§ Order for Committee read.
§ Sir ARTHUR GRIFFITH-BOSCAWEN
I beg to move, "That it be an Instruction to the Committee that they have power to divide the Bill into two Bills, the one dealing with the termination of the establishment of the Church of England in Wales and Monmouthshire, and the other with the provisions in respect of the temporalities thereof; and that the two Bills be reported separately to the House."
This Instruction simply seeks to divide the Bill into two Bills, or rather to give the Committee power to divide the Bill into two, namely, Disestablishment and Disendowment. It does not commit, anybody either to Disestablishment or to Disendowment. It does not commit anybody either against Disestablishment or to Disendowment. If we vote for it on this side it does not imply that we are in favour of Disestablishment. If hon. Members opposite vote for it, it does not imply that they are opposed to Disendowment. It merely says these two questions are different questions which ought not to be mixed up in one Bill, but ought to be separated and made two distinct issues, and the effect is that if the Instruction is carried, when the Bill comes back from Committee and when the Debate on the Third Reading takes place, instead of having to give what I might call a composite vote on the two questions mixed it would be open to Members to vote for one and to vote against the other. I think having regard to the circumstances under which we are discussing this Bill and having regard to the state of public opinion in the country, it is not an unreasonable demand and not a demand that I put forward in any party spirit, for I hope to have support from the other side and I hope that the Government may see fit to accept it or at all events not to put the party Whips on on a matter of this sort. I have to admit that I moved precisely the same Instruction seventeen years ago on the Bill of 1895 and on that occasion we had a purely party vote and I got no support from the other side. But I contend that circumstances have entirely changed in the interval. I am quite sure from my per- 1762 sonal knowledge that the agitation in favour of Disestablishment and Disendowment has greatly weakened in the last seventeen years in England and in Wales too. You have only to see the magnificent meetings which have been held in Wales—one last night at Mountain Ash addressed by my hon. and learned Friend (Sir A. Cripps)—to know that the feeling both on Disendowment and Disestablishment has very greatly weakened in Wales.
But it is still more true that the feeling in favour of Disendowment has weakened infinitely more than the feeling in favour of Disestablishment. I quite agree that seventeen years ago those who supported Disestablishment in the main also supported Disendowment, but that is not the case now. There has been a great change, and I think the change is due to two causes. The old Liberationist idea that the Church should have no connection with the State, that there should be no endowments, that anything in the nature of endowments was a corrupting influence, has largely died down. There has been, as regards the Nonconformists, a complete change in their ideas and their system. The old Nonconformist idea was of a ministry which was not trained and was certainly not endowed—the working man who very likely did his ordinary avocations in the week and preached on Sundays, supported by the voluntary contributions of his flock—in many ways, I admit, a beautiful idea but one that is found to be quite impracticable in everyday life. We see the Nonconformists now are endeavouring to have a highly trained ministry, that both in England and Wales they are gathering endowments, they are asking for a minimum wage for ministers, and they are building up sustentation funds. They are notorious to every Member of the House. [HON MEMBERS: "Voluntary."] I do not wish to go into the history of endowments, but I could very easily show that our endowments are equally voluntary. But that is not the point. The point is that the old Liberationist idea was that no religion should be endowed at all. [HON. MEMBERS: "No."] That was the old idea. [HON. MEMBERS: "No."] I am rot going to give way to the opinion of hon. Members opposite. We all know perfectly well that was the idea.
§ Mr. SPEAKER
Interruptions only prolong debate. The hon. Member for North Somerset makes a good many of these interruptions. I would suggest that he should take his chance in the Debate, and if he succeeds in being called, we shall be very glad to hear him.
§ Sir A. GRIFFITH-BOSCAWEN
The hon. Member will find from history that that was the origin of Nonconformity, but I will not put it so high. When Nonconformity made up sustentation funds does it not occur to them that it is most inconsistent to be taking away the endowments of a church? The feeling against the Church has largely died down. I can remember the time when there was a very bitter feeling against the Church of England, especially in Wales twenty-five or thirty years ago. That feeling has largely disappeared, and it exists, in my opinion, among those who mix up religion with politics. We see the alteration expressed in a nutshell in a remarkable statement the other day by Mr. Radcliffe, a leading Churchman in Wales. [An HON. MEMBER: "He is a churchman."] He is not a Churchman. [HON. MEMBERS: "Yes he is."] If he is, he has very lately become one. He has probably become one on account of your Bill. He said he objected to a Bill which took away money from religion and gave it to worldly purposes. Having regard, therefore, to the complete change of circumstances which we all admit, I hope we shall get a great deal of support from the other side for this Instruction on the present occasion than when it was before the House seventeen years ago. I do not want to labour the point.
I want to put before the House two sets of considerations, the first is that the arguments for Disestablishment are perfectly different from the arguments for Disendowment. The second is that there are, as a matter of fact, both in the country and on the other side of the House, a large number of people who are in favour of the one and not in favour of the other, and if I prove that, I think I shall have proved why the Bill should be divided into two halves. Take the argument of religious equality. If I were arguing in favour of Disestablishment, I would argue on the ground of religious equality. It may be contended that there is a great deal to be said from the Disestablishment point of view in the argument that one particular religious body should not have special privileges. 1764 That is the argument for religious equality. But if that is applied to Disendowment, and if you take all but 6s. 8d. away from the Church, you ought to take all but 6s. 8d. away from the chapels too. Of course, otherwise you produce, as you do produce in this Bill, inequality of the most unjust kind. I know it is argued that there is a difference. It is said that their money is voluntary and that our property was given to us by the State. After all it is for the people who make that assertion to prove it. Look how inconsistent your arguments are. The Chancellor of the Exchequer on the Second Reading of the Bill, quoting from Professor Maitland, said:—The Church was first established at the time of the Reformation.Well, if that is so, and if the Church got its money because it was established, you ought to take away the money given since the Reformation and let it keep the money it got before the Reformation. As a matter of fact you do the exact opposite. You take away the money which the Church acquired, according to the Chancellor of the Exchequer, before it was established, and you leave to the Church all the property given to it by people who knew perfectly well when they gave the money that it was an Established Church.
Take the next argument—what I call the national argument. I believe that a very strong argument is made by hon. Members opposite that the Church in Wales ought to be Disestablished, because she is not the Church of the Welsh people. [An HON. MEMBER: "Hear, hear."] I am very glad to get that cheer, because it shows that I have rightly interpreted their views. The argument that it is the Church of the minority may be a very good argument for Disestablishment. You may argue that it is wrong that the Church of the minority should be established. But is that an argument for Disendowment? May not a minority hold Endowments? If not, how is it that Nonconformists hold Endowments both in England and Wales. I take a case which came before the House very recently—the Scottish Churches case. In that case there was a minority. The hon. Member opposite will admit that the Church of the minority was the United Free Church. She lost the right through a technicality to hold her Endowments. You may say that the Church of the minority ought not to be endowed, but Parliament said exactly the opposite. Parliament passed an Act to give her back her Endowments. [An HON. MEMBER: 1765 "Quite wrong."] Was it the other way about? Does the hon. Member think he knows everything? I was in the House when the Act was passed, and, as a matter of fact, my statement of the case, I believe, to be absolutely accurate. [An HON. MEMBER: "Quite wrong."] Take another case. It is often argued that the fact that there was Disestablishment and Disendowment in Ireland is a precedent for this Bill. I have never been able to see that the Irish case is a precedent. In Australia, where the Church was Disestablished, and in Canada, where a similar process took place, the Churches were allowed to retain their Endowments. Those are precedents in favour of the Instruction I am moving. There is a further point which has been argued before, namely, that in Ireland it was a case merely of dealing with the surplus Endowments. It was contended, and probably rightly, that the Irish Church had more Endowments than she was able to use. In the present case nobody suggests that is true of the Church in Wales. On the contrary we know that she is a poor Church, and that it is necessary to supplement her Endowments by voluntary subscriptions in order to enable her to carry on the great work she is doing at the present time. Let me take the representation argument which we hear so much about. Hon. Members opposite rely chiefly upon it. It is that there are thirty-one Members here from Wales in favour of Disestablishment and Disendowment. They say, though I think they say wrongly, that they fought their Election on that question. Even if they did light it on Disestablishment, did they fight it on Disendowment? Did the electors know the terms of the Rill? Did they know that the curates would be cut off without a single penny compensation, or that the churchyards would be taken away which surround the Churches and that it would be impossible to have access to the Churches without going on ether people's property? Were the various harsh terms of this Bill before the electors? They were not. What hon. Members did was make vague allusions to Disestablishment and still more vague allusions to religious equality. However much it may be argued that Wales has pronounced in favour of Disestablishment it is an utter absurdity to suggest that Wales pronounced in favour of Disendowment, and inasmuch as the arguments for one are utterly different from those for the other we have a primâ facie case for dividing the Bill. Take the case of conveni- 1766 ence. If I can prove, as I think I can, that there is a large volume of opinion in the House and a still larger volume of opinion in the country in favour of one and not in favour of the other the case for dividing the Bills so that you may get separate votes on the Third Reading is unanswerable. A conference of Churchmen, mostly Liberal Churchmen, was held on the 8th of June last in London. The chairman was Dr. Percy Dearman. I do not know whether I should describe him as a Liberal or a Socialist. Among other people who signed the statement drawn up at that conference were Mr. F. L. Donaldson, a well-known clergyman in Leicester and a great friend of the hon. Member for Leicester the Leader of the Labour party; the Rev. A. J. Waldron, the well-known Vicar of Brixton, who is a strong Liberal, as I have personal knowledge, because he was my opponent at the London County Council, and Mr. G. A. Bray, a London Progressive member of the London County Council. They passed this resolution:—We can find no reason why readjustment, whether it be called Disestablishment or not, should necessarily involve Disendowment.I will take next Dr. Gore, Bishop of Oxford, a great authority in this country, and one frequently quoted by hon. Members opposite. Speaking at the Representative Church Council last July he described the Bill in its present form as "unwarrantable and unjust." Another well-known clergyman who has just been appointed to a good position on the advice I believe of the Prime Minister, the Dean of Durham, Canon Hensley Henson, on 14th November, 1911, addressing the Congregational Board of Ministers at the Memorial Hall, said:—For the sake of argument I assume that Disestablishment has been accepted. The mischief enters at the point of Disendowment, because there is no pretence at any conscientious justification in that respect. No Nonconformist can plead that his conscience requires that the Disestablished Church shall be suffered to retain no more than a specified fraction of the property.… History, so full of violence, offers no justification for such a wrong.… If the State, for its own purposes, against, the will of the Church, insists on dissolving partnership, is it not a gross breach of equity to penalise the Church for the compulsory change?But I do not rely only on opinion outside. I rely on the views of hon. Members opposite. I will take the hon. Member for Merthyr Tydvil (Mr. Edgar Jones) a Member of the Welsh party. In a speech made rather more than a year ago he distinctly said he could see no reason for coupling these unjust Disendowment Clauses—I am paraphrasing his statement—
§ Sir A. GRIFFITH-BOSCAWEN
I will read it:—What was the attitude of the victors going to be with regard to the money? Were they going to say they could not possibly allow this money to be used for keeping open the Churches? Would they say they were bound to take it from them and use it for general purposes through the medium of the county councils? Let them have a clear and definite decision on this point before they fought over it in the House of Commons. Or were they in the mood for sayiag that in the hour of victory, having got this new free organisation of the Church—that is Disestablishment,to start work side by side with them, they would be generous and charitable and give the equivalent of these values, subject to conditions so that it should not be said that they ever robbed or confiscated Church property, but were willing to sacrifice and be charitable to start the Church on its new career.
§ Sir A. GRIFFITH-BOSCAWEN
Of course I apologise if I misquoted, but I took it from the strongest Liberal newspaper in Wales. That was a very generous and noble speech on the part of the hon. Member, and I hope he will live up to his principles by supporting me in the Division Lobby. Take now the hon. Member for Lowestoft (Sir E. Beauchamp). Speaking on the Second Reading, he said:So far as I understand, in order to remove religious inequality, the advocates of this Bill are seeking to deprive a religious body with which they have no quarrel, of a certain portion of the means which are admittedly necessary in order that she may maintain her work and do it efficiently.That is a clear statement that Disendowment does not and ought not to go with Disestablishment. The hon. Member for Morley (Mr. France) said:—I part company with the Government in regard to their proposals in this respect and to this extent, that I question very greatly whether it is right to take from any Church moneys which they may not have any moral or legal rights to, but which have admittedly been used for at least two centuries for religious purposes, and which are being used at present for those purposes and for which there is every intention to use them in the future.So far for the country and for the back benches. I now come to the Government Bench. I am not going to say that either the Home Secretary or the Under-Secretary is against Disendowment. I do not think they are. I think that the Home Secretary would be, but that he has twisted himself up in the meshes of his freak theory tithe and therefore he cannot support me on this occasion. I do not say that the Under-Secretary would sup- 1768 port me, because he said quite frankly that he was in favour of Disestablishment and Disendowment, because it was a policy with money in it, and he added it was the only policy worth having. Tossibly the Under-Secretary might vote for my Resolution, because he may be in favour of Disendowment without Disestablishment. But I admit that I can hardly expect him to accept that position. But there is the Chancellor of the Duchy (Mr. Hobhouse). I think he ought to vote for this Instruction. What did he say on the Second Reading 1—This Bill deals both with the aspect of Disestablishment and Disendowment, and as there are different values attached to those questions by lion. Members on that side as well as this, we are bound to present each case separately, distinguishing between the case of Disestablishment and the case for Disendowment.Clearly as a man of high principle the right hon. Gentleman must support me in the Lobby on this Instruction. I come even nearer home—I take the Chancellor of the Exchequer (Mr. Lloyd George). I believe that the Chancellor of the Exchequer, though undoubtedly in favour of Disestablishment, is not in favour of Disendowment. I believe that in that generous heart of his he does not wish to rob the poor Church in Wales, and I think he holds very strongly, in regard to Disendowment, that the pillage and robbery which have taken place once before in our history ought not to be repeated, because what was the burden of his speech? I listened to his speech on the First Reading and to his speech on the Second Reading; I read his speeches at Carnarvon and Swansea, and the whole burden of those speeches was that a grievous wrong was done at the time of the Reformation, and that Henry VIII. was a very wicked man—that is the Chancellor of the Exchequer's view—and that some of my hon. Friends who, through some ancestors, may have got this property, are very wicked men, and they, at all events, have no right to oppose this Bill. Let me give one quotation from the right hon. Gentleman's speech on the Second Reading. Speaking of the Disendowment that took place at the Reformation, he said:—It is one of the most disgraceful and discreditable records in the history of this country. Look at the whole story of the pillage of the Reformation. They robbed the Catholic Church, they robbed the monastories, they robbed the altars, they robbed the almshouses, they robbed the poor, and they robbed the dead. Then they come here when we are trying to seek, at any rate, to recover some part of this pillaged property for the poor to whom it was originally given—You are not giving back a single penny that was alienated at the Reformation: on 1769 the contrary, you are going to continue the pillage—and they venture, with hands dripping with the fat of sacrilege, to accuse us of robbery of God.Does he want to have his hands "dripping with the fat of sacrilege." Does the Chancellor of the Exchequer want to go down to history as a second Henry VIII.? I think he runs a grave risk of that. I think the Home Secretary will go down to history as the Thomas Cromwell of the period. But surely when we find the Chancellor of the Exchequer in his speech denouncing what took place at the Reformation as pillage, robbery, desecration, and the rest of it, how can he approve of continuing the process at the present day, and can it not be that in his real heart of hearts he is as much opposed to Disendowment as I am myself? If, as T have shown also, there is a strong body of opinion in favour of one thing and not of the other, surely that is the sort of case for dividing the Bill and allowing Members to give their votes separately on the two different parts. When I moved this Instruction seventeen years ago, I quoted the statement of the late Lord Selborne, a great authority. He said:—Disestablishment and Disendowment do not necessarily go together.The Prime Minister thought it sufficient to quote in reply to me another statement of the late Lord Selborne, and said it was clear Lord Selborne had changed his mind, inasmuch as nobody now proposed to separate Disestablishment and Disendowment. That may have been true in 1895, it certainly is not true at the present time; and, because it is not true, I move my Instruction, which I hope will receive consideration at the hands of the House.
§ Mr. HOARE
I beg to second the Motion.
I believe that three propositions can be substantiated. In the first place, there is no connection between Establishment and Endowment in principle; secondly, I believe there is no connection in history; and I believe, thirdly, there is no connection between them in practice. If that be the ease, I submit that our demand for the division of this Bill into two parts is unanswerable. I remember that three weeks ago, in discussing the Closure Resolution, the hon. Member for Osgoldcross (Sir J. Compton-Rickett) blamed us for saying so little about Disestablishment and so much about Disendowment. We then denied the justice of his charge. We believe, in fact, that the con- 1770 trary is the case, and it would be much truer to say that hon. Gentlemen opposite avoid as much as they can saying anything about Disendowment, and concentrate the attention of this House and the country upon Disestablishment. That being so, it seems to me that the grievance may be redressed by dividing the Bill into two Bills, and giving each of these two questions, which are quite distinct and separate in themselves, an opportunity for separate and distinct discussion. First of all, I believe that Disestablishment and Disendowment differ in principle. What, after all, is Establishment? The relation between Church and State conveys a variety of meanings to almost every Member of this House. The Under-Secretary for the Home Office, for instance, seems to identify it chiefly with the Bishop of St. David's place at a dinner party. That seems to me to be a restricted view of the relation between Church and State.
§ Mr. ELLIS GRIFFITH
Will the hon. Gentleman say when I said anything about the Bishop of St. David's?
