§ Motion made, and Question proposed, "That the proceedings on each of the two allotted days given to the Report stage of the Established Church (Wales) Bill shall be those shown in the second column of the following table, and those proceedings shall, if not previously 1533 brought to a conclusion, be brought to a conclusion at the time shown in the third column of that table:—
|Allotted Day.||Proceedings.||Time for Proceedings to be brought to a Conclusion.|
|Clauses 1 and 2, and Clause 3 to the end of Sub-section (4).|
|Remainder of Clause 3 and Clauses 4 to 7||10.30|
|Second||…||The remainder of the Bill||7.0|
|New Schedules, and any other matter necessary to bring Report stage to a conclusion||10.30|
§ The SECRETARY of STATE for the HOME DEPARTMENT (Mr. McKenna)
The House will remember the original Resolution contained a provision that two hours should be allotted in order to determine what the arrangements of business should be for the Report stage. In making the allocation which is now proposed, we have endeavoured to divide the time into such periods as would enable hon. Gentlemen opposite to discuss those points which in the course of the Debate in Committee were not touched upon, and to which, so far as we could gather, we judged they were anxious to direct the attention of the House. I notice, although I recognise very short notice was given, that the only Amendments put down are Amendments which do not in principle touch the allocation of time we have proposed. On the first day we suggest that the new Clauses and Clauses 1 and 2 and Clause 3, to the end of Sub-section (4) should be considered until Seven o'clock. There is an Amendment down to that proposal in the name of the hon. and learned Member for South Bucks (Sir A. Cripps), but I conceive the purpose of his Amendment will in fact be met by the allocation of time as it now stands, inasmuch as on the consideration of the new Clauses reference could be made to the new Schedules which really form part of the new Clauses. There is no Amendment down at all to the second allocation which relates to the remainder of Clause 3 and Clauses 4 to 7, which will be discussed up to 10.30 on the first day.
On the second day we have proposed that the remainder of the Bill should be discussed up to Seven o'clock, and that during the second part of the second day the new Schedules and any other matter should be discussed. An Amendment has been placed upon the Paper by the right
§ hon. and learned Gentleman the Member for St. George's, Hanover Square (Mr. A. Lyttelton), proposing a slightly different allocation of the time. He suggests that instead of taking the whole of the remainder of the Bill before Seven o'clock we should only proceed with Clauses 8 to 17. We are in a matter of this kind, of course, entirely in the hands of right hon. and hon. Gentlemen opposite, and are only too anxious they should have the opportunity of discussing that which they prefer to discuss. I agree with the right hon. Gentleman that the proposal he now makes would enable the second half of the second day to open with a discussion on Clause 18. I was under the impression Clause 18 had been very fully discussed, but if there is any desire to proceed with it rather than with' the new Schedules to the Bill on the second half of the second day, we should offer no objection. I do not know that there is any further point to bring before the House at this moment, but we shall be most anxious to meet the views of hon. Members when they come to move their Amendments.
§ Mr. WYNDHAM
I think it was evident from the hesitation with which the Home Secretary rose that he conceived it unnecessary in the first instance to put forward any defence or explanation of this new allocation of time under the guillotine. I will not pretend that I was surprised, because the Government pride themselves on having established a regime in this House as effective as that applicable to a well-drilled regiment when words of command are no longer necessary and we have what is called "silent drill." The fact that the Government have had to put forward a new Guillotine Motion for the Report stage shows their original conception—narrow enough itself—of what would be the proper manner of discussing the Bill on Report had even in their own opinion to be modified.
§ Mr. McKENNA
The right hon. Gentleman has forgotten the House has already agreed that two days and only two days should be given to the Report stage. We are not limiting the time by this proposal. All we are doing is to make a proposal to hon. Gentlemen opposite that within those two days the time should be allocated in a particular way. As far as we are concerned, no allocation of time would be needed at all.
§ 4.0 P.M.
§ Mr. WYNDHAM
The Home Secretary has restated my position, which is that they have found reason for modifying, I did not say extending, their scheme. Why have they modified it? Because their original conception of what would be a proper opportunity in the House turned out, in their own opinion, not to be a proper opportunity for the discussion of the Report stage of the Bill. I am not prepared for one moment to admit that that is all we have to consider this afternoon. What we have to consider is not merely whether this new redistribution within two days is better than, the last redistribution, and whether it cannot be made still better by accepting the Amendment of my right hon. and learned Friend. It was perfectly open to the Government if they saw fit in respect of this as in respect of all other Bills, to come down to the House and say that further time ought to have been given than that it was originally proposed to give. The Opposition in this Parliament would not be performing their duty if they allowed it to become the practice and habit of this House to accept these Guillotine Motions without a word of demur. I dare say that for saying that and for indicating that we claim a right to resist and denounce this proposal in particular I shall come under the bann of the Prime Minister and be accused of overdoing our melodramatic manœuvring. Having very small gifts in the melodramatic line I do not think I shall lay myself open to that charge; but it is difficult, when you are outraged again and again, to give adequate expression to what is legitimate indignation. This is the most flagrant instance of this detested regime. It is one of the methods by which the Prime Minister is bringing to a close a campaign inaugurated twenty-five years ago, and it suggests the presumption that this Bill is rather obsolete, a presumption amply confirmed in the Debate we had in the earlier stages, because no one will deny that an impression has been conveyed to this House that 1536 there are fewer people passionately desirous of the objects of this Bill than there were many years ago. Therefore, in the light of the impression created during the Debates in Committee the Government ought, in our opinion, if they have any regard for the decency of our proceedings, to have come down with a proposal of greater latitude for discussion and free consideration on the Report stage of this Bill.
§ Mr. SPEAKER
I must remind the right hon. Gentleman that the House hag already decided that only two days shall be given to the Report stage. If the right hon. Gentleman takes exception to the timetable he may point out the portion of the Bill from which, in his opinion, sufficient time for discussion is not allowed, but it is not open to him to say that two days is too short, because the House has already decided that point, and we cannot go back on its decision.
§ Mr. WYNDHAM
Of course, I bow to your ruling, but in view of the fact that the Government have changed their plans, I did think I was entitled, in general terms, to say that they had not gone far enough to meet the necessities of the case.
§ Mr. SPEAKER
I do not quite follow the right hon. Gentleman when he says that the Government have "changed their plans." Perhaps he will elucidate that point.
§ Mr. WYNDHAM
The modifications in the time-table show that the Government have come to the conclusion that their original disposition of the time within two days was not adequate. I thought that raised the presumption that the total amount of time allocated to the proper discussion of these matters is not adequate. Clearly, if more time had to be given to one subject, less time would have to be given to another, and for the latter subject there will be less time allowed than was deemed necessary under the original proposal of the Government.
§ Mr. SPEAKER
I do not understand what the right hon. Gentleman means by "original proposals." The original proposition was that two days should be given for Report. No division of the time up till now has, as far as I am aware, been made. This is the first and only plan I have seen.
§ Mr. WYNDHAM
I will not pursue the point further. I will content myself with 1537 the very inadequate language in which I have expressed our opinion of the procedure to which the Government are subjecting the House. But I will endeavour, keeping within the Schedules, to show how intolerable is the treatment to which we are asked to submit. On the first day down to Seven o'clock we are to discuss new Clauses, Clauses 1 and 2, and the bulk of Clause 3. I would ask the House to consider that proposal. The Report stage, as a rule, is expected to give the House an opportunity of reviewing the decisions arrived at in Committee. It is also expected to give an opportunity for debating matters which have not been discussed. What decisions were arrived at in Committee on the new Clause which deals with commutation? What decisions were arrived at in Committee on the new Clause which deals with the marriage laws? These subjects were not made the matter of any decisions in Committee; they were not discussed except in a tentative manner which led the Government to bring down totally new proposals. In view of that fact, and in view of the dialogue to which we have just listened between the Home Secretary and the Noble Lord on the actuarial considerations which have to be taken into account on the question of commutation, is it not intolerable that the House should be asked between four and seven-thirty to deal with the wholly novel questions of commutation and marriage laws, which were not discussed and not decided upon, and then and then only, that it should have an opportunity for dealing with the chief operative Clauses in the Bill which were discussed in Committee. It reduces our procedure to a farce. It is evident that even a body of experts would take more than four hours in one day in order to arrive at a conclusion as to the meaning of the commutation proposals put forward by the Government; therefore it is really an outrage on the dignity of this House to ask it in that short period of time to deal with this question, not only from the actuarial basis, but from its bearing on the deep feelings and ardent passions which the Bill has aroused in so many breasts. On that point alone we are entitled to say that the proposals of the Government are purely derisory. So are the rest of them
The remaining Clauses of the Bill are all to be dealt with in a very short period of time. One would suppose we had, as in happier times, only to review a discus- 1538 sion which has been ample in one way or another. With regard to the remaining Clauses, I will take but one example. We are to be asked to dispose inter alia of the question whether these funds are to be diverted to secular uses. No one could have listened to the discussion and not gone away from the House without having deeply impressed on his mind that there was great reluctance on the part of many of those who supported the Government proposals, and when it is obvious from the proceedings in the Committee stage that there are many men whose minds are thus perturbed, surely on the Report stage adequate opportunity ought to be given for those Gentlemen to review the votes given in Committee before they fully apprehended the great issues with which they are entrusted as Members of this House. Taking these two points—that we have new issues to be considered which have never been put before the House at all, and that we have some decisions arrived at after discussions which show that they do not indicate the real feeling of the House, then I say this time-table reduces our proceedings on the Report stage to a mere act of registration, not even of matured views already achieved, but of shifts arrived at in order to put a better face upon the destruction of our Parliamentary liberties. A Bill cannot be treated in the ordinary way when it is more or less susceptible of extraordinary treatment in the Motion before us.
