§ "On the first day of January One thousand eight hundred and ninety-seven (in this Act referred to as the dale of Disestablishment), the Church of England, so far as it is Established by law in Wales or Monmouthshire (in this Act referred to as the Church in Wales) shall cease to be so Established, and save as by this Act provided, no person shall, after the passing of this Act, be appointed by Her Majesty or any person, by virtue of any existing right of patronage, to any ecclesiastical office in or connected with the Church in Wales."
§ Amendment proposed, in page 1, line 10, to leave out the words, "save as by this Act provided."—(Mr. Fisher.)
§ Question proposed, "That the words proposed to be left out stand part of the Clause."
*SIR EDWARDCLARKE (Plymouth)
, resuming the Debate on the Amendment, said, that by the 32nd section of the Bill, which was the one to which these words referred, there was to be a special set of persons created in the Church in Wales during the time after the passing of this Bill and before the date of Disestablishment. It was provided by Section 32 that the Queen might, in the case of a vacant Bishopric, on the petition of the Archbishop of Canterbury or any three Welsh Bishops, fill the vacancy, and any Bishop so appointed should not be summoned to or qualified to sit in the House of Lords. The second sub-section provided that any other vacancy might be filled up as if this Act had not been passed, but the person so appointed should be subject to the provisions hereinafter mentioned. The effect would be this: If the Bill passed, and there was a vacant Bishopric in the Church in Wales between the 1075 time of the passing of the Act and the date of Disestablishment, that Bishopric would be filled up in a way that was entirely new—namely, by Her Majesty upon the petition of the Archbishop of Canterbury, or of any three Welsh Bishops. But a Bishop or an Incumbent so appointed could only exercise the functions and receive the emoluments of his office until the already fixed date at which the Disestablishment should take effect, and it appeared to him a somewhat serious thing that that office should be created. He could not see any reason why, during the time before the date of Disestablishment, if any vacancy should take place, a Bishop should not be appointed having the full rights of any other Bishop. The same observation applied to Incumbents. If Section 32 passed as it stood, they might have a small group of incumbents who, having been appointed between the date of the passing of this Act and the date of Disestablishment, were in an altogether anomalous position. At the time of the date of Disestablishment they would remain Incumbents, and so far as he could see, would have the legal rights and positions of Incumbents subject to this—that they would get no income at all, and new appointments would have been fixed upon places without any income whatever from Church funds. That seemed to him an undesirable arrangement. There was one class of persons for whom, if compensation were to be given—as he thought it should—some clause of this kind would be required. If it were proposed that some provision should be made for curates in the Church in Wales, then undoubtedly some words of limitation might be required to prevent the appointment of curates for the purpose of obtaining the advantage of compensation. But the right hon. Gentleman did not propose to compensate curates at all, and there was no class of persons which might be called into existence for the purpose of getting compensation. That seemed to alter the case altogether from the case of the Irish Church Bill. Suppose this Bill were to pass this year, but was nut to come into force for eighteen months, he could not see why, if a vacancy took place six months hence in one of these parishes, the clergyman appointed should not be in full possession of the rights 1076 and emoluments, and have a permanent income like the other clergymen of the Church. The effect of this clause would be to set up a limit. There would be an altogether anomalous class of persons who would stand in a different position from either of those who had their appointments before the passing of this Bill, that was, after the date of Disestablishment. Suppose the Church were disestablished, it would be for those who were to carry on in these dioceses the useful work that belonged to the Church in Wales to try and create another organisation which would have to find its own funds and to constitute its own ecclesiastical polity. But the Bishops who were appointed by the Crown under this Section 32 would remain Bishops of the dioceses to which they were appointed, and although they remained Bishops of these dioceses, there would be taken from them, according to the scheme of the Act, everything they required for supporting the work they were doing. He hoped upon reconsideration the Home Secretary might see that it would be reasonable in this respect to modify the Bill, and, while fixing the date of Disestablishment at such a time as he thought right, to give all the persons concerned the opportunity of preparing for the change which at that date was to take place. It was not reasonable to put in a provision, of this kind by which the Act would begin to operate long before the date of Disestablishment was reached. He hoped the right hon. Gentleman might to some extent reconsider his answer, and be prepared to make not a large but a not unimportant concession.
§ THE SECRETARY OF STATE FOR THE HOME DEPARTMENT (Mr. H. H. ASQUITH,) Fife, E.
could only repeat his former answer. This clause was an exact reproduction mutatus mutandis of the provision dealing with the same subject-matter in the Irish Act; and it was placed in the Bill for exactly the same reason, namely, to prevent the growth of vested interests in the Church between the date of the passage of the Bill and the date of Disestablishment. That was an essential safeguard. The Suspensory Bill proposed to bring about the same state of things. The right hon. Member for Midlothian accomplished it in connection with the Suspensory Act of 1868. The present Government were 1077 following his example, and for the same reasons, by declaring that in the interval which they reasonably allowed between the passing of the Act and the date of Disestablishment, the growth of new interests should be postponed.
§ *MR. GRIFFITH-BOSCAWEN (Kent, Tunbridge)
admitted that the clause was an exact reproduction of the words of the Irish Act, but it did not reproduce all the Irish Act. If they were to follow the precedent of the Irish Act they must do it all through. He failed to see the justice of following the precedent only when it appeared to penalise the Church, and disregarding it when by so doing they would inflict some extra injury upon the Church. There was a very good reason why the right hon. Gentleman should not follow the Irish Act in this case. The Church in Ireland was the Church of a small minority, and it was perfectly well known, even before Disestablishment, that there was not the slightest chance of there being a resident clergyman of the Disestablished Church in every Irish parish. Now, the Welsh Church covered the whole of the Principality, and even after Disestablishment it was hoped that it would still be possible to maintain a resident clergyman in every single parish in Wales. But if the Amendment were not accepted, it might be absolutely impossible, between the two dates, to get any clergyman appointed. If no vested interest were allowed to be created, it might be impossible for private patrons to find anybody who would be willing to accept the position of clergyman under the existing circumstances. It was true that if the Amendment was accepted vested interests would be created for 16 months; but, on the other hand, it would be a great disadvantage to the Welsh people if, until the time of the constitution of the representative body, no provision at all were inserted whereby, of necessity, Clergy should be nominated to vacant benefices.
§ *SIR F. S. POWELL (Wigan)
said it seemed to him there was the widest difference between this Bill and the Irish Church Act, because Clause 66 of that Act provided that between the passing of the Act and the date of Disestablishment those benefices were to receive income as aforetime.
§ MR. PENROSE FITZGERALD (Cambridge Borough)
said, that up to the present date it had never been absolutely decided what the position in regard to income was of clergymen appointed ad interim under Clause 66 of the Irish Act.
§ MR. HARRY FOSTER (Suffolk, Lowestoft)
said, that by Clause 32 of this Bill some provision was made for appointments in the suspensory period; but he also found that if any clergyman, at present having a vested interest, accepted a preferment during the suspensory period, he by that act lost the right to compensation in respect of the benefice which he had vacated, while he acquired no right of compensation in respect of his new office. In Clause 66 of the Irish Act, however, there was an exprsss provision to the effect that any one who, during the suspensory period, vacated one office in order to accept another, retained the right to compensation in respect of the office which he vacated. And the reason was obvious—for, unless some such provision was made, no sensible man, having regard to his duties and responsibilities, it might be as head of a family, would give up any position which he held, however humble, and to which a right of compensation attached, for the purpose of taking another place which would yield him no compensation. The effect would be to limit the choice of successors to those outside the Welsh Church and, so far, to paralyse the Church.
§ MR. ASQUITH
undertook to consider the point raised by the hon. Member before Clause 32 should be reached. The hon. Member would probably agree that the question could not be discussed fittingly on the particular Amendment now before them. The point, however, was well worthy of consideration.
§ The Committee divided:—Ayes, 198; Noes, 230.—(Division List No. 72.)
§ *MR. J. G. TALBOT (Oxford University) moved the following Amendment, which stood in the name of Viscount Wolmer:—"Page 1, line11, after 'appointed' insert 'or nominated,'" and explained that in the case of bishoprics the persons selected were not "appointed," but "nominated" by the Crown.
§ Amendment agreed to1079
*MR. A. GRIFFITH-BOSCAWEN moved Page 1, line 12, to leave out "Her Majesty or." He said he put the Amendment down for the purpose of asking a question. When this Bill was going into Committee, the Home Secretary said that Her Majesty had been graciously pleased to place her patronage at the disposal of Parliament. He wished to point out that in the preamble to the Irish Act the following words occurred:—
And whereas Her Majesty has been graciously pleased to signify that she has placed at the disposal of Parliament her interest in the several Archbishoprics, Bishoprics, Benefices, Cathedral Preferments and other Ecclesiastical Dignities and Offices in Ireland:
and he would ask the Home Secretary whether it was the intention of the Government to insert similar words in the preamble of this Bill.
§ MR. ASQUITH
said, that the Government had carefully considered the question as to the necessity to make a similar recital in this Bill, and they had been advised that it was not necessary to do so. This Bill would have to receive the assent of Her Majesty, and it certainly could not receive that consent, unless Her Majesty had consented to place her patronage at the disposal of Parliament.
§ SIR RICHARD WEBSTER (Isle of Wight)
quite agreed that the right hon. Gentleman was entitled to argue that it was absolutely necessary that the Crown should consent to the contents of this Bill; but still, he thought that it was a desirable thing that there should be general words to that effect in the preamble. He only mentioned this in order that the right hon. Gentleman might consider the matter.
§ *SIR M. HICKS-BEACH (Bristol, W.)
said, he did not know by whom the right hon. Gentleman had been advised. Probably it was by the draftsmen of the Bill, and he ventured to say that the practice of draftsmen at the present day, wilfully to destroy the preambles of Bills was a very unfortunate thing. Preambles often contained historical statements of great value, and the insertion of those words in the preamble of this Bill would be a record of the fact that Her Majesty had assented. It was not of course, a matter of contention, but he hoped the right hon. Gentleman would consider it.
§ MR. ASQUITH
said, he was glad to hear this pleading for the aptitude and accuracy of preambles. He remembered when a certain Bill was before the House not long ago, the Government proposed to insert words in the preamble to secure the supremacy of the Crown, but were told that the preamble was worthless.
§ SIR RICHARD WEBSTER
said, that the point then taken was, that the insertion of the words in the preamble was not sufficient. The right hon. Gentlemen would remember that the contention was, that although there were words in the preamble, the body of the Bill ought to carry them out.
§ MR. GRIFFITH-BOSCAWEN
asked leave to withdraw the Amendment.
§ Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
MR. GRANT LAWSON (Yorkshire, N.R., Thirsk and Malton) moved, "Page 1, line 12, leave out 'or any person.'" He said he had placed the Amendment on the paper with a view to protecting the rights of lay patrons in Wales. They had now arrived at the first wore s in the Bill which attacked the rights of particular individuals. The Queen had placed Crown rights at the disposal of Parliament, but private patrons had not. Why should private patrons be deprived of their property? The right of presentation and advowsons could not, by any straining of the term, be said to be, national property. He did not deny the power of Parliament to deal with this property, but he denied the justice of so doing. He had taken the trouble to find out how many livings in Wales were subject to the rights of lay patronage, and he found that 360 out of 1081 were so subject. Therefore the lay patrons were a sufficiently numerous body to demand the attention of the House. Here, again, they were following the broad road that led to the destruction of churches, as laid down in the Irish Act. In that Act there were very similar words. In that Act the words were:—
Save as hereinafter mentioned, no person shall, after the passing of this Act, be appointed by Her Majesty, or any other person or corporation,"&c.
But what did "hereinafter mentioned" mean with regard to lay patronage?
One special section expressly protected the rights of lay patrons. In Section 70 it was stated that:—
Nothing in this Act contained shall affect the patronage or right of presentation to any proprietary or district parochial church or endowed chapel of ease which has been endowed out of private funds, or affect the property in any such church or chapel, or the property held for the purposes of or appropriated to the use of the same, or affect the continuance of the trust relating thereto as originally constituted.
Under that section a vast number of lay patrons were protected; but under this Bill they were not protected at all, and the provision for compensation was ridiculously inadequate. There was no doubt that the right of selling an advowson was a very old right of property. It was as old as the Church itself. It was only natural that those who built and endowed churches should desire to have the appointment to them. When the Irish Church was disestablished it was not found that lay patronage was incompatible with what was called a Voluntary Church. Again, it had been distinctly recognised by the State on several occasions that this right of presentation was a bonâ-fide right of property. When Corporations were reformed they were directed to sell their advowsons; and again in 1863, under Lord Westbury's Act, the Lord Chancellor was instructed to sell certain advowsons of the Crown. The Liberation Society, which desired to liberate the Church from holding any property, in 1885 put out a scheme of Disestablishment for England and Wales. In this scheme it was remarked that—
rightly or wrongly, patronage in private hands has been considered, both by law and usage, as property of which the holder cannot equitably be deprived without an equivalent.
Yet this Bill proposed to take away this right without any equivalent whatever. It might be said that the deletion of the words to be struck out by the Amendment would put the owners of patronage in rather a curious position; they would have the right to present to livings from which the means of living had been taken away. Of course that would be a very hard case, but he proposed by a subsequent Amendment that, where a man or his ancestors had built or endowed a church, that that Endowment should continue in the future appropriated to
that particular living, and should not be handed over to the common purse of the Disestablished Church. He further proposed that the owners of these advowsons, if they desired it, might give up to the representative body their rights of presentation on receiving compensation for so giving them up. Unless the Amendment were carried, lay patrons would suffer from a grievous injustice. One class who would be specially injured by the Bill were those who had bought under the Act passed by Lord Westbury in 1863, which authorised the sale by the Lord Chancellor of the advowson of a living if the money went to increase the endowment of the living. He had succeeded in finding five livings which had been sold under that Act, and these advowsons, bought from the Lord Chancellor since 1863, were to be taken from the purchasers, with the compensation of one year's emoluments. One of these livings was at Grossmont, in Monmouthshire. The value was £200 a year, and in 1864 £1,200 was given for it, or six years' purchase. Since then it had been twice sold, once for £2,300, and once for £1,700. He fully recognised that they could not be influenced by these differences between one private patron and another, and that what they must look at was what the Lord Chancellor got for the living when he sold it, and that was six years' purchase. Now they were going to take it back by another Act of Parliament for one year's purchase. Another living in Herbranston, Pembrokeshire, worth £220 a year, was sold under the Act of 1863 for about £2,400, which was about 10 years' purchase. A third case was at Ilston, in Glamorganshire, where the living was worth £250 a year. It was sold in 1864 for £2,222, which was about 9 years' purchase. This the State was to take back at £250, so that it would make a clean profit of nearly £2,000. A fourth case was at Norton, in Radnorshire, but he had not been able to obtain the figures. A fifth case was at Pwllcrochan, in Pembrokeshire, where the value of the living was £145 a year, and it was sold in 1864 for £1,100, or eight years' purchase, and it had since changed hands for £1,500. The Committee would agree that the holders of these livings would be treated shamefully if the property were taken from them without any compensation.
What was the title under which these gentlemen held? It was Lord Westbury's Act of 1863. The form on which the advowson was granted from the Crown to the buyer began:—
Know all men that, by virtue of the power given me, in consideration of the price paid, I, the undersigned, Lord High Chancellor of Great Britain, do hereby appoint and grant all that advowson, subject to the present incumbency, to hold for ever, for absolute and indefeasible estate and inheritance.
That was under the Act of 1863, and now, in 1895, they were passing a repeal that was to take back the livings at a price to be fixed by themselves. What he proposed was, that these advowsons should not be taken away, but that the present holders should continue to hold the right to present they had bought from the Crown. Thirty-two years ago an indefeasible title was given to the purchasers of advowsons, who gave ten times as much for them as they would obtain under this Act. He regarded it as spoliation and injustice, and thought they would be able to establish a case for the Amendment of his hon. Friend.
§ MR. ASQUITH
said that, so far as the question was one of compensation, it would be more properly discussed on Clause 18, and he should defer any observations on compensation until they reached that clause. The larger question raised was that of disestablishment and disendowment of the Welsh Church, quoad livings in the gift of Her Majesty or of private patrons. Would it be satisfactory to have the nomination to one class of livings vested in the representative body, and the nomination to another class left in the hands of private patrons, after they had ceased to have any interest in them?
MR GRANT LAWSON
explained that he meant by a subsequent amendment to keep the endowment for these livings, and, if they were taken, to say that the patron should have a right to compensation.
§ MR. ASQUITH
said, that was, no doubt, the logical sequence of the amendment, so that what was proposed was partial and optional disestablishment and disendowment, and it would be left to private persons to say in these cases how far disestablishment and disendowment should be carried. That struck at the root and principle of the Bill.
§ *SIR MICHAEL HICKS-BEACH
said, that under this Bill there might be cases in Wales—there would certainly be such in England—in which the endowments would remain; and what was then to become of the right of patronage?
§ MR. ASQUITH
said, he ought to have referred to that point. The hon. Member had quoted the section of the Act of 1871 dealing with the class of cases to which the right hon. Baronet referred—that is to say, cases in which endowments of the Church were not affected by the general disendowment of the Act. These cases were reserved, and there ought to be a similar provision in this Bill. He would give the matter his attention.
§ *SIR MICHAEL HICKS-BEACH
continued, that he did not think the right hon. Gentleman had thought out the matter of private endowments. A private endowment ought to remain where it was given, and the patronage would remain also. He hoped the point would be considered before they reached the private endowment clause. He understood the amendment to raise the whole question of the way in which the Bill proposed to take away the right of patronage to livings. He thought this was the proper time to make a protest, and would support the hon. Member if he divided the Committee.
THE UNDER SECRETARY OF STATE FOR THE HOME DEPARTMENT (Mr. GEORGE RUSSELL,) North Beds.
quoted, in support of what he had said with regard to private lay patronage in the Disestablished Church of Ireland, a letter he had received from one of the highest authorities on ecclesiastical matters in that country, whose name, however, he was not at liberty to mention. The writer said:—The right of advowson was taken from individual patrons by the Irish Church Act, and compensation given to the patrons accordingly. Under Section 70 of that Act, certain rights of patronage were reserved, having regard mainly (if not exclusively) to trustee (as distinguished from parish) Churches. The Church of Ireland, in her own Statutes, has made provisions (whether wisely or unwisely) for a benefactor obtaining a right of presentation under certain exceptional circumstances, and under certain rigid conditions. As a matter of fact these provisions have not been put in force save in a very few cases, and in those with which I am acquainted, the parish has reserved the right of 1085 buying back its liberty to have an incumbent appointed in the ordinary course, viz., by a Board of Nomination, in which the diocese, the parish, and the Bishop all have a voice.
§ *MR. PENROSE FITZGERALD
said he desired, as having been nominator in the largest diocese in Ireland since the date of Disestablishment, to say that there were some cases in which there still remained, outside the Irish Church Act, lay patronage in the Church of Ireland. Lay patronage, generally, was dealt with by a Board of Nomination, consisting of elected laymen and clergymen, from the various parishes in the diocese. But there were cases, some in large towns, and others in country districts, in which, by the Irish Church Act, the right of the lay patron to nominate clergymen was continued. And in the Statutes of the Church of Ireland provision was made for regulating such patronage.
§ MR. BARTLEY
said he took a different view as to the rights of patronage, from those of some of his hon. Friends. He had always regarded them as a trust, and not as private property, although the law had distinctly made them personal property. He regarded the terms of the Amendment as rather too sweeping. Although he hoped the Bill would have the effect of stopping the sale of livings, which was so great an evil in the Church, he thought the right of private patronage should, in certain cases, be maintained. In Ireland there were cases in which the right of next presentation was kept and never sold. If the words of the Amendment were retained, the right of private patronage would be absolutely swept away, and not merely money value, but spiritual duty, which was the most important. He hoped the right of private patronage would be retained, although the value of the living might go.
§ VISCOUNT CRANBORNE
said he believed the right of private patronage originated in exchange for generous endowment on the part of a pious donor. He did not speak as an accomplished historian—far from it; but he understood that in the early days of the Church certain pious persons allotted a rent-charge on their land for the service of the Church, and in return received the right of presentation to the incumbency. This being so, Parliament had 1086 no right, in the nineteenth century, to take away from them the right to obtain which they gave their money to the Church. He deprecated the traffic in the sale of livings as much as anyone, but the Committee should look at these things rationally, and if pious persons in past ages, in return for their endowments to the Church, received certain rights, those rights should be preserved to their representatives at the present day. If the right of next presentation were conveyed to a discreet and careful purchaser, as pious and desirous of the welfare of the Church as the person by whom it was conveyed, that purchaser should receive just and fair treatment at the hands of that House. As long as a private patron, whether an original settlor or a purchaser, fulfilled his trust to the Church, showing he had the interests of religion and the Church generally at heart, he should be treated with every regard, and not have his rights forfeited.
§ MR. FREEMAN-MITFORD (Warwick, Stratford)
also supported the Amendment. He said there was something that private patrons valued more than the fact that they had a valuable piece of patronage to bestow, and that was the privilege of appointing those whom they knew would do their duty faithfully and loyally by these parishioners. Such patrons as these would infinitely prefer to retain these privileges than receive the miserable compensation the Home Secretary contemplated in this Bill. They would view with great apprehension and anxiety the proposal that presentees to the livings should be appointed by Parliament as often as not for political reasons more than for any merit of their own. For the reasons he had given he should certainly support the Amendment of the hon. Gentleman if he went to a Division.
