§ Order read for resuming Adjourned Debate on Question (10th February), "That an humble Address be presented to His Majesty, as followeth:—
§ Most Gracious Sovereign,
§ We, Your Majesty's most dutiful and loyal subjects, the Commons of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland in Parliament assembled, beg leave to offer our humble thanks to Your Majesty for the Gracious Speech which Your Majesty has addressed to both Houses of Parliament."—[Mr. Walter Roch.]
§ Question again proposed. Debate resumed.
§ Another Amendment proposed, at the end of the Question, to add the words,
§ "But regrets that His Majesty's Government intend to proceed further with the Established Church (Wales) Bill, which is backed by no evidence of any popular support in the country, and is arousing increasing resentment and hostility from members of all denominations in England and Wales."—[Mr. Ormsby-Gore.]
§ Question proposed, "That those words be there added.''
§ Mr. ORMSBY-GORE
I rise to move this Amendment in order to submit that the Established Church (Wales) Bill, if it be a fact that it is still before Parliament, has not behind it sufficient popular support to deserve it being proceeded with further. I would note, first, that there is no specific mention of this, the second capital measure of the Government, in His Majesty's Gracious Speech. Apparently they are too ashamed of it to mention it in the Speech from the Throne, and that fact coincides with the whole conspiracy of silence on this matter which has been the distinguishing feature of the manner in which this Bill has been put forward in this House and elsewhere. 620 The Government have never made any attempt to show that they have popular support behind them for this Bill on its merits, and the silence in the King's Speech is only exceeded by the silence of Cabinet Ministers in their speeches in the country. During the Recess most right hon. Gentlemen have made speeches in the country, but none of the important Cabinet Ministers, with one solitary exception, namely, the Prime Minister, has made any reference whatever to the Established Church (Wales) Bill. The Chancellor of the Exchequer, the so-called champion of Wales, has made speeches in Wales and up and down the country, but he has never made one reference to the question of Welsh Disestablishment or to the Bill before Parliament. All the reference in the Prime Minister's speeches has been a solitary sentence in his speech on 27th November at Leeds. I will at once give this reference of the Prime Minister to the matter. At Leeds, in a lengthy speech, he uttered these few sentences:—What about the Welsh Church? They want a Referendum or a General Election all to itself upon that, for it is perfectly certain that the Welsh Church would be brought into the controversy, and would play as conspicuous a part as the indefatigable advocates of the Welsh Church could persuade the English electors to allow it to do and perhaps a very serious one.That was the single sentence which appeared in the "Times," the "Daily Chronicle," the "Daily News," the "Manchester Guardian," and the "Morning Post." We at once took note of this remarkable statement of the Prime Minister. He admitted that the Welsh Church question might play an important part in a General Election; he admitted it in his speech delivered at Leeds. A fortnight later came the information that in all these papers, his own Press as well as the Opposition Press, the Prime Minister was misreported seriously, and that instead of intending to say that "it might play an important part, perhaps a very serious one," he intended to say, "not perhaps a very serious one"—that is to say, the question is so small that it is not likely to play any part in a General Election. The Prime Minister, as reported by the newspapers, emphasises the importance of the part it is bound to play in a General Election, and his whole sentence, if it means anything—his reference to the indefatigable advocates of the Welsh Church—point to the fact that the reporters had every reason to believe that was what the Prime Minister intended. Of course, he throws over the reporters and makes nonsense of his sentence, and shows by that that he regards the Welsh Church question 621 as a small matter, not perhaps a very serious matter, not so serious as to be worthy of mention in the King's Speech, a mere small question to be brushed aside and never referred to in any of his speeches in the country. That is the first thing I would say. The Government go out of their way to hush up this question and prevent it being brought properly before the notice of the electors of the country.
The second thing I wish to point out is this: During the Recess Church defenders have been holding meetings and demonstrations throughout the country. We have held most remarkable demonstrations. I do not know if the right hon. Gentleman saw any reference in his own papers or in ours to the demonstration held in my Constituency at Wrexham last autumn. There you had 34,000 people—the checked account proved it—and those people had gathered from North Wales to protest against the terms of the Bill, a demonstration against which there has been no attempt on the part of the great Liberal party, so large in Wales, to gather even the smallest meeting. No attempt has been made in Wales, especially, either to produce any enthusiasm or any evidence whatever for the support of this Bill. We have held demonstrations in the autumn throughout England and Wales. We held in Wales alone forty-seven Church Defence demonstrations. At Wrexham, Llandrindod Wells, Rhyl, Pontypridd, Bridgend, Llandilo, Colwyn Bay, Aberdare, and Blaenavon, to mention the principal ones, and yet there is on the other side complete and absolute silence, and no attempt whatever to answer those manifestations of popular enthusiasm against the Bill. In addition to the meetings in Wales there has been a striking demonstration in Manchester. This Disestablishment and Disendowment campaign, of which the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Swansea (Sir D. Brymor Jones) is treasurer, has completely failed and is defeated in the country. But you continue to use—what arguments? The arguments that were used three years ago—the old arguments about, the last General Election. Does the Parliament Act mean this, that, however much popular opinion is shown to be against the Bill in the two years' delay which the Parliament Act allows, that public opinion—that public expression of opinion—is to be swept aside, and you are to go back to what you claimed originally? Why, if that is so, the two years' delay is absolutely useless and futile.
622 This is not a democratic institution. We know what happens when people try to express themselves directly on this question, and when petitions signed by the people of Wales are brought up to this House. You laugh at them! All the Government do is to use the name of the people to carry out the opinions and wishes of a caucus against Wales. You say in regard to all these public demonstrations and petitions, "They do not matter to us; we are a powerful autocracy. We have a majority in this House, and therefore the Bill must go through. The will of this House must prevail, even though the will of the people is against it." That is the position of the Government. Then I come to the question of Parliamentary support. What Parliamentary support have you got for the Bill? What interest is shown in it in this House? I quote at once the hon. Member for the Swansea district, the leader of the Welsh Liberal party, who said, quite honestly, that the Bill stood in danger from the open hostility of sections and the lukewarmness of nearly the whole of your party. Everybody knows that there is no enthusiasm either in the Liberal party, certainly not in the Labour party or even in the Irish party, for the proposals contained in this Bill. The most significant thing connected with the Parliamentary situation is the statement of the hon. Member for the Scotland Division of Liverpool (Mr. T. P. O'Connor)—a leading Irish Nationalist—who, in a letter which he has cabled to the "New World," gives his opinion as to the opinion on the Welsh Bill. I quote from the version received by the "Winnipeg Free Press," which, in its issue of 6th December, gives the following from the cable:—In Gladstone's days the Nonconformist clergy and the Nonconformist congregations formed the most effective and best organised electoral power, and to them an appeal for the Disestablishment of any Church would be potent; but now, except in the country districts, the Nonconformist clergyman has ceased to have any special influence on the working class. He is now regarded as almost an apostle of the middle class, and the middle classes are getting steadily less powerful with the working classes. Thus it was when the Welsh Bill came before the House of Commons it did not excite a ripple among the working classes, and if it had not been for the steady adhesion and splendid discipline and attendance of the Irish Members it, would not have passed through the House of Commons.We know that that is the Parliamentary situation. If it had not been for the Irish Nationalists' support, the Welsh Disestablishment and Disendowment proposals would have been nowhere. What is the measure of that support? Is it support 623 on the merits of the Bill? We all know it is not. What were the two foremost occasions when the Irish party saved the Government and saved this measure for the Government? They were two significant occasions, when the questions of compensation for curates and of the glebe were raised. Upon both those occasions, taking out the Irish Unionist Members and the Irish Nationalist Members, there is a majority against the Government on the question of compensation for curates of twenty-three, and upon the question of glebe of twenty-four against the proposals of the Government. That is to say, the Coalition Government has carried by an Irish majority two of the vital points of the Bill. Is it not a cynical reflection that on the question of compensation for curates, carried alone by an Irish majority, when the Irish Church was Disestablished and disendowed the Irish curates got compensation, yet compensation is refused by the votes of Irish Members for the curates of the poorer church in Wales? Is not that a part of the general cynicism of the Government attitude towards the Welsh Church? It shows pretty well the Parliamentary situation. If this Bill were not part and parcel of your coalition scheme it would not have a chance of passing this House.
I wish now to come to the most recent expression of public opinion in the country. In the papers this morning there was published a protest signed by 15,000 odd adult Nonconformists from the counties of Flintshire, Denbigh and half Montgomery-shire. That protest was sent by a committee from Denbigh, the town I have the honour to represent. I had nothing to do with this protest; it was got up entirely independently of me, or of my agents, or of any Conservative. It was organised and sent out by a committee of the most sturdy Liberals, who never voted for me or are likely to vote for me, with, I believe, one exception, that of a voter, who, at the last election gave me his vote because he objected to the speech of the Chancellor of the Exchequer, delivered on the eve of the poll, in a chapel in my Constituency. So far as I know, he is the only signatory who has ever supported me. These people, for the most part, are sturdy Liberals; they give their denomination; they are not the riff-raff of Nonconformity, but they are prominent men, who have come out into the open against your proposals and against your Bill. I will give one instance, 624 over 700 came from a parish in East Denbighshire, which is recognised as one of the most stalwart Radical strongholds in the whole Principality. These men are Radicals; they will remain Radicals, but they object to your Bill; they think it mean, and the two proposals they select for special condemnation are those for the filching of the churchyards and the spending of £157,000 a year upon worldly purposes—purely worldly purposes—money which has hitherto been spent on religious purposes.
Let us examine, further, the figures as to the signatories. In some districts they represent half the total adult Nonconformist population, they represent more than a quarter of the total membership claimed by fourteen denominations in the diocese of St. Asaph. They are significant in their numbers; they are much more significant in their character. Let us examine their character. Twenty-nine ministers and 158 deacons have signed the protest against your Disendowment proposals, and all the people who have signed are over twenty-one years of age. They signed in spite of the fact that the hon. Member for Flintshire (Mr. Lewis) made speeches before they signed, recommending them not to do so—in spite of the fact that every form in the chapel school was used to prevent their signing, and monthly meetings were held of the central organisations in their chapels.
§ Mr. LEWIS
In my speech to which reference has been made, all I said—and I said it in consequence of representations which had been made to me—was that I hoped that no landlord will ask his tenant, that no customer will ask the tradesman with whom he deals, and that no employer will ask his workman to sign this petition. All I asked was that no material pressure should be brought to bear on anyone.
