HC Deb 01 August 1912 vol 41 cc2242-3

asked if the right hon. Gentleman is aware that 1,073 petitions have been presented from Wales and Monmouthshire, containing 552,477 signatures of adult persons, praying that I he Established Church (Wales) Bill be not further proceeded with, and that only one petition, containing only one signature, has been presented in favour of the measure, and that petition comes, not from Wales, but from Scotland; and whether, in view of the evident hostility to the Bill and the want of enthusiasm on the part of its supporters, the Government propose to drop it?


Before the right hon. Gentleman answers this question, may I ask him whether he has observed that eight pages in one petition are signed by a "X" and by illiterates, that in another petition there is a whole page of workhouse inmates, that in another petition there is a whole page of girls of a high school, and that in several other petitions there are a large number of people described as inhabitants who are trippers or visitors to seaside or holiday resorts; and whether also he has observed that, taking the whole petitions, there is a large preponderance of women and children over those of the masculine gender?

Viscount WOLMER

Is the right hon. Gentleman aware these petitions were signed by adults only and inhabitants of Wales?


I have not examined them myself and cannot say whether all the circumstances mentioned by my hon. Friend are to be found upon the face of the petitions themselves, but the facts which he has stated would not be inconsistent with the allegation that they have all been signed by adult persons. The Prime Minister has asked me to reply to the question on the Paper. With regard to the first part of the question, I must refer the hon Member to the replies which I gave to the hon. Member for East Nottingham on the 15th and 24th of July. The Government will proceed with the Bill at the earliest possible opportunity in accordance with the desire, constitutionally expressed at eight General Elections at least, of a large majority of the Welsh people.


May I ask the right hon. Gentleman whether it is therefore the intention of the Government to force through this Bill, under the Parliament Act, without any regard to public opinion at all?


The Government are perfectly satisfied public opinion in Wales supports this Bill.

Sir J. D. REES

May I ask the right hon. Gentleman whether Wales is a separate political unit so that its majority holds good irrespective of the rest of the United Kingdom of which it is a part?


The position of Wales is precisely the same as when the hon. Member represented a Welsh constituency and held the same views upon the subject as I hold still.

Sir J. D. REES

May I ask the right hon. Gentleman whether there is not a place for glorious repentance open for him also?

Viscount WOLMER

Will the right hon. Gentleman kindly say how many Welsh Members mentioned the Bill in their election addresses?