HC Deb 22 March 1895 vol 31 cc1698-748

Order for Second Reading road;

Motion made, and question proposed, ''That the Bill be now read a Second Time."

Amendment proposed, to leave out the word "now," and at the end of the Question to add the words "upon this day six months."—(Sir Michael Hicks-Beach).

Question proposed, that the word "now," stand part of the Question.

SIR R. TEMPLE (Surrey, Kingston)

resumed the Debate, and continued his speech which had been interrupted at midnight the previous night, by saying that he would confine himself to generalities, leaving all the main points as well as the details for the Committee stage. He hoped that he had not given more offence than was necessary to the Home Secretary, for whom he entertained the highest respect, as well as the greatest admiration for his ability; but it became necessary sometimes to stand up to the right hon. Gentleman and bring arguments home to him. The right hon. Gentleman was in the habit of striking out all round with effective energy, and he must not be surprised if occasionally he received knocks in return. The Home Secretary inferred from the historical analysis regarding the Welsh Church presented by him to the House that the Church in Wales was not now a National Church. The right, hon. Gentleman repeated that assertion in every form of expression; indeed, he exhausted the phraseology of which the English language was capable in asserting and reasserting that proposition. It was, indeed, the burden of his song. He submitted, however, that this argument of the right hon. Gentleman came perhaps one century too late. It might have been adduced with some show of reason a hundred years ago, probably with some degree; of plausibility up to 1830; but for the last 50 years it had ceased to be applicable, and in one or two decades its applicability would disappear altogether. But supposing, for the sake of argument, that the Church was not now national. What was the inference from premises so imperfect? That the Church should be despoiled of nearly a quarter of a million of annual income to be diverted to secular purposes. Was there, ever a conclusion so illogical, so unreasonable, and so unrighteous? It had been argued that this money devoted to Divine service had not been made to go as far as might be desired, and that some remedy ought, to be devised. But why, because the money had not been used as earnestly as wisely, and as effectively as possible for sacred purposes, should it be devoted to Parish Councils and village improvements? It was impossible to imagine, a more blundering and plundering piece of legislation based on such insufficient, conclusions, and based on promises still more insufficient. The Church was a corporation; corporations could lawfully own property; tithe was the endowment and the property of the Church; to take away tithe therefore, even by legislation, was legislative robbery. Tithe had been devoted for many centuries to sacred purposes; to rob that which was sacred was sacrilege; therefore, this measure was sacrilege. Those were the links in the chain of reasoning, and he defied the Home Secretary to break any one of the links. Referring to the statistical argument of the Bishop of St. Asaph, tossed aside somewhat contemptuously by the Home Secretary, he maintained that, after all was said, the Bishop was right. The point was this: the Bishop's statistics implied that 47 per cent, of the Welsh electorate had voted against Disestablishment, which left 53 per cent, of the electorate either active or passive supporters of the Church. It came to this, therefore, that among the opponents of the Establishment, the percentage of abstention on the day of the election was extremely small, whereas the percentage of abstention among the active or passive supporters of the Church was extremely large. Those statistics were significant when brought to bear on the question of the census. The Home Secretary tried to meet this question of the census by saying it was not necessary, because they could judge from the number of communicants and worshippers. He did not deny that those were very important considerations; but, unfortunately, they did not supply all the considerations involved in the case, because they knew that there was a large proportion of people who did not attend church regularly, and who seldom or never communicated. But that was no reason why they were not to be counted in a religious census. They had their religion and their Church; they were very respectable people; they did not disown Christianity, though they did not conform to its ordinances so much as they ought. Nevertheless, the Home Secretary gave his high authority to their exclusion. Why did he do this? Because he was afraid of the result of a religious census. The right hon. Gentleman knew very well that the statistics would come out much in the same form as that presented by the Bishop of St. Asaph. The real reason that the Government brought in the Bill was that there were 31 Welsh Members who were determined to have this Bill, and who would give their allegiance to the Liberal Party on no other conditions. It was not because of any failure of the Church, and not for the sake of ecclesiastical efficiency, but for a purely political reason. English Members did not admit the necessity of granting Welsh Disestablisment because 31 Welsh Members out of 34 demanded it. In his experience of 10 years he had never known the Welsh Members vote for any English measure because the majority of English Members desired it. They in-variably tried to defeat the English majority by means of the Welsh, Scotch, and Irish votes. He did not deny their right to do this; but they could not complain if the same measure was dealt out to them. If they chose to exercise their private judgment on English measures without regard to the wishes of the English majority, English Members claimed the same right in respect of Welsh measures. Supposing that a measure for Disestablishing the Church in England were introduced, everyone knew that it would never be carried by the votes of English Members under any conceivable circumstances. But every Welsh Member would vote for such a measure notwithstanding. He bad known cases of Metropolitan Bills supported by the overwhelming majority of the Metropolitan Members, but defeated by the votes of the Welsh Members. It was too bad to expect Englishmen to yield to the wishes of Welshmen, Irishmen, and Scotchmen against their own judgment, when, the same concession was never made to them. The Bill was also desired to please the Nonconformist Members for England, with a view to an ulterior attack on the English Church. There could be no doubt, and the policy would be thoroughly exposed to the English constituencies. The speeches of hon. Members showed as clearly as day that the arguments which were good of this Bill, were just as good of a Bill dealing with the Church in England. If the arguments were admitted for Wales, they would have to be admitted for England. This intention was explicit and absolute in the minds of nearly all the supporters of the present measure. Why did the Welsh Members insist upon this measure? At one time it seemed that it was for the sake of the money; but he would thankfully admit that they were now acquitted on that score. The money was not to be taken for the purpose of Nonconformist organisation, for any religious purpose whatever, and he would far sooner hare seen it so applied than to the mean and miserable purposes set forth in the Bill. Of course, the idea of £150,000 being spent on Parish Councils was gratifying to the rural parishioner in Wales; but that after all was a small gratification. The real reason for the Bill he would take out of the mouths of Welsh Members themselves. It was contained in the statement that in this 19th century there ought to be religious equality, and that there was religious inequality. It was religious jealousy which moved hon. Members. They believed that the ministers and the members of the Church of England gained some social advantage from the Establishment. If there were such social inequality, it did not arise from the Establishment. If the Church were Disestablished to-morrow, the social superiority, if it existed, would remain. He wished to speak with great kindness of his Christian brethren of the Nonconformist communities. Probably No Anglican had seen so much of them as he had. He had assisted their foreign ministers, and they would not accuse him, therefore, of unfriendliness. Heaven forbid that lie should claim any superiority over them. He belonged to a Church which taught its members not to assume a pharisaical and self-complacent attitude towards their Christian brethren. But for the sake of a theoretical idea of social equality they could not make such a concession as would involve the robbery of the Church; that was too great a sacrifice to make for any friendship they might entertain towards their Nonconformist friends. They could not allow the cause of religion to be injured or the flag of religion to be hauled down for the sake of what they believed a fancy equality. This Bill, which was really not supported by proper reasons, would possibly pass through the House of Commons after an opposition of a very sturdy character, but he and his friends wore confident it would never pass into law. In the words of Thackeray, it would march into darkness, and it would go where other Bills of a like character had gone. The Opposition were anxious that such a Bill should never pass into law until it had been argued out before the tribunal of the public opinion of England, and until a verdict had been taken upon it unmixed up with other items of the Newcastle programme. They were anxious the verdict of the people of England should be taken as to whether the English Church was to be disestablished or not, because they knew beyond dispute that if this measure for Wales be carried, another measure for England would follow. Fortunately, the cause of Establishment extended to Scotland, and there would be the grand spectacle of Englishmen and Scotchmen standing shoulder to shoulder in the cause of that common Establishment. He did not know whether hon. Gentlemen opposite realised the tremendous political power they were challenging, and whether they contemplated with complacency an alliance between the successors of Latimer and Ridley and the successors of John Knox. A struggle would arise as had not been seen in this century in England, and he could not doubt what the issue would be. It would be the old story of the Church militant now triumphant hereafter, for depend upon it she would be defended by a nationality which in persistency, perseverance and resolution was amongst the grandest of all nationalities on earth.

MR. S. T. EVANS (Glamorgan, Mid)

said, the House was always willing to listen to the interesting speeches of the hon. Member for Kingston, and if they had not been very much benefited by any acquisition of knowledge by the speech to which they had just listened, they had at least been interested. The hon. Baronet concluded his speech by saying that this Bill had no chance of passing into law, but that it would "march into darkness." By that he supposed the hon. Baronet meant that the Bill would march into the House of Lords. He was very thankful indeed to the hon. Baronet for this accurate description of "the other place" with reference to the Bill. The hon. Member was as qualified as anybody in the House to deal with the general question of Establishment or Disestablishment, but he would forgive them for saying that they did not acknowledge his right or title to speak with any authority at all upon the question as it affected the Principality of Wales. The hon. Baronet was properly regarded as an authority on India, but it sometimes happens that people who have an intimate knowledge of foreign lands and climes are wofully ignorant of the affairs of the countries which are nearest to them, and the hon, Baronet had shown the House he was no authority at all on the Principality. He told them the struggle would be a long and arduous one, and that he was determined to expose to his constituents what he was pleased to describe as the tactics of the Government and their allies in this matter. Personally he very much regretted to see from the Press that the hon. Baronet did not mean to seek reelection. They would, therefore, not be enabled to see what result his exposition of the tactics of the Government and their allies would have. The hon. Member had indulged in a syllogism in which he appeared to take a paternal pleasure, for he uttered it last night and repeated it to-day. He challenged the Home Secretary to dispose of his syllogism or of any part of it; in fact he thought that the syllogism he propounded—to use his own classical phrase—"knocked the bottom" out of the Home Secretary's argument; but it was a very easy matter—if the phrase could be repeated without Parliamentary offence—to "knock the bottom" out of the hon. Baronet's own syllogism because the first premiss he laid down could not be substantiated. The premiss he laid down was that the Church of England was a corporation. But no ecclesiastical authority could be adduced by any Member for that proposition. There was no such corporation as the Church of England. The vicar of the parish was a corporation sole, and the Dean and Chapter were a corporation aggregate; but there was no such thing as the corporation of the Church of England. Away went the first premiss of the syllogism of the hon. Member, and therefore down tumbled the syllogism. Then the hon. Baronet went on to approve apparently what had been described as the Hartingtonian theory with reference to the question of Church establishment. He said— If you Welsh Members insist upon voting on English questions against our view, we must have the right to return the compliment by voting against Welsh Disestablishment. They were quite prepared that each part of the United Kingdom should decide this matter for itself. That was what had been described and known now for many years as the Hartingtonian principle. Lord Hartington said the question of Disestablishment in Scotland ought to be decided by the views of the people of Scotland. It followed that the question of Disestablishment in Wales ought to be decided by the views and opinions of the Welsh people, and it followed, and he and his friends were perfectly willing to concede the point, that the question of the Disestablishment of the Church of England should be decided by the votes of the English people. Were the hon. Member and his friends prepared to make a bargain of that kind? Would hon. Members opposite allow the Welsh to decide this question for themselves, if they were allowed to decide the English question for themselves? The hon. Member shook his head. He was not prepared to go this length of his own argument. He would have English Members decide English questions; then why not Welsh Members Welsh questions?