§ Mr. ORMSBY-GORE
I unreservedly withdraw my statement. I had heard that the hon. Member had recommended that no Liberal should sign the petition. But I withdraw the statement that I have made. I am very glad the hon. Gentleman has given the explanation. I think, in the interests of fair play in Wales, his statement was one that should have been made. But the very best answer I can give, as showing that this petition was not signed under pressure by landlords, or anything of that sort, is a quotation I have in my hand from "The Banner," which is a great 625 Liberal organ published in the town of Denbigh. It says this:—It is surprising to find any Nonconformist and Liberal of principle signing this petition.This was before it was finally sent in.By so doing they at once sell their birthright, and spit mockery on the efforts and sacrifice of their forefathers in the fight for religious liberty. It is easy to understand how a serving man or a slip of a servant girl, under the thumb of a Tory or Church master, or in the presence of the vicar or curate, may stoop to the temptation of signing the petition. But when the petition is actually signed by the religious leaders of the Nonconformist denominations, and by persons who hold official positions with the party of progress, it is time to protest in the most emphatic way against treachery of this sort which is now being carried on.That is a very significant quotation from a prominent Welsh newspaper. You cannot disabuse your minds of the fact that these 15,000 Nonconformists have protested; you cannot pour contempt on them; they will not yield to any screw, political or otherwise, the threads of which are beginning to wear. I think nothing could be more significant than the way in which events are moving in Wales upon this matter. We have had upon various occasions ministers and members of Nonconformist denominations coming out into the open. Here you have a large body of public opinion in Wales asserting itself against the manner in which this measure is being carried forward, not by denominations so much as by politicians, who for a generation have used Welsh Disestablishment and Disendowment as the best lever by which to get jobs, places, honours, and rewards. After all, these expressions of public opinion are extremely significant. The popular support on the other side is practically nil, and yet this Government are asking this House to go on with the Bill unaltered by even a comma, and to proceed with it in the grip of the legislative machine, without any alteration, and without listening to any suggestions, for when appeals for alterations and suggestions are made, either by Nonconformists or by Churchmen, or by Members on this side of the House, they are told it cannot be altered. The Government are willing to give concessions to Ireland, because they fear Ulster, but for the Church in Wales they have neither pity nor feeling nor sympathy with her demands. Anything more mean, anything more contemptible than your offers to Ulster paralleled with your silence about the Church in Wales, and your continued pressure of this Bill through the legislative machine, as you confess it to be, anything more cynical than that conduct, or anything more likely to be resented for generation after generation of Churchmen. I 626 cannot imagine. What becomes of your promises given in this House on the Parliament Act? What becomes of the promise of the Prime Minister? Speaking in this House on the Third Reading of the Parliament Act on 15th May, 1911, he said:—I have sufficient belief in the power of public opinion in this country, in the ventilating and enlightening effect of Parliamentary and outside discussions and criticism, to feel confident that a measure which was really being forced by the House of Commons outstaying or misreading its mandate, and forcing legislalation against the opinion of a large majority of the people, would never stand, and could never stand, the series of checks to which it would be exposed under this Bill.Where is the enlightening effect of Parliamentary discussion? The "gag" and the guillotine have prevented that on the Committee stage and the Suggestion stage in regard to this Bill. What becomes of Parliamentary opinion and the outside criticism referred to by the Prime Minister? Nothing has been said on your side; everything has been said on ours, and in the battle in the country we have a clear and decisive victory against this mean measure. In view of these circumstances, it is all important that the House should pause before it proceeds any further with this measure. I seek to insert this Amendment in the Address in order that the House may record its decision against proceeding with this measure because it receives neither the support of England nor of Wales, nor even honest Parliamentary support in this House. There is no democratic sanction behind this measure. Even so far as it is being-pressed forward, it is being pressed forward simply and solely because it is regarded by the Liberal party as a precedent for the further spoliation of the Church of England. You say that the Church in Wales is unimportant. We know perfectly well why you will not give way on the question of the churchyards or on the question of compensation for curates, find will not let us remain in the constitution, that is, in Convocation. It is simply because, as the "Westminster Gazette" has eloquently put it, this Bill would be a precedent for England. On 8th February, 1913, the "Westminster Gazette" said:—It has not, we think, been sufficiently understood by certain Members on the Liberal side, that the Welsh Hill necessarily sets a precedent for other parts of the country, and that in pleading for more favourable treatment for the Welsh Church they are giving away principles which might at some future time be of the utmost importance.Now we know why the Bill is going on. It is not mentioned in the King's Speech, because it is a stalking horse for more secular and more worldly purposes, first 627 against the Church in Wales, and then against the Church of England. One after another religious organisations are to be broken up, the trusts torn up, and their funds taken for some library. Meanwhile, what is the position to-day? I only quote the position in Wales, where feeling towards this Bill is growing more and more hostile. Why? Because the money of the Church, which she is now using for the highest and best purposes, is being regarded as needed more and more for those purposes. The "Free Church Chronicle" of this month has a most illuminating article upon the position in Wales. It says:—The indifference of the people to the Bible, their ignorance of its history and contents, its power, its grace and life is much too evident to be ignored. This seemingly haw impressed itself on the Talgarth Council recently—and very appropriately. For is not this the town where Howell Harris one Easter morning at Holy Communion found his Lord? Is not this the district where the great evangelist began to thunder against indifference to the Scriptures and the consequent prevalence of sin?That is the opinion of the "Free Church Chronicle" on the position in Wales to-day—the indifference of the people and the prevalence of sin. Yet you are going to pass a measure under which you devote money which is now devoted to Evangelist services to a library at Aberystwyth. This large building is to be built by and maintained out of Evangelist money. The worldly uses to which you propose to put the funds of a large religious denomination in Wales are beginning to stink in the nostrils of the people in Wales. They are beginning to hate your secularist policy, and, above all, they feel with the Church in the meanness of your proposal with regard to churchyards. As a Welshman—a Churchman—said to me the other day, "I would rather you take every penny than that you should take our churchyards." We know you propose to alienate the churchyards in the diocese of St. David's The Nonconformist denominations in that diocese have as many churchyards of their own, but those you do not propose to touch under your Bill. That is your religious equality! I will give the House the figures. The churchyards in the diocese of St. David's which are to be confiscated number 421, while the Nonconformists in the diocese of St. David's possess 480 of their own. In only 77 cases out of the 421 is there any Nonconformist burial ground in the immediate vicinity, and in those 77 they have the right, under the Burial Act, 1880, to bury their dead and conduct the services with their own 628 ministers. Is not the meanness of your proposal to take away our churchyards more than any man who respects the rights and liberties of any denomination will stand? Many of these proposals you have made no attempt to justify whatever in this House, and, more particularly, in the country. You say that this Bill is one of the most typical first fruits of your Parliament Act. You destroy democratic sanction and democratic control. This House has reduced itself to a paid and packed caucus—it is nothing else—paid by the country and packed by the party whips, with its Members voting absolutely like machines. This Government has not scrupled to use the power of this House, and to use the prerogative of the Crown to give this House the power to override the claims of justice which are being urged on behalf of the Church in Wales, not merely by Churchmen alone, but by Nonconformists as well. There is a very striking phrase in Gibbon on the Venetian Constitution—The oligarchy had degraded the Doge to a pageant, and the people to a cypher.You have used the Crown in order to get Parliamentary powers to override—
§ Mr. ORMSBY-GORE
I unreservedly withdraw if I was bringing the Crown in. My position is that the Government have used the prerogative of the Crown—[HON. MEMBERS: "Order."]—that is not bringing the Crown in—in order to bring the Constitution into the position in which it is now—that is, into a suspended state. During that suspension they have used that prerogative in an endeavour to force, against popular sanction and the public will, certain measures into law, namely, the Home Rule and the Welsh Church Bills, and are endeavouring to carry those measures by an automatic majority of this House of Commons. In these circumstances, can they expect to receive anything else than the resentment and opposition of Churchmen in Wales and in England? They say that they wish to be good friends, and that they wish to do away with the old sores and old grievances. Is it likely to promote unity to go on with this Bill, or to refuse to listen to the request of 15,000 Nonconformists in the diocese of St. Asaph who have asked for better treatment for the Church? Those 15,000 Nonconformists have done 629 more by signing the protest to once more cement good feeling between Christians in North Wales and between the Church and chapel than those on the Front Government Bench have done in the whole course of their career. The Welsh Parliamentary party, for political reasons, and in order to get political advantages out of the Disendowment and Disestablishment of the Church in Wales, have done and will do everything they can to separate Christian men in Wales. Why do you want the tithe, the most religious in its character of all endowments? You want that for some Welsh Radical county council to administer in schemes advantageous to yourselves. There will be more officials to administer, and more jobs in Wales for the Liberal party. The resentment against this Bill is steadily growing, while support of it is getting less and less. If the Government continue with this policy they will be outraging the feelings not only of Churchmen, but of many Nonconformists in England and Wales.
§ Sir A. GRIFFITH-BOSCAWEN
I desire briefly to second the Amendment that has been so ably proposed by my hon. Friend. My hon. Friend has dealt mainly with the entire absence of support of this Bill in the Principality of Wales. I wish to deal with a similar state of things in England—the absence of all enthusiasm on the part of those who nominally support it, and the growing opposition on the part of all classes in England to the provisions of this Bill. I dare say I shall be told—we have heard it in this House before, and we may hear it again to-day—that this is not a matter for England, and that it is exclusively a Welsh matter, which concerns only Welsh Members of Parliament and Welsh voters. I utterly deny that position. This Bill mutilates the Church of England as a whole and dismembers it. The Home Secretary himself has admitted that the Bill dismembers the Church of England; but he has said that that is inevitable if you disestablish the Church in Wales. In other words, you must either disestablish or dismember the Church of England in order that the Church in Wales may be disestablished. If that treatment is to be meted out to the Church in England, surely we in England have some right to a voice in the matter. The Bill breaks up Convocation. Parliament takes upon itself to undo what it never did, to destroy the unity between the Welsh dioceses and the rest of the Church of England. If 630 that is so, surely we in England have a right to make our voices heard. It is because we entirely disapprove of the dismemberment of our Church without the consent of Church people, and of the Disestablishment of the four poorest dioceses, that we protest in England against this Bill proceeding any further. This Bill is a precedent for what may happen in England later on. As the late Bishop Creighton, of London, said, a Disestablishment Bill for the Church in Wales is a suspensory Bill for the Church of England. Surely we have a right to say whether we want a suspensory Bill for the Church of England, and therefore I brush aside entirely the contention that this is a matter for Wales only. It is undoubtedly a matter for England at the same time. What is the state of opinion in England? Wherever you look in England this Bill is most unpopular. Take any test you like. I will not go back to what is now the old story of the petitions against the Bill, but at all events you have this fact, that two million signatures were sent off against the Bill to this House, and, so far as I know, not a single one from England in favour of it. I do not for a moment say you could not have got some petitions if you had tried; but they knew very well that their total would compare so badly with cur total that they, very wisely, did not try.
Then, take the test of meetings. Take those marvellous outdoor demonstrations all over England. I know a little about the history of those. The Central Church Committee, in the summer months, when indoor meetings were almost impossible, suggested one big demonstration in London and perhaps twenty in provincial centres. Some people thought it would be impossible to get up as many as twenty in the country districts. What happened? The idea spread like wildfire, and we had 180 of these demonstrations attended most numerously, full of enthusiasm, with people of all classes and both sexes present, and practically every one of the speakers were not exclusively Unionists and were not exclusively churchmen. There were Liberal speakers at everyone of the demonstrations that I attended, and at nearly everyone there were Nonconformist, speakers too. I want to know where are your meetings on the other side? You could not really get together two men and a boy in favour of this Bill in any town in England. There are not any of these demonstrations. They cannot be got up. Even in Wales 631 they have been a most awful fiasco. I can give an example of one which took place in the Rhondda Valley—which is usually regarded as somewhat of a stronghold of Nonconformity and Liberationism—at a place called Williamstown last spring. The meeting was announced in favour of the Bill and a Nonconformist preacher was announced to speak. The meeting took place, but when the speaker got to it the chairman discovered a very large assembly the greatest part of which was against the Bill. He got up and said, "The speaker is not going to speak on the Welsh Church Bill. He will give a lecture on Church History." That shows that even in Wales you cannot get up a satisfactory meeting in favour of it. Why is it? I have heard two reasons put forward why meetings in favour of the Bill cannot be got up. One is that they cost a lot of money, and that it is impossible for the Liberationists to find the money to organise the meetings. If that is so it does not look as if there was great popular support of the Bill. I do not know what the funds of the Liberationists in England may be, but I know they are rather short in Wales, because when the right lion. Gentleman (Sir D. Brynmor Jones) issued an appeal last March for what he called the great national movement, he only got £16 in the whole of South Wales and £18 in the whole of North Wales, which does not look as if there was any violent support in favour of the great national movement.
But there is another reason put forward which I think is probably the reason. It is that the Bill is going to be passed anyhow, what ever way public opinion may manifest itself, under the terms of the Parliament Act, and that view was put forward very explicitly by the right hon. Gentleman in these words. He said:—We do assume that the Bill is in the grip of a legislative machine of absolutely good pattern and up to date, and I am rejoiced that the Government will do nothing to stop the action of the machine.I think we see exactly how we stand. The Bill is in the grip of a machine. Public opinion may manifest itself to any extent outside, but the machine is set to work, and, unless it gets upset in some other way, the Bill will be forced down against the wishes of the people, and therefore it is quite unnecessary to endeavour to influence public opinion. I ask what becomes of the Prime Minister's assertion that the Parliament Act is not to be used covertly and arbitrarily to smuggle into law measures condemned by 632 public opinion? I ask where is the stable opinion against the Bill? Where is the stable opinion in favour of the Bill? There is stable opinion, but it is only against the Bill, so far as we can judge at present.
Let me take another way of judging public opinion in England. Take the test of a by-election. Do any hon. Members opposite really think this Bill is popular at by-elections? There is nothing that loses them more votes than the Welsh Church Bill does at by-elections. [An. HON. MEMBER: "Home Rule."] When I say nothing more, I mean it certainly loses them a great many votes. I am not going to institute any comparisons, I will merely speak about what I know. There was a rather remarkable election the other day. There was a Liberal Member before. It was a three-cornered fight, which means deducting a lot of votes from the Unionist candidate, yet the Unionist poll enormously increased, and the seat was won. At that election Church defenders sent down an expert agent, whose duty it was to get into touch with Liberal Churchmen in the constituency. He traced some 200 or 300, of whom 150 gave a definite pledge that though they had never voted Unionist before they should vote for the Unionist candidate on this occasion on account of the Welsh Church Bill. That was quite sufficient to turn the election. There, again, you had public opinion obviously growing in England against this Bill. These were not what you might call wobblers. They were known to be Liberals. They were in favour of Home Rule. They believed in some cases, I dare say, in the verbal inspiration of the Insurance Act. They supported the Government policy in everything else, but they chose to put their Church before their party. Because they objected to the unjust proposals contained in the Welsh Church Bill, they unhesitatingly gave their votes to the Unionist candidate. What do the Government care? The Bill is in the grip of the machine, and therefore it has to proceed notwithstanding public opinion. Another manifestation of the unpopularity of the Bill is in this House. Over and over again but for the Irish vote you would have been defeated. On four separate occasions in Committee but for the Irish vote the Government would have been in a minority; But there is another thing we can take into account. I have only left out the Irish 633 vote. If I was taking a constitutional view of the matter I should have every right to exclude the Scottish vote too. Hon. Members apparently have forgotten, or have never been aware, of the remarkable conditions which were made at the time of the Union with Scotland. It was then laid down—and you can find it in the respective Union Acts between England and Scotland—that neither country would intermeddle in the religious establishment of the other, and therefore if that principle had been carried we ought to exclude the votes of Scotland. The only two countries which are really directly interested are England and Wales, and in England and Wales you have not a majority in this House for the Bill, and you have a strong and growing volume of public opinion against you.
The Bill is declining in popularity on account of the manner in which it is discussed by its supporters in the country. It is the commonest case for the provisions of the Bill to be totally misrepresented in the country by its supporters. We are frequently told in the country that it will only leave the Church £51,000 a year worse off than it is at present. The Home Secretary knows perfectly well that that is not the case. The Bill takes away £158,000 a year from the Church, and the £51,000 is only arrived at by a piece of financial juggling which would disgrace a shady company prospectus. We know the way it is got at. The Home Secretary counts in the value of the life interests. If the life interests are expended on the existing holders, there can be nothing left for the Church afterwards. Secondly, he counts in £31,000 a year which may come to the Church after it is Disestablished and which will equally come to the Church if it is not Disestablished, and if, therefore, he counts the figure on the one side he ought certainly to count it on the other. Let me give another example. It is commonly stated even now, notwithstanding all the contradictions which have been given in this House, that the Bill will bring relief to the farmers by relieving them of the payment of tithe. I do not charge the Home Secretary with having said it.
