( Mr. Dodson, Mr. Solicitor General, Mr. William Edward Forster.)
Order for Consideration read.
Bill, as amended, considered.
said, he rose to move a clause to the effect that nothing in the Bill should open any office to any person not a member of the Church of England, where such office was, by the intention of the founder or donor, confined to a member of that Church, and where the income of such office was payable out of the produce of property or moneys given by private persons out of their own resources since the year 1562. He was glad the question had been postponed to the present time, because in the interval there had been an animated discussion on denominational education. It was not known that the Government were prepared to support denominational education in the public elementary schools, and yet they were averse to maintaining it in the Universities. When the Bill was tinder the consideration of the House last year, the hon. Member for Brighton (Mr. Fawcett) proposed to remove its permissive character and to render it compulsory, but his Amendment was rejected and the Government refused to mate any alteration. Indeed, they could not not consistently do so, because, as the endowed schools and the public schools were permitted to retain their denominational character, it was impossible for them to take a different course with regard to the Universities. This year, however, there had been a complete change in the aspect of the question. During the Recess the Government thought fit to throw a sop to hon. Gentlemen below their Gangway, and the Bill was accordingly converted into a compulsory one. It was defended by his hon. and learned Friend the Solicitor General in as subversive and revolutionary a speech in respect to the rights of property as he had ever heard delivered by a Minister. His hon. and learned Friend expressed himself as follows:—
While upon this point he (Mr. Bentinck) could only express his surprise that his hon. and learned Friend limited the application of this doctrine to property in mortmain; and it was clear that Parliament had the right and power, if it chose, to deal with any property after the same fashion—even the private property of his hon. and learned Friend. But he (Mr. Bentinck) denied the existence of any such principle as that asserted. It was clearly opposed to law. To show this he would cite a short extract, of the highest authority, contained in a judgment delivered by the late Lord Lyndhurst as the joint opinion of himself and of Baron Alderson and Justice Patteson in the celebrated case of "the Lady Hewley Charities." Lord Lyndhurst said—"Parliament has always asserted its right from the earliest times to deal with property in Mortmain. Every one who gave property in Mortmain, or founded a College, or gave property to a corporation, ecclesiastical or lay, has done so with the knowledge that Parliament could deal with these institutions as they might think fit. The two Universities had been so dealt with by Parliament over and over again, and notably on the occasion when the Acts of Supremacy and Uniformity were passed. He denied any different principle of legislation. The broad principle upon which Government proceeded was that from lapse of time these great institutions had in all cases acquired so thoroughly a national character, and were so far in point of opinion separated from those who founded them, that it was only just that they should be thrown open to a wider range."
He (Mr. Bentinck) ventured to affirm that these principles of common sense and common justice still existed in full force. Moreover, he denied altogether the soundness of his hon. and learned Friend's argument as to the action of Parliament when the Acts of Supremacy and Uniformity were passed. Parliament instead of being as now almost the chief Governing Body in the State, was obliged to do in a great measure whatever the Sovereign desired, and it was idle to say that, because an Act of Supremacy was passed in 1534, and an Act of a similar character on the accession of Queen Elizabeth, the results of such legislation had any application to the present time. He asserted that the doctrine of the Solicitor General was opposed to all Parliamentary legislation of modern times, and he defied him to produce a case where Parliament had deliberately overruled the law and diverted a trust fund which was being beneficially applied according to the intention of the donor from the objects designated. But he (Mr. Bentinck) would now leave the Solicitor General in order to deal with the Prime Minister, who had lately made a declaration entirely contrary to that of his hon. and learned Friend. Last year the right hon. Gentleman broke a silence of four years upon this very question, and then, though admitting a modification of his views, committed himself to the statement that ample liberty should be given to those—"I agree entirely in the principle stated by the learned Judges (Baron Alderson and Justice Patteson) upon which this case must be decided. In every case of charity where the object be directed to religious purposes, or to purposes purely civil, it is the duty of the Court to give effect to the intent of the founder, provided this can be done without infringing any known rule of law. If the terms of the deed be clear and precise in language, and clear and precise in the application, the course of the Court is free from difficulty. If, on the other hand, the terms which are made use of are doubtful, it becomes the duty of the Court to ascertain by evidence what was the intent of the founder. It is a question of fact to be determined by evidence, and the moment the fact is ascertained the application of the principle is clear and easy. It can scarcely be necessary to cite authorities in support of these principles, they are founded in common sense and common justice. I look upon it that these principles are clear and established—that they admit of no doubt whatever."
Besides, one of the leading principles of the Bill which he had introduced with regard to the Irish Church was that private endowments were to be respected. It was true that he drew a line at the year 1660, on the ground afterwards demolished by the right hon. Member for Buckinghamshire—that this detail did not affect the doctrine clearly stated by the right hon. Gentleman to depend on three conditions, namely—1. The endowment must be from the private resources of a private person. 2. It must be devoted to endowing a particular religious persuasion or system. 3. It must be a gift to the same religious persuasion as that on whose behalf it was to be severed from the mass. He (Mr. Bentinck) could not understand, then, why the same principle should not be applied to the private property of the Church of England in this country. There was no difficulty in fixing a date in the matter, because it must be that of the 39 Articles, and of the Prayer Book as it now stood. He saw no good reason under these circumstances why the right hon. Gentleman should not accept his Amendment. But the right hon. Gentleman, always fertile in expedient, foresaw the difficulty which lay in his path, and consequently had, in his speech on the second reading of the Bill this Session, stated that—"Who founded Colleges for the maintenance of their own particular religion with whatever restrictions they thought proper, and that these restrictions ought to be respected as the offspring of conscientious convictions," and added," he would accede to no Bill without just and adequate securities for religious education in the Universities and Colleges."