§ Mr. HOARE
The Under-Secretary, when challenged on the Second Reading as to the position of the Establishment, pointed to the social privileges of the Established Church; and when he was further challenged by my right hon. Friend the Member for the City of London as to what he implied, particularly with reference to social functions, he was unable to give my right hon. Friend any answer. Anyhow, let me pass from that, and take a definition of Establishment with which I think the hon. Member will be in agreement. During the last few weeks a small volume has been published by the Disestablishment Campaign Committee. In the beginning of it there is a chapter devoted to what is Establishment, and I think hon. Members opposite who have read that chapter will agree with me that I am not misrepresenting the statement of the case in those pages when I say that it mainly consists of three things. In the first place, there is the coercive jurisdiction of the Ecclesiastical Courts; in the second place, the representation of the Church as an independent estate of the realm in Convocation, with certain restrictions involved in that relation with reference to its powers of legislation and its powers of meeting; and in the third place, the presence of the bishops in the House of Lords, and the disability of the clergy to sit 1771 in this Chamber. I believe that I am right in saying that around those three features all the details of what is meant by Establishment can be grouped. I venture to urge that not one of those relations has anything whatever to do with Endowment. You might disendow the Church, but, at the same time, the bishops might none the less sit in a House of Lords. You might disendow the Church, but there is no kind of reason why the jurisdiction of the Ecclesiastical Courts should not continue. And I believe the converse is true with reference to Endowment. If hon. Members will analyse the Endowments of the National Church in Wales they will find that, possibly with one controversial exception with which I will deal later, none of those endowments have anything whatever to do with Establishment. Take, first of all, the churches and the churchyards apart from burial grounds. I imagine that hon. Members opposite do not believe that the possession of the churches and churchyards has anything to do with Establishment, for if they had I do not suppose they would allow the Church to continue in its possession of them as they are doing under this Bill. Take, again, the question of glebe. There, again, you acknowledge that, at any rate, glebes have nothing to do with Establishment, for you allow the Church to retain possession of certain portions of glebe under certain conditions. Take the most marked controversial case, that of tithes, and I believe it can be shown that tithe too, the possession of tithe, has nothing whatever to do with the legal relation between Church and State.
I believe that can be shown in three ways. I believe it can be shown as an historical proposition, for it is undoubted that there are many cases of tithe prior to what we now understand as the existence of the Established Church. During the Second Beading Debate, a right hon. Gentleman opposite made a great deal of Giraldus Cambrensis as a reliable historian. Let me remind him that Giraldus Cambrensis explicitly declares that the payment of tithes was first made in the year 429 in Wales upon the advice of two Saints, St. Germanas and St. Lupus, who had come over from France. In that case I do not think it can be urged for one moment that in the year 429 the Church was Established as we now understand it to be Established, and that as a historical proposition there is any connection at all between the posses- 1772 sion of tithes and the existence of Establishment. Let me give the House another instance taken from many centuries later, an instance that applies to a different state of affairs, and all the more marked as it applies to a time when the Church was, to a great extent, as we now understand it, Established. It is the well known case of the donation made by one George Barlow in the year 1640 to the vicarage of Slebeeh, in the county of Pembrokeshire. I think it is worth quoting, as it bears directly upon this present proposition. It is dated 1640, and is a follows:—I, George Barlow, of Slebech, finding it an ancient institution of primitive times to make, consecrate and endow vicarages with tithes, the patrons reserving power to themselves of presenting, and holding it also unjust and a principle in conscience not to perform the same accordingly, do make a perpetual vicarage endowed with cure of souls in Slebech, presentative by me and my heirs, and do also freely give and for ever grant unto the said parish church of Slebech and vicars the house lately by me to that purpose built and lands thereto belonging near the churchyard together with all tithes within the parish of Slebech, township of Priston, and Millhill in the parish of Bonlton, except Sheaffe, and all manner of tithes of what nature and kind soever issuing within the demesne lands of Slebech now in my tenure and occupation. If any shall take away from the holy Church of God the premises in part or in all so by me given (which I hope no man ever will), let his account be without mercy at the dreadful Day of Judgment when he shall come to receive his doom at the hands of the Judge of heaven and earth to whom I dedicate the same.I do not believe that in view of an explicit legacy of that kind made in the year 1640 it can be urged that the possession of tithes has any relation to the existence of an Established Church. There is a further case still, and I believe it is even a more marked case. There is the case of what happened in Canada in the eighteenth century. In Canada when the British nation occupied the French Provinces in the year 1759 the Roman Catholic Church was de facto Disestablished, but the Roman Church was not Disendowed, and with this result that even at the present moment the Disestablished Roman Catholic Church in Canada is still in possession of tithes and still enforces them throughout the Province of Quebec. The exact contrary was the case in France, for there you had the case in 1789 of the Church being Disestablished and being Disendowed. It was reestablished again by Napoleon a few years later, and it was re-endowed, but it was not given its possession of tithes. Thus you have the case of Canada with a Disestablished Church in the possession of tithes, and you have the case of France, up to a few years ago, an Established Church, without possession of tithes. In other words, 1773 the possession of tithes has no kind of connection with the existence of Establishment. It may be urged that even if that is so that it is not now practicable, and that you cannot now divide these two issues, and that if you have Disestablishment you must have Disendowment at the same time. Here, again, let me take one or two actual cases from modern history which seem to me to prove that the proposition of my hon. Friend to divide the Bill is a perfectly practicable one. Let me take the case of what happened in the West Indian Colonies during the nineteenth century. There, I believe as a result of the Colenso judgment in 1867 in Natal the relations were changed between the Church and the State, and what happened? In some cases Disestablishment was accompanied by Disendowment and in other cases Disestablishment was accompanied by concurrent Endowment. In certain cases there was Disestablishment without any Disendowment at all, and in other cases there was a partial measure of Disendowment and Disestablishment. In one marked case there was Disendowment without Disestablishment. That seems to me to show that there is no kind of connection between the two in point of modern practice. In each of these West Indian islands it amounts to something different. If that is the case in the middle of the nineteenh century, it seems to be even more applicable at the present moment, when there is a very large body of opinion in the country in favour of Disestablishment but not of Disendowment.
But I do not base my argument solely on these considerations; I base it upon a consideration which I believe to be even more important than those I have put before the House. I believe that quite apart from its legal aspect, Establishment stands for a most important spiritual relation between Church and State, and that in that relation it raises a case so momentous as to deserve separate and isolated treatment, unconfused with any proposals for Disendowment. There are many Members on this side and many people in the country who attach even more importance to Establishment than to Endowment. We believe that, unjust as your proposals in reference to Disendowment are, they are not the most serious part of your Bill. We believe so strongly in Establishment in its aspect of the nation's formal and official recognition of Christianity, that many of us hold that it is the most important question that we can be called upon to discuss in this House. 1774 That being our feeling—and it is a very deep feeling—we support, with all our power the proposal to divide the Bill into two, in order that we may have an opportunity of concentrating the attention to which so grave a subject is entitled upon Establishment in one distinct and separate measure, unconfused with extraneous and irrelevant details. I cannot speak too strongly upon that aspect of the case. I genuinely believe that there is no question which deserves more grave and careful consideration than does this relation between Church and State, and I appeal to hon. Members opposite, many of whom I believe would like to see this Bill divided into two, to support my hon. Friend when he goes to a Division.
§ 1.0 P.M.
Mr. LLEWELYN WILLIAMS
No one on this side disputes the truth of the hon. Member's statement that it is practicable to have Disestablishment with out Disendowment. But I question whether it is competent for the House, after what happened yesterday, to divide the Bill into two. Up to half-past five this morning we were engaged in discussing and passing a Resolution that certain time should be allocated to this one Bill—so many days for the one Committee stage, two days for the one Report stage, and, I think, one day for the Third Reading of the one Bill. We have therefore decided, as I think, that there should be one Bill. We are now asked to divide it into two, so as to have two Committee stages, two Report stages, and two Third Reading stages of this Bill. I do not like to raise a technical point of that sort to see whether I am right in my view, but I suggest that in substance, at all events, the House has already decided that the question of Disestablishment must go along with the question of Disendowment. The reason is perfectly obvious. It is quite impossible to separate the two cases even in this Bill. It is true that Clause 1 deals with Disestablishment pure and simple, while Clause 2 goes on to dissolve the ecclesiastical corporations. The Endowments now being enjoyed by the Church of England in Wales, after the Clause 2 has been passed, will have no owner, so that, even if all Endowments are to be left in the hands of the Church after Disestablishment, the Disestablished Church will have to be re-endowed with these funds. Hence, on that ground also, I submit that it is impossible as a matter of practice for the House to separate the Bill into two parts.
1775 But a very much larger question than these merely technical points is involved in this consideration. The Mover of the Instruction seeks to separate Disestablishment and Disendowment on this ground: he is under the impression that of late years there has been a change of opinion amongst Nonconformists on the question of Disendowment. To me Disestablishment is an impossibility without some measure of Disendowment following. [HON. MEMBERS: "Why?"] I am not alone in that opinion. If I remember rightly, Mr. Disraeli held the same view. He said that if you Disestablish the Church without Disendowing it you create an intolerable imperium in imperio. There never has been a proposal made in any part of the world, as far as I know, for Disestablishing a Church without Disendowing it as well. I go further, and say that the measure of Disendowment proposed in this Bill is a most generous measure to the Church. There have been established Churches all over the world, and I say here that the Church of Wales is the only alien Church that is Established to-day in the whole British Empire. There have been Established Churches in the United States. In Massachusetts the Congregationalists were Established. When they were Disestablished not a penny piece was paid in compensation to the existing ministers. In Virginia the Church of England was Established, and so on. In various States various forms of religion were Established by law, but in no case when Disestablishment took place was there anything like as generous a measure of compensation given as proposed under this Bill. I submit, therefore, that in this matter we are dealing very generously indeed.
It is, I submit, unreasonable on the part of the Opposition to ask that this Bill should be divided. What is the position they have taken up till now? They have said—and I honour them for it—that to them Disestablishment is a far greater evil than Disendowment. The hon. Member for Chelsea has just reiterated that in terms of absolute sincerity. Not once or twice, but on many platforms it has been stated that what is objected to most in this Bill is not the proposal to Disendow the Church in Wales, but to Disestablish it, and so do away with the national recognition of religion. That is a standpoint which I can respect and honour. I cannot believe there is any man who is a Christian 1776 or has read the history of Christianity in every country that can believe that the Church of God will be any worse off for a measure of Disendowment. What is the position in Wales to-day? Read the history of that Church for the last 200 years! It has been the case that when the Church in every era relied on the voluntary sacrifices of its members that religion flourishes most. The right hon. and learned Gentleman the Member for the Walton Division has told us that even if we offered him 19s. 11d. in the £—and I understood him to speak on behalf of the Church hierarchy it would not allay in any way opposition or hostility. I agree with him. But that means that the question of Disestablishment is bound up with the question of Disendowment. What is happenning in Wales to-day? Here you have a Church which hon. Members have not denied is the Church largely of rich people in Wales.
Mr. LLEWELYN WILLIAMS
It is the Church of the hon. Member for Denbigh and also the hon. Member who sits next to him.
Mr. LLEWELYN WILLIAMS
I believe the hon. Gentleman is a descendant of the princes of Wales. The landowners of Wales are almost to a man members of the Established Church.
§ Mr. SPEAKER
I deprecate these personal allusions. The hon. Member who is speaking began the attack upon hon. Members opposite. He said they were rich and belonged to a particular Church.
§ Mr. SPEAKER
Of course, that leads to replies. I think these personal allusions are really out of place.
§ Mr. ORMSBY-GORE
On that point of Order. I certainly would not have interrupted, and do not wish to interrupt—I wish to impart no heat into this discussion—if the hon. Member had not made a 1777 deliberate personal attack upon me, and given utterance to calumnies against the Church to which I belong.
Mr. LLEWELYN WILLIAMS
If the lion. Member is under the impression that I was attacking him I withdraw it. But my recollection is that I said the Church in Wales was in the main the Church of the rich.
§ Mr. SPEAKER
That is true; then the hon. Member pointed to the lion. Gentleman opposite to him. [HON. MEMBERS: "After the interruption."]
Mr. LLEWELYN WILLIAMS
I deprecate very much these interruptions, but when I was interrupted, as I was by the hon. Member, I think I am within my right in answering the interruption. However, Mr. Speaker, to come back to the point I was referring to, I say as a man who has lived in Wales all his life, and who knows Wales as well as anybody in this House, that the Church of England in Wales is the Church of the rich. You have only to go to the rural parishes in Wales where endowments are, and then turn to the industrial districts and the great towns where the ancient endowments are very small and very few, and note the difference. Why is it 1 Because of the enthusiasm of the members of the churches themselves. That is the secret of the success of every Christian Church in every age. If hon. Members opposite would have a little more faith in their own Church—
§ Mr. SPEAKER
Really, I would ask the hon. Member who is addressing the House to be a little less provocative. [HON. MEMBERS: "Oh, oh!"] He knows that this subject raises a great deal of feeling, and when he suggests that hon. Members opposite have not enough faith in their own Church, he must see that it is very provocative
§ Mr. SPEAKER
I object to provocation by either side. That is why I was suggesting to the hon. Member that he should not offer provocation.
§ Mr. ORMSBY-GORE
On a point of Order. Has either of my hon. Friends, or have I, made a single provocative remark?
§ Mr. SPEAKER
The two first speeches this afternoon were not the least provocative. There was no interruption and no noise. I do point out to the hon. Member that it is not desirable to suggest to hon. Members opposite that they have not enough faith in their own Church.
Mr. LLEWELYN WILLIAMS
All I wished to say, if I had not been interrupted, was that if hon. Members had more faith in their own Church and placed less reliance on the material things of this world as helping the progress of that Church, they would see that, this Bill would not really touch the essence of the Church, whose interests I know they have at heart. It is all very well for hon. Members opposite to taunt us with being provocative but what have we been listening to? Do hon. Members opposite think that we do not feel strongly upon this question? We have been taunted by the Noble Lord the Member for Hitchin on the last occasion with being animated with feelings of sectarian spite and passion. I repudiate it entirely. No one who knows the history of this question and the character of the men at the head of it will for a moment subscribe to such mean and contemptible expressions of opinion. The question of Disestablishment in Wales came forward as a prominent question in 1868; and what was the question then put before the Welsh people? Not a question of religious equality for themselves, but a question of religious equality for the Roman Catholics of Ireland, and appeals were made to sectarian passion then, in order to get the Welsh peasants in the days of open voting to refuse religious equality to the Roman Catholics of Ireland, and to those appeals were added threats that if they voted for religious equality for Ireland serious consequences would follow to them; and they did follow. In my own county, Glamorgan, and in the county of Cardigan seventy-four peasants were evicted from their farms in 1869 because they dared to vote in the open to give religious equality to Ireland. Is it to be wondered at that we who were brought up with the story of the evictions of 1863 ringing in our ears feel strongly upon this matter? I venture to say there has been no question, no political question, that has ever been fought in a spirit so free from religious spite or Sectarian rancour as this, has.
§ Mr. LANE-FOX
On a point of Order. This may be all very interesting, but has it anything to do with the Amendment?
§ Mr. SPEAKER
I think the hon. Member is quite right in expecting a certain amount of latitude in view of what has gone before, but I now invite him to direct his attention a little more closely to the Instruction.
Mr. LLEWELYN WILLIAMS
I am sorry, Mr. Speaker, that I was led away from the path I had marked out for myself, but it is a little difficult not to display one's feelings when hon. Gentlemen opposite constantly claim a monopoly of strong feeling. I am always ready to listen with respect to any expression of opinion that comes from the other side of the House, and we are willing to accord to hon. Gentlemen opposite full sincerity in their convictions. But I do ask them to believe that we on this side feel quite as strongly and sincerely on this matter as they do. Let me go further. It is suggested time and again that we want to injure the Church by disendowing it. I venture to suggest that there will not be a single Church service less in Wales after Disendowment.
§ Mr. SPEAKER
I think it is a regrettable interjection. I again suggest that the Debate should come rather closer to the Instruction.
Mr. LLEWELYN WILLIAMS
I thought I was coming very near it when I said that Disendowment would not count as a suggestion that the Church would be injured in any way, because what would happen would be this, that the members of the Church would then do what the Nonconformists are doing to-day—that is to say, they would subscribe generously for the maintenance of the Church in Wales. No less than £440,000 is subscribed every year by the poor peasants and artisans, who mainly form Nonconformist congregations in Wales, in order to maintain Nonconformity. We are told that the Church is the Church of England and is the most numerous Christian body in the Principality. That was embodied in the terms of the Amendment rejected last night by this House. If, therefore, it be the most numerous Christian body in Wales, and if, as we know, it is the Church 1780 of the rich in Wales, surely the subscription of the poor people who are the Nonconformists, amounting to over £400,000 a year, can easily be reached by the Church if it is composed of real, earnest Christian workers. I come back to where I started. I say it is impossible to consider the question of Disestablishment without considering the question of Disendowment at the same time. It is impossible therefore to divide this Bill into two, and I submit that this House ought to reject the Instruction.
§ Sir ALFRED CRIPPS
I do not desire to follow the hon. Gentleman who has just sat down, but I wish to say, for my part, that we give the same credit to our opponents that we claim for ourselves. Perhaps I might give some answer to one of his statements from what I saw last night and to-day. I think it can hardly be accurate to suggest that the poor people in Wales do not really in their hundreds of thousands take an extreme interest in Church matters in Wales at the present moment. The Church in Wales, as in England, is the Church of the rich and the poor alike. I come now to what I understand to be the purport of the Instruction moved by my hon. Friend. The question is this: Can we discuss the question involved in this matter by an Instruction to the Committee giving them power to separate the question of Disestablishment from the question of Disendowment? I think that is the point of the Instruction, and I cannot imagine anything of greater importance when approaching a matter which affects the consciences of the nation so greatly upon both sides. I am one of those who think Establishment infinitely more important than Endowment. I am not running down Endowment; it would be quixotic and absurd to do so, but I think Establishment infinitely more important for this reason. You may rob a man, but you may leave him alive with a chance of reconstituting his position, but if you kill him right off, like Disestablishing the Church, of course there is no future. I look upon Disestablishment as so important that I say it should be separate from Disendowment. I ask the attention of the Home Secretary, when he comes to reply, to this point. You have to consider Disestablishment from two points of view. You have got to consider it before the Reformation and after the Reformation periods. We are dealing here with a Church said to be Established by law. I do not admit, of course, that the 1781 Church ever has been, or ever can be, Established by law. It may be given certain legal rights and legal disabilities, but it is unthinkable to ordinary religious Churchmen that the Church could be in any way Established, or indeed Disestablished, by any legal interference or legal grants, and for these purposes the distinction is extremely important. When we are dealing with the Establishment before the Reformation period there is no Statute of any kind upon which you could ever base the proposition that the Church of England owes its Establishment to legal interference or legal right, because that is impossible. During the period before the Reformation we obtained the great mass of our Endowments, so that it is quite clear that the question of Establishment and Endowments, so far as those Endowments are concerned, came before the Reformation period, and those two questions are absolutely separate one from the other. What we desire to make certain of, and what is important in a discussion upon a question which involves present-day feeling and historical research and inquiry, is that you should not confuse two inconsistent notions and ideas by seeking to back up Disendowment by referring to Disestablishment or back up Disestablishment by referring to Disendowment. How do those two principles stand independently of one Another? As regards modern thought—I am not going back to 1895—the two principles must be separately discussed if you are to have a fair discussion and determination. Take my own position as an illustration. I think Establishment is all-important. Let me assume for the purpose of my argument that Disendowment is admitted and out of the way. Surely I am in the strongest possible position to enforce my views upon this House or any other Assembly, but what I care for most is that the question of Establishment should not be prejudiced by introducing these other questions which have a money origin and a money importance. If we go back to the early days we know perfectly well that in this country, as in Europe at large, you do not have the Church and State in the sense we are talking now, but you have two independent powers, the State power and the Church power. That is a position which everybody accepts, and which was accepted by Mr. Bryce in his book on the subject. You have this question of an Established Church not established by law, but established on its own foundation and strength. 1782 You had that Church long before pre-Reformation times, and you had the same idea, properly understood and without breach of continuity, running down to the present moment.