said, what he stated was that they should all participate in the question relating to the country at large. They should go together.


said, the illustration the hon. Member put was, "If the question of the Disestablishment of the Church of England comes before this House, will the Welsh Members refrain from voting?" The offer the Welsh Members made was to refrain from voting and allow the English to decide the question for themselves. He admitted that the question could hardly be said to be ripe in England, but as far as Wales was concerned there could be no doubt at all about it. Welsh Members did not conceal from the House the importance and the gravity of the issue which was involved in this measure. It was an issue affecting the social, the moral, and the religious life of one of the nations which constitute the United Kingdom; and the issue was grave and important also because no doubt it did bear on the larger question of the Disestablishment of the Church in England. They did not underrate the gravity or the importance of the measure at all, but at the same time they did not enter into its discussion with anything like misgiving, because they knew perfectly well that upon no issue as great and important as this, raising so serious a controversy, had the answer given by the people immediately affected been so clear, so unequivocal, and so decisive. They had been asked to control their language. He would endeavour to modify his language as much as it was possible to do under the circumstances of the case. He was not quite sure the task was an easy one. The task was not rendered earlier by the fact that they knew and felt the past history and the present conduct of the State Church in Wales. Nor was the task made easier by the language and the method of argument adopted on the other side. The hon. Member who had just addressed the House said they were robbers, sacrilegious robbers—they were robbers of God. When phrases of that kind were used it was not easy for those who had to argue on the other side of the question always to keep their language within such moderation as they would like, anxious though they were that the battle should by fought with as little bitterness as was possible, and to avoid offence to the natural susceptibilities of their opponents. He did not propose to weary the House by entering into many of the details of the Bill, but he would endeavour to keep to the main principles which underlay the measure. They might be conveniently classified under three heads. First came the broad principle of Disestablishment; then the question of Disendowment; and, thirdly, the application of the money, or, in other words, the secularisation of the properties and revenues of the Church which would be set free after Disendowment. With regard to the first question, the principle of Disestablishment, he ventured to think that there were not many hon. Members who based their objection to the Bill upon the necessity for establishing a form of religion by law. The right hon. Baronet, the Member for West Bristol, who led the Opposition to the Bill, was one of the few hon. Members who took up that position, and while he respected the motives of such hon. Gentlemen, he must be forgiven for saying they were very old-fashioned and belated politicians on this question, for it would not be denied that the tendency of movement in all modern thought was in favour of allowing all forms of religion to be perfectly equal and perfectly free. That was particularly the case in all the English-speaking populations of the world. It was so in America, in our Colonies, in Ireland, which had happily accomplished the Disestablishment of its Church, and undoubtedly public feeling in Scotland tended in the same direction. The favourite argument of hon. Members who desired to see a form of religion established by law was, that there ought to be a national acknowledgment or recognition of religion by the State. But would they say that there was no acknowledgment or recognition of religion in America or in our Colonies? The best acknowledgment or recognition for the State to show towards religion was to allow every man to worship as he pleased, and not to inquire into any thing so sacred as the religious opinions of its people, but to bring about the perfect equality of all forms of religion in the eyes of the law. Would anyone dream in the present day of founding or originating an Establishment of any one form of religion in this realm? Suppose there was no Established Church in existence in this Kingdom, would any one dare to propose to set one up and endow it in this, the last quarter of the Nineteenth Century? The right hon. Baronet, the Member for West Bristol, had said he was in favour of concurrent endowment, but that was not the Amendment he had placed on the paper. The Amendment he had put on the paper was, "That this Bill be read a second time on this day six months." Would the right hon. Baronet put down an Amendment proposing that the endowments of the Church in Wales should be appropriated for the concurrent endowment of all forms of religion in the Principality? If the right hon. Baronet proposed such an Amendment, what support would he receive from the Members of his own Party? He would give to hon. Members on the other side of the House, and particularly to the noble Lord the Member for Rochester (Viscount Cranborne), an authority whom they ought to accept upon the question as to whether or not the tendency of modern thought was in favour of Establishment. Lord Salisbury, speaking in the, House of Lords in 1869, in the Debate on the Second Reading of the Irish Church Bill, used these very significant words— As regards the question of Disestablishment, I do not think that many Speakers in this Debate have ventured to treat that as an open question … The right Reverend Prelate (the Bishop of Peterborough) in his splendid argument on this subject, distinctly said that the principle of establishments was irrevocably gone … But having told us that he considered the principle of Establishments was irrevocably gone, and that Amendments in Committee were necessary, he, the Bishop of Peterborough, was about to join in a Vote which would render the carrying of these Amendments impossible. My Lords, I am free to confess that I cannot go so far as he does. The noble Marquess carried his opinion to its logical conclusion, for he voted in favour of the Second Reading of the Irish Church Bill in the House of Lords upon the distinct ground that the day of Establishment was gone. He would also call the attention of the House to the extraordinary Bill which had been brought in a few days ago by the hon. Member for Selkirk (Mr. Thorburn), and the noble Lord, the Member for West Edinburgh (Viscount Wolmer), two Unionist Members, and by others who were Conservative Members, which proposed to refer the question of the Disestablishment of the Church of Scotland to the people of Scotland. The Bill, in fact, proposed the introduction of the Referendum in Scotland for the settlement of the matter, for, according to its provisions and schedule, the question on which the people of Scotland were to be asked to vote was, "Ought the Church of Scotland to be disestablished and disendowed? Yes or no." The House would observe that the question was not divided into two. It was not, "Ought the Church of Scotland to be disestablished, or ought it to be disendowed?" There was but one comprehensive question, which it was proposed to ask the people of Scotland: "Ought the Church of Scotland to be disestablished and disendowed? Yes or no?" The Bill would put the people of Scotland to the trouble of a General Election on this one question; and it must be assumed to acknowledge, therefore, that if a majority of the people of Scotland did vote for the Disestablishment and Disendowment of the Church of Scotland, this House ought to grant, and was prepared to grant, that Disestablishment and that Disendowment. Again, look at the remarkable resolution which was passed by the Convocation of Canterbury in the House of Laymen in 1893 in regard to the Bill before the House. He supposed that if the Convocation of Canterbury thought they could argue against Disestablishment as such, or pass a resolution against Disestablishment as such, they would do so; but they had not based their resolution in opposition to the Bill on any such ground. The resolution ran:— That the Disestablishment of such portion only of the Church of England as is included in Wales would involve an organic severance of that portion from the rest of the Church; and, while Parliament has an undoubted power to dissolve the connection between the State and the Church as a whole, if it considers such a measure to be for the public benefit, it has no moral right to effect an organic severance of a portion of the Church from the rest, against the will both of that portion and of the rest of the Church. Was not that resolution as complete an acknowledgment of the right of Parliament to deal with the question as could well be made? The right hon. Baronet the Member for West Bristol had complained that the argument of the Home Secretary was an argument in favour of the principle of Disestablishment in the case of England as well as in the case of Wales. Precisely so. In principle the question whether there ought to be an Establishment in England must be considered from the same standpoint as the question whether there ought to be an Establishment in Wales; and he was glad that the Liberal Party were prepared to avow that they thought that the same principles ought to be applied to the English Church in England as to the Church of England as it existed in Wales. But the question now before the House was whether there ought to be Disestablishment and Disendowment in the special case of Wales. Was the Establishment for the benefit of the State or of the Church? The right hon. Baronet the Member for West Bristol had said he was in favour of establishment of religion more upon the ground that the connection benefited the State, than upon the ground that the connection benefited religion itself. But where did the connection between the Church and State most clearly manifest itself? In the presence of the Bishops in the House of Lords. If there was any advantage to the State in the State allying itself with a particular form of religion, it ought to be exemplified in the action of the Bishops in the House of Lords. But could the right hon. Baronet look back with any pride, or pleasure, or, indeed, could he look back even with equanimity, on the action of the Bishops in the House of Lords? Why, there never had been a great reform proposed or carried out for the benefit of the people that had not suffered from the active hostility of the Bishops in the House of Lords. Did the connection, benefit the Church? The fact was, that so far from the Church in Wales having benefited by its connection with the State, all the shortcomings, all the weaknesses, and the decline of the Welsh Church, were to be attributed in the first place to that connection; and, secondly, to its incorporation with the English State Church by the absorption of its sees by Canterbury. Canterbury had formerly filled all the bishoprics, all the canonries, and all the other high offices of the Church in Wales with Englishmen in defiance of the feeling of Wales. That could not have been done if the Church had not been connected with the State. Reference had been made to the improvement in that respect which took place in the Welsh Church in the time of the Tudors and, to a lesser extent, in the time of the Stuarts. The reason was obvious. The Tudors were of Welsh descent. Henry VII. was a Welshman, and Henry VIII. and Elizabeth had Welsh sympathies, and they pursued in regard to the Church a policy of paying some respect to the feelings and sentiments of Wales. But, unfortunately for the Welsh Church, that policy had not been continued. At the accession of the House of Brunswick that policy was departed from, and for a period of a century and a half there had not been a single Welsh Bishop in any of the sees of Wales. Could that condition of things have been possible but for the fact that the Church in Wales was connected with the State? There could be no doubt that what had rendered it possible for Englishmen to be appointed to the bishoprics and other high Church offices of Wales for a century and a half was the fact that the Church of England was connected with the State. Therefore the Church, so far from being improved and benefited by its connection with the State, was injuriously affected. The first objection made to the Bill was that it created a severance of the unity of the Church of England, and to support that objection the right hon. Baronet the Member for West Bristol went so far as to deny the nationality of the Welsh people. He could assure the right hon. Gentleman that that kind of argument would not improve the position of the Church of Wales. In fact, sentiments of that kind, entertained by Churchpeople, had gone a long way to destroy the influence of the Church in the Principality. And what had the right hon. Gentleman advanced in support of the statement that there was no such thing as Welsh nationality? He had said it was contrary to history. But one of the main arguments of the other side was that the Welsh Church had existed long before the English Church. And if that were so, surely it was due to the separate nationality of Wales? Wales was close to England, far closer to England than Ireland. There was no St. George's Channel or any other channel between Wales and England; but, despite the fact that Wales was so close to England, the national sentiment was stronger in Wales than in any other portion of the United Kingdom. It was not so difficult for parts of the United Kingdom which lay far from England to preserve their nationality. The English were a very strong people, and unless the feeling of nationality was exceedingly strong it, could not have been preserved in a country so near to England as Wales was. Yet, with regard to language, national sentiment, literature, and every badge of nationality that could be named, the feeling was far stronger in Wales than it was in Ireland or Scotland.


