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University Of Cambridge Bill

Volume 229: debated on Tuesday 16 May 1876

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Leave First Reading

, in moving for leave to bring in a Bill to make further provision respecting the University of Cambridge and the Colleges therein, said, that as a Bill had been introduced to reform the University of Oxford, he desired to ask the House what were the objects that ought to be aimed at in proposing fresh legislation for the Universities; what were the circumstances which rendered that legislation necessary; and what was the machinery by means of which the object of the legislation might be attained. The answers to those questions would be found in the Reports of two most valuable Royal Commissions that had been appointed to report on the subject of the Universities. One of these was appointed to inquire into all institutions within the United Kingdom which were connected with the study, the pursuit, and the advancement of science. The other was appointed for the purpose of inquiring into the revenues and property of the two Universities of Oxford and Cambridge. At the head of the first of these Commissions was the Duke of Devonshire, the present Chancellor of the University of Cambridge. The Commissioners had made no less than eight Reports, and the third of these was addressed to the Universities of Oxford and Cambridge. They described in the minutest detail the facilities for the study of science afforded by means of the Professoriate, and by means of the inter-Collegiate system of lectures and classes, under which Colleges were combined for educational purposes; and they pointed out, notwithstanding all that had been done, there were yet many requirements to be met in the course of instruction in science. Without entering into details, he might say that the Commissioners recommended an extension of the Professoriate, a completer organization of the inter-Collegiate system of lectures and classes and a larger provision of museums, libraries, and other buildings and of the apparatus necessary for the prosecution of scientific investigation. Perhaps these recommendations went rather far, but there was no doubt that considerable improvements would have to be made before the idea embodied in the Report of the Commissioners could be carried into effect. Science would include organic and in organic subjects, the science of magnitude and numbers, including observations and experiments, but excluding mental and modern science. They would have to look to these departments of study before they could have the studies completed. A Cambridge Syndicate which was appointed last year had made a Report, and it was drawn up by those who had made the theory as well as the practice of teaching the business of their lives. It was a most instructive, elaborate, and well-prepared document. It was founded upon the different branches of study, and the conclusion which was arrived at, and pressed upon the University, was that in all departments of science there were many other requirements that would have to be supplied besides those which he had referred to. It was quite demonstrable to his mind that the Universities only wanted the means to fulfil the great duties that were entrusted to them in this respect. He need not say, with regard to Cambridge University, how lively an interest she took, and had always taken, in this subject; and he need not point out the things she was doing, and had done, to make University teaching as complete and comprehensive as she was able to make it. It was not the want of will but the want of means that stood in her way, and so long as the want of means existed so long would it be impossible to do all that was requisite to do—that which the University desired to do. This led him to consider what were the circumstances that rendered legislation necessary. It was, in plain words, a money question that loomed in the background, and the extreme difficulty of adjusting the proportion that the Colleges should bear in contributing money for the common benefit of the University at large. This brought him, not only to the Report of the second Commission, but also to make a remark as to what the Science Commissioners had said. They had said that the revenues of the University as compared with those of the Colleges were comparatively small, and that they had reason to believe that the Colleges would be willing and anxious to contribute towards supplying the deficiency that was not at the command of the University. They would desire that the appointment should be adjusted equitably between the Colleges, and in a way that would be reasonable for the University. The Report of the second Commission which inquired into the revenues and property of the University and Colleges contained two broad facts. The first one was this—that the immediate property of the University, as distinguished from that of the Colleges at Cambridge, was only about £14,000 a-year, whilst the property of the Colleges derived from the same sources amounted to not less than £265,000 a-year. The second fact was this—that a prospective surplus of property was to be expected in the University from doing away with the system of renewable leases. The estimate was that the property that would accrue to the University might be put down as nil, whilst the property of the Colleges in 1885 would be £30,000 a-year. The University, as distinguished from the Colleges, had not the necessary means, and the Colleges had a right to say that these means could only be apportioned by an equitable adjustment under the direction of somebody who could fairly adjust the proportion which should be contributed by the various Colleges. When the Cambridge Act was passed in 1856 there was an express provision in that Act which enabled the Colleges to surrender such portion of their property or income as might be available for the purposes of the University at large. The difficulty in adjusting the proportion that the Colleges should bear had been so great that virtually that provision had been a dead letter. Putting