§ Considered in Committee:—
§ MR. MELLOR in the Chair.
§ (In the Committee.)
§ Clause 1:—
*MR. JASPER MORE (Shropshire, Ludlow) moved the following Amendment:—
Clause 1, page 1, line 8, after 'Wales' insert 'except that part of Montgomeryshire which is in the diocese of Hereford.' ''
He said he did so at the request of a public meeting of the inhabitants of the parishes concerned. The Home Secretary had said that he would not be influenced by any local feeling against the Bill. Still, he could assure the right hon. Gentleman that in many of these parishes the feeling was unanimous in favour of their exemption from the operation of the Bill. One of the reasons for pressing this Amendment on the right hon. Gentleman was, that it was in his own interest, and in the interest of the Bill, because his experience was, and no doubt it was that of many hon. Members, that there was nothing people objected to so much as any attempt to alter their boundaries. These parishes were also in a peculiar position, in that not one of them was in possession of its own tithe, except the parish of Montgomery. This living had been bought from the Lord Chancellor, and it would be very unjust that the purchaser should only have one year's purchase returned. The question as to whether one of these parishes belonged to St. Asaph or Hereford was referred in the year 1288 to a jury partly of Welshmen and partly of Englishmen, who stated that the question had been decided before in favour of Hereford, and they repeated the decision; and the Dean and Chapter of St. Asaph ratified the decision and signed a document to that effect, and the Bishop rode into the river in maintenance of his right. The diocese of Hereford was at least 1,000 years older than the county of Montgomery, for there was a Bishop of
Hereford in 570, and the division into counties was about the year 1540. When the Boundary Commission was appointed by the late Government at the time of the passing of the County Council Bill it caused so much ill-feeling that a meeting of such influence was called at Birmingham, and such representations were made to the late Government that he believed they saw it was impossible to carry out any of the recommendations of the Commission. Therefore, to save himself similar trouble, and in order to promote the harmonious working of the Bill, he hoped the Home Secretary would pay some regard to the sentiments engendered by these ancient associations.
§ *THE CHAIRMAN
observed that there was an Amendment by the hon. Member for Leominster proposing that Radnorshire and Monmouthshire should also be excepted. If a division were taken on the Amendment of the hon. Member for South Shropshire the Amendment of the hon. Member for Leominster would be excluded. He suggested that the latter hon. Member should confine his Amendment to Radnorshire.
§ *MR. HUMPHREYS-OWEN (Montgomeryshire),
in opposing the Amendment of the hon. Member for South Shropshire, said it was based on the convenience of the diocesan arrangements. To adopt his Amendment would be to set a precedent for dismembering the whole county of Montgomeryshire. How serious that would be was evident from the fact that it would take away from the county 9 or 10 per cent. of the whole rateable value and 7 or 8 per cent. of the whole population. He was bound to admit that a considerable proportion of the population of the parishes in question belonged to the Church of England. But his hon. Friend put it too high when he stated that the people were practically unanimous in supporting the Church of England. He was sure his hon. Friend would not deny that there were vigorous Nonconformist congregations in every one of the parishes which would be affected. The proposal that wherever there was a population which appeared to be English rather than Welsh this Bill should not come 643 into operation, was fraught with the gravest inconvenience.
§ THE SECRETARY OF STATE FOR THE HOME DEPARTMENT (Mr. H. H. ASQUITH,) Fife, E.,
said the Government had to decide whether in this matter they would follow the geographical or diocesan boundaries. After mature consideration and weighing the comparative convenience of both plans, the Government came to the conclusion that it was desirable to follow the geographical boundaries. That worked out as hon. Members were aware who had studied the return of 14th March, 1893—in which all the parishes affected were set out in this way: Twelve benefices, at present belonging to an English diocese, but wholly situate in Wales, would come under the provisions of the Bill, whereas 14 benefices at present forming part of a Welsh diocese, but wholly situated outside the Principality, would not become subject to the provisions of the Bill. So, as regarded the actual number of benefices affected, there was almost an even balance one way and the other. But the ground upon which the Government had really proceeded was that it would be intolerably inconvenient if they had in Wales patches of Establishment remaining where Disestablishment obtained generally, and in an English county—say that of Chester—patches of Disestablishment where Establishment was the rule. Lack of local knowledge prevented him from saying what the politics or ecclesiastical profession of the inhabitants of the parishes concerned might be, but it was desirable to have a general governing principle applied throughout, whatever local circumstances might be. The Amendment would be inconsistent with that purpose, and necessarily lead to a number of similar proposals, and he asked the Committee not to assent to it.
§ SIR RICHARD WEBSTER (Isle of Wight)
said, he was sorry his right hon. Friend could not see his way to afford relief in this matter. What the right hon. Gentleman had said with regard to political opinion and religious feeling in the parishes brought out in strong relief the impossibility of attempting to deal with the Church in Wales apart from the Church of England. He humbly protested against the idea that 644 Disestablishment and Disendowment were to be governed by political opinion, The Welsh Members had a perfect right to represent the feeling of their constituents for or against Disestablishment, as the case might be, but for the Home Secretary to say this method of division had been adopted because, among other reasons, they could not get at the political opinions of the parishes affected—if this had influenced his mind it was rather far a field. If they proposed to consider the question of parishes they should have some intimation as to what were the real feelings and wishes of 14 parishes compared with the 12. For all the Committee knew the 14 parishes might contain thousands in population and the 12 parishes only some hundreds. So to say that the balance of justice was maintained was unreasonable. The Home Secretary said it was difficult to consider what rules should be laid down, and finally he had adopted something which represented the Welsh geographical boundary, and had spoken a good deal about outlying portions. He himself believed that before the debate was over they would find other outlying portions of Wales surrounded by English property, so that what the Home Secretary had suggested as an objection to the Amendment would be found to be an objection to the Bill. But, as they were dealing with matters ecclesiastical and Church discipline, they took their stand upon this—why was part of the diocese of Hereford to be cut off'. Why was not the diocese of Hereford left alone? The Home Secretary might say that to have done so would have necessitated dealing with the diocese of St. Asaph. With great deference to the research and opinion of the Home Secretary, he submitted that it would have been better to have left the diocese of Hereford alone as part of the Established Church than (without the slightest reason) to take 14 parishes away and disestablish them, and put 12 parishes of the diocese of St. Asaph into the Established Church. The real fact was that the "national feeling" in favour of Disestablishment with regard to the border counties had been exaggerated to a most absurd extent. No one could go down among the people in the part of the country concerned without seeing that it was not the fact that the people 645 were burning to break and sever themselves from their English neighbours. To suggest that it was for the welfare of the Church that certain parishes in Montgomeryshire, in the diocese of Hereford, should become, part of the Disestablished Church was to ignore what was known to be the condition of religious feeling and activity in those parishes. What the Home Secretary considered sufficient they, on the Opposition side of the House, thought insufficient ground for the action of the Government. Injustice would be done to those attached to the Church who desired to remain part of the diocese of Hereford. The arbitrary geographical boundary which the Government proposed to adopt must in the future create heartburning and ill-feeling, and would not tend to the easy and quiet working of the Bill. He hoped the Government would see their way on this and succeeding Amendments to say that at any rate they would respect ecclesiastical boundaries, so that the existing dioceses of England might remain as they were at present.
§ *COLONEL BRIDGEMAN (Bolton)
said, he would give an example of the arbitrary nature of the geographical boundary to which his hon. and learned Friend had just alluded. In the village of Lanymynech on the borders of Montgomeryshire there was a house belonging to his family, the front door of which was situated in Montgomeryshire and the back door in Shropshire. The effect of the Bill would be that the inhabitants of that house if they lived in the front bedroom would be under one law, while if they moved into the back bedroom they would be under another law.
§ MR. ASQUITH
I must remind the hon. Member that, under the provisions of a later Clause it will be the duty of the Commissioners in the case of a border parish to decide whether it is to be treated as in England or in Wales.
§ MR. J. RANKIN
said, there was no more difficult task than delineating the boundaries of a county. He was sorry that he could not move his Amendment, and that the discussion had not arisen upon the boundaries of the diocese of Hereford, because this was really a question of a diocesan boundary rather than 646 a county boundary. If that was not so he did not know why the Bill included the county of Monmouth. It was no more Welsh than the county of Hereford, and if it was included because it belonged to the diocese of Llandaff, surely they ought in common justice to say that the boundaries of the diocese of Hereford should not be interfered with. The right hon. Gentleman stated that only 12 parishes would be taken from English dioceses, but in the case of Hereford alone 14 parishes would be taken, 6 in Montgomeryshire, 7 in Radnorshire, and 1 in Monmouthshire. The dislocation of all ecclesiastical organisation in those parishes would be very great indeed, and if the tithe were taken a way from these parishes they would be left in an exceedingly poor and destitute condition. The tithe happened to be very good in these parishes, which were otherwise very poor; and if the tithe was taken away they could not possibly support a clergyman for themselves, and would very soon suffer both in religion and in education. The people of Montgomeryshire were English-speaking; they had English sympathies, and practically they were the same people as those living in the English counties over the boundary. Several of them were Dissenters; but they did not wish to be divided from the Church of England. Probably most of them went to the church in the morning and to a Dissenting chapel in the evening. He received a letter the other day in regard to a donation to a chapel, in which the writer said: "I do not know what you would call us—whether we are Dissenters or not. We go to church every morning—my family form the most part of the choir; and we go occasionally to the chapel in the afternoon. We, have found salvation," he said, and he added, "I trust, sir, you have also, or if not, that you soon will." He quoted that to show the good feeling that existed between Dissenters and the Church. What did they learn, from the petitions which had been presented? The parishes in Mongomeryshire and Radnorshire had in every case petitioned against the Bill, and so far as he could learn not one single petition had been presented in its favour. From Montgomery alone there was a petition signed by considerably more than half the adult population. That was, he 647 thought, proof enough of the strong feeling that existed in favour of these parishes remaining in the diocese of Hereford, and when they remembered that these parishes had been part of that diocese for six hundred years, it would, in his opinion, be a great act of cruelty to take them away now.
§ MR. W. E. M. TOMLINSON (Preston)
said that in reference to these questions the Home Secretary posed as a sort of umpire, but he was an umpire who always gave his own side in. If the county of Monmouth, which was not a Welsh county, was included in the Bill because it formed a substantial part of the diocese of Llandaff, then if they found a parish in a Welsh county belonging to an English diocese, and where to all appearances the inhabitants were desirous of remaining a part of that diocese, surely by a parity of reasoning that parish ought to remain part of the English diocese. To those who looked upon old ecclesiastical divisions as being of value in the Church organisation this must be a matter of considerable importance. The strongest possible reasons had been advanced in support of the Amendment, and he could imagine none weaker than those put forward against it.
§ MR. RADCLIFFE COOKE (Hereford)
said, that underlying this Amendment was the larger question, What is Wales? After all, Wales was but a geographical expression. He admitted that the national spirit of Wales was high, but the strength of the sentiment of nationality was always in the reverse ratio to the population. The smaller the ratio, the prouder they were of being a nation, and the more anxious they were to remind the rest of the world of the fact. But what was it that the framers and promoters of the Bill had taken as the test of what was Welsh? It was the language. At the recent census the inhabitants were incited to imperil their immortal souls by telling lies about their language. But if they applied this test to their Welsh parishes they would find that not one of the inhabitants spoke a word of Welsh. They were English in their thoughts and feelings, and would rather belong to England than to Wales. If it were unwise to interfere with the diocese of Llandaff, why should it not be 648 equally unwise to interfere with the diocese of Hereford? All the representatives and all the people of Hereford had expressed a strong wish that they should be allowed to remain within the boundaries of England as far as this Bill was concerned. He did not, however, think that this question could be thoroughly threshed out on the Amendment then under discussion, but he hoped that it would be on some future Amendment.
§ *MR. STANLEY LEIGHTON (Shropshire, Oswestry)
said, that the right hon. Gentleman opposite had said that the question raised by the Amendment was purely a geographical one, but he could tell the right hon. Gentleman that the geographical line upon which he relied was only laid down in the time of Henry VIII. Before that time all the parishes affected by the Amendment were parishes in the marches of Wales, and were, therefore, not part of that country. Why should these parishes now be thrown into Wales against the wishes of the majority of their inhabitants? The right hon. Gentleman ought to have made it optional to the inhabitants of the parishes in question whether they would be included in the provisions of this Bill or not. Had he adopted that course he would have been acting upon the principles of the Radical Party, who were in favour of Local Option in all matters. What was the nationality of the people of Newtown and Welshpool? They were an entirely English-speaking people. He had looked the other day at the Welsh census, and he found that in the Forden Union, which comprised most of the area, there were 14,000 English-speaking inhabitants, and only 90 Welsh-speaking inhabitants. The right hon. Gentleman would have saved a great deal of time, and much danger to his Bill, if he had excluded these few parishes on the border-line from its operation. The inhabitants of those border parishes desired for many reasons to be included within the English boundary. For instance, they dislike, greatly the agitation that was being got up by those who called themselves "the young men of Wales," and they desired to be left alone in order that they might live quiet and profitable lives. The boundaries between Shropshire and Montgomeryshire 649 were of a most peculiar kind, he could not get from one end of his constituency to the other without going through a part of Wales; and, on the other hand, an hon. Member who represented the County of Montgomery was compelled to pass through a part of his constituency in order to get from one part of his constituency to the other. The boundary of the county did not follow either the road or the river Severn, or Offa's famous Dyke, but ran in and out in the most extraordinary way. On the other hand, the ecclesiastical boundary was a very easy one to follow. He hoped that the right hon. Gentleman would meet the wishes of the border representatives upon this point.
