« PreviousContinue »
the object of the amendment, and it was admitted on all hands that the Commissioners should, as much as possible, add to the endowments for girls' education; but it was urged that the amendment went too far, and on this plea Mr. Winterbotham withdrew it.
Another discussion arose on amendments proposed to the clause which empowered the Commissioners to apply to education charitable endowments which had become obsolete, or had outgrown their original objects. The clause was, however, passed, subject to the modification which had been made in it by the Select Committee, by which the consent of the managers of the charities was made necessary. The Bill was read a third time without opposition, the names of the intended Commissioners being announced by Mr. Forster; viz. Lord Lyttelton, Mr. Arthur Hobhouse, and Canon Robinson.
The Bill was read a second time in the Lords without division, and with little debate, but on its committal it underwent consider. able criticism.
The Duke of Richmond claimed the exemption of Christ's Hospital from the Bill, on account as well of the excessive powers which the Bill conferred on the Commissioners, as of the recentlyexpressed disrespect of one of the nominated Commissioners, Lord Lyttelton, for founders' intentions, and his prejudice in favour of free competition.
The Duke of Cambridge felt perfect faith in Lord Lyttelton's following out his convictions in a straightforward way, but the knowledge of what his convictions were made that very faith a cause for greater alarm. As President of Christ's Hospital, his Royal Highness intimated an opinion that the security which the Governors had originally felt respecting the interests of their foundation being properly protected by the Bill, had been seriously affected by the recent observations of Lord Lyttelton which had been referred to.
Lord Lyttelton admitted that the sentiments he had formerly and which he still held on the subject of the deficiencies of Christ's Hospital, and similar foundations, might be a reasonable objection to his appointment on the Commission, but he denied that there was any thing in the particular speech in question to terrify the friends of Christ's Hospital.
Earl De Grey remarked that Christ's Hospital had no reason to be alarmed by the Bill, which gave it, indeed, larger privileges than the schools affected by the Public Schools Bill had received. He saw no ground for special apprehension on account of Lord Lyttelton's expression of opinion. Lord Lyttelton would, of course, be ready to deal with each case on its own merits.
Upon clause 14 a very important question was raised. By that section the power of revising the schemes of educational endowments was limited to those which had been created more than fifty years.
The Marquis of Salisbury desired to restrict the area over which the destructive action of the Commissioners was to range. Settlements were daily made which extended over the fifty years provided in this clause, and he believed the action of benevolent founders would be seriously discouraged if it were understood that their bequests might be diverted from the objects for which they were made within fifty years of their death. He moved to substitute a hundred years for fifty.
Earl De Grey said that the proposed amendment would seriously impair the working of the Bill. He believed that in many instances persons who had witnessed the evil results of a too strict adherence to the intentions of testators, would be deterred from leaving their money for benevolent purposes if they knew that under no circumstances whatever could the mode of employing the money be altered for at least a century. Fifty years was the period fixed in the Oxford University Act, and no complaint had been made against the working of that Act. The effect of the amendment would be not only to exclude from the operation of this Bill all the schools founded between fifty and a hundred years ago, but to withdraw from the more ancient institutions all those endowments which had been made during these fifty years. His noble friend, in his desire to maintain the inviolability of the rights of founders, had, he feared, overlooked the importance of making these foundations useful for the purposes of education in the present day. A bad, lazily, and ill-conducted endowed school was not only an evil in itself, but too frequently had the effect of preventing the foundation of an efficient private school in the neighbourhood.
Lord Cairns remarked that the arguments of the noble earl, based upon the importance of interfering in cases where endowed schools were ill-conducted, was just as applicable to cases where the schools had been founded within the last fifty years, as it was in the case of schools founded at an earlier period. It should be remembered, too, that if founders desired that their intentions should be subjected to parliamentary inquiry or action, nothing could be easier than to state the wish distinctly in the bequest. He quite concurred in the soundness of the principle of laying down certain rules by which founders might know for certain how long their intentions would be respected, but in ex post facto legislation of the kind they were now adopting, they ought to exercise great care, and to offer no interference without grave and sufficient cause.
The Lord Chancellor reminded the Committee that in the course of fifty years two generations in the way of education passed away, and those connected with the management of these schools rarely kept pace with the times. It was, for instance, fifty years since he left a public school, and until within the last five years the course of study had remained unaltered. A change, however, was then made, greatly against the wish of the master, but the advantage was so great and so generally recognized, that the number
scholars increased immediately from 200 to 300, and the master himself was one of the earliest converts to the advantage of the change that had been effected.
Earl Fortescue, while acknowledging that it was of the utmost importance that endowments by being made useful should be relieved from discredit, thought that care should be taken that the confidence of founders should not be shaken by undue interference with their wishes and intentions. Some distinction ought, in his opinion, to be drawn between cases where money had been given purely for educational purposes and where money had been given for purposes which were mixed.
The Archbishop of York could testify, from personal knowledge, that no complaint had been made against the Oxford University Act on account of the time having been fixed at fifty instead of a hundred years. He should, therefore, support the clause as it
The Marquis of Salisbury altered his amendment so as to confine the operation of the Bill to endowments founded previously to the year 1800; and on this amendment the Committee divided, with the following result :—
This valuable measure soon afterwards received the Royal assent. The Bill for the relaxation of the tests required upon taking degrees in the Universities of Oxford and Cambridge, which had been rejected by the House of Lords in 1868, was again introduced by Sir J. D. Coleridge, Solicitor-General, but in his individual character, and not as a Government measure. In moving the second reading on February 10, the learned gentleman stated that it was a reprint of the Bill of last year. He believed it would be necessary at a very early period to restrict the power which the Visitors now had of placing a veto on any alterations which Colleges might make in their statutes. The change now proposed, he maintained, was as harmless as it was inevitable, and he urged his opponents to have confidence in the vitality of Christianity and the Established Church, apart from legislative protection, and not to raise the fruitless cry of "No Surrender."