He (Mr. Bentinck) would accept the challenge and venture to urge an argument which he was quite sure could not be answered. Did the right hon. Gentleman seriously mean to contend that previous to 1688 a man could not know his own mind, and was incapable of making an endowment? Was he prepared to maintain that at the present day it was not possible for any individual in a country in which there was no other religion but one to make to the Church a valid gift? Would the Under Secretary for the Colonies or the Judge Advocate maintain that no Roman Catholic in Rome or Spain was capable of making a gift of that kind? Would be maintain that between 1562–1658 Nonconformists and Roman Catholics were in a frenzy to endow Anglicanism, when many of them preferred death to conformity? Summed up, then, the right hon. Gentleman's argument was this—that a man was debarred from endowing a Church with which he agreed because he was by law prohibited from endowing one with which he disagreed. The only disproof of such a position was by a reductio ad absurdum. But if the conclusion of the right hon. Gentleman was not sufficiently preposterous it was upset by himself—for, fixing the date of 1660 in the Irish Church Bill, he had admitted a space of 28 years, during which these private endowments were to be respected. It was useless to argue with the right hon. Gentleman and the majority at his back, that, now that the country had pronounced, against secularists, he saw no reason why the Amendment should not be adopted and justice done. But then it was said by his hon. and learned Friend the Solicitor General that the endowments in the case of the Universities ought to confer the largest amount of good on the greatest number. Well, that being so, he believed there was not an instance of a College, either at Oxford or Cambridge, which was not quite full, while as regarded religious teaching he was satisfied, on the best authority, that there existed, no objections on the part of the parents of England, whether they belonged to the Church or to the religious Dissenting Bodies; on the contrary, he knew of many instances where Dissenting parents had declined to avail themselves of the option they possessed of withdrawing their sons from the religious instruction of the Colleges. That compulsion which the noble Lord the Member for Calne (Lord Edmond Fitzmaurice) was pleased to call "clerical bombardment," was a pure fallacy, and he (Mr. Bentinck) was bound to say he thought that term most improper for a young Member of this House to apply to the teachers of religion in the Colleges—a body both revered and respected by all who knew them. The noble Lord's knowledge of history was extensive but not deep, or he would have recollected one historical fact of no little importance to himself—namely, that when the "small, obscure, and illiterate village in Wilts"—as the constituency he now represented was termed by his political leader, the right hon. Member for Birmingham (Mr. Bright)—was threatened with disfranchisement, it was saved from such a fate by the exertions of the Conservative party; and on the ground that it usually sent to Parliament a Member favourable to the rights of property, and was at the time represented by the Chancellor of the Exchequer, who was then a strong Conservative, but who had now abandoned his principles to take Office with his chief assailants. The real promoters of this measure were avowed secularists and bitter sectarians, such as the Member for Sheffield (Mr. Hadfield), who to injure the Church or demolish a Bishop would proceed to any length, and for that purpose ally himself with the Pope of Home, or any earthly power; and he (Mr. Bentinck) held it was a monstrous act of tyranny to deny what the parents of England required, to satisfy a few restless spirits in the University, and a political party who waged war against property in every shape, and were insensible to the principles of common justice and common sense."It was impossible, he thought, that endowments, which were made before the Reformation—or after the Reformation—at the time when the parties wishing to endow had no choice given them between one religious communion and another, could be regarded as having been finally or absolutely appropriated by the wills of the founders, to the purpose of one communion after the policy of the State had been altered and rival communions became entitled to claim equal civil rights …. Certainly until the passing of the Toleration Act, and possibly until a later period, it would be impracticable for his right hon. Friend to urge an argument to show that the founder of a particular endowment had the Church of England in his views, because, until that time, other religions were not recognized or permitted by the law."—[3 Hansard, cci. 1230.]
COLONEL GRAY seconded the Motion.
Clause (Offices confined to members of the Church of England,)—( Mr. Bentinck,)— brought up, and read the first time.
said, the speech of the hon. Gentleman was, in reality, a carefully prepared reply to what had been said in the debate on the second reading of the Bill. He thought it was rather inconvenient that replies should be made some weeks after the delivery of the speeches to which they referred; it did not tend either to the advantage of the House or to the advantage of Public Business. He did not need to go into a long defence of his "revolutionary and subversive" speech on the second reading, but he adhered to the convictions he then expressed, and he repeated that Parliament had from the earliest times asserted its right to a peculiar and exceptional jurisdiction over property held in mortmain, and that any Englishman who gave land in mortmain did so with the knowledge that Parliament would, from time to time, review the conditions on which that property was held, and might from time to time alter them. If that was a revolutionary opinion he held it, and now asserted it again in the face of the hon. Member. The hon. Member had made a singular mistake in quoting the opinions of Lord Lyndhurst, Mr. Baron Alderson, and Mr. Justice Patteson in support of his arguments, because the duty of the Judges was only to ascertain what was the law, and to apply it to the cases before them whether they approved it or not, and he was the best Judge who adhered most closely to the law and administered it most accurately. Parliament, however, had not to consider what the law was, but what it ought to be, and they sat there to alter and improve the law where they saw it was faulty. The question, therefore, was not what the Judges might have said, but what the House of Commons, from consideration, thought the law ought to be with regard to this matter. It appeared to him that the law might fairly be altered in the sense proposed by this Bill, because, as a broad general principle, and without binding himself to particular cases, he was prepared to repeat that, if a person had given land to religious, ecclesiastical, or educational institutions of any kind, which had had the enjoyment of those endowments for one, two, or three centuries, they had had, according to the principles ordinarily applied to such matters, a very fair share of influence over their fellow-creatures, and if, at the end of that time, the Legislature of the country thought that the property should be applied to other purposes, equally public, but somewhat different in detail from those to which it was originally applied, it would be fair and just that the Legislature should make that application. Nothing could be less to the point than the case of the disestablishment of the Irish Church, because in that case the Church was stripped of all her property, but in this not one sixpence was taken away. All that was done by this Bill was to leave the Church of England equally at liberty to contend for the enjoyment of these possessions with other communities in the country, and it only withdrew an exceptional Parliamentary protection from the holders of particular religious opinions in order to allow persons who held other opinions to compete fairly for honours and emoluments. The Government could not accede to the clause proposed by the hon. Gentleman.
