HL Deb 04 July 1856 vol 143 cc309-19

House in Committee (according to Order).

Clauses 1 to 5 agreed to.

On Clause 6,

LORD LYTTELTON rose to move two Amendments, the first that the limit requiring the Members of the Council of the Senate should be elected from the electoral roll should be removed; and the object of this Amendment was to assimilate this Bill to the Oxford Act. The electoral roll in the Cambridge Bill corresponded with the Congregation in the Act relating to the sister University, and in that Act there was no limitation requiring that the Hebdomadal Council should be members of Congregation, but simply that they should be members of the Senate. It had further been suggested to him that there was a safeguard against the non-residence of the members of the Senate in the Oxford Act, which it might be well to adopt in the present case, and if he carried his Amendment in reference to the electoral body, he should move to add the proviso from the Oxford Act, which enacted that if any member of the Senate other than the Chancellor should reside at the University for a less period than fourteen weeks in any one year, his seat should be declared void and become vacant.


opposed the Amendment, thinking it would involve unnecessary complications in the working of the Bill.

Amendment negatived; Clause agreed to.

Clauses 7 to 30 agreed to.

On Clause 31, providing that the Commissioners may frame University statutes,


said, he could not at all see why Cambridge should be treated so differently from Oxford in respect to the legislative powers given to the Commissioners. In the Oxford Act no such general powers were given, but by the Cambridge Bill the Commissioners might, for a period of two years, frame statutes for any of the purposes mentioned in the preceding clauses, in case the University itself should not have done so. Now, he did not propose to take away that power, but the clause provided that only statutes passed by the Commissioners affecting certain gifts or endowments should be laid before the Council of the Senate. He thought this limitation ought not to exist, and that all the statutes framed by the Commissioners should be laid before this body. He therefore proposed the omission from the clause of the words which restricted the statutes to be so submitted to the Council of the Senate to such "as shall be for the altering or modifying any of the said trusts, statutes, or directions affecting any gifts or endowment held or enjoyed by the University, or by any professor, lecturer, reader, preacher, or scholar therein, or the said endowments of Lady Sadler, or of the offices of Christain Preacher and Christian Advocate, or of William Worts."


opposed the Amendment.

After a few words from the Earl of Powis,

On Question, that the words proposed to be left out stand part of the Question, their Lordships divided:—Content, 26; Not Content, 51: Majority, 25.

Clause, as amended, agreed to.

On Clause 44 (That it shall not be necessary to make a declaration or take an oath on matriculating or taking a degree).


said, it was his intention to move an Amendment for restoring the clause to the state in which it was originally proposed to the House of Commons, by reinserting the words which had been struck out in Committee, excluding Dissenters from seats in the Senate of the University. He would remind their Lordships that the alteration was carried by a very small majority in a very small House. Their Lordships would understand the effect of the alteration. It was to admit Dissenters from the Church of England to the Senate—that was, to the governing body of the University. That body passed the laws of the University; it elected the Council of the University; it elected the officers of the University, and among other officers those connected with religion and with religious education. The question, therefore, was one of very great importance. They all understood the close connection that existed between the Universities and the Church of England. The whole ministration of the Church proceeded from the Universities. It was a most important thing, therefore, to take care that those who governed the University should be members of the Church of England. If their Lordships adopted this change, they would be adopting a most important alteration; and they might depend upon it, it would have a decided influence upon the religion of the country. He would, therefore, earnestly recommend their Lordships to reinsert the words which had been struck out of the clause. He would repeat that the alteration was made in a comparatively small House, and was carried by a small majority, and carried by surprise. He thought it impossible that the Government, in the other House of Parliament, could sanction this change. His belief was, that the Government was on that occasion also taken by surprise. But with respect to the nature of the Amendment itself, he did not wish to rely upon his own opinion. He had been much struck with certain observations which he had understood to have been used in another place with regard to the Amendment which was there carried. An hon. Member had said that— The effect of the Amendment would be to confer upon Dissenters who took the higher degrees a right of interference in the affairs of the University and a vote for Members of Parliament. He feared that it would mar the usefulness of the Bill by exciting a feeling of hostility and alarm in the minds of those whose co-operation was necessary for the efficient working of the measure. It must not be forgotten that there was a strong connexion between the Church of England and the Universities, and a proposal to allow Dissenters to interfere in fixing the theological studies to be pursued in those Universities would excite great alarm in the minds of many persons. He opposed the Amendment, believing that it would tend to impair the practical usefulness of the Bill."—[3 Hansard, cxlij. 1755.] Now, with those observations he entirely concurred. They were observations ascribed, and he believed justly ascribed, to a Member of Her Majesty's Government (Mr. Bouverie), that Member being the Gentleman who had charge of the Bill in the other House of Parliament; and he thought, therefore, that, taking those observations in connection with the fact that the Vote in the other House of Parliament was obtained by surprise, their Lordships would agree to the restoration of those words in the clause which prevented Dissenters from taking any part in the government of the University of Cambridge which had been expunged in the other House of Parliament. The noble and learned Lord concluded by moving, as an Amendment, the restoration of certain words in the clause, the effect of which was to prevent Dissenters taking part in the government of the University.


