HL Deb 12 February 1913 vol 13 cc1109-228

Debate on the Amendment to the Motion for the Second Reading, viz., that the Bill be read a second time this day three months resumed (according to Order).


My Lords, as I unfortunately happen to differ from most of my brother Bishops with regard to the measure before the House, I think that if I were simply to give a silent vote in favour of the Bill, which I should prefer to do, it might be misunderstood, and therefore I have to crave your Lordships' indulgence for a few minutes. I do so very reluctantly. I am an old man, and very weary of ecclesiastical divisions and disputes, feeling as I do how much of bitterness they engender, how many evil tempers they set to work and how many estrangements and misunderstandings they produce. These discussions, whether outside or inside this House, are very distasteful to me. As I live in the country, I see that all around me, under various influences, these disputes have become very acrimonious and un- edifying; and although the discussion of such a bill as this in your Lordships' House is conducted in the main with great courtesy and moderation, even here there are exceptions which make discussion to me extremely distasteful.

One noble Lord on the opposite side, if he was rightly reported, said last night that the motive of this Bill was sectarian malice. I could hardly conceive a more unhappy description of this or any other Bill. Surely any noble Lord, with any experience of life, must have learnt that men do not always act from low and mean motives, but very frequently from the highest motives. Most of your Lordships, I am sure, will allow that at the back of this movement there are as many high and good motives as there are in opposition to it; and I venture to think that the noble Lord of whom I spoke just now would have served the cause he was advocating better if he had gone so far as to assume that, though he may have superior knowledge and wisdom, he has no monopoly of the higher motives, and that the motives of those opposed to him may be taken to be as worthy and as honourable as his own. For my part, I deplore language of this kind, because, amongst other things, it debases the currency of our religious and political life. Therefore for that amongst other reasons I am distressed when it is attributed to the authors of this Bill, and by implication to all who support it, as I myself do in the main—I am distressed, I say, when we are accused of robbery, and plunder, and spoliation, and what not. The accusation goes even so far sometimes as to say we are sacriligious persons and robbers of God ! I had hoped that that kind of accusation brought against faithful Church-men in a matter of this sort had been finally scotched and done away with by Bishop Thirlwell in a great speech he delivered in this House more than forty years ago.

But amidst all this vituperation and obloquy, of which I have had my share, I am bound very gratefully to acknowledge the uniform and unfailing kindness and consideration which I have received from all my brothers on the Episcopal Bench. Nothing could have exceeded their considerateness for one whom, no doubt, they look upon as deplorably mistaken. I am all the more grateful to them on that account because I know that to many of them this Bill is anathema, whereas to me it presents itself as a measure of national justice too long delayed. I am grateful to them for their consideration for me, but I feel, that being my conviction, that I do not need any pity or compassion. I rest confidently in the anticipation of the verdict of history. I believe that verdict will be undoubtedly in favour of the justice of this legislation—the justice and the beneficence of it in the largest and the national sense. I am well aware that we were reminded by the noble Viscount, Lord Morley, the other night that it is dangerous to predict the verdict of history; that the Muse of History, as he said, is a capricious jade. But I am quite content, for my part, to abide her verdict.

As regards the public discussion of this Bill since it was introduced, your Lordships can hardly have failed to observe a very remarkable change which has come over public opinion during the last twenty years. Twenty years or more ago when this subject was before the public, the main discussion centred around the question of Disestablishment, but on this occasion the question of Disestablishment has been comparatively little argued. Of course, it has taken a place in this discussion, but it has been a distinctly secondary place. The main conflict has been over the question of Disendowment. During the last generation men, both inside the Church and outside it, have come to take a very different view with regard to the question of the Establishment of any particular form of religious belief. I venture to think your Lordships will agree that it is not possible to justify the Establishment of any one denomination, unless that Establishment is in accordance with the general sentiment of the people. It is felt that it is unfair, that it is an injustice to the people at large, to put one denomination in a privileged position, unless that denomination represents at least a majority of the people. That being, I venture to think, an agreed sentiment at the present time, naturally and inevitably the question of Disestablishment has drifted somewhat into the background in this discussion, so that the battle is being fought over Disendowment. The whole question is narrowed down to this, Is Disendowment in any sense reasonable, and, if so, to what extent is it reasonable and practicable?

Statesmen, as I have been given to understand, used to hold it as an axiom that Disestablishment and Disendowment are inseparable; that if you are to Disestablish a Church, it follows as a necessary corollary that there must be some measure of Disendowment connected with that act of Disestablishment. And if, as I believe from the phenomena of this period of discussion, it is somewhat generally agreed in the Church that Disestablishment, if taken alone, might be acquiesced in, and a Bill for Disestablishment might, on conditions, have been passed by consent, I venture to ask those who go so far whether they still agree with the general opinion of practical statesmen that Disestablishment and Disendowment must, as a matter of fact, go together, being inseparable. I think the greatest and most illustrious opponent of Disestablishment in the last generation was the late Earl of Selborne. What did he say on this question in the very influential book he published on the subject? He said— Disestablishment without disendovment—that is, a renunciation by the State of such powers of control as are involved in Establishment, without a large secularisation of the endowments of the Church—is a measure which nobody now proposes, and which I therefore need not consider. It is obvious from a sentence of that kind that the noble Earl thought the two inseparable, and that if you acquiesce in Disestablishment you give away the whole case. This, then, being the case we are brought to consider the question of Disendowment. And here we may fairly, I think, recall certain words which are no doubt familiar to most of your Lordships—certain words of Mr. Gladstone, spoken in the year 1885. Mr. Gladstone was then considering Disestablishment, which was coming within the range of practical politics, and he said this about it— In any practical proposal there must be a large observance of the principles of equity and liberality. I think we all agree with the scope and justice of that statement, and that when we consider dispassionately the Bill which has come up to your Lordships' House in the form in which we have it, we shall recognise that in the main it satisfies Mr. Gladstone's conditions. If we look at the matter of equity, the measure touches no property of the Church except the ancient endowments. And what are those ancient endowments? Whatever view we may hold on the somewhat disputed matter of their origin and of their original uses, I think we must all be agreed that these ancient endowments are of the nature of a national trust. They are not property handed over to the Church to do what it will with. They were a trust for the whole community, and for a long period they were used for the whole community; and now that the circumstances have so changed that the Church is no longer in a position to fulfil that trust in its largest sense, these endowments have become, as a matter of indisputable fact, the monopoly of a small minority of the people of the Principality of Wales. Therefore I venture to think that any impartial man outside, coming to this question without partial affections or prejudices, would say that the Parliament of the nation has a right to redistribute this portion of the endowments, and that in doing so no injustice will be done to anyone.

With regard to Mr. Gladstone's second proviso that there should be a large observance of liberality, here again I venture to think that if we look at the matter calmly and away from the fevered heat of platform controversy, if we look at it in a reasonable and dispassionate spirit, we shall be bound to say that this Bill, in the main, deals with the Church in a spirit of liberality. In the first place it leaves to the Church all churches, parsonages, nod other ecclesiastical buildings, and the burial grounds—all the instrumental equipment, in fact, for carrying on the work of the Church. It is estimated that, according to the arrangements made, there will also remain to the Church in its disestablished condition no less than £207,000 per annum out of £260,000. That means, I suppose, that about 20 per cent. of the endowments, apart from all the churches and buildings, will have to be made up by the Church in its new condition. If there is to be Disendowment at all, I cannot but think that there is nothing illiberal in that proportion.

I do not consider—I must admit so much—this to be a perfect Bill in every respect. I suppose it is seldom that any one of us is able to agree with every section of a Bill, and there are certain clauses which I venture to think might be materially improved. But if your Lordships will give the measure a Second Reading and thus afford an opportunity of improving it, I do not see that the defects which occur to my mind cannot be remedied. I will take one of them as an instance. I myself would greatly have preferred that the method of dealing with the money alienated from the Church should have been the method of what we call concurrent endowment. It would have been perfectly equitable and better for the life of the people if the representative body of every religious denomination in Wales had been awarded, year by year, its equitable share of the income of the endowments transferred, to be used for its own religious purposes, for the benefit of its ministers, and for the better carrying out of its religious life. And I have no reason to suppose that His Majesty's Government would have been unwilling to frame the Bill in such a way, but, as I understand—I may be mistaken—the way to this was blocked by what I will venture to call the perversity of their Nonconformist supporters; by their perverse adherence, that is to say, to an abstract theory at the expense of their own ministers, and probably at the expense of their own spiritual work. Owing to their somewhat irrational reluctance to take their share of the endowments, the Government had no choice but to devote them to secular purposes. Not that there is necessarily any real objection to such use of these endowments, because these so-called secular purposes may serve all the higher purposes of life, as well as what we call the spiritual purposes, and be as acceptable to God as any other. For instance, a large part of these endowments will go to the higher education of poor and meritorious students of either sex. I can hardly imagine anything which will have a more beneficial effect on the life of the Welsh people in future years than the higher and better education which those poor young men and women will get as the result of this proposal. Your Lordships are well aware that no funds which at the time of the Reformation were alienated from the Church have been more beneficial to the national life than those which were dedicated to education. I venture to think that the authors of this Bill may fairly claim that they have satisfied Mr. Gladstone's two conditions— namely, that they should not forget to adhere to a large observance of the principles of equity and liberality.

But, after all, the real question before us, the real question which your Lordships are considering to-night, is not this or that question of detail about the allocation of money; it is the question whether you are prepared to listen to the demand of the people of Wales as constitutionally expressed, or whether you are resolved, on the other hand, to ignore that demand and to override it by the opinion of other parts of the United Kingdom. You have the power, you have the giant's strength, but I would venture to ask whether it is not tyrannous to use it like a giant. The only possible justification for a refusal of this constitutional demand of Wales, so persistently and so long pressed upon us, is that you hold that Wales has not established a claim to a distinct nationality. There may not be a technical claim in the sense of a separate political existence, but, if we look to all the characteristics of a nationality, I venture to think it would be hard for any one to deny to the Welsh people the claim of having the characteristics of a nation. They have the characteristics of a separate race; they are a highly endowed, an imaginative, and an emotional race, devoted to freedom and very religious. They have the characteristics of a language of their own, to which they passionately adhere, although they do not always use it. English, according to one of their own proverbs, is the bread language, but Welsh is the language of the heart. That is to say, that for all the material and necessary' purposes of ordinary life, in self defence as it were, they use our alien tongue, but in addressing those they love, and in uplifting their hearts in hymns and prayers, they adhere passionately to their own language.

But in addition to those two fundamental requirements of any claim to nationality, we have only to look for justification at their history and literature and customs and associations at the present time, and all the aspirations which give dignity and strength to the common life of the people. For my own part, I can hardly imagine what more we can demand if we are to be satisfied of the claim of the people of Wales to be treated as a distinct nationality. Moreover, we have already acquiesced in the claim in other matters. In matters of education, and so forth, you treat them every day as a separate unit in the United Kingdom; and I see no reason why they should not have the same claim to be treated as a unit, as is allowed, I think, to Scotland and to Ireland. Therefore for my own part—it is not a question of what I should prefer myself—I feel bound to acknowledge the justice of their claim to manage their own religious affairs in their own way. If we grant this claim in other matters a fortiori we ought to grant it in this matter, which, above all, is the one which intimately concerns the individual himself, and only in a secondary degree concerns anyone else. This claim has been persistently pressed on Parliament for more than a generation, and through many successive Parliaments. It is a claim which at times has been absolutely unanimous on the part of the representatives of the Welsh people, and is now, I think, represented by ten to one. Seeing the nature and strength of the claim and the justice of the main provisions of this Bill I myself—I have to confess it—can take no part in refusing what I am firmly convinced is an act of national justice.

My belief, moreover, is that in granting this claim we shall be doing what, I believe, will prove an enduring blessing to both Church and State in the Principality. It may involve some material loss, and some personal sacrifice and hardship. No great change is ever made without such drawbacks. But while it will involve some loss to the Disestablished Church, I hold the belief that it will call out the generosity and the faith of the well-to-do members of the Church in Wales, and will thus be the means of making them better Churchmen than they have been before. Above all, it will put an end to that sense of injustice which arises from the privileged position of the Church. It will establish equality before the law, and it will root out the prejudices and jealousies which have done so much to foster our unhappy sectarian divisions, and which cannot be rooted out so long as the present state of things endures. As an old man, I can hardly hope myself to see the full harvest of what I believe to be a beneficent reform, but I am confident that the harvest will come, because such harvests always do come from any act of national justice and reconciliation. And so I hold that the hour in which this Bill will take its place on the Statute Book will be the dawning of a better day for the whole people of Wales.


My Lords, I feel that to some extent I owe an apology to the House in venturing to intrude my opinions in a debate of this kind. I can show no title as an Englishman or as a member of the Church of England to express my opinion, but if I wanted an excuse I would plead it in the speech to which we have just listened. One of the most conspicuous points in that speech was that the question had not been argued on broad and general grounds upon this occasion. I feel strongly on those broad and general grounds, and I shall endeavour to answer the challenge of the right rev. Prelate upon that point. But there is a certain irony in the fact that one situated as I have explained should be rising to protest against the Dismemberment of a Church to which he does not belong, in answer to one of the oldest and best known of her Bishops. I did not quite gather the point of the argument which was drawn from a passage quoted from a volume published by the late Lord Selborne. So far as I understood it, it was quoted because he had said there that Disestablishment and Disendowment naturally hang together, and the right rev. Prelate thought that because Disestablishment was no longer largely argued he was to be held as a consenting party to both. The foundation seemed to me to be rather thin, and any one who knew the views which the late Lord Selborne held to the end of his life must think that it was a violent stretch of the imagination to believe that anything he ever spoke or wrote could be fairly quoted in support of so great an injury to the Church of England as this Bill.

