HC Deb 21 March 1901 vol 91 cc743-67
MR. O'DOWD (Sligo, S.)

called attention to the position of Roman Catholic chaplains in the Navy. He said this question involved the question of religious equality. He thought no weight of argument was necessary to convince the House of the justice of the claim they advanced on behalf of the Roman Catholic chaplains in the Navy. Surely this was not a very unreasonable demand, when they came to consider the number of Catholics in the Navy. England was supposed to be the homo of toleration and religious equality. That had been asserted over and over again, but in the face of recent events—in the face of the fact that His Majesty had to take an oath which was an insult to millions of his subjects, he was afraid that assertion was not justified. Some of the pillars of the Conservative party in that House, or in the other House at least, belonged to the Catholic faith. It was the faith to which the great majority of the Irish people belonged, and really it was disgraceful for a great naval Power, such as England was, to have such a large number of Catholics in the Navy without making provision for having their spiritual wants administered to by the clergymen-belonging to their own religion. He believed the proportion of Roman Catholics in the Navy was something over 8 per cent. The Roman Catholics numbered more than the Presbyterians and Wesleyans combined, and really their position as regards chaplains was very unsatisfactory. Some reform should he introduced in regard to this crying grievance. It ought to be redressed, and he appealed to the sense of fair play of hon. Gentle men on both sides of the House to have it redressed. If it were only to allay Catholic feeling for the insults recently heaped upon them, some reform should be introduced.

When the hon. Member for East Clare introduced this question last year he got some vague assurance that the grievance would be redressed, but he was not aware that anything had been done. He supposed it would be out of order to refer to the fact that prison chaplains had a grievance also, but he merely mentioned in passing that while a Protestant chaplain received a salary of £450 a year, a Roman Catholic chaplain, for performing the same duties, and having the same responsibilities, only received £300 a year. Not only in the Navy, but in other branches of the service, the priest, as compared with the minister of other religions, was severely handicapped. It seemed that altogether there were only twenty-one chaplains in the Navy, and counting annual allowances, they received sums varying from £25 to £200. Hon. Gentlemen would see that £25 was rather a small sum to pay the chaplain of any religion. There were only three out of twenty-one receiving £200 a year, which was less by £100 than was received by the Protestant chaplains, who had less duty to perform. No Catholic chaplains were allowed on hoard ship, so that Human Catholics might remain for years without seeing a clergyman of their own denomination, and if that was not a matter to he complained of he did not know what was. It was no wonder that Roman Catholic priests warned their flocks against joining the Navy, when these young men were sent away for months, and sometimes years, and had not the comfort of seeing their ministers of religion. A worse aspect of the case was that when the ships were in harbour the sailors were not even allowed to go ashore in order to attend a service in the church. On the occasion of Her late Majesty's funeral a large squadron assembled at Spithead, and on the Sunday none of the Roman Catholic sailors were allowed ashore in order that they might attend divine service. He did not know who was responsible for that. but somebody must have been, and although protest was made at the time, no notice was taken of it. During three years not one of the Roman Catholic sailors of H.M.S. "Excellent" was sent to church, and that was a state of things that ought to be remedied as soon as possible. Now that the Navy was going to be reorganised, in men armaments, and ships, was the proper time for remedying the crime of which he complained, and no reorganisation would he complete until the status of the Roman Catholics in the Navy was improved.

Amendment proposed— To leave out from the word 'That,' to the end of the Question, in order to add the words ' in the opinion of this House. Roman Catholic Chaplains in His Majesty's Navy should be placed upon the same footing as regards rank and pay as Chaplains in His Majesty's Army "instead thereof."—(Mr. O'Doud.)

Question proposed, "That the words proposed to be left out stand part of the Question."

MR. JOYCE (Limerick City)

said he desired to support the motion of the hon. Member, as he knew something of the disability under which the Roman Catholics in the Navy laboured, whether they were blue jackets or Marines. He had known on many occasions ships of the fleet to be lying in harbour, and when Sunday came round the Roman Catholic sailors were unable, owing to bad weather, to go ashore to church, and were thus debarred from the comforts of the ministration of the ministers of their religion. Every large ship of war had a Protestant chaplain on board, and he contended that if the Government wanted Catholic sailors, stokers, and Marines to man the Navy the least they could do was to provide for the ministrations of their religion. There was a very simple remedy for this crying evil. In the Army regiments had been territorialised, and regiments which were entirely, or almost entirely, composed of Catholics had a Catholic chaplain attached to them. As there were 10.000 or 15,000 Catholics in the Navy, why could not the same principle be applied there? Large bodies of Catholics could be drafted to particular ships to which Catholic chaplains should be appointed. Everybody would admit that a real grievance existed, and if the Admiralty were too bigoted to adopt this remedy, the Catholics of the country ought not to tight the battles of England. More important than that the men could not, go to mass on Sundays was the fact that when they were stricken down by grievous sickness, and were at the point of death, it was obligatory upon these men to have the consolations of their religion administered to them, hut in the Navy, as at present conducted, it was almost impossible for this to he done. There were a large number of Irish seamen and fishermen in the Royal Naval Reserve who were supposed now and again to go on a six months cruise, but nothing had been done to enable these men to enjoy the benefits arising from the ministration of their religion. For that reason alone many men refused to go on any such cruise, although the money to be thus earned would be very acceptable to them. Was it not time that such a condition of things should be put an end to? We were living in an enlightened age, when such bigoted and fanatical ideas should be exploded, and if Catholic sailors were fit to fight the battles of the country they were surely entitled to the small concession for which the Irish Members were asking.


