VISCOUNT GOSCHEN rose to ask the Lord Privy Seal, in reference to the statement in the preface written by the Chancellor of the Exchequer to a book by Mr. P. W. Wilson on Welsh Disestablishment, viz.:—
It may be said that, even if this demand be conceded, disendowment is not a necessary corollary; that depends on what is intended by disendowment. If it refers to endowments given to the present Church as a separate spiritual organisation, and not as a national institution, and given without any legislative Act, then I admit that such a measure of disendowment would be unfair and unjust to the Anglican Church in Wales. But if it refers to charges imposed by law upon the land of Wales to be administered by the officials of a State religion, not merely for their own maintenance, but for purely secular purposes, such as the maintenance of the poor, the healing of the sick, and the education of the community, then the legislative power that imposed the charge, created the trust, chose the trustees, and declared the objects of the trust has a right either to restore its original purposes or to vary them, to change, if it will, the trustees, and even, if it so think fit, to abolish the charge altogether
to give the reference to the legislative Act which imposed as charges upon the land of Wales those endowments of which His Majesty's Government propose to deprive the Church in Wales, stating what was the nature of that legislative Act or Acts, in what year or years and by what authority it was passed. And further, with reference to the Chancellor of the Exchequer's statement that there was a direction to administer the charges so imposed for the maintenance of the poor, the healing of the sick, and the education of the community, as well as for the maintenance of the clergy, to give the reference to the legislative Act or Acts in which these directions are to be found. Also, in reference to the statement made by the Home Secretary in a speech at the Queen's Hall on the 25th of January last, that the income of the Church in Wales "sprang from ancient endowments and Parliamentary grants," to grant a Return showing which part of that income of which His Majesty's Government think it just that the Church should be deprived has been derived from Parliamentary grants, in what year or years those grants were made, what were their amounts, and under what conditions they were given. Anti further, with reference to the statement of the Home Secretary on the same occasion, that "tithes in Wales were not the offspring of piety, they were the creation of law," to give the reference to
the law which created tithes in Wales, and to state in what year and under what circumstances it was passed, and in what documents it can be studied.
§ The noble Viscount said: My Lords, in rising to put the Questions which stand in any name on the Paper I should like to impress on the noble Marquess who will reply the great importance which many of us attach to this matter. I am sure we shall all agree that in controversies of the importance of this one with regard to the future of the Church in 'Wales it is most desirable that there should be no doubt or misunderstanding as to the facts upon which the arguments of the contending parties are based. The Chancellor of the Exchequer, in a preface to a book by Mr. P. W. Wilson on Welsh Disestablishment, used words which implied that the charges upon land for the use of the Church had been imposed by the Legislature, and the Home Secretary, in a speech, spoke of tithes being created by law. I venture to ask that we may be given particulars with regard to those Acts of the Legislature which are alleged to have imposed those burdens. I submit, my Lords, that tithes have been for ages past an obligation on the part of Churchmen which it was their custom to fulfil, that they received the sanction of the Ecclesiastical Law, but that they were never in any sense part of the public revenue. It is true that the sanction of the Legislature was added to that of the Ecclesiastical Law, and it may be said that the Legislature regularised the form of the collection of tithes; but, even if this is said, that cannot be in any way translated into a statement that tithes were created by law or that charges were imposed on the land for Church purposes by the Legislature. Tithes were really the voluntary gift of Church people, and come under the first hypothesis in the statement contained in the preface written by Mr. Lloyd George. I do not desire, in asking these Questions, to take your Lordships back into ancient history with regard to the controversy which ranges round the question of the administration of tithes for the use of the poor. I simply content myself by asking that we may be given the reference to those Acts in which Mr. Lloyd George alleges that tithes were directed to be administered for the use and benefit of the poor. Of course, the poor have benefited by the tithes in the sense that the clergy who have enjoyed 787 the tithes have of their voluntary generosity and out of their means assisted the poor always to the best of their ability. But I am anxious that we may be given the Act by which the Legislature is said to direct that tithes should be administered in this manner.
