§ Order for Third Reading read.
Motion made, and Question proposed, "That the Bill be now read the third time."—[Mr. McKenna.]244
§ Mr. BRIDGEMAN
I beg to move, as an Amendment, to leave out the word "now" and at the end of the Question to add the words "upon this day three months."
It fell to my lot four years ago to move the rejection of the Welsh Church Disestablishment Bill which was moved by the Prime Minister in 1909. During the interval since then a good deal has occurred, and what has occurred has shown that the position of those opposed to the Bill has been very much strengthened, and nothing at all has happened which does not weaken the case of those who support it. First of all, there has been the Report of the Royal Commission. That had not been issued in 1909. In those days we were accustomed to hear the argument that the Church should be Disestablished and Disendowed because it was the Church of a dwindling minority. Now that the Commission has reported, there is no one who has read the Report who is not perfectly aware that not only is it untrue to say that the Church in Wales is the Church of a dwindling minority, but that exactly the opposite is the case, and that it is the strongest religious body in Wales, progressing at least as rapidly as any other—and I should say more rapidly than any other—religious body, and using to the best of its ability all the money it has to spend. The only complaint I have to make is that there is not more money to spend, because the Church is capable of spending more money usefully.
Then, again, the representation of Wales was solid in favour of this Bill in 1909. Since then, at any rate, three Members from Wales have been returned who are opposed to the Bill. That does not increase the strength of the argument of hon. Gentlemen opposite. I go further and say that if the matter was submitted to Wales now there would be an enormous increase in the poll of those opposed to the Bill, for the very simple reason that they know what it means now, though they did not understand what it meant then. They were vaguely told to vote for religious equality. No one told them that this Bill meant taking 18s. 6d. in the £ out of their Endowments. They have now been enlightened on that matter, and as the process of enlightenment goes on, so does the tide of resentment against the Bill increase in this country and in Wales. Popular feeling has been aroused against it in both countries, and you have only to look at the enormous number of petitions 245 and the huge demonstrations made against the Bill to know that. What is more, the Government themselves have admitted the injustice of their original proposals, and with great amazement at their own generosity have consented to take 6s. 6d. less in the £, which never was their pound at all. Lastly, since then the Parliament Act has been passed, and if there is one measure which this Government ought to be careful in passing under that Act, I say this is the one. Any democratic Government, or any Government which calls itself democratic, if it is going to make use of the Parliament Act to force this measure through the House in the way this Government apparently pose to do, ought to be quite certain the measure commands the assured sent of the people of this country. Prime Minister laid down several canons with regard to what ought and what ought not to be done under the Parliament Act. He gave cases where he thought the Parliament Act ought not to be brought into operation. He said:—You might have a case of what is called a scratch majority combined together under the coercion o f party exigencies for a particular and transient purpose.I should like to ask hon. Members what could have been more scratch than the majority by which they passed some of the Clauses in this Bill? Not only were they passed by a very small majority, but they were passed by the votes of Irish Nationalist Members, who are in no way concerned, and who have often told us on this and similar questions that they are only guided by the interests of Ireland and no other consideration. There were also Scottish Members voting for the Clauses, though they are in no way concerned in this question.
§ Mr. BRIDGEMAN
I should be very sorry to say that you are not, but I say that this Bill does not affect that.
§ Mr. BRIDGEMAN
I accept the position that this question concerns England and Wales before Scotland or Ireland. Perhaps the hon. Member opposite, who represents a Scottish constituency, will bear in mind that the Act of Union with Scotland especially provided that neither the Establishment of the Church of England nor the 246 Establishment of the Church of Scotland should be interfered with by the votes of the one country or the other.
§ 4.0 P.M.
§ Mr. BRIDGEMAN
I am merely answering the hon. Gentleman opposite, who is a very fair controversialist. The right hon. Gentleman the Member for the Swansea Boroughs (Sir D. Brynmor Jones) had an. interview with the "South Wales Daily News" in December, 1912, in which he said:—Our friends in Wales hardly realise how critical the whole situation has been…because of the determined objection of a section of the Liberal party, and the lukewarmness of the whole.Is that a scratch majority which consists of a large number of Irish Members and a large number of Scottish Members who are not concerned, and a large number of English Members whose lukewarmness is a source of the greatest danger to the Bill? The Prime Minister laid down another canon. He said:—You might, again, have a conceivable case of a crumbling and decaying majority which has lost all popular favour.I am inclined to think that we have got that case now. At any rate, whatever few shreds of popular favour there may be which now cover the Ministerial nakedness from the storms of dissension, they are not derived from their connection with the Welsh Church Bill. The Prime Minister also laid down this:—The delay of three Sessions … precludes the possibility of covertly or arbitrarily smuggling into law measures which are condemned by popular opinion, and it will at the same time ensure an ample opportunity for the reconsideration and revision of hasty or slovenly legislation.I might ask, Where is the opportunity for the reconsideration and revision of this Bill? I should like also to press upon the House that, if ever there was an expression of opinion hostile to any measure, that expression was made in this country and also all over Wales again and again. Could anybody imagine a, better way of expressing popular resentment than the large demonstration that took place on 21st of June in Hyde Park, when 150,000 people gave up their Saturday—a very incon-venient day, on which many people, especially shopkeepers, could not attend—to express their determination to do all they could to resist this Bill. The week after that in Wales 50,000 people assembled in Swansea with the same determination. In every town in England and Wales you 247 have these demonstrations. If that is not a sign of public opinion, how are you going to obtain it if you will not allow a General Election? Where were the demonstrations in favour of this Bill? Hon. Members opposite are very much afraid of putting this question before the country. The right hon. Gentleman the Solicitor-General, who is one of the greatest ornaments of the bench opposite, did me the honour of coming to speak the other day in Oswestry, which is the only English town affected by this Bill, and one would have thought it probable that he would have alluded to this Bill in a speech in which he was boasting of the achievements of the Government, but from beginning to end of his speech not a word is to be found in the report in his newspaper in favour of the Bill. Why? Because he knew that it was not a popular turn, and he did not produce it. Therefore I use the Prime Minister's own words, that the Government now are smuggling it into law, arbitrarily, without revision or reconsideration, by a scratch and crumbling majority drawn together by party exigencies, a majority which has lost all popular favour, and against the strongest expression of popular opinion. He stands condemned by his own words. On his own showing the Government have violated all the conditions which he laid down, which no doubt were very convenient for the passing of the Parliament Act, but ever since have been thrown to the winds whenever occasion required.
In referring to the attitude of the other side with regard to this Bill, I desire to speak without the bitterness which I certainly feel on this question. We have been constantly accused of bitterness by hon. Members opposite who complain of our want of gratitude, while boasting of their own generosity. I would like hon. Members opposite to realise that it is not very easy, feeling as we do, to speak on the subject without some bitterness: After all we are not the aggressors in this matter. We are not the people who began it. The Under-Secretary for the Home Office, in a speech made in the National Liberal Club before these Debates ever began, used words which aroused the greatest indignation. He said—that the Church in Wales had not developed from within, but was imposed by England as part of the conquest of Wales.That is not true.It had always been an unsympathetic, unpopular, and anti-national institution, the parasite of aristocracy, 248 the agency of oppression always revelling in the bondage of ignorance, always reviling the banners of the dawn.I would ask hon. Gentlemen who cheer that, and who ask if we are bitter, if they ever read the fable of the wolf and the lamb? If not, the sooner they read it the better. Personally, I prefer the outspoken words of those who really do dislike the Church to the unctuous references to which we are treated so constantly by people who tell us that their one desire is to do the Church good. But I do ask hon. Gentlemen to realise that there are many of us on this side who feel that we owe very much of the happiness of our lives to the Church, that we feel that this Bill is doing an injury to the Church which will prevent many other people being able to enjoy that happiness which we ourselves enjoy from it, and for that reason that we do very strongly resent in this Act what seems its gross and uncalled for injustice. There was a speech made in the course of these Debates by the hon. Member for Flint Boroughs (Mr. Parry), in which he very fairly presented the case of his own election. He said that as far as his side was concerned there has been no bitterness, because his friends deal with the matter purely and solely as a political and not as a religious question. I think that that probably is quite true of hon. Gentlemen opposite, but I can speak for our side in this discussion, and say that we regard this as a religious question, and in the conflict of opinion between those who are animated by political, and those who are animated by religious motives, in the end the religious motives will win. Our attitude is still one of unchanging hostility to this measure.
The hon. Member for Kilmarnock Burghs, to whose speeches in the previous discussions on this Bill we all listened with very great attention and respect, made a speech the other day, in which we understood that he was attempting to justify the action of Liberal Churchmen in the House in supporting the Second Reading of the Bill. The argument that he gave was that they who had considered it unfair in many respects tried to improve it last year, but had now given up trying because of the uncompromising attitude of my hon. Friends on this side of the House. He said that they would rather have the thing settled by compromise than by any other way, and he gave as a reason for voting for this Bill that it was no use trying any more because he would not accept any compromise as a final 249 solution of this matter. Of course, we realise that what he wants in this Bill will not be so bad as the Bill in its present form, but does he seriously expect us now to give up what we regard as matters of principle, and which we have always said are matters of principle, by which we would stand 'to the end, in order to get some small concession I think that he really must have known at the time that he was moving for those concessions last year that our attitude was exactly the same as it is now, and I cannot for the life of me see why he or his Liberal Friends should have changed their attitude on the matter. Surely it is not quite fair to blame us because there is no compromise. What does the right hon. Gentleman the Home Secretary do? Before the very beginning of the discussion on this Bill in this Session he went down to Cardiff and said as plainly as he could that he was not going to give any concessions. Why does not the hon. Member for Kilmarnock blame him, or is it that he is unable to believe what the Home Secretary says?
Our view is that Disestablishment is wrong, because it severs the State from any form of religion, because it violently and forcibly dismembers the Church which always has been one, and because it has not been able to be shown in these Debates that any real grievance exists on account of it, or that any real good would be done if the Church were Disestablished. We object to Disendowment, because we have been told by the Solicitor-General that the Church has, and different parishes have, a sound legal title to those Endowments. We see that hon. Gentlemen opposite admit that title when it is held by lay impropriators of tithes, and we say, "What right have they to make that distinction? If it is national property, then take it from the lay impropriators. If it is the property of those who possess it now, what is the reason for leaving it to laymen and taking it away from the Church?" Lastly, we object to it because we object to money which has always been used for religious purposes being taken away now and devoted to purely secular purposes. We do not hear now as we did at one time of the State-paid clergy or a dwindling majority, or any of those old arguments, but there are still some arguments by which hon. Gentlemen defend their case. Some of them say that there are grievances which the people of 'Wales suffer by Disestablish- 250 ment. It has been an extraordinary thing in these Debates how unable hon. Gentlemen opposite have been to produce those grievances. None of them have been able to explain what Establishment means. When they have tried the only result has been to point out that the Church is under a great number of obligations to the public, but that the privileges amount to hardly anything at all. I remember an interesting speech which the hon. and learned Member for Ipswich delivered in which he referred to a sort of undefined line of social distinction which exists between ministers of the Church and ministers of other denominations, as one of the reasons—I cannot admit that that line exists. If it exists at all it does not exist in the mind of anybody whose opinion is in the least worth having. I am perfectly certain that the majority of people estimate the value of a minister of one Church or another, by the amount of good work he does in his parish or district, and by no other standard. But even if it were so, how does this Bill do anything to obliterate that line of distinction? I think that instead of obliterating it, it will draw a much deeper and blacker line of distinction between the ministers of different denominations, because there will be this distinction, a very plain one—the distinction which separate those who have inflicted an injustice from those who have suffered one.
There are no modern grievances to which the party opposite have been able to point as existing in Wales because of the Establishment, but they have, from the Prime Minister downwards, taken the very reactionary course of saying that we must not look so much to the present but that we must look to the grievances of the past. That is exactly contrary to what they have always raid on other subjects. What is it they tell us in regard to Horne Rule for Ireland? They tell us that we must not think of the past and put that all on one side. [An HON. MEMBER: "No."] I do not know what the hon. Gentleman thinks is to be the result of the Home Rule Bill if things are not going to he harmonious. Surely it is to put an end to the differences, for hon. Members opposite are always saying, "Forget all these differences in the past." In regard to South Africa you said that all the differences and all the fighting should be forgotten, and old grievances buried. But when you come to the question of the Welsh Church, all is quite different. There are no grievances to which you now call attention, and you say 251 that what you have got to do is to carry your mind back to fifty, one hundred, or one hundred and fifty years ago, when will be found some grievances which the Welsh people never will forget, and which, we say, hon. Members opposite take very great care they never shall forget. I could easily quote a number of speeches on this point. The Prime Minister said:—I ask hon. Gentlemen to put themselves in the position of the Welsh people and remember what went on in centuries of the past.And then he added:—There are certain opportunities which can never be recovered.I could quote other hon. Gentlemen. Why have we to look to the past? You choose to do it for your own purposes, while on another occasion, in regard to some other subject, you tell everybody to forget and forgive the injuries of the past, if there have been any. What possible reason can there be for raking up all this ancient history, when the Church in England and the Church in Wales are doing their work well? What reason is there for trying to bolster up a case by what has occurred in the past but which does not exist at all now? No one is pre-pared to say that the Church is not doing her work manfully and well, and spending to the greatest advantage her money in pursuance of the work for which it was given. Why look at the past? It looks to me very much as if the only interpretation that can be put upon such an attitude is that when the Church was doing badly they could afford to leave her alone, but that now she is doing well her funds were to be taken away. It seems to me a perfectly ridiculous argument to use. It. might as well be said that, at the time of Nelson's great victories, because Admiral Byng lost Minorca, therefore the Navy to-day should be refused supplies. There was one who sat in Mr. Speaker's Chair, but who did not live up to that great position in this House. He went so far as to disgrace his office by accepting a bribe from the City of London. There was a good reason for reducing his salary or expelling him at that time, but I do not think that the House would be of opinion, in these spacious and enlightened times, that because Sir John Trevor accepted a bribe of one thousand guineas from the City in 1692, therefore the salary of the Speaker who presides over us to-day should be confiscated.
The right hon. Gentleman the Home Secretary told us, with regard to Establish- 252 ment, that he considers Establishment to be morally wrong. If that is so, why does he confine this Bill to Wales? I suppose the answer will be that he thinks there is a majority of Welsh people who want the Bill, and that in England there is probably a majority who do not want it. Therefore, apparently, the morality of this question is to be founded solely on the consideration of majorities. If that, be so, I should like to know something about the question of dismemberment. The Home Secretary has told us that the Welsh Church wants liberty, while the Prime Minister has said that there is "nothing in Disestablishment that will in any way impair the unity of the Church." The two statements are incompatible. If you are going to give the Welsh Church liberty which the English Church is not to be allowed, then, if the Welsh Church, taking advantage of that liberty, makes an alteration in the Prayer Book which the English Church cannot adopt through remaining Established, where is the unity which you say you are doing nothing to impair? If you think it is right, why do you not Disestablish the Church in England as well as in Wales? The reason is that you dare not do it.
§ Mr. BRIDGEMAN
Does the Church in Wales want it? That is an argument that applies to Wales as well as to England. I do not admit this doctrine of the majority at all in matters of right and wrong. The majority is very often wrong, especially local majorities. We sit here very often to discuss and upset majorities on one side and the other in regard to particular questions. In questions of right and wrong majorities do not count. A man who thinks a thing is right has to stick to it whether in a majority or in a minority. I am sorry to say that the argument of the majority has captivated even my own bishop, the Bishop of Hereford. If he applies the doctrine of the majority to his own diocese, I do not think it would suit him quite so well. I should like to put this question to those who think as he does on this matter. Suppose, when Moses came down from the Mount with the Commandments in his hand, he had found the majority of the people worshipping the golden calf, and he had said," Here is government by a majority," and had thrown away the Commandments as being no longer required. Quite seriously, I say 253 that I am very glad Moses did not take that view of the situation. On questions where principle is involved majorities on one side or the other cannot be accepted as a final decision. We should never have had any heroes in history, whether Church or other history, if people had been affected by the idea that they had always to shout with the loudest and largest crowd. Another argument of which hon. Members opposite are very fond is that Wales wants to be a nation. It is a nation. I have great sympathy with the idea of Welsh nationality.
I live within two or three miles of the Principality, and I can see a great deal of Wales from my own garden. I see a great deal of what happens among the Welsh people, and I fully recognise that they have characteristics, some good, some not so good, which are distinctive of their nationality, and therefore I say that I have sympathy with the idea of nationality. But I should like to remind hon. Gentlemen from Wales that one of the things that has militated for centuries past against Wales ever being a real nation is that they have never been able to agree among themselves. Whenever they have been near agreement there has generally been a split or some difference and they have separated again, and the different tribes have always prevented complete union in Wales. I submit that if they want to show themselves a great nation in the future it will not be by raking up old grievances or by trying to persecute one religious body, but by showing that they can work in harmony, and there is no point in which harmony is more required than in the matter of religion. I now come to the question of Endowments, and the arguments used in regard to them in this House. We have been told that these Endowments are national money. That statement has been used perpetually, but has never been proved in any argument. Some have said that national money can be used for any purpose, and some, like the Financial Secretary to the Treasury, say that national money can be used for religious purposes. Nobody hag proved that the State ever gave the money, and nobody has proved that the State has any moral right to take it away. I think it perfectly clear, if anybody looks at an old tithe deed, that nobody can honestly say that this was national or public money. Here is a quotation from one:—I, George Barlow, finding it an ancient institution of primitive times, do hereby freely give and for ever grant to the said parish church a Stebert and vicars. 254 .… the house by me lately built and the lands thereto belonging, together with all tithes.Does anybody say that is public money, or what is the equivalent of money?
§ Mr. BRIDGEMAN
The house, land, and tithes are given to the vicar for the purposes and services of the Church.
§ Mr. BRIDGEMAN
That is not in the deed. Here is another:—I, Lewis Wogan, leave and bequeath, order and appoint the tithes of all nature whatsoever in the parish of Boulston to be given for ever to such minister or ministers as shall and may be appointed to serve and officiate in the said church of Boulston, by my executor or executors and their issue for ever.Is that public money or is it the money of Lewis Wogan? It is not right to call either of those public money. [An HON. MEMBER: "Trust money."] It is no more national money than anything the hon. Gentleman opposite might leave for any purpose to be charged on his estate. Their appears to be no difference between-the two cases, and the first is dated 1558 and the second is dated 1701. You allow the Church to keep the second, but the first you take away. On what principle of justice is that done? You say it is, national money, and your definition of national money is money given before 1662. That is your only definition. You have never been able to prove and never will, that this money was national money. Then you say because the Church, has never fulfilled the whole religious obligations of the nation that, therefore, you ought to take away this money and give it, not for religious purposes, but for purposes of secular public utility. I believe St. Bartholomew's Hospital was the first hospital ever put up in London, or St. Thomas's, though for my argument it does not matter which. Would you say that money which was left to endow such a hospital, as soon as it became necessary to erect another hospital, owing to the public need of it, should be taken away from the original hospital because it did not cover the whole ground, and given, not to found' other hospitals, but to erect, say, a main sewer or some other work of public utility in 255 London? Of course you would not. There is absolutely nothing in your argument about this being national money, and there is still less, if there could be less than nothing, in your arguments, that it is capable, or would be capable, of being used for anything of a religious purpose. What we resent more than anything else is that you are taking money, which is being well used, away from the Church, which could use more money equally well, and that you are giving it to secular purposes which could easily be provided for from other sources.
Another argument you are fond of using is that of the Irish Church precedent. I do not desire to go deeply into that question, but simply to emphasise once more the difference between the situation here and that with regard to the Irish Church. The Leader of the Opposition quoted one remark from Mr. Gladstone, in which he said that the two cases were distinguished broadly, vitally, and essentially upon every point in which they could be brought into comparison. That was spoken on the 16th May, 1873. The case for the Irish Church was entirely different. In the first place, there was an election fought entirely on that subject, and you have never had that for the Welsh Church. In the second place, there has never been any contention with regard to the Welsh Church that they are not using their money to the best purpose, or that if they got more money that they could not properly use it. That is the great difference, and that is why you never can use the precedent of the Irish Church in this case. I want the House and hon. Members, especially those who are so fond of saying that everything will be all right and that we can make this up by voluntary subscriptions, to consider the practical situation that will arise after this Bill is passed. The Diocese of St. Asaph's will have 116 parishes without any Endowment at all as soon as the present incumbents die. The time to get the money will not be a long time, and YOU know perfectly well that a very difficult and very serious effort will be required to make up the fund in twenty years or longer to meet the Endowments which have hitherto been keeping those 116 parishes. Then there are other parishes from which the greater part of the Endowments are being taken away. Can you say that that is not going to do harm to the Church, and that in the next twenty, or thirty, or forty years the work 256 of the Church will not be injured by what you are doing. Do try and picture the situation for yourselves. When you say make it up with voluntary subscriptions, you always talk as if members of the Church of England never made any voluntary contributions already, and there is a sort of assumption that we live on ancient Endowments. Do hon. Members know how much is subscribed by the Church members for religious purposes in any one year?
§ Mr. BRIDGEMAN
I can give you the total of the voluntary contributions in 1910–11 towards clerical incomes, church expenses, school, sick and poor missions, and building of churches and schools, parsonages and endowments. In the four Welsh dioceses the total of voluntary contributions for those objects amounted to £329,228. Therefore, I say, that they already give a very great deal for a poor country. I think the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Swansea District taunted us over the contributions in the parish of Clynnog, which he said he found through a reporter of the "Herald Cymraeg."
§ Sir D. BRYNMOR JONES
The hon. Member is mistaken. I found it in the Report of the Royal Commission, where I got the figures.
§ Mr. BRIDGEMAN
I am not disputing the figures given, but what I say is that what the right hon. Gentleman said was that the reporter of the "Herald" had given him the figures.
§ Sir D. BRYNMOR JONES
I said my attention had been directed to that particular parish by a statement of a correspondent of the "Herald Cymraeg," who had been recently round in order to verify the facts.
§ Mr. BRIDGEMAN
I am very glad to have exact confirmation from the right hon. Gentleman of what I said. I am not disputing the figures the right hon. Gentleman made out that in that particular district each person gave £1 in voluntary subscriptions, and he said, why do not the rest of the Church do the same? He counted our numbers as 193,000 communicants, which is always the figure attributed.
§ Sir D. BRYNMOR JONES rose.257
§ Mr. SPEAKER
The right hon. Gentleman will have an opportunity afterwards of correcting any statement.
§ Mr. BRIDGEMAN
I hope it will not require any correction. I am trying to state what the right hon. Gentleman said. He said, why do they not give £193,000, whereas in fact they gave nearly twice as much, while the total amount of contributions in that year for those purposes in England and Wales amounted to over £6,000,000. I say it will not be so easy to make up what will be required if this Bill passes, and the only way in which it will be done will be by taking away money which people give to other purposes. It certainly will have to be so in my case. If I give anything to this purpose I shall have to find something which I think is not so valuable as the work of the Church. That `is what I think any hon. Gentleman would 'do. He would put his Church before everything else and say, "I can only afford so much; I must give to the Church before 'hospitals or something else, in order to make up the money which is being taken away by the Government." Therefore, those other things will suffer, and they are far more important than anything you are going to benefit by the way you are going to spend the money. There is one point which seems to be entirely forgotten by hon. Gentlemen opposite. They talk a great deal about the necessity for social improvement and of legislation that they are going to bring in for that purpose. During the last three years they have spent almost all their time not in bringing in measures for social improvement, but in measures for the destruction of the Constitution. In this measure, which is also a destructive measure, they are not only not helping towards social improvement, but they are absolutely hindering it—for this reason: the greatest force for social improvement in this country is Christianity. Christianity is the greatest civilising force that has been known in the last nineteen centuries. Everybody must know that you are, at any rate, for the time being, weakening the powers of one of the forces which go to make up Christianity. What people seem to forget is that it is not in legislation and restriction, or in the appointment of police, inspectors, and officials of all sorts, or in the interference of the. State that you have the only or even the best way of advancing civilisation. The forces of Christianity are the best way of doing it. If you have made a man a good Christian, you have 258 made him a good citizen. If we were all perfect Christians, there would be no need for all these social reforms and all this legislation. You would not require these widespread Health Acts, Factory Acts, and Children Acts, because, if we were all perfect Christians, the relations between employer and employed, between father and child, and all the other relationships of life, would be guided by Christianity, and people would carry out in themselves what you are trying to carry out by restriction and legislation. After all, Public Health Acts and Insurance Acts cannot exterminate sickness or do away with accidents. Trade Boards and Labour Exchanges, although good in their way, cannot do away with suffering. No one, not even the Chancellor of the Exchequer, or the President of the Local Government Board, has ventured to say that he can bring in a Bill which will abolish sorrow from this world. But Christianity has enabled men during all these centuries to triumph over pain, sickness and sorrow, by the imitation of the Author of our Faith, by bearing one another's burdens, and in the hope of a better world. You cannot do by legislation the good which the work of the Church is doing. Therefore, I contend, that by this measure you are hindering and putting back one of the greatest forces for social improvement in the country.
If the Churches were allowed to work in their own way, free from party politics, as they ought to be—[HON. MEMBERS: "Hear, hear."] Does the right hon. Gentleman imagine that party politics in Church matters are all on one side? I really think it is rather beneath the right hon. Gentleman's dignity to cheer the statement with which we must all agree, that it would be far better if the Church were outside party politics, when he knows perfectly well that there are faults on all sides. I have never dreamt of disputing it. I am speaking now not from the party, but from the national point of view. If you allow the Church to do its work in that way, you will be putting in the consciences of the people of this country an inspector not paid by rates and taxes, but one who will appeal to a higher law and more sacred obligations than anything that come out of this House of Parliament. It is for these reasons, with which, I believe, a great majority of the people of this country agree, that I ask the Government to pause while they are still on the brink, 259 and have not gone over the precipice which I believe will lead to moral national disaster.
§ Mr. W. F. ROCH
At the beginning of his speech the hon. Gentleman opposite (Mr. Bridgeman) expressed the hope that he would not speak with any bitterness, although he could not say that he did not feel it. All I can say is that if he felt any bitterness, so far as his speech was concerned, his natural amiability won the victory as usual. I wish to deal very briefly with a few of the points put by the hon. Gentleman. I am sure he would agree that, with all his love for the Church and knowledge of Church matters, it was difficult for him, and it is even more difficult for me, to say anything new upon what is now a thread-worn question One remark of his was that nothing had happened to weaken the Church case against this Bill. We are quite satisfied to think that the case for this Bill is immensely strengthened, and I will tell the hon. Gentleman why. We know by the Order Paper of this House that while hon. Gentlemen opposite are opposed to this Bill they have not one single suggestion to make by which what they regard as a bad Bill can be made a better one. That has given us infinite satisfaction. While they are opposed to a measure of Disestablishment and Disendowment, they cannot make any suggestions for making this a better Bill to carry out its purpose. The hon. Gentleman had the temerity to refer once again to the question of Welsh representation. When you have a homogeneous country like Wales, which the hon. Gentleman opposite, with perfect fairness, admitted to be a nation, and you have the representation again and again for a generation almost consistently one way, where do hon. Gentlemen think it is going to end if that majority can never have its way 7 You have had an experience of that in the case of Ireland, and it has not done good to the House of Commons. You have denied Ireland the Parliament which the great majority of Irishmen wanted. What has been the result? You have been faced with the fact that that refusal has resulted in almost breaking down your Parliament. I hope that hon. Gentlemen, when they talk lightly about Welsh representation, will think carefully whether, if they give them no outlet of any kind, what has been done unfortunately in the past in the case of Ireland, may not be repeated once again in the case of Wales.