What we have done in Committee we are supposed to be reviewing on the Report stage. What have we done in Committee? It has not been a mere discussion on some great social change, but we have had certain claims put before the high tribunal of Parliament, on the one hand, by Gentlemen representing the Welsh nationality, and, on the other hand, by Gentlemen representing the interests of the Christian community. The representatives of Welsh nationality have sued the Christian community for damages at the bar of this House, and the least we can do, if we are to pretend any longer to be the High Court of Parliament, is to hear on the Report stage the effect of the evidence restated by advocates on both sides, and to deliberate, before we give final judgment upon a case which cuts so very deeply into the hearts and consciences of so many millions of our fellow subjects.
§ Captain TRYON
I should like to put one point before the House with regard to the allotment of time. It is this. On 1539 Tuesday we are to be allowed from 3.45 to 7.0 to deal with the Bill from Clause 8 to the end. I will not enumerate the many important points embodied in that portion of the Bill. I wish to call attention to one particular point in regard to which I think we might, if we had more time, obtain some useful result. It is the question of glebe. The principle under which glebe is to be taken away from the Church is raised by this Clause, and what little discussion did take place on it in Committee has caused the Liberal party to change its ground very considerably. We had hoped, therefore, if we could get more time devoted to that provision better results would have been secured. The Financial Secretary in dealing with this matter talked about the long hours and the small wages for which people in Wales had to work in order that this income should go to the Church. Another Member repeated the same argument, and so did a third Member. The Financial Secretary took the line that this was some social reform, and that if the Bill went through these people would be expected to work shorter hours and would get higher wages. Could anybody believe that he has read the Bill? When one hon. Member was indulging in this line of argument he was asked how was this income obtained from the land, and his reply was: "We get it by the sweat of the Nonconformist's brow." That is taking up an entirely new attitude. In the first place it assumes that no one in Wales works except the Nonconformists, and in the second place it is an implication that they object as a matter of conscience to the payment of this money to the Church. The Member I am referring to did not suggest that the work would be less under the Bill, but he declared that the result of the toil of the people would go to national purposes. If the result of the toil of the people in Wales is to go to national purposes I think we ought to have more time in order to discuss why this principle is not to be applied to all other forms of industry in Wales. Why apply it only to land, and particularly to that land which is held by the Church? It seems to me to open up an enormous field of controversy for which we certainly want more time. There is another matter for which more time is required, and that is the proposal in this same Clause that the Church shall be graciously and kindly allowed to buy back part of her own land from the State. I think we want more time in order to find 1540 out under what conditions that land will be held in the future before we risk any money belonging to the Church in investments in land. We are told that the Church is to put part of her money into the purchase of land, and I want to know are we still to be assailed with these stories of Nonconformists working long hours in order that these rents shall be paid, because if those stories are to continue the money which the Church puts into that land will clearly not be safe. We have lately had in the country a speech from the Prime Minister which bears on this question. He has asked us a great many questions about our financial policy, but he has given us no information whatever with regard to his own. We want to know what is to be the land policy of the Government and of the Liberal party?
§ Captain TRYON
I accept your ruling, Sir; I am sorry if I have not made my point clear: My point is this: That as the safety of this land depends upon the policy of the Government we ought to have further information with regard to the policy of the Government, not now, but during the discussion which, I fear, under this allotment of time will be all too brief. I only urge that we should have more time to discuss this particular portion of the Bill, because it raises the whole question whether a religious body is to be allowed to draw its income from land, and beyond it will come the question of whether any money the Church puts into the ownership of land will be safe in the future under the proposals which the Government may soon bring in.
§ Sir A. GRIFFITH-BOSCAWEN
I must not discuss the question whether or not two days is sufficient. That, I understand, is settled. But, as between the two days, I am bound to say that the allocation appears to me to be exceedingly faulty and absurd. It was just the same on the Committee stage, where a large number of most important questions were never discussed at all, but during the last few days we had more time than was really wanted. [HON. MEMBERS: "Hear, hear."] I do not know why hon. Members cheer. If they guillotine a Bill like this, which has never been before the country, at all events they might allocate the time in a sensible fashion. The fact that unimportant Clauses at the end were given more time than was necessary is nothing to the 1541 credit of hon. Members opposite or to the Government. It is to the discredit of the Government, because they so unskilfully allocated their time that that was the case, whereas other important matters were not discussed at all. I know that I must not go into the question of the allocation of time on Committee, but taking these miserable two days, what an absolute farce and fiasco it is to suggest that we shall be able to discuss this Bill on Report in two days. Even taking the two days, this allocation is as ridiculous as it could be. The first half of the first day and the second half of the second day are given to new matter which is entirely Government business—that is to say, for the new Clauses proposed by the Government and the new Schedules which are dependent upon those new Clauses.
§ Sir A. GRIFFITH-BOSCAWEN
The Home Secretary knows that the new Clause on commutation will last the whole of the afternoon.
§ Mr. McKENNA
That Clause is moved in response to an Amendment which the hon. and gallant Member seconded. It is not my proposal, and it is intended to meet the hon. and gallant Gentleman's own Amendment.
§ Sir A. GRIFFITH-BOSCAWEN
Quite so. If the Home Secretary says we are responsible, why did he not accept the Clause we moved, or rather a Clause which was moved from his own side and supported by me? Instead of doing that, he persuaded his own Friend to withdraw his Clause in order that the Government might bring up a new Clause of their own. The new Clause is the Government's Clause; they are responsible for it, and for the Schedules attached to it, which take up the whole of the second evening, so that of the two days one whole day, that is two half-days, are taken up with Government Clauses. Having regard to the fact that this most important question of commutation was not in the original Bill and is now brought in by the Government, I think we have a very strong claim to ask for an extra day to discuss it. However, I realise that perhaps that would not be in order, and all I can do is to discuss the allocation as between the two days. One day is taken up with Government Clauses; what remains? One day for the whole Bill, which is to be discussed on the evening of Monday and the afternoon of 1542 Tuesday. May I remind the Home Secretary and the Government that there is a large number of most important questions which were either insufficiently discussed in Committee or not discussed at all? Surely we ought to have more time than one day to make up the leeway we lost during the Committee stage. Take the question of Disestablishment, which is presumably half the Bill. That was disposed of in under one day. The second Clause, which deals with Disestablishment, was never discussed at all, nor shall we have any opportunity of discussing it on the present occasion. Clause 3 dismembers the Church and takes away the Welsh Church from the Convocation of Canterbury. That was never discussed at all on the Committee stage. I do not know what opportunity we shall have of discussing it now. If we have an opportunity of discussing it now, it will only be at the expense of other important matters which were not discussed on the Committee stage. Take again the question of private benefactions. What more important question is there than that? Private benefactions had one day allotted to them in Committee and only one Amendment was moved and discussed. There was another question affecting the date which you ought to take for private benefactions, which was never reached. That question will not be reached now under this allocation. It is a monstrous thing that the whole question of what constitutes private benefactions should not be discussed properly in Committee or at all on Report.
Coming to Clause 8, owing to the faulty allocation of time on the Committee stage, only two days were given to that Clause, and, so far as I can ascertain, less than half a day will be given to it on Report. On Clause 8 a large number of very important matters were never discussed. The question whether the Government should take the tithe rent-charge from the Church was never discussed at all, and I do not know whether there will be a chance of discussing it now. Very likely not. The question of a repair fund for the Church was never discussed, but should have been discussed on Clause 8. It is quite true that in a fit of unwonted generosity you are giving back to the Church the cathedrals and churches, but you are not providing any means whereby they are to be kept in repair. That is a question we are entitled to raise on Clause 8. We could not do it in Committee, and so far as I can 1543 see we shall not be able to do it on Report. There is, I suppose, no question in the whole Bill which so strikes the imagination of the people, and to which there is at all events greater sentimental objection than the proposal to take away the churchyards, especially those which are adjacent to the churches, and through which you have to pass in order to attend the services. That point was never discussed at all.
§ Sir A. GRIFFITH-BOSCAWEN
He speaks so often that I believe it is difficult for him to remember what points he speaks on. If he carries his mind back, he will remember that he spoke on the question of the administration of these churchyards after they have been alienated. On the question of their alienation he did not speak at all, because there was no opportunity for him or for anyone else to do so. On Clause 8 you have the three big questions like tithe rent-charge, the repair fund, and the alienation of the churchyards, which were not discussed in Committee. It is childish to give us a portion of half a day to discuss those questions along with other big questions that have to be discussed in the same time. There is the question of the constitution of the Church. We had one day in Committee for that, but the matter was never definitely settled. There was a considerable approach between the two sides of the House as to what steps should be taken to form the first. Synod, and there was considerable approach as to how a layman might be defined. I have no doubt that if we had had further time for consideration an agreement could have been come to on that point. There will be no opportunity now, and the matter will therefore be left as vague as it is at the present ime. Then there is the question of the Welsh Commissioners. We had a short discussion on that in Committee. It was not a very satisfactory one, because the net result was that the Government refused to disclose the names of the Commissioners. The question as to what were to be the powers and duties of these Commissioners, raised by Clauses 11 and 12, was never discussed at all, so that 1544 now we are in this position with regard to the Commissioners, that we do not know who they are to be, and we have never discussed for a single moment what their duties, powers, and responsibilities are to be.