§ There is only one other point to which I wish to refer to-day, and that is to the statement of the Home Secretary, who, in speaking of disendowment, said that the income of the Church in Wales "sprang from ancient endowments and Parliamentary grants." I ask that we may be given particulars of those grants. The Legislature has given grants in times past the total amount of which is not large, but those grants were given to assist in the erection of churches for the use of the Church of England, and I believe also of the Church of Scotland. It surely cannot be said that such grants in any way form part of the income of the Church in Wales. I hope that to-day we may receive further information with regard to the statements which have been made. This controversy with regard to the Church in Wales is undoubtedly at the present moment exciting the deepest interest throughout the country, and it is, I submit, in the public interest that the arguments upon which such statements are based should be set out clearly and in detail; and I venture to think that this is even more important when the statements are made, not only in speeches, in which perhaps words are sometimes rather more lightly used, but in a written preface, which must therefore be considered to contain the carefully-thought-out opinion of the writer—a preface which has been widely read throughout the country, and to which attaches the weight which is naturally given to the opinions of a Cabinet Minister. I beg to ask the Questions which stand in my name.
THE LORD PRIVY SEAL AND SECRETARY OF STATE FOR INDIA (THE MARQUESS OF CREWE)
The noble Viscount has, I think, taken a somewhat unusual course, though a course of which I do not complain, in placing this Question on the Paper in this form. I understand that he objects to certain statements made by my right hon. friend the Chancellor of the Exchequer in the preface to a book written by Mr. Wilson. If the noble Viscount objected to those statements, 788 there were two natural and ordinary courses open to him. The first was himself to write a book or a preface to a book in reply to those statements, disposing, if he could, of the statements of fact which he considers inaccurate. The other course, also a natural course, would have been to wait until the Bill in due course reaches your Lordships' House, when all these controversial questions will no doubt receive very close examination. The Question which the noble Viscount has asked does not in its various parts relate so much to questions of fact as to questions of opinion and the reading to be given to particular historical facts—facts, again, as to the very existence of which different parties are not precisely agreed. I think we may assume, therefore, that in taking the course he has the noble Viscount had in view rather the obtaining of some controversial advantage in this matter than the mere obtaining of information, because I am quite sure that he would be the last man in this House to invite His Majesty's Government to supply him or the House generally with historical or other facts which it is open to anybody to obtain for himself by reading well-known works on the subject.
In effect, the noble Viscount asks four different Questions, and the fourth relates to the same subject as the first. He asks, first, for a reference to the legislative Act which imposed as charges upon the land of Wales those endowments of which His Majesty's Government propose to deprive the Church in Wales; and in the last paragraph, referring to a statement by the Home Secretary, the noble Viscount asks for a reference to the law which created tithes in Wales and in what circumstances and in what year it was passed. The noble Viscount is quite accurate in his facts when he states that during a long period tithes in Wales, as in England, were exacted under the Ecclesiastical and not under the Civil Law. They were exacted under the Canon Law in Wales after the absorption of the Welsh dioceses by the Province of Canterbury in the early part of the twelfth century. Up to that time there is, I believe, no evidence that tithe was paid at all except as an occasional offering to parochial incumbents, or indeed to any ecclesiastical authorities in Wales. In the old ecclesiastical records of Wales there is no mention to be found at all of the payment of tithe, except on special occa- 789 sions, before the twelfth century. Then the payment of tithes was enjoined by Ecclesiastical Law. But it is important to remember that from a very early time Ecclesiastical Law was enforcible in fact by the Civic authority, and that consequently, although the law was ecclesiastical the sanction was to a great extent a Civil one. It was a fact that from the beginning of the Norman Conquest payment of tithe would be enforced, if necessary, by the Civil power. The noble Viscount is also quite right in stating that the final legal sanction for the payment of tithe did not come till very much later—did not come, in fact, until the years of the tremendous enforcement by Cromwell of the Royal supremacy as against the supremacy of Rome—the years 1530 to 1540. It was in one of those years, I think in 1535, that the payment of tithes became a civil obligation in England, and two years later it became an enforcible civil obligation in Wales. Therefore the noble Viscount is technically quite accurate in stating that before those years of the enforcement of the Royal or Civil supremacy over the Church the payment of tithe was not an obligation by Act of Parliament.
