§ The sum which on or before the first day of January, nineteen hundred and twenty-six, becomes payable under the Tithe Acts, 1836 to 1891, in respect of any tithe rent-charge, shall be the sum payable in respect of that rent-charge as ascertained by the septennial average prices published under the Corn Returns Act, 1882, in the month of January, nineteen hundred and eighteen.
§ The Board of Agriculture and Fisheries shall, after the twenty fifth day of December in the year nineteen hundred and twenty-five, and in each succeeding year, compute in the same manner as the septennial average is directed to be computed under the Corn Returns Act, 1882, and shall publish in the "London Gazette" in the month of January following the average price of each sort of British corn for the preceding fifteen years, and the sum payable under the Tithes Acts, 1836 to 1891, in respect of any tithe rent-charge payable after the first day of January, nineteen hundred and twenty-six, shall be ascertained by the average prices so computed for the preceding fifteen years in substitution for the septennial average referred to in the Corn Returns Act, 1882.2150
Mr. LLEWELYN WILLIAMS
I beg to move, at the end of the first paragraph, to insert the words:and such sum shall be deemed to be the amount of the tithe rent-charge according to the septennial average in force at the date of Disestablishment of the Welsh Church within the meaning of the Fourth and Fifth Schedules of the Welsh Church Act, 1914, if the said Act comes into operation before the first day of January, nineteen hundred and twenty-six.I am not going to weary the House again with any detailed explanation of why this Amendment is necessary. I went into the matter in Committee last week when I moved an Amendment in identical terms, and I think every hon. Member who listened to that Debate came away with the impression that I had made good the case I had sought to make, and even the right hon. Gentleman who was in charge of the Bill admitted the great hardship that would result if this Amendment were not accepted. As I shall point out presently he adumbrated a nebulous suggestion of what might happen in the future in the way of an arrangement between the Welsh county councils on the one hand and the Representative Body of the Church on the other. The Welsh Members and the Welsh people are not satisfied with that assurance. They want to make it perfectly clear in this Bill itself what the Government propose to do. As the House is aware next year at the conclusion of the War—I do not know whether it will be this year or next year, but probably next year—the Welsh Church will be Disestablished and Disendowed according to the provisions of the Welsh Church Act, 1914. That Act was put on the Statute Book in September, 1914, and but for the accident of the War it would have been in operation, certainly since March, 1915. The result of the War—the effect of the War has been that the value of the tithe which in 1915 was put at 77 has gone up by leaps and bounds, so that this year—on the 1st January it was 109, and its value on the 1st January next year will stand at 123. According to Schedule 4 of the Welsh Church Act the Welsh county councils, immediately on the date of Disestablishment, will have to buy the life interest of the clergy in Welsh tithes on the septennial average in force at the date of Disestablishment. If, therefore, the septennial average in force on the date of Disestablishment be the septennial average, which will be declared on the 1st January next year, the Welsh county 2151 councils will have to buy up the Welsh tithe at the value of £123 per cent. The Welsh Members and the Welsh people have never demurred to that position. They have thought it was rather hard luck upon them that owing to the War the price of tithe should have risen from 77 in 1915 to 109 this year, and 123 next year, but in spite of the fact that they have felt it was hard on many of them they have never complained, they have never raised this question in the House, they have never used it except in answer to complaints on the part of the Church that it has lost certain money through vacant benefices. They have, in fact, never made any complaint at all, and we should not complain to-day—indeed we do not complain to-day of the fact that, owing to the fortune of War the value of tithe has gone up from 77 to 109 and 123 next year. But what we do complain of is that this Bill, which has been introduced, not at the instance of the Welsh Members but in order to safeguard the interests of English and Welsh landlords and tithe owners, should add an additional grievance to the already bad bargain which the Welsh people made in 1914 owing to the operation of the War.
Next year the Welsh tithe will have to be bought by the county councils. They cannot help themselves. They are compelled to buy under the Welsh Church Act if the Representative Body ask them to. They are in a different position from the English tithe payer under this Bill. It is true that the Bill fixes the price of the tithe for the next seven years at 109, but it does not compel the English tithe payer to redeem at 109. The English tithe payer can do exactly as he likes. If he thinks it is a good bargain, he can redeem; if he thinks it is a bad bargain, he need not. It entirely depends upon his own view of the matter. But the Welsh county councils will be compelled to buy the life interest of the clergy in tithe next year at the figure either of 109, as fixed by this Bill, or 123 if the Welsh Church Act is held by the Courts to be the Act which decides what the price of tithe will be next year.
If it be right and fair, as far as the English tithe payer is concerned, that the price of tithe for the next seven years shall be fixed at a uniform rate of 109, why should you leave it at Large, as you do in this Bill, whether the Welsh county 2152 councils will have to buy up the Welsh tithe for all time at 123 or 109? Is there any hon. Member who can really Bay that this is not a perfectly reasonable suggestion? The Representative Body of the Welsh Church met in September at Cardiff, and, I understand, decided to accept commutation, and they will meet the representatives of the Welsh county councils next year in order to arrange the terms. In order to show what benefit the Church has already had owing to the operation of the War, let me give one figure. The first question which will arise will be on what basis are you going to the value of the Welsh tithe. Is it to be ascertained on the septennial average in force at the date of Disestablishment as defined by the Welsh Church Act, in which case it will be 123, or is it going to be ascertained by this Bill, namely, at 109? It is a matter of vital concern to the Welsh county councils. Neither they nor the Representative Body will be able to decide it. They will have to go to a Court of law to ascertain what the legal position is. If the Court decides in favour of the contention that the price is to be ascertained by this Bill, the Amendment only makes it perfectly clear now, and avoids having to go to the Courts next year. If the Courts decide that the price should be not 109, as fixed by this Bill, but 123 as fixed by the Fourth Schedule of the Welsh Church Act, does anyone think it fair and just to force public authorities in Wales to make a ruinous bargain which would end in bankruptcy? They would have to buy up the life interest of the Church at thirteen years' purchase; they would have to borrow money under Government security in order to buy up something like £180,000 a year of Welsh tithe. I am told that, instead of the £2,250,000 which the then Home Secretary mentioned as the figure which would have to be paid for commutation purposes, the county councils would have to pay between £3,000,000 and £4,000,000, so much will the Church, or, if you like, the individual clergy, have benefited owing to the accident of the War having taken place.
In addition to that, they will have to borrow the money and pay at least 4 per cent. on it, besides losing the difference between 109 and 123, namely, 14 per cent. every year. In seven years they will have lost 98 per cent., in addition to the interest on the borrowed capital. Am I, 2153 therefore, saying too much when I say that if the Bill does not provide what I ask to make perfectly clear in this Amendment, the Welsh county councils will be bankrupt at the end of seven or eight years? If the Amendment is not accepted, they will refuse to accept the position which has been thrust upon them. Why should they with their eyes open go into bankruptcy? If the Bill fixes the price for commutation purposes, my Amendment leaves the thing in exactly the same place. If it does not, it perpetrates an injustice which I am perfectly certain not a single hon. Member, whatever his political views, will dare to defend. Moreover, this is a Redemption Bill. The second Clause and the Schedule combined compel the tithe owner to allow the tithe payer to redeem. Assume, if you like, that the price of redemption is 109. By the Welsh Church Act you compel the Welsh county councils to buy up tithe at 123. By this Act the Welsh county councils, having become tithe owners, you compel them next year to allow the tithe to be redeemed at 109. If the Bill were applied to England, every English Member in the House would be up in arms against it. Are you going to have it said that because we are small and insignificant, as far as numbers are concerned, we are to be treated with greater injustice than any other part of the Kingdom? I ask hon. Members if they do not think in their hearts that we Welsh Members are right in asking that this form of words should be accepted. I made this appeal to the right hon. Gentleman last week, and he put me off with vague expressions of sympathy and with some nebulous suggestions of a future conference between the Welsh county councils and the Representative Body. He went so far as to say that before the Report stage was reached the conference will have taken place.