Again, take the question of the ultimate disposal of the alienated funds. I said just now that I thought the public took a deeper sentimental interest in the question of churchyards than in anything else; but, besides that, there is another question in which the public take the deepest interest—that is the proposal to secularise the funds taken from the Church. Anybody who took part in the Flint election knows very well the interest taken there in that subject. Anybody who observed the great care the Liberal candidate took to avoid discussing that question knows how unpopular secularisation is. We had one day to discuss that in Committee, on a Friday. Only one Amendment could be moved. Other Amendments were foreshadowed. The Government, somewhat ashamed of their original proposals, suggested various alterations in order to modify the secularisation. They said they would knock out the museums and various other things which were unpopular in the country. The Debate was carried on in a good spirit, and there was some approach to a general agreement. We could get nearer to some agreement if we had more time. It is impossible to believe, having regard to the allocation made of these two half-days by the Government, that there will be any opportunity for discussing Clause 18 and the question of how the funds taken from the Church are to be disposed of. There is another point upon which there was considerable discussion between the two sides, and an offer was made by the Government, which was partially accepted, and which, at all events, is a matter for consideration—I mean Clause 22, and the question of how far the Bill affects the marriage laws. Surely the Home Secretary knows the importance of that. Surely he knows there was a long Debate here, conducted in more or less of a friendly spirit, and an attempt was made to harmonise some of the conflicting views on the two sides of the House. Surely that is just the very point that on Report might be settled once and for all, but there will be no opportunity when you are discussing all these things on one day.
§ Sir A. GRIFFITH-BOSCAWEN
Yes, after commutation. The Home Secretary will move a new Clause, privileged by the fact that it is a Government Clause, and it will be put to the House without discussion. Is that a proper allocation? Is that the way to meet Members on this side? Does the Home Secretary really think that is what we come here for, to have new Clauses moved by him and mechanically voted on without a word of discussion? It is reducing the whole thing to an absolute farce, and this allocation table is probably the biggest farce of all. I quite agree, as we are limited to the two days, it was difficult for the Government to give us a proper allocation, but they do not appear to have tried. The allocation they have given seems to be about as bad a use of the time as they could possibly make, just as in the same way their allocation in Committee was as faulty as could be. For these reasons I oppose this table. It is a scandalous thing that the Bill should be carried in this way. It has never been before the country, and under this table it will never be discussed, and I hope the House will show what they feel about it by expressing an adverse opinion to the proposals of the Government.
§ Sir A. CRIPPS
I admit it is almost an impossible task within two days to allocate the time, both as regards matters which have not been discussed and matters which have only been half discussed during the Committee stage, but I have to deal, of course, with the allocation as it stands, and it is quite impossible that a large number of matters can be discussed which have not been discussed at all, or which at present have only been partly discussed. I apprehend it is the purpose of the Report stage that on matters which have not been fully discussed, or in reference to which no settled determination has been arrived at, we should have an opportunity either to reconsider those matters or to discuss them for the first time. The new Clauses and Clauses 1, 2, and 3, to the end of Sub-section (4), have to be taken before seven o'clock on the first day. Take the Commutation Clause. The discussion there is not as regards the principle of commutation, but as regards the terms on which, from a business point of view, commutation should be ascertained and adjusted, and that is a matter which we have not yet had time to consider in any way until we had the proposal put down in a new Clause by the Home Secretary himself. Even on the question he 1546 was asked about, the 31 table or the previous table, a matter of that kind is of absolutely vital importance. It means this: The representative body might either take over commutation as a business matter or they might be asked to take it over on terms which must mean bankruptcy and insolvency. What could be more important than that? As regards that one matter in the Commutation Clause—a very serious business matter in which all parts of the House are interested, because the principle of commutation was assented to in all parts of the House, and what is left open between us is the business question—how would it be possible even to discuss it adequately by seven o'clock?
But that is not all. T am not dealing with new Clauses which may be formally moved by the Home Secretary, although, for instance, with regard to the one dealing with the marriage law, it is an absolute violation of all Parliamentary practice to move a Clause of that kind on a topic of that kind and to allow no time for discussion at all, because it arouses a great deal of feeling and wants to be adjusted most carefully. But it is not only that. There are Clauses 1, 2, and 3, down to the end of Sub-section (4). That means that on Report, and after what is practically three-hours' discussion, you have not only to deal with all the business matters connected with commutation, but you have to deal with the whole question of Disestablishment, the whole question of the destruction of all existing ecclesiastical corporations and Ecclesiastical Courts and, more than all, you have to deal with a matter which is admittedly new to this Bill, and which differentiates it from any other Bill of a similar kind—that is, the question of the dismemberment of the Church. How is that to be discussed in three hours on the Report stage? It is a monstrous proposal—a fiasco—to suggest for a moment that you can have anything like the reality of discussion which is necessary upon points of that kind on the Report stage by only giving till seven o'clock on the first day. Then what is to be done between 7.0 and 10.30? In the first place there is the last Sub-section of Clause 3. That has never yet been mentioned in Committee, yet it deals with one of the most vital principles so far as Churchmen are concerned, because it proposes the breaking up of Convocation. From the point of view of Churchmen, there is hardly any question which excites their 1547 conscientious opinion more strongly than the proposal in this Bill to break up what has been called the representative assembly of Churchmen, which has remained in its existing form ever since the time of Edward I. Surely it is a monstrous suggestion that as regards a matter of that kind you have practically an infinitesimal time for discussion.
Then as regards these other Clauses, from 4 to 7, which are to be dealt with before 10.30 on the second day, you have there the whole question of the vesting of property. In other words, you have the whole question of the method of Disendowment. A great deal as regards the method of Disendowment has not been and could not be discussed up to this point, and the difference of opinion as regards this question is even more marked than the difference of opinion in regard to Disestablishment. It is an outrage to mix up this Clause with other very important Clauses which have to be closured before 10.30. Then when we come to the question of the remainder of the Bill, which all has to be dealt with before seven o'clock on Tuesday, subject to the new Schedule, let us see what is proposed to be discussed. Outside the House, at any rate, one of the most prominent matters of discussion has been the origin and use of the tithe rent-charge. We have not had a word of discussion in Committee of that most important point, and, as far as I can see, we shall not have an opportunity of discussing it on Report. Again, it is a violation of all tradition as regards this House that in a matter of that kind, which demands full discussion, and in reference to which there is a difference of opinion as regards certain historical elements, we should not have full discussion before the Bill is passed. Then take the question of glebe. That raises a lot of very important points. There was considerable discussion about it in Committee, but surely we ought to have a further opportunity of discussing a question of that kind. Of course it is quite clear that we shall not have any such opportunity. Then there are three other matters in reference to which it appears to me that we shall have no opportunity at all. Take the question of the constitution of the representative body. That is left, so far as the Committee discussion is concerned, quite indeterminate and indefinite. I agree there was a tendency for the two sides to approach one another in order to see if the matter could not be dealt with 1548 on a more or less agreed basis, but what is the good of a discussion of that kind unless we have an opportunity to carry the ideas on the two sides further on Report? It is quite clear that there will be no opportunity whatever of discussing a constitution of the representative body.
Then take another matter. Take the question of what is called compensation of existing interests, an extremely important point. On the question of the compensation of curates, the Government majority was only forty. Surely, if that could be properly discussed, we might hope that this gross injustice which is being done to these poor curates might be reversed. And yet we are not to have an opportunity of discussing it at all. Then as regards the secularisation of property now devoted to religious purposes. The question which we raised of concurrent Endowment was a most important one. It could not be thoroughly discussed. I had an Amendment down providing that apart from concurrent Endowment at least funds of this kind ought to be reserved for religious and sacred purposes only. We shall have no opportunity at all of discussing the matter. It was not discussed in Committee. [An HON. MEMBER: "It was."] No, it was not. I had an Amendment, but it was closured. What was discussed was a different matter—concurrent Endowment—but altogether apart from concurrent Endowment, there is the other question that you ought on the cy prèsdoctrine to use them for religious purposes only. That is an extremely important principle which we have not been able to discuss up to the present. Then there is the question of the burial grounds adjoining our churches. Everyone can realise the desire of Churchmen to preserve the churchyards surrounding their old Churches. Everyone can realise a position of that kind. But, as a matter of fact, the alienation of these churchyards was never discussed. There was no opportunity whatever of having a word of discussion upon this very important topic. I agree that was mainly the reason for the interference of the hon. Member for Pontefract (Mr. Booth). The question of administration was dealt with, but that is quite distinct from the question of alienation, and I might appeal to the hon. Gentleman opposite who, I know, takes an interest in the question of administration, and ask whether he does not think the question of alienation ought to have a full and fair 1549 chance for discussion in this House before the Bill goes to another place. The allocation provided in the time-table as it stands really means that the Report stage will be a farce and fiasco if it is intended that that stage is to be used either for the purpose of fully discussing matters left over from the Committee stage in order that there may be a rapprochementbetween the two sides or if it is intended that all matters which were not reached during the Committee stage should be discussed. We shall have a Bill which, after the Committee and Report stages, will be in some parts wholly undiscussed as regards vital elements between the two sides, and not only vital elements, but matters which affect the conscience and feeling of Churchmen. The proposed allocation of time can never give the discussion which ought to be allowed on the Report stage. On these grounds, I am bound to say that I wholly oppose the suggestion made by the Government.