Next, the noble Viscount asks for a reference to the Legislative Act or Acts in which directions are to be found that the charges so imposed were to be administered for the maintenance of the poor, the healing of the sick, and the education of the community, as well as for the maintenance of the clergy. It is important to point out that the Chancellor of the Exchequer does not say that there was a legislative direction. The effect of his observations is that there was, by this legislation, an endowment of the persons whose practice for ages past and whose duty it had been to do the particular things which the Chancellor of the Exchequer mentioned. It is accurate, I think, to state that tithe in Wales was not actually charged—for instance, to take one case, with payments for the exercise of educational functions; but, as a matter of fact, those who received tithe, in Wales in particular—to a great extent the monastic foundations—did expend a substantial part of their revenues in education, they being at the time practically the only people who carried out any education at all. That is to say, tithes formed an appreciable part of the income from which educational duties were carried out by 790 those who received them. The case of the relief of the poor is a stronger one, for it is, I think, believed by many of those who are the best authorities on the subject that the payment of tithe was in fact distinctly charged with poor relief, because except for the quite casual donations which were made by individuals for the relief of the poor, and particularly of the sick poor, there was no provision at all other than that from ecclesiastical sources for their relief.
The third and last Question, because I have already dealt with the fourth in speaking of the first, relates to the statement made by the Home Secretary, in a speech at the Queen's Hall, that the income of the Church in Wales "sprang from ancient endowments and Parliamentary grants." There I might refer the noble Viscount to the Return of the Ecclesiastical Commissioners and of the Governors of Queen Anne's Bounty made by them to the Royal Commission on the Church of England and other religious bodies in Wales, which gives a list of the various endowments. But the Home Secretary informs me that in using the term "Parliamentary grants" he was referring to the Welsh share of the eleven grants of£100,000 each made in the early part of the last. Century—between 1809 and 1820—to the Governors of Queen Anne's Bounty under the authority of the annual Appropriation Acts. The Church in Wales, as the noble Viscount will be aware, still receives a sum which, though not a large one, is a perceptible sum—nearly£6,000, I think—from this source. The noble Viscount will find those figures in the appendix to the Report to which I have referred.
THE MARQUESS OF CREWE
Yes. I hope that, so far as the limited character of the present discussion permits, I have now answered the four Questions put to me. I think the noble Viscount, and the House also, will probably agree that it will be better to defer any attempt at a general discussion of these difficult and complicated questions, some of them historical, some almost archeological, upon which a marked difference of opinion no doubt exists. But I shall be glad if the information which have been able to give is of any service to the noble Viscount in pursuing his researches.
§ THE EARL OF SELBORNE
My Lords, I quite agree with the noble Marquess that the present is not a convenient time to discuss the merits or demerits of proposals which have not yet been laid before Parliament, or even to go at length into the historical questions which will necessarily be raised when those proposals are before your Lordships' House. I also admit that the course which my noble friend has taken in asking these Questions is perhaps a little unusual, but I submit that he was abundantly justified, because the course taken by the Chancellor of the Exchequer and by the Home Secretary was also unusual. For what did they do, and what is their position in this matter? The Chancellor of the Exchequer is not only in virtue of his office one of the most important members of the Cabinet, but it would not be, I think, inaccurate to say that in this particular matter of the relations between the State and the Church in Wales he is the protagonist in the Cabinet of the views which the Cabinet will put before the country when they bring in their Bill; and the Home Secretary is the Minister who, as I understand, is actually to be in charge of the Bill when it is introduced into the House of Commons. These two important Cabinet Ministers, one in a preface to a book and the other in a speech, laid down what I may call an historical basis for the proposals that they were later on going to make, and the service which my noble friend has done has been in drawing the attention of this House and through this House the attention of the country to the nature of that historical basis.