If anyone should feel reproached by the statement of the right rev. Prelate that the question has not been argued on general grounds, I venture to say it should be the noble Earl on the Government Bench who introduced the Bill. He carefully avoided any defence of the Bill on general principles, but on that point confined himself to some rather light and airy references to the case of the Church of Ireland, as if the precedent then made settled everything. I venture to suggest that the case of Ireland was absolutely no precedent on any single point for what we are now asked to do. The Church of Ireland was an independent body compared to the Church in Wales, and whatever may be said about the nationality of Wales, no one can deny that in the Disestablishment of the Church of Ireland you were dealing with a Church as a whole, and not with the dismemberment of an existing Church. I was rather surprised at some of the references which Lord Sheffield made last night. He seemed to think that you were going to disestablish the Churches, I suppose, both of England and of Scotland, piecemeal. The Irish Church has been disestablished; the Church of Wales is now to be cut off from the rest of its organisation; and he seemed rather to hint that, by and by, some of the northern counties might be taken away, and the Province of York be separated from the Province of Canterbury. There are large general principles at stake, and I hope, therefore, I shall be excused if I endeavour to answer the challenge of the right rev. Prelate, and to state how these considerations appeal to my mind. One more word of preliminary remark. I should like to know whether we are to have on this general point, on which so obvious a challenge has been made by the Lord Bishop of Hereford, any further speeches from Cabinet Members of this House. We have had a speech from the noble Earl who introduced the Bill; but somebody was obliged to speak in order to put the 13111 before the House. I suppose, also, that we shall have a speech from the noble Marquess who leads the House in winding up the debate. That is the least they could possibly do. Nothing less to show any sort of respect to the House could be done. But if the other members of the Cabinet who are in this House really believe in the Bill, if they believe that it is so large a measure of justice, that it is so proper and fair in all its provisions, that it is right to dismember the Church of England, naturally we shall have from some of them in the course of the debate some expressions of the reasons for the faith which is supposed to be in them.

I agree with the right rev. Prelate that this matter must not be looked at as affecting the Church and the so-called privileges of the Church. I could understand from an ecclesiastical point of view that, if a Church and State were ever finally to be separated, in some aspects the Church would have something to gain. It would gain a certain amount of autonomy and freedom in regard to various things such as it does not at the moment possess. What I want to point out is this. If the Church as a Church is to gain, the State as a State will be much poorer. I do not think that those who desire to sever all connection between Church and State are the true friends either of the Church or of the State. I do not believe that to sever that connection would help forward the religious development of the Church, or that it would be of lasting benefit to the State. It is often said that the State has selected one Church. The State did not, and does not, choose one Church and endow it to the injury of others. The alliance is a natural one for the benefit of both. The Church, as I understand it, should be regarded as the organisation of the higher life of the people. Historically in England, even more than in my own country, it has been part of the national life. It has grown with the Monarchy and the Constitution, of which it is, perhaps, the oldest element. Because new organisations have sprung up in a new way it does not seem to me to follow that it is wise to make the change proposed in an organisation with a history like that which is behind us. This Bill and the issues involved in it do not affect Wales alone. They may affect both England and Scotland, in which the national recognition of religion, as I prefer to call it, is a great historical fact. Religion is incorporated and sanctioned by the State. The religious life of the community as a community would not cease after Disestablishment—I gladly acknowledge that—but when we speak of national religion we mean that there is a definite alliance with the State, as a State, in its corporate capacity; and in my humble opinion both Church and State are required for the strong and full development of the national life. It would be a lowering of the Government if it were to take no note of the religious life of the people, and to the State it would be a loss of dignity and of enduring virtue.

Again, it may be said that in some aspects it is not the actual province of the State, which I agree is mainly concerned with civil government. But it is for the interests of the State to make sure that the work of the Church is done. Let me quote on this point a saying of one of the best known English statesmen, a valued member of the Party opposite, the late Right Hon. W. E. Forster, who in addressing his constituents said this— What do I mean by the parochial system? Simply this. That at this eminent there is not a place in England, no country parish however secluded, no hack slum in any city however squalid, in which there is not a minister of the Church that is a State servant; whose business it is to care for the highest good of every man, woman, and child, in this parish and in those streets. Some criticism might be made of the expression "a State servant," but in a sense it is true, because there is the alliance between the Church and the State, and the States relies upon the agent of the Church to do its work. But the servant that the State employs does not get his commission from the State; he holds his commission from a higher and a greater Power than any State which ever appeared on this earth. Is this a time when this sort of connection should he loosened? It is some years now since a distinguished statesman said that we are all Socialists. At any rate, no one can deny that both Parties in the State have committed themselves to corporate action in matters which were formerly left to individuals. We have free education; education was formerly left to the individual members of the community. The Government now takes an interest in Labour and the minimum wage, with which formerly it did not concern itself. Then we have old-age pensions, and we have the Insurance Act.

I am not criticising, I am making no complaint of these things, which are probably the inevitable development of our changing social conditions; but if you are going into this socialistic legislation which concerns the affairs of the body, why are we at this particular moment to leave out of account the greater and higher interests with which the Church is concerned. There has been some difficulty, I understand, in getting doctors enough to heal the bodies of those to whom the Insurance Act applies. You have a large number of people with an income up to about £160 a year whose medical attendance is the care of the State, and is supplemented by State subsidies; but, besides women and children, there are many who even under the Insurance Act will have to get medical attendance as they can from the Poor-law and the hospital. Why at this particular moment are you going to take away from the one corporation which can, in the interests which concern it, look after the whole people a large proportion of the funds which are now, by common consent, rightly and wisely used for the purposes for which they were intended? You may leave the rich alone; they may take care of themselves; they will get their Church services whether there are endowments or not. But why are those who are unable to provide them either to go without or to be made the debtors of those who are well-to-do? The endowments which are being taken away are their patrimony. I could understand them being transferred, on due consideration, from one place to another if a case can be shown for it; but what is the justification for taking them away from the sacred uses for which they were given and devoting them to county councils, schools, colleges, or any other matters to which they are now to be applied.

But I go back to the challenge of the right rev. Prelate, and I say to him again that this departure we are asked to sanction is of sufficient importance for us to make sure that it shall not be done without a certainty that it is in accordance with the real will of the people concerned. It is said on the other side that there has been a continuous demand for this measure for a long series of years. May I ask you to compare with me for a moment the circumstances of Wales and of Scotland? They are both historically and almost continually attached by at any rate a large majority to the Party opposite. If there is one thing in which the Scottish people are Tory it is in their persistent and obstinate alliance with the Radical Party. I do not know whether you have ever heard of one of my fellow-countrymen who was reproached with that. It was said to him, "You do not surely agree with this or that which the Party has done; won't you change and vote for such and such a thing"? The man replied, "Oh, I often change my opinions but I never change my vote." That is their attitude of mind, and that is why it is so dangerous to assume that under our Party system, especially as at present constituted, a majority of the Party is necessarily a majority for everything that Patty seeks to do. I do not know much about the circumstances of Wales, but there was a very striking table of petitions published in the newspapers the other day. I am now touching the fringe of a much larger question relating to our whole Party system and its results, but what I say is this. In increasing degree, and I do not think it is more the case with one Party than the other, the majority of the Party control the selection of the candidates, and the majority of the Party then masquerades as if it were necessarily a majority of the whole country.

What I say about this is that the matter is of sufficient importance to be made the subject of a definite reference to the people concerned. The Party opposite do not like that suggestion. It is particularly offensive to the noble Viscount, the President of the Council. He thinks that the Party system is as nearly perfect as possible, and that whatever the majority in the House of Commons may say, that is to be regarded as representative of the nation as a whole. I came across two quotations the other day—they are very short—which express the point I want to put to the House better than I can do it myself. I find in an essay by the Vice-Principal of Brazenose College the following— The ominous symptom to-day is not that the people claim to govern themselves, which if a genuine wish would be a sign of health, but rather that clever men claim to act in the people's name. And in the current number of the Edinburgh Review there is this paragraph— Without the driving force of Party it is said nothing would be done. The answer is that by the driving force of Party things are done that the country does not want. That is what I am apprehensive of might be the case in this particular instance.

If I may draw on my experience in Scotland I would like further to illustrate this point. There was a time when the Radical Party of the day were very much enamoured of the idea of disestablishing the Church of Scotland. It is about thirty years ago, before we heard very much about Home Rule and it was about the time when Mr. Gladstone was standing for Midlothian. May I say that I was in charge of the defence organisation of the Church of Scotland at that time as I am to-day and have been continuously ever since, and perhaps therefore I may give without unduly trespassing on the time of the House my experience of what happened at that time. Let me recall to the House the circumstances of 1885. Household franchise had just been given to the counties; a new register had been made for Scotland, and in the autumn of 1885 Mr. Gladstone was a candidate for Midlothian. As usual at a General Election many and varied topics were under discussion, and those who were then anxious for the Disestablishment of the Church of Scotland wanted to make sure that the prestige of the Radical Party with Mr. Gladstone at its head should Le used to effect their purpose. Those of us who were interested on the other side resisted that movement. We knew quite well that we could not interfere with the Radical majority in Scotland, and we had a very strong belief that, whatever use we put the Church question to, we could not affect Mr. Gladstone's return for Midlothian. So we prepared this declaration and circulated it for signature throughout the constituency of Midlothian— We the undersigned electors of the county of Midlothian, are opposed to the Disestablishment and Disendowment of the Church of Scotland. Within a short time—as a matter of fact, in less than ten days—that declaration was signed by 69 per cent. of the whole electors on the register. That register, as I have said, was a new one; it contained about 12,900 names. Two of the parishes could not be overtaken in the limited time, but in the remaining parishes all the electors who could be found were canvassed, while 418 were either dead or could not be traced; 10,487 were actually approached and 7,519 signed that declaration. In the case of one parish the signatories were 87 per cent. of the electors and in the majority of cases they represented 70 per cent., while in only one case did the percentage fall as low as 55. Yet had that not been done it would have been open for anybody to say, just as noble Lords opposite are saying now in regard to Wales, that the people of Scotland had voted for the Disestablishment of their Church. We presented the result to Mr. Gladstone, and he pledged himself in distinct terms not to vote for the abstract Resolution on the subject of Disestablishment, and further said that no such Resolution, if carried in that Parliament, would be held as expressing the feelings and wishes of the people of Scotland.

But we went further and conducted a canvass in the succeeding weeks of every constituency in Scotland. I will quote some figures relating to the East of Scotland where the Radical Party is strongest and where at that time and almost continually from the Reform Bill of 1842 there has been a predominance of that Party. In those Eastern counties we circulated a petition for signature and took a percentage of the total population of those who were above fifteen years of age. I will begin with East Fife, which is at present represented by the Prime Minister. In East Fife we had 54 per cent. of the population; in East Perth we had 55 per cent.; in Forfar we had 50 per cent.; in Kincardine we had 59 per cent.; in the two divisions of Aberdeenshire we had 53 and 62 per cent., and in Elgin and Nairn we had 54 per cent., and so on all the way round Scotland. If that action had not been taken the Parliament then to be elected would probably have been quoted as being as much desirous for the Disestablishment of the Church of Scotland as you say the Welsh people are to-day for the Disestablishment of the Church of England in Wales. I will not weary the House, but I will simply add that at the last five or six, certainly at the last four or five, elections, I do not believe there have been half a dozen questions put to candidates in Scotland on the subject of the Disestablishment of the Church of Scotland. We have turned our attention in other directions, but whether we shall be successful in a policy of conciliation or not I cannot tell. But I say that this matter is of so much importance that the danger of its being decided in a way not in accordance with the will of the majority of the people is such that it is of sufficient magnitude and of a sufficiently far-reaching character to be made the subject of a special reference to those who are chiefly concerned apart from any Party allegiance. I will go so far with those who are in favour of this policy as to say that it is for the majority to say whether this national recognition of religion should be continued or not. I for one should feel bound to accept what they the say were I certain that it was fairly and honestly put to those who are concerned.

The right rev. Prelate and other speakers have touched on the question of whether Wales is a nation. I stand for nationality. I do not think any Scotsman could take any other position. But it may be permissible, perhaps, to point out that Wales has not to the same extent either as England, Scotland, or Ireland, a separate history. She has not, in the main, separate institutions. She has, may I say, no scientific frontier; there is no distinguishing boundary between the two countries, and, curiously enough, Wales has no capital of its own. I happen to have been employed at one time by the Privy Council to see whether we could find a capital in Wales. A question was uppermost as to whether there should be a national museum established, and I was asked to look into it with certain other members of the Privy Council. We took a certain amount of evidence from representative people in Wales, but I found there was no decided opinion as to any one place which could be regarded distinctly as a capital. At any rate, whatever may be the case for Wales as a nation it has not been implied by the noble Earl who produced the Bill to be a State, but assuming that it is an entity it is probably entitled to make a demand of this kind. But what I want to know is this, not whether the principle is accepted, but whether it is by any means certain that this Bill as it stands will be accepted by the majority of the Welsh people. Even the right rev. Prelate, who went as far as anybody in support of the Bill, let out that he was not satisfied wit:1 all the provisions, and I do not know whether if this Bill were put before him as a voter in Wales he would say "Aye" or "No" to it as a whole. I think he would probably vote for the principle, but would lie say that this Bill is the best possible way of carrying out that principle, and even though Hereford is close to Wales it cannot be expected to appeal with quite the same force to the Bishop of Hereford as it does to one or other of the four Bishops of the dioceses of Wales.

But I go further, and, I ask, Would this Bill have been accepted in another place as it stands by a majority of the supporters of the Government?—I mean accepted on its merits without the influence of Party. The present circumstances are abnormal. No group dare break away from the Party which as a whole is in power, and I venture to assert that those who have studied the debates in the other House of Parliament must say that as to many of the details even of this Bill there have been obvious searchings of heart. The right rev. Prelate said early in his speech that it was wrong for those who were opposed to this Bill to say that it was promoted by sectarian malice. But, my Lords, I venture to say it was perfectly clear, when the Government wanted to make concessions that they were met by speeches from some Welsh Members which if they did not imply and mean sectarian malice, were about the best imitation of it I have ever seen. The serious point of this Bill is that it means the compulsory Dismemberment by the secular authority of a hitherto united Church, a Church historically and actually one at the present time; and I say that the doing of this by secular action, by the action of the State over the head of the ecclesiastical authorities, is a grave injustice to the Church. And yet this is the extraordinary thing to me which I cannot understand. It has been supported, I suppose from the influence of Party, by the votes of seme of my fellow-countrymen who are the foremost exponents of what they call the spiritual independence of the Church. I low can it be done in the name of spiritual independence if you are by the action of the secular authority to enter into the Church, break up its organisation, and to disunite that which for 800 or 900 years has been in unity? The Welsh clergy are not to be summoned to Convocation. They are apparently, as I understand, to be set up in sonic kind of Church Assembly of their own by a sort of Charter. The future of the sundered dioceses, of the Bishops, the clergy, and the laity is left in doubt.