said, he would admit that it was true that such a restriction was contained in the Bill which was before their Lordships two years ago, and also that the Bill which had been introduced in the other House of Parliament during the present Session contained the words which the noble and learned Lord now wished to restore. For his own part, he should have been perfectly satisfied with the Bill if those words had been retained; but, as they had been struck out by the House of Commons, he ventured to submit to their Lordships, that unless it could be clearly shown that their omission created any serious evil, or gave rise to any real apprehension of danger to the Church of England, it would not be advantageous that upon a question of this description their Lordships should place themselves in antagonism with the other House of Parliament. [Lord LYNDHURST: There is no such omission from the Oxford Bill.] There was not; but still it would not be creditable to their Lordships to place themselves in antagonism with the House of Commons on the subject. It was only a fortnight back since an argument was pressed upon their Lordships which appeared to him to be germane to the present question. The noble and learned Lord opposite them occupied the attention of their Lordships for a length of time upon a question upon which he regretted to say that he was defeated, and the argument employed by the noble and learned Lord was singularly applicable to the present question. If it were not dangerous—and the noble and learned Lord argued that it was not—to the Christian legislation of the country to admit Jews into Parliament, surely it could not be dangerous to the Church of England character of the University of Cambridge to admit Dissenters into its Senate. For his own part, he believed that the admission of Dissenters would not be dangerous to the Church of England, but to the Dissenters themselves. It had been said by a popular writer—he did not know whether it was Dr. Aiken or Mrs. Barbauld—Dissenters never remained so during two generations, and they would be more likely to become members of the Established Church than to induce members of the Church to dissent from it.


said, he had a great respect for the noble and learned Lord, and also for Mrs. Barbauld, but he did not think that her opinion could be relied upon to guide the decisions of their Lordships in the present case. He regretted that the noble and learned Lord should have thought it necessary to rest his argument upon the speech made by his noble and learned Friend on a previous occasion, to the effect that the admission of Jews would not endanger the Christian character of the House of Commons. He could not tell whether his noble and learned Friend acutely felt the sarcasm, but he begged to remind the noble and learned Lord that there were many members of their Lordships' House who had not agreed in that opinion, and who, therefore, could consistently maintain that the exclusion of Dissenters from the governing body was necessary to preserve the Church of England character of the University. His noble and learned Friend (Lord Lyndhurst), on the present occasion, asked their Lordships to do, and the Government to do, that which both one and the other had declared would be most advantageous, and to adhere to a principle which they had established in the Oxford Bill. He could not conceive upon what ground the noble and learned Lord Chancellor could sanction the introduction of a Bill to amend the Oxford University Bill, and still less how the Government could reconcile themselves to adopting an important principle in one Session of Parliament, and then to be ready in the following Session to be guided upon the subject by a chance majority of the House of Commons. He would be most unwilling to see their Lordships in antagonism with the House of Commons, but upon an important principle their Lordships would be departing from their duty if they consented to abandon that which they felt to be right for any such consideration. It so happened that in the present instance, not only were the Government antagonistic to the views which they had expressed two years ago, and again during the present year, but the House of Commons had proved itself antagonistic to itself within the last two years. Two years ago, in the case of the Oxford Bill, the House of Commons decided by a large majority, and wisely decided, in favour of the admission of Dissenters to the University, but they decided also that they should not be admitted into the governing body. It was, in fact, the declarations repeatedly made in both Houses of Parliament to that effect, made and supported by the Government, which went far to reconcile the members of the University to the proposed change, because they felt that in retaining the Church of England character of the University, they would receive the support of Parliament and of Her Majesty's Government. That principle had now been reversed in a thin House of 130 or 140 Members, and then by a small majority, although it had been originally affirmed by a large majority in a House of no less than 400 Members. He would implore their Lordships not to be guided in their decision by the feeling evinced by a stolen vote of the House of Commons, nor by the willingness displayed by the Government to play fast and loose, but to adhere to the principle which they had laid down. If the principle were right with regard to Oxford, it could not be wrong with respect to Cambridge; and he earnestly trusted that their Lordships would not permit the Government to go back from the ground which they had adopted, and, out of consideration for a trifling majority of the House of Commons, to induce them to shrink from that course in a manner not creditable to their consistency.


