HL Deb 30 July 1896 vol 43 cc1001-8

(1.) The Commissioners shall make statutes and regulations for the University of London in general accordance with the scheme of the Report hereinbefore referred to, but subject to any modifications which may appear to them expedient after considering any representations made to them by the Senate or Convocation of the University of London, or by any other body or persons affected. (2.) In framing such statutes and regulations, the Commissioners shall see that provision is made for securing adequately the interests of collegiate and non-collegiate students respectively. (3.) Statutes and regulations made under this Act shall have effect notwithstanding anything in any Act of Parliament, charter, deed, or other instrument.

THE BISHOP OF LONDON moved to insert at the end of the clause, after the word "instrument,"— Provided that no statutes or regulations shall inflict any disability on any college or institution on account of its religious character. The reason for the Amendment was that-the Bill was so drawn as practically to guide the Commissioners in framing their statutes to inflict a very serious disability upon King's College. This disability would put King's College at a great disadvantage as compared with the other institutions that would probably enter the University. King's College was entirely a Church College. They had power to provide a conscience clause; and that power had been exercised, and no student of the college was now required to attend any religious instruction or observance to which he conscientiously objected. The late Government, on the ground that King's College was a Church College, refused to them any share of the Parliamentary grant; but this Resolution of the Treasury had been rescinded, and they did now receive a share of the grant exactly on the same footing with all the other colleges of University rank in England. He thought that would be sufficient guarantee that when the Act forming this University was introduced the same policy would be pursued, and that what was done in regard to the grant would also be done in the Act that was to permanently establish the character of the new University. But it was not so. The Bill was so framed as to direct the Commissioners in all their proceedings to have regard to the Report of the Commissioners who inquired into the University system and the need of a University for London. In that Report the Commissioners were equally divided on the important point of whether or not King's College, being a Denominational College, should be put on the same level with the other colleges. The Report was agreed to, however, with a protest. He did nut think it was right that King's College should be expected to enter into the new University on a different footing from the rest, and therefore he had proposed the Amendment in order to prevent any disability from being inflicted on the college on account of its religious character. He asked, in other words, that the same thing should be done in regard to this University instruction as was done at the present moment in regard to elementary education. The Imperial Government knew no distinction, in the matter of grant, between Denominational Elementary Schools and schools that were not Denominational; and he did not think it, was logically consistent to deal with elementary education in one way and University education in another way. He did not think they ought to be content with anything less than the Amendment he had moved.


said he had perhaps better state more explicitly than the Right Reverend Prelate had done how this question had arisen. In the Report of Lord Cowper's Commission, it was stated that— For some time to come the most effectual means of promoting higher education in London will be by completing and supplementing the resources of existing institutions, subject to a proviso against the grant of money to any University fund for any purpose in respect of which any privilege was granted or any disability was imposed on account of religious disbelief. That, no doubt, was the recommendation of the Commission; but, unfortunately, and he thought it was very much to be regretted, the grounds of that recommendation were not in any part of the Report discussed. He did not think that, although the statutory Commissioners appointed under this Bill were directed in general terms to frame statutes and regulations for the new University, in general accordance with the recommendations of the Report, they would be in the least precluded from considering any case which might be laid before them by King's College, and from declining to impose upon them any such disability as was feared by the Right Rev. Prelate. He feared, however, that the Amendment which had been moved went somewhat too far for the necessities of the case, that it was couched in terms which were in direct opposition to the spirit of the University Test Act, and that it was absolutely certain that, whatever view the present majority of the House of Commons might take in this matter, if these words were inserted in the Bill in this shape they would raise so much controversy in another place that it would put an end to any possibility, which, perhaps, under any circumstances was a rather remote one, of the Bill being passed this year. Although he could not assent to the adoption of the words proposed by the Right Rev. Prelate, he believed there were other words which he did not think would give rise to any such opposition. The Right Rev. Prelate had referred to the protest which was signed by Bishop Barry, then, he believed, president of King's College, and others, objecting to this proviso. They said:— We hold that a University should be at liberty to accept, if it sees fit, the administration of funds for every University purpose, whatever may be the conditions attached to such administration. He should be perfectly prepared to accept in the form of an Amendment words actually embodying that opinion, and instead of the words which had been proposed, he should suggest that the Right rev. Prelate should accept words to this effect:— Provided that no statute or regulation shall preclude the University from accepting, if it sees fit, the administration of funds for every University purpose, whatever may be the conditions attached to such administration. He believed those words would entirely meet every possible case that might arise. The University had not at present at its disposal any fund whatever to allot, and any funds it might hereafter be in a position to allot must either be provided by Parliament or from some private source. If it was desired that King's College should share in such assistance, the terms were granted which would admit of the University accepting it. If it was desired by the County Council, also, that the college should share in the advantages of that fund, it would be in their power to make provision to that effect. At the same time, there was no Statute that would enable the particular desire of a donor to be overridden by whomsoever the money was given. He believed the words he had suggested to be a sufficient indication of the intention of Parliament, and he hoped the Right Rev. Prelate would be disposed to adopt them, and not insist upon the adoption of words which were certain to provoke a great deal of contention in another place, and would render it impossible to pass the Bill during the present Session. ["Hear, hear!"]