§ SIR RICHARD TEMPLE (Surrey, Kingston)
hoped that he should be allowed to say a few words in reference to this Amendment, because this proposal had deeply stirred up the minds of people, and especially those of his constituents. A great number of persons objected most strongly to this proposal for the Disendowment of the Church, and therefore they were anxious that no opportunity should be lost for doing everything that was possible to mitigate the evil in the event of the proposal being carried into 1087 effect. There were some 350 or 360 livings in Wales belonging to lay patrons, and the amount proposed to be taken by the clause would be something between £360,000 and half-a-million a year, and to take away property of that extent without compensation would be a monstrous abuse of Parliamentary procedure. He was aware that it had been said that property of this kind was a mere trust, and that the lay patrons who sold the next presentations were guilty of a breach of trust. No one could object to traffic of that kind more than he did himself. These benefactions had a respectable origin, and a large number of lay patrons regarded their right of presentation as a sacred trust to be exercised for the spiritual welfare of the community. In such cases he maintained that such property ought not to be lightly dealt with. As it appeared that the Government did not intend to give way upon the point, he hoped that the hon. Member would go to a Division, when he should certainly support him.
§ MR. J. CALDWELL (Mid Lanark)
said that he should like to say just one word in reference to the system of compensation that had been adopted in the case of Scotland.
Order, order! I must remind the hon. Member that no question of compensation arises here. The only question before the Committee is that which relates to the preservation of the rights of lay patrons.
§ MR. CALDWELL
only wished to point out that a Conservative Government had adopted a certain principle in their Scotch Bill.
§ MR. HARRY FOSTER
said it was quite true that the right hon. Gentleman the Home Secretary had desired to keep the two questions of the retention of the rights of lay patrons and that of compensation separate, but he did not see how that could be done. When they were asked to put an end to the rights of the lay patrons, they must look at the further clauses of the Bill and see what was to become of them. The right hon. Gentleman the Home Secretary had said that the difficulty would be dealt with under the subsequent clauses of the Bill. The right hon. Gentleman had referred to the Irish precedent, but in dealing with this question hon. Members would 1088 not feel themselves bound by that precedent. At any rate, however, the lay patrons were treated much more favourably under the Irish Act than it was proposed to treat them under the provisions of this Bill. Under this Bill, the lay patrons were to be deprived of rights which had a real market value. As regarded the right of the lay patrons to compensation, he must remind the Committee that compensation had been given even to those who were the possessors of slaves, whose rights were taken away by Parliament. These rights of presentation were held, not only by lay patrons, but by the Lord Chancellor, who was the keeper of the Queen's conscience, and it was certainly a most important question how these lay patrons were to be dealt with under the provisions of this Bill. He should most certainly support the Amendment if the hon. Member who moved it were to press it to a Division.
§ SIR RICHARD WEBSTER
said, that he did not think it was at all unreasonable that this question should have been raised. The clause, as it stood, would operate as an entire prohibition to the exercise of the right of lay patronage. He did not think that the right hon. Gentleman the Home Secretary intended to take away the rights of lay patrons without giving them compensation. However, that was a matter that could be dealt with later. He entirely agreed with the hon. Baronet the Mem-for the Kingston Division (Sir R. Temple) that a great number of the lay patrons regarded their rights of presentation as a trust reposed in them which was to be exercised for the spiritual benefit of the Church. He should support the Amendment.
§ *MR. J. G. TALBOT
asked whether there was anything in the Bill that would protect the rights of those who had given Benefactions for the endowment of Benefices, and now enjoyed the right of presentation to these Benefices.
§ *MR. PENROSE FITZGERALD
asked whether there were any provisions in the Bill to safeguard future Benefactions to the Church.
§ MR. ASQUITH
said, he thought he could give a satisfactory answer to both questions. The House would observe that the absolute prohibition was qualified by the introductory words, "save as by this Act provided." Therefore it was 1089 competent for them, at a later stage, to introduce supplemental limitations and qualifications which would be perfectly consistent with the prohibitory words of this clause. Therefore, the House was not stopped from considering the matter by passing the clause in its present form. As he indicated at an earlier stage, they ought to make provision in respect of those private benefactions which were not made the subject of Disendowment at all. With regard to the other question, it was quite clear that the representative body ought not to be in the least degree debarred from exercising the same freedom which the Irish body appeared to have exercised in making arrangements for its own future Government. If the words of the Bill were not sufficient he would see that they were extended.
§ The Committee divided:—Ayes, 233; Noes, 202.—(Division List No. 73.)
§ MR. R. W. HANBURY
desired to move the following Amendment: "Clause 1, page 1. line 13, leave out 'ecclesiastical.'" He had, he said, put down the Amendment because he did not know what was the meaning of the Government in departing from the corresponding Irish Act and inserting these words. In the Irish Act the words were, "Archbishopric, Bishopric, Benefice, or Cathedral there referred to," and the phrase "ecclesiastical office" was not used. Besides ecclesiastical offices held by ecclesiastics, there were also offices held by lay officials, and he should like to know the reason for extending the meaning of the clause. If it were to cover not only offices held by ecclesiastics, but also those held by laymen in the Church, why was it necessary to have this word "ecclesiastical" at all, instead of applying it to all offices connected with the Church? If the Interpretation Clause stood, he could not see any purpose in this word "ecclesiastical."
§ MR. ASQUITH
remarked that the hon. Gentleman's criticism was fair. The words "ecclesiastical office" were used here in order to avoid the redundancy of "Archbishopric, Bishopric, Benefice, or Cathedral referred to" used in the Irish Church Act. They had proceeded to define "ecclesiastical office" which would include such offices, for instance, as lay 1090 rectors and lay vicars. He was not himself wedded to the expression "ecclesiastical office."
§ MR. STANLEY LEIGHTON (Shropshire, Oswestry)
asked whether the Chancellor of a diocese and Diocesan Surveyors would be included in the expression, "ecclesiastical office." For his own part, he thought "ecclesiastical" was a better form of defining what was meant than would be secured by the omission of the word.
§ MR. ASQUITH
thought this was rather a technical question, but before coming to the Definition Clause, he would see if it was necessary to make the language more specific. With regard to the question put by the hon. Member for the Oswestry Division, his impression was, that a Diocesan Surveyor did not hold any office in connection with the Church. Such an official, he understood, was paid according to the work he did, and had not a salary out of the funds of the Church. What it was meant to apply the clause to was, any office in the Church to which the holder had been appointed in virtue of some right in the patron, and the emoluments of which were derived from the endowments of the Church.
§ SIR RICHARD WEBSTER
did not think it made very much difference whether the word "ecclesiastical" was left in or not, but expressed the opinion that the Definition Clause would have to be carefully remodelled in order to exclude or include certain of these offices.
§ *SIR MICHAEL HICKS-BEACH
observed that it was obviously intended by the Bill to deal with all offices which derived their emoluments from the endowments of the Church. There were some offices at the present time in connection with which fees were paid, such as the fees paid by Churchwardens at visitations. If it were desired that such fees should not continue to be chargeable under the altered circumstances, something would have to be inserted in the Bill to provide for it.
§ MR. G. C. T. BARTLEY
considered that the language of the clause as drawn was so wide as to include other than endowed offices in connection with the Church.
§ *MR. PENROSE FITZGERALD
pointed out that under the Irish Church 1091 Act, sextons, and like officials, were admitted to be ecclesiastical persons, and were allowed to commute
§ MR. HANBURY
intimated that after what the Home Secretary had said he would withdraw his Amendment.
§ Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
§ MR. W. WICKHAM (Hants, Petersfield)
moved "Page 1, line 13, leave out 'or connected with.'" The words, he said, were so wide that their inclusion would lead to certain difficulties. The preceding words were:—After the passing of this Act no person shall be appointed by Her Majesty or any person, by any existing right of patronage, to any ecclesiastical office in or connected with the Church in Wales.If the words "or connected with" were to be left in they would apply to the case of offices which the Bill had no intention of dealing with. For instance, the Archbishop of Canterbury held an office which might come within the description of being connected with the Church in Wales. But he thought the Committee would agree that it was not intended that the Bill should apply to the Archbishop of Canterbury, who was the Metropolitan of the whole Church, including the Church in Wales, and yet, how was it possible to say his great office was not in some way or other connected with the Church in Wales? He begged to move the Amendment.
§ MR. ASQUITH
replied, that of course it was not intended that the Bill should apply to such an office as that held by the Archbishop of Canterbury, and to disestablish it by what was called a sidewind. The words "or connected with" were used in the Irish Church Act. He did not mean to suggest that that invested them with any sacred sanction. They did, however, happen to be the words used in the Irish Church Act, and they had been repeated here because the Government were afraid they might fail to sweep within the scope of the Bill some posts which, though technically not in the Church, were so connected with it that they ought to stand or fall by the same consideration that applied to offices in the Church. It was rather a question of draughtsmanship, and was a matter which might also be cleared up by a fuller statement in the Definition Clause 1092 of what was meant by the term "office." He would suggest that it might be better to leave the word as it stood until they came to the point.
§ *MR. J. G. TALBOT
said, the words in the clause, would be literally read by anyone cognisant of Church order to entirely include all offices connected with the Church of England. The words of the clause ought not to be left so that they might possibly be interpreted to cover a wider field than was strictly intended.
§ MR. ASQUITH
said, he could not assent to the construction the hon. Member had put upon the words, but rather than occupy time in contesting the matter, he would accept the Amendment.
§ Amendment agreed to.
§ MR. R. W. HANBURY moved, in Clause 1, page 1, line 13, to insert after "the" the word "disestablished."
§ MR. ASQUITH
said, the insertion of the word was unnecessary.
§ Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
VISCOUNT CRANBORNE (Rochester) moved to add at the end of Clause1:—
Provided that, upon the avoidance of his office by any person having been the incumbent of a benefice at the passing of this Act, and having since continued to perform the duties of his ecclessiastical office in the parish, if it shall be shown to the satisfaction of the Welsh Commissioners hereinafter mentioned that there has been no minister of the Calvinistic Methodists, Independent, Baptist, or Wesleyan denominations resident for the preceding six months in the parish, they shall so inform the person or persons who would have been the patron of the benefice if this Act had not passed, and thereupon all rights and duties existing at the passing of this Act as to presentation and institution to such benefice shall be in force, and any person duly presented thereto and instituted therein shall be deemed to be the holder of an ecclesiastical office at the passing of this Act.