I am not a lawyer, but I have consulted some of my friends who are, and I cannot get from them any clear explanation of what will be the power of these four dioceses in the future to make a new and efficient organisation of their own. How are they to make it effectually? There are Clauses 3 and 13 upon which the whole of this thing depends. The one of them is provisional; the other apparently attempts to provide for the permanent constitution of the Church. But this has to be settled on a permanent and sure basis. It is far too serious a thing in the interests of the Church, of discipline and fairplay, to leave in doubt, and unsettled. Some authority must settle it. What is to be that authority in the future? What will be the position of the House of Laymen Convocation, I understand, is to frame a scheme for its future organisation; but, to use a legal phrase, what will he the sanction for it all? Is it to depend purely on a matter of contract? Supposing in one of these four dioceses, when they are cut loose from Convocation and set up on their own, one clergyman gets advanced in life and ought to be retired. Suppose, as sometimes happens, some process it may be, or it may be a matter of doctrine, which is to be undertaken, who is to be the authority which is to be satisfied from an ecclesiastical point of view whether that man is doing his duty? As far as I understand it, it is left to chance. One lawyer told me he thought seine process would have to be started in the Courts to see whether this gentleman was obeying the terms of his contract or not, I cannot go into these matters in detail. There are many who are more competent to do so. But I say these are things that ought not to be left to chance, and as the Bill is at present framed—and Lord Sheffield seemed to look with rejoicing at this Bill being passed over our heads—it may be that these things will be found not to be settled; and whatever loss of dignity, supposed or real, there is in the matter, I say it will be better for this House to take no responsibility in regard to it. If it is passed in a way as to which we have no power or control over it, let it be done, but do not let us be parties to it.

Now, my Lords, I touch briefly on the matter of Disendowment. There are a certain number of scores of thousands of pounds a year to be taken from the Church and devoted to secular purposes. I cannot say I very much care to split straws whether it is £10,000, £15,000, £20,000, £30,000 or £40,000. I object to the policy as a whole, and I ask, Will it be better spent than it is being spent at the present time? I ask also what is the moral justification for taking it at all. I do not know how it is in Wales. I dare not speak from personal experience, but I know in Scotland the movement of the population and the congestion of it in certain districts has exceeded the ecclesiastical means of serving the necessary needs of the people, and. I say that even though you may take into account voluntary effort of every kind as well as work of the Established Church. I stand on the principle that the endowments were given for religious purposes, and so long as they are needed for religious purposes they should remain for those religious purposes, for the uses to which they were destined, especially when, as is the case now, no allegation can be made that they are not being well used. Endowments are not a tax upon anybody. They are in no sense the property of the State. They were neither created nor conferred by Parliament. Parliament may rearrange them, but I say Parliament has no moral right to divert them from religious purposes. They are held by a valid title in trust for no selfish purpose, but for the service of the people as a whole. Again, those whom you are going to make suffer most in this matter are the poor. You may say, if you like, that the rich do not need them, and that by the movement of the population, to which I have already referred, they are not being as well spent as they might be. I express no opinion aye or no about that; but I say if so, if a case can be made out for it and you can do it in justice to those concerned, it might be a fair thing to move the endowments from place to place. I do not know how it is in Wales, but in Scotland most of the endowments are parochial and meant for the particular service of a particular district. That is a sort of thing that it is fair to consider. But that is a very different thing from taking this money away from Church purposes altogether and devoting it to the secular purposes of the public at large. We have heard a good deal about the voluntary system. We had an interesting speech from one of our latest recruits last night, Lord Pontypridd, on that point, and I am sure we were all glad to welcome him as contributing to our discussions. But, my Lords, what is the use of talking of the voluntary system to some classes of the population to whom I can refer? The noble Viscount the President of the Council made a reference to the uselessness of talking to a butcher about Lent.


It was Daniel O'Connell who said that, and I was quoting him.


It may have been a quotation from O'Connell, but at any rate it was repeated here with great approbation by the noble Viscount himself, and it was thought very clever and very apropos, if I may say so, and it has been quoted in a great many Radical newspapers as a clever witticism, and was, I think, attributed to the noble Viscount himself by mistake. It may not be a very wise thing to go and talk to a butcher about Lent; but what is the use of going, shall I say, to the thieves' kitchen to talk about the voluntary system and to ask them to contribute to Church ordinances; or to Sidney-street, the scene of the martial exploit of the First Lord of the Admiralty when he was Home Secretary, to preach the merits of a voluntary system for the support of the clergy of the National Church. If you are going to do on behalf of the State effective work you must provide your standard bearer with a decent means of livelihood. It is no use going to a man—many of them, perhaps not all, of a much higher social scale than the man I have just referred to—a man with perhaps just a living wage, and expect that he will contribute to Church ordinances. I have no right to speak for the Bishops or for the Church, but I know what the clergy of my own Church say. They say that of all the systems of getting a living wage for the clergy that of seat rents is the worst and most degrading, because if a man goes among the population and gets a certain number of people to come to his Church, and then there comes round a collector to ask for seat rents or something of the kind, it is at once thought, "This man is only preaching for his own benefit and wants to draw money from us." It is all very well if you are to have ornate services and luxuries in the way of lighting and heating, and so forth—you can then ask people to pay for them; but I say if the Church is going to do effective work it must provide a living wage for the men who are its standard bearers in these difficult and sometimes almost impossible circumstances.

The truth is that the voluntary churches have a tendency to follow the better-to-do. They leave, at times, the poorer districts. I make it no matter of reproach; it is almost a necessity of their system and of their existence; but it does too often happen and is increasingly happening, because we are getting the well-to-do and the poorer classes segregated. That tendency is increasing and growing, and it will increase and grow; yet it is at this time you are proposing to cripple the greatest power that you have for good in your land by taking away endowments which are the patrimony of the poor. My Lords, this is being done in the name of religious equality in the eye of the law. I say, so far as the law is concerned, all are equal now. The State has not 6aosen the Church; the alliance has grown with the growth of the Constitution; and to break the connection between Church and State is to destroy the testimony of the State as a State to its faith in God and its homage to the King of Kings and the Lord of Lords. I assert the right and duty of the State in its corporate capacity to maintain the Faith and to perform that homage. The organic life of the State is not an accident; it is essential. It is not merely a human institution; it is a Divine ordinance, the expression and the embodiment of the national life. Its structure is Christian, the great mass of its people are Christian, and the forces which have created and shaped its history and perpetuated its prosperity are Christian. It is in that that its strength and greatness lies, and I, for one, believing that these things are true, shall go into the Lobby against this Bill.


My Lords, the propositions embodied in this Bill have already been handled by several speakers in this debate who are very much better able than I to deal either with local Welsh detail or with the financial problem, which has proved, I think, more intricate than was at first supposed. Some of the same speakers have during the last year, at the bidding of the Church, been endeavouring outside to let people understand if they can what are the true facts relating to this subject, with the result, as I believe, that where the facts are rightly understood such enthusiasm as has existed for the Bill has waned, and that no new enthusiasm has been created. I propose to keep rather to the general aspect of this large and far-reaching question.

It goes without saying that to all of us, and to some of us specially, the issues involved in this Bill are in the very highest degree grave and even sacred. I think your Lordships will not deem it out of place if I mention that this day was fixed many months ago, before we knew when this debate was coming, as a day of prayer in our churches for the work of the Church in England and in Wales and the general home mission work of the Church. To that has been superadded to-day a special request for prayers on behalf of the Church in Wales, having regard to the, difficulties by which she is surrounded, and those prayers, so far as words have been suggested, have been put forth in such a form as not to make it in the least degree difficult for any one to join in them, whatever may he his political opinions, as he asks for Divine guidance at this time. The form of prayer had the approval of the Bishop of Hereford as truly as that of my brothers the Welsh Bishops. I feel that that strikes a note to-day of the sort of responsibility which must rest upon every responsible member of the Legislature when he thinks of the magnitude of the issues which this question involves.

Our responsibility is large and grave. Forty-four years, I think, have passed since a great Prime Minister, initiating a like discussion, pressed upon his hearers the gravity of that responsibility, and bid every one who was to speak or vote approach the discussion under the most solemn obligation to raise the level of his vision, and to expand its scope in proportion to the greatness of the matter with which he had to deal. It has been my duty during the last year to read a great deal and I am afraid to speak much on this matter. I have throughout that time honestly striven to the best of my power to view fairly the statement of the case made by those who are opposed to what I deem to be right regarding it. I have again and again endeavoured to, so to speak, restate the case to myself in the bare clear facts, the truth of which will not, I imagine, be disputed by any one, however he may think he ought to vote.

A word in passing about the position of this House. I do not know whether your Lordships noticed that in a leading Liberal organ the other day it was foretold that "of course" the House of Lords would—I am not quoting the actual words—show on this occasion the same obscurantist obstinacy as it had always shown on every occasion when a Disestablishment Bill had come before it. The writer may or may not have been right in his prophecy or in his epithets, but he was quite clearly wrong in his history. As your Lordships are aware, no Disestablishment Bill, as regards either England and Wales or Scotland, has ever come before this House at all from the time the House of Lords came into existence until the present moment. The one occasion when a Disestablishment Bill came before this House was the Dish Church Bill forty-four years ago, and on that occasion the House passed the Bill. So much for the prophecy of what we are going to do. But, my Lords, although this House has never hitherto rejected a Disestablishment Bill, I hope it will now do so without hesitation. I do not treat lightly, far less with contempt, the suggestion, to which touching and eloquent voice was given to-night by my brother the Bishop of Hereford, that it would be well to read the Bill a second time and then to amend it. Into that I do not propose to go. It is a possible policy, but I think on this occasion it would be a mistaken one. I believe it to-day to be more honest, more straightforward, more consistent with the declarations which we have made so widely outside, that we should plainly say that we object to this Bill root and branch as it stands before us now. And I think our best justification for so doing rests in a plain, unvarnished, calm statement of the facts.

I will try to state the facts fairly, though with some little comment on them as I pass along, and I hope that I shall be corrected—I say this not conventionally but truly—by some subsequent speaker if in any case I misstate the facts as regards what the measure proposes to do. The oldest institution existing in the land is the Church in Wales. Many, many centuries before the Monarchy as we know it; many centuries—a thousand years, I suppose—before a regular Parliament, the Church was carrying on in the Welsh hills, in regularly assigned dioceses, by duly appointed clergy, the system which has, with the necessary changes of human experience and life, been carried on since, and been inwrought and intertwined from the first with the national life. When this Chamber some seventy years ago was designed and adorned for meetings of the House, the place of honour among its frescoes, the place over the Throne, was assigned to a great artist who was to portray what was called at the time the introduction of Christianity into England—"The Baptism of Ethelbert by Augustine." The scene is laid in my own City of Canterbury, and the year was 597—that is over 1,300 years ago. But, my Lords, that was not the introduction of Christianity into Britain. For centuries before that the predecessors of my four brothers the Welsh Bishops, who sit on these Benches to-day, were guiding the people, celebrating the sacraments, shepherding their flocks, as they are doing to-day. It is upon this organic thing, the oldest by far in this country, that you are proposing now to lay hands, though not, of course, to touch—no one is suggesting that—its spiritual essence or to impair the religious life of its individual members.

I hope it is not necessary here to say what it has been found necessary sometimes to say outside, that no one of us suggests for one moment that the religious life for which our enthusiasm burns depends upon the maintenance of an Established Church. I need not labour that point. I only want to say it now and once for all. Just as it is certain that, whatever happens, we should go on doing our work to the best of our power, however crippled or maimed we may be, so we maintain that we are in no kind of sense affected as regards the religious essence of our work by Establishment or Disestablishment. But, my Lords, we may be, crippled in the doing of our work and if this Bill were to become law as it stands it is very hard to say how far-reaching that crippling may be. The Bill is intended to affect the conditions, the cohesion, the means of support and work, and the relation to national life, in which that Church—indestructible because its source is of a higher kind and its character is not of the sort which men can give—will have to go on and continue to endeavour to do its work. For seven centuries at least the Welsh Church and its Bishops and clergy have been part of the whole corporate life of the National Church of England and Wales; not merely as regards rules of work and life and worship, but in synod and council, in organisation and metro-political allegiance and the like. All these last features your Pill would endeavour curtly to bring to an end. The four Bishops for the first time in history would have no part in the Legislature, not merely the State Legislature, but the Church legislature, of which they have hitherto formed a part. The Cathedral Chapters and parish clergy of Wales would have no part in the corporate life of the Church as such. They would Lecome, so far as The State can effect it, a little group of four dioceses, far too large to be a diocesan unit, but too small, I think, when impoverished, for effective work on anything like its previous conditions as a province. Its members would be barred from those ancient councils, expelled from the place which they have so honourably and usefully filled through all the centuries, far longer than Welsh Members have held seats in the other House of Parliament. They have, during all that time, promoted what concerns the spiritual work and wellbeing of the Church and people. In order to bring this about in a way which I believe to he absolutely unknown till now to the British Constitution or usage, Parliament, against the desire of Convocation, proposes to interfere with its position and its composition, and in the teeth of that opposition to effect the change in a manner in which no such change has been effected before.

I do not see in his place the noble Lord, Lord Sheffield, who spoke last night, and who called on me to reply as to how I could reconcile our contention with the knowledge of what had passed in former years as regards Parliamentary action in connection with the formation of new Bishoprics and the like. The noble Lord, quite naturally, is not familiar with the subject. It is the Ecclesiastical Commission who draw the rules and prepare the Bill and draft the Orders in Council and take any other preliminary steps necessary, and in every single case since the days of Henry VIII the Church has been a party, through a Commission, to what has been done. The Commission has given its views and sanction to what has been necessary, and on that Commission all the Bishops now sit. I know that tens of thousands of quiet people regard this enforced disruption as a grave wrong to the Church of which we are members. You tell us that you must include this in the Bill, because to leave it out would be contrary to the purpose and intent of the measure. If it is impossible to draft the Bill without introducing into it a grave injustice, which, by the kind of apology made for it, you agree to be an injustice, so much the worse for the Bill. It does not meet the question in the least degree as regards what we want; it merely explains that the Bill is in that respect as bad as we had supposed it to be.