considered that the Bill as it at present stood was more consistent with wise legislation than it would be if altered in the way proposed by the noble Lord (Lord Lyndhurst). The assimilation of system in the two Universities was not necessarily either expedient or probable. He maintained that from the earliest times there had been a wide difference between the University of Cambridge and that of Oxford with respect to Dissenters. In the days of Elizabeth, at Cambridge, a Dissenter was not excluded from taking his degree or becoming a member of the University. During the reign of James I. the authorities of the University were forced by a royal letter written from Newmarket to do that which they would not have done, except under the compulsion of a monarch who was not attached to the laws or liberties of England: long after that time the cases of Oxford and Cambridge entirely differed. The Dissenter, no doubt, had cause of complaint in both Universities; but at Cambridge the course of education was opened freely to him, and it was only upon his going up in the Senate House to take his degree that he was refused that evidence and outward recognition of the honour to which his industry and talent entitled him. But at Oxford the prohibition against Dissenters took effect in limine—it was applied when the candidate presented himself for matriculation—and the Dissenter, refusing the offered test, was not admitted to the benefits of the same education which he enjoyed at the sister University. At Oxford, education was refused to the Dissenter. At Cambridge, education was granted, but the degree was refused. This was under the old system. He contended, further, that there would be no analogy between the two Universities even if the noble and learned Lord succeeded in carrying his Amendment. By the Oxford Bill a Dissenter could take only a B.A. degree. By the present, Bill, even as amended by the noble and learned Lord, he would be admitted at Cambridge to the M.A. degree, although he would be excluded from the privileges of the Senate. The question had been argued by the Lord Chancellor upon a right principle. Could the noble Lord show any objection to the admission of Dissenters to the Senate, except the cry of exclusion, on the grounds of religious faith, which of all cries was, in his opinion, the one most abhorrent from the constitution of England? What were they afraid of? There were above 3,000 members of the Senate, and it was absurd to suppose that any real danger could arise to the Church of England from the admission of a few Dissenters to that body. But this did not rest on theory. The experiment had already been tried. Mr. Pitt, in 1793, without objection from the then exclusively Protestant Parliament of Ireland, had recommended the admission of both Dissenters and Roman Catholics to the enjoyment of the degrees conferred by the University of Dublin; and he appealed to their Lordships whether, while the result of that experiment had furnished them with the best argument against the Ultramontane doctrines entertained by a portion of the Roman Catholic party in Ireland with respect to the system of united education, they had ever heard a complaint from the Irish University or the Church arising from the intermixture of the Roman Catholics with the Protestants?


remarked that Dissenters did not form part of the governing body of the University of Dublin.


was aware of that, but that only referred to the scholarships, fellowships, and the privileges of the foundation. As Masters of Arts, the Dissenters and Churchmen were equal; they took the same degree as Churchmen, and voted for Members of Parliament in the same manner. But it was said, that by previous clauses of the Bill, they had admitted Dissenters to the advantages of the University by giving them halls. This was not a correct statement. Equality was not conceded. The creation of three separate halls was also questionable. He regretted that these halls had been established, because some inconveniences, if not dangers, might arise from the establishment of small Dissenting communities in the University, very possibly representing the extreme and exclusive opinions of that body; whereas if Dissenters were admitted fully, freely, and unreservedly to the Colleges and to the "University" itself, the tendency would be of Dissenters towards the Church, not of Churchmen towards Dissent. But he relied upon "living authorities," as well as on that of the great statesman whom he had named, and he begged their Lordships to observe that the argument which he was about to quote was not founded upon any temporary or trumpery ground, but upon eternal principles which were at all times equally just and true. The noble Earl opposite (the Earl of Derby), on the occasion of the presentation of the memorable Cambridge petition in the year 1832, said that he was confident that the Church would not be strengthened by keeping up the system of exclusion at the Universities. The noble Earl then expressed an opinion that it was not by exclusion, but by admission, that the interests of the Church were best supported. If those arguments were good then, they were equally good now. He begged to remind the noble Lord that the petition of 1832, entrusted to him (Lord Monteagle) in 1832, recommended the admission of Dissenters to a full and free admission to degrees. That petition was signed by the present Archbishop of York, the late Bishop of Lichfield, and by a distinguished Prelate now present, the Bishop of St. David's. It also bore the signatures of the Dean of Ely, and many other leading members of the Church and of the University. He could not understand how the noble and learned Lord (Lord Lyndhurst) could consistently advocate the admission of those who were not Christians to the Legislature of this country, and at the same time object to the admission of a Dissenting Christian as one of the Senate of the University of Cambridge. He could not admit that the alteration in the Bill which admitted Dissenters to the Senate on terms of perfect equality was carried in the other House by surprise, since the Amendment upon which the Vote was taken had been printed and placed in the usual manner in the hands of Members, and in fact two divisions took place upon it. The House of Commons might have reversed its vote on the third reading, had it been carried by surprise; but, on the contrary, it was acquiesced in, without division, and the House unanimously passed the Bill with the Amendment. He implored their Lordships not to unsettle this question afresh by agreeing to the Motion of the noble and learned Lord. This was only continuing a cause of irritation, and it was certain that an imperfect concession would lead to a protracted struggle, which could only terminate by the concession of a just demand of that which was now unwisely refused. He would feel it to be his duty to take the sense of the House against the proposal of the noble Lord, and in favour of the Amendment introduced by the House of Commons, thus rendering the admission of Dissenters into the Senate final and satisfactory.