§ *SIR MICHAEL HICKS-BEACH
said, he confessed to a feeling of entire indifference whether the diocesan or the county boundary should be taken as that of the Bill, but at the same time he felt that the Committee could hardly disregard the strong opinions expressed by hon. Members who knew the localities in question, and who, as far as he knew, were fully entitled to convey to the Committee the feeling of the localities upon this subject. It must not be imagined that the question was unimportant merely because it only affected certain localities. Hon. Members would remember the difficulties that had arisen in relation to the question of boundaries when the last Redistribution of Seats Bill was before the House, and when the Local Government Bill was under discussion, and the difficulty of inducing local authorities to consent to an alteration of boundaries. As far as the expression of local opinion in reference to this matter had gone, it enormously preponderated in favour of the Amendment. The last hon. Member who had spoken had suggested a mode of dealing with the subject which he should have thought would have been readily accepted by Her Majesty's Government. Hon. Members opposite were willing that the majority of the inhabitants of a parish should have the power of deciding how many public-houses should be allowed to exist in it, and, therefore, why should they not allow the majority to determine whether their parish should be brought under the operation of this Measure or not?
§ *SIR MICHAEL HICKS-BEACH
said, that he should have thought that the Government would willingly accept the decision of such a majority as that. He certainly should prefer the opinion of hon. Members who represented the localities in question, to any preconceived opinion which strangers might entertain on the subject. He thought that the diocesan boundary marked out by the river Severn would be preferable to the county boundary, which certainly was not a logical boundary. All those border parishes were necessarily from their situation, and from the growth of English sentiment and the English language in them, more English than Welsh, and would become more English every day.
§ MR. VICARY GIBBS (Herts, St. Albans)
said the attitude of the Government in regard to the Amendment would bring homo to the people of England not that the Disestablishment of the Church of England was to be faced in the future, but that that Disestablishment would actually have begun when the Bill passed. The chief justification advanced for the Bill as a whole was that the majority of the Welsh people were in favour of it, and yet Government had gone out of their way to include in the Bill parishes in which they knew the enormous majority of the people were opposed to it; and, by a system of the most flagrant gerrymandering, they used the diocesan boundary to enable them to disestablish the largest number of parishes in one place, while, in another place, they used the geographical boundary in order to bring about a like result.
§ MR. M. BIDDULPH (Herefordshire, Ross)
said he knew of one parish in the diocese of Hereford and partly in the County of Hereford, which the Bill proposed to disestablish, which contained all English, except one Welshman who came from Monmouthshire a great many years ago, and who now, he was told, regularly attended Church on Sundays. It would be a monstrous thing, he thought, to disestablish such a parish.
§ THE PRESIDENT OF THE BOARD OF TRADE (MR. J. BRYCE,) Aberdeen, S.
said that all border parishes, such as the parish just mentioned, would all be dealt with justly, according to local circumstances, under the latter part of the Bill. It was, no doubt, open to the 651 Government to take either the diocesan line or the county line. They believed that had they taken the diocesan line they would have been met with far greater objections than had been raised to the course which they had adopted. The county line was more familiar to the people than the diocesan line and there would be more local feeling raised by discarding the county line than by discarding the diocesan line. It had been suggested that the county line was adopted because it was expected by the promoters of the Bill to be more disadvantageous to the Church than the diocesan line. That was not so. By following the county line twelve benefices in English dioceses would be subject to Disestablishment. Those parishes had a population of 6653, and the aggregate annual value of the endowments was £2,362. On the other hand, if the Government had followed the diocesan line fourteen benefices, with a population of 20,000 and endowments, of the aggregate annual value of £4,800, would have been subject to Disestablishment. Therefore, the area of Disestablishment was smaller under the county line than it would have been had the diocesan line been adopted. Reference had been, made to local feeling. But there was no evidence before the Committee that local feeling in the part of Montgomeryshire affected was at all in favour of Establishment. The only expression of local opinion the Government had had was from the hon. Member for Montgomeryshire, who, speaking on behalf of his constituents, opposed the Amendment and supported the proposals of the Bill.
§ MR. R. G. WEBSTER (St. Pancras, E.)
said he had been in Montgomeryshire on the rather interesting occasion when the hon. Member for Montgomeryshire was fighting the constituency. The contest turned mainly upon the Church question. He had found that the further he got from England, so to speak, in the county, the more he got into a Welsh population who no doubt were in favour, to a great extent, of Disestablishment; but the more he got to the borders of England the more intensely became the feeling against Disestablishment. He did not believe that in the town of Montgomeryshire the hon. Member polled twenty votes. The Committee were face to face again with the statistical 652 question. The difference in the views expressed as to the state of local feeling in Wales showed that the Committee could never properly discuss the Bill without a clear knowledge of the views of the people of Wales, and that knowledge could only be obtained by a Census.
§ COLONEL KENYON-SLANEY (Shropshire, Newport)
said the President of the Board of Trade had referred to the speech of the hon. Member for Montgomeryshire as the best evidence of the state of local feeling in regard to the Bill in that county. The right hon. Gentleman did not seem to be aware that an effort had been made to take the general feeling of the whole of the people of Montgomeryshire, and that more than one-half of the people of the county had signified their disapproval of the measure and their hope that it would never be passed into law.
§ MR. G. C. T. BARTLEY (Islington, N.)
said the President of the Board of Trade talked about considering local circumstances when the border parishes come to be dealt with. Surely that ought to be the key-note of the whole position? The parts of Montgomeryshire which they were now discussing considered themselves English for all practical purposes. Their sympathies, their trade, and their language were all, practically, English. Instead of trying to make the two countries, England and Wales, as much as possible into one, the Bill proposed to accentuate the difference between them and to enlarge the bounds of Wales. That was altogether a mistaken policy. There was abundance of evidence that the people of that part of Montgomeryshire under consideration, wished to be left as they were, and their wish should be acceded to, if, as the President of the Board of Trade had indicated, local circumstances were to be the key-note of the position. They knew perfectly well that if any census was taken to get the views of these parishes they would unhesitatingly decide to remain as they were. If the Government would agree to put in a clause to say that only those portions should be included where only a decided majority wished it, that might be logical, but they were not going to do that. The Government wanted to ride every horse that suited them. When the local circumstances were in their favour they 653 took advantage of them; when they were against them they immediately said they were not going to have any alteration for the mere wish of a majority in any particular district. This was a monstrous position, and they must fight in every direction if they adhered to this course.
§ MR. JASPER MORE (Shropshire, Ludlow)
said, that he had a very close acquaintance with these parishes, and there was nothing to be gained by disendowing them. He referred to the opinion expressed by the Daily News Commissioner who visited the district some time ago. That Commissioner went to the north side of the Severn, and stated that it afforded a clear case against Disestablishment, because the dissenting ministers themselves were either Conservatives or Whigs, and he could not find any feeling whatever in favour of the Bill, even on the other side of the Severn. He thought the Chancellor of the Duchy might there fore modify his statement that there had not been an expression of local opinion, and he would remind him that a petition against their inclusion had been signed by most of the inhabitants of the central district.
§ MR. LEES KNOWLES (Salford, W.)
thought the subject was being discussed too much as a geographical question. Those parishes which were supposed to be English parishes situated in Wales, would suffer a great injustice if they were disestablished and disendowed for the benefit of the Welsh parishes said to be situated in England. There was a difficulty in ascertaining what the wishes of the majority in the parishes were, and it was well known how difficult it was to decide questions in connection with boundaries. He thought the one possible solution was that the Government should not, in the case of parishes in which there was any doubt at present, disestablish or disendow. The proposal of the Government seemed to him to be one to rob Peter to pay Paul, and he certainly was not willing to support such proposals.
§ MR. T. GIBSON BOWLES (Lynn Regis)
said, that as the Bill at present stood it was proposed to take away a portion of the diocese, and therefore of the work of the Bishop of Hereford, and 654 he would like to know if any subtraction would, in consequence, be made from his salary. As a bishop held his seat in the House of Lords by virtue of his temporalities—(cries of "No")—his seat in the chamber ought pro tanto to be affected. The same argument might apply to other bishoprics.
§ COL. KENYON-SLANEY
explained that in speaking of the majority of the adult population in Montgomery, he had referred to the capital town, and not to the county.
§ MR. ASQUITH
said the answer was in the negative. The Bill did not make any change in the position or emoluments of the Bishop.
§ The Committee divided:—Ayes, 206; Noes, 234. (Division List, No. 59.)
§ MR. J. RANKIN
begged to move in "Clause 1, page 1, line 8, after 'Wales' to insert 'except those portions of Radnorshire which are in the diocese; of Hereford.'" He remembered that after the debate that had just taken place on the Amendment of the hon. Member for Ludlow it was unnecessary for him to detain the Committee with many observations, but he regretted that the whole question relating to the exception of certain parishes from the Bill could not be taken at one time. The case of Radnorshire was similar to that of Montgomeryshire, which had been explained, if the parishes he referred to in Radnorshire were not excepted from the Bill, the diocese of Hereford would be dislocated. The parishes had belonged to the diocese for centuries, since 1535 at least, and the people desired to remain attached to it. There were many dissenters in the parishes, and they joined in the objection to be separated from the diocese. They appreciated the blessings they had received from the Church, not only in the administration of her services, but in other ways. A large number of them were connected with the Church through her services of baptism, of marriage, and especially of burial. The Act connected with the name of the right hon. Member for Denbighshire was hardly ever put in operation in any of the parishes. Hence, the conclusion might be drawn that the parishioners 655 were well content with their present position. If the Bill was applied as proposed it would create the most absurd anomalies, and cause both difficulty and hardship. Although there were chapels in some parts of the parishes the main portion of the population attended the parish church. In some cases the parish was partly in England and partly in Wales, and if it was separated from the diocese of Hereford it would have no church attached to it. Notwithstanding the division that had just taken place, he earnestly hoped the Home Secretary would endeavour to meet it in some way. The people he represented in North Herefordshire would really regard it as a boon to be permitted to remain connected with the diocese. The position of the Bishop might be affected by the Bill in more than one direction. One of the reasons, perhaps, why those parishes were included in the diocese was that the Bishop of Hereford was Lord of the Marches of this part of Wales. It would, however, be a great pity if, for the sake merely of fixing a boundary, apart from ecclesiastical considerations, the parishes were severed from the diocese. He urged the Government to accept the Amendment.
§ *SIR M. HICKS-BEACH
ventured to ask the Home Secretary, in view of the Debate and Division which had taken place, whether he could not to some extent reconsider the position of the Government in this matter. He quite agreed that the right hon. Gentleman could not be expected to accept the proposal now made, but might he not in some later clause introduce some kind of elasticity into the working of this Bill? With regard to these parishes, it was alleged and had not been contradicted that there was a very strong feeling among the inhabitants against being included in the Disestablished and Disendowed Church of Wales. Could not the right hon. Gentleman undertake to bring up some amendments on Clause 31, which would enable them through the machinery of the Ecclesiastical Commission, or in any other way which he might think best, to ascertain the wishes of the parishes? If a parish, being a civil parish in Wales, desired to remain ecclesiastically in the diocese of Hereford, why should not that parish be allowed under the Bill to exercise that 656 option? It was a very small matter and would not be at all at variance with the principle of the measure. If the Bill was founded on any principle at all it was on the idea that the wishes of the inhabitants of the locality should be attended to. That was all he asked the right hon. Gentleman to do.
§ MR. FRANK EDWARDS (Radnorshire)
denied the right hon. Gentleman's statement that there was a strong local feeling against removing this portion of Radnorshire from the diocese of Hereford. No such feeling had been expressed in any way. Reference had been made to petitions presented against the Bill as an index of the feeling of the inhabitants of these parishes that they did not wish to be separated from the Church of England. But so far as these petitions were of any value at all, they went against Disestablishment altogether. The inhabitants of the parishes had never been asked whether, assuming the Church to be, disestablished, they would elect not to be disestablished with the rest of Wales. He believed, if the question was put, they would elect to throw in their lot with the rest of Wales. It was true that the people of Radnor were almost entirely English-speaking, but they had the true Welsh sentiment of nationality, and that was as strong in the parts of Radnorshire bordering on Hereford as in any part of the country. On the other hand, many parts of Hereford, were strongly in sympathy with the people of Radnor in their desire for the Disestablishment of the Church.
§ MR. JASPER MORE
desired to say that the chief petition referred specifically to the one point of separation from the diocese of Hereford, and not to the general question of Disestablishment. He was entirely in favour of the suggestion of the right hon. Baronet the Member for Bristol.
§ MR. ASQUITH
said the question raised by this Amendment was in point of principle of course identical with that discussed and decided on the Division which had just taken place. He quite agreed that this was not a matter of principle; it was not a matter of principle whether they took the diocesan or the county boundaries, but it was a matter in which, if they did not adopt one simple definite method, they would be involved in almost inextricable confusion, 657 because they would have in every locality disquiet and agitation in favour of the view that its circumstances were so peculiar that it ought to be exempted from the general scope of the Bill. As regards the border parishes—parishes partly in England and partly in Wale;—the Government had provided a machinery intended to be of the most elastic possible character. He would be most happy to give effect to any improvement in that machinery that could be suggested. He would go further and say that this question might more appropriately be discussed on Clause 31 than at present. He would appeal to hon. Gentlemen opposite, if it suited their convenience, to reserve the discussion of these particular local points until they came to deal with that clause. With reference to the suggestion of the right hon. Baronet he would point out that there were in the diocese of St. Asaph 14 parishes locally situated in the County of Chester, and which therefore would not come under the provisions of the Bill as at present drawn. If he adopted the right hon. Baronet's suggestion and allowed this to become a matter of local decision, of course he should be obliged to give these 14 parishes the same privilege. If a parish locally situated in Wales, but belonging to an English diocese was to have that option, surely a parish which belonged to a Welsh diocese but which was situated in England must have the same option. He was not going to make any bargain with the right hon. Gentleman at the present moment, but if any consideration was to be given to this question it should allow the same measure to be applied to the outlying parts of the diocese of St. Asaph as he asked to be applied to the outlying parts of the diocese of Hereford. He believed the principle of the Government would in the long run be found the most convenient method of division; and if any special case involving peculiar considerations so strong in their character as to take it outside that principle could be brought forward, he would ask that it might be considered when they came to the consideration of Clause 31.
