§ Mr. McKENNA
acquainted the House that he had it in Command from the King to signify to the House that His Majesty had been pleased to place at the disposal of Parliament for the Established Church (Wales) Bill His Majesty's interests in the bishoprics and other ecclesiastical dignities and benefices in Wales and Monmouthshire.
Order read for resuming Adjourned Debate on Amendment to Question [18th May], "That the Bill be now read a second time." 1800 Which Amendment was to leave out the word "now," and at the end of the Question to add the words "upon this day six months."—[Mr. Hume-Williams.]
§ Question again proposed, "That the word 'now' stand part of the Question." Debate resumed.
§ The UNDER-SECRETARY of STATE for the HOME DEPARTMENT (Mr. Ellis Griffith)
After the amusing interlude through which we have just passed, it is not easy to take the mind of the House back to the important subject now before us. I had hopes that the Noble Lord (Viscount Wolmer) would have continued his speech which was broken off last night at eleven o'clock, because in the concluding sentences he was referring to the question of tithe, and I understood that he had something further to say upon it. His knowledge is not merely confined to one side of Church matters. He told the House that my hon. Friend the Member for West Denbighshire (Sir J. Herbert Roberts) is a bitter partisan. Really that is very hard upon him, and I think the Noble Lord must have been speaking of himself and applying the description to my 1801 hon. Friend. He also said that the Bishop of St. Asaph was a lifelong Liberal. I wish the bishop had been in the Gallery and had heard that very serious charge against him. I am sure he would never forgive the Noble Lord for so very inaccurate a description of him as a prelate. As I understood the speech of the Noble Lord, he still clings to the view that Disestablishment is an act of national apostasy. He did not express himself with quite the same bitterness as on previous occasions, but I take it that it is his view that Disestablishment is an act of national apostasy by the Government of this country. I will quote an authority who I am sure the Noble Lord will recognise. The late Lord Selborne—then Sir Roundell Palmer—speaking on 22nd March, 1869, in the course of the Debate on the Irish Church Bill, said:—National religion, as I understand it, is not any profession, embodied in laws, or forms and ceremonies, made by those who are at the head of the Government, but it is the religion of the people who constitute the nation. It may be, and must naturally be under many states of circumstances, that the religious convictions of the people will express themselves in the forms and institutions of their Government. Under all circumstances, they must exercise a great influence over public legislation, and if the rulers are religious men, whether as members of a legislative body like this House or as administering public authority in any other way, they will carry with them their religion, and be controlled or guided by its moral influence, in the discharge of all parts of their duty. But the forms of national institutions do and must, in this as in all other respects, vary from time to time, according to the circumstances of the country, and it is impossible to lay down a priori a rule to decide whether this change or that change tends to a departure from the national religion. Every single individual will be in point of religion what he was before the change, and therefore unless you believe that those who ad vocate the change have themselves departed from the principle of their religious profession, it is a monstrous and self-calumniating thing to say that an Act of the nature now under consideration is an Act of national apostasy.That is a view which must appeal to the Noble Lord, for I know that he believes in the hereditary principle. I do hope that, althought nothing I say may have an effect on his judgment, the authority of the judgment I have quoted will lead him to reconsider his opinion that this Bill is an act of national apostasy. The same point of view was put by the Bishop of Ossory the other day, when he said that, though the Disestablishment of the Irish Church may have done some good in Ireland, it had deprived the Irish people of their function to speak with one voice to God. That is, as I think, the fallacy, that underlies the argument so far as this is concerned. You think that because we Disestablish a Church which represents at most one-fourth of the people of Wales we abolish the only instrument that can speak 1802 in the name of the Welsh people. We have had in this Debate a great many repetitions of arguments that we have heard from time to time during the last two years. When we were discussing the Financial Resolution the other day hon. Members opposite said that there were a great many things which they wanted to discuss, but I think that yesterday convinced us that they had said all that they wanted to say upon this Bill. I have here a leaflet in Welsh which is stated to be by the hon. Member for Denbigh Boroughs (Mr. Ormsby-Gore). It is printed and published by the Wrexham branch of the St. Asaph's Diocesan Church Defence League. When a leaflet was quoted the other day the hon. Member repudiated it, and said that it was simply a political leaflet. But this comes from the St. Asaph's Diocesan Church Defence League, and it is in Welsh, and is stated to be by the Hon. William Ormsby-Gore, M.P. I do not suppose that the hon. Member has seen it. I will not read it all, but I will read the last portion. It says:—If this Bill is passed, the Welsh nation as a nation will be looked upon from the official point of view as infidels and desecraters.I am sure that the hon. Member would not sanction the use of his name to a leaflet of that kind, and I have no doubt that he will communicate with his friends in St. Asaph's diocese and do all he can to repudiate these words. We have been told on the one hand that hon. Members want more time to discuss the Bill, but on the other hand we have been told that it is futile to have discussion. I cannot quite reconcile those two assertions. Why is it so futile to discuss this Bill? The hon. Member who moved the rejection of the Bill said that it was a futile discussion because the House of Lords had been interfered with.
§ Mr. HUME-WILLIAMS
I am unfortunate enough to have had to do the same. What I said was that, owing to the truncated and mutilated Parliamentary procedure in this House, the discussion was futile.
§ Mr. ELLIS GRIFFITH
I heard the speech and read it, and I do not know what the hon. Member intended to say, but I know what he did say. He said that if there had been a reformed House of 1803 Lords all would have been well. Why? Because, he said, the House of Lords would have either passed the Bill or have referred it to the country. That is the claim made by the Opposition. They want the House of Lords to throw out our Bills and refer us to a General Election when we are in power, and pass all their Bills when they are in power. I think that today is the thirty-eighth day on which we have discussed this measure in this House during the last two years. The hon. Member who seconded the rejection Motion yesterday said that it was impossible to come to terms, and the Archbishop of Canterbury, speaking on the 13th February last year, in the House of Lords, said that their opposition was a root and branch opposition to this Bill; and it is very significant that at the end of the Debate on the Third Reading no suggestion has been made by the other side as to any terms upon which agreement may be arrived at. That is why I am somewhat surprised that hon. Members opposite rely so much on the advantage of a Suggestion stage. I think that I am right in saying that there was not a single point, in the suggestions which were put upon the Paper, which has not been discussed several times in this House.
§ Mr. ELLIS GRIFFITH
There were tithe and glebe. You took two discussions on glebe and you did not take any discussion on tithe. There was no attempt to repudiate the argument of my right hon. Friend yesterday when there was an opportunity of saying something about tithe. I do not think that any hon. Member on that side raised the question at any length, so it is quite useless to us to hold out what some Members call the olive branch. We cannot hold out the olive branch to people who really want the whole tree. There is really no good, in those circumstances, in hoping that we can arrive at any terms of agreement upon this Bill. One argument, I am glad to think, has disappeared during the last two years in the country. Some years ago the point used to be put, "If you Disestablish the Church of England in Wales, you will do away with the great bulwark between Protestantism and Rome." At any rate, 1804 that has been abandoned. No wonder it has been abandoned, because the hon. Member for Liverpool, whom I do not see in his place, said publicly some time ago that 3,000 clergymen were habitually guilty of illegal practices, and that half the bishops were in sympathy with them. In those circumstances, I think that it is wholly to the credit of the other side not to raise this argument at this time of the day. Something has been said about Convocation, and the only complaint I have to make in regard to the argument put from the other side is this: Some of the more irresponsible Members speak as if it were a mere act of mutilation, by which we wanted to do an injury intentionally to the Church. I do not know whether they would accept my words, but, so far as I am personally concerned, I can assure them that there is no basis for arriving at that conclusion.
As I have tried, I am afraid unsuccessfully, more than once, to point out to hon. Members on the opposite side, when you have Disestablished the Church in Wales, you must in some form or another separate the four Welsh dioceses from the rest of the Province of Canterbury. You cannot Disestablish the Church in Wales without putting it into a position different from that of the rest of the Province of Canterbury in England. I know that it is said that it is wrong. I am not on that point, but if you have got to Disestablish the Church, you have got to make this separation. That is why I have said more than once that Disestablishment and dismemberment are two names for the same thing. If you look at it from the point of view of the four Welsh dioceses, it is Disestablishment, but looked at from the point of view of the Province of Canterbury, it is dismemberment. I really think that that is irresistible. These are two names for the same thing. How you Disestablish and dismember it is another matter. Assuming for the moment that the four Welsh dioceses were allowed to remain exactly as they are, as far as Convocation is concerned, the effect would be this: That they are a Free Church in Wales and an Established Church in England. They would be co-operating together in Convocation, and this united body would be governing a Free Church in Wales, and an Established Church in England would have the predominant power to govern the Free Church in Wales.
§ Mr. ELLIS GRIFFITH
I do not complain of the interruption. It is just as well that we should know what hon. Members think. I want to understand, as far as I can, how we differ. I suggest that that is an impossible position. Once you Disestablish the Welsh Church it is impossible for you to allow the Welsh dioceses to retain their present position in the Convocation of Canterbury. [HON. MEMBERS: "Why?"] For the reason that I have said; if you let them remain in Convocation you have a Free Church governed and ruled by an Established Church, by the remaining English portion of the Province of Canterbury, which will have a predominant controlling power. So as regards the result of Disestablishing the Church in Wales, although the hon. Gentleman has said that it will be free in name, and that the words "free church" will be a sort of terminology, I tell him quite frankly that we want something more than a Church which will be free in name; we want a Church free in substance, and we cannot get a Church free in substance without freeing the four Welsh dioceses from any part in the Convocation of Canterbury. With regard to spiritual co-operation, that will remain in full force after the Bill passes. The Welsh Church will be in exactly the same position as the Church in the Colonies, and can co-operate together with the Church in England in all these matters that really concern the future of a spiritual organisation. The subject of curates ought to be mentioned. At the present time curates in Wales are paid from three sources: they are paid by the Ecclesiastical Commissioners; they are paid in part by voluntary subscriptions; and they are paid by the incumbent under whom they serve.
As far as the fund of the Ecclesiastical Commissioners is concerned that will remain exactly as it is at present. With regard to voluntary subscriptions, I say quite frankly that to that extent it will be necessary for the Church to subscribe a few thousands a year more than it does at present in order to retain the present Endowments. No doubt voluntary subscriptions will suffer, but with regard to the salary of curates paid by the incumbent, I would ask the House to consider the position. If a curate now serves under an incumbent, he cannot be dismissed except with the consent of the bishop or for good cause, and he remains as long as the incumbent lives, and when the incumbent dies he is subject to six weeks' 1806 notice. As life interests under this Bill are safeguarded, does it not follow of necessity that the hardship of the curates is simply limited to that six weeks' notice after the death of the present incumbent? The invariable point of which we are reminded is this: They say, "What good will it do? Who will be any the better?" It has been put time after time, and by speaker after speaker. I have heard men denounced because they said that there was money in this Bill, but it is a very similar argument to say," Who is a penny the better or worse?" You do not measure these matters in terms of material advantages. The real question is, not who would be the better for it, or would anybody be in a better position—the question is, I quite admit, "Is the Bill just?" That is the point. Because if it is not just our position is quite hopeless. It is not so much "What good will it do?" but "Is it just in itself?" Our contention is, and I know that it is shared by a good many in this House, and it is shared by a good many clergymen and Churchmen in Wales, that we shall be putting the Church in a better spiritual position.
§ Mr. ELLIS GRIFFITH
I will call the Noble Lord's attention to a quotation on the point, which he will appreciate. It is a quotation from Dr. Arnold, in which he said that, "taking the Church as a whole, it has always been against the great forces for human improvement." And that is what I was giving expression to there. It is one of those rhetorical flourishes occasionally indulged in, but so far as the substance is concerned, I adhere to every word I have said, and I am prepared to prove it from every historian, Morley, Lecky, and others, including Mr. F. Harrison, who is very much quoted on another point just now in the newspapers.
When we are asked what good it will do, I would point out that traffic in the cure of souls is worse than the traffic in titles. The abolition of private patronage is practically the cure of souls, and what will do more good than if we abolish that great injustice to the Church of England. Will it not enable the laity to take a greater part in the government of the Church, and will it do nothing towards allowing the congregations to choose their own clergyman? Are not those the points which will really make for the betterment of the 1807 Church? I know very well that it will be said that Disestablishment and Disendowment is too great a price, but I am only on the point that it will do good in all those different directions. Is it nothing to reconcile Welsh national sentiment to the Welsh national Church? Has not the great difficulty been that, rightly or wrongly, the great majority of the Welsh people find that you are out of sympathy with their national aspirations? Is it not something for you to reconcile their sentiment to the Church? Is it not something to put an end to the strife that is going on now, so that energies which are dissipated in this controversy on both sides, Nonconformists and Churchmen, may be utilised for better effort in other directions?
I saw the other day that the Bishop of St. Asaph, in speaking of this controversy, said it was a very unpleasant thing for him to have to lay down the pastoral staff and take up the mud-rake of controversy. He admitted the fact that it was not pleasant to take up the mud-rake, but I am bound to say that he displayed great aptitude in its use, and I hope that when he lays it down that he will find it pleasant again to take up the pastoral staff, for I believe the bishops of the Church in Wales are most anxious to get rid of this strife in order to devote themselves to those spiritual administrations for which they were appointed to their present posts. As a matter of fact, throughout this controversy we have had the efforts of the old ascendancy of which we have complained. There was a manifesto by two archbishops and thirty-two bishops in which they said, in support of the opposition to this Bill—The trust that has come down to us is nothing less than the privilege of foremost service in our Master's name.That is what they claim—a service avowed to be beyond all others, the foremost service, that is not shared in by any Nonconformist denomination. The Bishop of St. Asaph, whom I quoted, referring to this same matter at the Diocesan Conference, which is a semi-religious gathering, on 13th October, used the words:—Do not be frightened by the upstart insolence of modern nationalisation. Set your faces like a flint against the idea of allowing the Church to be degraded to the level of a new Welsh sect.You cannot have it both ways. If you talk about our position as a degraded position, then do not say that you are willing to co-operate—having a foremost 1808 place and a superior position—with those who have been degraded to the level of a Welsh sect. I wish now shortly to put before the House the argument with regard to Disendowment. Sometimes this Bill is said to be a "mean Bill." That depends entirely on the standpoint of the person using the phrase. They say that it does not matter that we are leaving the Church with large resources, this is a "mean Bill." But there is another aspect of the question. The Church retains the fabrics, ecclesiastical residences, moveable property, and private benefactions; and if you capitalise the income left to the Church under the Bill I believe that it represents a capital of £10,000,000. That, at any rate, is not alienated from the Church. A Bill that leaves to the Church a property equivalent to £10,000,000, though it may be called an unjust and unfair Bill, cannot be described as a mean Bill. With regard to the alienated property, it consists of tithes, of glebes, and of churchyards. Our view of tithe is that it is not private property, but a contribution from the State to that branch of the public service which is concerned in the administration of religion. The case of Fowke v. Berington was tried on the 11th May before Mr. Justice Astbury, and the hon. and learned Member for Kingston (Mr. Cave) appeared in it. In that case the point was put forward by the hon. and learned Member, who is an authority on these matters—he was then speaking as an advocate, and he was supported by the judge—that the obligation and burden upon parishioners to pay tithe to the parochial incumbent was imposed upon them by Papal law in this country. I think I am right in saying that in none of the text-books by writers of any eminence can you find support for the Church defence view that tithes were the gift of pious ancestors to the present holders. With regard to churchyards, which an hon. Member referred to as "our churchyards," there never was a greater mistake than that. The freehold of the surface may be in the rector, but the substance of the point is not who owns the churchyards, but for what purposes they are used. There can be no doubt that the parishioners as a whole, independent of creed or sect, own the churchyards of this country.
§ Mr. ELLIS GRIFFITH
Here we are on the thirty-seventh day of this controversy, and I am afraid we have not yet made our 1809 position clear to hon. Gentlemen opposite. There is a world of difference between the Church and Dissent. The hon. Member knows perfectly well that the parishioners are a body of people who by accident of place and birth reside', in a particular parish, and those parishioners, as a whole, have a right to the parish churchyard. Whatever may be the case as to tithe or glebe, as far as the churchyard is concerned there can be no doubt about it that it belongs to the parishioners as a whole, and Churchmen, when the Church is—I will not say degraded to a sect—Disestablished will be in the same position with regard to churchyards as any members of Nonconformist denominations. There can be no doubt that there are hundreds and thousands of Nonconformist places of worship which have no burial grounds. I do not want on this occasion to go into the vexed question of continuity except as it bears on this issue. A great many authorities have been quoted upon it, but the way I put it is this: The way we have got to consider it is not whether there was a breach in the structure of continuity at the time of the Reformation. I quite admit there was not, but the fact that there was no breach in the structure of continuity was clearly due to the political circumstances of the time. Bishops accepted the Reformation Movement, or other bishops were ready to take their place.
Up to 1534 the Church of England was an integral part of the Roman ecclesiastical system. In 1534 the Bishop of Rome was repudiated by Act of Parliament. Continuity of life in a spiritual organisation depends not on a form of structure but upon doctrines and belief. Hon. Members opposite tell us, time after time, that no property was transferred at the Reformation. Of course not directly from A to B. There was a penal law in Ireland that no Roman Catholic in that country was to have a horse of the value of more than £5 in value. No horses were transferred directly by the Act from Catholics to Protestants, but that was the effect of it. There was no transfer of property directly from those who held A's views to those who held B's views, but we know perfectly well that it is illegal to apply those Endowments to the purposes originally intended. As an illustration, I may mention that the Bishop of St. Albans suppressed a Catholic organisation in his diocese—"The League of the Love of God," yet they were the very 1810 men who represented the pious ancestors, and who carried out the purposes for which the funds were originally given. It may be said, "It docs not matter whether a transfer was made or not, but"—and this is said with considerable force—"at any rate, we have held this property for 250 years, and that ought to be good enough, and should prevent you from laying Parliamentary hands on this property." We all know, of course, what is the doctrine of prescription. Prescription is simply a presumption of law in accordance with which property shall be held to belong to somebody, although it is perfectly well known that he was not the original owner. It is a doctrine of the law to put an end to litigation. May I make two statements with regard to the doctrine of prescription? The doctrine of prescription has never availed to the trustee against beneficiaries, and if we are right, and I am assuming we are right, that the original beneficiaries were the parishioners as a whole, and that now the trustees administer the money, not to the parishioners as a whole, but to a particular class of parishioner, then the law of prescription does not avail them at all. Secondly, prescription has never had any effect against the Legislature, especially with regard to Church property. We all know that in 1836 there was a change in that property. There was a Dean of Durham with £8,000 per year, which Parliament dealt with despite the prescriptive right and the wish of the pious ancestor. They take no notice of the pious ancestor when they want to do something, but when Nonconformists want to do anything the pious ancestor is always said to be on their side.
§ Mr. ELLIS GRIFFITH
It is a matter of degree. A pious ancestor had given it to the Dean of Durham. You took it away, quite rightly, to readjust the property in your diocese for the general purposes of the Church. I quite admit that, but the moment you touch the pious ancestor there is no knowing how far you may go. All I say is that you did recognise the doctrine that there is no inalienable and unalterable law with regard to the original allocation of this property. The last point made is that we have got special consideration in the Act of 1834. There never was an Act of Parliament 1811 so clear and so misapplied. By that Act, where the trust deed is silent and the funds have been enjoyed for twenty-five years, they shall be retained to the denomination. If the trust is written, neither twenty-five years nor 250 years would avail, and if the Act of 1834 were extended to the Church it would not make a penny difference to the whole of the Endowments. I notice you claim the right of prescription. I do not know whether it is generally known that in the case of certain classes of Church of England property prescription will not avail against it. If a church is destroyed and its place is taken possession of—on analogous lines—no squatter can become a squire on Church property, because you cannot deconsecrate Church property without an Act of Parliament. You claim the right of prescription in one direction and you repudiate it in another. I think when one looks at the right of the Church to its property in this broad way, I believe that we are justified in doing what we are doing with it. With regard to the way in which we apply the money, the Leader of the Opposition said the other day that he had no complaint to make about the way the money was to be applied, though he opposed the Bill. We have discussed this matter for a very long time. I am not going now into the question of mandate or the question of what Wales desires. It is common ground, but I think I understand the position that Churchmen are now occupying in this House. As I understand, it is their boast that they support a Church established by law, regulated by Statute and endowed with political privilege and vast possessions. It is their claim that Church government should be comprehensive and tolerant, and they claim, too, and this has been said more than once yesterday and to-day, "with regard to the privileges you Liberals say we possess, they are not privileges: they are burdens and obligations imposed on us by the State, and we are only anxious to get rid of them." That is their position.
§ Mr. ELLIS GRIFFITH
If they were burdens and privileges of a disagreeable character everyone would be glad to get rid of them, but not at this price, of course.
§ Mr. ELLIS GRIFFITH
I should have thought that was an option anyone would exercise. More than that, it has been said, and by Conservatives in modern times, that they believe in the doctrine of religious equality, as understood by them, and they think a true conception of religious equality is consistent with the existence of a State Church. I am, I think, putting it fairly. What does that mean? It means that you want to retain Establishment and Endowment and the prerogatives and rewards and results with an Erastian subserviency, and at the same time to be free from State control. You think that the Church can be at the same time the servant of the State and spiritual master in its own house, which is impossible. That is the real fundamental difference which divides us in this controversy. We propose that the Church shall be untrammelled by the State and shall on Welsh soil work out its own spiritual salvation.
§ Lord HUGH CECIL
The right hon. Gentleman who has just spoken has gone over a great deal of ground in this controversy afresh. He said, quite truly, that it was desirable that he should understand our ease. That is so far an unfulfilled aspiration. He has not yet even caught a glimmer of our case either in respect of Disestablishment or Disendowment, and when he complains that we say that these discussions are futile, and at the same time that we are not allowed sufficient time, he overlooks the fact that the discussions are futile because of the obstinacy of hon. Members, and they are insufficient because of their ignorance. We have not been able to expound our views to the hon. Member because of lack of time, and we have not been able to convince him because he has lacked good will. Then the hon. Member complained that we had spoken about agreement. We do not hope to come to an agreement with hon. Members opposite. We know that the disagreement is fundamental. But, nevertheless, it is surely part of the function of a legislative assembly to try and make proposals, even bad proposals, better than they are, and we were anxious to discharge that duty, and if anyone really on the other side thought that the Debates and proceedings of this House were still a deliberative reality, that opportunity would no doubt have been given. Everyone knows that discussions in this House under the Parliament Act have become totally unreal, and that the Government would not even allow the 1813 trifling inconvenience of time for a Suggestion stage to stand in their way of maintaining an apparent recognition of that free debate which hitherto was the lot of the House of Commons. Let me deal with the other points as they arose in the course of the arguments. What is the main argument for the Disestablishment of the Church in Wales? The main argument is that it is the wish of the Welsh representatives. That is, one may almost say, the one argument put forward from the other side, and it is so much the main argument that if it were destroyed nothing of their case would be loft. They put it in this way: The Welsh nation is against Establishment and therefore you ought not to have it, and that it is unfair and unreasonable to have an Establishment in respect to Wales.
The hon. Member for South Carnarvon (Mr. W. Jones), in a significantly interesting and often very eloquent speech, spoke rather about Welsh nationality than about this Bill. I am sorry the hon. Gentleman is not here, but I must say I heard his view with amazement about this matter, because he said that the great Methodist movement was the birth of a nation, so that, apparently, before the Methodist movement there was no nation. He also said that the Welsh people would never have, and could never have, an ecclesiastical and sacerdotal religion. Since before the Methodist movement they had no opportunity of having any other than what the hon. Member would call an "ecclesiastical and sacerdotal religion," then, apparently, they were wholly godless, and thus up to 1740 they were godless. I think that a rather startling view to take of history. But, as a matter of fact, it is an argument which may be assailed from many points of view. It may first be assailed with the extraordinary transitory and weak character of Welsh Nonconformity. Welsh Nonconformity, in the technical sense, dates from the great secession from the Anglican Church, just over 103 years ago, which is a very brief period in the history of a Church. During that period of 100 years it has already completely changed its theological position, because at first it was a Calvinistic movement, and I think all the great Nonconformist denominations, except the Wesleyan, were Calvinists. Now Calvinism has passed away almost, though it has retained its form, so that we see that there has been one great theological revolution. Every-one 1814 is agreed that throughout Christendom there is now in progress another and a greater theological revolution, the end of which no man can foresee.
It is in that extraordinary transitory stage of the religious life of Wales that we have this argument that they do not accept the views of the Church of England, and therefore you must have Disestablishment. It is in this condition of flux and change that you are going to make an irrevocable modification, although no one can tell what will be the religious position of the Welsh people as little as fifty years hence. There is another answer, and that is that this argument of Welsh nationality misconceives the character of Establishment, and I think the hon. Member did so in more respects than one. Establishment is the relation between Church and State. It is not a relation between the Church and the Welsh nation. The Welsh people and the Welsh nation are not, indeed, participators in the Establishment at all, and neither for that matter are the English people or the English nation. The thing is very vividly brought about by an observation of the hon. Member for North Carnarvon, who said that if they had Welsh Home Rule the Church would not last a day. It is not conceivable that Welsh Home Rule could extend the power to a Welsh Legislature to Disestablish the Church, because at the moment that they considered the point they would say, The Establishment is an Imperial relation," and, in the language of the Home Rule controversy, "it is an Imperial matter." Consider the questions of dealing with the presence of the bishops in the House of Lords, and of dealing with the jurisdiction of the Privy Council in the Ecclesiastical Courts. These are the main aspects, but every other aspect of Establishment is the same. It is throughout the relation of an Imperial State; it is not the relation of a local Welsh nationality, if such nationality there be. The point is not merely an academic one; it is important to insist upon it, because there is in the minds of many Members of Parliament a sort of figure of an ill-treated Welshman who is obliged to give homage in some form or another to a Church of which he disapproves. That figure is a phantom. There is no such homage exacted from any Welshman. The relation, such as it is, is a relation determined and maintained by Imperial consent; and the people of Wales are no more 1815 particularly concerned as Welsh people than the people of England as English people, or the people of Scotland as Scottish people. The general character of the Establishment is an external relation between Church and State.
That really destroys an interesting passage in the case which the hon. Member tried to make as justifying the Dismemberment of the Church. He spoke as if Establishment permeated the character of the Church. It is an external relation outside the Church's inner life, into which the State has entered by way of giving recognition to the Church as an exponent of religion. The principle of Establishment is no more than that a State ought to recognise religion as such, and inevitably, especially in a monarchical State, you must have recognition of a particular denomination. In this country we observe the wholesome rule of generally recognising in the various parts of the Kingdom the religion which prevails in those parts—in Scotland, Presbyterianism; in England, the Episcopal Church. [An HON. MEMBER: "Ireland?"] In Ireland the Church was Disestablished because there was the difficulty of not being able to recognise the religion of the majority, and, in my view, a profound mistake was made. If instead of merely Disestablishing the Irish Church it had been thought right to recognise the Roman Church, I think you would have done much more than you will ever do by Home Rule to solve the Irish question. But I quite agree that in the existing state of opinion that was not possible. The fact that you had recourse in Ireland to a makeshift arrangement not justifiable in principle—in fact, most unjustifiable in principle—adopted from motives of expediency, whatever else you may say about it, ought not to be drawn into a precedent to justify the action of this Bill.
