HL Deb 05 June 1888 vol 326 cc1151-7

Order of the Day for the House to be put into Committee, read.

Moved, "That the House do now resolve itself into Committee upon the said Bill."—(The Marquess of Lothian.)


said, that he wished to address a few words to the noble Marquess with reference to a very important question of principle contained in the Bill. He referred to the question of affiliation and incorporation. He thought it was more convenient to raise the question at this point than to wait until the Bill reached Committee, because the question of incorporation and affiliation ran through many of the clauses, and it would be very difficult to adequately discuss it on any single clause. At the same time, it would be to the advantage of the House if they knew distinctly what the intentions of the Government were on this point before they went into Committee. This question of affiliation and incorporation was the most important point in the whole Bill. It had excited very great interest in the Universities and Colleges affected, and, moreover, however great might be the amount of confidence which they felt in the Commission, this point was too important for Parliament to hand it over to the Commission without giving very distinct and clear instructions to the Commission thereupon. As the Bill originally stood, in the 11th clause distinct instructions were given to the Commissioners. They were to have power to affiliate and incorporate or unite to any University Colleges duly incorporated and endowed and to admit the teaching of such Colleges as qualifying for graduation in the Universities. That clause recognized no less than four different kinds of incorporation or affiliation. But when they saw the Amendments of the noble Marquess they found that that clause had been struck out, and in lieu thereof there appeared two different forms of expression by which he intended to explain what the powers of the Commissioners were. As they stood now in the Amendments a College might either be added to or it might form part of a University. The appearance of that Amendment excited a good deal of interest and some apprehension on the part of some of the Universities, and when he read it himself he read it in this sense, that it was intended as a limitation of the powers of the Commissioners and that there was a preference on the part of the Government, rather implied than expressed, that the Commissioners should apply themselves rather to the policy of incorporation than to the policy of affiliation. He hoped the Government would leave the largest powers and the greatest possible latitude to the Commissioners on this point. He did not think it could be their intention to limit the powers of the Commissioners in the way he had stated; but it would be very satisfactory to the Universities and Colleges and to the House if they were to hear from the noble Marquess what his intentions were. The noble Marquess might make some alterations in one or two ways. He might either re-insert his old clause and define the words "incorporation" and "affiliation," or if there was an objection to that—and he believed there were objections in defining these words adequately—he hoped the noble Marquess would adopt some very clear language by which it might be made plain what the powers to be given to the Commissioners were. He would suggest to the noble Marquess that he should insert in lieu of the clause struck out another clause empowering the Commissioners to unite Colleges duly incorporated and endowed, either wholly or partially, with any University; and, secondly, to admit the teaching of the College or of the individual teacher as qualifying for graduation in any University. If the noble Marquess would explain clearly to the House and to the satisfaction of the Universities what course he proposed to take on this point he would greatly facilitate the progress of the Bill.


said, that before the noble Marquess rose to reply he should like to say that, in his own view, and in the view of all with whom he had spoken on the matter, the suggested words "added to" instead of "affiliated to" did not meet the requirements of the case, and were, in themselves, somewhat bald. He had always held with regard to this question that the simplest way would be to stick to the original word in the Bill, the word "affiliated." If they defined affiliation in the Interpretation Clause the noble Marquess would get out of an enormous number of difficulties which he had plunged into by the later Amendments he had placed on the Paper. He quite admitted, if he raised this objection, that he was bound to produce his definition, and he would do so. With regard to the word "incorporation," that was a word which must be defined by a lawyer, having regard to the exact meaning of the word in Scotland, a meaning which he did not think was quite kept in view by the framers of the Bill when they first laid it on the Table. He would propose to the noble Marquess the adoption of these words— Affiliation for the purposes of this Act shall mean such a connection between an existing University and a College as shall be entered into by their mutual consent, under conditions approved by the Commissioners, or, on the termination of their powers, by the Scotch University Committee and the Privy Council. He believed that would cover the whole ground contemplated by the Bill, and would enormously simplify the clause. He threw this out for the consideration of the noble Marquess. If the noble Marquess did accept the Amendment, he was convinced that the difficulties would be simplified. It was to be a condition of mutual consent. He knew it might be said that the Universities would not consent to affiliation readily. He very much doubted that; but as the Government were going to put into the Bill clauses to the effect that at any moment, by the wish of either party, the connection might be terminated, it was clear that it must be entered into by the consent of both parties. That was the only explanation he had to offer on the point. He had one or two other Amendments which he proposed to put down that night. One of these Amendments would give the Commissioners power, or rather would insist upon the Commissioners seeing that the Governing Body of the University was adequately represented on the Governing Body of any affiliated College. That was a rule to which, he believed, there was no exception in the English Universities. It seemed to be fair in itself, and he did not think it would meet with any objection from the Government. The last point he had to touch on was this. His noble Friend who spoke last said truly that they ought not to tie too strictly the hands of the Commissioners. They would have much more confidence in the Commissioners if the noble Marquess would tell the House who they were to be. The announcement of the names would be exceedingly welcome to the Universities and to the public.