all these things together he believed that he had established his two propositions—that the object to be aimed at by legislation should be first to enlarge the sphere of the University itself; and, secondly, that the difficulties that lay in the way of enabling the University to effect its object could only be got over by some further legislation based on equitable principles, which would, he believed, meet all the requirements of the University and Colleges, and greatly extend their usefulness. What, then, was the machinery by which those objects were to be accomplished? On that part of the case he could feel no doubt whatever. They must go back to the principle adopted in 1856—namely, an enabling and requiring power vested in Commissioners, who, in conjunction with the Universities and the Colleges, should arrange among themselves what changes would be advisable so that those great academical institutions—those great intellectual centres of science and learning—should be able to meet the wants of the times. The Bill which had come down from the House of Lords with reference to the University of Oxford was based on that principle, and the Bill he had now the honour to propose, in concurrence with and at the request of Her Majesty's Government, was drawn on the same lines, and contemplated the same objects. If it should be adopted, the effect would be this—Parliament would clearly indicate the general direction which would have to be given for making good and supplying the wants and requirements of the University of Cambridge to which he had adverted, while the particular mode in which those requirements would be met should be determined and settled by the Colleges and the University themselves. He laid it down as a universal truth in matters of this description, that whatever was done voluntarily and willingly would be always better done than that which was done under extraneous influences. He knew that there were some who wished to go further than this; some who would like to prescribe in the statute itself the changes that Parliament should specifically require, and which they should enable the Commissioners to enforce. He could not agree with this in the least degree; on the contrary, he thought that it would only add to delay and disappointment, and be a legislative mistake. The question of Fellowships had been very much agitated for the last few months. Some would regulate them now, and prescribe the conditions on which they should be conferred and held, and state distinctly the term that they should continue in the possession of the holders. He believed that these were matters which should be regulated with a due regard to fresh circumstances as could only be known to those who were interested in this question, and that those alone who had this knowledge would be likely to come to a just conclusion. There were those who thought they could specify the precise rewards for Professors; but he thought that if they wished to encourage the same high standard of culture which had been maintained at the Universities of late years, if they wished to secure the highest amount of teaching, lecturing, and tutorial power in the University itself, if they wished to encourage original research and scientific investigation, they could not do better than leave to the University to settle for themselves how these things could best be managed. His belief was that if they had not three classes of Fellowships they would fail to make the most of the opportunities they now had of improving the University. If they did away with prize Fellowships altogether they would not have the same standard which the students at the University now aimed at. They would not have the same means of encouraging, rewarding, and setting out in their career in life some of the ablest and most distinguished men, who not only reflected honour on the University, but conferred great benefit on the country at large. So, if they did not have another class of Fellowships which would properly reward lecturers, tutors, and readers for the time and labour they bestowed on the education of the students at the University, they would lose that resident class of men who, he hoped, would always be resident at the University, and by whom education was more promoted than it could be in any other way. Lastly, if they had not a third class of Fellowships which would give encouragement to those who were willing to remain at the University and pursue scientific investigation, a blank would be left in the University which it would be impossible hereafter to fill up. He had ventured to speak strongly on that part of the subject, because he thought that no compromise was possible upon it. The two Bills for Cambridge and Oxford were drawn on the same lines, and, although the former might deviate in some of its details from the latter, the two Bills in point of principle were substantially the same. Still, it was desirable that the Parliamentary charters of the two great institutions should be kept, as heretofore, distinct. However much they resembled each other in all the main principles of University life, there were distinctions between them that would have to be adverted to and observed in any legislation which Parliament might bring to bear upon them, particularly with reference to the appointment of the Commissioners, so that they might be perfectly familiar with the peculiarities and wants of that University for which they were appointed. With reference to the Noblemen and Gentlemen to be selected as Commissioners, it was usual to give their names just before going into Committee on the Bill; but, to avoid mistake on a matter of so much importance and interest to the University and the country, he would now take the liberty of reading their names. The Commissioners who would be nominated for Cambridge University would be the Bishop of Worcester, Lord Rayleigh, the Lord Chief Justice of England(Sir Alexander Cockburn), the Right Hon. Edward Pleydell Bouverie Professor Stokes, the Rev. Dr. Light foot, and George W. B. Hemming, Q.C The right hon. Gentleman concluded by moving for leave to bring in the Bill.