The next great point is the change in the parochial system as England and Wales have known it through all these centuries. That would come, as we now know it, to an end. In these dioceses the Church would be bidden, indeed it has been bidden by the noble Earl who introduced the Bill, to make the best imitation it could of what has been done in the United States or the Colonies, where there is no such thing, and to scramble along in that kind of way with the lack of what has been a factor and a feature in the growth of English life from the earliest days till now—the absolute right of every man or woman who chooses to avail himself or herself of it, to have access to the parish church, and to its ministrations in health and in sickness, in life and approaching death. That would come to an end. Something of the sort would, of course, go on by a kindly and voluntary arrangement such as I have spoken of, but so far as the character which has been stamped upon our parish system from the first is concerned, it would be not merely impaired, it would be, so far as you can destroy it, destroyed if this Bill became law in the shape in which it stands now. And I do believe that only after that had been done for some years would the people find out how great the difference was that had been made, and how vital was the loss which they had sustained in their homes and in their religious life. To make these wide and far-reaching changes—and there are many more—to start a new organisation, legislative, administrative, and judicial, which is to replace what has been the growth of fifteen or sixteen centuries, the Church is allowed six months, or, if it be extended, twelve months, during which time the whole of this reorganisation is to take place.

I turn from the Disestablishment part of the Bill to the Disendowment part. That has already been well handled, and I do not propose to do more than touch upon it. In outline it stands thus. I repeat it in order that what one says may be coherent, but your Lordships are familiar with the figures. The Church has £260,000 a year from endowments, and you propose to take away £158,000 of that, save for the life interests which are preserved. You leave to the Church £102,000 a year, about two-thirds of which depend upon whether the Church in England proper—the Ecclesiastical Commission and Queen Anne's Bounty—will and can hereafter continue grants corresponding to those which they give at present. As to the will of the Church in England to do it if the funds are at its disposal, I have no doubt or fear or hesitation whatever. But great changes may come. The property of the Church may be very seriously impaired or interfered with. It may disappear in some way or other; it may fall hugely in its value. And if I turn to the speech with which the Home Secretary concluded the debate on the Third Reading in the House of Commons, I find him holding out no uncertain threat that as soon as he had the power he would disendow the Church of England too. I do not enter on that at present. But what would then become of the funds which you are now telling us the Church in Wales can look forward to in regard to its future maintenance and life? Is that sum to be exempted from what you take away from England, or is the débâcle when it occurs to affect the grant to Wales as well? About that we have naturally enough no light or information. In short, the cathedral churches will remain, but the funds for their upkeep will be gone. The services and so forth will have to be provided for in some other way. The parish churches will remain, but in many cases the endowment for the parish priest will be entirely gone and in nearly all cases very largely gone. If you divide the £102,000 which is left among the 1,600 clergy you will find that it represents something like £64 a year per man as the income which would be left to the clergy of Wales from these old endowments.

I do not apologise for repeating a few sentences from the pointed letter which my brother the Bishop of St. Asaph wrote a few weeks ago, bringing the thing to a concrete test in the case of a particular diocese. As to the facts he has challenged contradiction. Twice he has been told, and the country has been told, that the statements in that letter are far from the fact, but no single attempt has been made to challenge them individually or to show us where they fail. I, of course, am not able to vouch for them on my own account, but I have absolute confidence in my brother the Bishop of St. Asaph and his statements. In his published letter he says— I take my own diocese of St. Asaph, with a population of 313,233. What happens there if the Bill passes as it stands to-day? My successor will have only the bare walls of the Bishop's Palace, every stone of which was built and paid for since 1791 by two of my predecessors, who were men of large private means. The whole of the Episcopal income will have been taken away. The Cathedral, founded in 580, and restored, indeed well-nigh rebuilt, by Churchmen within the last 100 years, will be left without one penny for dean or canons or choir. There are 209 parishes in the diocese, and of these parishes 112 will be left without one single penny of their ancient endowments. There are 300 clergy in the diocese; of these, 100 being unbeneficed clergy, will be turned adrift at once without compensation. If those facts are not true, I should beg that we be told where they are inaccurate. If they are true, I venture to say they speak with sufficient eloquence for themselves, and need no expansion when we are asked to characterise what this Bill is like.

It is no part of my argument to contend that Parliament has no constitutional or moral right, with adequate deliberation and with an assured sense of the nation behind it, to change the terms of a great charitable trust on adequate cause shown. But for that cause to be adequate, for the justification for it to be sound, there must in my judgment—at least I have always so learned—be shown that one of four things has come about. Either the charitable trust cannot be applied, as sometimes happens, through change of circumstances; or the object of the trust is not a good one; or the funds are so greatly in excess of what is wanted that there is a great deal to spare which would go to waste; or the present holders of the trust are using it unworthily. Not one of these reasons has been, I will not say proved, but even urged. On the contrary, it is admitted by all that the trust can be applied, that the use is good, that the funds are far from excessive to say the least, and that the present holders and workers are doing the work well. It is quite unnecessary to trouble your Lordships with proof of that, for no one will, I think, dispute it.

If we wanted evidence in favour of those propositions, I should turn to four men whom I should call as witnesses—Mr. Asquith, Mr. McKenna, Mr. Lloyd George, and Mr. Hobhouse. Every one of them has spoken of the value of the work done by the Church to-day. As to saying that the object is not a good one, of course any one of those gentlemen, or almost any supporter of this Bill in either House, would repudiate the idea that he desired to regard the objects of the trust as anything but the best. The four reasons that I have spoken of for which a charitable trust can if necessary be interfered with legitimately being inapplicable, other reasons must be brought forward. Some of those that have been brought forward are wide and general, some are specific and statistical, the underlying one being—and I think of late years quite legitimately—the argument of what is described as the declared will of the Welsh people as shown in successive Parliaments. Of course that, reason would be a lame and a dangerous one unless it were supported by other arguments to justify that wish on the part of the Welsh people, and to show that it is the duty of Parliament to comply with it. I quite think that the position is a curious and difficult—yes, honestly difficult—one at this moment in face of that Welsh opinion, and one looks forward eagerly to see what are the grounds which are given apart from that special point. In order to do that fairly, I have myself gone through the instructive debates on the various proposals—I think eleven in number—which have in the last half century been brought before the House of Commons. I think I am right in saying they are eleven in number, but that depends a little on how you calculate one of them.

I have endeavoured in each case to trace plainly and honestly what is the basis upon which the proposer rests his contention that the thing wants doing. The result has been interesting and, though I was in a measure prepared for it, still surprising. With the exception of the speeches of Mr. Asquith on four separate occasions, in 1893, 1895, 1909, and 1912, on which he has been largely or mainly responsible—with the exception of those speeches, which seem to me to be coherent, consistent, and weighty in character, though I disagree both with their premises and their conclusions, all the rest leave one with quite an amazing impression of changeableness as to the grounds alleged. This is not because the grounds are so strong and numerous that you may choose this or that, not because all of them carry the necessary weight. On the contrary, they are in great measure contradictory and inconsistent with one another. I challenge any one to go through the various speeches of those proposing the various Resolutions or Bills, and I am certain he will find what I say to be true as to the variety of the grounds put forward. The series begins in 1870 with a Resolution by Mr. Watkin Williams, the grounds of which were that Establishment is unscriptural and that it is injurious to true religion. Seven representatives from Wales voted with him and thirteen against, partly because his arguments were demolished by no less a protagonist than Mr. Gladstone. In 1886, and again in 1889, Mr. Dillwyn brought forward Resolutions resting on the nationality of the Welsh Church, which, he contended, has always been alien to English ideas. His is a too technical argument to follow out now, but the protagonist who met that argument, and I venture to think again demolished it, was Sir William Harcourt. Those Resolutions failed, as did the Resolution which had been moved before.

Then in 1891 Mr. Pritchard Morgan made a somewhat bitter attack upon the Church and its character and its life, and moved a Resolution to a similar effect to those that had gone before in favour of Disestablishment. His argument was that ever since the English Church had been thrust upon Wales in the year 607 it had been anti-national, and I gather that we are to go back before 607, which is a little early, to find what the condition of the Church was to which we ought to revert. Mr. Gladstone courteously dissented, root and branch, from the arguments of the mover, but said he would vote for the Resolution, not because of the arguments he had heard in favour of it, but because of the preponderance of the Welsh votes. A few years later Mr. Asquith, as Home Secretary, in 1893, 1894, and 1895, brought forward a Suspensory Bill and then a Disestablishment Bill. His line was that a Church really indigenous and belonging to Wales had been in modern centuries denationalised by the treatment it had received at the hands of England; but Mr. Asquith, and a very doughty and weighty supporter and ally, Mr. James Bryce, repudiated in the strongest terms the ground which had been again and again relied upon by previous speakers as to a transfer having taken place at the date of the Reformation from the hands of one Church to the hands of another. The figures Mr. Asquith used on that occasion were no doubt the best then available, or at all events, as he believed, the best; but he would be the first to admit that they were proved when the Royal Commission produced their figures to have been wholly inaccurate and misleading.

Then we come to 1909 when, as Prime Minister, it fell to Mr. Asquith again, with the Royal Commission's figures in his hands, to bring forward another Motion. He fell back then on the old arguments, but he bore encouraging testimony to the excellence of the work and progress for seventy years of the Church which he desired to disestablish and disendow. Then we pass three years on. In this last year the present Home Secretary appeared equipped with a completely new armoury of weapons. He started with the theory that there was no tithe in Wales before the twelfth century—an argument which I venture to think has been blown absolutely to bits by the articles which have been published on the subject since—and that it was our duty to revert to what he called the position described by Geraldis Combrensis, about whom he had a great deal to say, in the twelfth century. That has been developed lately into an argument resting on the supposed tripartite division of tithes, a theory which I always believed had been shown by all the best authorities to be inapplicable in England, whatever may have been the case on the Continent. Then the present Chancellor of the Exchequer, taking up that line of argument, finds that the clergy have—I cannot be quite sure whether it is for 400 or 800 years, it seems to vary—been "diverting to their own use the substance which God had assigned to the use of the poor." I am not sure that I follow what the process was, and what he exactly means by that phrase. But that is the form which it has taken.

These theories of either the Chancellor of the Exchequer or the Home Secretary were all unknown to the previous proposers of these measures, including the present Prime Minister. They were entirely hidden from Professor Freeman, from Professor Stubbs, from Mr. Bryce, and from Mr. Gladstone, and certainly from Lord Selborne, the father of the noble Earl opposite. Mr. Lloyd George assures us that the right course now is by this Bill to help the poor back to what belongs to them. The peasants of Wales have had their property taken away, and they must get that property given back to them. It is to be given by a process of grants to the Universities in the large towns and to county councils in a way which, if it came about as proposed, the Welsh peasant would find to be no gain to him. Would these grants to Universities and county councils do more for him in his home than the continued residence of the parish priest? Whether he belongs to his denomination or not, he at least finds in the parish priest a councillor at all times in his life. The change now proposed is called "reverting to the wishes of the donor." It is difficult to follow, but that is as I understand the argument. The proposals in all these years for the destination of the money have varied very greatly indeed, and I confess I distrust very profoundly a plan for the transfer of funds which rests, not upon the objects to which the funds were intended to go, but upon a resolve to take away the money from those who now hold it and then to decide what you will do with it. That seems to me a form of argument which, in view of the needs and facts of to-day, is an extremely dangerous line to go upon.

I do not think I have seen attention directed to a sentence, which I think of considerable importance in this matter, used by Mr. Gladstone when he was speaking at an election meeting about one of the proposals in the Irish Church Bill of 1869 for diverting the tithes to central and away from local quarters. He said— Those funds, gentlemen, are local finds. The tithe of a parish was never given except for the purpose of maintaining religion in the parish; and to take the tithe out of a parish of Galway or Clare for the purpose of meeting the wants of Protestant populations it Dublin anti Belfast—I do not care who hears it—is, in my opinion, whatever the intention may be, dangerously like to an act of public plunder. That was the view taken by Mr. Gladstone of the proposals at that time. I wish we could have his view as to how far it may bear on the proposals we have in this Bill.

I have troubled you with these details because I want to show how elusive a thing, when we try to get at it, is the argument we have got to meet. We do not know where to find out what is the main argument which we must upset if we wish the change not to take place. The plain fact is that there is an undercurrent, especially recently, through-out all the arguments. It really rests upon this, that a majority of Welshmen wish for Disestablishment in sonic form. That would, in itself, be an inadequate argument, and so others—however inconsistent with one another, as I have shown, those arguments were—are used by different speakers. I do not for a moment mean to suggest that any one of these arguments was used otherwise than perfectly honestly by those who made it the basis of their contention. I admit that the difficulty is considerable. I have spoken of the changeableness, but I do not allude to it now in censure, or blame, or criticism. I think the position of a Government which is committed to give effect to the Welsh wish does become an extremely difficult one just now, especially when opinion on such topics as State intervention in these matters is in a condition of flux and of change. Quite obviously many of the later arguments, such, for example, as the anti-Scriptural character of an endowment or the harmfulness of all State intervention, do not grip now; but, at the last, just before the Bill left the House of Commons, the Home Secretary said, in words the startling character of which has I think hardly yet been realised, that this was not a question of expediency at all, that it was a question of morals, and that Establishment, was morally wrong. That argument had been demolished by Mr. Gladstone years before, but that is neither here nor there. I fail to see the need of the speaker's earlier arguments as to expediency or otherwise, if we are going to be told at the end that the whole thing is morally wrong. We have got out of the region of expediency into the region of morals, and there is nothing more to be said. If a man believes a thing to be immoral, he must bring it to an end.

But if the Establishment be in itself an immoral thing, I take for granted that the matter will not be allowed to rest there, because if that is true for Wales it must be true for England. It raises a general principle, and I cannot think that the right hon. gentleman, if that is his opinion, will refrain for a single month from endeavouring to bring what he considers an immoral thing to an end throughout the whole country. Most of the opponents of Establishment do not go so far as that, but fall back on the phrase "religious equality" a phrase, I suppose, that gives orthodox satisfaction to those who use it, and a phrase that has wonderful elasticity in its moaning. I have tried more than once lately among my friends to get something quite clear in the way of a definition as to what religious equality or religious inequality really means. I know what religious equality or inequality meant in past generations in England, but I am not quite clear that I know where it lies as a grievance that has to be remedied to-day. In the case of a man who was liable to be burnt at Smithfield because of what he believed or did not believe, no one would speak of there being complete religious equality. When the Corporation Act, or the Conventicle Act, or the Five Mile Act were passed, all those which dealt with a man's right to hold religious opinions or his right to worship where and how he pleased, no one could pretend that there was religious equality in the nation, and no one would desire so to contend. The strongest example of all would be the proscription of Prelacy by Cromwell. Even in our own day, while religious tests were retained in the Universities in regard to Churchmanship, you could at least feel, whether you agreed or disagreed with what was proposed, that you knew what was meant by there being a want of religious equality.