said, the House had been told several times by the hon. and learned Gentleman that Parliament might alter or abolish the trusts on which Church or corporate property was held, because in the days of the Plantagenets laws were enacted restraining the alienation of land in mortmain; but to prevent giving land to religious uses, and to confiscate it after it had been legally given were two very different things; and the hon. and learned Gentleman had entirely omitted to state the reason, which no longer existed, for that early legislation. The Law of Mortmain was enacted when the military defence of the country rested upon the land, and therefore it was necessary to throw impediments in the way of its alienation; but now all that was changed, and from the reign of Queen Elizabeth to George II. land was freely bequeathed. In the latter reign restrictions were revived because of serious abuses which were said to be incident to that form of bequest. He maintained, therefore, that the argument on which the hon. and learned Gentleman relied was wholly without historical foundation. The hon. and learned Gentleman had said that no injustice was done by this Bill, because, although it might be true that property, which was bequeathed by a founder for the exclusive use of a College in connection with the Church of England was thrown open to all other religious denominations, the Church of England was not deprived of that property; but he would ask the hon. and learned Gentleman what he would think of a Bill which professed that his property was not taken away from him although everybody else was allowed to enjoy it? That argument savoured too much of legal subtlety and ingenuity, and did not meet the real and substantial case of injustice that was provided for by the Amendment, which he should consequently support.
said, that he could not entirely agree in the opinion of the noble Lord the Member for South Leicestershire (Lord John Manners) with respect to the law of mortmain, That system of law, in fact, originated in, and was traceable during, the Saxon dynasties of this country. The monastic institutions were broken up during the reign of Henry VIII in deference to its principle, and that principle was acted upon during the reign of Edward VI. Queen Mary procured a statute suspending the law against alienations in mortmain, because she desired the restoration of the monastic and conventual orders of the Church of Borne in all the magnitude of their former possessions. Queen Elizabeth did not re-enact the law of mortmain, because she was anxious to establish a national Church, and therefore let that law fall into abeyance; but the purpose of this Bill was to deprive the Established Church of property, and therefore was contrary to the object of Elizabeth. It was at present the law that no corporation should have a right to establish itself in the possession of that vast influence which the unrestricted holding of land was calculated to confer. The hon. and learned Gentleman seemed to think that House so completely a debating club that speeches were only made there for purposes of the hour, and in order to obtain a majority, and that then they were meant to be forgotten. Now, in his view, past debates were not to be so treated. They were reasons submitted to this Assembly in framing laws intended not for to-day, but for all time, and, however convenient it might be for the Solicitor General to ignore these debates, he could not take that view of them. As to the dicta uttered by Lord Lyndhurst, the case of Lady Hewley's charity was perfectly in point, and the principle on which this Dissenting charity was maintained ought in equity to apply to the maintenance of these possessions of the Church of England. If you took away this property, changing its application and diverting it from the Church of England, you ought in equity to take away and divert the property of every denomination. Hon. Gentlemen might command a majority now, but great principles worked through majorities, and lasted longer than majorities. If this destructive principle were adopted by hon. Gentlemen opposite, their turn would come, and the Roman Catholics, who were now their allies, would certainly turn against them. The doctrine that neither prescription nor length of possession ought to give a title was a novel and a dangerous one, and he saw in it the elements of destruction to all corporate property. Nor would it be limited to all corporate property, but it would tend to the subversion of private property also. He therefore concurred with the hon. Member for Whitehaven, disapproving the Bill as one founded on revolutionary doctrines.
said, he should not have proposed the clause at all if it had not been for the change of policy on the part of the Government in reference to the Elementary Education Bill.
Motion made, and Question, "That the said Clause be now read a second time," put, and negatived.
said, he understood that the Government intended to accede to the clause of which he had given Notice, providing that a copy of every College charter should be laid before Parliament. The granting of a charter by the Crown was a great act of State with reference to an institution like a College, and, therefore, Parliament should co-operate with the Crown on such a subject. This course had been pursued in the case of the statutes of the public schools; and he, therefore, proposed the clause of which he had given Notice.
(Copy of College Charter to be laid before Parliament.)