§ 5.0 P.M.
§ Sir A. GRIFFITH-BOSCAWEN
I will give an example. There was an election last spring at Altrincham, which also resulted in a notable Unionist victory. This 634 is an extract from a Liberal newspaper which was circulated, and the statement was repeated from the newspaper, immediately before the election. The paper in question was the "Manchester Evening News," and I am quoting from its issue of 21st May:—In Wales the abolition of the tithe would give very substantial relief to the farmer, but in matters affecting the Church in Wales religion, according to Mr. Hamilton, must come before politics, and as the Disestablishment and Disendowment of the Church in the principalities would destroy the Christian religion in Wales, the Welsh farmers need not look for relief in that direction.A party which circulates statements like that, which are obviously and manifestly untrue, at times of election, clearly does not believe in the right and justice of the Bill it is supporting. Let me quote one further example. This does not refer to the provisions of the Bill. It refers to statements that are constantly made in Wales and elsewhere about the Church. There was a remarkable speech made by the Bishop of St. Asaph at the Diocesan Conference at Newport last October, in the course of which he said:—There had been a meeting a few weeks before of the North Wales Baptists, and at that meeting the Rev. T. Shankland, the librarian of University College, a very eminent historical authority, stated the well-known fact that the Church had rescued the Welsh language in the period of transition, immediately there were loud cries of dissent, and exclamations, 'Don't you see there are reporters present?'I say that a cause that is bolstered up on the principle of telling the truth in private and not telling it in public is a cause not worth having. That is the way this cause has been bolstered up, and even so, with such bolstering up, the cause is dying from one end of the country to the other. The real fact is that my hon. Friends opposite who come from Wales represent a cause which is dead in this country. They are really fossilised liberals. It would have been all very well in Queen Victoria's days. They might have been in the fighting line then, but they are only a sort of baggage guard now. "Liberationism, separation of Church and State, and the secularisation of Endowments" was a great cry undoubtedly some thirty, forty, or fifty years ago. It was a great cry in England, Wales, and Scotland, but circumstances have entirely changed. We take a different aspect. Look at the remarkable change which has taken place in Scotland. I remember twenty-one years ago, when first I had the honour of being a Member of this House, we used to have in the Queen's Speech of the day 635 mention not only of Disestablishment for Wales, but also Disestablishment for Scotland. We never have that now—it is entirely gone—but we have had the advantage of a Liberal Government for eight years. They have produced nine King's Speeches, and in not a single one has there been any sort of allusion to Disestablishment and Disendowment for Scotland.
Just as this principle has died down in England, so it is dying down in Wales at the present time, and hon. Members opposite know better than I do that the agitation there is a very weak and mild one as compared with what it was twenty years ago. It is merely kept up now as a party and political battle cry. But unfortunately its fulfilment is necessary to the coalition. The Government policy is a mosaic. If one part drops out, the whole thing goes to pieces. If the mosaic of the Welsh Church comes out, down go Home Rule, Plural Voting, and all the rest of it; for hon. Members from Ireland, who want Home Rule, support Welsh Disestablishment, and in return the Nationalists, who care nothing about Welsh Disestablishment, support the Welsh Church Bill. The Church is being made the victim of a mere party cry. It is made the victim of a temporary coalition. We protest to the utmost of our power, and say that this injustice ought not to be done except upon reasons which can be defended in this House, and which have the support of the people outside.
§ Mr. McKENNA
The hon. Gentlemen who moved and -seconded the Amendment have certainly justified one part of their speeches, inasmuch as they have made it quite clear to us that this Bill is unpopular with certain persons. I cannot help thinking, however, that they have confounded individual opinion with popular opinion. I am rather at a loss to know on what motive, if what the hon. Gentlemen say is true, the Government have acted. Undoubtedly for the sake of principle we are prepared to sacrifice our popularity. That seems to me somewhat novel, coming from hon. Gentlemen opposite. Both of them tell us that this Bill is extremely unpopular, that it is growing more unpopular alike in England and in Wales, and that since its first introduction we have lost certainly one election. The hon. Gentleman who seconded the Amendment is doubtful whether we have not lost more.
§ Mr. McKENNA
The hon. Gentleman thinks that we have lost more, and that even strong Nonconformist supporters are now against us. Because this Government is devoted to principle!
§ Mr. McKENNA
No, no. We were willing to sacrifice all our political future, and even to incur all this unpopularity for the sake of our principle in this Bill. That must be the only conclusion which can be drawn from the speeches of the hon. Members. On what evidence do they base their charge? I quite agree with them that this Bill is very much disliked by a certain section of the community. There is nothing new in that. It has been disliked ever since it was put forward by the Liberal party as one of the leading measures in their programme thirty years ago. Churchmen, both in England and Wales, have always disliked it. Now the hon. Gentleman opposite says, that the unpopularity is growing, and he proves that from the evidence of church meetings and petitions. He also points to the absence of Nonconformist meetings and petitions on our side. Long ago this Parliament passed an Act establishing the ballot as the constitutional machinery—
§ Mr. McKENNA
Establishing the ballot as the constitutional machinery by which we should determine public opinion at an election. We were not to determine public opinion by petitions, or even public meetings; but the Parliament of the day, which is the only legislative authority, so far as the House of Commons was concerned, was to be elected by ballot. Our ancestors when they passed the Ballot Act knew not only that petitions could certainly be obtained under pressure, but that even open voting at the hustings might not truly express the opinion of the voters. We have got the ballot, and we have had, since this Bill was introduced, ample evidence of what the opinion of England and Wales is upon the measure. Since the Bill was introduced, and with all the knowledge of what we were doing, including our dealings with churchyards and with the sum of £157,000 a year, we have had three by-elections in Wales. One of them was in the very heart of the diocese of St. Asaph, which is the home of 15,000 637 petitioning Nonconformists. My hon. Friend who sits on the benches behind me is the representative of the constituency which was fought at that by-election with the power and authority of the Bishop of St. Asaph at the very door. We have had two other elections besides that. One of the constituencies is represented by my hon. Friend near me, and the other by my hon. Friend below the Gangway. Both have been returned by overwhelming majorities at by-elections since this Bill was introduced. It so happens that there are just as many Conservative Members for Wales as there have been by-elections in Wales since this Bill was introduced. There are three Conservative Members for Wales, and the whole of their combined majorities amount to 362 votes. In the three by-elections which we have had upon this growingly unpopular measure, the majority in favour of the Bill has been no less than 4,221. When we have got this constitutional means of testing public opinion, are we to turn our backs upon the wisdom of Parliament and upon constitutional practice, and are we to say that the evidence of the petitions, however good, is more valuable than the results of by-elections?
In England there has been only one by-election in which it can be confidently asserted that the Welsh Church Bill was made, if not a leading issue, certainly one of two or three, leading issues. It so happens that owing to peculiar circumstances the Welsh Disestablishment Bill was chiefly the issue. The House will remember that we lost the year before last the services of Mr. Harwood, a very distinguished Liberal Member, who disagreed with his Friends on this side of the House on the subject of the Welsh Church Bill. I am not certain that he did not actually move the Amendment against the Second Heading of the Bill. Mr. Harwood died, and in consequence there was a by-election at Bolton. At that by-election, the Liberal candidate, who is the present Member for the constituency, took up the Welsh Church Bill as his main plank. A churchman himself, he was anxious to fight his constituency upon that issue. My hon. Friend won the election with a majority of 1,200.
§ Mr. McKENNA
At the preceding election the Liberal obtained 10,358 votes, the Labour candidate obtained 10,108, and. Colonel Hesketh, the Conservative candidate, obtained 8,697 votes. The two first candidates were successful, and the majority of the second candidate over the Conservative was 1,411. The present Member for the constituency obtained a majority of 1,176, and when you remember the difficulty which all Governments have in defending seats at by-elections the reduction of the Liberal majority by a matter of only one or two hundred votes in a constituency in which the Welsh Church Bill was made the direct issue is a sufficient proof that in England, as well as in Wales, this Bill is as popular to-day as ever it was. [Laughter.] Hon. Members laugh at that. I quite expected that they would laugh, because, if they are to make any point at all under the Parliament Act, they must show that this Bill is more unpopular than it was or that there is a growing unpopularity against it. If I show that, whether it was popular before or not, it is no less popular to-day, then I have proved my case.
§ Mr. McKENNA
If the Noble Lord desires any weight to be attached to his negative he must imply that we have no authority to introduce this Bill after the election of 1910. He must imply that the constituencies were not aware of this Bill, and that we have smuggled it in under the Parliament Act. Does he say that we have no authority to introduce it?
§ Mr. McKENNA
The hon. Member says that we have no authority for this Bill after the last election. I have a series of quotations here, one of them from the hon. Member himself, as to what the opinion was in January, 1910. The hon. Member, in his election address, says:—Mr. Asquith has now brought forward the question of Home Rule for Ireland, and has applied for a mandate to carry it into effect in the coming Parliament. First, we are threatened with wholesale revolution; the House of Lords is to be abolished; the Church dismembered and disendowed, and the unity of the Empire destroyed at one and the same moment.
§ Sir A. GRIFFITH-BOSCAWEN
The question is not what I said, but did the Government tell the country that they were going to do it?
§ Mr. McKENNA
The hon. Member's language was:—Mr. Asquith has now brought forward the question of Home Rule for Ireland, and has applied for a mandate to carry it into effect in the coming Parliament.The hon. Gentleman had no doubt that the Prime Minister had done so at the last election, but his modesty will not allow him to accept his own authority on the point, and I would like, therefore, to quote the authority of the hon. Gentleman who moved the Motion.
§ Sir A. GRIFFITH-BOSCAWEN
The point was not what my hon. Friend may have said by way of warning, but whether the Government themselves told the country that they were going to do this.
§ Mr. McKENNA
The hon. Gentleman said that the Prime Minister had done so. The other hon. Member said in December, 1910:—One of the purposes for which the powers of the Second Chamber are to destroyed has been described by Mr. Winston Churchill for the Government as the intention of the Government to five Wales from its alien church.So that the had full warning, like the other hon. Member, on the authority of the Government, as to what we intended to do.
§ Mr. ORMSBY-GORE
On both occasions I was returned, and, more than that, my opponent on the first occasion made no reference to this question in his election address, and at the second election my other opponent made but the vaguest reference to religious equality.
§ Mr. McKENNA
Now I understand fully why both the hon. Gentleman's opponents were beaten, and why the majority of the hon. Gentleman was increased from eight on the first occasion to nine on the second occasion. It would have been entirely swept away if his opponent had come forward firmly on this subject, One opinion which I share with the hon. Member for Dudley was that expressed by him on a previous occasion, when he explained his own defeat in a Welsh constituency by his reference to the Welsh Church Bill.
§ Mr. McKENNA
It was a Bill which took away more from the Church than 640 this Bill does. I have said sufficient to establish two points from my point of view: first, that the voters were aware of our intention to introduce this Bill, and, second, that there was no sign of growing unpopularity. The hon. Member for Dudley tells us that if we only postpone this Bill for a little longer, as our cause is a dying cause, the claim to Disestablish the Church would disappear altogether. The hon. Member made a speech on the same subject in 1895–that is, nineteen years ago. I am sorry to have to quote the hon. Member again, but he can seethe relevance of what I have to say. He said:—The reason why he and his friends were determined to fight the Bill was that, judging from everything they saw in Wales, by the manner in which the people were coming back to the Church, and even by so trivial an incident as county council elections, they believed that time was on their side. The Church might be weak, but was now growing every day, and its supporters were determined to put off this question until the time when the Church was so strong that Disestablishment would be entirely impossible.Nineteen years ago the hon. Member described this as a dying cause. Since that time we have had a series of elections in Wales. At no time has the minority of Members opposed to Disestablishment and Disendowment in Wales—this dying cause—been greater than nine out of thirty-four, and nineteen years after its death was foretold the minority is three out of thirty-four. In those circumstances can there be a shadow of doubt in the mind of any reasonable man that the feeling in support of Disestablishment and Disendowment is as strong to-day as ever it was? "Why," says the hon. Gentleman, "do you not hold meetings in Wales?" Why should we? It is the Constitution of the country at this moment, with the sanction of both Houses of Parliament, that when this Bill passes this House for the third time it will become law. The hon. Gentleman would find meetings large enough and representative enough in Wales if the Bill were dropped. But the Welsh people have sufficient confidence in those who represent them in this House, and, if I may say so with all becomingness, sufficient confidence in the Government to know that we shall not abandon them. We do not ask them to hold meetings in support of a Bill which has been over and over again acclaimed at General Elections for a period of thirty years. We must have better evidence than we have had yet before we can see any reason for giving up this Bill.
§ Mr. McKENNA
I would like to see what evidence the Noble Lord can obtain. Let me come to the latest piece of evidence, the supposed petition from the 15,000 Nonconformists from certain counties in Wales.
