HL Deb 13 June 1871 vol 206 cc1962-73

Commons' Amendments to the Lords' Amendments, and Commons' Reasons for disagreeing from some of the Amendments made by the Lords considered (according to Order).


trusted their Lordships would not insist on the retention of the clause which they had inserted in the Bill, and to which the Commons disagree. The clause in question—Clause A—raised a most important issue, for it proposed to impose a "negative test," as it had been called—a certain form of declaration—on persons admitted to tutorial offices in colleges. He had seen with as much regret as surprise that the noble Marquess opposite (the Marquess of Salisbury) had given Notice of his intention to divide the House in favour of the retention of the clause. The clause was only carried by the narrow majority of 71 to 66 —a majority of 5 votes only; while in the other House it was disagreed from without a division. And though he was far from saying that their Lordships should renounce their independent opinion merely because the other House took a different view, it was not unfair or unconstitutional to ask that when one House had so decided an opinion that there was practical unanimity, while the other was nearly equally divided in opinion, the latter should give way, and not insist upon the Amendment they had inserted.


said, he could not agree with the somewhat summary view of the noble Earl who had so curtly addressed their Lordships, that whenever the House passed anything without a division it was the duty of this House to accept it. [The Earl of KIMBERLEY denied that he had said so.] He saw no reason why they should assume from the absence of a division in the Commons that their feeling was unanimous, for it was notorious that it was not so. When a party in any legislative Assembly felt themselves to be enormously over-matched, it was not uncommon for them to save their opponents the trouble of a division;—an instance of which occurred only last light, when the noble Earl (Earl Russell) though refusing to withdraw his Motion, in reference to the Treaty of Washington, did not press it to a division, because he knew he was in a minority. He had been assured, moreover, by two Members of the other House that the absence of a division was owing to a misunderstanding, and that it was not to be inferred that no portion of the House desired to support the clause. He freely admitted that, intended as a compromise between two opposing forces, the Amendment had, like all compromises, being little popular with the party from whom it took something, while it had not been accepted by the other to whom it refused something they demanded. The support it received had consequently been small. It was a declaration which did not satisfy the extreme and unbending friends of the Church of England. The time, he thought, had come when in matters of education we might look to our real enemies instead of to traditional conflicts, and might combine our forces in an attempt to exclude the unbeliever to whom we were all opposed, instead of wasting our scattered forces in internal divisions. That such a course would commend itself to the extremists on either side he never flattered himself; but he had hoped the Amendment would have received greater support from those Dissenters—and he believed that out of the House of Commons they were the enormous majority—who aimed at something else than the humiliation of the Church of England. But although it was true the Amendment had found no favour in the House of Commons, whether it would meet with favour from the country it was impossible to tell until the country had had an opportunity of discussing, not the particular phraseology of this declaration, but the great question whether, apart from all controversy as to the prerogatives of the Church, the Christian character of the education given in our Universities should be preserved. This had not been fairly submitted to the people; and he was not prepared to accept the voice of partizans in the House of Commons as showing what their decision would be. He did not feel himself justified by the smallness of the majority in this House in withdrawing from their Lordships an opportunity of determining whether or not they would insist on a declaration which they must have known from the outset would not be welcome to the majority of the House of Commons. The noble Earl (the Earl of Kimberley) had alluded to the smallness of the majority by which the clause had been carried in their Lordships' House; but he would remind the noble Earl that Lord Melbourne, when once twitted with having only a majority of 1, replied that it was, at all events, rather more than the other side—an answer which had the advantage of being an arithmetical fact. The consideration which weighed with him in asking their Lordships to insist on this Amendment was that this was not a mere trivial Amendment, but was the assertion of a great principle, and that it was not for him to assume the responsibility of deciding whether the House should recede from it. Originally, he would remind them, these colleges had the right of electing whom they pleased to form part of their own body; but Parliament had decided that they should elect simply by competitive examination—in other words, that a retentive memory should be the only qualification required to constitute the teachers of English youth. A fellowship was either a reward or an opportunity of teaching. As a reward it was not combated that a retentive memory should be the criterion; but he demurred to the assertion that this alone should be a qulification for the office of teaching:—and now that the test which had hitherto been imposed on fellows was to be repealed, he asked that tutors should declare that they would avoid teaching in opposition to the inspiration and Divine authority of the Holy Scriptures, which everybody in this House admitted to be their duty. The declaration had been objected to as vague and as offending tender consciences; but the House of Commons might have suggested another:—and that it would be a burden on tender consciences was sufficiently refuted by the numberless cases in which persons undertaking an office had to declare that they would perform the duties which it involved. He was conscious that this was not the only security which could be devised for the preservation of religious teaching and the existence of religious teachers in the Universities, and had the Government or the House of Commons shown any inclination to enter into discussion on these points he should have been glad to find some means less objectionable to them of attaining the object in view; but as they had simply and bluntly refused all securities for the exclusion of infidelity or the continuance of a class of religious teachers, he had no choice but to ask their Lordships to re-affirm the principle and to throw upon the Commons, if they would not meet them, the responsibility of a refusal. It was to the principle and not to the form that he adhered, and he believed the principle to be dear to the English people, for in the recent election of school boards they had reaffirmed it by large majorities with as much vigour and determination as at any previous period of our history. Their Lordships would be abdicating their duties and renouncing that guardianship of the essential principles of our institutions which specially belonged to them if, out of fear of the majority of the House of Commons, which appeared to be guided by catchwords more than by principles, they receded from the determination they arrived at the other night.