He said that in the Debates on this Bill it had been continually urged that since the time these particular endowments were conferred upon the Church in Wales, a large number of other denominations had grown up; that this fact had altered the whole state of things; and that, therefore, those endowments were to be regarded as conferred upon religion generally, and not upon any
particular religious body. He disputed the justice of that argument. Was it true that the Nonconformist denominations which had grown up in Wales during recent years did really cover the ground so as to compete with the work of the Church? If it could be shown that Nonconformist bodies had not grown up in Wales in such a way as to compete fully and properly with the Church—to cover the ground which the Church covered, and to do the work which the Church did, then the argument to which he had just referred fell entirely to the ground. One of the most important parts of the duties of an ordained minister of the Church was his personal work—in fact, he might say that it was the most important work he had to do. At any rate, it was quite true that without it his labours in the pulpit would be practically useless. Unless ministers by their lives and conversation carried out the principles which they preached amongst those with whom they lived, their influence among the people would be small. This condition did not apply to matters of religion only. Let them consider for a moment the efforts which were made some time since to raise the tone of the people in the East End of London. The success of that work was achieved mainly by personal effort—by personal contact between the teacher and the taught, between the reformer and the person to be reformed. No amount of preaching or of writing would avail without this close personal effort. Another consideration in this matter was, that very few people comparatively went to church or to chapel. He did not mean to apply this remark to any denomination in particular, for it was a fact that the habitual attendance of people at church or chapel was very small; and the minister or clergyman who only attended service on Sundays, and did not trouble himself about the interests of his congregation during the week, could have very little influence on a very small fraction of the population around him. He was much interested to notice that in a recent election the hon. Member for East Leeds pointed out that in his opinion the parachial system of visitation was at the root of the success of the Established Church. That was quite true. He wished he could adequately convey to hon. Members what the
actual duties were that a busy clergyman undertook. Ho would try, however, to give some idea of the pastoral work of a good clergyman of the Church of England. In a country parish in Gloucestershire, the vicar stated that either he or his curate saw everyone in the parish once in every five weeks. Every day of the week this work of personal visitation was systematically pursued; the vicar had no district visitors to assist him, and all the people, Nonconformists as well as Churchmen, looked to him to minister to their wants. There was a small Nonconformist chapel in the parish open on the Sunday, but during the whole of the week there was no one to look after the people but the vicar of the Church. It was idle to preach religion without personal work to back it up; and that system of personal work was a characteristic feature of the English Church. In many matters people looked to the Church for little services, such as the giving of hospital tickets, visiting the sick, and so forth, and precisely the same system existed in Wales. The clergyman was at the head of all that was done in the way of good works, and all movements, of a non-political character, for social improvement. Did the Nonconformists do this kind of work in Wales? He should be very glad to hear a reply. As there was no answer he took it to be a confession. They not only did not, but could not, do this work, and the reason was that they were not there. They did not despise it, but they did not fully realise its importance, and distinguish between the two classes of ministers, the preaching and the pastoral—he was speaking specially of the Calvinistic Methodist body. In nearly half the parishes of Wales, by the admission of the Home Secretary, there was no recognised Nonconformist minister. Anglesey had been the piéce de resistance of the right hon. Gentleman, but most of his figures had subsequently broken down.
§ MR. ASQUITH
said, he adhered absolutely to what he had said.
§ VISCOUNT CRANBORNE
said, that as a matter of fact, the right hon. Gentleman had reckoned more Nonconformists than there was population in the island. There were 76 parishes in Anglesey, and 68 of the clergy, but how many Nonconformist resident ministers were there? 1095 Only 21, and, consequently, although there was a larger number of chapels, a great many of the parishes were absolutely bereft of pastoral care except that which they obtained from the clergy.
MR. HERBERT LEWIS (Flint District)
asked whether these figures related to one, or to all the Nonconformist denominations?
§ VISCOUNT CRANBORNE
said, he was speaking of Calvinistic Methodists. The Committee would observe that there were Calvinists in every parish, so that the argument was perfectly sound. In the vale of Towy there were 61 parishes, and only 18 Calvinistic Methodist pastors; in Radnor there were 36 parishes, and two pastors only of this denomination; in Brecon there were 92 parishes, and only 11 pastors, whereas there were 102 clergy; in Pembrokeshire there were 110 parishes, and only 18 pastors; and, finally, in Glamorganshire and Monmouthshire, there were 280 parishes and 103 pastors, while the clergy numbered 450. In addition to that it must be remembered that nearly half the parishes were absolutely bereft of Nonconformist ministers of any kind. Pastoral care was absolutely essential, but it followed that in nearly half the parishes of Wales it could not be said that the Nonconformist bodies would succeed to the work of the Church. The Church alone occupied the ground. He hoped that, though so seriously hampered, the Church would continue to do her work, though, of course, if this Bill were passed she would not be in a position to do so much as at the present time. The basis of the right hon. Gentleman's argument, that the Nonconformists would occupy the ground, entirely failed him, because, although they proposed to take away the power of the Church, they would do nothing to replace the clergy by Nonconformist ministers. Was it not intolerably mean to expect the Church to do that work which it was admitted was essential, and yet to take away from them their endowments and position by which in the past they had been able to do it? Surely the labourer was worthy of his hire. The replacement of the clergy by Nonconformist ministers would not satisfy him, but he had made every concession to the Government in this matter. He did not pretend that if 1096 this Amendment were inserted he should approve of the Bill, but he wished to see how far the Government would really go, and he, therefore, appealed to them to leave the Church in full possession of her endowments in parishes where there was no resident minister of any Nonconformist denomination until such a minister was appointed. It was a tremendous concession, and he thought the Amendment a very moderate one.
§ MR. SAMUEL EVANS (Glamorgan, Mid)
said, the Amendment was unworkable and entirely unnecessary. He only got up lest it should be supposed that no answer being given, the assertions of the noble Lord, who spoke with scant knowledge of the subject, were accurate and well founded. Of course, the noble Lord had his knowledge at second hand. They knew where it came from. They knew it was totally inaccurate, and inaccurate to the knowledge of the person in high authority who supplied that information to the noble Lord. The noble Lord had argued from the facts, as they related to the Calvinistic Methodists, who have an itinerant ministry, and he put that forward as proof that there was no pastoral care of the people by Nonconformity. Was there any parish in Wales that had not got its Chapel? Was there? [Sir R. WEBSTER: "What about its minister?"] Was there a Chapel which had not got its minister, whether he resided in the parish or not? ["Oh."] He asserted, as against the assertions of the noble Lord, that there was no country on the face of the earth where the ministerial and pastoral duties to which the noble Lord referred were so well fulfilled as in the Principality. The noble Lord said there was no resident ministry, and that the people were deprived of pastoral care during six days of the week. There were, however, people in the Principality who took care of the religious services in those villages even though the pastor might not be there, who were as godly, as pious, and as capable as the minister himself to carry out those functions. To say that there was none to visit the sick, to administer consolation to the bereaved, was a libel on the Welsh people. Was it not astounding to hear the noble Lord make such statements when it was admitted that the vast majority of the people belong to the Nonconformist denominations? There 1097 was, he repeated, absolutely no truth whatever in the noble Lord's assertions, which showed utter ignorance of the whole subject.
§ MR. STANLEY LEIGHTON
said, the right hon. Gentleman who had just sat down (Mr. Asquith) spoke with perfect ignorance of North Wales. The hon. Member sat for Glamorgan, and the House might not be aware how entirely distinct North Wales was from South Wales. He had spoken as if he knew what was going on in North Wales, but yet he had never denied the fact that in half the parishes there was no resident minister other than the clergy of the Church. The reason was that the system of Calvinistic Methodism was the itinerant system. But the point which the noble Lord had made—and he could prove its truth out of the mouth of the Calvinistic Methodists themselves, was this—that the Nonconformists did not attend to the poor, and could not attend to the poor. At Llandudno they had a Committee to inquire as to how it was their numbers were falling off, and the answer was—neglect the poor.
I must point out to the hon. Member that he is going very wide indeed of the subject-matter of the Amendment.
§ MR. STANLEY LEIGHTON
said, the want of pastoral care and the neglect of the masses was the very groundwork of the Amendment. Which was the system that would help the poor of Wales best, which would give most strength to the religious well-being of the people—the itinerant system or the pastoral system? His noble Friend's Amendment said—take not away the one until you somehow or other supply the other. That seemed the only worthy way of looking at the matter, and he very much regretted that the hon. Gentleman opposite should have ventured to contradict the facts.
§ SIR G. OSBORNE MORGAN (Denbighshire, E.)
said, he had lived in North Wales longer than any man in the House. and he asserted deliberately that every single word spoken, by his hon. Friend in his short and temperate speech, was quite as applicable to North as to South Wales. As to the Amendment, it was ridiculous and unworkable.
THE PRESIDENT OF THE BOARD OF TRADE (Mr. J. BRYOE,) Aberdeen, S.
said, they all agreed with what the noble Lord said about the resident ministry and their excellent work. But it must also be remembered that the work which was done under the system of the Church of England by the resident rector or vicar, was, under the system of the Nonconformist Churches, performed by those who were not resident ministers but deacons or elders. It was a different system. Each had its merits, but it would be going rather far to say that because the Nonconformists proceeded upon a different system, therefore they did not discharge the great work which all denominations in common aimed at. Be that as it might, it was the system in Wales, and when the hon. Member for Shropshire talked of pastoral care and neglect of the masses, he must bear in mind that the Welsh masses preferred the system of Welsh Nonconformity. It was the system with which they were familiar, and he saw no reason to think that any Amendment would alter the preference which for many years past they had shown. He thought the noble Lord could hardly expect the Committee to take his Amendment seriously. The operation of this Amendment would depend upon a mere accident. If there did not happen to be in a parish a resident minister belonging to one of only four specified Nonconformist denominations, the Amendment would apply. Why had the noble Lord confined his choice to four denominations?
§ VISCOUNT CRANBORNE
said, that he would willingly include others.
§ VISCOUNT CRANBORNE
§ MR. BRYCE
said, that at any rate the Amendment as it stood related only to four denominations, and its application would depend upon such accidents as whether a Nonconformist Minister had continued to live or had died within a fixed period. It would not be reasonable to say that in a Disestablished country there should be little accidental cases where the Church should be reestablished. Then these little cases themselves would be liable to extinction in the event of the appearance of resident Nonconformist ministers.
§ *MR. GRIFFITH-BOSCAWEN
said, that the religion of a country did not consist exclusively of services on Sundays, but required daily ministrations. He reasserted that in half the parishes in Wales there were no resident ministers. The hon. Member for Mid-Glamorganshire said that the week-day work was done by laymen satisfactorily; but were these lay deacons persons who had other things to do, or were they people like the clergy of the Church of England whose whole time was given to parish work? It was one of the greatest advantages of our Establishment that under it there must be in every parish a man who was bound to occupy the whole of his time in looking after the spiritual interests of his parishioners. If the present system was to be done away with there ought to be some substitute for it, and the noble Lord's proposal, which he did not say was a very good one, was at any rate better than nothing. It was very desirable that there should be somebody in every parish able to carry on the pastorate work all through the week. Figures had been quoted on the other side, and he proposed also to give figures bearing on the subject.
§ *MR. GRIFFITH-BOSCAWEN
asked whether it would not be in order to give figures showing that half the parishes of Wales were without resident Nonconformist ministers? Such figures proved how necessary this Amendment was.
said, that he did not dispute that the hon. Member was entitled to argue that half the parishes were without resident ministers; but to go into elaborate figures in this Amendment would not, in his opinion, be in Order.