said, that on the whole, he approved of the Bill; but he suggested that, though it was brought in by a private Member, it could not but be regarded, after the language of Her Majesty's Speech, as a Government measure. He hoped, therefore, that in future stages it would be put next on the Paper to the Oxford Bill sent down from the Upper House, so that the two Bills might be discussed together. The Gentlemen whose names had been mentioned by the right hon. Gentleman would, he was sure, command the confidence of the House, of the country, and of the University of Cambridge.

said, he could not agree with the suggestion of the noble Lord. On the contrary, he thought the two Bills should be discussed separately—each upon its own merits. He regretted to hear that the Bill would not deal with the reform of the Senate of Cambridge any more than the other Bill dealt with the reform of the Congregation of Oxford. He regretted, also, that the Bill did not touch clerical Fellowships. If it had dealt with those two points there would have been a settlement of the question, which now would be sure to be re-opened in two or three years. He begged to give Notice that in the event of the right hon. Gentleman obtaining leave to introduce his measure he should on a subsequent occasion move a Resolution to the effect that, in the opinion of that House, no measure of reform affecting Cambridge University would be satisfactory which did not propose the abolition of clerical Headships and clerical Fellowships.

said, that although the proceeding might be justified by the Rules of the House and the practice of Parliament still it was unfortunate that the general principle of the Bill should, on the first reading, be thrown on the floor of the House by the hon. Baronet the Member for Chelsea (Sir Charles Dilke). He was glad to hear from the speech of his right hon. Colleague that this Bill confined itself to that which the nation was looking for—namely, the development of the University in its teaching, its educational, and its scientific aspect. There was another aspect of the University, also of great importance, which he would call its social one, as an institution ramifying throughout the land and pervading the whole community with a wholesome and elevating influence. The University in this aspect was composed not merely of the teaching residents, but of its whole body of graduates wherever found, or, in other words, of its Senate. This Senate which the hon. Baronet was so anxious to reform was the connecting link between the University in its strictly scientific aspect and the more social and harmonizing elements which made it so great an institution in our complex social and political system. This Bill seemed to be drawn up on practical and reasonable lines. It dealt with the University as a place of education, and as connected with the intellectual system of the country, and expressed by the present system of Scholarships and Fellowships. As to Fellowships, he had heard with peculiar pleasure his right hon. Colleague so clearly defining the distinction which ought to exist between the different uses of Fellowships—a distinction which, so to speak, worked itself out in practice, as the classes into which Fellows parted themselves off came into prominence subsequently to the common examinations from which the choice was made. Educational Fellowships were necessary, with well-defined rules of residence, and there was good reason for re-considering the tenure and emoluments of the non-resident or Prize Fellowships in the future; but any idea of extinguishing or seriously diminishing them would be fatal, for if all Fellowships were made merely educational, then one of the best elements of the University would be lost. Fellowships were now respected from the high proficiency which the acquisition of one implied. But if the temptation of competing for them was to be taken away from all who were not aspirants after the one profession of resident teachers, it was plain that the general standard of competition would be most injuriously affected, while the results would of course re-act upon the quality of the teaching itself. The whole system in its complexity must be jealously maintained, or the teaching, and in consequence the learning, of the University would be lowered. He thought his right hon. Friend had exercised a wise discretion in thus early publishing the names of the Commission, and he believed he might say on behalf of his constituents that they would be contented when they saw that the University would be in the hands of Commissioners who had in their previous careers given such pledges of capacity as made them deserving of the confidence now about to be reposed in them.

observed, that though the Bill was in his charge, it was virtually a Government measure. It would appear in the Orders next to the Oxford Bill, and though the Bills would be practically considered together, it would be open to the hon. Baronet the Member for Chelsea (Sir Charles Dilke) to move the Amendment of which he had given Notice.

, in reference to what had fallen from his right hon. Friend, desired to say that the subject was one which ought to be dealt with by Her Majesty's Government, and practically the measure might be considered as one brought in by the Government on their responsibility. The Bill had been placed in the hands of a private Member who was practically acquainted with all details relating to the University; and therefore, considering the connection of his right hon. Friend with the University of Cambridge, the intimate knowledge he must possess from his connection with the University, and of everything regarding its welfare and usefulness for the country, as well as his high character and standing in the House, the House would agree with him (Mr. Cross) that it was a matter that should be brought in by one so competent to explain every detail connected with the subject as his right hon. Friend. It was the intention of the Government that this and the Oxford University Bill should be considered together, except when they had to consider the details.