Moved, to insist on Clause A to which the Commons disagree.—(The Marquess of Salisbury.)


said, he was surprised that a statesman of the noble Marquess' ability should ask their Lordships to insist on an Amendment which had been adopted by their Lordships' House by a very small majority, and which found no supporters in the other. He did not think the noble Marquess had quoted quite correctly Lord Melbourne's answer, which was that a majority of 1 was the surest in the world; that every man would attach so much importance to himself as to consider that he was the one man, and would be certain to be in his place. Whether the noble Marquess' majority would be equally steadfast he was not so certain. He objected to this new test as vague, indiscriminate, and indecisive to the last degree; and for his own part he must say he should prefer subscription to the Thirty-nine Articles, because from habit and frequent study men were willing to subscribe to them as each understood them. In the Select Committee it was proposed to debar tutors from impugning the divinity of Christ—a doctrine which was clearly understood—and this would have excluded Unitarians; but it was very properly asked whether it was fair to exclude one particular sect, and the proposal was negatived. The House of Commons had done everything they could to conciliate their Lordships, but their Lordships had responded to this by sending down a declaration that tutors should not impugn the teaching of the Holy Scriptures. Now, there had been disputes of late years on the right rev. bench, in the Privy Council, and among the public as to what doctrines were scriptural and what were not, and a vaguer test could not be devised. If their Lordships insisted upon it the Bill would probably drop for the Session. Now, he did not know what the noble Marquess' wish was, but his own opinion was, that it would be well for the Bill in that case to drop, for when it came up again from the Commons it would, probably, be with important modifications, such as those which he had himself proposed for the abolition of clerical fellowships, but which he withdrew at the solicitation of Government. He should, however, deprecate any step which should prolong the controversy between the two Houses of Parliament on this question, and the continued irritation of the public mind; and he entreated their Lordships not to retard the settlement of a question which had alienated many of the moderate and more liberal of the opposite party. That settlement, he believed, would conduce to the improvement of the Universities, and of education throughout the country. He trusted that the Motion of the noble Marquess would be rejected, not by a majority of 5, but by such a majority as would make a continuance of the conflict hopeless.