Does the hon. Member give up Monmouthshire?


replied that he did not, because Monmouthshire was a Welsh county till the time of Henry VIII. It was claimed as an English county by the right hon. Gentleman, but Monmouthshire in feeling was Welsh, arid not English, and desired to be allied with Wales in this matter. Did it not show the strength of the national feeling that, although this county had been annexed from Wales and joined to England, yet it still desired to remain Welsh? The biggest majority in any single-member constituency in Wales, or, indeed, in the United Kingdom, in favour of this measure was from West Monmouthshire, where the present Member was returned by a majority of over 5,000. He thought the supporters of the Church in Wales would not be wise to continue the argument that there was no such thing as Welsh nationality. The fact was that if the Welsh Church had not joined the English Church, and had not been subjected to the See of Canterbury, it would have been much stronger than it was at the present day. The attention the Welsh Church had received from its foster-mother, the English Church, had almost smothered it. The next argument against the Bill was that, if the Church was anti-national in old times, those times had changed, and that they had, since 1868, had Welsh-speaking Bishops. Yes; but they knew from experience that a Welsh-speaking Bishop was not necessarily a bishop who was actuated by national sentiments. He was not quite sure that one of the Welsh-speaking Bishops recently appointed was not as anti-national as any man they could find in the Principality. A third argument was that they had not got a religious census. But if they had a census, and showed they had a majority in favour of Disestablishment and Disendowment, would those who clamoured for an inquisitorial census join in granting Disestablishment? And he had to ask what majority would suffice, in the opinion of the Opposition, to declare the wishes of the people of the Principality in this matter? How was the census to be taken? Was it to be taken of Churchmen, against Nonconformists. Because, as had been pointed out by the hon. Member for South Edinburgh, there were numbers of Churchmen in Wales who were in favour of Disestablishment and Disendowment; therefore, a census on that basis would not avail. But really the objection of the other side, that the House ought not to pass this measure because they had no census, was what the lawyers called a dilatory plea. What was the use of saying they had not got a census, unless, if they showed by means of a census that the vast majority were in favour of Disestablishment and Disendowment, gentlemen opposite were prepared to concede the right of the Welsh people to such a measure? The fourth argument was that, whether they had Disestablishment or not, Disendowment was wrong, because it would cripple and destroy the Church. The words made use of by the right hon. Member for West Bristol on this point the previous night were significant. He said:— The theory of the Church is that there shall be a resident minister in every parish. And the right hon. Gentleman went on to say (no doubt from his intimate knowledge of the zeal of his Party in Wales) that— this work would not be done if they relieved the Church of the duty required by law to maintain a minister in every parish.'' Why did the Church maintain a minister in every parish now? Was it out of desire for the good of the people, or because it was compelled by law to perform that duty? He did not believe of the Church of England in Wales, or the Church of England in England either, that the Church would cease to be active in the performance of religious work when it ceased to be trammelled by the State, and he confessed he was rather astounded to hear, from such a champion of the Church as the right hon. Gentleman, that, in his opinion, the work of the Church would not be done in Wales if they relieved it from the duty required of it by law to carry on its religious functions. The last argument made against the Bill was that the Church was wakening up to the performance of her spiritual duty, and that she was active, increasing, and aggressive. He did not desire to wound the feelings of anyone, but he thought he could give a reason to account for the increased zeal and activity of the Church in this matter. He denied entirely that the Church had any more hold upon the Welsh nation now than it had 50 years ago. There was a greater bustling now, a greater publication of so-called facts and figures; but where was the centre of activity? It was not in the Principality itself—it was in No. 30, Parliament Street—the headquarters of the Church Defence Institution. Every one of the arguments used against the passing of this measure were alleged in the case of the, Irish Church. He had no hesitation in saying that the case of the Welsh people in favour of Disestablishment was much stronger than the case of the Irish people ever was. But there were two arguments urged against Disestablishment in Ireland which would not apply to the case of Wales at all. In the Debates on the Irish Church Bill, a good deal was said about the solemn obligation entered into between the two countries by the Act of Union, that the Church should be one and indivisible. That did not apply here. The second argument which applied to Ireland, but which was not applicable to the Welsh Church, was the antiRomish argument. It was said, in regard to Ireland, that they must keep up a Protestant establishment, or otherwise they would have that country subjugated to the yoke of Rome. The right hon. Member for Bristol, last night, admitted that the Irish Church had been benefited by Disestablishment and Disendowment.


No, no.