Motion agreed to.

Bill to make further provision respecting the University of Cambridge and the Colleges therein, ordered to be brought in by Mr. SPENCER WALPOLE, Mr. Secretary CROSS, and Lord John Manners.
Bill presented, and read the first time. [Bill 151.]

Poor Law Rating (Ireland)


, in rising to move that the system of Poor Law Rating in Ireland should be assimilated to that of England by the adoption of Union Rating, said, that in the Bill which introduced the system of electoral divisions that area was fixed for the purpose of electing Guardians. It was intended that the electoral division should be applied only to these administrative purposes; that it should have no bearing on the incidence of taxation, and that the poor rate should be raised from the Union. The Bill passed this House in its original shape. It was altered in the Lords, and the substitu- tion of the division for the Union as an area of taxation was agreed to by the House as a temporary arrangement, to be abandoned in favour of the old plan at an early opportunity. What he now sought was to have the alteration of the area of taxation from the division to the Union carried out. The present system inflicted considerable hardship, particularly upon large towns and cities. The effect of the present law was that the rural poor were driven into the streets of the towns, which had once been the seats of industry. Thus the burden of maintaining the poor was thrown upon the towns, which could ill afford to bear it. One result of the present law was that at certain seasons the farmers were compelled to resort to the towns for labourers either to till their fields or to reap the crops, and as soon as this work was done the men returned to the towns, whose rates were expended in their maintenance. In the North of Ireland there were some few towns in which the industries carried on afforded employment to the labouring poor when they were not engaged in agriculture, but the number of such towns was small, and, as he had said, they were confined to one part of the country only. The Resolution which he had proposed sought something more than the application of Union rating as between town and country. It would involve an application of the principle as between different rural divisions. A particular district might be taken and an imaginary line might be drawn in it, and on one side it would be found that the rate was 1s. in the pound and on the other side 6d.; on the cheap side would be found few labourers and little poverty, while on the other would be found a good many labourers and a great deal of poverty. In the city of Limerick the rate was 3s. in the pound, while in a district, a short distance outside, the proportionate charge was only 1s. 8d. Whatever could be said in favour of union rating in England could be said with reference to Ireland. It was alleged that the adoption of union rating would throw the rate over such a large surface that the motive in favour of economy would be lost, and that it would be impossible for the Guardians to supervise a large district such as an Irish Union. But it was necessary to take into account not only the extent of the Union, but the value of the property to be taxed. This question was one which had been frequently introduced to the attention of the House, to whose attention it had been submitted by Mr. Barry and by Mr. M'Mahon. The question had been considered by a Select Committee, and all the leading officials, English and Irish, gave their opinions in favour of the change. Whatever course the Secretary for Ireland might take, he (Mr. O'Shaughnessy) hoped he would put before the House some definite scheme; and if that scheme was a wise one, and could be quickly passed, the Session could not be considered barren with reference to Irish interests. The hon. Gentleman concluded by moving his Resolution.

Motion made, and Question proposed,

"That the system of Poor Law Rating in Ireland should be assimilated to that of England by the adoption of Union Rating."—(Mr. O'Shaughnessy.)