§ SIR RICHARD WEBSTER
said he could not help reminding the right hon. Gentleman that they had a reasonable apprehension that they might never have a discussion on Clause 31. But apart 658 from that, he thought the right hon. Gentleman's suggestion scarcely met the case. There was a good deal more involved than the mere question of the consideration of such matters as would go before the Commission. The Government seemed to use whatever boundary was best for their purposes in order to get as much as possible within the scope of the Bill. Monmouthshire, though not in any strict or proper sense a Welsh county, was going to be brought into Wales for the purposes of this Bill, because it formed part of the diocese of Llandaff. If the right hon. Gentleman had given some indication that he would be prepared to accept words at a later stage enabling them either to get the diocesan boundary recognised throughout, or something else that would remove these matters of complaint, his offer would have more substance in it. But to insist that Llandaff should get the whole that belongs to its diocese, and to suggest that the other questions were of a character to be dealt with on Clause 31 was to make an offer which did not seem to have much substance in it.
§ The Committee divided:—Ayes, 209; Noes, 237. [Division List, No. 60].
§ After the figures had been announced,
§ *MR. STUART WORTLEY (Sheffield, Hallam)
said: I beg to inform you, Sir, that another hon. Member and myself were writing in the Aye Lobby prepared to vote for the Amendment, but when we left the writing tables the Clerks had left the desk and the Tellers had ceased to tell, and we were unable to record our vote. Consequently the Ayes were two in number more than appears from the report of the Tellers.
§ *MR. J. G. TALBOT (Oxford University)
I also was in the Aye Lobby prepared to vote, but, owing to the circumstances explained by my hon. Friend, was unable to do so.
§ [At this point Mr. THOMAS ELLIS, the chief Ministerial Whip, left the House, and presently returned accompanied by 659 the Tellers in the Aye Lobby—Mr. MCARTHUR and Mr. JASPER MORE, who presented themselves at the Table.]
§ *THE CHAIRMAN (addressing the Tellers)
It has been stated that the Clerks left the desk and the Tellers in the Aye Lobby before all the Members had passed out, and consequently two votes were not counted.
§ MR. A. J. BALFOUR
On the point of order, Sir, and for the information of the Committee, may I ask what steps ought now to be taken by the two hon. Gentlemen who have stated publicly to the Committee that they were in the Lobby and were prepared to vote for the Amendment, but that their names were; not taken down and their votes not counted.
§ *THE CHAIRMAN
It appears to me that the question is whether those hon. Members were counted by the Tellers or not. The hon. Members came at once and made immediate complaint before I declared the numbers.
§ *MR. STUART WORTLEY
Perhaps I may be allowed to say in explanation that the usual warnings which, by direction of the Tellers, are addressed to Members remaining in the Lobby, were not so addressed on this occasion, and consequently the mistake arose.
§ *THE CHAIRMAN
I think the two hon. Members should now inform the Committee whether they were or were not counted by the Tellers.
§ *MR. STUART WORTLEY
Nor was I counted. The Clerks and Tellers had gone. We were anxious to vote, but we were not counted.
§ *THE CHAIRMAN
Then under the special circumstances I direct the Clerk to add the names of those two hon. Gentlemen to the numbers of the Ayes.
§ COL. KENYON-SLANEY moved to omit from the scope of the Bill all that detached portion of the county of Flint, commonly called the Hundred of Maelor. He said that the right hon. Gentleman having declined to accept diocesan boundaries as sufficiently good boundaries, they had to fall back on county boundaries. The district in question was in 660 this peculiar position. It was an absolutely isolated section of the county of Flint. It did not touch the county in any one cardinal point. It touched Denbigh, Cheshire, and Shropshire, but mainly Shropshire. There had been indications of a very distinct wish on the part of the Hundred of Maelor to change its locality, and to become, what it was really in essence, a portion of the county of Shropshire. The great majority of the inhabitants were in favour of the Established Church. There was not more than a small minority of Nonconformists in it; it was absolutely English-speaking. It was English in all its instincts, traditions, and ways of life. It used English market towns, and transacted all its business on English lines, and was without any Welsh admixture whatever. Even its places of amusement had no Welsh connection. The most popular gathering was the local hunt races, the hunt of Sir Watkin Wynn. He had frequently been over the course and mingled with all sections, and he did not believe that even there he ever heard a single word of Welsh used on the course. He wished to put it on record that that portion of the county was, for all practical purposes, separate from Wales and was essentially English, and it was the strong wish of the great majority of the people that they should be so treated; indeed, the feeling was so strong and universal that they would rather surrender their nominal nationality at any moment than be subjected to the grievances which would come upon them if they came under the action of this Bill.
§ MR. GEORGE KENYON (Denbigh)
said perhaps he might be allowed to supplement what had been said by his cousin, as one who had resided from infancy at this interesting little spot, and knew intimately the feelings and wishes of the community. Before doing so he asked indulgence for one further moment while he respectfully said, in answer to remarks which had been made from the other side, that it was from no disrespect to his confrères the Welsh Members that he had not, during this Session, taken any part in the Debates upon the Welsh Church. He should not have mentioned this but that it had been insinuated that there was, on the part of "The Faithful Three," as they 661 had been designated, some luke-warmness in regard to the subject. If any man could be held to be absolved from such an insinuation, he was. Through good repute and ill repute he stood by the Welsh Church. This was a curiously isolated little portion of the county, and was inhabited by English-speaking people. There was not a monoglot Welshman in the whole district. Some years ago the Bishop of St. Asaph endeavoured to introduce Welsh services into the district, and the result was that no one would attend the services. The population in 1891 was 5,378. For centuries the district, with the exception of two small chapelries, was attached to the Diocese of Chester and the Diocese of Lichfield, In this century, however, without consultation with the inhabitants or the patrons of livings, it was transferred bodily to the diocese of St. Asaph. But this transference did not alter the affection of the people for the Diocese of Chester, and the connection of the district with that diocese showed that originally it was part of England, and not part of the Principality of Wales. The inhabitants were almost without exception Church of England people. He did not say, of course, that there were no Nonconformists in the locality, but he did say that there were no Nonconformists in it who desired the Disestablishment and the Disendowment of the Welsh Church. Nearly half the inhabitants had signed petitions praying that the Hundred of Maelor might be allowed to retain its connection with the Established Church and that its connection with the Diocese of Chester might be renewed, He believed that the hon. Member for the Flint boroughs, and the hon. Member for the county, would admit they did not obtain much support from this part of the diocese. If electoral votes could be given openly, he thought it would be found that not one person in 50, or even 100, supported the hon. Members in this part of the constituency. A former Member for the Flint boroughs used to describe this portion of Flintshire as "the Land of Goschen." He did not think that the hon. Member, when he said that, had in his mind the right hon. Member for St. George's, Hanover Square (Mr. Goschen); he rather thought that the hon. Member had the plagues of Egypt in view, from which he 662 said that this part of the county was remarkably free. Whether the hon. Member meant that this immunity arose from the locality's connection with Wales, or from its English contiguity, he was not prepared to say. He hoped the Home Secretary might be induced to consider this portion favourably. By consenting to allow this portion of Flintshire to maintain its connection with the Established Church, the right hon. Member would be doing a generous and politic thing. In the parish with which he was connected in this district there had been many large private benefactions for ecclesiastical purposes. When the parishioners were unfortunate enough to lose their mother church by fire, £10,000 was subscribed within 24 hours for its restoration, and the restored edifice was now a testimony to the attachment of the people to their Church. In this district, in 30 years, at least £40,000 had been given in support of the Church of England in Wales by private donors.
MR. HERBERT LEWIS (Flint District)
said that he was very glad that the hon. Member for the Denbigh district had taken part in the Debate. They were all delighted to hear him on an occasion of this kind. The instances which the hon. Member had given, of the great generosity of Churchmen in this district towards their Church showed that this particular locality, at all events, had nothing to fear from the Bill. He did not wish to betray the secrets of the ballot box, but he could assure the hon. Member that the hon. Member for Flintshire and himself were very well satisfied with the measure of electoral support that they received in this district, and believed that that support was increasing year by year. At Overton the candidates for the parish council at the last election who were in favour of Disestablishment were returned by overwhelming majorities. He did not, however, say that the question of Disestablishment was put specially before the parish council electors. No one had done more than the hon. Member to keep this particular district of Flintshire in Wales. Some years ago there was an agitation the object of which was to dissever the district from Wales. The clergy and the gentry were on one side and the people on the other, and the hon. Member was 663 with them. Six years ago a County Council election was fought on the issue of the severance of the district from Flintshire, and the candidate who was in favour of severance lost the election, in spite of his great personal popularity and the general respect in which he was held by the electors. He had received a letter from a gentleman who had gone through the district, and he had told him that he found two-thirds of the people in favour of retaining their relationship to Flintshire. The same gentleman said that 12 months ago, on the passing of the Parish Councils Act, at least nine-tenths of the people were in favour of remaining in Wales. In the meantime the Disestablishment question was going on, and, notwithstanding that fact, the feeling in favour of connection with Wales was increasing.
§ MR. J. W. MACLURE (Lancashire, S. E., Stretford)
Will the hon. Gentleman give the name of that gentleman?
said it was a gentleman named John Morgan. He objected to these districts being made a political chess-board. In the case of the Free Education Act, which was passed by a Conservative Government, the geographical boundary was adhered to, and be contended that it ought to be retained for all purposes.
§ MR. ASQUITH
said he joined with his hon. Friend who had just sat down, in congratulating the House on the intervention in this Debate for the first time of the hon. Gentleman the Member for the Denbigh boroughs. The House had missed him and his two associates very much, and it was a welcome experience to find one of the Conservative Members from Wales addressing the House in connection with this Bill. He was sure that all had listened with pleasure and considerable sympathy to the hon. Gentleman's remarks. If he might paraphrase an old line he would say that he only regretted that he was giving up to the Hundred of Maelor what was meant for the Welsh Church. He recognised that they must deal with this matter in view of some larger considerations than those which had been put forward. So far as the local question was concerned he thought it was sufficient to say that the Committee 664 could not altogether accept the statements of the two hon. Gentlemen opposite as to what was the state of local feeling on this matter. The Committee was entirely unable to ascertain which view of the case was the more probable. In these circumstances it would be an extraordinary proceeding to introduce an exception of this particular locality. This district was a part of the County of Flint, and it would be intolerable if they were to take one part of the County and treat it separately for the purposes of this Bill and this Bill alone. They were governed in this matter by a very simple principle. If any of these persons changed their geographical connection with the County, they were quite ready to recognise the change; and he would point out that, in the Local Government Act of 1888, there was a very useful provision which enabled the process to be effected by the Local Government Board at the instance of the Council of any County. These piece-meal discussions could not be admitted and, in the circumstances, he regretted that the Government were unable to accept the appeal of the hon. Member, and must oppose the Amendment.
§ *SIR MICHAEL HICKS-BEACH
said the right hon. Gentleman had commenced with rather an unworthy sneer at the silence of the three Welsh Members on the Opposition side of the House who were opposed to Her Majesty's Government in this matter. One of them had been incapacitated by sickness, and another had never addressed the House through a very long period of service. He thought the proceedings of the House would be more business-like and shorter if more hon. Members acted in the same way. It was ungrateful of the right hon. Gentleman, remembering that he had to conduct this Bill through the House, to sneer at any hon. Member because he did not trouble the House with speeches. He would like, on the other hand, to express his own satisfaction that that evening they had been favoured with the interposition in debate of some few of the hon Members from Wales who were supporters of the Bill. Their previous silence had appeared to be the outcome of a preconcerted agreement, and he was quite sure that any such agreement would not be conducive to 665 the passage of the Bill. The right hon. Gentleman declined to assent to the proposal of his hon. Friend, but he thought he had omitted to notice a very important part of this question which, as he had explained to the Committee, was to a great extent affected by the question of county boundaries. There was conflicting evidence as to the views of the population of this area on the question of the Disestablishment of the Church; but it was no great argument in favour of the opinion expressed by the hon. Member for the Flint boroughs to say that the inhabitants of a portion of this district had the good sense to ignore politics in the election of a Parish Council
§ *SIR MICHAEL HICKS-BEACH
said the hon. Member did not tell the Committee that, but to argue one way or the other as to the politics of a district on the election of Parish Councils was very fallacious. Suppose there were, as there had been in the past by the admission of the hon. Member for the Flint boroughs, a strong feeling in the district in favour of their transfer from the County of Flint to Shropshire?
§ *SIR MICHAEL HICKS-BEACH
said the hon. Member admitted that one-third of the people were at one time in favour of it, and his hon. Friend behind him put it much more strongly than that, and expressed the belief that there was a preponderance of opinion in favour of the transfer. Without entering into the views of the population of these districts on the question of Disestablishment, surely it might be possible, at any rate, that if they had the choice offered to them of retaining the Establishment and Endowment of their Church if they were connected with Shropshire, the movement in favour of being transferred to Shropshire might very much increase At any rate, what had happened in the past showed that it was possible in the, future that there might be a transfer of this district from Flintshire to Shropshire. Suppose that happened before the date of Disestablishment—what was to be the position of the district? Would 666 the Church in the district be Disestablished and Disendowed, or not? The Home Secretary had given no answer whatever to that question. Then, supposing it happened after the date of Disestablishment, what would be the position then? There would be Disestablishment and Disendowment of the Church in the district; while the district would be transferred to Shropshire, in which the Church would be Established and Endowed. Would the district remain with the Disestablished and Disendowed Church, or revert to its present position as a part of the Diocese of Chester? He hoped that if the right hon. Gentleman could not accept the Amendment of his hon. Friend, he would at any rate consider this matter before they got to Clause 3 He asked the Home Secretary to state the meaning of the Government, and what the position of the district would be if transferred.
§ MR. ASQUITH
explained that Disestablishment by the Bill would take place on 1st January, 1897, and it would take effect only in that territory which was part of Wales and Monmouthshire; and if between the passing of the Act, and the date of Disestablishment there was an alteration of existing boundaries, the Bill would come into force subject to that alteration. Therefore, if there was a wide-spread feeling in Maelor in favour of annexation with the county of Shropshire, and severance from the County of Flint, there would be time before the date of Disestablishment to give effect to that desire. He had also been asked if any part of the Disestablished Church became afterwards, by an alteration of boundaries, part of the Established Church, that part would, for ecclesiastical purposes, be re-established and re-endowed. Certainly not. If it were disestablished and disendowed once it was disestablished and disendowed for ever, and for all purposes, until Parliament saw fit to make any further provision.