At any rate the right hon. Gentleman admitted that the Irish Church had derived some advantages from Disestablishment and Disendowment. What were the advantages? He said it had obtained freedom from interference by others outside the Church. Would not that be an advantage in Wales? Was not that a strong argument in favour of Disestablishment? The second advantage was, that by Disestablishment and Disendowment they had introduced the laity element into the Church, which had given increased strength and vigour to it. That would apply equally to the case of Wales. The right hon. Gentleman might fairly have gone further, for there was no question at all that the Irish Church had improved since its Disestablishment and Disendowment in 1868. He found that the voluntary contributions received by, the representative body since 1869, averaged £174,000 per annum, and that the total of the voluntary contributions received since 1869 to the present day reached the immense sum of £4,376,197. That surely showed some activity in the Disestablished Church. Again, in 1893, the income of the Irish Church exceeded the expenditure by, £66,128. He had referred and met the arguments most often made against the Bill, but the real reasons why the opposition to the passing of this measure into law was so strenuous on the other side of the House, were divulged by the right hon. Baronet in one portion of his speech. In the first place, the right hon. Gentleman said they would cripple the Church by taking its Endowments away. That, for the purpose of brevity, he might refer to as the loaves-and -fishes reason. The second real reason was a political one. The right hon. Gentleman told them that a prediction had been made in the time of the. Irish Church Debates that the revolution which commenced with the Church would go on to the Land and Home Rule, and, said the right hon. Gentleman, "the revolution had gone on to the Land and to Home Rule" Then were they to understand that the right hon. Baronet, desired the continued connection between the Church and State in Wales in order to keep back reforms upon the land question, and in order to keep back, if Wales desired it, the boon of self-government? Were these the reasons? If they were, then it appeared that the State connection was desired, not for the sake of religion, not upon spiritual grounds at all, but for political reasons, to stave off land reforms and reforms in local government. He would very briefly go through some of the reasons why they who supported the Bill contended that it ought to be passed. First of all, he affirmed, as one of the representatives of the Welsh people, that their motives for their strong desire for the Disestablishment and Disendowment of the Church were not the mean motives attributed to them by the other side. They desired that there should be absolute freedom in the matter of religion, and absolute religious equality in the eye of the law. The hon. Member who last addressed the House said the fact that 31 Members from Wales were in favour of the measure was not an argument that ought to be acceded to. They had heard in the course of this Debate that the Welsh Members were not elected on the question of Disestablishment. He should like to know, then, upon what they were elected? He thought it worth while to read to the House again what Lord Salisbury wrote in the National Review for November 1892. Of course, his lordship then desired to prove that Wales was not in favour of Home Rule, and he wrote— It is notorious that the Welsh voted for Radical Candidates, not for their love of Home Rule, but for their aversion towards the Welsh Church. That was the opinion of Lord Salisbury as to the question upon which the Welsh representatives were returned to Parliament. Elaborate figures on this subject had been prepared by the Bishop of St. Asaph. They had heard a great, deal about episcopal logic, and episcopal arithmetic was also very extraordinary arithmetic. He would give the House a specimen of how the Bishop dealt with this matter. He told them that during the last General Election the number of Liberals who voted for Gladstonian candidates, and who, therefore, voted in favour of Disestablishment and Disendowment, was 145,818; that the number who voted in favour of the Unionist candidates—(where there was no contest, the figures at the previous election being taken)— was 86,883; and he made out, therefore, that the majority of electors in Wales, in favour of Disestablishment was only 58,935. Out of the total electorate of Wales that was, he thought, a tolerably large and satisfactory majority. But the majority was very much more than that. The Bishop assumed that all the Unionist candidates, and all those who voted for them at the last election, were against Disestablishment and Disendowment. But that was not the fact. It was a very significant thing that in most of the election addresses of the Unionist candidates at the General Election of 1892 there was an ominous silence on the question of the Welsh Church. It might be said, therefore, that the question was not before the constituencies. But it was. There was not a Liberal candidate who did not put it in the forefront of his programme. Not only were many of the Unionist addresses silent; some of them actually expressed themselves to be favourable to Disestablishment. Those who expressed themselves in favour of Disestablishment were Mr. Morgan Lloyd in Anglesey, Mr. William Jones in Cardiganshire, Sir J..J. Jenkins in Carmarthen, Captain Davies in Carmarthenshire, Mr. Humphreys in the Eifion Division of Carnarvon, Mr. Owen in Merioneth, and Mr. Monger in Swansea District. In Flintshire Sir Robert Cunliffe, the Unionist candidate, could not make up his mind; but he thought it to his advantage to say that he would not vote against Disestablishment. Accordingly, upon a question that had been boiling in Wales for the last quarter of a century, he said he was going to be neutral. The total number of votes recorded for the Unionist candidates who declared in favour of Disestablishment was 17,378, and according to the Bishop s method that, number must be deducted from they 86,883 and added to the other side. If they did the result would be that instead of a majority of 58,935 they had a majority of 93,691. Who were the candidates who were silent on the subject? In Cardiff there was Mr. Gunn, in Denbigh there was Mr. Kenyon. Where was the hon. Member? He used to be the champion of the Welsh Church in the House, but his voice has not been heard in this Debate. In Denbighshire there was Sir Watkin Wynn, in East Glamorganshire Mr. Lewis, in South Glamorganshire Sir Morgan Morgan, in Montgomeryshire Captain Mytton, in Pembroke Boroughs General Laurie, in Pembrokeshire Sir C. Phillips, in Radnorshire Mr. Bradney, and in Swansea Sir John Llewelyn. [An hon. MEMBER: "He was against Disestablishment."] I know he was, but why did he not say in his address that he was against it? What was significant was that when Unionists and Conservatives wished to catch votes they took care to exclude from their addresses their objection to Disestablishment, because if they put it in the people would not vote for them. There were seven Unionist and Conservative candidates actually in favour of Disestablishment and Disendowment; 10 of them were silent in their addresses, only seven said anything against it, and one was neutral. What, then, became of the Bishop of St. Asaph's figures when applied to the electoral statistical argument in defence of the Church. In his book the Bishop says that 53 per cent, of the, electorate had not voted for Disestablishment candidates. Will it be believed that in this percentage he has included thousands of duplicate votes, and has reckoned all those persons who had removed, and even all persons on the registers who had died! A census had been asked for in order to reckon as supporters of the Establishment "those respectable people who did not attend the Church or accept its ordinances." Surely, the only fair test was the test of Church membership. And upon this question they had figures given by the authorities of the of the Church of England themselves. According to the "Official Year Book" for 1894, the number of estimated communicants in the four dioceses of Wales was 120,477 or only 6.6 per cent, of the whole population. Had the Church a claim on the numerical ground to call itself a National Church when it estimated the number of its communicants at one out of every 15 of the population? It may be safely assumed that at the present juncture the number is not under-estimated in the Church Year Book. Taking the adherent argument, and applying the same multiplication table as that used by the Bishop of St. Asaph with regard to Nonconformists, they found that the number of adherents of the Church of England was 265,050, or 14 per cent, of the population—one person out of every seven. Much was made of the argument that in populous places, where the Church was to some extent a voluntary Church, she was increasing and improving. Look at Llandaff, which comprises the two most populous counties in the Principality, Glamorganshire and Monmouthshire. The number of communicants in the diocese was 41,407, or 5.2 per cent, of the population, and the number of adherents was 82,814, or 11 per cent. The number of communicants, according to the most recent returns, in the four great Nonconformist bodies in Wales, was 399,662, or 22.4 per cent. of the population. It therefore came to this, that of the communicants both of the Church and of these four great denominations, the Church had 22.7 per cent. and the Nonconformists 77.3 per cent. There was another test of whether or not the Church from a numerical point of view could claim to be a national Church. That was the test of church accommodation. If a Church had not accommodation for the people, surely it could not call itself the Church of the people. What was the sitting accommodation of the Church of England in Wales, reckoning parish churches and chapels of ease? According to the "Official Year Book," the Church accommodation in the, diocese, of Bangor was 18,707, or 27 per cent, of the population of the diocese; in the diocese of Llandaff it was 110,474, or 13 per cent, of the population; in the diocese of St. Asaph it was 79,343, or 29 per cent.; and in St. Davids it was 119,253, or 24 per cent. Thus the total accommodation in the churches and chapels of ease in the four dioceses was only 367,776, or a little over 20 per cent, of the population. Could they upon that ground say that the Church was a national Church. These figures were absolutely incontrovertible. No arithmetic, even of a Bishop, could change their effect. It was a significant fact that whereas, taking the number of communicants, the proportion of the Church to Nonconformists was 22 to 77 in 1894, according to the official census of 1851 the proportion of Church attendants then was 21 to 78, or practically the same. Surely, that was some evidence that there was not such an increase as was attempted to be made out in the proportion of members of the Church of England. Hon. Members opposite were fond of saying that Nonconformity was going back. That is not true. Nonconformity was stronger today than it ever had been. Taking the last 22 years there had been an increase as follows in the number of communicants in the four Nonconformist denominations:—Baptists, 54 per cent.; Methodists, 46 per cent.; Independents, 40 per cent.; and Wesleyans, 37 per cent. Was that a record of Nonconformist retrogression? If the Church could show better progress than was proved by those figures, he would be glad to hear of it from some hon. Gentleman opposite. It was a significant fact that not a single Member from the Principality had yet spoken in this Debate against the Bill. Hon. and right hon. Gentlemen did not get their information from Wales, but in a book, which was published by the Bishop of St. Asaph, and which the opponents of the Bill were fond of referring to. Nonconformity in Wales was described in that book as "a fitful and feverish parenthesis in the religious life of Wales." Were the figures which he had quoted indicative of "a fitful and feverish parenthesis?" If so, all he could say was that the fit was tolerably long, and the fever was tolerably strong. But, referring to the number of chapels in Wales, in order further to test that statement of the Bishop, he found the following extraordinary figures: In 1775, there were in Wales 171 chapels; in 1816, there were 993; in 1861, the number had increased to 2,927; and in 1892, it had further increased to no less than 4,262. All those chapels had been erected voluntarily by the Welsh people themselves and by their forefathers. Were hon. Members opposite afraid, in face of those figures, to trust the people of Wales to take care of their own spiritual needs? He must pass very lightly over the question of Disendowment, because he was afraid of trespassing too long upon the attention of the House, to which he was indebted for the patient attention it had given to him. One thing he observed, and that was, that surely in these days nobody would propose Disestablishment without Disendowment. In the proposed referendum to Scotland the two parts were not separated; neither were they separated in the case of Ireland. Upon the principle of Disendowment, there could, in his view, be no two opinions. If the Church was to be Disestablished, it must also be Disendowed. Hon. Members had a perfect right, of course, to get from the Government the best terms they could. The right hon. Gentleman, the Member for West Bristol (Sir M. Hicks-Beach), had said that the provisions in the Bill in regard to Disendowmeiit were "mean." This he entirely denied. He and his friends held that, not only were those provisions not mean, but they were very generous, and he thought that the Church would do well to accept such a scheme as that propounded by the Bill, because better terms would never be obtained. The right hon. Gentleman went into figures to show what he called the meanness of the scheme now put forward. He complained that it did not allow any commutation. Ireland had taught them better than to do that. Did they want to see a flight of curates crossing Offa's Dyke? He quite thought that when a man did the work he was entitled to the benefits; but, if he did not do the work, or get some one else to do it, what right had he to commute? While men performed the duties attaching to their life interests, they were entitled to the benefits, and the Bill provided a too generous scheme for persons desiring to go from one post to another; but, if a clergyman wanted to go from one place to another, or to be made a Bishop, he failed to see why he should receive any portion of his life interest at all. The Bill, however, allowed him to do so, and to apply to such a provision the term "mean" was absurd. The right hon. Gentleman said that the treatment of the curates was also mean; but he said that the meanest provisions of all were those in reference to the cathedrals and churchyards of Wales. The right hon. Gentleman said that in the churchyards the members of the Church of England had what was once nearest and dearest to them. He would be the first to recognise any sentiment of that kind. But in many places in Wales, the only burial ground was the parish churchyard, and Nonconformists had, in those burial grounds, those who were once nearest and dearest to them. Nonconformists had been for generations in an undoubted majority in Wales, and had, therefore, in many of those burial grounds a larger number of those who had been nearest and dearest to them and their families than Churchmen had. It was not proposed to desecrate them. God forbid! All that they contended for was, that in those public burial grounds, all ought the have an equal interest, without reference to their particular form of religious belief. It was trifling for the right hon. Gentleman to say that such a provision was the meanest in the whole scheme of Disendowment contained in the Bill. He wished to say a few words as to the secularisation of the property, and setting free of revenues. He would not use his own words, but would quote words of an eminent Churchman which he thought were both apposite and eloquent. They were to be found in— LOMBAIRD STREET IN LENT.—A Sermon by the Rev. R. L. Ottley, Principal of Pusey House, Oxford, on THE ETHICS OF PROPERTY. and were as follows:— There are works distinctively religious as well as social. For example, the care of the sick, and dying, and the afflicted is a religious work. Hospital, homes for incurables, etc., owe their origin to the Christian spirit, and few services are more Christlike than the founding of dispensaries and convalescent homes, or the endowment of parish nurses to visit and tend the poor in their own homes. Would not everyone agree with those words? They might have been spoken with reference to the schedule to this very Bill. No one could say, with any propriety of language that the application of funds to such purposes as were there mentioned was an application to non-religion purposes. The Church of England had had many opportunities. He hoped she would, even now, learn a lesson from the case of Wales. He appealed to hon. and right hon. Gentlemen opposite, and assured them that so far as the non-conformists of Wales were concerned, they desired to see an end to all this strife, bitterness, and controversy. He hoped that the Church would learn the lesson that her very failure in Wales was due to her establishment. She had had her opportunities as an Established Church. Once, she appealed to the people of Wales: she had ceased to appeal to them now. She had failed to embrace the opportunities which had been offered to her as an Established Church. She would have, as soon as this Bill passed, an opportunity of becoming a free Church, not leaning on the secular arm, and not relying on the broken reed of political privileges. Let her join in putting an end to all the strife and controversy, and as a free Church, untrammeled and unfettered, go forward, hand-in-hand, with all other religious agencies in the Principality to promote the highest and noblest interests of the nation.