said, they had had considerable experience of Union rating in England, and they discovered that the argument which the country party brought forward against the adoption of that system—namely, that it would throw the rates on so large an area that all motives to economy would be lost—was well founded. Since Union rating had been adopted they had had a period of prosperity so great that pauperism ought to be almost extinct. The wages of labouring men had been raised from 10s. to 15s. and in many cases much higher. The exports and imports of England had increased 70 per cent; employment had increased, and the position of the poor had been greatly ameliorated. But what had been the result of adopting Union rating? In the 10 years before its adoption the annual expenditure for the relief of the poor was just within a fraction of £6,000,000, but since its adoption the annual expenditure had risen to £7,600,000. The increase occurred in this way—Suppose a small English town was in great distress, the burden of supporting its poor was thrown on the Union. But before Union rating was adopted, employers in that town, when the rates rose high, would employ their workpeople for two days in the week to keep them off the rates. The principle of Union charge- ability had been previously tried three times in the history of our Poor Law system, and it had always failed. Now that it was being tried for the fourth time, it would break down again as soon as any real stress was put upon it. They had lately had such a period of prosperity and high wages as to render a Poor Law almost unnecessary; but that state of things could not be expected to last. It would most probably be followed by hard times; and then, under the system of Union chargeability, their expenditure on poor relief would not only increase by £1,600,000, as it had already done, but by thrice that amount. The system had now failed in England again; but in the present instance they did not see the demoralization that would have been witnessed if it had not been for the extraordinary increase of wages and of employment and cheap bread, though, in spite of that, the rates had increased more than 25 per cent. In desperation, the Guardians were now trying to do what had signally failed before—namely, to cut down all out-door relief. The Chartist riots that occurred in 1837 were the result of the attempt to stop out-door relief. The present Prime Minister's beautiful political work called Sybil showed what England was reduced to by four years of a determined effort to stop out-door relief. They should in 1865 have maintained parochial chargeability for ordinary times, and when any particular parish fell into great distress they might have resorted to Union rating for a rate in aid. Under the present system the whole duty which the Guardians used to perform with the greatest care was now thrown on the relieving officer, and nobody paid any attention to the expenditure. He recommended that a Union rate should be granted only when a parish was in great distress and the rates were abnormally high.

opposed the Motion, which, if adopted, would only introduce a theoretical and not a practical assimilation between the areas of rating in Ireland and England. He asserted, moreover, that the system of Union rating had not worked well in England, and the hon. Gentleman who had spoken last had borne out that statement. It had a tendency to encourage a very extravagant administration of out-door relief in England. He objected to destroying in Ireland the interest which the Guardian now had in watching over the expenditure in his electoral division and promoting economy. No doubt there were some towns in Ireland where the existing system operated unfairly; but out of the 3,438 electoral divisions there were only eight cases of distinct hardship. It would be unjust and inexpedient to raise the rating of 2,980 divisions in order to relieve eight of an undue burden. To those places he was willing to afford assistance, and he, with his friends, had devised a plan which he hoped would give satisfaction. Its main principle was a rate in aid for affording relief to those electoral divisions whose taxation for in-door maintenance and clothing of paupers was disproportionately excessive as compared with the rest of the union. They proposed to exclude expenses incurred for out-door relief. He hoped that at the proper time they would have the assistance of the Chief Secretary in putting this scheme before the House. He must oppose the general application of Union rating to the Irish electoral districts.

said, if such terms were to be offered by the Government he should reject them, for they would only give relief to eight towns in Ireland; and such a proposal would be a mockery. He contended that the Union rating system was successful in England, and ought to be applied to Ireland. The hon. Member for Worcestershire (Mr. Knight) had stated that the increased poor rates in England were due to the action of the Union Chargeability Bill, but he could scarcely accept this view of the question. The increase had been caused by the enhanced price of food and clothing, the system of out-door relief, and the additions which had been made to the salaries of the officials whose duty it was to administer the Poor Law. The fact was that the expenditure in England had fallen off considerably during the last 18 months. It was true that in many cases Boards of Guardians in Ireland had petitioned against the adoption of Union chargeability; but these were urban Boards which would be closely affected by the adoption of the principle, and he was not aware that any other public body in the country had taken a similar course. He inferred that two years ago the Chief Secretary for Ireland was in favour of Union rating for in-door relief at least, and he challenged the right hon. Baronet to defend the anomalies of the present system, under which exceptional burdens were unfairly thrown upon some electoral divisions. If they were to have equal laws, why should they not give Ireland the same law of rating as existed in England?

, in supporting the Motion, said, he could not refrain from expressing his opinion that ever since the Famine in Ireland, the boroughs and towns, and even the small towns, had had very much to complain of from the inundation of those towns by paupers from the rural districts. He remembered the time when a neighbouring country gentleman had landed five boatloads of evicted tenants—making, with their families, a total of between 200 and 300 persons—in the town which he represented (Galway), and the greater number, after vainly struggling to live by their industry, were obliged to resort to the workhouse. Similar instances might, he believed, be found in other parts of Ireland. He denied that Sir Thomas Larcom could be regarded as an authority on the Poor Law system of Ireland. The testimony of Sir Alfred Power was of much greater value, and he declared that the Irish Poor Law did not work fairly towards the towns. The Chief Secretary for Ireland could not make a greater mistake than by adopting the plan of the hon. Member for Carlow (Mr. Kavanagh), while the scheme shadowed forth by the hon. Member for Cork (Mr. Downing) would be a fair and equitable compromise. He believed that for the welfare of the country districts, as well as of the towns, a wise compromise on this question would be come to if out-door relief were made an electoral division charge, and indoor relief a Union charge.