desired, as this question affected a large number of his constituents who were members of the Royal Naval Reserve, to support the Nationalist Members who had already spoken. It was time the House had some definite statement from the Admiralty as to what they proposed to do in the matter. The question had been agitated for a considerable time; the Admiralty had received deputations of Irish Members who had laid the matter before them, but up to the present all endeavours in this direction had met with very little success. The provisions hitherto made to meet the requirements of Catholic sailors had not given satisfaction, and the object of the present debate was to get the Secretary to the Admiralty to approach the matter in a clear and broad-minded manner, and see it if was not possible to comply with the legitimate wishes of Catholic sailors in this respect. As far as the circumstances of the Admiralty allowed, definite and permanent regulations should be made for that purpose. One would have thought it would have been in the interest of the Admiralty itself to fall in with this desire of Catholic sailors, as there were various depots in Ireland—a number of the Royal Naval Reserve came from Ireland—and with the increased number of men to be obtained it was probable that there would be a yet larger demand for religious accommodation for Catholic sailors. He therefore hoped that before the debate closed the House would be given some assurance that the Admiralty proposed to deal with this question seriously; otherwise the Government would hear a great deal more about the matter from the Irish benches.

MR. DILLON (Mayo. E.)

said that if the Government would pass a regulation forbidding any Catholic to enter the Navy he would willingly give an undertaking never to quarrel with that rule or to cause any more bother over this question. But all the while Catholic Irishmen were asked to give their services and to risk their lives in defence of the British Empire the Government were bound to treat them as Christians and human beings. The Government had no right to place them alongside their Protestant fellow-countrymen, and then to refuse to recognise their religious convictions, and decline to grant facilities for the exercise of their religious belief. The question was raised before, twenty-five or thirty years ago, in an eloquent speech by Mr. Alexander Sullivan, but upon certain pledges being given by the Government the subject was allowed to slip, and those promises were never fulfilled. In the year 1896 he himself raised the question on the Admiralty Vote, when Mr. Goschen immediately rose and promised that the Admiralty would give the subject their most earnest consideration, with a desire to do full justice to Catholic sailors. That assurance was so satisfactory that the debate came to an end, but still nothing tangible resulted. One of the demands then made was that Catholic chaplains in the Navy should be placed on the same footing as regarded rank, authority, and emoluments as had been won for the Catholic chaplains in the Army. The onus of justifying a refusal of such a request must lie, and rather heavily, with the representative of the Admiralty. In the case of the Army, it was a good many years before the concessions were made, but the agitation went on, until at last the Catholic chaplain in the Army was placed precisely on an equality as regarded pay, rank, and authority with the Protestant chaplain. After the debate in 1890 long negotiations took place between the Admiralty and the Roman Catholic bishops of this country, as a result of which a statement of the Catholic demands was put forward as a compromise, representing certainly the low-water mark of the reasonable expectations of Catholics. The first point was that Catholic chaplains should have rank, salary, and pension equal to those of Church of England chaplains. Until the concession was made Catholics would not be content, as it was really of vital importance. The Admiralty had no right whatever to resist such a request, as it could not be pretended that on the question of rank any inconvenience or difficulty could arise. It was a grave and wanton humiliation of His Majesty's Catholic sailors to see their chaplains placed in a different social position or status from that of the chaplains of other religions. The point had been conceded in the Army. What sacred principle was there which prevented it in the Navy? Were the antiquated principles of bigotry which for many years had been banished from the Army to be allowed to prevail in the Navy? As a justification for this attitude, it had been urged that it would not be reasonable to demand that there should be a Catholic chaplain on every ship. That had always been admitted, seeing that the proportion of Roman Catholics was only about 8 per cent. or 9 per cent. But the original proposal was that there should be a chaplain to every squadron, and that he should reside on the flagship, so that when any large division of the -Fleet went into action there would be a Catholic chaplain within reach. It was an act of outrageous cruelty that in such a case there should be ten or fifteen Protestant chaplains, and not a single; Catholic chaplain who could give to the mass of wounded and dying Catholics the consolations afforded by ministrations of their religion. To say that accommodation for one chaplain could not be found in a squadron was an absurdity. The second part of the demand to which he had referred was for the appointment of chaplains and acting chaplains at a number of stations, with an increase in the pay. On this point the Admiralty had made considerable concessions. Chaplains—but without rank and not on the Establishment—were appointed at Portsmouth, Devonport, Chatham, and Malta, and acting chaplains at smaller salaries elsewhere. The salary generally was from £175 to £200 a year. He had in his hand a list of twenty stations where Roman Catholic chaplains had been appointed, and with the exception of a few of those he had no complaint to make with regard to the allowances, because in certain of those stations the amount of work to be done by the chaplains was neither regular, steady, nor very large, and therefore it was not reasonable to suggest that they should be put upon the Establishment. In the case of Esquimalt, he thought the allowance, in spite of it having been increased to £75, was still far too small. Speaking on behalf of the 10,000 Roman Catholic sailors in the Navy, nine-tenths of whom were Irish Catholics, he demanded, and would insist upon, proper facilities being given for these men to exercise their religious inclinations, and the ministers who attended to their spiritual welfare being placed upon an equality with the Protestant chaplains.