260 The hon. Gentleman trotted out the well-worn theme of the Irish Nationalist vote. When does not the Irish Nationalist vote smell sweet? It smelt sweet when it enabled the party opposite to carry their Education Act. It is only when the Irish. Nationalist vote goes Liberal, that it is a thing to be despised and condemned by hon. Gentlemen opposite. I cannot conceive how anybody can throw that taunt. It has been thrown by people of eminence in the Church? It comes ill from such a body of men. When the question of Catholic emancipation was under discussion, there was only one bishop, the Bishop of Oxford, who stood up on behalf of the Established Church for that measure of religious equality. Now we have a minority of only three bishops supporting us in this measure of Disestablishment and it is almost prophetic that amongst them is the Bishop of Oxford now, as, there was the Bishop of Oxford then. I feel convinced in my own mind that as history is on the side of the Bishop of Oxford in that question, so history will justify the minority of three bishops upon this. Why should hon. Members taunt us with the Irish Nationalist vote? I can tell hon. Gentlemen that in my own Constituency there are memories now—of what? Memories of Nonconformist farmers, who were evicted from their farms in the pitiless struggle of 1868, when they. stood up for the very measure of religious freedom for which Ireland, I am glad to feel, is going to vote, not as a party to a log-rolling bargain, but as people who have enjoyed the fruits of it, and wish to see it extended to Wales. I will say why I think the case for the Bill is stronger. As regards Disestablishment we are convinced, with a large measure of support on the other side, that we are right. I was not surprised to read on 5th July, that, in certain Church proceedings, even so doughty an opponent as the Member for South Buckinghamshire (Sir A. Cripps), delivered himself of the following words, according to the report in the "Times":—He pleaded for greater freedom for the Church in matters of Church reform. He did not wish to run down the House of Commons, but from an experience of twenty years he said it was quite hopeless and impossible to get, matters affecting the Church fairly and satisfactorily discussed in that Noose. They ought to have the power, as he believed they had the ability and knowledge, to decide such matters for themselves.
§ Viscount WOLMER
I heard the speech from which the hon. Gentleman is quoting, and I think it is only fair to my hon. and learned Friend, in his absence, to say that 261 he made it perfectly plain throughout the whole of his speech, that he regarded that position as perfectly consistent with opposition to this Bill.
§ Mr. ROCH
The Noble Lord, like all people in privileged positions, rather likes to get the thing both ways. I was not imputing any unfairness. I think that the Noble Lord himself, on the Second Reading of the Bill, said that the Church should not have the right to govern itself, because it did not wish it.
§ Mr. ROCH
I think we shall live to see that it does give very effective liberty. I quoted that statement to show that Churchmen themselves have acknowledged that they have the ability and the knowledge to govern the Church for themselves. They have also stated that the present House of Commons is a most unfair body as regards matters of Church reform. We want nothing more than that to prove our case. The Noble Lord or his Friends have hurled strong and almost insulting language at the present Members of the Treasury Bench. They have accused the Prime Minister, I will not say of corruption, but of having broken the Constitution. They have even shouted him down. But they are content to let that man remain the absolute head of their Church, with the power of appointing the archbishops and bishops in his undisputed possession.
§ 5.0 P.M.
§ Mr. ROCH
The hon. Gentleman is almost as medieval in his constitutional aspect as he is in his Church aspect. He knows that no monarch now acts, and I do not suppose he wishes him to act, except on the advice of his responsible Ministers. I say that it comes ill from hon. Gentlemen who adopt that kind of argument, and hurl the kind of taunts that they have been hurling, at the same time to accept the Prime Minister the day's having the power, for good or for ill, to deflect to one side or the ether the whole future and well-being of the Church. The hon. Member who spoke said that it had never been proved to his satisfaction—I do not suppose for a moment that it ever quite 262 will be—that Nonconformists to-day were suffering from any grievance whatever. That is always the feeling, if the hon. Gentleman will allow me to say so, of the man on the top. He never thinks there is any grievance to the man at the bottom. He is kind to him, he is charitable to him, he is sometimes even a little patronising to him; but he will not for a moment allow that the man at the bottom has any grievance. Does the hon. Gentleman really think that you would have had this controversy going on in Wales for a generation or two: does he think that you would have its representation going on on these lines, unless the great mass of the Welsh people thought they had a grievance? Surely the grievance is perfectly plain! The ordinary Welshman or Nonconformist does feel that the Church of which he is not a member is placed in a superior posito his Church. It is all very well to talk of iconoclasm at the present day, and say that things such as State prestige do not matter. Of course, they matter. We have only to look around to either political side when it comes to some little State preferment in the way of a title or some other such prestige; we are all ready to take it. [HON. MEMBERS: "Oh!"] Yes, all of us on both sides of the House. Indeed, even in your administrative Government, some of the little crumbs in a great national rejoicing like the Coronation have been quite readily—and I rejoice in it—accepted by hon. Gentlemen opposite.
I would say this: The fact that one Church and one body of men are placed in a superior position, I venture to submit to the hon. Member, is bad for both sections. I do not mean to say that the hon. Member is conscious of that superiority. As I said, the man at the top never is, and the man at the bottom is usually much too conscious of it. But looked at in its broad national aspect it is bad for the Church and bad for the chapel. It makes the Church feel touch too superior, as it sometimes makes—I am quite ready to admit it—the Nonconformists feel much too sensitive. That, in a word, is the real grievance and the real feeling of injustice that the ordinary Welshman feels he is suffering from at the present day. It is idle for the hon. Member to talk about whether it is good for the Church or good for the chapel. I do not ask myself that question. I think that, in modern legislation we are far too fond of doing good to people who do not want it. The true basis of legislation is not is what we are going to do good in 263 itself, but is it right and just to the members of the community. Let them all feel that they are living under equal laws and equal encouragement in secular, and even more in religious matters; then let these questions alone; let them take care of themselves when once you have done justice. I really cannot develop the question of Disestablishment further than that. There is a grievance felt on the one side: on the other side they are not even conscious of it. We never think they ever will be conscious of it. But there comes a time in a controversy like this when it is perfectly right that one side should prevail. I believe that time has come now. I do not wonder that the hon. Gentleman said he feels bitterly. We do not feel bitterly, because our side is winning at the present moment. The people who naturally feel bitterness are the people who have been on the top and are now going to be on an equality with the others.It is quite natural that a feeling of bitterness should obtain. We naturally need not feel it at all because we are perfectly confident that the right, according to our ideas, is going shortly to be done.
There is only one other point with which the hon. Member made great play. That was he stated, what I thought was an astonishing thing once again, that we had never proved our case that this was national money. He had the temerity to choose, I think, the worst possible ground for meeting that, because he took tithe. It is notorious that tithe, while it may have been originally a gift to the Church, never could be collected from the great body of Churchmen, even in the great Catholic days, and that the Church had to rely, then as now, on the strong arm of the State to make tithe obligatory before the Church could get it at all. Really when the hon. Gentleman talked of whether or not it is national money, would he for a moment get up in his place and say that that large revenue of tithe, which has been for centuries enjoyed by the Church would have been obtainable by the Church, would ever have been obtainable by the Church if it had not been collected for them by the strong arm of the State and the laws which were passed to secure it in perpetuity for that Church?
§ Mr. ROCH
That may be, but the great body of the people were never taxed for 264 any other religious purpose. I do not think the hon. Member has quite done justice to what has been contended again and again from this side of the House in regard to the national argument. I do not think he would contend for a moment, against the view that when the bulk of these Endowments were obtained by the Church there was only one great Catholic Church. What happened? We may take different views about the Reformation, and, indeed, views on that subject have developed astonishingly—I am sorry to say—in the Church of recent years. Still, no one will dispute this: that the effect of the Reformation Statutes was to declare the trusts of the old Catholic Church. I do not think anyone will dispute that. Here was this money enjoyed by the Catholic Church and one set of theologians. Then came the Reformation Statutes, and they laid down in binding terms a theology, precepts, and the practice of them, and they gave the money to those who professed these. That is what we mean when we say it is national money. It was originally given to the Catholic Church. It was then narrowed by the Declaration of the Trusts of the Reformation and given to what developed ultimately into what we know as the modern English Church. That broad, general contention, so far as I know, has never been effectually answered. Can anyone go to our great cathedrals, or go into one of our wonderful old churches, and not feel from the old architecture of that church that they were built up around the doctrine of the real presence, of a totally different theology, and a totally different belief, to that which is now taught in these very churches! So much for what I call the broad aspect of these Endowments.
I will only say just a few words as to what I hope, and what I think, will be the future when this measure becomes law. I am not one who believes, and I do not think anyone would like himself to think, that the animosities of this present fight are going to be done away with all at once, or, indeed, over a period of years. I am not going to say that the Church of England will not have to face strenuous years. No body that will have to reconstruct itself constitutionally from top to bottom, no one that is faced, as they will have to be faced, with the whole thinking out of a scheme of government at a time when there is a crumbling theology perhaps in the whole of the Churches—no one 265=can look forward to that future without feeling some anxiety and perhaps some misgiving as to what may happen. But I look upon it not from the point of view of the Church; I look upon it in its various aspects as a good Welsh citizen. I look upon the Disestablishment of the Church not as a matter between Church and Chapel. I look upon it, and hope it will be looked upon, as a measure which will enable them to travel freely from one to the other. I think that the great want in our own country at the present time is a true measure of co-operation between Church and Chapel. I myself think that while the Church has lost something by the lack of this, the Chapel has lost more. To be shut out from the great history of this country is nothing but evil; is nothing but harm to any denomination. I do not think that reconciliation comes quickly or comes readily, but I do think it will be possible if this Bill becomes law. I believe the Church will gain something from the Nonconformists, something of their free government, something of their capacity to give, something of their capacity to take a real working interest in their own Church, and I do think—if I may say so—that the Nonconformists can gain something from the Church, something from the traditions to which I have referred—yes, and something perhaps from a more fixed theology. Each of them wants more help from the other. They are divorced from one another at the present time. With the exhibition of superiority on the one side and inferiority on the other, cooperation I really believe to be impossible. May we go on to say—may we not hope that with a real feeling of equality, with a general feeling of justice, that better co-operation and a better understanding, may, at all events, prove to be a possibility?
§ Mr. HAYES FISHER
The hon. Member for Pembroke has delivered a speech which I think we generally recognise as full of brilliant argument, and which is undoubtedly a clever speech and full of originality. He stated at the beginning of it that he could not say anything new. Well, he has uttered one or two new things that we on this side of the House recognise as extraordinarily new. He attempted to advance the argument that hon. Gentlemen on the opposite side of the House had actually persuaded a great many hon. Gentlemen, who hold the same opinions as I do, that Disestablishment, after all, was a really good thing, if only we could obtain 266 it without Disendowment. The hon. Gentleman quoted in support of the argument that many of us were convinced in the way he described by a speech of my hon. and learned Friend the Member for South Bucks. I do not think that speech could possibly bear that interpretation. While there were a great many Churchmen a while ago who held that if the Church obtained Disestablishment without Disendowment that she would be in a freer position, I believe there are far fewer of those Churchmen to-day; and that the whole of the arguments advanced in the course of debating this Bill have proved to many a Churchman who desired Disestablishment, if it could be got without Disendowment—because it would give greater freedom to his Church and the government of his Church—that these Debates have proved to him, and I think that school of opinion, that after all the loss to religion would be so incomparably great that Churchmen are giving up the opinion that Disestablishment would be better for the Church, and they would infinitely prefer now not to have Disestablishment at all.
After all, all through these Debates most of the speakers have dealt with Disendowment, and I do not think that there has been a single speaker who has spoken from the Church point of view who has not put almost in the forefront—even although but for a moment or two—that he was against Disestablishment. Every one of us who defend our Church defend it quite as much from the point of view of Disestablishment as from the point of view of Disendowment. We believe that if Disestablishment should take place that there can be no formal cooperation between and recognition of religion by the State, and that in all our national moments of joy or sorrow, in all our great national scenes, there will be no appropriate channel by which all our prayers and thoughts may go up to Almighty God. I really believe that the Disestablishment of the Church will be an enormous blow to Christianity, and that the Disestablishment of any portion of the Church will be an enormous blow to Christianity. Many of us were present to-day at a very beautiful service held in memory of a very great friend of ours, and a man much beloved in this House, and by everybody. I recollect that one of the last speeches that he ever made only a very short time ago was one in which he referred to the great loss that Disestablish- 267 ment would bring to the cause of religion. He used these words:—I say that the right of every individual to take his nearest and clearest to the churchyard for burial is valued very greatly, as is indeed the right which he has to have read over them those noble and beautiful words which have consoled the grief of the people for many generations. No suggestion has been made throughout these long Debates of any substitute for the National Church in those offices. Who would take the place of the Church on occasions of great national rejoicing and mourning? By what would you replace the right of an individual to sanctification on the great occasions I have alluded to?"—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 16th June, 1913, cols. 103 and 104, Vol. LIV.]These memorable words were words which fully expressed the opinion of those of us who are most devoted to our Church. Then, again, the hon. Gentleman opposite used a very curious and novel argument when he was speaking of tithes. He defended the view of those who are going to deprive the Church of this property by saying it was national property, and he gave a curious definition of national property. He said that if he could prove that tithes or the property of any individual could not have been collected except by the strong arm of the State, then that must be national property.
§ Mr. HAYES FISHER
I understood him to use the word "collected," and now I understand him to say that if he did use it, he does not now wish to use that word. I think I am interpreting him rightly when I say that his argument was that if any property was made payable by the strong arm of the State, then that was national property. All property almost would come within that definition. We have nothing except by the strong arm of the State. There have been many times in our history when it was very hard and difficult to come by our own because the State was not strong enough to collect it. Is he going to argue that in those times and periods, when the State was not strong enough, property which could not be collected became national property because the individual man could not rely upon the State to collect it or to make payment of it? I think I am justified in describing that as a strange and novel argument. I do not care to reargue the question whether this is Church property or national property it has often been argued before. At all events, it is property which has for hundreds of years been used by the Church without anybody disputing the right of the Church to use it. 268 From time immemorial that property has been associated with Christians and with the services of Christianity. I do not think the hon. Member will dispute that. It was never intended for secular uses or secular purposes. It was associated with the Christian Church, and even when, through the agency of the Church, it was associated with the poor, it was used for Christians. Now, does he think it right to take this property away and to devote property which has always been devoted to Christian purposes and to Christianity to purely secular purposes? I think it would be stretching language in a way in which language should never be stretched or strained to say that it ought to be devoted to national purposes.
My hon. Friend, who moved the rejection of the Bill in a good, argumentative speech, made a statement which the hon. Member opposite has made no reply to. He said that for the last eighteen months there is no doubt that the cause of Disestablishment and Disendowment of the Church is losing ground. I believe that to be true, in England at all events I will not speak of Wales, although my hon. Friend says it is also losing ground in Wales. Look at all the demonstrations, not the usual kind of demonstration but demonstrations of most fervid, earnest Christian men and women, with the platforms occupied by men who are not in the habit of associating with one another for political purposes, and a general fervent feeling running throughout the whole party. I think there has been some evidence at the by-elections of the effect of these demonstrations which you dare not counter, and you do not attempt to counter. In your speeches you do not attempt to put this question before your audiences. No Cabinet Minister makes a public speech upon this question. You will find a stray remark here and there. Nothing is done by hon. or right hon. Gentlemen opposite to bring the issue before the people. We bring it before the people and the people are siding with us. The average man in the street, I believe, argues it in this way: "I am not in the habit of going to a Church or place of worship, but when my children are born I like to have them baptised. When I am married I like to go to some place of worship to be married, and I hope that when I die some funeral service of a Christian character will take place over my grave." That is his feeling without elaborating these arguments about national property or property of 269 the Church. He sees that this property has been used for hundreds of years for religious purposes, Christian purposes, and he says it ought not to be used for, devoted to, or estranged to secular purposes. I am perfectly certain that this is the very last question to which the Parliament Act ought to be applied. It is a question that has never been properly argued before the people. So far as I can gather hon. Gentlemen opposite are losing ground on this question every day. I am perfectly certain that if an appeal could be taken upon this one question, if a Referendum could be taken upon it, there would be an immense majority in this country in favour of leaving those great gifts of our ancestors, which have been for so many generations devoted to Christianity, as they are, and not have them taken away and applied to secular purposes.
There are many reasons for that. The average man is a little fearful of the growth of materialism in the State. He believes that active Christian Churches should be well equipped and well endowed. To well equip and well endow an active Church is laudable, but to cripple and maim such a Church is an unworthy and an unwise thing on the part of those who represent him in this House. I recollect a speech by the Financial Secretary to the Treasury in which he used some ominous words, because he is a Titan of much observation as regards the life of the people. He said that the country is slowly drifting away from the Christian religion. The Chancellor of the Exchequer used words very much to the same effect. The right hon. Gentleman the Financial Secretary to the Treasury is not here, but I should like to ask him or the Gentleman who represents the Home Office, does he not think that a deplorable thing if it be true? I have my doubts whether it is true or not, but if on the authority of the Financial Secretary to the Treasury, we take it as true, is it not a very deplorable thing that in this old Christian country the people should be drifting away from the Christian religion without finding any substitute for it? I say it is very deplorable, and I say also that if you are going to Disestablish the Church in Wales you will encourage that drifting away. If you take away £160,000 a year from a Church which is active and vigorous in the prosecution of the Christian religion, you are assisting that movement away from Christianity. Look 270 what can be done with £160,000 a year. It will provide 400 resident ministers at £400 a year each. It does not lie in the mouth of a Member of Parliament to say that £400 is too much. There is need of this money. Those who know the Welsh Church better than I do, although I know something about it, say that the great need is for more resident ministers, and therefore for £400 per year you could have a splendid equipment for all those good works which are associated with an active Christian Church, Sunday schools, boys' classes, and all the other social and moral surroundings, which are associated in these days with an active Christian Church.
I have noticed all through this Debate that nobody has argued that the Church is not snaking a thoroughly good use of the Endowments which it has. I have heard reflections upon the Church of England from those who do not belong to it, and once or twice from those who do belong to it, and I think that it was not very loyal on the part of the Financial Secretary to the Treasury that he should taunt the Church with what happened so long ago as the old Georgian days, when pliancy, cowardice and neglect were the besetting sins of the Church. I do not think it was quite fair in an hon. Gentleman who calls himself a devoted son of the Church to point at the Church in the worst period of its history. All these characteristics were characteristics not of the Church of England alone; they were characteristic of other religious bodies of that period. In those Georgian days there was sloth, languor, and many other things, but not very long afterwards this sloth and languor passed away, and we have that on the authority of one of the greatest authorities who ever spoke on Church questions in this House, Mr. Gladstone, who commented upon the marvellous and beneficial change that had come over the ministrations of the. Church about sixty years ago. If Mr. Gladstone denounced the Church of the Georgian era for its coldness, indifference, and abasement, he was quick to recognise and praise that Church for the great change which came over it some sixty years ago. He described it as follows:—A strange vitality was soon discernible in the long-neglected parishes. The doctrinal and practical teaching of the Prayer Book was again taught from the pulpit; the sacraments were rightly and duly administered; services were celebrated on Saint's days and even daily; new churches rose to meet the requirements of the increasing town population; parsonages were built in the country parishes; the ancient fabrics were purged, restored and beautified; music was again 271 made the handmaid of devotion; every accessory of worship was once more instinct with life and meaning. Above all, to the poor the Gospel was preached.'What he said of the Church of England can be said quite truly of the Church in Wales to-day. At this moment, when it is so necessary we should attempt to stop people from drifting from Christianity, surely it is a very mean thing, and a very unwise thing—I do not like to use stronger language than that—to take away from this Church the money which it is capable of using, and is using so well, and to strip these parishes of the equipment which is necessary for the proper working of the Church! Hon. Members sometimes say to us, "You can easily replace this sum." "After all," they say, "what are three or four millions of money to a rich Church like yours?" It is quite true we could make an effort to replace that sum. Every active, practical Churchman would assist in that effort, but would it stop there? The very argument you are using now, declaring that money so given is national, will be put into use again in fifty years' time, or, perhaps, even less. Your successors will point to the Church in Wales. They will say, "That Church is too powerful; her output would be greater if she were poorer." They will point to the Church, and because they see some slight change in the liturgy or even of the doctrine, they will say as they are now saying, "That is not the Church to which the money was given," and the successors of hon. Gentlemen will claim that it is national money. In addition to that, confidence will be shaken by this Bill, if it ever passes, and many people will say, "What is the good of leaving money to the Church? It will all be taken away again." There will be a natural fear, there will be a natural dislike on the part of testators to leave money to a Church which has been Disendowed once because they think it will probably be Disendowed again. If we are to find that three or four millions, it can only come at the cost and sacrifice of other Christian organisations, missions, hospitals, and things of that kind. Many Churchmen give of their surplus wealth to help Nonconformist bodies with which, at all events, they are in sympathy to a very large extent. There are many of us who wish to see all these Churches well endowed, and who believe that any good, active Christian Church in these days is doing really good work. We wish to see them more powerful for that work, and we are giving a surplus of our own money for this 272 Christian work. Although we are not entirely in agreement with them, we are much more in agreement with them than we are with those who are striving to undermine Christianity in this country. I am certain that these are not the days in which we wish to interfere with the work of Christian Churches. I assert that in these Debates the right hon. Gentlemen opposite have been beaten and worsted in every argument, and the only argument they have used which has any strength is the one with which they begin and end all their speeches, namely, that Wales is a nation and demands through her representatives the Disestablishment and Disendowment of the Church. That is the, only strong argument they have.
Without disputing the fact that Wales is in many respects a nation, we must not forget that it is, after all, a component part of the United Kingdom, and her attributes as a nation must be strictly limited. Where are we to draw the line as to what the majority of the people of Wales ought to be allowed to have, even if they demand it? I ask the hon. Gentleman in charge of this Bill to answer this question: Supposing the Members front Wales continually, election after election, demand hereafter that they shall be allowed to Establish and Endow a Church will that be allowed because Wales is a nation? Are Welsh Members only to be allowed to destroy and are they not to be allowed to establish some religion if they desire to do so? Supposing the Members for Wales at election after election, by an almost unanimous vote, demanded that a system of secular education should be set up in Wales, is that a matter that the Government would listen to? Is that a cause which they would plead for? Is that something which they would grant to Wales because a majority of the people demand it If not, the Government are themselves putting the strictest possible limitation on the demand of the Welsh Members and the Welsh people as a nation. We seek to put one more limitation upon them, and it is that just as Wales and the Welsh Members are not allowed to Establish and Endow a Church of their own, so they should not, be allowed to Disestablish and Disendow a Church which is partly their own and partly ours. It is impossible to do this without dismembering the Church of England to which many of us belong, and which we have a right to champion and defend. I believe we are about to take the most retrograde step in the whole 273 history and teaching of Christianity. The day has now come when there is a far more tolerant feeling between the members of all Christian communities, and the proposals contained in this Bill will be bitterly resented by the Church to which I belong This is a measure which will set back the hands of the clock and postpone the day for greater toleration, instead of coming more to the front in the relationship between Christian communities. It has been said of many things that people will advance further if they advance altogether, and so I say that the Christian religion in its conflict with materialism and infidelity will advance further if all the Churches will advance together, and in, that way we shall do justice to one another.
Mr. LLEWELYN WILLIAMS
As I listened to the speech of the right hon. Gentleman who has just sat down I could not help feeling that the discussions which have taken place during the last Session have had very little result in the direction of enlightening the right hon. Gentleman with regard to the real nature of this Bill. The right hon. Gentleman seems to think that all the people of Wales can complain of is that in Georgian times the Church neglected the spiritual welfare of the people. That is not the case. Our case is that the Established Church in Wales has never been in community of spirit with the Welsh people. For a whole century after the Reformation the Church in Wales had no rival, and I will endeavour to show why the old faith disappeared almost entirely. At the time of the Reformation every historian knows that there was no portion of the United Kingdom which was so wedded to the Catholic faith as Wales. Whenever there was a plot or intrigue against Edward VI. or Elizabeth, Welshmen were always to the fore, and they were the most ardent Catholics in this Kingdom at that time, and for years afterwards it was common knowledge that there were more Catholics in proportion to population in Wales than in any part in England. I do not think I am saying too much when I say that in the estimation of contemporaries at the time of the Reformation Welshmen were far more Catholic than the inhabitants of Ireland. I am not going to go to-day into the reasons for this. The Catholics gradually disappeared because the Church did not send missionary priests to preach the old faith among the mountains and valleys of Wales as they did in England and Ireland.
274 The Established Church in Wales after the Reformation had no rival in the Catholic organisation, and they had the field all to themselves. They had no rivals in the Nonconformist organisations. There was one great Nonconformist, John Penry, who was hanged in the time of Queen Elizabeth for suggesting that preachers should be sent to Wales to preach in the language of the country. He was the only Nonconformist who appeared in Wales for a whole century after the Reformation. There were great and good men in the Established Church then who tried to bring the new form of the Church into touch and sympathy with the people of Wales. The Welsh people owe to Bishop Morgan, Bishop Parry, and Bishop Davies the privilege of being able to read the Bible in their own ancient language and that work has remained the canon for Welsh prose from that day to this, and Welsh Nonconformists have never ceased to be generous in their recognition of the work of those great men in what may be called the golden days of the Established Church in Wales. The hon. Member for Denbigh Boroughs (Mr. Ormsby-Gore), when he refers to these matters makes too much of the case for his Church. What really happened during that century was that though there was no teaching of the Catholic faith. Nonconformity had not arisen, and although the Established Church had the field to herself, she failed miserably to administer to the spiritual wants of the people. Let me give one illustration. There were 600> copies printed of Bishop Morgan's Welsh Bible in the time of Queen Elizabeth and that was not a sufficient number to be distributed among the parish churches in Wales, because everybody knows there were then over 900 parishes and there are nearly 1,000 to-day.
When the authorised version was published the same difficulty again arose, and there were no Welsh Bibles to be found in Wales except those in the parish churches. In 1630 two patriotic Welshmen, Sir Thomas Middleton, the Lord Mayor of London, and Alderman Heylin, published what is still known in Wales as "The Little Bible," and 1,500 copies of it were printed in 1630. In 1651 the Long Parliament determined to send two great men to Wales, who were the founders and apostles of Nonconformity, Walter Cradock and Vavasour Powell, and these great men determined to find out if there were 275 any more of these little Bibles still in existence in London. They went to the printer's office, and out of 1,500 copies printed in 1630 they found 1,000 copies still in the printer's office. Therefore for a whole generation 500 Bibles were considered sufficient to supply the religious needs of the Welsh people. That was the condition of things at; the end of the century when the Established Church had no rival in the field. Why was it that 500 Bibles were sufficient to satisfy their needs? The Reformation brought in its train greater evils to Wales than to any part of England. Everybody knows that there were more monasteries in Wales than there were in England at that time in proportion to the size of the country and the population. That meant that in the Middle Ages there were free schools provided by those monasteries for the sons of the poor people.
An old chronicler, Adam of Usk, who wrote, I think, in the time of Richard II., recorded that there were enough Welsh students in Oxford to form what was called a nation by themselves. I cannot charge my memory with the exact number, but there were at that time an enormous number of Welsh students at Oxford quite out of proportion to the population of Wales, and this was due to the multiplicity of these free schools for the sons of the poor people in Wales. When the Reformation came these monasteries were dissolved and the Endowments confiscated, not in order to provide free education, as had been done hitherto, but in order to enrich the people whom the King wished to honour. Therefore these free schools were taken away from Wales, and there were no schools of learning left. There were, in the Middle Ages, more schools in Wales than in England in proportion to the population, but at the Reformation there were hardly any of these schools left. There were, it is true, one or two grammar schools—Edward VI. Schools and Queen Elizabeth Grammar Schools—erected out of the ruins of these monastic schools, but they were comparatively few, and the result was that the people of Wales were thrown back upon themselves. They had no schools in which to teach them to read in their own language, and therefore, when the time came for the printing of the Bible, there were no people there who could read the Bible either in English or in Welsh. Not only that, but the desolation which 276 resulted from the Reformation devastated the whole life of Wales.
What do we find? Welsh literature died out. The Eisteddfod, the oldest and most characteristic Welsh institution, disappeared for two centuries. There was no Welsh prose written. There was not a single Welsh original book written during those hundred years I have mentioned. There were fine translations, like the Bible. There was a book, which is still a standard of Welsh prose, by Morris Kyffin, a translation of Bishop Jewel's "Defence of the Church of England," a book which is read now, and which was reprinted the other day by the Guild of Graduates of the Welsh University. But, though there were these fine translations, there was not a single original book printed in the Welsh language for 100 years after the Reformation. The first original book ever printed in the Welsh language was the "Book of Three Birds," written by a man whose name is still revered, Morgan Llwyd of Wynedd. Morgan Llwyd was a Cromwellian Independent, a preacher who in the Civil War had acted as one of the Ironside chaplains. Take, if you like, any department of life. The language was dying. Read books like "The Welshman's Candle," a splendid book written and composed by the Vicar of Llandovery, dealing with moral and religious matters. His verses were not published in his day. They had to be collected after his death by one of the old Puritan fathers, Stephen Hughes, and, but for his pious efforts, that great work, which has had a greater effect upon Welsh life and civilisation than anything next to the Bible, would have been lost to Wales. It was composed by a good clergyman in the Established Church, but his book would have gone to oblivion but for the effort of this old Puritan father, who succeeded him. Read that book, and what do you find? You find that the Welsh in which it is written is ten times more corrupt than the Welsh that is spoken to-day, even in Anglicised districts in Wales. That book has preserved the Welsh language as spoken in Carmarthenshire in those days—the county which has kept alive the Welsh spirit and the Welsh tongue almost better than any—and yet the vicar, writing for the edification of his people, used more corrupt Welsh than is used to-day. What does it mean? It means that Welsh was ceasing to be a literary language. It was becoming a mere patois of chance and trick 277 unworthy of the respect of the learned. Welsh literature was dead; the Welsh language was dying; there were no schools in the land; no one could read, and culture had disappeared.