said, when he addressed the House on this question two years ago he commenced his remarks by observing that hon. Members who had not studied the subject would naturally suppose that Union rating in England and Ireland were the same thing. The question in the two countries was totally different. Unions in England averaged 55,000 acres; in Ireland, 125,000. In Ireland electoral divisions, on which about 40 per cent of the poor rate was now levied, were made for the special purpose not only of the election of Guardians, but of being the ordinary area of rating. The English parishes, on the contrary, handed down from ages long gone by, were areas with every kind of anomaly and variety, and were very much smaller in average extent than the electoral divisions in Ireland, which were, on an average, something like 6,000 acres. Moreover, the complaints against the old parochial rating system of England were not made in Ireland to the same extent against the electoral division rating. The great reason which induced Parliament to adopt Union rating in England was the feeling excited by the removal of the poor from what were called close parishes. The old English Poor Law specially favoured the practice of removal, because under the system of averages, by which the cost of maintaining the irremovable poor was placed on the Common Fund, to which each parish contributed on the average of its poor law expenditure for three years, it was clear that if the landowners could remove the poor altogether from a parish, that parish, ceased to become chargeable with any poor rate at all. No such practice existed in Ireland, and no proof whatever had been shown that the removal of paupers for the sake of relieving the electoral divisions ever prevailed there to any great extent. The hon. Member for Limerick, who had introduced the subject with so much ability, wished to equalize, as far as possible, the charge for the poor in Ireland. But if they were to have Union rating in that country to-morrow, it would not equalize that charge, and the differences of rating would be far greater in various parts of Ireland than in England. He could quote instances of Unions in the four Provinces which would prove it. For instance, under the system of Union rating, one Union in Ulster would have to pay 2s.d., another in the same Province only 6d. In Munster, while one Union would pay 2s. 11¾d., another would pay 9d. In Connaught, one Union would pay 2s. 9d., another 7½d.; and in Leinster, one Union would pay 2s. 3d., another 7d. He mentioned that to show that the object of the hon. Member could not be attained by Union rating, but only by a national rate, which would be the overthrow of the present system of Poor Law, and would never receive the sanction of the House. The Motion of the hon. Member for Limerick was for the adoption of Union rating in Ireland precisely in the same way as in England. But by all who had considered the question, it would be admitted that a small area was almost essential for the proper administration of out-door relief. The adoption of the area of English Unions for out-door relief was, in his opinion, a mistake, and it would be a still greater mistake to adopt the larger area of Irish Unions for the same purpose. In Ireland out-door relief had increased of late years to an extent that bade fair to take away one of the great advantages that had hitherto been attributed to the Irish Poor Law system. On the whole, he thought the House would be agreed that the charge for out-door relief should not be levied upon the basis of a Union charge, and the question to be decided, therefore, was, whether the charge now placed on electoral divisions in order to defray the expense of maintaining and clothing paupers in the workhouses was so to remain, with unequal incidence, or whether it would be better to make it a Union charge. At one time it struck him that the best mode of dealing with the question would be to place all in-door relief upon the Unions and retain out-door relief upon the electoral divisions. But when he came to consider the details of this solution he found this important objection to it, in addition to others that had been urged—namely, that in order to relieve a small number of heavily-rated electoral divisions it would make an important change in the area of rating through the whole country. He had, therefore, to abandon that proposal. So the question rested at the end of last Session. Since then he had been in communication on the subject with hon. Members on both sides of the House, and with noble Lords sitting in the other House, who were greatly interested in the management of Poor Law matters in Ireland. He thought, after all, the question would be met by placing the charge for the deaf and dumb paupers, on the Union at large, and relieving certain electoral divisions of part of the heavy charge now laid on them for the in maintenance and clothing of in-door paupers by a rate in aid. This rate in aid might be so arranged that it would secure economy, even in the cases mentioned by the hon. Member for Cork (Mr. Downing). He proposed, where the charge on any electoral division for the maintenance and clothing of electoral division in-door paupers exceeded the average rate of charge on the Union for that purpose by more than 50 per cent, that the excess above that 50 per cent should be levied as a Union rate; provided that no electoral division would be so relieved, on which this charge did not exceed 1s. in the pound. The details were difficult to explain; but he would bring in a Bill in which his proposals would be embodied. He thought in this way they might secure what was wanted—namely, relief in a comparatively small number of electoral divisions without interfering with the Poor Law system throughout the country. The provisions of the rate-in-aid would apply to 91 Unions out of 163. In that Bill there would be a provision in regard to the valuation of electoral divisions. It was no doubt the fact that in some of the electoral divisions the apparently high poundage rate now levied was due to a very low valuation. The provision to which he referred would enable the Guardians of any Union where a rate-in-aid was levied to have their Union re-valued in order that the poundage of all the electoral divisions might as far as possible be put on a fair basis. These would be the main provisions of the Bill, which he hoped shortly to lay before the House, and he trusted they would be regarded as a fair attempt to meet the question and to give relief where it was wanted, as well as to secure administrative economy.

