HL Deb 09 May 1898 vol 57 cc657-9

My Lords, this Bill, to which I have to ask your Lordships to give a Second Reading, although a public Bill, is put forward on behalf of the University of Aberdeen, to extricate that University from a difficulty in which it has been placed by an omission in the Universities (Scotland) Acts. My Lords, by the Universities (Scotland) Acts, it is enacted that, after due investigation, and for sufficient cause shown, the University may call upon a Professor to retire from his Chair, and upon a retiring allowance. My Lords, so far as the University of Aberdeen is concerned, there is, under the Statute and under the Ordinances which regulate that University, no power to pension a Professor who has filled his Chair for less than ten years. Unfortunately, a case has arisen with reference to the Chair of Biblical Criticism which is an exception, I am glad to say, to the general rule, but which presents considerable difficulties. In the year 1893 that Chair became vacant, and soon after the appointment had been filled—very soon, indeed—unfortunately considerable dissatisfaction was expressed, both by the students and otherwise, with regard to the qualifications of the gentle man who had been appointed to the Chair. My Lords, I do not think it is necessary to go at length into these circumstances, because they form the subject of investigation by the Universities Committee, and also by a Committee of the Privy Council, but the result was that in the year 1896 the Senate of the University and the University Court recommended that the Professor should be retired from his Chair, which at that time he had only occupied for three years, upon a retiring allowance. That resolution, on their part, came before Her Majesty in Privy Council, and was approved of with this exception, that it was pointed out that there was in the University of Aberdeen no fund upon which the Professor's retiring allowance could be secured. My Lords, that occurred more than a year ago, and since that time the University has been endeavouring to discover some fund upon which they might base this payment, and secure it to the Professor. In the meantime, of course, the Chair has not been declared vacant. The Professor still occupies the Chair, although he does not deliver lectures. After exhausting all modes of inquiry at their disposal, and appealing to the Treasury in vain, the University came to the conclusion that the only course—a course which they did not think very desirable, but which was the only course open to them—was to secure the retiring allowance in this particular course upon the emoluments of the Chair. My Lords, a Bill to effect this object was drawn up. It was approved by the University Court and by the Senate, and was submitted to the Chancellor of the University and also to Her Majesty's Government. The Bill in itself is a simple one, and consists only of one enacting clause. It provides that— When the University Court, under the powers conferred by the Universities (Scotland) Act, 1858, Section twelve, Sub-section five, and by the Universities (Scotland) Act, 1889, Section six, Sub-section six, has required a Professor to retire from office upon a retiring allowance, and when there are, in the opinion of the University Court, no other available funds from which such allowance can be paid, it shall be lawful for the University Court to make the same chargeable upon the future emoluments of the Chair, and when such requisition to retire from office has been approved by Her Majesty in Council, all the emoluments of the Chair shall from the date of such approval, but so long only as said retiring allowance is payable, be paid and belong to the University Court, for the following purposes, namely, firstly for payment of the said retiring allowance, and secondly, so far as regards the whole emoluments thereafter remaining, for the sole use and occupation of the Professor in office in the said Chair. That, my Lords, is the whole effect of the Bill, and I ask your Lordships to give it a Second Reading.


The noble Lord who has brought in this Bill has stated the case for it, so far as I think it is necessary at this stage to state it, with perfect accuracy and completeness. I do not think it is possible for me to add anything to strengthen the case which he has made out for the Bill, and I have no hesitation in saying that I hope your Lordships will consent to give it a Second Reading.

Question put.

Bill read a second time.


My Lords, I propose to take the Report to-morrow, and as it is desirable that it should proceed as rapidly as possible, so that the Chair may be filled up, I also propose to ask your Lordships to-morrow to allow the Bill to be freed from the stage of Standing Committee.

House adjourned at 4.40.