said, he quite agreed with the course taken by the noble Marquess. His noble Friend, and those who acted with him, were ready to accept a compromise; but in doing so they were anxious to obtain some security for religious teaching, and this declaration had been recommended as the best that could be adopted. Whether this was a vague declaration, as it had been described by the noble Lord (Lord Lyveden), or not, he was not going to discuss; but the House of Commons had not proposed to alter it, nor to substitute another; nor had the noble Lord himself proposed anything of the kind. It had been said that it would be an insult to those who had to take it; but he (the Duke of Rutland) thought it was rather an insult to them to suppose that there could be any hesitation in making such a declaration; or that, if they did take it, they would not take it bonâ fide. If these colleges had been endowed by an eminent Dissenter like John Wesley, and the Legislature had proposed not only to confiscate the emoluments with which he had endowed them, but had refused them any security for the religious character of the education to be given in them, there would have been a great outcry.


said, he objected to the imposition of any new test, and this one was open to all the objections taken to it by the House of Commons. As long as the general tone of the country was favourable to religion the feeling at the Universities would continue to be so also, and more reliance could be placed on this security than on a test which apparently bound persons, but which did not really do so. A sincere and earnest believer might regard certain parts of the Bible as not of Divine authority, while others would maintain the opposite view, and the taking of a declaration like this would expose him to being pointed out as unsound in his opinions—thus introducing into the Universities doubt and controversy much to be deprecated. He hoped their Lordships would not insist on the Amendment, and that the settlement of this question would lead to great improvements at Oxford and Cambridge. The Government had done wisely in not carrying the Bill further, and in avoiding the question of clerical fellowships and other points, for he believed the Universities and colleges would be able themselves to make the necessary reforms. The Master of Balliol, Mr. Jowett, had proposed a plan which seemed to him essential and adequate. His proposal was that there should be two classes of fellowships—one for persons employed in teaching in the college, while the other class would be held for a certain number of years, giving their holders the opportunity and means of pursuing studies which would ultimately bring them to eminence and to a competence, but which their circumstances would otherwise prevent them from pursuing. It was also desirable that men who distinguished themselves in the study of modern literature should be awarded honours equally with those who excelled in the older branches of study. With the vast resources at their disposal Oxford and Cambridge would be able to carry out many useful reforms; and he trusted that by the settlement of this question they would become, in every sense of the term, national institutions.


said, he had supported the Amendment, though he had done so on grounds different from those stated by the noble Marquess in bringing it forward. The issue was no longer between Church and Dissent, but between Christianity and Rationalism. The country, he believed, were it appealed to, would ratify the Amendment; and, though its phraseology might be criticized, it would be a pledge on the part of the country in favour of religious teaching in the Universities. He understood that in the Scotch Universities a similar test existed, and met with no objection, and he could see no reason why it should be objected to as regarded ours. The only fault found with this declaration was that some clever Sophist or Rationalist might evade it; but on the principle of mental reservation no promise was binding; but he believed the parents of this country would approve it as an expression of opinion that Christianity should still be taught in the Universities.


admitted that the danger against which the Amendment was directed was by no means an imaginary one. Undoubtedly, the mode in which fellows of colleges were formerly elected—namely, by favour of the electors—was open to grave abuses; but he was by no means sure that Parliament had acted wisely in making their election depend altogether on competitive examinations, for by so doing we had lost the security we formerly had that those intrusted with the government of the colleges should be men of religious convictions. He was sensible of the danger of a school of men being formed in the Universities, men of great intellectual power, who rejected to a certain extent the principles of Christianity, and who by their possession of fellowships might exercise too great an influence in the government of the colleges; but, though the danger against which it was sought to provide might be a real one, he could not see how the Amendment would meet it. The best guard against this danger would be not the imposition of a negative test, but restoring to those who had the election of fellows some of the discretion they formerly possessed, and by which they were able to give preference to men of religious character. It was difficult, however, by a test to ascertain whether men were favourable to Christianity or not, and this declaration seemed to him quite inadequate to meet the danger against which it was directed. He did not wish this House to set itself in opposition to the other House, except in a case where it had reason and sound argument on its side, and he hoped, therefore, that their Lordships would not insist on the Amendment.