That was the result of one hundred years Of a Church without a rival, having the opportunity of gathering to its fold the people of Wales. From whence did protection and relief come to these poor people in Wales at the end of the seventeenth century? I venture to say that no Welshman can read the story of his country without feeling that his forefathers had descended into the depths of degradation and misery and superstition and ignorance at the end of that hundred years. From whence did relief come? Not from those in high places, not from this Parliament, not from the Established Church, not from officialdom, not from the rich, but from the people of Wales themselves. They wrought their own salvation in their own way. Poor people, sprung from the ranks of the common people of Wales, became the leaders of a new movement in Wales. They saved the Welsh language, and they purified Welsh life. They made again a great thing of Welsh literature, literature which appeals to the most cultured Welshmen to-day. They did more. They wrought wiser than they knew. Their sole concern was to save souls. They did not think about the Welsh language; they did not care about literature; they cared nothing about culture. All they cared for was to save souls, and as Stephen Hughes said in one of his prefaces:—Before we can rave souls we must teach the people to read the Bible.That was the beginning of the great popular education movement we have had in Wales. These old Puritan fathers came under Providence at the very right moment, when the people were perishing, when the Welsh nation was a thing of scorn, of shreds and patches, a thing that was unworthy to be regarded with respect by anybody. At that moment Providence raised these great men. I have heard some taunt levelled against the people in Wales because they speak Welsh. Why do they speak Welsh? Because that is the language Providence has placed in their mouths. We cannot help ourselves. Why is it that the Welsh language has been preserved? It is because these men found that, if the souls of these old Welsh people were to be saved, they had to appeal to them through the Welsh language. That 278 is how Welsh has been preserved, and I am glad to think that the Welsh language to-day stands in a more secure position than it ever did before, because it is enshrined in the hearts and affections of the people of Wales. All that is holy and most sacred in their memory and in their traditions is associated with this old language which has been spoken for fifteen hundred years. That is the work the Nonconformist fathers did. What was the testimony given by a man whose name I am almost afraid to mention, it will sound so strange to the ears of hon. Members opposite. Probably, they have never heard it, though he was one of the greatest Welshmen of his age. He called himself Ieuan Brydydd Hir, but his real name was Evan Evans. He lived and died a curate in the county of Cardigan, but he was the most learned Welshman of his day, and in 1761 he published a book. He hated the dissenters, and he was a strong Churchman, and, like all the patriotic clergymen of 'his day, he was frowned at by those in authority in his own Church. What did he say in his preface to that book? He said that for the one hundred years that had gone 'by—that was ever since Nonconformity had become a thing of moment in Wales—all that was best in Welsh literature came from the hands 'of Welsh Nonconformists, and he reproached the Church' He loved his Church, but he saw that there was something wrong.
The Church ought to be the National Church. In England, it is to a large extent the National Church. Look at your Nelson, and at your Tennyson, children of the parsonage. Look at ordinary English literature, and what do you find? From the time when the first English novel was written down to yesterday, there is hardly a typical or characteristic book of fiction written in English that has not something to do with the Church and with the parson. They are characteristic types of your English life. Whoever heard of a Welsh novelist who went to the parsonage for his hero or heroine? The thing is not credible. The novelist, as I have no doubt my hon. Friend opposite (Sir G. Parker) will agree, must be true to life. He must be true to nature. He must depict society as he finds it. His book must be a mirror of all the society he sees around him. That is why, in the great novels of England, from the "Vicar of Wakefield" down to Mrs. Humphrey Ward's novels to-day, that the parson is a typical and characteristic picture in all your society. You 279 never find that in Wales. The Church in England is a National Church to that extent. It has grown in its soil. It is racy of the soil. It is full of the genius of England. It is the expression of the religious feeling and of the culture of Englishmen. In Wales, that is not so. Why? Because the Church is an extraneous product. It is an exotic. It never grew in the soil of Wales. It was transplanted there from alien soil, and the mark of its origin is upon it for all time. In 1876 or so another great Welshman republished this book of Ieuan Brydydd Hir, Chancellor Silvan Evans, a man who was brought up a Nonconformist, but who did great service for the Church, and who, in spite of that, was universally respected and esteemed by all Welshmen, because he was a great Welsh scholar and writer. He reissued this book in 1876, and when he came to that note to which I have already alluded, that the Nonconformists had done more for Welsh literature than the Church, Chancellor Silvan Evans, added this footnote:—How can it be otherwise as long as the Church is governed by aliens?That was in 1876. What is the real grievance we have in Wales against the Church? I am saying nothing against it as a religious organisation, and I honestly believe and pray that it will have great power in the future, and that it will succeed and go on from strength to strength. All that I am concerned about is this: I should like this Church to be a Welsh Church. As long as it represents the genius of Wales, as long as it is organised and controlled by the people of Wales, I am sure it will conform to the national type, and I look forward to this Bill becoming law, because I believe that it will free the Church and give her the chance which has never been given her yet of associating herself with the people of Wales, and thereby becoming reconciled to the people of Wales, and I am perfectly certain, if wise efforts are made when liberty is given to it next year, no Churchman here will regret the day when Parliament passed this Bill.
§ Mr. BALDWIN
In the most eloquent and moving speech which we have just listened to, there was a remark which I confess struck me as very true. The hon. Member said that during the last two years it was quite impossible for those amongst the Welsh Members who are advocating 280 this measure to feel that they have made any impression upon us on this side. I fear it is equally impossible for us on this side to feel that we have made any impression on hon. Members opposite. So far as the Welsh Members are concerned, I cannot feel that anything we can say or do can make any impression on them. For that reason I hope the hon. Member will not think me lacking in courtesy if I do not attempt to reply in detail to his speech, but touch for a moment or two on one or two aspects of this question dealt with in the concluding part of his remarks. If there is one thing that has struck me in the conduct of this Debate, it has been the small part played throughout by Liberal Churchmen and Nonconformists who sit for other than Welsh seats. I cannot help feeling that this peculiarity of these Debates is owing in large measure to the fact that there is a real reluctance among Liberal Churchmen, as a body, and among numbers of English Nonconformists to support the Disendowment portion of this Disestablishment Bill without which, we are told, the Bill will not be acceptable to the people of Wales. I have listened carefully to a good deal of the Debate, and I have read closely the speeches that have been delivered in my absence, and I cannot find any argument used by Liberal Churchmen in support of Disendowment other than this: That they are in favour of Disendowment because they believe that Disendowment of the Church in Wales will stimulate its members to greater activity, and will do that Church good in the long run, and no harm. That is a very curious argument, and if it were applied further to more obvious matters it might lead to curious results. If Liberal Churchmen really believe it possible to stimulate a man by reducing his income, I feel confident that the next time we move the reduction of the Chancellor of the Exchequer's salary from this side of the House, we shall receive unanimous support front Members who hold that view. It is difficult to see indeed how anyone who advances that argument could have voted in favour of giving himself £400 a year.
There is one other thing they say. It is that they believe that out of tribulation will come good for the Church. There is more than a grain of truth in that, but it is one thing to do good to your own soul by renouncing your wordly goods, and it is quite another thing to do good to another man's soul by taking away his goods. I feel that if there arose in this country a 281 new St. Francis—and I do not know any man of whom we have greater need in these days—if there arose in this country a new St. Francis, it is possible that by preaching the doctrine of religion and poverty he might sweep many of us on this floor up to be his followers, but when that apostolic poverty is only preached by followers of a modern, democratic, undenominational St. Sebastian, it is a very different thing and the argument leaves us absolutely cold. We, on this side of the House, look at the Disendowment proposals very differently from the way in which the Welsh Members look upon them. We look upon them as an essential concomitant of Liberalism, as an article of political growth. That is a point of view that has had its day. We believe that the desire for Disendowment in this country is very much less than it was, and we believe that it only lingers in parts of the country like Wales, where there is a strong Celtic element and where ancient animosities are nursed and memories of past wrongs live much more vividly than amongst the English people. I sympathise with that view myself, because my ancestry on one side was entirely Celtic, and my mother's family fled from the Highlands after having been out with Prince Charles in 1745. I remember that in my early days it was with very great difficulty that one could stand up while the band was playing "God save the King" because we had a Hanoverian King and not a Jacobite King. But as one grows up those feelings pass away, and I cannot help thinking that as the Welsh people grow up they, too, will grow out of what is, after all, only a comparatively modern development, and one which reflects perhaps less credit on them than other manifestations of their loyalty. If Liberal Churchmen vote for this Bill—for the Disendowment part of it in an altruistic spirit, in order to do us good, then I think we, on this side, may vote in an equally altruistic spirit to prevent Nonconformists doing this harm.
And here I want, if I may, to say how ninth I agree with a good deal of what fell from the hon. Member who last spoke in the latter part of his speech. He spoke about the early Nonconformists in Wales being out to get souls. That is exactly what they were out for. They were not oat for Church Endowments, and I would like to illustrate that as far as I am able. After all, What is it that makes a man a Nonconformist instead of being a Churchman I do not for a moment speak of the 282 man who changes his religion and leaves the Church to go to Chapel because he has had a quarrel with the parson, or with the man who leaves the Chapel and goes to Church because he thinks he may benefit himself socially. But what is it that made men in early days become Nonconformists rather than remain in the Church? It was one thing only. It was that they might find or create for themselves, if they could not find it, an environment in which their spiritual growth might attain to the greatest measure that it was possible for it to do. They wanted a spiritual environment in which they might thrive, and that was the reason that men went out front the Church to find outside her what they could not find inside her. They did not go out because they felt they were in opposition to tithes or for any reason of that kind. They went out for their own soul's health and to quicken the spiritual life of their fellow countrymen. It was that that led the early Wesleyans into the wilderness, and it was that for which they endured persecutions such as no one in these more comfortable days can ever conceive, and the reason they spread all over the country and did the work they did was because the men who went out were men of the pulpit and not men of the platform. I have read a good many of the letters and diaries of these early preachers, some of whom were members of my own family, and I remember well a phrase which was written more than a hundred years ago by one of these early Methodists, who was both a preacher and a scholar. He said—and I think it was true of all men of that generation:—Methodism in itself is nothing to me save as a means of growing into the likeness of my Master.That was the true spirit of Methodism, and as long as it was the spirit Nonconformity was bound to flourish spiritually. The day when it gets allied to a political question like the question of Disendowsilent it will, I believe, do it infinite harm. The Nonconformists of this country, for the first time, are in a position now to have their will in this mater of the Welsh Bill. They will be able to carry the Disendowment portion as well as the Disestablishment part. But I cannot help fearing for them that they might find that the moment of their political success, that the moment of their triumph, is the very moment when they will do themselves damage from a spiritual point of view, damage of which they may feel the effects for many years to come. It is for that 283 reason, as much as with the object of defending the Church to which I belong, that I shall give my vote against this Bill.
§ The CHANCELLOR of the EXCHEQUER (Mr. Lloyd George)
The hon. Gentleman who has just addressed the House in a very fair, temperate and able speech, expressed his surprise that Liberal Churchmen sitting on this side of the House, coming from England and Scotland, and even English Nonconformists, had not taken the part he would have anticipated in supporting this measure, and he attributed that to an exhibition of reluctance on their part to support the principle of the Bill. But may it not be due to another reason which is rather more consistent with the principle of the Bill, namely, that they feel that the control and management of their spiritual affairs is a matter which belongs to the Welsh people themselves I could not help noticing that in the speech delivered by the hon. Gentleman there was not a. word to challenge that proposition. He simply opposed the principle of Disendowment, and he never challenged the principle of the Bill itself. He never denied that the management and control of its own religious and spiritual concerns is a matter for Wales, and for no one outside. The hon. Gentleman who initiated this Debate had a good deal to say about General Elections and what might happen to this country—what had happened in the past and what would happen in the future if we had a General Election now. But I was very much struck with one thing, and that was that he never expressed the slightest confidence that if there was a General Election now Wales would repudiate this Bill.
There have been at least eight General Elections within my memory at which the Welsh people have by overwhelming majorities demanded their own settlement of their own concerns. I do not think there is a country in the Empire or a free country in the world where, if a demand of that sort were made, a superior force coming from outside could resist it. Take the whole of the British Empire, the self-governing Colonies, the Crown Colonies; take Scotland, take Ireland, take England—there is no part of the whole of the British Empire where there has been a religious settlement forced upon the people against the will of that people themselves. The hon. Gentleman claimed with pride that he came from a part of Scotland 284 and had Celtic blood in his veins. Take his own country. In Scotland the attempt we are now seeking to redress absolutely failed. Episcopalianism was set up as an Establishment for Scotland. It was resisted by force by the Scottish people. It was reimposed a second time, and was again resisted by force, and it hopelessly broke down. Although we have been governing Ireland, heaven knows, against the will of its people for hundreds of years in social and in economic questions, in religious questions even in Ireland an attempt to force a national religious settlement upon them broke down forty or fifty years ago. Wales stands alone, not merely in the British Empire, but among free and democratic countries throughout the world, as the one example of a country where you have a superior force from outside imposing upon its people a settlement of their own intimate spiritual concerns. It is an impossible state of things. You do not attempt it in any Mahomedan or Bhuddist land in India. Go to the East; take any country that is governed under the British Crown, and there is not a single tribe where you attempt to do what you are attempting by sheer force of arms to do in Wales. In a free and democratic country like this, after we have for forty or fifty years by constitutional methods come here to protest, is it not right that at last justice should be done?
We have heard a good deal about the spoliation of the Sanctuary. In Ireland an alien Establishment fell amidst the clatter of the same epithets. So it did in Scotland. Spoliation, robbery, sacrilege, you are injuring the population, you are doing harm to religion! It was the same menace that you are creating bitterness. What has happened in Wales? What has happened in two stages? The Welsh people, after centuries of experience of Anglicanism, came to the conclusion that it was utterly opposed to their temperament and religious feelings. My hon. and learned Friend the Member for Carmarthen Boroughs (Mr. Llewelyn Williams), in one of the most eloquent speeches to which I have been privileged to listen in this House, gave a very remarkable account of the experience of Anglicanism in Wales and how it utterly failed in everything you would expect a great Church to do for a people, not merely on the spiritual side, not merely on the moral side, but in all you would expect a great National Church to do as a civilising, elevating instrument and agency for the good of the people. It was left alone 285 without any rival, without a competitor, yet the nation was allowed to fall into a state of degradation, and now even Churchmen are ashamed of that chapter in their history. After a few generations the Welsh people went a stage further, and realised that a State establishment did not help the growth of religion in Wales. After they have come to that conclusion, ought not the mere fact that the vast majority of the people themselves have come to that conclusion be a determining factor in the matter?
The hon. Gentleman who has just spoken asserted that it would inflict an indelible injury upon religion. I think we can trust the Welsh people to look after their own spiritual affairs, and I say so with all respect to him. But can he and those who make that statement explain this fact; that the three parts of this country where the great majority of the people are associated actively with the work of religion are the parts of the country which support this measure. In Ireland, probably nine-tenths of the people are associated with some religious community, either Catholic or Protestant. Of Scotland the same thing can be said, that four-fifths of the people arc actively engaged, each according to his gifts, in helping along the promulgation and extension of the work of the Christian religion. Scotland by a great majority supports this Bill. The same thing applies to Wales. It is not altogether so in England. For reasons into which I need not enter, the majority of the people in this country are not actively associated with the Christian Church, for reasons that the hon. Gentleman who has just sat down very eloquently glanced at. He said you had not got the same association with the work of the Christian Church in England as you have in the other three parts of the United Kingdom. Those three parts of the United Kingdom by an overwhelming majority support this Bill. Does anyone imagine that Scotland with its great religious fervour, that Ireland with its intense spiritual earnestness, that Wales, which is vitally, and I would say, with all due deference, eternally concerned, does anyone imagine that those three countries would set their hands to a task that would inflict indelible injury upon religion? Wales is asking this in the interests of her own religious life. Is she not competent to judge? Is she to be overridden as somebody who does not know his own spiritual difficulties? Look at what has happened there. I should like to know what there is in the history of Wales, what there is in 286 the present condition of Wales, to justify anyone saying that Wales cannot be trusted with the decision of what is best for her own religious life.
The people of Wales have made as great sacrifices—to put it at the very lowest—asany people in the world for the maintenance of the Christian religion. You cannot drive through Wales without realising that fact. Compare it, if you like, with England. Here you have a population of 35,000,000, and all the churches put together have only provided sittings for 14,000,000 in their churches, chapels, and mission rooms for religious worship. Take the case of Wales, where you have a population of slightly over 2,000,000. Taking the churches and chapels together—mostly by a voluntary effort in both cases—they have provided sittings for 2,000,000 of the population, which is practically all the population that would be available for worship. I am not going to refer to cases like that of the Rhondda Valley. There you had a great need sprung upon Nonconformity and the Church. It was not the case of one or two rather poor little parish churches, but you had a great thronging population crowding into these valleys from every part of Wales in the West of England. What happened? You have there chapels and churches built in the course of forty or fifty years by voluntary effort, the vast majority by Nonconformists, and built out of the pence of the miners themselves, with the result that the whole needs of the valley have been answered. Is there anyone who says that such.a population could not be trusted not to inflict an indelible injury upon its spiritual life? It is not merely in the crowded valleys of South Wales. Go, if you like, to the bleakest moorlands, where the population is scattered and poor. Yon may go to many a place where a man has to go ten miles for a doctor, but you can go nowhere in Wales where he has to go two miles to a place of worship. All that has been done by the people who have to pay tithes to maintain a religion of whose services they will not avail themselves, while at the same time they build chapels and missions and maintain their own ministry. I think the House of Commons, can trust the people of Wales to see that they will not do any harm to their own religious life. I am sure that they need—no, I will not say assistance, but no direction from outside.
I should like to say one more word about that. How has this demand arisen? The 287 hon. Member for Oswestry (Mr. Bridge-man) said, "Why should you rake up"—I am not using his exact words—"why have you got to go into the past? Why do you not examine the present position without looking at the past?" If you are going to judge an Establishment like this, you must judge it upon the whole of its record and not upon what has happened after generations of Nonconformity and of conflict with Nonconformity have stirred up its energies. You must look at the whole record of the Church as an Establishment in Wales. Judging it upon that, what guarantee have you, supposing Nonconformity were wiped out, supposing the Nonconformist chapels come to poverty, supposing you restore the position you had in Wales before Daniel Beaumont ever appeared, when the whole of the spiritual care of the Welsh people was left to the State Establishment—what guarantee have you that you would not have a repetition of the whole of that evil? Someone said the other day that the fathers of Nonconformity left the Uhurch reluctantly. That is the condemnation of the Church. If they had been men who had failed to get the recognition they thought was their due and therefore left the Church, if they had -been men who had got certain fads and cranks and wanted to found a sect, you might then say it was not the fault of the Church. But they were men who clung to the Church to the very last—clung with the desperate hope that they would be able to do their work through the agency of the Church. But after a life of disappointment they were driven to the conclusion that it was impossible to achieve the spiritual regeneration of their people inside the Establishment. The hon. Member (Mr. Baldwin) said they were men of the pulpit, and not politicians. Perfectly true. They were preachers. They meddled not with politics. They expressed no opinion about the Establishment. I am not sure whether they did not express an opinion which was quite favourable to Establishment. At any rate they took no part in the controversy. There was no controversy. They simply came to the conclusion that remaining inside the Anglican Church was quite incompatible with doing that great work of regeneration.
Another generation passed, and the Nonconformist leaders were driven to the conviction that it was not Anglicanism, it was 288 not Episcopalianism which was at the root of the mischief, but the State Establishment. They were not politicians. They came to that conclusion for religious and spiritual reasons. Why? They found the Church, instead of co-operating, instead of working together in a spirit of harmony, instead of treating Nonconformity as a collateral and a fraternal agency for the accomplishment of the same great work, was treating Nonconformity exactly as if it were a hostile body. Everything was done to discredit and destroy its power. There is a very remarkable illustration of that in George Borrow's "History of Wild Wales." He was certainly a strong pro-Establishment Anglican, and you cannot read this book without feeling how hostile he was to Welsh dissenters. Nothing gave him greater satisfaction, when he went to Bala, than to meet there a very strong Anglican Establishmentarian, who told him that the days of Nonconformity were numbered, and he began to inquire about the clergy. "Who is the clergyman of the place?" "Mr. Pugh." "Is he a good preacher?" "Capital, Sir, and so is each of his curates. He and they are convartin' the Methodists left and right." Then he goes on, "the present minister fights the Methodist preachers with their own weapons, namely, extempore preaching, and beats them." That has really been the whole mischief of the State Establishment in Wales. It has created a sort of ecclesiastical sheep-stealing business. Nonconformity is treated as if it were a hostile political party. It is not a question of getting men from the public-house, but of taking them from the Methodist parson. All that created an atmosphere which was very disastrous to the harmonious cooperation of all the Churches for good Not only that, but the spiritual leaders of Nonconformity came to the conclusion that in the interests of religion itself in Wales it was better that there should be a separation between the Church and the State, that the Church itself would be a more powerful instrument for religious purpose, and that co-operation between the Churches would be more effectively established if this were accomplished.
I am very loth to enter into the question of what has happened in the past, but you cannot avoid it. Anyone who reads the history of the Establishment, certainly since the date of the Reformation, and even to a certain extent before that, knows that we were protected, curiously enough, 289 by the Popes before that, but we had no protection after it. Afer the days of the Reformation most of the mischief has come from the fact that the National Church was dominated by the State for political reasons. Take the 100 years before the Methodist revival; what happened then? The Welsh people were Jacobites, and they were then ultra-Tories. The Hanoverians had the same feeling about Welsh nationality as they bad about the ancestors of the hon. Member. They thought they ought to be exterminated or driven South, as they did with the ancestors of the hon. Gentleman. Why? They said the Welsh language, the Welsh nationality, the Welsh spirit, Welsh literature, is all purely an inspiration for the Jacobites, so they used the Church as a means of destroying the Welsh language and Welsh nationality purely for political purposes. How did they go about it? They said, "We will appoint English bishops." For 150 years from the commencement of the reign of Queen Ann, when this conflict really began in Wales, right up to 1870, I believe out of sixty-six bishops appointed for Wales there was only one Welsh-speaking bishop. Why was that done? Purely for political purposes. Not for the politics of Wales, but for political exigencies in England. Political exigencies in England forced Whigs and Tories—they are both equally to blame; I am not sure the Whig was not the greater sinner—to conspire to send English bishops to Wales in order to destroy the Welsh nationality, which they regarded as a shield for Jacobites. What more did they do? They sent Englishmen to the benefices there; they would not encourage English Welsh-speaking, and the result was that there was no preaching in Wales, there was no teaching in Wales, and there was practically no public worship in Wales. It became a pagan nation because the religion was associated with the State, and the State dominated religion there for political purposes. How can we, therefore, avoid looking into the past when we are considering the desirability or otherwise of associating religion with the State? Even in Tudor days the same thing happened. It is perfectly true that the Welsh nationality v as naturally very favourably inclined to the Tudor dynasty.
But take what happened to John Pendry. Why was he executed It was not that, the Tudor bishops were opposed to the Welsh language, because Arch- 290 bishop Whitby encouraged the translation of the Bible into the Welsh language and he took the first step. Then came John Pendry and said, "What is the good of translating the Bible into the language of the people until you teach the people to read and until you are able to explain and preach to them?" By that time the Puritans were giving trouble in England —political trouble as well as religious trouble. Archbishop Whitby started quarrelling with the Puritans, and because there was a political row in England John Pendry was not allowed to preach in Wales. What does that mean? If you trace the history of the Establishment for 300 years in Wales, you will find that at every stage it has interfered with the spiritual life of the Welsh people. It is true to-day. The hon. Member (Mr. Ormsby-Gore) knows perfectly well that the greatest preacher his Church produced in this generation in Wales never received recognition—Dean Howell —one of the greatest preachers who ever mounted the pulpit, a man of most extraordinary eloquence. If you had left it to the Welsh people to choose their bishop, he would have been chosen unanimously. He never was made a bishop. Why? He was not a strong partisan. He did not take an active part id Church defence. He did not attack Radicals on the platform. He did not go careering about England addressing Tory audiences, denouncing Welsh Nonconformity and Liberal Ministers and Liberal measures. So, although Dean Howell was the greatest preacher the Church produced, probably for a whole generation, it was only when he was an old man at the end of his days that he even became a dean.
Appointments are still made for political State reasons and not for reasons which affect the spiritual and religious life of the people, and until you separate the two it will always poison the atmosphere of the Church. None know that better than the young clergy. If I were a Churchman I would fight this to the very end. I think it is vital to the Church, if it is to become a power in Wales, as I hope to God it will, that it should be free to adapt itself to the spirit of Christian sympathy and to the racial temperament of the people, and that is why from the bottom of my heart I regret the fact that I can see fetters being forged which will keep these young men, full of eloquence, full of spirit, full of the real temperance of religious revivalism, 291 within fetters which may be quite suited to the great Church in this country but which are absolutely unsuited to the temperament of the race.
I have only one more point to refer to. I wish the Leader of the Opposition were here, as I should like to put a question to him. He is a Scotch Presbyterian. I might put it to the right hon. and learned Gentleman opposite (Mr. F. E. Smith). If he is not a Presbyterian, he is, at any rate, a Nonconformist. Let me put this: Supposing that in Scotland they had failed in 1685 to establish Presbyterianism —supposing that the Church in Scotland had remained Episcopalian, their numbers would probably be larger in that country than they are at the present moment, but let us assume that they have only one-fourth of the population, and that the remaining three-fourths are Presbyterians—I wish to ask the Leader of the Opposition whether, in that case, he would vote against a Bill which proposed to Disestabish Episcopalianism as the national religion of Scotland? Would he insist on enforcing Anglicanism there? I can see some Scottish Members opposite. Would they insist upon enforcing Anglicanism upon the Presbyterians of Scotland? I think I am entitled to ask that question. The right hon. Gentleman the Member for the City of London (Mr. Balfour) talked about Wales being in a minority. Is it because Wales.is small that you insist upon enforcing Anglicanism there? It has a nationality as distinct as that of Scotland, and its repudiation of Anglicanism is just as emphatic as that of Scotland. Why should it be enforced upon us? The second question I wish to put is this: Supposing you bad Anglicanism in Scotland as the national religion, and a Bill were carried through for the purpose of Disestablishing it, would you afterwards insist that the Presbyterian farmers of Scotland should go on paying their teinds to the Disestablished Episcopalian Church? Of course, you would do nothing of the kind. I could put the same question to English Members. Presbyterianism was established in this country at one time. Supposing that it had continued, supposing that at the Restoration you had not restored Episcopalianism, and that three-fourths of the people were Episcopalian, and only one-fourth belonged to the Presbyterian Established Church, would the Episcopalians have gone on paying for that 292 Church? We only ask them to render to us the justice they demand for themselves. They would not tolerate it for an hour. They would regard it as an humiliation and an insult to their faith. Wales is small. Is her claim for justice therefore to be refused? Wales is loyal and law-abiding. She does not threaten rebellion the moment Acts of Parliament are passed.
§ Mr. LLOYD GEORGE
We did not threaten rebellion or illegality. I ask: "Are these things to count against her?" It will be a bad day for constitutional government in this country when they do. We have asked this measure in the spirit of the Constitution, and by the methods of the Constitution, once, and then a second time—we have asked not for one generation, but for several generations, justice from the Imperial Parliament, and now I trust it will be granted.