§ The PRESIDENT of the BOARD OF AGRICULTURE (Mr. Prothero)
Will you read the words?
—I very much hope that these two bodies—that is to say the Welsh county councils, on the one hand, and the Representative Body of the Welsh Church on the other—may meet, and that before the Report stage of this Bill—
—I very much hope that these two bodies may meet, and that before the Report stage of this Bill they may be able to announce some scheme."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 30th October, 1918, col. 1532.They are exactly the words I read.
I did not say a promise; I said a nebulous suggestion. The right hon. Gentleman, in spite of the ingenuousness of his manner, is too careful a politician to give anything in the nature of a promise, but there is a distinct suggestion there, and what he says is that he hopes that before the Report stage of the Bill these two bodies may be able to announce some scheme. What on earth could the Welsh Members deduce from these words except that the right hon. Gentleman was going to act as a sort of honest broker between the Welsh county councils on the one side and the Representative Body of the Church on the other; that the Report stage was not to be taken in a hurry; and that sufficient time was to elapse before the Report stage so as to enable the Welsh county councils to meet and to consider and discuss the matter and to approach the Representative Body of the Church? The Representative Body is derived from all parts of Wales and, I think, from some parts of England. The Representative Body would have to meet. We understood that these two public representative bodies would come together to discuss the matter and prepare a scheme. The right hon. Gentleman said,Before the Report stage of this Bill they may be able to announce some scheme.That was said last Wednesday. Will it be believed that on the following day, when the business of the House was being arranged, the Report stage of this Bill was put down for last Monday, the very first Parliamentary day after Thursday, and, but for a protest made in this House, the Report stage would have been taken last Monday! It is taken to-day. May I ask the right hon. Gentleman whether he has taken any steps to approach the Welsh county councils? Has he taken any steps 2155 to approach the Representative Body? I venture to say that he has not. Why this haste? Why not put it off for a fortnight? There is no pressure of public business in this House. Why this hurry if it is not that the right hon. Gentleman wants to get rid of this question before the election takes place? Yesterday we got rid of Home Rule. To-day he thinks he is going to torpedo Welsh Disendowment and then there will be a clean slate for a General Election. I confess that I have been disappointed with the conduct of the right hon. Gentleman. I admired him, even before I saw him in this House, as the author of "The Psalms in Human Life," one of the most delightful devotional books ever written in the English language. But I am afraid that contact with politics, and especially experience in a Coalition Government, which is bound together by no common conviction or common principles, but only by the ties of expediency, has rather detracted from the purity of the right hon. Gentleman's conduct. Holy Writ tells us that we ought to combine the wisdom of the serpent with the harmlessness of the dove. I am afraid I have to confess that when I regard the conduct of the right hon. Gentleman in this matter I see in it more traces of the slippery trail of the serpent than of the silvery wings of the dove. He has deliberately, as I am compelled to believe, added a new injustice in regard to this matter. Why? This does not affect the tithe payer in Wales, but it affects the Welsh county councils, who will be the tithe owners in Wales next year. Why has he done it? He supplied the answer last week, when he refused to accept this most reasonable Amendment. He said last week that the Welsh Church had a grievance over the taking of certain benefices. He has deliberately added to the grievances of the Welsh county councils in order to make the Welsh people reopen the finance Clauses of the Welsh Church Act, although when it was put upon the Statute Book they thought it was there for good and that it would come into operation on the day of Disendowment.
I am surprised that the Welsh Members of the Ministry have not approached the right hon. Gentleman to force him to accept this Amendment. Has he asked the Law Officers of the Crown what the legal position is to be next year? Has he asked either the Attorney General or the 2156 Solicitor-General? I think he ought to have done that after last week's Debate. If I am right that the price of tithe for commutation purposes will be at 123 next year, then a manifest injustice is done. I think the right hon. Gentleman himself expects that the price of tithe next year will be 123. If, on the other hand, as some leading lawyers in this House have told me, I am wrong, and that this Bill fixes the price for next year, what harm is there in accepting this Amendment? The right hon. Gentleman gambles on the chance that next year it will be found the price will be 123 and not 109. Why does the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Flint (Mr. Herbert Lewis) not use his great influence to have this common act of justice due to Wales? He says he aspires to be the Member for the University of Wales at the next election. The University of Wales will benefit to the extent of thousands of pounds a year by the Welsh Church Act, but this Bill, if my reading be correct, will make it impossible for the University of Wales to get one penny piece in our lifetime from the Welsh Church Act. Is the right hon. Member for Flint so blind and deaf to the interests of his future constituents that he is not going to move his little finger in order to help his Welsh colleagues to get a proper act of justice done to them in this matter? What about the right hon. Member for Swansea (Sir A. Mond). Where is he? He has succeeded to a fine old Liberal Nonconformist seat. His predecessor was Lewis Llewellyn Dillwyn, a man who by his persistence in moving year after year for twenty or more years a resolution in favour of Disestablishment, brought Disestablishment within the realm of practical politics. Where is the successor of Lewis Llewellyn Dillwyn in this matter? Where is the rev and hon. Member for East Carmarthen (Rev. Towyn Jones) in this matter? He was sent into this House to ginger up his Welsh colleagues who were supposed to be lax in the matter of Disendowment. Is he going to Whip for the Government to-night? Is he going to stand up for a Coalition Government which brings in a Bill which defeats the hopes and aspirations of Welshmen for many generations? He has already announced that he is going to stand as Coalition candidate against all comers at the next election. Is he going to defend this? Is he going to say a word in favour of this Bill, or has he made his peace with the right hon. Gentleman?
2157 Misfortunes bring together very strange bedfellows. One of the greatest misfortunes in my opinion is a Coalition Government, and this Coalition Government, in bringing the President of the Board of Agriculture and the rev. and hon. Member for East Carmarthen into the same bed, has brought together strange bedfellows. In the privacy of their chamber, or of the right hon. Gentlemen's chamber, I can well imagine the scene that will be enacted when this Bill has gone through triumphantly, with the aid of the Coalition Whips. I can imagine the rev. and hon. Member for East Carmarthen leaning his head upon the manly bosom, of the right hon. Gentleman, and, looking lovingly into his eyes, saying, "I have wrought for you, I have fought for you, I have voted for your Bill, and I have even Whipped for your Bill. You love me a little now, don't you? "It reminds me of a story I heard from America of a young lady who died, and on whose tombstone was inscribed these words:Our Mary Ann here lies at rest,Her head is on old Abraham's breast,Its very nice for Mary Ann,But not so nice for Abraham.I can quite imagine that the right hon. Gentleman, when he views the reverend and hon. Member asleep upon his breast, will feel something like old Abraham with Mary Ann upon his breast. I have nothing to say against this Bill as it stands except so far as it incidentally touches the question of tithe in Wales. I have never said a word against the Bill. You will remember, Mr. Speaker, that when you told me on the Second Reading that I could not move to omit Wales from the Bill without moving the rejection of the Bill, I refused to accept your invitation. I have nothing to say against the Bill itself. It is a proper Bill. It is a Bill that has been forced upon us. In-deed, I think it was a question which I put down in April last that first directed the attention of my right hon. Friend to the abnormal increase in tithe. In the introduction to the Bill the Government admit that something ought to be done in order to limit the increased value of tithe. If that be the justification for the Bill, as I presume it is, what justification is there for saying that the Welsh county councils should have to buy up tithe at the abnormal figure of 123 for the next thirty years? That is what it amounts to, and the Welsh county councils will receive from the tithe 109.