said, that the noble Lord had quoted from a speech of his delivered twenty-four years ago, which represented him as having been opposed to the system of exclusion, and pledged to the question under their Lorships' consideration—namely, whether the Dissenters ought to be admitted to the governing body of the Universities. He adhered to the opinion he then expressed, that Dissenting youths ought not to be excluded from the benefits of a University education; and to the imposition of an oath on matriculation he had always objected; but that had nothing to do with the admission of the Dissenters to the governing body of the University; and if the noble Lord had read the whole of his speech he would have found that he proceeded to state that he would not enter upon details as to how far and in what manner it might be desirable to modify the admission of Dissenters—whether they ought to be admitted to all the honours and none of the powers of Government, and whether there should be any restriction with regard to the internal government of the University. Their Lordships would therefore see that he had carefully guarded himself then, as he guarded himself now, against declaring his opinion with respect to the modifications or relaxations under which Dissenters ought to be admitted to all the privileges of the University. He had always said Dissenters ought to be admitted to matriculation and to the bachelor's degree; but he did not think they ought to be included in the government of the University, and in favour of that opinion there had been recorded during the present Session the vote and opinion of almost every Member of the Government in the House of Commons, including the Prime Minister himself.


said, he did not feel himself bound by his recollection of the petition to which the noble Lord (Lord Monteagle) had alluded, and which he (the Bishop of St. David's) had had the pleasure of signing, since he did not remember that one of the objects of that petition was to give the Dissenters a share in the governing body of the University. He desired to extend to Dissenters the fullest share in the honours of the University that was consistent with the principles of its constitution in connection with the Church of England. He did not think that a change so important should have been introduced into the Bill in the House of Commons in the manner which had been described. At the same time he did not believe that the clause, as it stood, would enable Dissenters at the University of Cambridge to exercise any injurious influence on the government of the University, because their numbers were very small and insignificant in proportion to the numbers of members of the Established Church. To the Dissenters, therefore, the boon in question was of the smallest possible value. The alteration proposed would not deprive them of that which would confer upon the Dissenters any substantial power, but it might infuse elements of discord and ill-feeling into the University. It was with very great reluctance, because he shrank from the appearance of withholding from the Dissenters any privileges which might be safely and usefully conferred, that he dissented from a change which he believed would be to them perfectly useless, while it would have a detrimental effect on the social state of the University, and give members of other Universities some right to complain.

On Question their Lordships divided:—Content 73; Not Content 26: Majority 47.

List of the CONTENT.
Beaufort Camden
Buccleuch Exeter
Cleveland Salisbury
Richmond Winchester
EARLS. Melville
Aberdeen St. Vincent
Bantry Bangor
Bathurst Lichfield
Beauchamp Salisbury
Bradford St. David's
Chichester BARONS.
Delawarr Abinger
Derby Bagot
Donoughmore Bayning
Egmont Boston
Galloway Berners
Hardwicke Churchill
Harrington Clarina
Haddington Clinton
Lanesborough Colville of Culross
Lucan Denman
Mansfield Delamere
Morton De Ros
Nelson Dynevor
Powis Dunsandle
Portarlington Feversham
Shaftesbury Gray
Stanhope Kenyon
Sheffield Lyndhurst
Verulam Lyttelton
Wilton Redesdale
Bangor Southampton
Dungannon Tenterden
Doneraile Walsingham
Gage Willoughby de Broke
Middleton Wynford
List of the NOT CONTENT.
The Lord Chancellor Strangford
DUKE. Sydney
Argyll BARONS.
Ailesbury Byron
Headfort Campbell
Lansdowne Congleton
Sligo Dacre
Westminster Foley
EARLS. Monteagle
Besborough Panmure
Granard Rivers
Harrowby Saye and Sele
VISCOUNTS. Stanley of Alderley
Falkland Wrottesley

Amendment agreed to.

Further Amendments made: The Report thereof to be received on Monday next.

House adjourned to Monday next.