MR. BLACK (Banffshire)

said he approached this question not entirely from a religious point of view. The Navy was recruited principally from the southern districts, but there were very large recruiting grounds both in Ireland and Scotland. On the north-west and the north-east coasts of Scotland there were to be found the finest men in the world for the Navy if the Navy were only open to them.


The hon. Member is not speaking to the question before the House, which is the appointment of Roman Catholic chaplains to the Navy.

MR. BLACK said ho was coming to that point immediately, not only with regard to Roman Catholics but to ministers of religion generally, if it would be in order.


No, that would not be in order.


Then, Sir, I will raise that point on the main question.


I am sure hon. Members opposite would not desire me to approach this question from an academic point of view, but to confine myself to the purely naval aspect of the question raised by the hon. Member for East Mayo. I am bound to say at the outset that the one thing that is made clear by the speech of the hon. Gentleman is that so far from the Admiralty being averse to doing anything in this matter, they have done everything they could. The views of the hon. Member for East Mayo and of the two hon. Members who opened this discussion are not apparently quite the same. The hon. Member for South Sligo and the gentleman who supported took the view that it was possible to place Roman Catholic chaplains on all the ships.


No, no. I said if it were not possible to do that there should be at least one appointed to every-squadron.


Perhaps I misapprehended the hon. Gentleman. I did not understand him to express that view, but I do not wish to dwell upon that point. What I wish to say is that hon. Members have given the impression that nothing has been done to provide for the spiritual wants of the Roman Catholics in the Navy. The hon. Member for South Sligo said the sailors of the "Excellent" had not been able to follow their religion for three years; that is so contrary to my information that it is incredible. What has been done, so far as the resources of the Admiralty permitted, is to provide at every port to which His Majesty's ships are in the habit of going and in a great many ports where they are not in the habit of going a Roman Catholic chaplain to provide for the ministrations of the Roman Catholic sailors in the Navy.


I may say I am in a position to prove my statement.


Of course if the hon. Gentleman is able to do that there will be good ground for complaint, which I shall do my best to meet. I have before me a list of no less than 148 stations at which there are Roman Catholic priests, who are either paid for their services or who receive an allowance upon all occasions when they minister to the sailors of the Elect. I think it will be admitted that the contention that has been advanced that nothing has been done is unjust and unreasonable. The analogy of the hon. Member for South Sligo is not sound. He held up the example of the Army, and said there were regiments which were so largely or exclusively composed of Roman Catholics that it had been found possible to appoint chaplains of that faith to them, and he suggested that we should have ships in the Navy that should be exclusively manned by Roman Catholics. That is a suggestion that would not commend itself to the Admiralty. In the first place it would result in the formation of what I might call "Denominational Squadrons," and in the second the crews which manned those ships would have to be allotted, not according to their ratings, but according to their religion. Reference had been made to a deputation composed of the hon. Member for East Clare and other hon. Members. I think I may say that every one of the recommendations made has either been given effect to, or that some attempt has been made to carry out the views of the deputation with respect to it. One complaint was that no adequate provision was made for the ministration of Roman Catholic sailors on the China station, and steps were at once taken to send out a priest. Another suggestion was that steps should bo taken on hospital ships to minister to the sick and dying Roman Catholic sailors. The acquiescence in that proposition which Mr. Goschen made has not been carried out, because we have no hospital ships attached to the Navy; but, if we have in the future, as I. believe and hope we shall have, hospital ships attached to our squadrons, I have no doubt that the pledge then given to Mr. Goschen will be carried into effect. I should like to mention here that this question is not quite so clear as hon. Gentlemen would have us believe. I do not think the views expressed here as to the attitude of the Roman Catholic Church are universally entertained elsewhere. I find both in France and Germany, where there are enormous Roman Catholic populations, there is not a single Roman Catholic chaplain appointed. Nor in Russia do I find a Roman Catholic chaplain carried on the ships. Of course even now in the British Navy the number of ships which carry a chaplain at all is exceedingly limited. It is quite a mistake to suppose that chaplains are carried by all the ships. The hon. Member for East Mayo made a suggestion the force of which I do not deny. The hon. Member said that, when squadrons were going on long cruises or into action, it would he desirable that they should be accompanied by Roman Catholic chaplains. I would, however, point out that the cruises are now exceedingly short. The mere necessity for coaling brings the ships back to port with extraordinary regularity at exceedingly short intervals, and I believe the grievance is not felt in any great degree among the sailors, who do not, in practice, find themselves debarred from these ministrations. But, Sir, I wish to repeat that there is no desire on the part of the Admiralty to do anything but what is just and reasonable, but they cannot do more than they have done.