2158 If the right hon. Gentleman is still open to an appeal, I would urge upon him at this last hour to accept this Amendment, which is only a declaratory Amendment. It does not alter the Bill in the slightest degree. It can do no harm; but if it smoothes the passage of the Bill it will at the same time soothe a great number of susceptibilities in Wales, and will avoid an agitation among the county councils of Wales on the eve of a General Election, which will have a tremendous influence upon the effect of that election one way or another. Why should the right hon. Gentleman go out of his way to make his chief unpopular in the country he loves? Why should he hold up the Prime Minister—the greatest Welshman of the day and of all time, the man who has done more for Welsh Disestablishment in the past than any other—to ridicule, contempt, and odium in Wales by turning into a travesty the Welsh Church Act, for which two generations of Welshmen have fought and sacrificed? I appeal to the right hon. Gentleman even at this last moment to accept this Amendment. I do not appeal for a concession. This Amendment is not a concession at all. There are injustices inherent in the whole position which cannot be removed by any amending of this Bill. The proper way would be to bring in a Bill dealing with those injustices. I am only asking him to remove the injustice which he himself is perpetrating in this Bill. I am only asking him to declare that he does not mean to perpetrate that injustice. I appeal to him, therefore, at this eleventh hour to accept this Amendment, and if he does so I will not say that he will have the gratitude of the Welsh people, because he will only be doing justice; but, at all events, he will clear the fair fame of the Prime Minister and his five Welsh colleagues of the aspersions which will otherwise be cast upon them in the course of the coming election, and will remove a source or contention and agitation which will embitter the whole social and political relations in Wales for the next twelve months. If he does not accept these words the Welsh county councils and the Welsh people are not going to suffer this injustice. Therefore, whether he does it now, or whether his sucessors will be compelled to do it hereafter, matters very little, except from the point of view of his own honour and his reputation as a just and honourable man.
§ Mr. ELLIS DAVIES
I beg to second the Amendment.
This Bill, I understand, proposes to do two things. The first is to relieve the landowner from further liability than 109 in respect of tithe for the next seven years, and it is going to do so at the expense of the Church. That, however, is an aspect of the question which does not concern me. There is in this Bill a further provision that the landowner for the next seven years, however valuable tithe may be, can redeem at 109. So the result of the Bill is, first of all, that the tithe owner will only pay 109 for the next seven years, whatever the value of the tithe may be, and no relief is being granted to the county councils. The position of the Welsh county councils will be that while they must next year possibly pay 123 for the tithe, the landowner in Wales will still be entitled to redeem at 109. I agree with my hon. Friend that if it was a question purely of commutation, we should have to face the burden and take it as the luck of war. For my part I would not object to that. My objection to the Bill is that we may be compelled to commute at 123, while, on the other hand, the landowner, who certainly has no claim upon the generosity of the country at the present time, can redeem at 109. For, in any event, he is doing exceedingly well out of the War. Sir Howard Frank, who is a great authority, says—
§ Mr. DAVIES
I am sorry if I am rather irrelevant on the point. While we must commute for the Church at 123, the landowner, on the other hand, according to the provisions of this Bill, can redeem from us at 109. I submit that that is an act of gross injustice. The landowner is to be allowed to come forward and say, "Though you paid 123 for tithe last year, you must hand it over to us for 109." That is the legal effect of this Bill. My hon. and learned Friend merely proposes to have a declaration in this Bill that if commutation is to take place, it shall be at 109—that is the price of the tithe next year. I hope that the right hon. Gentleman will accept the Amendment, or, if he cannot do that, that he will provide that, so far as land in Wales and Monmouth is concerned, the price for redemption of tithe for the next seven years shall be 123.
§ Mr. RAWLINSON
I shall not follow the Mover of this Amendment in his interesting speech. I have the privilege of knowing my hon Friend longer than I have known the right hon. Gentleman opposite. He has given us a terrible account of the depravity of the right hon. Gentleman, and how he lost his innocence by rubbing shoulders with people like myself. I know that if my hon. Friend is moving a simple Amendment for which he has got a good case, nobody can put it more clearly, precisely, and persuasively; but when he is talking about Abraham and Mary Ann, and reverend Members on the Front Bench, and when he wants to know, as we often did, I am afraid, in opposition in 1906, where various members of the Government should be; when he goes into all those figures, I generally get a little suspicious of the strength of the Amendment which he is moving. If he had a strong case he would put it strongly, and leave my hon. Friend and the Whip alone. Seriously, what is this Amendment? The facts are these. By the Welsh Church Act the county councils have to buy tithe after peace is concluded next year at the current rate of the day, which, it seems pretty clear, is likely to be 123. To that extent the Welsh county councils will have the worst of the bargain. My hon. Friend says he does not object to that in the least, and the Seconder of the Amendment says that he does not object to it in the least. If they do not object, so much the better. I think, perhaps, the reason is this. If Disestablishment and Disendowment of the Church had taken place, say, in 1915, they would have paid less for the tithe; but they would not have got the very large sum which they have got in the way of lapsed annuities. Particulars have been got out. I do not wish to trouble the House with figures, but if the Act had been carried in 1915 instead of in 1918, though they would have gained upon the tithe they would have lost upon other matters, in consequence, to more than double the amount. If you take the figures, that is perfectly clear.
That was the bargain. This Bill has nothing to do with the bargain. It does not affect it. The Bill is a totally different matter. Those are the simple facts between the Welsh Church and the Welsh county councils. They will have to pay more than in 1915, and 2161 to that extent they will lose. The Mover and the Seconder of the Amendment said that they do not object to that, because it happens to be a matter of luck. But further than that, if they look into the figures for 1915 instead of 1918 they will see that the county councils will be considerably the gainers. All that the Amendment does is to say that, instead of paying 123, they will have to pay 109 to the Welsh Church. If they do not object to the bargain, why ask to have it altered? Can anybody fairly vote for the Amendment when the Mover and Seconder say that they do not object to have to pay the Welsh Church 123, as it is the luck of the bargain, but wish to get an Amendment passed which has the effect of saying that they shall not pay 123, but shall only pay 109? Their real grievance is a grievance which a lot of tithe owners will have, for if they pay 123 for this tithe, or whatever they have paid, this Bill gives the tithe payer a power to redeem at 109. That is a grievance which every tithe owner will have under the Bill. I pointed it out on the Second Reading of this Bill. There is no doubt that next year, in the case of any person who owns tithe in England or Wales which is worth 123 the landlord can come along at any moment and redeem at 109, and the Welsh county councils will be really in the same position as every other tithe owner. That is the general position. If they are serious in their objection, then, I say, that every tithe owner in England will have the same grievance as they. The suggestion was made—in fact my hon. Friend did put down an Amendment, if I remember rightly—that the Bill should not apply to Wales, and that therefore justice should not be done in this matter in Wales. Not a single Welsh Member was in favour of that. Not one single Welsh Member dare go into the Lobby in favour of it, and the Amendment was taken off the Paper.
§ 5.0 P.M.
§ Mr. RAWLINSON
It was withdrawn. Occupying farmers would have a good deal to say to hon. Members from Wales if they got up and moved that this Bill should not apply to Wales, because those farmers like it, as it gives them the opportunity of redeeming tithe below the sum likely to be reached in the next four or five years. For the reasons which I have mentioned, I shall support the Government and oppose this Amendment.
§ Mr. HOHLER
It seems to me that the Seconder was proceeding under a misapprehension. I do not understand this Bill to alter the principles of redemption established by the Tithes Commutation Act of 1836, except in this respect, that under that Act tithe has to be redeemed by twenty-six years' purchase at par, while under this Bill all that is done, as I understand, is to reduce the number of years' purchase to twenty-one. Redemption is one thing, and the value of tithe is quite another. What Clause 1 proposes is to fix the price paid for tithe at 109 for a limited period, and otherwise it would have risen to 129, or a higher sum.
§ Mr. RAWLINSON
It is taken at what the tithe was on the 1st January, 1918, and that happened to be 109, and next year it will probably be 123.