MR. HENRY MATTHEWS (Birmingham, E.)

said, that the hon. Member had approached the subject in a very becoming manner. He trusted that the House would listen to him while, from a somewhat different point of view he, a dissenter also from the Established Church, explained the reasons why he agreed with the bulk of his Friends on that side of the House opposing the; Bill. He did not think that any advantage was to be gained by entering into any long inquiry as to the legal or moral right of Parliament to entertain such questions as this. The legal right was beyond question, and precedents in support of it were numerous. He should not be inclined to accept that of the, Irish Church if it stood alone, for the case of that Church and the case of the Established Church in Wales differed enormously. He would not labour the point. It had been established by the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Midlothian, with a force that he could not attempt to follow. But while conceding to the Home Secretary that there was abundant precedent for the interference of Parliament, the question still remained whether that interference was wise and just in the particular case; and when they were dealing with the Church of England, which certainly had a prolonged life and an illustrious past behind it, and which certainly had a great hold on the affections of large numbers of people throughout this country, a much stronger case must be made out than when they were dealing with any other institution. The Bill contained two distinct parts: Disestablishment and Disendowment; and each ought to be approached in a different spirit, standing as they did on different grounds. The picture presented by the Home Secretary of the former condition of Establishment in the English Church and of its present condition was accurate in the main. He differed from the Home Secretary in this regard upon only one or two minute points, which he would presently mention. It was perfectly true that the old ideal of State and Church, which he confessed was, in his opinion, the best ideal, had long been abandoned and given up in this country. There was no question now of exclusion from citizenship of all those who did not profess to follow a particular religion. That ideal had long since ceased to exist. There was a time when entrance into Parliament, the right to hold any office in the State, the possession of municipal rights, marriage, burial, and all that appertained to public grants to schools, and the social and civil life of the community was the exclusive patronage and property of the Established Church. That state of things was long ago felt to be totally inconsistent with the religious condition of the country. He agreed that Establishment in that sense had long been gone. The Home Secretary asked what Establishment meant, and on his own showing Establishment inflicted no grievance and no injury on anyone. Let him develop that for a moment. What did Establishment consist in? In the first place, in the supremacy of the Crown, in the appointment of Bishops, in the assembling and dissolving of Convocation, the control of the Crown over every Canon that Convocation might pass, and the interference of Parliament. This latter followed on the supremacy of the Crown. Said the Home Secretary, these were all chains and fetters which were injurious to the Church of England, they put her under the heel and control of latitudinarian Ministers, and of a Parliament filled with men of all religions and no religion at all. If he were a member of the Church of England he thought he should take that view, but it was for every man to choose. There were many members of the Church of England who viewed this secular control as a great privilege and a great advantage. But Dissenters were not subjected to any of these chains and fetters. They were free to carry on their public worship in any way they pleased, and according as their conscience dictated, uncontrolled and unhampered by those fetters. The second point put by the Home Secretary was, that there were Bishops in the House of Lords. He thought that was only an incident of Establishment. They refused to allow clergymen to sit in the House of Commons, and the views of the Church could be heard only in the House of Lords. The hon. Member who has just sat down viewed this as a nuisance and an evil that the Bishops should sit in the House of Lords, and that their conduct there had been wrong. He did not agree with him. He thought it a valuable tiling that the Church should be represented in the House of Lords. He should not object to seeing all the religious sects represented in the House of Lords, for by that system of levelling up they would get rid of the difficulty. But that the presence of the Bishops was a grievance to Dissenters he could not admit for a moment, and on that ground there was no argument in favour of Disestablishment. As to coercive jurisdiction, it did not affect Dissenters. It affected no one but the clergy. It was not a grievance to any layman, as the jurisdiction of the Ecclesiastical Courts did not touch any one but the clergy. To take away this coercive jurisdiction would deprive the Church of an advantage, if they liked, which she had for many years but which had done no injustice to those outside the Church. "Oh, but—" said the Home Secretary, this Bill substitutes for the coercive jurisdiction of the Ecclesiastical Courts the jurisdiction of the ordinary Courts of the Realm. No one who followed the working of the Ecclesiastical Courts could avoid seeing how idle that idea was. Anyone who remembered the Gorham case and the Liddell case, and similar cases, would feel how difficult and complex the points that were raised were, and what a peculiar kind of learning was required to deal with them. What was the meaning of contractual jurisdiction? It meant that if a particular clergyman had gone against his contractual obligations the question must be tried by a jury. If a case of that kind were to go to a jury, perhaps of Dissenters, upon some point of doctrine, would that be satisfactory to the Church? Would it be conducive to that kind of discipline which the Church had hitherto been able to enforce? He entirely disagreed that it would, and he did not say that without some experience. He thought if these cases were raised before a Welsh jury they would get a short shrift. He could not agree with the Home Secretary that the legal remedy for tithe was an incident of Establishment. Tithes had preceded Establishment. Tithe was the grant of individuals to the Church, made out of their own resources, enforced on them, perhaps, by custom and religious conviction, but coming from their own private resources and assuming the nature of a grant. That grant constituted property, and it carried with it a legal remedy. The conclusion, therefore, was, that there was no grievance arising out of it. All the circumstances led him to oppose the proposal of the Government, but when he considered the manner in which Disestablishment was to be carried out by the Bill his opposition became stronger. It was proposed to make the Church of Wales distinct from the Church of England. Her Majesty would no longer be the head of the Church of Wales. It would be governed by a strange body, consisting of clergy and laity. Then it would no longer be the Church of England; it would be a completely different Church. It was a new Church, as distinct from the Church of England as possible. They did not know how the majority of the laity at this general council was to be got at. They had the nominations of Bishops in their hands and could appoint to benefices; in fact, the whole Church in Wales would be handed over to a new body, and Her Majesty would no longer be at the head of that portion of the Church of England. There was one most whimsical provision in the Bill which he did not understand. That was the provision that the Archbishop of Canterbury was not to be bound by this general council without his consent. He really should like to know what this meant? According to the Bill this new Disestablished Church was started with a contractual but not a legal appeal to the Archbishop of Canterbury. The first thing the general council would do would probably be to do away with that appeal. Supposing the Archbishop said: "I do not consent;" what would be the result? Did his contractual appeal remain, or was it gone? There seemed to him to be objections to the Disestablishment part of this Bill which he confessed he could not get over. He turned now to Disendowment. Here, again, he would strive to use no words that could offend the most delicate susceptibility. He would not talk about sacrilege. There were abundant precedents in our history for Parliament interfering with the property of the Church. There were few things to which they could look back with more humiliation than to those incidents between the reigns of Henry VIII. and Elizabeth, when Parliament chopped and changed, and apparently both the great bulk of the laity and the clergy changed with them. If they compared the times of Henry VII. with those of Charles II. it would be found that funds given to one body were, after a time, and in the course of changing fortune, devoted to the support of another creed. But even in Church matters lie supposed that there was something like prescription; and the Church had now been in the long enjoyment of those endownments. He would not conceive that Parliament was justified in dealing with property of that kind except, on grounds stronger and better than those which induced Parliament to deal with the property of the private individual. There was certainly not less sacredness in this property, which was devoted to religious and sacred uses; and it ought to be not less guarded and watched over by Parliament than the property of the private individual. In the case of the private individual Parliament would not take his property without giving him adequate compensation, nor unless a case were made out of some overwhelming public mischief that was caused by the property in his hands, or some overwhelming public benefit that was to be secured by taking his property. Could it be said that in the case of the Welsh Church either of these circumstances had been made out? Was there any overwhelming public mischief resulting from the present benefices in Wales? He noticed that in the return these were very small. A benefice of £400 a year was a rare exception; and as for the purposes to which that property was devoted every one agreed they were good and even sacred purposes. He was aware that hon. Members said they were purposes which were limited in their scope, and were applied to too small a number of the population of Wales. He was aware of that, but he maintained that there was no public mischief which could be traced directly the possession of property by the Church. That reason for diverting the property therefore seemed to him to fail. As for the public benefit, he would not waste time in examining the purposes to which it was proposed to devote the money according to the Bill. But he might ask whether anyone would venture to vote for a measure to take away the property of a private individual without compensation in order to found a parish hall or a parish museum? Were those purposes which would justify an interference with the property of a private individual, however obnoxious he might be? The Government