§ Be it enacted by the King's most Excellent Majesty, by and with the advice and consent of the Lords Spiritual and Temporal, and Commons, in this present Parliament assembled, and by the authority of the same, as follows:
§ Lords Amendment: After the word "the" ["the authority of"] insert the words" constitution and."
§ Lords Amendment read a second time.
§ Mr. DEPUTY-SPEAKER
There is no question of the Debate not being proceeded with. The Clerk will read the Amendments.
§ Mr. SHORTT
I beg to move, "That this House doth disagree with the Lords in the said Amendment."
This Amendment was put in in order that the Bill might deal, not only with the finances of the Church, but also with the question of Disestablishment.
§ Mr. SHORTT
The title. There is an Amendment following on Disestablishment, with which the House will be asked to deal. This Amendment make a subsequent Amendment possible, and therefore I move as I do.
§ Captain ORMSBY-GORE
I very much regret the attitude taken up by the Government. The Home Secretary did not make it clear what the Amendment is which the Lords have inserted, and which has necessitated this consequential Amendment in the title. The Lords have inserted an Amendment dealing with the position of the Welsh Church in regard to Convocation, and the Home Secretary has suggested that it deals with the principle of Disestablishment. It does nothing of the kind. The Welsh Church has accepted the Bill, and accepts Disestablishment completely and unreservedly. The Lords Amendment relating to Convocation is only in order to enable the constitutional ecclesiastical procedure in Convocation to take place. That is to say, to enable the new Welsh Province to be set up by Convocation itself, with the assent of the Archbishop of Canterbury, instead of being imposed by the State, as was done in the original Act. It is merely a question of form as to whether, in carrying out Disestablishment, which we accept, you will allow the ecclesiastical constitution of this country, namely, Convocation, to proceed in the normal ecclesiastical manner, and set up the new province under writ of business from the Crown, issued direct to Convocation. That is the whole Amendment which the Lords have put in. It is only fair to 1869 the historical continuity of the Church in Wales, and the proper manner of carrying out Disestablishment, that you should put in this consequential Amendment in order that the Lords Amendment, which is merely one of wording and machinery, may be inserted later.
§ Lord H. CECIL
It is very inconvenient to discuss what is considered on the one hand to be an Amendment of substance, while on the other hand it is held to be one of a consequential character. We have not had an opportunity of seeing this Amendment, and the Home Secretary has not explained the point at issue. Nevertheless ho has asked us to disagree with it. His explanation does not enable us to judge whether the Amendment is reasonable or unreasonable, but the House must form its own judgment. I suggest that the regular course is to postpone the consideration of this Amendment until the conclusion of the others, and that has often been done. I therefore move, "That the consideration of this Amendment be postponed until the other Amendments have been considered."
§ Lord H. CECIL
It has not decided to proceed with this Amendment in this way. The course I suggest is one which has often been taken.
§ Mr. DEPUTY-SPEAKER
That Amendment should have been moved before I put the Motion that the House doth disagree.
§ Mr. HOGGE
I should like to understand what we are discussing. I have a, copy of the Bill here, and had I known that so many distinguished members of the Government were coming here I should have got a copy of the Bill earlier, and I should have taken the opportunity of consulting with my hon. Friends as to what these Amendments mean. So far I have not made a speech at all on this question, because, after all, it is a matter which does not concern me. If I am asked, at seven minutes to five on a Friday afternoon, to agree to certain Lords Amendments, I want to understand what I am doing.
§ Mr. HOGGE
Yes, I know, but I have disagreed so frequently that I should like to make an exception, if possible, this 1870 afternoon. As fax as 1 read it for the first time, this is a Bill to "continue in office the Welsh Commissioners, appointed under the Welsh Church Act, 1914, to postpone the date of Disestablishment, and to make further provision with respect to the temporalities of and marriages in the Church in Wales." I understand that the Amendment is to add the words "constitution and." I should like to know if 1 am quite right on this point. If that is so, it means that the Bill should read, "to make further provision with respect to the constitution and temporalities of and marriages in the Church in Wales." I would like to know if marriages in Wales have any special constitution. What really is the issue? I know nothing at all about it, and that is why I am making a speech. If I knew anything about it, I should not ask for information. One of the things most necessary, if you are going to make up your mind, is that you ought to be informed. I observe two right hon. Gentlemen present who do know, and one is the Noble Lord the Member for Hitchin (Lord R. Cecil), and I hope he will enlighten us as to what the addition of the words "constitution and" means. With regard to marriages in Wales, the Prime Minister is also a Welshman, and he is also married, and he might give us the other side, so that those of us who do not understand this question might appreciate the value of this Amendment. I shall be glad to give my verdict, if either of those two right hon. Gentlemen care to have it, after they have enlightened me from both sides as to the value of the Amendment. I could not understand my hon. and gallant Friend's (Captain Ormsby-Gore) enthusiasm for what he called a consequential Amendment. I thought that it was the first Amendment.
§ Captain ORMSBY-GORE
This is a consequential Amendment to the title of the Bill, and the result of an Amendment put in a Clause later on by the House of Lords dealing with commutation.
§ Mr. HOGGE
Then it seems to me that this is the cart before the horse, and that the Amendment which you refused to take from the Noble Lord (Lord H. Cecil) was an Amendment in which there was extraordinary common sense. The hon. and gallant Member, who knows all about the Bill, assures me that this is a consequential Amendment to an. Amendment to a Clause which comes later. Then surely 1871 we ought to have the Amendments taken in order. I have left very little time for the hon. Gentleman the Member for Hitchin (Lord E. Cecil) to explain the Amendment, and for the Prime Minister to reply to him, but if they can do it in the time I shall be grateful.
§ Lord R. CECIL
I am not sure that the Government would wish to discuss the matter now, because we have had no explanation why they are against this Amendment. Honestly, I do not think that this is the right way to do business; I do not wish to be critical. This is an important matter, but it has been treated very lightly by the Home Secretary; possibly he does not appreciate its importance. The question of commutation is not a question about which I myself feel very strongly, but it is a question about which certain members of my Church and of the Welsh Church, and, I believe, a very large body of Nonconformist opinion, feel very strongly. The broad issue, apart from details, is this: Is it right for the State to interfere in the internal government of a Church, whether it be the Church of England, or a Nonconformist Church, or the Roman Catholic Church, or any other Church? Is it right that they should interfere in the internal government of the Church before the views and wishes of the Church had been expressed? That is the whole issue, and really I cannot think that the Home Secretary has had any time or opportunity of considering the matter or 1872 of taking counsel with those who, I understand, represent the Welsh Nonconformists. One of the reasons why I consider that it is a pity that the Government have hurried on this Bill is that there has not been any opportunity of consultation. There was, Heaven knows, enough consultation in the earlier stages, and this is just a case of consultation. We could not raise this matter here. You cannot amend the Title of a Bill, or, at any rate, it is extremely difficult, but the procedure in the House of Lords is more lax, and it enabled them to raise the question. It has always been a bitter question, and we Churchmen in our ignorance have always attributed it to the fact that Mr. McKenna, who was in charge of the Welsh Church Act, did not understand the point at all. I, therefore, insisted on this Clause being inserted.
§ It being Five of the clock, the Debate stood adjourned.
§ Debate to be resumed upon Monday next.
§ Lords Amendments to be printed. [Bill 195.]
§ The remaining Orders were read, and postponed.
§ Whereupon Mr. DEPUTY-SPEAKER adjourned the House, without Question put, pursuant to Standing Order No. 3.
§ Adjourned at One minute after Five o'clock.