On the Motion for 2,600 l. towards defraying the charge of the Royal Belfast Academical Institution,
wished to know on what ground there had been an increase in this vote of 500l. He wished to know whether any application had been made for this grant for biblical instruction in this institution.
said, that this increased sum was for four professors of divinity in the institution in Belfast, each receiving 125l. When the Irish Colleges Bill passed last year, no provision was made for the religious instruction of the people. In the north of Ireland sufficient provision did not exist for the religious instruction of those who were intended for the priesthood of the Orthodox Presbyterians. A deputation had waited upon him upon the subject, composed of the moderator and four eminent clergymen, members of the Orthodox Synod of Ulster, and strongly urged the necessity of such a grant. It was considered by the Government that it was only fair that something should be done for training the priesthood of such a numerous body as this class of Presbyterians in the north of Ireland, and consequently this small grant was made.
said, he felt considerable difficulty in referring to the subject, as he had not the advantage which was possessed by the right hon. Gentleman opposite of having fully entered into the case, for he (Mr. Labouchere) knew nothing of it except from what he had heard. There was no question of principle involved in it; but he certainly could not help thinking that there would have been an advantage in postponing this arrangement until the Queen's College, which was now founded in the town of Belfast, had been established. However, as those professors were connected with such a body as the Presbyterians of the north of Ireland, he should certainly be very sorry to take any step that could in the slightest degree be deemed hostile to them; and the vote having been brought forward on the responsibility of the late Government, who had evidently gone into the subject, he should feel it to be his duty to support the resolution. This, it should be recollected, was an annual vote. The question would be brought forward again in the Estimates of next year, and the House would then, if it thought proper, have an opportunity of reconsidering the item.
Vote agreed to.