I would not for a moment suggest that either of these two right hon. gentlemen said or wrote anything which he did not believe to be literally accurate, but I do say, and I say it without hesitation, that they were careless in not assuring themselves of the validity of the authorities on which they based their historical statements. What were those historical statements? They were statements so strong and so distinct as to form, if valid, an adequate foundation for any Bill. The Chancellor of the Exchequer said that some of the charges resting on the land in Wales for the benefit of the Church in Wales had been imposed by a legislative Act, and he went on to say that the same authority which had imposed those charges by a legislative Act was obviously competent, 792 if it thought proper, to vary or annul those charges or direct them to a different object. No statement clearer than the Chancellor of the Exchequer's could possibly have been made. Look at the contrast, my Lords. Referring to Disendowment, he said—If it refers to endowments given to the present Church as a separate spiritual organisation, and not as a national institution, and given without any legislative Act, then I admit that such a measure of disendowment would be unfair and unjust to the Anglican Church in wales.He went very far. He said that if the historical basis of the proposals he was going to make was other than he thought it was, those proposals would be unjust and unfair. He went on to say in anti-thesis—But if it refers to charges imposed by law upon the land of Wales to be administered by the officials of a State religion, not merely for their own maintenance, but for purely secular purposes, such as the maintenance of the poor, the healing of the sick, and the education of the community, then the legislative power that imposed the charge, created the trust, chose the trustees, and declared the objects of the trust has a right either to restore its original purposes or to vary them, to change, if it will, the trustees, and even, if it so think fit, to abolish the charge altogether.You could not have a stronger antithesis or a clearer statement of an historical foundation for a policy. The Home Secretary followed suit, because he said that—Tithes in Wales were not the offspring of piety; they were the creation of law.What my noble friend did was to ask the noble Marquess who leads the House to tell us what was the legislative Act referred to by the Chancellor of the Exchequer and what was the law referred to by the Home Secretary. And what is the noble Marquess's reply? His reply is to tell us that tithes were enforced by Civil authority after the Norman Conquest. But nobody doubted that. They are so enforced now. That was not what the Chancellor of the Exchequer or the Home Secretary said. The Chancellor of the Exchequer said that they were imposed by a legislative Act, and the Home Secretary said they were created by law. My noble friend asked the Leader of the House to give us the reference to that law, and he has not done so. Why he has not done so I hope presently to show your Lordships.
Then the second point emphasised by the Chancellor of the Exchequer was that 793 tithes, whatever their origin, had been instituted not merely for the maintenance of the officials of a State religion but for purely secular purposes, and he went on to define those secular purposes as the maintenance of the poor, the healing of the sick, and the education of the community. And the Chancellor of the Exchequer said quite distinctly that a legislative authority bad defined these secular purposes as part of the purposes of tithe. My noble friend asked the Leader of the House to give him the reference to the law under which tithe was to be used for these purely secular purposes as well as for the maintenance of ministers of religion. What is the noble Marquess's reply? Instead of giving us a reference to any Act of Parliament or to any legislative Act whatever, he tells us that the tithes endowed persons who had been accustomed to use the money at their disposal for charitable works—
THE MARQUESS OF CREWE
I think I gave the reference to the two Acts of 1535 and 1537 which made the payment of tithe a legal obligation, in the first case in England and in the second case in Wales.
§ THE EARL OF SELBORNE
Tithe had been a legal obligation long before those Acts. Those Acts did not create tithe or define the purposes for which tithe was to be used—the statement made by the Chancellor of the Exchequer. I think the noble Marquess will find that what I say is quite true—namely, that those Acts neither created tithe nor defined the purposes for which tithe was to be used. Then the noble Marquess stated that it was a matter of opinion whether the payment of tithe was not distinctly charged with poor relief. That is a very important statement, and we have a right to ask for the authority on which that statement is based. The use of this brief discussion, I submit, will be this, that it will enable the supporters of these measures when the proper time comes to give us a real historical foundation for the statements which they make, because, as I will show your Lordships briefly, that historical foundation has not yet been found.
The last statement to which my noble friend behind me referred was the statement of the Home Secretary that the income of the Church in Wales sprang partly from Parliamentary grants. I ask, Would not any one reading those words 794 think that "Parliamentary grant" meant a vote in the Appropriation Act of the taxpayers' money for the use of the Church in Wales? But from what the noble Marquess the Leader of the House tells us it appears that the right hon. gentleman had in his mind Queen Anne's Bounty, the origin of which, as every member of your Lordships' House and every one outside this House knows, had nothing whatever to do with the taxpayers' money or with grants from Parliament. I wish to summarise the matter thus. Two members of the Cabinet have made definite statements giving an historical basis for the proposals they are going to make. My noble friend behind me has asked the Leader of the House for the chapter and verse of those Acts of Parliament or Parliamentary grants, and the noble Marquess is quite unable to give us any authority whatever for the statements made by his two colleagues. I do not wonder at his inability to do so. There is no such authority.