You have not said anything about the rank of the chaplains.


They have no rank.


Does the hon. Gentleman say that chaplains in His Majesty's Navy do not rank as officers?


Perhaps I expressed myself inaccurately. Chaplains in His Majesty's Navy have no substantive rank. They rank with the officers when they are at sea, but not on shore.


What about the Roman Catholic chaplains?


They do not go to sea in His Majesty's ships, and therefore the question does not arise. There are three established Roman Catholic chaplains who perform duties on shore, and I can assure hon. Members that if any of those officers do go to sea attached to any squadron, they will have precisely the same privileges of equivalent rank as the chaplains who now go to sea.


was of opinion that the tone adopted by the hon. Gentleman the Secretary to the Admiralty was a friendly one, and it had been a great pleasure to hear such a tone adopted by the hon. Gentleman; but when he, reflected upon the length of time during which the question had cropped up in the House and the number of friendly speeches which had been delivered by the representatives of the Admiralty, he doubted whether the hon. Gentleman would be able or really try to meet the views of hon. Members on this question. The hon. Gentleman had advanced a curious argument against Roman Carbolic chaplains being carried on His Majesty' s ships when he said they were not carried in the ships of the French. German, or Russian navies. It was not necessary, he apprehended, for the British Navy to follow the example of the navies of other countries in any question. The fact that other countries made no provision was no reason to advance to the House of Commons against the action which hon. Members thought ought to be taken in common fairness and justice to the Roman Catholic sailors of the Fleet. The hon. Gentleman had said with truth that since the agitation on this question had commenced in the House the Admiralty had done a great deal towards meeting the views of the Roman Catholics in the matter. The matter was raised as long ago as 1878, and undoubtedly since then a good deal had been done. The hon. Gentleman that evening had gone further than any of his predecessors when he undertook that when a squadron went on a long cruise a Roman Catholic chaplain should be carried, but the hon. Gentleman had made no case against the assertion of the hon. Member for East Mayo that there was a grievance as regarded the question of rank. Protestant chaplains occupied the position of commissioned officers, hut not a single Roman Catholic held a similar position, and although hon. Members might not consider that a very great matter, it was one which had a great effect on the minds of the Roman Catholic sailors, who were entitled to expect that the ministers of their religion should occupy a similar position to that occupied by chaplains of the Church of England. The answer of the hon. Gentleman was that Roman Catholic chaplains did not sail in the Fleet but performed their duties ashore, and that therefore they ought not to expect to enjoy the rank of the Protestant chaplains of the Fleet. That was a point on which the Admiralty might give way. Why not grant to the Catholic chaplains, whether ashore or afloat, the same rank as was given to the chaplains of the Protestant Church? No adequate reason had ever been put forward on the part of the Admiralty for refusing the requests of the Catholics on this matter. How could it injure the Admiralty or increase to any great extent the cost of maintaining the chaplains in the Fleet? Would it impair the efficiency of the Fleet or give any offence to any section of the people, or cause any inconvenience? It could not be contended that it would; and therefore under these circumstances ho maintained it was a legitimate and reasonable ground of complaint on the part of the people who belonged to the Catholic faith that the chaplains of their Church, who were engaged ashore—it was true they were not afloat, but still engaged in the service of the Navy—were denied the same rank as officers which was held by the chaplains of the Established Church of England. That was a grievance which he thought might, without any violence to precedents or any inconvenience to the Admiralty, be remedied at once. He was very glad that the hon. Gentleman had made so conciliatory a reply. It showed that he was anxious to meet the views of the Irish Members, and that he did not, as some of his predecessors had done in the past, make out that this was a question more or less affecting English Catholics, and that as long as English Ecclesiastical opinion was satisfied in the matter there was no great necessity to satisfy Irish Catholic feeling. He might say that an official of the Admiralty in the House had told him in the course of a private conversation, that really the Irish Members had no business to interfere or trouble the House on this matter in view of the fact that the English Catholics did not raise it. The inference was that the English Catholics were quite satisfied and that Irish Catholics ought to be. The answer to all that was, that while they had the greatest possible respect for English Catholics, they could never forgot that for centuries every grievance which the Catholic Church suffered from and which had been removed, had been removed, not by agitation on the part of the English Catholics, but by hard battles fought by the poor Irish people. Indeed, this was more an Irish than an English question. He did not quite agree with the hon. Member for East Mayo when he put the proportion of Irish Catholics in the Navy at such a high figure, but he did maintain that the very great majority of the Catholic sailors in the Navy were Irishmen, and, that being so, it was not surprising that Irish Catholic Members of Parliament and Cardinal Logue should take a deep and abiding interest in this question, and that it should occupy their minds until the grievances had been removed, however complacent English Catholics might be. He did not know whether the hon. Gentleman would go to a division or not, but if he did, he would undoubtedly vote with him, because they had learned from past experience that no matter how friendly the intentions of the officials of the Admiralty might be, they had never had any grievance removed unless they agitated these grievances and brought them forward on the floor of the House on every possible opportunity. He strongly urged on the hon. Gentleman the Member for West Belfast to approach the Admiralty generally and endeavour to secure a satisfactory settlement of these questions once for all, so that Irish Members might be spared bringing their grievances forward year after year and occupying the time of the House.