In this case, whether the Church of England is or is not the religion of the majority of the people of Wales, it certainly is the only Church that can make out any claim for national recognition; because it is certainly the largest and the most growing particular denomination in the Principality. It therefore has the best claim for national recognition if you are to have national recognition. But who is to decide whether you are to have national recognition? Obviously the whole State which gives that recognition. Therefore the matter is not really one for decision by 1816 the Welsh people or the Welsh representatives; it is one for the whole State to decide. I see what the Home Secretary has in mind. He wants to justify the votes of the Irish Members. [An HON. MEMBER: "Why not?"] Certainly, as a matter of State right, they are perfectly entitled to vote. Our objection is that they vote under the stimulus of a strong temptation.
§ Mr. SWIFT MacNEILL
The Irish Members vote for Welsh Disestablishment because they know the good that Disestablishment did to the Church of Ireland.
§ Lord HUGH CECIL
That may be; but I am quite certain that, supposing a vital disagreement about Home Rule arose between the Government and the Irish Members, and the hon. Member for Waterford decided to turn out the Government, he would vote against Welsh Disestablishment without the slightest scruple. Indeed, it is a strong sense of that reality which, as I believe, makes the Government so anxious to read this Bill a third time before matters further develop in their Irish negotiations. But I was led away from the main course of my argument by that side issue. We contend that Establishment is an act of the whole country, and ought to be maintained as an act of the whole country. We contend also that in the course of Disestablishment you are doing wrong in tearing asunder the organisation of the Church. You are doing wrong because it is not the least necessary for the Disestablishment which you contemplate. It is perfectly true that to Disestablish the Church in Wales alone is almost an incoherent act. The fact that Establishment is a relation of the whole body makes it extraordinarily difficult to contemplate Disestablishment by itself or Disendowment applied only to Wales. You can withdraw the formal recognition of religion in Wales which Disestablishment gives; you can destroy the jurisdiction and authority of the Ecclesiastical Courts; you can remove the bishops from the House of Lords; but in order to do these things it is not the least necessary also to break into the synodical organisation. Not only is it not necessary, but it is contrary to every principle which you profess. You ought to be convinced that it is for the Church to determine what is the proper form of organisation by which it shall be governed.
1817 You say that you are making the Church in Wales free, but you are not. You are cutting off from the Church in Wales the alternative form of government which undoubtedly it would prefer—that is, government as part of the Province of Canterbury. It is not free to choose its own government. Under your Bill it cannot be, in the eye of the law, whatever it may be in the eye of the Church, part of the Province of Canterbury. That exhausts what I had to say about Disestablishment. We say that it is an act inimical to the interests of religion. Can anyone doubt it? Consider the effect on the whole world! In the most formal way you are severing the relation, as it exists in Wales, between the State and the Church. What is the effect of that on the minds of people outside? That religion is losing hold on the people; that people are not so religious as they were; and that, therefore, a recognition which was once appropriate has become an anachronism and is to be cast aside. I do not believe that throughout the world anyone will put an interpretation upon it other than that religion is on the downward path. To that extent we are entitled to resist Disestablishment on religious grounds.
I now pass to Disendowment. The Under-Secretary repeated several arguments of which I had hoped we had got rid. He told us, for example, that tithe was a contribution by the State. That is really a grotesque theory. The very name of tithe should be a safeguard against any such belief. Tithe from an early period was enforced by law, and it was so enforced because it was conceived to be a debt morally due to the Church, or, as our ancestors would have said, a debt due to God, and it was enforced like any other debt. It was a recognised obligation supposed to be morally binding on every human being.
§ Lord HUGH CECIL
It arose and was confirmed by positive law. It certainly was never levied as a tax and contributed to the central Exchequer. It was never paid or treated as a tax. If it were a tax you would not leave it to the lay impropriator. If it were a tax you would see how inequitable it was that a private individual should profit out of public 1818 revenue. Here, again, we have one main argument apart from subordinate questions, namely, that, according to the original purpose of the donor, a gift was made, not to the Church as a Church, but to the public, for the community, as it is called. That is a complete inaccuracy. It is also curiously inconsistent with the general line of argument taken by hon. Members opposite on this Bill. They maintain that the State is not entitled to deal with religious matters at all, and yet they maintain that Endowments, even when diverted to these secular purposes, will still be religious Endowments. When they are considering the relation of Church and State, the State must not lay an unholy hand upon a religious body; but when they are considering the Endowments, they contend that they are still devoted to religious purposes if they are given to the University of Wales, or to any of the charitable objects named in the Bill. If the State cannot deal with religious purposes at all, what right have you to carry out such transactions in your Bill? Obviously that is a pretence. The truth is that these are secular purposes, and you are diverting to secular purposes funds that were given to religious purposes. The broad way of looking at the question is the most convincing. To say that our mediaeval ancestors thought to improve the community, or the State, or to benefit the people of the parish in a municipal sense, that they were social reformers so to speak, is really like saying that they went on a pilgrimage to St. David's in a railway train or an aeroplane. It is just as absurd, it does not need refutation, if you import our ideas into a bygone age.
That is the only argument on which Disendowment rests. You have to maintain that the purposes set out in this Bill are nearer the original purposes of the first donors, or the first benefactors of the Church, than the maintenance of the Church services. Can anyone maintain such a position? To maintain that these eleemosynary and charitable works are nearer to the original purposes of the donors than the maintenance of the Church services, is enough to make the pious ancestors rise and haunt the Lobbies of this House with indignation at such an absurdity. When we come to subsequent matters, our case is perfectly clear, and even the Under-Secretary is obliged to admit that it is very strong. He talks about the Reformation having made a difference. The Reformation merely provided 1819 an occasion for Parliament to confirm and reaffirm over and over again the title of the Church to its property. Has the hon. Member never studied what happened in Scotland in connection with the United Free Church? The United Free Church actually, according to law, lost its property, but Parliament intervened to give it a fresh Parliamentary title in place of the legal title which it had lost. In the case of the Reformation a similar change of doctrine did not involve a legal loss of title, because it was done under the supervision and with the consent of Parliament. Therefore you have a Parliamentary title, perfectly good, super-added to the original title arising from the gift of the donor. You have also 250 years' prescription on the top of it. Hon. Members opposite say that prescription is a purely legal formula. We say that the matter rests on the sound moral principle that when a thing has been in the hands of a corporation or of an individual the natural relation of possession grows up in process of time. You do, therefore, as a matter of fact, inflict a real hardship and a real injustice by taking away from the individual or the corporation what has been for more than a certain number of years in their possession. No one that I ever heard of questions the essential justice or reasonableness of the doctrine of prescription. They may endeavour to set it aside.
The truth is that the case for Disendowment is a mere heritage of the past. Hon. Members have got into the habit, as their ancestors got into the habit, of saying "Disestablishment and Disendowment," and of thinking of them as allied. Though all the original reasons which were put forward in favour of Disendowment have been shown to be utterly unsound, they go on from mere habit repeating the old formula. Were the case to be argued afresh to-day nothing is more certain than that Disendowment would never be put forward at all. No one would dream that it was necessary to argue it. Hon. Members opposite seem to be unaware that Nonconformity is constantly under the necessity of coming to Parliament and of obtaining reconfirmation of their charitable arrangements and readjustments of them by Bills. This is cast aside in order that you may carry through a political proposal designed to satisfy a certain number of supporters in the country, and 1820 not justifiable by any argument or any fact. That brings me to the main appeal that I desire to make.
Our case against this Bill is essentially a moral case. We appeal, not merely to considerations of statesmanship and expediency, not merely because we conceive that this is a Bill which will do no good and nothing but harm, but also because it is essentially an immoral and unjust Bill. I know hon. Members opposite try to persuade themselves that the Church will be all the better for the change. How can any religious body be the better for being deprived of a great sum of money in these days when, by common consent, the resources of religious bodies are too small for the functions they have to perform? We heard from the hon. Member for Carmarthen many accounts, and very eloquent accounts, of what Nonconformity is doing in Wales. No one ever denies that Nonconformity has done an immense amount of good in Wales. But by your present course you will not increase that good by an atom, you will not increase the vitality of Nonconformity, and you will hinder and obstruct the work of the Church. The case may be put more strongly still. You will injure the vitality of Nonconformity, because you will leave in the conscience of the Nonconformists an abiding sense of uneasiness that they have done what their moral sense cannot approve. Already you see signs of it. Already we hear of these petitions and these regrets in more Nonconformists' quarters than one that the Government cannot lay aside any part of its Disendowment proposals.
Do not let us suppose that the Parliament Act destroys the moral law of the universe. You may be able to carry Bills through Parliament, but you cannot alter the general law which governs and punishes injustice. Be assured of that! You are going to turn out, as you are going to turn out, a large number of curates from all their reasonable expectations of professional advancement without a penny of compensation. You are going to take from us the churchyards, which are ours in the same sense that our churches are—which are not, as one hon. Member wildly said, the property of the parishioners at all—they are, of course, subject to a certain user on behalf of the parishioners, which no one desires to take away. No one suggests that the parishioners should lose anything that they now have got. The point is that the Church should not be deprived of what she 1821 has now got. You are taking that away, and outraging our sentiment in utter disregard of our feelings. At the same moment a great many excellent men are talking of movement towards union between the Church and Nonconformity. With that object some of us at least are in sympathy. With some of the methods proposed, many of us are completely out of sympathy. I only refer to the matter for the sake of making this observation: Before you ask us to alter our rubrics or to water down our creeds for the sake of unity with the other Christian bodies, before you tell us that charity requires us to make these great sacrifices, does it not appear to you that you ought to show the charity you suggest by abstaining from taking from us property which has been ours for more than 250 years? By the way, the hon. Member put the date back in the course of his speech to 1534. I think the date in the Bill is 1662. He seemed to think that 1534 was the crucial date when the Church changed its character, and lost its title.
Have not we the right to say that the first step towards unity, which we all agree must be taken by promoting the spirit of charity among various Christian persons and bodies, is not the first step to avoid what necessarily outrages the feelings of one of the parties you are desirous of conciliating? Have you a right to take from us what we believe to be ours, what we can show by argument, and which has been so powerfully shown in the course of these Debates to be ours? Have you a right to outrage our feelings in the way that this Bill does, while at the same time you are talking about union and of the Church and Nonconformity coming closer together? Unity will never be promoted by such means. Do not dream of it that persecution—and this is persecution—will ever produce consequences of that kind. I know that it does happen that evil things are over-ruled for good. It is true that the blood of the martyrs is the seal of the Church. If it is true, I dare say that these hardships which have been inflicted upon the Church will produce a certain reaction and an increased sincerity in the Church. It may be so! But you do not get rid of the consequences of evil deeds. There may be a reaction towards good in consequence of them, but you do not get rid of those evil consequences. You will not alter the general course of the moral discipline of the universe. Let us be assured of this, if we 1822 seek unity this Bill is the very worst way to pursue it. We are seeking a new life in Wales which shall prefer the interests of religion, of our common religion, to sectarian disputes, and this Bill is the way to destroy the very beginning of that life. I know that everyone on both sides of the House has long ago made up his mind as to what course he is going to take, and what vote he is going to give. Nevertheless it is our duty to put the plain moral as we conceive it before the consciences of those who are going to carry this Bill to its final stage in this House. We are convinced that they are doing a grievous wrong, not only to our Church, but to their own Church; not only to the principles of wisdom and justice, which ought to guide this assembly, but to the vital character of religion in the ranks of Nonconformity which will be dishonoured and disgraced by this day's work. We are sure that in this matter we stand on the side of all moral influences, on the side of the interests of religion, and we appeal, although we know our appeal will be in vain, to those who share with us the common discipleship of a religion of love not to entail upon our descendants one more crushing burden and one more addition to an heritage of hate.
Mr. LLEWELYN WILLIAMS
May I, at the outset, refer to the very moving and eloquent speech of the Noble Lord who has just addressed the House. The only complaint that I make with respect to that speech is that it is so divorced from reality that I feel almost to be living in quite a different world from that in which the Noble Lord lives. The first thing I remember, politically, in the county of Carmarthen—and I commend it to those to whom Disestablishment and religious equality is nothing—was being told the story of seventy poor pensants in the counties of Carmarthen and Cardigan who were evicted from their farms for voting in 1868 for religious equality, not for the Nonconformists of Wales, but for the Catholics of Ireland and the Presbyterians of Ulster. According to the speech of the Noble Lord, the poor simple peasants who were thus willing suffered for nothing! Have the Nonconformists of Wales suffered no injustice by virtue of an alien Church to which they did not belong being Established and Endowed in their midst? The first political meeting I remember attending was one, in 1880, addressed by that great man, Henry Richard, who sat in this House for some twenty years. The Noble 1823 Lord said just now that if we Disestablished and Disendowed the Church in Wales, the impression might be created that religion was slackening its hold upon the people. I do not know what impression may be created elsewhere, but I am perfectly certain of this, that that is not the impression that will be created in Wales. The greatest Nonconformist leaders for the last sixty years were those who had been pressing most anxiously for this measure of reform.
I remember well about four or five years ago attending a meeting at Cardiff, addressed by the right hon. Gentleman the Chancellor of the Exchequer. Perhaps the memory of that meeting remains with him as green as it does with me. That meeting was to press forward this measure. The meeting was not an ordinary political meeting. Those present were not the ordinary delegates from Liberal or Radical associations all over the Principality. There you had thousands of simple, grey-coated peasants, whose sole idea in politics was to free the Church from the fetters of the State, and get their own Churches on an equality before the law. Those were the men who are responsible for this Bill. I confess when I remember the men with whom I have come in contact, and whose ideas on this matter are more religious than political, that I am strengthened in my conviction that the Noble Lord has misread the spirit of the Principality. We never hear very much—though I am glad the Noble Lord did mention it—said in this House against Disestablishment. I remember that the right hon. and learned Gentleman the Member for the Walton Division, in November or December, 1912, said in this House that he had been greatly impressed by the constitutional arguments addressed to this House on more than one occasion by Welsh Members: the fact that thirty-one Welsh Members out of thirty-four were sent here Parliament after Parliament to advocate Disestablishment made it difficult for him—I am paraphrasing his words—to resist the case for Disestablishment, though, he added, the question of Disendowment raised far other considerations.
I should have thought, in a representative assembly like this, that the mere fact that, since 1880 at least, the great majority of the Welsh Members have been sent here to demand Disestablishment would have carried great weight, even when it is for the severance of the Church from the 1824 State. In the case of Disendowment, I agree a different set of considerations may arise, and the question then must be not merely whether the Welsh people demand it, but whether in addition the demand is justice and right. So far I agree, and when we come to consider the Tightness or the justice of this Disendowment, I think we ought to ask, and have an answer from the other side, What do they mean when they say that the Disendowment proposals are wrong? Do they adhere to what the right hon. Gentleman the Member for the Walton Division of Liverpool said on the Second Reading on 13th May, 1912, when he stated:—Inasmuch as there is some reason for anticipating that some further concession—I use the word for want of a better—may be indicated by the Government, I may be allowed to make the matter clear. I may be allowed to state on behalf of the leaders of the Church of England in Wales, and I am officially permitted to say on behalf of the party to which I belong, that just as when you offered 1s. 6d. in the £ we refused it, just as when you offered 6s. 8d. in the £ we refused it, so, if you offer 19s. 11d. in the £, we will refuse it.Last year the Bishop of St. David's, speaking at a diocesan conference at Llandudno, said in effect the same thing. This is what he said:—It has been suggested that, the Welsh Churchmen had bartered their consciences and abandoned their duty for some concession in money, amounting to about £18,000 To such a suggestion the only reply from all who believed the Bill to be morally wrong was that their consciences were not for sale. The situation was grave, but not hopeless. A coalition Government, because it was a coalition of heterogeneous elements without coherency or principle, was morally weak. The cry of religious equality could not justify the withdrawal of Wales from the national recognition of religion, and could be met both in Wales and in England by such recognition of Nonconformist denominations by the State as they themselves might desire. Welsh Churchmen were in duty bound, for the sake of the cause of religion in Wales as a whole, to oppose the Bill, which in its fundamental principle would more and more add impulse to the growing tendency of indifference to religion. Compromise was impossible. The plea that a majority in Wales could justify the secularisation of religious endowments was essentially immoral.What was wrong in April of last year cannot be right in May or June of this year, and I take it, therefore, that the Welsh bishops will make up their mind that they will refuse to give this Bill a Second Reading in another place, and I should like to ask the right hon. and learned Gentleman the Member for Walton whether he adheres to the statement, which I have read, which he made in 1912. As the right hon. Gentleman is going to wind up the Debate, I think it is only fair and reasonable that we should know where we stand.
Mr. LLEWELYN WILLIAMS
I am sure the right hon. and learned Gentleman will not turn his back upon himself. What was wrong two years ago surely cannot be made right simply because this Bill is going through under the Parliament Act. Therefore I may take it that the Opposition is hostile to the taking away of any Endowments, however small, if it was only 1d. in the £, from the Church. What does this Bill take away from the Church? First of all, there is the control of the churchyards. I should have thought that the churches would welcome that. I read a letter in the "Times" a few weeks ago from a Welsh clergyman, Mr. Hopkins, dealing with this very question of the churchyards, and this is what he says, and I venture to say it is the experience of every Welsh Churchman in this House:—The concession of the graveyards is a small one—it may prove to be a blessing that the management of such be taken out of the hands of the churches. The privilege has caused endless disputes, and it has driven thousands of Church people to Dissent.An hon. Member opposite shakes his head. I should like him to know that if time permitted I could give many instances where the control of the churchyards being invested in the parish clergyman has alienated thousands of people from the Church. There was one great case in 1866, when the Rev. Henry Rees, of Liverpool, one of the most eloquent pulpit orators the Principality ever sent out, was being buried in the churchyard, and when he was refused Christian burial, according to the rights of the Methodist Church, because the clergyman insisted on conducting the service himself. That was never forgotten in Wales, and I venture to say that one instance did more to promote the cause of Disestablishment and Disendowment than any other one thing. You may say these things happened long ago, I could give instances of what happened only last year in South Wales, when the feelings of a whole family had been outraged and insulted by the action of a certain clergyman in refusing to allow a man who died outside the parish to be buried in a vault, which he had paid for himself, by the side of his wife on the ground that it was not a "faculty vault." There are plenty of instances of that sort, and I should have thought the Church would have welcomed a chance of getting rid of these functions which at present devolve upon its ministers in the various parishes, 1826 and which is undoubtedly causing great unpopularity among Nonconformists.
The only other two things taken away are tithes and glebes. We are told that these Endowments were provided for religious purposes, and that, therefore, it was wrong for us to appropriate these Endowments to any other purpose. The Noble Lord opposite gave us a very charming description of the state of mind of persons in the Middle Ages in relation to these matters. I should like to give the House a concrete illustration of how, in the Middle Ages, people disposed of these Endowments. My illustration may not be as eloquent as that of the Noble Lord, but it will go further, I think, to make the House acquainted with the way in which mediæval Churchmen looked upon these Endowments. I will give two cases from two parishes I know, one being my native parish. Three-fourths of the tithe of that parish was taken away, I think it was, in 1282, by the Bishop of St. David's, with what object? He founded a school in the parish of Abergwili, close to his own palace. Was that a sacrilege, or was it robbing the Church? Was it taking away tithes from the original use. At the time of the Reformation that school was moved from Abergwili, and the major portion of the money is now devoted to the upkeep of a school in Brecon, and has been since the Reformation.
Mr. LLEWELYN WILLIAMS
The point I am on is this—how the bishops looked upon tithes. They were not unwilling that tithes should be used for educational purposes, and if it was right for the Bishop of St. David's in 1282 to do that, surely it is as right for us in these days to vote a portion of the tithes in Wales to the upkeep of the university.
§ Lord HUGH CECIL
Did the bishop leave any portion for the parochial needs of the parish? There is a great difference, he goes on, between taking the surplus Endowment and taking all.
Mr. LLEWELYN WILLIAMS
I did not come armed with all the material. I agree he left some. He left one-fourth, or it may be one-third. Let me give the Noble Lord another instance as to how the tithes of one town, in my Constituency, were dealt with in the fourteenth century. John o' Gaunt, Duke of Lancaster, happened to be Lord of Kidwelly, and as such 1827 he had some seignorial rights over the neighbouring parish of Llanelly, which has now become the seat of a very prosperous and thriving town. He wanted to please his mistress, Catherine Swinford, and in order to do so he took away the major portion of the tithe from that parish in order to found a scholastic institution in Catherine Swinford's native place of Leicester, and the tithe nearly all goes to Leicester ever since. That was about 1382. If the Church was right then—
Mr. LLEWELYN WILLIAMS
But that was how it was used. Never in the history of tithes has tithe been looked upon as a sacrosanct thing that could not be used for anything but ecclesiastical purposes. They have been used constantly and openly by bishops and laymen for the purpose of education, and we propose by this Bill to use only a portion for these purposes. The other day I happened to be standing under the shadow of the Abbey of Tintern, and I confess I felt thrilled in my heart, as I looked upon the deathless beauty of that noble pile and thought of what happened 400 years ago. That was a real sacrilege and a real robbery! Tintern Abbey belonged to the Church and that and many another abbey belonged to it, and yet to-day the descendants of the men who robbed the Church 400 years ago are not ashamed to address their letters from the abbeys and the priories which their ancestors despoiled. We all know the story of the first Earl of Pembroke. He was given the lands of Wilton Abbey. When Queen Elizabeth came to the throne Lord Pembroke determined to turn adrift the Abbess and her pious women, and when the Abbess turned round and asked how she was going to live during her old age, and his answer was this, "Go spin, you jade; go spin!"
That is the way in which the aristocracy of this country dealt with the Church. We want to Disestablish and partially Disendow it. The poor monks of Tintern never received a penny of compensation. Their life interests were not safeguarded. The only way we can deal with this Disendowment is to ask ourselves, Are these proposals just, having reference to the precedents we have in our history? That is the only way. What other plan can you apply? Let me take the year 1559, when the Act of Uniformity was 1828 passed through this House. That Act became law, and what happened? Two Welsh bishops were dispossessed, namely, the then Bishop of St. Asaph and Bishop Morris, of Bangor. I read a speech the other day made by the present Bishop of St. Asaph in which he complained that his successor would have nothing but the bare palace walls, with no Endowments to help him to keep up the episcopal palace. I am not denying that. I know the former Bishop of St. Asaph would have been glad to have had the same kind of treatment from the ancestors of the Noble Lord opposite (Lord Hugh Cecil). The Bishop of St. Asaph in 1559 had to fly the country, and he lived and died an exile. Bishop Morris, of Bangor, and Morgan Phillips, the Precentor of St. David's, who was a fellow of the New College of Oxford, had to fly the country, and lived and died exiles from their native land because they would not subscribe to the Act of Uniformity of 1559. Those were the days when the aristocracy created revolutions in this country. It is only the aristocracy that can create a successful revolution. The democracy are too timid. The Labour Members, for instance, would not dream of going in for gun-running. They are too respectful of law and order ever to be successful in revolution.
When the next Act of Uniformity was passed in 1662 it dispossessed over 2,000 clergymen, including 106 ministers in Wales. The Noble Lord opposite said that Nonconformity derived its origin from 1911, but those 108 Welsh ministers were dispossessed in Wales as long ago as 1662. What happened to them? What sort of treatment were they afforded in 1680? They were not only deprived of their benefices, but a still further injustice was done to them. It was discovered that if these clergy were allowed to remain until Michaelmas at the end of September, 1662, they would be entitled to draw their stipends for the year. That was supposed to be an intolerable thing, and so they antedated the Act, of Uniformity so that it came into operation on St. Bartholomew's Day. They were deprived, not only of their benefices, but of the stipends they had earned. What happened to the Noble Lord's Anglican Church in Scotland in 1690, when it was Disestablished and Disendowed? That was due to an aristocratic revolution. That Church had been established in Scotland to carry out the English policy. I wonder what the Leader of the Opposition would 1829 say to-day if there was still Established and Endowed in Scotland, not the Presbyterian. Church, but an Anglican Church out of sympathy with the vast majority of the Scottish people. That Church was Disestablished and Disendowed in 1690 without any compensation whatever to the clergy.
I have dealt now with all the precedents where the aristocracy of this country has Disestablished or Disendowed a Church. There is one precedent of a democratic Government Disestablishing and Disendowing the Church, and that is the case of the Church in Ireland. Let me compare the terms of Disendowment of the Welsh Church with the terms in Ireland. Mr. Gladstone, who was a loyal Churchman—I do not think even the Noble Lord would say that Mr. Gladstone would consciously do any injury to the Church he loved—passed the Irish Disestablishment and Disendowment Bill through this House without providing a single penny piece of compensation to be given to the Church with reference to modern Endowments. Mr. Gladstone took this view, and it is a perfectly logical one, that if a Church be Established, then all the Endowments that belong to it as an Established Church belong to it as part of the machinery of the State, and when it ceases to be part of the machinery of the State it is no longer entitled by strict law or by strict equity to those Endowments. That was Mr. Gladstone's view, and he passed his Bill through the House of Commons in 1869 without any provision at all for compensation being given for the deprivation of modern Endowments to the Irish Church. It was only when the House of Lords, which was not then muzzled by the Parliament Act, and when they were consequently able to blackmail Mr. Gladstone that, merely as the price of getting the Bill through the other House, Mr. Gladstone reluctantly and for the first time said that he was willing to give a small sum of compensation to the Irish Church for the loss of her modern Endowments, and consequently a sum of £500,000 was allocated to the Irish Church in lieu of the modern Endowments of which she was deprived.
What is proposed to be done in this Bill? Taking the modern Endowments since the year 1662, £102,000 a year is left to the Church. Contrast those two figures, and you must say that this Bill is more generous to the Welsh Church than Mr. Gladstone's Bill was in this regard to the 1830 Irish Church. Let me give another illustration, which I could multiply almost indefinitely. The Home Secretary, the other day, said the commutation terms which are proposed in this Bill are equivalent to giving the Welsh clergy compensation at the rate of over thirteen years' purchase. Mr. Gladstone added a bonus of 12 per cent. again in the House of Lords, and he would not have given that but for the fact that he had to take the other House into consideration. In spite of that, the whole of the commutation terms in the case of the Irish Church amounted to 12.8 years' purchase. Therefore, it must be admitted that the commutation terms of this Bill are far more generous than those of the Irish Bill, and, taking the Disendowment proposals by themselves, the proposals in this Bill will compare favourably with any Disendowment proposals which have ever before been suggested, and are not only fair but generous. We are asked what good is this Bill going to do to the Church or to Wales? I should have thought that the removal of a rankling sense of injustice that has been a festering sore in the social life of Wales for the last fifty or sixty years would have been considered wise statesmanship. I believe that this Bill will do good to the Church.