There is one matter upon which I appeal to Welshmen opposite as regards this question. Henry VII. was a Welshman, and he won his victories by means of a Welsh army. I find no fault with that, but you should not draw this distinction between the Welsh and the English, because we are all one community and one nationality. We are told that it was a Welsh dynasty and Welsh army which brought about the Reformation Statutes. There are no Statutes which more directly affect the position of the English Church than the Statutes passed at the time of the Reformation, and if we are dealing with the matter from the Reformation time it is quite clear as regards Disendowment that you ought not to have Disendowment in reference to any funds which were given to the Church or which the Church enjoyed before the Reformation period. It is quite true that before the Reformation period no question arose of the Church being Established by law at all. Therefore, when you go to the earliest days, you find this question standing quite distinct from latter-day controversies, and during that time the Church was given or enjoyed the main portion of the Endowments she is enjoying at the present moment, I take that as an illustration. It is not suggested that one farthing of tithe came to the Church as a single corporation of the Church since the Reformation period, because every farthing of it had its origin at an earlier period, or at a period when the Establishment was not subject to the Reformation Statutes, and when these Endowments were given for purely religious purposes, from which they ought not to be diverted by any current of prejudice as regards the position of the Church after the Reformation time. But whether I am right or wrong, that is a most important position, and I earnestly hope we shall find hon. Members opposite—I do not want to speak in any spirit of animosity—will take the view I am putting forward, that Establishment, which has a religious side, is of vital importance. That is what I want hon. Members opposite to realise. If that is so, will they help us to have that matter discussed without the prejudice which admittedly surrounds the question of Disendowment? That is what I want, and that is my view of the importance of the Instruction which has been 1783 moved by my hon. and gallant Friend the Member for Dudley (Sir A. Griffith-Boscawen).
One word on the other side of the question. I admit, of course, that if every Endowment was taken away Churchmen, at any rate, would do their best not to allow a single Church service in any part of this country to be discontinued, because our Endowments were taken away. That does not mean that I want to be quixotic. Everybody who has been connected with social or moral reform or religious life in recent years knows that it means money, and you cannot help it. I am not making an admission that ought to be turned against the religious character of the Church of England. I appeal to all those who are trying to do their best in regard to social or moral reform to confirm me when I say that one of their greatest difficulties is to obtain sufficient financial assistance to carry their work through. The notion of taking away our Endowments I cannot understand, and I cannot see on what principle it can be sustained. You do not suppose every Churchman is to be like the Saturday beggar in the old friar days going about soliciting assistance by means of bazaars and every other device to obtain funds to make up for Endowments which have been improperly taken away. How can you imagine a process of that kind is for the good of the Church? I want to put this point to the, hon. Member for Carmarthenshire as distinct from Establishment. Take any other case that you like. Take the slum areas in Swansea and Cardiff. Does the hon. Member say there is more than sufficient money there for Church purposes? If this money is going to be taken away from the Church, I would rather share it with Nonconformists. Can he say that the money devoted to religious purposes in our slum population and amongst our social outcasts, who are the most wretched people and who are the unfortunate product of what is called industrial civilisation, ought to be taken away, and ought those people to be deprived of Christian administration, which admittedly can only be given to them at the present time by the aid of the Endowments which the Welsh Church enjoys at the present moment. I will not go back to the mistakes made about Cardiff.
§ The SECRETARY of STATE for the HOME DEPARTMENT (Mr. McKenna)
They were not mistakes.
§ Sir A. CRIPPS
I am afraid I cannot agree with the hon. Member. Is he aware that the Church of England at the present time are finding £9,000,000 a year from voluntary sources? I am not suggesting that the Nonconformists are not making an equal effort, and I sympathise with it and support them when I can, and I give my honest farthing or shilling to assist them in the great work of religion which they are carrying on in this country. I say it is a quixotic absurdity to say that you can do this great work with the great duties attached to it as efficiently when your Endowments are taken away as you can when you have their assistance in addition to the voluntary effort. May I take an illustration outside of Wales. Take the East End of London, where an enormous amount of religious effort is being expended. One has heard again and again from people who are doing that work that they could never have carried it on but for the assistance of Endowments, great as also has been the voluntary efforts made in those quarters. I appeal to anyone opposite whether there is anything sordid or whether there is any money taint in pleading that money devoted to the highest religious purposes should be left for the use of those purposes at the present time. That is all we say. We say nothing more than that.
People may differ as regards the amount of spoliation or robbery. My own view is that out of what are really called Endowments amounting to something like £200,000, only £18,000 a year will be left to the Church of Wales in the future. We know perfectly well the Church of Wales now, as an Endowed Church, is poorer if you take the amount of money per Churchman than the Disendowed Irish Church. If I might take another test, the Church as a whole is giving much of her funds she wants in aid of the poorer portion, namely, the Welsh dioceses. Put politics on one side—I must say I hate politics when you are dealing with religious questions—and come down to the religious aspect only. Do you really believe religion in this country will be benefited by the separation from it of the idea of the national duty of the Church to provide Christian administrations for all citizens whenever they demand it? Do you really believe that? [HON. MEMBERS: "Yes."] On the other hand, do you really believe that any Church, 1785 that any Nononformist or any religious community can do its work better when it is robbed of its poor funds which at the present moment are wholly insufficient for the religious duties it has to perform? That is the aspect I want to bring before the House on this great question, and it is with that view I earnestly hope some of those who differ from us on other subjects will assist us in this, so that we may have this Instruction carried in order that the real religious underlying questions may be discussed and considered, and that no man may give his ultimate vote with what I may call a joint prejudice, half Disestablishment and half Disendowment. Let us know whether in his heart he is in favour of the one or the other, and it is only by separation of the two he can give his vote in that way. It is to my mind a most serious matter, and I earnestly hope no one on the other side will think we are actuated by political spite or prejudice.
§ Mr. KING
I want to begin by making what I may be allowed to call a sporting offer to hon. Members opposite. If I make any observation or use any expression which they regard as provocative and they will kindly and quietly let me know, I will take another line. I want to alleviate feeling by apologising to the hon. Member for Dudley (Sir A. Griffith-Boscawen) for having interrupted him at all in the Debate, and I hope when he next rises he will, I will not say apologise to mc for having howled me down on the only occasion I endeavoured to address the House on this subject, but help me to bury the hatchet. I consider I was as qualified to address the House on Welsh Disestablishment as most Members. In the first instance, I am half a Welshman—and I am not ashamed of it—and I believe if I had sought the suffrages of a Welsh constituency 1 should not have been defeated. Secondly, and this is the important point, I am the only hon. Member in this House who has been for twenty-five years a member of the Small Executive Committee of the Liberation Society. In ill times and in good times I have stuck to that society. I have attended its meetings, and I have quietly worked for this cause, and I do not see why, when I get up to speak on its behalf in this House, I should be howled down by anybody.
§ Sir A. GRIFFITH-BOSCAWEN
I beg leave to say I never howled the hon. Member down or any other hon. Member.
§ Mr. KING
I am very glad to hear it. I know it was very late in the evening, and sometimes one's perception is not quite so keen as usual on those occasions. I want to traverse, first of all, the statement which has been made repeatedly on the other side of the House that they are making converts whilst we are losing our supporters. My experience is just the reverse. I believe the more this Bill is discussed and the more attention is given to it in the country, the more members, I will not say of Parliament, but of the public, will come over from being opponents of Disestablishment and Disendowment and become supporters of it. I will give my own experience. Only three days ago I met a gentleman who was until quite recently a Member of this House, and who was particularly notorious in his opposition to certain Liberal measures, and especially to many causes connected with the Chancellor of the Exchequer. He said to me, "King, I want to get rid of you fellows as soon as possible, but not until you have passed one measure." "What," I said, "are you coming round to the fashionable doctrine of Home Rule?" "No," he said, "I am in favour of Disestablishment and Disendowment, as are many other Conservatives." That is a late Member of this House. [HON. MEMBERS: "Name."] No, I will not give his name, because I do not want him to be badgered by the tracts of your society. Recently there was a by-election, and an hon. Member belonging to the party opposite was successful. A gentleman well known to me was one of his supporters and the chairman at one of his meetings. That gentleman wrote to me the other day saying that much as he disliked our programme he hoped the Welsh Bill would get through, and his only objection to it was that it was too generous to the Church.
§ Mr. KING
I am going to protect him too. I have too much respect for the House and too much confidence in the cause I espouse to go one jot beyond the absolute truth. I will give you another case. I am sorry to say our Ministers, owing to their very arduous duties here and to their patient attendance on the Treasury Bench and in their offices, have not been able to go about the country as they ought to do. It is one of the disadvantages of a long and arduous and strenuous Session, and it is one of the credits of the Opposition that it is by their 1787 resistance we have been reduced to this. The other day, however, the Home Secretary left the discussion on the White Slave Traffic Bill and went down to Bristol. He spoke just a few yards beyond my Constituency on the 1st November, the day of the municipal elections, at a magnificent and crowded meeting in the greatest hall in the west. I know from personal experience that persons who went there in doubt came away full of enthusiasm for this cause. I tell that to the Home Secretary because it may comfort him. If he has not compassed land and sea to make proselytes, he has at any rate confirmed the faltering in the faith. The more we can discuss this on the floor of the House—[An HON. MEMBER: "Why do you closure us?"] Because we want to get "One man one vote afterwards." And the more we are able to go about explaining our position, the stronger is our case, and the more certain are we to succeed. The opponents of this cause have played their last card. They cannot expect to succeed any further. Why? Because the amount of energy and devotion—I give them credit for real devotion—and the amount of money they have expended in this cause for years past have been something marvellous, and they are now, if I may say so without offence, "stony."
§ Mr. SPEAKER
I would point out to the hon. Member that nothing which he has yet said is relevant to the Motion before the House. I allowed him some latitude because he has not had an opportunity of addressing the House before on this Bill, but I would now invite him to address himself to the Motion before the House.
§ Mr. KING
I am sorry I did not come half a moment earlier to the point. Our agitation in the country has been directed to the Bill, the whole Bill, and nothing but the Bill. This Bill is not a new thing. It is, practically, Disestablishment plus Disendowment, as it was in the Bill of 1895, and it is Disestablishment plus Disendowment as it was in the Bill of 1909. Nobody who is really serious in grappling with this question could suppose for one moment that Disestablishment could be introduced without Disendowment or that a Disendowment Bill could be introduced without Disestablishment. The two are inextricably bound up together in the minds of the public and in the minds of politicians, too. I will give a proof of that from a leaflet which I hold in my hands. This leaflet is very interesting to 1788 me, and I would not part with it. I have some other copies, and will hand them over to hon. Members if they care to see them. This leaflet was circulated broadcast through my Constituency at the January election of 1910. As soon as I went down and was accepted as a Liberal candidate it was brought out that I was connected with the Liberation Society, and the first sign I had that my public appearance was announced was an attack, on this very question of Disestablishment and Disendowment. That explains why at the General Election of 1910 packets of these leaflets were sent to every beneficed clergyman in my Division, with a request that they would be distributed throughout the Churches on the Sunday previous to the poll. The hon. Member for South Bucks (Sir A. Cripps) said just now he hated politics being mixed up with religion. Does he approve of this leaflet being sent round to every clergyman to be distributed the Sunday before the poll?
§ Mr. KING
No, I daresay you have never heard of it. I daresay it is quite an unimportant matter, and possibly, though I do not know, it is quite an insignificant body. At any rate, it was sent round to every Church because I was a prominent Disestablisher, and when I went into a Church in my Constituency for a few minutes' rest and quiet one of these leaflets was given to me, and every person in the Church was considering, not the service that was about to commence, but what was this new thing. There was a leaflet in every place. That being the case, I am able to say my election was fought on Disestablishment and was won on behalf of Disestablishment and Disendowment. Mark the words of this leaflet. It does not say Disestablishment and Disendowment are separate things, or that they can be separated. It says:—In the event of the present Government being returned to power religions education might be Abolished and the Church Disestablished and Disendowed in the course of a single Parliament.There you have the whole of our case. We say, first of all, that we have a right to carry this through in this Parliament under the Parliament Act. We say it was 1789 before the electors that the leaflet issued by the Central Church Committee for Defence and Instruction shows they knew that was the position, that they did everything to wake the electors up to the position, that they were defeated, that now we are true to our pledges and true to the forecasts which our opponents themselves made, and that we shall carry through Disestablishment and Disendowment as one Bill in the life of the present Parliament.
§ Mr. SPEAKER
I do not know whether the hon. Gentleman has read the Instruction which we are discussing; but really all his speech hitherto has been relevant to a Second Reading of the Bill and has been utterly irrelevant to the Motion which is now before us, namely, the desirability of dividing this Bill into two parts and proceeding with those two parts.
§ Mr. SPEAKER
I heard the pamphlet. It has nothing whatever to do with this Instruction. The Instruction now before the House is that the Bill should be divided into two parts and proceeded with on parallel lines in Committee and on Report, and that they should be reported separately. If the hon. Member can adduce any argument against that, it would be relevant; but the arguments he has hitherto adduced have been simply arguments in favour of the merits of the Bill.
§ Mr. KING
We cannot both have the Bill in two and as a whole. We must have cither one or the other, and I am trying to argue you cannot separate the Bill without doing violence to our pledges and without giving to the country something which they were not led to expect, something which they did not ask for, something which the opposite side never contemplated, and something which we never fought for. That is my argument, and, if I might, I should be delighted to say just a few more words upon those lines. I am sorry that my experience in this House does not enable me, on the few occasions I get to speak, to make my point clear to everyone, but it is absolutely clear and convincing in my own mind. I can prove that what the country wants is not two Bills but one Bill; not Disestablishment on the one hand and Disendowment on the other, but the two 1790 together as one concrete whole. Disestablishment has always been connected with the tithe question. You cannot talk of Welsh Disestablishment in a rural district without raising the tithe question. To any man who is a practical sufferer, as I am, for instance, under the Established Church, for I pay tithes to a Church I do not attend, and I pay tithes to rich clergymen who really do not want to put a tax on me for their sustenance—I say that to every person in England who objects to the present system, and still more to everybody in Wales, tithe is connected with Disestablishment in such an intricate and subtle manner that you cannot separate the two questions into two Bills, but must treat them together.
I should like to point out that the new suggestion made from the opposite Bide of the House that Disestablishment might be possible without having Disendowment is an entirely new idea. I have not until recently found anybody trying to dissever the two questions. I do not believe it can be done, except as a mere move in a party game. I admit there are differences on this side of the Douse as to the amount of money which should be brought in under Disendowment and the amount that should be left to the Church. Very good; let us deal with those questions in Committee. We are quite prepared to do so, and I will certainly do nothing to prevent a full discussion of the Disendowment proposals, whatever they may be, and whatever party or side they may come from, but as the country has always insisted that Disestablishment and Disendowment should go together, and as they have always been regarded as absolutely inseparable—they were so regarded in the case of the Irish Church—and are so regarded in the minds of every person who thinks about the question—my hon. Friend the Member for Morley (Mr. France), in his very admirable speech which was appreciated on both sides of the House, made it perfectly clear that you could not have Disestablishment without Disendowment—I contend that the two things are absolutely inseparable. That being so, I contend that this Instruction ought to be rejected. I believe it is a mere move in the party game. I do not wish to say anything provocative, but it is undoubtedly that, and as a move in the party game I hope the House will reject it by something like the big majority of 170 by which we carried yesterday the Time-table Resolution.
§ 2.0 P.M.
§ Sir EDWARD BEAUCHAMP
I do not agree with the hon. Member who spoke last that the country demands one Bill and one Bill only. Those interested in this question may be put into three classes; those who are opposed to Disestablishment altogether, those who perhaps would be in favour of Disestablishment unaccompanied by Disendowment, and those who are in favour of Disestablishment accompanied by Disendowment. It seems to me that it is reasonable that this Instruction should be carried. It does not, so far as I understand it, negative Disendowment; it merely seeks to have it put into a separate Bill, on the ground that it has not necessarily any connection with Disestablishment. Authorities have been quoted in favour of both views, and a great deal has been made of the assertion that Lord Selborne, who, at the time of the Irish Church Disestablishment, said that the two things were not inseparable, had changed his mind in a book which he wrote at a later period. It seems to me that what he said in his later publication does not necessarily imply that he thought they were not inseparable. He merely said that nobody at that time proposed that Disestablishment should not be accompanied by Disendowment. The Bill itself clearly admits that Disestablishment and Disendowment are distinct questions. If you turn to Clause 6 of the Bill you will see that it proposes that money which is the property of a national English Established Church should be applied in perpetuity to a Church which, ex hypothesi, is neither national, English, nor established. If these two things hang together, if Disestablishment and Disendowment go hand in hand, how can you justify the Ecclesiastical Commissioners and Queen Anne's Bounty using the money of the still Established English Church and giving it to the non-established Church of Wales. The declarations of Ministers that they propose to take nothing from the Church of Wales except that which does not belong to her, and the claim that they are leaving a large sum of money in the hands of the Welsh Church negatives any idea of the alleged impossibility of separating Disestablishment from Disendowment. It is argued that this has been demanded by the Welsh people. I am certainly not here to contradict that statement. It no doubt has been demanded by a large majority of the Welsh people. I think the 1792 answer to that argument is that while the advocates of Disestablishment may be able to plead the argument of Welsh nationality that has really nothing to do with the question of Disendowment. The demand made and the desire expressed by the Welsh people in favour of Disestablishment may be a reason for granting that Disestablishment, but, in my opinion, it is no reason whatever why you should take away from the Welsh Church the Endowments of which they have been in enjoyment for so many years.
What is the main object of this Bill) We know from the statements made by the authors and the strong advocates of it that they have no quarrel with the Church of Wales as a spiritual organisation. Then I say if their main object is to rid the Welsh Church of the privileges which she possesses at present in consequence and by reason of being an Established Church, there is no reason whatever why they should object to the division of this Bill into two parts. But if, on the other hand, that is not their sole object, but one of their objects is to deprive the Welsh Church of the temporalities, then, of course, their objection to this Instruction is not only natural, but it is necessary and vital. I am not going to question the fact that the majority of the Welsh people are in favour of Disestablishment. It is said that they are in favour of this particular Bill. I would ask, has the case ever been put to them except in the combination of Disestablishment and Disendowment? Have they ever had an opportunity of declaring whether they would not accept Disestablishment apart from Disendowment?