§ Lord ROBERT CECIL
I confess that in one sense I regard this discussion as a somewhat futile one. [An HON. MEMBER: "Hear, hear."] Some hon. Members regard all discussion as futile. I regard this discussion as futile because I do recognise that to provide only two days for discussion on the Report stage of this Bill is obviously to render adequate discussion totally impossible. Therefore the Government are attempting what cannot possibly be accomplished for the reasons I am about to give. I think the solution arrived at is a particularly bad one. I am not myself prepared to say that any other solution would have been materially better. There are some circumstances about this particular proposal which think distinguish it from ordinary proposals of this kind. The Government have brought forward, as the House has been told, two extremely important new Clauses. Either of them will take much more than three hours to discuss properly if we are to have a business-like discussion. The Government put the Commutation Clause first, and I am certain we will discuss nothing else but that Clause in the time allowed for it and several other matters. If hon. Members will look at the Clause they will see that it is one of extreme complexity—necessary complexity. I am not making that a criticism of the Clause. I see several hon. Gentlemen opposite who are quite capable of discussing and understanding it. I am not so certain that I understand it. Its complexity is pro- 1550 digious. It provides most elaborately for the creation of a gigantic fund—when I say gigantic I mean that it amounts to £2,000,000—in a particular way, with all sorts of necessary provisions dealing with the period of transition, the difficulty of providing for the clergy who come upon it in the interval before the whole sum can be paid over, and so on.
There is a variety of other provisions of the greatest complexity, and also the vital question in the Schedule which is referred to in the Clause, namely, whether it is to be a 3 or 3½ per cent, basis. That is a Clause which we have got to discuss in common with another new Clause dealing with marriages, in addition to the first three Clauses of the Bill, all of them of enormous importance, before 7 o'clock on the first allotted day. The Home Secretary said the Commutation Clause was to be moved in order to meet criticism on this side of the House, but he will remember that in the course of Debate on that subject he himself said that he always thought such a Clause should form part of the Bill, and that he did not put it in only because he was afraid it would not meet the views of hon. Gentlemen opposite. That in itself was a complete condemnation of the conduct of the Bill. It is the duty of the Government to put forward what they think right, and not wait until they see whether the Opposition like it or not. If they put a Clause in a Bill they will soon find out the view of the House upon it. It is really absurd to suggest that we can consider that on the merits in three and a half hours. That is not the only thing. I find that the Government propose no less than sixty Amendments themselves to be considered on the Report stage of this Bill. If we were to divide on every one we should absolutely have no time whatever for any discussion at all. I hope we shall not find it necessary to divide on every one, but the proposal shows the absurdity of this kind of procedure. I shall be told, no doubt, that a great proportion of them are Amendments of a verbal character. It may be so, but I cannot undertake to say. But I know that several of them deal with questions we have never discussed at all. Let me give an illustration. There is a proposal to add at end of Clause 2 the words,by reason of having been ordained to the office of priest or deacon, if the ecclesiastical office he holds is an ecclesiastical office in the Church in Wales, 1551 or, if he does not hold any ecclesiastical office, if the last ecclesiastical office which he held was an ecclesiastical office in the Church in Wales.That really is an extremely important question. That particular Amendment is one which we certainly shall never get discussed.
§ Mr. McKENNA
Will the Noble Lord allow me to interrupt? Does he not recognise these words? Are they not the words which the Noble Lord himself put on the Paper as an Amendment? We are not doing anything more than accepting the Noble Lord's own Amendment.
§ Lord ROBERT CECIL
I think not. I certainly do not recognise the words, but I will investigate that point. But the point is quite immaterial. I am certainly not the House of Commons, whatever else I may be. It is quite true that I did propose to move, not these words I think, but rather different words. I quite agree that the provision is obscure and ill-drawn, and I am glad that the Government recognise that. I think the words put down by the Government are very obscure, and likely to raise very great confusion and difficulty. It would not be in order to discuss the whole bearing of that Amendment at length, but perhaps I may be allowed to say that in my view the effect might be that a young man might go for six months to a curacy in Wales, and for the whole of the rest of his life be at a disadvantage unless he took another place in England. That seems to me an astonishing result. So far as I can see that is the effect of the Clause. There are many other Amendments which ought to be properly discussed. If hon. Members look at the Order Paper they will find Amendments proposing a number of elaborate provisions. Take, for instance, the Amendment to add at the end of Clause 14—Nothing in this Section shall be construed as entitling the holder of any ecclesiastical office to receive the emoluments of that office during any period whilst he may be suspended by order of a Court of competent jurisdiction from exercising the spiritual functions of that office.I do not know how that is going to work. I thought we were abolishing all the Spiritual Courts. I do not understand what the Amendment means. It may have a very good meaning. It is obviously a 1552 matter that ought to be discussed before it is put in the Bill, but it will not be discussed.
§ Lord ROBERT CECIL
Very likely, but I am not the hon. Member for Chelsea, and I have not heard from him why he wants it inserted. When a Minister is challenged with regard to a particular Amendment, and asked how he dares to propose that it shall be included in the Bill without discussion by this House, he says it is one of the Opposition Amendments, and that we have no right to complain. That is the spirit produced by these Guillotine Resolutions. It shows the complete and absolute contempt which occupants of the Front Bench have for the House of Commons. This particular specimen of the guillotine is really the worst, because it is the last example of that pernicious practice. I do not think if I had been asked to allocate the time in two days I could have made it materially better. My hon. Friend has an Amendment down which seems a slight improvement on the scheme. The fact that the Government cannot see how the allocation within the two days could be materially bettered is a proof that the scheme is not very much worse than any other that could be devised. It is time for hon. Members who do not sit on either Front Bench to say how long they are going to submit to this procedure under the guillotine as the only possible method by which the House can transact its business. It cannot be so, and I do not believe it is so. I believe there is one plan which could be devised to improve our discussions, and I do say that in any case we must have something better than this if we desire the House of Commons to go on at all. I should like to see, as I suggested to the Prime Minister earlier in the Session, a strong Committee appointed without a single Member from either Front Bench upon it. I say that with all respect to my right hon. Friend, who, for an occupant of the Front Bench, is singularly fair-minded. It is a matter in which the interests of the Front Benches are divergent from those of other Members of the House. The object of the Front Benches, and particularly the Treasury Bench, is to get a Bill through the House. The less discussion for the Treasury Bench the better.
1553 5.0 P.M.
We all know how a Bill is discussed under the guillotine. We know how grotesque were some of the answers given by Ministers on this Bill. They had not taken the trouble to understand the brief furnished by the permanent officials. They read it out, and very often they read it out wrong. I do not blame them. They are human beings. They know it is quite unimportant what they say under the guillotine. They know that nobody can hurt them, and that when the bell rings they will have their cohorts brought in from outside to vote as they are told. It seems perfectly farcical and ridiculous. I ask hon. Members opposite—I am not speaking to the Treasury Bench—to give in their own words to their own constituents a perfectly unvarnished account of what goes on in this House under the guillotine. I have tried it myself. Without any exception I have always found that the first impression is stupefaction, and the second is absolute disbelief in what I say. You cannot get ordinary men in the street to believe that such a thing can go on in Parliament. They simply think that you are pulling their legs. I appeal to hon. Members opposite to join with unofficial Members on this side in putting an end to the matter. After all, we can put some pressure on the Front Bench. We can make them really consider this matter. They would really be doing more public service if they devoted a few weeks next Session to putting this right than by almost any reform. I have done my best to study this question all the time I have been in the House. I am quite sure that there are plans which can be adopted and improvements to be made. I am certain that if hon. Members will really devote their minds to it there are many others in this House who would be able to suggest better plans than I could think of which would put an end to this scandal. I do not regret what happened in the last few weeks in this House.
§ Lord ROBERT CECIL
Because he was quite obviously and intentionally wasting time. But the Closure is not the guillotine; it is an entirely different thing. I know of no Assembly which has not got in some form or other the power of putting an end to a particular Debate. That must 1554 go in every Assembly. But the guillotine is an absolutely different thing, and I believe that every man who has considered the guillotine proposed for the Franchise Bill and the guillotine proposed for the Welsh Church Bill will agree that it is absolutely intolerable. I shall vote against this allocation, as I am opposed to it altogether, quite irrespective of any particular form of it. I hope hon. Members opposite will really give somewhat serious consideration for themselves without reference to their official leaders to see whether some remedy cannot be devised for what is really nothing else than a scandal to the House of Commons.
§ Mr. POLLOCK
I have been a very short time in this House, but during the whole of that time we have worked on Committees of Bills under a strict guillotine. One point seems to me to emerge from that fact—that is, the severer the guillotine the greater the importance of the Report stage; the less discussion takes place in Committee the longer you require in Report, and if, as we have in this Bill had to dispose of a very large number of very important questions under a stringent guillotine, it means that we have left over to the Report stage a number of questions which ought to be fully discussed and ventilated upon the Report stage. I am not going over the points which have been put so forcibly and lucidly by my hon. Friend this afternoon. I will take two left over from the Committee stage. There is, first, the question of the marriage laws. That arises under Clause 22. We had a discussion upon that Clause which began at 7.30 and closed at 10.30. The result was that on both sides of the House nobody was satisfied with the Clause as it stood. A great many criticisms were offered, and the Home Secretary felt doubtful as to whether the Clause as it stood in the Bill would meet the case, and determined to reconsider the matter, with the result that he has put down a new Clause which embodies many of the points on which criticism was raised on, I think, both sides of the House. But there it is, a new Clause which involves the marriage law of persons resident in Wales who, we have been told by Members on both sides, often desire to get married in the Church whether their particular views are those of Church people or they are merely parishioners and really belong to one of the Free Churches, as they are called. Therefore we have got in this Clause 22 to consider, not merely a 1555 question that concerns the Disestablished Church, or any new Church that is going to be set up under the Clauses of this Bill, but we are going to deal with the rights of the citizens in Wales in which they are closely interested, whether they are members of the Established Church or members of a Free Church.