Let me point out three ways in which, in my opinion, this Bill will help the Church in Wales. A great deal has been said about the parochial system in Wales. We are told that by the Establishment of the Church there is a resident minister in every parish, whereas the Nonconformists will not have a resident minister in every parish. That is supposed by Churchmen to be a very good thing for the Church and for the country, but anybody who knows Wales knows that one of the effects of this Bill will be the destruction of that parochial system, and that will be one of the best things that can happen to the Church. We all know what happens now. Take a small rural parish where the tithes are high, and where the minister of the parish receives £400, £500, £600, or, perhaps, £700 a year and he ministers to a very small flock. In other parts of the country, such as Cardiff, Swansea, Merthyr, Llanclly, Newport, where there are vast aggregations of population, the tithe is so small as to be not worth taking into account. If the commutation terms of this Bill are accepted, as I suppose they will be, because they are generous, it will mean that the 1831 Church will be able to readjust her finances in such a way that I believe in the result she will be able to do more work and have more money to do it with than she has to-day. One other thing it will do is to rid the Church of political control, which has been at the root of the comparative failure of the Church all along. Her chief officers are selected by an English Prime Minister, very often not for religious work, but, as in the old Georgian days, for frank political service. Even in our own days the same influences are used to defend the Church against this Bill. Surely that is a bad thing. Another thing is that there are very many benefices in Wales in the gift of the Lord Chancellor and of the Prime Minister. I speak with some experience now on this question as a Welsh Member, and I am sure I am speaking for all my colleagues when I say that the one thing they detest more than anything else is to receive letters asking them to use their influence in these matters in certain directions. Nonconformist ministers are being asked to approach Welsh Members of Parliament with a view of securing certain preferments for the clergy. I think it is undignified and un-Christian, and it will be a great advantage if we can get rid of all that. I go further and say, we shall get rid of Episcopal patronage.
Mr. LLEWELYN WILLIAMS
You will, unless the free disestablished Church likes to put the yoke round its neck again. At any rate, it will have a chance of becoming free from Episcopal patronage, which has been its great curse in the past. Wales has always been a very poor country. In olden days the bishops were very small men and there were a great number of wealthy abbots who were far more powerful than the bishops. Then came the Reformation. The abbots were swept away and the bishops of the dioceses remained the only men of position and substance, and they have ruled the Church with a rod of iron ever since. I happen to know a great number of clergymen in Wales, and one of the things which they resent very much is that they have to live under, what they describe in private as a great tyranny. Surely it would be a good thing to get 1832 rid of that cause for complaint. And if the laity are allowed to have a voice in the selection of their spiritual pastors they will take more interest in the Church, and that will redound to the benefit of the Church.
I can only express my gratitude as a Welshman to the Government for bringing in this Bill, and my gratitude to Members of the Liberal party, of the Labour party, and of the Irish party, for the unflinching support they have given it. I am not ashamed to take their support. We helped Mr. Gladstone to pass the Irish Church Disestablishment Bill—a Bill which was carried mainly by the efforts of the Nonconformist Members of this House. I am not ashamed to accept the help of hon. Gentlemen from Ireland, who know what benefits Disestablishment will bring, and the only thing I am surprised at is that we have not heard from Ulster some Presbyterian voices thanking us Welsh Members for what we did for them in 1869, and promising to help us to get the boon which they craved equally with their Catholic brethren in Ireland at that time. I am not ashamed to accept the help of Roman Catholic Members or of Protestant Members from any part of the United Kingdom. It has been a long struggle. We could never have gone through it but for the loyalty of the Prime Minister and his colleagues. Whatever you may say about Home Rule, you cannot say of Welsh Disestablishment that it was forced upon a reluctant Government because of the voting strength of the Welsh Members. We are only 31 in a House of 670, and we could not have compelled any Government to introduce the Bill. But this Bill has been produced as an act of tardy justice to the people of Wales.
To-night in Wales, in tens of thousands of homes, the result of this Debate will be watched for with anxiety. For two generations the fight has been going on. We have almost despaired sometimes of success. But now, when victory has come, I ask hon. Gentlemen to believe that we accept it with no air of vulgar triumph, but we accept it as a means, we hope, of bettering our country and reconciling those secular divisions which have too long alienated Welshmen from Welshmen. We are a small nation of barely 2,000,000 souls, but we know that among our Church friends there are men who can help us in the great task which is in front of us of resuscitating our Welsh nationality and making it better than it has been. We shall 1833 welcome Churchmen—all distinctions will vanish—and I can assure hon. Members that nothing is further from our minds than any idea of injuring the Church. The hon. Member for Radnorshire (Sir F. Edwards) for twenty-two or twenty-three years has been a Member of this House. He is a staunch Churchman. His family associations are ecclesiastical, but he is himself a pronounced Disestablishes Do hon. Gentlemen really think that a man like my hon. Friend, and others on these benches whom I could name, who are equally staunch Churchmen, would be found voting for this Bill to-night if they thought that their Church would be injured thereby? That is not our idea. We hope and believe that by means of this Bill the Church may be reconciled to the national sentiment of Wales once more, and that it will again become an instrument of peace and good will among men.
§ Mr. CAVE
I have listened to the greater part of this Debate, and I have become more and more convinced that we have grave reason to complain of the action of the Government in depriving us of the opportunity of putting before the House suggestions for Amendments to this Bill, The very force of the arguments on this side, and the very moderation, in tone at all events, of some of the speeches on the other side, has convinced me that if these two days, instead of being devoted to a debate on the Third Reading, had been given to us for the Suggestion stage, the result would have been effective and practical. We have, I believe, a statutory right to bring Suggestions before this House. The Parliament Act, passed long after our Standing Orders were framed, provides that in express terms, and Suggestions were put down by Members on this side and on the other side, in both cases, I believe, in perfect good faith, not for the purpose of consuming time, not for the purpose of suggesting a bargain between the two sides of the House—I agree that nothing of that kind is possible—but because we thought if we had the opportunity, which we have not had for two years now, of bringing home to Members on the other side the real defects and dangers of this Bill, we could at any rate have some effect on the framework of the Bill itself. And if that had happened, if these Suggestions had gone to the other House, I do not take the view that the other House could not 1834 have agreed to them without first reading the Bill a second time.
I believe, rightly or wrongly—I do not like to say anything too confidently about the Parliament Act, for there are a good many pitfalls about it—but I believe that the House of Lords is master of its own procedure, and when the Parliament Act says that Suggestions shall be considered by the other House, it cannot mean that the other House shall give a Second Reading to the Bill. Therefore, the imperative words must have effect whether the Bill is read a second time or not, and if Suggestions sent up from this House were agreed to by the other House I hold that even if the Bill were afterwards rejected by the other House, the Bill so dealt with would have been the Bill with the Suggestions, and not the Bill as now framed. I feel very deeply, therefore, that this opportunity of making Suggestions has been taken away from us, not by the action or Resolution of this House, but by the arbitrary action of the Prime Minister and the Government to whom has been entrusted, not for their own benefit, but for the sake of the House, the whole control of the time of the House. I feel that we have been unfairly denied a privilege to which we were entitled.
I come next to the speech of the hon. and learned Gentleman who has just spoken (Mr. L. Williams), and in regard to Disestablishment, I want to say this to him. It is too late to argue the whole thing out again. We believe that by Disestablishment, first—you will abolish the parochial system in the hon. and learned Member's own part of this country, a system which, whatever its demerits, has had the effect of keeping alive, to some extent, through generations, religious work and feeling in every parish. The hon. and learned Member no doubt was right in saying that at present the Endowments are unevenly distributed in Wales. But it would have been possible to provide a remedy for that without going to the length of destroying the parochial system. We feel, too, that by this Bill you are severing a link between religion and public affairs. It is true that the link as now formed is a link between the State and one Church. But there again you might have found a remedy without taking religion out of State matters altogether, and I am sincere in saying that we on this side of the House would have been only too glad if anything which is deemed to 1835 be a public privilege of the Church to-day could be extended to other denominations, and so you would have found a better way of establishing equality than by merely pulling down. You would have built up, you would have strengthened, and not weakened the link between religion and the State. There is one observation I should like to address to hon. Members from Scotland. I want to point out to them that they have no right to vote against the Church of England on this Bill. The point has already been put with great force by the hon. and learned Member for St. Pancras (Mr. Cassel), but it has never been answered, and I want to submit it again. I want to tell hon. Members from Scotland that if they vote for the Disestablishment of the Church of England they are committing a breach of an express provision of the Act of Union between England and Scotland. The Commissioners who were instructed to agree upon the Articles of Union between the two countries were told in express terms that they must provide against any interference with the Establishment either of the Church of Scotland or of the Church of England. The Articles of Union themselves so provide. The Scottish Act confirming the Articles of Union provides for the preservation of the Establishment of the Church of Scotland, and also provided that the English Act might make a similar provision for protecting the English Church. And when we come to the English Act we find, as might have been expected, an express provision, that—
"the Establishment of the English Church shall in all time coming be taken to be and is hereby declared to be an essential and fundamental part of the Articles of Union."
I say that in the face of that the Government have no right, without an English majority and with the help only of the Irish and Scottish Members, to pass a Bill destroying that Establishment. It is quite true that this was done in Ireland; but that only proves what I say, because the Disestablishment of the Irish Church was defended by Mr. Gladstone on the express ground that he had in its favour a majority of the Irish Members. Therefore to-day, unless you get a majority of English Members you have no right to disestablish the Church of England. The point has been greatly strengthened by the argument used by the President of 1836 the Board of Education only this year in dealing with the Plural Voting Bill. Speaking on the Second Reading of that Bill on 27th April, 1914, when discussing the question of Redistribution, the right hon. Gentleman said:—The second reason why we have not been able to proceed with a Redistribution Bill is the position of the Irish question. Ireland is more over-represented in this Parliament than any other part of the United Kingdom. That is admitted. Yet, by the Act of Union, this country entered into a compact with the people of Ireland, a compact which they undertook, by Article VIII. of the Act of Union, should remain in force forever. [An HON. MEMBER: "No!"] If the right hon. Gentleman likes to refer to it, as I referred to it only a quarter of an hour ago, he will find it stated that the treaty should remain in force for ever, and the Irish people were guaranteed a representation of a hundred Members in this House. Whilst I admit that this or any other Imperial Parliament has the legal power to amend an Act of that kind, yet I and my Friends on this side believe that any such conduct as repealing that, measure, or a portion of that measure, as is suggested by bon. Members opposite, could not be morally defended. In the event of a majority of the Irish people agreeing to amend a provision of that kind. I agree that we would be justified in making the amendment."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 27th April. 1911, col. 1483, Vol. LXI.]The right hon. Gentleman thought that the provision, which was not so strong in terms as that which I have read from the Act of Union between England and Scotland, could not morally be overridden without the assent of the majority of the people concerned. On the same principle, it is not morally defensible to disestablish the English Church by the votes of Scottish and Irish Members.
As to Dismemberment, the hon. Gentleman who spoke for the Government yesterday spoke as if there were in England and Wales two Churches. That is absolutely inaccurate. Ever since 1302—that is, over six hundred years ago—the Welsh dioceses have sent their representatives or proctors to the Convocation of Canterbury, and a right which has lasted for six hundred years is surely old enough to be recognised! I see no reason whatever why, in Disestablishing and Disendowing the Church in Wales, you should not have left it to the Church itself to suggest a means for keeping up the unity of the Church. I have no doubt at all that Convocation would have made suggestions for that purpose, and I think wrong has been done in not enabling Convocation, with which this House at one time promised to consult in matters ecclesiastical, to make suggestions with a view to preventing Dismemberment.
As to Disendowment, I was rather struck by the fact that the last speaker cited as a precedent for this Bill the spoliation of 1837 the monasteries by King Henry VIII., who himself was a Welshman. I have had occasion quite lately to study the history of the confiscation of the property of the monasteries by King Henry VIII., and I must say that the very perusal of the history of the events nearly four hundred years after they occurred made my blood boil in every moment I spent upon them. Under Acts of Parliament, I agree, the King appointed Commissioners—for they had Commissioners even in those days—and the duty of those Commissioners and their agents was to make an inventory of the property of the monasteries, take possession of it, pull it down, or to sell it to whoever would buy it for the best price that could be obtained, and to account to the King for the proceeds. They did their duty thoroughly, ruthlessly, and cruelly. If I remember rightly, some of the abbots and monks were persecuted and even hanged for selling their own effects, which had been their property in connection with the monasteries. If that is the precedent with which hon. Members opposite are satisfied, I acknowledge its relevance and make them a present of it. Passing this by, and passing over some of the old stories which the hon. and learned Member again revived, and coming to the facts of to-day, I have noticed that on the question of Disendowment much of the old argument has disappeared in the course of these Debates, and there is really only one argument which is now seriously put forward, that is the argument often used by the Attorney-General and founded on his conception of the Chancery doctrine in relation to trusts. He says to us that the Church which was endowed was the Church of the whole nation, but that now our Church is a Church of the minority of the nation; therefore the Chancery rule as to trusts ought to be applied, and the property should be restored or diverted.
There is no trust in this matter in the ordinary sense of the term. We are rather in the habit of treating the Endowments of the Church as belonging to some wealthy body called the Church of England, and amounting to so many thousand pounds a year. As a matter of fact, nothing of the kind is true. The Endowments which you are taking are not the property of the Church, but they are, in small sums, the Endowments of the livings in the individual parishes and are actually the property of the corporations sole, which are contributed by the parsons of those parishes. The money belongs to these parsons, not on trust at all, but for 1838 their own maintenance as ministers of the Church, to be spent, if they please, upon their own living and for their own purposes, although they may, and I suppose all of them do, expend a considerable part of their income on charitable purposes. The Endowments are their own property, and are not by any means trust property. You are going to take not £157,000 a year from a great corporation called the Church, but small sums of £50, or £100 a year from the next parsons of these different small Welsh parishes. In many of them, in hundreds of them, you are going to leave to the next incumbents either no income at all from Endowments or an income not exceeding in some cases 5s. a week, or some trifling sum of that description. This is property and not trust, and the analogy of trusts does not apply at all. But let us assume that it does apply. What is the rule that applies in this country to trust property? Is it not this, that when the objects of a charitable trust become either illegal or impracticable, or when the revenues attached to a trust either have been misused or have become insufficient for the purposes for which they were given, then the Court or the State intervenes, and provides that those revenues, or part of them, shall be used for some object as near as possible to the purpose for which they were originally given. You can apply that test as broadly as you please, and you will find that it does not cover this case. It is not true to say that the objects for which the Church holds these Endowments have become either illegal or impracticable. It is not true that the Endowments have been, or are being, misused, for by the confession, I think the universal confession of hon. Members opposite, including the Prime Minister himself, they are to-day used in the best possible way for the purposes for which they were given. And it is by no means true to say they are excessive for those purposes; indeed, everybody admits that they might well be increased, and great efforts are made to increase them. Therefore, none of those conditions, which ordinarily bring into operation the rule to which I have referred, apply in any fair sense to the Church of England.
Let me add this: I have said that the doctrine as applied to this country is that where trusts are diverted they are used for other purposes as near as possible to those, for which they were given. That rule you are breaking. They were given for 1839 religious purposes. They were given, of course, for the benefit of the nation as an end, but for its benefit by this particular means, for the sustenance of religious corporations in different parishes of this country, and in taking them away and in applying them, or allowing them to be applied, either as doles in various localities—a thing which I thought was discountenanced by public authorities—or as gifts to the University of Wales, or to the Welsh colleges, or to the National Library in Wales, you are not applying those funds which you are diverting to purposes at all near to those for which they were given. I hope I shall be forgiven for having brought the semblance of law into these Debates, but we are provoked into doing so by the very doubtful law which is used on the other side. I would with great respect suggest to hon. Members opposite that they should revise their judgment on that point, and see whether they are not entirely wrong in using an analogy which I believe to be wholly fallacious.
Even if it were true—and I believe it is not true—that the Church since the Reformation has been a different Church from the Church before the Reformation, still it is nearly 400 years since the Reformation and 250 years since the Act of Uniformity, and right through that time you have allowed the Church to retain possession of these Endowments—indeed, on one occasion you have increased them by a Parliamentary Grant, which you do not propose to repeal to-day. Therefore, to-day the Church has had an undisputed title for over 250 years. I am sorry the Under-Secretary for the Home Department is not here, because I do not accept his view about the law of prescription. There is no precedent where possession for 250 years has been allowed to go for nothing, and, if a point was to be made against the Church that she was a different Church, it should have been made in the reign of Henry VIII. or of Edward VI., and not in the present reign. It has often been said that the Free Churches claimed again and again that after a lapse of quite a short time their possession shall not be disturbed, and yet they propose to disturb the possession of the Church of England after a lapse of over 250 years. No one can possibly defend that proposal.
What I have said about Endowments applies with great force to the glebe lands 1840 held by the Church. There is this further observation to be made about them. The Government cannot say that glebe land is something which the Church ought not to hold, because by this very Bill they have graciously empowered the Church body to repurchase their glebe at the actual value of that property. Therefore, they have admitted that it is fitting, at all events to some cases, that glebe lands should be held by the Church for Church purposes. Why then are they to be taken away? In many cases the glebe land adjoins the Church parsonage, and is part of the property held and enjoyed by the parson. It is exceedingly hard that property should be taken away from the parsonages unless the Church is willing to repurchase it at its full value. I may be sanguine, but I hold the view that if we could have brought that Clause in isolation before this House we could have convinced, I do not say the Welsh Members, because I have my doubts about them, but a large section of Members opposite, that in that respect as in others, even from their own point of view, the Bill is unjust and ought to be modified. If we had had the two days for suggestions which were asked for by the hon. Member for Kilmarnock (Mr. Gladstone), I think we should have got results there and in other parts of this Bill. It must not be forgotten that the hon. Member for the Ince Division (Mr. S. Walsh) and the hon. Member for Merthyr Tydvil (Mr. Keir Hardie) have both said that the manner in which curates are treated in this Bill is unjust, and that they hoped suggestions for dealing with that matter would be brought before and be adopted by this House. I cannot help feeling that one reason why the Government have used their authority in preventing the discussion of any one of these suggestions is that they are not sure of the attitude of their own followers, and they are afraid to have these matters brought, as practical points to be decided by vote, even before this House.
The churchyards for generations have been the precincts of our churches. They lie around them, and they are vested in the rector of the parish by the same title and in the same manner in which the church itself is vested in him. In hundreds of cases you cannot approach the church except by the churchyard. In some cases, perhaps not many, there are no graves in the churchyards. In taking away the churchyards you are taking away 1841 the curtilage of the church, part of the church itself, without any valid excuse. We feel deeply, I am bound to say, the proposal to take the churchyards. It is true, of course, nobody denies it, and nobody regrets it—it is a matter of satisfaction to all of us—that the parishioners have a right of burial in the churchyard. That is a right in the churchyard, a privilege in it, but it is not possession and not title. The care of these churchyards, small and great, has lain throughout these centuries with the church authorities themselves. They are to us hallowed ground, as if part of our churches themselves, and, so far from welcoming the process of tearing these churchyards from the Church, I think it an outrage on the Church and grossly unjust. It offends every sentiment I have, and I am satisfied that if that matter could have been brought before this House, the House could not have withstood the argument.
§ Mr. CAVE
I know, but the time allowed was short, and a good many hon. Member's opposite have progressed since then, as their speeches show, and I believe that today many Members opposite—I do not mean the hon. Gentleman himself—if impartial votes are possible in this House could not have resisted the force of our argument on that point, and that there, too, we should have sent to the House of Lords a Suggestion which would have made the Bill a different Bill from that which we have before us. On that question—and, indeed, on all these questions of Disendowment—no Parliamentary majority is decisive, or, as I believe, even relevant. It is relevant to the question of Disestablishment, but your majority of Welsh Members has no relevance at all to these, which are moral questions. If 99 per cent. of my neighbours desire to take my property from me, even for the purpose of giving it to somebody else, I am not impressed by their numbers. It is not an argument that would weigh with me in the least. I should resist it to the end. And so, even if every Member from Wales took the view that they ought to take from the Church that which is its property and has been its property for ages, that would not weigh with me a bit. On Disestablishment it is an argument, but on Disendowment it is no argument at all. I deplore more deeply than I can say these provisions of this Bill. You are proposing to take the property attached to these 1842 small and poor livings in Wales, not because you want it for other purposes—the very change in the objects of your bounty, if I may call it so, shows that—but because you want to take it away from the Church, no matter to whatever other purposes you may give it. By so doing you are impoverishing a Church willing and anxious to work side by side with other religious bodies. You are weakening the forces which make for good, and you are embittering future religious life. I am glad that nobody on this side of the House will have any lot or part in a transaction of this kind, and I believe that as time passes by you yourselves will be far from proud that you have lent yourselves to it
§ The CHANCELLOR of the EXCHEQUER (Mr. Lloyd George)
I did not propose to take any part in this Debate until I had heard the speech of the hon. and learned Gentleman. He has made his points, as he always does, with very persuasive and convincing force, and he has made them with very great clearness. With regard to the curious constitutional doctrine which he laid down at the beginning of his speech as to the power which the House of Lords has to incorporate Suggestions, and afterwards reject the Bill, I do not feel myself competent to enter into an argument with a Gentleman of his legal position and authority, but I must say that I thought it was a very remarkable suggestion, and I have very grave doubts whether he is right in his interpretation of that Act of Parliament. I think, at any rate, it would be taking far too great a risk for us to accept that view, and afterwards to chance the interpretation which the judges would place upon the Parliament Act. It might imperil the whole Act if we could see our way to meet his views on that particular point.
§ Mr. POLLOCK
Does not the right hon. Gentleman remember that by a special Clause the Parliament Act cannot be questioned in any Court of Law, and there must, therefore, be finality before it leaves this House.
§ Mr. LLOYD GEORGE
I think the question is whether it is the same Act. At any rate, I do not feel myself competent to argue that point. If my right hon. and learned Friend the Attorney-General had been here I should have been very glad to have had his opinion upon the subject, but this is the first time I have heard that very interesting point put.
§ Mr. LLOYD GEORGE
To-day was the first time I heard it. It is a very ingenious and very interesting point, which I hope will be settled some time. It is not the point, however, with which I rose to deal. I rather rose to deal with one or two other points which the hon. and learned Gentleman has submitted to the House. I was surprised to hear him say that in his judgment the fact that the majority of the Welsh Members had been sent here to demand a measure of this kind was not a relevant consideration.
§ Mr. LLOYD GEORGE
Even on Disendowment. Let us take the point by stages. With regard to Disestablishment, I understand the hon. and learned Gentleman admits that it is a very relevant consideration.
§ Mr. LLOYD GEORGE
I agree. It is a relevant and a very important consideration, and I should have thought that it was indubitable. I have heard it challenged. I am not sure that it was not challenged by the Noble Lord who moved the rejection on the Second Reading. It was challenged by the Noble Lord the Member for Oxford University (Lord Hugh Cecil). I did not hear the Noble Lord the Member for Hitchin (Lord Robert Cecil), but I read his speech, and I thought that his argument was rather in that direction. What does it mean? I should have thought that the particular kind of religious Establishment a people wanted in their own spiritual interest, or whether they wanted a State religion at all, was primarily a question for themselves. The hon. and learned Gentleman admits that it is an important consideration, but he says that does not mean necessarily that the fact that the majority demand Disestablishment gives you a right also to Disendowment. I say Disendowment follows inevitably from Disestablishment. Hon. Gentlemen are taking up two perfectly inconsistent positions for their Church. First of all they claim that it is a great national institution representing the spiritual interests of the nation as a whole. That is the basis upon which they claim the Endowments. The second position is that it is a sect, a denomination, which is endowed as a denomination, endowed as a sect. You 1844 cannot take both those positions at the same time. That is the inconsistency of the position of the hon. and learned Gentleman and those who are associated with him in opposing this measure of Disendowment. We say that the Church at the present moment is an Establishment of religion. It is a State Establishment of religion. It has come to its Endowment as a State Establishment. My case is that the whole of the Endowments under this Bill which will pass over to the Commissioners are Endowments which the Church has come to as an Establishment.
The Noble Lord (Lord Hugh Cecil) asked what would happen supposing by some means you could bring to the notice of the pious ancestors what was proposed to be done with their property under this Bill. He said they would turn in their graves. Would they not turn in their graves if they knew that the property which they had given, largely for eleemosynary purposes to eleemosynary institutions, undoubtedly with religious control, were being used for the purpose of maintaining exclusively a married clergy in this country? It would have shocked them beyond measure if they thought it possible. Supposing you said to them, "After you are dead the money which you are leaving now to a monastery, let us say in Merionethshire, which is a hospital, which is an educational institution, which does all the healing and doctoring in that district, where every man is celibate, where there is only just enough to keep body and soul together on a very frugal basis, will be taken away from those purposes and given for the purpose of maintaining a married clergy in this country." It would have shocked them infinitely more, and any Catholic in this House knows perfectly well what a shock it would be. It is no use, therefore, appealing to the memory of the pious ancestor. The hon. and learned Gentleman has apologised for putting to us a legal argument. May I suggest a legal question to him? Supposing any clergyman or any bishop, holding doctrines that the present clergy and bishops are bound to hold by Act of Parliament, appointed in the way they are appointed, and repudiating the supremacy of Rome, as they are bound to do, crept in before the Reformation and got hold of Church Endowments! If an action had been brought to evict him on that ground, could he have defended his case in any Court? Of course he could not. His title is not a legal one; it is a Parliamentary 1845 title—a title that by Act of Parliament the original trusts have been perverted in order to create an institution of a totally different character. Why should the hon. and learned Gentleman treat as something which is monstrous another Parliamentary operation which, at any rate, restores four-fifths of the trusts which were originally imposed. The only difference is in the trustee. The original trustee was not a clergyman of the present type. The original trustee was the Abbot, or whoever the particular person was in whom the property was vested, or the monastery.
§ Mr. LLOYD GEORGE
The hon. and learned Gentleman may know a good deal about law, but he knows very little about Welsh history. I can give him now, without referring to any authority, parishes in Merioneth where the property was monastic, or a very considerable proportion of it was. I can quote the title deeds to him where the property was monastic. What is the good of him telling me that none of this property in Wales was monastic. I am not at all sure that the vast majority was not monastic; at any rate, a very considerable proportion was. By what title does the present Church hold the tithe of the parishes which were given to the Monastery of Cymmer and the Pope of Rome and his successors for ever? What has happened to this? Now it is held by gentlemen who repudiate, nominally, at any rate, the authority of the Pope of Home in those parishes. Why? Because an Act of Parliament was passed whereby the property was taken away from the monasteries and passed over to the present trustees, the clergy for the time being of those particular parishes. That is a purely Parliamentary title, and the hon. and learned Gentleman has no right to repudiate the Parliamentary title because, but for that Parliamentary title, they would have no right to the property at all.
§ Mr. CAVE
I am always willing to be convinced if the right hon. Gentleman has documents. My understanding of history is that the monastic property in England and Wales was by two Acts of Henry VIII. confiscated to the Crown. Much of it, I agree, afterwards found its way to private hands, and some of it into the hands of the parishes, but in all these cases, because either the individual or the parish bought it for money from the Crown. There may 1846 have been a few cases in which, for some reason, the Crown favoured the parish and gave the property, but I believe if they existed, they were very few. That is my conception, right or wrong, of history, though I am quite willing to hear instances to the contrary.