(That if, after the passing of this Act a Charter shall be granted to any College or other institution in the nature of a College, a copy of such Charter shall be presented to Parliament, and no such Charter shall be of any force or effect until the expiration of thirty days from the time when it shall have been so presented,)—(Mr. Vernon Harcourt,)
— brought up, and read the first and second time.
said, the object of the hon. and learned Member (Mr. Vernon Harcourt) was to throw impediments in the way of the future foundation of denominational Colleges; but this was not a matter of very great consequence, for, after the vague way in which the Solicitor General had spoken as to the time for which founders' wills were to be allowed to stand, he did not think much property was likely to be left for the foundation of denominational Colleges, and therefore few charters would be applied for. The Solicitor General also hinted broadly that the Liberal Government would be likely to carry out their principles of religious liberty by refusing to grant charters to foundations for the purpose of securing definite religious instruction to those who might wish for it. He would suggest, however, to the hon. and learned Member that it would be unfair and invidious to limit the clause to Colleges in connection with the Church of England. As the clause stood, it applied only to the Universities of Oxford, Cambridge, and Durham, where other denominations would not be likely to establish Colleges. He did not see why the same hindrance to denominational Colleges should not apply to the Universities of London and Dublin, and also to the Scotch Universities. He did not see why, at the University of London, which, in one respect, was more national than either Oxford or Cambridge, being supported by Imperial taxation, any body of Nonconformists should be permitted, without the knowledge of Parliament, to found a denominational College, while at Oxford, Cambridge, and Durham Churchmen were not allowed to do so. Again, as regarded Dublin, he did not see why, looking at the secret working of the Roman Catholics, and the notorious favour with which denominational Colleges in Dublin were regarded by the Government, the Catholics should be able to obtain, without the sanction of Parliament, a charter for a Roman Catholic College there, no would, therefore, suggest the insertion of the words "within the United Kingdom," after the words "in the nature of a College," making the clause general, instead of limiting it to Oxford, Cambridge, or Durham. It might be said that his Amendment was beyond the scope of the Bill; but would not the same objection apply to the clause? And would not the insertion of the clause involve the alteration of the Preamble of the Bill?
said, he wished to explain that he framed his clause as widely as he could, and he had hoped to cover all Colleges, and more particularly the University of Dublin. The hon. Baronet would see that in the clause itself there were no words of limitation. He was afraid, from the title of the Bill, that its operation would be restricted to the Universities of Oxford, Cambridge, and Durham; but certainly the clause as it was drawn would apply to all Universities.
said, if he was in Order he should be ready to move words to alter the Preamble; but his object was simply to apply a clause, to which he entirely objected, fairly and impartially to every religious denomination.
expressed a hope that the Preamble of the Bill would not be altered. He did not approve of the clause, and it would be an unsafe course of legislation to go into such a broad constitutional question as the Prerogative of the Crown on the Bill before the House.
said, he was obliged to make a double protest against the speech of the hon. Baronet opposite (Sir Michael Hicks-Beach). It was neither just nor in very good taste for the hon. Baronet, without a shadow of evidence, to impute to the Government that they were anxious to promote the establishment of denominational Colleges in Ireland, more especially when the hon. Baronet had been a contented member of a Government which proposed to found and endow out of the Consolidated Fund a denominational College in Ireland. It was perfectly gratuitous on the part of the hon. Baronet to impute what he had imputed to the present Government. The hon. Baronet had expressed himself favourable of denominational education; but regarding the clause as intended to throw impediments in the way of denominational education, the hon. Baronet, while disapproving it, would be satisfied with it if all were made to suffer alike. He (Mr. Gladstone) did not understand the consistency of that process of reasoning; but the hon. Baronet did not fairly describe the clause. As he (Mr. Gladstone) understood it it was not intended to throw impediments in the way of denominational education, but simply to bring any action of the Crown in re- gard to denominational Colleges under the review of Parliament; and so far it had the approval of the Government. They did not, unfortunately, agree on a former occasion with his hon. and learned Friend (Mr. Vernon Harcourt) with regard to Colleges hereafter to be founded in our Universities, because they thought it desirable to leave the founders free to make them denominational or not, and in that the House agreed; but now his hon. and learned Friend proposed to bring every action of the Crown with reference to charters under the view and control of Parliament, and the Government coincided with him in that object. He was inclined to believe there was something in the observation of the hon. Gentleman the Member for Cambridge University (Mr. Beresford Hope) which required consideration. Looking hastily at the clause, he and the learned Solicitor General thought it was framed on the basis of the provisions of various Acts of Parliament, which required that the action of the Crown in the exercise of its prerogative should be brought under the view of Parliament, but his hon. and learned Friend went a little farther and said—"no such Charter shall have any force or effect until the expiration of 30 days from the time when it shall have been so presented." As far as he was aware analogy did not go so far as that. What was sustained by analogy and precedent was this—that when the Crown had done an executive act within its power, it took immediate effect, notwithstanding that it was liable to be cancelled on the intervention of Parliament. That he thought was the proper form to be given to this clause. It was a different thing to say the Act should be null and void ab initio until after a certain time had elapsed. They knew there were proceedings of the Crown that were liable to be cancelled by the intervention of Parliament; but that was a different thing to a matter being cancelled in the manner proposed by the clause. It was a matter of form; but he hoped his hon. and learned Friend would not object to the clause being amended in the manner he had proposed.
said, he had heard with a little alarm the words which had fallen from the First Minister of the Crown. It seemed to him that the change his right hon. Friend had recommended, would practically give either House of Parliament power, by an Address to the Crown, to stop the action of the Crown in granting a charter, which would throw greater difficulties in the foundation of Colleges than the clause as proposed. They ought to pause and consider before they introduced such a limitation as that would be upon the power of the Crown to grant charters. He very much preferred the words of the clause as it stood.
said, they were using obsolete terms, for now the exercise of the Prerogative of the Crown was, in reality, the act of the Ministry; if a charter was granted, it would be granted by the Ministry; and they ought to have regard to the substance of the proceeding rather than to a phrase. It was the act of the Minister for the time being that Parliament was called upon to approve or object to.