§ Mr. HOHLER
Surely it is twenty-one years' purchase! [HON. MEMBERS: "In the Schedule."] I thought so, for there it mentions twenty-one times the amount. With regard to the Amendment, the provisions of the Welsh Church Act are somewhat different, but in that Act there is a special bargain which proceeds, as I understand, on a wholly different basis from that of redemption of tithes, and has got nothing to do with the redemption of tithes, but deals with the sum that the Welsh county councils should pay to the incumbent who loses his tithe. That money was to be invested at a certain rate to produce a certain income. Owing to the War that bargain has gone against those who sought the Disestablishment of the Church in Wales. In other words, the price has risen, and the result is that when they are going to give an annuity to the incumbent they will have to pay more; but, on the other hand, it must be remembered that when that Act was passed those who sought Disestablishment made a very good bargain, because the price then was about 80 and there was no prospect at that time that it should ever rise to 100 or anything like it. What is the position under the Welsh Church Act? In one respect the county councils lose, but in other respects in regard to lapsed livings they win, and therefore you want the account adjusted. What I understood my right hon. Friend the President to say was that at the proper time and in the proper Bill they would introduce an Amendment to the Welsh Church Act, to adjust fairly on the one side and on the other the considerations that have now 2163 arisen owing to the War. That seems to me to be perfectly just. I confess, having listened to the arguments of my hon. and learned Friend (Mr. L. Williams), I was not impressed with the fact that he established any injustice of any sort or kind.
Mr. C. REES
Admittedly on all sides of the House there is a grievance in this matter with regard to the position of the county councils. The grievance being admitted, the point is how to raise and ventilate it and, if possible, remedy it. There is some force in the argument that in this attempt to remedy the grievance we may be perpetrating an injustice, as it were, to the Welsh Church, who are entitled, under the Fourth Schedule of the Welsh Church Act, to redemption at the price six months after the end of the War or Disestablishment. That was their bargain, and they say, We are entitled to that bargain. But the county councils, in having to pay 123 by this Bill, are put in this position. They have to accept 109 instead of 123, so that the grievances of the county, councils is clear, admitted, definite, and there is no suggestion as to how it is to be met. Some say, "All right; if you Welsh Members object to this, ask that Wales be excluded from the Bill." The hon. and learned Member (Mr. Rawlinson) said that we would object to that proposal. It is only natural that the farmer in Wales objects to the farmer in England being allowed to redeem at 109 when he himself is not allowed to redeem at all except by private bargaining between the tithe owner and himself. So Wales would say. "We do not want to go out of the Bill, because we would be doing an injustice and simply going from one injustice to another." In this instance it would be doing an injustice to the farmers in Wales, and we do not want to do any injustice to them. I suggested in Committee and suggest again that there is only one way to meet the difficulty. The Amendment is proposed in order to try and get some remedy. The question is, who is going to pay the difference between 109 and 123? If the county councils buy at 123 and sell at 109 the difference has to fall on the ratepayers of the county councils or on the taxpayers. This difficulty has been created by the Government and if it is important to get this Bill through then the nation ought to shoulder the payment of that difference. I hope the right hon. Gentleman will make that clear and 2164 that this injustice will be removed and the suggestion which I have put forward may receive the whole-hearted support of the House.
§ Mr. PROTHERO
I should like, after the somewhat warm attack made upon me by the hon. and learned Gentleman (Mr. L. Williams) to look at this question purely as a matter of business, and it is the more easy for me to do so as the hon. Member is not in his place to hear my answer. I hope the House will forgive me if I go into some detail about the question. Let us go back to the origin of the Bill and to the circumstances that made it, as I think, necessary to bring it in, and to the objects which it seeks to attain. Owing to the War the value of tithe rent-charge went up wholly abnormally. It was 77 in 1914, and in 1918 it was 109, and in 1919 it will be 123, and in 1920 it will be 136, and between the years 1923 and 1924 it will reach a maximum height of something like 176. It was considered by the general body of tithe owners that when the tithe had risen so abnormally from causes arising out of the War it was inexpedient that they should attempt to exact the full rate to which they were legally entitled. They agreed that some restrictions in the tithe rent-charge was advisable, and I may say that they have agreed in the main to the restrictions imposed by this Bill as reasonable restrictions. I think that attitude a wise one. I do not think that in 1923 and 1924, when the War, as we all hope, will have been finished three or four years, and prices may be falling, you could possibly exact these excessive tithes without provoking organised opposition. The difficulty if prices have fallen would be simply trebled, and in no country and in no part of the country would the difficulty be so great as in Wales, and this for two reasons: In the first place, Wales largely consists of small occupying owners, who are therefore tithe payers, and, in the second place, the staple cereal product of Wales is oats, and it is in oats that the greatest fall may confidently be anticipated. Consequently, you would be calling upon small poor men to pay this excessive rate of tithe on falling prices. Therefore I think this Bill is not only sound in principle but necessary in practice. What it does is this: It restricts the rate to which the tithe rent-charge may rise. It restricts it at the figure at which it stands to-day for the next seven years. Then it goes on to 2165 limit the range of variation, and by the quindecennial average it restores to the tithe owner a portion of the money he would have received on this higher rate of tithe, only it gives it in a deferred form spread over a term of years instead of a violent rise of two or three years in the middle of the War. That is the object of that part of the Bill.
Now lot us see how it applies in the special case of Wales, where, I admit, difficulties and complications have arisen. Under the Welsh Church Act the index figure at which the vested existing interest of the clergy are to be commuted is a single year at the septennial average. That single year was, as the Act contemplated, 1914, when tithe stood at 77. Now suppose the date of Disestablishment under the Welsh Act had actually taken place in 1915, what would have happened? That figure would have told heavily against the members of the Church, because all this enormous increase in the value of tithes would have gone away from them and into the pockets of the county council. Would the members of the Church, if they had then come to this House and complained of the bargain struck in 1915, have received the support of the Welsh Members? I do not think so. I think they would have argued skilfully, eloquently and quite fairly that the bargain was a bargain and ought to be adhered to.
§ Mr. PROTHERO
That is one of the terms of the bargain—quite so. I say the bargain taken as a whole. What is complained is that that single-year figure owing to the War has turned against the county councils. The bargain is no longer in their favour, it is against them, because if you take the figure of 1919 (as the date on which Disestablishment will come into force) they have to commute the vested interest of the clergy at 123. Therefore the bargain goes against them, and they argue in effect that it should be amended in their favour and against the Church. That is what the Amendment practically means. Now one thing they say is, "We are quite satisfied with the bargain; we only want to be left alone. Leave us alone and we will carry out the bargain," because they say that if tithe is allowed to 2166 reach this abnormally excessive height they will then be able to finance their transactions of commuting the vested interests of the clergy. Well now, if they think they could exact from the small tithe-paying occupying owner of Wales this very heavily increased tithe without provoking organised opposition, I disagree with them. You remember that they are not at the present moment tithe owners; they are potential tithe owners. They have had no experience of that kind of property, and the present tithe owners from their long experience are convinced they could not obtain these highly increased tithes, I agree with them. I believe the county councils would be burned in effigy in every county of Wales. If the Welsh county councils really think they should be left alone in the bargain, that they should be left absolutely out of this Bill, if in effect they think this, that they could compel the small occupying owner who in 1915 was paying on every pound of tithe 15s. 3d., if they think they could compel him in 1923 on falling prices to pay £l 15s. 3d., let them accept the offer made them and be excluded from the Bill. They refuse that alternative, and they bring forward this proposal to amend the bargain of 1915 in their favour by reducing the figures at which the vested interests of the clergy are to be commuted from 123 to 109.