But what does it mean now? I, for one, have been striving, ever since I have had anything to do with public affairs, to get rid of the last vestige of grievance which could be found to exist against the principles of religious equality. I do not know where we could find that to-day; but if I could find it, or it could be pointed out to me, it would be my endeavour certainly to continue what I have been striving to do for years, so far as my poor voice went, and to get the last vestige of it removed. At one of the largest and most enthusiastic meetings at which I have ever been present, in Cardiff a few months ago, I made that same remark or challenge. I said that I desired to know what grievance any one in that place believed to be existing or pressing upon any man or woman owing to the Establishment of the Church, and that if it were explained to me I was prepared almost to promise that I would do everything in my power to get it removed. I only had one letter in reply, and that was from a Nonconformist minister, who said that there was one grievance that still existed—that he and his friends could not at the Universities obtain the degree of Doctor of Divinity. He was at the moment right, but that grievance has since been removed with my concurrence and my help, and at this moment my correspondent from Wales, if he proves himself-in other respects qualified, will now find that his religious convictions no longer prevent him from obtaining the degree of Divinity which he desires. That is an example of how difficult it is, when you offer to remove grievances that are said to exist, to discover what the existing disabilities are.

Out of the £260,000 which the Church now possesses, the Bill proposes to take away £158,000, leaving the Church with £102,000. Members of His Majesty's Government say that the Church will have much more, that much more will come. I have already touched on what the character of that "much more" is, but I must say a single word about the question of the life interests. I confess I was amazed to hear last night from the noble Earl who introduced this Bill the argument on this point which I thought had been really almost laughed out of court by the public when it was used in the House of Commons. The argument was, "You must not say we have taken away so much money from the Church, because we have offered life interests to the individuals who are now there, and if you will add together all those sums and capitalise them you will find that it amounts to £70,000 a year"—or whatever it is—"and you must add that to the future capital of the Church." Either you are going to do what nobody has done before, abolish a corporation and not give life interests to its various members, or you are going to give these members, in accordance with usage, their life interests. But you cannot have it both ways. Either you have given that money to those men to use it and to spend it as they choose for the rest of their lives, in which case the money will not hereafter be there; or you are telling them, "We give you this money nominally, but we expect you to hand it over to your central funds for the good of those who come after you." The argument has only to be stated for its absurdity to become apparent. If I have put it wrongly, I hope I shall be corrected, and that it will be explained where I am wrong. It has nothing to do with commutation, which is a different question altogether.

With regard to curates, there are in Wales at this moment about 560 curates, and all these men, as we heard last night, are to be turned adrift without a penny of compensation and their work to come to an end where the money cannot be voluntarily collected to pay them. For many of these men, in the straitened circumstances of the Church, there will be no opening. Vicars will pay these men where they can, no doubt, but funds will be required for other purposes. And when we heard last night that the ground for doing this was that something wrong is said to have been done by particular curates or Bishops in Ireland forty years ago, and therefore these men in Wales to-day are not to have compensation because in Ireland forty years ago the offer was abused—well, it is almost impossible to treat such a reason as deserving of the dignity of an argument. We want something more than that. I will not waste time by dwelling upon the unreality, to use no stronger word, of the statement that the Church would be all the stronger without its endowments. The best answer is—and I have no doubt your Lordships are as familiar with it as I am—the circular appeals that come to us from the Nonconformist bodies to help them to raise the endowments which they say are essential to them to carry on their work. That is most legitimate and right, but do not let us hear it said, at the same time, that a Church is stronger for being without funds to carry on its functions.

Then we are told—and this is an argument which has been used many times—to look at Ireland. It is said, "See what has happened in Ireland. Everything is so much better since Disestablishment took place." Certain things are better, and for the very good reason that a great deal more money was left to the Church in. Ireland under that scheme than would be left to the Church in Wales; but the number of clergy in Ireland has enormously decreased, and therefore the money that there is to go round can go round in larger amounts. I have an actual statement here, giving a comparison between the Ireland of 1871 and the Ireland of to-day. Since 1871 the number of churches that have been closed in Ireland is 150, while 436 of thus smaller parishes have been united to adjoining or neighbouring parishes. The number of benefices has fallen from 1,521 to 1,085; the number of clergy has been reduced from 2,200 to 1,500. It is not very difficult for men to be rather better off if the reductions take place on that scale. But who are the sufferers?—not the clergy but the people. I speak in the presence of noble Lords who are very much better able to speak of Ireland than I am, but if I am not mistaken any one familiar with Ireland knows that some of the smaller parishes that have been spoken of as being united are 10 to 15 miles apart, and the people have to do without the religious ministrations of a man resident in their midst and probably without the service on Sunday when the minister is unable to come over and hold it. Do not let us imagine that things are all smooth and right.

The noble Earl last night quoted a letter from an old friend of mine, the late Archbishop of Dublin, Lord Plunket, in which he spoke of the blessing that had some out of what had been deemed to be the evil of Disestablishment. But, my Lords, the noble Earl went very lightly over some of the words in that letter. What Lord Plunket spoke of was the uses of adversity and of how, out of the adversity which had come to them, as is often the case, a great deal of moral good and stimulus had sprung and compensated them for the disadvan- tages that had been inflicted upon them; so that I do not think the noble Earl is justified in claiming quite all he does claim from that letter. As against that letter, let me quote from a letter I have recently received from the Bishop of Ossory. He says— In the united diocese—that is, of Ossory, Ferns, and Leighlin—the number of incumbents in 1871 was 149, and the number of curates was 61. In 1911 the figures were—Incumbents, 94; and curates, 34. The average income of an incumbent in 1871 was (from all sources) £325; in 1911 it was £256. In both cases this was exclusive of a house. In 1871 the average income of a curate was £117; in 1911 it was £115. The value of the curate has gone up of necessity owing to the difficulty of obtaining a man who will have the tremendous work put upon him that is required, and money has to be used in that way. Then the letter goes on— The meaning of these figures is that, although the population has diminished very seriously in 40 years, the necessary diminution in the number of the clergy ministering to the population has been unduly great. We could not help it. I believe, if the Welsh Church were disestablished or disendowed on the terms on which the Irish Church was, that it would be very much better off than if it came about under this Bill as it stands. But I do raise a protest against its becoming a theory that nothing but blessings have followed from the Disestablishment of the Church in Ireland, because, as we know, some of the clergy in Ireland have larger incomes than they had before. The reason for that is that there are far fewer of them, and consequently a larger amount of money to go round.

Then we bad a reference from the noble Lord, Lord Sheffield, to the Colonial churches. He imagined that I was contending what I should never think of contending, that in our Colonies and Dependencies it is the desire of those who live there that the Church should be, so to speak, re-Established. If the noble Lord means, as was implied last night, that the Colonial churches think themselves better off without endowments, I can say literally from daily experience that there cannot be a greater fallacy or mistake. One of the Bishops of Ballarat was quoted in a letter by the noble Earl last night as having given an opinion as to the flourishing condition of the Church without its endowments there. Those who promote this Bill have mentioned, and mentioned most truly, the great advantage which a Church has which has a Synod with a sufficient number of laymen, because we get at the actual authority for things better, and things are better done with that lay help. I entirely agreed, and I should like to see the system adopted in England to-day. Now I hold in my hand a sheaf of memorials from the Synods— largely lay—of the Colonial Churches in different parts of the world who tell of the way they are suffering in their own provinces—from Canada, from New Zealand, and from the West Indies, and one of them from the Synod at Ballarat—giving an unhesitating protest against what is here proposed. I am not saying for a moment that something wrong is happening in the Colonies or that we should not try to make the best of difficult conditions there; but do not let it be said, because people are buoyant and courageous and doing their best and meeting their difficulties as best they can, that they are better off because they are without the sort of endowments which from time immemorial have been the right and the privilege of the people in England and Wales.

One topic more, in regard to the persistent preponderance of Welsh opinion in Parliament in favour of this Bill. I feel deeply and anxiously on this, and I say it with the utmost sincerity. We are bound to admit that these Welsh counties or Welsh dioceses have a character and a history and cohesion of their own which make their joint action or joint wishes something quite different from what it would be if it were, say, from the Midland dioceses of England, or from Kent, and Hampshire, and Sussex. I am prepared to say that, and to say that the difficulty raised is in my view great and real; and I go so far as to say that my own feeling is that if the change desired by those who belong to those counties were a small or insignificant one, or if it were, even if not small, one that was easily remediable if a mistake took place—if it were a matter of the re-arrangement of the county council system, or something of the kind—then I should say that these successive elections have sufficiently proved the wish, not of an overwhelming number, but of so preponderating a number of Welsh voters that we ought, if it be at all possible, to give effect to their wishes. But when I turn to the real facts and find that the subject under discussion is so huge in its complication and so absolutely irrevocable in its consequences if once it were done, that it affects our trust for those who come after us in the deepest way, and that it affects potentially at all events the life of every home, then I say the position is a different one altogether.

I look at all that can be said to affect that prima facie evidence, and to see whether it is quite as strong as at first sight appears. On so looking, I find that the proportion of Members in Parliament in favour of this Bill is a very large one, but of course it goes without saying that the proportion, 31 to 3, is something widely different when you have regard to the proportion of voters in the counties, and if, by the advocacy of my noble friend Lord Courtney, or someone else, we had proportional representation existing in a completer form in Wales, you would have a result as regards its Members altogether different from what you find to-day. But when we deal with this thing, we have to think of the voters and their wives and their homes, and not only of Members of Parliament. I am told by those qualified to know that if the voting was taken by strictly proportional representation, instead of 31 to 3, the representation in the House of Commons would be something like 20 to 14. I am unable to test that, of course, but that is what is given to me, and even if it were a great deal less than that you can at once get rid of the theory that the present Welsh Members are voicing the "overwhelming" demand of the people of Wales. How do we get over the fact, if the Church is so unpopular as she is supposed to be, that at this moment, by the latest census returns I have been able to see, the number of marriages that take place with a religious service, apart from civil ones, is greater in the Church of England than in all the other religious bodies, including the Roman Catholic, put together? More than half of all the marriages with religious services in Wales take place in the National Church. Mr. Gladstone used to be fond of pointing out the value attaching to marriage statistics because they relate to a time of life when people are best able to express their independence and are old enough to have formed their opinions thoughtfully; and if that be true, and if so large a proportion of the people have their marriages celebrated in the Church of England, that is a fact of the very deepest significance.

Then again, the petitions that have been presented on this subject are, I suppose, almost without parallel. I find that there are three times as many signatories from England as Wales, but that is because they come from all over the country; but, leaving England entirely out of account, there are now 556,403 persons in Wales itself who have petitioned against this Bill. Again I have to take these figures from others, but I am told that that must, on any estimate, mean at least 35 per cent. of the adult population who are qualified to sign a petition. If it is true that anything approaching 35 percent. of the adults in Wales have signed petitions against this Bill, that surely puts to fight the assurances that the feeling of the Welsh people is almost unanimous in favour of this Bill. No doubt a large proportion of the signatories are women. No doubt they are not voters. But are not women the very people who are best entitled to have an opinion upon a matter of this kind, in whose homes the work is actually done, and who care most about the matter, and who know best what the work is that the clergy are, doing? Are we to leave them out in considering the feeling of the people of Wales in regard to this matter?

I say that it is simply impossible for any fair-minded man to think lightly of these facts on the other side when he is speaking about the preponderance of Welsh feeling in this matter. Possibly it may be true that when all deductions have been made the balance would still be considerably in favour of the Bill. I do not know; it may be so. Then I venture to ask, Is there anything else which for fairness sake needs consideration? On the Third Reading of this Bill the Chancellor of the Exchequer said— Most of the men who during the past 50 years have worked for this measure in Wales, who created public opinion and the demand that is now put forward in this House and incorporated in this Bill, are the men who devoted the whole of their lives to the prosecution of the great purposes which the noble Lord has in view. They were not the politicians of Wales; they were the great religious leaders of Wales. I believe that to be absolutely true. It is the religious leaders, the ministers in the chapels who, all honour to them for saying what they think, are enthusiastically keen in favour of this Bill and persuade their followers to speak for it and vote for it and act for it. But if it be true that it is mainly the ministers of religion on whom the burden of responsibility for what is being done rests, though it may seem strange for me to say it I would ask the House and the country to pause before, on the strength of that, they take a great and grave political step in the national life. Religious enthusiasm may be a holy thing. Very often it is. Do not think that I under-rate it. It is the grandest thing on earth to have a real religious enthusiasm which will carry a man through all the obstacles in his way, but are we quite sure that the guidance offered in political matters by that appeal is always the wisest all round. I am a minister of religion, and it is my proudest privilege to claim to be one; but in proportion as I find myself on any doubtful question going apart from the opinion of sober, Christian, religious-minded laymen, I question my opinions afresh.

In a speech which the noble Viscount the President of the Council has eloquently characterised as Mr. Gladstone's greatest speech there came this passage. It was the famous speech which he delivered on the Bradlaugh matter and the Parliamentary Oaths Act, 1883. He said— In my opinion, upon broad questions of principle, which stand out disentangled from the surrounding facts, the immediate instincts and sense of the people are very generally right.& But I cannot say that this is a uniform and unbending rule. … I should trust them far more upon questions where their own interests are concerned than on questions where the prepossessions of religion are concerned. The latter is a class of questions on which we must be careful against taking momentary indications of public feeling for our guide. They express the feelings as opposed, in many instances, to the judgment of the people. Those are weighty words, and I believe them to be true. Mr. Gladstone illustrated that feeling in the ease of the Ecclesiastical Titles Act which was passed almost unanimously through the House of Commons in 1831. Mr. Gladstone was against it, and it was repealed, I think without a Division, some twenty-five years later having passed through the House on the first occasion on a wave of religious enthusiasm. I know I am on very dangerous ground, but I hope I have made myself clear. I welcome, encourage, and promote, and I think I share, religious enthusiasm to the uttermost., but when I have to join in giving counsel to others as to what should be done in Parliament to promote a great change in the country's life on some question not necessarily and essentially purely religious—and Establishment is not essentially and purely religious, still less is Disendowment—then I look with primary respect to the quiet and sober lay opinion.