§ Mr. LLOYD GEORGE
I have given an instance to the contrary. I think I have quoted it before, and it has never been challenged since. I quoted a whole passage from the document. It was one of the Princes of Wales, one of the Llewellyns, who gave the whole of the tithe, and that tithe at present is being enjoyed. Whether there is any owner or not I do not know but I know that a very considerable proportion of it is in the hands of the clergy of the Church of England in these parishes, and therefore the only claim they have is a Parliamentary claim. The fact of the matter is that at that time Parliament asserted the right of varying the trusts of the property of the national Church from time to time. It may have done it well, or it may have done it badly. I agree with the hon. and learned Gentleman entirely about the confiscation of the property of the monasteries. The way it was done is one of the most degrading chapters in the history of this country. What is degrading in it is not that the money was given to establish and endow schools, but that it was given as a bribe to the aristocracy for the change which was effected at that time. Most of the property—and the hon. and learned Gentleman did not mention this fact—was given away to the British aristocracy and there are many great houses at the present time which were founded upon the basis of that act of spoliation. That is what the hon. and learned Gentleman ought to have denounced. There are schools and hospitals, no doubt—no Churchman need be ashamed of that transaction—but there are many champions of the Church at present who denounce us as thieves and robbers, most of whose property has been derived from an act of Parliamentary spoliation. It behoves them to be a little more moderate in their language than to denounce a whole nation for claiming back its own property. I agree that it is the most scandalous and outrageous transaction in the history of the nation; but let him denounce the right people when he is going about it. As a matter of fact, when just a small proportion of the property was saved for hospitals, it was really a restoration of the trust.
1847 The hon. and learned Gentleman talked about the churchyards, and seemed to think it was a perfect outrage that you should alter the trusts in regard to them. That is all we are doing. He says we are taking away from the Church something and he regards it as hallowed ground. Does he not think that every parishioner regards the churchyard as hallowed ground, and has he not good reason for doing so? We are not handing it over for secular purposes. We are handing it over to the people who have the most sacred and hallowed interest in it. What outrage is there in that? Instead of handing it over to one parishioner, who may be a stranger, who has just come, perhaps, from a totally different part of the country, and may have come from England or Scotland, or from the ends of Wales, who has no other interest, and may pass away from that parish in another year or two, we are handing it over to the people who have their dead buried there. Why should that be regarded as a monstrous outrage upon the privileges of any Church? The hon. and learned Gentleman knows perfectly well that he cannot claim the churchyards as if they were the property of the Church. He admits the rights of the parishioners. If the parishioners have a right to them, as they have, why should not they control them as well? That is all that we claim. We are claiming nothing which is an outrage upon any sense of equity, decency, or fair play.
With regard to the other proposition which he put forward, the change in the character of the Endowments, the Noble Lord (Lord Hugh Cecil) said a good deal about the establishment of religion by the State, and the importance of the recognition of religion by the State. It depends upon his conception of religion. I believe the State is recognising religion more than it ever did, in the legislation of the last ten, twenty, thirty, or forty years. What are the trusts which have created this great property in the Church? They were a trust for the weak, for the poor, for the broken, for the blind, for the aged, for the hungry. Those were the religious trusts which the State is recognising more and more in legislation. We are not Disestablishing religion. We are mot breaking up the connection of religion with the State. We are establishing religion more and more in its association with the State by carrying out the great functions of religion which those who founded 1848 these trusts recognised. There seems to be an idea that religion was established in the interests of the ministry of the Church. The hon. Member seems to think that the beginning and end of religion was to pay a stipend to the minister. I do not deny that that was a most important function, but it was the least of the functions which the great founders of the Church had in view. The part of the Church money which went to the maintenance of the ministers was a very small pittance compared with what was provided for the poor and for education. We are not outraging the trusts of the pious ancestors; we are recognising them and restoring them. They gave them for the benefit of the people of Wales, and the people of Wales are getting them back by this Bill.
§ Mr. SANDERSON
I have never intervened in any of the Debates on the Welsh Bill until this occasion, not because I do not take a great interest in the matter, for I do take the very greatest interest in it, but I was most anxious before I took part in this Debate to hear both sides of the case. I have listened to every speech that has been made by any Front Bench Member, from the Prime Minister downwards. I think I am capable of appreciating arguments when they are put clearly before the House, and, with all the earnestness I have been able to bring to the consideration of the arguments to which I have listened, I have never found one yet which would bear any real examination. To-day the Chancellor of the Exchequer gave us an instance of the kind of argument to which I refer. It seemed to me that the greater part of his speech was devoted to a condemnation of the misdeeds of certain people who have been long dead—perhaps many generations. He may be right or wrong in his condemnation. I do not care to ask whether these people were right or wrong, for that does not seem to me to have anything whatever to do with the question we are discussing, namely, whether under present circumstances and conditions it is right to deprive the Church in Wales of something like two-thirds of its property, and when I say "its property" I am not going to join issue with the Chancellor of the Exchequer now and discuss the question of the title of the Church to its Endowments. I am quite content to base my argument on what was said by the Attorney-General in this House. I have not his exact words before me, but his statement was to the effect that the Church's title to its Endowments 1849 would be recognised as a good and solid title in any Court of Law. When the Attorney-General, speaking on behalf of the Government, is forced to say a thing of that kind, I really do not think that I am constrained to answer the Chancellor of the Exchequer, and I am sure the right hon. Gentleman will not think me rude if I do not answer.
§ Mr. LLOYD GEORGE
I never challenged that. I said it was a Parliamentary title. A Parliamentary title is the very best title you can have in a Court of Law.
§ Mr. SANDERSON
It goes a great deal further than that. The hon. and learned Member for Kingston (Mr. Cave) pointed out that this property has been held by the Church for at least 250 years. It has been held since the Reformation, and that is a great deal more than a Parliamentary title, and I think the Attorney-General must have had that in his mind when he said that the Church's title would be a good title in a Court of Law. The Chancellor of the Exchequer went on to say that these Endowments have been given to the Church qua the Established Church, and that if it is going to be Disestablished then its Endowments must go as a matter of course. I do not agree with him. Supposing its Endowments have been given to the Church as the Established Church, it does not follow as a matter of course that the Endowments must go as soon as the Church is Disestablished. You have to consider the circumstances and conditions of the case, and you have to consider also whether it would be right and just under all the conditions to take away the property from the Church. I was very glad that my hon. and learned Friend the Member for Kingston raised the point about the time for Suggestions. That point was raised last week when we were discussing the Procedure Resolution brought forward by the Government. I raised then the very same point which the hon. and learned Member for Kingston has raised to-day, and I am glad to find that, without any discussion between him and me, we are agreed on the point. The hon. and learned Member emphasised what I venture to express again, namely, that it is really unjust, and certainly most unfortunate, at this stage of the proceedings in regard to this Bill that the Government has deliberately deprived the House of the opportunity of making Suggestions which, after all, are the only way of bringing 1850 these matters forward at the present time. I believe that many hon. Members on the other side would have been delighted to see this Bill even further amended in order to do justice to the different parts of the Church in Wales.
I heard the speech of the hon. Member for North Carnarvon (Mr. William Jones) yesterday, and I think it delighted everybody who listened to it. It was most eloquent, and it was obviously inspired by the most fervent enthusiasm. Personally, I was exceedingly pleased that I had the opportunity of listening to it, but that, again, is just an instance of what I said just now. There was not a single argument in the whole of that eloquent speech which could in any sense support the proposals for Disendowment contained in the Bill. A large part of his speech was devoted to enumerating the deeds of great Welshmen at home and abroad. He told us how Nonconformist preachers were better preachers than any of the bishops of the Church of England. He told us how many Nonconformist churches there are in London. He drew attention to the fact that the Chief Justice in India was a Welshman, and that there were other great Welshmen all over the world. He told us that there were some Welshmen in Patagonia, and that the Universities in Wales were doing very good work. Let us grant all that. But what on earth has it got to do with the proposals contained in this Bill which are going to take away from a great and ancient institution two-thirds of the property to which it has got a perfectly good title? The Church is doing good work. The hon. Member for Stafford (Sir W. Essex) in his speech yesterday had to admit that this Bill did not altogether fill him with pleasure. I am bound to say that I was not surprised to hear that statement, and I think a great many hon. Members on the Ministerial side of the House would probably utter the same sentiment. I think I may go so far as to say that some of them, if they expressed their inmost thoughts, would say, "We are heartily ashamed of the Bill." The hon. Member for Stafford said that the Church in Wales had always done her best to prevent what he thought ought to be the proper system of national education in this country. I think that was a most ungenerous remark, having regard to the great benefit the Church has given in connection with educational institutions for many years. The hon. Member seems to think that inasmuch as the 1851 Church has prevented what he considers would be the proper system of education from being carried out, he should take this opportunity of paying her out by Disestablishing her, and taking away a great part of her Endowments. It is a very unfortunate position to take. Does he think that that attitude is going to promote good will and co-operation between the denominations in future? Personally, I should think it was the way to bring about the opposite result.
The hon. Member for South Carnarvon (Mr. Ellis Davies) drew attention yesterday to a matter about which I wish to say a word or two namely, the question of the burial grounds. I heartily endorse every word said by my hon. and learned Friend the Member for Kingston. The hon. Member for South Carnarvon said he wanted to free the burial grounds. That, certainly, is a curious way of putting his case. I tried to understand his grievance, and I began to think that his real grievance was that the rector or vicar, as the case may be, has control over the burial ground. It is his duty to see that it is properly kept and that decent order is observed therein. The hon. Member knows that every parishioner has the right to go there and use the church. Since 1880, when the Burials Act was passed, any kind of service can be held there by any minister of any denomination, so long as it is a Christian denomination. If a parishioner does not wish the rector or vicar to take part in the service, all he has to do is to send notice that he does not require the rector or vicar, and any minister can be called upon by the parishioner to take part in the service. What is more, a burial may take place without any service at all. A parishioner has an absolute right to have his relative buried there without any conditions whatever, and without any interference on the part of the parson in whom the churchyard is vested. I want, to know, then, what is meant by freeing the churchyards in the interests of the parishioners? I do not understand it. That is the kind of argument that was brought forward in support of this Bill.
My hon. and learned Friend the Member for Carmarthen District (Mr. Llewelyn Williams) referred, among other things, to the injustice that had been done to Nonconformists denominations in Wales. and the wrong that had been suffered through the Anglican Church. During all these Debates, which have been going on 1852 for years, I have been listening to hon. Members making speeches, and we have often got to that point at which they talked of wrong and injustice, and over and over again I have thought, "now we are going to be told what the wrong and injustice are." But the information never seems to come, and so the speech of my hon. and learned Friend to-day was exactly typical of all the other speeches of hon. Members opposite. It consisted of platitudes and generalities, and references to things which happened in the year 1382, or 400 or 500 years ago. But when you come to the present conditions and ask yourself, "What is the injustice that is being done at the present moment?" you generally find that it is something like what has just been referred to as the freedom of the burial ground, and if you inquire into it you will find that the burial ground is perfectly free and that every parishioner has an absolute right to go there as he likes. [HON. MEMBERS: "No!"] Can hon. Members tell me in what respect any parishioner is not entitled to go to any burial ground? The Act of 1880 gives him the right.
§ Mr. SANDERSON
You must have regard to the conditions in all burial grounds, even in the burial grounds provided by the Local Government Board. There are certain conditions which apply and which are, of course, necessary in every burial ground. That is the kind of argument that is brought forward in support of this Bill. It was said by the hon. Member for North Carnarvon that the Church is not coterminous with Wales. That is rather a strange expression, but I think that I know what the hon. Member means. I think it is a fact that there is a priest of the Church of England in every parish in Wales—[HON. MEMBERS: "No!"]—or pretty nearly. Whether that is so or not I do not care, because the point is this: Assuming, for the sake of argument, that it is not so, is that fact any reason why you should take away two-thirds of the Church's property? You are going to take away property which produces an income of £157,000 a year, and the total income of the Church is £260,000. The Attorney-General put it in another way. He said that up to a certain date the Church was the only agency for receiving donations which were given for a religious and charitable purpose. Suppose it was: Is the fact that there are now three 1853 or four other agencies—or, if you like, ten or a dozen agencies—any reason for taking away what was given to the Church? Suppose that a person is particularly anxious about a particular object and makes a donation to a society because he finds that that is the only society which is carrying out that particular object, and then it turns out, in the course of some years, that there are four or five societies carrying on the same object, do you think that this House would be right in saying, "Now that there are four or five other societies carrying out the same object as the original society, you may take away the donations which were given to the original society and not split them up among the other societies, but give them for different purposes altogether." The argument seems to me to be absolutely untenable, yet that was the main argument brought forward by the Attorney-General when he was making the principal speech that ho made in the course of these Debates on this subject.
I do not think that the case against the Bill wants any argument at all. The facts themselves are the most eloquent argument. The facts are that you are going to take away £157,000 out of an income of £260,000, leaving the Church £102,000, and I say without the slightest hesitation that the whole of the income is the property of the Church, because the Attorney-General has admitted that the title of the Church would be held to be a good and solid title in any Court of Law. Further than that, the Church wants all that it has for the purpose of promoting religion and religious teaching. In spite of the historical stories of the hon. and learned Member for Carnarvon, who told us about the Middle Ages and the year 1382—what he said interested me very much indeed. I have listened to these Debates and learned a great deal of history, but all of it seems absolutely irrelevant to the present purposes; but, in spite of all those historical stories, it is admitted that the Church at the present moment is doing a splendid work. The hon. Member for Stafford (Sir W. Essex) said that we are only taking away a paltry sum. It may appear to him to be a paltry sum, but I wonder what do the curates, the vicars and the clergymen throughout Wales, who are dependent upon this sum, think about it? Do they agree with the hon. Member for Stafford? Finally, you are going to divert these funds from the purposes for which they have 1854 been used for many generations to absolutely different purposes, and, in my opinion, without any authority whatsoever. I want to say, in conclusion, as earnestly and solemnly as I can, that I believe, and my information is to a certain extent firsthand, that in Wales, for the last twenty-five years at all events, the good will between different denominations and the co-operation between them has been largely on the increase, and that they were working more and more with a common object for the promotion of religion and Christianity, and that old animosities were passing away. The result of this Bill, if it is passed into law, will be to arouse those old animosities, to prevent the co-operation that was going on in many cases, and to interfere and to a large extent destroy the good work that has been going on.
§ Mr. HINDS
I do not think that we can complain in any way of the tone of the Debate. I think that it is very good. I have heard all the Debates during the last few years, and though hon. Members opposite in the beginning said certain hard' words about Welsh Members and the Government I do not think that we have heard anything of that nature in the last two or three Debates. My complaint is that hon. Members opposite who are opposed to this Bill have not taken it from the Welsh standpoint. They have not understood either the Welsh people or their ardour for their religion. They have never tried to understand the great Welsh feeling with regard to the matter, and I must take strong exception to what was said by the Noble Lord in reference to the proposals of this Bill. You would almost believe from what he said that the people who support this Bill were not religious people. I admire his zeal for the Church, but he must give us credit, on the other hand, for being quite as ardent as he is for the welfare of true religion. We must remember that some of the noblest people in our country, people who lived before I was born, who were highly religions people, and who knew what self-sacrifice was, preached at that time the gospel of the separation of Church and State. The benefits of Disestablishment will not be confined to Nonconformists. As has been said this afternoon, they will be benefits to all the Welsh people, whether they are Nonconformists or belong to the Anglican Church. I know Wales pretty well by this time, and I say that it will be a means of co-operation for all sections of Christian 1855 activity. I believe that clergymen in many districts will welcome it, and that it will do away with the feeling that has been referred to.
It has been mentioned this afternoon that many clergymen have had the feeling that they are not having what they should have with regard to preferment. A man must be a favourite of the bishop before he can get certain preferment. It is not right that a bishop should have so much power over a man, and he does not get the best work from his men when he has that power to give them a better living than they have at present. You will by this Bill do away with any geographical limits that may exist as regards the confines of a parish. Religion will not be a penny the worse in Wales if this Bill is passed, but will be all the better for it. That is my opinion and the opinion of some of the best people in Wales. There are plenty of Nonconformist ministers who are not taking the confines of a parish as the place in which to build their churches. They have gone with their people and built bethels at great self-sacrifice to minister to the spiritual welfare of those people. It is said that we are taking religious funds to be used for secular purposes.
May I tell you what was done with the money that came from the Irish Church—I think some £7,000,000. I do not blame the uses that were made of that money, and I believe in what the Chancellor of the Exchequer said this afternoon, that the use of those funds depends upon what we mean by religious purposes. I call every work that tends to uplift the people in any shape or form a highly religious work, whether it be better education, better housing, and greater comforts of that, kind, and, in my view, the funds from the Irish Church could be used in no better way. In 1878, under a Tory Administration, there was voted out of this surplus fund £1,000,000 for intermediate education. We are condemned at the present moment for what is proposed to be done under this Bill. In 1879, £1,300,000 was voted for the national teachers; in 1880 for the relief of distress—a good and noble object—£1,750,000; and, in 1881, £1,550,000 to pay arrears of rent owing to landlords. The Government of the day came forward and paid out of the funds of the Church the arrears which the tenants owed to their landlords. I do not blame them for what was done, but I do not understand why, at the present time, 1856 there should be a continued cry of sacrilege because in this instance we propose under the Bill to use the money for good and noble purposes. The money belongs to the nation as a whole, and it can be used as a very great power for good. It has been contended in these Debates that Nonconformity is dwindling in the country, while the Church is increasing.
I turn, however, to the returns of communicants in the four dioceses of Wales in the year 1913, and I find that there were 4,051 fewer communicants at Easter, 1913, than at Easter of 1912. [An HON. MEMBER: "What about this year? "] I have not the figures for this year; I have only copied those from the official report issued by the Church itself. I am not glad that it is so: I state the figures in no spirit of rejoicing: I am only submitting the facts. The detailed figures between the four dioceses show that there were 4,051 fewer communicants in 1913 than there were in 1912, a fact which does not appear to prove that the Church is making the great progress which is claimed for her. I should like to see the Church making progress, and I believe that she will when this Bill is placed upon the Statute Book, and the bishops and clergy are free to devote themselves to their particular duties. I believe that then such deficits as these will be more than wiped out. Reference has been made to sustentation funds, of which I am a supporter. Let us remember what they are. They are to help poor chapels in the country which are not giving the minister a living wage, and the assistance which is given is perfectly voluntary. Man, woman, girl, or boy can go to the poor chapel because of this aid which is voluntarily furnished by the richer chapels in the town. There have been some attacks upon the voluntary principle, and I have heard it said that voluntaryism is dead. Voluntaryism, I believe, is the only system compatible with true Christianity. When I see great sums of money subscribed for various beneficent purposes, when I see great voluntary institutions all over the country, I rejoice at the fact, for I believe that the real blessing of religion is to give, something out of one's own resources in support of objects that will bring great blessings in return.
Immense sums are sent abroad for foreign missions, and immense sums are also given to hospitals, all voluntarily, and I rejoice that voluntaryism is not dead, for it gives more pleasure, it is more largely Christian, and goes more directly to the 1857 heart of the people, and is a living force in religion. I do not think that the Church in Wales need have any fear that in preaching a high spiritual gospel to the people, that she will ever lack funds. We have seen a great revival in Wales which touched the heart of Nonconformity, and brought the people into our fold, but it never touched the Church in Wales. There was something in her which did not touch the Welsh temperament, and that is the reason why hon. Gentlemen on the other side do not understand the Welsh people. Members from Wales would never have been elected time after time during so many years unless they were heart and soul for this cause, and I believe that the House will give the Bill a Third Heading to-night by a thumping majority.
§ Major DALRYMPLE WHITE
I join in the appeal to hon. Members—not necessarily Welsh Members opposite—to consider what are the rights of this Bill and what is the mandate for it. I believe it is a fact that of 200 Radical candidates in England at the last election only four, in their addresses, mentioned this subject, and they took refuge in the vague phrase "religious equality"—a phrase which is heard both here and in the country. I ask hon. Members whether they really and honestly believe in that kind of religious equality which is provided for under the Bill? Take the question of Endowment. It is proposed to take away Endowments from the Church in Wales, but it is not proposed to take away the Nonconformist Endowments. Yet you talk of religious equality. The hon. Member for West Carmarthen (Mr. Hinds) said that in taking away these funds from the Church in Wales, religion in the Principality would not be a penny the worse, but, on the contrary, would be the better for it. If I understand his argument, it would extend to this, that the taking away of the Endowments of Nonconformist bodies in Wales would make their religion better still. You are certainly setting a tempting precedent by this Bill. Again, with regard to the churchyards, they are to be taken away, while the Nonconformists' churchyards are to be left. Yet hon. Members talk about religious equality. The Chancellor of the Exchequer said the churchyards of the Church in Wales would be given over to the people. Why should not the Nonconformists' churchyards be given over to the people as well? Then, again, it is said that the Church of Wales can afford to separate from the Church in 1858 England, whereas no Nonconformist bodies in Wales are ready to separate from similar bodies in England, because they say it would do harm to their respective denominations.
The claim is put forward, and was adumbrated by the Chancellor of the Exchequer, that these Endowments which are to be taken away belonged to the Roman Catholic Church before the Reformation. If that be the case, if they did belong to the Roman Catholic Church, then logically, they ought to be given back to the Roman Catholic Church. The Government do not propose to do that because they fear to offend their Nonconformist supporters in the country. A considerable number of Endowments are to be taken away under this Bill which were given after the Reformation, and I may quote one interesting case in proof of that. Monastic Endowments in Wales were confiscated in the time of Henry VIII., and they passed into the hands of laymen. In 1592, years after the Reformation, the then Dean of Westminster bought back for £558 those Endowments and divided them into third parts—one for the grammar school, one for the almshouses, and one for the support of the parish church. The thirds left to the almshouses and grammar school are left, but the third specifically devoted to the Church is to be taken away. We may well ask why is religion singled out for this special attack. I do not want to use any harsh terms in this Debate, but I cannot believe that this attack on the Church is not very largely actuated—I do not say in all cases, and I acquit the hon. Member who has just spoken—by feelings of jealousy and vindictiveness. We have had numerous speeches made which have proved to be the case. We had a reverend gentleman, a protagonist of this campaign in Wales, who, in an address I believe, said, "It is for the strong to take and for the weak to squeal." That might be a very good motto for thieves, but it is hardly a text for a Nonconformist chapel.
I hope that is not the spirit of all those who support the Bill. I do not believe it is. I wish that hon. Members opposite would not look upon it as a party question. If it were merely a question of party politics, we on this side ought to welcome it, because this Bill is undoubtedly helping our party and is bringing men to our side who have hitherto voted for the Liberal party. Only the other day a gentleman who has risen to a high position on one of 1859 our great railways, in conversation with me, mentioned that he was a Welshman by birth, and that he and all his brothers have been brought up as Nonconformists. Within the last few years, he said, he had become a Churchman, and what had turned his feeling against the Liberal party was its attack on that grand old Church to which he now belonged. He added that if it had not been for the education he received in the Church school he could never have risen to the position he now occupied. This gentleman has four brothers, and two of them, he said, still remained Nonconformists, but they had come over from the Liberal party to the Unionist party because they considered it cruelly unjust to Disestablish and Disendow the Church in Wales. That is one way in which the Unionist party gain. The Unionist party will also gain by working harmoniously and strenuously in the future against the Government and the Liberal party who are bringing in this iniquitous measure, while very often on that platform they speak of themselves as the party of righteousness. I have frequently known them use that expression. If that be the case, let everyone put righteousness and the cause of religion before party politics, and record their votes in the Lobby against a Bill which will not only do harm to the Church in Wales, but will strike a blow at Christianity itself.
§ Sir WILLIAM BYLES
I had no intention of speaking in the Disestablishment Debates, but I have been drawn into this Debate by the constant reference to taking money away from the Church. I desire to explain to the House how it strikes us. I do not think that we are robbing anybody at all, or that we are taking anything away from the Church. All that we are doing is to apply the Church money to different uses. My position, at any rate, is that the Church has no existence at all apart from the nation. It is the Church of the nation; it is the National Church; it is the nation ecclesiastically considered. It is not an approved society which has its own funds. It is not a separate institution from the nation. Church property is not yours or mine; it is yours and mine; and we are now engaged in these Debates in determining by a majority to what use we shall put our property. That is, as I understand, the situation, and I hope that those of us who hold that view will not be accused, and 1860 will not be suspected even by our fellow Members opposite, of desiring to rob the Church, or to rob God, or to take away a single penny of money which belongs to somebody else and to appropriate it to our own use. If I thought this was not national property, I would not vote for a penny of it, and per contra, if it be national property, the defenders of the Church ought not to desire to retain it from the nation if the nation desires to obtain it. Those are the simple, plain views of an English Member with no interest in Wales, of a layman who cannot enter upon the varied legal arguments which have been addressed to him, and of a Nonconformist who, nevertheless, claims to be a Nonconforming member of the Church of England.
My ancestors came out from the Church of England for conscience sake on matters of doctrine and church government, but they did not surrender their property. They did not surrender their right to the property of the Church, which is really the nation on its ecclesiastical side. That is the whole point I desire to put, and I maintain that the Nonconformist position is not one of injuring the Church. There is no desire to injure it at all, but we believe religion, when it is free, will flourish even more than when it is under control. That is why I have believed in Disestablishment all my life. I am not going to argue that question now. That has been conceded practically by the other side. [HON. MEMBERS: "No, no!"] It has been conceded by a good many speakers on the other side. [HON. MEMBERS: "No!"] I will not argue it further now, and my only desire in rising was to repudiate this charge that I am taking money out of somebody's pocket for my own use. I say we are doing nothing of the sort. We are considering together that which is our united national property, and as to what use we shall put it.
Mr. MONTAGUE BARLOW
I must say that the hon. Member for North Salford (Sir William Byles) has been extremely generous in the purveyance of material for a speech in reply, because the statements which he has made seems to me to be of a most marvellous character, and so marvellous, indeed, that if I had more time than the House can now give to me I could not possibly deal with the misconceptions which underlie the few statements he has made. For instance, he made the astonishing proposition that the Church has no existence apart from the 1861 State. Does that not suggest that the Nonconformist body of which I am sure he is a distinguished ornament, has no existence apart from the State. Surely a religious body, as such, even though it enters into a contract, an historical contract, covering long periods of years, with the State, does not thereby suffer extinction, but remains in existence, although that existence is intertwined with the existence of the State. Take the other astonishing proposition, or one of them, namely, that the property of the Church is the property of the nation. As was pointed out by my hon. Friend the Member for Southport (Major White), if that is true of the Church it is equally true of the Nonconformist bodies, and I can imagine the disturbance there would be if the Member for North Salford would introduce into this House a Bill, for instance, for taking over the management of a very distinguished edifice which has recently been erected not very far from these doors. If a contention of that kind could be seriously urged with regard to the Church, it could equally be urged with regard to the leading Nonconformist bodies in this country. We have been told that the Nonconformist bodies do not believe in Endowments. I say all credit to them that they do believe in them, as shown by their recent appeals for money. The Chancellor of the Exchequer, in that somewhat hurried, and I think rather surprising, incursion into this Debate raised astonishment in the minds of some hon. Members here in regard to two points which he made. I do not want to use strong language, but I must say it is little short of a scandal that the Chancellor of the Exchequer should use an argument as to the breach of continuity in the history of the Church of England, an argument which has been thrown overboard conclusively and completely both by the Prime Minister and by the Attorney-General. I should think that hon. Members opposite, even though they are, as in our view they are, working a great injustice, yet they might still have had sufficient consistency and a sense of what is right to try to keep their arguments, at any rate, reasonably in agreement with one another, and not advance at different times arguments which are mutually destructive.