§ Mr. CAVE
I do not think we have any reason to complain of the temper or the argument of the right hon. Gentlemen. He has dealt with the argument on the whole temperately, and I desire, if I may, to be allowed to reply to him in the same spirit. The right hon. Gentleman began by using what I venture to call the political argument, namely, that this Bill is supported by the majority of the Members for Wales. The reply has always been that, in the first place, that argument has no bearing whatever upon the question of Disendowment. Whatever may be its force as to Disestablishment, no majority has a right to confiscate the property of the minority. If a great majority of my neighbours desired to take my property, I dare say I should have to part with it, but if 99 per cent. desired to take it without any consideration whatever, I am sure I would resist, and I think the right hon. Gentleman would take the same course. I do not think that he, or anybody, has shown that the political argument has any force whatever. Even as regards Disestablishment, I think it may be pressed a great deal too far. After all, the Church of England and Wales is one Church, and the English and the Welsh, if they be two nations, are, at all events, parts of one State. Let me assume that the Welsh do desire to cut that Church in two, and to establish a different system in Wales from that which we have in England. I think that is a proposal which concerns not 293 Wales only, but England also. We are entitled to say that by no act of ours, but simply as the result of the history of the country, the Church in England and Wales is one, and we who have her interests at heart are entitled to object to the Church being rent in two because a part only of the country may desire it. All Englishmen have an interest in the question how far in our country of which Wales forms a part—I agree a most important part—it is wise or right to attempt to cut the link: which binds the State to religion. After all, that is a point which concerns every man in this country. It may be due to my bringing up as a lawyer, but I believe that the formal connection between religion and the State is good for the State, and perhaps as much in Wales as in any other part of our country. You have in Wales, as elsewhere, from time to time great religious revivals. They spring up, burst into flame, and die away, but all the time we have there as here the presence of the legal establishment of religion in the personality of the Church of England. We did not impose that Church upon Wales. It is a fallacy to say that England imposed Church Establishment on Wales by force. The Church in Wales is older than the Church of England. It grew up there, as it grew up here as part of our common history, and it would be one thing to endeavour to force the Establishment on Wales if it did not exist there, and quite another thing to cut an existing Church in two, and deprive part of the country of the benefit of the close association of religion with the State. I was struck with the Chancellor's second argument. He said "After all you English people are riot a religious people at all. This Bill is supported by the only religious parts of the country, namely, Wales, Scotland, and Ireland." I doubt his premises entirely, but, at all events, I am somewhat surprised that he should state that the support which the Irish Nationalist Members give to this Bill is all through their solicitude for the future of religion.
§ Mr. LLOYD GEORGE
I do not wish to interrupt the hon. and learned Gentleman, but he has not, paid attention to what I said. What I said was this: If they were convinced that the Bill was impairing the cause of religion in Wales, they would certainly not vote for it.
§ Mr. CAVE
I will not dispute with the right hon. Gentleman about what he said. I have a vivid recollection of that part of 294 his argument in which he stated that the three most religious parts of the Kingdom were in favour of this Bill. Among these, he included and indeed specified Ireland, and I think the answer is a fair one that the Irish Nationalist Members, if they were free to deal with the matter, would perhaps be supporters of the strongest kind of Establishment which the world has ever known. With great respect to the right hon. Gentleman I do not believe that the support they give to this Bill is due to any religious motive whatever. I believe they would acknowledge in this House that they support the Bill because they desire Home Rule.
§ Mr. JOHN REDMOND
For the last thirty years we have voted in favour of Welsh Disestablishment whenever it came up, quite apart from Home Rule.
§ Mr. CAVE
One thing which is certain is that the proposals for Disestablishment come from the party, and the only party that ever made proposals for Home Rule. Whatever the hon. and learned Member says, I cannot think that he means that the support he gives to this Bill is really owing to his concurrence with the arguments used by the Chancellor of the Exchequer. I think it would be fairer to say that, at all events, the moving spirit behind his support to-day is another reason altogether than a religious one.
Then the right hon. Gentleman referred to some reasons why, according to him, the Welsh people desire Disestablishment. He referred to the strong feeling in Wales against the Establishment. He did not mention, but the hon. Member for Pembroke did mention a reason for the feeling which was said to exist against the Church in Wales, which is seldom referred to in this House, but has been referred to before. The hon. Member said that for some reason of social feeling the Welsh people objected to the Establishment. I believe that to be an injustice to the Welsh people, and to the Welsh Nonconformists. I do not think that such a petty feeling actuates them, and I am pretty sure that if Disestablishment came about it would not alter by a jot the social relations between the ministers of different Churches in Wales. What the right hon. Gentleman did was to strive to fan the embers of past controversies in Wales, to revive in his own way Welsh Church history, and to put down that as a reason for this Bill. To begin with, I quarrel very much with his history. I think that he was mistaken 295 about the position of the Church of England in Wales. In the seventeenth century I believe that the power and influence of the Church of England in Wales were very great.
I do not think it is true to say that the Reformation was anything like a failure in Wales. I think that the Church was extremely strong, and if there was, as indeed there was, any decline of Church work and Church earnestness in Wales, it dates, I believe, rather from the Hanoverian period, when so much slackness came into a great deal of our national life than from the earlier period of the Reformation. That is the time upon which the strictures of the right hon. Gentleman should be bestowed. In any case, is it a wise or statesmanlike thing to justify proposals for a change to-day by reference to a history which we all admit is the history of a bygone time, and reflects only what happened in that time? The Prime Minister, who spoke on the Second Reading of this Bill, said, I think with more justice and more wisdom, that that time was gone, and that the Church was rapidly overtaking the arrears of the past, and if there had been, as there was, neglect in the Church in Wales generations ago, that is no longer the case, and the Church has put all her energies into the work, and the successful work, of making up the ground which was then lost, and establishing once for all her position in the hearts of the Welsh people. It would be wiser to take account of these present conditions, and not to go back to the worst time, not to use past history for the purpose of severing the different Churches in Wales, but to use the more recent history as an engine for unifying the religious denominations. This Bill is a survival from the feelings of a generation back. If it falls through, as we hope and believe it may, no Bill in such a form as this would be heard of for a generation to come, and I hope and believe that during that time the progress of unification will be so great that the desire which now exists among Welsh Members for a Bill of this kind would no longer find expression, or at any rate forcible expression, in this House.
Little has been said to-day about the question of Disendowment. The Chancellor proposed to deal wth it, but he did not do so, and yet it is a matter of very great moment, and we are entitled to ask that we should hear, not the justification 296 for Disendowment, but your real inducement, your real reason for Disendowment. Think for a moment what you propose to do. You are going to set aside a title which rests on a prescription of centuries—for the title of the reformed Church itself is centuries old. You are going to take away an income not, as is often rather suggested, from a wealthy Church; you are going to take £160,000 a year, not from a body called the Church of England in Wales, but you are going to take away from the thousand parochial corporations in Wales. You are taking £50 here, £100 here and £200 there, from the service of the Church, not of course, from the present incumbents, many of whom may not last for many years, but from the next incumbents. Consider what that means. It means that the next incumbent of a Welsh parish will perhaps be a man having less pay, and therefore, perhaps, of less education, who will have less for food and less for his clothing. He must wear his old coat some years longer. He will have less to give away to people who want help in his parish, and he will be in the position of begging month after month and year after year for the means to carry on his work in the parish. If you face it, that is what it means. It is not taking £160,000 a year from the Church in Wales. It is taking these little sums of £50, £100, or £200 from the men who in these little parishes in Wales are doing the spiritual work. Will hon. Gentlemen look at it in that way and tell me why they are going to do that? It is a farce to to tell us that it is a good thing for the Church or its ministers. You may say that. No one here believes it. Indeed, it is difficult to believe that you believe it. Why, then, are you going to take so much from the income of these men? What man, woman, or child will be any better for this proposal? Will any hon. Member opposite give an answer to that question?
The real reason for Disendowment is not that which you have given in this House. It is not your doubtful history and bad law. That is not your reason. It may be your excuse in your own mind, your justification. It is not the thing which pushes you along and induces you to do this thing. No doubt the primary reason is the number of Welsh Members who press this on the Government; but what moves them and their constituents? I think it is not at all due to the kind of feeling to which the hon. Member for Pembroke 297 referred, which, as I have already said, is too petty a thing on which to base a change of this kind, and I cannot help feeling that deep down in the minds of some supporters of Disendowment is the feeling that ministers of the Church in England and Wales ought not to have a fixed income of this kind, that their brethren the ministers of Nonconformist Churches have no regular income and have to collect what they require, and that the ministers of the Church of England ought to be in the same position. Is that the feeling of anyone? If it is, I think he ought to put it out of his mind, for surely deliberately to impoverish men who are doing work of this kind is not an object worthy of any member of any Church.
I leave the reasons and go to some of the excuses. The hon. Member for Pembroke was bold enough to say that the Church Endowments were national property. He said that tithe is national property because the Courts enforce payment, but the Courts did not enforce payment of the tithe except when the tithe was a debt. The Courts were only enforcing payment of a debt, and if that makes it national property, then there is no source of income which on the same principle is not national property.
§ Mr. CAVE
I heard the hon. Gentleman, and if I have mistaken his meaning I can read his speech to-morrow, but that is the impression that he made on me. I prefer very much the answer given by the Prime Minister in the speech to which I have referred. He said: "True the Endowments of the Church are not national properly in the sense of being the property of the public. They are the property of the Church, but they were given to the Church as the National Church and as representing the nation on its spiritual side, and now that the Church no longer represents the nation we think that the Endowments ought to be taken away." Let the House examine that for a few moments. A great part of the Endowments was given to the Church at a time when the Church was substantially the Church of the whole nation, but the Endowments were given to the Church for spiritual purposes, and purposes which were to be pursued through the medium of this particular Church of England. The Church continues. There are to-day as many members of the Church of England, probably more, than when the Endowments were 298 given. The Endowments are not a bit too much for use through the medium of the Church. That being so, what justification have you for taking away those Endowments from the Church? The purpose of the givers can be carried out to the full to-day. If the Endowments were too great for this purpose they might be dealt with as other charitable funds, which exceed the needs for which they are intended. They are not too great; they are not great enough. The original purposes can be carried out, the spiritual good of the country can be pursued through the medium of the Church services, and they can be carried out to-day. You have therefore no ground for taking away the funds given to the Church.
In any event, I submit that this argument condemns itself, or rather, condemns the Bill. If these funds were given for the spiritual purposes of the whole nation, then what right have you to divert them from those spiritual purposes? That argument, if it be true, would surely lead up to a different conclusion from that which finds place in this Bill. You might say, "Under these conditions, these moneys, given for spiritual uses, do not fulfil the whole of the spiritual uses of the nation; let us so deal with them so that they will be more efficiently and more generally applied to spiritual purposes." But what you are going to do is to divert them to other purposes altogether. Hon. Gentlemen know the point which is in my mind, as it is in theirs. In the last discussion on the Bill many of us expressed willingness that, if the Endowments of the Church were to be taken away they should be applied to the benefit of all Christian denominations. That proposal was rejected by hon. Gentlemen opposite, and the reason which they gave is this: "We do not want any of your Endowments; we do not want people to say that we do." What does it matter what people say, or even what hon. Gentlemen opposite in this generation want. The point is not what they want, but what is best for the country, and what is most in. accord with the spirit in which the Endowments were given. I wish it were still possible to have fairer, more generous, and more impartial consideration of this matter. Perhaps this is the day of all others when we could desire that something should be said which might lead to unification in those efforts for religion which, in different forms, animate so many people of this country. I wish 299 there were a chance of that, but I believe that the greatest obstacle to unity in religious matters in this country is the proposal that you make in this Bill. If you carry your Bill you set the denominations against one another for a generation, perhaps for generations to come. All of them, I believe, certainly those with whom I am best acquainted, certainly the members of the Church of England, are more than willing, they are eager to consider any proposal by which religious forces might be united against the forces on the other side. But you make that impossible by this Bill. This must be the last word I have to say on this proposal for Disestablishment and Disendowment, and I beg the House to consider whether, in making a proposal of this kind, they are not, whatever they may desire—and I do not wish to attribute to anyone other than proper motives—aiming at the religion of the country a dangerous, almost a fatal, blow.
§ Mr. FRANCE
I cannot quite agree with the hon. Member who spoke from below the Gangway a short time ago, that nothing has been changed in the tone or point of view of Members on either side of the House during this Debate and during the controversy which has gone on during last year and this year. Anyone who has listened to the speeches which have been delivered must realise there is a difference of atmosphere and of tone and at the same time that there is at any rate an attempt to see the other's point of view. That, I think, is something for which we ought to be very thankful. The speech of the hon. Member for Oswestry (Mr. Bridgeman) in opening the Debate was one which I admired, though in one particular it rather astonished me. It seemed to me that he desired to rule out the Irish vote in the decision of this matter. It also seemed to me that for the first time he wished to propose that the Scottish vote should not be regarded in dealing with the Welsh Church. I thought that he even desired to carry the suggestion a little further than that, because he pointed out that Oswestry is the only English town affected by this Bill, and apparently he would appear to suggest that English votes ought riot to count in this controversy. In arriving at that interesting conclusion he arrived at one which undoubtedly would affect a-great many of us who, on the main principles of Disestablishment and a certain measure of Disen- 300 dowment, have always held that the voice of Wales ought to be listened to with respect and with effect. I am afraid that there is a disposition on the part of some speakers—I refer more particularly to Members on the other side—not altogether to appreciate the point of view put forward with such eloquence as that in the speech delivered by the hon. Member for Pembroke.
They do not see the real point of view of those who feel that the history, electoral and religious, of Wales during the last two generations shows that the time has come for carrying into effect the wishes of the Welsh people with regard to the Disestablishment of the Welsh Church. I admit that it is sometimes a difficulty, and very often a dangerous thing, to attempt to see the other man's point of view. Some of us made that experiment last year, and although it did not meet with the success which we honestly desired, yet, as far as I am personally concerned, and I am not a member of the Church of England, its object was not to secure something for the Church, from the monetary point of view, but was undertaken from the point of view so eloquently expressed by the hon. Member for Kilmarnock only a few weeks ago in this House. At a time such as this, when a great change is likely to be carried into effect by the majority of this House, and further to be carried into effect under the operation of the Parliament Act, we felt there should be an effort made as far as possible to prevent bitterness and future controversy from raging round the subject by treating the Church with the greatest amount of generosity and rightness of view, compatible with adherence to principle. That was the point of view some of us took last year. The reasons which led us to do so were put forward by the hon. Member for Kilrnarnock. I should, however, like to emphasise this fact which has been lost sight of, or certainly has been partly misunderstood, that some of us who took that point of view last year have always been, and still are, firm and consistent supporters of the principle of Disestablishment and a measure of Disendowment. The reason for attempting to alter the Bill to some extent in Committee was an effort to look at the whole question from a point of view which is not quite our own, but our efforts in that direction were not received with favour and were not helped forward by those who now, quite honestly, say that they view the whole Bill with disfavour, and not only with disfavour, but 301 with an intention of resisting it at every stage.
The hon. Member for Oswestry rather twitted us with complaining that our efforts towards compromise or a more generous settlement have not been accepted. If the hon. Member had been present I should have liked to remind him that there is surely some difference between the point of view of those who wish to suggest something in the nature of compromise and the point of view of those to whom that compromise was offered. It must not be forgotten that the wishes of the people in Wales have been distinctly and duly declared on this subject. There is a majority in this House which represents the wishes of the people of Wales, and there is the Parliament Act which was passed for the very purpose of seeing that constitutional declarations of opinion in the country and in this House shall be carried into effect. When that position is established, then there is something to be said on behalf of those who feel and who are anxious that the utmost generosity should be observed in regard to those who undoubtedly will feel for a time a great sense of soreness and grievance. I do not, however, think that it is quite fair that the feeling which has been manifested on this side of the House, and which has found expression in the way I have indicated, should be received with such uncompromising opposition and refusal. There is one point which influences me and many of those "who think with me in voting, with a sound and clear conscience, and with enthusiasm for the Third Reading of this Bill, and it is that having seen this declaration of opinion and feeling in Wales so eloquently described to-day, having seen in this House, not a diminishing, but an increasing majority in support of the main principles of the measure, and having seen the Bill sent to the House of Lords and rejected without any attempt at amendment, and without any alteration in its details being suggested—having seen all these things; many of us, and I am one them, have come to the conclusion that the Bill should pass into law, and that all those who uphold and believe in the best traditions of constitutional government, should deem it their duty to give it their hearty support.
§ Mr. DUKE
In listening to the Debate which has proceeded during this afternoon, one could not help wishing that the fundamentals of this matter might have teen discussed in some such spirit as has 302 been manifested here to-day, before His Majesty's Government had framed the Bill upon which the people of this country are divided root and branch, so that it is difficult to know who are the majority and who are the minority. I cannot help thinking, for my own part, if hon. Members who speak in terms of appeasement and conciliation to-night, when, as we think, a great act of wrong and injustice is about to be inflicted, so far as it can be iniflcted, had brought those matters into their consideration and had impressed them upon their political leaders some time ago, we might have had a Bill very different from this Bill. Two main grounds have been stated in the course of this Debate why this House ought to take this Bill. I am not going to cavil with the grounds, and I do not think Englishmen, as a rule, cavil with the grounds. One is, better recognition of the national character of the people of Wales. I do not cavil with that ground, and I have never met any rational person who desired to belittle the national characteristics of the people of Wales. Another ground was the capacity of the people of Wales to manage their own affairs, and their desire for religious independence, and for the absence of badges of religious inequality. With regard to the national characteristics of the people of Wales, if they had been applied to some rational scheme of Church reform, one could conceive that out of the Debate which has necessarily attended the raising of this question, you might have had a settlement, perhaps a settlement with a very large measure of consent, which would have recognised the national characterestics of the people of Wales, and perhaps have realised in some measure those ambitions which showed themselves here and there in the very interesting speech of the Chancellor of the Exchequer.
But recognition of the national characteristics of the people of Wales does not imperatively require that you should inflict insult upon a majority of the people of England. It is not necessary in order to give effect to the religious independence of Wales that you should treat the view of the people of England who are-members of one common Church with a. certain proportion of the people of Wales as though their feelings and their opinions were negligible. So, I say, when you introduce into the Debate on this question the national characteristics of the people of Wales, you do not advance yourselves 303 one step on the road on which right hon. and hon. Gentlemen have travelled so far. What is the detriment to the national characteristics of the people of Wales that there exists in Wales about a fourth, if not a third, of the population of Wales who are attached to a Church more ancient than the monarchy of England? What is the detriment to the national Character of Wales in that? Christianity is wider than any national tie. Christianity in its best days was world-wide, at any rate throughout the civilised world, and to treat the common membership of a historic and ancient Church as though it were an insult and affront to the national feeling of the people of Wales is really to present an insult to national feeling in Wales. What men look forward to is that religious differences will disappear, and what they look forward to with regard to separations of Christian men is the world-wide union of Christian men, and if that is the true and real religious ambition, how is it served, or how can it be supposed it is being served, by throwing the integrity of the existence and the ancient historic unity of a great Church as a sop to this recently engendered passion for the magnifying of the national characteristics of the people of Wales? This is not a politic proposal, or a national proposal, it is a partisan proposal with regard to that matter of national feeling in Wales.
This question of the position of the Establishment and of the Church in relation to the people in Wales has very little more than a notional existence. The Established Church of England, comprising Wales, does not impose itself by any mode of compulsion upon any one person in Wales. No layman in Wales is subject to the jurisdiction of any Church Court. There is no ecclesiastic in Wales who would desire or dare to interfere with the religious independence of any individual in Wales. How can it then he said that there is some hurt or affront to the nationality of Wales that a third or fourth of the population in Wales enjoy a historic right which they have inherited in their membership of a Church, of which no man need be ashamed to be a member, and which takes its stand by right of its history upon an equality with any ecclesiastical or religious organisation which has ever existed? Where is the affront to the people of Wales in that membership, or the possibility of that membership, and there is nothing more than that? Whether certain divines 304 shall sit in the House of Lords, which is, of course, to be reformed, or whether they shall attend Convocation, are matters which really have nothing to do with the national characteristics or the individual independence of people in Wales. One comes to the other matter, namely, that of dealing with the Church in the practical elements of its everyday life, to which my hon. and learned Friend so cogently, referred. The gist of this Bill is not the degradation of the influence of the bishop or the reduction of the social status of the Church of England clergymen; you cannot do it. Men of the character and calibre of the bishops and clergy of the Church in Wales cannot be degraded by Act of Parliament. They have the charter of their position in their character and in the affection which they gain by the performance of their duties, and it is an idle expectation, when you throw a sop to fanaticism and to sectarianism, to pretend by Act of Parliament to alter the status of ecclesiastics in Wales.
The gist of this matter really is the injury which is to be inflicted, the temporal and permanent injury in a material sense which is to be inflicted, on the Church in Wales for the reasons to which the Chancellor of the Exchequer referred. The Chancellor of the Exchequer framed once more his unjust indictment against the Church in Wales in past times. There were lay members of the Church in Wales and there were Welsh clergymen of the Church in Wales. In this country we do not take the position of the Church in England in Hanoverian times and treat it as though it were the offence of somebody else. We take some blame to the people of England in those days for the condition of their Church in that time. I do not say the cases are entirely analogous, but there is similarity between them. What does it mean when the right hon. Gentleman, with his eloquent phrases and his ingenious mind, frames once more his indictment against the Church of England in respect of its past history and its want of sympathy as lie says with the national genius of the people of Wales. It means this, that the right hon. Gentleman is stating reasons for the spoliation of the Church. That is the object of those ingenious and often repeated charges against the past history of the Church in Wales. The real live question about the Church in Wales is what is she doing to-day, and the generous answer is that which has been given in this House and 305 elsewhere by the Prime Minister that she is doing her duty with every ounce of her powers, with every penny of the revenues which have descended to her. Yet this is the time which is chosen for spoliation, the time when the Church is progressing in the lines of her duty, and when it is known that she is gaining an increased hold on the masses of the people in Wales. Is this the time at which hon. Members who have spoken here in terms of conciliation should join in this attack?
For my part, I think one of the most deplorable incidents of this deplorable controversy is the means which is found of raking up and reviving old accusations in order to justify the infliction of punishment upon the Church in Wales. Will the cause of religion be advanced by diverting £160,000 per year from the duty of the advancement of religion to the furnishing of museums? [An HON. MEMBER "There are no museums."] If there are no museums, the last excuse for depriving the Church of this money is gone. I thought that for want of some other lawful object to which this money could be applied, without the shamefaced consent of any individual who would not have too little pride to accept it for his own purposes, museums and objects of that kind had been selected as a kind of nonsectarian purpose to which this money could be diverted. An hon. Member says they are not in the Bill, but the library is in the Bill. I do not care whether they are libraries or museums. Does anybody suppose who professes any interest in the advancement of religion that the difficulties of this time with regard to the advancement of religion are going to be mended, much less ended, by appropriating a new fund towards free libraries beyond the farthing or penny in the £ which you can get under the existing law. Nobody dreams that those libraries and museums are religious purposes. When you speak of money which has been bestowed for the purposes of the community to be used for the purposes of the community for the most sacred objects of all, that is for the spiritual good of the community, you touch a chord in the heart of every honest man and it is easy enough to get his sympathy. My hon. and learned Friend the Member for Kingston (Mr. Cave) has appealed to that sympathy with the proposal that if we cannot be agreed to leaving this money to he devoted to the religious uses for which it is now used, at any rate to agree upon 306 some religious uses to which it shall be devoted. Hon. Members would find a. considerable response in some quarters where they would not expect it if it were possible that these difficulties could be composed upon lines of that sort, but when you propose to take a little fund of perhaps £160,000, less than 2s. per head for the population of Wales, and to divert it from religious purposes where it is most urgently needed, and to apply it where it is mere superfluity and waste, then you; negative the suggestion that you are pursuing this purpose with any religious motive at aii. Go back to t he indictment of the Chancellor of the Exchequer and you see, just as the political purposes of the Bill are partisan purposes, the religious purposes of the Bill are those of sectarian bitterness and animosity. Hon. Members complain that strong language is used. So long as they think fit to abuse the Parliament Act in overriding by the strong hand, the feelings of those who are a majority of the people of England, if they are not a majority of the people of the three Kingdoms, as many of us believe they are, they must not expect that it is going to be received on this side as though they were making a supreme manifestation of the Christian virtues towards us. They are doing nothing of the sort. They are inflicting injustice and wrong, and on this side of the House, and I believe in the country at large, this willingness of theirs for partisan and sectarian purposes to inflict injustice and wrong, will be resisted as long as resistance is of any avail.
Mr. HUGH EDWARDS
I was interested to hear in the genuinely earnest speech of the hon. and learned Member that he had never yet met a rational being who denied the distinctness of Welsh nationality. Evidently, he was not in the House when the hon. Baronet the Member for the City of London (Sir F. Banbury) declared that he denied it. I understand, however, that the hon. and' learned Member said a "rational" being. Therefore, I accept his correction. The hon. and learned Member for Kingston (Mr. Cave), in his very interesting speech, asked a number of questions. He said that we were cutting the link between the State and religion. I should like to say in reply to that, that there is no formal connection between State and religion in any of our Colonies or in Ireland. I wonder whether the hon. and learned Member will declare that religion does not count 307 for as much in Ireland or in our Colonies as it does in England or in Wales. He went on to say that the steady pressure of the State connection is one of the great advantages of the State Establishment. He said: "In your Nonconformist churches you have periodical religious revivals; they come and they go; they wax and they wane, and there is an end of them." "As the result of this connection between Church and State, you have the steady pressure of the State connection." I do not for a moment quarrel with the phrase. It is perfectly true. 'That is just where our grievance comes in. We have felt the steady pressure of the State connection in Wales. Hon. Members opposite would not for a moment deny that in Wales, the great bulk of the people are Nonconformists. They till, they sow, they plant; and they are forced by law to pay tithe for the maintenance of a Church whose services they never attend. Some time ago they said, "We will not pay. We believe in religion, but we do not believe in the connection between State and Church. We never visit the Established Church, therefore we will refuse to have anything to do with it." Then came "the steady pressure of the State connection." Their horses, cattle and pigs, were sold up; and they were made to feel "the steady pressure of the State connection." Then, as the hon. and learned Member will know, they decided that, instead of having more tithe sales, they would recommend their own Parliamentary representatives to come on to the floor of the House and demand what they conceive to be elemental justice. That is why this Bill has been brought forward by the Government—in response to the demand of the Welsh people, that "this steady pressure of the State connection "should cease where religious questions are concerned. The hon. and learned Member for Kingston drew a picture, which the last speaker emphasised, and with which I have a good deal of sympathy. No one will deny that many of the successors of the present clergy will suffer when this Bill goes through.
Mr. HUGH EDWARDS
Certainly. I am entitled to my opinion. I have a good deal of sympathy with the man who finds that he will have to depend on the voluntary offerings of his people where before he had the "steady pressure of the State 308 connection." But who pays this money? The hon. and learned Member did not ask that question. He says that £160,000 is paid in hundreds and fifties to these men. But who pays it? These Nonconformist peasants. They toil by the sweat of their brow to pay it; and then they attend their own little Nonconformist chapels. The hon. and learned Member has sympathy with the clergy who, he rightly says, cannot be degraded because they are not dependent on wealth. But these Nonconformist peasants are not in a position to pay to men whose services they never require. Take the Nonconformist churches. Their ministers are not as well paid as they ought to be. We grant that. But what are we doing? We are raising central funds; we are making appeals to the rich members of our Nonconformist bodies out of the fullness of their riches to supplement the stipends of the ministry. That is a voluntary offering. We do not appeal to the steady application of the arm of the State. If Churchmen are prepared to do voluntarily what we are prepared to do, their clergy will have no cause to complain. The hon. and learned Member expressed the belief that if this Bill falls through there will be an end of it. I do not for a moment think that the hon. and learned Member who spoke last believes that. I remember sitting in the Gallery when he spoke on the Bill of 1894, and he said almost the same thing then. We were told then, "This Church of ours is increasing. Leave it alone for ten or twenty years, and you will see the Welsh Liberal Members will diminish." But here we are to-day in greater force even than in 1894.