That brings me to one point which I need not dwell upon after the speech tonight of my noble friend Lord Balfour of Burleigh. The Scottish case is, to my mind, the most notable object lesson of all. I remember well the details of the controversies in the 'eighties on the Scottish Church. I remember that it used to be said that one first-class railway carriage could carry up to Scotland all the Members who were against the Disestablishment of the Church of Scotland. I remember that Mr. Gladstone shortly after that, in 1890, in the House of Commons said— We know perfectly well what the opinion of the people in Scotland is; and if we believe in Parliamentary Government, if we believe in the representative system, we must take, and can only take, the deliberate and repeated acts of the legitimately-chosen representatives of the people as conclusively showing the conviction entertained by the people. Is that a thing that can be set aside as an object-lesson? Supposing after Mr. Gladstone had made that speech in 1890 the Disestablishment of the Church of Scotland had been successfully carried through, we should have done something which is now proved to be quite contrary to the views and opinions of the people who were then supposed to be conclusively in its favour. That object-lesson ought to give the country pause.

One more point. How does this Bill come to us? The noble Earl who introduced it reminded us that it did not merely give Welsh opinion, but that it came with great House of Commons majorities. Yes, my Lords, it did. Some people take exception to the fact that those majorities were considerably made up more than once, and several times conclusively made up, by the Irish Members. I do not at all complain, provided that the Irish Members have taken pains to understand what was really put to them and that they cared about what they were voting upon. There was a speech on the last night of the debate by Mr. Dillon with very much of which I agree. He said that while the Irish Members were kept at Westminster they were entitled to think out a question like this for themselves and to vote upon it thoughtfully and conscientiously. I entirely agree with that. But is that what happened all through? Are we to believe that that is the attitude and the general position of the Irish Members in this matter? I need hardly repeat again the quotation which has been often used of what the Leader of the Irish Party said before the session began. These are his words— Your English politics do not concern us. Our votes will in this Parliament, as in past Parliaments, be directed by one sole consideration—by what we regard to be the interests for the time being of Ireland. That cuts right against the theory I was commending in Mr. Dillon's speech. But I can go a little further. Another prominent Irish speaker, Mr. Healy—I do not think I have seen attention called to this, but it struck me at the moment—said this in a speech on the Government of Ireland BillSo far as I can judge, we are engaged in a gamble with the electors as to the results of the next General Election, and we are engaging the Irish people to give their assent not merely to this Bill, but to all the measures which the Government may propose for the next two sessions. We are to pledge ourselves to give our assent to all these measures because of this Bill. I wonder is there a similar clause in the Welsh Disestablishment Bill. I have not looked at it. [HON. MEMBERS: You have voted for it.] I know what it is about. The Welsh Members by a majority of something like 38 to 1 are in its favour, and that is enough for me. They know their own business best. Whatever may be said about that theory, you cannot come here and say that you have a majority of the House of Commons which endorses or gives weight to that Welsh opinion from an independent source, if the opinion is formed by men who admit that they have not even read the Bill which is being discussed. I maintain we are bound to look at that when we are thinking about majorities in the House of Commons, just as surely as we are bound to look at some of these other things when we are thinking of the majorities in the Welsh constituencies. Is it not the part of fair-minded men to weigh as well as to count votes on a point of that kind

I thank your Lordships for listening so kindly to what I am afraid have sometimes been rather dry details. It would not have been at all difficult, in a speech like this, to try to stir emotions in this House and out of it at the great wrong which would be done if this Bill were passed to a class so hard-working and devoted as the Welsh clergy; it would not have been difficult to excite emotion at the wrongs to a population largely rural which, as I have said, would find out too late, but would then, find out to the full by slow degrees, the value of what they had lost in the number of resident clergy being largely diminished, as it would necessarily be, if this Bill became law. I have preferred to try to show the rashness, the peril of our acting thus at a time when opinion is shifting on the whole question. That opinion is shifting in Wales itself cannot be denied. I recognise to the full the kindly, laudatory, and true things that are now said about the clergy by all the leading promoters of the Bill. We have heard it from one speaker after another, and we have heard it quite remarkably from the present Chancellor of the Exchequer. Not so many years ago the Chancellor of the Exchequer, speaking of the Welsh clergy, said this— During the whole course of its existence the Church in Wales … had grossly neglected its spiritual functions. … There was nothing to be said for a Church which could only be stirred into anything like activity when its corruption reached such a point that there was a revolt of the whole people against it. … The Church in Wales had betrayed the people whose spiritual interests were committed to her charge. … She had betrayed the religion of which she was the sole exponent in Wales by bringing disgrace upon its authors, and he protested most earnestly against … extending exceptional indulgence to an Establishment the priesthood of which, during the whole of their career, had simply had one record of betrayal of that nation's highest interest. That was said not so many years ago. I do not doubt that the eloquent speaker was saying what he believed on both those occasions. Either one of two things follows. Either the opinion of that eloquent speaker has completely changed during those years, or, on the other hand, there has been a contrast between the Church of fifteen or twenty years ago and the Church of to-day. If that is so, what does it mean? It means that there is on the part of those who stand for the Church to-day a recognition of its usefulness and its services, and it means that there has been a change of opinion on the whole question in Wales in favour of the Church, which I see honestly no means of denying if the evidence is properly considered.

There has been a change wider than that in England and its view of Church questions as a whole. The Welsh opinion is only part of a more general shift and change and trend of opinion going on outside Wales throughout our land in regard to Church life as a whole. I hold here a little book, published in 1885, entitled "The Radical Programme," in which there is a great deal about the Church and Disestablishment, or what is called, in the way I described it a little while ago, religious equality. You can hardly read the proposals now without a smile. The proposals were quite definitely formulated. Parish churches were to be transferred to other hands, to be used in some sense religiously, no doubt, but as an elected board might decide for the general benefit of the parishioners, or, if the board preferred, to be sold. The cathedrals were to be used for such purposes as Parliament might determine from time to time. Nobody urges that nowadays. I shall be told, I dare say, that I am setting up a man of straw; but the importance of that is this, that twenty-seven years ago that book had a great hold and a wide support and a great many people thought that a perfectly right way of looking at the question. Why not now? Simply because during the interval the public mind has shifted right against the trend to which this Bill is endeavouring to give effect. The trend has been absolutely the other way. I am not arguing for the moment whether that trend is right or wrong; but as a matter of fact it is surely indisputable that the Established Church in some of its essential features as an Establishment is being valued not less but more, than it used to be. Is this the time at which you are going to cut right across that trend of opinion and hurry on to an irrevocable act which the people of the land will, I firmly believe, denounce and deplore before many years? I will not believe it.

You will not think that I am claiming for our Church in England or in Wales that she has done or is doing all that she ought to be doing. No thought is further from my mind. We have failed and failed lamentably, reprehensibly, time after time. The anxieties of the hour are part of the outcome of those failures in the past. Nor will you think that I underrate the service, the deep, devoted, religious service rendered to the common good by Nonconformists in Wales and England, who many a time kept the flame of faith alive when it was apt to flicker and to wane. But they would no more claim than we do to have been without failure or mistake, without bitterness of thought or unworthiness of act. I believe from the bottom of my heart that we are at this hour, notwithstanding these very strifes, drawing nearer to one another in the deepest things. It is, in part, because I am absolutely convinced that if you go forward thus you will impair that beneficent and healing movement that I ask you to pause. I am thinking at this grave hour, not of the well-being of my Church or theirs as distinctive bodies of men. I am thinking, and I say it with all the earnestness that I possess, of the well-being of the lives and homes of the people of the land, and of the furthering therein of the deepest and most abiding interests of old and young. To that task the ancient Church of Wales has now been fitted by the experience of 1,600 years. God grant that she may be free to go on discharging it unhampered and unimpaired.


My Lords, with the early part of the speech of the most rev. Primate who has just sat down, that part in which he dealt with the early history of Christianity in Wales, I am very glad to find myself heartily in agreement. But I do think that both sides of the House will agree that I am justified in saying to the most rev. Primate that he really need not have thrown at us on these Benches crude sentences from a book that was called "The Radical Programme" of 1885—crude sentences which few of us would, even in our youth, have attempted to justify—considering that the author or the inspirer of that book sat for many years as a colleague of noble Lords opposite. We are, at any rate, not concerned to defend ourselves against anything that was advocated in that work—


I do not want to interrupt, but I am anxious to make my meaning clear. The point the noble Lord has made exactly carries out my view. The change of opinion has been going on from the time that book was written until now, and it shows that the absurd crudities of this book are now blown to the winds by great changes of opinion on either side of the House.


Of course, I quite accept the most rev. Primate's explanation, but I do not agree as to a general change of opinion. I regard it as merely the change of an individual opinion—a very different thing. The most rev. Primate challenged somebody on these Benches to deal with the figures given yesterday by the right rev. Prelate the Bishop of St. Asaph. I am sorry to see that the right rev. Prelate is not in his place at the moment, but no doubt he will be able to follow out my remarks afterwards. But need those figures be dealt with except in the way of explanation? I do not doubt for a moment that the right rev. Prelate who can do a sum in arithmetic as well as anybody else, has correctly worked out the financial result of this Bill and the effect of the Bill if it becomes law, first of all in individual parishes in the diocese of St. Asaph, and eventually in the diocese of St. Asaph as a whole. But is that very relevant to the consideration of this question? What is relevant is how much the Bill leaves to the Church in Wales. And remember, under tins Bill the money that is left to the Church in Wales, after Disestablishment, is pooled and put together. You may argue perfectly well that there is not enough money left, and that there is a case of hardship as a whole; but when you know quite well that the proposal is to pool the money, is it very relevant to take a certain parish and say under this Bill there will be nothing left at all? It is a very fine platform point, and a point to use with people who do not understand the whole financial bearing of the question, but to take the case of a parish that is to have nothing left, and not the case of another parish where nothing will be taken is not going very far in the way of argument.

The right rev. Prelate yesterday took the cases of hardship one by one, and they sounded very bad. What he would have been perfectly entitled to do, for the sake of argument, would have been to take the case as a whole, and then he might have argued the case on its merits and argued and it very capably indeed. But, as I have said, to take individual places when you know that the money that is left is to be split up fairly all round does not seem to me to be a very strong point in argument when you come to consider it. I listened to this debate most carefully yesterday and noticed that a great impression was made on the House when the Bishop of St. Asaph gave the figures of the tithe in his diocese. The total tithe in his diocese, as far as I followed his figures, was £49,000. He said that £3,000 of that is paid by Catholics, £6,000 of it by Nonconformists, and £40,000 of it by Church people. I have no doubt his figures are quite right, but what is the explanation? Until a few years ago tithe used to be paid directly by the farmer; but when a Tory Government was in office some years ago they altered that and arranged that the farmer should pay the tithe in addition to his rent to the landlord, the landlord to hand it over to the clergymen. So that the landlord, as the Government explained at the time, was a kind of conduit pipe to take the money from one man and pay it over to another. That is the explanation of the £40,000 out of £49,000 being paid by Church people. It is simply handed over by the landowner, but it is first of all collected by him from the farmer; and if the Bishop of St. Asaph had really wanted to show what the proportions of the Nonconformists and of the Church people were among the farming class, I do not think he would have had very much difficulty in going back to a case before the Tithe Act and seeing what the proportions were then, because probably the proportions have not changed very much since that time. Then to go back to the speech of the most rev. Primate. As I understood him when he was talking of the position of the Church in Ireland, he did not quite approve of tithe or any Church property that had been given to one particular place being handed over to another place. He quoted with approval somebody's opinion that you could not have tithe collected in Clare to spend in Belfast.


I quoted a sentence from Mr. Gladstone to that effect, but not as part of my argument.


I am very glad the most rev. Primate has no objection to that particular part of the Bill. I can understand that it is a policy which has been very naturally approved by the Church in other cases of the transfer of tithe where population has shifted, notably in the case of a church being pulled down in London, the population gone, and the proceeds spent on new endowments. There has been during this controversy a great deal of discussion as to what are or are not the numbers in Wales as between Church people and Nonconformists. I frankly do not see that anybody gains very much by any consideration of imaginary figures.


Hear, hear.


Looking at election figures, if a Nonconformist is right in asserting that the Church people are very small in number in Wales it follows logically that there must be enormous numbers of Nonconformists who are willing to vote against Disestablishment and Disendowment; if, on the other hand, a Bishop is right in asserting that the Church comprises nearly one half of the people of Wales, he only proves that there must be an enormous number of Church people in Wales who are willing to vote for Disestablishment and Disendowment. Therefore I fail to see what one gains by arguing on such lines. I have had some experience of the counting of heads at elections in Wales, and my belief is that the proportion of electors at election times is something near to the proportion of Nonconformists and of Church people, with this proviso—that I think on the whole there are great numbers who, happily, do not vote on denominational lines. Numbers of Nonconformists vote Conservative and numbers of Church people vote Liberal, but so far as my own experience goes I should think there are probably more Nonconformists who vote against Disestablishment than there are Church people who vote for Disestablishment.

There must be many members of your Lordships' House who have had very little experience of Wales and who think that the conditions are very much like what they are in England. To realise the position in Wales you want to understand, first of all, that the Church is in a very considerable minority in the whole country, whatever the exact figure may be, but you have many places there where the Church is in a majority, particularly in small towns, and especially in the English-speaking districts. Whether it has anything to do with the language or the different race of the settlers in the English-speaking districts I do not know and do not pretend to say, but there is no doubt that in many of the small towns, and to a great extent in the English-speaking districts, the Church is strong in numbers. When I speak of the strength of the Church I am only speaking of numbers. The Church also is very strong in numbers in the big towns, but when you realise that the Church is in a majority in some places and is strong in the big towns, you come to this conclusion, which is the fact, that in the great part of the agricultural districts in Wales the Church has an exceedingly small number of adherents in proportion to the population. That is the position in Wales with which you have to deal.