said, he could not help thinking that too much force had been attributed to the words of the clause by his right hon. Friend the Prime Minister, and he and his right hon. Friend were of opinion that it would be better to leave it as it stood and not attempt to alter it. In the case of colonial Acts reserved for the approval of the Crown, its action did not take effect until they had been submitted to the judgment of both Houses of Parliament for a certain length of time.
said, the hon. Baronet (Sir Michael Hicks-Beach), if he pressed his Amendment to the clause, would find he had many supporters below the Gangway on that side of the House. He maintained with the hon. Baronet that the same measure ought to be dealt out to the Universities of Oxford, Cambridge, Durham, and Dublin. The London University stood in a somewhat different position to the others, it being in reality simply a Board of examiners. There were no Colleges affiliated to it, and it took no notice where the candidates came from. They had had some reason to be suspicious of the action to be pursued by both sides of the House in reference to education in Ireland. The First Minister had reminded the hon. Baronet that he was a supporter of the party who proposed to grant a charter for a Roman Catholic University in Ireland; but the First Minister and many who sat on the Government Benches with him were mem- bers of a Government who, if they had granted a supplemental charter to Queen's College, would have dealt a fatal blow to united education in Ireland. But for an accident the charter would have been granted without being found out. That narrow escape was the reason why they were so anxious that the question of University education in Ireland should be discussed next Session on its merits, and that nothing should be introduced into this Bill that could be treated as a precedent in favour of denominational or any other particular system of education.
said, he would move, to amend the clause by inserting the words "within the United Kingdom." In reply to the attack that had been made upon him by the right hon. Gentleman the First Minister of the Crown, he begged to remind him that the Government of which he was a Member, whilst it supported a Vote of money being granted out of the Consolidated Fund for the establishment of a University in Ireland, would also have supported denominational education in our English Universities; but if denominational Colleges were not to be permitted in England he did not see why they should not be prohibited in Ireland. He wanted to see the two things go together.
Amendment proposed, in line 2 of the Clause, after the second word "College," to insert the words "within the United Kingdom."—( Sir Michael Hicks-Beach.)
Question proposed, "That those words be there inserted."
said, he would beg to ask Mr. Speaker, whether what was proposed would come within the title of the Bill?
The whole question involved in the subject-matter of the Bill may be raised on the Report. Under these circumstances the hon. Member would have power to move such words, although if adopted they would necessitate an alteration in the title of the Bill.
said, if there was any doubt as to the regularity of the proceeding, the Government would be prepared to relieve the House from that difficulty, by undertaking to bring in a separate Bill, and pass it themselves, on the terms to which they had now agreed.
said, if the Motion of the hon. Baronet (Sir Michael Hicks-Beach) was carried there would be no object in his (Mr. Aytoun's) moving the Amendment which he had on the Paper. He regretted that the hon. and learned Member for Oxford (Mr. Vernon Harcourt) had not gone to a Division on the question of leaving out the words in Clause 3, "subsisting at the time of the passing of this Act." But as that was not done, and as he felt very strongly against the establishment of denominational Universities in Ireland, and feared that if the present occasion was allowed to pass they would be told next year that they objected to denominational education in Ireland because of their dislike to Roman Catholicism, but that they were silent when the same question in regard to Oxford and Cambridge was before the House, he had given notice to move the omission of the words. For his own part, he could not help fearing that there was a strong desire on the part of the Government now in Office to establish denominational education in Ireland, and for that reason he would vote with the hon. Baronet if he went to a Division.
trusted his hon. Friend would not proceed to a Division, as he (Mr. B. Hope) would certainly have to go into an opposite Lobby. They had a Bill before them which had been printed and brought under the attention of the country, and his hon. Friend proposed at once to deal with a very important constitutional principle by trying to alter the right of private founders of educational institutions throughout the country to get that stability which a Royal charter gave them. Hitherto there had been only two contracting parties, the body applying for a charter and the Crown who granted it; and, whether this proposal was right or wrong, it should be a matter for a specific Bill brought in and properly debated, and not tossed on the floor of the House as on the present occasion. He trusted, therefore, his hon. Friend would not press the question to a Division.
said, he would remind his hon. Friend that there were two parties to withdrawing the Amendment, and a considerable number of Members had no desire whatever that the Amendment should be withdrawn. Since Mr. Speaker had solved his doubt as to whether the question could be raised, he had no hesitation in supporting the Amendment of the hon. Baronet.
said, there was but one opinion in the House, and that was that this was too large a subject to enter upon at that moment. The hon. Baronet (Sir Michael Hicks-Beach) had brought forward the question, which was not in the Preamble of the Bill, in rather a hasty manner, and it was naturally eagerly grasped on the other (the Liberal) side. Under the circumstances, he felt bound to move the adjournment of the debate.
said, he thought the impolicy of proceeding with the Amendment was shown by the course Her Majesty's Government thought fit to take on the present occasion. They had had one interpretation of the Amendment from the First Minister of the Crown, another from the Solicitor General, who, in his turn, differed from the hon. and learned Member for Richmond (Sir Roundell Palmer). This was a most important question; and though he quite agreed with his hon. Friend (Sir Michael Hicks-Beach), that if they were going to limit denominational education in the Universities of Oxford and Cambridge, they ought to do the same in Dublin, and that they should not subscribe to what seemed to be the doctrine of the Liberal party, that they were only to have liberty on one side, he yet thought there was great force in the point dwelt on by his hon. Friend the Member for Cambridge (Mr. Beresford Hope). Had his hon. Friend (Mr. Vernon Harcourt) considered what he might do if he were successful—that he might alter the Prerogative of the Crown in establishing educational institutions? This was a matter which, as the First Minister of the Crown said, should be considered in a separate Bill. The right hon. Gentleman, in order to satisfy his suspicious adherents below the Gangway, said that he would bring in and pass such a Bill. He thought, no doubt, he could pass anything. However that might be, he thought it extremely inconvenient that the House should arrive at a hasty decision for the purpose of establishing the abstract principle which he believed was not in accordance with the opinion of the House, that denominational education was bad for the world at large. If hon. Members would not consent to a withdrawal of the Amendment, he hoped his hon. Friend would persist in his Motion for the adjournment of the debate.