§ MR. A. J. BALFOUR
said, with regard to the Hundred of Maelor, as he understood the law, the matter did not rest with the Hundred, but with the County Council of Flint, and the County Council might contain a majority who would like to extend the principle of Disestablishment to a most reluctant portion of the county, and override the unanimous 667 wishes of the inhabitants of Maelor. The County Council Act of 1888 contained admirable provisions for certain purposes. But it evidently was not adequate to meet the justice of the present case. After the right hon. Gentleman's distinct statement that it would depend on the inhabitants of the Hundred whether they would remain in Wales or England, he hoped he would make provision before they came to the end of the Bill, that there might be a kind of plébiscite of the district by which the true opinions of the inhabitants might be arrived at. Then, and then only, would the principles of the Government be carried out, and the plain and obvious equities of the case meet with fair treatment at the hands of the House.
§ MR. S. SMITH (Flintshire)
said, he had visited the place and inquired fully into the question as to the Hundred of Maelor. When the Local Government Act, 1888, was passed the question was raised whether Maelor wished to be annexed to Shropshire or remain in Wales. Some of the leading Churchmen in the district, fearing Disestablishment, took every means to get a plébiscite in favour of going to Shropshire. But it became more and more evident that the feeling of the district was entirely opposed to it, and in favour of remaining part of Wales. Some persons, mostly leading gentry connected with the Church, but dreading Disestablishment, were anxious to get the district attached to Shropshire. But the great mass of the population undoubtedly went the other way. This being the case he did not see how the Committee could give its sanction to anything which would remove the Hundred of Maelor from the scope of the Bill.
§ MR. ASQUITH
said, with a view to remove any misapprehension, he wished to say that when he stated that it would depend on the inhabitants of Maelor whether they would continue part of Flint or not, he did not mean to convey that there was any legal provision by which they could do that irrespective of the opinion of the County Council of Flintshire. What he meant was that if for all purposes—civil as well as ecclesiastical—the inhabitants of Maelor, in preponderating numbers, represented themselves as desirous of separating themselves from the County of Flint, it 668 could not be doubted that the County Council would convey their representations to the Local Government Board, who would decide whether the separation should take place. But it was significant that this very proposition had been made in the County Council, and the three elected representatives of the district of Maelor opposed it, the only member who was in favour of it being an Alderman, who, of course, was no representative at all. So they had a fair indication of what the feeling of the district was.
§ *MR. A. GRIFFITH-BOSCAWEN (Kent, Tunbridge)
pointed out that the County Council of Flintshire was a Radical body, the large majority of which was in favour of Disestablishment. Under these circumstances, was there the slighest likelihood that whatever representations the people of Maelor made as to their desire to be attached to Shropshire instead of Flintshire that effect would be given to their desires. It should be provided in the Bill that if, on the border of Wales, a whole District Council represented that their district wished to be attached to an English diocese or county to avoid this Bill, their wish should be carried out. The Hundred of Maelor was quite detached from the rest of Fintshire and the whole of Wales except the borders of Denbighshire. The people were English, bearing English names, and they were nearly all Church people and did not wish for Disestablishment. It was true that representations were made to attach them to another county some years ago, and that then they refused it. But this question of Disestablishment had not then come up. Now it had come up and he was certain, from his knowledge of the neighbourhood, that there was no chance of the County Council of Flintshire acting on the representations of the Hundred. If the Home Secretary would insert in the Bill the provision he had indicated, it would meet the case of Maelor and any other place on the borders of Wales where there was a preponderating feeling against Disestablishment.
§ *SIR G. OSBORNE MORGAN (Denbighshire)
said, hon. Members of the Opposition had over-stated the case of Maelor. There were two facts which could not be got over. Six years ago, after the 669 Disestablishment of the Church in Wales had been mooted, the question was raised in Maelor whether it should remain a part of Flintshire or be added to Shropshire, and an enormous majority of the inhabitants of the Hundred decided to throw in their lot with Wales. The second important fact was that the Hundred of Maelor joined with the rest of Flintshire in sending to Parliament two Members who were as staunch advocates of Welsh Disestablishment as were to be found in the House. No doubt it was a fact that the English language was largely spoken in Maelor. Hon. Members opposite almost universally assumed that the desire for Disestablishment was confined to parts of Wales were Welsh was chiefly spoken. That was an entire mistake, for a Welshman did not cease to be a Welshman because he had learnt English. The desire for Disestablishment, as evidenced by electoral results, was quite as strong in the border counties where, according to the linguistic census, English was the predominating language. What were the three principal border counties in Wales? They were Flintshire, Denbighshire and Glamorganshire, and every one of those counties returned, by large majorities, Members pledged to Disestablishment. Surely it was desirable that this question should not be decided upon mere local grounds. He hoped the Committee would offer a determined opposition to the Amendment.
§ MR. VICARY GIBBS (Herts, St. Albans)
said, it was not for them to consider whether the inhabitants of this district desired to belong to Flintshire or Denbighshire. The question was, whether the people desired that the Church in Wales should be Disestablished. The Home Secretary said there was doubt on the subject, but the right hon. Gentleman deliberately ignored the fact that petitions had been presented to the House from more than half of the adults of the district against Disestablishment. Could there be a stronger reason for the exclusion of the district from the operation of the Bill? Maelon was not an integral part of Wales in any sense whatever. Only a very few years ago it was arbitrarily taken out of an English diocese. Whatever the district might wish for county purposes, there 670 could be no question that, for ecclesiastical purposes, it would desire to belong again to the English diocese. They might, most fairly, appeal to the Home Secretary to make an exception in this case. The right hon. Gentleman had had the strongest evidence offered to him by the hon. Member who represented the district of what the feeling of the district was, and he had had that representation borne out in the strongest way by petitions. However great the Home Secretary's contempt for petitions presented to this House might be, he must know it would be absolutely impossible to obtain a petition signed by 50 per cent, of the adults of any district on a subject on which that district did not feel very strongly indeed.
§ Question put.
§ The Committee divided:—Ayes, 168; Noes, 191.—(Division List, No. 61.)
§ *MR. A. GRIFFITH-BOSCAWEN moved to omit the words "or Monmouthshire." He said that, so far, the Committee had been discussing whether portions of Wales that happened to be in English dioceses should, or should not, come under the operation of this Bill. They were now going to discuss a much larger question, namely, whether a whole English county should come under its provisions. The Government were giving up, in this instance, the geographical position, and proposed to Disestablish and Disendow the Church in Monmouthshire because it happened to be in the diocese of Llandaff. The present Bill purported to be for the Disestablishment of the Church in Wales; then why include an English county? The President of the Board of Trade (Mr. Bryce) had stated that the Church in England remained untouched and unharmed by this Bill; but how could the right hon. Gentleman and his colleague, the Home Secretary, make such an assertion as that, when a whole English county was to be Disestablished and Disenendowed? He supposed that the Government would say that in the western portions of the county there was a Welsh-speaking people; but he would point out that all along the border counties of Herefordshire and Gloucestershire, 671 and notably in the Forest of Dean, this was so. In the case of Ireland, there was a clear boundary; but, in regard to Wales, the people were mixed up, and it was difficult to say what was precisely in Wales and what was in England. He asked the Government to consider this. They were told by the Government that Monmouthshire was largely a Welsh county, but what was the best test of that? By seeing how many people in it talked Welsh. In the Census the most violent efforts were made to get people to put themselves down as monoglot Welshmen; so much so that even babies in arms were put down in the returns. Yet, in the result, only 4 per cent, in Monmouthshire declared themselves as monoglot Welshmen, while 79 per cent, declared themselves as monoglot Englishmen. Monmouthshire ought, therefore, to be regarded as an English, and not a Welsh, county. Monmouthshire might roughly be divided into two districts, that on the east and that oil the west, of the Usk. He admitted that in a portion of the county west of the river Usk a large number of Welsh Nonconformists might be found; but, taking the district east of the Usk, it was purely agricultural and purely English, and almost precisely like the counties of Herefordshire and Gloucester. Moreover, they were, in that part, almost all Churchmen, and had sent a strong objection two years ago against the Welsh Suspensory Bill. The preponderance of churches and chapels-of-ease to Nonconformists chapels was 106 to 80, while there were 79 English resident clergymen against 26 resident Nonconformist ministers, and this showed the preponderance of Churchmen in at least half the county of Monmouthshire. If it were a Welsh county it might be reasonably included, but as it was an English county, he asked why any part of it should be included. The present Parliamentary representation might be urged by the Party opposite, but, in his view, that was only a small, temporary, and accidental majority of Members in favour of Disestablishment and Disendowment. There was such a majority in the last Parliament, and there would not be one in the next, arid he was told that the Conservatives were perfectly certain to win the Monmouthshire boroughs at the next election. He 672 asked why the fact of having a majority at all in an English county could be any reason for Disestablishing the Church. Such a majority existed in Cornwall and in Durham; then why did not the Government include those counties? The Government were, in fact, introducing piecemeal Disestablishment and Disendowment in England, and that was not a principle upon which the House ought to act. They would doubtless be told that Monmouthshire in the past had been treated as a Welsh county; but for how long? From the time of Henry VIII. down to quite recently Monmouthshire was treated as an English county, even the Welsh Sunday Closing Act, 1881, did not include it in Wales, and it was the late Government who set, in his opinion, a bad precedent by in cluding Monmouthshire in the Welsh intermediate Education Act. But he entirely denied that the same consensus of opinion existed in regard to the present measure. This was a very strong case. The Government were proposing to Disestablish and Disendow the Church in Wales, and for no reason except to make it as wide as possible, and to grab as many endowments as they could, to be used for miserable secular purposes, they turned round and included Monmouthshire in the Bill because it happened to be part of a Welsh Bishopric. He hoped that the Government would make the concession now asked, and would lay down the principle that this was a Welsh and not an English Bill.
§ COLONEL F. C. MORGAN (Monmouthshire, S.)
said, that like his fellow-Conservatives he had been brought to book by the Home Secretary and others for not having replied in the House. He was a Welshman and a Member of an English constituency, and he had always considered himself so. He was the most Welsh of the Conservative Welsh Members, and he knew more about Wales than any of them. Although his voice had not often been heard in the House, he saw no reason why he should not feel as strongly for the Church and for the county which he represented as any other hon. Member. Here was the Member for the largest portion of Monmouthshire in regard to area, and he believed that he represented the largest number of votes. He might fairly say that the Southern Division of 673 Monmouthshire, which he had now represented for 21 years, did not think so much of the Welsh language as had been represented; because no single Member from the county but himself understood or spoke a word of Welsh. The hon. Member for West Monmouthshire, who represented the Welsh speaking part of the county, never addressed his constituents in Welsh, and he had never heard that he required an interpreter to make his views known to those whom he addressed. He himself had always spoken and voted agaist Disestablishment and Disendowment. Many years ago he contested the whole county against the hon. Member and another Gentleman; no one could accuse him of not having laid his views before the constituency, and he had received its support for those views. He made no bones about the matter, but went on the simple platform of averting the calamity of Disestablishment and Disendowment for the county. He did not see why this measure should now be forced on Monmouthshire, or why Wales should not be left to itself. Was it because there were three Members for Monmouthshire in favour of the Bill and only himself against it? But it was not so long ago since the representation was equally divided. He had represented the county longer than anyone else, and he had lived just across the Glamorganshire border for 35 years, so that he ought to know something about the county. He saw that the Home Secretary was not disposed to grant absolution to any opponents of his Bill; but he would appeal to the right hon. Gentleman, as a Member of some standing, to consider whether he could not leave Monmouthshire, which for many years had enjoyed an individuality of its own, out of the Bill, instead of turning it over to Wales, to which it had no wish to belong. He was obliged to the House for listening to him, and he hoped that he had answered the expectations of the right hon. Gentleman opposite. At any rate, he had done his duty to his constituents, who were much more used to him than was the House. He hoped the right hon. Gentleman would grant the absolution which the majority of the Monmouthshire people desired in respect of this Bill.
§ MR. C. M. WARMINGTON (Monmouthshire, W.)
congratulated the House 674 on the interesting speech to which they had listened from the hon. and gallant Gentleman. The hon. Member represented an important division of the county, but he had the greater distinction, being the representative of one of the oldest Welsh families, which had for many years ably espoused the national sentiments of Wales. He wished to correct an impression which the hon. Member's speech might have created, that the Government were, for the first time, introducing Monmouthshire into a Disestablishment Bill for Wales. Wales and Monmouthshire had been associated in this question ever since it came within the range of practical politics. There had never for the last 10 years been any proposition for the Disestablishment of the Welsh Church which had not included Monmouthshire as a part of the Welsh diocese of Llandaff; and it was a part of the basis of the present measure that Monmouthshire should come within its scope. In regard to ecclesiastical matters, Monmouthshire never had been independent of Wales. It was originally the Metropolitan See for the whole of Wales. The connection also existed in sentiment and in geography. Of the names of places in Monmouthshire, eight out of 10 were Welsh. There was a place near the hon. and gallant Gentleman's seat which was spelt Tydu; but would any Englishman dare to pronounce the name? The names of persons were also Welsh, and there were very few Englishmen throughout Monmouthshire.
§ MR. WARMINGTON
said that there might be some there. Did the House recollect what happened when the late Government introduced their Education Bill? The then Vice President of the Council (Sir W. Hart Dyke, Kent, Dartford) was personally opposed to including Monmouthshire in Wales, but he had meetings with the Welsh and Monmouthshire Members, and he found that unless he gave way Wales would reject the Bill. Then there was the College of Cardiff. By the Charter under which the College was regulated, the County Council of Monmouth sent two representatives to the Council of the College. It was only because there happened to have been an Act of Parliament passed in the reign of 675 Henry VIII. making Monmouthshire an English county, that it had ever been so regarded. Even then the county was not taken out of the Welsh diocese, and for the purposes of justice, Monmouthshire was long after regarded as part of Wales. It was only late in the reign of Charles II. that the county was put on the Oxford Circuit. But in ecclesiastical matters, Monmouthshire had never been dissociated from Wales, and it had been considered as an integral part of the Principality by the House of Commons in the Resolutions which it had passed from time to time.
