HL Deb 03 July 1879 vol 247 cc1248-62

Order of the Day for the Second Reading, read.


, in moving that the Bill be now read a second time, said, that when, some months ago, he explained at length its provisions, he stated that it was founded upon the Report of a Royal Commission. In 1873, the Fellows of the University were relieved from the obligation of taking Holy Orders, or of belongings to any particular denomination. The Protestant Church of Ireland felt that its position, as regarded Trinity College, was seriously affected; and, accordingly, the General Synod of the Church appointed a Committee to take the matter under its charge. The Committee entered into negotiations with Trinity College, and afterwards applied to Her Majesty's Government, who appointed a Royal Commission to inquire into the subject. Of that Commission he had himself been Chairman. The Royal Commission had before them a proposal from the Board of Trinity College, and also a proposal from the Divinity School; and these two proposals, which in a great measure agreed, were to a certain extent adopted by the Commission. They recommended, amongst other things, that the connection should be kept up between the Church and the College by allowing the lecture-rooms of the College to be used for the purpose of the Divinity School lectures, and providing that the lectures should be given free of charge to the undergraduates attending the Divinity School. After he (the Earl of Belmore) had explained the provisions of the Bill, when it was last before their Lordships, his noble and learned Friend on the Woolsack (Earl Cairns) suggested that it was important to ascertain what were the actual wishes of the Church of Ireland and of Trinity College, by which he meant not merely the Board, but also the Senate and the Academic Council, on the subject, and the second reading of the Bill was on that ground postponed until now. The first step was to refer the Bill to the General Synod of the Church; and it was done in this way. The Divinity School Committee drew up a report of their proceedings for the year, in which they stated all that had taken place up to that time in regard to the Bill, and drafted a resolution recommending that the Dill, as brought in, should be adopted by the Synod. The resolution was— That the Synod hereby expresses its earnest desire that the Bill introduced into the House of Lords by Lord Belmore for the future management and control of the Divinity School shall receive the assent of Parliament with as little delay as possible. That resolution was brought before the Synod in a speech of great force and, if he might be allowed to say so, of great eloquence, by his noble and most rev. Friend near him (Lord Plunket); and a debate ensued, from which it appeared that a very considerable difference of opinion existed among those in the Synod who were members of the College, and also, perhaps, in a lesser degree, amongst other persons. A suggestion was made that the Bishops should be empowered to meet the Board of Trinity College in a conference, and see what arrangement could be come to with reference to the future management and control of the Divinity School. Many persons believed that the connection between the College and Church should be as close as possible—closer, in fact, than was proposed by the Bill. The meeting between the Bishops and the Board did not take place, as only a minority of the Board attended, and there was not a quorum, and the result was left for consideration by the Senate of Trinity College on the 1st of May. The University Senate met, and so great was the interest felt in the question that between 90 and 100 persons qualified themselves to become members of the Senate, in order to be present. A resolution was moved, in these terms, by a member of the Board who was hostile to the Bill— That the Divinity School (Church of Ireland) Bill be not accepted, inasmuch as it is neither expedient nor just to the College and the University. That was met by a counter resolution, moved by the Rev. Dr. Salmon, Regius Professor of Divinity—" That the words from he not accepted' to the end be omitted" —and this amendment was carried by a considerable majority. Then the supporters of the Dill wished to go on to discuss what the nature of the connection between the Church and the University should be, the following words having, on the motion of the Rev. Professor Jellett, been substituted for the words omitted:— Inasmuch as it appears to the Senate that there are other means by which the connection of the Divinity School with Trinity College can be maintained, and welfare of the school under the conditions, as altered by recent regulations, provided for. Dr. Longfield, who was acting for the Vice Chancellor, ruled that this could not he done without a further " grace" from the Board. Hem (the Earl of Belmore) was sure that Dr. Longfield in so ruling was actuated by no spirit of hostility to the Dill, as he was one of the Members of the Royal Commission upon whose Report it was founded; but only doing what he considered it was proper for him to do. A requisition, very influentially signed, was got up and sent to the Board, asking them to authorize, by a further grace, the Senate to consider what legislation they would recommend. The Provost, who was one of the members by whom the scheme of the Bill was recommended, proposed, at the meeting of the Board on the 10th of May, that the following " grace" should be sent to the Senate:— That the University Senate do, at its annual meeting on the 21st of June next, consider the means by which the connection of the Divinity School with Trinity College may be fully maintained, and the