§ *MR. GRIFFITH-BOSCAWEN
said, that in 485 parishes in Wales there were no resident ministers charged with the duty of looking after the daily religious interests of the people. Was the object of the promoters of this Bill to strike a blow at Religion? If not, if the object was not irreligious, this Amendment must be accepted. Lay deacons, it should be remembered, had their own private work to do. In fact, a large proportion of the Calvinistic Methodist ministers were men who had other work to do besides 1100 spiritual work. In 1888 the number of Calvinistic ministers was 569, and of these 191 were shopkeepers, farmers, commercial travellers, or agents. He might be asked—What business has the State to say that there is to be a resident minister in every parish?The modern secular principle was apparently that the State should do everything in other matters, but nothing for Religion and Christianity. He opposed that view strenuously. The late Archbishop of York, speaking on the Irish Church Bill, said—The object of the Establishment is, that inasmuch as the State has an army to contend against its enemies without, so it has an army to contend against the enemies within of sin, ignorance, and crime.Adopting that view he contended that it was the right and duty of the State to arm itself by a recognition of Religion against sin, ignorance, and crime. The Amendment was in accord with the principle of religious equality, for all that it said was that there ought to be some minister of religion in every parish ready to perform its pastoral work. In his opinion every man who voted against this Amendment was really an enemy of Christianity.
§ *MR. TOMLINSON (Preston)
remarked that the President of the Board of Trade, arguing against the Amendment, had said that it would create a number of oases in the Disestablishment zone, and that that was undesirable. But under the Bill, as it stood, there would be similar oases for a long time to come. All that the Amendment would do, therefore, would be to give to a few more parishes an exceptional position.
§ SIR R. TEMPLE
said, that the proposal in the Amendment was that in a parish where there was no resident Nonconformist minister the endowment of the Church should continue. The new body that was to be created was to give notice to the parties who had the right of presentation that that right could still be exercised in the circumstances. It had been shown that 480 parishes out of 1000, or nearly half, were without resident ministers. Therefore, in his opinion, the Amendment was very necessary. The hon. Member for Mid-Glamorganshire had said that the statistical arguments of the mover of the Amendment 1101 applied only to one Nonconformist denomination—namely, the Calvinistic Methodists, and that these had the services of peripatetic ministers. The hon. Gentleman was at once challenged by the hon. and learned Member for the Isle of Wight to name some denomination having a different system, and he failed to do so. It was clear that in the main the hon. Member admitted the contention he had endeavoured to traverse. The reply of the hon. Member was imperfect and partial—not complete. Hon. Members below the Gangway opposite thought that it did not matter whether the minister resided in the parish or not. It was of most vital importance that a Minister should reside in every parish. How did the hon. Member for Glamorganshire try to escape from that? He said that the work was done by the lay brethren. That was a most extraordinary statement to make. Besides the visitation and charitable work clergymen had to do, there was their spiritual work, and a minister could not do that if he did not reside in the parish. His right hon. Friend the President of the Board of Trade had tried to offer one or two answers. The right hon. Gentleman said that this system of a peripatetic Ministry, entirely dependent on the laity, was approved of by the people of Wales. That was the very thing the supporters of the Amendment denied. They did not believe the people liked it. Then the right hon. Gentleman spoke of certain oases in Wales. The right hon. Gentleman admitted that these were the very parishes from which all the money would be taken away, and that was the case this Amendment was intended to meet. These were parishes in which there was no resident minister except the clergyman of the Church, and from them all their money was to be recklessly and needlessly taken away. That was the point at which this Amendment aimed. He contended that the Amendment and the Debate which had followed it, had entirely exposed the capricious principles embodied in the Bill. It showed clearly that this Bill was intended to take away money which was now given to pastoral aid, and to leave all these parishes destitute of any permanent spiritual attention. Therefore, he did hope that his hon. Friend would go to a Division.
§ *SIR F. S. POWELL
in supporting the Amendment, said, they were invited by its opponents to put the clergy who devoted their whole time to their sacred duties on a level with laymen, who, though equally pious and learned, were only able to give their leisure to promoting the interests of the Church. The Committee could not in fairness or justice place them both in exactly the same position. He should be glad to see the time when the influence of the laity was increased in the Church. At the same time he was by no moans certain that increased work for the laity in connection with the affairs of the Church was not attended with some dangers. Some of the Nonconformist communities gave too political a character to their church organisation and work, and he was not sure that this was not due to the predominance of the influence of the laity. Personally, he could not regard the ministration of laymen, however capable, as equivalent in value to the ministrations of the clergy or of other ministers of religion who gave their whole time to their duties. Laymen were influenced as the clergy were not, by associations of a mundane character. He did not say that those associations were not highly honourable, but they were such as interfered with that freedom of action which he believed to be absolutely necessary for the administration of religious work. Regard must be had not only to those who ministered, but to those to whom the ministrations of the clergy were directed. There seemed to be an hypothesis working in the minds of those who opposed the Amendment that the whole of the people of Wales and different districts in England were broken up into religious communities, and that every man in every district and parish in Wales was a devoted member of some religious organisation, and that the only question before the Committee was as to what organisation or society he was attached. But he himself felt that the great difficulty of those who desired to promote religious influence among the people was that so many belonged to no religious body, but were men leading careless, thoughtless lives, and who, in a religious sense, might be described, if not as outcasts, at any rate, as out of the way. It was to these that the clergy and ministers of religion had 1103 to minister in an exceptional degree, for they were persons whom the ordinary religious societies did not reach. They had to pursue in the different parishes what he might describe as a work of "friendly aggression." They had to seek out the lost, to penetrate into dark places, to lighten lamps which had either been extinguished or had never been lighted. This work could not be done without ministers set apart for the task. The laity were so engrossed in worldly affairs that they could not give the time or manifest the energy, force, or vigour, so necessary. America was often pointed to as a nation without an Established Church. But the religious census of the United States illustrated the inability of unendowed Churches to reach the masses of the people. The report on the census showed that a large proportion of the people of the United States were not reached by any religious agency. The Amendment before the Committee would really be an act of kindness to those who were forgotten, who, in the absence of endowed clergy, would be entirely out of the reach of Christian ministrations. The President of the Board of Trade spoke of the Amendment as constituting oases in the desert. They wanted these oases throughout the whole of Wales. Rich parishes could take care of themselves. There were many rich parishes which did not require any endowment. The Amendment was not for the benefit of the rich, but that of the poor, and it was for the poor he pleaded. It was for the benefit of the poor that endowments were mainly intended. Let the rich be remembered when occasion arose, but never let them forget the poor.
§ MR. HANBURY
said, the Committee should remember that the case of Wales differed materially from that of Ireland. When the Church was disestablished in Ireland, there was, in every parish, a Roman Catholic priest, at any rate, who gave his whole time to his duties, and was not engaged in other occupations as many Nonconformist ministers (however worthy they might be) undoubtedly were. So there was a clear distinction to be drawn between the case of Wales and the various villages in Ireland left without a resident Church of England clergyman. The Amendment seemed to him to put the objection they entertained to the Disestablishment of the 1104 Church in Wales on a broader basis than any Amendment that had yet been moved, because, after all, speaking for himself, the most serious objection he had to the whole Bill was that it diverted from religious principles money intended for religion, and did not allow either the Church of England or any other religious body to have the use of those funds. The Amendment recognised, as they all ought to recognise, the good work undoubtedly done by the Nonconformist bodies. But even where there was a Nonconformist minister resident in a parish it was a great advantage to have a resident clergyman of the Church of England. But the supporters of the Amendment did not go as far as that. All they asked was that there should be in every parish some resident minister ready to attend to the wants of the poor. He was sorry the Amendment did not include other denominations such as the Roman Catholic Church. He would not object to ministers being itinerary if they were men who gave their whole time to the work. It was not so much a question of resident ministers, as having a body of men giving up their lives to the work, and the whole of whose time could be depended upon to attend to those who required their ministrations. The influence of the laity of the Church of England was to be encouraged in every possible way. But emergencies would arise in which it would certainly be a comfort to the sick or dying to have the ministrations of some recognised resident minister. The clergyman of the Church of England could be there at a moment's notice, whereas the itinerant minister might be resident several parishes off, and therefore his services might not be secured until the emergency was over. That was a striking argument in favour of having a resident minister. He also, thought hon. Gentlemen opposite, in recognising the good work done by Nonconformist ministers, had forgotten the fact that there would still be in the parishes a large number of persons who formerly, and who still, belonged to the old Church, to whom lay ministrations would be by no means sufficient. Therefore, the claims they had to a resident clergyman, ought, in no way, to be neglected. He was inclined to think the case put by the Hon. Baronet the member for 1105 Wigan, was very well worthy of consideration, the case of those who practically had no religion at all. They were people who, above all others, did want a resident minister, and it was more in their interest than of anybody else, that this Amendment was proposed. The whole assumption of hon. Members opposite was that a population split up into a certain number of sects, could be properly attended to under the itinerant system. He did not believe this system would work well; he did not think it would touch the outcast at all. He recognised the good work itinerant ministers did, but the difficulty was that they attended to their own Hock and did not search out the outcast. He did not regard this as an absurd Amendment, as one hon. Member described it; it was a most useful Amendment and he would most heartily vote for it, because it was an amendment based upon no sectarian prejudice whatever
§ MR. G. C. T. BARTLEY
was surprised the Amendment had not been accepted by his Nonconformist friends, because it seemed to him that if ever there was an Amendment that would promote Nonconformity this was the one. The existence of such a clause must be a great inducement to every parish that had not a resident Nonconformist minister to get one as soon as possible, because as soon as a parish got such a minister the clause would not apply. The Amendment was most catholic in its object, but it would ultimately prove a great stimulus to those parishes that were not yet properly provided for to do what was undoubtedly in their own interest. What was it the Amendment proposed? Why, that if, when the Church of England was disestablished, any spiritual injury was done to any particular parish by the fact of there being no resident Nonconformist minister, there should be a pause in the application of the Act until some provision was made for the spiritual welfare of the people. Surely that was about as liberal a measure as could possibly be proposed. If it was really true that the aim of this measure was to improve the people of Wales and to make them better citizens and Christians, surely it was reasonable some provision should be made to prevent any parish in the Principality being for any period of time without some spiritual 1106 resident minister. Though he would prefer to see a clergyman of the Church of England resident in the different parishes in Wales, he certainly would like to see the different parishes provided for by any denomination of Christians rather than left as they were left by the Bill, without any minister at all. The Amendment itself showed very clearly low Christians of all denominations were combining together, for he asserted that such an Amendment would never have been proposed 40 or 50 years ago. The noble Lord who moved the Amendment was recognised as a strong supporter of the Church. So anxious was he that there should be spiritual ministration in every parish that he proposed a clause which showed conclusively they had gone far towards combining the various denominations. He agreed with the observation that this Amendment was moved in the interest of the poor. The rich could provide what spiritual ministrations they required, but it was not so with the poor. Many of the districts of Wales were very poor, and it would be a long time before the Nonconformist bodies could cover the whole ground. The Amendment would, therefore, serve a great and good purpose, and he was surprised the Nonconformists on the opposite Benches had not accepted it with cordiality.