A good deal has been said by noble Lords about the Welsh demand, whether it is a real demand or not. I sit in this House and hear on all sides that the members of this House have no right to speak with regard to Wales. I heard from Lord Balfour that a Scottish Member does not know anything about Disestablishment and we have been told this afternoon that an Irish Member does not know anything about Welsh Disestablishment. It is very difficult to understand how the opinion of the country is to be got at if you are to proceed on those lines. But as regards the opinion of Wales on Disestablishment I would quote one opinion which I think is a fairly impartial one. It is the opinion of a man who is, I think, quite as much opposed to the Liberal Party as he is to the Tory Party—Mr. Keir Hardie. I do not think I have ever quoted him before, and perhaps I may never quote him again. Mr. Keir Hardie is not a man Who is trying to exaggerate the strength of Liberalism in the constituencies. Speaking in the House of Commons he said that he was bound to say, being a Welsh Member, that in his opinion it would be absolutely impossible for a Labour Member in Wales to be returned to Parliament unless he was in favour of Disestablishment and Disendowment. That, my Lords, I consider a true statement and exactly represents the position in Wales.

Then it has been said that the Church in Wales ought to receive special consideration because it is a poor Church. It is a poor Church. By the side of the Church in England it is a very poor Church indeed, but you must remember that Wales as a whole is a very poor country. The money that there is in Wales is confined to certain districts like the mining districts. In the agricultural districts Wales is a very poor country. There is some rich land in Wales, but, speaking generally, it is a bit down at the bottom of a valley and the farms run away on the hills; and you might have farms in Wales which could be called considerable farms, but which would still come under the heading of a small holding as consisting of under fifty acres or of a less rental value than £50 a year. In Wales you do not have resident wealthy or comparatively wealthy gentry as they are called. In the great bulk of the agricultural districts there is not a resident squire to be found. In my own county I could pick out parish after parish where you would not find the house of even the smallest squire. The population consists of small and poor farmers, not farmers as you know them in England, but poor small-holders, many of them working with their own hands, helped by their families, and few of them employing any outside labour at all. That is the population, small farmers, with a Nonconformist minister or two, and in those parishes a clergyman, who to us would seem a very poor man—I want to impress on the House what the relative position is—a man with £100 a year from tithes and a house of his own and a few acres of glebe—such a man to the people in the agricultural districts of Wales among whom he lives does not seem to be a poor man at all. The position in Wales with which you are asked to deal under this Bill is entirely different socially and in every other way from the position in England.

There is another challenge that was made yesterday in the course of the debate by the right rev. Prelate the Bishop of London, whom also I do not see in his place. I have no doubt he could not be here, but as he made the challenge I feel bound to try and answer it. He talked of the equity or the reverse of taking away endowments from anybody who had held them for a long time. As to ancient endowments there are, I take it, two views, and it is no use any member of this House putting forward his own view with regard to ancient endowments on the basis of whether there was or was not continuity in the Church. Many people think that if anybody has a title to ancient endowments it is the Roman Catholics. But taking a date from the Reformation, the right rev. Prelate the Bishop of London asked us why, if twenty-five years gives an adequate title to given property to a Nonconformist, why does not 300 years give an adequate title to given property to the Church. The question is surely one of proportion. Let us imagine a case. Suppose in Australia to-day the whole of the five millions of population were Church of England and you had an Established Church in possession of great property—it is immaterial whether it was given by the Government or whether it came from private contributions. Then imagine that in 100 years the population of Australia, instead of being five million was 100 million and that only half the people were then members of the Established Church, the other half being members of other Churches. Would it be quite absurd to argue in a case of that kind that if the Church had the money when all the people belonged to it it did not necessarily follow that it was entitled to the money when it only embraced half the population? Is it not matter of proportion? You may say half and half is not enough. Supposing the Church only comprised one-tenth of the population—there must come some point at which everybody must admit that a Church which was in a minority would not have a moral right to retain the whole of the property which belonged to the Church when it embraced the whole of the people. That is, I think, the moral claim for Disestablishment. The Church, it seems to me, acquired property in ancient times when it comprised the whole of the people; when it comprises only a fraction of the people; do not see how any Churchman can logically claim that it should retain the whole property.

In the other House a very strong line was taken up about endowments—namely, that when property had once been dedicated to religious uses it was sacrilege to devote it to any less pious purposes. I do not think that line has been taken in its extreme in this House, and I doubt whether it is one that could be argued from the historical point of view as regards shoving that either countries or individuals that have shared the profits of Disendowment have ever experienced anything notable in the way of a curse. I should say it would be difficult to prove that Disendowment in any country had been followed by national disaster, and I think it would be still more difficult to show that great families that have profited from the confiscation of religious endowments had ever thereby experienced any great disadvantage. I was much struck, having read carefully through the debates in another place, with the zeal and fervour with which the case for concurrent endowment was pleaded. It did seem to me that there was a considerable number of Members who minded Disestablishment not so much as they minded Disendowment; they seemed to be more concerned with the ultimate destination of the funds that would be taken from the Church than with anything else.

I know this House has made up its mind to throw out this Bill to-morrow. We on this side learn the decisions of the House some days beforehand from the newspapers, and I have never known the newspapers to be wrong. But it is quite probable that in a few months time this Bill will come up here again. I would ask, then, whether members of this House share the view that was advocated by their friends in another place and whether that view is shared by the Episcopal Bench—that the most serious question of all is the ultimate destination of these funds. I wonder if that is their view too. The Nonconformists years ago discussed this question among themselves, and they decided that they would not go in for concurrent endowment. They made up their minds that they would not lay themselves open to the taunt of encouraging Disendowment for the sake of getting personal pecuniary gain. But surely it would be possible for this House, as a matter of compromise, if the right rev. Prelates take the view of their friends in the Lower House that it is the ultimate destination of the funds which is a matter of importance, to propose the hanging up of these funds for five or three years, for a future House of Commons to determine how best they might be used for religious purposes. There is one small gain the Church will get if this Bill is passed. I do not mean to say for a moment that it is a gain which will compensate it for the loss of the endowment funds, which will undoubtedly give the Church in Wales an uphill struggle for the first few years until matters are adjusted; but still it will be a gain to the Church to have its funds allocated to it to use according to its own wishes. No English Churchman could doubt the advantage that would flow from having diocesan fends available for the whole diocese, and not tied up in particular parishes or for particular uses in accordance with ancient trusts. In the debate yesterday the Bishop of London put before us, in a most moving way, the struggle he had had to raise money for the East-end, yet everybody knows that in spite of the changes that have taken place there is still great wealth left in the City of London in the form of churches and endowments with the very smallest possible population to be served by them. If only the wealth of the churches of the City of London could be used as to a great part of it for the benefit of the East-end of London it is probable that few if any of those difficulties to which the right rev. Prelate so feelingly alluded would ever have arisen.

I come now to a matter which one cannot prove, but I believe this is the great advantage which the Church in Wales is going to get if this Bill becomes law. In Wales more than in almost any other country people are influenced by sentiment. In Wales national sentiment is very strong indeed. It is not a thing that is confined to one class or one Party. Churchmen and Conservatives are just as good nationalists in the main as anybody else, but they are in this difficulty. In any country, in the smallest country, when you appeal to national sentiment you cannot pretend to appeal to it except with the view that if there is a national sentiment at all on purely national affairs the people of that place ought to have a predominating voice. In Wales ever since they got the extension of the franchise in 1885 Welsh people have been voting for Disestablishment and Disendowment. They vote on other things too—the Land Question, Taxation, Insurance; everything that comes up that interests other people interests them. There is a fluctuating population that votes both ways, but in the main there is a great block of public opinion in Wales that has made up its mind in favour of Disestablishment and Disendowment, and it has been denied them; and while the Church in Wales is treated as being a branch of the English Church and not being a Welsh institution it is at a very great and permanent disadvantage.

Nobody need think that religion is not going to be safe in Wales. The most rev. Primate reminded the House that the people in Wales were Christians long long years before Christianity was ever preached among the English. And the Welsh are a religious people to-day. The Bishop of St. Asaph yesterday said that in more than one-third of the parishes in his diocese there were no Nonconformist ministers. That statement would almost lead the House to imagine that if the number of the clergy of the Church of England was reduced by the passing of this Bill the people would have to go without any religious ministry at all. I do not for a moment believe that that will be the effect. Let me give figures from the Report of the Royal Commission. The total number of the ministers and clergy of the Church of England in Wales is 1,597; of resident Nonconformist ministers, 2,550; and some 2,300 other ministers—non-resident ministers, the lay preachers, and the Wesleyan ministers who are, I believe, never resident for any length of time in one place. That shows nearly 5,000 ministers in all against the 1,597 of the Church of England. Can it then be seriously argued that religion is not going to be safe in Wales if this Bill is passed? Nobody attempts to deny that the Church of England in Wales is doing its work as well as it can. Everybody is glad of it. But the figures really show the position in Wales better than anything else. In spite of the Church of England in Wales being in a minority in proportion to the whole population, there are as many communicants of the Church of England in Wales as there are in England —that is to say, although the Church of England in Wales is in a minority it still has as big a grasp on the whole population as far as religious services are concerned as the Church has in England. The communicants in Wales of the Church of England are 193,000, and in addition to that there are 550,000 Nonconformist communicants. The figures are simply prodigious, and whatever else they prove I think they do prove that no one need be anxious that if this Bill becomes law religion is going to die out among the population of Wales.

The noble Lord who moved the rejection of the Bill said that its passing would cause religious bitterness that would last for many years; but I hope and believe that it will lead to the dying out of religious bitterness. Nobody who knows Wales can deny that there is bitterness between the Church and other bodies. It is not always active and it is not everywhere—a national life could not be lived if it were so—but it constantly shows itself. It crops up at times of local elections when, instead of the best man being returned, matters resolve themselves into a fight between Church and chapel; if the Churchmen are in a majority one man will get in, if not, the other man will. That is a state of things which many of us want to see come to an end. It was to a certain extent dying down until the Education Act of the last Tory Government which put many duties in connection with education of a highly contentious nature into the hands of county councils. That led to a great revival of this Church and chapel fight at local elections. It is just as well to look facts in the face. Bitterness does exist, and that bitterness can, I think, be made appreciably less by this Bill, and I long to see the whole question settled and this bitterness eventually dying out, as I believe it will.

Then, my Lords, the argument has been put forward in this House that you must have a State Church or else you cannot have a national recognition of religion, you cannot have religion at the great national ceremonies. That is not the case, and we can give you an illustration in Wales. Immediately following the magnificent national and religious ceremony of the Coronation in Westminster Abbey you had the Welsh Investiture at Carnarvon, a ceremony which to a Welshman was, perhaps, the greatest and the grandest thing that had happened in the country for very many long years. But when the question of the Investiture came to be discussed at Carnarvon the arrangements for it were promoted by a non-Party committee, and no non-Party committee could dream of proposing that in Wales any national function should be conducted merely by one denomination. The thing was out of the question. I am speaking only from memory, but I believe the arrangements for the religious part of the ceremony were made by the most rev. Primate the Archbishop of Canterbury, in conjunction with one of the oldest Nonconformist divines. At any rate, they were made between the Church and the other denominations, and all denominations took part in the ceremony.


That historical event has been referred to more than once, and I should like to state accurately what did happen. The committee to which the noble Lord refers met and delegated, absolutely and unreservedly and with the utmost courtesy, to myself the making of the arrangements for the religious service. I made the arrangements, and I took the responsibility of inviting those Nonconformists who took part in it to co-operate.


I am glad to hear it, and I am very pleased that the most rev. Primate so well interpreted Welsh opinion, because I know the arrangements were a credit and a gratification to everybody and made the Investiture, what it would never have been under any other circumstances, a really national ceremony without one jarring note. We know what is to happen to this Bill to-morrow. But if this Bill is to come up to you again in a few months time, I ask you to consider in the meantime whether you could not take another view of things, whether you could not consider some sort of compromise or arrangement, some way of pressing forward a settlement of a matter that ought to be settled. The people of Wales are a very small people. But do you think it is well that in any part of the United Kingdom people should go on year by year, election after election, voting in a way that shows that they think at any rate they have a real grievance, and that when they come to Parliament their petitions are always ignored. You have things to consider in this House of more interest to you, I think, than Disestablishment. You have great questions with which you are apt to deal and are well qualified to deal, questions like that of the Army and of the Navy and great Constitutional questions, and in the years to come there may be questions of taxation that will be more important perhaps than any other questions. When those great questions come up you will want to appeal from time to time to the people of Great Britain, and if you go to the people of Wales while their grievance is unredressed they will think of their own grievance and of very little else. It is surely for the good of the whole people that this grievance in Wales should be redressed and that the people should have the Disestablishment and Disendowment they want. I believe that by the passing of this Bill you will bestow a blessing on the people of Wales and add to the loyalty of the people of that corner of Great Britain.


My Lords, when soon after the middle of last century the question of the Disestablishment and Disendowment of the Church was brought before the House of Commons it was urged by men who based their support of it on grounds of broad general principle which commanded respect even from those who differed from them. Those men honestly believed it was bad for religion to have any connection between Church and State, and that such connection, however large the majority might be of the members of the Established Church, was unfair to those who did not share its communion. They believed that religion ought to be free, as they called it, from State patronage and control. They had the courage of their opinions, because they directly attacked the whole Church of England. I cannot congratulate the Government on showing the courage of their opinions in this little Bill.

This Bill has been put forward by the noble Earl opposite, and even by the last speaker, as a purely Welsh affair. I deny that it is a purely Welsh affair; for surely the Disestablishment and Disendowment of part of the Church of England concerns England as well as Wales. It has been urged on the ground of the enormous majority of Welsh Members who have supported it for the last thirty or forty years that it is the preponderating wish of the people of Wales. We do not really know what the feeling of the people would be if this Bill, including the proposal of Disendowment, which I believe is really unpopular everywhere, were put before them. That the opinion of the Welsh Members is an important asset in the discussion I do not deny, but I do deny that we have any right whatever, if we think the proposal is wrong in itself and bad for the country, to give way to the opinion of the Welsh Members. His Majesty's Government have not put it on the high ground of nationality. The noble Earl knows very well that none of them, so far as I am aware, have in any way pledged themselves to the establishment of a separate Parliament and Ministry for Wales, which, after all, we may take it from the Irish Bill is their idea of the proper treatment of a nation. Therefore it has been merely put before the country as a proposal favoured by a large preponderance of Welsh Members of Parliament for thirty years, which is not a very long time in the history of a Church or a country, and resting simply upon that basis.

But when I consider what has been said by leading Nonconformists outside Parliament, who all their lives, so far as I know, have been strong supporters of Disestablishment and Disendowment, on general grounds, for the whole Church of England, I can only describe this Bill as a measure for the commencement of the Disestablishment and Disendowment of the whole Church. That does put the whole question on a higher basis than on the mere support of 31 out of 36 Welsh Members. I will not detain your Lordships by going into the arguments for the Establishment of any Church. I will only say this, that to my mind it is for the good of the State that the sanction of religion should be given to the authority of the law, and that there should be that security for religious freedom and that comprehension in a single Church of men of varying religious opinions which is really only possible in an Established Church and is certainly quite impossible within the narrow bounds of any trust deed.