The Disendowment proposal contained in this Bill, it is notorious, offends the feeling of a large number of people throughout the country, and, I think, people who are generally in sympathy with the Liberal Government. It is notorious also—it is common talk—that a considerable number of Members on this side of the House dislike in their entirety the Disendowment proposals and there is no doubt whatever that in the country generally they are greatly disliked, and I may say that by Churchmen, whether Conservative or Liberal, they are detested and hated. The Government by their proposals and by their insistence on these Disendowment Clauses are, I think, making a great mistake even from the party point of view. They are doing their best, in my opinion, to alienate the sympathy and weaken the support of a large number 1793 of their supporters in the country who have followed them and admired them in their programme of social reform. I cannot be sanguine enough to expect that anything that I may say on this question will have very great weight with the Government, but I earnestly implore them, if they cannot accept this Instruction, when the Bill goes into Committee and the various Clauses dealing with the matter are considered, on the ground of justice even, to be more generous than the Bill itself proposes to be, more generous to the Church of Wales which, whatever may have been its shortcomings in past days, is at the present moment with earnestness and zeal endeavouring to do the best for the uplifting of the people who have been committed to its charge.
§ Mr. CHARLES BATHURST
I am sure the House will all admit that the speech lo which we have just listened is somewhat refreshing, and raises the Debate to a higher tone than the speeches which have already been addressed to us from the other side of the House. I do not think that this House shows to its best advantage when it is discussing religious questions, and I cannot believe that such a great religious revolution is likely to be carried out in this country on the strength of speeches which are of such a flippant character as that of the hon. Member (Mr. King), or indeed by such speeches as that of the hon. Member (Mr. Llewelyn Williams), which are based very largely upon a sense of social grievance and not upon considerations of Christianity. The hon. Member (Mr. King) addressed one argument only towards the Instruction, and that was to the effect that a divided Bill was not the Bill which was before the country at the last election, that in fact the country authorised this House only to deal with these two questions as one question, and did not authorise the House to divide the Bill in the manner now proposed. My answer to that is to refer him to the hon. Member (Sir D. Brynmor Jones) who pointed out the other day, in reply to suggestions, that even the candidates for Welsh constituencies have not emphasised this subject in their election addresses; that nine of the candidates did in fact mention this subject in their election addresses; but he was careful to point out that they mentioned it under the description of Disestablishment and under no other description whatever. He also went on to say that two other Members did in fact refer to the question under the 1794 description of religious equality. In other words even the Welsh Radical candidates at the last election brought to the notice of their would-be constituents, Disestablishment, and freedom from State control, but did not emphasise or even refer to the question of Disendowment at all. I only mention that matter because it seems to mo to justify this House in differentiating between the two subjects and dividing this Bill into two parts.
I live on the borders of Monmouthshire and in a Parliamentary Division which, I think I am right in saying, contains more Nonconformists than any other Parliamentary Division in England. I refer to the Forest, of Dean. For the last twenty-five years I have worked in close cooperation with my neighbours, who are by a large majority Nonconformist, in social and educational matters, and for that reason I have some little claim to put forward what I believe to be the view of Nonconformists who are largely Welshmen and who live in the neighbourhood of Wales. I am very much impressed by the fact that by a large majority these men feel, and feel very strongly, in favour of the Disestablishment of the Church in Wales, but they have no real enthusiasm with regard to the Disendowment of that Church, and they realise, as all must realise who live in the neighbourhood of the large industrial communities of Wales, that the Church has all too little resources at the present time to carry on the splendid work which she is doing. In other words—I say this confident that it cannot be contradicted—the bulk of those men are not in favour of the Disendowment of the Church to-day, as I think they would have been twenty years ago, but they are in favour of Disestablishment or the severance of the Church from the State. If I may say so, cannot the House approach this question for once, not from the political standpoint, but solely from the standpoint of Christians, out of consideration for its effect upon Christianity in this country and the world generally? If Disestablishment is right and Disendowment is ethically wrong, is it right to pass Disendowment under cover of Disestablishment? I suggest that it is not right, and that very few, if any, sincere Christians could justify such a process to their own consciences. These are different issues, and I venture to say that they are inspired by different motives and ideals. Disestablishment may be a religious question. I think myself it is more largely a social question. I am prepared, however, to admit that it may be 1795 a religious question, but Disendowment is a wholly irreligious question, and is contrary to the principles of our common faith. I suggest to this House that Disestablishment is largely a social question. I think the speech the hon. Member for Carmarthen Boroughs (Mr. Llewelyn Williams) delivered to the House to-day—one of many speeches of a similar character—must have left that impression upon the minds of hon. Members. If it is a social question, I admit that it is founded upon a sense of social injustice which itself is based upon the disparity of the corporate positions of the Church and the other religious communities in the eye of the law. But I venture to say that this social difficulty has been to a large extent removed in recent years owing to two important developments, one of them being the greater similarity of education and educational environment of the ministers of all religions—Church and Nonconformist religions alike. In the second place, the change is due to the great extension of local government, and particularly the setting up of parish councils, which has brought together for co-operation in local affairs men who had little intercourse with each other before, and has enabled them to understand to a much greater extent their different standpoints. I admit frankly that Nonconformists, at any rate in Wales, in perfect sincerity claim that they are unfairly treated in the matter of religious equality, or rather religious inequality. They claim to have what they call equal religious rights, and they claim to have equal recognition. They claim to have a like status, recognition, and protection, as is given, and rightly given, by the State to the Church of England at the present time. I am very largely in sympathy with that view, and although I think it would be a loss to the State if the Church were Disestablished, I am not at all myself convinced that the Church would not itself gain in prestige. I know that a very large number of my Constituents who support me loyally at elections do not hold the view I am going to express, but on every matter in relation to religion I claim to express my own opinion undeterred by Whips or political exigencies. I do hold that the Church would gain, or might gain, by the process of Disestablishment, because it would thereby have greater vitality; it would thereby ensure for the laity of the Church larger participation in the government of the Church.
1796 I for one do not consider that we shall have any great revival of religious activity in the Church of England, at any rate in England, until the laity are given a much larger participation in the government of the Church than they have today. I hold strongly that the State would lose if she is going to be severed officially from all forms of religion in the future. She would lose because there would not any longer be the official recognition of religion, and she would lose also, in my opinion, because she would deprive persons throughout the country of the right they have hitherto possessed—the undeniable and inalienable right—to religious ministrations in their own parishes and districts. I do hold that there are very strong reasons, which have not been very forcibly expressed in the House—and I hold them as a sincere Churchman—for putting forward in this House and elsewhere the advantage to the Church of its Disestablishment. But the considerations which prompt those who put forward proposals for Disendowment are surely totally different considerations. Disestablishment may bind Christians by putting them on the same plane, and it may by further co-operation promote Christianity. But what about Disendowment? Surely the depriving of any religious community of its all too small resources must cripple its religious activities. That goes without saying. What advantage is going to be gained by the process of Disendowment by our Nonconformist friends? One body of Christians is calculated to lose by the process, but no other body of Christians is calculated to gain. The loss is a loss to Christianity. It is a loss to religion. There is no gain by any religious community in the country, and, what is more, Nonconformists—I think I can speak for Wales, for I know Wales extremely well—especially in Wales, want financial aid in the work they are doing every bit as much as the Church of England wants it, and possibly more. But it is not going to gain it as the result of these proposals. It is going to gain no financial advantage at all.
I consider, so important is it to maintain the forces of religion in all the social and other activities of the State, that the State is almost justified—I think the State is justified—in promoting by means of public money those religious activities, if they cannot be effectively carried on through the want of it. I say that before you 1797 divert money admittedly well used for religious purposes to purely secular requirements, if they are requirements, let us, at any rate, consider the possible alternative of its being administered by other communities for religious purposes as in the past. That would be a logical position to put before a Christian House of Commons. Surely the Disendowment proposals in this Bill are not logical and cannot be defended by men who speak as Christians and not merely as party politicians. Having, I hope, been moderate in what I have said, may I appeal to hon. Members on both sides, from the point of view of Christianity and not from the point of view of politics, that if we cannot reconcile the Disendowment proposals with those principles on which our common faith is founded, we should not be parties to their being crystallised into law? May I, in conclusion, remind all who are present in this House who are sincere Christians of one of the foundation maxims of our common faith, "Render unto Cæsar the things which are Cæsar's, and unto God the things which are God's"?
§ Mr. LEACH
I wish that all on the opposite side of the House would follow the good example of the hon. Member who has just sat down, and keep clear of all that bitterness of spirit, which is quite alien to the spirit of Christianity, of which he has spoken. I will try to follow him, and avoid every phrase which might lead to strong opposition on that ground. The hon. Member referred to Nonconformists, and I noticed that the hon. Baronet who moved this Instruction made an appeal to Nonconformists one of his strongest points. The hon. Member who has just sat down, because he had mixed with Nonconformists in one particular district, claimed to know a great deal about them. I have been a Nonconformist for more than forty years, a Nonconformist by conviction and not by birth. For thirty years I have been accustomed to occupy Nonconformist pulpits as a Nonconformist ordained minister. I am no longer that, but I still preach when occasion serves. I wish to say with emphasis that I have entirely failed to discover that weakening as to Endowment of which hon. Members opposite have been speaking. It is true that there is less bitterness on this subject than there used to be, but there is a deepening feeling in favour not only of Disestablishment, but of Disendowment, and no real Nonconformist who understands the principles which he professes shows very much 1798 weakening on that score. As far as I know, our principles may be stated—first, all intelligent, educated, pious Nonconformists hold that all forms of religions should be free from State control, State patronage, and State support; and, second, that no man should suffer any disability because of his religion or his lack of religion. Holding these principles as I do, and knowing that they are held in high circles in Nonconformity, I shall oppose this Amendment.
A great deal has been made of Nonconformist Endowments on the argument, Why should you rob the Church of its Endowments and leave the Nonconformists in possession of theirs? Surely the Gentlemen who use that argument, as they are intelligent and instructed, must know that there is a great difference between the ancient Endowments that were given when Wales and England were Roman Catholic, and those Endowments which have been given to Nonconformists at the present day. I myself have been pastor of a Church which had an Endowment of about £150. Those Endowments were created by men of a like faith with those who worship in that building to-day. As far as I understand this Bill—I may be altogether wrong—I do not understand Acts of Parliament quite so well as other things, but I try to learn by attending in this House and listening diligently to the speeches on both sides. Few, if any, Members listen to more speeches than I listen to day by day; those who take part in the discussions know that under this Bill all Endowments given to the Church of England as such will be retained by the Church of England if this Bill passes into law. I am not aware that any Gentleman opposite can show me that this Bill would deprive the Church of England as such of any Endowment given to it as such since the date fixed. As far as I know all Endowments created since 1662 are to be retained. Everybody knows, I think, that I would be even more generous to the Church in Wales than the Bill itself. On a previous occasion I said, when speaking on this subject, that instead of fixing the year at 1662 I would go back to the year 1554, the time when the complete severance took place between the Church of England and the Church of Rome. Up to that period—
§ Mr. DEPUTY-SPEAKER (Mr. Maclean)
The remarks which the hon. Member is now making would be relevant on 1799 the Second Heading Debate, but they are beyond the limits of the question which is now before the House.
§ Mr. LEACH
I am very sorry to get beyond the limits of order, but I thought I might give an intelligent reason for being more generous as to Endowments than this Bill is. But as you ruled me out of order I will not pursue that course. I have heard a great many Members on that side trying to show that Wales itself even has weakened in many respects, and that the Welsh Members of this House do not represent the majority of the Welsh people. I do not know how they can get an idea better than by looking at the Members who are sent to this House. Everybody knows that there are three who are not in favour of Disestablishment and Disendowment elected by the Welsh people to this House, and I am told on good authority that in all probability their stay in this House after opposing this proposal for Disestablishment and Disendowment, will be just as long as this Parliament continues and no longer. That of course remains to be seen. I am altogether in favour of this proposal, that the Bill should go through as one Bill for Disestablishment and Disendowment, and I have heard no argument and seen no reason to cause me to change my point of view. I shall therefore vote against the Instruction.
I cordially re-echo the wish which has been expressed in the last speech, that this Debate may be carried on on a level of reasonable Christian feeling. I for one will endeavour to keep to the higher level, and if by any chance I am betrayed into doing otherwise, I hope that the hon. Member opposite will tell me at once. I need not go at any great length into the point which the hon. Member has raised about Endowment, because it has been ruled out of order; at the same time it is rather a dangerous question for our Nonconformist friends to deal with the question of continuity of these Endowments, because there is an Act, the result of a decision of the House of Lords in the Attorney-General v. Shaw, where owing to that decision it was found necessary to allow Nonconformists to remain in possession of their Endowments, even though the religious views of the majority of the communion may have altered considerably with the lapse of time; and it does not lie very well with hon. Members to twit us 1800 with holding Endowments with perhaps not identically the same trust as those with which they were originally granted from a religious point of view. I do not want to deal with that any further, because the hon. Member opposite was stopped in the course of his argument, except to enter my caveat on the subject. In regard to one speech on the other side of the House, that of the hon. Member for Lowestoft, I endorse every word. But I must say something in regard to the speech of the hon. Member for Carmarthen (Mr. Llewelyn Williams). That speech, I think, was not quite in the right tone; it was a speech which almost makes one despair of arguing a question across the floor of the House of Commons. On a previous occasion we had speeches delivered that were supported by facts and arguments, and yet we find the Member for Carmarthen standing up in his place and making a speech just as if those arguments had never been urged and those facts had never been stated.
The hon. and learned Member suggested that there was no case of Disestablishment without Disendowment; yet in the admirable speech of the hon. Member for Chelsea there were put to the House cases of Disestablishment without Disendowment and Disendowment without Disestablishment. That the hon. Member for Carmarthen, after such a statement as that, should get up and say that no case of Disestablishment without Disendowment exists, is really to reduce debate almost to an impossibility. We have the instance, very well known to ecclesiastical historians and lawyers of Canada, where Churches were Disestablished and the tithe rent-charge was allowed to remain in possession of the Roman Catholic Church. I myself saw in Canada cases where the tithe is still paid to the Disestablished Church. We have had instances of Disestablishment without Disendowment in France, all of them perfectly well known; and all these instances should make it quite impossible for anyone who knows the facts of the case to stand up and say that there is no case of Disestablishnient without Disendowment.
Mr. LLEWELYN WILLIAMS
I did not say that, or what I really meant to say was that to my knowledge there was no case of 1801 Disestablishment without some measure of Disendowment.
I accept the hon. Member's words at once, but even so, if he had looked to the Canadian precedent, he would have revised that statement. I purposely took the Canadian case, because it deals with a religious point of view different from my own, and therefore it seemed to me the stronger one to take. What the hon. Member suggested to us was that we wanted to show more faith, and that we ought not to put our trust in temporal arms. He did not say it expressly, but he suggested that Nonconformists did not care about Endowments. Here, it seems to me, he was largely playing with words. Everything depends on what is meant by Endowments. No religious community can now venture to subsist for long if it purports to subsist entirely on daily and weekly contributions. It must have capital sums of some kind behind it. I do not represent that the Roman Catholic Church have Endowments, but it is only necessary to look at the churches and chapels which, to their great honour, they raise in all parts of the country to know at once that is not a correct statement. They have capital sums represented by churches and cathedrals and schools, and so on, as much as any other community. The subscriptions have been turned into capital. Of course they were originally subscriptions, just as every item given to the Church of England was originally in the form of a subscription, with one exception, namely, the million pounds voted by Parliament in 1818.
I say quite freely and without fear of contradiction that no religious community is able to carry on its work unless, in addition to its weekly, monthly, or yearly subscriptions, it has some capital sum on which to draw. That is frankly recognised in Nonconformist circles. We have appeals made to wipe off mortgages on Nonconformist chapels; and the right hon. Gentleman the Member for St. George's, Hanover Square (Mr. Lyttelton), in the very admirable speech which he made, referred to instances where this kind of appeal had been made, and his statement has not been contradicted. The right hon. Gentleman referred to several leading Nonconformists who have made appeals for Endowments. We have only to walk outside this House and we see near a large building for which appeals were made, and very big sums were subscribed. It seems to me idle to say that Churchmen alone rely on 1802 Endowments, and that what Churchmen should do is to rely a little less on the material arm and have a little stronger faith in their cause. I am not at all certain that the real reason did not leak out at the end of the speech of the hon. Member for Carmarthen, when he said that the real danger was that if the Church of England were Disestablished and not Disendowed, there would be an imperium in imperio, and that we should then be much too strong. If that is so, it bursts up at once the contention urged by a large number of Nonconformists that the real object of this campaign is not to weaken but to strengthen the Church.
On the general issue of this Instruction, what we urge on this side of the House is that neither in the point of view of theory, of history, or of actual practical fact, is there any necessary connection between Disestablishment and Disendowment. The only necessary connection that I can see is in certain speeches which have been made by some who take part in the campaign, who tell us that Disestablishment without Disendowment is not worth asking for, and certainly not worth fighting for. As to the theory of Establishment, that point has been fully dealt with already, and I do not wish to labour it. We have had the instance of Canada, where you have Disestablished a Church without Disendowing it. We have the French Churches where you have Disestablishment on one side without Disendowment, and then the reverse process. In the West Indian Islands you have got all sorts of instances of Disestablishment and Disendowment—concurrent Establishment and concurrent Endowment. There is then the question of Australia which has not been dealt with. Similarly, just as you may have Disestablished Churches which retain their Endowments you may have Established Churches which have little or no Endowments. So much for the theory and let us regard it from the historical point of view. The relation between Church and State which we call Establishment is not a question of any legal enactment. It is the question of a gradual interweaving, as the two forces grow side by side, of the life of the Church and of the life of the State. In actual effect it takes three specific forms. There is the form of connection of the Legislature, that is Convocation, which takes the form of connection of the Executive since Convocation cannot act without the consent of the Crown. It lakes the form of connection of the Executive, the Crown 1803 appointing the chief officials of the State, and it takes the form of the Judiciary because the Church Courts are recognised as Courts of the land.