§ Mr. McKENNA
I may be permitted to make my statement. First, this body of 15,000 Nonconformists have chosen as the area of their organisations a diocese—a peculiarity which must strike everybody's mind: that Nonconformists desiring to organise against this Bill should choose the diocese as their area. The next thing that occurs to me about this petition is that the gentleman who forwarded the petition is reported to be a strong Conservative. I am told that he was undoubtedly, in days gone by, a Nonconformist and a member of a particular Church. I am told that he may still be a member of that Church, but that he no longer resides in the place where his Church was, and that he has not joined the Church in the place where he now lives. But he is certainly, as I am informed, a strong Conservative. What evidence have we got of a change of feeling where a Conservative petitions against this Bill? I have not had an opportunity of examining all the names yet, but I would ask the lion. Gentleman who spoke with such confidence about this petition whether he makes himself responsible for two statements which he made as facts: First, that the 15,000 people who signed this petition are Nonconformists; and, secondly, in reference to the office-holders, twenty-nine ministers whom he names, 158 deacons and other office-holders, whether there is that number of ministers and deacons and office-holders among the signatories to the petition?
§ Mr. ORMSBY-GORE
As I told the right hon. Gentleman, this petition was got up without consulting me. I am not responsible for it in any way, nor is the Conservative party. It must be taken on its face value. If he chooses to doubt the names, he must state the grounds upon which he does so.
§ Mr. McKENNA
I am sure the hon. Gentleman has been quite frank about the 642 subject. He knows extremely little about it, and he cannot give his authority that these are genuine Nonconformists and that the persons who signed are what they purport to be.
§ Mr. McKENNA
The hon. Gentleman denies that. Mr. Williams, who is the chairman of the committee, who has been vouched for as a Liberal, is, I am informed, a well-known Conservative. We are at issue immediately on the first point, and I would beg the House to postpone judgment until we have been able to examine the petition. Reference has been made to a letter written to the Prime Minister quite recently, and before there was time to investigate any of the facts. Presumably, in anticipation of to-day's Debate, a letter was written to the ''Times'' setting out certain ex parte statements. I have looked into the petition, and I have already discovered that a number of the signatures are in the same handwriting; but, until we have examined the petition, I would beg the House to withhold judgment. In the absence of that petition, is there any evidence at all of any change? There is none. I ask the House, therefore, to continue to support the Bill this Session as it has done in the last two Sessions. Upon the merits of the measure I do not think this is the occasion to discuss them. If the hon. Gentleman desires to raise the question of the churchyards or the question of the alleged taking away from the Church of £150,000 a year, on all those points I shall be happy to meet him when the time comes. The case which arises now has failed, and I trust the House will not accept it.
§ Mr. HOARE
The Home Secretary has done his best to minimise the result of the petition, but it is perfectly easy for him to test the accuracy of the signatures and the value and substance of the petition. It certainly seems to me to bear the stamp of truth when people not only put their names—which can, after all, be verified—upon a petition, but actually asked the Prime Minister to receive a deputation on the subject. I cannot help thinking that it is unfortunate 643 that the Prime Minister, although it is some days since they first communicated with him, has not yet seen fit to see the signatories of a petition, which, on the face of it, is a very remarkable document. During his observations the Home Secretary was successful in adding two new features to a Debate, which is already becoming very time-worn. First of all he made an historical discovery, and secondly he asked Members on this side of the House a question. First of all he stated that the electors of this country are in possession of the ballot. That is an historical fact. Secondly, he asked Members on this side how, if the Bill is unpopular, are the Government to go on with a measure which, on the face of it, is unpopular? That in the mouths of right hon. Gentlemen on the Treasury Bench sounds a very difficult question to answer. They ask us how we expect them to go on with the Bill, which is apparently so unpopular as this Bill. Let me connect those two statements together. First of all he said that we are in possession of the ballot; secondly, that the Government should not be accused of going on with an unpopular Bill. It is true that we are in possession of the ballot—that is simply stating a fact—but the right hon. Gentleman and his colleagues do not give the electors an opportunity of using the ballot. There is a very obvious reason which is bound up with the question he asked about the unpopularity of the Bill, namely, that if the Bill is unpopular they must not venture upon an election, for, if they did, they might lose the emoluments of office to which they have clung like limpets during the past few years.
I desire to make one or two observations upon the Amendment of my hon. Friend. It seems to me that, in point of time, we have reached a period not unlike that in which Mr. Gladstone found himself in the year 1869. I say only in point of time; in every other way the situation then was in direct contrast with the situation as it is now. In 1869 Mr. Gladstone was embarking upon a Session in which he intended to pass a Bill for the Disestablishment and Disendowment of part of the National Church. At that time every organ of the Constitution was in full play, every part of it was working smoothly, and every part of it carried out the object for which it existed, so much so, that, summing up the result of that Session, Lord Morley, in his Life of Mr. Gladstone, said that the passage of 644 the Irish Disestablishment Bill, quite apart from the merits of its provisions, was the legislative triumph of Mr. Gladstone's career. How different is the situation in which we find ourselves now. In 1869, electors, Lords, Commons, Crown, were all doing their part in the passage of an Act of Parliament. Now, we find a Bill rushed, as my hon. Friend below me said, through this House without any real or genuine discussion—for our discussions were nothing more than academic debate. The Second Chamber is gagged. So far from the electorate having been consulted as they were then, the Government refuse the Amendment of my hon. Friend, proposing a means by which alone the electors would have an opportunity at the next election of giving their decision. We have reached the situation which was foretold by the Prime Minister during the discussions of the Parliament Act.
The Prime Minister, the House will remember, declared that the delay of three Sessions, or two years, when the suspensory veto on the House of Lords is imposed, precludes the possibility of covertly and arbitrarily smuggling into law measures which are condemned by public opinion, and that it will, at the same time, ensure ample opportunity for reconsideration and redivision against slovenly legislation. I say nothing about the second proposition. The opportunity we have had for reconsideration of slovenly legislation certainly was not enjoyed last Session. As to this Amendment, I confine myself only to the first of the two propositions, that no unpopular Bill could become law owing to the force of public opinion making itself felt during the operation of the suspensory power of the House of Lords. Can anyone say that the present state of affairs resembles in the remotest degree the promise that the Prime Minister held out to us in 1910? It is all very well for the Home Secretary to scoff at the various ways in which public opinion has shown itself in opposition to this Bill. Let him suggest any other way, and we will take it.
§ Mr. HOARE
The hon. Member says by-elections. Can he point to any single by-election in Wales, or anywhere else, where Welsh Disestablishment has been a prominent issue, or an issue at all, in which his party have not lost votes? The hon. Member does not seem to regard that 645 as an answer to his question. What more can he ask? Is there any by-election where you have not lost votes? Look at public meetings. The Home Secretary seems to think that, because the Constitution is in suspense, and because we possess a ballot which he will not allow us to use, we may not have even public meetings. I do not suppose that there ever has been a campaign fought in which a larger number of well attended meetings have been held through a great length of time in protest against any Bill. For three years this controversy has been fought out in this country, and month three years this controversy has been held in every part of the land, not only in Conservative districts, but in Radical districts, in Wales as well as in England, and I challenge hon. Members to mention any series of meetings that, both from attendance and enthusiasm on the part of those present, could vie with the meetings we have held in protest against this Bill.
If the Home Secretary does not attach value to that test, take the test of the attitude of Members sitting behind him. Is the Bill likely to have behind it a consistent body of strong support, when during its course it has been subjected to all those ups-and-downs, those petty manœuvres which we watched with such interest a few months ago—how at one time in a critical condition their majority was reduced to twenty, and on other occasions to thirty, forty, or fifty. I cannot help thinking that, if hon. Members really found that they had behind them a strong and consistent body of public opinion they would not be reduced to the petty manœuvres and intrigues to which they were reduced to get their Bill to the Third Reading at all. If I want a further test of the unpopularity of the Bill, where better could I look than to the speeches of that past master in electioneering, the Chancellor of the Exchequer. If this were a popular Bill, and if it had behind it a consistent body of public support, would it not have played a very prominent part in the speeches which the Chancellor of the Exchequer has been making in the country during the last few months? How is it that the Chancellor of the Exchequer never mentions it upon the platform at all? Is it not because he considers it is better electioneering to abuse the dukes rather than to rob the curates? Judged by every test that we can apply to this Bill, it has behind it no public support, and it is nothing short of an outrage to push it through this House of Commons, 646 in the picturesque language of the Leader of the Welsh party, in the grip of the legislative machine—whilst outside in every walk of life and in every party the body of men and women who are protesting against it is, in spite of what the Home Secretary said, increasing. I therefore hope that, though my hon. Friend's Amendment will not be earned in this House to-day, it will concentrate people's attention on the cynical way in which the Home Secretary and his colleagues are treating one of the gravest subjects which could possibly be raised for the consideration of the electorate.
§ Sir DAVID BRYNMOR JONES
I confess that I heard with some surprise one observation from the hon. Gentleman who has just spoken. He had the hardihood to say that the Government were obtaining the passage of this Bill by petty manœuvres. I think that comes with very bad grace from those who resorted to petty manœuvres in order to win an advantage by a snap Division by reducing our majority certainly to a somewhat small proportion, but the opinion of the House was immediately shown by the fact that in the very next Division on the Report stage of the Bill we had a majority of over a hundred. I confess also to some surprise that the hon. Member, whose contribution to our Debates on the Committee stage of the Bill was so useful, should have thought it wise to refer to anything of the kind upon the Amendment now under the consideration of the House. I prefer to turn from answering such trivial arguments to the speeches of the Mover and Seconder of the Amendment, which appeared to me both able and both distinctly relevant to the subject we are now debating. What is the Amendment? It certainly contains one most extraordinary assertion, an assertion not set up by either the Mover or the Seconder. The Amendment affirms the universal proposition that there is no evidence of popular support for a Bill which embodies a reform which all the representatives of Wales and Monmouthshire were pledged to support in 1906, and thirty-one out of thirty-four in both elections of 1910, and which has now been twice passed through the House of Commons. The Mover of the Amendment did not, of course, take up so extreme a position as that, and immediately said that what he asserted was that the Bill has not received such adequate support as to justify its being proceeded with.
647 Taking that as being the question which we have to consider, may I ask hon. Gentlemen opposite what evidence they will accept as sufficient evidence of popular support to justify the Government in proceeding with this Bill? Do they ask us, the people of Wales, to resort to irritating guerilla warfare such as has been adopted by the militant Suffragettes. Supposing we took that line of petty persecution of bishops and clergy, will that convince them? But suppose we take a more pompous and at the same time even more illegal and unconstitutional course than that, and suppose we adopt the Ulster method, and suppose we call another convention at Cardiff representative of the whole Principality of Wales, and suppose that we sign in our thousands a solemn covenant to make Government in Wales impossible, and suppose that we establish a Provisional Government, and that we begin to drill our able-bodied men, and suppose that we buy guns and rifles and ammunition, and suppose that we make every town in Wales a place of arms, will that be such as the Opposition will accept? I do not know. I presume that they do not expect us to adopt any unconstitutional methods to convince Parliament that the Bill which we are supporting is a just and expedient and reasonable measure. Short of any such expression of opinion as I have been adverting to, I assert that no movement for the reform of the Constitution, either in Church or State, has ever received a more long, continued, persistent and extensive support from the people concerned than that for the Disestablishment and Disendowment of the English Church in Wales. I appeal in support of that proposition to facts that must be well known to all the Members of this House.
I would ask you to consider the origin and history of this movement. Both the hon. and gallant Member for Dudley (Sir A. Griffith-Boscawen) and the hon. Gentleman the Member for Denbigh Boroughs (Mr. Ormsby-Gore) have throughout the whole of their speeches to-day treated this question as though it were one of a modern kind and as something that had been suddenly sprung on the country, and something in regard to which we were relying upon a scratch majority at some General Election. That is not at all the character of the movement with which we are dealing. It is not a movement of any wire-pulling or of any log-rolling kind. 648 It is not a movement which has been imposed upon the people by politicians, but it is a movement which has been imposed by the people of Wales upon the politicians of Wales. It is a movement which started more than a hundred years ago, and is one that has been growing, and growing not as part merely of any political party programme, but growing co-incidentally with the great rise in Non-conformity upon an unparalleled scale in the Western part of our country. It would be unpardonable on my part to attempt to develop the point to which I have just alluded, and I am not going to do so. But if the question of whether this has popular support is to be decided, not merely by considerations of the moment, but by considerations of all the relevant facts, I would have to point, secondly, to the electoral statistics connected with this question. I think that they are fairly well known. I do not think that it would be advisable for me, or that anybody would expect me, to explain the result of each General Election, in so far as Wales is concerned, from 1868 onwards, but it is a very remarkable fact that, whereas only seven Members supported the Disestablishment and Disendowment of the Church in Wales in the year 1868, the very moment that the Ballot Act had been passed and an opportunity afforded to the people of Wales, the Welsh-speaking people, the people who have been concerned in this national movement, of expressing their opinions, the number rose from seven to twenty-seven. My right hon. Friend the Home Secretary has sufficiently adverted to what has taken place from that time onwards.
The next point which I rely upon is, seeing that there is ample evidence for Parliamentary support of this Bill, supposing that the kind of evidence which we have to give is evidence which ordinarily has been accepted as adequate in our Parliamentary proceedings under representative government, the Parliamentary history of this measure. I shall only say one or two words on this aspect of the case. It ought not to be forgotten that as far back as 1895, when a Liberal Government was in power, a measure not very dissimilar in its terms from the one now under consideration received a Second Reading by a very considerable majority, and I would especially ask those Members who are concerned in North Wales to remember that that Bill received the assent of no less a person that Mr. Gladstone, who at one time was undoubtedly 649 hostile to the notion of treating Wales separately from England in regard to Disestablishment and Disendowment, but who ultimately endorsed with the sanction of his great authority a measure for treating Wales separately in regard to this matter.