§ MR. WARMINGTON
said, that that had nothing to do with Church, and when that measure was passed he did not know whether the representation of Wales was as at present. In the division of Monmouthshire which he represented, Welsh was very much spoken; and there was one place on the borders of Glamorganshire where the audiences which he addressed had great difficulty in understanding the English language. He himself, as the hon. Member had said, did not understand a word of Welsh. He had studied the language, but not successfully. He entirely agreed with the hon. Gentleman opposite that he had been a consistent and conscientious opponent of the principles that were embodied in this Bill, but at the same time the hon. Member must admit that he had been as consistent and as persistent an advocate of those principles. Since 1880 no question had been more discussed in Wales than that of Disestablishment and Disendowment. On a recent occasion a gentleman had come from Bristol to oppose his candidature, and that individual dared not openly avow his opposition to Disestablishment and Disendowment, and had therefore taken refuge in the suggestion that the question should be relegated to a Commission consisting of two Churchmen, two Presbyterians, and two Congregationalists.
§ MR. WARMINGTON
said, that he believed that he represented the West of England Conservative Association. If the right hon. Gentleman had no connection with that gentleman he 676 would apologise to him for having referred to the matter. He desired to mention another circumstance in connection with this subject. The Monmouth County Council, as recently as the 2nd of this month, had passed a resolution to the effect that the council thanked Her Majesty's Government for having introduced a Bill for the Disestablishment and Disendowment of the Church in Wales, and that they earnestly pressed Her Majesty's Government to resist any Amendment that had for its object to exclude the county from the scope of the measure. That resolution was voted for by 29 members of the council, as opposed to 13 who voted against it, 22 members of the council being absent. That was conclusive proof, in his opinion, of the view that was taken of the subject by the majority of the people of Monmouthshire. Monmouthshire as a whole was certainly in favour of the principle of this Bill being extended to the county. [Cries of "Oh !" and laughter.] Hon. Members might laugh, but it was the fact that such was the case. He wished to impress upon the Committee that to support this Amendment would be to undo that which had subsisted for ages—namely, the union that had existed between the Churches of Monmouthshire and that of Wales.
§ *MR. J. G. TALBOT
said, he could not understand what the County Council of Monmouthshire had got to do with the question of the Disestablishment and Disendowment of the Church. He objected to County Councils mixing themselves up with political questions of this kind, with which they were never intended to deal. County Councils had quite enough work to do without going out of their way to pass resolutions either for or against the Disestablishment and Disendowment of churches. For his part he entirely repudiated their authority to pass resolutions of this sort. Passing from the very irrelevant statement of the hon. Gentleman in reference to this action of the Monmouthshire County Council, he would now deal with the Amendment which had been brought under the consideration of the Committee by its Mover. That Amendment raised a very grave constitutional, if not historical question, because the county of Monmouth had for many years been 677 regarded as an English county. Why had this proposal to bring the county within the operation of the Bill been dragged into the measure? It was because this Bill was intended not to bring about the Disestablishment and Disendowment of the Church of Wales, but that of England. This was the first step in the attack upon the Church of England. He could only thank Her Majesty's Government for having introduced this provision into the Bill, because it would open the eyes of the country to their real intentions, and would show the people that the Church of England and not that of Wales was the real object of the attack which which was being made by means of this measure. That that was the real object of the Bill had been practically avowed by the Under Secretary for the Home Department, and in less plain language by the right hon. Gentleman the Home Secretary. If that were so, then at least, they knew where they were. It would, however, have been much more straightforward on the part of Her Majesty's Government, if they really believed that the Disestablishment and Disendowment of the Church of England would conduce to the secular welfare of the people, and to the advantage of religion itself, if they had brought in a Bill avowedly having that object. In such a case the people of England would have been able to have shown by an overwhelming vote what view they took of such a proposal.
§ THE CHAIRMAN
Order, order! The hon. Member is out of Order in discussing a measure which is not before the Committee.
§ *MR. TALBOT
said, that of course he should at once bow to the Chairman's ruling, but at the same time he thought he was in order in endeavouring to show that this Bill was intended to apply not to Wales alone, but to the whole country. He maintained that there was a strong minority of the people of Monmouthshire who objected to the principles of this Bill, and he thought that Her Majesty's Government ought to pause before they outraged the feelings of that minority by bringing them under the operation of this Bill.
§ *MR. ALBERT SPICER (Monmouth Boroughs)
said, that his presence in the House might be taken as pretty strong 678 evidence of the feeling of his constituency in Monmouth on the subject of the Disestablishment of the Church. When he was invited to contest the constituency, he went there as a perfect stranger, and he had to fight against the strong interest of the former Member, and the strong influence of the great and respected Morgan family, who were so well represented in the House by the hon. and gallant Member for South Monmouthshire. He was chiefly known as being prominently connected with Nonconformity, and the fact that he was returned at the last election testified to the sympathy of that district with Nonconformity, and with the object at which the present Bill aimed. The hon. Member for Oxford University had complained that the Monmouth County Council had gone outside its ordinary duty, in expressing by vote an opinion on the question of the Disestablishment of the Church. He was bound to admit that the expression of such an opinion was beyond the range of the proper work of the Council; but their action, after all, was only a reflection of the feeling of the county generally on the subject. Now he found that in the last General Election, when the question of Disestablishment of the Church was fully before the electors, that while only 14,118 votes were given to Conservative candidates in the County of Monmouth, no fewer than 23,169 were given to Liberals, so that if they took this difference in the number of votes as representing the views of the people, the Committee had conclusive evidence of the opinion of the county in favour of the Disestablishment of the Church. It had been said that Monmouth was an English county, and therefore could not be coupled with Wales in connection with this Measure, but it must be remembered that although Monmouth might nominally be an English county, it was practically Welsh, and connected with Wales in most of its civil administration. They had been already informed that it was part of the ecclesiastical diocese of Llandaff. In addition to this, it was connected with Wales so far as regarded the Education Department, Poor Law Administration, Home Office Administration in reference to Factory Inspection, &c., the Post Office, Customs, and Registration, so that in addition to the sympathies of the 679 people with Wales and with Welsh opinion, it had a very close connection with Wales in the work of the great departments of the State. For these reasons he hoped that the Committee would approve the policy of the Government in connecting Monmouth with this great Measure of Disestablishment and Disendowment of the Welsh Church.
§ *MR. T. P. PRICE (Monmouth, N.)
said, he had lived in Monmouthshire all his life, and it was news to him to hear, as he had heard that night, that Monmouthshire was not considered a part of Wales. There was, he knew, an early statute which turned Monmouth, then a border county, into an English county, but an Act of Parliament could not destroy national feeling and sentiment. The vast majority of the people of Monmouth were either Welsh or of Welsh descent. Henry V. was born at Monmouth—that was to say on the extreme English side of Monmouthshire, and he was considered to be a Welshman for that reason. Shakspeare, in his play of Henry V., 4th Act, 7th scene, made that king say—For I am Welsh, you know, good countryman.And Fluellen replied—All the water in Wye cannot wash your Majesty's Welch plood out of your pody, I can tell you that.Doubtless hon. Members opposite would consider this some authority for the fact that Monmouth, in ancient times at least, was regarded as part of Wales. There were many benefactions which were given jointly to the people of Wales and Monmouth, such as the old benefactions of Jesus College, Oxford, and the Ashford Welsh School, and in order to show that there was a strong Welsh element in the county, he might mention a recent case in which the Bishop of Llandaff refused to make an appointment to a parish in Monmouthshire because the candidate could not speak the Welsh language. The other day he received a Petition from the very centre of the county in relation to a Post Office matter, and an examination of the signatures showed that nearly every one of them was Welsh. For these reasons he hoped that Monmouth would not be considered, in relation to this Bill, as a part of England.
§ *MR. HENRY HOBHOUSE (Somerset, E.)
asked why, if it was right to disestablish the Church of England in Monmouthshire, it was not right to disestablish the Church of England in Yorkshire or Cornwall. What was the test which was taken? They understood that the nationality test was appealed to, but they wished to have it distinctly explained on what grounds Welsh nationality was sought to be extended to Monmouthshire. He was rather amused at the way in which an Act of Henry VIII. had been referred to by one or two of his hon. Friends from Monmouthshire, as "only" an Act of Parliament. He should have thought that an Act of Parliament 360 years old, which was still the undisputed law of the land, might be treated with a little more respect. It was perfectly clear that in the 27th year of Henry VIII., by means of an Act which had been referred to as the Act of Union between England and Wales, certain border parishes which had previously been a sort of common ground between England and Wales, were constituted for the first time as counties. It was pretty clear from the language of the Act, that the county of Monmouth was then regarded rather as an English than as a Welsh county, but all doubt on that subject was removed by an Act passed in the 34th year of Henry VIII., which expressly enacted that the Principality of Wales should be from henceforth divided into 12 shires, eight belonging to Wales from ancient time, and the other four being Radnor, Brecon, Montgomery and Denbigh. The Act then referred to the English counties into which the border parishes were constituted, and included Monmouthshire in the same category with the shires of Salop and Hereford. The hon. Member for North Monmouthshire seemed to think that the evidence of this Act of Henry VIII. was rebutted by the language of a play of Shakespeare. But even if they were to take Shakespeare as a credible witness on historical matters, to which he rather demurred, the language of the play related to a reign a century before the Act was passed. He could not, therefore, conceive that, as far as the historical argument went there was anything to be said in favour of Monmouthshire being a Welsh 681 county. To deal next with the argument of the diocese, he thought the Government were perfectly right in taking in their Bill the civil rather than the ecclesiastical boundaries, but after having done so, the Home Secretary could hardly contend that a good argument for including Monmouthshire in this Bill was that it formed part of the diocese of Llandaff. Surely a Bill which mutilated three English and two Welsh dioceses could hardly be founded on the principle of claiming the diocese as the unit. Then there was the test of language. There was an extraordinary difference in the proportion between the figures of the Welsh-speaking people in Wales generally and the Welsh-speaking people in Monmouthshire. Whereas in Wales the proportion of Welsh-speaking people was nearly one in three, in Monmouthshire it was less than one in 27. It would be impossible, therefore, for the Government to take the test of language as an argument. Then they were told that many of the names in Monmouthshire were Welsh. In the county of Cornwall a large proportion of the names were Celtic, but was that an argument for Disestablishment in Cornwall? Again, was the argument for the inclusion of this county its present Parliamentary' representation? It had been already pointed out that in the last Parliament the political representation of Monmouthshire was then equally divided, and he would be a rash prophet, who should predict that its representation would remain the same as it was now in the next Parliament. They must protest against such an argument as this. If the question of Parliamentary representation was really urged, why did they stop at Monmouthshire? Why did they not cross the Wye to the Forest of Dean, where the right hon. Baronet representing that constituency was in favour of Disestablishment, and had been returned by a large majority. Then there was the opinion of the County Council, composed of 66 members, 29 of whom voted in favour of Disestablishment; but that was not a majority. There were a great many Members who abstained from voting, and quite properly, because, he held, it was obviously a waste of time for an administrative body to usurp political functions. 682 He thought there was a little more force in the argument with regard to what was, he believed, the single legislative precedent which existed in favour of the Bill, the Welsh Intermediate Education Act. He was one of those who would like to see that Act extended with some modifications to the whole of England, but if it were, the argument would cease to exist. That measure, which was forced on the late Government by the Welsh Members, was a purely constructive Act of local Government, which did not in any way destroy any institution which existed before in those counties. Each county was treated as a separate unit under the Act; and besides, the schemes under the Act were under the control and jurisdiction of an English authority—the Charity Commissioners of England and Wales. This Bill, on the other hand, proposed to destroy a portion of a great National institution in which Englishmen were at least as distinctly interested as Welshmen. And were Englishmen to be told that because Welshmen had been before them in getting an Intermediate Education Act, in which one English county was included, it was to form a precedent for the Disestablishment of the National Church in that same English county as well as in the twelve Welsh counties? But there was also a precedent in favour of the Amendment, and a precedent that had been set by a Liberal Government. He referred to the Sunday Closing Act, from which the County of Monmouthshire had been deliberately left out by the Liberal Government. Therefore, if precedents were to count for anything, one precedent would at least balance another. There was, in short, no test on which they could rely to show that Monmouth was on the same footing as the 12 Welsh counties, either in Nationality or in legislation, and the precedent set by the Bill stood entirely on its own merits.
§ SIR E. ASHMEAD-BARTLETT (Sheffield, Ecclesall)
said, he was very strongly opposed to the whole Bill, but particularly to this portion of it, because he objected to the filching of a county from England in order to place it at the mercy of the Welsh Disestablishes. He had been perfectly astonished to hear the hon. Gentleman who represented a portion of Momnouth—though the 683 hon. Gentleman admitted he had no other connection with the county—advance as an argument against the Amendment, that Monmouth was only considered an English county in consequence of an Act of Parliament passed in 1535. Therefore, it was nothing to him that for the last 360 years the county had been treated as an English county. Surely the fact that Monmouth had been considered an English county for 360 years ought to be sufficient to give the House pause before they handed over the county to the tender mercies of the Welsh Dis-establishers. The hon. Member, being a gentleman learned in the law, had also said that Monmouth had only been considered a portion of the English judicial system since the reign of Charles II. If his (Sir E. Ashmead-Bartlett's) historical knowledge was correct, the reign of Charles II. was over two centuries ago, and two centuries was a pretty long period of prescription. The fact of the matter was that the inclusion of Monmouthshire in the Bill was part of the anti-English policy which the Government had pursued at every step of their progress. Their Home Rule Bill was based upon that policy; their Evicted Tenants Bill was based upon it; their proposal, last Session, of a Scotch Grand Committee, while they refused an English one, was based upon it; and their proposal to force teetotalism upon England by Irish votes was based upon the same anti-English policy [Cries of "Order."] He was not discussing those questions; he was only showing that the policy of the Government from Home Rule down to Welsh Disestablishment was an anti-English policy, and was adopted in the hopes of catching the votes of hon. Members whom, for want of another description, he would describe as representing the non-English portions of the United Kingdom. He could not conceive how hon. Gentlemen opposite could really advocate the inclusion of Monmouth in the Bill. There was no doubt that Monmouth was historically an English county. There was equally no doubt that Monmouth was by race at the present time an English county. Statistics had been quoted which placed that fact beyond the slightest dispute or denial. It had been shown that 75 per cent, of the population of the county had declared themselves to be monoglot 684 Englishmen, and only 4 per cent, monoglot Welshmen. It had been said that the names in Monmouth were predominently Welsh. He doubted whether they were so predominently Welsh. No doubt there were a great number of Welsh names in Monmouth, but there were also a great number of English names in the county. He understood that in Fifeshire, the county represented by the Home Secretary, there were a large number of Gaelic names; but he believed there was not a single person in the county who could speak Gaelic.