Mr. HUGH EDWARDS
Perhaps it was on the second Welsh Bill. I may be mistaken in the date, but I am not mistaken in the speaker. The name, the voice, and even the style of argument appealed to me in the Gallery, and I have taken almost a paternal interest in the hon. and learned Member ever since. I was delighted to hear him again to-night, because I am now able to speak, which I could not do from the Gallery, and to tell him that we are here in greater numbers than ever. I would ask hon. Members opposite, what do you really propose in regard to this question in Wales? You cannot leave matters as they are. Some of you say that 309 you are more opposed to Disestablishment than to Disendowment. I do not know whether the hon. and learned Member is prepared to associate himself with some of his colleagues in that declaration. What is Establishment? The late Lord Selborne, who was as zealous a Churchman as he was distinguished as a lawyer, declared that Establishment is a political privilege. Are hon. Members opposite prepared to accept Lord Selborne's definition? If so, I ask on what ground they justify the perpetuation of that political privilege. Bishop Welidon, some time ago, laid down two tests which he said a State Church ought to be able to satisfy: First, that the Established Church in a country should embrace half the people of the community; and, secondly, that it should be broadly sympathetic with the tone and temper, the age and the ideals, of that country. Will the hon. and learned Member for a moment maintain that the Established Church in Wales satisfies either of those tests? So far from embracing half the population, according to their own showing on the statistics supplied to the Church Commission, they are only able to number 193,000 out of a population of 2,000,000. As to sympathy with the tone and temper of the nation, how does the hon. and learned Member account for the fact that out of thirty-four Welsh Members, thirty-one are in favour of the Bill, and no less than six of those thirty-one are Churchmen? My hon. Friend the Member for Pembrokeshire (Mr. Roch), who made an interesting speech to-night, is a very zealous Churchman. He is in favour of this Bill, though he thinks as much of the Church of England as any hon. Member opposite.
It has been said by the Archbishop of Canterbury and the Welsh bishops, and it was repeated to-night by the hon. and learned Member for Kingston, that the Establishment of religion means the national recognition of religion—that it is a guarantee that the State is solicitous for the welfare of religion. If that is so, I can never account for one fact: How is it that in the Colonies there is no such connection between State and Church? There is no national recognition of religion in that sense, but no one will declare that the people are less religious in the Colonies than in our own country. The hon. and learned Member spoke very bitterly about the proposals in the Bill dealing with Disendowment. If I understand the position of hon. Members opposite 310 aright, they object to Disendowment on two grounds: They declare that we are taking away property belonging to the Church, and they complain that we are diverting to secular objects money which was left for religious work. Let us deal with the first ground. The Prime Minister, on the Second Reading, in reply to the Noble Lord the Member for Oxford University, proved conclusively, at any rate to my mind, that this property was given, in the first instance, not to the Church, but to the parish. It was given to the community. I should like to put a question which has puzzled me a good deal. The Bishop of St. David's, in his crusade up and down Wales, has said that in leaving to the Church her Endowments after 1662 we are only leaving her 6d. in the £. Very well. Do hon. Members for a moment say that the people of the Church before 1662 were more pious than those who have lived since? If up to the year 1662 it was a matter of 18s. 6d. in the and since 1662 it has only been 1s. 6d., you are forced either to confess that the men who lived before 1662 were more pious and more generous to the Church or to come to our view that the bulk of that money was given for the benefit. of the parish and not for the benefit of the Church. Let me remind the House of the recent discovery of churchwardens' accounts in Somersetshire. It is a most interesting discovery. A collection of these churchwardens' accounts were published under the editorship of Bishop Hobhouse. They related to six parishes in Somerset-shire, and they began as far back as the year 1344. If I remember rightly, that is before the very first of the predecessors of Mr. Speaker had been appointed to that Chair. What do those accounts show? They contain entries of parish property. It was very rare for any person of substance in those days to make a will without leaving a legacy to the parish. Very commonly there was a bequest of a widow's wedding ring. If you look at these accounts you will find that money left to the parish was utilised by the Church, and it was utilised on behalf of various objects in the life of the community. It is quite true that the clergy were maintained; that the fabric of the Church buildings were, kept in repair. The hon. and learned Gentleman will be interested to know that sonic portion of the money was spent on historical plays. In a certain parish in 311 Cambridgeshire a part of the tithe went for the rehearsal of the play, "St. George and the Dragon," and even in Wales some portion of the tithe were diverted by the Welsh princes for the maintenance of the public roads. So I absolutely dissent from the hon. and learned Gentleman when he declares that we are diverting to secular objects money which has been left for purely religious work. We maintain that that money, even originally, was given in various directions for the good and for the benefit of the community at large. I am sure that the hon. and learned Gentleman will not deny that a part of the tithe and a part of these Church Endowments went in the establishment and support of almshouses and hospitals. He knows that when it became necessary to establish colleges in medicine and in law at Oxford and Cambridge, in order to prevent English youths going over to the Continent, that a large number of the parishes of this country got a diversion of tithe for the purpose of founding and establishing these colleges. To this very day—
Mr. HUGH EDWARDS
I do not for a moment mistake the silence of the hon. and learned Gentleman. I know he is much too courteous to a younger Member of this Assembly to interrupt. But I do take it for granted that he knows quite as much as I do. He himself admits—at least he does not deny—that money came from the parish. I do not say that it came from the people, but that money left to the parishes went directly, for the purpose of founding and endowing these colleges. I will tell him something new. In Wales the tithe from a certain number of parishes comes now every year for the maintenance of Christ College, Oxford, one of the richest colleges in Oxford. If it be right that part of the Welsh tithe should be diverted for the maintenance of one of the richest colleges in Oxford, I fail to see why the hon. and learned Gentleman should disagree with us, because we wish to divert it from Oxford for the maintenance of a national library. [An HON. MEMBER: "They are both wrong."] The hon. Member might help us to divert it from Oxford to begin with. We have heard a good 312 deal in the past, and we have heard a good deal to-day in reference to the dismemberment of the Church. The hon. and learned Gentleman hinted at it in his speech to-night. I well remember that the right hon. and learned Gentleman the Member for Walton spoke about dismemberment. I think the hon. Member for Dudley once complained of dismemberment as being even worse than Disestablishment or Disendowment.
Mr. HUGH EDWARDS
The hon. and gallant Gentleman assents to that. I am glad to have even one assent from the other side. But you cannot have it both ways. What is the Welsh Church? The hon. Member for Dudley went down into Wales, and spoke of the Welsh Church as the elder sister Church of the Church of-England. I agree with him. The hon. and learned Gentleman the Member for South Bucks came here one night, and he said it is no good talking about an elder Church: You were taking away from the province of Canterbury four dioceses. He spoke of-Wales as if it were a mere geographical expression like Yorkshire and Lancashire. You cannot have it both ways. Either the Welsh Church is a collection of four Welsh dioceses, or it is, as the hon. Member for Dudley suggested, the elder sister Church. If it is only four Welsh dioceses; if, as the hon. Member for South Bucks suggested, it only represents four separate dioceses of the province of Canterbury, then they have no right to claim the national Church of Wales. If, on the other hand, the Church in Wales does represent the elder sister Church, then it is a reversion to type to free her from the jurisdiction of Canterbury. I would like to remind hon. Members that all through, from the great days of Welsh history, the Welsh have objected to the connection of the Church in Wales with the See of Canterbury. They objected to it at the time of Augustine, the first Bishop of Canterbury. They have objected to it all through the centuries, and as the hon. and learned Gentleman knows, a petition was sent to the Pope from the Welsh Princes and from the Welsh people asking that the Church in Wales might be severed from any connection with Canterbury.
We, in Wales, base our claim on Nationality. We have no Ulster Unionists in Wales as they have in Ireland. The claim for Ulster is that there are two 313 separate peoples in Ireland. We have no Ulster in Wales. I do not forget that the hon. Member for Denbigh Boroughs once 'declared in an outburst of rhetoric, that if this Bill was passed—I am quoting from memory—he would unsheath the sword of his ancestor, and I suppose use it. I am quite sure that the hon. Member for Denbigh Boroughs is much too amiable a character that he should seek to moisten the rust that has gathered over the sword with the blood of his fellow countrymen. I am much more concerned with the attitude of the Opposition. It is stated that we complain that hon. Members opposite are not grateful for the concessions already made. I do not know whether hon. Members opposite realise that we have made far more concessions than I think the Government were justified in making. There were the concessions made by the Home Secretary in connection with Queen Anne's Bounty and the Parliamentary Grants Fund. I am quite ready to admit that my right hon. Friend had a, mind open to argument, and I believe that he was persuaded by sheer force of argument, but has not his colleagues, the Under-Secretary for the Home Office, in a pamphlet that he published over his name some time ago, declared that the income which Wales derived from the Queen Anne's Bounty as the income derived from Parliamentary Grants, is public and National in character. He also declared that as to the money coming from the Parliamentary Grants Fund, as it was contributed directly by Parliament, there could be no doubt about its public character. What was the great confession in the speech made by the colleague of the Home Secretary? We have given to the Church now a sum of £15,000 a year, which according to the Under-Secretary for the Home Office represents public property. I am quite sure of this, knowing the Home Secretary as I do, that I believe he has gone to the limit of concession. The right hon. and learned Gentleman the Member for Walton some time ago sneered at the Welsh Members and declared that we were always ready to bark and not to bite.
Mr. HUGH EDWARDS
There are, apparently, other hon. Members besides the one I have mentioned who have that feeling. Let me remind the House that if any more concessions are made the Home 314 Secretary and the Government would be dealing not with the Welsh Members, but with the Welsh people. You may have had your demonstrations in London. You are able to get better demonstrations than we, because you have more money to spend on them. You can get your petitions sent up signed by hundreds of thousands; but the people who go to the ballot-box vote unanimously in support of the Bill, and it is the ballot-box that counts in the Constitution of the country. A question was asked by the hon. Member for Oswestry, who told us in his speech of how he looked eastwards from his garden—and I must confess that I wondered what the feelings were that were passing through his mind when he surveyed the glories of Wales from his back garden. I read an article the other day by the organiser of the Conservative party, the hon. Member for East Birmingham. He declares that at the next election the Tories hope to win 103 seats. I am quite sure that the hon. Member for Oswestry, when he surveyed the Welsh mountains, must have declared to himself that not one of these 103 would ever possibly come from Wales—not one of them! There is not the slightest chance. I may even tell the hon. Member, who has himself fought a Welsh seat, that I should not be surprised if at the next election we reduce the Tory representation of Wales from three to one—and perhaps even wipe that one out! Our opponents may complain that we rake up the past. You have to remember this, that nations, and especially Celtic peoples, have long memories. The neglect of centuries cannot be condoned in one day, or even in a generation. The Established Church knew not the day of its visitation. It wilfully and woefully neglected its mission and its opportunity. In its neglect, Nonconformity found its origin and its justification. Nonconformity found Wales, as my right hon. Friend once said, derelict. It reared up a nation. It found it pagan; it made the Welsh peasantry the most religious people in the whole of Europe. It found it ignorant, as the Chancellor of the Exchequer declared to-night in his speech. It has so stimulated its energy, that to-day it has the most complete educational system in the whole country. It found it dormant. It has made it the most progressive and most democratic community in the whole of the-United Kingdom. All that we seek under cover of this Bill is not to create envy or jealousy, as some of you arc apt to think and some are ready to declare; but rather 315 the removal of injustice, and ancient injustice whose rust has eaten into the very heart of our nation, and produced septic poisoning in the religious life of our people. Privilege for no religious body; equality for all religious bodies! That is, Sir, the substance of the national demand of Wales. That is what we ask, and less than that we will not take.
§ Mr. GRANT
I do not propose to follow the hon. Gentleman who has just sat down in much of what he has said, but during the course of his remarks he put a very pointed question to this side of the House, and asked us what we proposed to do. Speaking for myself, I should say that we propose to leave things alone. The ancient Church in Wales is doing good and admirable work, and anything that we do to its detriment will be against the cause of religion in that country. The hon. Member made a statement that was interesting to us. He told us that at the present time the Nonconformist. Churches in Wales were building up a fund for the future—were, in fact, endowing their Church. How would the hon. Member—looking to the future—like, by Act of Parliament, to have that fund diverted from religious purposes, as suggested now in the Bill before us, and diverted to secular purposes? The question is perfectly similar to the point that we are making at the present time. The funds which are being dealt with by this Bill were funds put to one side for religious purposes. By this Bill it is proposed to divert them to secular purposes. I have listened to many speeches from the Government side in advocacy of this Bill. Speaking from an outside point of view, for I am not a member of the Church of England, or of any of the Nonconformist bodies in Wales, the real and fundamental question is, to my mind, whether this Bill will do a service to the cause of religion now or in the future. Any argument in that sense has been most conspicuous by its absence during the whole course of these Debates. We have heard ad 'nauseam statements made as to the number of people in Wales who are in favour of this Bill. We do not contradict it in any way whatever. That is not a matter of principle; it is only a question of so many heads in favour of one thing and so many in favour of another. We have been given a good deal of historical research, as interesting generally, I should say, as it has been accurate. This historical research —I speak as one not very learned in his- 316 tory: as a man in the street—does not interest many people very much in connection with this Bill. We are dealing with the twentieth century, and not with what some people thought did take place and some people thought did not take place in the eleventh or twelfth centuries. We are dealing with a Bill to Disestablish and to lower the status of the English Church in Wales and to take from that Church certain funds with which it has been endowed, funds to which it certainly has a prescriptive right. As an ordinary man, I cannot see that any body can have a greater right to the possession of funds than the Church of England in Wales has by prescriptive right. I quite recognise that in a community like this the Government might in justice interfere with funds which people have by prescriptive right, if these funds were not applied to the use for which they were meant or even if they were applied to some object which was not a good object, but there is no question of that kind at the present moment. Everyone agrees that the funds of the Church are applied to the best of objects and are doing increasing good every year. I cannot see any morality or justice in removing these funds from their present purpose. It seems to me the Government by their action in touching these funds are interfering with one of the most essential and fundamental principles of government.
Certainly before this Bill should be carried into law, and I think before the Government ask us to vote upon it, they ought to justify it with reasons on the highest and most complete moral and religious basis. They ought to point out, without a shade or shadow of doubt, that by their action on this Bill they will increase the cause of religion in Wales. We all recognise that in a community like our own there is no question that religion is a good thing. The more the precepts of religion are impressed upon the community the better it is for that community, the better for the character of that community, and what we want to know is how, by lowering the status of one of the great engines for religion in Wales and depriving it of money, you are going to advance the cause of religion in Wales. We are told that if the Church is made a voluntary Church it will do better work in the future. I do not wish to say anything provocative, but I do think that hon. Gentlemen who use that argument are self-deceiving. I cannot see why the 317 natural laws which apply to everything else should be different when applied to a religious body in Wales. Take a State. If you lower its position in the world and empty its exchequer, is that State in a better position, is it in a position of greater usefulness? Take an individual. If his social status is lowered, if his pocket is emptied, is his usefulness greater than it was before? I cannot see why the natural laws which apply to everything else should not be applied to a religious community in Wales.
Mr. HUGH EDWARDS
The hon. Member has not followed my argument. What I said distinctly was that we felt that your Church ought to seek its income for the ministers and clergy from its own people, and not by having recourse to the law to augment them as is the case in Wales.
§ Mr. GRANT
I was not addressing myself to any particular argument of the hon. Gentleman, but I am glad he interrupted me, because I am afraid he did not quite see my point. If you lower the status of any religious body, if you take away moneys from that religious body, why should that body be more useful in the future than it was in the past? I was trying to illustrate that argument by taking individuals, or another State or community. I said that natural laws should be applied to the Church in Wales as to anything else. I do not wish to use provocative language, but I must say that I do sincerely believe that the Government has really brought in this Bill in pandering to a feeling of jealousy on the part of the Nonconformists of Wales towards the Church of England in Wales. I do not say that a feeling of jealousy is altogether despicable. It is based upon a feeling of emulation. A good many of us would not like to be called jealous, but I milt say that as one sits in this House one cannot help having a feeling of jealousy, at any rate I have, when I see so much ability on every side of me. But that is one thing, and it is another thing to deal with a. Church and to lower its status. We see that feeling of jealousy which has been put in plain language by hon. Gentlemen opposite. It is not a noble or an admirable sentiment and is certainly not a Christian sentiment. I know hon. Gentlemen opposite are very sensitive about any charge of insincerity. I would agree that the hon. Gentleman who has just sat down is perfectly sincere in desiring to pass this 318 Bill into law, and the gentleman who enters my house at midnight with the intention of removing my goods is also sincere. What we want to know and what we have a right to ask is that they have a sincerity of conviction that by this Bill they will increase the usefulness of the Church in Wales and add to the strength of religious feeling in Wales and I say emphatically they have failed to do, that. They have done nothing except to make a statement that they believe it; they cannot prove it. It is a matter of speculation at best and even as a matter of speculation they have not argued it, they rarely touch the question at all.
I am one of those who believe that there is not a very strong feeling in favour of this Bill apart from the few militants who agitate and manufacture this feeling. I am not speaking of personal knowledge of Wales, my knowledge is second-hand, and I do not wish to press the point, but I may say that the information I have is that the feeling is not very strong. Be that as it may, I do feel that in dealing with this question we are dealing mostly for the future, and who can say even if that feeling is strong that it will always exist?' There is no doubt great mutability in a sentiment of that sort. We have seen in the last few years in Scotland a most remarkable change has taken place in that respect. I remember in the 'nineties fighting a Scotch constituency and both camps were absolutely divided on this question of Disestablishment and Disendowment, or leaving the existing state of affairs to stand. In Scotland you had many men just as keen as those who are backing up this Bill who were in favour of Disestablishment and Disendowment in Scotland, and who fought on that question and advocated it with equal eloquence to that which we have heard in support of this Bill. What is the situation to-day? Is there a man in Scotland who advocates the Disestablishment and Disendowment of the Churches there. The reverse is entirely the case. The very men who fought hard for Disestablishment in Scotland are now working for the union of the Churches there. We have had these traditions handed down from our forefathers, and we ought to hand them down to those who come after us. Heads and noses ought not to count in this matter because it is a question of principle, and it is our duty to retain that which has been handed down to us from the past. I am not aware who is going to reply on behalf of the Govern- 319 ment, but, whoever replies, I should like to hear from him something on the point whether the Government is satisfied that in bringing in this Bill they are doing so with the assent of the other sex. Personally I am one of those who do not agree with votes for women, but I should very much like to hear the Prime Minister on the point, whether he can honestly say that he thinks a great Church like this should be despoiled before he is satisfied that the women of this country agree with such action. This is not an unimportant point. It is unnecessary for me to enlarge on the fact of how dependent the other sex is upon the Church, or how we depend upon women to bring up our sons and daughters and the future generations. It is well known how dependent the other sex is upon the ministrations they get from the Church. This question is all the more important at a time like the present when women are taking such a prominent part in politics. The Prime Minister thinks it would be a public calamity that women should have votes, and I would advise him to be very careful about taking an irrevocable action in this matter without being satisfied that those who are so dependent upon the Church desire that this action should take place in connection with the "Welsh Church. I end as I began by deploring the fact that those sitting on the Government side of the House have so signally failed to point out to us how this Bill can in any way add to the religious welfare of the people in Wales.
§ Mr. SWIFT MacNEILL
I wish to say something which I think ought to be said in this Debate, and which is not of a controversial nature, I have been watching for some time for an opportunity to refute the calumny which has been so frequently urged in these Debates, that the Irish Nationalist Members have no interest in the subject of Welsh Disestablishment. I wish to say, speaking for myself and my colleagues, that we have the very keenest interest in this question. Many of the arguments which have been urged during this Debate are admirable, but they lack knowledge and they are forty years too late. I interrupted the Leader of the Opposition in this House when he asserted that Irishmen and the Trish Nationalist Members have no real interest in this case, and I refute that statement altogether. The Catholic Members amongst us in particular in this matter are in full sympathy with the Welsh Members, 320 because they for many generations suffered the oppression and the inequality of a State Church. The Protestant Members of our party likewise know perfectly well that the Disestablishment of the Irish Church has done that Church as a spiritual institution immense good, while it has not substantially harmed it in the temporalities, and at the same time it has freed that Church from the control of its appointments by the State. For reasons which stimulate the people to-day, for the reason that we ought to do to others as we would they would do unto us, we Irish Protestants and Irish Catholics, who have been relieved of the burden of a State Church, feel that it is our bounden duty to help and assist the Welsh people in this matter in every way in our power. I know of no subject of more interest than this question of the Disestablishment and Disendowment of the Welsh Church. It is very easy for the student of history to speak of analogies and to be diverted by them, but in the Irish Church and the Welsh Church we have as much a parallel and parity of circumstances as can be imagined in any historical sequence of events.
In very brief terms I would like to point to some of those analogies between the rid Irish Church and the present Welsh Church system, and I would like to reason from that parallel that the Welsh Church will be quite as well off and better off, especially in the estimation and love and affection of its own people, after Disestablishment than it ever was when it, was, as it is now, a branch of the English Civil Service. [HON. MEMBERS: "Oh, oh!"] Let us consider how that is. How can we Irish Members in justice to ourselves or to our own country refuse to vote thoroughly with the Welsh Members under these circumstances? During eleven Parliaments you have had a majority from Wales in favour of Welsh Disestablishment. You have now thirty-one Members in favour of this Bill from Wales and only three against it, two of these being Anglicans and the third a Roman Catholic who does not belong to the Establishment at all. When we Disestablished and Disendowed the Irish Church we had 105 Members in this House, and of those sixty, and sixty alone, were in favour of Disestablishment and forty-five were against it. Under these circumstances how can we refuse to actively work for what the Welsh people desire? I think I ought to be grateful in this matter for the conduct of 321 a Welsh Bishop of St. David's, who in the past have always had somewhat remarkable characters. When the Irish Church was Disestablished there was a celebrated Welsh bishop, Bishop Thirlwall, who was A great historian, an eminent preacher, a great theologian, and a distinguished member of the Chancery Bar. When the epithets of "sacrilege," "spoliation," "pillage of the Church," and "public robbery" were heard both in the House of Commons and in the House of Lords against the Irish Church Bill, what did Bishop Thirlwall do? He got up and said, "This is not robbery of God, and 'robbery of God' in reference to any property assigned to the Godhead is not a Christian but only a heathen idea." The true idea of property being bequeathed to the service of God, he said, was that it should be most beneficently used for the good of the community at large. That was the opinion of a Welsh bishop of the Irish Church Bill of forty years ago.
Both the Irish and the Welsh Churches were Churches of the minority. They were both in antagonism to national aspirations; they were both dead weights on every national movement; they were both Churches that sold their birthright and could not inherit the blessing. These are not expressions of my own; they are the expressions of Mr. Lecky, for many years Conservative Member for Dublin University. They were both alien Churches, but the alien Church in Wales was different from the alien Church in Ireland. In Ireland, the Reformation Church had never any sway, but in Wales the Church was not alien originally; it was alienated by the misconduct of rapacious English strangers who took the bishoprics, the livings, and the money without any idea of its religious uses and proprieties of the time. It is no exaggeration to say that in 1735 North Wales was a perfect Anglican community. It has been computed that there were not more than six Nonconformist meeting houses there. The people were driven into Nonconformity there because there was no spiritual life in the Church, and the leaders of the Nonconformist movement were men who, like Griffith Jones and Daniel Rowland, were expelled from the Church because they were too worthy of it, while the bishops were Englishmen who could not speak a word of the Welsh language. Bishop Houdley has been spoken of as the Bishop of Bangor. He was never in Bangor or in the Diocese of Bangor, but he took all the money. Bishop Houdley had a little 322 brother, and he was sent over to be All Primate of Ireland, and, exactly like his brother in the Welsh See, he took the money and glorified the divine succession of George I. Bishop Watson, who was the Bishop of Llandaff, used to visit his diocese once or twice in the course of three years. He was professor of divinity at Cambridge, and, strange to say, his house in Cambridge is now, I believe, a hostel for Roman Catholic students. He had time to go to the House of Lords and speak in support of the Irish Union in 1799. He said that he had written to the Duke of Rutland, when Lord Lieutenant of Ireland in 1785, in advocacy of the Union. The Duke said that if he proposed it he would be tarred and feathered in the streets of Dublin.
§ Mr. SWIFT MacNEILL
No, the modern bishops have behaved excellently well. I am acquainted with half the Welsh bishops. I am an old friend of the Bishop of St. Asaph, of whom I expect a wonderful career in his Church when he is able to manage it and establish it on a new principle which will commend itself to the Welsh people at large. I am an old acquaintance of the Bishop of Bangor. The Welsh Church and the Welsh bishops are behaving admirably well, but that very circumstance reminds me of a curious anecdote of a celebrated judge. When a prisoner was brought up before him and pleaded guilty of various offences, he said he would go over the depositions, and when the prisoner came up for sentence the next morning, he said:—Prisoner at the Bar, your conduct when in danger has been just as good as your conduct when out of danger has been bad, and therefore I think it better to keep you in a dangerous position as long as I can.Therefore, I.say to the Welsh Church, "Your conduct in recent years with Disestablishment hanging over your head has been as good as your former conduct was bad, but at the same time you have not commended yourselves to the people, and the sooner you go and become a private community the better both for you and for them." Amongst the great supporters of the Empire who are going to fight for loyalty are the Ulster Members. Why have none of them appeared to give a helping hand to gallant little Wales? Not one of them has appeared and advocated the claims of the Welsh Church. Why? Because they know that the Disestablish- 323 ment of the Irish Church has been a great success for that institution, and there is no one, not even among the most extreme Tory section in Ireland, who would in the slightest degree wish to see the Establishment, as it formerly was in Ireland, restored. It was stated and prophesied that the Church in Ireland would be robbed and impoverished. It is the best specimen of a robbed and impoverished institution that I know. Since the Disestablishment, £750,000 have been expended by that Church alone on the building and restoration of churches and cathedrals, and a new bishopric has been founded. The Irish bishops are no longer the creatures of the Executive, appointed by them; they are appointed by the dioceses, in which the clergy and laymen have equal voice, and are, therefore, the popular and most beloved men in the community. Then, again, it was prophesied that Protestantism would fail, and that once the Irish Church was Disestablished Catholicism would be in the ascendant, and would, in fact, override and overawe the Irish Protestant community. The Irish Protestant and Catholic bishops have become the best of friends. It is no secret that when the Protestant Bishop of Down passed away the Armagh Catholic Cathedral bell was tolled, out of respect, and in memory of him, sooner than the bell of the Protestant Cathedral of which he had been bishop. When the Disestablishment of the Irish Church was proposed, one Irish bishop, Dr. Knox, the Bishop of Down, was hooted and hustled in the streets of Belfast and at a great meeting in Ulster Hall, he was called "Traitor" and "Judas." Sixteen years after the Church had been Disestablished, and after the effects of Disestablishment were realised, the Primacy of the Irish Church became vacant, and the bishops unanimously elected to that vacancy the very gentleman who was the very protagonist of the Disestablishment and Disendowment of the Irish Church and whom they had thus reviled. We hope that the same happy result may come to Wales as has been experienced in Ireland, and we feel that we are doing our duty in supporting this Bill, in thereby giving to every religious section of the community a fair chance, equal favour and, as in Ireland, a great enlargement of sympathy and a better understanding between all classes of the community.
§ Mr. J. H. THOMAS
Every hon. Member who has risen from the other side of 324 the House has commenced his speech by assuring the House that it is in no feeling of hostility to Nonconformist bodies in Wales that he approaches this question, and hon. Members on this side have followed suit by being equally anxious to assure the other side that it is in no feeling of hostility to the Church that they support this particular measure. That to me is the most painful side of this Debate, because it proves conclusively that religion is a question that ought not to be the concern of this Parliament. A recent speaker, representing the Egremont Division of Cumberland (Mr. Grant), brought some remarkable arguments forward in support, and, indeed, in defence of this Church. "Bill Sykes" and "Votes for Women" were the only contributions he could make in defence of his Church. [HON. MEMBERS: "Oh!"] I submit I am in the recollection of the House when I say that both these arguments were used in defence of his contention. First he asked, "What are we to say to the burglar who enters our house at night for the purpose of stealing our goods?" The only application of that illustration to this Debate is that he assumed that we who are supporting this Bill are in the position of the burglar who is stealing the goods, and my answer would be this, "What would he say to the burglar if that burglar, instead of coming to steal his goods, were only to ask hint for some of the goods that had been stolen from him? That, in a few words, is our position in Wales. On the other hand, he asked, "What right have the Government to determine this question unless the women of this country are consulted?"' My answer to that would be, "What question can this House ever determine but that the women of the country are equally affected?" Would the hon. Gentleman and his party be justified in introducing Tariff Reform, which equally affects women, without seeing that they are consulted?