Now look at that proposal. This Church Act was to be brought into operation in 1915. The operation of it has been postponed, and during these four years of War the whole financial arrangements which were made in 1914 for carrying out the Act have been disturbed. They are upset in various details; there are gains on one side and losses on another. If yon are going to amend the bargain of 1915 at all, then I submit the only fair way to do it is to take the whole financial arrangements together, look at them actuarially, examine them closely and readjust them fairly and equitably as a whole, and I understand that the hon. Member for Carmarthen (Mr. L. Williams) rather holds the same view. That is the fair thing to do. If the county councils reject the alternative of being taken out of the Bill, why do not they accept the other alternative, that is a consideration of all the various points on which the finance requires readjustment, look at it together and readjust them on equitable lines? But I submit to this House that it is quite unfair in the interest of one side to the bargain to pick out one 2167 point and amend that, and leave all the other claims untouched and without relief. Manifestly, if a man has a claim and another man has a counterclaim, the right thing to do is to consider the claim and counterclaim together at the same time. You cannot deal with one side, and at the same time leave the other side outside your relief without prejudicing the position of the other party, and that is what this Amendment proposes to do. You are going to prejudice the position of the members of the Church by relieving the county councils of their grievances under the Welsh Church Act, and leave the members of the Church wholly unrelieved. I venture to submit to the House that that is an unjust and unfair thing to do. I submit to the House also this, that where you are dealing with a body of men who are not directly represented in this House, it behoves the House to be careful that it does not, on the representation of parties who are directly represented, do those unrepresented parties an injustice and an unfairness. I am perfectly confident that this Amendment, if carried, will inflict this injustice upon the members of the Church in Wales.
Then you come to what is, after all, if I may say so, the real ground of grievance which the Welsh party has in this matter, and it is this. They say—and they say with some force—"You are going to make it more difficult for us to carry out our financial arrangements, because you are going to reduce our receipts from the property which we are compelled to purchase." That is so. To a certain extent that is absolutely true, and I admit there is that difficulty. I do not think it is so great as you imagine. In the first place, if I am right, you cannot put the possible receipts that would be received by county councils from tithe at the very high figure which tithe would reach in 1923 and 1924, because you would not be able to realise without provoking organised opposition throughout the country. Another point is this: You do get under the quindecennial average the greater portion of the moneys you would have got in 1923 and 1924 restored to the tithe owners, but in a deferred form spread over a term of years. That is a considerable advantage. The hon. and learned Member for Carmarthen, on the Second Heading of this Bill, drew a perfectly lurid picture of the state of the Welsh county councils when tithe drops year after year away to next 2168 door to nothing, and he said, "Look at the position after the Napoleonic Wars, and take example of that as a proof of the point to which tithe will dwindle." Apart from the fact that the conditions then and now are wholly different—absolutely and entirely different—we have met his point under this Bill. We have given him a range of values, and below that range tithe cannot fall, though, if that is his fear, it is met by this Bill, and we do, therefore, not make the financial problem of the county councils seriously more difficult than it would be in any circumstance. We do make it, I admit, slightly more difficult, and for this reason: We ask the county councils—the potential tithe owners—to accept the same sort of sacrifice of exceptionally abnormal profits which we ask every tithe owner in England and Wales—nothing more and nothing less.
Therefore, I submit to the House that this Amendment, if carried, will be grossly unjust to the members of the Church in Wales, and that the proper remedy is a finance Bill, which shall go into the two sides of the account, examine them critically, calculate them actuarially, and readjust them. The hon. and learned Member for Carmarthen has appealed to me in what would have been very moving terms if I had felt guilty of any of the charges which he somewhat freely levelled against my head. May I make an appeal to him? I make it with all the more force, perhaps, because I am one of those Members who have never known a Welsh Church Debate in this House, and know nothing of the bitterness and exasperation which those Debates have provoked, but I would say this: In business, when two men who have got to do business together fall out on a question of principle, it is sound policy for the man who has won on the point of principle to make it easy for the other to go on doing business with him in every possible way. The Welsh party in this House have won the point of principle, and if it is good policy in business to do that, I submit to the hon. and learned Member that it is good policy in political life. If you look at the particular subject-matter, you can put that a good deal higher. Here is a matter of religion. There are two great religious communities at variance. They have been in the past enemies. Well, I hope they will always be rivals in the sense of being emulous of each others' religious activities, 2169 but, as long as human nature remains the same, we have got to have these different religious organisations. It is a question of temperament more than anything else, and I would ask that the Welsh party here should not attempt—as, in my opinion, they are in effect doing—to hamper the religious activity of a body which may be a rival but can no longer, I hope after the four years of war, be considered an enemy. Further than that, there are in Wales a number of men—I do not know how many, but a considerable number of men—who are members of the Church but who are willing to sacrifice unity for the sake of freedom from secular control. They are ready at this moment to act loyally with the Welsh, whatever their religious feelings may be—loyally with them to take part in the national religious and local life of the Principality; but if you take advantage, on a side issue like this, to settle in your own interest one side of grievances which are felt on both sides, you do a great damage to that cause of religious peace which we all hope to see in the Principality of Wales.
§ Mr. McKENNA
The right hon. Gentleman does not seem to me to have fully appreciated the strength of the case put forward by my hon. and learned Friend. The whole of his argument, if it is a substantial argument, is an argument against this Bill. If it is grossly unjust to the Church in Wales to accept the Amendment of my hon. and learned Friend, it must be equally grossly unjust to the whole Church of England to pass this Bill at all. I cannot help thinking that my right hon. Friend has allowed himself to be carried away by a slight misuse of language. He tells us that in 1914 we came to a certain bargain which was thought advantageous to the laity in Wales, but now has turned out advantageous to the Church in Wales owing to the War, and we are not entitled, he says, how to go behind the bargain of 1914. But there was no bargain in 1914. If there were a bargain in 1914, there was a bargain in 1836. It is just as wrong to break the bargain of 1836 as it would be wrong to break the bargain of 1914. Let us look at the history of this case. The Act of Parliament of 1914 settled certain conditions under which the Church, a representative body in Wales, would have the right of claiming the commutation of tithe. The operation of that Act was postponed owing to the War. Owing to the War certain new conditions have arisen—conditions which have raised 2170 enormously the value of tithe. For this country the right hon. Gentleman, I dare say quite rightly, recognises that those new conditions have got to be dealt with by Act of Parliament, and a limit has got to be put to the rise in the value of tithe. These conditions have arisen through the War. Had there been no war the Welsh Church Act would have been in operation, and it is owing to the War that these new conditions have arisen, and owing to the War that the operation of the Welsh Church Act has been postponed. If the new war conditions have rendered this Tithe Bill necessary, the same conditions have rendered a reconsideration of the conditions under the Welsh Church Act. We would have been quite content to have had the Welsh Church Act in 1915 come into operation. It was postponed owing to the War. Advantage must not be taken of the postponement in order to put a new burden on the county councils in Wales which was never contemplated at that time. The right hon. Gentleman says, "Oh, yes; if you are going to reconsider the conditions of the Welsh Church Act because, owing to the lapse of time, the conditions and circumstances of the War, they have operated unfavourably to the Welsh people and to the county councils, and favourably to the Church, you must go into the whole question of finance." That does not follow. I agree, if the right hon. Gentleman can show any single particular in which the Church has been damnified by the postponement owing to the War, then we would be quite willing to consider that.
§ Mr. McKENNA
By all means set off the lapsed interests against the tithes. Take a general account of what the Church has lost by the operation and what the Church has gained by the postponement. The Church has gained enormously by postponement. [An HON. MEMBER: "Work it out and see!"] We are willing to accept that as a bargain. At least, I accept it for myself.
§ Mr. McKENNA
I say more than that. I speak for myself and, I believe, for the whole of those for whom I used to speak in the past when I carried the Welsh Church Act in this House. We are willing to go back to the 1915 financial conditions, or we will be willing to bring into hotch-potch 2171 all that the Church has gained and all that the Church has lost since 1915, and we will include this Bill as it applies to England as one of the conditions. Will the right hon. Gentleman take that?
§ Mr. PROTHERO
If the right hon. Gentleman means a finance Bill going into the question of commutation on both sides I do accept.
§ Mr. McKENNA
I do not mean reopening the 1914 basis, except so far as that basis has been altered by the lapse of time—by the War. We do not wish to take any advantage from the Church—not one farthing—owing to the lapse of time since the War. It was not their fault; it was not our fault, that the Act was postponed. We postponed it because of the War, but do not let either side get an advantage. Certainly I would suggest to my right hon. Friend he ought not now to raise a subject of the greatest controversy in Wales. He ought not to throw a permanent charge on the county councils which cannot be defended for a single instant, for if it is right to fix it at 109 for all the Church outside Wales, it is right to fix it at 109 inside Wales.