could not find an example of such action being taken without compensation, in the whole range of their Legislation. It was said there was compensation and that the Bill saved existing interests. The Home Secretary made a strong point to this effect, that the Church had no property of her own; that the whole of her property belonged in reality either to the Bishops, the Chapters, or individual beneficiaries. That was legally and technically true; but in answer to the point he submitted that it was a miserable technical quibble. Was it not manifest that the Church had this interest in the Endowments, that she had secured by law, that there shall be attached to her benefices, a perpetual succession of men who were her ministers, who belonged to her ranks, and kept alive her doctrine and her faith? That was a strong and living interest enough to deserve the attention of Parliament. The Government had even gone farther in this Bill. They had aimed what seemed to him to be a malignant blow at the Church, when they had forbidden the system of commutation. They had prevented the Established Church from acquiring a fund through the zeal and the self-sacrifice of her own servants; they had been forbidden to provide any fund of which they might avail themselves in the future. Indeed, the Government had arranged this scheme of Disendowment on principles so capricious that, apart from other grounds, he should be unable to assent to it. The Churches and the parsonages were to go to the Disestablished Church, but not the cathedrals. By what method did they draw this distinction? Were not both meant for the same service, and was not the existence of both equally due to the contributions of the members of the Established Church? But the cathedrals were to be handed over to commissioners, who were not even to be members of the Church, and who were at perfect liberty to dispose of them for any secular purpose they thought fit, in addition to the purpose of worship according to the rites of the Church of England if requested. The Government admitted that the private benefactions since 1703, were to remain with the Disestablished Church: but that everything before that date was to be taken. What rational explanation of that distinction had been given by the Home Secretary or by anyone else? In principle it was said that what had been given by a private person out of his resources, ought to go to the, Disestablished Church if given since 1703. On what ground did they not include tithe? Was tithe not contributed out of private resources? Did the perpetuity of tithe make it less a private donation or a private contribution to the Church? Surely not; a rent charge would be as private and as perpetual as tithe was itself. Legal remedies which had been provided in respect of tithe did not make it less private; and, in his judgment, there were no circumstances which took tithe out of the list of private benefactions. But the line was to be drawn at 1703, which was the year of Queen Anne's Bounty. He thought the Government had been ill-advised in calling up the memory of Queen Anne in this matter; but the Home Secretary adhered to the date of 1703 because it only then became possible (he said) to invest in land for ecclesiastical purposes. With all respect to the Home Secretary, that was a total misrepresentation of the fact. All that the Act of Queen Anne did was to dispense with the licence in mortmain if the lands were assigned to the Governors of Queen Anne's Bounty. It did not benefit any other Ecclesiastical Corporation in the country. These were blots in this scheme of Disendowments independently of those which must attach to any such scheme. And the reasons in favour of this Bill had failed to satisfy him. The Home Secretary put in the forefront of his reasons for the Bill, that the Welsh Church was denationalised and had become an alien Church. He admitted that it had, in the first instance, sprung from the genius and faith of the Welsh people; but he said that it had been laid hold of by English authorities, and by men who had no interest in Wales. The right hon. Gentleman insisted that the Church was denationalised for the purpose of abolishing it; but its property remained national always, for the purpose of diversion. The right hon. Gentleman read a most interesting passage from Giraldus Cambriensis, showing how the Welsh chiefs had written to Pope Innocent III. to ask him to save them from the rapacious Norman Bishops. But this was going a long way back for an indictment against the National Church in Wales. He could quote most harrowing passages about the making of the New Forest by William the Conqueror, but he did not suppose that the House would listen to them as an argument for the Disestablishment of the Queen of England. Then the right hon. Gentleman boldly jumped over seven or eight centuries and came to the English Bishops who would not ordain itinerant preachers. He believed that they could not have done so without violating the Rubrics and discipline of their Church. But, be that as it might, it was hardly so monstrous a thing that it turned the Church into an alien and denationalised Church. When he came to the present state of the Church, the Home Secretary admitted that it was not open to censure. It was full of men who spoke the language of the country and who were zealous in the discharge of their duties. It certainly was not burdened with pluralists or with swollen and bloated emoluments. But it was urged that the Church was the Church of a minority. To him that question seemed to be a little in doubt still. He did not doubt that the Nonconformists in Wales were more numerous than the members of the Church of England, but how much they were more numerous was extremely doubtful. The Home Secretary quoted figures as to the number of communicants and children at the Sunday schools; but he carefully avoided any figures which told in the opposite direction. The children of some parents might not be sent to Sunday school with the regularity which was desirable; but marriage was something common to all denominations, and the marriages in the Established Church were 46,000 as compared with 33,000 in the Noncomformist denominations. Of course, on this question, everyone must be guessing, because hon. Gentlemen opposite refused to have a religious census. But, at any rate, the Church of England had more adherents than anyone of the several Nonconformists denominations; and if they were less numerous than all the Noncomformists put together, they were not very much less numerous. For be noticed that the total number of adherents claimed by the Nonconformists bodies themselves was less than half of the total population; and, therefore, though he did not claim all of the remaining half as belonging to the Church, yet it was probable that that was not very much above the mark. But it was not sufficient to say that the Church was in a minority. It was a substantial minority at any rate; and it was in possession of an old and venerable title. When before had the House of Commons been asked to declare that the property of the minority was to be at the mercy of the majority? The owners of land and capital were in a minority, and no doubt the "have nots," who were in a majority, would like to have their property; but he had never heard that that was sufficient ground for dispossessing the minority. There was another argument which the Home Secretary, to his credit, did not use, but which was put forward by the Prime Minister and the President of the Board of Trade. It was, that poverty was a good thing for the Church, and that, therefore, the Government were, by this Bill, conferring a blessing in disguise. Lord Rosebery had not shrunk from telling an audience in Wales that the spiritual essence of the Church was produced by poverty; that it was produced in the manger and in the carpenter's shop. That was a very mean and unworthy argument. Lord Rosebery forgot to say that in primitive times poverty and humbleness were the lot, not only of the Christian Minister and the Church, but of the laity as well; and that a Christian of unbounded possessions would have been an impossibility in those days. But when Christianity emerged from those primitive times, and came to embrace the rich as well as the poor, then Christians increased their gifts to the temple, and did not stint the labourer's hire; and the Church grew rich with, and by the laity. This argument of the Prime Minister was really extremely mean. All modern experience led to the conclusion that a moderate Endowment to the clergy was, if not indispensable, a most important condition to the independent and fearless discharge of their highest duties. If he wanted proof of that he should turn to the history of one of the noblest of the voluntary Churches, the Roman Catholic Church in Ireland—a Church rich in examples of perseverence under the bitterest persecutions and the greatest difficulties, but the devoted clergy of which, dependent on their flocks as they were, had been dragged after them. [Nationalist interruption, and cries of "Dungarvan!" from Mr. SWIFT MACNEILL.] The President of the Board of Trade had repeated the argument that poverty was a good thing for the Church. Lord Rosebery, referring to the Church in Wales, said, "See the spiritual benefit we shall confer upon her." Were the Government and their supporters prepared to apply that sauce to the Church of England in England? Were they prepared to apply the same stimulant to the Dissenting bodies? If poverty was such a good thing for reanimating and blowing up to fever heat the zeal of a Christian clergy, would they serve the same sauce to every religious establishment in the country? The truth was, the real reason for this Bill, was that there were 31 Welsh votes to be given to the Government. He admitted that the majority of the electors of Wales were in favour of this measure, but that was a recent majority. It was not many years ago that the majority was the other way. He had not the exact figures at hand, but less than 25 years ago he believed that only nine Welsh Members supported a Resolution to the same effect as this Bill. The change, therefore, was so recent that it ought not to influence their decision. Moreover, he was clearly of opinion that this was not solely a Welsh question. The wishes and desires of the Welsh people should be listened to, but he denied that they ought to be decisive. The proposition that Wales was a nation which was entitled to receive separate treatment, and ought to receive separate treatment, he challenged. The Welsh were a distinct race, and one of several races which constituted our joint national life. If they admitted there was a Welsh nation entitled to deal piecemeal with the Church, how could they refuse to admit that that nation was entitled to deal piecemeal with the Constitution? How many of the 31 Welsh Members who now supported the Government were in favour of Home Rule for Wales? All of them, no doubt. Therefore, if their demand were to be decisive upon one point it must be equally decisive on the other. That was, he confessed, one of the grounds upon which he should most certainly vote against the Second Reading of this Bill. He looked upon it as a Bill that undermined the national unity of the kingdom, and disturbed perfectly legitimate interests without any adequate cause and for the sake of the Party exigencies of the Government.