§ SIR RICHARD WEBSTER
thought it right a vote should not be taken on the Amendment before there had been some expression of opinion on the part of those who occupied the front Opposition Bench in vindication of their cordial support of the Amendment. He and his hon. Friends had been twitted with accepting information given them by the Bishop of St. Asaph. He was not ashamed to say he was much indebted for the information given by the Bishop of St. Asaph, because he knew it was given with a desire to put the truth and nothing but the truth before the country. Hon. Gentlemen who were protected by privilege were wont to attack that right rev. Prelate, but he would test the justice and the accuracy of his Lordship's statements. Some mouths ago the Bishop of St. Asaph put into their hands a statement, which was quoted on the Second Reading Debate, with regard to the number of the Nonconformist resident ministers in 1,006 of the parishes in Wales, 1107 leaving only 75 parishes unaccounted for. He would give the figures, and he desired to remind hon. Members who represented Welsh constituencies that those figures had been taken from returns which had been furnished by the various Nonconformist denominations themselves. The figures showed that the total number of parishes in the diocese with resident ministers was 521, the total number of parishes without resident Nonconformist ministers was 485, those which had resident Calvinistic ministers were 328, those which had Independent resident ministers were 309, those which had Baptist resident ministers were 245, those which had Wesleyan resident ministers were 112, and those which had resident ministers of other denominations were 45. Those figures were brought up to the 1st January of the present year. He had made inquiries on the subject, and he believed that he was right in asserting that there had never been any contradiction of the accuracy of those figures by any of the representatives of any one of those bodies. It was, of course, perfectly easy for hon. Members who had no responsibility in the matter to suggest that the figures were inaccurate, but he thought that, as between man and man, the charges of inaccuracy ought to be fair. If any hon. Member for Wales would get up in his place and give, upon his own authority, the numbers of the resident Nonconformist ministers in his constituency, he for one would accept his statement. He, however, stood in this position, that there had never been any return from the different Welsh Nonconformist bodies which contradicted those figures, and indeed, their accuracy had never been questioned by the right hon. Gentleman the Home Secretary. He was entitled to ask that, if these figures were challenged, some responsible persons should place before the Committee the figures which they believed to be more correct. For his part he proposed to assume that the figures he had laid before them, as to the number of resident Nonconformist ministers in the diocese in question, were substantially accurate. He certainly was not aware that any figures that had been quoted by the hon. Gentlemen who represented Welsh constituencies in any way contradicted 1108 those which he had just laid before the Committee. What did those figures show? They showed that if they were lumped together, nearly one half of the parishes in the diocese were without resident Nonconformist ministers of any denomination.
§ An HON. MEMBER suggested that there was a large amount of lay help.
§ SIR RICHARD WEBSTER
said, that he would come to that point by-and-by. At present he was simply dealing with figures which he believed were acknowledged to be accurate, and which had not hitherto been contradicted by any statements that had been made in the course of the Debate. It was an extraordinary thing that there had been an attempt for the purposes of that Debate—a desire on the part of the opponents of the Church in Wales—to put together into one pool, as it were, the whole of the ministers of the various Nonconformist denominations, and to contrast their work with that of the Church of England. He had, however, taken some pains to make inquiries in the case of South Wales as to the connection between the various denominations, and he had put this question to more than one of those who, he believed, were thoroughly qualified to give information upon the subject. Supposing there did not happen to be a Calvinistic minister upon the spot, and immediate spiritual help was required by a person of that denomination, to whom would that person resort? And he had been informed that it was the almost invariable experience among those who were engaged in pastoral work that if there was no minister of their own denomination in a particular parish they would prefer to come to a minister of the Church rather than to a minister of any other Nonconformist denomination. Hon Members opposite might question the accuracy of the statement if they thought fit to do so, but he, at all events, was entitled to state his view of the case, which was founded upon information which had been supplied to him upon good authority. The noble Lord (Viscount Cranborne, Rochester) in treating all the Nonconformist ministers as though they were one body had acted with great liberality towards them. No one would believe that in placing this Amendment upon the Paper the noble 1109 Lord had any other object in view than that of ensuring that the poor should have spiritual provision made for them as far as Parliament could accomplish that end. The Amendment had been spoken of by some hon. Members opposite as being absurd and ridiculous. But let them examine the principle of the Amendment and see whether it was in fact absurd and ridiculous. The Amendment proposed not that there should be a re-establishment of the Church in any particular parish, or in any particular district—not that they should in a manner set up the Church again, but merely that in such parishes or districts in which for the six months previous to the passing of the Act there had been no resident Nonconformist minister of any denomination, Disestablishment in that parish or district should be postponed. What was there absurd or ridiculous in such a proposition as that. Was no spiritual assistance to be given to the sick or dying, or the poor, in such a parish or district. If the Nonconformists believed that as a result of this measure their Churches were going to increase and to spread as Churchmen knew that the Church in Wales had increased and spread of late, why should they object to this Amendment? For his part he had never attempted to depreciate the religious work that had been done by the Nonconformist bodies, and he fully admitted that they worked in the same fields, for the same end, and for the same object that the Church did; and, therefore, it was that he appealed to them not to deprive those parishes in which there were no resident Nonconformist ministers of any denomination of all spiritual ministration. He could not agree with hon. Members from Wales with regard to the working of the Church in that country. Was there no such thing as lay helps in the Church as well as among the Nonconformists? Then, again, hon. Members from Wales would not deny that there were large numbers of the Welsh Nonconformists who were not able to devote all their time to their ministry. He had no desire to depreciate the altruistic efforts of those persons who gave up their leisure time to the service of their fellows. But they did not affect the Amendment. The Amendment was directed not to the number of preachers, 1110 but to the number of men who were on the spot, and to whom appeal could be made in times of trouble, sorrow, and distress. No Welsh Member would deny that they valued the presence of resident pastors. Of course hon. Members who had not heard a word of the Debate would come in and vote the Amendment down. But hon. Members from Wales could not disprove by any statistics which they would lay before the House on their own responsibility the facts which had been brought forward in support of the Amendment. As long as they believed that one-half of the parishes of Wales were without a resident Nonconformist minister, they would protest against a scheme which deprived those parishes of that spiritual aid which, by Divine Providence, as well as human prudence, had been given to them.
§ MR. AUGUSTIN BIRRELL (Fife, W.)
said, that the sympathy of the hon. Member with those Nonconformists who lived in parishes where there was no resident minister was more creditable to his heart than to his head. Nonconformists did not recognise the subtle distinction which for Churchmen existed between laymen and the clergy. It might be the misfortune of the Nonconformists, but it was the fact that when they came to die they did not send out post-haste for a clergyman. They confined themselves for the most part to pious persons of their own persuasion, who, although they did not call themselves clergymen, were able to give the consolations of their religion. The hon. and learned Gentleman talked about leaving out lay aid, but beyond some platitudinous observations, he did not deal with the fact that Nonconformists, in the hour of death, sickness and misfortune were able to derive spiritual consolation from blacksmiths or tailors.
§ SIR RICHARD WEBSTER
I did not say that they would not derive spiritual aid, and I did not speak of "blacksmiths and tailors." But I did say that resident ministers were preferable to gentlemen who gave their time, when they could, from their ordinary vocations.
§ MR. BIRRELL
said that the hon. and learned Member showed still further ignorance in thinking that by thus referring to "blacksmiths and tailors" he was using terms of derision. When a Nonconformist sent for a resident 1111 minister he did not get a priest, or a man who had any priestly functions, or who could bind or loose. It did not matter, therefore, whether he sent for a resident Nonconformist minister or an ordinary inhabitant of his own persuasion. He could quite understand hon. Gentlemen opposite objecting to being deprived of the ministrations of their own religion, if that should be the effect of this Bill, and he hoped it would never happen. But Nonconformists, rightly or wrongly, were not dependent on resident ministers, and in their last moments godly members of their own persuasion would repeat to them texts from the Scriptures or stanzas of their favourite hymns, which on these occasions were of great assistance. A minister could not do more for them. It was not the practice of Nonconformists, during their last hours, to receive the Sacrament or Holy Communion. [An hon. MEMBER: "More shame."] That depended on the religious conceptions of the Sacrament. Perhaps they thought that it was better to receive it in hours of perfect health. But he hoped that hon. Gentleman opposite would not expend their sympathy on a class of people who did not want it. Let them keep it for themselves. Nonconformists did not admit that there was such a thing as a priest; and it would shorten Debate if hon. Gentlemen opposite would realise that fact.
§ MR. A. J. BALFOUR (Manchester, E.)
said that he did not wish to press further into a region which the House was probably forced into by observations of his own friends below the Gangway. But the hon. Member's speech showed conclusively why it was that in certain parts of the country, by the admission of hon. Gentlemen opposite, the Nonconformist bodies were losing their hold and their utility among the poorer classes of the community. He did not mean to criticise the great work which was being done by the Nonconformists, but in the poorer parts of our large towns they were not doing the work which they once did. They were a diminishing, rather than an increasing, force in the religious welfare of these great congregations. The solitary text of the hon. Gentleman's speech was that a Nonconformist layman was every bit as good for religious purposes as a Nonconformist minister. Then why did Nonconformists 1112 go to the trouble of having large and costly colleges for the education of their ministers?
§ MR. BIRRELL
I was dealing with the point as to the supposed necessity of having resident ministers to administer the consolations of religion. For preaching, and for exigetical purposes, to which the Nonconformists attach great value, they have trained ministers, but for the purposes of administering consolation, it does not matter where the person lives for six days in the week.
§ MR. BALFOUR
said that if the hon. Member had listened to the early part of the Debate, he would have known that the preaching was regarded as a small part of the pastoral work. There was a great pastoral work to be done on the other six days in the week, and that that work would best be done by ordained and trained ministers. [Ministerial cries of "No."] Did not the hon. Member assert that the Nonconformist layman was as useful for every pastoral purpose as the Nonconformist minister?
§ MR. BIRRELL
said that a trained minister was necessary for preaching and exigetical purposes—men who had devoted time and attention to the study of the Scriptures and cognate subjects. But from the Nonconformist point of view, for the purpose of ministering to the sick, the ordinary godly layman, living in the neighbourhood, and able and ready to attend people in trouble, was as good as the exigetical preacher.
§ MR. BALFOUR
admitted that the layman might be able to administer consolation in certain cases as well as the trained minister, but did the hon. Member really think that in the 486 parishes of Wales where there was no resident Nonconformist minister, it would be possible to count on finding a person, not only qualified by individual piety and power of communicating to people in trouble the consolations of religion, but the necessary leisure for carrying out the work? [Cries of "Yes."] If so, Wales must be blessed with a leisured class which did not exist in any other part of the kingdom. To tell those who were familiar with the conditions of rural life in Wales that there was to be found among Nonconformists or Churchmen in every parish someone who was qualified to carry out this kind of pastoral work was to tax credulity. Having noticed the cost to which Nonconformist bodies 1113 went for the very purpose of having resident ministers, and knowing the admirable work which they did, not on Sundays only, was he to be told that all this money was thrown into the sea? To say that if the Nonconformist bodies would only trust to the lay, amateur, and casual help of pious members who might have leisure to fulfil these functions, was surely to forget all the conditions of ordinary English life in town or country. He hoped that his hon. Friend would go to a division, and if he did so he would certainly support him.