The only other point with which I have to deal is this: My right hon. Friend says, "Stay out of the Bill altogether if you like." Of course, that is impossible. How could you expect the tithe payers in Wales to go on paying at the present prices when other tithe payers under the Bill do not do so? If you were to make such a difference of treatment in England and Wales, you would get every sort of disturbance. My right hon. Friend knows as well as I do that the offer is an idle one. If my right hon. Friend will reconsider his Bill, and will go through the whole account between the Welsh county councils and the Church, taking credit, if he likes, for the lapsed interests, but giving the county councils the benefit of the Bill, and taking into account the benefit which the Church has received from the increased value of the tithes, I know on which side the balance of profit will lie. We shall be quite satisfied. Otherwise I do not think the right hon. Gentleman is justified in refusing to accept the Amendment of my hon. Friend.
§ Viscount WOLMER
I am very glad the Government has refused to agree to this attempt to upset the settlement which the Radical party forced in the Welsh Church Act of 1914, and which they now find is not 2172 working out quite so much to the benefit of the Welsh county councils as they then thought. I would not have arisen had it not been for the speech of the right hon. Gentleman beneath me (Mr. McKenna). Speaking on this subject, he has not, for the first time, been guilty of misstatements of fact. One of the most important was his assertion that the Welsh Church, as a body, had made money out of a rise in the value of tithe caused by the War. That is not the case at all. Any money which the Welsh Church receives from tithe by the Welsh Church Act is received only as a trustee, and has to be repaid to vested interests. Therefore any gain in the case of tithe is not that of the Welsh Church but that of the Welsh clergy.
§ Viscount WOLMER
It is a very important point, and people in the position of the right hon. Gentleman ought to be careful of such points. Especially so when they are offering bargains in the name of the whole Liberal party, of the whole Welsh Disestablishment party, to the Representative Body of the Church in Wales. The point I desire to make is that what the right hon. Gentleman asks us to do is fundamentally unfair. In the Act which he himself passed a certain compensation was fixed for the clergy under Welsh Disestablishment on the septennial value of the tithe. That was, in 1914, compensation which seemed just to him. The effect of this proposed Amendment is to reduce that compensation from the figure of 123 to 109. That is not fair. If the septennial average seemed just to the right hon. Gentleman in 1914 it ought to seem just to him now. The fact that the value of tithe has gone up is scarcely to the point. As the hon. Member said, it is the fortune of war. The cost of living has also gone up immensely. The Welsh clergy are not gainers out of the bargain, as is thought by some hon. Members. A very extraordinary statement has been made by the right hon. Gentleman (Mr. McKenna). He says, if we can show that in any point the action of the War has been prejudicial to the financial settlement fixed by the Liberal party in 1914—
§ Viscount WOLMER
If we can show that the influence of the War, the events of the War, have had a prejudicial influence on the interests of the Church, then that matter ought to be reconsidered. I say this is an extraordinary statement, because the right hon. Gentleman seemed to assume that there was none. I ask him to consider the amount the Church is losing through the lapse of vested interests. It runs into hundreds of thousands of pounds. For these vested interests no one is going to receive a single penny compensation when Disestablishment takes place, and to come down to this House and to say that the whole question—
§ Viscount WOLMER
No; the point is this: During the four years of war a large number of the clergy have died. If these clergy had been alive when the Act comes into force there would have been paid as commutation to the Representative Body in Wales a sum which would have been greater by several hundreds of thousands of pounds than what will be paid now.
§ Viscount WOLMER
Yes, as trustees! But the successors of these people are still there! They have to be paid somehow. Therefore it is true to say in this case that the Welsh Church is made poorer by hundreds of thousands of pounds. The point is a very important one.
§ Viscount WOLMER
No; I do not accept it. If that, however, is the view of the hon. Member, by all means let his proposals be put forward; but for heaven's sake do let us bury the hatchet in this Welsh Church question!
Mr. L. WILLIAMS
Does the Noble Lord agree with the proposal put forward by my right hon. Friend to the right hon. Gentleman the President of the Board of Agriculture, namely, to put the whole thing into a, hotch-potch?
§ Viscount WOLMER
I would be willing to accept the offer that the whole of the financial arrangements of the Welsh Church Act should be reconsidered in the light of the events of the War and the situation produced by the War. That I am willing to do and am desirous of doing.
May I ask the Noble Lord to make the thing clearer? Is he willing to accept the basis of the Disendowment of the Welsh Church Act, and endeavour to readjust the financial position, giving credit to the Church for vacancies, and also taking into account the gain accruing from the rise in tithe, and so on?
§ Viscount WOLMER
I am certainly not willing to accept the 1914 settlement as a basis, because it was a basis that was proposed under circumstances which are entirely different to present circumstances. What I am willing to do is to reconsider the whole question of finance. I do not want to reopen the question of Disestablishment. I am perfectly willing to meet the right hon. Gentleman on that ground—I hope in the most friendly way possible. But to come down to the House and ask to introduce a side Amendment into the Bill that has not got anything to do with the Welsh Distestablishment question is to attempt to ask something which is unfair to the clergy in Wales, unfair to the Church of Wales, and unreasonable in itself, and I am very glad the Government have not accepted it.
§ Major DAVIES
It appears to me the Government ought to give us some indication, some answer, to the speech of my right hon. Friend opposite as to whether they are prepared to enter into a financial arrangement on the basis of the arrangement come to in the Act of 1914. I gather from the speech of the Noble Lord opposite that that is not his view; that he is not prepared to take the settlement of 1914 as the basis; to try and arrange a figure, so that neither side, neither the Church on the one hand nor the county councils on the other, are to gain by the position created by the War. If that is the question my right hon. Friend put to the Government, as to whether they were willing to 2175 accept that as a basis of a discussion, we have had no reply, and I submit very respectfully we ought to have, as to their views on that important matter. It appears to me that the trend of this discussion for some time has been that the House is endeavouring to deal with a matter which really concerns Wales and Wales alone. Welshmen are concerned in this. They well realise that whereas the landlords of Wales are going to have 109, the county councils for some or other reason will have to pay 123. That is a matter which concerns the Welsh people and they alone. We know perfectly well that the Welsh Members in this House are a very small number. We shall be voted down by outsiders who have not heard this discussion. I think it is a clear case of the House endeavouring to deal with an Act which has reference solely to Wales by an Act which deals with England and Wales together. I suggest that this is a very unsatisfactory state of affairs, and that it shows more and more the need for devolution, and for allowing Wales to settle these matters in its own way—by the Welsh people. I see the Noble Lord has come down from the Foreign Office. I know he takes a very great interest in this question. I am sure we shall be very delighted if he can give us a reply on behalf of the Government as to their attitude in this matter. You cannot separate the arrangements between the Welsh Act and those which are proposed in this measure. We ought, I think, to have some guidance, some leading from the Government, before we go to a Division.
§ Mr. PROTHERO
There is no doubt it is the opinion of the Commissioners on Church Temporalities that a Bill dealing with the financial arrangements which were carried out in the Welsh Church Act
§ is urgently needed. It is imperatively necessary, quite apart from the present Bill. The Government would be quite willing that all the questions at issue between the Church and the Representative Body on the one hand and the county councils on the other which arise out of the commutation question should be gone into in that Bill and actuarially calculated and adjusted.
§ Mr. McKENNA
May I make the matter more simple? There were certain principles settled in the 1914 Act. These principles would have been in operation now but for the War. The events that have followed in the wake of the War may very properly be taken into account, for, owing to the War, tithes have risen in value, and it is owing to these events that this Bill has been introduced. All these post-war factors arise out of the War, and ought, quite reasonably, to be taken into account in a general settlement; but as to the Act itself, you must not go behind it.
§ 6.0 P.M.