Those are the three ways in which it works out. There never has been a moment when you could point to the Church being established and non-established twenty-four hours afterwards by any Act of Parliament or any actual concrete decision or legislative enactment. That being so it is quite obvious that the whole history of Establishment differs from the history of Endowment, because continually you can point to instances where Endowments are given to the Church by the act of the individual and not by the State. Just as the Establishment depends on the interweaving of those two great forces, the Church and State, by consent and agreement over long periods of years, so the Endowment is not a State affair at all. It is the gift of an individual to his Church. Is there any connection in actual fact? Take this Bill alone as we have it. It is abundantly clear entirely different considerations apply in the Bill to the Establishment portion and to the Disendowment portion. The Establishment portion, following up what I have said about history deals with the large corporation of the Church that is going to be set up for the small corporations of the Church as they at present exist. Though it is a common fallacy that it is a corporate body, the Church of England, anybody who is the least instructed knows that there is not a corporate body representing the Church, but that she is a concatenation of small corporations. If that is so, and there is no question about it, for the purposes of Disestablishment you are dealing with those two big bodies, the Church and the State, but for the purpose of Disendowment you have got to deal with a whole lot of private individuals, because private rights of property are to be affected, and there are private rights of compensation which have to be decided. There is no question of private rights; save so far as to holders of benefices; so far as Disestablishment is concerned, but directly you touch the question of Disendowment the question of private rights of property comes in. There is as well the judgment of the man in the street who views Disestablishment, if not with calmness at any rate with indifference, but he views Disendowment with very serious mistrust 1804 indeed. Quotations have been made front speeches of leading Nonconformists, and I should like, if I may, to read a few words from two speeches made by Wesleyan ministers in North London. I have the best reason for knowing that the reports are accurate, because I took the chair at the meeting myself. I am a man of peace myself and do not make strong speeches, but if hon. Gentlemen opposite dislike strong speeches I am afraid they will get them from a good many Nonconformists who dislike this Bill.
§ Mr. DEPUTY-SPEAKER
I think the hon. Member who is in possession of the House was getting rather near the limits of order.
Mr. M. BARLOW
I thought I made it clear that the words which were used by those two Wesleyan ministers related to Disendowment. I do not know whether their antipathy would have been so strong against Disestablishment. I rather doubt it, but whether it would or not their antipathy was particularly strong against Disendowment. They used some very strong language, but I will not go any further into the matter. [HON. MEMBERS: "Read it."] If my hon. Friends wish me to do so I will read it. One Wesleyan minister, the Rev. W. G. Beardmore, said that:—he agreed with everything that had been spoken, and if John Wesley were alive to-day there would be no more ardent opponent of that fraudulent Bill than he would. It was a proposal both despotic and unjust. It was an Act of animosity and hostility to the most important section of the religious life of the country.Another Wesleyan minister who was present went on to use similar language.
Mr. DEPUTY SPEAKER
Judging by the first quotation which the hon. Member has read, if the second one is on the same lines it is quite irrelevant.
I bow to your ruling, and wish to say that in his remarks he drew attention to Disendowment though not in quite as strong language as the first. It was the Disendowment portion he was dealing with, and not Disestablishment. There is just one other word I should like to say. Every man is presumed in this country to know his own business best. I would not venture to suggest to hon. Members opposite, to the Front Bench, and the Prime Minister, 1805 what is their best course to adopt, but I should have thought, if I may humbly venture to say so, that in their own interests this proposed division would be very advisable. I believe they will find that a large number of people who may be willing to support them on Disestablishment will be against them on Disendowment. Therefore from that point of view alone I should have thought that, as was indeed suggested from their own back benches, they would be very well advised to accept the Instruction. We feel, all of us on this side, strongly in the matter. We do think that these two issues are entirely separate, and it would at any rate be some small concession to the strength of feeling which there is undoubtedly on this side, and in the country at large if these two issues could be separated, and if we could discuss them separately.
§ Mr. McKENNA
The hon. Member for Salford (Mr. M. Barlow) has made what the whole House, I think, will recognise as a very reasonable speech from his point of view. He complained, and, perhaps, I readily admit, not without a certain amount of reason, that speeches are made on that side of the House by hon. Members who feel very strongly on these questions, and that the point of view and the fundamental ideas which are expressed by such hon. Members are never sufficiently recognised or answered from this side of the House. I think that the difficulty of either side appreciating either the meaning or intention of the other side is fundamental in all questions of this kind. Let me take as an illustration one of the arguments put forward by the hon. Member who has just spoken. He argued that in Wales all the Endowments of the Church of England had their origin in private subscriptions. If on this side of the House we really thought that that was true, that the Church of England in Wales, as we see it, really owned its property as the result of private subscriptions, the hon. Gentleman would find a very different temper on the question of Disendowment. We do not believe that the Church of England in Wales owns its property as the result of private subscriptions, but that its Endowments—not the whole, but a large part of them—have quite a different origin, and that the modern Church of England in Wales cannot claim that it owns its property as the modern Nonconformists bodies can claim that they own theirs, as the result of private gifts to that particular Church. We 1806 differ on points of fact as well as on points of principle. When we do not follow the arguments of hon. Members opposite it is really because we really take a fundamentally different view from theirs, and, after all, it can only be upon opinions ultimately formed on questions of fact that we can make up our minds on the subject of Disendowment. All that argument, if I may say so with great respect, and much else that has been said, is not really relevant to the particular issue now before the House. The only issue is whether it is proper and convenient, as the hon. Member opposite put it, that the Bill should be divided into two parts in order that the discussion on each part might be taken separately. Here, again, we shall find ourselves at issue with hon. Gentlemen opposite on a question of fact. The hon. Member for Salford (Mr. M. Barlow) asked, in defence of his view that the Bill should be divided, whether there was any necessary connection between Establishment and Endowment. If that were really the issue which decided how we should vote to-day we should agree with the hon. Member. There is no necessary connection between Establishment and Endowment. How can we say that there is any necessary connection between the two when we know cases where there has been Disestablishment without Disendowment, and other cases where there has been Disestablishment with Disendowment?
Mr. MONTAGUE BARLOW
I really made that statement in answer to what I understood fell from an hon. Member opposite.
§ Mr. McKENNA
In different Colonies we know instances of Disestablishment without Disendowment, just as we know cases of Disestablishment with Disendowment. The question is not whether there is any necessary connection between Establishment and Endowment in all instances, but whether there is any connection in fact between Establishment and Endowment in the case of the Church of England in Wales. We hold that there is. We hold that a great part of the property now enjoyed by the Church of England in Wales is owned by that Church by virtue of its Establishment in Wales. It was not the original Church in Wales; it is not the native Church of Wales.
§ 3.0 P.M.
§ Mr. DEPUTY-SPEAKER
I hope the Debate will not proceed those lines. Several intimations have already been given from the Chair as to the nature of the Question before the House.
§ Mr. McKENNA
I am grateful to you, Sir, for calling my attention to the fact that in answering the hon. Member I was getting a little wide of the subject under discussion. We hold that there is, in fact, an intimate connection between the Establishment and the Endowment of the Church of England in Wales. Hon. Members who represent English constituencies, who know the Church of England in England and always look at the question from an English point of view, must realise that there is an entirely different history of the Church of England in Wales. It is not natural in Wales as it is in England.
§ Mr. McKENNA
I am most anxious not to raise questions of controversy, but hon. Members opposite must recognise that that is our view. We may be wrong, but that is our point of view. The Church of England in Wales had not its origin in the national life of Wales, but that it is an imported Church, and Establishment and Endowment were coincident in the life history of the Church of England in Wales—that is to say, the great bulk of the Endowment—tithe as we know it to-day; not the earlier tithe, which was quite a different thing in Wales. Wales may have had its national tithe, but it was quite different from the English tithe. The modern tithe, which is the English system, is not native to Wales; it owes its existence in Wales to the Establishment of the English Church in Wales.
§ Mr. ORMSBY-GORE
Is the right hon. Gentleman referring to Lord Crewe's statement about the Reformation settlement?
§ Mr. McKENNA
I am not speaking about the Reformation at all. This being our view, the House will realise that we could not agree to divide the Bill into two parts, because that would be a denial of our fundamental argument. If the hon. Member for Salford can show that his 1808 theory is really true, and that the Endowment of the English Church in Wales spring from private subscription to that Church as we know it, he will be able to make that case on Clause 8 of the Bill as it stands. When that Clause comes to be discussed, the question of Endowment will be discussed quite independently of the question of Establishment. There is no real difficulty with the Bill as it stands in discussing the two questions of Establishment and Endowment quite separately, as they come up on quite separate Clauses. If I thought hon. Members would really be embarrassed in their argument by the form of the Bill, I agree they would have a strong case; but that is not so. They will not be embarrassed in the slightest degree. Every word that has been said to-day, either in defence of Establishment or against Disendowment, could be said just as well on the individual Clauses of the Bill.
§ Sir A. GRIFFITH-BOSCAWEN
What about, the Third Reading? I apologise for interrupting the right hon. Gentleman, but when we get to the Third Reading, hon. Members will have to vote upon one Bill containing both principles, whereas if you adopt the plan suggested, they would be able to give a separate vote.
§ Mr. McKENNA
I recognise the force of that, but the hon. Gentleman will recognise the force of the answer which I am going to give him. There is a certain Amendment on Clause 8 down in the name of the hon. and learned Member for Brentford (Mr. Joynson-Hicks). If the hon. Member carries that Amendment, the whole of the Endowments will remain to the Church. If the opinion of the House is in favour of Endowments not being taken from the Church, the Amendment will be carried. Then the only point, on the Third Reading will be the issue of Disestablishment. If, on the other hand, the Amendment is not carried, then it is quite clear that the House is in favour of some measure of Disendowment, so the issue that the hon. Member puts is in point, of fact, having regard to the manner in which the Bill has been drawn, not a real one. I admit that if it were a real difficulty, and the House had not had an opportunity of giving an expression of opinion upon these two separate points of Disestablishment and Disendowment, he would have gone a long way towards making his case. That is not the fact. Inasmuch as full opportunity is given to express a separate 1809 opinion upon the separate points, I really do not think a ease has been made for dividing the Bill. Let me suggest to the House that this discussion should be brought to, perhaps not an immediate conclusion—for I understand the right hon. Gentleman opposite is to speak—but before long. If we have a Division on this Instruction, I understand there is another Instruction, and we will thus dispose of the two. I will not ask the House to go into Committee on the Bill except formally, and then we need not proceed further to-day. I trust therefore that we may be able to bring our proceedings to a conclusion about Five o'clock.
§ Mr. F. E. SMITH
The suggestion with which the right hon. Gentleman has concluded his speech is one which I think is perfectly reasonable. This Debate has been conducted, with the exception of a small interlude, without any heat on either side of the House, I see no reason whatever why this Debate at least of the many which we are about to undertake should not be concluded without the smallest ill-feeling between the different sides of the House. But I must confess that I really regret and fail to understand the meaning of the observation which the hon. Gentleman the Member for Carmarthen made. I certainly thought, having regard to the tenour of the Debate up till then, that that was a phrase—that the Church of England in Wales was the Church of the rich—which was unfortunate. I do not really understand that point, for the hon. Member, I think, said just now that it was not intended to be disparaging to the Church of England.
Mr. LLEWELYN WILLIAMS
I did not mean it by way of disparagement at all. All I wanted to say was this—that after the Disestablishment of the Church of England in Wales, the Church being rich, the voluntary contributions of its adherents would be so enhanced that there would be no less Christian service.
§ Mr. F. E. SMITH
If the hon. Gentleman says he did not intend it, I readily accept accept his statement, and am very glad that it conveyed a misapprehension to my mind. The whole and the real point of this discussion, and, in fact, I think the only point with which the House need be troubled, is as to whether or not, on a balance, it is more convenient that the House, when it votes, should vote upon the issue of Disestablishment alone or the issue of Endowment alone, or whether the Vote 1810 on these two points should be taken together. Nothing else really enters into the matter for the moment. I shall attempt to make all my observations to meet that subject, and that alone. In the first place, it is admitted by everyone that on the Third Beading the decision to be given by the House will necessarily neither be separately upon the issue of Disendowment or separately upon the issue of Disestablishment. In other words, unless this Instruction is granted, no Member of this House can give a vote which does not deal at one and the same time with the question of Disestablishment and Disendowment. I suppose it is admitted that that is an unfortunate course unless there is an overwhelming probability that the same persons will take the same view on both parts. There cannot, I think, be any controversy about that. That method is a very great disadvantage of focussing opinion upon this Bill that makes it necessary for us to either condemn both or approve both.
I suppose it will be quite admitted—I do not suppose anyone will contravert the proposition which I am about to advance—that the Instruction moved by my hon. and gallant Friend has at least this advantage, whatever its disadvantages may be, that the House will be in a position to give an individual vote on its merits to each of the proposals taken separately. The right hon. Gentleman who has just spoken has made a point that I am now taking up. He said that the Amendment down in the name of the hon. and learned Gentleman the Member for Brentford would practically have the effect of negativing the substantial proposal which should bring about Disendowment under the Bill. On that I make two observations. In the first place, there is no very obvious guarantee that under the conditions of Debate that that Amendment would ever be reached at all. From its position on the Paper, I am sure that that question is at least open to doubt. In the second place—and this is a more effective reply—unless this Instruction is adopted by the House, it is quite obvious that every Member who votes in favour of the Amendment of the hon. and gallant Gentleman would know that in effect he was giving a vote to destroy the Bill, and therefore a vote of no confidence in the Government. Therefore no one who was not prepared to wreck the Government and the Bill could possibly give such a vote. If the House arrived at the view 1811 that it was a reasonable Amendment and that it was a right way of dealing with an issue of this kind, then the House could deal with it separately, and no such question could arise.
If these observations are well founded, surely the conclusion will follow that the onus is upon those who recommend to the House an inconvenient course, and not upon those who recommend what is a much more convenient course! I should have submitted to the House that the observations made by my hon. and gallant Friend who moved this Instruction were unanswerable if they had not been made the subject of challenge by some hon. Member who said that in the old days Disestablishment and Disendowment was a logical whole, and that the views held by those who first successfully pressed the subject of Disendowment had recommended it to the attention of the House of Commons. My hon. and gallant Friend was completely right and the hon. Gentleman with great respect, was wrong. My hon. and gallant Friend was completely right when he said that in the old days of the Liberationist arguments the speakers of those days urged that it was better not to have an individual Church; it was better for all the Churches that they should not be hampered by Endowments. This was an ideal picture. But it is a theory which in fact has not survived, and it has become realised that clergymen, like other people, have to meet the necessities of their daily expenditure in the same manner as most other members of the community, and that the stream of benevolence from their congregations however full, is very often so sporadic, intermittent, and precarious, as to render the economy of their lives not a simple matter, if it was to be dealt with by those realised ideas of the advocates of the Liberationist scheme; and what do we find? We find that Nonconformist Churches are making the same efforts to provide themselves with permanent Endowments as were made by pious Churchmen in the centuries that are past, and it is no answer to say in reply to these contentions, as one hon. Member did, "Yes, but the Endowments which are given to Nonconformist bodies to-day are voluntary." I suppose even hon. Gentlemen opposite will not dispute, and no more is necessary for my immediate argument, that some at least of the Endowments given to the Church, and some at least of the Endowments taken 1812 away from the Church under the terms of this Bill, were in their origin voluntary Endowments.
We are told by the Chancellor of the Exchequer, who always speaks upon this subject with the greatest possible authority, that in his experience there never was a moment in which Nonconformity was going through a greater period of transition than the doctrines of Nonconformity are undergoing in Wales to-day. They are making an appeal today to the generosity of their community for Endowments. One Member of this House has made a noble and munificent answer to this appeal by giving, I think, the handsome sum of no less than £50,000 for Endowment in Wales. This Endowment is given to a Church whose doctrines we are told are at the present moment in a state of flux, so it follows that in thirty years, if that flux has materialised into change, somebody else can come forward and applying the parallelism of the arguments used to-day, can say that the Endowments of the Nonconformist body were given in the year 1912 when the doctrines of Nonconformity were in a state of flux, and that these Endowments should now go for washhouses or public libraries.
If these considerations are well founded, as I think they are, the terms in which these appeals are made by conspicuous Nonconformists to-day are certainly deserving of the attention of the House. For instance, at a meeting held at Manchester representatives of three very important Nonconformist denominations—the Calvinistic Methodist, the Congregationalist and the Baptists, an appeal was made for endowment in language with which I think probably most Members of this House will sympathise. What was said by Mr. Thomas, Chairman of the Executive Council of the Congregational Union of Wales, was this. He said:—We must have £50,000 with the object of insuring for resident Congregational pastors in Wales a minimum salary of £80 per annum. There is now a good number of pastors in Wales whose wage is under 20s. per week.And in a passage quoted before in the course of these debates Dr. Clifford said:—The first thing of all was efficiency. Why was it that so many of their churches in towns were turned into cinematograph shows, and not because the lease is run out, but because the ministry could not be maintained in a difficult down-town church.I claim I have said enough to show this at least, that the old view held by all the old advocates of Disestablishment that there was some contrariety of principle between 1813 Establishment and Endowment cannot now be recommended and is in the teeth of recent action by the House of Commons. If I choose to reinforce that argument by recent historic claims I think I should be entitled shortly to recall the point of view placed before us by my hon. and gallant Friend, and which I think was somewhat misunderstood by hon. Gentlemen below the Gangway opposite. My hon. and gallant Friend mentioned the well-known case of the Scottish Free Church in 1905. The hon. Gentleman who intervened a moment ago, I think, misunderstood the argument which my Friend cited. My hon. and gallant Friend did not of course mean that there was any broad analogy between the circumstances in which that Scotch Church question was raised and the circumstances in which the Church in Wales is placed to-day. What he did mean was this, that so far as any practical original connection between the two controversies—the controversies of Disendowment and Disestablishment—so far is there nothing irreconcilable in the position of a Disestablished Church which does not possess Endowment, but the most recent authority of the House of Commons Committee does show this, that when the Scottish Church, which was not Established, was deprived, as the result of an accident, as the result of an unexpected legal decision, of its very adequate Endowments, that Church, not being Established, came to the House of Commons and asked for redress, and that redress was given by the House of Commons, I believe, though I was not a Member of the House at the time, with the assent of the overwhelming majority of Members in all parts of the House.
