§ Amendments reported (according to Order).
§ *LORD EVERSLEY moved to amend Clause 4, subsection (1), by omitting from paragraph (a) the words "religious profession," which were inserted in Committee on the motion of Lord Newton. The noble Lord said: My Lords, the object of my Amendment is to reverse the decision given by your Lordships' House a few days ago including in the provisions of this Bill the taking of a religious census. The House will recollect that in the course of the debate which took place on that occasion the noble Marquess who leads the Opposition spoke strongly in favour of Lord Newton's Amendment for the purpose of including a religious census, but at the close of his speech the noble Marquess somewhat obscurely hinted that if the Government should be firm on the question and should be unable to assent to the Amendment in another place he would advise the noble Lord to be content with the discussion which lie had raised and not divide the House. Later the noble Marquess, at the conclusion of the debate, put a pointed question to the Government, and the noble Earl who leads the House replied that it must be assumed that the Government would oppose the Amendment when it got to the other House.287
§ When the Division was called I observed that a kind of stampede took place on the Benches opposite. The leaders of the Party opposite who sit on the Front Opposition Bench left the House and took no part in the Division, and a great many of the Peers sitting behind them followed their example. Sufficient remained on the Back Benches, however, to enable Lord Newton to defeat the Government by a majority of seven, and to carry his Amendment.
§ I have consulted the Journals of the House, and I find that there were fifty-nine Peers who generally sit on the opposite side of the House who were present on that occasion but did not vote. It is, of course, possible that seine of them may have been called away on business and were unable to remain in the House, but it is quite certain that the great bulk of them abstained purposely from voting, and either left the House when the Division was called, or did not come in from the Library or the Lobbies in order to take part in the Division. It is certain, therefore, that a large majority of noble Lords sitting on the opposite side of the House were unwilling that the Division should take place, and the thirty-eight Members who supported the noble Lord's Amendment formed a minority of the Opposition Peers who were in the House on that occasion. Lord Newton will pardon me for saying that I think he was about the last person in the House who one would expect would lead a revolt of noble Lords sitting on the Back Benches against the advice of his leaders for the purpose of defeating the Government. The noble Lord has been a party to a Report on the constitution of this House, in which he admitted that the Government were entitled to a substantial support from the House; and I think if he will look at the names of those Peers who supported him in carrying his Amendment in Committee he will find that, with the exception of four or five, none of them would in all probability have seats in this House if the noble Lord's scheme were carried into effect.
§ I must remind the House that what took place in the other House on this question was not dissimilar from that which occurred here, with the exception that the Government were not defeated. A similar Amendment was moved in the House of Commons, a long debate took place, and eventually 288 a Division was called, but there, just as here, the leaders of the Opposition left the House and took no part in the Division, and the minority who supported the Amendment was exactly the same as the number here—namely, thirty-eight. Therefore it turns out that only thirty-eight members of the House of Commons out of a total membership of 670 voted for the Amendment, and only thirty-eight Peers out of a membership of 550 or 600 voted for the Amendment here. It is clear, therefore, that this Amendment would go to the other House with very small authority, and I take it to be beyond all question that it would not be accepted in the other House. I would venture, therefore, to suggest to the noble Lord and those who supported him whether it is really worth while that an Amendment of this kind, which has received such a small modicum of support, should be sent down to the House of Commons with a certainty that it will not be accepted.
§ On the merits of the case I will not detain the House at any length. I think the subject was very fairly and fully debated. But I should like to say, as a matter of personal justification for my action in raising the question again, that a good many years ago when I acted as President of the Statistical Society I gave a great deal of attention to the subject of a religious census, and I came to the conclusion, after long consideration, that it would be entirely misleading and of really no statistical value. It is absolutely certain that there are a very large number of people in this country, especially in the larger towns, who are not in the habit of attending any place of worship, and who cannot be said, therefore, to belong to any religious persuasion; but when asked the question whether they belong to any religious persuasion or not they would hesitate to say No, and would probably range themselves under the ample mantle of the Church of England. And by declaring themselves to be members of the Church of England they would not be asserting that which was untrue, because, in point of law, they are all members of the Church of England whether they wish it or not.