*MR. ARNOLD-FORSTER said he wished to prevent any misunderstanding. What he meant to convey was that when large squadrons went on cruises which would take the men away for a long time from all means of enjoying the ministrations of their religion, it might be possible to arrange that a Roman Catholic chaplain should be carried; but as to cruises such as that of the Channel Squadron, when the fleet frequently touched at ports, such anarrangement would be uncalled for.


said there was great danger of due consideration not being given to the fact of the difference between a Protestant and a Catholic country. In Ireland they had a positive religion, whereas the Protestant religion was negative. [An HON. MEM- BER: No, no.] Yes, yes. Some people seemed to think that the orders of their Church were not considered of much importance, but that was a mistake. Their religion being positive, their ordinances meant something, and therefore it was absolutely necessary that Catholic chaplains should be appointed wherever there were Catholic people, be they more or less numerous. If it was intended to attract Irishmen into the Navy, the Government must be very particular in supplying them with the ordinances of their religion, which in all walks of life was the basis of their action.

SIR J. FERGUSSON (Manchester, N.E.)

said he did not think that the tone of the discussion, which had been so friendly, should be marred by any remark disrespectful to their respective religious persuasions. He had heard with great pleasure the statement of the Secretary to the Admiralty, conceding the very natural and proper desires of hon. Gentlemen opposite. He himself had had experience of the admirable conduct of Roman Catholic chaplains in the East, and it was well known that the coadjutor Bishop of Westminster had, by his conduct in Egypt and in the Soudan, won the respect of all classes and religions. He would suggest that when the number of Roman Catholic sailors justified the appointment of a priest for his whole time in the service in the Navy, it would be only proper that he should receive official rank in the same way as in the Army. That would go far to meet the desires of our Roman Catholic fellow-countrymen.

MR. POWER (Waterford. E.)

quite agreed with the remarks which had fallen from the hon. Member for East Clare to the effect that the statement made by the Secretary to the Admiralty was an advance on those made on former occasions by the hon. Gentleman's predecessors. At the same time he could not help casting his mind back over the many years in which they had made similar propositions, and when they had been almost derided and told of the impossibility of granting their demands. After twenty years it was very comforting to think that the authorities recognised that these demands should be conceded; and he hoped the pledges given would be carried into effect. That hope, however, had been somewhat marred by the second utterance of the hon. Gentleman, which seemed to whittle down very much the concession he had made in his first speech. There was an old saying that "Where there's a will there's a way," and he firmly believed that if the Admiralty were to consider the points which the Irish Members put before them in a sympathetic manner, they would find opportunities of meeting them. These matters had a sentimental as well as a religious side, and the Government, therefore, ought to pay particular attention to the views put forward from the Irish benches. Without in the slightest degree reflecting on any other creed, it was notorious that the feelings of Irishmen were different from those of other people, and that the ministrations of their Church were of far more importance to them than the ministrations of other Churches to their people. Many young fellows—as fine young fellows as were to be found anywhere—-were in his neighbourhood joining the Royal Naval Reserve, and if the Government accepted their services they had a right to provide for their religious ministrations, and to do nothing to outrage their beliefs. He could not see why the position of Catholic chaplains in point of, emolument should be worse than that of chaplains of other creeds, but it was notorious that they were not placed on an equality. In the minds of many the treatment meted out to Catholic chaplains was regarded as a slur upon them; it placed a badge of inferiority upon them compared with chaplains of other creeds, and also a badge of inferiority on the sailors to whom they ministered. Irish Members had, therefore, the right to resent that the Catholic chaplains were not on a par with the chaplains of other creeds. English Catholics had, to some extent, enjoyed the advantages that had been won for them by their fellow Catholics in Ireland, but he thought that the Admiralty should have communicated with Cardinal Logue on this matter, which concerned Irish more than English Catholics. For his part, he thought that the promise which had been made by the representative of the Admiralty could not be considered satisfactory in the least degree.