Motion made, and Question proposed, "That the Debate be now adjourned."—( Mr. Stopford-Sackville.)
said, he could not help thinking that the Government were rather badly treated in this matter. After the statement of his right hon. Friend (Mr. Gladstone), and after having twice divided against a number of their most earnest supporters, not in defence so much of denominational education as of leaving future founders as free as possible, it was rather hard to be accused, of insincerity. What was the position in which they were now placed. Here was a measure which dealt with these Universities—a question of future charters, and of charters to future Colleges in those Universities. His hon. and learned Friend the Member for Oxford (Mr. Vernon Harcourt) raised a question which, if not within the principle of the Bill, was cognate to the Bill, and sufficiently connected with it to form part of it. Well, the hon. Baronet opposite (Sir Michael Hicks-Beach), because he thought the Government were not sincere about denominational education, moved an Amendment, extending the whole scope of the Bill far beyond the Universities of Oxford, and Cambridge, and Durham—extending it all over the Kingdom, and limiting the power of the Crown, with a view of producing, as he said, some indirect effect in Ireland. Now, so far as the Government was concerned, they had not the slightest objection to placing on the Table of the House the charter of any College, or intended College, 30 days before it could take effect. They were prepared, as his right hon. Friend had said, to bring in a Bill dealing with the matter in the broadest way, and bringing to bear the control of Parliament on such charters hereafter. Surely, it was; better that a matter of this kind, in which an important Prerogative of the I Crown was concerned, should be properly and directly dealt with, in a separate Bill, and not in the hasty manner in which they must deal with it if the hon. Baronet proceeded to a Division. He trusted that hon. Gentlemen sitting below the Gangway would accept the assurance that there was not the slightest disinclination to bring in a general measure upon this subject, and to enact for the future that charters for Colleges should be laid before Parliament; only there was a bonâ fide objection to put a clause to that effect in this Bill in a hasty manner, without being able, from want of time, to consider what would be the effect of it on the other clauses of the Bill. He, therefore, hoped there would be no objection to the Amendment being withdrawn.
I am not one of those who would object to anything which would settle the Bill. But the Amendment of my hon. Friend (Sir Michael Hicks-Beach) is one the effect of which we hate not ascertained at the moment, and I think the offer which the right hon. Gentleman at the head of the Government has made ought to satisfy the Gentlemen who act with him, so far as future charters to Colleges are concerned. I only regret that so much time has been wasted, for there is no intention, I believe, at this moment of granting any charters, and that is a question with which we need not trouble ourselves. I agree entirely that what is law here should be law in Ireland, and that charters of this kind the House may fairly desire to see before they take effect. I find no fault with that. But I do think it is a pity we should waste our time in definitions when we have a distinct pledge from the Government that they will bring in a Bill to place the rest of the United Kingdom in the same position.
said, he considered the assurance which had been given by the First Minister and the Solicitor General quite satisfactory.
said, that after what had fallen from his right hon. Friend (Mr. Hardy) he would withdraw the Amendment.
Motion, by leave, withdrawn.
Question again proposed, "That those words be there inserted."
said, that he hoped his hon. and learned Friend (Mr. Vernon Harcourt) would withdraw the clause, as his (Mr. Gladstone's) proposal was, that they should consider the exact wording of the clause, the object of which they perfectly understood, and which they were prepared to embody in the Bill they intended to introduce.
said, he hoped that the hon. and learned Member would withdraw the Motion.
said, that he did not understand that he was to withdraw the clause; but after what had passed he felt his withdrawal of it would place it in much better hands.
Amendment and Clause, by leave, withdrawn.
said, he would beg to move, in Clause 2, line 28, after "Lectureship," to insert "Headship of a College or Hall."
Amendment proposed, in page 1, line 28, after the word "Lectureship," to insert the words "Headship of a College or hall."—( Lord Edmond Fitzmaurice.)
protested against this change, for it vitally altered the character of the Bill, inasmuch as it took away one of the safeguards, that while the College should be fairly and freely opened to the intelligence of the country, yet that the general tone and character of this education should be religious. His right hon. Friend (Mr. Gladstone) had yielded one way and the other to the Liberal sections at Oxford and Cambridge; that at the former University being presided over by a well-known Fellow of Baliol College. He protested against this method of dealing with great questions. What encouragement had they to co-operate if such alterations were made? If one of the safeguards which were held out to them as an inducement was so easily to be struck out, it took away all hope of a safe and honourable compromise, and untied the hands of all those who came forward to try and find some ground on which they might come to an understanding.