§ As an illustration I will quote the statistics which have been given in the Report of the Prisons Commissioners. In the case of the prisons there is already a religious census, 289 and the Report of the Prison Commissioners shows that out of the total number of 25,000 criminals, not in the convict prisons but in the ordinary prisons of Great Britain, on a particular day of the year mentioned, 16,000 declared themselves to be members of the Church of England, 5,000 declared themselves to be members of the Roman Catholic Church, about 1,500 to be members of the Presbyterian Church, 500 said they were Methodists, and there were about 120 belonging to other sects. Nobody for a moment believes that these statistics are of any value whatever. It is quite certain that a very large number of those criminals who described themselves as members of the Church of England for various reasons are persons with no religious persuasion of any kind, and who have only pronounced themselves to be members of the Church of England for some reason that one cannot exactly estimate. What has taken place in the case of criminals would probably take place in respect of a. very large number of people if this religious census is carried out. For my part I feel confident that the result will be misleading and of no value whatever, and will give a very misleading appreciation of the difference in numbers of the people belonging to the Church of. England and to other persuasions in this country.
§ For my part, therefore, I fully sympathise with the Nonconformists who have always strongly objected to this proposal for a religious census, and whose remonstrances hitherto have been listened to by both Parties in the State. The Conservative Governments in 1890 and 1900, in deference to the objections raised by Nonconformists, refrained from including a religious census in their Census Bills, and I feel very little doubt whatever that if the Party opposite were again in power and a census was to be taken, say in the year 1920, they would come to the same conclusion. At all events it is quite clear that the leaders of the Party opposite, in both Houses of Parliament, have been unwilling to commit themselves, by voting in favour of this Amendment, to any such policy in the future, and have kept themselves free to give any decision they may think fit; and I feel confident they will follow the example of all Governments for the last forty or fifty years and refrain from including a religious census in the ordinary census. I venture, therefore, to hope that 290 the noble Lord will take the advice on this occasion of the leaders on the Front Bench opposite, and that he will be satisfied with the discussion which has been raised and allow this Amendment to drop, and not put the other House to the inconvenience of having a further discussion on this matter. It is absolutely certain that if there is another discussion in the House of Commons the decision will be against this proposal by probably the same majority as before. In these circumstances I venture to move the Amendment standing in my name.
Clause 4, page 2, lines 3 and 4, leave out (" religious profession ").—(Lord Eversley.)
§ LORD NEWTON
My Lords, with regard to the question of being satisfied as to the result of the discussion which took place upon this particular matter when the Bill was in Committee, I can assure the noble Lord opposite that I am amply satisfied, not only with the discussion but with the result. As far as the discussion went, the arguments being entirely upon one side it is not very probable that I should feel any dissatisfaction with regard to the course of the debate. But I cannot refrain front expressing my unbounded surprise at the action of the noble Lord, and I sincerely hope that the Amendment which he has put on the Paper will not be assented to by the House. The course which the noble Lord has taken is one which, perhaps, can be justified by precedent; but at the same time I submit that it is a course of an extremely unusual and unsatisfactory nature. If this practice were habitually adopted, it is quite evident that any noble Lord might lie low, so to speak, during the preliminary stages of a Bill, he might form an ambush, and one day he might come down with his friends and supporters on one of the subsequent stages of the Bill, when it was supposed to be in a perfectly safe condition, and either destroy it or mutilate it.
I want to know, if this is a matter of such great importance, why it is that the Government are not able to protect themselves. If it is desirable that this provision should be excluded from the Bill, why is it that the Government not only have not done the work themselves, but, so far 291 as I understand, have not even issued a Whip in support of the noble Lord? For a good many years, both in this and in the other House, I have sat opposite to the noble Lord who brought forward this Amendment, and I confess it never till this moment occurred to me to look upon him as otherwise than a serious politician. I now recognise him as a hardened practical joker. The noble Lord, in a spirit of irrepressible frivolity, comes down to the House and deliberately asks us to revise a decision at which we arrived the other day after two hours of about as serious and solid discussion as I have ever heard, conducted largely by right rev. Prelates, upon a question on which they have a right to be heard above any persons in the United Kingdom.
