HC Deb 26 July 1850 vol 113 cc337-9

said: It being well known that the separation of the great body of the people from the Church in Wales is caused by the want of sympathy on the part of their English ecclesiastical rulers with the feelings, habits, and language of the people; and that the solemn ceremonies of consecrating churches and confirming children are still performed in language not understood by the people, I beg to ask the First Lord of the Treasury whether he will assure the House that no clergyman shall in future be appointed to any see in the principality of Wales who is not well acquainted with, and able to speak, read, write, and preach in the Welsh language?


begged to ask the noble Lord, before he replied to the hon. Gentleman's question, whether, considering that the 1st and 2d of Victoria, cap. 106, sec. 103, gave ample powers to the bishop to provide that clergymen, in all necessary cases, should be acquainted with the Welsh language—considering that there was a power, on the part of the Welsh laity, to enter a caveat against the appointment of any clergyman who did not understand the Welsh language—and considering that it was desirable to extend the knowledge of the English language, which was spreading rapidly in Wales—he did not think the state of the law at present fully provided for the state of Wales?


in answer to the question of the hon. Member for Macclesfield, had to state that some years ago it was a question in the House whether or not they should proceed to enact, that no one should be appointed to a see in Wales who was not well acquainted with the Welsh language. That proposal did not meet with the approbation of the House, and was rejected, it having been thought desirable to leave the Crown full discretion with respect to the appointments to sees in Wales, and not to fetter its discretion so much that if there was any person not so well qualified as another, but speaking the Welsh language, he should be appointed to a see, to the exclusion of him who was better qualified. Considering also that in the exercise of the discretion which devolved on him as Minister of the Crown, be had advised the Crown on a recent occasion to nominate a clergyman well acquainted with the Welsh language, who was besides a person of great learning and of unexceptionable qualifications, he thought he would not do right to fetter himself by a pledge which was never demanded before on behalf of the Crown. With respect to the second question, by the right hon. Member for Cardiff, in which he had called attention to an Act of Parliament referring to the appointment of clergymen to Welsh livings, and not to the appointment of bishops, he could only say, without looking to the Act in question, that the existing state of the law, as he considered, made sufficient provision as to the knowledge of the language to be possessed by clergymen in Wales. He would, however, look to the Act, and consider the matter again. His present impression was that legisla- tion was not required; but if he found that was not the case, he would not hesitate to propose a measure to Parliament on the subject.

Subject at an end.