I do not propose now to deal with other points that have been raised this evening, as time does not permit, but I wish to say a word about the general position in which we find ourselves with regard to 1862 this Welsh Bill at the moment, and particularly the position in comparing that Bill with its other twin brother under the Parliament Act, the Home Rule Bill. I do not think it is possible for Churchmen to compare the two Bills without a certain amount of, shall I say, contempt for the attitude adopted by the other side. It is often alleged that Ulster has carried on unconstitutional measures. Churchmen, at any rate, have done nothing that could be suggested as savouring of illegality. They have not drilled, they have not armed, they have not even threatened passive resistance, and so far as there are any illegalities, I think they can be put down to the credit of the other side. I understand that the Gladstone League have been sleeping peacefully at night while friends of theirs, if reports in the newspapers are accurate, have been guilty of something like organised coercion, or intimidation to prevent the protests which have been circulated, being signed by Nonconformists. Welsh Churchmen have done none of those things. We have adhered strictly to constitutional measures, and what is the result? All our arguments are treated with contempt. If we are not going to be massacred with machine guns we are to be slaughtered with the guillotine. Our opponents do not even take the trouble to make their arguments consistent, as instanced to-night by the argument about the breach of continuity which has been thrown over by the Prime Minister and the Attorney-General. We are told that there is talk of Ulster being allowed the right to poll, to decide by popular vote, as to whether she is to come in under the Home Rule Bill or not.
But in the case of Wales, though we have urged over and over again that Welsh men should have the right of deciding, or that the Welsh Church should be allowed to say whether she wishes to come under this Bill, any suggestion of that kind is refused. Not only is that so, but the curates, the poor class who will suffer most hardly under the Bill, are given no sort of opportunity of deciding as to whether they want to be excluded from the Bill or not. The fact is that Members opposite have so much reliance on the Parliament Act, and are so convinced that it secures to them what they want, that they seem to care very little for consistency of argument, and, I fear, very little for the justice of certain portions, at any rate, of this Bill. When comparing the result of the two courses of procedure, I 1863 am afraid we are inevitably forced to the conclusion that with a Government of the character that sits opposite to us, argument seems to be of very little avail, and if it is a question of protecting ordinary constitutional liberties the only means of doing so is by extraordinary methods. Let me say a word about the Bill as you are going to pass it. Quite apart from any question of injustice or hardship, you have prepared it in such a shape, and you put it through the House of Commons so little considered in detail, and you have ignored so entirely the points put to you, that it is bound to spell confusion in operation. I would just take one or two points which, though we have mentioned them over and over gain, have never been satisfactorily dealt with, and are not now satisfactorily dealt with in the Bill. Take Clause 13. We do not know who is to constitute the new Church body. Synods are to be set up with lay members.
No, not the Representative Body, but the Synod, which is to consist of representation from the Church, including laymen, and there is no definition of what a lay member is, and you can have no Church Synod without qualified laymen, and until the Synod exists there is no means of defining what the Church in Wales means by laymen. Take Clause 13 (2) which deals with the Representative Body to which the Home Secretary just now referred. In some of his speeches, the Home Secretary seemed to suggest that the Representative Body was going to be the governing body of the Church.
§ 8.0 P.M
I can quote references to the Home Secretary which certainly seemed to indicate that, but I agree that the Bill, as now modified, does seem to suggest that the Representative Body is a representative body somewhat on the lines of the Irish Church, that is, for the purpose of holding property. If that is so, we should like to have it clearly stated—and I can give some legal arguments which would hold some water—to show that there is still great difficulty on the point. What can the new Church do? What are its legal powers? Clause 3, which we discussed in Committee, says that ecclesiastical law, after the Act comes into force, is to cease to have 1864 operative effect as law, but it is to bind the members of any body as a contract, and the synods are to have the right to alter that contractural arrangement. So far, all seems fairly clear. The new synods might alter the formularies of the Church, get rid of the bishops, or give up the parochial organisation. Then conies Section 8 (2), which says that the new Church is to hold Church property subject to existing public and private rights. This causes great confusion. Parishioners have now certain rights of attending Church, baptism, and burial. Does Section 8 (2), with its reference to public and private right, override the general positions of Section 3? If not, and the Church abolishes the parochial system, for instance, what becomes of the rights of parishioners, because parishioners as such cease to exist. The Home Secretary at one moment apparently suggests that the Church has full powers of legislation in matters of this kind, while at another moment in answer to a question he suggests that she has not. Take again the question of dismemberment. Originally the Home Secretary seemed rather to rejoice at the prospect. He seemed to welcome it as a special feature of the Bill, and to suggest that the severance of the Church in Wales would coincide with, and to a certain extent reflect, the national movement in Wales. Then the Prime Minister, in a somewhat famous passage, rather laughed that notion out of court. This is what the Prime Minister said on 15th May, 1912:—What has puzzled my brain to understand is how, after this separation has taken place, and these four dioceses are formally separated for synodical and constitutional purposes from the Province of Canterbury, there shall be any difficulty in as close communion and co-operation as before. That is not the case with Nonconformist bodies. The Methodists of Wales have no difficulty in co-operating on the closest possible terms with the Methodists in England.That may or may not be true. I do not know. But it is quite clear that the cases are not parallel, because in the case of the Methodists they are not established in one portion of the country and non-established in the other. What is assumed will be the effect of dismemberment? Is it assumed, as it appears to be on the face of the Bill, that dismemberment will have the effect of setting up in Wales a new national Church, distinct from the English Church, or will the effect simply be that the Church, with or without the Home Secretary as its first patron saint, as was suggested in an earlier Debate, is to be a 1865 Church with only certain legal obstructions and impediments preventing it from being united, as it was before, with the Church of England? With regard to these and numerous other practical difficulties, I have only to say, first, that you have no business to thrust upon the new Welsh Church a system of government of this kind, hampered with foolish and unnecessary confusion and contradictions; and, secondly, that if the Church has not full power of legislation, if she is restricted by Section 8 (2) and other Sections of the Bill, all the talk about Disestablishment, giving to the Church the blessings of liberty and making her as free as a Nonconformist Church, is based either on ignorance or on something like hypocrisy.
Reference has very properly been made to what has always seemed to me the strongest argument brought forward by hon. Members opposite, namely, the political feeling in Wales as evidenced by the representation in this House. As a set-off against that we have two replies on which we can rely with great strength. First, there are not only the petitions which have been presented to this House, but also the astonishing protests of Nonconformists in North and South Wales, which I do not think have been sufficiently referred to. It is not only the quantity, so to speak, of signatories over twenty-one years of age, but also the quality. In the St. Asaph protest, among the 15,000 signatories were thirty-nine ministers or preachers and 158 deacons. In the Bangor protest, among the 118,000 signatories you get similar figures with regard to ministers and deacons. In the South Wales protest, initiated by the son of a Congregational minister, you get, roughly 70,000 signatories, among whom were fifty-three ministers or preachers, 473 deacons, and 160 other Church officials connected with Nonconformity. The one criticism urged against these protests was that to address them to the Prime Minister was not a constitutional method of procedure. My answer to that is that if the constitutional method is by petition, that has been adopted to the extent of 500,000 signatures in Wales alone, without it receiving much attention from hon. Gentlemen opposite. The other answer is that during the Debates on the Parliament Act and on this Bill in its earlier stages the Prime Minister expressed the view that if it was clear that the opinion of the country was altering with regard to a Bill, the machinery of the Parliament Act ought 1866 not be used for the purpose of driving that measure through the House. His words were that the delay of three Sessionswould preclude the possibility of covertly or arbitrarily smuggling into law measures which are condemned by popular opinion.These words gave the lead to the action of these protest committees when they addressed their protests to the Prime Minister. I have received, doubtless in common with other hon. Members, a circular addressed to Liberal Churchmen, in which it is suggested that Members opposite will lose twelve seats, if not more, as the result of their action in connection with this Bill.
I am not prepared to say whether or not those figures are accurate. I think that if they err at all, they err on the small side.
That is not the point. The Government have not the right to force through, under the procedure of the Parliament Act, a measure in regard to which they have lost the confidence of the country, or in regard to which opinion is swinging against them. Although, I agree, it is not a question of seeking or losing votes, that is an important point in connection with the argument which I have just urged. I think I am speaking for all Members on this side, and certainly I speak in all sincerity for myself, when I say that we regret the attitude of Nonconformists in this matter. We cannot help thinking that all through their eyes are fixed too much on the dead past and not enough on the living present. For instance, the hon. Member for Merthyr Tydvil, in the Second Reading Debate, referred to some of the earlier grievances of the Church, and said:—There sank into the hearts of those early Nonconformists a sense of outrageous grievance and of a great misuse of funds. It is the recollection of my childhood. I mention these cases in order to bring home to hon. Members the atmosphere in which we have been brought up with regard to this particular question.I do not want to use unnecessarily severe language, but to us on this side words such as those, and many others similar to them which have fallen from hon. Members opposite, seem to suggest a policy of revenge and of punishing the Church to-day for real or fancied grievances of a hundred years ago 1867 Frankly, this is what astonishes me and what I find it very hard to understand. The old Nonconformist position has, I think, been entirely surrendered. The facts on which it was based have been given up, and yet our Nonconformist Friends seem incapable of realising what has happened or where they now stand. The old Liberationist movement turned on three fundamental points: first, the absence of Endowments; secondly, the refusal of any interference of Parliament; and, thirdly, the refusal to allow any cooperation or connection cither between Church and State or between Nonconformist bodies and the Anglican Church. Very little consideration will show that all these positions have been given up. We have lived to see the leading Nonconformist bodies appealing for and securing large sums by way of Endowment. For example, to take one instance alone, the Charity Commissioners in their recent Report state that from 1903 to 1910 no less a sum than £211,000 came under their jurisdiction in the way of new Nonconformist Endowments. We have lived to see the Scottish Church accept a Parliamentary title to their funds and the Church of the United Methodists in 1907 coming into existence by virtue of an Act of Parliament. Still more surprising, we have lived to see leaders of Nonconformity advocating theories of relation between Church and State, which are almost fatal to their claims. For instance, the "British Weekly" a fortnight ago, in a very appreciative reference to the late Member for Ipswich (Mr. Silvester Horne), whose untimely death we on this side all deplore, used these very pregnant words:—He believed that nothing could save the state except that Christianity which is its only bulwark. In private and in public he advocated a theory of Church and Stare which amounted to Hildebrandeism. He really believed that the Church should rule the State, and that the children of light should govern the children of the world.Last of all, there is the amazing missionary conference at Edinburgh, where some 1,200 delegates from all parts of the world—Anglicans, Presbyterians, Wesleyans, Methodists, bishops, clergy, and laity—met under the presidency of an American layman to discuss common action in the mission field; the action of the Scottish Presbyterians, who are drawing nearer and nearer together; and the recent controversy in connection with the place with the curiously sounding name of Kikuyu, which was a courageous attempt 1868 to make united Christian action among the Protestant churches in the mission field a living reality. Surely all these are evidences that co-operation between the Church and Nonconformity is not only a possibility but is tending to become a reality.
We Churchmen appeal earnestly to Nonconformists to realise where they stand, to give up brooding over the past, and to join hand-in-hand in tackling the problems of the future. The choice is before them. They may, of course, continue their present policy of attacking the Church. We believe that that will not help the cause of religion, and we believe that in spite of a good many speeches, hon. Gentlemen opposite know in their hearts that that is true. In that way, in our view, lies the degradation of all religion, and the ultimate triumph of materialism. No; there is a better way than that. There are great moral problems of education, vice, drink. There are great Imperial problems of missionary work, of slavery, and of the elevation of the native races, and here in our view there is room for all the Churches to co-operate. No one can succeed without the help of the other. Our faces are set in the same direction. Our roads, if not identical, are parallel. It rests with the Nonconformists and with the Nonconformists alone to say whether we are to march along these roads joyfully as brothers, or with sorrow as opponents. Most of us on this side can only pray that the result of to-day's work may not make the first course difficult or almost impossible for many years to come.
§ Mr. STAVELEY-HILL
I heard in the speech of the hon. Member for West Carmarthen what has been said in this House in the course of this Debate frequently, that we on this side of the House look upon Nonconformity as a dwindling force and as practically dead. I have never myself heard that assertion made on this side of the House, and, speaking as a member of the Church of England, I say it is the last thing in the world I want to see. We do not wish to see Nonconformity dead. We do not want to see any harm done to Nonconformity.
§ Mr. STAVELEY-HILL
Nonconformity was established between two and three hundred years ago under the Toleration Act. I could only wish that the title of that Act expressed the sentiments of hon. Members opposite to-day, and that they 1869 were in every sense tolerant to us, as we are tolerant to them. We have no desire to damage Nonconformity. As the hon. Member who last spoke said, there is room for all the Churches to do good and useful work. The hon. Member for North Salford said that he did not desire to take money that belonged to somebody else. Nobody is accusing the hon. Member himself of desiring to do anything of the sort, but we do say, and we say with conviction, that by this Bill the Government are taking away money that is given for religious purposes and devoting it to secular purposes which, in our opinion, is entirely wrong and immoral. It has been said by way of argument during this Debate, as in 1912, that the Church of England, whether in Wales or in this country, was perfectly right and entitled—I am not attempting to quote the exact words, but the sense—to use its Endowments, so long as the Church of England was the only Church in the country except the Roman Catholic. That argument has been met by a very apt illustration given by the Bishop of St. David's, than whom no man in this country has worked harder in opposition to this Bill. In the course of his speech the Bishop of St. David's, alluding to the argument I have just referred to, said:—I understand that St. Bartholomew's Hospital is the oldest in London and has ancient endowments. If is not the only hospital in London now, but provided that that hospital continues to do its work as well as over, and that the number of its patients, 'In' and 'Out,' is as large as ever, is the fact that London has grown and other hospitals have been founded, any reason whatever for disendowing St. Bartholomew's Hospital?Is it any reason because Nonconformity in various forms has grown up and prospered since the Church of England, by no Act of Parliament, but by a slow and consistent growth has become established, to say that because of the increase of another form of religion you are entitled to take away the Endowments of the old religion? We oppose this Bill for many reasons. We oppose it amongst others—and I think primarily because if it is passed, in spite of what has been said from those benches opposite to-night, it would place obstacles in the way of the Church's advancement by injuring her position and by depriving her of her means. If you do deprive the Church of her means you are not only depriving the incumbent, but the actual Church itself. Something was said in the early stages of this Bill about a geographical distinction between England and Wales. Nobody for a moment believes that argument. If such a thing is right for 1870 Wales, it is right for England; and if it is wrong, it is wrong for both the Principality and for England. We know perfectly well, everybody on this side of the House knows, that the moment the hand is put in the till of the Church of England in Wales the hand will be put in the till of the Church of England in this country. It is but the forerunner of another and a larger measure.
It has been said that at one time the Church was apathetic. The Church has shown by practical demonstration that she would have none of this Bill, and that attitude has been recently assisted—to their great credit, be it said—largely by large bodies of Nonconformists, both by deputation and petition. The hon. Member for Carmarthen Boroughs, who spoke earlier in the Debate, said that he was not ashamed of having in the support of this Bill the votes of the Nationalist Members from Ireland. I do not suppose for one instant that the hon. Member is ashamed, for if they had not got those votes they would not have had any chance of getting their Bill. Therefore, they are deeply indebted to those hon. Gentlemen who come from Ireland. This Bill has done one thing to which reference has been made. It has taken this question outside party politics. There are to-day thousands of Churchmen, as well as Nonconformists, who are recording their votes, and will record their votes, for Members on this side of the House upon that Church question and upon that Church question alone. If the Church of England in Wales had been a wealthy Church, it would have been bad to take her possessions from her, but it became worse when you are despoiling a poor Church. It is all very well for the hon. Gentleman who spoke last to make some reference to the number of communicants. As to whether his figures were accurate or not I do not know. I am not in a position to contradict him, but I understand, from the information I have received, that they have enormously gone up during this year 1914. Now as to the prosperity of the Church and as to its good work. I will quote argument not from hon. Members of this side, but from what the Prime Minister has recently stated. He said:—During the last seventy years the Church in Wales has risen to a height of her great duty, and was carrying out worthily her work as a great body.That being so, why this Disestablishment and Disendowment, and what are you going to leave her? We have heard a sum 1871 which has a somewhat familiar sound—6s. 8d. in the £. Six shillings and eight-pence is to be left to her; 150 incumbents are to be left without a penny, and fifty-two are to be left with a fee of 5s. We were told to-day that the Church will be better off, happier and more active. There are many Gentlemen on the other side of the House fighting for Disestablishment who, so far as this world is concerned, are extremely wealthy men. I should like to put to them this question, because what is true of a particular body of persons must logically be true if applied to the individual. If the Church is to be better off, more prosperous, more happy, more useful with 6s. 8d. instead of a £, would some hon. Gentlemen apply that principle to themselves in regard to their own affairs? I venture to say that no dictionary, whether in Welsh or any other language, would be found capable of supplying words sufficiently strong to express their indignation if such a proposal were made to them.
If our Church is to be Disendowed in Wales, it cannot be long before the same argument will be applied to the Nonconformists in England as well. They have their Endowments for many years past, and their Church Establishments in many ways under Act of Parliament. If the crime is as they say that we are a State Church, even if that were absolutely true, what is the difference between subsistence on State aid, and subsistence upon rate aid, because the Nonconformists get to a large extent relief in local rates and highway rates and other rates, and therefore exist to a large extent by rate aid. They have the poor rate exemption and a highway rate exemption, and under the Public Health Act of 1875 they are exempt from the general district rates. We do not find fault or criticise these things, or grudge them; but we say as we are tolerants in these matters there is no reason why you should put this gross injustice on the Church. Let hon. Members say what they like about the figures and the falling off in communicants in 1912–13. Why do they not persuade the Government to obtain that religious census which was granted over three years ago in answer to a request by my hon. Friend the hon. and gallant Member for Dudley, then we should have the actual figures and know exactly where we were? The whole truth of this story is and has been found in the speeches of the hon. Gentleman the Under-Secretary 1872 of the Home Office. He said, speaking upon this subject on the 19th February. 1907:—Disestablishment will be a programme with money at the back of it. It is the only sort of programme worth having.He spoke later in 1909 in the House of Commons, and he said:—If the fund arising from Disendowment of the Church of England in Anglesey went to supplement old age pensions for the county, the pensionable age could be reduced from 70 to 65 or even 60Now we see, as we saw all along, the real argument at the back of this Bill. There is money in it and there might be votes in it if the pensionable age is reduced. It has been stated by responsible leaders of the Unionist party that if and when we come into power if this Bill is unfortunately passed by this Government and put upon the Statute Book, it will be repealed. I have had an opportunity of seeing a certain number of audiences in South Wales and addressing them comparatively recently, and I do not see any enthusiasm behind this Bill. But we do know that throughout England and throughout Wales there is a determination at the earliest opportunity to get this Bill off the Statute Book if it is ever put on it. It will be repealed for all time, and then we will try and forget the gross injustice, and the gross unfairness, and the uncalled-for and unnecessary robbery attempted to be perpetrated by the Government of the day upon the Church of England.
§ Mr. TIMOTHY DAVIES
I listened with great interest and attention to the last three or four speakers, and particularly to the last speaker. I do not quarrel with anything he has said except his peroration. Apart from the peroration, we agree with many of the things he has said. But there is one thing which strikes everybody who knows Wales, and it is this: that every speaker opposite, with the exception, perhaps, of the hon. Member for Denbigh Boroughs, who spoke of the Church in Wales, and of the Nonconformists in Wales, spoke from the standpoint of an Englishman. Those who have had an opportunity of being amongst the people, and who have been brought up amongst them, know very well that there exists a grievance in the minds of a great number of the people in Wales at having an alien Church established with few members amongst the "Welsh people in the districts. I understand the main objection of the last speaker to this Bill is not so much to Disestablishment as to Disendowment. There are a number of hon. 1873 Gentlemen on the other side who object more to Disendowinent than to Dismemberment of the Church. Their great grievance is that money is to be taken away which ought to be devoted to religious services, and that it is going to be devoted to secular purposes. We do not want to go back into the history of the money which will be taken away from the Church, but which will go back to the nation if this Bill is passed. But it is perfectly well known that practically all the money which is about to be alienated from the Church is money not given for religious purposes in the strictest sense of the word, but money given to the people of Wales, and I have no doubt that the Under-Secretary for the Home Department had that in his mind when he said that if the money were divided in Anglesey it would reduce the pensionable age to sixty-five or sixty. I have no doubt it was in that respect that he made his suggestion. I would not have spoken to-night if it were not for the speech of the hon. Member who said that there were only four Members of the House who mentioned Disestablishment in their election addresses, or only six who mentioned anything about religious liberty. As I am an English Member, I suppose I am one of the six the hon. Member mentioned. I mention the fact because I am a Welshman representing an English constituency, and because I know Wales and the desire of the people of Wales to have this Bill. As far as I am concerned, I do not believe that if this Bill is passed those whom I represent will transfer their votes at the next election from me to my opponent. As a matter of fact, I do not think it will make any difference in that respect. It is quite true that in England you cannot stir up interest in this Bill, either for or against it. It is not the people of England who desire this Bill so much as the people of Wales, and therefore it is only right that the Bill should be passed into law as early as possible. The hon. Member for North Salford (Sir W. Byles) said that if we were to imitate Ulster, perhaps this Bill would not be passed. I am glad that it is not suggested that the Churchmen in Wales or in England should import rifles from Germany, and start an agitation and civil war because this Bill was going to pass.
My hon. Friend said there was a reduction in the number of communicants in the four dioceses of Wales between 1912 and 1913. [An HON. MEMBER: "No!"] I can assure the hon Member that my hon. 1874 Friend took those figures from the official reports of the Church itself, and they are correct. I have not got the figures for this year, and if it is right, as the last speaker said, that there has been a great increase of communicants in the Church last Easter I am only too glad to hear it. I have no malice against the Church, and I know that in some parts of Wales the Church has been doing good work, and it is not the parts of Wales that have the biggest Endowments where the Church has been doing the greatest work. But it is not the Church of England alone that is doing good work in the great towns of Cardiff, Newport, and up the valleys which are teeming with population. There is one Church to which I have the honour to belong which has started a central forward movement in the diocese of Llandaff, and if last year the number of communicants in that diocese had been reduced in regard to the Church it is not so with the Nonconformists. I had given to me two or three days ago figures with regard to the fifty centres of the Calvinistic Methodists in and around Cardiff. Out of some 40,000 hearers who come every week, and almost every night of the week, to these great halls which have been established for the last twenty years, I find that the membership in this one section of our Church, in the very centre of Llandaff, where the reduction in communicants has been greatest, during the year 1912–13, this small section has increased by 300 members. What is still better, I find that the Sunday school scholars have increased last year by 500. I should be very glad if some hon. Members opposite would let us know the latest figures with regard to the work of the Church in Wales.
I hope hon. Members opposite will believe me when I say that I have no antagonism at all against the Welsh Church, indeed, all my people have been members of that Church. It was in the year 1811 when the first of my family left the Church. Some of my ancestors were driven out of it in Carmarthenshire, and they are the pioneers of the Methodists in that county. One of my ancestors was over 100 years of age when he died, and he stuck to the Church to the end. I still have many friends in Wales who are members of the Church of England. I have a number of Welsh friends who are Welsh Nationalists. I myself was born under the shadow of the Bishop of St. David's Palace, and I have watched for 1875 many years the work of that Church in Wales. I do not believe for one moment that when this Bill is passed into law, as it will be, that the spiritual activity of the Church in Wales will be diminished in the slightest degree. The Disestablishment of the Church in Wales will remove the great barrier which stands now between the people of Wales and the Church itself. The Methodists, the Congregationalists, and the Baptists of Wales co-operate to do social work. In some parts of Wales the Church does social work, and a great many people of Wales go to the Church because it is the Established Church. Its clergy and a great many of its members are unable to co-operate to the same extent in the uplifting of the masses of the people of South Wales. I shall be very glad if we learn after the passing of this Bill, as I think we shall, that the English Church in Wales has prospered, and will prosper. There is no doubt that there is plenty of room both for Church and Nonconformity, especially in the southern counties of Wales, to work for the uplifting of the masses of the people.
§ Mr. G. GIBBS
I want to say a few words on this question, as it is one on which I feel, and have felt, very strongly for a great many years. Before proceeding to deal with the question of the Bill, I should like to refer for one moment to the speech to which we have just listened, and to which we have all been delighted to listen, of the hon. Member for the Louth division of Lincolnshire (Mr. T. Davies). He has told us that in his opinion he does not believe this question is likely to do him harm at the poll, and, in fact, I think he led the House to believe that the passing of the Bill into law is likely to help his party.
§ Mr. GIBBS
I did not hear the interjection of the hon. Member. I understood the hon. Member for Lincolnshire to say that the passing of this Bill into law would do his party good, but, if he did not say so, I withdraw. We believe that there is a very strong feeling in the country against this Bill, and we should wish nothing better than that the hon. 1876 Member and other hon. Members should make a great point of the Welsh Bill at the next General Election. I have heard during the course of this Debate, and the other Debates which have taken place on the question during the last two years, it often said by hon. Members who come from Wales that the Welsh Nonconformists labour under a great sense of injustice. I have never been able to understand that. The Church of England in Wales is a part of the Church of England as a whole, and I cannot understand why that part of the Church of England which is situated in Wales should offend Nonconformists, when the fact that the presence of many Nonconformist bodies in this country does not offend members of the Church of England; in fact, as my hon. Friend has just said, we are delighted to know that they are here. All the Debates to which I have listened on this question during the last two years have strengthened my opinion that those who advocate the passage of this Bill into law are jealous of the Church of England. It seems to me that Members from Wales who are Nonconformists have long memories. I have heard some of them refer to the time when their ancestors were turned out of the Church. I fear it is the fact that they believe they were turned out which makes them so strongly in favour of this Bill being passed into law. They cannot help, however, admitting both that the Endowments of the Church of England in Wales are small, and that the Church to-day is doing a very great work by administering to an ever-increasing number of people. Yet, owing to this jealousy which exists they wish to harm the Church by taking away a great part of her Endowments. The hon. Member for North Salford (Sir W. Byles) spoke of the Endowments as being national property. We contend that they are in no sense national property. We contend that they were given in olden times for religious purposes, and religious purposes only, and that they in no sense belonged to the nation.