My only reason for rising at this stage is to answer two questions put by the hon. Member for the Bewdley Division of Worcestershire (Mr. Baldwin). He asked, "What is it that makes a Churchman leave his Church and join the Nonconformist body? So far from being hostile to the Church in Wales, I have a profound regard for it. It was Mo., Church school that I received my only education. It was in a Church Sunday school I first received any spiritual education. It was amid Church surroundings that I was 325 reared, and I can truthfully answer the question why I left the Church of Wales, educated, though I had been, in a Church day school and attending, as I had done, a Church Sunday school. It was because when I reached the age that I could think for myself, when I reached an age at which I could study this problem, when I reached an age at which I could examine the question from every conceivable standpoint, I found that the whole environment of the Church was foreign not only to the dictates of my conscience, but to the spirit that animated the whole of the people of Wales. That, I submit, is the real answer to the question why Churchmen in Wales leave their Church. The hon. Member went further, and said it was significant that only a small portion of the Members of this House, outside the Welsh Members, had taken part in the Debate. It is not because of their indifference to the Bill, it is not because of their hostility to it, it is not because they are lukewarm in support of the measure, but it is because they recognise that this is essentially a Welsh question, and that the people of Wales should state their own case arid their own demands, and should have an answer to those demands.
A remarkable admission was made by the hon. Member for Exeter (Mr. Duke) who realised what, unfortunately, a large number of Members on that side of the House have hitherto failed to recognise—the distinct national claim of Wales. The hon. and learned Member said that so far as he was concerned he did not quarrel with that claim, but, on the contrary, he believed that they could justify their demand on national grounds. He added that they had a capacity and an intelligence which made them quite equal to governing themselves, and he asked, "Why did they not apply their capacity and their ability for statesmanship, not to securing the Disestablishment and Disendowment of the Church, but to an effort to ascertain if some compromise could not be arrived at in this matter." Then he said we should probably have been able between us to find some solution of this difficult question. How long has it taken that hon. Member and other Members opposite to recognise our claim at all? When they were on this side of the House, and when the people at the other end of the Lobby had the power they have not got to-day, and any suggestion for dealing With the Welsh Church was put forward by the Welsh Members or the Welsh 326 nation, it would have been scoffed at. It is an admission, not only of weakness, but that we have a case, when they come here at the eleventh hour and say: "Why do you not try to settle this question upon other lines?" What, after all, is the question? Religion is not a question of party politics. Religion is not a subject that ought to be bandied about from one side of the House to the other. Religion is not some difference between sects and creeds; it is a question between a man and his conscience. You may argue with me; you may quarrel with my theology; you may be able, by your superior education, to tear me as it were, literally to pieces in my knowledge of history; you may even condemn the Bible, but my answer would be: "There is something in me that says I am right." That is religion.
What is the State? It is not a question of conscience. It is something that affects not only every section of the community, but every individual in the community. Why should you, by Act of Parliament, although I hold conscientious views and have strong and definite religious principles, be in a position to place me outside the ban of civilisation. People may say that it is one Church in Wales, and that you may claim us, who are Nonconformists, as being in the Church, but we are not of the Church. You cannot place yourselves in our position. If you did, I am perfectly certain you would have recognised our claim long ago. If I could conceive for one moment that this Bill, if passed into law, would make for secularisation, if I thought for one moment that it would hamper or hinder religion, I most certainly would not support it. No one recognizes more than I do the awful tendency towards secularization in these days, or that there is a tendency to disregard the Sabbath. Unfortunately, the richer people of this country are contributing too much to that. When you can go on a Sunday, as I have gone, to see your golf links full, what are we to say to the working man, who has been working six days in the week, with no chance of recreation, when he finds the people who have had so many opportunities for pleasure spending the Sabbath on the golf links? In spite of the awful tendency of the present day, I am profoundly satisfied that the Church will he better freed from the State. It is because she will be free and unhampered, and will be 327 able to enter into the life, the spirit, the feelings and sentiments of the Welsh people, in a manner she has never done in the past, that I heartily support this proposal. It is because I believe it is right, because I believe it is just, and because I believe it is in the interests of true religion that I desire it to pass, and I believe that when it is passed, the Churchmen of to-day, like those who opposed the Irish Bill in the past, will be able to look back and say, "In spite of our Opposition, those who supported this measure were justified by events."
§ Mr. CHARLES BATHURST
I have listened with interest, as I am sure the whole House has done, to the eloquent speech of the hon. Member for Derby (Mr. J. H. Thomas), and, like him; I sincerely deprecate the necessity of dealing with what is to a large extent a religious question upon the floor of this House, which is wholly unsuited to that process. But when the hon. Member suggests to us that the Disestablishment and, still more, the Disendowment of the English Church in Wales will tend rather to a spread of religion and to a decrease of worldliness than the process of retaining the Establishment and maintaining the Endowments of the Church as we should like to see them maintained, I for one must beg entirely to join issue with him. It seems to me, when I listen to the eloquent oratory which comes largely from Welsh Members on the opposite side of the House, that it is their eloquence and sincerity rather than the reasonableness and convincing nature of their arguments, which carries the enthusiastic Welsh temperament along with them, and persuades so large a number of their compatriots to take up so hostile an attitude towards the Established Church. I myself live among Welsh people, and have perhaps more to do with Welshmen than any Englishman in this House. I can fully appreciate the enthusiasm with which they put forward their views, especially when they base those views upon what they are pleased to call nationality. The hon. Member for Mid-Glamorgan (Mr. Hugh Edwards) told us frankly that the whole of his position in this matter was based on considerations of nationality. I should like to ask Welsh Members present what constitutes nationality, so far as it affects this question? Is it language? If so, with the Welsh population constituted as it is to-day, it would not afford a very 328 strong claim to support for this Bill, because not only is the Welsh language by no means exclusively spoken in Wales, but the English language is spoken by a larger proportion of the population every year. I ask again, Does race constitute nationality? You have only to look at the great industrial and growing population of South Wales to find that the Welshmen as a race are getting, proportionately to the whole, smaller every year, and as time goes on they will become smaller still. I ask again, Do geographical limits operate to constitute nationality? If so, why is Monmouthshire, which is an English county, included I should also like to ask why is my own district in the Forest of Dean, where you will find quite as many Welshmen as you will in many parts of Glamorganshire, excluded from the area of this Bill? The truth of the matter is that nationality does not enter into this question at all. The religious unit for this purpose is not Wales, nor Wales and Monmouthshire; it is England and Wales, and it is only by a process of dismemberment of the Church, which is common to both countries, that you can carry out what appears to us to be anything but a national process.
We have heard a good deal about the injustice of the poor Welsh peasants and tenant farmers paying tithe for the support of a Church which is not their own. Tithe is not paid by these peasants or tenant farmers at all, but is now paid by the landlord, and if there is some sensitiveness on the part of Nonconformist landlords in paying tithe for the maintenance of a Church to which all Protestants in Wales belong, even the Nonconformist members of it, surely the proper way of dealing with that problem is to ask this House to pass a Commutation Act, under which the capitalised value of tithe shall be handed over to the Ecclesiastical Commissioners to be held in trust for the Church to which it properly belongs l I object to the Disestablishment Clauses of this Bill because, in my opinion, they are illogical, and they operate an injustice to the poorest part of the Welsh population, and I object to the Disendowment Clauses of the Bill because they are illogical, they are unjust, and they are an absolutely unnecessary part of the Bill. The Disestablishment Clauses are illogical because the unit for this purpose is England and Wales, and not Wales only, and if you mean to Disestablish the Church at all, the only logical 329 position that you can take up is to Disestablish the whole Church throughout the whole of the religious unit constituted by both England and Wales. From the Church standpoint there is much to be gained by the process of Disestablishment. By such process you might obtain within the Church a greater degree of vitality and a much larger measure of self-government by the great lay body which constitutes the majority of Church members. But, on the other side, not only would the nation be the poorer for the process, but you would be doing a great injustice to the poorer part of the population, who, under the existing system, can claim, as of right, the spiritual ministrations of the ministers of the Church. Immediately you Disestablish the Church there is no claim as of right on the part of any of the poorest people, who can ill afford, many of them, to pay anything towards the maintenance and upkeep of any other religious corn-'nullity and its services, to the ministrations of their Church.
As regards Disendowment, that process, too, is illogical because it seeks to take away the tithe which is enjoyed by the Church, and, for some reason or other, leaves tithe still enjoyed by lay impropriators. The hon. Member (Mr. Swift MacNeill) has just told us that if he had his way he would deprive the lay impropriators also. I was rather surprised at that suggestion coming from a lawyer, because, like any other kind of property, it has repeatedly changed hands on payment of full value, and if its owners were to be dispossessed it would be a process of robbery of a most flagrant kind which no Member of the House would attempt to justify. Still, it is an illogical process if you are going to deal with tithe on an historical basis and yet treat in a different way tithe which is received by the Church and tithe which is received by the lay impropriators. In the second place, it is unjust, because, unlike the case of the Irish Church, its resources were never more required than to-day. Admittedly they are being well administered, and above all, there is a prescriptive title under which they have been used, not for the general purposes of the community, eleemosynary or otherwise, but because, for at any rate several hundred years, they have undeniably been used for the religious purposes to which they are now applied. In the case of any property owned by private individuals, even the short period of twelve years, at any rate 330 in the case of land, would give them an indefeasible title as against the whole world. In the case of property applied to religious purposes, we ask that the title of several hundred years shall give the Church the same right, but it is an unnecessary process to dispossess the religious community of its financial resources, particularly in the case of Wales, where the industrial and the general wealth of the country is increasing probably at a greater pace than in any other part of the United Kingdom. This money is not required for the purposes towards which this Bill seeks to appropriate them. It is not required for the social and educational purposes which the wealth of Wales, and particularly of South Wales, is better able to provide to-day than ever it has been in the past, and, unfortunately, on the other side, the Church in Wales, and particularly in the poorer agricultural parishes, is less able to carry on the excellent and purely spiritual work it endeavours to carry on to-day, owing very largely to the fact that the wealth of the country is being diverted to the great industrial centres.
It seems to me that the national position cannot be defended and the historical position, as placed repeatedly before this House, is eminently unreal, and the history is open to criticism even on the part of those who have not conducted any great historical research. Surely, after all is said and done, this is a social question and not a religious question at all. I, for my part, should like to see, particularly in these days when there is so much need for it, every branch of the Protestant Church joining forces one with the other to combat the great and increasing evils to which the body politic at present is subject. There never was a time when it was more necessary to join forces rather than create divergencies, and, if this is a social question, surely in these days, when we pride ourselves on our democratic spirit, we can adopt some other means of bringing more into social intercourse for the mutual advantage of every class all those who, owing to petty jealousies, or owing to divergent and different tastes, seem to think that their paths, religious and social, lie in different directions! In the district in which I live, surrounded as I am by Welshmen, I am glad to say that we do not admit in any way in our public efforts or social efforts any class distinctions whatever. Churchmen and Nonconformists work without jealousy and with mutual 331 confidence, and I believe that if the same spirit could inspire all classes throughout the Principality of Wales, we should be able to put behind us once and for all this social jealousy which truly lies at the bottom of this movement for the Disestablishment and Disendowment of the Church in Wales, and that Wales would be spiritually the better for the process, instead of passing, as I believe she will pass as the result of this Bill, into a last state which will be far worse than the first, and which, so far from advancing religion, will retard the progress of religious influences for many years to come. The Chancellor of the Exchequer referred, as so many in the House have referred, to the sterility of the Church's activity in the eighteenth century. Surely what we have got to look at to-day is not to the condition of the Church in the eighteenth century, but the condition now! If, as the right hon. Gentleman suggested, the bishops were then appointed because they were politicians and for purely political purposes, that can be no argument in favour of the Disestablishment of the Church to-day, because no one has suggested that the bishops are not properly appointed now, and no one has suggested that the clergy in the various parishes in Wales are not suitable persons, and not carrying on the work in the most efficient manner. Surely most of the argumets used as to past history are wholly inapplicable to present conditions. The Church is entitled to be judged, and ought to be judged, on her present position and work, and I venture to say that if she is judged on that basis, she will not be found wanting.
§ Mr. TOWYN JONES
When the Welsh Church Bill had already passed its First Reading, I was returned by the electors of East Carmarthen, a typical Welsh constituency, to support it, despite the greatest misrepresentations of its contents and purport. This Bill has been termed by its opponents as "confiscation," "spoliation," and "robbery of God," but the great majority of the Welsh nation regard it as justice, tempered by mercy and charity. Much as I sympathise with the intense feeling in Carmarthenshire and throughout Wales against the concessions which the Government granted during the Committee stage of the Bill, I nevertheless, heartily support the measure as it stands, for every sincere Welsh Nationalist ought to be willing to make great sacrifices in this matter if he can in 332 any way help in putting an end to the religious strife which has embittered the life and retarded the progress of the Welsh nation for the last three centuries. May I, with all humility, state that opportunities have been given me of knowing the mind of my countrymen as well as any man inside or outside this House. I took an active part in all the national movements of Wales for the last thirty years, and in the prosecution of my work I not only walked the country from one end to the other, but I came into close contact with the people at public meetings and in their own homes in every nook and corner of the land. No man could do that without becoming profoundly conscious of the fact that the one ruling passion of the Welsh people is the realisation of a free Church in a free country. The idea that the Welsh representatives did not receive a mandate for this measure at the last election is, not to use stronger language, a huge joke. No Liberal Member or Labour Member could have been elected by a Welsh constituency to this Parliament if he had not first of all pronounced in unmistakable language for religious equality.
During the last generation questions of the day have made English people change their political colour from one election to the other, but the Welsh people have been of one idea to which they have adhered, and they have consistently and persistently with almost unanimous voice expressed by constitutional methods their determination to have the Church of England in Wales severed from the State, and the ancient Endowments, which they believe were national in aim, used in the interest not of one minority denomination of alien temper, but of the whole nation. But why do the Welsh people cling with such tenacity and persistence to this one question of religious equality? The answer is at hand. They are compelled to do so by their religious convictions, and by their national instincts. Let us consider the matter first of all from the religious standpoint of the Welsh people. The foundation principles of Christianity are the foundation principles of evangelical Welsh Nonconformity, and consequently the more we are possessed by these principles, the greater will be our antagonism to the connection between Church and State. The Church of the New Testament is a spiritual body of which Christ is the spiritual head, and everything that pertaineth to this Church in matters of instruction and government, in matters of 333 progress and defence, must come from Him alone. Spirituality implies freedom from State control. The rights of mind and heart, of conscience and will, are not the rights of Kings and Parliaments, but rather the Crown rights of the Redeemer. The connection between Church and State cannot but be detrimental to both institutions, and what God bath put asunder, let no man join together. The Nonconformists of Wales believe in the national recognition of religion, not by a Church artificially established by law, but by the truth of the Gospel incarnated by grace in the hearts of the people. No nation can be Christianised apart from the individuals who compose it. There is no gainsaying the fact that in Wales the Establishment has ever been a hindrance to religion. England was stirred to its depths by the great Reformation about a hundred years before Nonconformity started on its career in the Principality, but notwithstanding the fact that the Church of England in Wales had the whole field to itself during that period the Anglican historians had to dip their pens in Indian ink to describe the wickedness and negligence of the priests and the darkness of the land, in the shadows of which the people slept. Although the 29th Article of the Church declares that—it is a thing plainly repugnant to the word of God and the custom of the primitive Church to have public prayer in the Church or to minister the Sacrament in a tongue not understanded of the people,yet the occasional sermon which the Welsh people were privileged to hear was almost invariably delivered not only by drunken priests, but in a language which they did not understand. [HON. MEMBERS: "Oh, oh!"] That is quite right. I am simply giving what the Anglican historians write. [An HON. MEMBER: "What historian is that?"] Pritchard, and Jones, the two greatest historians of the Church in Wales. The monoglot Welshman could not get any benefit from the sermon in the English tongue even if given from the lips of a saint, of a priest. What comfort could Englishmen get from the following quotation:—Canys felly y earodd Duw y byd, fel y rhoddodd Efe Ei Uniganedig Fâb, fel na choller pwy bynnag a gredo ynddo Ef ond caffael ohonno fywyd tragy-wyddol."—(Ioan III., 17.)The words which I have just quoted contain the very marrow of the Gospel, but the seventeenth verse of the Gospel of St. John in the Welsh language would be to the majority of this House. That is what the same verse would be to the monoglot. Welshman if given in 334 the English tongue. In such circumstances it was no wonder that the State English Church, whatever its creed may have been, whether Catholic, or Protestant, or Puritan, failed ignominously as a spiritual force in the Principality. It was Nonconformity, with its tongue of fire, its life of love, and its miracles of grace, that transformed the Welsh nation, and that, in spite of the cruellest tyranny and the most inveterate persecution of the Established Church, from being one of the most ignorant and pagan of populations into one of the most cultured and spiritual of all the nations of the earth.
The demand for the Disestablishment and Disendowment of the Church of England in Wales has always come, not from politicians as such, but from the most spiritual men and women in the Principality. The Bishop of St. Asaph, referring in another place to a resolution, proposed by John Elias and passed unanimously at the annual meeting of the Calvanistic Methodists of Wales, held in 1834 at Bala, to keep aloof from a movement at that time in the Principality for Disestablishment and Disendowment, made the following remark:—It can hardly, therefore, he said that Disestablishment and Disendowment originated with the great religious leaders of Wales.But the right reverend prelate forgot to state that there were Nonconformist religious leaders in Wales for 200 years before 1834. The Calvinistic Methodist body severed from the Church in 1811. The great Methodist revival which swept our country at the end of the eighteenth century was as the breath of heaven to the Welsh nation, but it was the older Nonconformist denominations, the Independents, the Baptists, the Unitarians, the Quakers, that lighted the divine fire in the land and dared imprisonment and persecution to keep that divine fire burning on the altars of the temple. The leaders of the older denominations advocated strongly the severance of the Church from the State, and there is a record of a resolution passed by the Llanwenarth Baptist Church, in the county of Monmouth, as early as the year 1655, in favour of religious equality. The Calvinistic Methodists came out of the Church of England from spiritual conviction, but they did not for some time realise that the spiritual religion, which they counted dearer unto them than life, meant the severance of the Church from the 335 State. They had the germ of a principle which afterwards developed into a denial of all legislative interference with religion, and their leaders were found among the finest champions that Wales ever had for Disestablishment and Disendowment. I wonder what the Bishop of St. Asaph has to say to the strong resolutions passed unanimously in favour of this Bill, and against making any further concessions to the Church, at the annual association of the Calvinistic Methodists of Wales, held a few weeks ago at Fishguard? The deeper the spiritual power of Christianity will be felt by Nonconformists and Churchmen in the Principality the louder will be their demand for religious equality. But spirituality implies diversity of thought and expression. It is the law of the universe—the deeper the life the greater the variety. The Act of Uniformity was a violation of that law in the spiritual realm. Every man who, from spiritual conviction, cannot bow to a church of unreformed conformity must get out of it, if he is to be faithful to the call of God in his inmost soul. Nonconformists have the greatest respect for Churchmen who believe in their heart in official priesthood and baptismal regeneration, but they resent with holy indignation any compulsion laid upon them to uphold in the land such beliefs which are contrary to the dictates of their own consciences.
Again, spirituality spells voluntaryism. Welsh Nonconformists have had the privilege of demonstrating to the world the power of the voluntary principle in religion. They left the Established Church, and though they were extremely poor and harshly persecuted by a State-aided Church and a Church-aided State, they covered their country with chapels, which were filled with consecrated inert and women, who became the light, the music, and the aroma of Heaven in the land. No country on the face of the earth has a more charming romance than that of Welsh Nonconformity. But it has been contended by our opponents that voluntaryism has broken down in the Principality. Nothing of the kind. It possesses more fire and force to-day than ever. We have been told that the heavy debts upon our chapels prove that voluntaryism is a failure. In Wales, in the year 1906, the Church of England had 1,864 places of worship, while the Nonconformists had provided 4,669 chapels and mission rooms, with an accommodation for 74 per cent. of the popula- 336 tion—three times and a half that of the Established Church.
Instead of winning the admiration of the bishops for such work, we have been taunted by them that the heavy debt on our chapels prove that Nonconformity, based on the voluntary principle, is a failure. Nothing could be further from the truth. The solvency of Welsh Nonconformity is beyond all doubt. We have not the least difficulty to borrow money at a low interest. Our Nonconformist. chapels have been built not only for existing, but also for future needs, by men and women who would have their children and their children's children share with them the joy of paying the debts on the temples in which they worship the God of their fathers. Thus debts on chapels have from generation to generation proved almost invariably a blessing to our churches. The denominations, by means of central funds will take care that individual churches will not be crushed by the heavy debts upon their chapels. The debts upon the Nonconformist chapels are no proof of the failure of voluntaryism. The United Kingdom has a tremendous National Debt. But Britain is not yet in the Bankruptcy Court. Are we not making records year by year in trade and commerce? Then we are told that voluntaryism has failed, because there are a great number of parishes in Wales without resident ministers. Nonconformity has nothing to do with the geographical limitations of the parochial divisions of the Established Church. Our care is for the people, and you will ever find the Nonconformist ministers residing, when at all possible, in the most convenient places to attend to their flock. I say "when at all possible," advisedly, for often a Nonconformist minister, in taking up his residence in a new locality, cannot immediately secure a house in the most convenient spot, and in many instances we have found that the ground landlord has made it impossible for a Nonconformist minister to get a residence in the village in which his chapel is situated. Scores of parish parsonages are far removed from the centres of population. But Nonconformists know religion to be intensely personal and pray for themselves, and even when they desire to have others to read and pray with them, they would often prefer saintly colliers, farmers, tinmen, and artisans—men who have lived the life of heaven before their eyes, to the most popular preacher in the land. But apart 337 from such considerations, in 1905 Nonconformity had then in Wales 4,841 ministers and preachers, whilst the Established Church could not lay claim to more than 1,597 clergy.
Again, it is contended that the sustentation funds of Welsh Nonconformity proves the failure of voluntaryism. May I state very humbly that I ought to know something about sustentation funds. I have been more closely connected with all the funds of the Welsh Congregational body for the last eighteen years than any other man. In 1895, the Twentieth Century Fund was mooted, and I happened to become the senior secretary of the Welsh Congregational Union. In the following year I became the South Wales secretary, and organiser of the Twentieth Century Fund. In 1906 I resigned my pastorate of the Cwmamman Congregational Church, the largest Welsh Church, to become first home missioner, and afterwards organiser of the sustentation fund. I have visited almost every chapel and every mission room belonging to the Welsh Congregational Union, not only in Wales, but throughout England as well. It is our intention to raise the salary of every Congregational minister to £80. That there are men of culture and power in the Nonconformist ministry to-day at an annual stipend of £70, £60, and even 150, is no proof of the failure, but rather of the vitality of voluntaryism. The salaries of the Nonconformist ministry have increased threefold during the last fifty years, but notwithstanding the fact that the average salary to-day is but a small pittance, there are hundreds of the finest young men of Wales at schools and colleges preparing for the ministry of the Word among Nonconformists. In 1905, the Church of England in Wales collected toward the ministry the sum of £48,972, and for all purposes the sum of £296,400, while the Nonconformist Churches in the same year collected toward the ministry £426,897, and for all purposes £818,700.
Furthermore, we are told that voluntaryism has failed in Wales because Nonconformity is a decreasing force, and the Establishment the only increasing denomination. Nonconformity, we are told, is a decreasing force, because, in the first place, it has had to sell a great number of its chapels for other uses than that of religion. That is only a half-truth, and half-truths are often the foulest falsehoods. Nonconformity has sold many of 338 its old chapels for the good reason that new and larger chapels have been built in their stead. The old chapels had become either too inconvenient for the majority of the inhabitants of the district or too small for the congregations. Then it is contended that the number of Nonconformist communicants are becoming less and less year by year. In 1905 the Nonconformists of Wales, including the Roman Catholics, numbered 615,080, and the Church communicants 193,081. The. Nonconformist Churches abnormally increased in 1904, 1905, and 1906, the years of the revival, and, judging matters in the light of the revivals of the past, we expected relapses by the thousands for many succeeding years. The Welsh Congregationalists number 14,059 to-day more than they did in 1903, which means an average annual increase of 1,573 for the nine years from 1903 to 1912. And what is true of one of the Nonconformist denominations is true more or less of the rest. But is the Church of England in Wales an increasing denomination'? Take the figures of the Established Church in 1911 and 1912. In one year, in the Diocese of Bangor, we have a decrease of 375; in that of St. Asaph, a decrease of 1,452; and in that of St. David's, a decrease of 174. In the three dioceses I have named the decrease amounts to 2,001. In the Diocese of Llandaff there is an increase of 561, and doubtless four out of every five of those who make up that increase are not Welsh. We have a decrease in the communicants of the Established Church in Wales during the last year of 1,440. Wales is and will be overwhelmingly Nonconformist. But the battle for religious equality with us is not a fight of figures. Religious equality with us is not a matter of arithmetic, nor of geography, nor of political opportunism. It is a question of principle, of justice, of spiritual religion, and of the loftiest claim of the human soul.
Let us look at the matter again for a few minutes from the national standpoint. To deny the distinct nationality of the Welsh people is to cast aside all considerations of race, language, literature, temperament, genius, memories, and traditions. Every nation, however small, has its own peculiar mission to the world, and in order to accomplish the task it has been given to do, it should be allowed to work out its own salvation along the lines of its own ideals. The Established Church has divided the Welsh nation into two antagonistic camps. In the name of the 339 Prince of Peace the Establishment has infused bitterness into the relations of neighbours and townsmen in every parish in the Principality. We cannot have an Established Church, without religious inequality. It is impossible to have religious inequality without political injustice. And both religious inequality and political injustice spell dissension and strife. In Wales, we owe almost everything that makes life worth living to the Nonconformists, and that in spite of the State-aided Church. Our authors and editors, our journalists and educationists, our poets and musicians, our printers and publishers, our prophets and preachers, and our patriots and philanthropists have ever been, and still are, overwhelmingly Nonconformist. The Church of alien temper has ever been the sworn enemy of our nationality. From the throne to the cottage, it has left no means untried to secure its authority as a governing power. From the cradle to the grave it has taken advantage of every event in the individual life to assert its claim to the submission of the conqueror's hand. As of yore, the Establishment to-day is outside our great national movements respecting spiritual awakening, education, social reform, and self-government. The Established Church does not count as a body, even at present, as a, spiritual force among the Welsh people. It is a branch of the Civil Service, the right hand of oppressive landlordism, and the strongest pillar of selfish and unjust moponolies that deteriorate the character, sour the life, and hinder the progress of the people.
To my personal knowledge, a great number of the clergy, who dare not speak out, are panting for Disestablishment and freedom from Canterbury, so that they may be able to co-operate with their Nonconformist brethren in the highest interest of the land of their fathers. The fact that our's is a small nation is no proof that it cannot be of any service to the Empire and humanity. The world to-day owes what is best in its laws, its line arts, its paintings, its music, its traditions, and its religion, not to great Empires, but to small nations. The Greeks are a small nation, but their country was once the eye of the world. The Japanese are a small people, but their prowess and progress constitute one of the greatest wonders of history. Switzerland is a small country, but its civilisation attracts the youth of the five Continents to its schools. Palestine is a 340 small tract of land, but it was the Jews that gave salvation to mankind. Religion and nationality these then are irrepressible and irresistible forces which compel the Welsh people to persist without a pause in their efforts for religious equality. What the North Pole is to the sailor's compass, religions equality is to Wales. And what Waterloo was to Europe, and Bunker Hill to the United States, the passing of this Bill will be to the Principality. We have travelled through tears and brood, a long and difficult road, but with unflinching courage and unbounded joy. And should we fail, during this Parliament, to reach our goal, which seems to be now in sight, that will not in the least stifle our demand and will not deter our efforts for religious equality. We will go on until our hopes will he realised. But we are confident that the realisation of the hopes of the Welsh people, like unto those of the Irish race, will soon become a part of the history of the United Kingdom. I should like, on behalf of my countrymen, to thank the Government and all the lovers of liberty in this House who have set their mind upon freeing the Principality from the thraldom of the Establishment, so that Welsh Conformists and Nonconformists may join heart and hand together in prayer and labour for the highest development of the Welsh nation, for the progress of the universal Church, for the emancipation of man, for the resurrection of the world.