For that purpose a new Clause has been put down by the Home Secretary. Are we to suppose that an adequate discussion can be obtained by those Members who are interested, as I believe a very large number of persons is interested, in the discussion which will take place on Clause 22? The new Clause 22 will be one of the Clauses which will be disposed of between 7.0 and 10.30 on the second day. When we were discussing the marriage law we had a number of very interesting speeches from hon. Members opposite which were certainly valuable contributions, and which showed that there were a great many common opinions represented on both sides. Again, we are not merely fighting about the Establishment of Free Churches, whether this Bill should pass or not; we are fighting about a matter which goes to the very root of the whole life of the people in Wales; and I cannot conceive that more time is not required to discuss the new Clause which has been put down by the Home Secretary. A wholly inadequate time has been given to a matter which is really outside the purview of this Bill, which has a far-reaching effect far beyond the scope of the Bill, and the law on which does not concern Members who are interested in this Bill only, but concerns a far wider range of persons. Let me take the commutation scheme. The commutation scheme is obviously a business proposition which may be discussed and criticised from a great many points of view, but at the root of it is the question of finance and the terms that are given under the Clause proposed.
Suppose a proposition which concerns the lives of some 800 or 900 persons was brought before this House in which we had to consider what were the terms on which the value of those lives should be commuted, and if we were to consider what basis of life insurance table-should be taken in order that the various interests concerning those 900 persons should be equitably dealt with, does any person suppose that it would be possible to have that subject finally discussed, or that there could be a discussion on the new Clause, which will end at seven o'clock on the first 1556 day, or upon the Schedules, which have to be dealt with, and many other matters, in the three hours from 7.30 to 10.30. We have never had this commutation scheme before us. The propositions involved in it received no discussion. We do not even know the basis upon which the Home Secretary has approached the matter. Yet you are asking is to deal finally with those proposals and deal with them adequately in the balance of time which may remain when we have discussed the new Clause in the three hours allowed or the second day. Once you state that proposition it is quite obvious that this House is not doing its business, and has not been fair to those men whose vital interests are concerned, and if we are prepared merely to pass the Home Secretary's scheme, which may be good or bad, without further discussion we are not giving the opportunity that ought to be given to various Members of the House, who represent the interests of those 900 persons, of stating their views upon it, and it is quite likely that we shall overlook some very important provisions. We really are only asking the House to register the views of the Home Secretary, which may be well founded or not, but which not unnaturally a great many Members wish to criticise and examine. The Home Secretary himself has put down, apart from the Schedule, three pages of Amendments. It is quite likely that a large number of those are introduced to meet requests made on our side of the House or in order to take up stitches which have been obviously dropped as the Bill passed through Committee.
At the same time we have got to deal with them, and though there are some which may be accepted at once with a word or two, there are some others which certainly want some sort of explanation, and if we were to ask the Home Secretary to explain the Amendments that he has proposed in those three pages I believe, even if we except those that are proposed merely as Amendments agreed upon by both sides, there would still be left a sufficient number which, if we were to ask the Home Secretary to explain them adequately, would really take him the whole time that can possibly be spared after we had dealt with any new Clauses and the commutation scheme. I will go to one old friend that was discussed in Committee—that is the Schedule. The Homo Secretary has quite frankly told us that Schedule I. is very difficult to 1557 understand. We are grateful to him for having put down some Amendments to it. These Amendments, I dare say, are very good indeed, but they are just as difficult to construe, and they make the Schedule no easier. If we were thoroughly to discuss and understand what we were doing by Schedule I., again I am quite certain time would be required even with the best will of all parties in this House. Schedule II. I am glad to say, has been made more simple. The Home Secretary only proposes to leave out a portion of it, what were previously called the Marine Insurance Clauses. We have got a rather more simple Clause, but we have got the Schedules before we come to the Commutation Schedule. All that is so difficult that the Home Secretary felt himself at a disadvantage in dealing with it, and we are asked in accepting the Amendment to believe that the advisers of the Home Secretary, who really have not been very successful in their lucid drafting so far, have now suddenly changed and become so clever and lucid and clear that we may accept the Amendment as proposed to-day in the very difficult Schedule without question. That really means that the House is passing over Schedules and part of its work without adequate discussion and without adequate insight into the business we have got to do. I do not want to prolong my criticism of this proposal, but if the object of the Report stage is to make plain what was previously scanned with indifference, if the real object of that stage is to try and smooth difficulties and put right what has been obviously left wrong, then I say in a complicated Bill like this we have not time in two days to do all that work, more particularly when we have to deal with such an important question as commutation and other matters to which I have referred. On those grounds I associate myself with the observations and criticisms that have been made, and, as a protest, I vote against this allocation of only two days to the Report stage.
§ Mr. ORMSBY-GORE
For the discussion of all the questions involved the time which is allocated under this Resolution is really rather ridiculous. On a Bill of this character two days are of no real value for discussion, especially as a large part of the measure in Committee was not discussed at all, and more particularly because there is an enormous amount of new matter which awaits debate. What 1558 happens under this allocation of time? You have two days, each day divided into two parts—that is to say, we shall have four Amendments discussed and four Divisions, as we always have under the guillotine, and as it has actually happened in the present instance. It does seem to me, therefore, that you might almost just as well dispense with the Report stage altogether as to have four Debates on four points which were probably discussed in Committee before, or if they were not discussed in Committee, ought to have been discussed in Committee before they come up for discussion with Mr. Speaker in the Chair, and under the rules which apply to the Report stage. For myself, I am most anxious that the four discussions we are to be allowed by the Government should be discussions which would really be valuable in the long run. The first question of importance must obviously be the new commutation proposal of the Home Secretary. Speaking for myself, t do not think, as it stands, that it is of any good, and unless there be a real discussion on that new Clause you are certainly not giving it a fair chance of its even being properly put before us. I know it is optional, and has to depend on the governing body of the Church whether they will enforce it or not, but unless it is discussed in this House it will be prejudiced in the first instance.
We want to know what is at the back of the new Clause, how it was brought up, by whose authority, by whose advice? There are as many questions on that new Clause and the new Schedule as on any other part of the Bill. I submit that half a day is not too much to deal with very complicated subjects of that description. But what will happen? On your allocation, the whole of Clause 1 and the larger part of Clause 3, and the new Clauses cannot possibly receive any discussion on the Report stage at all. On the second half of the first day, the question that will occupy the time of the House will be as to the future relations of the Church in Wales and the Church in England, which must be raised on the Convocation Clause. As to that, if you are going to proceed with Disestablishment and Disendowment, we should know exactly what relations you are going to allow to the Church in Wales and to the Church in England, and it is not too much to ask that a whole half-day should be given to that discussion. Of course, far more should be given. I do not think the Government in the least. 1559 realise what this may mean. They think it is going to be an easy job; it is not going to be a more easy job than the Home Secretary's difficulties under Clause 13. Obviously, the whole subject cannot be discussed in the time allocated, and the future relations of the Church in Wales will have to be raised, no doubt, in another place.
On the second day it is quite obvious that we shall deal with the Disendowment question, but I hope that we shall be allowed to alter the second day's programme so that we may get an opportunity of dealing with Clause 8—the ninety-nine lines Clause, which contains practically the whole of the Disendowment proposals, of which only about a quarter will be reached under the two days which are given. The second half of the second day I hope will be given to the farther consideration of the secularist proposals, on which the position of Churchmen is not really understood We really wish to convince the hon. Member for Swansea District (Sir D. Brynmor Jones) that what he means by religious purposes and what we mean by religious purposes are two different things. He wants the money for what we call merely ancillary purposes, while our purposes are much more vital than his purposes, and I think if of the utmost importance that the discussion of that subject should be carried further. That is the Report stage of the Rill as you are going to take it. There are to be four debates leading to no real result. On the Report stage you have to revise the drafting and details in Committee, and here we have the Home Secretary saying that it is enough, to put down Amendments to raise questions which do not need to be incorporated in the Bill at all. I remember putting down one or two Amendments simply for the purpose of obtaining an explanation, and I ask whether the legislation of this country ought to be carried on merely by the Home Secretary looking through the Order Paper and selecting Amendments for discussion.
§ Mr. McKENNA
The hon. Gentleman is not representing quite fairly what the state of the ease is. The Amendments which were referred to by the Noble Lord opposite were in each case Amendments to which reference had been made in Committee, and which stood in the names of 1560 hon. Members opposite and which I agreed to introduce on Report.