The hon. Member for Carmarthen Boroughs (Mr. Llewelyn Williams) referred to the fact that the hon. Baronet the Member for Radnorshire (Sir F. Edwards), a member of the Church of England, supported this Bill. I do not see how that strengthens his case, nor, from my point of view, do I think it is to the credit of the hon. Member for Radnorshire. We can point to thousands of Nonconformists 1877 in Wales who are opposed to this Bill, and there are many Radicals and Liberals all over the country who are also opposed to it. A burglar may come to my house and steal my money by the help of some member of my household, but that will not make his case any better, nor will it be to the credit of the member of my household who assists him. I do not see how it assists the hon. Member for Carmarthen Boroughs to quote the hon. Baronet the Member for Radnorshire. There is no doubt many poor parishes in the Principality will suffer a very grievous harm when their Endowments are taken away. It is true, I fully believe, that many of them will recover in the end by the generosity of Churchmen, but that is no reason whatever, and should not be put forward as a reason, for taking away any part of their Endowments at the present time. I was indeed surprised to hear the old argument brought up again this evening that it was going to do good to the Church. One hon. Member, in fact, went so far as to say that there would be many Churchmen who would rejoice when this Bill had been passed into law. That kind of statement, if I may say so, seems to us to be humbug. How can hon. Members who defend this Bill really believe that it is going to bring peace? How can an infliction of a terrible wrong bring peace to anybody? How can a Bill which we believe to be fundamentally wicked and a crime, both against God and man, bring peace to Wales? Churchmen must always have the feeling that a grievous wrong has been done to them. That feeling will last for generations, and I believe for eternity. The Division which will be taken to-night does not mean the end of this strife. Such a thing is absolutely impossible. It will only make feeling more bitter, and the state of religion in Wales will be infinitely worse than it is at the present time.
I should like to say one word on the question of the burial ground. This is a point on which we feel very strongly indeed. On the one hand the Church graveyards are not the only places in which people can be buried in the Principality. There are nearly as many Nonconformist burial grounds as there are Church burial grounds. All Christians can be buried in the Church burial ground with a Christian service, and many are so buried every day. There are, in addition to that, many public cemeteries in Wales, as there are in England. The 1878 feelings of all Churchmen will be outraged at the idea of their having to give up their churchyards. I put myself in the place of a Churchman in Wales, and I say I should feel very strongly indeed if I knew that the churchyard in which were buried many of those who had been dear to me in their lives was going to be given up to a body over which my Church has no control. I was rather surprised to hear one hon. Member say this afternoon that he would have opposed this Bill if he believed that some of the Endowments would be taken away from the rural parishes and given to big parishes in South Wales. If that is so, why did he not press for an amendment of the Bill? He has done nothing of the kind, but he supports a Bill which takes away altogether the greater part of the Endowments of the Church and gives the money to objects for which it was never intended. I have done my best this evening to put the case as I see it against this Bill, and I can assure the House there are many men and women in the great city from which I come who are altogether opposed to this measure, and they are not only those who supported me at the last election.
§ 9.0 P.M.
§ Mr. KING
I am sure that those who have listened attentively to the speech just delivered will recognise it as the speech of a straightforward man expressing what he genuinely feels, and expressing it with moderation. I feel especially indebted to him, having listened to many dozens of speeches on this question, for having spoken genuinely and sincerely. I am glad to say that, because the hon. Member is a Constituent of my own. There are several points about this discussion which I do not think have been sufficiently considered and observed by the House. In the first place, no one, as far as I am aware, has called attention to the fact that we have now had no fewer than seven first-class Debates upon this measure. We had three—First, Second and Third Reading—Debates in the Session 1912, and we had Debates on the Second and Third Readings in each of the Sessions l913 and 1914. I know that to my own especial cost, because I have sat pretty well throughout the whole of the seven Debates, I have attempted to speak in every one, and this is the first time I have been called upon to do so. I think that is an experience which is unique in this House, and it is really very important, because, from the way in which some hon. Members opposite have addressed the House, one would imagine 1879 that this matter has hardly been debated at all, that the Bill had not been considered, and that the details of it were perfectly unknown. As a matter of fact, from first to last we have occupied over forty days in discussing this Bill, and I believe that forty days of Parliamentary time might have been much better occupied if Members opposite had not repeated the same speeches over and over again. I could give names, if necessary, but I will refrain from doing so. I will only remark that we have been listening to the same arguments, the same speeches, the same expressions, and even the same abuse, again and again and again, and had it not been for that we might possibly have come to a better understanding of the details of the Bill and certainly have arrived at a more amicable frame of mind than some hon. Members appear to be in at present. This leads me to point out another consideration which I feel to be very material. We have had forty days' discussion on this Bill, and we might have had several days more if the Opposition had put down their suggestions last Session instead of this. It is a question which I have asked of many of my hon. Friends opposite—and I am pleased to say I have a good many here, although very few have come in to listen to me—but I have asked them over and over again, "Why did you not put your suggestions on the Paper last year, when the Prime Minister promised that an opportunity should be given for the Suggestion stage?" He promised that last year.
§ Mr. KING
It is perfectly notorious that the right hon. Gentleman did so, and I mentioned the fact by way of a question the other day, and nobody got up and denied it. It is notorious that the House might have had two days further discussion on this Bill on the Suggestion stage last year if hon. Members had chosen to put their suggestions down. I believe the reason they did not do so was that they were speculating, not in Marconi shares, but on a General Election, and were saying to themselves, "If we can only get a 1880 General Election we may secure better terms, or possibly do away with the opportunity of passing this Bill under the Parliament Act." They have mistaken the temper of the Government, and they have manœuvred themselves into a bad position. They have judged wrongly the temper both of the House and of the country, and now they find that this Bill will be passed over their heads in spite of all they think and say, and in a very few days—a month at the most—it will become law, and it will pass without any Amendment, whether the House of Lords chooses to give the Second Reading or not, and whether they choose to put Amendments in it or not. We have the power now which we had not before to pass the Bill over their heads as it stands. I congratulate the Government, and the Liberal party, and the country, on being in that position after a crusade, unexampled, I believe, in the violence of its invective and in the way in which politics have been brought into the churches. One of the hon. Members who spoke yesterday admitted that many ecclesiastics had preached against this Bill. They have brought this Bill into discussion in the churches as no other political subject has ever before been debated from the pulpit, and that is one reason why the temper of the country is getting more and more in favour of this Bill. If people are preached at by the parson Sunday after Sunday on the iniquities of Members of Parliament and the wickedness and sacrilege committed by a. Liberal Government, even Conservative Churchmen will get tired and will feel less enthusiasm for their leaders. They are, in fact, sick of the subject now, and" will be only too glad when the Bill has been passed into law over the heads of the House of Lords. That is a point which I hope will receive the attention it deserves. Let me put it in brief: Why were not Suggestions put upon the Order Paper last year, when there was a chance of discussing them, and why do hon. Members put twelve pages of Suggestions on the Order Paper this year, when they know that to discuss them would be perfectly futile? I am sorry not to see the hon. and learned Member for Kingston (Mr. Cave) in his place, because I have given special study to some of the subjects which he brought to the notice of the House this afternoon. As he is not here, I will defer my remarks upon those points till possibly he may be able to attend.
1881 Another subject which has received a good deal of attention in the course of this Debate, and previous Debates, is that it has been urged that the Irish Members in this House ought to be ruled out of account, and that if any majority has ever been obtained by means of the Irish votes it ought to be considered a majority not in favour, but against the measure. That is separation; that is a violence of the principle of union, which is not very becoming in Members of the Unionist party. If Unionist Members believe in one Parliament for these islands why cannot they give as much heed to an Irishman's vote as to an Englishman's vote, because they are equally Members of this united Parliament. I especially value the votes of the Irish Members upon this subject, because they have been living for forty years or more without an Established Church. They can judge by their constant visits to this country what a country is like with an Established Church, and also judge by living in their native land what a country is like without an Established Church. It is very remarkable that although I have listened to all these Debates I have not heard, either in the House or in Committee, one speech from an Irish Conservative Member. The Ulster Conservative Members were strong in their opposition to the Disestablishment of the Irish Church. Why has not one of the present Ulster Conservative Members got up and asked us to look at their unhappy state which has arisen through the Disestablishment of the Irish Church? If such a speech had been made, it would have impressed me a great deal more than some of the speeches to which I have been forced to listen. But it has not been forthcoming, and so far as I can judge from the absence from this Chamber throughout all the Debates of Ulster Unionist Members, they do not care one jot which way the matter goes. No doubt they will obey the crack of the party Whip and will appear in rather diminished force in the Division Lobby this evening.
§ Mr. KING
There are no Ulster Conservatives on this side of the House. We ought to have some explanation of the remarkable fact that we have not heard the voice of Ulster Unionism on this subject. In connection with the Irish aspect of the question, there is one fact I am 1882 happy to be able to announce to the House, which is that the party led by the hon. Member for Cork City (Mr. William O'Brien), which has been absent from the House for two or three weeks, has turned up to-day and will vote in the Lobby with us for this Bill. Is it not very significant that the one occasion which brings them back is the last chance of voting for Welsh Disestablishment? It shows that there is a sincerity in these men—men, mind you, who have proclaimed on every possible occasion their independence of the Liberal party and their independence of the direction or leadership of the hon. and learned Member for Waterford (Mr. J. Redmond). Why? Because they know perfectly well that Disestablishment has done immeasurable good to their country, and they are patriotic enough to hope and believe that Disestablishment will do a great deal of good for Wales. I desire next to draw the attention of the House to the very lugubrious forecasts that are always made upon this and similar occasions when anything is being done to touch old and vested privileges and rights. It reminds me of the words of Mr. Bright when he was asked what he thought of the opposition to Irish Disestablishment? He replied, "Our Debates in this House have clearly shown that on matters of this kind the Tory party are always full of prejudice and selfishness and show themselves devoid of brains." That was Mr. Bright's opinion of the Unionist party of that day. I do not say it is applicable for to every occasion, but I believe it is applicable to this occasion. I should like, however, to exclude from that sweeping condemnation the speech of the hon. Member for West Bristol (Mr. G. Gibbs). They acted in the same way when the question of Catholic Emancipation was before this House. I am sorry to say I am not old enough to remember those historic Debates, but I have lately been reading them up, and I have been struck how men of the very highest rank in the State, men like Peel and the Duke of Wellington, men holding the same position that the right hon. hon. Gentleman the Member for the City of London (Mr. Balfour) and Lord Roberts hold to-day, indulged in unmeasured language of fear, objection and violent invective, which they hurled against Catholic Emancipation.
Does anybody to-day doubt that Catholic Emancipation was a just and right policy, and a policy which brought peace and a far greater amount of fellow-feeling and 1883 community of interest between different sections of the Christian Church than did the previous policy? I hear the same thing to-day. I might go through the whole list of great measures that have been passed in connection with greater religious liberty since that date. I might recall the Municipal Test Act, 1828, and the Church Rates agitation of 1861, and I might enlarge, if the Noble Lord the Member for Oxford University (Lord Hugh Cecil) were here, upon the violent abuse uttered against Mr. Gladstone and other Liberals when they proposed to abolish tests in the universities. Fears were then expressed that in a very short time atheism would be rampant, that true religion would be abandoned, and that the seats of ancient religion and culture would become the seats of infidelity and all sorts of other evils. We are accustomed to those jeremiads. We know what to think of them. They are uttered not even because the people who utter them believe them. They are uttered because they hope to get a few votes, and to frighten some of the weakminded and the puny-hearted amongst the electorate. I might come down to questions which are of more recent date. There is the question of the opening of the churchyards to dissenters. Many hon. Members probably do not know that until the year 1880, a parishioner could only be buried in his own parish churchyard by the incumbent of the parish, and that throughout practically the whole length and breadth of this land Nonconformist ministers were prevented from burying members of their flock in their parish churchyards, simply because they were Nonconformists. I remember perfectly well the violent struggle and the political abuse which took place. I remember Lord George Hamilton, now a political pensioner—I suppose he got his pension for political wisdom— on one occasion on the platform being asked what he thought of the admission of Nonconformist ministers to parish churchyards. He declared that he was against it, and would always be against such an invasion of the religious rights and privileges of the Established Church. Who would get up to express such a sentiment, even on the Tory benches, in this House to-day? Has it not been entirely for the justice, entirely for the good feeling, and entirely for the increased sense of common Christianity, that churchyards have been opened to dissent, and have not all the absurd fears and prophecies which 1884 were uttered in connection with that reform proved to be utterly groundless? I believe the same would prove to be the case in connection with the terrible forecasts which have been uttered in regard to the passing of this Bill.
I pass to another point. I want to refer to a subject which has, I believe, had a good deal of influence on both sides of the House, the alleged increase of activity and power of the Church of England in Wales. I believe the real fact of the matter is that all churches in all countries at present are losing ground, relatively, to the growth of population and the general activities of the people. It has been noticed in this country, and in other countries, too, that the churches have had less influence on public affairs, less influence on politics, and in many eases much less influence in education. I believe that is the tendency of the age, and it will go on, and I believe it explains a great deal at present. It explains what is sometimes urged, and has been urged in this Debate, that the Nonconformist churches are actually not gaining, but losing ground. The real fact, of course, is that the Church life is having less and less influence and Ecclesiastical power, and less influence in the way of politics and administration, and one fact which clearly shows that to be the case in Wales is this. Perhaps hon. Members have received, as I have done, several copies of a pamphlet upon Church schools in Wales, in which it is maintained that if Disestablishment of the Church is carried through a large number of Church schools in Wales will be closed, and that if they are closed there will be no guarantee that the Welsh children are taught religion. I have looked into this subject, and I find that in the years since 1902 there has been a great diminution in the number of Church schools.
If the Church has been gaining rapidly in strength and power all this time, you will expect the Church schools, at any rate, to remain equal to what they were before, or even to be increased, but the actual diminution in the number of Church schools during the last twelve years in Wales has been no less than fifty one closed and a considerable number transferred to the councils, and, as a result, there has been a net gain of council schools over Church schools in Wales of no less than 271. That shows very remarkably that the Church in Wales is, like all other Churches in other 1885 countries, losing ground comparatively to the population and the activities of the people, and to pretend, as hon. Members have done here, that if we only allowed the Church in Wales to go on a little longer it would manifestly embrace all the people and become the predominant religious power in the land is quite against the real trend of events. The decrease too in the number of children attending Church schools is even greater relatively than the decrease in the number of schools. The Act of 1902 was passed by Irish votes, and would never have been passed at all if it had not been for the Irishmen in this House. As the right hon. Gentleman (Mr. F. E. Smith) is no doubt wondering what he is going to say, let me suggest to him an answer to this question. If the Irish votes alone passed the Education Act of 1902, what is there wrong in Irishmen voting for Disestablishment in the year 1914? The decrease in pupils in Church schools in Wales is no less than 30,000 children, and the increase at the same time in the council schools is no less than 70,000.
I think I have shown very clearly that the whole argument from the facts, looked at impartially and fairly, is in favour of this policy of Disestablishment, and it ought to be at no distant date followed by Disestablishment in England and in Scotland. However, with this instalment for the time I am content to wait, but I am confident that the feeling of the country is getting more and more every day in favour of the ideal of a Free Church in a free State, and there is less and less inclination amongst laymen of the Established Church to lay emphasis upon the need of Church Establishment. That is very clearly shown by the increasing number of clergy in very high positions who are now in favour of Disestablishment. Anyone who has followed this question as long as I have done cannot but feel satisfaction that we now have actually some of the most respected bishops on the bench in favour of Disestablishment. When I first began to take an interest in ecclesiastical politics some thirty years ago there was not one bishop in favour of Disestablishment. Only a few had voted in favour of Irish Disestablishment, but there was not one in favour of Disestablishment as a principle. I propose to read a few words from one of the most influential and respected bishops on the Bench. He has clearly and 1886 boldly put forward his views. This is what the Bishop of Oxford said:—I have come to think on the whole, that the interests of religion will be best served by Disestablishment.Then he went on to speak especially of Welsh Disestablishment, and said:—I do not know whether anyone will suggest that it" there were a Referendum, a result could be arrived at. but it is impossible to ask a representative Government to ignore the persistency and unanimity of the Welsh demand.That is a remarkable utterance, coming as it does from the most distinguished of the High Church party in England at the present time. There is an increasing feeling in the Church of England in favour of Disestablishment, and I would just add one point in this connection. In the Bampton lectures a year or two ago, there was a very pronounced statement by the Bampton lecturer at Oxford in favour of Disestablishment. Anybody who knows what the Bampton lecturer is at Oxford knows that he is a man placed in a very high position, and is generally recognised as an authority on ecclesiastical or theological affairs. Mr. Peile, in his Bampton lecture, said:—The question is no longer whether the Church can escape Disestablishment, but whether it can tolerate Establishment in its present condition.I think that point is worthy of the consideration of the right hon. Gentleman opposite (Mr. F. E. Smith), even if he does not deign to give his attention to those subjects which are agitating the great theologians in his own University. I hope the House will take this as significant of the increasing feeling in the Church of England that Disestablishment is the right policy. In Wales itself there is a very growing feeling that this policy is just. A good deal has been made here of the way in which certain petitions have been presented, and it has been urged that they have been ignored by the Prime Minister. I have made inquiry about these petitions, and I find that they were obtained very largely through Tory organisations, and that the people who signed as Nonconformists were Tory Nonconformists. There are such people. There are several of them sitting here, and I ask them whether, in a matter of this sort, they are more attracted by their political affinities than their religious membership. I say, without any hesitation, that those petitions were got up by misrepresentation and misunderstanding of the question. I had a very good instance of that only two days ago when I received a letter which I hold in my hand. It is very well composed, and is 1887 from a gentleman writing from the Methodist House in Glamorganshire. I will not give the name or the exact address, because since he wrote he has telegraphed asking me not to make public what is in his letter. It is extremely interesting to note why he says so. He finds that it is entirely based on misrepresentation of the Bill which has been disseminated by way of leaflets, canvassers, and speeches, and now when he finds what the truth is, he entirely withdraws all the allegations in his letter. That, I believe, is going on everywhere all through Wales and the country generally. People do not understand this policy.
The more the policy of Disestablishment is talked about, the more support is given to it. I believe the very wide and continued discussions we have had on this Welsh Disestablishment' question are preparing the ground for English Disestablishment, and if the Church of England wanted to retain its established position in England for years to come, it could not have done anything worse than to create these discussions outside the House on this Bill, because I believe the the more principles of Disestablishment are discussed in the country, the more they are seen to be absolutely right and just, and consistent with the political principles of the day. The only other point I will refer to is the argument that Convocation is a representative body of the whole Church, and that to take the bishops out of Convocation is an act equivalent to violent schism, or dismemberment of the Church, and that it is nothing less than the grossest ecclesiastical cruelty. I did not quite understand this attitude before I looked into the matter, and I still fail to understand the mind of people who believe, if they do really believe, that the eliminating of the Welsh bishops from the Convocation of the Province of Canterbury will do great injustice. There are people, no doubt, who believe that there is a Convocation for the Church in England. There is nothing of the kind. There is one Convocation for the Province of York, and another for the Province of Canterbury. They date from the time when York was one province in the great empire of the Pope of Rome, and when Canterbury was another province in the empire of the Pope of Rome, and when there was established by law the Church of England, apart from the Church of 1888 Rome. Public and private influences retained the two Convocations, and the Church of England has no one Convocation representative of the Church at all.
It is no more schism or violent dismemberment of the Church to say that four members should not take part in the Convocation of Canterbury, than it is to say that they shall not take part in the Convocation of York. Convocation is a body set up by Act of Parliament, and it is an entirely unrepresentative body. Just let me explain to the House what the Convocation in the Province of Canterbury is. There are forty-four deans and proctors of the cathedral chapels; there are fifty-three archdeacons; and against these ninety-seven, who sit by right of their office, there are only forty-six representatives of the inferior beneficed clergy, and of the unbeneficed clergy and of the laity there are no representatives at all. So that the Lower House of Convocation in the Province of Canterbury—the Upper House consisting of the bishops of the province—has been likened by a Church reformer to a House of Parliament in which rotten boroughs have it all their own way. And that, in fact, is really the case. If this Bill, and the attention which has been directed recently to the composition of Convocation, will induce Churchmen to move to have a Convocation or Synod, or whatever you like to call it, that would be really representative, and really have some power to legislate and express the feelings and desires of the people of the Church—if that comes about, and it may very well come about as a result of this Bill, and the agitation which has been connected with this Bill, then the whole of our discussions will not have been in vain. In concluding, I may read some words of a Member of this House who, I think, would have been listened to if he could have spoken on this subject. I refer to the right hon. Gentleman the Member for West Birmingham. I hold in my hand a copy of what he said after he joined the Unionist party on the subject of Welsh Disestablishment. Those words, unfortunately, were uttered now some years ago, and we shall never listen again to his voice here, but I feel sure that no wiser and truer words could be spoken at this time than these words of the right hon. Gentleman. He said:—The cause of Disestablishment has made a great advance in recent years, and now there are very few Liberals and not very many Tories who believe the connection between Church and State in the Principality can be much longer maintained. It is unnecessary to argue in favour of the great principle of religious 1889 equality which is everywhere slowly undermining the fabric of ecclesiastical privilege. This principle is fatal to all State Churches, and it will surley be applied some day to the Church in England and the Church in Scotland as well as to the Church in Wales. But undoubtedly in Wales the grievance is more serious. The sentiment of the people on the subject is more unanimous, and the anomalies of the present, arrangement are more striking and more irritating than elsewhere. Wales, therefore, has the first claim in its efforts to free itself from a burden which recent events have shown to be almost intolerable to the vast majority of the population.This House may not think any words of mine are worthy of much consideration, but I venture to say that those words of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for West Birmingham are worthy of consideration and ought to make an appeal to all of us,
I am sure that we have listened with the greatest pleasure to the hon. Gentleman who has just sat down, and the House may congratulate itself that he has at last found an opportunity of speaking on this Bill. There have been seven first-class Debates in which he has not been called upon to speak on this Bill, but he has now had an opportunity of which we all agree he has availed himself to the utmost. We on this side cannot be sufficiently grateful to the hon. Gentleman that he does say that we are not devoid of brains on every occasion. It is perfectly true, no doubt, that many arguments have been repeated on this side of the House and many speeches, as the hon. Gentleman says, may have been repeated in part, but I, at any rate, shall not be accused of repeating my speech, for like the hon. Gentleman I have not had an opportunity of speaking in this House on this particular Bill. The hon. Member complained that there were no Suggestions put down on the Second Reading. I was not in the House at the time, but I do understand that there were many Amendments put down for the Committee stage of the Bill, and that none of those Amendments were accepted by the Government. According to the Parliament Act Suggestions may be put down on the Second or Third Heading of any Bill, and we do complain that having put down Suggestions on the Third Reading no opportunity is given by the Government to discuss the Suggestions which have been put down not only by Members on this side, but by Members on the other side of the House. It is true that it is very difficult to find any fresh argument, but I did hear some arguments put forward to-day by the hon. Member for Carmarthen. I must say, having listened with much pleasure to some speeches 1890 which he made in this House on this particular Bill, that if I could have been convinced by anyone, I should have been convinced by the hon. Member. But those arguments which he did advance were hardly worthy of him.
He alluded to precedents. He gave as a precedent why these Endowments should now be taken away and used for secular purposes, that John of Gaunt gave to his mistress some tithes, and also that some Lord of Wilton turned out the Abbess of Wilton. But I hope that that is not a precedent which the hon. Gentleman would like to put forward on his own account, and, if it is a precedent, it is one which any criminal might put forward in a Court of Justice, and a man who was accused of stealing might say, "We are justified in doing so, because Robin Hood did so in years gone by." I do not think that any of us on this side of the House would defend the action of Henry VIII., any more than we should defend the action of John of Gaunt, in these particular cases to which the hon. Member referred. I intervene in this Debate not to speak as one who is connected with Wales in any way, but to speak of the feeling in England at the present time, as I have had perhaps better opportunities than many hon. Members of knowing what that feeling is, particularly in the South of England. I think that this is not the time for Christians, to whatever denomination they belong, to take part in any warfare against each other—[HON. MEMBERS: "What about. Ulster?"]—especially when we are all bewailing that Sunday observance is not what it should be, and there are many things which we should like to see put right with regard to religion in this country. The Home Secretary himself has acknowledged that this Bill is not popular, at any rate, in certain classes, and I, for one, can vouch for that, because in the election in which I took part, I myself had many men coming to me, men who still believe in Liberal principles, who have been Liberals all their lives, who have never voted for anyone except a Liberal candidate until this election, and who came to offer themselves, and said they were going to vote on this occasion for the Unionist candidate because they considered that this Bill was unjust and unfair.
They believed, as I believed, that this Bill is only a first instalment. The hon. Gentleman who has just sat down quite openly said that he hopes it is only the 1891 first instalment, but we English Churchmen in England think that if this campaign is carried on against the Welsh Church it will be carried on against the Establishment and Endowment of the Church in England. I think we have some justification for that, because the Home Secretary himself has said that he was in favour of the Disestablishment of the Church of England in England, and the First Commissioner of Works has said that the Disestablishment of the Church in Wales is only the first step towards the Disestablishment and Disendowment of the Church of England in England. Only the other day—I think it was last week—a very eminent Nonconformist, Dr. Clifford, in expressing his pleasure at the passage of this Bill being so imminent, urged his followers to go on and carry on the same campaign for the Disestablishment and Disendowment of the Church of England in England itself. I myself must confess that I have heard very few defences in the country for this Bill. I have taken part now in three elections within recent years. On two occasions I had the temerity, it may be, to oppose Cabinet Ministers. In neither of their election addresses, nor in any of their speeches on the platform, did either of those Cabinet Ministers make any reference whatever to this particular Bill which we are discussing.
It is true, I acknowledge, that in the last election I had as an opponent a gentleman of rather a comprehensive tone of mind, because he acknowledged—and I suppose he included the Welsh Church Bill—that he was not only in favour of the Liberal party, and all it was doing, but he was in favour of all it was prepared to do in the future. I had hoped when I came into this House I should hear some arguments in favour of this Bill. I have heard some very interesting and learned speeches from the historical point of view, but I think that we ought all to recognise that we are living, not in the sixteenth, seventeenth, or eighteenth century, but in the year 1914. We have to consider how this Bill is going to affect us at the present day, and those who come after us in the future. The only argument that has been put forward in this House is that thirty-one out of thirty-four Members have been returned from Wales in favour of this Bill, and there is also the argument with regard to the national sentiment in Wales. I agree 1892 that those are two very strong arguments with which I should like to deal. But there is an argument against them, and it is that this Church of England in Wales is a portion of the Church of England in England, and hon. Members, who represent the Church in England ought to have something to say in the matter; and ever since this Bill has been before the country England has returned a very large majority against it, and none of us, whether at elections or outside elections, have ever been ashamed of speaking about this Bill, and as being utterly and bitterly opposed to its provisions.
It is true that the Government may pass this Bill, and the Government will pass it because it is now in the grip of the political machine under the Parliament Act. I sincerely ask hon. Members opposite to consider before this Bill actually becomes law what it really is. I ask them to look around the political and domestic horizon, and put to themselves the question whether this is a time to cripple the Church, which is doing good work, and to take away resources which are being better used to-day, perhaps, than ever they were used in the past. Only last Wednesday Dr. Campbell in a speech, which I think arrested the attention of everybody who read it, or everybody who listened to it, said that he discovered no signs of the dawn in the present day, and that the darkest hour has got to come. Men, he said, have neither time to think nor pray, but from morn to night are forced to think in material terms. At no time has the Church, and I use that word in the widest and fullest sense, found greater scope for her work. By legislation we try to readjust the unhappy divisions between different classes of the community; we try to readjust the feeling of difference between them; but too often, I think, we in this House only succeed in making more bitter the feelings which exist at the present time. Though you may succeed in passing this Bill, I am quite convinced that at some time in the following years hon. Gentlemen opposite will find that their success is bitter in flavour.