said, that though originally a supporter of the Amend ment, he could not follow the noble Marquess in adhering to it after the small majority by which it was adopted by their Lordships, and after what had occurred elsewhere. He voted for it, though not attaching much value to it, as being in consonance with the feeling of the parents of this country, but without wishing that it should have the effect of the loss of the Bill; and the opposition to the principle of the measure having ceased, so that its passing in some shape was certain, he preferred to sacrifice the Amendment to a prolongation of irritation and controversy.


said, he would have preferred not voting on a measure which was chiefly intended to benefit persons who were not Catholics; but, in token of his sympathy with those who were making a stand against the party who wished to exclude religion altogether from education, he should support the clause.


hoped the noble and learned Lord on the Woolsack would explain what would be the effect of the Bill on the question whether intellectual attainments were alone to be the criterion of elections to fellowships, or whether religious character was also to be taken into account.


, in reply, reminded the noble Marquess, who had said he stood upon the principle though not the form of the Amendment, that though principles were excellent things, the application of them was the main question. In stating that he did not care much about the form, but insisted on the principle, he had really given up the whole case. He quite agreed with the noble Earl (Earl Grey) that there was some danger of religious opinions of an objectionable character arising from time to time in the Universities and in the country, but the test proposed was utterly and absolutely inadequate to meet any such danger. Nor was it merely inadequate—it was objectionable and injurious, because, while it would be a trap to catch some sensitive consciences, it was so vague and elastic that it would be readily taken by those whom it was most desirable to exclude. Such a test could not attain the object which the noble Marquess had in view, and he therefore trusted that their Lordships would reject it.

On Question, Whether to insist? their their Lordships divided:—Contents 89; Not-Contents 129: Majority 40.

Resolved in the Negative.