did not think that King's College ought to accept the words submitted by the Lord President, for this simple reason. Benefactions would no doubt be given to the University, but they would be given, as a general rule, without any distinict conditions at all, and simply to be used for such and such purposes, and without reference to anything in connection with the University which made a difference between King's College and any other college. And in all those cases he thought it would be possible, and from the form in which the Act was drawn he thought it would be probable, that the statutes and regulations would exclude King's College. He could not accept the suggestion of the noble Duke. The noble Duke had referred to the fate of the Bill in another place. He was quite sure that the friends of King's College in the House of Commons would not consent without a struggle to allow the college in this matter to run the risk of being very seriously crippled in the conditions between one college and another. He could not accept the suggestion of the noble Duke.


said the Right Rev. Prelate might be right in predicting what would be the result of the action taken by his Friends in another place, but he did not think he should he far wrong in predicting that the provision which he sought to insert would never be inserted in any such Bill. 'The right rev. Prelate had said something about the college being a Church of England College. Nobody proposed to prevent that; nobody proposed to interfere with the governing body of the college in that regard. No one said that, it should not be free to appoint Professors belonging to the Church of England. The condition had been this, that, King's College insisted upon having its hands tied, so that if a vacancy in a Professorship occurred and the candidates presented themselves, the Governors might appoint the inferior man simply because he was a member of the Church of England. That was the point that arose in this case. The question was not one of hardship to the college, for nobody proposed to interfere with its government; but it was whether the University of London, which had always been an undenominational institution without any test, and which was created as such, was now to foster a test which Parliament had deliberately abolished in the case of the older Universities. Tests existed in them. They were once, in the same sense, Church of England Colleges, but Parliament swept away the tests, and, if he was not mistaken, the Eight Rev. Prelate, in those years, was not altogether indisposed to the change.


I supported it, and would again.