§ Sir D. BRYNMOR JONES
Not on the principle. The light hon. Gentleman is wrong. It is perfectly true Mr. Gladstone was not Prime Minister in 1895 when the Bill was brought in, but if the right hon. Gentleman will look back to the record he will see that Mr. Gladstone assented to the Suspensory Bill, and was Prime Minister while the Suspensory Bill was before this House.
§ Mr. CHAMBERLAIN
I understood the hon. Member to be referring to the Bill of 1895, and not to the Suspensory Bill.
§ Sir D. BRYNMOR JONES
It is perfectly correct that the Bill I was referring to was the Bill of 1895. I said that a Bill for the separate treatment of Wales in regard to this question of Disestablishment and Disendowment had received the assent of no less a person than Mr. Gladstone.
§ Mr. CHAMBERLAIN
That was the Bill that came before the House when Mr. Gladstone had ceased to take an active part in its proceedings, and Mr. Gladstone broke his pair for that Bill.
§ 6.0 P.M.
§ Sir D. BRYNMOR JONES
Those are matters of personal history which are of very slight relevance to what I am now saying. If there is any doubt about the attitude of Mr. Gladstone, let me refer to the fact that the Suspensory Bill of 1893 was brought in in his Prime Ministership, and the Suspensory Bill had no meaning whatever unless he was prepared to support the principle of the Bill for the Disestablishment and Disendowment of the Church in Wales and Monmouthshire. Let me also say, that in a Debate in this House on the 20th February, 1891, Mr. Gladstone said:—Wales having thus spoken, is it right, is it desirable, can it long continue, that by English opinion such a declaration proceeding from Wales should be disregarded, contravened, and overruled? It may happen once or twice. I will not say how long it may continue; 650 I will not undertake to define the length of time in months or years. In politics it is dangerous to predict. But this I will say—it will be a very little time.… the people of England, who are eminently a just people, will give, and will insist on giving to Wales in respect of her reasonable demands the same just, considerate, equitable, and conclusive settlement which, in the like circumstances, I believe they would claim for themselves.That is some of the evidence undoubtedly upon which our case is based. A Bill was passed in the year 1895, so far as the Second Reading stage was concerned, and a Bill has now been passed twice through the House of Commons. The next point in regard to the evidence for the popular support of this Bill, is the situation created by the Parliament Act. Both in the election of 1910, and in the election of December, 1910, every single Welsh Liberal Member made it perfectly clear in his constituency, that he was asking the electors to decide to put an end to the veto of the House of Lords, in order that Bills which could not be got through so long as that veto was unrestricted might be passed into law. The hon. Member for Denbigh Boroughs has made some considerable play from time to time about our election addresses. I would submit to him, because I know him to be a fair-minded man, that there is really nothing in that point. It is quite true that in my election address in December, 1910, I did not expressly refer to the Disestablishment and Disendowment of the Church in Wales, but if the hon. Member will refer back to my election address in January, 1910, he will find that I there did so. In December, 1910, I did not publish the same address, or any lengthy address at all, but simply referred my Constituents to the address which I had issued in January, and said that my opinions then were identical. My hon. Friend says that I was unopposed. That, however, does not matter. I issued an address, and under the circumstances, I did not think it necessary to say more than that. I put forward exactly the same sentiments as before. The hon. Member will find, if he makes further inquiry, that that was the case throughout the whole of Wales and Monmouthshire. He knows as well as anybody on this side of the House, that no man had a chance of being adopted as a Liberal or Labour candidate, unless he was sound upon this question. The hon. Member will not deny that; therefore, any question as to the exact form of an address, or exactly what was said at this meeting or that, ought not to influence anybody's opinion upon a matter of this kind.
651 We regard the decision of the General Election of December, 1910, as final on this question. We look upon the matter res judicata. We have obtained time after time a final verdict from the highest court in the land—the opinion of the electors of the United Kingdom. That has been our position, and that shortly is our answer to all those points which were so cleverly made by the hon. Member for Denbigh Boroughs, and the hon. and gallant Member for Dudley. If they like, after a judgment has been given, to go and hold a demonstration, there is nothing to stop them; but why on earth should we, having obtained these decisions, regard the matter as in any sense doubtful. I am referring to Wales, which, of course, is our business. I have noticed running through the speeches on the other side this afternoon a recognition of the distinction between Welsh and English opinion. I am the last to regard with any disrespect the opinion of either English Churchmen, English Nonconformists. English Liberals, English Labour, or English Conservatives, but I venture to say that the question of what is the opinion of England in regard to this matter is not the overruling question. I admit that the votes of the electors in England, Scotland and Ireland have, in fact, a great influence upon the development of affairs, upon the passing or not passing of any particular Bill, but our contention is that this Bill is one which ought to be passed because the opinion of Wales is in favour of it.
Throughout our discussions upon the present Bill, from the time it was brought forward in 1912, we have taken as our first principle the principle that Wales is a separate nationality, and ought, in regard to merely domestic concerns, to be treated as a separate political entity. If you deny that principle, if we advocate the Disestablishment and Disendowment of the English Church at all, we ought to extend the sphere of our activities to England and Wales. But we do not ask that. Many of us believe that the connection between a particular Church and the State is wholly unjustifiable and unfair. But we are not raising that broad and general question in our present disputation. The Bishop of St. David's, who is a thorough Welshman, and has been following our arguments with the greatest skill, and has answered or endeavoured to answer them without showing any ill-temper, unlike some other people who have been concerned in meeting us on this question, is 652 reported in the "Western Mail," of the 14th February, as having said at a meeting, at Penarth, on Friday last:—He had last month explained at length his views about Welsh nationality, and he valued Welsh nationality because it formed a common ground of patriotism on which Nonconformists and Churchmen could stand together as Welshmen, for the promotion of the welfare of Wales as a whole.The hon. Member opposite agrees with that statement of principle. In regard to any matter touching conscience, touching the question of how the Welsh people are to carry on their religious work; how can he assert that the opinion of Wales ought not to be the ground of deciding what is best for the welfare of the Welsh people? The Bishop of St. David's says that it forms a common ground on which Welsh. Nonconformists and Churchmen can stand together for the promotion of the welfare of Wales as a whole. Who are to be the judges of the welfare of Wales as a whole, unless it be the Welsh people?
§ Sir D. BRYNMOR JONES
How are you going to ascertain the opinion of the Welsh people, except through their representatives, unless you desert altogether the standpoint of popular government? I think it fair to refer to that statement as showing that in the highest quarters we are gradually convincing people that the principles upon which this measure is founded are true, and ought to be acted upon. There is one observation made by the hon. Member for Denbigh Boroughs, which I think ought to be answered. He referred to demonstrations in Wales, and especially to one held at Wrexham. The hon. Member knows that none of us would, for a single moment, question the zeal and sincerity of the people who attended those demonstrations. Personally I have no reason to doubt the accuracy of the numbers suggested by the hon. Member as having attended. My answer is, that we have not thought it right or necessary on our part to try to answer the kind of argument implied in a demonstration by any similar measure, except on one occasion. We held one demonstration, which we thought, was quite sufficient, namely, the demonstration on the 28th May, at Swansea. I took the best methods I could to ascertain the number of people who came into Swansea for that demonstration. First of all, in the morning we held a meeting at which there were over 1,000 people who came from all parts of Wales, and who in effect, I believe, represented the views of the Nonconformists 653 of those various districts. We were unanimous in our views about proceeding with this Bill. I may mention also that in the afternoon a great meeting was held in the Victoria Park. I am told—and I believe the matter can be easily verified—that over 60,000 people actually arrived at the park. From inquiries we find that something between 90,000 and 100,000 came into town specially and joined in the procession to the Victoria Park. At any rate, I can say this, that our demonstration was as remarkable in all its features as any that has been held by those on behalf of the Church in Wales.
When you come to deal with English demonstrations, I am not at all inclined to think that the arguments of the hon. Gentleman carried the matter much further. I find that these English demonstrations and processions have not been of a political character. I think 180 have been held altogether. I have seen reports of a good many. I find that most of them are not demonstrations of the same type of demonstration that we, at any rate, have endeavoured to hold in Wales from time to time; but that they are of a definitely religious character. That is not, I think, denied. At any rate, I see that the "Times" newspaper said that in regard to the Hyde Park demonstration, which has been referred to, that it was obviously and intentionally one of a religious character. Banners were exhibited bearing the following inscriptions: "Britain's Church is Britain's Glory," "Church before Party," "Fight for the Faith," and so on. [HON. MEMBERS: "Hear, hear."] Quite so; I have not the slightest objection, but if that is the kind of demonstration you are going to hold, the meeting becomes, not an appeal to the reason of the citizen, but an appeal to the obedience of the faithful. All our demonstrations have been held on a purely secular basis. [HON. MEMBERS: "Hear, hear."] I rejoice to hear that cheer, because at our meetings not one word, so far as I have observed, has ever been said against religion or against the doctrines or tenets of any. Church—certainly not the Church of England. That is our whole point. Let us come again to Colchester. The Bishop of Colchester, I am told in the report, gave a telling and earnest address. I have no doubt about it. After the Creed, prayer, and the address, his lordship put this question to the vast crowd: "Do you who are gathering here solemnly protest against the 654 proposal of the Government to destroy the organic unity of the Church of England and to confiscate much of the property of the churches in the Welsh dioceses?" Very well! Surely, if the Creed is recited and there is prayer, that is a religious ceremony.
Again, when you come to the great Hyde Park meeting, I observe that no less a person than the Bishop of London prayed and said: "I appeal to God; He can smash any machine. I appeal to God to smash the Parliament Act." How can we answer the argument of prayer? I do not know what that kind of dialectic is. It certainly would be most unbecoming on my part to say anything in the way of adverse criticism upon people who like to hold these meetings. The only thing I can suggest is that we should try to find some Elijah. I am not at all sure that the Rev. Evan Jones, who has been so bitterly attacked by the Bishop of St. Asaph, would not take upon himself the function of praying on our side. If, as a result, this Bill becomes law, I do not think the Bishop of London can complain if we say that he has been in this regard rather a false prophet. I do not think it is necessary to deal with any of the points relating to the substance of the Bill, which have been more or less referred to on the other side. I confidently submit to the House that there is nothing in all that has been said to show the slightest change of popular opinion in regard to this measure. We stand by the decision of a country in 1910. I can tell the House that the spirit of the Welsh people, as our history proves, is like a sword of steel. You may bend, but you will not break it. Our hearts are set upon this measure, if only as an expression of our national will. We shall spare no measures to compass the passing of the Bill, which we regard as one of tardy justice and historical retribution.
The hon. and learned Gentleman who has just sat down naturally, perhaps, devoted the greater part of his speech to establishing the proposition that this Bill was still popular with the majority of the Welsh voters. I am not going to enter into the controversy between him and my hon. Friend the Member for Denbigh Boroughs. He may be right, or he may be wrong, in thinking that the majority of the Welsh people desire this Bill. I have no means of testing it; but the fact that so large a proportion of the Members from Wales vote for it, is, I quite agree, 655 a primâ facie argument in his favour, and I am not going to dispute it. But there are one or two propositions which the hon. and learned Member advanced on that aspect of the question which I think are rather dangerous. He quoted the Bishop of St. David's as being a supporter of Welsh nationality, and I have not the least doubt that he quoted him perfectly accurately. The Bishop of St. David's is a Welshman, a Welshman of Welshmen, a patriotic Welshman, and if I, though not a Welshman, may say so, an ornament to Wales. He was perfectly justified in appealing to the feelings of Welsh patriotism. But I utterly mistake the whole tenour of thought of the bishop if he ever suggested the doctrine which the hon. and learned Gentleman proceeded to found upon the bishop's statement, which was that every measure that passes the House of Commons of the United Kingdom for Wales should have a majority of Welsh people behind it. That is not Welsh patriotism. That is Welsh separatism. It has no other meaning. If it is to be the doctrine laid down in absolutely categorical terms by the hon. and learned Gentleman as applying to all portions of the United Kingdom, I can hardly conceive why a Home Rule Bill should be passed at all. Apparently you may divide the United Kingdom up into factions as you please, and then whatever the majority of representatives in any of the factions decides is good for that fraction, is to be passed obediently without debate, without discussion, without criticism, by the remaining Members of the House. That is an impossible doctrine. That is absolutely subversive of Parliamentary Government in any shape or form, and, if I may say so, it is a doctrine which is utterly inapplicable, in my opinion, to any kind of measure. Even if it applied only to a fraction of the United Kingdom I should never admit the argument—even if the Disestablishment Bill affected only Wales. Let me remind the hon. and learned Member that it is universally agreed that the Disestablishment of the Church in Wales does not affect the Church in Wales only. The Church of Wales is at present an integral part of the English Church, and it is absurd to suggest that the English Church can be forcibly bereft of so important a fraction of its organism without itself suffering. This may be more important to Wales than it is to the rest of England, or of the United Kingdom; but it is not only con- 656 trary to all sound doctrine of Parliamentary Government to say, that if this is a purely Welsh question it must be settled by purely Welsh representatives; but it is a great violation of the known facts of the case to suggest that it is only a Welsh question, and that only Welshmen can settle it.