welfare of the School under the conditions, as altered by recent legislation, provided for. This was put to the vote, and negatived by a majority of 2, out of 8 members. It was then moved that the following answer to the requisition be sent by the Registrar to the Lord Primate:— The Chancellor of the University having desired from the Senate an expression of their opinion relating to Lord Belmore's Divinity School Bill, and the Senate having expressed an opinion unfavourable to it, the Board of Trinity College consider that it is not their part to invite a further discussion by the Senate of the general question involved, especially as Lord Belmore's Bill still remains on the Notice Book of the House of Lords, awaiting the final decision of that House. The Rev. Professor Jellett moved, in an Amendment— That this answer is not satisfactory, inasmuch as it does not contain a full statement of the facts. But the amendment was negatived, and the original resolution was passed, thus bringing matters to a deadlock; for, while the House of Lords was waiting for the opinion of the Senate, the Senate was waiting for the opinion of the House of Lords. Another meeting of the Board was held at a subsequent day, and the question was re-opened; but nothing came of it, further than that the Vice Provost, who was friendly to the Bill, gave notice that he would, on the next Board-day, move that no alteration should be made in the Divinity School without the consent of the Bishops of the Church of Ireland. On 4th June, the Academic Council, having, on a previous occasion, adopted a resolution that they thought it Undesirable that Trinity College should be deprived of any of its funds, provided a suitable endowment could be obtained from other sources, discussed the matter, and came to the resolution that it was desirable, having regard to its bearing on the welfare of the Faculty of Arts, that there should be a Divinity School in the College, with due provision for its government, under the changes which recent legislation had made in the condition of the University, and that, accordingly, the Council did not approve of Lord Belmore's Dill as a settlement of the Trinity College Divinity School question. On the 18th of June, a resolution was proposed by Dr. Salmon, to the effect that the Senate having, by their resolution of May 1st, implied an opinion that the altered constitution of the University had made some legislation for the Divinity School desirable, the Council requested the Board to give the Senate an early opportunity of more fully declaring its mind on the subject; but this was rejected by a majority of 9 to 6. Then followed sonic resolutions, which he asked to be allowed to read at length, as they were the most important of all. They were as follows:—Dr. Salmon moved— That it appears to the Council that a satisfactory settlement of the (Divinity School) question can be obtained by following the lines of the Letters Patent, 38 Vic., which established this Council. To that resolution the following amendment was moved by the Rev. J. W. Barlow:— That, while considering it a matter of high importance, with regard to the welfare of other Faculties, that there should be a Divinity School in the University, this Council is of opinion that the time for final legislation on the subject has not yet arrived. The foregoing amendment was negatived by a majority of 11 to 3, and Dr. Salmon's resolution passed by the same majority. The following resolution was moved by the Provost, and passed by a majority of 11 to 3:— That it is expedient that the Bishops of the Church of Ireland be invited to take part in the government of the Divinity School. The following resolution was also moved by the Provost, and passed without a division:— That the annual sum at present expended on the Divinity School of Trinity College be secured for the permanent maintenance of that School. The Board of Trinity College having declined to re-open the question, and the Academic Council having expressed in general terms what they thought would be a fair way of bringing about a compromise, the matter so stood till the other day, when the General Synod adopted the following resolution:— That, having regard to the resolution adopted by the Senate of the University at its meeting on the 1st of May last, this Synod is not prepared to press forward during the present Session the Divinity School (Church of Ireland) Bill. An amendment was moved that the words "during the present Session" be omitted; but that was lost. Some other resolutions were afterwards carried; but as he (the Earl of Belmore) had not followed the Bill up—not being a member of Trinity College—since the first day's discussion in the Synod, he would leave his noble and most rev. Friend (Lord Plunket) to describe them to their Lordships. There was, however, one point on which he desired to say a few words, and that was as regarded his own position in respect to the measure. In his motion against the Dill in the Senate of the University, the Rev. Dr. Carson made a speech, which he had no doubt —for ho (the Earl of Belmore) knew him very well—was a very able speech; it was certainly a very long one. He first proceeded to prove, what he should have thought required no proof, that Trinity College was not founded exclusively for the education of the clergy of the Protestant Church of Ireland. At the same time, he did maintain that the Divinity School—technically, he granted, the School of Trinity College—was also, practically, the School of the Church; for it was the only School in which the great majority, at least, of her clergy had been trained. Dr. Carson then went on to find fault with himself (the Earl of Belmore) for bringing in the Bill. That was not the first or the second time, in the course of his (the Earl of Belmore's) public life, in which lie had been found fault with, and ho dared say it would not be the last. But this Bill was, in fact, only carrying out what had been, so lately as 1876 and 1877, the proposal of the Board itself; arid to show that it was so he would road an extract from a letter which he had lately received from the Provost. The Provost said— It is right to observe, however, that an Act of Parliament, such as that for which your Lordship has brought in a Bill, was the only means by which the resolutions of the Board of Trinity College—resolutions repeated in nearly every year from 1870 to 1876 inclusive—could have been carried into effect. When your Lordship, therefore, undertook, at the request of the Divinity School Committee, to bring in a Bill into the house of Lords, you were carrying out the expressed wishes of the College as well as those of the Church. He thought, therefore, that he was quite within his right in bringing in this measure. He anticipated that his noble and learned Friend on the Woolsack would recommend him to give effect to the resolution of the Synod, and not to press the Dill at present. He was, of course, in their Lordships' hands. It mattered little to him whether the matter were settled by a Bill, or a compromise were to be effected in some other way. As a matter of Order, he moved the second reading of the Bill.

Moved, "That the Dill be now read Ca." —(The Earl of Belmore.)


My Lords, after the remarks which have fallen from my noble Friend (the Earl of Belmore), your Lordships will agree with me that some statement should be made to this House as to the light in which the Church of Ireland regards this Bill at its present stage. That statement I shall endeavour to furnish. The subject is, I fear, a somewhat dull one, and its details somewhat intricate; but your Lordships will bear with me as I try to state what I have to say, as clearly and as briefly as the circumstances of the case will admit. In the first place, I think it right to remove one or two possible misapprehensions as to the nature and object of this Bill. This Bill is, in no sense of the word, a claim for endowment, either as regards the University of Dublin, or its Divinity School. It cannot even be strictly described as a claim for compensation. Were it necessary, a claim for compensation might not unfairly be made by the Church of Ireland in respect to its Divinity School. But, in such a case, it ought to be clearly remembered that the equivalent for such a claim on behalf of the Irish Church would have to be looked for, not in the possible endowment of some Catholic University in the future, but in the compensation which has been actually accorded to a Catholic Divinity School in the past. And, in the event of such a claim being made, the last persons to refuse it should be those who, at the time of the passing of the Irish Church Act, welcomed with satisfaction the generous treatment which the Divinity School of Maynooth then received at the hands of the State. But, as I have said, this Bill cannot be strictly regarded as a claim for compensation. It should rather be considered as embodying the terms of an arrangement between the Church of Ireland and the University, which the State is asked, by this Bill, to facilitate and carry into effect. But there is another misconception which I would wish to dispel. It has been thought by some that this Bill indicates a hostile spirit as between the Church of Ireland and the University of Dublin. My Lords, there could not be a greater mistake. The large majority of the members of that University are members of the Church of Ireland. The large majority of those who take a leading part in Irish Church affairs are members of the University. The members of the University love their Church. The members of the Church of Ireland love their University. And here let me take this opportunity of saying that if there have been any apparent differences between the Church of Ireland and some members of the Board of Trinity College, I, for one—and I express the opinions of many others—desire, in the most full and frank manner, to attribute whatever opposition we may have received to a single-minded desire, upon the part of those from whom we have differed, to promote the welfare of an institution in which they are deeply interested, and of which they may be justly proud. Lastly, I would wish to remove the possible impression that, because this Bill proposes to transfer the funds and the control of the Divinity School from Trinity College to the Church of Ireland, it therefore indicates an aggressive or grasping spirit on the part of that Church. The fact is, as my noble Friend has already pointed out, that the proposal to transfer the control of the School to the Church, and to pay over to the representative body of that Church the sums required for the salaries of its Processors, came, in the first instance, from the Board of Trinity College itself. It was subsequently affirmed by the Report of a Royal Commission on which the University was fairly represented. This Bill may, therefore, with justice, be regarded as due not less to the University than to the Church. And this brings me to the question, what was the necessity that called for this Bill? The answer is a simple one. It was the necessity of finding some remedy for the grievance to which the Church of Ireland had been subjected through the secularization of Trinity College—a secularization effected by the carrying out of what is generally known as Mr. Fawcett's Bill. The nature of that