said that might be so, but when the matter came to affect this particular college, of which he was President, then he sought to lay it down that an altogether different practice must prevail—that a test of a most rigid and undesirable character must continue. Supposing the test was swept away, in; this case it would not prevent the governing body giving preference to Church of England Professors; but the Right Rev. Prelate asked that the University of London should in this way be forced to endow an educational institution which it believed to be a bad one, because in deliberately shut out the best men from teaching botany, chemistry, mathematics, electricity, and other sciences, if they were unable to declare that they were members of the Church of England. For instance, a Presbyterian of the very highest capacity as a scientific man must be put aside in favour of one of far inferior capacity and reputation, because the former did not belong to the Church of England; and that was the system which the Right Rev. Prelate wished to connect with the University of London—a system which was entirely antagonistic to that, institution. The test had been proved absolutely worthless, even in the interests of the Church itself. He ventured to say that they would find as active, vigorous, sincere, devout Churchmen in the older Universities without this test, as wens to be found in King's College with it—that they would find men as fit to take holy orders, and as capable of doing duty as parish priests, aye, and even as Bishops, coining from the older Universities as from King's College and London University. He repeated that in this Bill it was not proposed to touch the College, which might have all its endowments to itself, and the full benefit of its connection with the University of London. But what was objected to was the Bishop's desire that the University should be fettered, and that it should be compelled to give to King's College whatever it gave to other colleges. King's College had its friends and representatives on the Cowper Commission, but the Commissioners made no such proposal as that now put forward by the right rev. Prelate. Nay, they dissented from it, and embodied their dissent in a memorandum. The noble Duke had offered to insert in the Bill, as a direction, exactly that for which Bishop Barry and the other dissentients asked, but that would not satisfy the Right Rev. Prelate. Whoever had asked for such a proposal before the Right Rev. Prelate that day? Something might have been said for the view of the Right Rev. Prelate if he had contended that the dissentient report of the Commissioners was entitled to consideration, and that the report of the majority ought not to be treated as conclusive. The noble Duke appeared to accept the very terms of the dissentient Commissioners, and he for one should have no objection to that. He did not believe that it would do any harm to permit the University to accept endowments, although they might be extended to a denominational institution, as the noble Duke had said, if the money given was public money. Those who gave, would determine its destination; and in the same way, if it was private money, the donor would determine its destination. But the Right Rev. Prelate was not satisfied unless the objectionable test referred to was continued, and he could not help thinking that the Right Rev. Prelate was asking for that which would not benefit King's College either educationally or in public estimation.


said the remarks of the noble and learned Lord might, from his point of view, be an argument against admitting King's College at all into the federated scheme. That was one reason why it took so long for the scheme to make any headway. But, if King's College was to be admitted, surely it ought to be on the terms on which it rested and on which it had hitherto worked, and worked with very great efficiency and benefit to the country. He confessed he was very-much in favour of the Bishop of London's Amendment.


said that when the Commission prepared the scheme it included King's College with all the institutions of collegiate rank that it was desirable to place under such scheme upon terms of perfect equality. The present colleges were not nearly sufficiently well equipped either as to the number of professorships in science or as to the teaching facilities, such as laboratories and other methods which modern science required. The University, therefore, would try to obtain funds either from Parliament or private sources, in order to add to the number of professorships. They wanted to treat King's College exactly as other colleges would be treated. They desired to obtain the most distinguished people as University professors who might lecture either at King's College, University College, the College of Science, or anywhere else, but they could not have any such condition as that they should be a member of the Church of England, or Jews, or Roman Catholics. It was felt the University must be at perfect liberty, without reference to any religious faith, to obtain the most eminent and the most skilled professors of the different sciences. If the University could not send those distinguished professors into King's College to instruct its pupils, it was quite evident King's College would be at a very great disadvantage.

Amendment negatived.


said he had not divided the House because he did not want to have the whole weight of the Government against him. It would not be difficult, he was sure, to show that the arguments of Lord Herschell did not really touch the point and that the speech of Lord Play fair did not cover the ground. [A laugh.] He must be content to endeavour to secure justice in the Lower House.


asked whether he could now move the words which he proposed to substitute for the Right Rev. Prelate's?


said that a substantive Amendment was never allowed unless notice had been given.


said that if the Amendment which he suggested would give any satisfaction to the Right Rev. Prelate, he would give notice of it for to-morrow.


could not say now whether he could accept the Amendment; it did not seem sufficient.


hoped the noble Duke would put the Amendment down for tomorrow.

Bill to further be proceeded with tomorrow.