said, he was prepared to agree with the right hon. Gentleman's first proposition—namely, that Disestablishment in itself was not necessarily out of the pale of right and justice, but that it depended on circumstances whether it was to be condemned or to be approved. In this case the right hon. Gentleman could not approve it, and said that Establishment was not a grievance and injury to Dissenters. The right hon. Gentleman must have forgotten some of the most stirring facts of the religious history of this country, and what were the motives of the men whose energy and devotion, or, as hon. Members opposite might perhaps say, whose fanaticism and obstinacy, had made that history what it was. What were the motives which actuated those who advocated this Bill? His hon. Friend the Member for Kingston gave two of those motives, and then withdrew the first. He said he was very glad to find that the advocacy of the Bill did not come from pecuniary greed, and that the Dissenters of Wales were no longer anxious to get the Church's money for their own body. The hon. Gentleman must be behind the times if he thought the Liberationists of this country were in favour of a concurrent endowment; they were just as little in favour of concurrent endowment as of concurrent representation in the House of Lords. The other motive given was social jealousy and envy. He thought all of them who were not Dissenters ought to pay their tribute to the motives which actuated the Welsh constituencies and Welsh Members in the demand for the Disestablishment and Disendowment of the Welsh Church. The right hon. Gentleman the Member for West Bristol, said— I should like to ask the Home Secretary to put himself in the place of those millions of English men and women who believe that Disestablishment is a wrong to the State, and that Disendowment is a wicked plunder of the Church. Let him think how they feel about this question. What he would say was— Let the right hon. Gentleman and hon. Gentlemen opposite put themselves in the place of the millions of Englishmen, Welshmen, and Scotchmen who think that the Establishment of the Church by the State is a wrong to religion, and that the Endowment of the Church, the Church of the minority, or, at any rate, of a part of the Nation, with those funds which were originally given for the benefit of the whole community, is an injustice done to the many for the advantage of the comparatively few. Do not let hon. Gentlemen be deceived. Those feelings were deeply felt. The right hon. Gentleman the Member for West Bristol said, his ideal State was a State which recognised the higher aspects of life by recognising an Established Church. What was the ideal of the Nonconformists and the Liberationists? Let him read two sentences, both of them taken from the Church that was dissident amongst Dissenting Churches, the United Presbyterian Assembly. The first was a very ancient sentence, written in the Articles of Faith of one of the two bodies now composing the United Presbyterian Church: The civil magistrate has no more right to dictate a religious creed to his subjects than they have to dictate a religious creed to him. And the other sentence, which was archaic in its form, but not more archaic than a good deal read in the course of this Debate, was— To own the magistrate's authority in spiritual things, and his right to employ the national resources for the support of any section of the Church, is to place Cæsar on the throne of Christ. It was because this was a principal article of their creed that a great number of men for generations past had endured persecution and given up immense advantages. It was on these grounds that the attack on the Establishment of the Welsh Church was now inspired. As to Disendowment, let hon. Members place themselves in the position of men who believed that the tithe should not be devoted to the service of the Established Church. The tithe, it was said, was given for a religious purpose. Beyond all question; but by whom, and to whom, and for whom? It was given by the whole community to the whole community, for the religious purposes of the whole community. During the two centuries the tithe was practically given to the purposes of worship, he wished to know how many Dissenters there were, not in England or in Wales, but in the whole of Western Europe. The Church then was the Church of everybody; and that was not all; the Church was everything. The Church in early times was the one great centre of social and national life, and any money the State had to give for what it considered the highest purposes was given to the Church. To-day the State gave money for public education, for labourers' cottages, for the moral and social elevation of the community—but not one penny would henceforth be given for religious endowment. It had been said, with, he believed, a perfect belief in its truth, that Parliament had no more moral right to take one penny of those Endowments than it had to take the money of any Corporation, or Trade Union, or any society in this country, and the noble Lord the Member for Rochester had added railways to the list. It had been said, on the other side, that Professor Freeman had laid it down that— the Church preached payment of tithe as a duty, and the State gradually came to enforce that duty by legal enactment; and the right hon. Baronet the Member for West Bristol, commenting on that statement, asked very plausibly—it was an argument that came home to everybody— Is every source of income, the payment of which is enforced by legal enactment, therefore the property of the State? Every source of income that was enforced by legal enactment was not the property of the State; but a tax which was imposed by legal enactment was the property of the State. The State, in the case of an imposed tax, could remit it or increase it. He did not say that practically that was possible or right in the case of tithe; but most undoubtedly in the case of tithe, or of any other tax, the State might choose to what purpose it should be applied; and if there was one thing more certain than another it was that tithe, in the eyes of the Welsh farmers, was a tax different from every other tax, mainly and chiefly in this, that they did not think their consciences allowed them to pay it. He would like to know hew far hon. Gentlemen opposite could carry the argument that under no circumstances money which had been devoted to the Church could be alienated from the Church. If there were only 20, 10, or even 5 per cent. of the population of Wales Church people, must every penny still go to the Church and be absolutely inalienable from it? But, as a matter of fact, it was not at all a question of majority or minority. The true Liberationist believed that in every case State endowment of religion was wrong; and he believed it was wrong for the highest reason, for he was convinced that the religion for which a man had to pay himself was more deeply felt by him than one that involved him in no such sacrifice. The Nonconformists of Wales had not only preached that doctrine, but they had practised it. It was disputed whether the Nonconformists of Wales were many or few. The supporters of the Bill placed their numbers very high; the opponents of the Bill belittled them; but no one disputed the large amount of money they contributed to their religion, and the lower they put the numbers of the Nonconformists the higher they placed their sacrifices in that respect. £400,000 a year was what these poor men—small shopkeepers, miners, and small farmers —contributed to maintain their chapels and pay their ministers; and even during times of agricultural and industrial depression not one word of complaint was ever heard from the ministers of those poor flocks. The right hon. Baronet the Member for West Bristol had said that the majority of Nonconformists in Wales was but a recent majority, and that the minority was growing very much in strength and in energy. His old friend the late Mr. Raikes, whom he deeply regretted he had not as an opponent in this Debate on the Welsh Church, once used a beautiful passage in regard to the proselytising character of the Welsh Church:—"Hon. Gentleman opposite," I said Mr. Raikes— have very little knowledge of the history of any Church at all if they are not aware that the first note of any Church worthy of the name is that it is a proselytising Church and that no Church is of any use, either in heaven, or on earth, which is not a proselytising Church. That was very true. But at whose cost did the Established Church in Wales proselytise? It proselytised at the cost of those Nonconformist bodies against which its efforts were being directed, and at the cost of those ministers whose flocks it was endeavouring— for the highest reasons and the highest purposes, he quite admitted—to draw away from them. The right hon. Gentleman who had just spoken had said they ought not to be in a hurry to pass this Bill, but that they ought to wait until the Church, by its proselytising works, had made itself, if not a majority, at least a more powerful body than it was now. But how long were they to wait? In the Debates on the Irish Church Bill an hon. Member made a calculation that it would take 4,000 years to convert Ireland to Protestantism. He supposed that to convert Wales to the Established Church would take at least four centuries, and during all that time the Welsh Dissenters and he Welsh Ministers were to go on paying tithes for the purpose of supporting a Church which was endeavouring to proselytise the Welsh from their way of religious thinking. A great deal was said about the Welsh Ministers being politicians; but how could they help being politicians when they were put in such a position? If they disestablished and disendowed the Church, and placed the Welsh Ministers on an equality of right with all other citizens, he thought they would very soon find that the Welsh Ministers would cease to be political, and would give themselves up entirely to the work of religious instruction. The right hon. Baronet the Member for West Bristol had said that the majority in Wales in favour of Disestablishment was but a recent majority, and that therefore so much importance ought not to be attached to it. It was, it was true, a recent majority. Thirty years ago no one would have thought it worth while to bring forward the question of Welsh Disestablishment in the House, for the minority of Welsh Members by whom it would have been supported would have been so small as to be almost ridiculous. In 1870, the question was raised, and only seven Welsh Members voted in its favour. He thought it was not too sanguine to expect that when the Debate closed 10 Welsh Members would vote for Disestablishment for every one that would vote against it. Such a state of things appeared to him to be the most convincing argument possible in favour of the Bill. There was one point which struck him very much in regard to Welsh feeling oil this question; and that, was that that feeling was seen much better outside Wales than in Wales. In Wales there existed a very powerful and aggressive Church—a Church which used, he would not say illegitimately, a very strong influence in order to increase the number of its adherents. But when a Welshman went outside Wales his religion was a matter for himself, and no one else cared about it. When the Welshman went to Liverpool he found 28 Chapels and two Churches in which the services were conducted in Welsh. In the United States he was informed the Welsh Episcopalian service was almost non-existent, but the number of Welsh Chapels were counted by hundreds, while it was said that in London there were 19 Welsh Chapels and two Welsh Churches. There was no doubt whatever what the feeling of Wales was in this matter. It was the same feeling that there would have been in Scotland if, at the end of the 17th century, the Episcopal Church had not been removed off the backs of the Scotch people. At the time of the Revolution, in the reign of Charles II., in the days of Claverhouse, Scotchmen did not seem to think much of those arguments which were now thought good enough for Welsh Nonconformists. And what Wales had to endure Ireland endured no longer. He knew that they had been told that the cases of Ireland and Wales were very different. Indeed, the right hon. Baronet the Member for Bristol went so far as to say, not only was that so, but that the example of Ireland ought to deter them, because, he said, political differences in Ireland had been deeper and more bitter since Disestablishment, and that the relations of Protestants and Roman Catholics had been more bitter than they ever were before. What might have been, it was always difficult to say, but he thought no one who had anything to do with the government of Ireland would agree with that view. What, say, in 1881, which he regarded as the culminating point of the Irish difficulty, would have been the state of Ireland if, at that moment, the tithe had been in existence in Ireland and they had been supporting there an established Protestant Episcopal Church? As regarded bitterness between Protestant and Catholic, he absolutely disbelieved it had increased. When he reflected what the feeling between Protestant and Catholic was in the old days, and looked now at the elections all over Ireland, and at the number of Protestants elected to offices of trust and emolument in purely Catholic boroughs, he did not believe that the Disestablishment of the Church in Ireland had exacerbated feeling, but he believed it had very largely mitigated it. The right hon. Member for Bristol said the case of Ireland was also different because in Ireland religious endowments were taken away from the people and given over to the Church minority by legislative enactment. That, he dare say, was very true. But in Wales, as in Ireland, the endowments were originally given for the whole community. In Ireland those endowments were given to the Church of the minority by law; in Wales a great independent population grew up outside the Church. The origin of the situation in the past was different, but the present circumstances of Wales were the same as the circumstances in Ireland were at the time of the Disestablishment and Disendowment of the Church. It was to that, as practical Members of Parliament, and not to any historical question of origin they should look. He wanted the House to consider for one moment the cruel position of Wales. She was obliged to bring all her wishes, desires, and claims to this House; she could not have a Parliament of her own and legislate for herself, and she came there to obtain what she considered was justice. There was a legislative measure which, if it was left for Welshmen to settle, would be settled by acclamation. They brought it to this House, and how were they met? They were met by the taunt that the Government was legislating for a section of its followers. The position of the Welsh was absolutely hopeless. They were a section in that House, it could not be denied, but if justice was not to be done to them because they were only a section, they were in a position which no community could possibly endure without the most bitter sense of wrong and injustice. They heard — and no doubt, with truth—a good deal about the recent energy of the Church, the increased attendance in the Sunday schools, the increase in the Communicants, and the money spent on cathedrals and new churches. In the parish of Merthyr Tydvil he was told that in 15 years £40,000 had been spent on Church extension and £13,000 added to the endowments, and in Swansea, Cardiff, and Llanelly the work of Church extension had been carried on on the same scale. That was a very fine picture of energy and success, inspired by most honourable motives; but what lesson were they to draw from it? In Merthyr, where these magnificent results were produced, the tithe was £550 a year, and the population over 100,000 people. In Cardiff the tithe was £140 a year, in Swansea £140, and in Llanelly there was no tithe at all and a glebe of 120 acres. In these communities, with their immensely increasing population, the Church was in a position of a voluntary Church, and it was because she was in the position of a voluntary Church that she had made this very great and energetic movement. The right hon. Gentleman opposite said that it was mean in the extreme to cut the Welsh Church loose without Endowment and without sufficient adequate working machinery for enabling it to collect an Endowment for itself, and he blamed the Home Secretary for doing so. His right; hon. Friend, in charge of this Bill, was a Scottish Member, and he knew very well what a Disestablished and Disendowed Church could do for itself. In the year 1843, 396 clergymen in Scotland put their names to two documents by which, in one single day, they sacrificed £100,000 of annual stipend. They were not disestablished and disendowed by Act of Parliament; they disestablished and disendowed themselves, and it was done as completely, as effectively, much more suddenly, and with less warning than was done by Act of Parliament. But that was not all. They had not the advantages which the Welsh clergymen would have if this Bill became law. They had no life interests, the manses were not handed over to them, and churches and everything had to be provided by the people. What was the result? The first care was to provide an income on which the various ministers might live. That great organiser and apostle, Dr. Chalmers, laid down the principle that each congregation was to do its part in sustaining the whole, and that the whole was to sustain each congregation. That sentence, he believed, was the origin of a name that would be famous in religious history—the name of the Sustentation Fund. And what was the Sustentation Fund? At the first assembly £17,000 was subscribed for this purpose, and by the end of the first year £61,000. The average of the first ten years was £84,000 a year, of the next ten years £108,000, of the next ten £130,000, and for many years past the Sustentation Fund had amounted to from £175,000 to £180,000 a year. As he had said, they had also to build Churches and manses. The first year, for Church buildings, they provided £104,000, the next year £123,000, and the third year, £131,000. In four years, more than 700 Churches were built, and that was not all. In those days education was Denominational, and it was considered by every religious body that it was necessary for its existence and its absolute duty to educate the people according to its own views. Six hundred schools were built by the Free Church at a cost of £220,000. The missionaries of the Presbyterian Church abroad for the most part took up their lot with the Free Church—the greatest and most famous missionaries of modern days among them—and on home and foreign missions, at this moment, £140,000 a year was spent. The Free Church of Scotland brought in £600,000 a year, and this was only one of the four great Churches which divided the wealth of Scotland between them. He made no reference to that part which belonged to the Roman Catholic Church. Thus, the four great churches in Scotland divided the wealth of the country, while the case of the Episcopal Church of Wales was that of a Church which might very properly be said to monopolise the real capital wealth of the country. Voluntaryism had already accomplished marvels in Wales. It had founded that great religious Nonconformist machinery to which the great mass of the people owed their opportunities for religious worship and instruction. It had likewise been at the bottom of the church extension in those great populous districts where the Church was Disestablished and Disendowed only in name, and if the Church was Disestablished and Disendowed, and put on a level with other Churches, the same forces would work more thoroughly, more rapidly, and more universally for good than at present. But, apart from and above those considerations, Parliament was asked whether it was prepared to remove that grievance which, veal's ago, he characterised—and, he believed, rightly characterized—as the most signal injustice that was still left unredressed, and he could not understand how any man who held, or had ever held Liberal opinions, could for a moment hesitate on which side he would vote in this great and righteous controversy.