§ MR. WILLIAM ALLAN (Gateshead)
I rise to a point of order. If the hon. Gentleman will accept information from me, I can tell him that most of the names in Fifeshire are peculiarly Scotch or Danish.
§ MR. WILLIAM ALLAN
There is very little English in the kingdom of Fife. The people are the descendants of Danish people who settled there.
§ *SIR E. ASHMEAD-BARTLETT
said, he had no objection to the correction of the hon. Member, but it remained that there were a large number of Gaelic names in Fifeshire. Was that to be an argument in favour of Scotch Disestablishment? ["Yes."] He thought the Home Secretary would find that argument very awkward for him at the next General Election. But really this argument as to names of places was very misleading, for everyone knew that though various races might sweep in succession over a country, the chances were that unless the original inhabitants were entirely wiped out, the old names would remain. A large number of Danish names still existed in the Eastern counties I of England. Would it be fair to argue from that fact that the people of the Eastern counties desired to be attached to Denmark, or to adopt any form of Danish radicalism? The truth was that Monmouth was an English county, historically, geographically, and racially, and, being so, it was right that a protest should be made against this attempt to filch an English county from England and hand I it over to the Welsh Disestablishers. 685 This proposal to include Monmouthshire in the Disestablishment Bill was highly objectionable to all Members of the Church of England. They looked upon it as a precedent and lever which were certain to be used against the Church of England and in favour of Disestablishment at some future time. Every argument in favour of the Disestablishment of the Church in Monmouthshire—except only the single argument of the historical connection with the diocese of Llandaff—would apply with equal force to a proposal to disestablish the Church in Cornwall, or Yorkshire, or Northumberland. For that reason every English Churchman was justified in opposing this proposal to include Monmouthshire to the utmost of his power. For the reasons he had stated he ventured to oppose this portion of the Bill which proposed to include the County of Monmouthshire in the Disestablishment of the Welsh Church. He regarded it as unjust in itself, as a direct attack upon the Church of England, and, above all, as a portion of that hostility to English interests and to English feeling which marked the whole policy of Her Majesty's present Government.
§ *MR. WILLIAM ABRAHAM (Rhondda)
observed that the hon. Gentleman who had just sat down had protested very much against what he had described as the filching from England of an English county. The hon. Gentleman had said that the county was not 360 years old, but would he tell them what it was prior to that? Was it an English county? The hon. Member said that it was not a Welsh county, but he would ask him whether there were not, at the present moment, many places in Monmouthshire where, if the hon. Member for Sheffield went, he would scarcely be able to make himself understood by the people? Let the hon. Member go to Abersychan. Let him go to Cwmbychan or to Cwmbychan. Let him go to Llanfiangel-pont-y-moel, or to Llangatwg-ystrad-llwyn, or Cefn-pwll-an. Yea; if it was an English county let him go to Cefn-Mabli. What were these places? Were they English or Welsh? What about the policy of the great English nation towards other nationalities? Were they to believe that the great English nation who were 686 extending fair play and justice to all the nations in the world under their Government would refuse this justice to the Welsh people? This was no question of filching a county from England, and where was the unfairness of Wales asking this House to give her back her own? If Monmouthshire was not a Welsh county, why was it necessary for the Bishop of Llandaff to object to men that could not preach the Gospel in Welsh? The County of Monmouthshire originally belonged to Wales; it was the English who filched it from the Welsh, and the people of the Principality were only asking for the return of what belonged to them.
§ VISCOUNT CRANBORNE (Rochester)
said, they always listened to the hon. Member with satisfaction, because of his eloquence and the manifest earnestness of his demeanour. But be would ask the hon. Member to reconsider the argument he had just addressed to the Committee. He ought to carry his historical investigations a little further back, because he would find there had been a great many alterations of the counties which belonged to the respective principalities and kingdoms which made up the United Kingdom. A few hundred years ago, for instance, the whole of Lothian, including the City of Edinburgh, was part of England, and at an early period of our history the County of Cumberland was part of the kingdom of Strathclyde, which was more Scottish than anything else. These facts were historically true, yet it would not lead them, on any consideration, in allotting legislation belonging to England and Scotland, to treat Cumberland as Scottish or Edinburgh as English. The real fact was that they must accept what had been the case for so many hundred years. Monmouthshire had been English, according to all legislation and estimation, for two or three hundred years till the year 1890, when, for the first time, any considerable Act of Parliament was passed which treated Monmouthshire as being in the same position as Wales, although, of course, it did not say that Monmouthshire was part of Wales. It had been asked what was to become of Llandaff? The Government said that such parts of the dioceses of Hereford and Chester as were in the Principality were to be treated as in Wales and be Disestablished, and those 687 who supported this Amendment said conversely that the parts of the diocese of Llandaff which were in England must be treated as England, and not be Disestablished. It was apparent that the arguments in favour of treating Monmouthshire as Welsh for this purpose were very slight. The hon. and learned Gentleman the Member for West Monmouthshire, who was the only Member who had made a considerable speech in defence of the proposals of the Government, evidently appeared to think that one of the reasons why Monmouthshire should be treated as part of Wales and Disestablished was, because at a very remote period it was the seat of an Archbishop who had jurisdiction over the Principality of Wales. He did not believe the Government founded their policy on a very ancient Archbishop who was Disestablished, as far as the Archbishopric was concerned, in the early Anglo-Saxon period. The only two arguments that appeared to him worthy of consideration were those drawn from the feeling in Wales and the Intermediate Education Act. As regarded the feeling in Wales, the Member for West Monmouthshire produced a resolution of a County Council in favour of this Bill. It seemed that 28 Members were in favour of the resolution, 8 or 9 against it, and 22 were absent. Would the Committee really believe that this famous Resolution, passed by these 29 gentlemen present to 7, with 22 absent, was not upon the Agenda of the County Council, and was proposed and passed without notice? That was positively the kind of argument produced for consumption in the British House of Commons by hon. Members representing Radical interests. With regard to the Intermediate Education Act, pressure was brought to bear upon the right hon. Gentleman to include Monmouth, and he said:—"Well, if Monmouth wants the Bill, by all means let us have it." But that was not the spirit in which the Government took up 688 this Bill. If they had the pluck, they would bring the whole of England and Wales within its sweep. The reasons, so far as there were reasons, why Wales should be treated in this respect separately from England were the statistical arguments so prominently brought before the House, namely, the representation of Wales in this House, the statistics as to the adherents of Nonconformist bodies, the language statistics, and so forth. But the predominance of Radical representation was of a temporary character. In the last Parliament two sides were represented equally, and in the next Parliament in all probability they would be represented equally again. With regard to the argument of religion, the Church had a far larger number of places of worship, and was in a far more prosperous condition than the Nonconformist bodies in Monmouthshire. And then as to language, the Member for Denbighshire, in a previous Amendment, warned the Committee not to be misled on the language question, because, he said, in Wales the English-speaking people were just as ardent for Disestablishinent as the Welsh people. But that was not the argument of the Front Bench. He remembered an eloquent speech by the President of the Board of Trade in which he pointed out that one of the principal reasons why Wales was entitled to separate treatment was that they were a different race and spoke a different language If they did not, it followed that they were not entitled to be treated separately. If it was to turn on questions of race and language, then the Bill ought to be confined to the Welsh-speaking parts of Wales, and not to an English-speaking part of England. He therefore submitted that the argument derived from language and race entirely failed, and à fortiori it entirely failed in the case of Monmouthshire. In conclusion he had to complain that no Member of the Government had told them what they intended to do on this Amendment.
*THE UNDER SECRETARY OF STATE FOR THE HOME DEPARTMENT (Mr. GEORGE RUSSELL,) Beds, N.
said, his learned Friend the Solicitor General had only entered the House since this interesting Debate had been some hours in progress, and therefore he felt it his duty to respond to the challenge of the noble Lord. Before he did that, he had a word to say with regard to the hon. and gallant Knight who represented Sheffield, and who at an earlier period of the evening enlivened the Debate with a burst of patriotic eloquence. A more truly British speech, more redolent of the spirit of John Bull, he had seldom heard. In the course of that speech the hon. and gallant Knight attacked the Government for their anti-English policy, and referring to certain Members who spoke on the Ministerial side, used the epithet non-English. He did it with the most perfect courtesy. It would have been very odd indeed if the hon. and gallant Knight had used the expression in an offensive and pugnacious sense. He said names were misleading, and they must not build up theories on the occurrence or recurrence of names which seemed to convey particular racial characteristics. If, on turning to "Dod," he found that an hon. Member was born at Brooklyn in the United States, that he was the son of a citizen of Plymouth, New England, and was descended from the Pilgrim Fathers, [Sir E. ASHMEAD-BARTLETT: "Who were English, entirely English.''] he might be misled into thinking that the Member in question was "Non-English." That was what he was saying. If they permitted themselves to be misled by the mere sound of names, they might be led to conclusions which did not correspond with the facts. From whatever quarter of the Queen's Dominions Members came, and whatever localities they represented, they entered this House on equal terms, and they were entitled to be heard with the same respect, whether they came 690 from what had been called "the Celtic fringes," or from tracts still more remote. From the time of Henry VIII. there was an almost unbroken tradition and sentiment in the Welsh mind with respect to the particular point now under discussion, and Monmouth might be described as being almost, "the lost Pleiad of the Welsh firmament." In a work published by a Welshman as recently as 1670, and entitled "The Welshman's Candle," it was mentioned that there were 13 counties in Wales. He believed the 13 counties could only bearrived at by including Monmouth. That pointed to what was an undeniable fact—namely, that national sentiment was a tough and an enduring thing. The Education Act of 1889 was evidence of the fact that in the highest circles of constitutional authority it was recognised that there was a national and local sentiment which, for many purposes of social and intellectual life, associated Monmouth with the Principality of Wales. From the ecclesiastical point of view, Monmouth must be regarded as wholly and absolutely and immemorially Welsh, as part of the diocese of Llandaff. And with regard to the Parliamentary representation, it was an unfortunate characteristic that all Parliamentary figures that related to majorities and minorities in this House and in the constituencies, were transitory in their character, and that applied to the representation of Monmouth, Rochester, or any other part of the Queen's Dominions. But the voice of the temporary representative of the County of Monmouth or City of Rochester was not to be discounted by the mere fact that in a subsequent stage of Parliamentary history it might be replaced by another. He could give au emphatic demonstration of the sentiment of Monmouthshire on the question of Establishment. A few years ago, a friend of his, who was connected with large commercial interests in Monmouthshire, was asked to become the Liberal candidate for one of the seats in that county. He 691 had some scruples or hesitation with respect to some prominent articles in the Liberal creed, but it was intimated to him that those difficulties might be got over as long as he was sound on the one point of Welsh Disestablishment. The desire for Disestablishment in Monmouthshire was strong. It mattered little whether one insisted on speaking of Monmouthshire as an English or as a Welsh county. There was such a place as Berwick-upon Tweed between England and Scotland. Let it be considered that Monmouthshire occupied a similar intermediate position. The Parliamentary representatives of the county, at any rate, spoke in a decisive way in favour of including the county in the policy of Disestablishment, and the Government could not assent to an Amendment which they believed to be opposed to the almost unanimous desire of the people of Monmouthshire.
§ SIR JOHN GORST (Cambridge University)
said, that the question had now assumed a very much more important aspect than it had an hour or two ago, when most of the Ministers were absent from the Front Bench opposite. It seemed to him that the Debate had developed into the question whether Monmouthshire was a part of England or a part of Wales. He should have thought that the Government, on a question of that kind, would feel themselves to some extent bound by the laws of the land, and it was confessed to have been the law of the land for 360 years that Monmouthshire was part of England, and not part of Wales. Yet all the arguments of the hon. Member who had just sat down, and of other hon. Members opposite, had been based upon the supposition that Monmouthshire was not a part of England at all, but was a part of Wales. The Home Secretary, he saw, made a gesture of dissent, but the right hon. Member was not in the House when these arguments were adduced. It was true that hon. Members opposite had thrown in, towards the end of their 692 speeches, something about the views and the wishes of the people of Monmouthshire; but their arguments, especially those of the hon. Member for West Monmouthshire and of the hon. Member for Glamorganshire, who had spoken with so much eloquence, were undoubtedly based upon the supposition that Monmouthshire was a part of Wales, which had been filched from the Principality 360 years ago. The Solicitor General, he saw, had been studying the Statute of Henry VIII. Would the right hon. Gentleman rise in his place and tell the House, as a Law Officer of the Crown, that the terms of that Statute did not prove that at the time when that Act was passed Monmouthshire was not a part of Wales? He called attention, specially, to the last section of the Statute, which said:—Through this Parliament, and all Parliaments, two Knights are to be chosen and elected for the same Parliament for the Shire of Mon-mouth, and one Burgess for the Borough of Monmouth, in like manner and form as Knights and Burgesses are to be elected and chosen in all other Shires in this Realm of England.''Did not this show that at that time, in the contemplation of the Legislature, the Shire of Monmouth was not a part of Wales, but was a part of "this Realm of England?" To assist the Solicitor General, he would contract the language which he had read with the language at the close of the same section:—There shall be one Knight chosen and elected in the same Parliament for every one of the Shires of Brecknock, Radnor, Montgomery, and Denbigh, and for every other shire within the said Dominion of Wales.These words clearly, by implication, declared, that at that time Monmouthshire was part of the Realm of England, and that the Shires of Radnor, Brecknock, Montgomery, and Denbigh were part of the Dominion of Wales. There was the distinction of the whole foundation upon which the speeches of the hon. Member for West Monmouthshire, the Under Secretary for the Home Department, and the hon. Member for Glamorganshire were based. If in the time of 693 Henry VIII. Monmouthshire was part of England and not part of Wales, the whole foundation of their speeches crumbled to pieces. The Under Secretary for the Home Department had sneered at the hon. Member for Sheffield for making what he called an English speech; but the hon. Member for Sheffield was perfectly justified, because it was now quite apparent that the Government, who had brought in this Bill to please a section of their followers, who were not Englishmen, were proposing, with the same object, to filch a county from England and to hand it over to Wales. The question was no longer a mere question of Disestablishment. The question now was, whether the Government were to be permitted to dismember, not the United Kingdom, but the predominant partner. They were preparing to dismember England itself. The real issue before the Committee was, whether Monmouthshire was a part of England or a part of Wales, and why, if it were a part of England it should be handed over to Wales?