grievance has been so fully explained by my noble Friend that all I need do is to remind your Lordships that, as a result of that legislation, the control of the Divinity School and the appointment of its Professors now rests with a Body which, before long, may be utterly unfit for the discharge of so sacred a trust. My Lords, this is a grievance which is now admitted by all—not only so, but it is also regarded by all as a grievance which demands an immediate remedy. But where is the remedy to be found? Well, my Lords, there is one way in which it could be easily found. The University of Dublin might not only cease to teach theology, but it might resolve to banish theology and religion from within its walls. The Church of Ireland would, in such a case, be compelled to establish a separate Theological College for itself elsewhere. Such a proposition, I am happy to say, has not found favour with either the University or the Church. I cannot remember having met with a single member of my Church to whom it has commended itself. It seems, on the contrary, to be the general desire of all that those who are to be trained for the Ministry of our Church should pursue their studies in company with those who are preparing for other Professions, and should imbibe in a University that free, pure air of general learning and culture, and of unfettered intellectual enterprize which is not, as a rule, to be looked for in any merely theological seminary. But there is another way in which it was thought by many that the grievance might be met. It was thought that the University, while ceasing to teach theology itself, might give facilities for the teaching of theology and the payment of Divinity Professors by the Church of Ireland within its walls. It was thought that a separation between these two institutions might thus be effected only in name, and that all those mutual advantages might be preserved which now result from the daily contact and friendly co-operation of religion and learning in Our University. This, my Lords, is, in fact, the principle of the Bill now before the House. And I am bound to say that at the time when this Bill was first drawn up, this was the principle which was most popular amongst the friends both of the Church and of the University. And, let me add, it was under a strong conviction that such was the case that this Dill was introduced by the noble Earl and myself to the consideration of this House. I am, however, free to confess that in the minds of some Irish Churchmen this view of the case has been somewhat modified by recent events. And this brings me to review the circumstances which have elapsed since the first reading of this Bill. It will be in the recollection of your Lord-chips that when this Bill was a first time, the noble and learned Earl who sits upon the Woolsack expressed a desire that before this Dill should be again submitted to the House some expression of opinion regarding it should be obtained from the Synod of the Church of Ireland, and the Senate and Council of the University. Accordingly, my Lords, this Bill was brought under the notice of the Synod of the Church of Ireland at its recent meeting. No vote was come to, either accepting or rejecting the Bill; but, in the course of debate, it became manifest that there were not a few members of that Body who would prefer some solution of the question, which would involve a less degree of separation between the Divinity School and the University than that which seemed to them to be contemplated by the present Bill. In consequence of that manifestation of feeling, the Bishops of our Church, after a conference with some leading members of the Board of Trinity College, drew up a series of propositions, embodying an alternative scheme, and submitted them to the consideration of the Synod. No vote, however, was come to, either as regarded the Dill or thins alternative scheme, as it was thought well that the Synod should adjourn, pending the meeting of the Senate of the University, which was then at hand. Before, however, the Synod adjourned, certain resolutions, embodying principles of a more general character, and not inconsistent with either the Bill, or the alternative scheme proposed by the Bishops, were passed almost unanimously. To one of these, for the credit of the Church, I would ask leave to refer. Your Lordships will remember that when this Bill was read a first time I ventured to combat what seemed to me an exaggerated fear as to the possible effect of one of its provisions. I mean the clause which gives to the Synod of the Church of Ireland the election of the Body who should have the control of the Divinity School and the appointment of its Professors. It had been assumed by many persons that the Synod, if given this power, would make it the occasion for electing, in the heat and excitement of a popular assembly, and by a tyrannical majority, partizans, whose duty it would be to carry out the particular views of those from whom they had received their votes. Now, my Lords, it is a great satisfaction to me to be able to show that such fears were, as I ventured to anticipate, groundless. And as a proof of this, I need only point to the fact that in one of the resolutions recently passed by the general Synod, on the occasion to which I have just referred, the Synod declared itself willing to leave the control of the Divinity School, and the appointment of its Professors, altogether in the hands of the Archbishops and Bishops of their Church. But to return to the meeting of the Senate of the University. The Dill now before this House was submitted to that Body, and though the Senate distinctly refused to pronounce the Dill