*MR. O'DOHERTY (Donegal, N.)

said there was one point to which he wished to draw the attention of the hon. Member for West Belfast. During the Naval manoeuvres last year and the year before, when the Channel Squadron was in Irish waters, some of the officers refused to allow the Catholic sailors to go ashore and attend church services, although no manoeuvres were going on at the time. He was not then in Parliament, but he had at that time wrote a letter on the subject to the Admiralty, and had merely received the stereotyped official answer. If the statement of the hon. Member for West Belfast had been made for the first time in reference to this question of naval chaplains, his hon. friend, the Member for South Sligo, might be advised to withdraw his motion. But, so far back as 1896 Mr. Goschen, in answer to the hon. Member for East-Mayo, gave an undertaking that the Admiralty would increase the number of Roman Catholic chaplains in the Navy. Two years later, in answer to a question, also put by the hon. Member for East Mayo, why the undertaking had not been carried out, Mr. Goschen said that the proposal for increasing the number of Catholic chaplains in the Navy had been before the Treasury since 1896; and it was only in 1898 that the permission of the Treasury had been given. How did they know that the same procedure would not be gone through again? It might be three or four years before the Treasury authority would be obtained for the changes promised that night. Ho noticed that seven-eighths of the Vote of £36,000 for Navy chaplains went to chaplains belonging to the Established Church of England. This was not so much a question of religion or nationality as of efficiency. They had been told that England must depend for its safety upon its fleet, and surely every inducement should be offered to young men to join the Navy. He knew in his own constituency of young men who, on account of there being no Catholic chaplains in the Navy, had actually loft this country and joined the American Navy, and so the Empire had lost their services.

MR. MACARTNEY (Antrim, S.)

said he wished to say one word on the question of issuing commissions to Roman Catholic chaplains in the Navy. Hon. Gentlemen opposite seemed to think that these Roman Catholic chaplains, not being commissioned, were placed in some sort of social inferiority to those who were commissioned. He would point out that that was not so. The chaplains in the Navy who were commissioned were not put in a position of superiority; they had no relative rank on hoard ship by reason of their commissions. The issue of commissions to chaplains of the Church of England was a question merely of administrative convenience, in sending them afloat or ashore to any quarter of the world. Their commission entitled them to a cabin on board ship; and, in the event of their death, their widows were entitled to pensions. He wished to point out that Protestant chaplains had on shore no rank on account of their religion above Roman Catholic chaplains: the whole question was one of administrative convenience, and for that reason he was bound to say that, whatever might be the sentiment which lay behind the demand of the hon. Gentleman opposite, in this case there was no actual grievance, and as the Admiralty had no control over Roman Catholic chaplains at ports, and had no authority to move them from one place to another, they were in an entirely different position to Protestant chaplains in the Navy.

DR. THOMPSON (Monaghan, N),

speaking as a Protestant and as a surgeon who had served some years in the Navy, said that in his opinion the Roman Catholics in this matter had a very serious ground for complaint. The Secretary to the Admiralty, so far as he could see, had given no reason whatever why Ro-man Catholic chaplains should not be placed upon the same footing as Protestant chaplains. He thought this difficulty might be got over if that were done. He did not of course believe that unjust concessions or privileges should be made to Catholics or anyone else, but he maintained that there should be no inequality of treatment between Catholics and Protestants, and that any privileges the one possessed should be freely and as a matter of right accorded to the other. The curse of Ireland in the past had been, the maintenance of a system the exact opposite of what he now contended for as regards Catholic naval chaplains. He would respectfully urge upon the Government the necessity of complying with the very reasonable request conveyed to them by every Irish and many English Members who had joined in the debate. So far as the officers in the Navy were concerned, no difficulty would be raised by them. The staff surgeon of the ship upon which he served in the Mediterranean, who was a Roman Catholic, was the most popular man on board, and from his own experience he could say that the officers in His Majesty's Navy did not care two jack straws what a man's religion was so long as he was an agreeable companion and a reliable friend. The whole difficulty would disappear if Roman Catholic chaplains were appointed to each Admiral's ship, with the same status and pay as their Protestant brothers.

MR. J. P FARRELL (Longford, N.)