said, the proposal of the right hon. Gentleman was fair and reasonable.

said, after the statement of the right hon. Baronet, he begged leave to withdraw his Motion.

Motion, by leave, withdrawn.

Monastic And Conventual Institutions Bill

Notice being taken of the language contained in the Petition from Newark Street, Leicester, in favour of the Monastic and Conventual Institutions Bill:—


"That the Order that the Petition do lie upon the Table, be read, and discharged, on account of the unbecoming language used therein."
The hon. Gentleman said, it was true that considerable liberty was given with reference to the language of Petitions; but when an hon. Member presented a Petition containing charges of an awful nature he ought within a reasonable time—certainly within a month—to found some Motion on that Petition. Six weeks had now elapsed since the presentation of this Petition; but the hon. Member for North Warwickshire had not founded any Motion upon it. The Petition, among other things, stated that in many of the convents the inmates were put to death and that the nuns became the victims of horrors that far surpassed anything that entered into the minds of the public generally. Upon the ground, therefore, that the language of the Petition was unbecoming, he moved that the Order of the Day that the Petition from Newark lie upon the Table be read and discharged.

trusted the House would pause before accepting this Motion, because it involved a question in respect to the right of petitioning which was entirely novel. He had carefully read this Petition, and although he should have recommended the petitioners to withdraw many of the expressions in the Petition, yet the statements contained in it were strictly and historically true, and could be proved verbatim et literatim by evidence such as hon. Members were in the habit of acting upon.

thought it could not be denied that the expressions used in that Petition were very improper, but, on the other hand, they were bound in every possible way to protect the right of Petition; and as that particular Petition had, he believed, been received and printed by the Committee on Petitions, it would be a virtual censure on them to reject it without first hearing their explanation of the matter.

said, it had been before explained by the Chairman of the Committee on Petitions that that Petition, or one similar to it, had been printed by pure inadvertence, owing to the very great number of Petitions which came in on the same day.

confirmed this statement, and said that what had oc- curred in that case would cause the Committee to observe great caution in future.

observed, that all must feel that the right of petitioning was a very sacred one, and one with which they ought to be careful how they interfered. It, however, must be borne in mind that there were necessary Rules to maintain the proper position of the House, and one of them was that Petitions should be couched in temperate and respectful language. Ordinarily speaking, the House trusted to the judgment of the Committee of Petitions to reject any Petition containing language of a character which ought not to be laid on the Table. But they could understand how, under the circumstances just mentioned by two Members of that Committee, those particular Petitions had escaped notice and been inadvertently received. On the whole, he thought the House had better adopt the Motion for the discharge of the Petition.

Motion agreed, to.

Ordered, That the Order that the Petition do lie upon the Table be read, and discharged, on account of the unbecoming language used therein.—(Mr. Callan.)

Boulogne Sur Mer Petition

Report from the Select Committee, with Minutes of Evidence, brought up.

Report read, as followeth:—

Your Committee, having taken Evidence and having searched for precedents, do not advise the reception of the Petition by the House.

Report, with the Minutes of Evidence, to lie upon the Table, and to be printed. [No. 232.]

House adjourned at One o'clock.