§ Mr. F. E. SMITH
The hon. Member who spoke last from the other side of the House furnished a precise and valuable contribution to our Debates, and stamped with the seal of his approval a well-known saying of John Bright in which he accused the Unionist party of a complete absence of brain. Such a censure coming from 1893 such a source is extremely moving to my self and others, and we will support it with such equanimity as we can command, and we must look to him for an example of logic and of consistency in the speeches which he addresses to the House for our delectation. In the speech which he delivered to-night the hon. Gentleman introduced one or two points which hardly exhibited the qualities which we should have looked for. He spoke of the Bishop of Oxford, with warm and discriminating approval, as having recently committed himself to the principle of Disestablishment. The hon. Gentleman did not continue the quotation by giving us the Bishop of Oxford's views upon Disendowment. I find it a little difficult to understand why, if he has so great a respect for the Bishop of Oxford on the one point, he should have attached so extremely little importance to the other. The hon. Gentleman fortified his argument by informing the House that he had received a letter from a member of the Wesleyan community saying that he had signed a petition against Welsh Disestablishment under a delusion, but so strongly did he feel that he had been deceived, that under his newly recovered faith he actually went to the expense—very striking—of sending a telegram to the hon. Gentleman urging him on no account to disclose either his identity or the contents of his telegram. The hon. Gentleman stated that the Bill was growing a great deal more popular, and that it was receiving support in the country from persons who had not until quite recently understood its provisions.
The hon. Gentleman no doubt possesses powers of insight into the views of the constituencies which are denied to the rest of us who have no more than the ordinary channels of information. But I would point out there are hon. Members, including my hon. Friend who has just spoken, rather more fresh from the constituencies than the hon. Gentleman opposite. If the present Lord Chief Justice had still been Attorney-General he would not only have been sitting on that Bench with his colleague, but no doubt both he and the right hon. Gentleman the Home Secretary would have been telling us how extremely popular this Bill is with the constituencies.
§ Mr. F. E. SMITH
If the hon. Gentleman invites me to take into consideration 1894 all the by-elections in the time allowed I will do so, but in the very special case of Grimsby we have the fact that it was held for twenty years by one of the strongest candidates that ever contested a constituency. Another observation made by the hon. Gentleman in this connection was this: He says the people of England are now beginning to understand the Bill, and as they begin to do so its popularity grows. I have always understood that the Government said that at the last election an already informed electorate had given them a mandate to pass this Bill into law, and now it appears that even after the last election the knowledge of the Bill was singularly small, and that it is only within the last few months apparently, if I understand the chronology of the hon. Gentleman, that the electorate are beginning to understand this Bill, and as they begin to understand it, they are beginning to approve of it. I may now leave the hon. Gentleman, hoping that in time I and others who sit with me in this House, may rise to the really fine intellectual atmosphere, from the heights of which he censured us on our shortcomings. Speaking for myself, and speaking, I think, for all Members in this House, I rejoice extremely that the Debates on this Welsh Church Bill are approaching their natural termination. I rejoice at it, not, perhaps, for exactly the same reason as hon. Gentlemen opposite, but because of the mechanical futility of our Debates under the conditions of the Parliament Act, which has perhaps in this case received a more singular illustration than in any other. We are all driven to make the same speeches, and a more glaring illustration of the unsound Constitution under which we are living to-day than our three repeated and futile Debates upon this subject, and upon Home Rule, would, I think, be impossible to find Though different comments might be made on other matters, few will be found, I think, who will differ from my diagnosis of the mischief which has destroyed Parliamentary debate under the Parliament Act.
I was asked a question, which I hasten to answer, by the hon. and learned Gentleman the Member for Carmarthen Boroughs (Mr. Llewelyn Williams). In a speech which he made this afternoon he quoted a speech which I made two years ago on this subject, dealing with the question of Disestablishment, and distinguishing it from the question 1895 of Disendowment. I am glad to be able to say to the hon. and learned Gentleman that I adhere to every word which I said then, and I have never deviated from it. I held that view long before I entered this House, and I hare, as I say, never deviated from it. I may perhaps say a word on this point. As I understand it there are, no doubt, many hon. Members on this side who, on the grounds of principle, vehemently adhere to the conception of Establishment. I know that the Noble Lord the Member for Oxford University (Lord H. Cecil) in a speech to-day, which I certainly thought a most admirable speech, marked with great sincerity and eloquence, explained his reasons for objecting to Disestablishment. I know that his view is shared in equal conviction by many of my hon. Friends who sit around me. It is at the same time true that there are others who sit on these benches who, if this question had been unconnected with other issues, never felt so vehemently on the question of Establishment. I am one of those, by environment, and by the atmosphere in which I was brought up, and I have always plainly stated in this House that I was deeply impressed, and I continue to be deeply impressed when I am dealing with the question of Disestablishment alone, that, however mistaken they may be, yet it is the fact that an overwhelming majority of Welsh representatives for so long have objected to the association of a Church with the State in their Principality, which is not the Church of their own choice. From that I have never deviated, though perhaps in the opinion of some of us there is, nevertheless, a grievance in the sphere of sentiment.
Surely, while we concede that the case which has been made in this House against Establishment may be defensible by argument which is drawn from a Parliamentary majority, we are entitled to retort on hon. Gentlemen opposite that it is not and it has never been Disestablishment which they wanted. It is indisputable that if hon. Gentlemen had wanted Disestablishment per se, and if, in other words, they wanted the abolition of the only things which could be assailed by using a Parliamentary majority, if they wanted that they could have have had it years ago. I remember my Noble Friend the Member for Hitchin (Lord R. Cecil) saying—I think it was four years ago—that even he, with his well-known 1896 views on this question, would, if Disestablishment were taken alone, have felt very different opinions as to the extent and character of the resistance which he was prepared to offer it. But we waste our time in talking of such issues. Nobody wants Disestablishment alone. The hon. and learned Gentleman, who is, if I may say so, the leader of those who attach particular importance to the money of the Church, told us perfectly plainly that Disestablishment, if divorced from Disendownient, was not a policy worth fighting for. Then why waste three-fourths of the speeches in every Debate by using arguments which are appropriate and relevant to Disestablishment alone, but have nothing whatever to say to the other things? The locus classicus of this kind of statement has been the expression which I quoted before in this House, and which I hope will be long quoted from the Under-Secretary for the Home Department, who said, in admirably chosen language, in the sense that language is intended to be the vehicle of thought, "It is a policy with money in it. It is the only policy worth having." That is an outburst of Welsh spiritualism which ought always to be remembered in these discussions.
Let us face the facts. Let us discuss this question now for the last time, and we may surely, after all these years, clear away the mass of unrealities which have attended our Debates hitherto. Let us face the question in a spirit of candour, and let us realise that hon. Gentlemen opposite are determined to take money away from an impoverished Church for manufactured objects, not for genuine or spontaneous necessities, not for purposes of charities, but for objects which they continually vary and which, in the sight of all mankind, from day to day they manufacture. That is the real truth. Yesterday it was a washhouse. To-day it is a museum. [HON. MEMBERS: "No!"] Museums may have temporarily disappeared. I do not keep pace with these changes. The last time I thought it was worth while looking into one of these Bills to see what its objects were it was a museum, and if a change has been made we may recognise that the policy is an advancing policy. Instead of hon. Gentlemen defending their real intentions and real arguments, they are defending false positions and false arguments. The hon. and learned Gentleman spoke also about 1897 the diversion of funds in the case of the Palace at Durham. What in the name of common sense has that to say to the proposals of the present Bill? What is the relevance of it? How does it assist our Debate, or guide us to any cognate conclusion? It is common knowledge that the diversion of expenditure in that case was because, by admission, the funds were excessive, and could be more usefully employed for allied spiritual purposes. Is that this case? Has anybody ever pretended that it is this case? What then is the use of wasting time by putting it forward?
Are we not entitled to ask the right hon. Gentleman a question, which has been many times asked, but never yet answered: Why are the Government doing this? What is their object in taking money from a religious community and devoting it to the purposes of the present Bill? Failing any other answer, and we have not yet received one, and shall not receive one from the right hon. Gentleman, we are driven, as the only explanation, to the conclusion that it is being done to punish, injure, and cripple the Church. If that is not it, why may we not be given, even at the eleventh hour, the real explanation? No one will dispute that, whatever the motive may be, this Bill will injure, will punish, and will cripple the Church. As to the result of the Bill, I have never yet heard the opposite view defended with any argument at all. If this is to be the consequence of the Bill, how can any fair-minded man justify the taking of this pitiful sum of money from the Church of England in Wales at the very moment when Nonconormity is attempting to raise funds for itself for endowment purposes? These things are going on side by side. We are told of the admirable efforts that Nonconformity is making to raise funds of this very character, and to vest them for the very purposes for which these funds are employed, and at the same time we are told that it will really assist the Church if she is deprived of the funds which she now possesses. Whatever the ultimate object may be, what are the answers given to us when we ask questions of this kind? We are given by every speaker on the other side wholly different reasons for the course the Government are taking. The Home Secretary, in the earlier part of these Debates, invariably fortified himself by the somewhat remote authority of 1898 his protégé, Giraldus Cambrensis. Deeply rooted in the literature of those ages, he founded himself thereupon, for some reason, which was buried in the remote mists of antiquity. After all, I should have thought that the right hon. Gentleman might have corrected a tendency to defend the Bill upon these historical grounds by recollecting that many centuries have passed since the date of the authorities to whom he was so fond of referring, and that new grounds of title, recognised by every Government which preceded the present, have been formed.
The Chancellor of the Exchequer has always followed in this matter a wholly original line. He repeated to-day, in his short contribution to the Debate, a point which he has frequently made both in this House and in the country. He invariably founds his justification for the present Bill on the wrongdoings of those who diverted the funds originally belonging to the monasteries. His emotion when he contemplates the injury done to the cause of celibate clergy by the diversion of funds, is rarely exceeded unless he is talking on the subject of landlords, and he remotely dragged the question of landlords even into the Debate to-day. I would invite the House to consider what is the real meaning of the Chancellor of the Exchequer's constant dwelling on the monasteries. In the first place, it exhibits one of the commonest vices of his method of Parliamentary argument, namely, his incurable tendency to generalise from one case which is almost invariably stated with gross inaccuracy. Perhaps I may refer to one or two cases which he has cited to an indignant House of Commons in the course of these Debates. I wonder whether hon. Members will recollect the Peterborough case. In that case the Chancellor of the Exchequer, with just the same indignation, quoted as a ninth century gift by the Pope what was, in fact, a well-known historical forgery several centuries later in date, and condemned as a forgery by every competent historian. Then there was a case, the name of which I pronounce with some diffidence as an Englishman, the Dolwyddelan case. In this case, the Chancellor of the Exchequer stated that the glebes were monastic in their origin. Some of my Friends who are more learned than I am in these matters gave a little time to investigating that case, and it was discovered that these glebes, the diversion of which from the service of the Pope was 1899 the whole substratum of the argument of the Chancellor of the Exchequer, were actually modern glebes bought for the benefice in the eighteenth century out of Queen Anne's Bounty Fund. These are two of the Chancellor of the Exchequer's illustrations which time has allowed us to test. I can only say in regard to the case in Radnor, given to-night, what Dr. Johnson once said in regard to another controversialist rather similar in his methods in his day, that I shall pay attention not so much to what is asserted as to what is proved. The right hon. Gentleman says that this was glebe land. I am informed by those who have great knowledge in these matters that there is no evidence of any kind at all as to the source of these lands. There is not the slightest reason for supposing that they were ever given back to the parochial uses of the Church, or that in any respect they gave the slightest support to the contention put forward by the Chancellor of the Exchequer to-day.
§ Mr. F. E. SMITH
The hon. and learned Member will forgive me for suspending my judgment, even in the light of the correction which he had made. The objection to this method of argument is really a much broader one. What is the relevance of objecting to the title of the Church to her present property that it was Roman in its origin, unless you are proposing to give it back to the Roman Church? That would be a perfectly intelligible policy, but how far it would command the support of the Nonconformists of Wales I should not like to say. But since you are not proposing to give it back to the Roman Church, what is the use of saying that this property originally belong to that body? There is a still more scandalous argument in that connection. What is the relevance of this repeated reference to the origin of these tithes I What is the relevance of it, unless you are prepared to say that there has been a breach of continuity between the Church before the Reformation, and the Church after the Reformation? I invite the Home Secretary to associate himself on this point either with the Prime Minister or with the Chancellor of the Exchequer. They have both stated directly opposite conclusions on this extremely important point.
1900 The Prime Minister said—it has often been quoted in our Debates what he stated so recently as the Second Reading of this Bill—" that through all the generations and all the ages there has been a substantial identity and continuity in the Church." The Chancellor of the Exchequer has denied it in plain terms. If there has been a substantial identity and continuity, what is the use of founding yourselves upon the fact that the tenets of the Church have changed in this or that particular since the early time? It has no relevance to any question in which we are concerned to-day. Perhaps the right hon. Gentleman opposite will inform us whether he adheres to what has been often stated by the Prime: Minister? The Chancellor of the Exchequer in his speech this afternoon made another statement even more remarkable. He said "that Disestablishment without Disendowment was impossible." Why is Disestablishment impossible without Disendowment? Is the Chancellor of the Exchequer unaware of the fact that there are countries in which Churches have been Disestablished and yet not Disendowed? Does the Home Secretary adhere to the statement made by the Chancellor of the Exchequer that it is not possible to Disestablish a Church without Disendowing it? If it is possible, why should it not have been done in this case?
Why could you not have founded yourself upon your Parliamentary title, and have freed Wales from what, according to" your case, you regard as irksome and intolerable shackles, while at the same time allowing the Church to retain her money? What is the meaning of the fact that you do not Disestablish the Church without Disendowing it? Does the Home Secretary make himself responsible for that? There is no majority argument possible when you are dealing with the question of the Disendowment of the Church. My hon. and learned Friend the Member for Kingston said to-day we have nothing whatever to do with the counting of heads in a matter of whether a question is right or wrong. Either this thing is right or it is wrong! If it is right, you need not found your arguments upon a majority; and if it is wrong, no number of majorities will make it right. The plainest proof, never answered in these Debates from first to last, of the unreality of the case which is made against the Disendowment of the Church is the fact that although you never mentioned tithes, although they may be described sometimes as a tax 1901 and sometimes as even a contribution by the State to the ancestors of the Church, although you have exhausted all the learning of your historians and all the ingenuity of your lawyers to show that you may reasonably touch this tithe, you have made no attempt in this Bill or in any Bill which has preceded it to deal with that with which you must deal, or ought to have dealt with, if your case were a consistent, logical, or honest one! Why have you never dealt with the case of the lay impropriator? Why has nobody ever attempted to explain in these Debates the omission of the Government to deal with the case of the lay impropriator? Why has not the Government dealt with it. Everybody knows, though they do not avow the reason. We all know it is because lay impropriators are individuals. Some of them are powerful individuals. The Church is impersonal, and you think the Church is weak. You think the Church is largely Conservative and that, and that alone, is the reason why you deal with it.
It would be far simpler, and I think it would cause much less irritation, if the right hon. Gentleman would get up to-night and instead of repeating the reminiscences from history and the legal subtleties with which we have been entertained so long, he would say quite plainly to Churchmen, "We want your money and we mean to have it. It is only £150,000, but it would cause great gratification to many political persons in Wales. We mean to take it." I assure the right hon Gentleman far less exasperation would be caused. And then, Sir, when "we are told what happened 500 years ago, and now we attempt to ask those who sit on the Government Bench opposite, do they believe or do they not believe in the doctrine of prescription, the hon. Gentleman the Under-Secretary to the Home Office gives a definition of prescription—an extremely bad definition for which he would be ploughed at an examination for the Bar—and makes the observation that the Church never had a title as between beneficiary and trustee. We are dealing here with the case of a legislature, a legislature which has known all these facts for 200 years, and knowing all these facts has twice and thrice given a new Parliamentary Statutory title to these things you are taking away to-day. Talk about prescription as between ordinary litigants. There is no prescription known to the ordinary litigant which could be founded on a title so impregnable, so impossible 1902 for any Government to attack, as that founded upon the deliberate and repeated decisions of this House given over and over again with full knowledge of the facts.
In order to appreciate the perversity and the conditions in which we are discussing this attack, we have only to remember what the Chancellor of the Exchequer said in a most amazing sentence. He said, "It is only a Parliamentary title." Has there ever been anything so contemptuous said of the House of Commons as that they, having, as I said, full knowledge of all the facts, and being obviously not less well informed than the Chancellor of the Exchequer about the monasteries and when they were much nearer to Giraldus Cambrensis, and having twice and thrice by Acts of Parliament given a fresh title, and as sacred a title as was given to the Nonconformists forty years ago to the Church, now we are told when we come forward and appeal to the sanctity of a statutory title it was only given by the House of Commons. If any circumstances of aggravation could be intolerable for Churchmen or friends of the Church it would be the circumstances under which this Bill is being carried into law. It was only eight years ago since hon. Gentlemen opposite made England ring, and especially made Wales ring, with bitter complaints against the Conservative Government because they passed an Education Bill without, as they said, any mandate. I will not argue here tonight, for the time at my disposal is short, and I must keep my promise to give the right hon. Gentleman opposite time to reply—how far we had sanction or a mandate from the country for that Education Bill. But I would say he would be a bold controversialist who would say that we had not just as good a mandate from the people for the Education Act as you have for this Bill, if you take the three islands, and it is being passed under the terms of the Parliament Act, and without the protection of the Second Chamber it is being passed in identical conditions if we accept your contention as the Education Bill was passed in 1902.
The Secretary of State for the Home Department, who is to follow, was so shocked at the illegality of that Act that he was actually almost the leader of an association formed in Wales which had no other object except to defeat and break the law, and to defeat the provisions of an Education Act which ex hypothesi was the 1903 law of the land, and he counted that complete justification. He made himself responsible for a provisional Government which was to deal with the subject of education, and having done all that without any other provocation than we have today he professes not to be able to understand the indignation with which these proposals are received. Let me conclude with a quotation, which is one from the leader of the Welsh party (Sir D. Brynmor Jones). He said:—Our friends in Wales hardly realise how critical the whole situation has been, not through any lack of effort on the part of the Government or want of energy on the part of the Welsh Liberal Members, but because of the determined objection of a section of the Liberal party and the lukewarmness of nearly the whole.If his Bill is to become law, inflicting, as they think, such irreparable and cruel wrong on the Church of England, it is to become law, not because the House of Commons likes it, not because the country ever authorised it, not because the party behind the Home Secretary admires it, not because a section of the Liberal party are profoundly and conscientious objectors, and nearly the whole of the Liberal party are lukewarm towards it, but it is passing as the result of a bargain. It is passing because by passing it, and passing it alone, can the Government keep themselves in office. The record of the Government is written upon this: It will be said they took money from the Church because otherwise they could not have passed the Home Rule Bill, which is the first condition of their Parliamentary existence.
§ Mr. McKENNA
I am obliged to the right hon. Gentleman opposite for a double courtesy. First of all, he has left to me the full time for which I asked him, and, secondly, he has halved my duty. I understand, and I assume the House will understand, by the fact that he has been put up or invited to speak on the last occasion on which this subject will be debated in this House from the Front Opposition Bench on behalf of the official Opposition, that he said in the course of his speech that he is not opposed to Disestablishment.
§ Mr. F. E. SMITH
I expressly said that I was speaking for myself; I made that quite clear, and I have done so for years.
§ Mr. McKENNA
Everything I have stated so far is strictly accurate. [Interruption.] I have very little time left. The fight hon. Gentleman interrupted me to say that something I have said is not 1904 accurate. I replied that everything I have stated so far was accurate. The right hon. Gentleman, it is true, stated that he spoke for himself, but he went out of his way to quote a speech of his Noble Friend the Member for Hitchin (Lord Robert Cecil), and he can only have made that quotation because he intended to imply that the opposition of hon. Members opposite would not be directed to Disestablishment provided that Disestablishment stood alone.
§ Mr. McKENNA
That is a new attitude. [HON MEMBERS: "No!" and "We never said anything of the kind."] The Noble Lord opposite was not present. [An HON. MEMBER: "That is another inaccuracy."]
§ Lord ROBERT CECIL
I did not contradict my right hon. Friend, because what he said was perfectly accurate.
§ Mr. McKENNA
The implication was also clearly accurate. He said that he did not think that the Opposition would oppose Disestablishment if it stood alone. The right hon. Gentleman asks me to direct my observations particularly to the subject of Disendowment. I will, therefore, reserve what I have to say upon Disestablishment to the close of my remarks, dealing with it if I have time, and come to the subject of Disendowment at once. The right hon. Gentleman said that we are taking money from an impoverished Church, and he says, also, that we have given no reason for taking that money. He says that in spite of repeated challenges we have never declared the grounds upon which we take this money, and he attributes our acts solely to a desire to punish, injure, and cripple the Church. [HON. MEMBERS: "Hear, hear."] I was, I think, correctly summarising his argument. Now I would give the reasons why we consider it right to Disendow the Church of part of its funds. The Church at present owns much property, not collectively as a Church, but through individual corporations, which we believe, rightly or wrongly, is only owned in virtue of the Church being a national Church co-extensive with the whole Kingdom. We may be wrong, but that view is our view, and I am giving the reasons why we think that the Church should be Disendowed. The Church, We say, owns the property only because the Church is subject to Parliament. It is because the doctrine, the ritual, and the discipline of the Church 1905 cannot be touched, except with the consent of Parliament, that we say the Church owns this property which" we regard as material property. When we free the Church, as we call it, from the fetters of State control, and leave the Church of England absolutely at liberty to determine changes in its own doctrine, to declare what its own ritual should be, to provide for its own government and discipline, we say that we ought not to leave the Church in possession of property which is national property, and which the Church only owns in virtue of its being the national Church. That is the reason. It is not malice or a desire to injure the Church. It is not a desire to injure or cripple the Church, but simply a matter of right and justice.
The hon. and learned Gentleman the Member for Kingston (Mr. Cave), argued this question as if it were a matter of trusts. His argument was that there would be no case for Disendowment unless it were first shown that the funds of the Church were excessive for the purposes of the Church, or badly administered in fact. We have never based our proposal of Disendowment upon either of those grounds. I consider that the funds of the Church are badly administered, and I will give my reasons for my opinions, but we have never thought that was a ground for Disendowment, because the bad administration of the funds of the Church by the Church is not the fault of the Church, but is the necessary consequence of the Establishment. We base our claim upon neither of these points. Consequently, when it is put to us that in any Court of Law the claim of the Church to its property would be recognised, we admit it to be true. It is not for that we came to Parliament. It is not a case of law; it is a case of right as between the different components of the Welsh people. As to the administration of the funds of the Church, are these funds being well administered now?
I have had taken out for each individual parish the amount of its Endowments throughout the four dioceses of Wales, and I find this very remarkable fact. Taking the whole of the parishes of Wales, we can divide the Endowments into two halves. The gross Endowments amount to about £286,000 a year. Endowments to the amount of £143,000, are attached to parishes in which the number of Communicants in no case exceeds 100. In some cases the number is as low as two, three, four, or five, and there are thirteen 1906 parishes with an average of six communicants each. But I am not dealing with isolated cases. I take the whole of the Endowments and I say one-half of them are divided amongst parishes in which there is in no case more than 100 communicants. [An HON. MEMBER: "How many parishes are there?"] Between 400 and 500, and the total number of communicants who enjoy the benefit of the expenditure of this Endowment Fund of £143,000 a year is 27,800. The remainder of the Endowments, another equal sum of £143,000, is distributed among the remaining parishes. In this case the total number of communicants is 163,000, so that you find that of the communicants of the Church of England one-seventh are in parishes absorbing one half of the Endowments and six-sevenths in parishes absorbing the remainder of the Endowment. That is a distribution which I submit nobody would ever have instituted if they had had a free hand. If you established in Wales a Church body which had control of all the funds and was able to administer those funds in the best interests of the Church it is inconceivable that the funds would be administered as they are now, when you have rich parishes with no communicants and very poor parishes with very large numbers of communicants. I make no reproach upon that point, but it is relevant to the argument I hope to develop as to whether we are crippling the Church.
We give power to the Church in future to administer its funds from a central body. A Church representative body will receive the whole of the funds of the Church, and will be able to organise its expenditure over the whole area of Wales, and thus the anomalies which I have described can in the future be abolished. The total income of the Church from Endowments and subscriptions, and therefore the income on which the Church so far as subscriptions are concerned can rely, was in 1906 £556,000, with an expectation of an additional income of £1,000 a year. This in 1906 was the whole resource of the Church of England in Wales, apart from glebes, of which we have no record. After Disestablishment, and assuming the same amount of subscriptions as before Disestablishment, and no more, and on the bases of the figures of 1906, the total income of the Church will be £511,000, and there will be no prospect of an additional £1,000 a year. For immediate purposes you have to compare a total income 1907 of £556,000 with a total income of £511,000. I must remind the House that in giving this figure I have assumed that commutation will be accepted. If commutation is accepted [Interruption]—I have been asked to state our arguments and the figures, and the hon. Gentleman ought really to allow me to do so—if commutation is accepted the immediate drop in the income of the Church will be from £556,000, with the prospect of an additional £1,000 a year, to a sum of £511,000, a total drop of £45,000 a year. What do they get in exchange? I have already explained to the House that inasmuch as the Church Representative Body will be the central body capable of controlling the expenditure of the Church over the whole area, the economies which can be effected by amalgamating parishes will far more than cover the loss of the £45,000 a year. In these circumstances, I say that so far from this Bill crippling the Church, it is an absolute misuse of language, and that so far from desiring to injure the Church by our action, we have taken from the Church the very minimum of property which any Government would be bound to take who had regard to the legal claim of the Church to its property.
It is said, what claim do we make for transferring this property now from the Church to the Welsh people, having regard to the fact that this property was given, as it is alleged, for what might be described as essentially Church purposes. It is said that we ought not to break the trust, and that on no ground are we entitled to deprive, not the present beneficiaries or present incumbents, but possible future incumbents of the income from these Endowments. In regarding trusts we are bound, and any Parliament would be bound, to look at the beneficiaries of that trust. The beneficiaries of the trust were the whole people of Wales, and, that being true, we are bound to divert so much of these funds as were given to the whole people of Wales back to the original beneficiaries. It is quite true that in this diversion we are not using the money for strictly religious purposes, though we regard them as quasi religions. [HON. MEMBERS: "What is that?"] I admit that we are not using the funds for strictly religious purposes, but we would not do so if we were to have regard to the primary purpose of the trust, which was to benefit the whole people. The hon. Member who moved the Amendment 1908 in a very interesting speech last night complained of our conduct, and said that we should not treat a cats' home in the way we have treated the Church. The simile is not mine. It is his. The cat's home in similar circumstances would be treated in precisely the same way. If the trust was left for all cats, and if in the administration of the home the benefit of the trust was confined to blue Persians, it would be the duty of any Law Court or of any Government to interfere and secure the benefit of the trust to all cats alike. The same is true of these Endowments. Because we can claim that this Endowment is national in its origin, we think this property should be alienated now.