unjust or inexpedient, it declined to accept it, giving as a reason for so doing that there were other means whereby the object in view might be better carried out. It was hoped by many that an opportunity might be given for an expression of opinion on the part of the Senate as to what those other means might be. But, owing to circumstances into which I need not enter, no such opportunity presented itself; and, accordingly, nothing was left for the Synod but to endeavour, on its part, to meet the wish expressed by the noble and learned Earl on the Woolsack, and to put on record, for the information of this House, some specific statement as to its view on this important question. With such an object, the Synod met again within the last few days, and passed certain resolutions. These resolutions I shall not quote in detail; but as they contain the sum and substance of the information for which your Lordships have a right to ask, I must refer very briefly to their general import. In the first place, the Synod resolved that, having regard to the decision come to by the Senate of the University, it was not prepared to press for the adoption of this Bill by Parliament during the present Session. While, however, thus disclaiming any intention of pressing forward this particular Bill at the present moment, the Synod affirmed most strongly that the time for some final legislation had arrived, and respectfully, but earnestly, called upon Government and Parliament to facilitate a settlement of the question without delay. Lastly, the Synod passed a series of resolutions, embodying the alternative scheme to which I have referred as having been submitted by the Bishops to the Synod on a former occasion. I shall not quote these resolutions in detail; but the proposal which they contain may be simply stated thus. They propose that the Divinity School should not merely be the Divinity School of the Church of Ireland in Trinity College, as would be the case under the provisions of this Bill now before the House, but that it should continue to be the Divinity School of Trinity College. These resolutions further provide for a dual system of government as between the Church and the University. They propose that the nomination of Divinity Professors, and a power to recommend changes in the Divinity course, should be vested in a Council consisting of the Archbishops and Bishops of the Church of Ireland; but that the ultimate appointment of the Professors, and a veto on the recommendations of the Bishops, should rest with the Board of Trinity College. This proposal would seem to be reasonable, and to involve a fair distribution of authority. It gives to the Church an initiative choice in the selection of its teachers, a choice which would naturally concern itself with the question of religious and theological qualifications. Upon the other hand, it leaves with the Board of Trinity College, as a secular body, the power of preventing the appointment of teachers, who, from want of learning or academic culture, might do discredit to the University. Upon this proposition being submitted to the Synod, an amendment was proposed, by which the Board of Trinity College would have been given not only this ultimate power of veto in reference to matters affecting learning and culture, but also a voice in the Council which would have to deal specially with questions of religion and theology. This amendment was, however, rejected by an overwhelming majority; and it was evident from the whole tone of the debate, that the Synod had come to the decision that none of those to whom was to be intrusted the duty of choosing the future teachers of our Divinity School should be appointed to that sacred trust by any secularized body, indifferent, it might be—or even antagonistic—to those interests which the Church is bound to hold most dear. This was the position taken up by the Church at the recent Synod—and from such a position I cannot, for my own part, see how the Church can conscientiously recede. And now, the result of the whole matter seems to me to be simply this. After such an expression of opinion on the part of the Church and University, I do not see how the noble Earl (the Earl of Belmore) can press forward his Bill; and in the interests of peace and conciliation I would venture to suggest that he should withdraw it. Before, however, lie withdraws it, let me take this opportunity of publicly expressing to him, on the part of the Irish Church, how much we feel indebted to him for having discharged the trust committed to him with all that energy, industry, and practical ability which has so conspicuously marked every stage of his public and political career. And let me add that, though he may now withdraw this Bill, lie can do so with the conviction that it has not been brought before this House in vain. It has been the means of calling' public attention to the grievance under which the Church of Ireland suffers as regards her Divinity School. It has shown, moreover, that the Church of Ireland is in earnest in seeking for a remedy—and for an immediate remedy too. It has been the means of submitting to this House for consideration and comparison various expressions of opinion respecting the important question at issue. It may not contain within itself the ultimate solution of the problem—but it has, as I believe, cleared the way for the adoption of a solution which may prove more generally acceptable to all concerned. and which will, I trust, tend to knit more closely in the future those ties of mutual good will and respect by which the Church. of Ireland and the University of Dublin have been so closely and so happily bound together in years gone by.