Now the noble Lord comes down, and, in this airy and frivolous spirit, says that surely the Division of the other night ought not to count as a serious Division. The noble Lord says he has looked into the Division List and found that a number of noble Lords for whose opinion he has profound respect, including noble Lords on the Front Opposition Bench, did not vote for the Amendment. I am quite aware of that fact The Front Opposition Bench did not vote for a very excellent reason, because they have a proper sense of proportion, and because they do not wish to attach exaggerated importance to a question of this character. For the noble Lord to look into the Division List to search out the names of the people who voted and class them as, so to speak, political sheep and goats whose opinion is not to count at all, is a most unheard-of way of looking at a Division. I imagine that if there is a Division again the persons who abstained upon the last occasion will abstain again, and I do not blame them in the least for it.
What I wish to call the attention of the House to is this, that the noble Earl the Leader of the House, in the course of his speech the other day, said that he did not regard this question as a Party question. The noble Earl having made that announcement, I felt that I was perfectly safe in asking the House to give its opinion on the subject. And let me say that I rather resent the charge made against me by the noble Lord that I am an undisciplined mutineer who leads astray persons 292 on the Back Benches and elsewhere. I wish I could. I wish I had the power. But I am of sufficiently modest a disposition to know that what I say probably carries remarkably little weight in this House or elsewhere. What pressure can I put on noble Lords to vote for me? Noble Lords sitting on this side of the House are just as capable of forming an intelligent opinion on this matter as Members of the House of Commons or as the noble Lord who has moved this Amendment. I did not ask them to go into the Lobby with me: they went of their own accord. And the noble Lord now comes down and says that because he does not approve of these names the Division is not to count and must be reversed.
I wish to return to this point. The noble Earl told the House deliberately that this was not a Party question. Now are the Government going to take up the attitude that the moment this House ventures to express an opinion upon a question it immediately becomes a Party question? I believe most things of the Government, but I decline to believe that of them. I apologise for having caused all this trouble, but I do wish to point out that if we are going to do what the noble Lord wants we shall absolutely stultify ourselves. The noble Lord has not adduced any sort of argument in favour of reversing our decision. All lie says is that it is likely that upon this point we may find ourselves in disagreement with the House of Commons. It is possible that we may, and if we do find ourselves in disagreement with the House of Commons, then will be the time. to decide what we shall do. Meanwhile, why on earth should we be afraid of expressing our opinion, more especially when we have been told that this is not a Party question?
For my part, I regret having put the House to this trouble, but at the same time I am not the least ashamed of my action in this matter. I am no more ashamed of what I have done than I should be of describing what my religious profession is upon the census sheet if I had the chance to do so. I repeat that if any persons have a right to be heard upon this question it is the occupants of the Episcopal Benches opposite. I do attach some value to consistency, and I cannot imagine anything much more undignified or more inconsistent than that this House 293 should deliberately within the space of one week reverse a decision which it had previously arrived at. For that reason I regret to say that, although I am afraid my action may cause dissatisfaction, if I can find anybody to support my view I shall divide against the Amendment.
§ THE MARQUESS OF LANSDOWNE
My Lords, the noble Lord who moved this Amendment referred so pointedly to the part which I took in the proceedings the other evening that I am constrained to say a very few words with regard to them. I shall not follow his example and again discuss the merits of the Amendment. They were fully entered into the other evening, and I remain of the opinion which I then expressed. I share the view of the noble Lord behind me with regard to the merits of the Amendment. Nor shall I follow the example—not, I think, a very good example—set us by the noble Lord at the Table (Lord Eversley) in pursuing his investigations into the composition of the Division List the other evening. Whatever may be in store for this House hereafter, at present we are all members of this House sitting in it on a footing of absolute equality, and I do not think the noble Lord or anybody else has a right to balance the intrinsic value of one Peer's vote against that of another.
What happened the other evening was, I think, this. The noble Earl who leads the House, in reply to an interrogation from me, told us very distinctly that His Majesty's Government were not likely to accept the Amendment of my noble friend behind me. That being so, and it being also evident that this House was not likely to throw out the Census Bill altogether, it did appear to me that we were rather courting a rebuff by adding these words to the Bill, and I therefore said that for my part, and I believe some of my noble friends near me agreed with me, I should not vote for my noble friend whatever I might think with regard to the merits. But I can quite understand that my noble friend and other noble Lords should have thought differently, and that they should have desired by their votes to enter upon the proceedings of this House a protest against the attitude of His Majesty's Government. And having made that protest, I cannot see upon what ground they should be asked 294 this evening to retreat from the position which they then took up. I must say frankly that if I had been one of those who had made that protest, nothing would have induced me to withdraw from it now.