Let me turn to objections which have been taken by hon Members to different parts of the Bill. The hon. Member (Mr. Malcolm) complained that in this Bill we were re-establishing the Church. I can assure him that he is in error on that point. I do not think it is really understood even yet what the effect of our Bill is as regards Disestablishment. After Disestablishment the four dioceses of the Welsh Church will not necessarily cease to be a part of the Province of Canterbury. The four dioceses may remain for all time an integral part of the Province of Canterbury. It is contemplated that they should so remain, and the jurisdiction of the Archbishop of Canterbury is expressly reserved. Whether the four dioceses remain a part of the Province of Canterbury or whether they go out from the Province of Canterbury and become a province of their own, will depend entirely upon the will of the Disestablished Church. They will decide for themselves. It is quite correct, and it will remain so, that the four dioceses cannot by their bishops or through their representative clergy attend Convocation. What does that mean? There is a certain meeting of the bishops and representative clergy which, if summoned by the archbishop or the issue of the King's Writ, becomes Convocation. After this Bill is passed the archbishop may summon the identical persons to attend the identical meeting and may transact identically the same business with this single exception, that the Archbishop will not summon the meeting on the issue of the King's Writ, and then the Welsh bishops may attend such a meeting. They may do all the business which is now done in Convocation, but it will not be Convocation. That is the sole difference.
1909 It is quite true that the Church of England in Wales will have absolute freedom to determine that it will not attend a meeting on the summons of the Archbishop of Canterbury. It may equally claim that it will attend a meeting on the summons of the Archbishop of Canterbury, and I would remind hon. Gentlemen opposite who make so much about the dismemberment of the Church that the great meeting for the government of the Church, far more than Convocation, is the meeting of the Church Representative Council, which is not summoned on the issue of the King's Writ, and which could be attended by the Disestablished Welsh bishops. The grievance, so far as dismemberment goes, is far more a paper grievance than a real grievance. As regards the bishops of the Church immediately after Disestablishment we provide for the abolition of ecclesiastical law in Wales as law. We also provide that on its abolition all ecclesiastical law shall be devolved on the members of the Church. We leave it free to the Church to continue that compact for all time, and to remain under precisely all the conditions of ecclesiastical law that they are under now. We also leave it free to the Church to alter their doctrine, to remain under their own ritual, and to determine their own discipline. The true distinction between the Church of England and the Church in Wales will be this: The Church in Wales can remain, if it chooses, bound by the same law and practice as the Church of England in England. There need not be the slighest change of any single detail in the life or practice of the Church of England in Wales after Disestablishment, but it will have this power: after Disestablishment all the proposals which are made, either in Church Congress or in Convocation, and all the decisions of the Church which cannot be put into effect in England, except by Act of Parliament, can be put into effect in Wales by the vote of the Church itself. The Church will obtain a freedom of which the English Church is denied, and I would say to those who have not read a line of the Bill that it is neither true to say that we are injuring the Church nor any individual in the Church, nor that we are crippling the Church by our measure of Disendowment. In Wales we remember that there was a Christian Church long before the establishment of the Church of England in Wales. The Welsh Church has had an independent existence probably for as many centuries as 1910 it has lived united with the Church of England. Under this Bill we restore to the Church in Wales the freedom which it enjoyed many centuries ago. [Laughter.] It is a subject of laughter to hon. Gentlemen opposite, but it is as true to-day as it has been for centuries that the Welsh people claim to be and are a separate nation, and that they do not wish to be living under a Church Establishment of the English Church; it is as true to-day, as it has always been in Wales, that the Church of England is regarded as an alien Church, and it is because the Church of England is and has been alien to the development of the natural life in Wales that the Welsh people look forward with confidence, and hope that the day when Establishment will cease to exist in Wales, and there may be for Welsh people, for the first time, a chance of uniting all Christian Churches in one great Welsh Church.
§ Lord ROBERT CECIL
The right hon. Gentleman began his speech with the suggestion that hon. Members on this side of the House had changed their views in their opposition to Disestablishment. In that he is entirely inaccurate. The suggestion is entirely the fruit of the right hon. Gentleman's too vivid imagination. But as he referred to something that I was supposed to have said, perhaps the House will allow me, in the interests of accuracy, to quote what I did say in 1909. What I did say was this:—The real truth is that this Bill never would have seen the light, never would have had any hacking except for the Disendowment proposals. I do not think that any honest man in any part of Wales will dispute that,Then there were cries of "Oh!" and I went on:—Then will the Government drop Disendowment? It is very easy to test the reality of those cries of dissent.Mr. Ellis Griffith: Will you accept Disestablishment? "
I replied:—When you drop Disendowment we will answer that,
§ Mr. McKENNA
That is not the quotation which was quoted by the right hon. Gentleman to which I referred.
§ Question put, "That the word 'now' stand part of the Question."1912
§ The House divided: Ayes, 328; Noes, 251.1915
|Division No. 112.]||AYES.||[11.0 p.m.|
|Abraham, William (Dublin, Harbour)||Duncan, J. Hastings (Yorks, Otley)||Kilbride, Denis|
|Abraham, Rt. Hon. William (Rhondda)||Edwards, Sir Francis (Radnor)||King, Joseph|
|Acland, Francis Dyke||Edwards, John Hugh (Glamorgan, Mid)||Lamo, Sir Ernest Henry|
|Adamson, William||Elverston, Sir Harold||Lambert, Rt. Hon. G. (Devon, S. Molton)|
|Agar-Robartes, Hon. T. C. R.||Esmonde, Dr. John (Tipperary, N.)||Lambert, Richard (Wilts, Cricklade)|
|Agnew, Sir George William||Esmonde, Sir Thomas (Wexford, N.)||Lardner, James C. R.|
|Aisworth, Sir John Stirling||Essex, Sir Richard Walter||Law, Hugh A. (Donegal, West)|
|Alden, Percy||Esslemont, George Birnie||Lawson, Sir W. (Cumb'rld, Cockerm'th)|
|Allen, Arthur A. (Dumbartonshire)||Falconer, James||Leach, Charles|
|Allen, Rt. Hon. Charles P. (Stroud)||Farrell, James Patrick||Levy, Sir Maurice|
|Arnold, Sydney||Fenwick, Rt. Hon. Charles||Lewis, Rt. Hon. John Herbert|
|Asquith, Rt. Hon. Herbert Henry||Ffrench, Peter||Logan, John William|
|Baker, Harold T. (Accrington)||Field, William||Lough, Rt. Hon. Thomas|
|Baker, Joseph Allen (Finsbury, E.)||Fitzgibbon, John||Low, Sir Frederick (Norwich)|
|Balfour, Sir Robert (Lanark)||Flavin, Michael Joseph||Lundon, Thomas|
|Baring, Sir Godfrey (Barnstaple)||France, Gerald Ashburner||Lyell, Charles Henry|
|Barlow, Sir John Emmott (Somerset)||Furness, Sir Stephen Wilson||Lynch, Arthur Alfred|
|Barran, Sir J. (Hawick Burghs)||Gelder, Sir W. A||Macdonald, J. Ramsay (Leicester)|
|Barton, William||George, Rt. Hon. D. Lloyd||Macdonald, John M. (Falkirk Burghs)|
|Beale, Sir William Phison||Gill, A. H.||McGhee, Richard|
|Beck, Arthur Cecil||Ginnell, Laurence||Maclean, Donald|
|Benn W. W. (T. Hamlets, St. George)||Gladstone, W. G. C.||Macnamara, Rt. Hon. Dr. T. J.|
|Bentham, George Jackson||Glanville, Harold James||MacNeill, J. G. Swift (Donegal, South)|
|Bethell, Sir J. H.||Goldstone, Frank||Macpherson, James Ian|
|Birrell, Rt. Hon. Augustine||Greenwood, Granville G. (Peterborough)||MacVeagh, Jeremiah|
|Black, Arthur W.||Greig, Colonel James William||M'Callum, Sir John M.|
|Boland, John Pius||Griffith, Ellis Jones||M'Curdy, C. A.|
|Booth, Frederick Handel||Guest, Major Hon. C. H. C. (Pembroke)||McKenna, Rt. Hon. Reginald|
|Bowerman, Charles W.||Guest, Hon. Frederick E. (Dorset, E.)||M'Laren, Hon. H. D. (Leicester)|
|Boyle, Daniel (Mayo, North)||Gulney, John||M'Laren, Hon. F.W.S. (Lincs., Spalding)|
|Brace, William||Gulland, John William||M'Micking, Major Gilbert|
|Brady, Patrick Joseph||Gwynn, Stephen Lucius (Galway)||Manfield, Harry|
|Brocklehurst, William B.||Hackett, John||Marks, Sir George Croydon|
|Brunner, John F. L.||Hancock, John George||Marshall, Arthur Harold|
|Bryce, J. Annan||Harcourt, Rt. Hon. Lewis (Rossendale)||Martin, Joseph|
|Buckmaster, Sir Stanley O.||Harcourt, Robert V. (Montrose)||Mason, David M. (Coventry)|
|Burns, Rt. Hon. John||Hardie, J. Keir||Meagher, Michael|
|Burt, Rt. Hon. Thomas||Harmsworth, Cecil (Luton, Beds)||Meehan, Francis E. (Leitrim, N.)|
|Byles, Sir William Pollard||Harvey, A. G. C. (Rochdale)||Meehan, Patrick J. (Queen's Co., Leix)|
|Carr-Gomm, H. W.||Harvey, T. E. (Leeds, West)||Middlebrook, William|
|Cawley, Sir Frederick (Prestwich)||Haslam, Lewis (Monmouth)||Millar, James Duncan|
|Cawley, Harold T. (Lancs, Heywood)||Havelock-Allan, Sir Henry||Molloy, Michael|
|Chancellor, Henry George||Hayden, John Patrick||Molteno, Percy Alport|
|Chapple, Dr. William Allen||Hayward, Evan||Mond, Rt. Hon. Sir Alfred|
|Churchill, Rt. Hon. Winston S.||Hazleton, Richard||Money, L. G. Chiozza|
|Clancy, John Joseph||Healy, Maurice (Cork)||Montagu, Hon. E. S.|
|Clough, William||Healy, Timothy Michael (Cork, N. E.)||Mooney, John J.|
|Clynes, John R.||Helme, Sir Norval Watson||Morgan, George Hay|
|Collins, Godfrey P. (Greenock)||Hemmerde, Edward George||Morrell, Philip|
|Collins, Sir Stephen (Lambeth)||Henderson, Arthur (Durham)||Morison, Hector|
|Compton-Rickett, Rt. Hon. Sir J.||Henry, Sir Charles||Morton, Alpheus Cleophas|
|Condon, Thomas Joseph||Herbert, General Sir Ivor (Mon., S.)||Muldoon, John|
|Cornwall, Sir Edwin A.||Hewart, Gordon||Munro, Rt. Hon. Robert|
|Cory, Sir Clifford John||Higham, John Sharp||Murphy, Martin J.|
|Cotton, William Francis||Hinds, John||Murray, Captain Hon. Arthur C.|
|Cowan, W. H.||Hobhouse, Rt. Hon. Charles E. H.||Needham, Christopher T.|
|Craig, Herbert J. (Tynemouth)||Hodge, John||Nicholson, Sir Charles N. (Dencaster)|
|Crean, Eugene||Hogge, James Myles||Nolan, Joseph|
|Crooks, William||Holmes, Daniel Turner||Norman, Sir Henry|
|Crumley, Patrick||Holt, Richard Durning||Norton, Captain Cecil W.|
|Cullinan, John||Hope, John Deans (Haddington)||Nugent, Sir Walter Richard|
|Dalziel, Rt. Hon. Sir J. H. (Kirkcaldy)||Howard, Hon. Geoffrey||Nuttall, Harry|
|Davies, David (Montgomery Co.)||Hughes, Spencer Leigh||O'Brien, Patrick (Kilkenny)|
|Davies, Ellis William (Elfion)||Jardine, Sir J. (Roxburgh)||O'Brien, William (Cork)|
|Davies, Timothy (Lincs., Louth)||John, Edward Thomas||O'Connor, John (Kildare, N.)|
|Davies, M. Vaughan (Cardiganshire)||Johnson, William||O'Doherty, Phillp|
|Dawes, James Arthur||Jones, Rt. Hon. Sir D. Brynmor (Sw'nsea)||O'Donnell, Thomas|
|De Forest, Baron||Jones, Edgar (Merthyr Tydvil)||O'Dowd, John|
|Delany, William||Jones, Henry Haydn (Merioneth)||Ogden, Fred|
|Denman, Hon. Richard Douglas||Jones, J. Towyn (Carmarthen, East)||O'Kelly, Edward P. (Wicklow, W.)|
|Devlin, Joseph||Jones, Leif (Notts, Rushcliffe)||O'Kelly, James (Roscommon, N.)|
|Dewar, Sir J. A.||Jones, William S. Glyn- (Stepney)||O'Malley, William|
|Dickinson, Rt. Hon. Willoughby H.||Joyce, Michael||O'Neill. Dr. Charles (Armagh, S.)|
|Dillon, John||Keating, Matthew||O'Shaughnessy, p. J.|
|Donelan, Captain A.||Kellaway, Frederick George||O'Shee, James John|
|Doris, William||Kelly, Edward||O'Sullivan, Timothy|
|Duffy, William J.||Kennedy, Vincent Paul||Palmer, Godfrey Mark|
|Duncan, C. (Barrow-in-Furness);||Kenyon, Barnet||Parry, Thomas H.|
|Pearce, Robert (Staffs, Leek)||Roe, Sir Thomas||Wardle, George J.|
|Pearson, Hon. Weetman H. M.||Rowlands, James||Waring, Walter|
|Pease, Rt. Hon. Joseph A. (Rotherham)||Rowntree, Arnold||Warner, Sir Thomas Courtenay T.|
|Philipps, Colonel Ivor (Southampton)||Runciman, Rt. Hon. Walter||Wason, Rt. Hon. E. (Clackmannan)|
|Phillips, John (Longford, S.)||Russell, Rt. Hon. Thomas W.||Wason, John Cathcart (Orkney)|
|Pirie, Duncan V.||Samuel, Rt. Hon. H. L. (Cleveland)||Watt, Henry A.|
|Ponsonby, Arthur A. W. H.||Samuel, J. (Stockton-on-Tees)||Webb, H.|
|Pratt, J. W.||Scanlan, Thomas||Wedgwood, Josiah C.|
|Price, C. E. (Edinburgh, Central)||Seely, Rt. Hon. Colonel J. E. B.||White, J. Dundas (Glasgow, Tradeston)|
|Price, Sir Robert J. (Norfolk, E.)||Sheehy, David||White, Sir Luke (Yorks, E. R.)|
|Priestley, Sir Arthur (Grantham)||Sherwell, Arthur James||White, Patrick (Meath, North)|
|Priestley, Sir W. E. B. (Bradford, E.)||Shortt, Edward||Whittaker, Rt. Hon. Sir Thomas P.|
|Primrose, Hon. Neil James||Simon, Rt. Hon. Sir John Allsebrook||Whyte, Alexander F. (Perth)|
|Pringle, William M. R.||Smith, Albert (Lancs., Clitheroe)||Wiles, Thomas|
|Radford, George Heynes||Smyth, Thomas F. (Leitrim, S.)||Wilkie, Alexander|
|Raffan, Peter Wilson||Soames, Arthur Wellesley||Williams, Aneurin (Durham, N. W.)|
|Rea, Rt. Hon. Russell (South Shields)||Spicer, Rt. Hon. Sir Albert||Williams, John (Glamorgan)|
|Rea, Walter Russell (Scarborough)||Strauss, Edward A. (Southwark, West)||Williams, Llewelyn (Carmarthen)|
|Reddy, Michael||Sutherland, John E.||Williams, Penry (Middlesbrough)|
|Redmond, John E. (Waterford)||Taylor, John W. (Durham)||Williamson, Sir Archibald|
|Redmond, William (Clare, E.)||Taylor, Theodore C. (Radcliffe)||Wilson, John (Durham, Mid)|
|Redmond, William Archer (Tyrone, E.)||Taylor, Thomas (Bolton)||Wilson, Rt. Hon. J. W. (Worcs., N.)|
|Rendail, Athelstan||Tennant, Harold John||Wilson, W. T. (Westhoughton)|
|Richards, Thomas||Thorne, G. R. (Wolverhampton)||Winfrey, Sir Richard|
|Richardson, Albion (Peckham)||Toulmin, Sir George||Wing, Thomas Edward|
|Roberts, Charles H. (Lincoln)||Trevelyan, Charles Phillps||Wood, Rt. Hon. T. McKinnon (Glasgow)|
|Roberts, George H. (Norwich)||Verney, Sir Harry||Yeo, Alfred William|
|Roberts, Sir J. H. (Denbighs)||Walsh, Stephen (Lancs., Ince)||Young, Samuel (Cavan, East)|
|Robertson, Sir G. Scott (Bradford)||Walters, Sir John Tudor||Young, William (Perth, East)|
|Robertson, John M. (Tyneside)||Walton, Sir Joseph|
|Robinson, Sidney||Ward, John (Stoke-upon-Trent)||TELLERS FOR THE AYES.—Mr.|
|Roch, Walter F. (Pembroke)||Ward, W. Dudley (Southampton)||Illing worth and Mr. William Jones|
|Roche, Augustine (Louth)|
|Agg-Gardner, James Tynte||Cecil, Lord Hugh (Oxford University)||Guinness, Hon. Rupert (Essex, S. E.)|
|Anson, Rt. Hon. Sir William R.||Cecil, Lord R. (Herts, Hitchin)||Gwynne, R. S. (Sussex, Eastbourne)|
|Anstruther-Gray, Major William||Chaloner, Colonel R. G. W.||Haddock, George Bahr|
|Archer-Shee, Major Martin||Chamberlain, Rt. Hon. J. A. (Worc'r., E.)||Hall, D. B. (Isle of Wight)|
|Ashley, Wilfrid W.||Chambers, James||Hall, Frederick (Dulwich).|
|Astor, Waldorf||Chaplin, Rt. Hon. Henry||Hall, Marshall (E. Toxteth)|
|Baird, John Lawrence||Clay, Captain H. H. Spender||Hamersley, Aifred St. George|
|Baker, Sir Randolf L. (Dorset, N.)||Clive, Captain Percy Archer||Hardy, Rt. Hon. Laurence|
|Baldwin, Stanlev||Coates, Major Sir Edward Feetham||Harris, Henry Percy|
|Balfour, Rt. Hon. A. J. (City, London)||Cooper, Sir Richard Ashmole||Harrison-Broadley, H. B.|
|Banbury, Sir Frederick George||Courthope, George Loyd||Henderson, Major H. (Berks, Abingdon)|
|Banner, Sir John S. Harmood-||Craig, Ernest (Cheshire, Crewe)||Henderson, Sir A. (St. Geo., Han. Sq.)|
|Baring, Maj. Hon. Guy V. (Winchester)||Craig, Norman (Kent, Thanet)||Herbert, Hon. A. (Somerset, S.)|
|Barlow, Montague (Salford, South)||Craik, Sir Henry||Hewins, William Albert Samuel|
|Barnston, Harry||Crichton-Stuart. Lord Ninlan||Hlbbert, Sir Henry E.|
|Barrie, Hugh T.||Croft, Henry Page||Hills, John Waller|
|Bathurst, Hon. Allen B. (Glouc.)||Currie, George W.||Hill-Wood, Samuel|
|Bathurst, Charles (Wilts, Wilton)||Dalrymple, Viscount||Hoare, Samuel John Gurney|
|Beach, Hon. Michael Hugh Hicks||Dalziel, Davison (Brixton)||Hohler, G. F.|
|Beauchamp, Sir Edward||Denison-Pender, J. C.||Hope, Harry (Bute)|
|Beckett, Hon. Gervase||Denniss, E. R. B.||Hope, James Fitzalan (Sheffield)|
|Benn, Arthur Shirley (Plymouth)||Dixon, C. H.||Hope, Major J. A. (Midlothian)|
|Benn, Ion Hamilton (Greenwich)||DuCros, Arthur Phillp||Horne, E. (Surrey, Guildford)|
|Bentinck, Lord H. Cavendish-||Duke, Henry Edward||Horner, Andrew Long|
|Beresford, Lord Charles||Duncannon, Viscount||Houston, Robert Paterson|
|Bigland, Alfred||Du Pre. W. Baring||Hume-Williams, William Elite|
|Bird, Alfred||Eyres-Monsell, B. M.||Hunt, Rowland|
|Blair, Reginald||Faber, George Denison (Clapham)||Hunter, Sir Charles Rodk.|
|Boles, Lieut-Colonel Dennis Fortescue||Faber, Capt. W. V. (Hants, W.)||Ingleby, Holcombe|
|Boscawen, Sir Arthur S. T. Griffith-||Falle, Bertram Godfray||Jackson, Sir John|
|Boyle, William (Norfolk, Mid)||Fell, Arthur||Jardine, Ernest (Somerset, East)|
|Boyton, James||Finlay, Rt. Hon. Sir Robert.||Jessel, Captain H. M.|
|Brassey, H. Leonard Campbell||Fisher, Rt. Hon. W. Hayes||Joynson-Hicks, William|
|Bull, Sir William James||Fitzroy, Hon. Edward A.||Kerr-Smiley, Peter Kerr|
|Burdett-Coutts, W.||Fleming, Valentine||Kerry, Earl of|
|Burgoyne, A. H.||Foster, Phillp Staveley||Keswick, Henry|
|Burn, Colonel C. R.||Gardner, Ernest||Kinloch-Cooke, Sir Clement|
|Butcher, John George||Gastrell, Major W. Houghton||Kyffin-Taylor, G.|
|Campbell, Captain Duncan F. (Ayr, N.)||Gibbs, George Abraham||Lane-Fox, G. R.|
|Campbell, Rt. Hon. J. (Dublin Univ.)||Gilmour, Captain John||Larmor, Sir J.|
|Carlile, Sir Edward Hildred||Glazebrook, Captain Philip K.||Law, Rt. Hon. A. Bonar (Bootle)|
|Carson, Rt. Hon. Sir Edward H.||Goldman, C. S.||Lawson, Hon. Harry (Mile End)|
|Cassel, Felix||Gordon, John (Londonderry, South)||Lee, Arthur Hamilton|
|Castlereagh, Viscount||Gordon, Hon. John Edward (Brighton)||Lewisharn, Viscount|
|Cator, John||Goulding, Edward Alfred||Lloyd, George Ambrose (Statford. W.)|
|Cautley, H. S.||Grant, James Augustus||Lloyd, George Butler (Shrewsbury)|
|Cave, George||Greene, Walter Raymond||Locker-Lampson. G. (Salisbury)|
|Cecil, Evelyn (Aston Manor)||Gretton, John||Locker-Lampson O. (Ramsey)|
|Lockwood, Rt. Hon. Lieut.-Colonel A. R.||Randies, Sir John S.||Thompson, Robert (Belfast, North)|
|Lowe, Sir F. W. (Birm., Edgbason)||Ratcliff, R. F.||Thomson, W. Mitchell- (Down, North)|
|Lyttelton, Hon. J. C.||Rawlinson, John Frederick Peel||Thynne, Lord Alexander|
|MacCaw, William J. MacGeagh||Rawson, Colonel Richard H.||Tobin, Alfred Aspinall|
|Mackinder, Halford J.||Rees, Sir J. D.||Touche, George Alexander|
|Macmaster, Donald||Remnant, James Farquharson||Tryon, Captain George Clement|
|M'Calmont, Major Robert C. A.||Rolleston, Sir John||Tullibardine, Marquess of|
|M'Neill, Ronald (Kent, St. Augustine's)||Ronaldshay, Earl of||Valentia, Viscount|
|Magnus, Sir Phillp||Rothschild, Lionel de||Walker, Colonel William Half|
|Malcolm, Ian||Royds, Edmund||Walrond, Hon. Lionel|
|Mason, James F. (Windsor)||Rutherford, John (Lancs., Darwen)||Ward, A. S. (Herts, Watford)|
|Meysey-Thompson, E. C.||Rutherford, Watson (L'pool, W. Derby)||Warde, Colonel C. E. (Kent, Mid)|
|Mlddlemore, John Throgmorton||Salter, Arthur Clavell||Watson, Hon. W.|
|Mildmay, Francis Bingham||Samuel, Sir Harry (Norwood)||Welgall, Captain A. G.|
|Mills, Hon. Charles Thomas||Samuel, Samuel (Wandswerth)||Weston, Colonel J. W.|
|Morrison-Bell, Capt. E. F. (Ashburton)||Sanders, Robert Arthur||Wheler, Granville C. H.|
|Morrison-Bell. Major A. C. (Honiton)||Sanderson, Lancelot||White, Major G. D. (Lancs., Southport)|
|Mount, William Arthur||Sandys, John George||Williams, Colonel R. (Dorset, W.)|
|Neville, Reginald J. N.||Sassoon, Sir Phillp||Willoughby, Major Hon. Claud|
|Newdegate, F. A.||Scott, Leslie (Liverpool, Exchange)||Wills, Sir Gilbert|
|Newman, John R. P.||Scott, Sir S. (Marylebone, W.)||Wilson, A. Stanley (Yorks, E. R.)|
|Nicholson, William G. (Petersfield)||Sharman-Crawford, Colonel R. G.||Wilson, Captain Leslie O. (Reading)|
|Nield, Herbert||Smith, Rt. Hon. F. E. (L'pool, Walton)||Wilson, Maj. Sir M. (Bethnal Green, S. W.)|
|O'Neill. Hon. A. E. B. (Antrim, Mid)||Spear, Sir John Ward||Winterton, Earl|
|Orde-Powlett, Hon. W. G. A.||Stanier, Beville||Wolmer, Viscount|
|Ormsby-Gore, Hon. William||Stanley, Hon. Arthur (Ormskirk)||Wood, Hon. E. F. L. (Yorks, Ripon)|
|Paget, Almeric Hugh||Stanley, Hon. G. F. (Preston)||Wood, John (Stalybridge)|
|Parker, Sir Gilbert (Gravesend)||Starkey, John Ralph||Worthington Evans, L.|
|Parkes, Ebenezer||Staveley-Hill, Henry||Wortley, Rt. Hon. C. B. Stuart|
|Pease, Herbert Pike (Darlington)||Stewart, Gershom||Wright, Henry Fitzherbert|
|Peel, Lieut.-Colonel R. F.||Strauss, Arthur (Paddington, North)||Yate, Colonel C. E.|
|Perkins, Walter F.||Swift, Rigby||Yerburgh, Robert A.|
|Pole-Carew, Sir R.||Sykes, Alan John (Ches., Knutsford)||Younger, Sir George|
|Pollock, Ernest Murray||Sykes, Sir Mark (Hull, Central)|
|Pretyman, Ernest George||Terrell, George (Wilts, N. W.)||TELLERS FOR THE NOES.—Lord|
|Pryce-Jones, Colonel E.||Terrell, Henry (Gloucester)||E. Talbot and Mr. Bridgeman.|
|Quilter, Sir William Eley C.||Tickler, T. G.|
Main Question put, and agreed to.
§ Bill accordingly read the third time, and passed.1916
The remaining Orders were read, and postponed.
Adjourned at Eighteen minutes after Eleven of the clock.