§ Mr. PROTHERO
The question arising out of the commutation we are willing to submit in a general finance Bill. My only objection to this Amendment is that it takes one side only of the commutation question. I believe the Welsh Members would find that provided they had their own claim on the lapsed interests, for instance, properly considered it would be found that they would be met in a generous and liberal spirit.
§ Question put, "That those words be there inserted in the Bill."
§ The House divided: Ayes, 106; Noes, 159.2177
|Division No. 89.]||AYES.||[6.2 p.m.|
|Anderson, William C. (Attercliffe)||Donnelly, Patrick||Hazleton, Richard|
|Baring, Sir Godfrey (Barnstaple)||Doris, William||Hearn, M. L.|
|Bliss, Joseph||Dougherty, Rt. Hon. Sir J. B.||Henderson, J. M. (Aberdeen, W.)|
|Boland, John Plus||Duffy, William J.||Higham, John Sharp|
|Boyle, Daniel (Mayo, North)||Esmonde, Capt. John (Tipperary, N.)||Hobhouse, Rt. Hon. Sir Charles E. H.|
|Brady, Patrick Joseph||Ffrench, Peter||Hogge, James Myles|
|Brunner, John F. L.||Field, William||Holt, Richard Durning|
|Byrne, Alfred||Flavin, Michael Joseph||Howard, Hon. Geoffrey|
|Chancellor, Henry George||Fleming, Sir John||John, Edward Thomas|
|Clancy, John Joseph||Glanville, H. J.||Jones, H. Haydn (Merioneth)|
|Clough, William||Gulland, Rt. Hon. John William||Joyce, Michael|
|Cory, Sir Clifford (St. Ives)||Hackett, John||Kelly. Edward|
|Cotton, H. E. A.||Hancock, J. G.||Kennedy, Vincent Paul|
|Crumley, Patrick||Harbison, T. J. S.||Kenyon, Barnet|
|Davies, David (Montgomery Co.)||Harmsworth, Sir R. L. (Caithness)||Kilbride, Denis|
|Davies, Ellis William (Elflon)||Haslam, Lewis||King, Joseph|
|Dillon, John||Hayden, John Patrick||Lambert, Richard (Wilts, Cricklade)|
|Layland-Barratt, Sir F.||O'Connor, John (Kildare, N.)||Smallwood, Edward|
|Lundon, Thomas||O'Dowd, John||Smyth, Thomas F. (Leitrim, S.)|
|Macdonald, Rt. Hon. J. M. (Falk.B'ghs)||O'Leary, Daniel||Somervell, William Henry|
|Macdonald, J. Ramsay (Leicester)||O'Malley, William||Spicer, Rt. Hon. Sir Albert|
|MacGhee, Richard||Outhwaite, R. L.||Taylor, John W. (Durham)|
|McKenna, Rt. Hon. Reginald||Parrott, Sir James Edward||Taylor, Theodore C. (Radcliffe)|
|MacVeagh, Jeremiah||Pearce, Sir Robert (Staffs, Leek)||Tennant, Rt. Hon. Harold John|
|Maden, Sir John Henry||Pringle, William M. R.||Thomas, Sir G. (Monmouth, S.)|
|Mallalieu, Frederick William||Rea, Walter Russell (Scarborough)||Thomas Rt. Hon. J. H. (Derby)|
|Marshall, Sir Arthur Harold||Reddy, Michael||Toulmin, Sir George|
|Mason, David M. (Coventry)||Rees, G. C. (Carnarvonshire, Arton)||Weston, John W.|
|Mason, Robert (Wansbeck)||Richards, Rt. Hon. Thomas||White, J. Dundas (Glasgow, Tradeston)|
|Meehan, Francis E. (Leitrim, N.)||Richardson, Thomas (Whitehaven)||Whitehouse, John Howard|
|Meehan, Patrick J. (Queen's Co., Leix)||Roberts, Sir J. H. (Denbighs)||Whitty, Patrick Joseph|
|Molloy, Michael||Roch, Walter F. (Pembroke)||Wiles, Rt. Hon. Thomas|
|Mooney, John J.||Rowlands, James||Williams, Thomas J. (Swansea)|
|Morgan, George Hay||Rowntree, Arnold|
|Muldoon, John||Runciman, Sir Walter (Hartlepool)||TELLERS FOR THE AYES.—|
|Nolan, Joseph||Sheehy, David||Mr. L. Williams and Mr. Hinds.|
|Nugent, J. D. (College Green)|
|Anderson, G. K. (Canterbury)||Foxcroft, Capt. Charles Talbot||Newman, Major J. R. P. (Enfield)|
|Agg-Gardner, Sir James Tynte||Ganzoni, Francis John C.||Newman, Sir Robert (Exeter)|
|Anstruther-Gray, Lieut.-Col. William||Gardner, Ernest||Nicholson, Sir Charles N. (Doncaster)|
|Ashley, Wilfred W.||Gastrell, Lieut.-Col. Sir W. Houghton||Norman, Rt. Hon. Major Sir H.|
|Astor, Major Hon. Waldorf||Gibbs, Col. George Abraham||Palmer, Godfrey Mark|
|Baird John Lawrence||Gilmour, Lieut.-Col. John||Parker, James (Halifax)|
|Banbury, Rt. Hon. Sir F. G.||Goulding, Sir Edward Alfred||Parkes, Sir Edward|
|Barlow, Sir Montague (Salford, South)||Greenwood, Sir Hamar (Sunderland)||Partington, Hon. Oswald|
|Barnett, Capt, R. W.||Gretton, John||Pearce, Sir William (Limehouse)|
|Barnston, Major Harry||Guinness, Hon. Rupert (Essex, S.E.)||Pearson, Hon. Weetman H. M.|
|Barrle, H. T.||Hall, Lt.-Col. Sir Fred (Dulwich)||Pease, Rt. Hon. Herbert Pike|
|Bathurst, Col. Hon. A. B. (Glouc, E.)||Hamilton, Rt. Hon. Lord C. J.||Pennefather, De Fonblanque|
|Beach, William F. H.||Hardy, Rt. Hon. Laurence||Perkins, Walter Frank|
|Beauchamp, Sir Edward||Harmood-Banner, Sir J. S.||Pollock, Sir Ernest Murray|
|Beck, Arthur Cecil||Harris, Sir Henry P. (Paddington, S.)||Pratt, J. W.|
|Beckett, Hon. Gervase||Havelock-Allan, Sir Henry||Prothero, Rt. Hon. Roland Edmund|
|Bellairs, Commander C. W.||Henry, Sir Charles (Shropshire)||Pryce-Jones, Col. Sir E.|
|Bonn, Sir Arthur S. (Plymouth)||Hermon-Hodge, Sir R. T.||Randies, Sir John S.|
|Bentinck, Lord H. Cavendish-||Hewart, Rt. Hon. Sir Gordon||Rawlinson, John Frederick Peel|
|Bird, Alfred||Hibbert, Sir Henry F.||Rees, Sir J. D. (Nottingham, East)|
|Blair, Reginald||Hickman, Brig.-Gen. Thomas E.||Richardson, Alexander (Gravesend)|
|Booth, Frederick Handel||Hills, Major John Waller||Royds, Major Edmund|
|Boscawon, Sir Arthur S. T. Griffith-||Hohler, Gerald Fitzroy||Rutherford, Col. Sir J. (Lancs., Darwen)|
|Boyton, Sir James||Hope, James Fitzalan (Sheffield)||Rutherford, Sir W. (L'pool, W. Derby).|
|Brassay, H. L. C.||Hope, Lt.-Col. Sir J. (Midlothian)||Samuels, Arthur W.|
|Bull, Rt. Hon. Sir William James||Hughes, Spencer Leigh||Shortt, Edward|
|Burn, Col. C. R.||Ingleby, Holcombe||Smith, Harold (Warrington)|
|Carnegie, Lieut.-Col. Douglas G.||Jackson, Lt.-Col. Hon. F. S. (York)||Spear, Sir John Ward|
|Carson, Rt. Hon. Sir Edward H.||Jackson, Sir John (Devonport)||Stanier, Captain Sir Beville|
|Cautley, Henry Strother||Jessel, Col. Sir Herbert M.||Starkey, John Ralph|
|Cecil, Rt. Hon. Evelyn (Aston Manor)||Jodrell, Neville Paul||Stewart, Gershom|
|Cecil, Rt. Hon. Lord Robert (Herts, Hitchin)||Jones, W. Kennedy (Hornsey)||Sykes, Col. Sir Allan John (Knutsford)|
|Clyde, J. Avon||Joynson-Hicks, William||Thomas-Stanford, Charles|
|Coates, Major Sir Edward Feetham||Kellaway, Frederick George||Tickler, T. G.|
|Coats, Sir Stuart A. (Wimbledon)||Kinloch-Cooke, Sir Clement||Turton, Edmund Russborough|
|Collins, Sir W. (Derby)||Larmor, Sir J.||Walker, Col. William Hall|
|Colvin, Col. Richard Beale||Law, Rt. Hon. A. Bonar (Bootle)||Warde, Col. C. E. (Kent, Mid.)|
|Compton-Rickett, Rt. Hon. Sir J.||Levy, Sir Maurice||Weigall, Lieut.-Col. W. E. G. A.|
|Coote, William (Tyrone, S.)||Lewis, Rt. Hon. John Herbert||Wheler, Major Granville C. H.|
|Cornwall, Sir Edwin A.||Lindsay, William Arthur||White. Col. G. D. (Lancs., Southport)|
|Cory, James H. (Cardiff)||Lloyd, George Butler (Shrewsbury)||Williamson, Rt. Hon. Sir Archibald|
|Craig, Charles Curtis (Antrim, S.)||Lonsdale, James R.||Wilson, Capt, A. Stanley (Yorks, E. R.)|