§ Mr. ORMSBY-GORE
They were never discussed; neither of them was reached. For instance, one on Clause 2 was never reached, and we were even unable to vote against the proposal of the Government. On the question of the clergy of the Disestablished Church in Wales to sit in this House we were never allowed to take a vote. Under this Bill a Roman Catholic priest in Wales is not allowed to be a Member of this House, and yet a member of the Church of England in Wales is allowed to sit in this House. We were never allowed to take a vote on that. I think our experience of the Government allocation of time both on the Committee and on the Report stage of this Bill justifies us in making this strong protest against the degradation of the Committee and Report stages under the whole system of the guillotine. An enormous number of vital points have been shut out altogether. Look at what you have done. At the end of the last two or three days you are raising absolutely minor points which, if you had not got a guillotine, probably would have run through in a few hours. Under your guillotine system, long before a discussion comes on, long before it is known what points are likely to be made, the Front Bench come to the conclusion that they will have at such and such an hour such and such a Clause.
I do urge the Government when they are drawing up these Resolutions for allocation of time to try and draw them up in a way more in consonance with the requirements of the Debates of the House. They are bad altogether, and I do hope that next Session we shall see some restoration of freedom. Where a Debate is obviously obstructed the Closure is a necessity, but what happens? You do not use the Closure when you have the guillotine, and the Debate is kept on to suit both Front Benches, until the Guillotine falls and until the Whips get together the Members, who have not heard a word of the discussion. That applies to both sides alike, and I do speak feelingly in the matter. On this Bill, as on another Bill, the Debates were carried on by a mere handful of Members particularly interested, and the majority of the Members of the House did not take the slightest interest in those Debates, nor did they listen to them. All that is entirely due to this allocation of time—[HON. MEMBERS: "No, no!"]—and until you get rid of 1561 that, and until the Debates are real—that is to say, coming to an end when it is right that they should come to an end and when it is the sense of the House that they should come to an end—
§ Mr. ORMSBY-GORE
I am speaking about the allocation of time. I am not opposing the Closure; I said that the Closure is necessary, but I think I am justified in saying that an allocation of time such as we are discussing today is really degrading debate in this House, and I do make a strong protest against the absolutely absurd allocation of time, both in the Committee stage and on the Report stage, given to this Disestablishment and Disendowment Bill.
§ Mr. MOUNT
I do not wish to follow my hon. Friend in his attack on the general application of the Closure and the Guillotine, because I entirely agree with everything he said; nor do I desire to follow the line taken up by some of my hon. Friends in front of me, because on the main questions that have been discussed we have not been satisfied, and we want farther opportunity for discussion on Report. My main objection to this allocation of time is that which has been at the bottom of all the speeches which have already been delivered, namely, the allocation of only two days. I should like to draw the attention of the House to the allocation of time on the second day, and to what we have to discuss on (hat day. My Noble Friend the Member for Hitchin (Lord Robert Cecil) pointed out that there are on the Paper sixty Amendments in the name of the Home Secretary. No less than twenty of these Amendments are to Clause 8—that is to say, on the second half of the second day there are thirty-eight Amendments to be put from the Chair before we get a discussion on the new Schedule. I do not pretend that all those Amendments are Amendments on which a Division will have to be taken, but there are certainly some of them which will have to be discussed and divided upon. My Noble Friend mentioned some, and there are one or two others to which I should like to draw the attention of the House. On Clause 21 it is proposed to insert words to the effect that the bishops of the Church in Wales shall not as such continue to be Ecclesiastical Commissioners or Governors of Queen 1562 Anne's Bounty. That is a proposal to which I think we should take strongest objection on this side. We ought to have some explanation from the Home Secretary of what is meant by that Amendment. It is perfectly clear that after seven o'clock on the second day a considerable portion of the time of the House will be taken up in passing Amendments which are in the name of the Home Secretary. It is perfectly clear we shall not get beyond Clause 8 before the guillotine falls at seven o'clock.
As was pointed out by the hon. Member for Warwick and Leamington (Mr. Pollock), the Report stage ought to be an opportunity to smooth out the difficulties which have arisen on the Committee stage, and I would even go further and say it ought to be an opportunity to discuss and consider matters of machinery for which there had not been opportunity on the Committee stage. On the fourteenth day of the Committee stage we had Clauses 23 to 28, and we only discussed Clause 23 and a few lines of Clause 24. There were many matters of machinery, but still matters of importance, which ought to have been but which were not discussed. I would point to three matters. Take Clause 18, which applies the revenue taken from the Church. There is one rather striking alteration in the Bill of this year as compared with former years. In former Bills the objects, charitable eleemosynary and other public purposes for which the money taken from the Church might be spent, were not to include those for which provision was made out of the rates. Those words have been omitted out of this Bill and we ought to have some explanation why that has occurred. Reading the accounts of the Debate in 1909, when there was a slight alteration in the objects, I notice that the Prime Minister gave as his reason for making that alteration that some of the objects which were provided for in former Bills had already been provided for in the rates. Yet in this Bill we are giving power to the county councils to spend this money taken from the Church on objects on which money may have been spent out of the rates. I think it would have been right to have had the opportunity on Report stage to discuss that question. There is also the question of vestries which has not been discussed, and, although these matters are matters of machinery, they are matters which the House might very usefully discuss and particularly where no questions of principle were involved.
1563 We have not had a single word from the Government benches with regard to Clause 27, which provides that tithe is still to be paid. I am quite aware that since the discussions in this House have been guillotined, in the way they have been of late by the present Government, the public interest in our debates has very largely fallen off. After all, I think some public use is served by debates in this House by drawing the attention of the public outside the contents of this Bill. I believe a large number of the constituents of hon. Members representing Welsh constituencies still believe that when this Bill is passed into law, tithe rent-charge will no longer have to be paid. It would have been only right in my opinion that we should have had some opportunity of making it quite clear by debate in this House that that is not so, and that there is special provision in this Bill for the payment of tithe rent-charge in the future. Again, in that Clause we heard for the first time of the question of the lay impropriator, but we have never had the opportunity of discussing it. Those are matters which have been entirely shut out on the Committee stage, and we should have had some opportunity of discussing them on the Report stage. I am bound to admit when the Government cut down the Report stage to the exigeous amount of two days, and considering that they have the question of commutation to meet, that their difficulties were very great in properly allocating the time. I cannot congratulate them upon the manner in which they have done it.
§ Mr. ALFRED LYTTELTON
I beg to move, in "Second allotted day," to leave out the words "the remainder of the Bill," and to insert instead thereof "Clauses 8 to 17."
§ Amendment agreed to.
§ Mr. A. LYTTELTON
I beg to move, in "Second allotted day," before the words "new Schedules," to insert the words "The remainder of the Bill and."
§ Amendment agreed to.
§ Viscount WOLMER
No doubt the Amendments moved by my right hon. Friend are an improvement on what was originally proposed by the Government because I do not think anything could possibly have been worse. But, as a matter of fact, even with my right hon. Friend's 1564 improvements, the whole of this Closure Resolution is farcically absurd. It is extraordinary that this House, after having destroyed the connection which has existed between the Church in Wales and the Church in England for over 800 years in something like sixteen days of so-called discussion, is now going to complete that process by two days of fatuous Report. I do protest against the extraordinary contrast which has been shown between the solemnity, sacredness, and antiquity of the subject with which we are dealing, and the levity with which it has been dealt with by this House, and especially by the Government. Here we are on the eve of the Report stage, with over forty pages of Amendments, of which there are sixty Government Amendments, and we are asked to discuss the whole thing in two sittings of six and a half hours each. Could there be anything more grotesque or absurd! Surely we have realised now that the House of Commons, as a deliberative Assembly, has for all practical purposes ceased to exist. We have lost all power of moulding Bills and of framing Bills. We are not free representatives who come to take part in shaping the measures which are to become Acts of Parliament. It is the Government that does that, and the Government apparently regard the whole of the Committee stage as simply a series of some Second Reading Debates in watertight compartments. They take the Bill and they divide it into, say, sixteen compartments, and they say the House of Commons shall be allowed to have a sort of Second Beading Debate at the beginning of each of hose compartments. Private Members have absolutely no opportunity of discussing the Bill as they would wish, or as the arguments brought out in debate would point to be in the most advisable way. There is no method or possibility of framing the discussion according to the needs of the case at all. It is simply, as it were, an elaborate sham fight from beginning to end, organised so that the battle may end at the time when the Closure falls and the umpire walks in and declares that the Government have scored a magnificent victory.
We have had the additional disadvantage of being given odd week-ends for the discussion of this vitally important measure. We have never or hardly ever during the early stages of this Bill had three or four days' continuous discussion. We were always given an odd Friday or 1565 a Monday, presumably because the Chancellor of the Exchequer and the Prime Minister, who have never been present, preferred to spend their week-ends in the country. So it has been absolutely impossible for this House to engage in a deliberate, decent, or proper discussion of this most solemn question. If we look at the Amendment Paper before us we can see the manner in which the Government regard the functions of the House of Commons. These elaborate Second Reading Debates are intended by the Government merely as a sort of assistance to them in deciding what the law shall be. One or two of them, generally junior Ministers, condescend to attend during the Debates and they note some of the inconsistencies or greater absurdities that are pointed out in the course of the Debate, and they put down on the Report stage either new Clauses or a series of Amendments, and then come and tell us that those are to meet us and to deal with the questions that we have raised. We cannot tell whether it does meet us unless we are given some opportunity of discussing the question across the floor of the House. It may be intended to meet us, but frequently when the Government have intended to meet us they have done the very opposite. Therefore to say that these are concessions intended to meet our criticisms is simply to add insult to injury. The fact is that the Government have been polishing up a measure which they drafted in their offices. The Amendments are not Amendments having behind them the deliberate sanction of this House after free and fair discussion.