I do not, however, rise for the purpose of dealing with the state of public opinion in Wales, or of offering any verdict upon the matter in controversy between the hon. and learned Gentleman and my hon. Friend. I rise merely again to point out how unjustly and absurdly the Parliament Act is working in connection with tins measure. We know exactly—it has been quoted in this Debate—the Prime Minister's general account of how he thought the two years' delay would work in assuring that no measure should be passed over the House of Lords of and in spite of the House of Lords unless it had behind it the general sentiment of the people of this country. I have not the right hon. Gentleman's words here, but his meaning was perfectly clear. Probably most hon. Members have in their minds the statement which the right hon. Gentleman made on more than one occasion, and the argument he advanced. That argument was this: That if the Government brought forward a measure under the Parliament Act which did not have behind it the assent of the people there would be discussion, interest, and argument carried on in all the constituencies throughout the country, and people would have an opportunity of indicating, not, indeed, formally by their votes, but by pressure upon their Members, that the measure was distasteful to them; that, as a result, no Government which valued its own skin—and certainly no Government values its skin more than the present one—would proceed with the measure. I think that argument had considerable weight. I think people did feel that if public opinion was really to be concentrated upon a measure for two years, if the result of that careful attention was to bring to light objections which had not been thought of before, the defects which bad lain concealed within the Bill would cither be profoundly modified or the Bill would be abandoned. How much chance has the ordinary elector of this country had to concentrate his attention upon this Bill? Two years was supposed to be a protection against rash legislation. It has operated precisely in the opposite direction. The effect of the way the Government have 657 worked it is this: They have said to themselves: "If we bring only one important measure in under the Parliament Act no doubt public opinion may be concentrated upon it, and the result may be disastrous to its fate. Let us bring in several measures, and if the measures which we bring in are not enough, Jet us start another agitation at the same time, and make it perfectly confident that the attention which the electorate of this country can give to the measure will be necessarily so superficial that we may hope to escape any hostile criticism." That is the broad policy. Now, how is it carried out. It is carried out admirably and effectively, I mean admirably from the point of view of the wire-pullers, and effectively, from the point of view of the Government, and fatally, from the point of view of the principles of Parliament. Will any hon. Member on the benches opposite get up and honestly tell me that with the Home Rule Bill constantly under discussion, with even the Home Rule Bill eclipsed by the effect of the Insurance Act, by the discussions and debates on the Insurance Act, that even such attention can be given to the Home Rule Bill, beginning to be eclipsed by the knowledge that that Bill may lead us to civil war, and on top of all that, the Chancellor of the Exchequer going blazing about the country with the deliberate intention of turning public attention away from the Insurance Act, away from the Home Rule Bill, away from the condition of Ulster, and away from the Church Bill—will anyone on the Front Bench get up and tell me that this measure of Disestablishment has seriously received the attention which it would, and might, have had during those two years under more favourable circumstances? The thing is absurd, and everybody who knows the realities of politics knows it is absurd.
Our electors are necessarily and inevitably busy men. They have to earn their living; they are occupied with the local affairs, they are occupied with all those innumerable questions which the Government have thrust upon their notice, some of which touch their interest vitally and immediately, and it is absurd to ask them to give balanced and impartial consideration to a measure which, however important, and however important they may think it, if they had the chance, does not actually directly touch their immediate interests. Therefore, I say the whole manner in which this Bill 658 has been treated by the Government shows, in the first place, that it is not a proper measure to be forced through under the Parliament Act, and, in the second place, that if it ever was a measure that ought to be forced through under that Act, the Government have deliberately and intentionally and persistently taken every step in their power to make it impossible for the people adequately to consider it in those two years which were avowedly given to other considerations, and that is no doubt, one of the reasons of the phenomenon which so shocks and horrifies the hon. and learned Gentleman who has just sat down. He is dreadfully distressed to find that so many of the meetings directed against this measure have been religious meetings, and he draws an especial distinction between religious demonstrations and appeals to the reason of the people, which he seems to think the first result to forward.
It may surprise the hon. and learned Gentleman that this is religious in part, and that it is largely and fundamentally a religious question. And it is the Nonconformists who have realised that the interests of religion, apart from sectarian differences, are involved in this measure which is largely responsible for that appeal made, to which my hon. Friend refers, from Nonconformists in Wales. And everybody in this House knows well that the Nonconformist clergy and many of the most earnest and religious of the Nonconformist bodies in this country, those, in other words, who do consider this as a religious question, and not as an appeal to the reason of the people in the curious paradoxical sense in which the hon. and learned Gentleman uses that phrase, are opposed, and are joining the Churchmen in their profound regret that the Government should deliberately set to work, and in the name of Welsh nationality or Welsh religious freedom, do so much to impair and hamper the real religious work which is now going on in Wales. What makes me feel that the crime, as I think it, which the Government, protected by the Parliament Act, are now committing against very high interests committed to their charge, what makes me feel that crime is greater than it might be in other circumstances, is the profound conviction that the best movement of our time, irrespective altogether of denominational differences, and differences between Churchmen and Nonconformists, is growing more and more hostile to this unscrupulous appropriation 659 of money devoted to religious purposes. The hon. and learned Gentleman said that this is a very old movement in Wales, and had gone back 100 years. I do not doubt that his facts may be true, and that 100 years ago there were earnest Nonconformists, at a time when Nonconformity was doing a great religious work in Wales. I do not at all deny that it is going on still. When the movement was in its first vigour I do not doubt there were many views as to beginning these attacks on Church property, especially as at that time the activity of the Church was on a far lower level of religious devotion than it is now or for many years past.
I believe anybody who will impartially try and investigate, not the way votes are given at political meetings when the hon. Gentleman and his Friends are appealing to what they call "the reason of the people," but who will try and make out which way the tendency of opinion is going amongst those who really lead opinion, those who first say what others will say in a few years' time, I think anyone who tries to make that study impartially and effectively will come to the conclusion that this Disestablishment tide is receding, not the least because people are becoming indifferent to religion, but because they are beginning to see that the greatest religious interests are, whatever your opinion may be as to Church and Nonconformity, or one form of Nonconformity or another, the greatest interests of religion are not bound up with those sectarian differences, and will not be helped by this sectarian plunder. If I am right in saying that, if I have given an accurate diagnosis of the way in which this opinion is now moving, and of the way in which all opinion will soon, move, then under cover of this Parliament Act, with the people not generally consulted, with their reason not in any true sense adequately appealed to, you are really committing a crime, which once committed cannot be undone, and you are using the constitutional instrument you yourselves have forged to carry out a policy which I believe even the most devoted Welshmen of the next generation will look back upon with a deepest and most heartfelt regret.
Mr. LLEWELYN WILLIAMS
We, on this side of the House, who suffer most from the dialectical skill of the right hon. Gentleman who has just sat down, welcome his appearance in our Debates, and always listen with great respect and admiration 660 to the sentiments he utters. The right hon. Gentleman availed himself of this occasion to point out that the Parliament Act was inefficient in several respects. I agree with the right hon. Gentleman that the Parliament Act ought never to have been required in order to pass this measure into law. Let me remind the House for a moment of the Parliamentary history of this measure. I venture to say that there-never has been a Bill in the long Parliamentary experience of the right hon. Gentleman which has been subjected to so much Parliamentary criticism and discussion and which has been submitted so often in all its details to the will of the electors of this country. In 1905, to go no further than that, Sir Henry Campbell-Bannerman said upon the eve of the election in December, 1905, that he proposed to introduce this Bill if he were returned to power. In July of the following year, 1906, in reply to a question put to him by the hon. Member for Oswestry, Sir Henry Campbell-Bannerman then said, he hoped to introduce legislation upon this question. Three years later, in April, 1909, that promise was redeemed, and the Liberal Government introduced this Bill, for it was this Bill, and the only modifications that have been made in it ever since are modifications in the interests of the Church, not in the interests of the Welsh people. That was in 1909; an election took place after the Bill had been introduced. After the country had got to know the text of the Bill and exactly what was proposed to be done, the Prime Minister made a speech in the Albert Hall, and the Bishop of St. David's speaking on the 22nd December, 1909, said this, as reported in the "Guardian" newspaper of that date:Parliament is not entitled to overthrow ancient national institutions without a clear, deliberate, decisive warrant from the people. That warrant was now being asked for by the Government for the Disestablishment of the Church in Wales, just as it was asked for in the General Election of 1868 in reference to the Irish Church. The Prime Minister's recent speech at the Albert Hall is a plain warning that if he and his friends are returned to Power, the Welsh Church will be disestablished and disendowed.The Prime Minister and his followers were returned to power, but circumstances over which we had no control, and over which I believe the Government had no control, made it impossible for the Government in 1910 to deal with this question, and when another election was forced upon the Government in December, 1910, the Prime Minister repeated his declaration at the Albert Hall to the effect that, if returned to power, he would introduce 661 this Bill, and the Bishop of St. Asaph, speaking at Oswestry on the 16th November 1910, said this:—I am wholly unable to agree with those who think that this is not a supreme crisis in the history of the Church in Wales. So far as the Church is an established and endowed Church, personally, I say without hesitation at all, I think that the fate of the Church, so far as those two sides of her position are concerned, will be decided within the next six or eight weeks.You have the Prime Minister on three occasions, on the eve of three General Elections, stating to all the world that if returned to power almost the first use he would make of the confidence of the country would be to introduce a Disestablishment Bill for Wales. That was accepted by the two great protagonists of the Establishment in Wales, because it was accepted by the Bishop of St. David's in 1909 and the Bishop of St. Asaph's in 1910. I ask the right hon. Gentleman the Member for the City of London, who has had such a long experience of this House, and who has made a great reputation as a Parliamentary Statesman, how otherwise ran Wales press her view upon the House of Commons except in the constitutional way she has chosen? I ask the right hon. Gentleman if, in his great and long experience of Parliament, he has ever known a Bill with all its details put before the country at three successive General Elections, winning all the three, which has not become Law? It is all very well to say there were other questions before the electors. The right hon. Gentleman seems to make complaint of the fact that now, when this Bill has got in the grip of the Parliament Act, other questions have been forced to the front. I would ask the right hon. Gentleman to call to mind what happened in 1902. In that year he passed an Act which offended the conscience of thousands, and tens of thousands, of the best citizens of the country, and he passed that Act in spite of the fact that the right hon. Gentleman the Member for West Birmingham (Mr. Joseph Chamberlain) pledged his word in 1900 that a majority returned in favour of the right hon. Gentleman's policy would not be used to do I anything to offend the Nonconformist conscience, and he said the majority would be used only to end the war. In spite of that pledge the right hon. Gentleman opposite used his majority in this House in order to force through the Education Act, which is still a standing grievance with thousands of Nonconformists.
Mr. L. WILLIAMS
That Bill was sent to the House of Lords, but they did not suspend its operation for two years. If the Parliament Act had been in vogue then and the Education Act in 1902 had got into the grip, of the legislative machine; if there had been at the other end of the corridor a Second Chamber that would deal as faithfully with the Education Act as it deals with Home Rule and Welsh Disestablishment to-day; if they had suspended the operation of the Act for two years, does the right hon. Gentleman believe that with all the by-elections going against him it would have been possible for him to put that Act on the Statute Book? The Licensing Act of 1904 is another instance. That was an Act which, no doubt, there is a good deal to be said in favour of. I agree that it was not altogether a bad Act, but it did introduce another element into our system. It laid down that the annual licence granted to a publican should be compensated for if taken away. That was a new and novel doctrine against all the decisions given in the Courts of Law. I do not say whether it was right or wrong, but, at any rate, it was a new thing, and the right hon. Gentleman opposite used his dwindling majority remorselessly in forcing through this House that Act without the excision of a single word. It passed through the other House. That is why we were compelled, if our measures were to have any chance, to pass the Parliament Act. We were not in love with the Parliament Act. I think that Act bears hardly even now upon our party. Why should the right hon. Gentleman and his followers be able to pass into an Act of Parliament a Bill like the Education Bill in one Session, amid the grumbling of his own followers here and amid the desertion of many of his followers in the country? I think the right, hon. Gentleman opposite has, since then, admitted very candidly that that Act did create some grievance upon Nonconformists which ought to be removed.
Mr. L. WILLIAMS
I think it was during the Debates of 1906, but if the right hon. Gentleman denies it I do not press the point. At any rate, he cannot deny that many of his own followers among Nonconformists believe that that was a grievous thing to do then, and yet he was able to pass that Bill in one Session. If that be so in regard to Tory legislation, how can it be unfair that 663 Liberal legislation, after running the gauntlet of, public opinion for two or three years, should have a chance of getting on the Statute Book? That is all we ask. What evidence is there or can be adduced that during the last two or three years this Bill is more unpopular than it was? We are a small country. We are feeble folk in this House. [HON. MEMBERS: "No."] We have only got thirty-four Members in this House, and, unfortunately, three of them sit on the other side; but we have done all we could, and the people of Wales have done all they could, to point out to this House the reality of our grievance. As the Home Secretary has already pointed out, the combined majority of the three hon. Gentlemen opposite who represent Wales is only something like 400, while the majorities of the thirty-one hon. Members from Wales who sit on this side is something like 90,000, or an average of 3,000.
The hon. Member for Denbigh Boroughs (Mr. Ormsby-Gore), with a courage which I admire, seemed to think that, because there were some slight decreases in the majorities obtained by two of his colleagues, that that showed a certain amount of growing unpopularity in Wales of Disestablishment. I do not look at it in that way. I have a majority of 1,281 in an electorate of only 7,500, and I am sure that would be a majority which the hon. Member for Denbigh Boroughs would be very proud to have. The hon. Member has increased his majority from eight to nine, and perhaps I may point out that my majority of 1,281 is greater than any Liberal majority anybody else has had in that constituency. The hon. Member mentioned demonstrations at Wrexham and Llandilo. Now, Llandilo is the centre of a constituency represented by my hon. Friend the Member for East Carmarthen (Mr. Towyn Jones). No doubt there was a great demonstration, at Llandilo, but there was a greater one in Carmarthenshire where there was a by-election. The present Member for East Carmarthen was returned by a majority of 2,700, and the Labour candidate who also fought that election and described himself as a more pronounced disestablisher than the hon. Member himself, also had over 1,000 votes recorded in his favour. Therefore, this very constituency, with Llandilo as its centre, only a year ago showed that it possessed a majority of 3,700 in favour of this question. 664 We are told that, not only are there demonstrations against us, but that we are getting petitions against this Bill. We have heard of petitions with 15,000 signatures, and signed by Nonconformists. I do not know Mr. John Williams, who sends the petition here, but I am told that he is a Conservative. Whether he is a churchman or not I do not know, but I know he is not a Nonconformist. I do not know what politics these 15,000 petitioners may hold, but I do suspect very much every one of these petitions. We have had experience of them before now.