There can be no doubt considerable advantage has arisen from the discussion and consideration of this Dill that has taken place, as regards both the University of Dublin and the Irish Church. The introduction of the Dill has led to the exchange of opinion between the different persons who have interested themselves in this great question. But I do not think the exchange of opinion that has taken place upon the consideration of the different schemes that have been proposed has gone so far as, in my opinion, they might have gone, for I have no doubt that between this and the next Session of Parliament the consideration of these various schemes will go much farther; and very possibly an agreement may be come to on the more material points between the parties interested. I think that, under these circumstances, my noble Friend who introduced the Bill may very well adopt the course suggested by my noble and rev. Friend who has just spoken, and will withdraw the Bill.


It appears to me to divide the connection which at present exists without absolute necessity, would be a great mistake; and I think that Trinity College is very reasonable in not allowing the Divinity School and its endowments to pass away from it without the necessity being proved. The reason, however, why I rise is a different one. I wish to point out a fact which is of extreme interest—particularly at this moment—in view of the subject that will come before us next week. Why is it that, in the opinion of so many, including the noble and learned Earl who has just sat down, there is no necessity for removing the Divinity School of the Church of Ireland from Trinity College? The reason is this — that although it has been opened to persons of all denominations, and, therefore, is in the position, we will say, of the University of Oxford; nevertheless, in Trinity College, Dublin, as well as at Oxford, there is, by universal admission, no reason to expect that any substantial change will take place in the denominational character of the University in respect of its Governing Body. It will, for any number of years, be mainly denominational, and consist of members of the Church of Ireland. I remember that on the former occasion when the Dill was introduced, I heard the noble and learned Earl on the Woolsack allude to the alarm prevailing, and say that if at any time the Governing Body of Trinity College, Dublin, were to cease to be a denominational body attached to the Church of Ireland, the case might be very different; but that was a result, he added, which nobody need fear. It is that state of facts that throws considerable light on the University question in Ireland, and when we hear so much of Trinity College being thrown open by law to all denominations it is well that your Lordships should see how the thing works in practice.


said, that in withdrawing the Dill he must say a few words as to what had fallen from the noble Lord opposite (Lord Carlingford). He thought that in Trinity College people would be somewhat surprised at his remarks, but would receive them with a great deal of satisfaction; because they showed what a complete conversion the views of the noble Lord had undergone since he wads a Member of Mr. Gladstone's Cabinet in 1873. As regarded the accusation made against himself, that fie (the Earl of Belmore) was trying to injure Trinity College, it was only the other day that one of his late Colleagues on the Royal Commission had reminded him that they had recommended the very utmost in the way of a continuance of a close connection between Divinity School and the College, that they thought there was any chance of Parliament agreeing to. The reason why a Bill was preferable to a Queen's Letter in settling the matter was, that while the latter could alter the government of the School and set aside funds for its maintenance, it could not divest the Corporation of the College of its property in those funds, or create a trust.

Motion and Bill (by leave of the House) withdrawn.