Buckingham and Chandos, D. Gloucester and Bristol, Bp.
Marlborough, D. Lichfield, Bp.
Richmond, D. Lincoln, Bp.
Rutland, D.
Abinger, L.
Boston, L.
Bath, M. Brodrick, L. (V. Midleton.)
Bristol, M.
Exeter, M. Cairns, L.
Hertford, M. Chelmsford, L.
Salisbury, M. [Teller.] Churston, L.
Clanbrassill, L. (E. Roden.)
Abergavenny, E.
Amherst, E. Clinton, L.
Bantry, E. Colchester, L.
Bathurst, E. Denman, L.
Beauchamp, E. De Saumarez, L.
Brooke and Warwick, E. Dunsany, L.
Cadogan, E. Egerton, L.
Carnarvon, E. Fitzwalter, L.
Chesterfield, E. Hartismere, L. (L. Henniker.)
Dartmouth, E.
Denbigh, E. Headley, L.
Eldon, E. Inchiquin, L.
Feversham, E. Kesteven, L.
Graham, E. (D. Montrose.) Northwick, L.
Oranmore and Browne, L.
Harewood, E.
Harrowby, E. Penrhyn, L.
Hillsborough, E. (M. Downshire.) Raglan, L.
Ranfurly, L. (E. Ranfurly.)
Howe, E.
Kellie, E. Ravensworth, L.
Lanesborough, E. Rayleigh, L.
Lauderdale, E. Redesdale, L.
Malmesbury, E. Sheffield, L. (E. Sheffield.)
Manvers, E.
Morton, E. Silchester, L. (E. Longford.)
Radnor, E.
Romney, E. Sinclair, L.
Shrewsbury, E. Skelmersdale, L. [Teller.]
Stradbroke, E.
Tankerville, E. Stanley of Alderley, L.
Vane, E. Stewart of Garlies, L. (E. Galloway.)
Verulam, E.
Wilton, E. Strathspey, L. (E. Seafield.)
Talbot de Malahide, L.
Bangor, V. Thurlow, L.
De Vesci, V. Tredegar, L.
Hawarden, V. Wigan, L. (E. Crawford and Balcarres.)
Hood, V.
Hutchinson, V. (E. Donoughmore.) Wynford, L.
Zouche of Haryngworth, L.
Strathallan, V.
Hatherley, L. (L. Chancellor.) Saint Albans, D. [Teller.]
Somerset, D.
York, Archp.
Ailesbury, M.
Cleveland, D. Camden, M.
Devonshire, D. Lansdowne, M.
Grafton, D. Westminster, M.
Abingdon, E. Crewe, L.
Airlie, E. Dacre, L.
Albemarle, E. De Tabley, L.
Camperdown, E. Dinevor, L.
Chichester, E. Dunning, L. (L. Rollo.)
Clarendon, E. Ebury, L.
Cowley, E. Elgin, L. (E. Elgin and Kincardine.)
Cowper, E.
Craven, E. Foxford, L. (E. Limerick.)
Dartrey, E.
De Grey and Ripon, E. Granard, L. (E. Granard.)
De La Warr, E.
Derby, E. Greville, L.
Devon, E. Gwydir, L.
Effingham, E. Hare, L. (E. Listowel.)
Essex, E. Harris, L.
Fortescue, E. Houghton, L.
Granville, E. Keane, L.
Grey, E. Lawrence, L.
Ilchester, E. Lismore, L. (V. Lismore.)
Jersey, E.
Kimberley, E. Londesborough, L.
Leicester, E. Lurgan, L.
Morley, E. Lyttelton, L.
Nelson, E. Lyveden, L.
Rosse, E. Meldrum, L. (M. Huntly.)
Russell, E. Meredyth, L. (L. Athlumney.)
Saint Germans, E.
Methuen, L.
Eversley, V. Minster, L. (M. Conyngham.)
Halifax, V.
Powerscourt, V. Monck, L. (V. Monck.)
Sydney, V. Monson, L.
Torrington, V. Mont Eagle, L. (M. Sligo.)
Monteagle of Brandon, L.
Bath and Wells, Bp. Mostyn, L.
Carlisle, Bp. Northbrook, L.
Exeter, Bp. Oxenfoord, L. (E. Stair.)
Hereford, Bp. Panmure, L. (E. Dalhousie.)
Oxford, Bp.
Ripon, Bp. Poltimore, L.
Salisbury, Bp. Ponsonby, L. (E. Bessborough.)
Abercromby, L. Portman, L.
Acton, L. Robartes, L.
Ashburton, L. Romilly, L.
Auckland, L. Rosebery, L. (E. Rosebery.)
Balinhard, L. (E. Southesk.)
Rossie, L. (L. Kinnaird.)
Barrogill, L. (E. Caithness.) Sandhurst, L.
Sandys, L.
Beaumont, L. Saye and Sele, L.
Belper, L. Seaton, L.
Boyle, L. (E. Cork and Orrery.) [Teller.] Sefton, L. (E. Sefton.)
Skene, L. (E. Fife.)
Brougham and Vaux, L. Somerhill, L. (M. Clanricarde.)
Calthorpe, L.
Camoys, L. Stratheden, L.
Carew, L. Sudeley, L.
Carysfort, L. (E. Carysfort.) Suffield, L.
Sundridge, L. (D. Argyll.)
Castletown, L.
Chesham, L. Vaux of Harrowden, L.
Churchill, L. Vernon, L.
Clandeboye, L. (L. Dufferin and Claneboye.) Wenlock, L.
Westbury, L.
Clermont, L. Worlingham, L. (E. Gosford.)
Clifford of Chudleigh, L.
Congleton, L. Wrottesley, L.

said, he did not think it would serve any useful purpose to divide on the other points, but trusted the noble Earl would not assume that because they did not divide the House was therefore unanimous.

The rest of the Amendments to which the Commons disagree not insisted on; and the Commons Amendments agreed to.