There were 1,094 petitions sent to this House last year, and they were examined by the Petitions Committee. My hon. Friend the Member for Merionethshire sat as a member of that Committee. He went into the matter as far as his own constituency was concerned, and what did he find? He told the House some time ago that there were dozens of signatures in the same handwriting. Out of 1,094 signatures, 361 transgressed the rules of this House. He said he found duplicate and triplicate signatures. A publican in his constituency signed his name twice; an ex-sheriff also signed twice, and a rector and his wife and domestics signed the petition in Merionethshire, went to the seaside, and then signed the petition again. The signatures wore supposed to be those, of persons over fifteen years of age, but my hon. Friend found several instances of those who had signed under fifteen years of age. Another point is that they were supposed to be residents of the Principality, but in one parish, out of 2,000 signatures, over 600 were non-residents; and yet, taking all that into account, you get only about 550,000 or 560,000 signatures. At the last Census it was found that there were 1,600,000 adults over fifteen years of ago in Wales. Consequently, if you put in the non-residents, the people who signed with double and treble signatures, and all the rest of it, and give the benefit of all the doubtful ones in these petitions to the other side, you find that less than one-third of the adults in the Principality have signed petitions. Somebody has spoken of a chapel screw. I know Welsh Nonconformity, and I have never known anything in the shape of a chapel screw. I have heard of thousands of Nonconformists who do not believe in Disestablishment. It was said as long ago as 1909 by the hon. Member for Oswestry (Mr. Bridgeman) in this House that he knew of 665 thousands of Welsh Nonconformists who were against this Bill. These are his words, on 21st April, 1909:—I represent"—There were no Tory Welsh Members in those days; we were all sitting on this side of the House, even the hon. Member for Nottingham (Sir J. D. Rees) as hon. Member for Montgomery Borough:—thousands of the most religious and conscientious Nonconformists in Wales, who view with alarm this increasing association of their leaders with political caucuses."—I have never known any Nonconformist. leader bring out a candidate at an election, but I have known a Welsh bishop at the last election bring a brewer, out to fight one of my hon. Friends. I have never seen any Nonconformist leader go into the Liberal Chief Whip's office, but last week two Welsh bishops were seen to go into the Conservative Chief Whip's office:—and who realise that the best course they can pursue, and the course they wish to pursue, is one of united action with the Church. Many Nonconformists loathe this attack upon the Church Endowments.That was said in 1909, and I accept it. I have no doubt the hon. Member was perfectly right when he said that there were many Nonconformists who loathe this Bill. I have no doubt the hon. Member for Denbigh Boroughs and his colleagues in the Tory representation of Wales will agree with me that were it not for the fact that some Nonconformists, at all events, have voted for them they would not be sitting here to-day. It is a mistake to suppose that every Nonconformist is a Disestablishes and it is a mistake to suppose that every Churchman is against this Bill. We have more Churchmen from Wales sitting on these benches than on the other side of the House. I think we have five or six Churchmen, men who are devoted to their Church, who love their Church, but who think that the Church is in a wrong position as long as she is alienated from the national sympathies of Wales. The whole question, however, is not if there are Nonconformists who are against this Bill, but whether there are any Nonconformists who voted for this Bill in 1910 who are against the Bill to-day. Can the hon. Gentleman who moved this Resolution point out a single Welsh Nonconformist who has changed his colours since the last election? And unless some new fact of that sort emerges from this discussion it is idle for the hon. Gentleman to say that this House ought to ignore the last election either in Wales or anywhere else.
666 The right hon. Gentleman started by saying that he did not think the opinion of Wales should overrule the opinion of England in this matter. No Welshman has ever said, as long as Welshmen have come to this Parliament, that their wishes alone should prevail even in a matter of this sort. We have to appeal not to the Members for English constituencies alone, but to the House of Commons, the representative assembly of Great Britain and Ireland. We have to appeal to them, and, if we cannot convince them of the justice of our claim, then I agree that the mere fact that Wales itself asks for this act of justice is not sufficient. I thought that was agreed during the Debates of last Session. I remember the right hon. Gentleman the Member for the Wilton Division of Liverpool (Mr. F. E. Smith) making a very significant and a very eloquent speech on 29th November, 1912. There was a proposal to divide the Bill into two parts, Disestablishment and Disendowment. What did the right hon. Gentleman then say? He said, with regard to Disestablishment, he agreed that the case made out on the representation of Wales, almost unanimous Liberal representation of Wales, it is very hard to meet, and he was not prepared to controvert that part of the case, but with regard to Disendowment a different set of questions arises. You have to show not only that Wales wants Disendowment, but you must also convince the House of Commons that the proposals for Disendowment are just and equitable.
Speaking some days afterwards, I for my: part, agreed with that statement of the constitutional position; but I say now that, though this House will, I hope, always listen sympathetically to the voice of Wales, yet if they think that what we want is unjust, they must of course override our demand. I honestly believe that in the course of the discussion which has. been going on now for two years, with twenty-six days of discussion in 1912 and 1913, and two great debates last year, hon. Gentlemen on both sides of the House have been, I will not say convinced of the justice of our case, but they have, at all events, begun to see that Wales is not altogether unreasonable in the demand which she is making. I am perfectly certain that the people of England are not going to put an obstacle in the way of the fruition of the hopes of Wales in this matter. The hon. Gentleman the Member for Dudley (Sir A. Griffith-Boscawen) said that you could not get two men and a boy 667 to attend a meeting in favour of the Bill in England. I have attended ten or twenty meetings in the last autumn in various parts of England.
Mr. L. WILLIAMS
On this Bill alone. I went to Peterborough last September, at the request of the local people, the week after the Bishop of St. David's had been holding a demonstration against this Bill, and we had as enthusiastic a meeting in favour of the Bill as I have had in Wales itself, and my experience could be paralleled by the experience of other gentlemen in various parts of England. I venture to say, that the people of England are not so blind to the justice of the Welsh case as hon. Gentlemen opposite seem to think. The people of England may be slow to move, but I, for one, believe profoundly that they are people who are amenable to reason and to justice, and that they will listen even when a small country like Wales puts forward her claim in a reasonable and constitutional way. I would ask the House, when they consider the difficulties which every small country has in laying its case before
§ a great country like England and Scotland, and when they remember the multitude of domestic interests which must come nearer the hearts of Englishmen than a measure of this sort affecting a remote and obscure part, as they think, of this Kingdom, whether we people of Wales ought to be deprived of this tardy act of justice. We have striven for it for forty and fifty years. We have come here in a constitutional way, with mo threats on our lips, and with no hatred in our hearts. You taught us the constitutional methods which you yourselves created. England created the representative system, and for 400 years Wales, at your dictation and at your request has been sending her Members to this House of Commons in order to demand, whenever necessary, justice for that little country. She sends them today, and she has sent them for forty years, asking you to grant to Wales what you granted to Scotland 250 years ago, and what you granted to Ireland in 1869; we ask now, at long last, that you should do us this tardy act of justice.
§ Question put: "That those words be there added."
§ The House divided: Ayes, 217; Noes, 279.671
|Division No. 4.]||AYES.||[7.11 p.m.|
|Agg-Gardner, James Tynte||Cator, John||Gibbs, George Abraham|
|Amery, L. C. M. S.||Cautley, Henry Strother||Gilmour, Captain John|
|Anstruther-Gray, Major William||Cave, George||Glazebrook, Captain Philip K.|
|Archer-Shee, Major M.||Cecil, Evelyn (Aston Manor)||Goldman, C. S.|
|Ashley, Wilfrid W.||Cecil, Lord Hugh (Oxford University)||Goldsmith, Frank|
|Baird, John Lawrence||Cecil, Lord R. (Herts, Hitchin)||Gordon, John (Londonderry, South)|
|Baker, Sir Randolf L. (Dorset, N.)||Chaloner, Colonel R. G. W.||Gordon, Hon. John Edward (Brighton)|
|Baldwin, Stanley||Chamberlain, Rt. Hon. J. A. (Worc'r.)||Goulding, Edward Alfred|
|Balfour, Rt. Hon. A. J. (City, Lond.)||Chambers, James||Grant, J. A.|
|Banbury, Sir Frederick George||Clay, Captain H. H. Spender||Greene, Walter Raymond|
|Baring, Major Hon. Guy V. (Winchester)||Clive, Captain Percy Archer||Gretton, John|
|Barlow, Montague (Salford, South)||Clyde, J. Avon||Guinness, Hon. Rupert (Essex, S.E.)|
|Barnston, Harry||Coates, Major Sir Edward Feetham||Guinness, Hon.W. E. (Bury S. Edmunds)|
|Barrie, H. T.||Cooper, Sir Richard Ashmole||Gwynne, R. S. (Sussex, Eastbourne)|
|Bathurst, Hon. A. B. (Glouc., E.)||Courthope, George Loyd||Hall, D. B. (Isle of Wight)|
|Bathurst, Charles (Wilts, Wilton)||Craig, Ernest (Cheshire, Crewe)||Hall, Frederick (Dulwich)|
|Beach, Hon. Michael Hugh Hicks||Craig, Captain James (Down, E.)||Hall, Marshall (E. Toxteth)|
|Beckett, Hon. Gervase||Craig, Norman (Kent, Thanet)||Hamilton, Lord C. J. (Kensington, S.)|
|Benn, Arthur Shirley (Plymouth)||Craik, Sir Henry||Hardy, Rt. Hon. Laurence|
|Bentinck, Lord H. Cavendish-||Crichton-Stuart, Lord Ninian||Harris, Henry Percy|
|Beresford, Lord Charles||Croft, H. P.||Harrison-Broadley, H. B.|
|Bigland, Alfred||Dalrymple, Viscount||Helmsley, Viscount|
|Bird, Alfred||Dalziel, Davison (Brixton)||Henderson, Major H. (Berks, Abingdon)|
|Blair, Reginald||Denison-Pender, J. C.||Henderson, Sir A. (St. Geo., Han. Sq.)|
|Boles, Lieut.-Colonel Dennis Fortescue||Denniss, E. R. B.||Herbert, Hon. A. (Somerset, S.)|
|Boscawen, Sir Arthur S. T. Griffith-||Doughty, Sir George||Hewins, William Albert Samuel|