This House has, after all, a right to express independent opinions of its own, and we all of us understand. I think, that there should be occasions when the body of the Peers may desire to take a line not perhaps entirely in accordance with that suggested to them from the Front Bench. The occasion of the Committee stage of this Bill, which was described by the noble Earl opposite as anything but a Party measure, was certainly one of those occasions when there was room for great latitude of opinion. I was not surprised that a variety of opinion should have been manifested. and I see no reason why those who then took a line different from that which was taken by the Front Opposition Bench should not adhere to the course which they then adopted.
§ LORD JAMES OF HEREFORD
My Lords, I have sincerely to apologise to your Lordships for intervening in this discussion, especially after the speech a the noble Marquess who has just sat down. This is a question which has engaged the attention of the House of Commons during many decades, and has always been determined in one manner. The taking of a religious census has been proposed in connection with many Census Bills, but has always been rejected. I hope I may say a word or two upon the merits of this question. The narrow majority of seven surely justifies a reconsideration of the decision of your Lordships' House last week. Often upon Report a decision arrived at in Committee has been reconsidered.
I will not enter into the composition of the majority or the minority, but I do ask the House, even those who voted with my noble friend Lord Newton, to consider what can be the result of the step that has been taken. My memory goes back vividly to the debate in the House of Commons in 1880, when a similar Amendment was proposed. The debate which then took place was one full of eloquence. I recollect the opposition to that clause by 295 the Government representative, and I recollect a quotation from Voltaire when it was argued that you cannot find the religion of the people of this country. Voltaire said that England was a terrible country; it had 100 different religions and only one eatable sauce. I remember a magnificent speech delivered by Mr. John Bright on behalf of religious independence. He denounced the idea that any citizen had the right to ask a fellow citizen what his religious views were, and from that time to this the question has never been maintained with any force.
§ LORD JAMES OF HEREFORD
I will tell the noble Lord why it is done in Ireland. The arrangement exists there by agreement between the two parties. The Roman Catholics, being in an enormous majority throughout the country, wish this census because they desire to show how strong they are. The Protestants of Ireland, localised, wish to show how strong they are in their localities. The only people who could fight the Roman Catholic interest were the Ulster Protestants, and they said, "Give us this census so that we can show how strong Protestanism is in Ulster," and so it was done in Ireland by virtual agreement. I have stated that in 1880 this proposal was discouraged in the House of Commons. In 1890 a Conservative Government introduced a Census Bill, of which Mr. Ritchie had charge. An Amendment was moved to set up a religious census, but the Conservative Government of the day deprecated it on the ground that the country would not tolerate such a census, and the Amendment was withdrawn at the request of the Minister in charge of the Bill in the House of Commons. In 1900, again, a Conservative Government was in office. Mr. Chaplin had charge of the Bill on that occasion. This Amendment was moved by Lord Hugh Cecil, and Mr. Chaplin replied that it was useless, and that the matter had been determined and could not be reopened. Lord Hugh Cecil said he felt that that was so, and he yielded to the appeal of the Conservative leaders and withdrew his Amendment.
In these circumstances I ask Lord Newton, does lie think there can be 296 any other result now after these constant decisions of the House of Commons and without any new argument whatever being brought forward in favour of this census. To be consistent the Conservative leaders in the House of Commons as well as the Government will have to oppose this Amendment. And what will be said then? It will be said that at a moment when there are delicate matters for consideration between the two Houses we are asserting this view by a narrow majority against the expressed will, over and over again asserted, of the House of Commons. I ventured to ask your Lordships some months ago to consider the action you were about to take. I did not expect that my words would be listened to then, and I do not expect they will be listened to to-night; but I think it is a calamity that, without any hope of success, you should in this way assert yourselves with nothing but futility. There are two great reasons against this religious census. In the first place, you cannot gain the information you wish to gain; and, in the next place, you ought not to gain it if you could.
§ LORD JAMES OF HEREFORD
I repeat that no man has a right to ask another to make public what his religious views are.