I should like to call attention to the manner in which these Amendments and concessions have been made. They have not been the result of free debate; they have not been the result of any debate at all, because the most important concessions were made before the Debate
§ occurred. Invariably the changes have been the result of the secret wire-pulling which the hon. Member for Carmarthen Boroughs (Mr. Llewelyn Williams) in a fit of temper so eloquently described one evening when he discovered that £15,000 had escaped his clutches. They have been the result of secret wire-pulling, of intrigues with the hon. Member for Kilmarnock (Mr. Gladstone), the hon. Member for Morley (Mr. France), and with such other Liberal Members as have con sciences; of consultations with the Chief Whip, the Liberal Publication Department, the Liberal Executive Committee in Wales, the Ecclesiastical Commissioners, if you like, and other bodies; so that the Government think they have made the most advantageous bargain for them selves. That is not government by the House of Commons; it is government by—
§ Colonel GREIG
Is the Noble Lord in order in discussing the relation of the House to a particular Bill, or in discussing any question other than that relating to the allocation of time on the Report stage?
§ Viscount WOLMER
I was pointing out that the Amendments that we are asked to swallow wholesale without discussion are not Amendments which have behind them the authority of this House. That statement cannot be contradicted. They are simply the result of logrolling and intrigue, and to ask Members to swallow wholesale these pages of undiscussed Amendments is an insult to the House and to the subject with which the Bill deals.
§ Main Question, as amended, put.
§ The House divided: Ayes, 288; Noes, 146.1569
|Division No. 564.]||AYES.||[5.49 p.m.|
|Abraham, William (Dublin, Harbour)||Balfour, Sir Robert (Lanark)||Brocklehurst, W. B.|
|Abraham, Rt. Hon. William (Rhondda)||Baring, Sir Godfrey (Barnstaple)||Buckmaster, Stanley O.|
|Acland, Francis Dyke||Barnes, G. N.||Burke, E. Havlland-|
|Adamson, William||Barton, W.||Burns, Rt. Hon. John|
|Addison, Dr. Christopher||Beale, Sir William Phipson||Burt, Rt. Hon. Thomas|
|Agar-Robartes, Hon. T. C. R.||Beauchamp, Sir Edward||Buxton, Noel (Norfolk, North)|
|Ainsworth, John Stirling||Benn, W. W. (T. Hamlets, St. Ceo.)||Buxton, Rt. Hon. Sidney C. (Poplar)|
|Alden, Percy||Bethell, Sir J. H.||Byles, Sir William Pollard|
|Allen, Arthur A. (Dumbarton)||Birrell, Rt. Hon. Augustine||Carr-Gomm, H. W.|
|Allen, Rt. Hon. Charles P. (Stroud)||Boland, John Plus||Cawley, H. T. Lanes., Heywood)|
|Arnold. Sydney||Booth, Frederick Handel||Chancellor, H. G.|
|Atherley-Jones, Llewellyn A.||Boyle, D. (Mayo, N.)||Chapple, Dr. William.Allen|
|Baker, H. T. (Accrington)||Brace, William||Clancy, John Joseph|
|Baker, Joseph Allen (Finsbury, E.)||Brady, P. J.||Clough, William|
|Clynes, John R.||Isaacs, Rt. Hon. Sir Rufus||Price, C. E. (Edinburgh, Central)|
|Collins, Stephen (Lambeth)||Jardine, Sir J. (Roxburgh)||Price, Sir Robert J. (Norfolk, E.)|
|Compton-Rickett, Rt. Hon. Sir J.||John, Edward Thomas||Priestley, Sir W. E. (Bradford)|
|Cornwall, Sir Edwin A,||Jones, Rt.Hon.Sir D.Brynmor (Swansea)||Primrose, Hon. Neil James|
|Cotton, William Francis||Jones, Edgar (Merthyr Tydvil)||Pringle, William M. R.|
|Craig, Herbert J. (Tynemouth)||Jones, H. Haydn (Merioneth)||Radford, G. H.|
|Jones, J. Towyn (Carmarthen, East)||Jones, William (Carnarvonshire)||Raffan, Peter Wilson|
|Jones, Leit Stratten (Notts, Rushclifte)||Jones, W. S. Glyn- (T. H'mts, Stepney)||Raphael, Sir Herbert H.|
|Crawshay-Williams, Eliot||Jowett, Frederick William||Rea, Rt. Hon. Russell (South Shields)|
|Crooks, William||Joyce, Michael||Rea, Walter Russell (Scarborough)|
|Crumley, Patrick||Keilaway, Frederick George||Reddy, M.|
|Cullinan, J.||Kennedy, Vincent Paul||Redmond, John E. (Waterford)|
|Dalziel, Rt. Hon. Sir J. H. (Kirkcaldy)||Kilbride, Denis||Redmond, William (Clare, E.)|
|Davies, E. William (Eifion)||King, J.||Redmond, William Archer (Tyrone, E.)|
|Davies, Timothy (Lines., Louth)||Lambert, Rt. Hon. G. (Devon,S.Molton)||Richards, Thomas|
|Davies, Sir W. Howell (Bristol, S.)||Lambert, Richard (Wilts, Cricklade)||Richardson, Albion (Peckham)|
|Davies, M. Vaughan- (Cardiganshire)||Lardner, James Carrige Rushe||Richardson, Thomas (Whitehaven)|
|Delany, William||Law, Hugh A. (Donegal, West)||Roberts, Charles H. (Lincoln)|
|Denman, Hon. R. D||Lewis, John Herbert||Roberts, G. H. (Norwich)|
|Devlin, Joseph||Lough, Rt. Hon. Thomas||Roberts, Sir J. H. (Denbighs)|
|Dickinson, W. H.||Low, Sir Frederick (Norwich)||Robertson, Sir G. S. (Bradford)|
|Dillon, John||Lundon, Thomas||Robertson, John M. (Tyneside)|
|Donelan, Captain A.||Lyell, Charles Henry||Robinson, Sidney|
|Doris, W.||Lynch, A. A.||Roche, Augustine (Louth)|
|Duffy, William J.||Macdonald, J. M. (Falkirk Burghs)||Roche, John (Galway, E.)|
|Duncan, C. (Barrow-in-Furness)||McGhee, Richard||Roe, Sir Thomas|
|Duncan, J. Hastings (Yorks, Otley)||Macnamara, Rt. Hon. Dr. T. J.||Rose, Sir Charles Day|
|Edwards, Clement (Glamorgan, E.)||Macpherson, James Ian||Rowlands, James|
|Edwards, John Hugh (Glamorgan, Mid)||MacVeagh, Jeremiah||Rowntree, Arnold|
|Edwards, Sir Francis (Radnor)||M'Callum, Sir John M.||Russell, Rt. Hon. Thomas W.|
|Elverston, Sir Harold||M'Curdy, Charles Albert||Samuel, Rt. Hon. H. L. (Cleveland)|
|Esmonde, Dr. John (Tipperary, N.)||M'Kean, John||Scanlan, Thomas|
|Esmonde, Sir Thomas (Wexford, N.)||McKenna, Rt. Hon. Reginald||Scott, A. MacCallum (Glas., Bridgeton)|
|Essex, Sir Richard Walter||M'Laren, Hon. H. D. (Leics.)||Seely, Col. Rt. Hon. J. E. B.|
|Falconer, J.||M'Laren, Hon. F.W.S. (Lincs.,Spalding)||Sheehy, David|
|Farrell, James Patrick||M'Micking, Major Gilbert||Sherwell, Arthur James|
|Fenwick, Rt. Hon. Charles||Manfield, Harry||Shortt, Edward|
|Ffrench, Peter||Markham, Sir Arthur Basil||Simon, Rt. Hon. Sir John Allsebrook|
|Field, William||Marks, Sir George Croydon||Smith, Albert (Lancs., Clitheroe)|
|Fiennes, Hon. Eustace Edward||Mason, David M. (Coventry)||Smith, H. B. L. (Northampton)|
|Fitzgibbon. John||Masterman, Rt. Hon. C. F. G.||Smyth, Thomas F. (Leitrim, S.)|
|Flavin, Michael Joseph||Meagher, Michael||Snowden, Philip|
|Furness, Stephen||Millar, James Duncan||Spicer, Rt. Hon. Sir Albert|
|George, Rt. Hon. David Lloyd||Molloy, M.||Strauss, Edward A. (Southwark, West)|
|Gilhooly, James||Molteno, Percy Alport||Sutherland, J. E.|
|Gill, A. H.||Mond, Sir Alfred Moritz||Sutton, John E.|
|Gladstone, W. G. C.||Mooney, J. J.||Taylor. Thomas (Bolton)|
|Glanville, Harold James||Morgan, George Hay||Tennant, Harold John|
|Goddard, Sir Daniel Ford||Morrell, Philip||Thomas, J. H.|
|Goldstone, Frank||Morison. Hector||Thorne. G. R. (Wolverhampton)|
