in their faces, provided they were willing to become members of it, to submit to and adopt its rules, and to observe its obligations. I think many young men would come, as many must come, with their minds not fully made up, but who, while nominally Dissenters, would, by mixing with men of different feelings and opinions, have those prejudices worn away which they had imbibed in their father's house, and would discover that there was not so broad a difference between the various sects of religionists as they had been taught to believe. It often happens that only one single difference of opinion constituted the ground of dissent, that single point of difference being the one constantly brought prominently forward at the family board against the Church of England. Many men may enter, nay, many men have entered, the Universities nominally as Dissenters, but who have left it as sincerely attached members of the Church of England as any of your Lordships. But, in saying I wish not to be misunderstood. I object to placing this preliminary, 1238 bar in the way of the admission of young men, whether belonging to the Church of England or being Dissenters, to the instruction to be obtained at the Universities. I feel that it is an obstacle which ought not to be imposed in their way. But if I thought the effect of this or the succeeding clause was in the slightest degree to dissociate the University and the colleges from their close and intimate connection with the Church of England—if I thought that it could in the slightest degree countenance any pretext on the part of the Dissenters, that for the purpose of accommodating their views the principles and practices of the University were to be altered, I then should look on this question in a very different light; and as I am desirous of removing the bar to their admission, so 1 am equally sincerely, cordially, and determinedly opposed to the severance of the intimate and close connection between the University and the Established Church. I confess if anything could induce me to take a different view of this question from that which I am disposed to take, it would have been the argument by which my noble Friend advocated the two clauses which were inserted after the third reading of the Bill in the House of Commons. The argument of my noble Friend was, that the Dissenters were powerful in regard to numbers, that they had rendered valuable services at the bar, in Parliament, in the camp, and in various other departments of the State, and that, therefore, they had a right to claim a participation in the advantages of the University, and that, consequently, the University ought to alter their system of teaching in such a manner as might meet their peculiar views. That is a principle I never for a moment will sanction. I never will sacrifice the inestimable advantage of having the two Universities of Oxford and Cambridge as nurseries for the Church of England, and for the raising up of men who, on comparatively easy terms, have the means of associating with persons of all ranks and degrees of life, and who subsequently go forth to discharge all those sacred duties which they have first been taught by the faithful training in the Universities, and where the connections that they have formed will be a source of gratification to them through life. Therefore, my Lords, I shall require from Her Majesty's Government, before I proceed to vote for the two clauses to which I have been alluding, a distinct declaration that in their judgment 1239 no such consequences as I have described will follow, or that it is intended as a consequence of admitting Dissenters to the University to demand and claim an alteration in the system of teaching. I call upon Her Majesty's Ministers to declare that the clauses will not give to any Dissenter any control, power, or authority, over the discipline, teaching, or government of the University. I wish to learn from them how the degree of bachelor of arts is guarded in this respec—whether there are not fellowships in the colleges which, if this clause passes, may not be given to Dissenters—whether there will be a protection against this result in the Act of Uniformity—whether they are prepared to insert a proviso to preclude it, in conformity with what I believe is the practice at Cambridge; and I want to know further from them whether, in sanctioning the granting of degrees of bachelors to Dissenters, they do not give them a claim to be appointed to the masterships of many endowed schools in this country where the object of the founder in requiring the masters to be bachelors of arts in one of the Universities was practically for the purpose of securing that they should be members of the Church of England. I hope we shall have a satisfactory explanation from the Government on all these subjects; and on that explanation may depend the vote which I shall give, certainly with regard to the second, and perhaps even with regard to the first of these clauses. But this I say, that these clauses assume a very different character, if this House should unfortunately and unhappily sanction the establishment of private halls. Although I am ready to admit that the intermixture of a small and unimportant portion of Dissenters among the colleges, to whose rules they were subject, might be unobjectionable, I am not prepared to establish in these private halls congregations of dissenting young men in the centre of the University, or to encourage the propagation in Oxford, either of Protestant dissent on the one hand, or the inculcation of Roman Catholic opinions on the other. I am aware that I am troubling your Lordship at very great length, and therefore I will only further observe that in the Amendments I propose to submit to your Lordships in Committee, which I shall probably put in to-night, my principal object will be to impose further restrictions upon the arbitrary power of the Commissioners, to provide further checks against mismanagement, to 1240 give greater weight and influence than in some cases is given by the Bill, or rather taken away by it, to the voice and opinions of the visitors of the several colleges; and, above all, to provide that in your legislation you shall adhere—I will not say strictly—to all the obligations and all the injunctions of the wills of founders—but that you shall most scrupulously and carefully guard against altering the disposition of the trust funds of the University and the fundamental Statutes of the colleges by provisions that shall not be consistent with the main and principal designs of founders. Subject to that limitation, I for one do not object to any amount of extension which the colleges and the University may give in order to render them more practically useful, to free them from obsolete and onerous obligations, to extend and increase, as they are daily doing, the range of study and the amount of instruction, and, if it be possible, to embrace within their walls and subject to their discipline a larger portion of the population. I earnestly hope that by the joint endeavours of this and the other House of Parliament—though I consider the measure as involving a mischievous and dangerous principle which cannot be eradicated—this Bill may be so amended as to have much of the evils which it originally contained removed from it, and that many of the benefits originally contemplated may be confirmed and carried into effect. I am convinced that these Amendments will, at least, make the measure more desirable than if the Bill had been passed in its original state. At all events, I am sure your Lordships will agree with me in the hope that this question may be closed once and for all, and that Parliament should not be called upon year after year to follow the dangerous principle of interfering with the internal management of the Universities. In that hope and in that expectation, however strong may be my objection to the principles of the Bill, I am content to wave that objection, so far as not to refuse toy assent to, but to concur in the second reading of the Bill.
§ VISCOUNT CANNING,
in reply, said his noble Friend had misrepresented, unintentionally, what he had said in respect to the admission of Dissenters. He said this—that the University being in connection with the State, being under great obligations to the State, and having by general admission, if not by law, an important duty to discharge towards the 1241 State in the business of educating the State's sons, he put it as a fair claim on the part of the State that the University should admit to her teaching those who were destined to serve the State hereafter, though they might not be members of the Church of England; that this was no more than a fair claim, to which the University should accede so soon as, but no sooner than, she was assured that in so acceding, she did not imperil the teaching of the doctrines of the Church. With regard to private halls, his noble Friend was mistaken as to the effect of the measure. His noble Friend said that this provision offered to men who seceded from the Church of England, and joined the Church of Rome, the opportunity of establishing themselves in the University, to carry on the teaching of youth there in such a manner as would answer their purpose. But his noble Friend would see that this possibility had been provided against, for in the very first line of the clause alluded to it was required that any person applying for a licence must, as a master of arts, be a member of a Convocation. There was a test required from members of Convocation. No person could be a Roman Catholic and a member of Convocation. What, then, became of his noble Friend's allegation? It fell to the ground. With regard to the clause affecting fellowships and scholarships connected with public schools, it was probable that he should, on the part of the Government, have to propose an Amendment, but he was not at present prepared to state the terms of it.
On Question, agreed to; Bill read 2a accordingly; and committed to a Committee of the whole House To-morrow.
House adjourned till To-morrow.