§ THE SOLICITOR GENERAL (Sir FRANK LOCKWOOD,) York
said, he should not have risen if a direct challenge had not been given to him. It was true that he had not been able to be in the House during the earlier portion of the Debate, but he hoped the Committee did not see in his absence any want of respect. The reason why he had remained silent was, that he thought that his taking part in the Debate at so late a point in it, and after so short an experience of it, might possibly be regarded as an intrusion on his part. The right hon. Gentleman opposite had made a very direct, and, he thought, too personal an appeal to him; but the right hon. Gentleman was accustomed to make these personal appeals, and he did not know that he himself had more, reason to complain than anybody else that he had been the subject of them. It seemed to him that his hon. and learned Friend the Member for the Isle of Wight 694 had paid a temporary visit to him on the Treasury Bench, to ascertain what he had been reading.
§ *SIR RICHARD WEBSTER
I was asked to get the Statute, and I went across to the hon. and learned Member to see if he had got the book. I had not the least idea that he was reading the book until I saw it in his possession.
§ THE SOLICITOR GENERAL
hoped his hon. and learned Friend would not take this at all seriously. He could assure him that he did not in any way desire to disturb that calm which so distinguished him. It had occurred to him, however, that it was only by some sort of inspiration of that kind that the right hon. Gentleman who spoke last became aware that he was reading from the interesting Statute which he was perusing. He did not agree with the right hon. Gentleman that the Government's position in regard to this Amendment was that Monmouthshire was not a part of England. That had not been the position as he had understood it, and that was not the position he had heard maintained on behalf of the Government. The position primarily maintained, or as he understood it, was this—that Monmouth, so far as national feeling and sympathy and general sentiment were concerned, was one indivisible part of the Principality. He also understood that the Government's position was that in legislation on matters ecclesiastical and matters educational, Monmouth had been dealt with, not as being part of England, but as being part of Wales, and had been dealt with conjointly with Wales in those matters ecclesiastical and educational. He further understood that the position the Government claimed for Monmouth was the position that the inhabitants of Monmouthshire were in this matter in sympathy with the great majority of the inhabitants of Wales at the, present time. He was only now stating what the position was that was maintained on the Government Benches. They did not rest their case on the 695 isolated ground suggested by the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Cambridge University. The Government contended that Monmouth was a part of Wales, not only in sentiment and in national feeling and aspiration, but that it was actually until the Statute, the perusal of which by himself had excited so much interest in the mind of the right hon. Gentleman, was passed, for all purposes a portion of Wales. He would read a section of that Statute which had not been referred to. It established much more clearly than the section read by the right hon. Gentleman, that nominally at the time of the passing of that Statute, Monmouth was taken, so far as it could be taken, from Wales and attached to England. It was perfectly clear, however, that, whatever was the effect of that Act, this portion of the United Kingdom had been shown to be a part of Wales by national feeling and by sympathy, and to have been dealt with in ecclesiastical and educational legislation as a part of Wales.
§ *SIR RICHARD WEBSTER
challenged lawyer or historian to contradict what he was going to say. Prior to the passing of the Statute referred to there were eight counties in Wales, known by the same names as now and forming part of the dominion or principality of Wales. Between these eight counties and the counties of England there were a number of marches which formed no part of the counties of Wales or England. These were partly in possession of the king and partly in the possession of other lords, and there had been in those marches the very crimes which the Solicitor General, with his intimate knowledge of the criminal law, had read out with so much unction. Parliament divided these marches into five counties. Four of these counties were added to the dominion or principality of Wales, and from that time down to the present, instead of eight, there had been 12 counties in Wales. Monmouth was 696 added to the counties of England, and when the Solicitor General said he could show that Momnouth formed part of Wales before the Statute was passed, he (Sir Richard) said, with great respect, that the county of Monmouth never existed until the Statute was passed, and it was a perfect myth to say that Monmouth had been Welsh in every sense and shape. It could be shown that the town of Monmouth had formed part of the English diocese of Hereford, and that there was a strong case for treating Monmouth as an English county. What was the authority to show that these marches ever formed part of the domininion or principality of Wales prior to the Statute?
§ *MR. STANLEY LEIGHTON
said, his hon. and learned Friend had completely answered the speech of the Solicitor General as far as regarded history. But he must complain of the hon. Solicitor General's logic. He first admitted that Monmouth was part of England, and then declared that it was an indivisible part of Wales. How did these two things agree. Did not Monmouth belong judicially to an English circuit—the Oxford Circuit? Was Monmouth ever represented in the House of Commons until it was made an English shire? He put the parliamentary and judicial aspect of the case against the ecclesiastical and educational. The hon. Member for the Rhondda Valley gave a list of places in Monmouthshire with Welsh names, and said they proved that Monmouthshire was part of Wales. He answered that in this way: There were such places as Treflach, Porthywaen, Coedygoe, Llynygroes, Nantycaws, Gob-owen, Hen Dinas, Cern-y-bwlch, and Llwyn-y-mapsis. Those places were all in his constituency of Western Shropshire. Was that part of Wales? This proposal really amounted to an attack upon the predominant partner, it was an annexation of territory. This was a large question, and he did not think they 697 could do justice to it in the few minutes that were left to them. He had a word to say, as a Welsh Nationalist, as opposed to Welsh Provincialists. He was connected with North Wales, and he felt that if they joined Monmouthshire to Wales they would deprive North Wales of its power and influence. He appealed to the hon. Members who represented North Wales not to allow themselves to be altogether swamped by the coal-miners of Glamorganshire and Monmouthshire. He could only compare the proposal of the Government to a proposal that was made many years ago by a considerable Welshman, and called the Tripartite Division of England. Glendower, Henry Percy, and Mortimer devised a plan by which everthing west of the Severn was to go to their dear cousin Glendower; Mortimer was to have all south of the Humber; and Percy was to take everything north of the Humber. That disintegrating scheme was smashed up at the great Battle of Shrewsbury. The present plan of the Government would be smashed up at the General Election, which he hoped would shortly come off.
§ MR. ABEL THOMAS (Carmarthen, E.)
confessed that he could not follow the arguments of the hon. Member who had just spoken, and under those circumstances it would be utterly impossible for him to answer the hon. Gentleman. [Opposition Cheers.] He was pleased to think hon. Members opposite understood the speech of the hon. Gentleman, because it showed how much wiser they must be than the Government supporters. He could, however, follow some of the suggestions made by his hon. and learned Friend the Member for the Isle of Wight, with regard to what was called the historical argument. Let them face the facts. [Opposition Cheers.] He was pleased to think hon. Members were going to face the facts for once. It did not matter one scrap whether there were places called the counties of Monmouthshire, Denbighshire, 698 Brecknockshire, Radnorshire, and Montgomery in the time of Henry VIII. The question was: What were the people now inhabiting those districts? And to say that the people in Denbighshire, Brecknockshire, Radnorshire, and Montgomeryshire were not Welsh in the time of Henry VIII. was simply to close one's eyes and mind to all the facts of those times. It was undoubted that, in the time of Henry VIII., the marches of Wales, as they were called, were a part of the country in which Welshmen, and practically only Welshmen, lived; and a division was made by which Monmouthshire was to form part of England, while the other four border counties were to form part of Wales. The historical argument, however, did not matter so much. They had always found that the people of Monmouthshire had attempted to join themselves to the people of Wales; and that the Welsh people had tried to include Monmouthshire in Wales. Their feeling with regard to Disestablishment and Disendowment was most certainly similar; and one of the strongest arguments in support of that view was that adduced in the pamphlets and books of the Bishop of St. Asaph, who in all his calculations with regard to the number of Nonconformists in Wales had invariably included Monmouthshire. Why? Because he had felt, like any Welshman, that the feeling with regard to that county and the rest of Wales was practically identical in religious matters and in Liberal politics. In these circumstances he thought the Government right in including Monmouthshire in this Bill.
§ MR. GEORGE KENYON
said, he had a certain right to speak on this question, because he supported the inclusion of Monmouthshire in the Welsh Intermediate Education Act. He wished to point out the difference between that Act and the Bill now before the House. The Intermediate Education Act was a good-conferring measure upon 699 Monmouthshire, while, in his opinion, the present Bill was exactly the contrary. The Intermediate Education Act was the result of a compromise. Welsh Members agreed to forget their difference and to sacrifice something of their personal opinions for the common good of the Principality, and as a result they secured a measure that satisfied the aspirations of the Welsh people. In these circumstances he thought their action on that Act should not be brought against them on this occasion, when they were pleading for the exclusion of Monmouthshire from a measure of quite a different character. Since he had had a seat in the House no subject had interested him more than the question of education. He had sacrificed to some extent the good opinions of his friends on this question, but his uniform endeavour had been to maintain the good of the Principality of which he was so proud and so fond. He, therefore, appealed to hon. Gentlemen not to press the argument founded on the precedent of the Intermediate Education Act, but to deal with the question of the inclusion of Monmouthshire in the present Bill upon its merits.
§ *MR. H. J. ROBY (Lancashire, S. E., Eccles)
said, that he had referred to the Act of Parliament quoted so much by the hon. and learned Member for the Isle of Wight. The hon. Member had omitted to mention some very essential words bearing on this very question. It described certain parts which were made into the county of Monmouth as being "in the country of Wales." This was specially significant, because while such counties as Brecknock, Radnor and Montgomery were also described as "in the country of Wales," other parts which were annexed to the English counties were described as "in the marches of Wales." Monmouthshire was clearly described, therefore, as "in the country of Wales.'' [Sir R. WEBSTER: "Not at all."] In a Report by Mr. Jellinger Symons presented to 700 the Committee of the Council of Education in 1847, these words were used—Although Monmouthshire no longer forms a part of the Principality, that portion which is comprised within the great mineral basin is so thoroughly Welsh as regards the character, habits, and language of the larger parts of the inhabitants, that it could scarcely have been excluded from this Inquiry without injury to the comprehensiveness of the Report.His own earliest recollection was, therefore, confirmed, that Monmouthshire, while legally English, had always been regarded as largely Welsh.
§ MR. A. J. BALFOUR
I think that on this point we have some reason to complain of the course which the Government have taken. It is not to be denied that an important Amendment is before us. It is very important to a large section of the population in an English county, whose fate rests on the decision of the Government. Two Members of the Government have spoken—the Under Secretary for the Home Department and the Solicitor General. Of the Under Secretary's speech I desire to say very little. A speech in more unfortunate taste was never, I suppose, delivered in the House. Had I followed him directly I might have used harsher language; but the House has probably forgotten what has occurred, and I will not revive what is best forgotten. But if the hon. Gentleman is going to take a large part in our Debates—and I hope from his ability, that he will—I would earnestly beg him to change the character of his humour, or to entirely repress the exhibition. As regards the speech of the Solicitor General, I have nothing whatever to say about the manner of it; but I have some little criticism to make of the substance. The hon. and learned Gentleman read us a very long clause from a statute of Henry VIII., which he evidently thought could be converted into an argument against the contention that Monmouthshire is a part of England. But it was evident, as he ploughed through clause after clause of uncomplimentary comment upon the Welshmen of that day, that he was gradually coming to the conclusion that nothing could be 701 extracted from this Statute which was at all in favour of his argument. Then the hon. and learned Gentleman seemed to slide out of the contention which he led us to suppose that he was going to establish, and, having exhibited his legal lore, he left us in the dark as to what conclusions he drew from his premisses. So that the result of these two speeches is that we do not yet know on what ground the Government have adopted the course which has been taken by them. This is not the first question of boundaries which we have had to discuss in connection with this Bill. We have urged upon the Government at various times that sections of the population were English in race and language. The Government say—We cannot consider local majorities. We have to go by the borders and take the areas as they exist. We take geographical limitations, and those alone.In other cases they point to the fact that the existing boundaries of the diocese cannot be considered as inviolable. But then, we point out that, at all events since the time of Henry VIII.—and I hope I shall escape criticism if I do not go further back than 300 or 400 years—Monmouthshire has been unquestionably a part of England. We, of course, admit that there is a large Welsh-speaking population in Monmouthshire, and that a large portion of the population is undoubtedly of Welsh descent. You must draw the line somewhere. That is the argument of the Government. There is a large Celtic population in every county in England. No doubt there is a difference between the west of Wales and the east of England, but there is no point from Suffolk to Anglesey at which you can draw the line and say, "Here the Teutonic race ends and the Celtic race begins." I am not going to contend that there is not a very large mixture of the races in the county of which we are now speaking, but the fact that by its very title this is a Welsh Disestablishment Bill shows that the 702 Government are bound to exclude England from its operation. But we are told that a Bill that was passed for a specific object dealing with a particular class of education only three years ago is to alter the geographical and the historical position of the county. Such a contention is absurd. I believe that the right hon. Gentleman has better reasons for including Monmouthshire in the measure than he has yet given us, and we want to know what those reasons are; and, above all, let the right hon. Gentleman remember that, whilst he and his friends have professed in every one of their speeches that their object has been to exclude the Church of England in England from the operation of this Bill—a profession of the most specific kind was made on the subject by the President of the Board of Trade and by the Home Secretary—this particular clause of the Bill aims a distinct blow at that Church. If the Government wish to retain either their consistency or their logic they are bound to limit the Bill to that area to which its title specifically refers. I hope the right hon. Gentleman the Home Secretary will say on what ground he thinks the vital decision at which he appears to have arrived can be defended.