Sir, I think my hon. Friend (Mr. Beresford Hope) can hardly feel any surprise at the conclusion which the Government have come to on this subject. When it was pressed upon us in the winter that we should take up the question and introduce a Bill for the removal of religious tests in the Universities of Oxford and Cambridge, and Durham, primâ facie, of course, this meant the removal of all religious tests, except in the case of offices which directly and necessarily involve the performance of duties specifically connected with the Church of England, such, for instance, as Professorships of Divinity. However, all those who in the Universities had been for a long series of years promoting a measure of this kind, thought it expedient amongst themselves to limit the application, and requested that we should exclude Headships from the operation of the Bill. That was done by gentlemen connected with Oxford not because that was in conformity with their own opinion, but from their desire to meet the views of gentlemen from Cambridge, who thought that the exclusion would tend to promote a speedy settlement of the question. That request was made known to me, and the reservation was made. However, a change has taken place. There is no longer that concurrence of opinion between the Universities, and, under these circumstances, it is plain that the considerations of policy which governed us no longer had existence, and we had to examine the question on its merits; and I must say we do not attach importance to this reservation. The other reservations in the Bill—if they be reservations at all, are completely compatible with the principle of the Bill. Their effect is merely to take care that the operation of the measure shall not be extended by any mere process of interpretation to matters which it is not designed to affect, and that while we secure for individuals free access to the emoluments of the Colleges, we shall not, in other respects, affect the system which, is established in them or the guarantees, whatever they may be, for religious education. But this provision as regards Headships evidently stands on totally different ground. It is a part of the system of religious tests presumptively included within the object of the Bill, and the question we have to answer to ourselves is this, whether it is desirable to make such an exception. A large proportion of the Headships in both Universities are already covered and protected by statutes of the Colleges, which require that the Heads of those Colleges shall be in Holy Orders. It is only about one-third or one-fourth, taking Cambridge and Oxford together, of the whole number of Headships that will be affected by the Motion of my noble Friend. Certainly, it is naturally within the purview of the Bill that we should remove the tests from these offices. I can see no advantage in retaining them; it would be creating an exception which might, in particular cases, operate in a most invidious manner; and, above all, to secure an object extremely small, it would be running the risk of keeping alive a Parliamentary agitation, instead of being able to arrive at a satisfactory settlement. Under these circumstances, the Government have no hesitation in concurring in the Motion of my noble Friend (Lord Edmond Fitzmaurice).
said, that those with whom he acted were prepared to join his hon. Friend the Member for the University of Cambridge (Mr. Beresford Hope), in resisting this last concession on the part of the Government, who were surrendering the only modicum of compromise which the Bill contained. The right hon. Gentleman had explained to the House the motives which had led to the change he had announced; but he would remark that this was not the first time that the House had had to listen to such explanations lately. This was one, and they had shortly before heard one in relation to the subject of denominational education in Ireland. The right hon. Gentleman was a master of many legions, but his legions had run away from him. The hon. Gentleman below the Gangway and the Liberal Committee at Oxford had forced the right hon. Gentleman to surrender the original intention contained in the Bill.
denied that he had expressed any change of intention with regard to the subject of denominational education in Ireland.
Question put, "That those words be there inserted."
The House divided:—
The Tellers being come to the Table, Mr. Glyn, one of the Tellers for the Ayes, acquainted Mr. Speaker that Mr. Kinnaird, the Member for Perth, had not voted.
Whereupon Mr. Speaker desired the honourable Member to come to the Table, and asked him if he had heard the Question put.
The honourable Member came to the Table, and having stated that he had heard the Question put and declared himself with the Ayes, Mr. Speaker directed his name to be added to the Ayes.
The Tellers accordingly declared the numbers, Ayes 205; Noes 86: Majority 119.
said, the object of the Motion of which he had given Notice was to extend to all Colleges founded after the passing of the Act the same principle as the Act itself applied to existing Colleges. He begged, accordingly, to move, in Clause 3, page 2, lines 12 and 13, to leave out "subsisting at the time of the passing of this Act."
Amendment proposed, in page 2, lines 12 and 13, to leave out the words "subsisting at the time of the passing of this Act."—( Mr. Sinclair Aytoun.)
said, he did not want to raise a debate on this Motion, having stated his objections to the proposal in Committee. The hon. Member (Mr. Sinclair Aytoun) then thought his argument was a very bad one, so he would not repeat it, and he should content himself on that occasion with simply offering his opposition to the Amendment.
said, he wished to remind the House that there had been, no opportunity of voting on this question in Committee, the hon. Member for Oxford (Mr. Vernon Harcourt) having unexpectedly withdrawn his Amendment. It was not likely, after the passing of this Bill, that any denominational Colleges would be founded in England; but, in supporting this Motion, he wished to make it perfectly clear why he did so. His object was to reserve to himself entire freedom of action whenever education in Ireland came on for discussion, and he should like to hear from the First Minister of the Crown some assurance that it was not intended to interfere with mixed education in that country. Suspicion, perhaps, was too strong a word to use, but among many Gentlemen on his own side of the House a very strong feeling had been excited by the attitude of the Government on this matter, and they must only thank themselves for the existence of that feeling. For four successive Sessions the hon. Member for Brighton (Mr. Fawcett) had brought forward the question of University education in Ireland, and during those four successive years the First Minister and several of his Colleagues, whether in Office or out of Office, had opposed the opening of Trinity College to Roman Catholics and Dissenters. The insertion in the Bill of the words now proposed would have little practical effect as regarded Oxford, for even Keble College was included in its scope. But, to keep his conscience clear with reference to any proposal that might be made with regard to education in Ireland, he should vote for the Motion of his hon. Friend (Mr. Sinclair Aytoun).
said, that he also should vote for the Motion if pressed to a Division. This was a Bill for abolishing tests; and if tests were objectionable in principle in Colleges at present existing, they must be equally so in Colleges to be founded hereafter.