§ Mr. F. E. SMITH
I am sure that everyone in every quarter of the House will join in recognising the very evident sincerity with which the hon. Gentleman who has just spoken has applied himself to the subject now engaging the attention of the House. We had the hon. Gentleman's statement for the fact that he could speak thirty times as fast if he were at liberty to address us in his own language. I am sorry to say, as far as I am concerned, and I fear as far as many of my hon. Friends are concerned, that we should have lost the advantage of the hon. Gentleman's rhetoric if he had adopted that course. He will perhaps permit me to add that if his claim be well founded, and I have no reason to doubt it, we can readily understand the reputation as a controversialist, which by universal consent he has got. I will not pay the hon. Gentleman so poor a compliment as not to make one or two observations upon his interesting speech. The hon. Gentleman told us, in a phrase which I think was 341 somewhat highly coloured in view of the facts, that the Welsh Nonconformists had marched through tears and blood in order to reach the goal which he is sanguine enough to suppose has now been almost attained. I am not sufficiently familiar with the more recent developments of this controversy in Wales to have very clearly in my mind the incidents to which the hon. Gentleman referred, but it may be he spoke metaphorically, and I think very probably he did. I notice that he spoke of the possibility that a still longer road might be in front of him and his friends before this goal was finally reached. I am not at all sure that this was not the most reasonable prediction contained in the speech of the hon. Gentleman. He used a very picturesque phrase which I appreciated as much as any of his friends, by inverting the well known expression, what God has put asunder let no man join.
If I understood the hon. Gentleman aright, he was dealing generally with the subject of Establishment, and I am quite sure the hon. Gentleman judged by the tenor of his whole speech may be deemed to be an advocate of the old Liberationist principle which for so many years was a conspicuous part of the Liberal programme, and would avow himself without any reserve to be an opponent of Establishment. I can only say it is a little difficult to reconcile a conclusion stated so logically and so unreservedly with the disposition to recognise the Establishment both in Scotland and, as far as I understand the proposals of the Government, in England. The hon. Gentleman continued, and said that the land was dark when the Church was supreme in Wales. I confess I was sorry to hear any minister of religion add to that observation the statement that at a date imperfectly defined, and this was his complaint, that the doctrine of the Church was invariably delivered in Wales by a drunken priest. If it is relevant., and I shall show in a moment some reasons why I say that the suggestion is entirely irrelevant, but if it is relevant to enter in a disparaging and depreciating spirit into the past activities and history of the Church of England in Wales, I should have thought it was desirable for any Member of this House at least to make the charges which he desired to make in restrained and temperate language, within the facts, and I should have thought it was especially desirable when he was a minister of religion to exhibit a spirit of charity. I say to the hon. Gentle- 342 man when he makes the statement here, although he makes it of a Church to which I do not happen myself to belong, that at any time in the history of the Church of England in Wales it was true that its doctrine was invariably or almost invariably delivered by drunken priests, I say he makes, I am prepared to believe in the heat of unconsidered debate, what is a monstrous and shameful libel; and I say, when he makes a vague allusion to the historians of that period, I challenge him to cite any passage from any responsible historian which entitles him to make so general a charge against a Church which has played a great part in the history of this country.
=I do not for a moment complain of the real and enthusiasm which the hon. Gentleman shows, and is entitled to show, on behalf of those who share his view. It is as engaging a quality as the other is an unfavourable quality. When he says that the Nonconformists of Wales have been the life and aroma of the land, ho contributes a poetic phrase to our Debates which will be appreciated even by those who believe that the whole of the light has not by any possibility been confined to any one sect. But no one will quarrel with him for expressing warmly his own view. The hon. Gentleman, condescending to figures, informed us of the number of places of worship belonging to Nonconformist bodies in Wales. The statistics on this subject have worried the whole House ever since [...]ore than a year ago, when we first engaged ourselves in the discussion of the present Bill and I have no intention whatever of adding to the figures which have been given. For all I know the hon. Gentleman may be perfectly right in saying that there are 4,664 Nonconformist places of worship in Wales. For the purpose of this discussion I accept his figure. I do not know whether he recollects that the evidence before the Church Commission, which, speaking from recollection, I believe was accepted by the majority, was that there was incomparably more seating accommodation by the kind of megalomania which underlies this provision than there was population in many of the parishes in which it was provided. I do not enter into a discussion as to how far it is an admirable quality that you should provide in a single parish in your Nonconformist places of worship a greater amount of seating accommodation than would accommodate all the known adherents of any 343 single form of religious belief in the parish. It may be a wise and reasonable provision to make for development, but in view of the admission generally made as to the declining membership in the Nonconformist Churches I am not sure that a mere recital of the amount of seating accommodation affords a very powerful indication of your growing numbers.
The hon. Gentleman, making himself a prophet for this purpose, informed us that future generations would share and appreciate the joy of paying the debts upon these chapels. All I can say is that in matters of this kind there is great doubt whether anybody enjoys paying debts which somebody else has incurred, and it does not appear to me to behove anyone to be a very confident prophet in this respect. It would be better for the hon Gentleman to confine himself to his own generation and leave future generations to express the precise degree of pleasure they feel at finding themselves saddled with these debts. The hon. Gentleman told us that there were 4,000 Nonconformist ministers in Wales at the present time. Does he suggest that those 4,000 Nonconformist ministers are adequately paid? He spoke of his own activity in connection with a sustentation fund. Certainly no one on these benches would deny him any praise to which he is legitimately entitled for his exertions on behalf of that cause. But I was immensely struck by his statement as to the result of those efforts. He told us that the salaries of Nonconformist ministers in Wales were to be raised to a minimum of £80, and he added what to me was a most surprising and shocking statement—that the salaries of those ministers had been raised threefold in the course of a period of years which I do not exactly recollect. Could there be anything more appalling if it is true, and I take from him that it is true, that at the present moment an organised effort has to be made in order to raise the salaries of Nonconformist ministers to £80? I would put this further question. Does it appear to the hon. Gentleman or to anybody else to be a moment when it is reasonable to cripple the resources of another church which is faced with the same difficulty?
I have attended with some interest all these Debates, and I have found that the greatest difficulty of all was to determine the ground of principle upon which the hon. Gentlemen opposite were proceeding 344 in this matter. In all the discussions we have had on this subject I have been struck by one circumstance which has recurred in all the various stages. All the speeches made by Welsh Members, and generally by supporters of the Bill, deal with one point, while all the objectionable provisions of the Bill which we attack deal with an entirely different point. This Bill consists, and must obviously consist, of two parts the Disestablishment part and the Disendowment part. I spoke in support of an Instruction which would have had the effect of making our discussions at once more orderly, more precise, and more intelligible, by separating the two subjects. Hon. Gentlemen opposite were good enough to listen with great indulgence and patience, and not without favourable comment, to the speech I delivered on that occasion. Every word of the discussions which have followed upon the rejection of that proposal has deepened my conviction of the inconvenience, and, indeed, impossibility, of discussing Disestablishment and Disendowment together. Take the speeches which have been delivered to-day by Welsh Members, speeches of great ability and great eloquence. I will take as an illustration of those speeches, one of the most admirable to which I have listened, the speech of my hon. and learned Friend the Member for Carmarthen Boroughs (Mr. Llewelyn Williams). He delivered a speech very powerful and very eloquent, and one which above all others caused me to rejoice that we still retain in this House, despite all the threats of indiscriminate devolution with which we are assailed. a Member who reminds us that after all we consist of a country to which many different nations afford contributory streams. The hon. and learned Gentleman made, as other Welsh Members have done, an impressive speech. I am the last man in this House to do injustice to the substance and force of the contention which hon. Members have advanced, but what does it all come to? Into what does all their eloquence resolve itself, if you analyse it? It comes to this and to nothing else—that they have a grievance, if, indeed, there be a grievance at all, because some degree of religious inequality is involved in the maintenance of the Establishment as we understand it to-day. Had that grievance, which is the mainspring supplying the whole driving power of every single speech to which we have listened to-day, ever been put forward as one of the grievances the removal of which would end this controversy, we should not 345 find ourselves—speaking in profound conviction—in the bitterness of controversy in which we are to-night. It has never so been put forward. You keep that for your arguments, you keep it for your speeches, you keep it for you perorations; but every time you are asked whether the removal of that grievance of religious inequality would remove this controversy, from that moment we hear of other subjects, other difficulties, we hear nothing of that which, when we discuss the whole subject, is the beginning, the middle, and the peroration of your speeches. So far as I and my Friends are concerned, I am not authorised, as I have said before, to make any statement on behalf of the Church of England; but I have listened to speeches in the course of these Debates, which have been made by those who are highly qualified to speak on behalf of the Church of England, arid I say that over and over again, and with the greatest authority, it has been indicated to hon. Members opposite that if their object was really—I am sorry to have to make so painful an assumption—not to take a pitiful sum of money from a religious body; if their object was really the removal of some religious inequality, and they would be content with any proposal which would have the effect of removing that religious inequality without, at the same time, taking money admitted to be piously used by an ancient religious institution, that might be considered. That is recognised by hon. Members opposite, and by Welsh Members when they are not speaking in this House to influence Liberal Members who do not see their own particular atmosphere. Let me give to the House a statement made by a Welsh Member, the hon. Member who sits for Flint Boroughs, who said, speaking in this House, though unfortunately to a very empty House:—To-day, the Welsh people are fighting this question not, from a religious point of view, but purely and solely as a political issue.I do not complain of that Welsh Member—I may be, perhaps, allowed to add, the fruit of one of the recent by-elections, which is supposed to have been fought upon the Disestablishment question—I do not complain of him speaking as a politician, or of his treating this question as a Political question. So far from complaining of that, and of his making a public statement, I rather commend his candour. But I do say, when one of their own number comes forward on this question and says it is not being fought from a re- 346 ligious point of view, but solely and simply as a political issue, that, at least, we might be spared some of the perorations and some of the complaints to which we have been treated in the course of these discussions. However, even the hon. Member himself who spoke, and whose speech I enjoyed so much, is as much open to this particular complaint as the hon. Member whose speech I have just referred to. I do not know whether it is in the recollection of the House that there was a Convention of the Welsh Nonconformist bodies some eighteen months ago, in which a speech was made by a Welsh Member, indicating at least some degree of sympathy with the position of the Church of England. The hon. and learned Gentleman the Member for the Carmarthen Boroughs conceived an apprehension that only Disestablishment was to be carried through, and that he and his Friends were to be deprived of the fruits of Disendowment, and the hon. and learned Gentleman who is so concerned with the establishment of religious equality said this:—I say roundly"—This is a considered letter; not an extempore speech—that Disestablishment without Disendowment is not worth asking for, much less worth fighting for. If Wales is content with so anaæmic a policy well and good; but it would be folly to ask the Government to waste a day of Parliamentary time to secure so academical and infinitesimal a reformThe crusade is run in order to remove religious inequality! All the speeches today have dealt with the importance of restoring that to the Welsh people. Hardly a speech that has been made has dealt with the financial provisions of this Bill. That is the case that is put forward wherever the general case must be made. Then we get hon. Members thinking there is some risk that thepecuniary incidence of this reform may be sacrificed. So the hon. Member says it will be folly to waste a day of Government time to secure so academic and infinitesimal a reform. I was prepared at one stage of our controversy to believe there might be a different view. I was prepared at one stage of our controversy to believe that there were some sincere men, not in the least concerned, if they could avoid it, of taking money from the Church, which was not too well off, and who did sincerely believe that there was some tincture of social or religious wrong in the maintenance of the Establishment. I say I was prepared to believe all that. That has been shattered by the protagonist of the Welsh party in 347 these Debates. We know now on his authority that there is no substance in the complaint so far as Establishment is concerned, that it is an anemic reform, not worth the while of he and his Friends to lift up their hands in the Parliamentary battle. Let us then clear the decks of this humbug of talk of religious inequality.
§ Mr. F. E. SMITH
That is an extremely interesting intervention of the hon. and learned Gentleman. Eighteen months ago Disestablishment was an anemic policy not worth his while to lift his hand in support of.
Mr. LLEWELYN WILLIAMS
All I wanted to say was this, that the right hon. Gentleman, on 29th November, said that he was practically in favour of Disestablishment. I had written the letter to which he refers twelve months before.
§ Mr. F. E. SMITH
The hon. and learned Gentleman will believe me when I say that while I am always ready to read any letter or speech of his to which my attention is specifically directed, it sometimes happens in the course of a busy life that he writes letters to which my attention has not been directed. It so happens that my attention was only directed to this most interesting and important utterance quite recently. But whether it was written eighteen months ago, or whether it was delivered in the course of his speech to-day, it would not have assisted his argument. I presume that it represents the present deliberate and reasoned conviction of the hon. and learned Gentleman.
§ Mr. F. E. SMITH
The hon. and learned Gentleman is good enough to assent to that. Therefore we know that Disestablishment is an anæmic policy, not worth spending five minutes of Parliamentary time upon. Then let us at least hear no more talk about religious equality. It is not religious equality that hon. Members opposite are concerned about. That is an anmnic policy. It is quite other things which is engaging the enthusiasm and attention of the Welsh Parliamentary party. The Chancellor of the Exchequer to-day treated us to a speech more restrained indeed than many of the utterances to which I and my Friends have listened on this subject, but one in which 348 he repeated what has always been a part of his argument. He repeated it very forcibly, though I do not think he will quarrel with me when I say that not quite so forcibly to-day as the hon. and learned Gentleman who spoke below the Gangway, though indeed the latter anticipated the particular argument, which was that the whole of this was historical. We were told of the wrongs of 300 and 200 years ago. We were given the case of a man, whose name I only imperfectly caught, John Penny I think. So far as I understood the statement it was that this gentle man had been put to death because he advocated that native preachers should be sent to Wales. I hope I shall not incur the censure of any of my hon. Friends on this side if I say at once that if the facts be truly as stated, the nature of the penalty seems excessive. I take it as typical of half a dozen cases which I have not been able to verify, but which I accept for the purposes of this argument at their face value.
I will take the whole record of those centuries in which it is suggested that the Church of England in Wales committed almost every fault of omission or commission that any religious organisation in any civilised country in the world ever has committed, and I pause only to attempt one qualification, that the date of which these complaints were made was a date at which the Church in Wales was coextensive with the people of Wales, and I say to those who are deeply concerned in the many admirable qualities—I am not concerned to deny them—making for improvement in the people of Wales and which have existed always amongst the Welsh people, I am not sure it is altogether wise and just to the Welsh people to attribute to and charge the whole of the backwardness of Wales for so long a period upon the supposed faults of the Church of England in Wales. Accepting that, however, at its face value, suppose the Church was to blame, is it your position that this measure is a punitive measure? Is it your position that, quite irrespective of the position and the work of the Church of England in Wales to-day, you are justified in making these proposals, because 100 or 200 or 300 years ago the ministers of the Church of England in Wales were false to the obligations they had undertaken? Either that is your object or it is not? It is either the goal of your argument or it is not. If it is the goal of your argument let us understand 349 it. We are to take £150,000 a year from the Church of England in the year 1913 because some hundreds of years ago a priest was put to death unjustly and certain clerics of the Church of England got drunk. Is that your position? Let us understand it. It is obvious that no sane man whose mind was not poisoned by political controversy could possibly state such a contention before any assembly of civilised men. No one could get up and say, "Because the Church of England was guilty of faults 200 years ago we will take its money away to-day." No one in naked language would dare to state such a contention, not even in this House, still less on the public platform. Nobody dare state it. I challenge the right hon. Gentleman who is going to reply to advance that contention if he dare, and if he is not going to advance it, then where is the relevance of it? Has it any relevance?
The Chancellor of the Exchequer who is an extremely adroit and practised controversialist perceived that if he used it it would put him a little behind the times in handling what is a difficult case, and therefore he set up this hypothesis: "Suppose that to- morrow Nonconformity disappeared in Wales, possibly the Church of England in Wales would be guilty of exactly the same faults as it was guilty of then." Could anything exceed that bankruptcy of argument? The Chancellor of the Exchequer was driven to that, in order to relieve himself of the bungling irrelevance of those records of ancient historical wrongs. If he will pardon me for saying so without any desire to be offensive, that argument was childish, and if I am to attempt to answer it I would say that if he takes so gloomy a view of the fortunes of Welsh Nonconformity, I hope he will allow me to reassure him and to say he has greatly exaggerated the tendency, admittedly, to decline at the present moment. But assuming that he knows best, and that he has some basis for his pessimistic view of that decline, I say the time to come to the House of Commons and say, "We will take money from the Church of England," is when that anticipation, which he obscurely affirms, is realised, and when he can show by the facts that the Church of England has reverted to the historical faults of which he has made so much play in his speeches. The modern conclusion, unassailable by argument, is the admission of the Prime Minister who said that the work of the Lurch of England is admirable, beyond 350 reproach, and a great benefit to the community in which that work is done.
I rejoice and welcome the assent that is given to that proposal, because it enables me to add, if we are all agreed, that if the work which the Church of England is, doing to-day is good, why cannot every honest controversialist sweep away the past as irrelevant? What is the question to which we are addressing our minds to day? The leader of the Welsh Parliamentary party made an observation not long ago which threw a vivid light upon the circumstances under which this Bill is being forced through the House. I was greatly interested to hear the Chancellor of the Exchequer say to-day that if this: was a Bill which would do irreparable harm to England, it was not a Bill that would get the Parliamentary support of the Scotch and Irish parties. I am not going to attempt an analysis of the circumstances under which the support of the Irish and Scotch parties is forthcoming. If I chose to embark upon a fruitful and not uninteresting subject of discussion I might recall an expression which the hon. and learned Member for Waterford used, in which he said in this House:—The Irish party gives its vote upon a perfectly intelligible basis; it gives it in relation to the present-and future of Home Rule, and upon no other basis.If I were inclined to analyse the Irish vote I would make that point to discount what the right hon. Gentleman said. I am not concerned to discuss the value of the Irish vote on the Scotch vote, although the value on principle of the Scotch vote against the theory of Disestablishment would be a fair subject of analysis. I leave the English and the Scotch parties on one side and ask what is the value of the vote given by the English Liberal party in favour of this Bill under existing circumstances? If I gave you an opinion upon it you would not accept it from me because you would say it was the language of a partisan. I will quote what the Leader of the Welsh party said when his withers were wrung by one thousand or two thousand pounds being given back to the Church against his strenuous and passionate endeavours and when he was explaining the matter to Wales, injured Wales at a time when the party was thinking so much of principle and so little of money, and was deeply concerned with the grievances of religious inequality. He said:—No one is more angry than I am at the fact that the Government found it necessary to yield as they did to pressure from English sections of the Liberal party. I may add that I feel certain that the Govern- 351 ment never would have yielded if it had not been for representations made, not in public, but in secret, by English Liberal Churchmen and Nonconformists.They never make the mistake of supposing that the Home Secretary has yielded to argument in public. They never make the mistake of imagining that he has been deflected by one hair's breadth from the course he has marked out for himself by considerations of justice. They point out that those representations were made, not in public, but in secret, by English Liberal Churchmen and Nonconformists. The full limelight was supplied by the hon. Member for Mid-Glamorgan (Mr. Hugh Edwards). They were so concerned in Wales to find that while people were talking about principle the pounds were going past them—as somebody said every day's debate in Committee cost £1,000— that they assembled a conference in Wales to discuss the position, to discuss the betrayal of the small nation of which the 'Chancellor' of the Exchequer is never tired of talking, and the hon. Member for Mid-Glamorgan compressed in a sentence a more sure and penetrating analysis of the Parliamentary methods of the Home Secretary than I have seen supplied in columns of our Parliamentary Debates. He said:—Mr. McKenna did come to our meeting"—a dramatic meeting of the Welsh Members with their feelings, their principles, and their strong desire for religious equality—and he told us that he was being pressed by Liberal Churchmen. He said he was afraid that he would have to give way. We told him we wanted him to> resist them.Thank God, there is some sincerity and courage in politics!
Mr. HUGH EDWARDS
If the right hon. and learned Gentleman had read my letter to the "Times" he would have found that I contradicted the report. I am sorry to interrupt, but I think, in justice to the Home Secretary, as well as to myself, I must say that we were not bearing on that point at that particular moment.
§ Mr. F. E. SMITH
I am very sorry that the hon. Gentleman should suppose that I had not read his letter in the "Times.'' It was part of my argument; I have got it here, and was going to refer to it. The hon. Member did not contradict a single word of the report I have just read. He said that it was true, but he desired to add 352 that the Home Secretary had also added that he thought that justice required the same course. Let us see what was said, taking the "Times" and the interview together—Mr. McKenna said he was afraid that he would have to give way. We told him that we wanted him to resist them, and he said that he would if he could.An old proverb said that when a certain class in the community fell out there was a prospect of other people coming by their own. We know now what happened at this meeting, because the hon. Gentleman's letter to the "Times" supplies us with a valuable addition to our previous knowledge. We know that the Home Secretary at that meeting thought that justice required these concessions to be made; and we know that the Welsh Parliamentary party, who did not think so, said they wanted them resisted, and that the Home Secretary promised the Welsh Parliamentary party that he would resist them if he could.
§ The SECRETARY of STATE for the HOME DEPARTMENT (Mr. McKenna)
Perhaps the right hon. and learned Gentleman will allow me to say that I never said anything of the sort.
§ Mr. F. E. SMITH
I will allow the right hon. Gentleman to say anything he wishes in qualification of what I have said.
§ Mr. F. E. SMITH
The right hon. Gentleman says, "Where did I get it from?" I got in from a report in a Welsh Nationalist paper of a speech made by the hon. Gentleman below the Gangway, purporting to record what took place at that meeting of those who are the supporters of the Bill. As I am placed in a position so unfortunate—
§ Mr. F. E. SMITH
That I must. disbelieve either the Home Secretary or his supporters, I tell the right hon. Gentleman plainly that I believe his supporters below the Gangway.
Mr. HUGH EDWARDS
I think it only fair to say that these words do not do justice to the Home Secretary.
§ Mr. F. E. SMITH
What a dilemma! The Home Secretary never used these words. The hon. Gentleman who did use them is convinced that they do not do justice to the Home Secretary. Why di- 353 he state them as being the result and purport of what the Home Secretary said at that meeting? Because they were true! "We told him we wanted him to resist, and he said he would if he could. But supposing I am forced." Mr. McKenna asked," Supposing I am forced." Forced to do justice! Does he deny that he said that?
§ Mr. McKENNA
I deny entirely the accuracy of any quotation that is made with reference to the Grant from Queen Anne's Bounty; I deny that anything of the sort was said at that meeting. My hon. Friend has referred to another meeting which took place, and in which an entirely different set of circumstances was discussed, and he has quite, unfortunately —yes, most, unfortunately—referred to a conversation which took place at one meeting of the party as the occasion when there was another meeting of the party. The right hon. and learned Gentleman has made a direct charge of falsehood against me, and I must be allowed to reply that, on the occasion to which my hon. Friend referred, when we discussed the question of Queen Anne's Bounty, I never put before the Welsh party any one opinion except that in my judgment justice required it to be done.
§ Mr. F. E. SMITH
The subject becomes more difficult. What do I care about Queen Anne's Bounty? I do know that at this secret meeting concessions were forthcoming that were not forthcoming at the public meeting. I do not know, and I do not care, whether Queen Anne's Bounty was discussed. But I know on the statement of his own supporters below the Gangway that the right hon. Gentleman said that justice required these concessions, and "I will resist them if I can, but what if I am forced?" I say, whether it was Queen Anne's Bounty or any other Amendment by which the unfairness of this Bill was attempted to be qualified, it is a scandalous thing that a Minister, who, according to the admission of his own supporters, had satisfied himself that justice required these concessions, should have said, "I will resist them, but supposing I am forced?"
§ Mr. McKENNA
I did not say that. The right hon. Gentleman has no right to say I said it. He knows he has no right to say it.
§ Mr. F. E. SMITH
It is a very simple issue. I know I have no right to say what 354 a colleague of the right hon. Gentleman reported in the public Press that he did say, and which has never contradicted for four months. I say, and I say deliberately, I rejoice now the whole veil of hypocrisy has been lifted—has been drawn from the Disestablishment side of the Bill—I rejoice that the last word in this year in reply to me is to be said by a Minister who, before he became a Minister, said one of the few words of truth that has been said on that side in the country on behalf of this Bill, when he said:—I am in favour of Disestablishment; it is a policy that has money in it and the only policy worth having,I say that a Minister who said that, in recommendation of a Bill that was to take away scanty moneys from an impoverished Church, never degraded himself or his party more than by an argument addressed on those lines to poor people.
§ The UNDER-SECRETARY of STATE for the HOME DEPARTMENT (Mr. Ellis Griffith)
We have had a speech of considerable violence from the right hon. and learned Gentleman. There was some time at his disposal and at mine, and I think that when he made a speech of such violence he need not have added to his armour by taking the protection of the clock. [HON. MEMBERS: "Oh!" "Withdraw!" "Take to-morrow!"]
§ Mr. ELLIS GRIFFITH
The speech of the right hon. and learned Gentleman was directed in the main to considerations which, I am sure he will be the first to admit, had not very much relevance to the Third Reading of this Bill. For the last ten minutes or quarter of art hour he was dealing with a letter to the "Times—" [HON. MEMBERS: "Why not?"]—and I do submit that it had not very much direct reference to the Third Reading of this Bill. [Interruption.] I am sure the right hon. Gentleman would be the first to admit that the little time at my disposal I might be allowed to use. As [understood the right hon. Gentleman, his two main points, so far as the Bill itself is concerned, were these: He says we have joined together in this Bill two subjects that ought to be separated. There are in it Disestablishment and Disendowment, and he indicated, amid, I think, the silence and dejection of hon. Members behind 355 him—[HON. MEMBERS: "Oh!"]—very well then, amid their cheering approval, that had Disestablishment stood alone, we might have been able to settle this Bill, and agree upon a compromise. I am sure the Noble Lords below the Gangway opposite do not assent to that proposition. How often have we heard that their consciences are not in the market? If the right hon. Gentleman will allow me to say so, I think he stands almost alone. It might be very well to separate these two subjects, if there were a certain body of opinion upon that side of the House in favour of Disestablishment and against Disendowment. I understand the relevancy of that. But when they are equally opposed to Disestablishment and Disendowment, what is there to be said for dividing the Bill into two parts, to each of which they are equally hostile I have not that command of strong language—[Interruption.] I do not complain of the right hon. Gentleman and his Friends. As defeat approaches temper sours and the vocabulary strengthens, and although we have heard complaints about this Debate being unreal because it is under the provisions of the Parliament Act, I think the Debates ten years ago were much more unreal than they are now. We spent eighty-three days then on Home Rule. Across the corridor it was thrown out by the House of Lords. Was not that an unreal Debate? I suppose hon. Members opposite think that the Debate of ten years ago was real because it led nowhere and the Debate this year is unreal because it is going to lead to legislation.
With regard to separation, if I could imitate the right hon. Gentleman's language I might use the word humbug with an adjective before it. It is merely trifling with the question to complain that this Bill contains two subjects to which hon. Members opposite are equally hostile. I think the right hon. Gentleman and the House will agree with me that he said very little about this Bill. It is just' as well to remember casually, upon the Third Reading, what the Bill is, and, in' the first place, in view of what has been said in the country, it is just as well to remember what the Bill is not. A good deal of enlightenment has come upon the provisions of this Bill during the last six months. Does any hon. Member opposite now, partisan though he may be, suggest that this Bill touches the essentials of the 356 Church? If so, I will read what the Archbishop of Canterbury said:—It is not essential to a Church to be established, and it is not essential to our Church in its essence, in its spiritual power, in its divine grace and in its ministry.May we also agree further upon this point that this Bill does not destroy the life of the Church in Wales. I have high authority for that. It is said that the Bill repudiates true religion. That is a stock argument upon the Bill from time to time. It does nothing of the kind. It does not even repudiate the Church of England, but it repudiates the fiction that the Church of England in Wales is the national religion of the Principality. With regard to these two points of Disestablishment and Disendowment, I have not the time at my disposal to go into the details of the matter. The hon. Member says, "You talk about grievances when you are really thinking about Disendowment." It is a curious thing that a harsher Bill was before the House of Commons in 1895. You knew our-complaint about grievances. You were in power from 1895 to 1906. Why did you not remove some of those grievances? You cannot, you do not you will not touch the Church. You cannot reform the Church without giving it autonomy, and you cannot give autonomy to the Church without Disestablishing it.