This question has been investigated by great authorities. I will only quote two of them. The first authority I will quote is Professor Freeman, the great historian, not, so far as I know, a particularly strong or convinced Churchman, who approached this question exclusively from the point of view of historical accuracy. What Professor Freeman said was this—We must put out of sight the popular notion that at some time or other the State determined to make a general national endowment of religion…The process began in the earliest times and it has gone on ever since, and nothing was done systematically at any time. This King or that Earl founded and endowed this or that church in which he felt a special interest.And again—There was no moment when the State took the Church property from one religious body and gave it to another.Lastly, Professor Freeman says—Church property is not national property except in the same sense in which all property is national property.That was Professor Freeman's view, and whether it is right or wrong I think every one will admit that on such a subject he was a perfectly unbiassed authority.
The second authority I am going to quote, and I make no apology for doing so, is the authority of my father. I admit that on such a subject as the relations of 795 Church and State the noble Marquess opposite may not consider him equally unbiassed with Professor Freeman. But he was a great lawyer; he had all the training which a legal mind brings with it; and no man was ever more careful in his investigations or less prone to exaggeration in the statements to which he committed himself. The quotation which I am now going to give was written nearly thirty years ago. My father's views have stood the test of nearly thirty years historical examination and nobody has yet refuted them, and until they are refuted I think I am entitled to quote them and to say that his judgment on history holds the field. If the noble Marquess, in the middle of his great labours, could find time to look at the works of my father on this subject, which are not long, he would at any rate approach this question when it comes to the House of Lords with a complete knowledge of the case of his opponents. What my father wrote was this—As to tithes, whatever else may be doubtful, this is quite certain, that they were never the property of or payable to the State before or after their appropriation…and that they were never so appropriated by any general public Act of the State.And again—No law was ever made in England in which it was laid down that the poor were to have any share in tithes.He went on absolutely to disprove, after having personally examined every record, charter, document, or chronicle bearing on this case—and his disproof has never been refuted—that tithes were imposed by any Act of the Legislature for purely secular purposes. Every single definite historical statement on which the Chancellor of the Exchequer and the Home Secretary base the justice of the proposals they are going to make in respect of the endowments of the Church in Wales has been disproved in advance by Professor Freeman and by my father.
In conclusion, I will adduce one illustration. After all, this question of the origin of tithes is not purely a matter of opinion or of historical investigation. Some of the original acts of donation are still in existence, and I will quote from one of them. This is the endowment by tithe of the parish church of Hay, in Brecknock- 796 shire, about the year 1120. Bernard Bishop of St. Davids went to consecrate the church on its erection, and his charter on the consecration of the church is still extant and is to be found in the archives of the Bodleian Library at Oxford. In this charter is recited the gift of tithe by William Revel, the then landowner of the parish. These are the words—Also he gave to the said church all the tithe of all his land of Hay in all things and of all his tenants of the fee of Hay.There is the act of an individual churchman from a sense of religious obligation, giving as a perpetual endowment to his parish church the tithe of all his land. There is no Act of the Legislature, there is no creation by the State, and there is not one single suggestion of any use of that tithe or any part of it for secular purposes.
THE MARQUESS OF CREWE
Perhaps I may be allowed to correct one point on which I think the noble Earl misapprehended what I said. In speaking of a Parliamentary grant I was not referring to any grant made from Queen Anne's Bounty, but to the sums of£100,000 apiece which were appropriated by Vote of the House of Commons to Queen Anne's Bounty for the purposes of the Church each year from 1809 to 1820 inclusive. Of those grants the Welsh Church, of course, received its share, and that was the sum to which my right hon. friend was alluding when he spoke of a Parliamentary grant. Then the noble Earl asked me for the references to the two Acts of Henry VIII. The first was 25 Henry VIII, Chap. 19, and the second 27 Henry VIII, Chap. 26.