§ *MR. T. GIBSON BOWLES (Lynn Regis)
asked whether Churchmen were to have no consideration in this matter. Because the hon. Member thought that a farrier was as good as a St. Augustine, and that theology and farriery were good enough mixed up together in a jumble, that was no reason why Churchmen should think so too. This Amendment raised no question at all between Nonconformists and Churchmen. It simply raised the question whether it was or was not desirable to have in a parish a resident minister, either Nonconformist or Churchman. It was not contended that it should always be a Churchman, and he quite recognised the character and services of Nonconformists. In fact, he had always wondered that they had not conformed. This was a very simple matter, and where there was already a Nonconformist resident minister the Amendment would have no effect whatever. It seemed to him, speaking without any ecclesiastical knowledge whatever, except what he derived from attendance at church, the greatest service that could be rendered by a minister of religion to his parish was to live there, to know the people, to be acquainted with their ways, and to be ready at any time to give them the, consolations they required. Nonconformists on the Benches opposite might smile and jeer, but the true ministry was done during the life of a person, and it was the last, but not the greatest service when the minister attended such a person in the hour of his death. In the words of Goldsmith—Truth from his lips prevailed with double sway,And those who came to scoff remained to pray.1114 He could not conceive any body of men coming to the Committee and saying—"We are content with lay ministrations; if you want ecclesiastical ministrations we shall not take your case into consideration, and you shall not have your ordained ministers even where we have no resident Nonconformist minister of our own." If that was the sort of spirit which was to be evinced in these Debates, he could predict for the Bill a very long and melancholy career.
§ *MR. J. G. TALBOT
said, that his noble Friend might congratulate himself on having raised a very important discussion, but the Amendment had been met by a simple negative, and no arguments or statistics had been brought forward on the other side. So far from its being the case that the Welsh Nonconformists did not care about a Welsh resident pastor, at this very moment the Calvinistic Methodists were making special efforts to increase the number of such pastors, because they knew that having a resident pastor was the only way of attracting persons to their fold, and of ensuring to them the ministrations of religion. Then, why was it they could not secure the aid which they desired? Because they had not the money. And they had not the money because they had not endowments. It was proposed by this Bill to take away from the only body that could supply endowments for religion those provisions which only they were able systematically to employ. He was told this on the authority of those who knew Wales, because he did not profess to know Wales. Was it true or was it not? The Home Secretary said that he stood by his figures on the Second Reading of the Bill, and the President of the Board of Trade said, on behalf of his right hon. Friend, that he was authorised to confirm the statement that there were only 27 resident clergymen in Anglesey for 76 parishes. As a matter of fact, he was informed that there were 68 clergymen. Did the right hon. Gentleman adhere to those figures?
§ MR. ASQUITH
I adhere to every figure both as to the Sunday School attendance in Anglesey and every other neighbourhood which I gave in my speech. I said that there were 27 1115 parishes in Anglesey where there were no resident clergymen, and that is absolutely true. The only error I made—if error there is—was that I understated rather than overstated the figure.
§ MR. WILLIAM AMBROSE (Middlesex, Harrow)
regarded this Amendment as a serious and important one. Every part of Wales, he asserted, was subject to the visitation and teaching of resident ministers. When hon. Members opposite had not got an institution of their own they incurred grave responsibility in sweeping away the Church of England.
§ The Committee divided:—Ayes 159; Noes 180.—(Division List, No. 74.)
§ MR. HANBURY
rose to move in Clause 1, page 1, line 14, at end, to insert:—Provided always that where any portion of Wales or Monmouthshire shall hereafter form part of England, the Church of England shall, in such portion, become re-established bylaw.He said he proposed to move this Amendment, but in a somewhat modified form, and he would now present it as follows:—Provided always that where any portion of Wales or Monmouthshire shall hereafter form part of England, the Church of England shall, in such portion, cease to be subject to the provisions of this Act.The Home Secretary was good enough to say, with regard to the last Amendment, that it was brought forward for the purpose of improving the Bill. This Amendment was brought forward for the same reason—to prevent what would otherwise become a great absurdity in the measure. Now, there were outlying portions of Wales, on the borders, where the boundaries were doubtful. There might be small parts of an English county to which the Church in Wales extended, and surely it would be absurd to Disestablish those particular Churches when they were surrounded on all sides by the Established Church of England. This was no imaginary grievance, for there were many places on the borders of Wales where such a state of things might happen if no such Amendment as he proposed to obviate it was inserted in the Bill. In the case of the Irish Church Bill there was no occasion for such a provision, but the case was very different in Wales, because on the borders of the Principality there were 1116 many points the nationality of which was doubtful. There was even the case of Monmouthshire itself. Under the Bill, that county was treated as an essential portion of Wales; but there was some question on the point, and it was not improbable, at least with regard to some portions of the county, that alterations might be made attaching those portions to England. Unless some such Amendment as he had moved was inserted, the absurdity might arise under the Bill of whole parishes in the midst of an English county, and forming a portion of that county, having a totally different ecclesiastical law to that which prevailed in the rest of that county. In the discussion on the last Amendment, the President of the Board of Trade objected to any kind of oases being created in Wales under this Bill—places where the Church was established being surrounded by places where the Church was disestablished. Quite so; he applied the very same objection with regard to England that the President of the Board of Trade applied to Wales. It would be a positive absurdity to have such oases in an English county. All he suggested, therefore, was that if any portion of Wales in the midst of a county, ultimately became incorporated with any English county, and formed a part of that county,—if it became practically a portion of England in that county, then the Church in that portion should be held to be in the same position as the Church in all other parts of England. He contended that the Amendment was a practical one, and hoped the Home Secretary himself would see that the case was one for which provision should be made. Already in the course of the Debate certain parts in a particular county in Wales had been mentioned as very likely to be added to England at no remote period, and for such a contingency provision ought to be made. With the view of improving the practicability of the Bill, be moved the Amendment.
§ MR. ASQUITH
said he could not accept the Amendment in its present or any other form. The contingency was one so remote and improbable that it was hardly worth while providing for it, even, indeed, if it were within the scope of the Act at all. No part of Wales could be transferred to England except upon the initiative 1117 of the County Council concerned. What the hon. Gentleman asked them to suppose was that a Welsh County of its own initiative, was going to deliberately part with some of its own territory, knowing that the effect of its so doing would be that the Church would be reestablished in that territory. He really did not think that that was a matter so practical or probable that there was any occasion at present to provide for it, and he was quite sure if such a case did arise the resources of Parliament would be quite equal to making special provision for it.
§ VISCOUNT CRANBORNE
thought the contingency by no means an unlikely one. Such cases did happen, and provision was made by the Local Government Act for that very purpose. This incredible provision the House of Commons spent a great deal of time in that case in carrying out. The right hon. Gentleman thought it absolutely beyond the bounds of the imagination that any county should desire to change its boundaries, and yet the Local Government Act stared them in the face. Why then did the right hon. Gentleman think that a county of Wales would not agree to re-arrange its boundary with a neighbouring county of England? Was the difficulty that the one case was that of Wales and the other that of England? Or was it because the right hon. Gentleman thought that County Councils would not like to part with the money of a Disestablished Church? He thought better of his countrymen than did the right hon. Gentleman. He was quite aware that many people inside and outside the House looked at this Bill from the point of view of the financial advantage it would give to the various county authorities, and did not very much care about the religious view of the question. The contemporary history of Wales showed that there was a distinct change of opinion in Wales. The County Council Elections in Denbighshire showed a very distinct change of opinion, and he thought the time was not very far distant when in many of the Welsh counties it would be found that the public opinion represented by the County Councils had risen above these very sordid considerations, and that where for public reasons it seemed good to rearrange the boundaries, the change would take place. The Hundred 1118 of Maelor was, as they knew, almost surrounded by an English county. He would invite the right hon. Gentleman to confide to the House what he would do when the hypothesis became an accomplished fact. The President of the Board or Trade had told them on the last Amendment that these oases between Establishment and Disestablishment were very bad arrangements, and he quite agreed that Wales and England were neighbouring countries united in their public life and conditions. He thought his hon. Friend had certainly made out his case.
§ *MR. TOMLINSON
said, that although the right hon. Gentleman had said that Parliament on some future occasion would find some means of dealing with the rearrangement of county boundaries, on other topics he had not been so willing to trust to future Parliaments. The contingency was very likely to arise in the county of Monmouthshire, where there was at present a very large English element, and it would not require much change of opinion to create an actual majority in favour of treating that county as part of England instead of part of Wales.
§ *MR. T. GIBSON BOWLES
observed, that the more reasonable the Amendment proposed from that side of the House the more strenuous was the Opposition of the Government. If part of Wales should become part of England after the Disestablishment of the Church in Wales the Church was to remain Disestablished there as if the part which had been added to England still remained part of Wales. The Home Secretary said that the possibility of any part of Wales becoming part of England was a very remote contingency. He did not think so, and the right hon. Gentleman himself, by the present Bill had taken a great part of England out of England and made it part of Wales. He had taken the County of Monmouth. He might as well have taken Macedon, for there was a river in both. Since the right hon. Gentleman had done this there might, perhaps, be even a greater Home Secretary than he who would take the whole of Monmouthshire out of Wales and put it back into England, and they claimed in that event that it should be treated as English. The Amendment would only have effect in cases which the Home Secretary said 1119 were too remote to be considered. If that were so, then the Amendment of his hon. Friend could be insisted upon with perfect safety. It was only in the event of the grievance arising which they said was possible that the thing would occur. The secret fear of the Home Secretary was that there would be a rush on the part of their Welsh neighbours to become English in order to escape from this Bill, and to come back into the old condition in which they formerly were. He could not conceive of any reasonable person opposing so reasonable an Amendment, and he was still in hopes that the Home Secretary would accept it.
§ SIR RICHARD TEMPLE
agreed with the hon. Member for Preston that there were some parts of Monmouthshire which would desire to be treated as English, in which the people were thoroughly bound up with the English Church and mixed up with English associations. Supposing it should happen that the County Council of Monmouthshire should hereafter decide to bring those districts into the neighbouring English counties were they to be under the operation of this Bill or not? Was it not reasonable that in such cases this Bill should cease to operate in those particular districts? As to the alleged impossibility of Welsh villages being transferred to English counties, and vice versa, might he remind the right hon. Gentleman of the proceedings of the Boundary Commission? He believed, if reference were made to the Reports of the Commission, it would be found there were constant proposals for interchanges all along the Welsh borders. Suppose some day that these recommendations should be carried out by the County Councils, and certain tracts of Wales should come over to England. These, of course, would be the English-speaking and the English-associated parts of the Welsh counties. Were these villages to continue to be subject to this Act? Ought they not, rather, to come under such a proposal as that contained in this Amendment? He contended that there could be nothing more reasonable and practical than the suggestion of his hon. Friend, and he hoped the Amendment would be pressed to a Division.
§ MR. EDWARD J. STANLEY (Somerset, Bridgwater)
said, that in reference to the contention of the Home Secretary that nothing could be done without the 1120 consent of the County Council concerned, he would point out that at this moment the people of his own county of Somerset were engaged in an active fight with the county of Devonshire to prevent that county stealing from them a Somersetshire parish, which they were proposing to annex to Devon.