§ LORD JAMES OF HEREFORD
You may tell me that it is the State that does it, but the State has no more right to inquire into a man's private views on religion than an individual.
§ LORD JAMES OF HEREFORD
I have explained why it was done in Ireland. It will be said that there is a proviso under which no man is compelled to answer this question. I know you do not compel a man to answer, but you compel a man to say that he will not answer, and that is an inquisitorial proceeding. I therefore hope 297 your Lordships will accept Lord Eversley's Amendment.
THE EARL OF CAMPERDOWN
My Lords, I hope the noble and learned Lord who has just spoken will not think me disrespectful if I do not follow him into the greater part of his speech. It was a speech which would have been perfectly in order on the Second Reading; but with regard to the Amendment now before the House, I think it was entirely apart from the question. The only part of the noble and learned Lord's remarks which appeared to me to relate to the question was this—that he said it was undesirable that we in this House should express an opinion, and should give an effective expression of our opinion, if that opinion is different from the opinion of the majority of the House of Commons. Are we never, then, if we have a strong opinion, to give expression to it? Pray what is the use of this House? I am one of those who supported Lord Newton, and I quite fall in with what Lord Lansdowne said. Nothing in the world will induce me to say that the ease which I heard the other night was a good case against this Amendment.
What decided me in voting with Lord Newton was the speech of the noble Earl the Lord President of the Council. No one has a greater respect than I have for his ability and the admirable way in which the noble Earl puts his cases; but when I listened to his ease and heard his arguments against a religious census I said to myself, "Well, if there is nothing better than this, clearly it is a case in which the merits are all on the other side." I do not wish to repeat what passed the other day. But what did the noble Earl say? He said this religious census would serve no useful purpose. The purpose, of course, is quite plain. The purpose for which this is desirable is with reference to the question of the disestablishment of the Church in Wales, which we have been told over and over again is going to be taken up in the immediate future. Then the noble Earl said that in Ireland the return was taken by enumerators, and he added that he did not expect that my noble friend behind me would think that there was much in that. My noble friend quite agreed with him. Then the noble Earl said that in Ireland there were 300 objectors in 1891, and that in the year 1901 there were 700 objectors.
298 I do not think that really was a serious argument.
Then the noble Earl said that if we wanted to know the real religious opinions of the people of Wales we ought to go to the Welsh Members. I have a great respect for the Welsh Members, but I do not think that either their very best friend or their greatest enemy would impute to them the charge of being impartial. And with regard to their representing the opinion of all Wales, I see Lord Courtney in his place, and I am sure that that ardent apostle of proportional representation will at once rise and say that there probably is not a minority so badly represented or so unduly misrepresented as is the case in Wales under the present system. I really heard no argument from the Government at all, and therefore I voted with my noble friend Lord Newton. Why am I to change my opinion? Am I to say I think a good case was made out when I think there was no case at all made out? And why are we always to be talking and always to be thinking of what is going to happen in the House of Commons? The House of Commons is perfectly well able to take care of itself. I am sure we have seen plenty of proof of that. Suppose we adhere to this Amendment of my noble friend. It goes to the House of Commons. The House of. Commons will pronounce its opinion with regard to the Amendment. Very likely—most likely, perhaps—it will disagree with this House. Then will be the time for your Lordships to consider whether you are going to adhere to the Amendment with the possible result of losing the Bill, or whether you will give it up. But if your Lordships then give it up, you will, at all events, have shown this, that there is no case whatsoever against the Amendment. All Lord Newton's Amendment does is to say that a man, if he wishes, may record what his religious profession is, and, if he does not choose to record it, he need not. It is said that under no circumstances can this be agreed to, and that no useful purpose will be served, when at the same time in the other House the Welsh Members are pressing upon the Government to disestablish the Church in Wales. For that reason it is very desirable that anything we can obtain in the direction of impartial and accurate information on this subject should be obtained. I submit that there is an over- 299 whelming case for the Amendment we inserted in Committee.