|Boyle, William (Norfolk, Mid)||Duke, Henry Edward||Hickman, Colonel Thomas E.|
|Boyton, James||Eyres-Monsell, Bolton M.||Hills, John Waller|
|Brassey, H. Leonard Campbell||Faber, Captain W. V. (Hants, W.)||Hoare, S. J. G.|
|Bull, Sir William James||Falie Bertram Godfray||Hohler, Gerald Fitzroy|
|Burn, Colonel C. R.||Fell, Arthur||Hope, James Fitzalan (Sheffield)|
|Butcher, John George||Finlay, Rt. Hon. Sir Robert||Hope, Major J. A. (Midlothian)|
|Camphell, Captain Duncan F. (Ayr, N.)||Fisher, Rt. Hon. W. Hayes||Home, E. (Surrey, Guildford)|
|Campion, W R.||Fitzroy, Hon. Edward A.||Horner, Andrew Long|
|Carlile, Sir Edward Hildred||Fleming, Valentine||Houston, Robert Paterson|
|Carson, Rt. Hon. Sir Edward H.||Forster, Henry William||Hume-Williams, W. E.|
|Cassel, Felix||Gardner, Ernest||Hunt, Rowland|
|Castlereagh, Viscount||Gastrell, Major W. Houghton||Ingleby, Holcombe|
|Jardine, Ernest (Somerset, East)||Nield, Herbert||Steel-Maitland, A. D.|
|Jessel, Captain H. M.||O'Neill, Hon. A. E. B. (Antrim, Mid)||Stewart, Gershom|
|Joynson-Hicks, William||Ormsby-Gore, Hon. William||Strauss, Arthur (Paddington, North)|
|Kerry, Earl of||Paget, Almeric Hugh||Sykes, Alan John (Ches., Knutsford)|
|Keswick, Henry||Parker, Sir Gilbert (Gravesend)||Terrell, George (Wilts, N.W.)|
|Kinloch-Cooke, Sir Clement||Parkes, Ebenezer||Terrell, Henry (Gloucester)|
|Knight, Captain Eric Ayshford||Pease, Herbert Pike (Darlington)||Thompson, Robert (Belfast, North)|
|Larmor, Sir J.||Peel, Lieut.-Colonel R. F.||Thomson, W. Mitchell- (Down, North)|
|Law, Rt. Hon. A. Bonar (Bootle)||Perkins, Walter F.||Tobin, Alfred Aspinall|
|Lee, Arthur Hamilton||Peto, Basil Edward||Touche, George Alexander|
|Lewisham, Viscount||Pole-Carew, Sir R.||Tryon, Captain George Clement|
|Lloyd, George Ambrose (Stafford, Y.)||Pollock, Ernest Murray||Tullibardine, Marques of|
|Lloyd, George Butler (Shrewsbury)||Pryce-Jones, Colonel E.||Valentia, Viscount|
|Locker-Lampson. G. (Salisbury)||Randles, Sir John S.||Walker, Colonel William Hall|
|Lockwood, Rt. Hon. Lt.-Colonel A. R.||Ratcliff, R. F.||Ward, A. (Herts, Watford)|
|Long, Rt. Hon. Walter||Rawlinson, John Frederick Peel||Warde, Colonel C. E. (Kent, Mid)|
|Lowe, Sir F. W. (Birm., Edgbaston)||Rawson, Colonel Richard H.||Watson, Hon. W.|
|MacCaw, William J. MacGeagh||Rees, Sir J. D.||Weigall, Captain A. G.|
|Mackinder, Halford J.||Remnant, James Farquharson||Weston, Colonel J. W.|
|Macmaster, Donald||Roberts, S. (Sheffield, Ecclesall)||Williams, Colonel R. (Dorset, W.)|
|M'Neill, Ronald (Kent, St. Augustine's)||Rothschild, Lionel de||Wills, Sir Gilbert|
|Magnus, Sir Philip||Royds, Edmund||Wilson, A. Stanley (Yorks., E.R.)|
|Malcolm, Ian||Rutherford, Watson (L'pool, W. Derby)||Wilson, Captain Leslie O. (Reading)|
|Mason, James F. (Windsor)||Salter, Arthur Clavell||Winterton, Earl|
|Meysey-Thompson, E. C.||Samuel, Sir Harry (Norwood)||Wood, Hon. E. F. L. (Yorks, Ripon)|
|Middlemore, John Throgmorton||Samuel, Samuel (Wandsworth)||Wood, John (Stalybridge)|
|Mildmay, Francis Bingham||Sanders, Robert Arthur||Worthington-Evans, L|
|Moore, William||Sanderson, Lancelot||Wortley, Rt. Hon. C. B. Stuart-|
|Morrison-Bell, Capt. E. F. (Ashburton)||Sandys, G. J.||Wright, Henry Fitzherbert|
|Morrison-Bell, Major A. C. (Honiton)||Sassoon, Sir Philip||Yate, Colonel C. E.|
|Mount, William Arthur||Scott, Sir S. (Marylebone, W.)||Yerburgh, Robert A.|
|Neville, Reginald J. N.||Spear, Sir John Ward||Younger, Sir George|
|Newdegate, F. A.||Stanier, Beville|
|Newman, John R. P.||Stanley, Hon. G. F. (Preston)||TELLERS FOR THE AYES.—Lord|
|Newton, Harry Kottingham||Starkey, John Ralph||Edmund Talbot and Mr. Bridgeman.|
|Nicholson, William G. (Petersfield)|
|Abraham, William (Dublin, Harbour)||Crumley, Patrick||Griffith, Ellis Jones|
|Addison, Dr. Christopher||Cullinan, John||Guest, Major Hon. C. H. C. (Pembroke)|
|Agar-Robartes, Hon. T. C. R.||Dalziel, Rt. Hon. Sir J. H. (Kirkcaldy)||Guest, Hon. Frederick E. (Dorset, E.)|
|Agnew, Sir George William||Davies, David (Montgomery Co.)||Gulland, John William|
|Alden, Percy||Davies, Ellis William (Eifion)||Gwynn, Stephen Lucius (Galway)|
|Allen, Arthur A. (Dumbartonshire)||Davies, Timothy (Lincs., Louth)||Hackett, John|
|Allen, Rt. Hon. Charles P. (Stroud)||Davies, Sir W. Howell (Bristol, S.)||Hancock, John George|
|Arnold, Sydney||Davies, M. Vaughan- (Cardiganshire)||Harcourt, Rt. Hon. Lewis (Rossendale)|
|Asquith, Rt. Hon. Herbert Henry||Dawes, James Arthur||Harcourt, Robert V. (Montrose)|
|Baker, Harold T. (Accrington)||Da Forest, Baron||Hardie, J. Keir|
|Baker, Joseph Allen (Finsbury, E.)||Delany, William||Harmsworth, Cecil (Luton, Beds)|
|Baring, Sir Godfrey (Barnstaple)||Denman, Hon. Richard Douglas||Harvey, T. E. (Leeds, West)|
|Barlow, Sir John Emmott (Somerset)||Devlin, Joseph||Harvey, W. E. (Derbyshire, N.E.)|
|Barnes, George N.||Dewar, Sir J. A.||Havelock-Allan, Sir Henry|
|Barran, Sir John N. (Hawick Burghs)||Dickinson, Rt. Hon. Willoughby H.||Hayden, John Patrick|
|Beale, Sir William Phipson||Dillon, John||Hayward, Evan|
|Beck, Arthur Cecil||Donelan, Captain A.||Hazleton, Richard|
|Benn, W. W. (T. Hamlets, St. George)||Doris, William||Helme, Sir Norval Watson|
|Birrell, Rt. Hon, Augustine||Duffy, William J.||Henderson, Arthur (Durham)|
|Black, Arthur W.||Duncan, c. (Barrow-in-Furness)||Henry, Sir Charles|
|Boland, John Plus||Edwards, Clement (Glamorgan, E.)||Herbert, General Sir Ivor (Mon., S.)|
|Booth, Frederick Handel||Edwards, John Hugh (Glamorgan, Mid)||Higham, John Sharp|
|Bowerman, Charles W.||Elverston, Sir Harold||Hinds, John|
|Boyle, Daniel (Mayo, North)||Esmonde, Dr. John (Tipperary, N.)||Hobhouse, Rt. Hon. Charles E. H.|
|Brady, Patrick Joseph||Esmonde, Sir Thomas (Wexford, N.)||Hodge, John|
|Brocklehurst, W. B.||Essex, Sir Richard Walter||Hogge, James Myles|
|Brunner, John F. L.||Falconer, James||Holmes, Daniel Turner|
|Bryce, J. Annan||Farrell, James Patrick||Holt, Richard Durning.|
|Buckmaster, Sir Stanley O.||Fenwick, Rt. Hon. Charles||Hope, John Deans (Haddington)|
|Burke, E. Haviland-||Ferens, Rt. Hon. Thomas Robinson||Horne, Charles Silvester (Ipswich)|
|Burns, Rt. Hon. John||Field, William||Howard, Hon. Geoffrey|
|Byles, Sir William Pollard||Fitzgibbon, John||Hudson, Walter|
|Carr-Gomm, H. W.||Flavin, Michael Joseph||Hughes, Spencer Leigh|
|Cawley, Sir Frederick (Prestwich)||France, Gerald Ashburner||Jardine, Sir J. (Roxburgh)|
|Cawley, Harold T. (Lancs., Heywood)||Furness, Sir Stephen Wilson||John, Edward Thomas|
|Chancellor, Henry George||Gelder, Sir W. A.||Jones, Rt.Hon. Sir D.Brynmor (Swansea)|
|Chapple, Dr. William Allen||George, Rt. Hon. D. Lloyd||Jones, Edgar (Merthyr Tydvil)|
|Clancy, John Joseph||Gill, A. H.||Jones, H. Haydn (Merioneth)|
|Clough, William||Gladstone, W. G. C.||Jones, J. Towyn (Carmarthen, East)|
|Collins, Sir Stephen (Lambeth)||Glanville, Harold James||Jones, William S. Glyn- (Stepney)|
|Compton-Rickett, Rt. Hon. Sir J.||Goddard, Sir Daniel Ford||Jowett, Frederick William|
|Condon, Thomas Joseph||Goldstone, Frank||Joyce, Michael|
|Cotton, William Francis||Greenwood, Hamar (Sunderland)||Keating, Matthew|
|Cowan, W. H.||Greig, Colonel James William||Kellaway, Frederick George|
|Crooks, William||Grey, Rt. Hon. Sir Edward||Kelly, Edward|
|Kenyon, Barnet||Norton, Captain Cecil W.||Samuel, Rt. Hon. H. L. (Cleveland)|
|Kilbride, Denis||Nuttail, Harry||Samuel, J. (Stockton-on-Tees)|
|Lambert, Rt. Han. G. (Devon, S. Molton)||O'Brien, Patrick (Kilkenny)||Scanlan, Thomas|
|Lambert, Richard (Wilts, Cricklade)||O'Connor, John (Kildare, N.)||Scott, A. MacCallum (Glas., Bridgeton)|
|Lardner, James C. R.||O'Connor, T. P. (Liverpool)||Seely, Rt. Hon. Colonel J. E. B.|
|Law, Hugh A. (Donegal, West)||O'Doherty, Philip||Sheeny, David|
|Leach, Charles||O'Donnell, Thomas||Shortt, Edward|
|Levy, Sir Maurice||O'Dowd, John||Simon, Rt. Hon. Sir John Allsebrook|
|Lewis, Rt. Hon. John Herbert||Ogden, Fred||Smith, Albert (Lancs., Clitheroe)|
|Low, Sir Frederick (Norwich)||O'Kelly, Edward P. (Wicklow. W.)||Smith, H. B. Lees (Northampton)|
|Lundon, Thomas||O'Kelly, James (Roscommon, N.)||Smyth, Thomas F. (Leitrim, S.)|
|Lyeli, Charles Henry||O'Malley, William||Snowden, Philip|
|Lynch, Arthur Alfred||O'Neill, Dr. Charles (Armagh, S.)||Soames, Arthur Wellesley|
|Macdonald, J. Ramsay (Leicester)||O'Shaughnessy, P. J.||Spicer, Rt. Hon. Hon. Sir Albert|
|Macdonald. J. M. (Falkirk Burghs)||O'Shee, James John||Stanley, Albert (Staffs, N.W.)|
|Maclean, Donald||O'Sullivan, Timothy||Strauss, Edward A. (Southwark, West)|
|Macnamara, Rt. Hon. Dr. T. J.||Outhwaite, R. L.||Swann, Rt. Hon. Sir Charles E.|
|Macpherson, James Ian||Palmer, Godfrey Mark||Tennant, Harold John|
|MacVeagh, Jeremiah||Parry, Thomas H.||Thomas, James Henry|
|M'Callum, Sir John M.||Pearce, Robert (Staffs, Leek)||Thorne, G. R. (Wolverhampton)|
|M'Curdy, C. A.||Pearce, William (Limehouse)||Thorne, William (West Ham)|
|M'Kean, John||Pease, Rt. Hon. Joseph A. (Rotherham)||Toulmin, Sir George|
|McKenna. Rt. Hon. Reginald||Phillips, John (Longford, S.)||Trevelyan, Charles Philips|
|M'Laren, Hon. F.W.S. (Lincs., Spalding)||Philipps, Colonel Ivor (Southampton)||Verney, Sir Harry|
|M'Laren. Hon. H. D. (Leics.)||Pointer, Joseph||Walsh, Stephen (Lancs., Ince)|
|M'Micking, Major Gilbert||Pollard, Sir George H.||Walters, Sir John Tudor|
|Manfield, Harry||Ponsonby, Arthur A. W. H.||Walton, Sir Joseph|
|Marks, Sir George Croydon||Pratt, J. W.||Ward, W. Dudley (Southampton)|
|Marshall, Arthur Harold||Price, C. E. (Edinburgh, Central)||Wardle, George J.|
|Meehan, Francis E. (Leitrim, N.)||Price, Sir Robert J. (Norfolk, E.)||Wason, Rt. Hon. E. (Clackmannan)|
|Median, Patrick J. (Queers Co., Leix)||Pringle, William M. R.||Watt, Henry Anderson|
|Millar, James Duncan||Radford, G. H.||Webb, H.|
|Molloy, Michael||Rea, Walter Russell (Scarborough)||Wedgwood. Josiah C.|
|Molteno, Percy Alport||Reddy, Michael||White, J. Dundas (Glasgow, Tradeston)|
|Mond, Rt. Hon. sir Alfred||Redmond, John E. (Waterford)||White, Sir Luke (Yorks, E.R.)|
|Money, L. G. Chiozza||Redmond, William Archer (Tyrone, E.)||Whitehouse, John Howard|
|Montagu, Hon. E. S.||Rendall, Atheistan||Whittaker, Rt. Hon. Sir Thomas P.|
|Mooney, John J.||Richardson, Albion (Peckham)||Whyte, Alexander F. (Perth)|
|Morgan, George Hay||Richardson, Thomas (Whitehaven)||Williams, Llewelyn (Carmarthen)|
|Morison, Hector||Roberts, Charles H. (Lincoln)||Williams, Penry (Middlesbrough)|
|Morton. Aipheus Cleophas||Roberts, George H. (Norwich)||Williamson, Sir Archibald|
|Muldoon, John||Roberts, Sir J. H. (Denbighs)||Wilson, W. T. (Westhoughton)|
|Munro, Rt. Hon. Robert||Robertson, John M. (Tyneside)||Wing, Thomas Edward|
|Murphy, Martin J.||Robinson, Sidney||Wood, Rt. Hon. T. McKinnon (Glasgow)|
|Murray, Captain Hon. Arthur C.||Roch, Walter F. (Pembroke)||Young, William (Perthshire, East)|
|Nannetti, Joseph P.||Roche, Augustine (Louth)||Yoxall, Sir James Henry|
|Nicholson, Sir Charles N. (Doncaster)||Roe, Sir Thomas|
|Nolan, Joseph||Rowlands, James||TELLERS FOR THE NOES.—Mr.|
|Norman, Sir Henry||Russell, Rt. Hon. Thomas W.||Illingworth and Mr. W. Jones.|
§ Main question again proposed. Debate resumed.