|Craik, Rt. Hon. Sir Henry||Lowe, Sir F. W. (Birm., Edgbaston)||Wilson-Fox, Henry|
|Currie, G. W.||Loyd, Archie Kirkman||Winfrey, Sir Richard|
|Currie, George W.||McCalmont, Brig-Gen. Robert C. A.||Wolmer, Viscount|
|Dalrymple, Hon. H. H.||Macnamara, Rt. Hon. Dr. T. J.||Wood, Hon. E. F. L. (Yorks, Ripon).|
|Dalziel, Davison (Brixton)||McNeill, Ronald (Kent, St. Augustine's)||Wood, Sir John (Stalybridge)|
|Denniss, E. R. B.||Marriott, John Arthur Ransome||Wood, S. Hill- (Derbyshire)|
|Dickinson, Rt. Hon. Sir W. H.||Mason, James F. (Windsor)||Worthington-Evans, Rt. Hon. Sir L.|
|Dixon, C. H.||Meux, Adml. Hon. Sir Hedworth||Wright, Henry Fitzherbert|
|Falle, Sir Bertram Godfray||Moore, Maj-Gen. Sir J. N. (Hanover Sq.)||Yate, Col. C. E.|
|Fell, Sir Arthur||Morison, Thomas B. (Inverness)|
|Flannery, Sir J. Fortescue||Mount, William Arthur||TELLERS FOR THE NOES.—Captain.|
|Fletcher, John Samuel||Neville, Reginald J. N.||Guest and Colonel Sanders.|
Motion made, and Question, "That the Bill be now read the third time," put, and agreed to.
§ Mr. PROTHERO
I beg to move, at the end, to add the words,except that the sum so payable in any year shall not exceed one hundred and ten or be less than ninety pounds in respect of a rent-charge 2178 of the original commuted value of one hundred pounds, or a proportionate amount in respect of any greater or less rent-charge.
§ This Amendment is in fulfilment of a bargain I made during the Committee 2179 stage. I believe that some arrangement of this kind is necessary, and I think tithe payers and tithe owners will recognise that the variations I suggest is a reasonable one.
§ Viscount WOLMER
There is one point I wish to raise on this Amendment. I should be very grateful if the right hon. Gentleman or the Under-Secretary could answer my point, and it is this: What inducement will there be for any tithe payer to redeem if this Amendment is carried? It seems to me that if you fix tithe now at £109, and then say it shall never rise above £110, and yet it may go down to £90, what inducement is there to the tithe payer now to redeem?
§ Mr. PROTHERO
The answer is a very short one. The price which the landowner can get for his land at the present moment is thirty years' purchase. If he sells a portion at thirty years' purchase he redeems the tithe rent-charge at the rate of 21.
§ Viscount WOLMER
It all depends whether the value of the land is thirty years' purchase, and that is rather a big subject on which the right hon. Gentleman knows a great deal more than I do. I must say, looking at it from the point of view of a layman, it is not clear, and when the right hon. Gentleman is dealing with this subject later on I hope he will make it clear that these terms do give a reasonable inducement to the tithe payer to redeem; otherwise, simply reading the words as they stand, they will give the impression that it is not worth redeeming at £109. If the tithe is not going to rise above £110 it may go down to £90.
§ Sir F. BANBURY
I understand that the effect of this Amendment will be that tithe will never rise above £110, and will never go below £90. The result of that is to throw a certain amount of cold water upon redemption. I cannot say what the price of land is going to be in a few years time, or whether it is going to command thirty years' purchase or not, but the way to look at it at the present moment is, if you redeem it now, you can do so on the basis of providing capital at 5 per cent. interest. Supposing the value of money goes down, and the rate of interest at which you employ your spare money is only 4 per cent in ten years' time, you would then have done better to redeem your tithe now, because you would have 2180 employed your spare money at 5 per cent. That would be the only advantage, but of course it would be met by the corollary that if money should go up to 6 per cent. in the future you would have got a bad bargain. I only rose, however, to ask whether I was right in thinking that the effect of the Amendment is that it cannot exceed £110 and cannot be less than £90?
§ Sir C. HOBHOUSE
Can the right hon. Gentleman tell us what is the meaning of the last half-dozen words in the Amendment, namely, "or a proportionate amount in respect of any greater or less rent-charge"? I find considerable difficulty in interpreting these words, and perhaps he will tell us what they mean.
§ Mr. PROTHERO
If the tithe rent-charge in any particular land happens to be £50, or £57, or £34, the proportionate amount will be that laid down here. If you simply said only £100, that would not cover all the sums which are smaller; but £1 in tithe is in proportion.
§ Mr. HARDY
I raised some objection to the addition which the right hon. Gentleman proposed to make in the Committee stage fixing a maximum. He said it had been represented to him that a maximum without a minimum certainly would be a very unfair thing. I am bound to say the Amendment now on the Paper seems to have nearly revolutionised the Bill. The right hon. Gentleman accepted the quinquennial average the other day for the purpose of establishing a longer stage in the change of price and so levelling the matter a very great deal. But really that is rendered nugatory by fixing this maximum and minimum, because the tithe can only vary between a very small amount altogether. This question was before the tithe owners in the Lower House of Convocation, whose report was one of the most valuable reports on the subject. They look with very great suspicion on this fixing of a maximum and a minimum, especially where there is a narrow minimum like this of £90 and £110. If tithe were to at some considerable time fall in the future to the old levels at £66, there would undoubtedly be great agitation against having to pay for it at £90, and I do not think it is very wise to fix limits, and especially narrow limits, like these. Tithe has followed the general run of prices. By taking fifty years you would do more 2181 to adjust the run of prices, and it certainly is not very wise to put in a limitation for many reasons, and very specially for the reason raised by my Noble Friend below me, that, in very many cases, it would check that repayment that we all desire. All the Amendments have, I think, gone rather in the way of checking redemption. The Bill was introduced first with the object of encouraging redemption, but I think the Amendments have gone the other way. Certainly, this one has gone very much the other way, and I would ask the right hon. Gentleman if he thinks it is worth while to press it when he has got a quintennial average in the Bill.
§ Mr. PROTHERO
I am quite prepared to leave it out at this stage, and to reconsider it with a view to bringing it forward if we think it necessary in another place.
§ Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.