said he joined in the demand for the redress of this grievance, which was now being debated in the House for the third time. He was present two years previously when the late First Lord of the Admiralty, Lord Goschen, made a distinct promise to the hon. Member for East Mayo that he would find some means of redressing this grievance under which the Catholic sailors suffered, but so far as the Irish Members could learn no effort had been made to carry out that promise. When the House considered that there were 10,000 Roman Catholic seamen serving in the Navy it was surely not an unreasonable demand to make that there should be Roman Catholic chaplains appointed to each ship. If that were done a good deal of the grievance would be removed. It was absolutely absurd for the hon. Member for South Antrim to attempt to argue that, owing to their not holding commission, the Roman Catholic ministers were not branded with the mark of inferiority. The Roman Catholic ministers in this case were quite as much entitled to fair treatment as the Protestants. There were 170 Protestant chaplains in the Navy, most of whom held commission rank in the service. There were no Roman Catholic chaplains who held a like position, and it could not be argued that such a state of things did not place a badge of inferiority on the Roman Catholics. It might be urged that this was a mere matter of sentiment, and that no useful purpose would be served by taking action in the matter, but he would point out that it was a matter of the very deepest interest to the Roman Catholic people of Ireland, from whom the Navy drew 7,000 men a year. Of such deep interest was the question to the parents and to the prelates of Ireland that an embargo had been placed upon the people joining the Service. There was a real and tangible grievance in this matter, for although hon. Gentlemen opposite might call it sentiment, it was one of the most vital questions of the day, affecting as it did the spiritual welfare of many thousands of men in the Navy. There were two complaints with regard to this branch of the Service: one was with regard to the emolument, and second, the question of rank. The Secretary to the Admiralty had in his first speech given great hope that something would be done with regard to these matters, but he had apparently repented of his promise, because in his second reply he had taken away what he had promised on the first occasion; the question therefore would be loft in the same position as it was when Lord Goschen left the Admiralty. Lord Goschen, when First Lord of the Admiralty, made most sympathetic promises, and there the matter ended. The hon. Gentleman would, he supposed, do the same as Lord Goschen had done during the last six years. He had heard it stated from the Government Benches in the past that the Government were afraid to appoint Roman Catholic chaplains to ships containing a Protestant chaplain, because of the friction which might arise, but the hon. Member for North Monaghan had made a most valuable statement with regard to that matter, and conclusively proved that there would be no difficulty in that matter. He could not congratulate the hon. Gentleman opposite on the undoubted change which had taken place in his views since he had been elevated to his present position. When in other days the hon. Gentleman from his seat below the gangway criticised with vigour and ability the Navy Estimates the grievances of the Irish Members had some share of his sympathy, and he implored the hon. Gentleman to show that sympathy now by pressing upon the Department which he represented the fact that this was a live grievance, which wanted remedying. He warned the hon. Member that if he approached the matter in a half-hearted way, or attempted to ignore it, there would, upon subsequent I occasions, be a full ventilation of the grievance from the Irish benches.

MR. T. P. O'CONNOR (Liverpool, Scotland)

said, so far as the Irish Benches were concerned, there was no desire to prolong the debate, and he had hoped a division upon the question might have been avoided, because some of the statements of the Secretary for the Navy, if not altogether satisfactory, had shown a desire to do something with a good grace. He, however, regretted that the hon. Gentleman in his second speech took away the reality of the concessions which he had given in his first. The hon. Member for South Antrim in the course of his observations had said that with regard to the appointment of Roman Catholic chaplains, the Roman Catholics were in no worse position than the Methodists or any other religious sect of this country, but the hon. Member had overlooked the fact that only one religion was represented in the Navy— that of the Established Church—and from that point of view a monopoly was being created in favour of the members of the Established Church. On the other hand, there was an impassable gulf between all sects of Protestantism and the Roman Catholic Church which did not exist between the divisions of the Church of England, so that Methodists and persons of other denominations had the benefit of the ministrations of the Protestant chaplain. This question had been raised over and over again, and he thought that on this occasion some advance had been made with regard to it. They did not demand that a Roman Catholic chaplain should be appointed to every large ship in the Navy, they only asked that one should be appointed to every squadron. The hon. Gentleman the Secretary to the Admiralty, in his speech, had narrowed down his promise with regard to that to promising that if there was a squadron which was going on a long cruise, then, and then only, should a Roman Catholic chaplain be appointed to one of the vessels in the squadron. Every one thought at first that the hon. Gentleman had promised at first that there should be a Roman Catholic chaplain appointed to every squadron wherever it might have to go, and it was not, after all, an unreasonable thing to ask, that when there was a squadron of ships containing 2,000 or 3,000 Catholics they should have the benefit of their spiritual guide, but the hon. Gentleman restricted that concession to a squadron on a long cruise. What made that restriction the more extraordinary was the fact that, after all the agitation upon this matter, after Lord Goschen had practically accepted the principle of the demand of the hon. Members for East Mayo and East Clare, and after all the promises which had been given by Lord Goschen with regard to the matter, the Secretary to the Admiralty had come down and, with a grand appearance of making a great concession, had given what the Board of Admiralty had given twenty-two years before. The Secretary to the Admiralty said that he could only give an Irish chaplain to a squadron which was ordered on a long cruise. On June! 7th, 1878, the Board of Admiralty issued a Mimute which said— My Lords direct that when a large number of ships forming a squadron are sent on any service which will keep them for any length of time from a port where a Roman Catholic priest is in residence, arrangements are to he made for a Roman Catholic chaplain to accompany the squadron. Was it fair to come down to the House in 1901, after twenty-two years of agitation and promises made only to be broken, to meet the Irish Members with the repetition of a Minute issued by the Board of Admiralty twenty-two years previously? It was treating the Irish representatives with ignominy and contempt. He hoped that the First Lord of the Treasury, whom he saw in his place, would give some intimation that the Government intended to act up to some of the promises which had been made; but if he did not, and if they were to be met with a repetition of what had taken place in the past, they could only keep agitating the question. Under the circumstances he should vote for the Amendment.


