HC Deb 03 August 1891 vol 356 cc1213-5

Order for resuming Adjourned Debate on Amendment to Second Reading [29th July], read.

*(12.29.) MR. J. G. TALBOT (Oxford University)

I wish that the Government had had sufficient determination to press the Bill to a Second Reading. It would have been carried almost without objection, because the opposition conies from a few hon. Members who I can scarcely believe would have ventured to vote against it. The Bill raises no points of religious controversy, but merely deals with questions of morality and decency. I do not believe that the Nonconformists as a body oppose such a Bill, and I hope that the Government will introduce it again at the beginning of next Session. I very much regret that another six months will have to elapse without a Bill of this kind being passed. I do not believe it is opposed by any considerable section of Nonconformists. Indeed, I think the opposition to the Bill is fragmentary and infinitesimal; it is a slur and a slander on Nonconformists to say that they refuse to give the Church of England this reasonable and moderate protection against a small but very obnoxious class of offenders in its ranks. In the name of religion, in the name of the clergy, and in the name of all who desire the protection of the Church, and I may add the whole community, from indecency and immorality of this kind, I earnestly protest against the withdrawal of this Bill.

(12.32.) MR. KELLY (Camberwell, N.)

I am afraid that the Government out of deference to the wishes of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Mid Lothian, postponed this Bill so often that at last it became an impossibility to pass it. I look upon the loss of the first four clauses of this Bill as little short of a national misfortune. Nonconformist ministers, like the clergy, agree that immorality on the part of a clergyman is a blow against religion and against their faith, and a more cruel slander upon them was never uttered than when the hon. Member for Glamorganshire declared that they wished to maintain immorality in the Church of England as a lever for the Disestablishment movement. In conclusion, I ask the Government for the fullest and amplest pledge that the measure will again be brought forward early next Session and passed, whatever sacrifices may be necessary.


I can assure my hon. Friends behind me that the Government regret extremely that they have not been able to carry this Bill. But all who are acquainted with the ways of the House must know that at the end of the Session it would be impossible to carry it in face of the opposition of a few gentlemen, chiefly from Wales. It is a matter of astonishment that they, in the face of the general feeling with regard to this Bill, should have thought it worth while to oppose the first four clauses, which commend themselves to everyone who is in favour of decency and morality among the ministers of the Church. I trust that nothing will be lost by the postponement of this measure, and that nothing will occur in the next few months to make us regret that the measure has not been passed. I can assure my hon. Friends that it is certainly the intention of the Government to give effect next Session to the general policy of the Bill.

(12.35.) DR. TANNER, (Cork Co., Mid)

I think the Chancellor of the Exchequer might have sought an opportunity of attacking the hon. Member for "Glamorganshire at a time when he was present, and not have tried to make capital out of this business by stabbing him in the back. Hon. Members for Wales thought it their duty to oppose the Bill because it was introduced in favour of what they consider to be an alien Church. I think the conduct of the right hon. Gentleman in stabbing them in the back is unmanly and unworthy the loader of the House.

Order discharged; Bill withdrawn.

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