Mr. Mowbray opposed the Bill. He admitted that the Universities were national institutions, as the Church of England was, but he denied that they were founded by the State or supported by it. Both Universities and Colleges, he maintained, had always been connected with some distinctive form of religious teaching, but this Bill would altogether destroy their religious character. The change was quite unnecessary, for the Cambridge system, which Oxford was quite ready to accept, would admit Dissenters to all the advantages of educational culture. The Universities had deserved well of
the nation by their admirable system of education, and that they had not trained young men illiberally was proved by the fact that, with the exception of Mr. Bright and Mr. Forster, all the leading Members of the present Government were University men.
Sir R. Palmer said that as in 1854 he had opposed the first introduction of Dissenters to the Universities-foreseeing that the demand would not stop there-so now he would oppose this Bill (inevitable though he admitted it to be), if he believed that it would be subversive of the influence and authority of religion on the teaching of the University. But on this point he had changed his mind, and holding that the disassociation of religion from the University teaching would be a national calamity, he denied that the Bill would have that effect. Its promoters had always disavowed that object, but he was bound to say that their disavowal was not stamped with sufficient clearness on the Bill. The Christianity and the Church-of-England character of Convocation, University, and Colleges were secured, not by tests, but by the statutes of the Universities and the Colleges, which the Bill did not in any way alter. Neither legally nor morally was the subscription test as reliable a security for the influence of religion on University teaching as the other securities which would remain untouched. But thinking that the importance of maintaining this connexion should be more clearly expressed in the Bill, he proposed to insert words recognizing the Universities as places of religion and learning, and the necessity of maintaining them as such; and also to add two clauses, one of which would contain an undertaking for all lay professors against teaching any thing contrary to the Divine .authority of Holy Scripture and the doctrines of the Church of England.
Mr. G. O. Morgan supported the Bill, arguing that the Universities are national institutions, and not mere nurseries for the clergy. To the present system of tests he objected that they limited the area of selection for University offices and excluded from University prizes half, and that not the least intelligent portion, of the population. While they startled men of tender consciences they were taken without scruple by sceptics and men on the verge of Romanism.
Mr. Playfair supported the Bill by an appeal to the experience of the Scotch Universities, where the abolition of tests had brought the Universities into closer sympathy with the people without weakening their connexion with the Church. No Roman Catholic or infidel had yet been elected to a professional chair in Scotland. He urged the claims of Presbyterians to be admitted to the English Universities, and predicted for them a more vigorous life when these denominational barriers had been broken down.
Mr. Hardy intimated that the Opposition, after the important amendments given notice of by Sir R. Palmer, would not divide against the second reading. Reviewing the small beginnings of
this Bill, he inferred that it was the precursor of a larger measure, and from permissive would become compulsory; and he was unable to understand the complacency with which Sir R. Palmer regarded the intentions of its promoters. Mr. Hardy drew a gloomy picture of the confusion and discord which would be caused by the introduction of persons of different religions into the governing bodies, and defended the title of the Universities to their endowments, as derived from the original founders through the Reformation. The end of the proposed policy would be the secularization of the endowments, and the Dissenters would gain no benefit from the concession they sought. As to Sir R. Palmer's amendments, they did not seem to be acceptable to the supporters of the Bill, nor did he expect to be able to concur in them.
Mr. Walpole said that he, like Mr. Hardy, would suspend his opposition until he should have seen the amendments, and the Solicitor-General intimated he would agree to the first of them, so as to make it more clear that the Bill was not intended to sever the connexion between University education and religion; but the second he could not accept.
The Bill was read a second time nem. con.
On the clauses proposed by Sir Roundell Palmer being moved in Committee, the first, which declared that the Act should not interfere with the lawfully established system of religious education, worship, or discipline of the Universities, was carried without opposition. But the second, exacting a form of declaration to be taken by professors, tutors, and lecturers, received so little support that the learned gentleman withdrew it after a short discussion.
Mr. Fawcett moved a new clause, enabling one-third of the Fellows of a College to call a meeting at which a majority present might alter or repeal any statute imposing a religious test. It received support from some members, but was opposed by the Solicitor-General and by Mr. Bouverie, on the ground that it was at variance with the permissive character of the Bill.
The only divisions that took place in Committee resulted in large majorities in favour of the Bill. On the third reading no debate took place, but the opponents called for a division, in which the numbers were 116 in favour of, and 65 against the Bill. In the House of Lords, however, it met with a different reception. Earl Russell having moved the second reading, the Earl of Carnarvon opposed the motion. The noble lord conceded that the feeling in favour of some relaxation of University Tests, and of admitting Dissenters from the Church of England was increasing. But the removal of tests in the case of college foundations came before the House now for the first time. As to this point, he was apprehensive that if tests were all abolished there would be no adequate security for the moral and religious character of collegiate education. His own opinion was that almost half the total number of fellows was required for the working of a college.