|Greenwood, Granville G. (Peterborough)||Morton, Alpheus Cleophas||Thorne. William (West Ham)|
|Greenwood, Hamar (Sunderland)||Muldoon, John||Toulmin, Sir George|
|Greig, Colonel J. W.||Munro, R.||Trevelyan, Charles Philips|
|Griffith, Ellis J.||Murray, Captain Hon. Arthur C.||Ure, Rt. Hon. Alexander|
|Guest, Major Hon. C. H. C. (Pembroke)||Nicholson, Sir C. N. (Doncaster)||Verney, Sir Harry|
|Guest, Hon. Frederick E. (Dorset, E.)||Nolan, Joseph||Wadsworth, J.|
|Gwynn, Stephen Lucius (Galway)||Norman, Sir Henry||Walsh, Steohen (Lancs. Ince)|
|Hackett, J.||Norton, Captain Cecil W.||Walters, Sir John Tudor|
|Hall, F. (Yorks, Normanton)||Nugent, Sir Walter Richard||Walton. Sir Joseph|
|Harcourt, Rt. Hon. L. (Rossendale)||Nuttall, Harry||Ward, John (Stoke-upon-Trent)|
|Harcourt, Robert V. (Montrose)||O'Brien, Patrick (Kilkenny)||Wardle, George J.|
|Hardie, J. Keir||O'Brien, William (Cork)||Waring Walter|
|Harmsworth, Cecil (Luton, Beds)||O'Connor, John (Kildare, N.)||Warner, Sir Thomas Courtenay|
|Harmsworth, R. L. (Caithness-shire)||O'Connor, T. P. (Liverpool)||Wason, Rt. Hon. E. (Clackmannan)|
|Harvey, A. G- C. (Rochdale)||O'Dowd, John||Wason. John Cathcart (Orkney)|
|Harvey. T. E. (Leeds, West)||O'Grady, James John||Watt, Henry A.|
|Havelock-Allan, Sir Henry||O'Kelly, Edward P. (Wicklow, W.)||Webb, H.|
|Hayden, John Patrick||O'Malley, William||White, J. Dundas (Glasgow, Tradeston)|
|Hayward, Evan||O'Neill, Dr. Charles (Armagh, S.)||White, Patrick (Mcath. North)|
|Hazleton, Richard||O'Shaughnessy, P. J.||Whitehouse, John Howard|
|Helme, Sir Norval Watson||O'Shee, James John||Whittaker, Rt. Hon. Sir Thomas P.|
|Henderson, Arthur (Durham)||O'Sullivan, Timothy||Whyte, A. F. (Perth)|
|Henry, Sir Charles||Outhwaite, R. L.||Wiles, Thomas|
|Herbert, General Sir Ivor (Mon., S.)||Palmer, Godfrey Mark||Wilkie, Alexander|
|Higham, John Sharp||Parker, James (Halifax)||Williams, J. (Glamorgan)|
|Hinds, John||Parry, Thomas H||Williams. Lleweivn (Carmarthen)|
|Hobhouse, Rt. Hon. Charles E. H.||Pearce, William (Limehouse)||Wilson, W. T. (Wersthoughton)|
|Hodge, John||Pearson, Hon. Weetman H. M.||Wood, Rt. Hon. T. Mckinnon (Glas.)|
|Holmes, Daniel Turner||Pease, Rt. Hon. Joseph (Rotherham)||Young, Samuel (Cavan. East)|
|Horns, C. Silvester (Ipswich)||Philips, John (Longford, S.)||Young, William (Perth. East)|
|Howard, Hon. Geoffrey||Pointer, Joseph|
|Hudson, Walter||Pollard, Sir George H.||TELLERS FOR THE AYES.—Mr. Illingworth and Mr. Gulland.|
|Hughes, S. L.||Ponsonby, Arthur A. W. H.|
|Agg-Gardner, James Tynte||Grant, J. A.||Neville, Reginald J. N.|
|Amery, L. C. M. S.||Greene, W. R.||Newdegate, F. A.|
|Ashley, W. W.||Gretton, John||Newton, Harry Kottingham|
|Baird, J. L.||Guinness, Hon. Rupert (Essex, S.E.)||Nicholson, William G. (Petersfield)|
|Balcarres, Lord||Guinness, Hon.W.E. (Bury S.Edmunds)||O'Neill, Hon. A. E. B. (Antrim, Mid)|
|Banbury, Sir Frederick George||Gwynne, R. S. (Sussex, Eastbourne)||Orde-Powlett. Hon. W. G. A.|
|Barnston. Harry||Haddock, George Bahr||Ormsby-Gore, Hon. William|
|Bathurst, Charles (Wilts, Wilton)||Hall, Frederick (Dulwich)||Parkes, Ebenezer|
|Beckett, Hon. Gervase||Hamilton, Lord C. J. (Kensington, S.)||Peel, Captain R. F.|
|Benn, Arthur Shirley (Plymouth)||Harris, Henry Percy||Perkins, Walter|
|Bennett-Goldney, Francis||Henderson, Major H. (Berks, Abingdon)||Pole-Carew, Sir R.|
|Bentinck, Lord H. Cavendish-||Hewins, William Albert Samuel||Pollock, Ernest Murray|
|Beresford, Lord C.||Hickman, Colonel T. E.||Pryce-Jones, Colonel E.|
|Bird, A.||Hill, Sir Clement L.||Rawlinson, John Frederick Peel|
|Boles, Lieut.-Colonel Dennis Fortescue||Hill-Wood, Samuel||Remnant, James Farquharson|
|Boscawen, Sir Arthur S. T. Griffith-||Hoare, Samuel John Gurney||Roberts, S. (Sheffield, Ecclesall)|
|Boyle, William (Norfolk, Mid)||Hohler, Gerald Fitzroy||Royds, Edmunds|
|Boyton, James||Hope, Major J. A. (Midlothian)||Rutherford, John (Darwen)|
|Bull, Sir William James||Horne, E. (Surrey, Guildford)||Samuel, Sir Harry (Norwood)|
|Burdett-Coutts, W.||Horner, Andrew Long||Sanders, Robert A.|
|Burn, Colonel C. R.||Houston, Robert Paterson||Sanderson, Lancelot|
|Butcher, J. G.||Hume-Williams. William Ellis||Sassoon, Sir Philip|
|Campion, W. Ft.||Hunt, Rowland||Smith, Rt. Hon. F. E. (L'p'l, Walton)|
|Carlile, Sir Edward Mildred||Hunter, Sir C. R.||Stanler, Beville|
|Cassel, Felix||Ingleby, Holcombe||Stewart, Gershom|
|Cator, John||Jessel, Captain H. M.||Strauss, Arthur (Paddington)|
|Cecil, Evelyn (Aston Manor)||Joynson-Hicks, William||Sykes, Mark (Hull, Central)|
|Cecil, Lord Hugh (Oxford University)||Kerr-Smiley, Peter Kerr||Talbot, Lord E.|
|Cecil, Lord R. (Herts, Hitchin)||Kerry, Earl of||Terrell, G. (Wilts. N.W.)|
|Chaloner, Colonel R. G. W.||Kimber, Sir Henry||Thomson, W. Mitchell- (Down, N.)|
|Clyde, J. Avon||Kinloch-Cooke, Sir Clement||Thynne, Lord Alexander|
|Courthope, G. Loyd||Knight, Captain E. A.||Touche, George Alexander|
|Craig, Ernest (Cheshire, Crewe)||Larmor, Sir J.||Tryon, Captain George Clement|
|Craik, Sir Henry||Law, Rt. Hon. A. Bonar (Bootle)||Walrond, Hon. Lionel|
|Cripps, Sir Charles Alfred||Lee, Arthur H.||Williams, Col. R. (Dorset, W.)|
|Croft, H. P.||Lloyd, G. A.||Willoughby, Major Hon. Claud|
|Dalziel, Davison (Brixton)||Lccker-Lampson, G. (Salisbury)||Wills, Sir Gilbert|
|Duke, Henry Edward||Lockwood, Rt. Hon. Lt.-Col. A. R.||Wilson, A. Stanley (Yorks, E.R.)|
|Eyres-Monsell, Bolton M.||Long, Rt. Hon. Walter||Wolmer, Viscount|
|Faber, George Denison (Clapham)||Lonsdale, Sir John Brownlee||Wood, John (Stalybridge)|
|Falle, Bertram Godfray||Lyttelton, Rt. Hon. A. (Hanover, Sq.)||Worthington-Evans, L.|
|Fell, Arthur||Lyttelton, Hon. J. C. (Droitwich)||Wright, Henry Fitzherbert|
|Fisher, Rt. Hon. W. Hayes||MacCaw, Wm. J. MacGeagh||Wyndham, Rt. Hon. George|
|Fletcher, John Samuel||Macmaster, Donald||Yate, Colonel Charles Edward|
|Gardner, Ernest||Magnus, Sir Philip||Yerburgh, Robert A.|
|Gastrell, Major W. H.||Mason, James F. (Windsor)||Younger, Sir George|
|Gibbs, G. A.||Meysey-Thompson, E. C.|
|Goldsmith, Frank||Mildmay, Francis Bingham||TELLERS FOR THE NOES.—Mr. Pike Pease and Mr. Bridgeman.|
|Gordon, Hon. John Edward (Brighton)||Morrison-Bell, Capt. E. F. (Ashburton)|
|Goulding, Edward Alfred||Mount, William Arthur|
|Allotted Day.||Proceedings.||Time for Proceedings to be brought to a Conclusion.|
|Clauses 1 and 2, and Clause 3 to the end of Sub-section (4).|
|Remainder of Clause 3 and Clauses 4 to 7||10.30|
|Second||…||Clauses 8 to 17||7.0|
|The remainder of the Bill and new Schedules, and any other matter necessary to bring Report stage to a conclusion||10.30|
§ of the following Table, and those proceedings shall, if not previously brought to a conclusion, be brought to a conclusion at the time shown in the third column of that Table:—