MR. J. G. TALBOT (Oxford University)

thought the Home Secretary would be one of the first to acknowledge that the Bill raised one of the most important subjects, and one of the largest issues that could be submitted to the consideration of Parliament or the country. The character of the Debate throughout confirmed this statement He should like to know why the Government had raised this enormous subject at the present time, bearing in mind the many serious and important social questions on which the country was asking earnestly for the guidance of Parliament —questions on which there might be difference of opinion, but in regard to which all were agreed that something practical and beneficial might be done. And what real advantage was to be gained by raising this vast, far-reaching issue in regard to the Church? The Home Secretary, in a speech which commanded their admiration, and which raised the Debate at the opening to that high tone in which they would desire to approach a subject of this kind—had said, the Disestablishment of the Church in Wales was a matter that was ardently and passionately desired, but he omitted to say that it was likewise quite as ardently and passionately opposed. If there was a passionate desire on the part of some people in Wales for the Measure there was at the same time, among a very large number of people, in Wales as in England, a deep feeling—a feeling which went far below the level of their ordinary political animosities—of disapproval of any Measure of the kind, come from whom it might. Therefore, it seemed to him that, in the circumstances, there was something almost gratuitously perverse in the Government introducing so contentious a measure at the present time. Even if the Measure were carried the result must be that, while it might satisfy a certain number of people, it would, at the same time, profoundly dissatisfy and alienate a large part of the public opinion of the country. They had been told that it was ridiculous to assume that the Bill was an attack not only on the Church in Wales, but also on the Church of England. But the very title of the Bill warranted the assumption, and a confirmation of it was to be found in the fact that any speaker, who in course of the Debate had contended that the Measure was only part of a still larger question, was loudly cheered by hon. Members opposite. That was an important fact to bear in mind; it would clear away certain fallacies that some Members seemed to entertain. At the time of the Disestablishment of the Irish Church, they were told that that man was a bad friend to the Church of England, who assumed that a precedent would be drawn from that Measure in regard to the Church in this country; but there were some in that House (and he was one of them) who had lived to see those anticipations fulfilled. At any rate, here was a Bill for the Disestablishment of a part of the Church of England; for whatever theories might be advanced about the nationality of Wales, or about the difference between England and Wales, it would be admitted, he believed, by most hon. Members that the Measure was an attack on the Church of England, of which the four Welsh dioceses in question were unquestionably a part. He believed the Bill was not only an unjust attack on the possessions of the Church, but also that it would be fraught with injury to the State by diminishing the influence and prestige of the Church. With regard to the vital question of Dis endowment, he sometimes doubted whether hon. Gentlemen opposite fully realised the gravity of the issues involved. They seemed to think the question was merely one of personal emoluments, or of the maintenance of certain individuals. But the Endowments of the Church, of course, meant the making of provision in the different parishes for carrying on its religious services and teaching. That surely was a matter of the greatest moment. If hon. Members thought that the teaching of the Church of England was bad, its doctrines depraved, its ritual superstitious, he could understand their wishing to take away these endowments. But that had not been said, and he would like to express his deep sense of gratitude for the sympathetic way in which the Home Secretary spoke of the work of the Church in Wales. But if the Church was doing a beneficent work in Wales, and if its doctrines were a pure form of Christian religion, why take away the means, which together with other means enabled them to do this work? The Secretary for Scotland had fallen into an error when he talked about the Church of England being a voluntary Church in the large towns. That was a very common delusion. The Church in the large towns was a voluntary Church in the sense that a great number of people had contributed voluntarily towards its ministrations, in addition to what it received for endowments; but when these voluntary contributions had been made, and when the parishes had been consolidated which were carved out of the old existing parishes, the Ecclesiastical Commissioners stepped in and from the common fund endowed these new districts; so that the Church was no longer voluntary in the large towns any more than it was in the country parishes. Beyond the endowments on which a Church to some extent relied, it was receiving every week, and every day more and more of the voluntary gifts of its members. Then hon. Members argued that because the members of the Church were liberal, therefore, the endowments should be taken away from them. Could any reasoning be more ridiculous? The right hon. Member for Denbighshire (Sir G. O. Morgan) had used the word "secularisation." This was indeed an ominous word. Did he really think that the cause of religion was likely to be promoted anywhere by secularising the funds so long devoted to its maintenance. The first schedule of the Bill gave the purposes to which these Church Endowments were to be devoted, and the right lion. Member for Bristol had said he could not conceive how these could be called religious objects. Mr. Ruskin had been quoted as having said that other things than Church purposes might be religious objects; there was a sense in which that might be true, but there was also a sense in which it might be exceedingly fallacious. He would ask hon. Members who were Roman Catholics if they would say that money devoted to religious objects, and to the maintenance of Church teaching, should be given to cottage hospitals, dispensaries, convalescent homes, and so forth. Those things were noble objects in themselves, but to call them religious objects in the sense in which the word was used was a perversion of language. Hon. Gentlemen should at any rate consider the sentiment which was associated with these Endowments. The main objection to this Bill, and to all Bills framed on this footing, was that they were taking from the direct service of religion money intended for that service. It had been said that the great majority of the people of Wales were Nonconformists. But even supposing all the calculations which had been made were correct, he had still as strong an objection to their proposal as ever, because these funds from time immemorial had been dedicated to the highest service of which they were capable, the service of religion. The hon. and learned Member for Leeds had said the Church in Wales had been inefficient and corrupt in the past, and threatened them by applying to them the awful denunciation of the Second Commandment, which says, that the sins of the fathers shall be visited on the children to the third and fourth generation. He objected to hon. Members assuming to themselves in that way the right to act as if they had providential arrangement of the world. At the present day the Church in Wales was confessedly active, but the argument was that because it was unfaithful to its task and did not make use of great opportunities in the past, now that it was awakening from a long sleep its endowments should be taken from it. That was surely an absurd argument, which might have been more plausible if it had been brought forward 80 or 100 years ago. Now, when the Church was more active and had taken warning by the energy of Nonconformists in former times, when she had aroused herself and was becoming, in the words of the right hon. Member for Midlothian, a living and increasing and growing Church—now was the time chosen for wreaking upon the Church vengeance for a condition of things which had passed away. That was about the most unreasonable and illogical position that, could be conceived. Something had been said about the depressing influence, of an Established Church, and how it weakened the spiritual sense of religion. By way of answer to that allegation, he could not do better than quote the words of the great German theologian, Dr. Döllinger, in 1885:— For my part I think that any such measure should be firmly resisted. It would be a blow to Christianity, not only in England, but throughout Europe. This was the testimony, not of an English Churchman, but of a Roman Catholic, a deeply-read and very learned and devout man. And as to the alleged advantages of placing the Church on a level with all other denominations, he would remind the House of the words of the Bishop of Bath and Wells, appointed to his present see on the recommendation of the Prime Minister, who, before his appointment was Bishop of Adelaide, in Australia. These were his words on his return to England:— What do I find? I go out to a land where there is no State Church, where there is no Establishment, and do I find, that happy state of things which it was prophesied would exist in England wen1 the 'State Church,' as they called it, to be removed and Disestablishment ensue? What do I find? I find the jealousies between denominations intensified, the rivalries increased, nothing but a perpetual spiritual racing between this sect and that sect. I find that—so far from there being peace and harmony between the Church and other denominations who find themselves unhappily unable to be one with the Church—the differences between them are greater, or seem to be greater, than they are in England, and the possibilities of reunion less than they are at home. He contrasted the tone in which this Debate had been conducted with the language used in the Principality, and said he could not help fearing that if they could ascertain the grounds on which votes had been given in Wales for the policy of Disestablishment, it would be found that, the cause of the Church had been grossly misrepresented. If the controversy was going to be continued in Wales—because everybody knew this year could not see, the conclusion of it—he hoped it would be conducted in the tone in which the Debate in this House had hitherto proceeded. He felt bound to take part in the Debate, because he represented a constituency which, more than most others, felt very deeply upon the question. Not only the clergy of the Church of England, among whom he had the honour to reckon many as his constituents, but the educated laity of the Church felt deeply upon it. He believed that the Minister and the Ministry who had raised this great, fundamental and all-searching question would have cause to regret having evoked, not only in Wales, but in England, an amount of opposition based on the deepest motives in human nature, which would bring discredit on their policy, and would not tend to the exaltation of their name amongst the Ministries of England.

SIR G. OSBORNE MORGAN (Denbighshire, E.)

regretted as much as the hon. Gentleman who had just sat down that any violent or immoderate language should have been used in conducting this controversy. At the same time he called attention to the fact that the supporters of the cause of Disestablishment in Wales had received great provocation, and if there was any blame to be attached on one side, there was certainly blame to be attached to the other, for they had been attacked for the malignant and profligate character of their assault on the Church. He was a Member of the House when the Irish Church Bill was debated, arid really during the last two days it seemed as if he was listening once more to the Debates on the Irish Church, because the arguments had been almost word for word an echo of those delivered in the course of that Debate. If the Debates and Legislation on that subject had decided anything art all, they had decided that tithes were national property, in the sense that, if they were given to the Church at all, they were given to it quâ the nation at a time when the Church and the nation were identical. They had also decided that the Church of England was an institution whose status and revenues were absolutely under the control of Parliament. The late Lord Chief Justice Coleridge said:— The Established Church is a political institution, established, created, and protected by law, and absolutely dependent upon Parliament. Was it worth while to fight the battle of 25 years ago over again? But the question was settled long before the Disestablishment of the Irish Church; it was settled at the time of the Reformation. He know he was skating on somewhat thin, ice, but as between the authority of the Prime Minister and that of the Home Secretary; he preferred to take his history from the Prime Minister, and he ventured to differ from the view of the Home Secretary as to the continuity of the Church of England. He found it difficult to believe that the Church of the Normans and Saxons, or that of Thomas à Becket, or even the Church of Cardinal Wolsey, was identically the same Church as that now established by law. If it was the same, it was only so in the sense that the Saxon Witenagemot was the same institution as the modern House of Commons. There was in both cases a certain continuity, but it was a very spasmodic continuity; and the Disestablishment and Disendowment that occurred in the reigns of Henry VIII. and Elizabeth were the most wholesale that the world ever saw. By what, occurred in the first year of Elizabeth an entirely new ecclesiastical condition was produced. The statutes of that year transferred all the revenues of the pro-Reformation Church to the post Reformation Church.

The right hon. Gentleman was speaking at Ten minutes to Seven o'clock, when by the Rules of the House the Debate stood adjourned.