§ THE LORD PRESIDENT OF THE COUNCIL (EARL BEAUCHAMP)
My Lords, it would scarcely be respectful to your Lordships' House if His Majesty's Government allowed this interesting discussion to go by without expressing some opinion on the question which your Lordships are now discussing. It has been stated by the noble Lord who originally was responsible for the Amendment inserting the words "religious profession"—and we on this side of the House entirely agree with him—that this is not, strictly speaking, a Party question. This is a matter of administration; and I would point out to the noble Marquess who leads the Opposition what an admirable example this is of the constant difficulty which His Majesty's Government meet with in trying to carry on the administration of the country, being a Liberal minority in a Conservative House of Lords. Here are His Majesty's Government introducing a Bill, exactly the same, so far as regards this point, as the Bill for which the noble Marquess was responsible in 1890 and 1900; and although it is the same, without any fresh facts or any fresh circumstances having taken place in the interval, when His Majesty's Government now bring in an exactly identical Bill, the noble Marquess's followers refuse to give approval to it. Surely it is all the stronger because it is not a Party question but a matter of administration; and I do not know that we can find a better example of the difficulties which His Majesty's Government have in carrying on the administration of this country.
I venture to think that this opposition is really entirely factious, and the noble Lord, I think, hardly expects that he will be able to secure that religious census which is really the subject of our discussion. I am afraid I am hardly able to follow the noble Marquess who leads the Opposition in his theory that on such an occasion as this the body of the House has an opinion which deserves to be supported without criticism, and for this reason. The body of the House took no part, or very little part, in the discussion, and took a very small part in the Division on this Amendment. Only seventy members of your Lordships' House out of a total membership of 600 voted upon the question, and I do not think, when you consider that out of that number only thirty-eight voted in favour of the Amend- 300 ment, that that can be described as being the body of your Lordships' House.
May I say, in passing, that if this House adheres to the Amendment which was carried in Committee there are one or two drafting Amendments which I should like to put down for the consideration of your Lordships on Third Reading. They are purely drafting, and are not in any way meant to minimise the effect of the noble Lord's Amendment; but as the Amendment has been carried by this House it is thought, and I think rightly thought, that it should go to another place in a proper shape which should not be disapproved of by the draftsman. The noble Lord asked us why no Whip was issued on this occasion. I think the answer to that is that the Amendment of Lord Eversley only appeared on the Paper this morning, and therefore it was not possible. May I say one or two words in answer to the noble Earl who has just sat down, whose flattering remarks I should like to thank him for. But I cannot expect to succeed where the late Lord Salisbury failed. The noble Earl himself tried to persuade Lord Salisbury to include a religious census on a previous occasion—
THE EARL OF CAMPERDOWN
I think if the noble Earl will refer back he will see that what Lord Salisbury objected to was not my proposal but the time at which it was made. The Bill was not before the House. What I suggested to the House was that when the Bill came up a column should be inserted containing this religious matter. The late Lord Salisbury stated that that, in his opinion, was not according to order, and Lord Granville said the same, and the Motion was then withdrawn. That is what happened.
§ EARL BEAUCHAMP
Yes, I agree. But why did not the noble Earl proceed with the matter on a more suitable occasion when the Bill did come before your Lordships' House? I can only imagine that the noble Marquess, who threw cold water on the noble Earl's proposal, was so effective in the ridicule which he poured upon it as to deter the noble Earl from bringing it forward on a subsequent occasion. May I say that this Amendment is not likely to give us any really useful statistics with regard to disestablishment. In Wales the mere fact that a man is a member of the Church of England will not necessarily make him for or against 301 any particular Bill. Because a man is a member of the Roman Catholic Church he will not necessarily be for or against the disestablishment of the Church of England, and you cannot be sure when you have got the religion of the people that you can tell what their attitude will be with regard to a measure which is wholly political in its character. The disestablishment of the Church is really a political matter, and the religious opinions of the people do not necessarily have any relation to the political standing of the Church. That is why I think we are justified in taking the opinion of the Members of the House of Commons, who are returned as the representatives of the people, as being more likely to afford a real guide as to the wishes of the people of Wales than would their religious opinions.