said, that the suggestions of the noble Earl were well worthy of consideration. The difficulty which he felt in common with many others with regard to the terms of the original Bill arose from the circumstance that the words "affiliation," "union," and "incorporation" were inserted without any definition whatever, and without any direction to guide the Commissioners, or, after the Commission had terminated, to guide the authorities of the Universities as to the terms on which they were to be permitted to associate themselves with bodies outside the Universities. The principle which ran through the Amendments proposed by the noble Marquess was this—that the Universities and institutions which were devoted to instruction in the higher branches of learning should be at liberty to form a connection with each other on such terms as they might mutually agree upon, provided only that those terms met with the assent of the Commissioners, and, after the expiry of their powers, with the assent of the Universities Committee of the Privy Council. The words suggested by the noble Earl seemed to him to carry out that principle, and they got rid of a great deal of verbiage which was necessary in using the words "added to" or "connected with." When the clauses of the Bill were explained, the provision that "affiliation" was to consist in admitting those outside bodies to the Universities upon terms which they themselves assented to, and which met with the approval of the University authorities for the time being, there could be no risk of misconstruction. He, therefore, appealed to the noble Marquess whether he would not accept that simpler form of definition. It appeared to him that there ought to be some limit to the representation of outside institutions in the University Court. As the Bill stood, it made it imperative that the Commission should admit to the University Court the Principals of those institutions, and such members of the Governing Body as might be selected, according to the regulations to be laid down by the Commission. What would be the effect of that provision in swelling the already too bulky University Court; and what would be its effect upon the interests of the teaching body of the University and its representatives? Take, by way of illustration, the University of Edinburgh. The Senatus consisted of 40 members, and in the Court they had four representatives, or one in 10. The institutions with which it was proposed the University in future should connect itself were small bodies, not containing a large number of teachers. If they were going to give three, or four, or five, or six teachers from such institutions one or two representatives, as the Bill proposed, the result would be that 15 or 20 teachers from those outside institutions might have 10 or even 12 representatives in the University Court; whilst a teaching body of 40, as in the case of Edinburgh, might only have four representatives. It appeared to him that, on the ground even of reciprocity, that would be most unfair. Would it not be better to leave it to the Commissioners to determine what should be the limit of the representation to be given to the outside institutions, and as to how the representatives should be selected?


said, that the question put by the noble Earl opposite was one which, as the noble Earl said, touched one of the main principles of the Bill—namely, the manner in which Colleges should be added to the Universities. The Amendments which he proposed to lay on the Table were framed in deference to the opinion expressed by all who took part in the discussion on the second reading—namely, that the words in the Bill as it now stood were not sufficiently defined, and therefore did not make it clear to the Commissioners and the public in what way the other Colleges should be added or affiliated to the Universities. He attempted afterwards to give effect to the opinion so expressed by giving a more accurate definition of the terms "affiliation," "incorporation," or other form of union; but he found the difficulties that surrounded such a definition to be very great, and he therefore thought it better, instead of using words which might be open to different meanings, to leave the question as open as possible by omitting "affiliated" and "incorporated," and inserting the words "added to." He quite agreed with the noble Earl that those words were in themselves bald and meagre; but there was some advantage in having words which did not attempt to express too much. The whole object of the Government was that they should as much as possible leave it for the Commissioners to decide in what manner the union might take place in every possible instance. There was no possible doubt that the circumstances of different cases must vary very much. There was the case of the University College of Dundee, fully equipped in every manner, and the case of the Colleges at the other end, which admitted of the affiliation of individual teachers. The great object was to admit every possible form of union which might be within these two limits. He would certainly take into consideration the suggestion made by the noble Earl who had spoken first, and the definition which had been proposed by the noble Earl who followed would also be considered. The Government could not, of course, pledge themselves at once on the subject; but if they could see any definition that would not have the effect of hampering or tying the hands of the Commissioners in any way in reference to that question, and which would be distinctly understood by the public of Scotland as giving power to the Commissioners to admit any College to any form of affiliation to an existing University, he should be happy to consider it. He was afraid what he had said might not meet the views of the noble Earl—namely, that he should give an accurate definition of what was the meaning of "added to;" but he thought he had said enough to show that the object of the Government in this matter was simply to leave the hands of the Commissioners as free and untied as possible. With reference to the suggestion of the noble and learned Lord (Lord Watson) as to the representation of the University Court, that had been a very difficult point, and he agreed there was great force in what his noble and learned Friend had said. If the Bill was recommitted and reprinted he would consider that question. He hoped the House would allow the Bill to go into Committee pro formâ, and if that were done he might be able to announce the names of the Commissioners before the rising of the House.

Motion agreed to; House in Committee accordingly; Bill reported without Amendment: Amendments made: Bill re-committed to a Committee of the Whole House on Thursday next; and to be printed as amended. (No. 128.)