Sir, I cannot help expressing some doubt whether a Motion of this importance ought not to have been disposed of in Committee on the Bill. It is now raised apparently at a moment when it is unexpected; and though the hon. Member (Mr. Morrison) thinks it a question of small importance, we consider it a question of the greatest importance, for we cannot consent to interfere with the future freedom of persons who may wish to found institutions of this kind. I cannot state too plainly or too strongly why we object to any measure of the kind. The right hon. Gentleman who has just sat down has stated his view with perfect candour, and I will be equally explicit in my reply. Our object is to destroy tests in those institutions which, by their wealth, by their traditions, by their antiquity, by their national privileges, and by the manner in which Parliament has formerly dealt with them, have come into such a position that we are bound in justice to prevent them from being attached to the purposes of any particular denomination or religion. But our desire is to encourage the foundation of Colleges, and we will not inquire whether they are to be denominational Colleges or not; we claim nothing for them less than absolute freedom.
said, he was very glad to hear that there was at last some principle to which Gentlemen opposite were prepared to adhere—["Oh, oh!"]—for certainly nothing hitherto could well have been more inconsistent than their conduct. He could understand the argument on which the defence of the Bill had been rested, that after the lapse of 200 or 300 years the State would take it upon itself to interfere with the trusts of a particular foundation; but to object to foundations which were good and moral in themselves, and which contemplated nothing prejudicial to the Commonwealth, and to say that through the agency of such foundations persons should not be at liberty to devote funds to the education of youth, was one of the most extraordinary propositions he had ever heard, accustomed as he was to extraordinary propositions coming from the other side of the House. He was afraid just then he could not promise any large contingent in support of the right hon. Gentleman at the head of the Government; but, such as it was, Members upon those (the Opposition) Benches would gladly follow him against the Motion proposed, by the hon. Gentleman below the Gangway (Mr. Sinclair Aytoun).
said, the objection was not to the establishment of places for denominational teaching, but to the possession by such places of University privileges. Feeling himself bound to vote on this Motion with the hon. Member for the Kirkcaldy Burghs (Mr. Sinclair Aytoun), he yet was deeply grateful to Her Majesty's Government for having made this Bill more efficient and satisfactory.
said, if they were invited to settle this question on its merits, his own views would incline him also to vote with the hon. Member (Mr. Sinclair Aytoun); but after the very strong assurances which they had received from the First Minister of the Crown in the course of this debate he did not think the matter ought to be pressed, and he would suggest that his hon. Friend should withdraw his Motion.
Question put, "That the words proposed to be left out stand part of the Bill."
The House divided:—Ayes 132; Noes 22: Majority 110.
said, he would beg to move to insert in Clause 3, page 2, line 23, after "worship" "or to belong to any specified church, sect, or denomination." He had in Committee agreed to exclude similar words; but he had since ascertained that with- out some such words—and he did not wish to make them unnecessarily offensive—the whole object of this measure might be defeated. He, therefore, felt it to be his duty to move their re-insertion, to which he trusted the House would consent.
said, as the Member at whose instance the words were omitted when the Bill was in Committee, he thanked the hon. and learned Gentleman for making the words less offensive than those which originally appeared in the Bill; but he was sorry that the Government could not make up their minds as to the clauses of so short a measure, and state what Amendments they could not accept. He still hoped that the Bill would not pass in its present objectionable form; but he would not challenge the decision of the House as to the Amendment now proposed.
said, he agreed with his hon. and learned Friend (the Solicitor General) that there was good reason for introducing such words as he had proposed, and that they were an improvement upon the original language of the clause, which was not happily expressed. He wished to refer to the opinion which he stated when the Bill was in Committee, as to its being deficient in safeguards against the teaching and dissemination of infidelity in the Universities. It was not without difficulty that he brought himself to vote against the Government on the Amendment in reference to the Headships of Colleges. His reason for doing so was that in the absence of any more distinct provision the omission of Headships from the Bill had some little tendency to act as such a safeguard. He hoped that before the Bill became law there might be introduced some well-considered clause on the subject. Since the Committee on the Bill he had received from Oxford a representation, expressing concurrence in his views, signed by 25 eminent members of that University, of whom five were Heads of Houses, four were Professors, and 16 were Masters of Arts. Nearly all of them had uniformly supported the Liberal cause in the University; and ten of them had been zealous in promoting the abolition of religious tests. They thought that some clear and express safeguard was wanted, and ought to be introduced into the Bill, and some of them, who were uneasy at the omission in the Bill of any distinction between Tutorships and Fellowships, wished for the introduction of some words which might unequivocally show that in the appointment to such offices as Tutorships and Headships the Legislature did not intend religious considerations to be wholly disregarded. They did not believe that religious Nonconformists, any more than religious Churchmen, would be willing to send their children to the University unless they were sure the education would be conducted upon religious principles.
Amendment agreed to.
Amendment proposed, in page 2, line 28, after "layman," to insert "or a person not a member of the Church of England."—( The Solicitor General.)
Amendment agreed to.
Amendment proposed, in Clause 5, page 3, line 10, to insert at end of Clause, as amended—
"And any provision in any Act of Parliament or in any statute or ordinance of the said Universities or Colleges which is inconsistent with this Act, shall be repealed."—(The Solicitor General.)
Amendment agreed to.
Bill to be read the third time Tomorrow, at Two of the clock.