§ MR. BARTLEY
remarked that it seemed to him that the Government and the Home Secretary would not look at amendments in their reasonable sense. The present Amendment ran thus:—Provided always that where any portion of Wales or Monmouthshire shall hereafter form part of England, the Church of England shall in such portion become re-established by law.One of two things must happen. Either some part of Wales or Monmouthshire would become part of England, or it would not. If any parish did become such part of England, surely it was reasonable that the English law should rule there. If it did not, then this clause would have no effect, and no injury could be done. That was a fair and reasonable way of putting it. Why should Wales have it all the one way, and the predominant partner, England, always be put on one side? They simply asked that if any of these parts came back to England they should be treated as English. It seemed obvious that in putting in this Amendment they would only be putting in what was fair to England, and therefore he could not understand why any reasonable man should object to the provision. Although England was now politically at a discount in the eyes of the Government, still everybody did not think England was so insignificant. The border counties would probably before long wish to come back to the Established Church, and if so, why should they not be allowed to do so, seeing that this did not profess to be a Bill for the Disestablishment of the Church of England? That was a fair proposition, and he should support his hon. Friend even though everything that tended to make the Bill more fair to England was scoffed at by the Home Secretary and jeered at by the Welsh Members.
§ COLONEL KENYON-SLANEY (Newport)
said, that in the event of the oases referred to by the Home Secretary, such as the hundred of Maelor, being transferred to England, every argument advanced in behalf of the Bill was good 1121 for re-establishing the Church in those parts. Provision should be made for the possible alternative.
§ The Committee divided:—Ayes, 181; Noes, 199.—(Division List No. 75).
§ On the question that Clause 1 stand part of the Bill,
§ *MR. VICARY GIBBS (Hertfordshire, St. Albans)
said, he was impressed by the magnitude of the interests involved in the cause he was about to plead. The question involved in the clause was whether or not there was to be an Established Church, not merely in Wales, but in England. That was the only thing he had to consider in dealing with this clause, and it was a matter of sufficient magnitude to form a Bill in it self. It was a matter which those on his side of the House had endeavoured to separate from the by no means necessary corollary of Diseudowment. In that, however, they had been unsuccessful. He knew it had been said over and over again on the other side of the House that it was mere confusion to mix up Disestablishment with religion; but if they took away the Endowments of the Church, if they took away the Church's means of carrying on her work, what was that but an attack on the cause of religion? As regarded Disestablishment itself, quite apart from the question of Disendowment, he could perfectly well understand that there were many zealous Members of the communion to which he belonged, who considered that Disestablishment would be a good thing for the Church. The history of the last 30 or 40 years showed that in the matter of enforcing salutary discipline the State had been a good trustee for the Church. It had recognised its duties and obligations with regard to nominations and appointments; and this could be said without distinction of Party, for if there were an individual who deserved credit it was the right lion. Member for Midlothian. There had been exceptions such as the selection by Lord Rosebery for a bishopric of a political supporter who was in disagreement with almost all his co-religionists on the matter of Disestablishment. He could quite understand that the State should abuse its trust by continuing to make such appointments, and if it did there would naturally spring up a 1122 strong demand for Disestablishment. It was because the State had hitherto, with that one lamentable exception, recognised its duties, that at present there was no such general demand. He wished to direct attention to the disorder into which the Church would be thrown by Disestablishment. The Bill proposed to tell the Archbishop that he was no longer to summon the Welsh bishops to Convocation. But supposing the Archbishop snapped his fingers in the face of Parliament, which he was entitled to do? ["Oh, oh!"] Hon. Members seemed surprised at such a suggestion; but a brutum fulmen of this kind might well be disregarded. Did hon. Members propose to make the Archbishop guilty of praœmunire and put him in prison if he still continued to summon the Welsh bishops? Convocation was a body coordinate with this House, older than this House, with rights this House had never interfered with. Perhaps hon. Members hardly realised the extraordinary performance the Government was attempting—one to which anything in the Irish Church Bill was a mere flea bite. It was an interference with an integral portion of the Church of England. Suppose the Archbishop obeyed their mandate and did not summon the Welsh bishops, would it not be unjust if a bishop in Wales was to Vie condemned for heresy in a synod of Convocation in which he could not be heard? These were difficulties which arose directly out of Disestablishment. Again, the Bill did away with the coercive jurisdiction of the Ecclesiastical Courts. This would involve hopeless difficulty in dealing with criminous clerks. It was a serious question how the discipline of the Church was to be maintained. If nothing were left of the old ecclesiastical courts, it would be impossible properly to deal with the case of a criminous clerk. No one could show how any minister in Wales charged with an offence, now visited by removal from his benefice, could, if the Bill were passed, be fairly tried, or could be removed from his benefice if found guilty. These were a few illustrations of the serious difficulties which would ensue if the Church in Wales were disestablished. But the main objection to the Bill was the effect it would have on the people of Wales. It was the inhabitants of poor and remote parishes, where there were 1123 no wealthy residents, who would suffer most by the Bill, by being deprived of the ministrations of a clergyman. It would, of course, be said by the supporters of the Bill that the village shoemaker, or the village tailor, would be able to take the place of the minister in administering the consolations of religion. He could quite believe that men who were engaged in the ordinary occupations of life were perfectly competent to render such consolations. But nobody had any claim to the ministrations of such men, or could use the slightest moral pressure to get them to come to them at any time, as they could in the case of a minister; and, besides, men who were trained in the exercise of those solemn duties, and who devoted their lives to the service of their fellow men, like the ministers of the Church, must, prima facie, have more influence with the people than men whose discharge of the ministerial functions was merely an accident in the ordinary daily round of their lives. Another very strong objection to the clause was that a whole English county was included in its operation. Did not that fact entitle those who, like himself, did not pretend to any special knowledge of Wales to utter a strong remonstrance and protest against the clause on the ground that it practically gave away the whole case of the Established Church of England. If the Church in Monmouthshire was to be disestablished, was there any essential ground why the Church in Cornwall should not be disestablished? It might be said by the promoters of the Bill that there was a large majority in Monmouthshire in favour of Disestablishment, but that was a matter on which no proper evidence had been adduced. But neither on the question of abstract right nor of propriety, could he see any reason why, if the Church in Monmouthshire should be disestablished, the Church in any other part of England should be allowed to remain. Therefore, it was as a member of the Church of England that he desired to move the omission of the clause as a strong protest against the scheme of Disestablishment proposed in the Bill.
§ SIR RICHARD WEBSTER
said, he did not intend to debate the clause, as he had already expressed his opinions in the discussions on the Amendments. But he rose to say he thought an argument 1124 he had used the other night in reply to the Solicitor General had gone too far. Since the Debate on the Amendment for the exclusion of Monmouthshire from the Bill he had had the opportunity of reading the whole statement, and, by the courtesy of an anonymous gentleman in Wales, of an interesting pamphlet, from which it appeared, contrary to his contention, that some of the marches did form part of the three counties, and were geographically within the dominion of Wales. But that did not remove his main argument that Monmouthshire never had been a Welsh county; and that it had always been described, by those entitled to speak, as an English county, and nothing else.
§ SIR EDWARD CLARKE
said, he did not think there was any desire to delay the Division on the first clause; but, undoubtedly, the putting of the clauses to the Committee gave the opportunity to the opponents of the Bill of making again in the Division Lobby a protest against Disestablishment. It would be remembered that in the Debate on the Second Reading there had been a division of opinion as to whether Disestablishment or Disendowment were the more important part of the Bill. Of course, on the Second Reading there was a desire to support the Bill generally on the part of some Members who attached more importance to one part of the Bill than to another, but who did not feel able to deny their support generally to the principle of the Bill. In putting the first clause to the Committee there was now an opportunity of testing in the Division Lobby the opinion of the Committee upon the great question of Disestablishment. The first clause contained the essence of the Bill so far as the question of Disestablishment was concerned. If the clause were passed it would be a recognition that the principle of Disestablishment had been affirmed by the Committee; and therefore it would be desired to test by a vote the opinion of the Committee in regard to that principle. He need not again express the deep conviction which was felt by the opponents of the Bill that the Disestablishment of the Church in Wales would cause the deepest injury to the people of Wales. They had expressed the opinion, which they held very strongly, that the Establishment of the Church, although it involved a 1125 certain amount of limitation on the freedom of action of the Church; and, although it involved certain incidents of conduct on the part of the Church which were not acceptable to many members of the Church itself, at the same time gave to the Church the privilege of universal ministry, which was worth a great deal more than all the disabilities imposed on it by its connection with the State. He therefore hoped the Committee would divide on the clause as a protest against the principle of Disestablishment which was embodied in it.
§ MR. STANLEY LEIGHTON
said, that the Home Secretary had expressed a desire to place the Disestablished Church on absolutely the same footing as Dissenting religious bodies. The right hon. Gentleman was well aware of an Act of Parliament known as the Dissenting Chapels Act, which secured to Dissenting religious bodies any property in which they had been in possession for 25 years. Would the right hon. Gentleman extend the principle of the Dissenting Chapels Act to the Disestablished Church by giving all property held by the Church for 25 years over to the Representative Body of the Church?
§ MR. ASQUITH
said, the hon. Member's question dealt entirely with Disendowment, and had nothing whatever to do with Disestablishment. But he would answer the question in this way: certainly he would apply the same measure to the Church of England that he would apply to dissenting bodies. They preserved to the Church every endowment given within the last 190 years. The only endowments which they proposed to deal with in the Bill were endowments which they believed were given to the Church at a time when the Church was practically the religious body representing the whole community, and which, therefore, they could deal with as national property for national purposes. They really, to all intents and purposes, put the Church on the same footing as all dissenting bodies. But that had nothing to do with the question now before the Committee. The solo question before the Committee was, whether those legal incidents and privileges summed up in the word "Establishment" should continue.
§ MR. GRIFFITH-BOSCAWEN
Is it not a fact that Clause 5 only preserves 1126 to the Church those endowments and property given by private persons out of their own resources?
§ MR. ASQUITH
Yes. All endowments given to the Church by private persons out of private funds.
§ MR. AMBROSE
said, he had listened in vain for arguments in justification of the clause. The Church had been doing her duty, at all events during the last quarter of a century, and all that could be said on the other side was, that a majority of the Welsh representatives were in favour of Disestablishment. They had the statement of the right hon. Member for Denbighshire, that 25 years ago only seven Members from Wales were found to vote in favour of disestablishment. What was the reason for the change that had come over the Welsh people? The answer was, that the present majority was a mere temporary majority. How had it been procured? By reason of the tithe war. It was perfectly plain that the tithe agitation was promoted and intended entirely with the view of furthering the cause of Disestablishment.
§ MR. AMBROSE
said, he only wanted to point out that it was by virtue of the tithe agitation that Disestablishment was being promoted. The Welsh Party in that House had stated that it was most important that agitation on this subject should be maintained. What was the value of a majority that was secured by such treatment. He, however, had no desire to prolong the Debate or to prevent a Division being taken upon the Amendment.
§ The Committee divided:—Ayes, 192; Noes, 173.—(Division List, No. 76.)
§ Progress reported.