said he represented a constituency which sent a great number of young men into the Navy, and therefore he desired to protest against the hard and fast line taken by the Admiralty, who absolutely refused to grant to Irish Roman Catholic chaplains the same treatment as was meted out to their brothers in the Protestant religion. The Government were always ready in his district to recruit for the Navy among the hardy fishermen of the neighbourhood. They were ready enough to take the men, but not to spend a few pounds in order that the men they took, who carried their religion deep in their hearts, might have the comfort of the ministrations

of their own religious minister. Would it not be worth while to consider whether men did not make better sailors by having their religion at heart? It was a cruel thing not to provide Catholic chaplains. The concession granted by the hon. Gentleman was utterly worthless, and therefore he hoped the matter would be pressed to a division. If the concessions asked for were not granted he hoped the Government would be able to obtain no more recruits from the west coast of Ireland.

Question put.

The House divided:—Ayes, 154; Noes, 97. (Division List No. 84.)

Williams, Colonel R. (Dorset) Wolff, Gustav Wilhelm TELLERS FOR THE AYES—Sir William Walrond and Mr. Hayes Fisher.
Wilson, John (Falkirk) Wortley, Rt. Hn. C. B. Stuart-
Wilson, John (Glasgow) Wrightson, Sir Thomas
Wilson-Todd, Wm. H. (Yorks) Wyndham, Rt. Hon. George
Wodehouse, Rt Hn E. R. (Bath) Young, Commanded (Berks, E.)
Abraham, William (Cork, N. E.) Flynn, James Christopher O'Donnell, T. (Kerry, W.)
Allan, William (Gateshead) Gilhooly, James O'Dowd, John
Ambrose, Robert Goddard, Daniel Ford O'Kelly, Conor (Mayo, N.)
Asher, Alexander Hammond, John O'Kelly, James (Roscommon, N.
Austin, Sir John Harmsworth, R. Leicester O'Malley, William
Barlow, John Emmott Hayden, John Patrick O'Mara, James
Barry, E. (Cork, S.) Hemphill, Rt. Hon. Chas. H. O'Shaughnessy, P. J.
Bell, Richard Holland, William Henry O'Shee, James John
Blake, Edward Hope, John Deans (Fife, W.) Partington, Oswald
Boland, John Jameson, Major J. Eustace Pirie, Duncan V.
Bolton, Thomas Dolling Joicey, Sir James Power, Patrick Joseph
Boyle, James Joyce, Michael Reddy, M.
Brigg, John Kearley, Hudson E. Redmond, John E. (Waterford
Burke, E. Haviland- Kennedy, Patrick James Redmond, William (Clare)
Burt, Thomas Kinloch, Sir John George Smyth Rickett, J. Compton
Caldwell, James Kitson, Sir James Rigg, Richard
Campbell, John (Armagh, S.) Leamy, Edmund Roberts, John Bryn (Eifion)
Carvill, Patrick Geo. Hamilton Lundon, W. Roche, John
Clancy, John Joseph MacDonnell, Dr. Mark A. Schwan, Charles E.
Colville, John Macnamara, Dr. Thomas J. Shipman, Dr. John G.
Condon, Thomas Joseph M'Dermott, Patrick Sullivan, Donal
Crean, Eugene M'Fadden, Edward Taylor, Theodore Cooke
Cremer, William Randal M'Killop, W. (Sligo, North) Thomas, David Alfred (Merth'r
Cullinan, J. M'Laren, Charles Benjamin Thompson, E. C. (Monaghan, N.
Daly, James Morton, Edw. J.C. (Devonport) Thomson, F. W. (York, W.R.)
Davies, Alfred (Carmarthen) Murphy, J. Whiteley, G. (York, W. R.)
Doogan, P. C. Nannetti, Joseph P. Wilson, Henry J. (York, W. R.)
Duffy, William J. Nolan, Joseph (Louth, South) Wilson, John (Durham, Mid.)
Duncan, James H. Norton, Capt. Cecil William Young, Samuel (Cavan, East)
Farrell, James Patrick O'Brien, James F. X. (Cork)
Fenwick, Charles O'Brien, K. (Tipperary, Mid.) TELLERS FOR THE NOES—Captain Donelan and Mr. Patrick O'Brien.
Ffrench, Peter O'Connor, James (Wicklow, W.
Field, William O'Connor, T. P. (Liverpool)
Flavin, Michael Joseph O'Doherty, William

Main Question again proposed.