If that be true the Scotch illustration shows this—and this I conceive to be the object with which the illustration was cited, though it is not the same question—that although you may have a Church which ex hypothesi will be Disestablished, if you give an affirmative answer to the first part of the Instruction it is not the same question, but a quite different question as to whether that Church upon Disestablishment ought to be permitted or ought not to be permitted to the enjoyment of its Endowments. Let me pursue a somewhat similar line of argument reminding the House of what is admitted in this connection by the Government itself. It is no longer contended by anyone in these Debates that there are not strong reasons why the Church of England if it had Disestablishment should not be 1814 allowed to retain possession of a considerable portion of its funds, and, indeed, the very treatment of this question by the Government gives the Church of England, and in fact permits it to retain, some portion, if not a large and substantial portion, of its funds. If the Church of England is to be permitted to retain that, then it is quite obvious that the whole case of principle is gone so far as the case is that Disestablishment should not be allowed without Disendowment, and a similar observation applies with reference to the statement made by the hon. Gentleman the Member for Carnarvon Boroughs when he interrupted me. He says that when he spoke of the wealth of the Church, what he really meant was that Members of the Church of England are so wealthy that they can very well make up to the Church the amount of money taken away* under the terms of this Bill. I accept that. All this point supposes is not the proposition that the Established Church cannot properly hold public funds, but the proposition that for some reason the funds that the Church has now are to be taken away, while it may be left to its members to substitute new sums in the shape of fresh voluntary Endowments. Whatever other conclusion follows from the observations I have made, this at least follows, that it is very necessary that everybody who is going to give a vote upon this subject should be permitted and afforded an opportunity to keep the two subjects separate and pronounce separately his views upon each of them. Let me take another illustration which, to my mind, is even more conclusive on this point, and it is concerned with the remarkable provisions which are contained in Clause 6 of this Bill, and the Schedules, which carry out still further the intentions of this Clause. Let me remind the House, as being directly relevant to this consideration, what is the effect of Clause 6 and the consequential Schedules. It deals with the discretion of the Commissioners of Queen Anne's Bounty, a fund which, as is well within the knowledge of the House, is concerned neither exclusively with the properties of the Church in Wales nor the property of the Church in England, but is concerned jointly with the property of both. In my humble judgment, Clause 6 is the most remarkable provision in this Bill. It provides, should this Bill become law, that it will no longer be lawful for the Commissioners of Queen Anne's Bounty to pay to the Disestablished Church the proceeds of the Welsh Fund. In this 1815 connection a most amazing admission has boon made by the Home Secretary in regard to the amount which will remain to the Church of England in Wales. He expressed the hope that although under the terms of his Bill it will not be possible for the Commissioners to pay to the Church of England in Wales the proceeds of their own Welsh Fund, they will continue to pay to the Church of England in Wales, when Disestablishment has taken place, some portion of the English funds. A moment's reflection will show that if you carry that line of argument to its logical conclusion, it makes it absolutely necessary for anybody who seeks to retain a vestige of consistency at all to support the Instruction which has been moved from this side of the House.
What is the anomalous course recommended by the Government, and what does it amount to I It means that the Church in England, which still remains Established, is to be allowed to pay to the Disestablished Church in Wales funds which are neither national nor Welsh and which will no longer be paid to an Established Church. If that is allowed, can anyone suggest under the terms of that proposal why the Commissioners are not to be allowed to pay the proceeds of the Welsh Fund to the Disestablished Welsh Church. I think that course makes it clear that it is utterly impossible for the House to arrive at any logical conclusion unless it treats these two subjects separately. Other illustrations, not less conclusive, might readily be multiplied. The right hon. Gentleman has just given to the House his view, to which he is fully entitled, of the origin of the Establishment of the Church in England and Wales, and his conception of the historical development of some of its earliest sources of revenue. I conceive that an exhaustive discussion of this difficult and very remote question would not be permitted under existing conditions, and I do not propose to attempt it. I am content on this point, and I think it has direct relevancy to the argument, to found myself for this purpose, without admitting its complete historical truth, upon an observation which was made by the Chancellor of the Exchequer in a speech he delivered either on the First Heading or on the Second Beading of this Bill. The Chancellor of the Exchequer then quoted the great authority of Maitland with the object of establishing the proposition that the Establishment of the Church of England in Wales 1816 in its present form dated from and was contemporary with the Reformation settlement.
I could give some reasons against this view, but for argument's sake I accept what the Chancellor of the Exchequer said on that occasion. But if it be true that the Church of England in Wales as now Established was first effectively Established at the time of the Reformation, what is the justification in the name of Establishment of taking funds which were Established before the Reformation, and how can you say that it is one and the same question when the right hon. Gentleman himself admits that the Establishment took place at the time of the Reformation, while the Endowments date from before that time. In face of that admission, how can it be contended that the two questions are one, and how can you justify a proposal to take away so considerable a proportion of the Endowments which, on the admission of the Home Secretary, are funds anterior to the Establishment itself. I desire to put it moderately. Almost all the Endowments were anterior to the date put forward by the right hon. Gentleman. It is well known that between the Reformation and the year 1662 the amount of Endowments was almost negligible. If that be true, in what position does that leave the Government to-day? As I understand the contention of the Government, it is that the two questions of the Establishment and Endowment of the Church in Wales, whatever may be the ease in Canada, Australia, and other parts of the world, are so connected in Wales that they cannot be discussed separately, and that they can be justly discussed together. How can that be reconciled with the admitted fact that practically the whole of these Endowments were possessed by the Church of England before the period which the right hon. Gentleman says himself he places for practical purposes as the date of the Establishment—
§ Mr. McKENNA
I do not think the right hon. Gentleman could have been in his place when the hon. Member for South Bucks (Sir A. Cripps) was speaking, or I do not think he would have made that statement. The hon. and learned Gentleman pointed out, I think rightly, that the Establishment and the Establishment by law are separate things. He also pointed out that the Establishment by law must date from Henry VIII., but the Establishment is much earlier, and it was from that point of view I was accepting it.
§ Mr. F. E. SMITH
I cannot conceive, and I am reluctant to believe, that the right hon. Gentleman would argue that for historical reasons and on grounds of present convenience, these two questions must be considered together, or that a distinction can be drawn between the legal aspect and that Establishment as it may have vaguely existed, though not upon a legal basis, at earlier times. I never heard a discussion rest on grounds more shadowy or technical. One other argument was put forward by a legal Member of the House, and it was repeated by the hon. Member for Carmarthen Boroughs, to the effect that inasmuch as under the terms of this Bill, if it becomes an Act, there will be an immediate dissolution of the present ecclesiastical corporations, therefore it is essential that you should consider the two eases of Disendowment and Disestablishment together, because otherwise, inasmuch as an effective and immediate dissolution of those corporations will have taken place, there, will not be in existence at the moment a body, unless you deal with them together, to which these points can be legally or definitely transferred. I was astonished to hear that argument put forward. If there will be in existence when that Bill becomes law a representative body to which you can properly and legally pay 6s. 8d. in the £, it is somewhat difficult to understand why there should not be a representative body in existence capable of giving a receipt for a larger sum. I submit to the House what I think must be an elementary principle of common sense, that the real method of applying one's mind to the point the House is about to decide is very much simpler than the right hon. Gentleman considered in the course of his speech, and it is this: Are the two cases of Disestablishment and Disendowment different cases? Are they defended by the same arguments or are they defended by different arguments, and is there a reasonable possibility or probability that Members of this House might reach different conclusions upon each of those two points if they were afforded an opportunity on the Third Beading of giving a different vote?
That is the point and the whole point, and I affirm with some confidence that the whole trend of the Debate has abundantly established the fact that there are large numbers of persons outside this House on the support of whom hon. Gentlemen opposite are dependent who take entirely different views about Disestablishment and Disendowment; and 1818 there are certainly at least some Members of this House who take quite a different view. We have listened to-day to a most admirable speech from the hon. Member for Lowestoft (Sir E. Beauchamp), who has made it perfectly clear that he takes a different view about Disestablishment and Disendowment. I think the most remarkable illustration of that was one furnished on an occasion to which my hon. and gallant Friend made reference, and that was the observations made by Mr. Henry Ratcliffe at a bazaar at Cardiff. I think the hon. and learned Member for Carmarthen (Mr. Llewelyn Williams) said Mr. Ratcliffe was a member of the Church of England. I cannot, of course, give any opinion to the House myself because I have not the advantage of knowing Mr. Ratcliffe, but my Noble Friend, who represents that constituency (Lord Ninian Crichton-Stuart), and who has some means of forming a judgment, has told me Mr. Ratcliffe is and has been for a long time a very formidable political opponent of his, and he believes him to belong to the Methodist persuasion. The hon. and learned Gentleman (Mr. Llewelyn Williams) says he used to be, but his earlier claim was that he is now a member of the Church of England. I am informed be is not a member of the Church of England; I am told he is a Liberal and a member of the Wesleyan Methodist community, and I understand the hon. Member for Merthyr Tydvil (Mr. Edgar Jones) confirms that view
§ Mr. F. E. SMITH
I think the House will, at any rate, agree it is hardly convenient we should attempt to diagnose this Gentleman's religious faith, and I will accept the view that he was a member of the Church of England with a passing notice that his Catholicity of thought led him to take a prominent part, both by donation and otherwise in opening a Nonconformist Bazaar. I do not dwell upon that; it is sufficient for my proposition that he is a prominent Liberal. He said:—I have never given a vote against the Liberal party in my life, and I have always voted for the Liberal party whenever, in a long life, I have had the opportunity of doing so.What does that mean? It means that here is one Member, who no one I suppose will pretend is wholly unrepresentative of Nonconformists in Wales. I dissociate myself altogether from what was said by the Under-Secretary (Mr. Ellis Griffith), I thought a little unnecessarily flippant, 1819 in connection with this subject in the course of the Debate yesterday, that we on this side of the House always claimed that the whole of the piety of Nonconformity was monopolised by those Nonconformists who happened to take an unfavourable view of the present Bill. I do not think that observation was justified. No one who has followed the public discussion of this question in the course of the last few months can dispute that there are a large number of persons in the constituencies whose claim to be considered Nonconformists cannot be disputed and whose claimed to be considered as life-long Liberals never has been disputed in their own neighbourhood who are in favour of Disestablishment and are strongly opposed to Disendowment. Take, for instance, the well-known case of the Nonconformist body to which by origin I myself belong and to which my family for many generations has belonged, the case of the Wesleyan Methodist community.
A very remarkable series of articles has lately appeared in the "Morning Post," the contributors to which, I think, have been exclusively members of the Wesleyan Methodist community. The writers of those articles, I think there are four or five of them, are men most of whom have occupied the highest possible position, that of President, in the Wesleyan Methodist community, and I will undertake to say there is not one writer of that series of articles whose name is not known and honoured by everybody, whatever views they hold. What does that mean? It means all those who have written those articles, although they are in favour, I believe without exception, of Disestablishment, are strongly opposed to the Disendowment proposals of the Government. This conclusion follows: If they were Members of this House they would have, on the Third Reading of this Bill, to give a vote which one way or the other would violate their conscientious views. If this Instruction is adopted, the hon. Member for Lowestoft will be able to vote for Disestablishment, which he desires to do, and he will be able to vote, as I understands he desires to vote, against Disendowment, and his conscience will be placed in no difficulty at all. I suppose everybody on that side of the House, as far as I know without a single exception, is in favour of the Disestablishment part of the Bill. Although I have no right, and have never made the attempt, to speak on this point or on any other on behalf of the Church of 1820 England, I hear what is said in Debate by my hon. Friends as well as hon. Gentlemen sitting in other parts of the House, and it is quite apparent from what has been said in the course of the Debate by those whose claim to speak on behalf of the Church of England has not been questioned, and cannot be questioned, that while they are opposed to Disestablishment they take a wholly different view of the case which is made against Disestablishment to the view which they take of the case which is made against Disendowment. Indeed, I cannot conceive any reasonable man, however passionately devoted in the abstract to the cause of Disestablishment, who would not see that not only were the two cases very different, but that they raised controversial issues of a quite different kind.
Let me take the two most powerful arguments which I have heard from those benches in the course of the present Debates in this Session, and, if I may say so without offence to anyone, I think the only two arguments which I have felt any difficulty at all in applying my mind to for the purposes of replying. They are both arguments which relate, as I think, exclusively to Disestablishment. The first of those arguments calls attention to the practical solidarity of the Welsh nation as shown by the votes of their representatives in the House of Commons for many years in favour of Disestablishment. I am well aware many qualifying and disparaging observations may be made, and have been made, suggesting that for various reasons, into which I need not enter now, the real issues on which hon. Gentlemen were elected was not Disestablishment and Disendowment, but many others. Some reasons no doubt can be urged in order to support that view, though I am myself disposed to say the view of representative institutions must in the end prevail. Even though observations or promises may not be stated in election addresses, and though the inference may be drawn from that omission to make such statements and indications of intentions in election addresses, and comment may reasonably be made as tending to show that at the moment there was no very strong feeling, it is difficult if you have, as you have in the case of the Welsh people, a very long unbroken representation of Members in this House who have, when they have had an opportunity voted in favour of Disestablishment and who have been rejected 1821 if their votes had been otherwise to deny that that argument has some persuasiveness. But this observation follows. While the Welsh Members are undoubtedly entitled to appeal to the consistent support of their constituents in as far as they have enjoyed it on behalf of Disestablishment, I have never heard any one bold enough to found a claim on popular suffrage which would enable them to deal with the money of the Church if such control cannot be justified on the grounds of justice. If democratic argument justifies the one point and the other is wrong ten thousand elections cannot justify it or make it right. In other1 words, while you are entitled to pray in aid the Welsh elections for Disestablishment you are not entitled to do that as far as Disendowment is concerned. Even the most ardent advocate of the Referendum will not deny that if you put it to the country to-morrow by Referendum whether it desires that the whole taxation of the country—direct and indirect—should be paid by persons whose income is about £10,000 a year, there would be most extraordinary unanimity among those whose incomes are below that figure. But one does not deal with ethical problems in that way. I know even no extreme democracy which has put forward such a claim, but if at once, it is conceded the only inference to be drawn from it would be the same inference as relates to Disestablishment. That being so, could there be a more powerful reason in support of the Instruction of my hon. Friend, which would enable the House of Commons, relying on your own argument to arrive at a single honest conclusion?
The same conclusion is suggested not less sincerely by the other argument, which I have always found to be a formidable one when I have had to deal with it. I have always felt its force, it may be because, like many hon. Members opposite, I am a Nonconformist. I have heard hon. Gentleman say with undoubted sincerity that what they are suffering from in Wales to-day, and what has caused the animosity from which these proposals have sprung, is the fact that they do not enjoy religious equality. I am aware there are many of my hon. Friends on this side who dispute that statement. But let me for the sake of argument suppose that the claim that Nonconformists do not enjoy religious equality is true and that it is sincerely and vehemently felt in Wales and has induced this feeling, and provided a great deal of the driving power behind this plan of 1822 action. It is clear, however, that this second argument has nothing to do with Disendowment. If the Church of England in Wales was Disestablished because of the absence of religious equality that obviously would have nothing to do with money matters. When religious equality is spoken of the complaint is that a preferential position is asserted on behalf of the Church because it is Established and because of its association with the State. That is the second argument relied upon both in the House of Commons and in the country, and it is an argument which itself shows even more conclusively than anything I could have said that we ought to divide this Bill into two, and that the House of Commons should be allowed to proceed to give its decision on each part.
Let me add a final word. Everybody, I suppose, who has followed these Debates has noticed—I do not wish to found a purely party argument on this—but everybody has noticed that the Division figures on this Bill has almost consistently shown a considerable diminution—I am not talking of all-night sittings, but of great formal occasions, when the policy of the Government in relation to this measure has been formally challenged—has shown on every occasion a very considerable shrinkage in the majority which normally, on great occasions, supports the Government. Certainly it has afforded a considerable contrast to the other Divisions on very important measures which have engaged the attention of the House of Commons, and I think it was very significant that when no more special effort was made on one side of the House than on the other to secure the attendance of Members yesterday the majority which supported this proposal was only seventy-two, or thirty-six below the normal majority of the Government in Divisions on these great measures. What does that mean? It means this, that while some persons are contending that this is a question which concerns only Wales, others have pointed out more reasonably that it is a question which concerns not only Wales, but both England and Wales; but nobody has ever dared to contend that, by any stretch of legitimate range of ecclesiastical controversy, it can be held to affect Ireland. What has happened 1 Let us suppose I am right in saying that this is a quarrel which concerns England and Wales. Had the decision been left to the Members for England and Wales yesterday, this Bill would have already ceased to exist. The 1823 inference I draw from that is in direct relation to the contention which is now engaging the attention of the House of Commons, and I will make my final submission quite shortly on that point. What is the position in which by universal" consent we find ourselves to-day? There are undoubtedly many persons outside the House and there are more—I do not know how numerous or how few they may be—who take a different view on the questions of Disestablishment and Disendowment. Do we really want to arrive at a conclusion on this matter which is in consonance with the view held by the House of Commons, or do we want to arrive at a conclusion regulated by pure considerations of party discipline and by mutual arrangements made between different sections of the House? I take it the House really desires to arrive at a conclusion which will enable those who are in favour of Disestablishment on the grounds of religious equality to vote for it. There are others who think it is not right to take away from the Church sums of money—very small, I admit—only £170,000—an amount so small that I suppose the party funds of either great party in a single year could make it up without any appreciable shrinkage—I do not speak with any particular knowledge, but it is quite obvious that these party funds are very large, whereas the amount proposed to be taken from the Church is pitiably small—and I cannot help thinking that there must be many hon. Gentlemen opposite who would have considered the Disendowment proposals with far greater indulgence if the suggestion had been made that the money taken away from religion should be devoted to some other religious purposes, but who will feel the deepest disquietude when they realise, as is indeed obvious, that those who are attacking the Church in this matter have never attempted to consider whether they should take money from one religious purpose and apply it to another religious purpose, but have exercised the most meticulous ingenuity and undergone long researches in order to discover some other purpose, not religious but secular, on which they might bestow the money of the Church which admittedly has been properly applied to the purposes for which it was given. All that we ask by this Instruction, and I am not without hope that at least it will meet with some support from reasonable men in the House, is that you will allow those who are not unwilling to pay attention to the repeated 1824 decisions—let us put it as high as that—of the people of Wales, and those who are not unwilling to meet the complaints made upon the basis of religious equality to vote upon that issue and that issue alone, and allow those who feel sincere apprehensions as to the proposal to take away money from religious purposes and apply it to secular purposes to vote in each case upon the plain and separate issue, knowing the vote they are about to give, and realising the responsibility and the consequences which the giving of that vote involves.