§ Mr. ELLIS GRIFFITH
Because you, will not do it. You have had the opportunity. You have been in power for eighteen years out of the last twenty-seven and you have not tried to reform the Church during all that period. You say the Church has no privileges. It is quite-an inconsistent position that the right hon. Gentleman takes up. The Noble Lord (Lord Robert Cecil) always says that the Church has no privileges, or that all the privileges it has are disabilities. He mentioned the bishops in the House of Lords, the Ecclesiastical Courts, and the matters of precedence, but all these were not worth talking about. The right hon. Gentleman the Member for the City of London (Mr. Balfour) once put it in a jesting way, "It is all because an archibishop goes to dinner in front of a duke." We do not understand the ducal method of dining, but the real grievance is that the Church itself is chosen by the State to have the cure of souls throughout the country. That gives it a privileged position. We know something about what happened in connection with the Investi- 357 ture. The Archbishop of Canterbury has said that all the arrangements were delegated to him, and that it was on his own responsibility he invited certain Nonconformist ministers to take part in the ceremony. The Church of England was there by right, and the Nonconformists by request. In the Investiture and all matters of that kind the Church is there by law and the Nonconformists only by license. That is a distinction which can never be removed until religious equality is established. The Noble Lord (Lord Hugh Cecil) is not so tender about the pious ancestor. He has no regard for the pious ancestor even so far back as 150 years ago. His name was on the back of a Bill recently brought before the House for the purpose of transferring property from the rural parish of Gatcombe to St. Edmund Hall, Oxford. The Bill proposed to take away £150 of a pious benefaction which was to pay the rector to look after the spiritual ministrations to 200 people. The Noble Lord, with others, is responsible for that Bill.
§ Lord HUGH CECIL
The hon. Gentleman is attacking me by irrelevancy and inaccuracy. I do not mind one of the two, but both are more than I can allow without protest.
§ Mr. ELLIS GRIFFITH
The Noble Lord, although responsible for the Bill by having his name on the back of it, was not here at the discussion of it. That is to say, he takes the money of the pious ancestor on paper, but he will not come here to support his Bill.
§ Mr. ELLIS GRIFFITH
Will the hon. Member be quiet? He has been away since seven o'clock. The point with respect to dismemberment is that which is most relied upon by certain hon. Members opposite. It is quite true that this Bill deals with four dioceses in the Province of Canterbury. We deal with them by way of Disestablishment. We deal with them by the only way available for this purpose. Whether the principle of the Bill be right or wrong, no one has ever suggested a method of dealing with this other than the method of the Bill.
358 Given the principle that we have got to Disestablish there is no other method suggested on any side of the House than the method contained in this Bill. We take these four dioceses and separate them from the Province of Canterbury. You cannot Disestablish the Church in Wales without doing that. But that is dismemberment. It is the same process under another name. You cannot make it better or worse by calling it dismemberment. From the point of view of the Church of England it is dismemberment. From the point of view of the four dioceses in Wales it is Disestablishment. The right hon. Gentleman says, "Why do you refer to history unless you mean it to be punitive" That is a very specious argument. Does he think he can cut out all history from a Bill of this kind? We are dealing with an institution, and in dealing with this institution it is relevant to examine into its past history in determining the attitude of the Welsh people towards it. You cannot with a spirit of political pedantry discuss these institutions on the abstract merits. You have got to ask: What part have they played in the life of the people? Have they harmonised with national institutions? Have they been with or against national life? What part have they taken in natural development? Some time ago the Bishop of St. Asaph advocated a boycott of the national library in Wales. The principal of Lampeter College on degree day, carried that further into private life, and suggested—In the first place, Church people, asking more money from Church people, would surely, as a matter of business, put more business in the way of Church people.That is a deliberate incitement to boycott. If you tell us here, "Never mind the elections; look at the demonstrations and petitions," I say I prefer the vote of the electors given in the secrecy of the ballot to any number of petitions.
§ Mr. ELLIS GRIFFITH
We have taken it eleven times in Wales with the same result, and those who advocate a boycott after the Bill has passed are not likely to abstain from suggesting a. boycott to prevent the Bill passing. For my own part I distrust very much these petitions and the signatures. We are asked to discard the testimony of history. I like to hear of the picture that is drawn about the unity and harmony that exist between 359 Church and dissent in Wales. The House is aware of what the Bishop of St. Asaph said about the Calvinistic Methodists the other day. I wish I had the power of the right hon. Gentleman to describe it. He made most serious and most grave charges against them. This is what he says:—
Were their standards of faith"——that is the standard of the Church—
unaltered through the centuries to be replaced by the shifting theories of the Calvinistic Methodists, who within the short span of their existence had already turned their backs upon their own trust deed. (Cheers.) Were the reverance and sanctity of the altars of the Churches to give place to those of the chapel where the altar first became a pulpit and then a. platform? (Cheers.) In morals was the standard of truth and honour to be filled by that of the Calvinistic Methodists as all Wales knew it with mart and market. (Cheers.) Was their standard of purity to be taken from those districts where Calvinism was predominant; and in the moral life were their ideals and Christian fellowship with broad-minded charity and fair dealing in the distribution of local privileges, and honours to be taken from the Calvinistic Methodists as they knew them in the public life of Wales?
§ Mr. ELLIS GRIFFITH
Hon. Members cheer that. What it comes to is this: He charges us in faith with insincerity, in worship with irreverance, as commerce with dishonesty. [HON. MEMBERS: "Hear, hear."] The right hon. Gentleman is a Nonconformist himself. He appreciates ibis. Then we are charged in private life
§ with immorality and in public life with corruption. That is the state of the Church in Wales, when a bishop cannot defend his Church without reviling his people. I am not surprised at this feeling of bitterness in Wales, when the head of the Established Church speaks of his denomination in these terms. But there is at all events: his to be said in favour of the Calvinistic Methodist Church, that the son of one Calvinistic Methodist and the grandson of another constitute 50 per cent. of the bench of bishops in Wales. There have been threats to boycott us in the country, and we are now threatened with repeal of this measure in the House. No doubt you have the wish, desire and intention to repeal this Act, if you ever have the power to do so. But that may not come. In any event we are confident of this, that we are marching with the spirit of the times, and that the future is with us. In any event, whatever befalls us, we are certain of this, that we Nonconformists will not falter in our faith, that we shall not swerve from the path we have trodden so long, and that we shall never abandon the principle which for two hundred years has been the dominant political passion of our people.
§ Question put, "That the word 'now' stand part of the Question."
§ The House divided: Ayes, 347; Noes, 244.363
|Division No. 181.]||AYES.||[10.58 p.m.|
|Abraham, William (Dublin, Harbour)||Boyle, Daniel (Mayo, North)||Dalziel, Rt. Hon. Sir J. H. (Kirkcaldy)|
|Abraham, Rt. Hon. William (Rhondda)||Brace, William||Davies, Ellis William (Eifion)|
|Adamson, William||Brady, Patrick Joseph||Davies. Timothy (Lincs., Louth)|
|Addison, Dr. Christopher||Brocklehurst, William B.||Davies, Sir W. Howell (Bristol, S.)|
|Adkins, Sir W. Ryland D.||Bryce, J. Annan||Davies, M. Vaughan- (Cardiganshire)|
|Agar-Rabartes, Hon. T. C. R.||Buckmaster, Stanley O.||Dawes, J. A.|
|Agnew, Sir George William||Burke, E. Haviland-||De Forest, Baron|
|Ainsworth, John Stirling||Burns, Rt. Hon. John||Delany, William|
|Alden, Percy||Burt, Rt. Hon. Thomas||Denman, Hon. R. D.|
|Allen, Arthur A. (Dumbarton)||Buxton, Noel (Norfolk, North)||Devlin, Joseph|
|Allen, Rt. Hon. Charles P. (Stroud)||Buxton, Rt. Hon. Sydney C. (Poplar)||Dewar, Sir J. A.|
|Arnold, Sydney||Byles, Sir William Pollard||Dickinson, W. H.|
|Asquith, Rt. Hon. Herbert Henry||Carr-Gomm, H. W.||Dillon, John|
|Atherley-Jones, Llewellyn A.||Cawley, Sir Frederick (Prestwich)||Donelan, Captain A.|
|Baker, Harold T. (Accrington)||Cawley, H. T. (Heywood)||Doris, William|
|Baker, Joseph Allen (Finsbury, E.)||Chancellor, H. G.||Duffy, William J.|
|Balfour, Sir Robert (Lanark)||Chapple, Dr. William Allen||Duncan, C. (Barrow in-Furness)|
|Baring, Sir Godfrey (Barnstaple)||Churchill, Rt. Hon. Winston S.||Duncan, J. Hastings (Yorks, Otley)|
|Barlow, Sir John Emmott (Somerset)||Clancy, John Joseph||Edwards, Clement (Glamorgan, E.)|
|Barnes, George N.||Clough, William||Edwards, Sir Francis (Radnor)|
|Barran, Sir John N. (Hawick)||Clynes, John R.||Edwards, John Hugh (Glamorgan, Mid)|
|Barran, Rowland Hurst (Leeds, N.)||Collins, Godfrey P. (Greenock)||Elverston, Sir Harold|
|Barton, William||Collins, Sir Stephen (Lambeth)||Esmonde, Dr. John (Tipperary, N.)|
|Beale, Sir William Phipson||Compton- Rickett, Rt. Hon. Sir J.||Esmonde, Sir Thomas (Wexford, N.)|
|Beck, Arthur Cecil||Condon, Thomas Joseph||Essex, Sir Richard Walter|
|Benn, W. W. (T. Hamlets, St. George)||Cornwall, Sir Edwin A.||Esslemont, George Birnie|
|Bentham. George Jackson||Cory, Sir Clifford John||Falconer, James|
|Bethell, Sir John Henry||Cotton, William Francis||Fenwick, Rt. Hon. Charles|
|Birrell, Rt. Hon. Augustine||Cowan, W. H.||Ferens, Rt. Hon. Thomas Robinson|
|Black, Arthur W.||Craig, Herbert J. (Tynemouth)||Ffrench, Peter|
|Boland, John Plus||Crooks, William||Field, William|
|Booth, Frederick Handel||Crumley, Patrick||Fitzgibbon, John|
|Bowerman, C. W.||Cullinan, John||Flavin, Michael Joseph|
|France, Gerald Ashburner||Macdonald, J. M. (Falkirk Burghs)||Rea, Rt. Hon. Russell (South Shields)|
|Furness, Sir Stephen Wilson||McGhee, Richard||Rea, Walter Russell (Scarborough)|
|Gelder, Sir William Alfred||Maclean, Donald||Reddy, Michael|
|George, Rt. Hon. D. Lloyd||Macnamara, Rt. Hon. Dr. T. J.||Redmond, John E (Waterford)|
|Ginnell, L.||MacNeill, J. G. Swift (Donegal, South)||Redmond, William (Clare, E.)|
|Gladstone, W. G. C.||Macpherson, James Ian||Redmond, William Archer (Tyrone, E.)|
|Glanville, H. J.||MacVeagh, Jeremiah||Rendall, Athelstan|
|Goddard, Sir Daniel Ford||M'Callum, Sir John M.||Richards, Thomas|
|Goldstone, Frank||M'Curdy, C. A.||Richardson, Albion (Peckham)|
|Greenwood, Granville G. (Peterborough)||M'Kean, John||Richardson, Thomas (Whitehaven)|
|Greenwood, Hamar (Sunderland)||McKenna, Rt. Hon. Reginald||Roberts, Charles H. (Lincoin)|
|Greig, Colonel J. W.||M'Laren, Hon. H. D. (Leics.)||Roberts, G. H. (Norwich)|
|Grey, Rt. Hon. Sir Edward||M'Laren, Hon. F. W. S. (Lines, Spalding)||Roberts, Sir J. H. (Denbighs)|
|Griffith, Ellis Jones||M'Micking, Major Gilbert||Robertson, Sir G. Scott (Bradford)|
|Guest, Major Hon. C. H. C. (Pembroke)||Manfleld, Harry||Robertson, John M. (Tyneside)|
|Guest, Hon. Frederick E. (Dorset, E.)||Markham, Sir Arthur Basil||Robinson, Sidney|
|Gniland, John William||Marshall, Arthur Harold||Roch, Walter F. (Pembroke)|
|Gwynn, Stephen Lucius (Galway)||Mason, David M. (Coventry)||Roche, Augustine (Louth)|
|Hackett, John||Masterman, Rt. Hon. C. F. G.||Roe, Sir Thomas|
|Hall, Frederick (Nermanton)||Meagher, Michael||Rowlands, James|
|Hancock, John George||Meehan, Francis E. (Leitrim, N.)||Rowntree, Arnold|
|Harcourt, Rt. Hon. Lewis (Rossendale)||Meehan, Patrick J. (Queen's Co., Leix)||Russell, Rt. Hon. Thomas W.|
|Harcourt, Robert V. (Montrose)||Menzles, Sir Walter||Samuel, Rt. Hon. H. L. (Cleveland)|
|Hardie, J. Keir||Middlebrook, William||Samuel, J. (Stockton-on-Tees)|
|Harmsworth, Cecil (Luton, Beds.)||Millar, James Duncan||Scanlan, Thomas|
|Harmsworth, R. L. (Caithness-shire)||Molloy, Michael||Schwann, Rt. Hon. Sir C. E.|
|Harvey, A. G. C. (Rochdale)||Moiteno, Percy Alport||Scott, A. MacCallum (Glas., Bridgeton)|
|Harvey, T. E. (Leeds, West)||Mond, Rt. Hon. Sir Alfred||Seely, Col. Rt. Hon. J. E. B.|
|Harvey, W. E. (Derbyshire, N.E.)||Money, L. G. Chiozza||Sheehy, David|
|Haslam, Lewis (Monmouth)||Montagu, Hon. E. S.||Sherwell, Arthur James|
|Havelock-Allan, Sir Henry||Mooney, John J.||Simon, Sir John Allsebrook|
|Hayden, John Patrick||Morgan, George Hay||Smyth, Thomas F. (Leitrim, S.)|
|Hayward, Evan||Morison, Hector||Snowden, Philip|
|Hazleton, Richard||Morton, Alpheus Cleophas||Soames, Arthur Wellesley|
|Helme, Sir Norval Watson||Muldoon, John||Spicer, Rt. Hon. Sir Albert|
|Hemmerde, Edward George||Munro, R.||Stanley, Albert (Staffs, N.W.)|
|Henderson, Arthur (Durham)||Munro-Ferguson, Rt. Hon. R. C.||Strauss, Edward A. (Southwark, West)|
|Henderson, J. M. (Aberdeen, W.)||Murphy, Martin J.||Sutherland. J. E.|
|Henry, Sir Charles||Murray, Captain Hon. Arthur C.||Sutton, John E.|
|Herbert, Col. Sir Ivor (Mon. S.)||Nannetti, Joseph P.||Taylor, John W. (Durham)|
|Hewart, Gordon||Needham, Christopher Thomas||Taylor, Theodore C. (Radcliffe)|
|Higham, John Sharp||Nicholson, Sir Charles N. (Doncaster)||Tennant, Harold John|
|Hinds, John||Nolan, Joseph||Thomas, J. H.|
|Hobhouse, Rt. Hen. Charles E. H.||Norman, Sir Henry||Thorne, G. R. (Wolverhampton)|
|Hodge, John||Norton, Captain Cecil W.||Thorne, William (West Ham)|
|Hogge, James Myles||Nugent, Sir Walter Richard||Toulmin, Sir George|
|Holmes, Daniel Turner||Nuttall, Harry||Trevelyan, Charles Philips|
|Holt, Richard Durning||O'Brien, Patrick (Kilkenny)||Ure, Rt. Hon. Alexander|
|Horne, C. Silvester (Ipswich)||O'Connor, John (Kildare, N.)||Verney, Sir Harry|
|Howard, Hon. Geoffrey||O'Connor, T. P. (Liverpool)||Wadsworth, J.|
|Hudson, Walter||O'Doherty, Philip||Walsh, Stephen (Lancs., Ince)|
|Hughes, Spencer Leigh||O'Donnell, Thomas||Walton, Sir Joseph|
|Isaacs, Rt. Hon. Sir Rufus||O'Dowd, John||Ward, John (Stoke-on-Trent)|
|Jardine, Sir J. (Roxburgh)||Ogden, Fred||Ward, W. Dudley (Southampton)|
|John, Edward Thomas||O'Grady, James||Wardle, George J.|
|Jones, Rt. Hon. Sir D. Brynmor (Sw'nsea)||O'Kelly, Edward P. (Wicklow, W.)||Warner, Sir Thomas Courtenay|
|Jones, Edgar (Merthyr Tydvil)||O'Kelly, James (Roscommon, N.)||Wason, Rt. Hon. E. (Clackmannan)|
|Jones. H. Haydn (Merioneth)||O'Malley, William||Wason, John Cathcart (Orkney)|
|Juries, J. Towyn (Carmarthen, East)||O'Neill, Dr. Charles (Armagh, S.)||Watt, Henry A.|
|Jones, Leif Stratten (Netts, Rushcliffe)||O'Shaughnessy, P. J.||Webb, H.|
|Jones. W. S. Glyn-(T. H'mts, Stepney)||O'Shee, James John||Wedgwood, Joslah C.|
|Jowett, Frederick William||O'Sullivan, Timothy||White, J. Dundas (Glasgow, Tradeston)|
|Joyce, Michael||Outhwaite, R. L.||White, Patrick (Meath, North)|
|Keating, Matthew||Palmer, Godfrey Mark||Whitehouse, John Howard|
|Kellaway, Frederick George||Parker, James (Halifax)||Whittaker, Rt. Hon. Sir Thomas P.|
|Kelly, Edward||Parry, Thomas H.||Whyte, A. F. (Perth)|
|Kennedy, Vincent Paul||Pearce, Robert (Staffs, Leek)||Wiles, Thomas|
|Kilbride, Denis||Pearce, William (Limehouse)||Williams, J. (Glamorgan)|
|King, J.||Pearson, Hon. Weetman H. M.||Williams, Llewelyn (Carmarthen)|
|Lambert, Rt. Hon. G. (Devon, S. Molton)||Pease, Rt. Hon. Joseph A. (Rotherham)||Williams, Penry (Middlesbrough)|
|Lambert, Richard (Wilts, Cricklade)||Philipps, Col. Ivor (Southampton)||Williamson, Sir Archibald|
|Lardner, James C. R.||Phillips, John (Longford, S.)||Wilson, John (Durham, Mid)|
|Law, Hugh A. (Donegal, West)||Pirie, Duncan Vernon||Wilson, Rt. Hon. J. W. (Worcs., N.)|
|Lawson, Sir W. (Cumb'rld, Cockerm'th)||Pointer, Joseph||Wilson, W. T. (Westhoughton)|
|Leach, Charles||Ponsonby, Arthur A. W. H.||Winfrey, Richard|
|Levy, Sir Maurice||Price, C. E. (Edinburgh, Central)||Wing, Thomas Edward|
|Lewis, Rt. Hon. John Herbert||Price, Sir Robert J. (Norfolk, E.)||Wood, Rt. Hon. T. McKinnon (Glas.)|
|Logan, John William||Priestley, Sir Arthur (Grantham)||Young, Samuel (Cavan, East)|
|Lough, Rt. Hon. Thomas||Priestley, Sir W. E. B. (Bradford, E.)||Young, William (Perth, East)|
|Low, Sir Frederick (Norwich)||Primrose, Hon. Nell James||Yoxall, Sir James Henry|
|Lundon, Thomas||Pringle, William M. R.|
|Lyell, Charles Henry||Radford, G. H.||TELLERS FOR THE AYES.—Mr. Illingworth and Mr. W. Jones.|
|Lynch, A. A.||Raffan, Peter Wilson|
|Macdonald, J. Ramsay (Leicester)||Raphael, Sir Herbert H.|
|Agg-Gardner, James Tynte||Gastrell, Major W. Houghton||Nicholson, William G. (Petersfield)|
|Amery, L. C. M. S.||Gibbs, G. A.||Nield, Herbert|
|Anson, Rt. Hon. Sir William R.||Gilmour, Captain John||Norton-Griffiths, J.|
|Anstruther-Gray, Major William||Glazebrook, Captain Philip K.||O'Neill, Hon. A. E. B. (Antrim, Mid)|
|Archer-Shee, Major||Goldsmith, Frank||Orde-Powlett, Hon. W. G. A.|
|Astor, Waldorf||Gordon, Hon. John Edward (Brighton)||Ormsby-Gore, Hon. William|
|Baird, J. L.||Goulding, Edward Alfred||Paget, Almeric Hugh|
|Baker, Sir R. L. (Dorset, N.)||Grant, J. A.||Parker, Sir Gilbert (Gravesend)|
|Baldwin, Stanley||Greene, W. R.||Parkes, Ebenezer|
|Balfour, Rt. Hon. A. J. (City, Lend.)||Gretton, John||Pease, Herbert Pike (Darlington)|
|Banbury, Sir Frederick George||Guinness, Hon. Rupert (Essex, S.E.)||Peel, Lieut.-Colonel R. F.|
|Baring, Maj. Hon. Guy V. (Winchester)||Guinness, Hon. W. E. (Bury S. Edmunds)||Perkins, Waiter Frank|
|Barlow, Montague (Salford, South)||Haddock, George Bahr||Peto, Basil Edward|
|Barnston, H.||Hall, D. B. (Isle of Wight)||Pollock, Ernest Murray|
|Barrie, H. T.||Hall, Frederick (Dulwich)||Pryce-Jones, Col. E.|
|Bathurst, Hon. A. B. (Glouc., E.)||Hall, Marshall (L'pool, E. Toxteth)||Quilter, Sir William Eley C.|
|Bathurst, Charles (Wilts, Wilton)||Hamersley, Alfred St. George||Randies, Sir John S.|
|Beach, Hon. Michael Hugh Hicks||Hamilton, C. G. C. (Ches., Altrincham)||Ratcliff, R. F.|
|Beauchamp, Sir Edward||Hamilton, Lord C. J. (Kensington, S.)||Rawlinson, John Frederick Peel|
|Beckett, Hon. Gervase||Hardy, Rt. Hon. Laurence||Rawson, Col. R. H.|
|Benn, Arthur Shirley (Plymouth)||Harris, Henry Percy||Remnant, James Farquharson|
|Benn, Ion Hamilton (Greenwlc[...])||Harrison-Broadley, H. B.||Roberts, S. (Sheffield, Ecclesall)|
|Bennett-Goldney, Francis||Helmsley, Viscount||Rolleston, Sir John|
|Bentinck, Lord H. Cavendish-||Henderson, Major H. (Berks, Abingdon)||Ronaldshay, Earl of|
|Beresford, Lord C.||Herbert, Hon. A. (Somerset, S.)||Rothschild, Lionel de|
|Bigland, Alfred||Hewins, William Albert Samuel||Royds, Edmund|
|Bird, Alfred||Hibbert, Sir Henry F.||Rutherford, John (Lancs., Darwen)|
|Blair, Reginald||Hills, John Waller||Rutherford, Watson (L'pool, W. Derby)|
|Boles, Lieut. Col. Dennis Fortescue||Hill-Wood, Samuel||Salter, Arthur Clavell|
|Boscawen, Sir Arthur S. T. Griffith-||Hoare, S. J. G.||Samuel, Sir Harry (Norwood)|
|Boyle, William (Norfolk, Mid)||Hohier, G. F.||Samuel, Samuel (Wandsworth)|
|Boyton, James||Hope, Harry (Bute)||Sanders, Robert A.|
|Bull, Sir William James||Hope, James Fitzaian (Sheffield)||Sanderson, Lancelot|
|Burdett-Coutts, W.||Hope, Major J. A. (Midlothian)||Sandys, G. J. (Somerset, Wells)|
|Burgoyne, A. H.||Horne, Edgar (Surrey, Guildford)||Sassoon, Sir Philip|
|Burn, Colonel C. R.||Horner, Andrew Long||Scott, Leslie (Liverpool, Exchange)|
|Butcher, John George||Houston, Robert Paterson||Scott, Sir S. (Marylebone, W.)|
|Campbell, Captain Duncan F. (Ayr, N.)||Hume-Williams, William Ellis||Smith, Rt. Hon. F. E. (L'p'[...], Walton)|
|Campbell, Rt. Hon. J. (Dublin Univ.)||Hunt, Rowland||Spear, Sir John Ward|
|Campion, W. R.||Hunter, Sir C. R.||Stanier, Beville|
|Carlile, Sir Edward Hildred||Ingleby, Holcombe||Starkey, John R.|
|Cassel, Felix||Jackson, Sir John||Staveley Hill, Henry|
|Castlereagh, Viscount||Jardine, Ernest (Somerset, E.)||Steel-Maitland, A. D.|
|Cator, John||Jessel, Capt. H. M.||Stewart, Gershom|
|Cave, George||Kerr-Smiley, Peter Kerr||Strauss, Arthur (Paddington, North)|
|Cecil, Evelyn (Aston Manor)||Kerry, Earl of||Sykes, Alan John (Ches., Knutsford)|
|Cecil, Lord Hugh (Oxford University)||Keswick, Henry||Sykes, Sir Mark (Hull, Central)|
|Chaloner, Col. R. G. W.||Kinloch-Cooke, Sir Clement||Terrell, G. (Wilts, N.W.)|
|Chamberlain, Rt. Hon. J. A. (Worc'r.)||Knight, Captain Eric Ayshford||Terrell, H. (Gloucester)|
|Chaplin, Rt. Hon. Henry||Lane-Fox, G. R.||Thompson, Robert (Belfast, N.)|
|Clay, Captain H. H. Spender||Law, Rt. Hon. A. Bonar (Bootle)||Thomson, W. Mitchell- (Down, N.)|
|Clive, Captain Percy Archer||Lawson, Hon. H. (T. H'mts, Mile End)||Thynne, Lord Alexander|
|Clyde, J. Avon||Lee, Arthur Hamilton||Touche, George Alexander|
|Coates, Major Sir Edward Feetham||Lewisham, Viscount||Tryon, Capt. George Clement|
|Courthope, George Loyd||Lloyd, George Ambrose (Stafford, W.)||Tuilibardine, Marquess of|
|Craig, Charles Curtis (Antrim, S.)||Lloyd, George Butler (Shrewsbury)||Valentia, Viscount|
|Craig, Ernest (Cheshire, Crewe)||Locker-Lampson, G. (Salisbury)||Walker, Col. William Hall|
|Craig, Norman (Kent, Thanet)||Locker-Lampoon, O. (Ramsey)||Walrond, Hon. Lionel|
|Craik, Sir Henry||Lockwood, Rt. Hon. Lt.-Col. A. R.||Ward, A. S. (Herts, Watford)|
|Crichton-Stuart, Lord Ninian||Lonsdale, Sir John Brownlee||Warde, Col. C. E. (Kent, Mid)|
|Cripps, Sir C. A.||Lowe, Sir F. W. (Birm., Edgbaston)||Weigall, Capt. A. G.|
|Croft, Henry Page||MacCaw, Wm, J. MacGeagh||Weston, Colonel J. W.|
|Dalrymple, Viscount||Mackinder, Halford J.||Wheler, Granville C. H.|
|Dalziel, Davison (Brixton)||Macmaster, Donald||White, Major G. D. (Lancs., Southport)|
|Denison-Pender, J. C.||M'Calmont, Major Robert C. A.||Williams, Col. R. (Dorset, W.)|
|Denniss, E. R. B.||M'Mordie, Robert James||Willoughby, Major Hon, Claud|
|Dixon, C. H.||M'Neill, Ronald (Kent, St. Augustine's)||Wills, Sir Gilbert|
|Doughty, Sir George||Magnus, Sir Philip||Wilson, A. Stanley (York, E. R.)|
|Duke, Henry Edward||Malcolm, Ian||Winterton, Earl|
|Duncannon, Viscount||Mallaby-Deeley, Harry||Wolmer, Viscount|
|Eyres-Monsell, Bolton M.||Mason, James F. (Windsor)||Wood, Hon, E. F. L. (Ripon)|
|Faber, George Denison (Clapham)||Meysey Thompson, E. C.||Wood, John (Stalybridge)|
|Faber, Capt. W. V. (Hants, W.)||Middlemore, John Throgmorton||Worthington-Evans. L.|
|Falle, B. G.||Mildmay, Francis Bingham||Wortley, Rt. Hon. C. B. Stuart-|
|Fell, Arthur||Mills, Hon. Charles Thomas||Wright, Henry Fitzherbert|
|Finlay, Rt. Hon. Sir Robert||Moore, William||Yate, Col. Charles Edward|
|Fisher, Rt. Hon. W. Hayes||Morrison-Bell, Capt. E. F. (Ashburton)||Yerburgh, Robert Armstrong|
|Fitzroy, Hon. Edward A.||Morrison-Bell, Major A. C. (Honiton)||Younger, Sir George|
|Flannery, Sir J. Fortescue||Mount, William Arthur|
|Fleming, Valentine||Neville, Reginald J. N.|
|Fletcher, John Samuel||Newdegate, F. A.||TELLERS FOR THE NOES.—Lord Edmund Talbot and Mr. Bridgeman|
|Forster, Henry William||Newman, John R. P.|
|Gardner, Ernest||Newton, Harry Kottingham|
Bill read the third time, and passed.