HL Deb 23 March 1876 vol 228 cc466-8

said, that at the request of his noble Friend (the Duke of Devonshire) he was about to ask the Question of which his noble Friend had given Notice, Whether Her Majesty's Government can inform the House what course they will take respecting the Cambridge University Bill? As Chancellor of the University of Cambridge, his noble Friend thought it of much importance that the Bill should be introduced this year and as early in the Session as possible. When introducing the Oxford University Bill the noble Marquess opposite (the Marquess of Salisbury) said that the bringing in of the Cambridge Bill would depend very much upon the reception given to, and the progress made with, the Oxford Bill. Now, although unquestionably objections had been raised to some of the provisions of that Bill, there had been no unreasonable delay—indeed they had sought to avoid delay. The Question which he now put on be half of his noble Friend concerned not only Cambridge but Oxford also; because—as he had ventured to say on a former occasion—the legislation for both Universities ought to proceed pari passu, though perhaps in different Bills. If the Cambridge Bill was to be of the same character as the Oxford Bill, there was no objection to its being introduced and passed pari passu. On the other hand, if it was to be different it was very important they should know what that difference was—and this was information which their Lordships ought to be put in possession of before they went into Committee on the Oxford Bill. Within the last few days he had heard a rumour—perhaps it was one of those reports to which credit ought not to be given—that it was the intention of the Government to remit the Cambridge Bill to the hands of a private Member, by whom it would be introduced in the other House of Parliament. After the statement made on this subject by the Prime Minister last year—that this was a work of legislation which no Government could longer delay—and the announcement in the Speech from the Throne at the beginning of the present Session, he hardly thought that the rumour to which he had alluded could be correct. But, at all events, it appeared to him that every argument was in favour of the Government giving the information for which he was now asking. True the noble Marquess said on a former occasion that to delay the Cambridge Bill for a year or two after the passing of the Oxford Bill would only be following the precedent of what was done in 1854. The analogy which the noble Marquess would have established did not stand good. The Bill of 1854 was an enacting one, which gave directions as to what was to be done by the Commissioners; but the present Bill for Oxford University conferred very extensive powers on the Commissioners without giving them directions, and although up to this their Lordships did not know who the Commissioners were to be. He repeated that he could see no objection to a statement by the Government with respect to their exact intentions as to Cambridge University; while, on the other hand, such a statement would much facilitate their Lordships when they were called upon to deal with the Oxford Bill in Committee.


said, the Government had no other intention in the matter than that the Bills for the two Universities should be introduced and carried through under the authority of the Government. The Cambridge Bill would be introduced immediately after Easter. But, solely with a reference to the composition of the Government, it was thought it would be more convenient that it should be introduced in the House of Commons. He feared that he (the Marquess of Salisbury) would make but a poor figure if he had to introduce it in presence of the noble Duke (the Duke of Devonshire) the Chancellor of the University of Cambridge. As, then, the Cambridge Bill was to be introduced in the House of Commons, and immediately after Easter, perhaps it would be scarcely respectful to discuss it beforehand in their Lordships' House.


thought that, without discussing the provisions of the Bill, the noble Marquess might perhaps feel himself at liberty to say what its character was to be.


replied that its character would be the same as that of the Oxford Bill. But he had always understood that Cambridge men very much complained that it should always be assumed that when anything was done with reference to Oxford University the same thing was necessarily done for Cambridge; but the general idea of the Government must be the same for both Universities. But he thought that as the Bill was shortly to be introduced into the other House, it would be very disrespectful if he said anything about it at present.

House adjourned at half past Five o'clock, till To-morrow, half past Ten o'clock.