But I cannot sit down without expressing regret at the attitude which was taken up by right rev. Prelates. It seems to me a matter of deep regret that right rev. Prelates should have used their privileged position in this House to try and force upon the people of this country an inquiry into their religious convictions which is very much objected to by a large section of Nonconformists up and down the country; and I cannot help hoping that before the matter is finally decided, when I suppose it will come back again from another place, right rev. Prelates will see their way to withdraw their opposition to the Bill as it was originally introduced by His Majesty's Government. This matter, of course, is one for your Lordships' House, and His Majesty's Government do not propose to take any active steps upon the present occasion. Their Bill as it was approved of by previous Governments has been before your Lordships' House, and they leave it to your Lordships to act as you think best after they have placed their views in the Committee stage before you. Whether your Lordships prefer to experience at the hands of the other House a rebuff, which seems to be anticipated, I think, by every single speaker who has taken part in this debate, or whether you will yourselves delete this Amendment is a matter to which His Majesty's Government are comparatively indifferent, and which they leave entirely in the hands of the House.
THE LORD BISHOP OF ST. DAVID'S
My Lords, the challenge which the noble 302 Earl the Lord President threw out to the occupants of these Benches compels me to make one or two observations. It is, I think, always accepted that duty is the correlative of privilege, and if we hold a privileged position in this House I conceive we should try to the best of our ability to do our duty. I do not quite follow the noble Earl's criticism, for I understood that the noble Lord who carried this Amendment last week carefully provided that any one who did not wish to return his 'religious profession need not do so. It is based absolutely on the voluntary principle, which I am quite sure the noble Earl in many applications approves of. Then I was very much astonished at the noble Earl's argument. He said that the Government thought that the opinion of the Welsh Members of Parliament was a great argument for their great project. If they had remained content with that argument, we should have had nothing to do but to meet them on that ground. But they did not do so. The Prime Minister, in introducing the Welsh Disestablishment Bill, certainly did quote the opinions of the Welsh Members of Parliament, but he also quoted statistics. Our contention is that the argument of statistics is a feeble and irrelevant argument for breaking up the historic unity of the Church of England; but if you use the argument of statistics, then you ought to take every possible pains to have that argument fair and sound. I do not intend to trespass upon the time of your Lordships by entering into the merits of the question, but may I quote a precedent? Last week was not the first time your Lordships carried this Amendment. It was carried in 1870 by a majority of four, and no one on that occasion took the course which the noble Lord at the Table has taken to-night of asking the House to change its opinion within a week. What happened then was that the Amendment carried in this House was not accepted in another place; reasons were given for not accepting it, and this House did not insist upon the Amendment. After what the noble Earl said I felt bound to say a few words by way of meeting his challenge. I hope your Lordships will support Lord Newton's proposal to-night as you did last week.
§ On Question, whether the words proposed to be left out shall stand part of the Bill?
§ Their Lordships divided: Contents, 32; Not-contents, 29.303
|Canterbury, L. Abp.||Westmeath, E.||Brodrick, L.(V. Midleton.)|
|Ailesbury, M.||Cross, V.||Colchester, L.|
|Linlithgow, M.||Goschen, V.||Inverclyde, L.|
|Ridley, V.||Newton, L. [Teller.]|
|Bathurst, E.||Tredegar, V.||Ranfurly, L. (E. Ranfurly.)|
|Camperdown, E.||Ravensworth, L.|
|Cromer, E.||Manchester, L. Bp.||Sempill, L.|
|Dartmouth, E,||St. Asaph, L. Bp.||Sinclair, L.|
|Halsbury, E.||St. David's, L. Bp.||Stuart of Castle Stuart, L. (E. Moray.)|
|Morton, E.||Addington, L.||Sudeley, L.|
|Stanhope, E. [Teller.]||Barrymore, L.|
|Loreburn, L. (L. Chancellor.)||Airedale, L.||James, L.|
|Beauchamp, E. (L. President.)||Armitstead, L.||Lochee, L.|
|Crewe, E. (L. Privy Seal.)||Balfour, L.||Monk Bretton, L.|
|Clinton, L.||Pentlaud, L.|
|Carrington, E.||Courtney of Penwith, L.||Ritchie of Dundee, L.|
|Craven,E.||Denman, L.||Sandhurst, L.|
|Liverpool, E.||Eversley, L. [Teller.]||Saye and Sele, L. [Teller.]|
|Farrer, L.||Stanley of Alderley, L. (L. Sheffield.)|
|Morley of Blackburn, V.||Glantawe, L.|
|Hamilton of Dalzell, L.||Tennyson, L.|
|Acton, L.||Hemphill, L.||Welby, L.|
§ Amendment disagreed to accordingly.
§ Bill to be read 3a To-morrow.