§ Mr. EDGAR JONES
On three separate occasions in the House already a quotation from a newspaper, purporting to be a report of a speech of mine, has been read, and I have never had an opportunity of answering it. It has been quoted today by the hon. Member for Dudley (Sir A. Griffith-Boscawen) and the right hon. Gentleman the Member for the Walton Division (Mr. F. E. Smith) also en a previous occasion read the quotation, and made use of it in order to show that I had given countenance to the idea that I was against Disendowment. Of course, it will be quite clear to hon. Members after I explain what happened, that that could not have been so. What happened was this: I was speaking at a conference of the representatives of the Baptists of Wales, who are traditionally the most powerful protagonists for the Disestablishment of the Church. They were all there in a large building. I was putting to them at that time the importance of having conferences and meetings to decide exactly, because of conflicting reports that were about, where we stood upon the controversy. I had the Bill with me at the time, and I worked gradually through the proposals of the Bill, and then, just before the end of my speech, I put a series of questions giving every side, and putting questions, as hon. Members who have seen them will know, from the point of view of our opponents. My recollection is that after putting the questions, for about ten minutes or a quarter of an hour I answered them, but the report in the Press gave the questions and stopped there, never giving my answers. It is true that certain colleagues of mine became alarmed through reading only the questions and wrote to the papers on the following day. Immediately, on the following day, I wrote to the paper which had published the questions, pointing out the omission and repudiating altogether the suggestion so made. It will 1825 be quite obvious that when you put a series of questions and answer them, but the newspaper report stops at the questions and does not give the complete answer, that it is not quite accurate to put them, forward as representing one's own view, especially when he only puts them forward as questions which had to be considered. I have taken every occasion in the country to make the matter quite clear, and I hope this will be the end of that quotation so far as this House is concerned.
§ Question put, "That it be an Instruction to the Committee that they have power to divide the Bill into two Bills, the one dealing with the termination of the establishment of the Church of England in Wales and Monmouthshire, and the other with the provisions in respect of the temporalities thereof; and that the two Bills be reported separately to the House."
§ The House divided: Ayes, 168; Noes, 251.1827
|Division No. 371.]||AYES.||[4.0 p.m.|
|Aitken, Sir William Max||Fitzroy, Hon. Edward A.||Mount, William Arthur|
|Archer-Shee, Major Martin||Flannery, Sir J. Fortescue||Neville, Reginald J. N.|
|Ashley, Wilfrid W.||Fletcher, John Samuel||Newdegate, F. A.|
|Baird, John Lawrence||Forster, Henry William||Newman, John R. P.|
|Baker, Sir Randolf L. (Dorset, N.)||Foster, Philip Staveley||Newton, Harry Kottingham|
|Balcarres, Lord||Gardner, Ernest||Nicholson, William G. (Petersfield)|
|Baldwin, Stanley||Gastrell, Major W. Houghton||Nield, Herbert|
|Balfour, Rt. Hon. A. J. (City, Lond.)||Gibbs, G. A.||Ormsby-Gore, Hon. William|
|Banbury, Sir Frederick George||Gilmour, Captain John||Pease, Herbert Pike (Darlington)|
|Baring, Maj. Hon. Guy V. (Winchester)||Goldsmith, Frank||Peel, Captain R. F. (Woodbridge)|
|Barlow, Montague (Salford, South)||Gordon, John (Londonderry, South)||Perkins, Walter F.|
|Bathurst, Charles (Wilts, Wilton)||Goulding, E. A.||Peto, Basil Edward|
|Beach, Hon. Michael Hugh Hicks||Gretton, John||Pole-Carew, Sir R.|
|Beauchamp, Sir Edward||Guinness, Hon. Rupert (Essex, S.E.)||Pollock, Ernest Murray|
|Beckett, Hon. Gervase||Guinness, Hon. W.E. (Bury S. Edmunds)||Pretyman, Ernest George|
|Beresford, Lord Charles||Gwynne, R. S. (Sussex, Eastbourne)||Pryce-Jones, Colonel E.|
|Bird, A.||Haddock, George Bahr||Quilter, Sir William Eley C.|
|Blair, Reginald||Hall, Fred (Dulwich)||Rawlinson, John Frederick Peel|
|Boyton, James||Hamilton, Lord C. (Kensington, S.)||Rawson, Col. R. H.|
|Brassey, H. Leonard Campbell||Hamilton, Marquess of (Londonderry)||Rees, Sir J. D.|
|Bridgeman, William Clive||Hardy, Rt. Hon. Laurence||Roberts, S. (Sheffield, Ecclesall)|
|Bull, Sir William James||Harris, Henry Percy||Ronaldshay, Earl of|
|Burdett-Coutts, W.||Harrison-Broadley, H. B.||Rothschild, Lionel de|
|Burn, Colonel C. R.||Helmsley, Viscount||Royds, Edmund|
|Campbell, Capt. Duncan F. (Ayr, N.)||Henderson, Major H. (Berks, Abingdon)||Rutherford, John (Lancs., Darwen)|
|Campion, W. R.||Hewins, William Albert Samuel||Samuel, Sir Harry (Norwood)|
|Carlile, Sir Edward Hildred||Hickman, Colonel Thomas E.||Smith, Rt. Hon. F. E. (L'pool, Walton)|
|Cassel, Felix||Hill, Sir Clement L.||Stanier, Beville|
|Castlereagh, Viscount||Hills, John Waller||Stanley, Hon. G, F. (Preston)|
|Cautley, Henry Strother||Hill-Wood, Samuel||Starkey, John Ralph|
|Cecil, Evelyn (Aston Manor)||Hohler, Gerald Fitzroy||Steel-Maitland, A. D.|
|Cecil, Lord Hugh (Oxford, University)||Hope, Major J. A. (Midlothian)||Stewart, Gershom|
|Cecil, Lord R. (Herts, Hitchin)||Horne, Edgar (Surrey, Guildford)||Talbot, Lord Edmund|
|Chaloner, Col. R. G. W.||Hunt, Rowland||Terrell, George (Wilts, N.W.)|
|Chambers, J.||Ingleby, Holcombe||Terrell, Henry (Gloucester)|
|Chaplin, Rt. Hon. Henry||Jessel, Captain H. M.||Thomson, W. Mitchell- (Down, North)|
|Clay, Captain H. H. Spender||Kerr-Smiley, Peter Kerr||Thynne, Lord Alexander|
|Clive, Captain Percy Archer||Keswick, Henry||Touche, George Alexander|
|Clyde, James Avon||Kinloch-Cooke, Sir Clement||Tryon, Captain George Clement|
|Courthope, George Loyd||Knight, Captain E. A.||Walker, Col. William Hall|
|Craig, Charles Curtis (Antrim, S.)||Lane-Fox, G. R.||Warde, Col. C. E. (Kent, Mid)|
|Craig, Ernest (Cheshire, Crewe)||Larmor, Sir J.||Wheler, Granville C. H.|
|Craig, Captain James (Down E.)||Law, Rt. Hon. Bonar (Bootle)||White, Major G. D. (Lancs., Southport),|
|Craig, Norman (Kent, Thanet)||Lewisham, Viscount||Willoughby, Major Hon. Claud|
|Craik, Sir Henry||Lloyd, George Ambrose||Wills, Sir Gilbert|
|Crichton-Stuart, Lord Ninian||Lonsdale, Sir John Brownlee||Wolmer, Viscount|
|Cripps, Sir Charles Alfred||Lowe, Sir F. W. (Edgbaston)||Wood, Hon. E. F. L. (Ripon)|
|Dalziel, Davison (Brixton)||Lyttelton, Rt. Hon. A. (Hanover Sq.)||Wood, John (Stalybridge)|
|Denniss, E. R. B.||Lyttelton, Hon. J. C. (Droitwich)||Worthington-Evans, L.|
|Dixon, Charles Harvey||MacCaw, Wm. J. MacGeagh||Wortley, Rt. Hon. C. B. Stuart-|
|Eyres-Monsell, B. M.||Mackinder, Halford J.||Wright, Henry Fitzherbert|
|Faber, George D. (Ctapham)||Macmaster, Donald||Wyndham, Rt. Hon. George|
|Faber, Capt. W. V. (Hants, W.)||Malcolm, Ian||Yerburgh, Robert A.|
|Fell, Arthur||Mason, James F. (Windsor)||Younger, Sir George|
|Fetherstonhaugh, Godfrey||Meysey-Thompson, E. C.|
|Finlay, Rt. Hon. Sir Robert||Mildmay, Francis Bingham||TELLERS FOR THE AYES.—Sir|
|Fisher, Rt. Hon. W. Hayes||Morrison-Bell, Capt E. F. (Ashburton)||A. Griffith-Boscawen and Mr. Hoare.|
|Abraham, William (Dublin, Harbour)||Allen, Arthur A. (Dumbartonshire)||Baker, Harold T. (Accrington)|
|Acland, Francis Dyke||Allen, Rt. Hon. Charles P. (Stroud)||Baker, Joseph Allen (Finsbury, E.)|
|Adkins, Sir W. Ryland D.||Arnold, Sydney||Baring, Sir Godfrey (Barnstaple)|
|Barton, William||Haslam, Lewis (Monmouth)||Outhwaite, R. L.|
|Bethell, Sir J. H.||Havelock, Alan, Sir Henry||Palmer, Godfrey Mark|
|Birrell, Rt. Hon. Augustine||Hayden, John Patrick||Parker, James (Halifax)|
|Black, Arthur W.||Hayward, Evan||Pearce, Robert (Staffs, Leek)|
|Boland, John Pius||Hazieton, Richard||Pease, Rt. Hon. Joseph (Rotherham)|
|Booth, Frederick Handel||Healy, Maurice (Cork)||Philipps, Col. Ivor (Southampton)|
|Bowerman, Charles W.||Healy, Timothy Michael (Cork, N.E.)||Phillips, John (Longford, S.)|
|Boyle, Daniel (Mayo, North)||Herbert, Col. Sir Ivor (Mon., South)||Pointer, Joseph|
|Brace, William||Higham, John Sharp||Pollard, Sir George H.|
|Brady, Patrick Joseph||Hinds, John||Ponsonby, Arthur A. W. H.|
|Brocklehurst, W. B.||Hobhouse, Rt. Hon. Charles E. H.||Power, Patrick Joseph|
|Bryce, J. Annan||Hodge, John||Price, C. E. (Edinburgh; Central)|
|Burke, E Haviland-||Hogge, James Myles||Price, Sir Robert J. (Norfolk, E.)|
|Burns, Rt. Hon. John||Holmes, Daniel Turner||Priestley, Sir Arthur (Grantham)|
|Buxton, Rt. Hon. S. C. (Poplar)||Horne, C. Silvester (Ipswich)||Priestley, Sir W. E. B. (Bradford, E.)|
|Byles, Sir William Pollard||Howard, Hon. Geoffrey||Pringle, William M. R.|
|Carr-Gomm, H. W.||Hudson, Walter||Radford, G. H.|
|Cawley, H. T. (Lancs., Heywood)||Hughes, Spencer Leigh||Raffan, Peter Wilson|
|Chancellor, Henry George||Isaacs, Rt. Hon. Sir Rufus||Rea, Rt. Hon. Russell (South Shields)|
|Chapple, Dr. William Allen||Jackson, Sir John||Reddy, Michael|
|Churchill, Rt. Hon. Winston S.||John, Edward Thomas||Redmond, William (Clare, E.)|
|Clancy, John J.||Jones, Rt. Hon. Sir D. Brynmor (Swansea)||Redmond, William Archer (Tyrone, E.)|
|Clough, William||Jones, Edgar R. (Merthyr Tydvil)||Kendall, Atheistan|
|Collins, Stephen (Lambeth)||Jones, Henry Haydn (Merioneth)||Richards, Thomas|
|Compton, Rickett, Rt. Hon. Sir J.||Jones, J. Towyn (Carmarthen, East)||Richardson, Thomas (Whitehaven)|
|Condon, Thomas Joseph||Jones, Leif Stratten (Notts, Rushcliffe)||Roberts, Charles H. (Lincoln)|
|Cornwall, Sir Edwin A.||Jones, William (Carnarvonshire)||Roberts, Sir J. H. (Denbighs)|
|Cory, Sir Clifford John||Jones, William S. Glyn- (Stepney)||Robertson, Sir G. Scott (Bradford)|
|Cotton, William Francis||Joyce, Michael||Robertson, J. M. (Tyneside)|
|Craig, Herbert J. (Tynemouth)||Keating, Matthew||Robinson, Sidney|
|Crawshay-Williams, Eliot||Kennedy, Vincent Paul||Roch, Walter F. (Pembroke)|
|Crooks, William||Kilbride, Denis||Roche, Augustine (Louth)|
|Crumley, Patrick||King, J.||Rowlands, James|
|Cullinan, John||Lambert, Rt. Hon. G. (Devon, S. Moiton)||Russell, Rt. Hon. Thomas W.|
|Davies, Ellis William (Eifion)||Lambert, Richard (Wilts, Cricklade)||Samuel, Rt. Hon. H. L. (Cleveland)|
|Davies, Timothy (Lincs., Louth)||Lardner, James Carrige Rushe||Samuel, J. (Stockton-on-Tees)|
|Davies, Sir W. Howell (Bristol, S.)||Lawson, Sir W. (Cumb'rld, Cockerm'th)||Scanlan, Thomas|
|Davies, M. Vaughan- (Cardigan)||Leach, Charles||Schwann, Rt. Hon. Sir C. E.|
|Dawes, J. A.||Lewis, John Herbert||Seely, Rt. Hon. Col. J. E. B.|
|De Forest, Baron||Lundon, Thomas||Sheehy, David|
|Delany, William||Lyell, Charles Henry||Sherwell, Arthur James|
|Denman, Hon. R. D.||Lynch, A. A.||Simon, Sir John Allsebrook|
|Devlin, Joseph||Macdonald, J. Ramsay (Leicester)||Smith, Albert (Lancs., Clitheroe)|
|Dickinson, W. H.||Macdonald, J. M. (Falkirk Burghs)||Smyth, Thomas F. (Leitrim)|
|Dillon, John||McGhee, Richard||Snowden, Philip|
|Donelan, Captain A.||Macnamara, Rt. Hon. Dr. T. J.||Soames, Arthur Wellesley|
|Doris, William||MacNeill, J. G. Swift (Donegal, South)||Spicer, Rt. Hon. Sir Albert|
|Duffy, William J.||Macpherson, James Ian||Stanley, Albert (Staffs., N. W.)|
|Duncan, C. (Barrow-in-Furness)||MacVeagh, Jeremiah||Sutherland, J. E.|
|Edwards, Clement (Glamorgan, E.)||M'Callum, Sir John M.||Sutton, John E.|
|Edwards, Sir Francis (Radnor)||McKenna, Rt. Hon. Reginald||Taylor, Theodore C. (Radcliffe)|
|Edwards, John Hugh (Glamorgan, Mid)||M'Micking, Major Gilbert||Taylor, Thomas (Boiton)|
|Esmonde, Dr. John (Tipperary, N.)||Marks, Sir George Groydon||Thome, G. R. (Wolverhampton)|
|Esmonde, Sir Thomas (Wexford, N.)||Marshall, Arthur Harold||Thorne, William (West Ham)|
|Essex, Richard Walter||Mason, David M. (Coventry)||Trevelyan, Charles Philips|
|Falconer, James||Masterman, Rt. Hon. C. F. G.||Ure, Rt. Hon. Alexander|
|Farrell, James Patrick||Meagher, Michael||Wadsworth, John|
|Ferens, Rt. Hon. Thomas Robinson||Meehan, Francis E. (Leitrim, N.)||Walsh, Stephen (Lancs., Ince)|
|Ffrench, Pete||Millar, James Duncan||Waiton, Sir Joseph|
|Field, William||Molloy, Michael||Ward, W. Dudley (Southampton)|
|Fitzgibbon, John||Molteno, Percy Alport||Wardie, G. J.|
|Flavin, Michael Joseph||Mond, Sir Alfred M.||Warner Sir Thomas Courtenay|
|Gilhooly, James||Mooney, J. J.||Wason, Rt. Hon. E. (Clackmannan)|
|Gill, Alfred Henry||Morgan, George Hay||Wasoh, John Cathcart (Orkney)|
|Ginnell, L.||Morison, Hector||Watt, Henry A.|
|Gladstone, W. G. C.||Morton, Alpheus Cleophas||Webb, H.|
|Glanville, Harold James||Muldoon, John||Wedgwood, Josiah C.|
|Goldstone, Frank||Nannetti, Joseph P.||White, J. Dundas (Glas., Tradeston)|
|Greenwood, Granville G. (Peterborough)||Nolan, Joseph||White, Patrick (Meath, North)|
|Greenwood, Hamar (Sunderland)||Norton, Captain Cecil W.||Whitehouse, John Howard|
|Griffith, Ellis J.||Nugent, Sir Walter Richard||Whyte, A. F.|
|Guest, Hon. Frederick E. (Dorset, E.)||O'Brien, Patrick (Kilkenny)||Williams, John (Glamorgan)|
|Guiney, Patrick||O'Connor, T. P. (Liverpool)||Williams, Llewelyn (Carmarthen)|
|Gwynn, Stephen Lucius (Galway)||O'Doherty, Philip||Wilson, W. T (Westhoughton)|
|Hackett, J.||O'Donnell, Thomas||Wood, Rt. Hon. T. McKinnon (Glas.)|
|Hancock, John George||O'Kelly, Edward P. (Wicklow, W.)||Young, Samuel (Cavan, E.)|
|Harcourt, Rt. Hon. L. (Rossendale)||O'Kelly, James (Roscommon, N.)||Young, William (Perth, East)|
|Harcourt, Robert V. (Montrose)||O'Malley, William||Yoxall, Sir James Henry|
|Hardie, J. Keir||O'Neill, Dr. Charles (Armagh, S.)|
|Harmsworth Cecil (Luton, Beds)||O'Shaughnessy,' p. J.||TELLERS FOR THE NOES.—Mr.|
|Harmsworth, R. J. (Caithness-shire)||O'Shee, James John||Illingworth and Mr. Wedgwood Benn.|
|Harvey, T. E. (Leeds, West)||O'Sullivan, Timothy|
Question, "That the Debate be now adjourned," put, and agreed to.
§ Mr. POLLOCK
I beg to move, "That it be an Instruction to the Committee that they have power to make provision for facilitating the redemption on an equitable basis of the tithe rent-charge in Wales and Monmouthshire dealt with by the Bill?"
I believe this is an important Instruction, and it is one which, I hope, will find support on both sides of the House after I have explained the purpose I have in view. First of all, let me remind the House of the position of tithe under the Bill. The proposals are to be found in a very few Clauses. It will be found that tithe rents are vested in the Commissioners under Clause 4. Then, under Clause 8, tithe rent-charge of all parochial benefices passes to the county council which is the council of the area from which the tithe issues. In Clause 15 there is this provision:—
"There shall be paid to each person who has any existing interest in any tithe rent-charge transferred to a county council under this Act, in substitution for and in satisfaction of that interest, and so long as that interest would otherwise have continued, the annual amount, according to the septennial average, of that lithe rent-charge, after deducting such sum as may be allowed by the Welsh Commissioners for cost of, collection rates, and other outgoings."