§ MR. ASQUITH
It is solely out of respect to the right hon. Gentleman who has just sat down that I rise in answer to the appeal he has addressed to me, because in the few sentences which I am about to address to the Committee I can only repeat the arguments which have been placed before them over and over again with ability and with intelligence. The right hon. Gentleman has asked me why the Government have included Monmouthshire in a Bill which deals primarily and mainly with the Established Church in Wales. As I said in my speech on the Second Reading of the Bill, we have done so first, and foremost because, from the earliest history of England and Wales, by far the greater portion of Monmouthshire has been ecclesiastically 703 part of Wales. I said, further, that for civil purposes until the statute of Henry VIII. Monmouthshire was part of the "marches" or debateable territory between England and Wales, and it was by an Act passed in the reign of that monarch that Monmouth was made a separate county for the first time. It has been sometimes said, I think inaccurately, that the Act of Henry VIII. made Monmouthshire an English county. It is true that for certain purposes Monmouthshire was assimilated to the English counties by that Act, but the fact was that the county remained essentially Welsh.
§ MR. ASQUITH
Is that a point of distinction? For the first time by that Act of Parliament each of those five counties received representation in this House, and it did not matter in point of difference whether there was one Member or more. So much for the Statute of Henry VIII., which did not alter the fact, well established as it was by previous history, that in point of race, tradition and language the whole of this district called the marches was essentially Welsh. Reference has been made in the course of the Debate to the well-known passage in the play of Henry V., which shows that as far down as Queen Elizabeth's time, the great dramatist, as well as others, looked upon Monmouthshire as part of Wales. So much is this the case that he described Henry V.—and I believe Henry V. describes himself—as a Welshman, simply because he had been born in the town of Monmouth. My hon. Friend the Under Secretary, in a speech which I did not hear the whole of, and which, as far as I saw, did not merit the criticisms or the strictures passed upon it by the right hon. Gentleman, pointed out that if you come down a hundred years later to the time of Charles II., one of the accredited Welsh writers speaks of 13 counties of Wales, and this number could not be arrived at unless with the addition of Monmouth. Therefore, if you treat this matter as one of history, you have a long stream of authority and tradition uniting Monmouthshire with the rest of the Principality, and treating it to all intents and purposes on the same footing as the other Welsh counties. Now we 704 come down to what is more important—the state of things existing at the present day. The right hon. Gentleman is anxious to minimise the recognition which his own Government gave to the identity of Monmouth with Wales by the passing of the intermediate Education Act for Wales. The Act was conceded by them because it was the last of a long series of steps in which for educational purposes this House has treated Monmouthshire as having identical interests with Wales. In tradition, race, and history, and recent Parliamentary treatment, this county stands on the same footing as the other counties in Wales. We come next to the immediate question now before us. I ask, what is the opinion of Monmouthshire in relation to the Established Church? There is no county in Wales which has pronounced its opinion in a more clear and more emphatic manner. The right hon. Gentleman said that we must not decide these matters by an investigation of race or of language. Certainly not. In most of the counties in England there is a Celtic admixture, and in many of the counties of Wales there is a large Teutonic element. Nor must we decide the question by a consideration of language. Radnorshire, which is Welsh in character, and as to whose opinion in favour of Disestablishment it is impossible for any controversy to be raised, is practically an English-speaking county, far more so than Monmouthshire, but yet in which there is still a very large monoglot population.
§ MR. ASQUITH
Let me give the Committee my own experience. It was my fortune some years ago, at a time of a general election, to go to Monmouthshire to support the claims of a certain candidate then standing. My experience was that at most of the meetings that I addressed, the great bulk of the speeches which appeared to be the best understood and appreciated by the audience were those made in the Welsh language.
§ MR. ASQUITH
I will not quarrel with the hon. Gentleman on the point. In using the word monoglot I may have been exaggerating; but, at any rate, 705 there is a very large bilingual population which, as a matter of choice, prefers to speak and prefers to hear the Welsh language. That is sufficient for my purpose. Bring this matter to what venture to regard as the test, and the only authentic constitutional test—the representation of the county of Monmouth in this House. The county returns four Members. I believe they have all taken part in the Debate. I listened with great interest to the hon. and gallant Member, and though the hon. Member is a Welshman, he is returned as a county Member by the smallest majority of any of his colleagues. I believe he has a majority of 700 votes; and of the other two Members for the county one is returned by a majority of 1,300 and the other by a majority of considerably over 5,000. For my par I am content, and the Government are content, to accept this as the only authoritative evidence of the opinion of the mass of the population of Mon mouthshire, and, fortified as we are by the considerations referred to in the early part of my speech as to the race, sentiment, and opinion being essentially Welsh, we have come to the conclusion that Monmouthshire may properly be included in the scope of this Bill, and that we should not be giving effect to the views of the Welsh people as a whole if we did not so include it.
§ COLONEL KENYON-SLANEY,
who spoke amid cries of "Divide," said that the right hon. Gentleman had laid him self open to retort. In the course of his speech he had adduced as a reason that in olden, times the county of Monmouth had been part of a Welsh diocese; yet it was only in one of the last Amendments that the right hon. Gentleman refused to grant the diocese argument They had, therefore, had from the right hon. Gentleman two absolutely conflicting arguments. But the right hon. Gentleman was quite wrong in tin historical facts that he went into. He had talked of those districts being par of the marches of Wales, and stated that those marches were all part of Wales But he would remind the right hon. Gentleman that the marches were governed by the Great Marchers, who had jurisdiction over various counties of England. It was, therefore, a gross 706 historical inaccuracy to talk as the right hon. Gentleman did. It was not very complimentary to Welshmen to choose to put forward all the rascals as their own progenitors, and he would remind the right hon. Gentleman that the chief act in the history of Harry of Monmouth was absolutely upsetting the great Welsh Prince Owen Glendower The right hon. Gentleman had laid great stress on the Intermediate Education Act, but forgot to remind the House that in the Sunday Closing Act Monmouthshire was excluded from Wales and was part of its own country—England. That argument should be remembered. The right hon. Gentleman was good enough to say that the opinion of the counties was so strong that it ought to be considered, and he quoted the county of Radnor. A short time since that county was represented by a Unionist Member, and it would not be long before it was so represented again. Neither on the ground of consistency of argument, historical research, nor deduction from recent legislative action, had the right hon. Gentleman justified the inclusion of the county of Monmouth in the Bill as a part of Wales. That county was part and parcel of England, and only sentimental argument of any force at all had been urged to the contrary. In adhering to this part of the Bill the Government were flying in the face of the mass of the people directly interested.
§ MR. AUSTEN CHAMBERLAIN (Worcestershire, East)
said, he approached this subject from a somewhat different point of view to that taken by many hon. Members opposite, or even by some of his hon. Friends around him, and he had listened to this and previous Debates with an earnest desire to arrive at a clear comprehension of the principles upon which the Home Secretary had founded the Bill and had commended it to the House, but he confessed that the more speeches he had heard from him the more difficult it had been for him to ascertain any principles common to them all With regard to the present Amendment the right hon. Gentleman had urged, in the first place, that the County of Monmouth was, and had been, ecclesiastically a part of Wales, but when it was shown that some other district was, and had been, ecclesiastically 707 a part of England, he said that that was no argument at all for not including it in the Bill, and refused to listen to an appeal addressed to him on that ground. Then he said that he was content to put aside questions of historical interest, and to rest his case simply upon the representation—not for any lengthened time—but the representation in the present Parliament for the County of Monmouth. Yes; he supposed that that meant that the right hon. Gentleman was prepared to apply the Bill—and wished to apply it—only in cases where the public opinion of the locality was in favour of that application. He was not saying what principles he would be inclined to follow in regard to a large measure of this kind. He had frankly admitted that the views he held were not those of hon. Members opposite, and, at the same time, that they were not those of many of his friends on his own side of the House, but if he might judge from the speeches he had heard from the Welsh Members, and from certain hon. Members above the Gangway, he was not more in sympathy with the supporters than with the opponents of the Bill. They were entitled to a clear definition from the Government of the principles on which they had founded the Bill, and to expect that when those principles had been laid down for the guidance of the House they should be carried out in practice. Judging from the speech just made by the right hon. Gentleman, it appeared that he was desirous of applying the Bill only to those districts which were in its favour; but when, on a previous Amendment, appeal was made to him to exclude other districts where local opinion was strongly against the Bill, he said, with a lofty air, that he was not prepared to give way to local majorities. Then, when the provisions of the Act of Henry VIII.—of which they heard so much—were referred to as having turned this county, properly Welsh, into an English county, the right hon. Gentleman said the provisions of that Act made Monmouthshire a part of the marches. Yes; part of the marches with the other counties. Where were the five counties now? Four of them were included in Wales, and they were to be secured from interference, or from any claim by Englishmen. But one was 708 left an English county, and yet that county was to be included in this Bill. But the right hon. Gentleman had deliberately framed a Bill for the Disestab lishment of the Church in Wales and not a Bill for Disestablishment all round. That argument, therefore, appeared to him to go a little too far—as if the Welsh Members were to say, "What is mine is my own, and what is yours is mine also." That might be an argument which commended itself to them, but with a truer regard to the consistency of the Government he felt bound to support the Amendment.
§ The Committee Divided:—Noes 176; Ayes 201.—(Division List No. 62.)
§ MR. HAYES FISHER (Middlesex, Fulham) moved to omit from the clause the words "save as by this Act provided." The Amendment was essentially practical, and, if carried, would simplify the Bill. If the words referred to were omitted, and if instead the words "date of Disestablishment" were adopted, they would get rid of the necessity for Clause 32, so far, at least, as that clause was controversial. The first clause of the Bill down to the word "established" was merely a declaration that the Church should be disestablished after the 1st January 1897. The rest of the clause then went on to deal with the appointments which were now made by Her Majesty, or by the ecclesiastical or lay patrons. The right hon. Gentleman had constructed this Bill so that there should be three periods in connection with it. There was, first of all, the period up to the passing of the Bill. During that period all the appointments would be made as they were now—namely, appointments to the Bishoprics by the Crown, and to benefices by the lay and clerical patrons. After they had arrived at the 1st January 1897, all these appointments would, in all probability, be made by the Representative body by some form of constitution and rules which would be devised by a general Synod of the Bishops, clergy and laity. The right hon. Gentleman had interpolated a third period. He had had to provide for the period from the passing of the Act to the date of Disestablishment. That might be a short period; 709 but, supposing that the Bill should become an Act of Parliament in August of this year, then sixteen months would elapse between the turning of the Bill into an Act of Parliament and the date of Disestablishment, when the general Synod would take over the rights and duties now performed by the Ecclesiastical and Lay Commissioners. It might be sixteen months, or, perhaps three or four months. But in any case, whether the Bill should become law in this or another Parliament, a period must elapse between the passing of the Bill as an Act of Parliament and the date of the Disestablishment of the Church as by Act of Parliament enacted, and he contended it would be a far simpler plan if the right hon. Gentleman were to say, instead of taking the time "after the passing of this Act," that up to the date Disestablishment all appointments to benefices, whether by ecclesiastical or lay patrons, should be made as they were at present. In as ubsequent clause, namely, Clause 32, it was provided that on the vacancy to a Bishopric the Queen "may," under the circumstances there set forth and acting on advice, proceed to fill the vacancy. Why should not the word "may" be "shall"? Was a Bishopric in Wales, between the passing of this Act and the date of Disestablishment as enacted by this Bill, to be left vacant all that time, and was it to be left within the discretion of those who advised Her Majesty as to whether that vacancy should or should not be left unfilled? Again, he observed that Her Majesty the Queen was, in this matter, to act upon a petition of the Archbishop of Canterbury, or any three Welsh Bishops. Why should it be left to the Archbishop of Canterbury, or three Welsh Bishops, to decide whether a vacancy in a Bishopric should be filled or not? It ought to be provided that the continuity of a Bishopric should be maintained and continued without any cessation occurring. The successful and continuous work of the Church might be impeded if the appointments to Bishoprics and benefices were not made for a period of twelve or sixteen months. Why should the work of the Church not be carried on in the same way after the passing of this Bill as now? Why should not the machinery of the 710 Church go on right up to the date of Disestablishment? He could not imagine what argument there could be against accepting the Amendment. He failed to see any objection to putting in words to the effect that any person appointed during the interval should have an interest which should entitle him to compensation under the Bill. He hoped the right hon. Gentleman would meet the Opposition with this concession, because it would further his own point of view by facilitating the passing of the measure. It would go a little way to make the Act a little more palatable to those who were charged with the interests of this great historic Church.
§ MR. ASQUITH
said, he should be glad if he could meet the hon. Gentleman in this matter, but in accordance with what he had already explained, the words proposed to be left out were absolutely necessary. They were taken in substance, mutatis mutandis, from the precedent of the Irish Church Act of 1869. The Act must provide against the creation of new vested interests, and the sole object of the words "save as by this Act provided" was to declare that in the interval between the passing of the Act and the date of its coming into operation, the Act of Disestablishment, no new vested interest should be created. And how did they bring that about? Exactly by following the precedent of the Irish Church Act. He did not see how the objects of the Bill could be carried out without a provision of that kind.
§ SIR EDWARD CLARKE (Plymouth)
said, the right hon. Gentleman must not suppose that by quoting against the opponents of the Bill the precedent of the Irish Act, he established the whole proposition upon which he desired to insist. They did not accept the Irish Act as a precedent in any respect at all. That so-called precedent had no authority whatever with the Opposition side of the House, who protested against the Irish Act altogether. He thought the Home Secretary would agree that the words proposed to be left out referred, and could only refer, to Clause 32, and, therefore, by leaving those words in they would be practically pledging themselves in advance to the principles of 711 Clause 32, to which they could not by any possibility assent.
§ Debate adjourned.