Lastly, by Clause 27 it is made perfectly clear that the payment of tithe is to continue. The Clause says:—
"Nothing in this Act shall affect any liability to pay tithe rent-charge, or the liability of any lay impropriator of any tithe rent-charge to repair any ecclesiastical building, but a county council shall not, by reason of being entitled to or receiving any tithe rent-charge under this Act, be liable for the repair of any ecclesiastical building."
Shortly, therefore, these provisions come to this. Tithe, as we call it, has still to be paid as heretofore. Tithes, so far as they are paid at present to any incumbent of a parish, are to go to the county council of the county where that parish is situate, and provision is made for the continuance of the interest during life of those persons who are interested at present in the receipt of tithe rent-charge. Therefore nothing is done by this Bill to abolish tithe and get over the difficulty which is felt on one side or the other in the matter of payment of tithes. Tithes must therefore continue to be paid and be received 1830 by other hands than those which have received them up to the present. But if there is any difficulty now in the payment of tithes, any conscientious objection to paying them under these proposals, that objection will continue.
May I recall how the matter stands on the question of the redemption of tithes? We all know that there are no tithes at present. They have all been commuted into tithe rent-charge under the Act of 1836, and subsequent Acts in the early forties. But there still is this tithe rent-charge or tithe, as it is more commonly called, which is paid and will be payable. That tithe is paid out of the land and paid out of any portion of the land—that is to say, distress can be levied on any portion of the land—and there is no necessity for the owner of tithe to divide up or apportion the tithe between any particular part of the area from which the tithe is payable. We have also during the last seventy years had a large number of facilities given for the purpose of redeeming tithes, and it is fair to say that the old Tithe Rent-Charge Act, the Commutation Act of 1836, and all the Acts passed in the forties contemplated the possibility of the redemption of tithe, as a means whereby any difficulty could be got over. There, too, the rights of those interested, either in the receipt or payment of tithe could be obviated by means of money payments or a redemption. But it is also provided that the redemption shall take place on a particular scale, and at the present moment it still stands at law that if you wish to redeem a tithe compulsorily, you must pay twenty-five years' purchase of the amount at which the tithe stands. If there is a tithe, say, of £50, issuing out of a particular area, and, if you desire to enforce the compulsory process of the Acts to redeem that tithe, you have got to pay the full amount of twenty-five times £50 in order to get rid of the payment of tithe. At present, and for a very long time, that has not been a business proposition. We all know that although tithe is fixed at a certain sum the annual payment in respect of it fluctuates according to a modus which depends upon the average price of the corn crops, wheat, barley, and oats, during the period of seven years previously. Therefore, at the present time, and for many years past, tithe has not been paid at its full rate. It has only been paid at this average price, which has fallen far below the true value ascertained under the original Act of 1836.
1831 May I remind the House what those figures are at the present time? During the period of forty-five years, since the commutation of tithe, there has been no payment of it at the full value; and during about thirty-one years, and only during thirty-one years, has the payment been at anything like its real value; but inasmuch as the price of cereals, I think I may say, has permanently gone down, Ave are now in a position, as we have been for the last generation of dealing with the value of tithes at far less than the true value, or face value, that was arranged in the early forties. In 1891 the value of tithes was a little over 76 per cent.; in 1892, about 75 per cent.; in 1901, it was as low as 66 per cent.; in 1911, 71 per cent.; in 1912, the actual price of payment was £72 14s. 2½d. for every £100 of tithe. If you are going to redeem tithe, and if you go into it as a busines proposition nobody would pay £2,500, when the only payment that is to be made is £72 14s. 2|d. for £100 in each year. That is not a business proposition. At the present time, therefore—and it has been found to be so by the Commissioners who have looked into the question of the redemption of tithe—the actual price paid for the redemption of tithes is something like thirty-five years and not twenty-five years' purchase. There is considerable interest to all persons who are concerned in tithes under this Bill in altering the scheme adopted so long ago, and which has now really become obsolete, because the measure which was set up seventy years ago varies so largely from any standard which any business man would set up at the present time. I shall be asked, what is the need of fixing a new scale for redemption under this Act, dealing with a matter which can be left as it has been left for a great number of years? The answer to that can be easily given, and I think it is an effective answer.
It will be remembered that, under the Act of 1878, where land is taken for the purpose of building a church or chapel or other place of worship, or where it is taken for a cemetery or for place of burial, or where it is taken for the erection of any school under the Elementary Education Act—I put that in one category—or where it is taken for the purpose of building public offices for public purposes, such as building a town hall, a lunatic asylum, or a public building, or for any of the buildings which come under the jurisdie- 1832 tion of the county council, and which it is the duty of the county council to build, to maintain, and to enlarge—in all those cases, under the Tithe Act of 1878, it is necessary to require all persons who are going to use them for either of those purposes, that they shall redeem the tithe. I hope I have been able now to make clear the meaning and the reason why it is important we should deal with the question of the redemption of tithe for the purpose of this Bill. I am not going into controversial questions of the payment of tithe rent-charge. I do not think that would be in order, and you, Sir, would stop me if I did go into it. It suffices to say that those persons who have in the past objected to the payment of tithe on the ground that it was a matter of conscientious objection on their part that they should pay, they are the first persons to have sympathy with those Church people who are now, or will be, if the Bill passes into law, required to pay tithe, not for any religious beliefs whatsoever, but for the buildings of county councils, and for purposes far wide of religion, and for purposes which we believe conscientiously, and strongly feel, tithe was never originally imposed, and for purposes for which tithe ought never to be used. I think I may fairly enough ask the sympathy of both sides of the House from the point of view of the payers of tithes. In a sense, if this Bill is passed into law, so far from any conscientious objection having been relieved as to payment, there will be another body of persons who will be suffering from this conscientious objection, which a great number of hon. Members have told us on the other side has been widely felt in the past. Let me leave all that aside. Here we are going to deal with this property in a new way. We are going to acquire this payment to the county councils, and the county councils will have to use it for the exercise of their public duties and for the purpose of maintaining either their present buildings or enlarging them or for utilising it for the present schemes which are within their duties, or else for the purpose of erecting other buildings, all of which fall within the express statutory enactment of 1878, and in respect of all those purposes it will be necessary that the tithe rent shall be redeemed if the county council use any portion of the land for public purposes. Equally in the case of ecclesiastical purposes or the new Church which we are told is to be founded in Wales, a subject I pass by for the moment, 1833 that new Church will very likely have to acquire land for the purpose of building churches or chapels or places of worship, and perhaps still more it will be necessary to find room for the laying out of a cemetery or other place of burial. Again, in those cases it will be essential that the tithe rent-charge shall be redeemed.
I have taken the pains to look at the figures in the past as to the redemption of tithe at the present price. It has been found that in 1890, when the Commission sat on the matter, the price of the redemption of tithe was so high that only one two hundred and fifth part of the whole of it had been redeemed, and up to the end of 1911—and I quote figures given in the Annual Report of the Board of Agriculture, which deals with this matter, barely S per cent, of tithes had been redeemed. From the day when tithe rent-charge took the place of tithe it is quite obvious that the purpose and intention was that in cases where it could be redeemed it should be redeemed. Therefore it is really startling to find that so little headway has been made, and so little use has been made of the scheme or process of redeeming tithe rent-charge. Of course, as the Commissioners have pointed out in their Report, it is quite obvious that so long as the standard of twenty-five years' purchase remains and no abatement is allowed in the value or price to be commuted in respect of the lowering of the tithe rent-charge by the Septennial Act, so long you cannot expect to find redemption at any great pace. There is further the other point that the cost of redeeming quite apart from the actual money payment that has to be made is enormously and absurdly high. It runs to from 25 per cent, to 40 per cent, on the actual sum paid. Some hon. Members may think that that is due to the lawyers. It has nothing to do with the lawyers at all. In the Report for 1890 cases are given establishing this very high percentage. The reason it is so costly to redeem tithe is that the surveyor's charges are very high, and that the fees payable to the Board of Agriculture, who necessarily ha; a very large correspondence in the matter, are extremely heavy. For instance, in one case where £45 was paid to redeem tithe, the valuer's charge was £10, and the fee stamps of the Department were £3 10s. Therefore both these causes, the high standard of twenty-five years' purchase and the enormous cost at which redemption is effected, militate against 1834 any redemption of tithe being carried out on any large scale. To prove that, I may mention that in Wales and Monmouthshire, during the year 1911, redemption of tithe took place upon only 254 acres, and the total sum paid in respect of that redemption was £50 10s. There were practically no cases of tithe redemption by means of merger. That means that at the present time there is really no redemption going on, and the elaborate system set up under the old Tithe Act has come to an end. That being so, the Government are going by this Bill to continue to require the payment of tithe rent-charge, to put the receipt of it into new hands, and to give no real facilities from a business point of view for getting rid of the payment, which undoubtedly causes friction in many areas. Even where the payment does not cause actual friction, it is very often irksome, the sums being small and the amount of trouble involved disproportionate to the actual money value.
The Chancellor of the Exchequer has said that the tithe is a burden on the farmer and agricultural labourer. I am not certain whether that accords with his previous utterances. But, if it is true, the sooner we adopt some process by which it can be got rid of, the better. What has happened in the past 1 Here and there a certain amount of tithe has been redeemed by voluntary agreement. Persons have been glad to get rid of the payment for a reasonable sum. The Commissioners in 1890 found that in many cases about seventeen years' purchase was taken voluntarily. But that will not be possible in the case of the public bodies to whom tithe is going to be handed over. Therefore if you wish redemption to be undertaken on any large scale, you must alter the standard of price and the cost at which redemption can take place. Perhaps I may be asked, "What do you mean in the Instruction by saying that it ought to take place on an equitable basis. What is the scheme which you would set up in place of the present scheme, which has failed?" Those of us who have been in the House for a number of years, will remember that twenty years ago a scheme was put forward which aimed at certain alterations for the purpose of setting up a more equitable basis for the redemption of tithe. This earlier Bill of 1890 was the foundation of the Act of 1891, that is, the Tithe Recovery Act, and into that Act were inserted Clauses for the purpose of allowing 1835 a more equitable redemption of tithes. Those Clauses provided a really simple method and machinery for giving power to owners, where land was divided up for building or other purposes—that is to say, in cases which came within the Act of 1878, to which I have already referred—and where the tithe must be redeemed because the land is to be taken for public uses—to arrange upon a reasonable basis instead of using this high standard. They gave power for a voluntary standard to be agreed upon between the owner and the others concerned, as in cases where there had to be compulsory purchase, and where voluntary agreements were impossible, where power was given to the Board of Agriculture. The Act also gives a very important power—the power of apportionment—to the Board of Agriculture. In the 1890 Act power was given to the Board of Agriculture to get over that difficulty between the parties by apportionment. Lastly, the Board was given the useful power of providing upon certain payments to redeem tithe, namely, by the payment of an annuity spread over a certain number of years. I think those two schemes are schemes which may fairly be adopted as providing an equitable basis for the redemption of tithe—a scheme by which a voluntary standard may be agreed upon on a particular standard as set up by the Board of Agriculture.
All these three methods would give an opportunity to persons by agreement or compulsorily, on a reasonable standard to redeem the tithes and to get rid of the payment of small sums which have proved irksome in the past and perhaps w7ill prove irksome in the future, although paid to different bodies, and perhaps there will not be less friction in the future than in the past if no method of redemption is adopted. The Instruction is intended, as I said, to improve the Bill. In the future, as in the past, there will be owners and payers of tithes. There will be persons who have to receive and have to collect, and if the power to collect is divided by having portion of the land used for building purposes and the tithe is in new hands and must go to the county council, then if it is used properly it must be used for some public purpose, and probably may enlarge the land developed for building, etc. So in the case of new churches. There will be necessity for new chapels and churches and the laying out of new cemeteries, and in these cases the Instruc- 1836 tion asks that the tithes should be redeemed, and therefore I move it not in any partisan spirit, but because I think it is in the interests of those both against the Bill and in favour of it, who should be united in finding some remedy by which redemption of tithes can take place more rapidly than in the past, and I think by the figures I have given I have indicated to the House what is the real difficulty that stands in the way of redemption at the present moment. I have also indicated as shortly as I could the method by which this difficulty could be got over, by which a new standard could be set up for the payment of similar sums, or by which the payment of tithe rent-charge could be redeemed. It is not easy to travel over a period of seventy years, during which a great number of Acts were passed, and to deal with so thorny and difficult a question succinctly. But I have called attention to the salient points and to the necessity of some tithe redemption, and for these reasons I ask the House to pass this Instruction and to give us some standard for the redemption of tithe, so that the payment may be satisfactory to those who pay it as well as those who receive it, instead of remaining a troublesome and burdensome payment.
§ Viscount WOLMER
My hon. and learned Friend has dealt so exhaustively and conclusively with the whole question of tithe redemption that it is only necessary for me to detain the House for a few minutes. My hon. Friend has pointed out the great difficulty that attends the redemption of tithes at the present moment. I submit if the question of tithe redemption in England and Wales is to be settled at all this is a convenient opportunity for doing it. Not only is a saving of Parliamentary time involved in dealing with this question on the question of Church Establishment, but also if the Government think they are really going to make a settlement of tithes in Wales, and of the whole Endowments of the Church, then it is obviously necessary that they should make some settlement of the question of the payment of tithe rent-charge. I think everybody will agree that tithe rent-charge is a very inconvenient form of payment, and one which causes a very much greater amount of friction amongst those by whom it is paid than it would if the tithe were redeemed and the money invested in stocks and shares. Therefore, it is to the interest of all parties concerned that tithe should be redeemed wherever it possibly 1837 can. The House must remember that if the Government are trying to effect a religious settlement in Wales the question of the redemption of tithe rent-charge is really a very important one because we are told by hon. Members opposite that the payment of tithe by Nonconformists to the Church is an intolerable grievance and it is that which keeps up all the bitterness, hatred and animosity which would not otherwise exist. Even if this Bill is passed, tithe will continue to be paid to the clergy of the Church for this and other generations, and unless the tithe is redeemed and the payment of tithe is more quickly brought to an end you 'will be continuing this soreness and bitterness which hon. Members opposite say is very acute in Wales at the present moment. This will also be the case with those farmers and landowners who are Churchmen, because the whole tithe they are paying, not only for the next generation, but as long as this Bill stands unrepealed, will be paying tithe to a body which they must feel has no real or moral validity. Therefore you will get a double bitterness amongst Churchmen and Nonconformists. Now that hon. Members are professing to bring about a settlement of religious differences in Wales, although I think they are mistaken in their action, they ought to try and put an end to the whole question of tithe, because if you do away with the Establishment and perpetuate the friction and trouble that has always attended, and always will attend the collection of tithe, you are really going to all this trouble and expending all this energy and division of parties for very little result indeed. The bitterness that will remain will be very much greater than any bitterness that may now exist. There is another reason why I think it is worthy of the attention of the House that tithe rent-charge should be redeemed, and it is that some hon. Members opposite tell us that they want to give more liberal terms in regard to the Disendowment of the Church.
I should like to say at once that these concessions or mitigations of Disendowment have, in my opinion, no value at all. It is not a question to which we attach very much importance, whether we aro robbed of one-third, two-thirds, or the whole of the property of our Church. It is, I know, in the opinion of hon. Members opposite, of considerable importance which particular amount of com- 1838 pensation should be paid to the Church. I venture to submit it will not be possible to compensate the Church in the direction that has been vindicated by several hon. Members opposite in their speeches and by the Amendments they have put down on the Order Paper unless effect is given to some system of tithe redemption. As I understand the scheme outlined by my hen. Friend, the effect of tithe redemption would be to place in the hands of the Welsh Commissioners a greater sum of money for their disposal at an earlier date than would occur under the working of this Bill, and therefore it would to that extent facilitate more liberal compensation to the Church. If hon. Members opposite are really in earnest, and really do want more liberal terms for the Church, the first step they must take in that direction is to pass this Instruction in order to enable tithe rent-charge to be redeemed. I do not associate myself with those who desire Disestablishment with a form of mitigated Disendowment. I do not believe that is a right view of the question at all; but I do recognise there is a large body of opinion in the country and in this House of perfectly honourable men who sincerely think that would be the best solution of the difficulty, and to those hon. Gentlemen I would say, "If that is your view, and if you are in earnest, then the first step you must take in order to carry out your designs is the passing of this Instruction." Therefore, I should very much like to second the Instruction.
§ The CHANCELLOR of the DUCHY of LANCASTER (Mr. Hobhouse)
I would submit to the House that the Instruction which the hon. and learned Gentleman desires to be passed, although admirable if it were moved in respect of a new Bill, really is not very relevant to the Welsh Disestablishment Bill, and I am rather fortified in that view because I remember in 1894, when a similar Bill was before the House, although the Speaker of that day held the Instruction to be in order, it was not, as a matter of fact, moved at all. The real fact of the matter is this: The amount of tithe which would be affected by this proposal would be exceedingly small, having regard to the total of the tithe levied and paid all over the United Kingdom; it would only affect a sum of £17,000. The relief to the tithe payers, which, I understand, the hon. Gentleman wishes to afford, if applied at all, should be applied generally throughout the United Kingdom. If the Noble Lord and 1839 the hon. and learned Gentleman who moved this Amendment had really considered the case, they would have seen the adoption of this Instruction would not in any way affect the, collection of tithe, would not in any way affect the payment of the tithe to any new person, and would not in any way affect the amount of the tithe paid by the person who now pays it. It would enable the person who pays tithe to redeem his tithe. In fact, it does not go so far as that. It would only instruct the Committee to facilitate the redemption of tithe on an equitable basis. What is the provision of the law at the moment? There is no general law which affects the redemption of tithe. Sums of 20s. in amount are redeemed under one set of conditions. Sums over £15 in amount are redeemed under another set. If property is split up for building purposes, it may be redeemed under the Act of 1878. In some cases the assent of the owner is essential, and in some cases it is not even required. In some cases the assent of the bishop must be secured, and in others that of the patron of the living. The whole law with relation to the redemption of tithe is extraordinarily complicated, and if we are to set our house in order in respect of it it should be done not by the application of a fresh set of conditions applying to Wales alone, but by a law which will have reference to the whole of the United Kingdom. Under the existing law with regard to redemption of tithe no distinction is made between redemption in Wales and in the United Kingdom. I submit respectfully to the House that as the law which now prevails governs the redemption of tithe all over the United Kingdom, if it is to be amended it should be amended for the whole of the United Kingdom.
§ Debate to be resumed upon Monday next, 2nd December.
§ The Orders for the remaining Government business were read and postponed,
§ Whereupon Mr. SPEAKER, pursuant to the Order of the House of 14th October, proposed the Question, "That this House do now adjourn."