If we were discussing, as I wish we were discussing if we are to discuss this matter at all, a proposal for the Disestablishment and Disendowment of the whole Church of England, then I should feel that there was force in what the noble Earl opposite said last night as to the disadvantages which Establishment does bring to a certain extent to the Church. I know there are very many Churchmen who feel that the present House of Commons, containing as it does men of all religions and no religion, is not a fitting tribunal for the discussion of questions of doctrine or ritual or even of discipline for the Church of England. I know that there are many who would desire that those questions should be dealt with in another way, instead of its being impossible, owing to the Church being Established, to deal with them except in Parliament; and when the noble Earl referred to a small measure which I have been vainly endeavouring to get discussed in the House of Commons for some years—it is an important measure, all the same—I did feel some little regret that it had been impossible to get that measure fairly considered. But, my Lords, it is a strange proposition that you should disestablish a Church in order to pass an Additional Bishoprics Bill, and I am not without considerable hope that the time may come, perhaps before very long, when a more sympathetic House of Commons and a more sympathetic Government may find more time for that measure than it has as yet received.

But, my Lords, we are not considering to-day the question of disestablishing the whole Church of England; what we are considering is piecemeal Disestablishment, because it is not a question of disestablishing a Church and leaving it with its spiritual unity intact, it is the cutting off part of a Church joined in spiritual unity with the Church of England, destroying that spiritual unity so far as Parliament can deal with it by telling that Church to set itself up as a separate Church, with a body to manage its own spiritual as well as temporal work. This has been admirably dealt with by the right rev. Prelate the Bishop of St. Asaph and the most rev. Primate, and to my mind this is the most objectionable feature in the Bill. The jurisdiction of the See of Canterbury in Wales is of purely ecclesiastical origin, and Parliament has no right to destroy the unity of a Church which it never created.

I was struck with what the noble Earl said last night on this subject. He said that the Bill in no way touched the essentials of the Church—its doctrine, ritual, orders, or sacraments. That is true. Of course, the Bill cannot touch them. But what does this severance of the two parts of the Church mean? I think that was well described by the Bishops of the Church of Enlgand in the year 1893. They said that it endangered the whole relation which ought to exist between the Welsh and the English dioceses for the purposes as well of legal discipline and jurisdiction as of joint deliberation and consequently for the security of spiritual teaching. It is proposed that Parliament shall set up a representative body which is to form a Church under a separate government. What its articles are to be, what its creeds are to be, what is to be its ritual, what are to be its doctrines Parliament cannot say and nobody knows. But, of course, we all believe, assuming the Bill becomes law, that such is the desire for unity among Churchmen that it will compel the representative body to carry on religious work in the same spirit and on the same lines as that work is carried on now. But when you have once set up this separate body you cannot tell how far that body will go, and year after year there will be the risk, to put it no higher than that, of some divergence in ritual, discipline, and doctrine which might materially injure the unity that exists in the whole Church of England at present. This is felt to be a gross injustice by the members of the Church of England in Wales, and rightly so. By a Bill which is supposed to be based on religious equality and religious liberty, you cut off these dioceses and deprive them of their community of religious interests with the Church which they have enjoyed for centuries, and which the Free Churches in Wales, in spite of their national sentiment, studiously maintain for themselves. Could anything be more unfair towards the Church than this proposal in the Bill?

I do not want to dwell on this aspect of the question, but I must add that it does differentiate this Bill entirely from the Irish Church precedent to which the noble. Earl opposite attached such great importance last night. I have no affection for the Irish Church Act. I voted against that Bill I think in every Division in the House of Commons, and I would do it again. I think that Bill was wrong, and when I am asked to say that it was right because under God's providence the Church of Ireland has prospered since, I think I might refer the noble Earl to the reply which the most rev. Primate gave to him this evening to show that in some important respects the prosperity has been by no means so great as the noble Earl supposes. But I do not think that those who are at the back of this Bill really care anything whatever about the spiritual future of the Church in Wales. Some I am afraid, thanks to a spirit of bitter jealousy, partly political and partly religious, would be glad to see the Church thoroughly crippled in its religious work. I do not attribute that to the Government or to supporters of the Government like the noble Lord, Lord Pontypridd, who spoke with great moderation, and, if I may say so, with good sense upon this subject last night; but I do believe, judging simply from their public utterances, that that spirit does actuate the main promoters of this Bill in Wales.

Now I come to the question of Disendowment. The Church in Wales is to be disestablished, as far as I can see, in order to find a plausible argument for taking away a large portion of its funds. Over and over again the Chancellor of the Exchequer and his followers have described Church property as national, and I really think that the Chancellor of the Exchequer has used this phrase so often that he has come to believe it himself. That view is opposed to all historical authorities. It was not suggested for a moment by the noble Lord, Lord St. Davids, who spoke just now with ability on this subject, and it has hardly been suggested in any debate in this House. Here it is admitted that the endowments of the Church belong to the Church, and were given in the several dioceses and parishes by individual donors years ago; that they have always remained the property of the Church; and the State never gave them in any sense whatever.

The noble Lord, Lord St. Davids, has spoken on the subject of tithe, and said the grievance of the Welsh farmer arose from the landlord being the conduit pipe through which it was paid. That is a misrepresentation of the Tithes Act. and nobody knows it better than myself, because I was responsible for the passing of that Act. What happened was this. Tithe was felt to be a grievance by the Nonconformist Welsh farmer, although it was really no grievance at all, because it was a charge on the property of the landowner, which as part of his rent the tenant had undertaken to pay. The Act transferred the entire liability from the tenant to the landlord. If the tenant pays it through the landlord as part of his rent, and objects, all he has to do is to give notice to his landlord to terminate his agreement. Possibly the landlord might say the rent would be raised, but that does not make the tithe a liability on the tenant. The noble Lord, Lord St. Davids, has misrepresented the effect of the Act, which was so successful that it absolutely put an end to all resistance to the payment of tithe throughout the whole of Wales. The noble Lord referred to the view which had been taken in another place of the secularisation of property given and used for religious purposes. He said it had been called sacrilege. I am not at all sure that I did not use that word myself in the debates upon the plunder of the Church in Ireland. I should not use it now, because I do not care to use a term which may give unnecessary offence; but this much I will say, that I think it simply wrong to take this property of the Church which was given for purposes of religious teaching and divine worship, which has always been devoted to those purposes, which is wanted for those purposes, which is well administered for those purposes, as the noble Lord himself admitted, and divert it to secular uses. My opinion is not a matter of much moment, but I feel so strongly about it that I think it would be impossible for me to assent to a Bill containing such a proposition as that.

Something was said by the noble Lord about a proposal which had been made in another place for concurrent endowment. He said that these ancient endowments, which to my mind are just as sacred as the modern ones, had been given to the Church when the Church really represented the whole of the people, but now that it only represents a minority of them it is right that the other denominations should share in those endowments. I feel the force of that argument. I voted years ago for concurrent endowment in the case of the Church of Ireland, and I have always regretted that it was found impossible to carry that proposal. It was a proposal that had very strong support from able and influential men in your Lordships' House. I think the proposal for concurrent endowment was made in a thorough spirit of Christian toleration in the House of Commons, and I regret that it was put aside simply on the ipse dixit of the Welsh Members, without any kind of reference to the people most concerned, the ministers of the congregations of the Nonconformist bodies. Who can read of the miserable stipends of those ministers—excellent men, I have no doubt, doing their work, as I am sure they do, as servants of the God they profess to serve—without feeling that it would be a good thing if something were done to help them. I feel this so strongly that my objection to Disendowment would largely disappear if it were possible to adopt any system of concurrent endowments for other Christian denominations in Wales. I have said that I believe it to be a wrong to take these religious funds and devote them to secular purposes. That view naturally must be held very strongly by the enormous majority of Churchmen in Wales.

The noble Lord said this would remove bitterness. I am afraid it will simply create new causes of bitterness. Do you suppose, if the Bill becomes law, that for generations to come the manlier in which Parliament dealt with the endowments of the Church in Wales will be forgotten? Do you imagine that any one connected with the Church will think the Church has received justice and fair treatment? I heard with deep regret one sentence of the speech of the noble Earl last night in which he said the Bishops and clergy of the Church in Wales were fighting to maintain their position of privilege and diverting their energies from the welfare of the people in Wales. That sentence reminded me of a well-known description of a certain animal, "This is a very wicked animal; it defends itself when attacked." Who attacked the Church? To what is this fighting due? Why, it is due to the noble Lord and his colleagues who sit on the Bench opposite. What have the Bishops and clergy of the Church in Wales been doing for the last year? Do you think that men like the Bishop of St. Asaph—who last night made one of the most eloquent speeches to which I have ever listened—or the Bishop of St. Davids, whose energy and versatility have been a matter for wonder, have been fighting for themselves? Their own incomes, and the incomes of their clergy are jealously preserved by this Bill so long as they live. They have been fighting for the future of their Church and for the heritage of the poor. They have been lighting that the Church in Wales may retain for the future something at least of the power she now enjoys for religious work. I heard Lord Pontypridd say last night that in the Rhondda and in Cardiff the best work he knew was being done by the Church in Wales.


In Cardiff.


In Cardiff, and that the endowments were very small, so that Disendowment would not really much affect the Church at that particular place. I do not doubt that that is true so far as it goes; but what did the noble Lord go on to say? He thought that if you could do so well with a little tithe you would do better if you had not any. It was rather a singular argument, and I will try to persuade him it was not a fair one. Lord St. Davids suggested it would be a great advantage to the Church if they pooled the endowments. The endowments could not be pooled under the provisions of this Bill unless the Church was able to accept commutation. The noble Lord went on to say that it was a poor church in a poor country, which is quite true; and we say that the poverty —not in the great industrial centres, not at Cardiff, Swansea, Newport, or the Rhondda, but the poverty in the rural parishes—is the difficulty. The noble Lord said that in many agricultural parishes there were no rich residents, and that the parson, although not a rich man, was in comparison quite a rich man amongst his poor neighbours. Did not the noble Lord see the force of his own argument? It is these rural parishes that would be mainly affected by this Bill, and according to Lord St. Davids there was nobody in them to give any help except the parson. In numbers of such parishes there is no resident Nonconformist minister. What does the Bill do It takes away the endowments from these parishes. They are the parishes in which the tithe is to go to secular purposes under this Bill. All their endowments will be absolutely gone, without commutation, as soon as the existing incumbent dies. Does not the noble Earl feel that that is some hardship to the Church?


I am sure the noble Viscount does not wish to misrepresent me. When I pointed out that benefit would accrue to the Church from being able to pool the funds I expressly said that such financial benefit as they could get would be only a small compensation against the financial loss they would undoubtedly sustain the first years after Disestablish-merit and Disendowment. I am afraid the noble Viscount did not catch that, but I expressly said it.


What I am trying to prove is that the financial loss in these rural parishes would be very grave indeed. I agree that you cannot apply your argument in this matter to the whole Church. If you are arguing on the hardships of Disendowment you must take the places where it would be most grievously felt. It is in these rural parishes that for centuries a resident pastor has been maintained by the endowments of the Church to visit the sick and dying, and to provide those spiritual services, from the baptism of children to the burial of the dead, which very many who are not members of the Church of England in name have accepted. This is work that can be done by no other body, because it would be impossible for any voluntary system to provide such an organisation throughout the length and breadth of the land.

Now I come to a question which I think is of some importance. How much would be diverted from religious to secular purposes by this Bill? Ultimately £157,000 a year—a very material part of the income of the Church. I do not say that as the years go by a considerable part of that loss may not be made up by voluntary gifts, but having regard to the needs of the Church in industrial districts and the calls in these poor rural parishes, it will be a hard struggle indeed for many years to come to make up any large part of the deficiency. But will the county councils and the University benefit by £157,000 a year under this Bill? Not for very many years, because that sum is charged, as is very well known, with an amount for life interests, which capitalised comes to something between £2,000,000 and £3,000,000, with payments to patrons for the loss of their patronage, to the holders of lay offices for the loss of those offices and with the cost of working the Act. I saw it estimated in a leading London Ministerial journal that not more than £32,000 a year for many years will go to the county councils and the University for secular purposes. I think that any decent captain of a robber band of the middle ages, or his modern successor, the fraudulent company promoter, would have regarded with scorn a transaction which involved such an act as the plunder of a Church for the sake of a profit of no more than £32,000 a year.

Is it worth while? That is a question which has never yet been answered. We find a difficulty, of course, in arguing questions of right and wrong. I am very well aware that noble Lords opposite think it perfectly legitimate to apply Church endowments to the purposes to which they propose to devote them; but I do ask them whether they think it is really worth while to take such a step as this for so small a benefit to any one. Of course that argument will not affect those who simply want to injure the Church without caring whether they do any one any good. This Bill will only injure the Church, and will not benefit Nonconformists unless they accept the idea of concurrent endowment. It will not really benefit the University or county councils, because it would be perfectly easy to supply all their wants from the rates or taxes. It will certainly increase bitterness because Churchmen will be suffering from injustice.

Will this Bill cure the Nonconformist grievance? What is the Nonconformist grievance? I have always thought—and I hope I shall give offence to no one by saying so—it amounted to a feeling that Nonconformist ministers and sometimes Nonconformists themselves, were considered to be on a lower social scale than the ministers, and perhaps sometimes even the members, of the Established Church. If that is a grievance—and I think it is felt by a good many more people than would care to acknowledge it—can it be removed by this Bill? Even after Disendowment the Church in Wales will still remain the Church of the wealthy and more educated part of the community and will consequently attract ministers of a higher social status, who will be treated as men of a higher social status than the Nonconformist ministers. Has it been a grievance that Nonconformists have had to build their own chapels at very great cost to themselves? That grievance, if it exists, will still remain. The Church will still possess the ancient cathedrals and the parish churches with all their hallowed memories, and the Nonconformist will still have to pay off the debt on his chapel. There may even be a new Nonconformist grievance. It will be a hard struggle for the Church to replace the endowments she is to lose. That will not only require contributions from her wealthier but her poorer members. It must happen that part of the contributions Churchmen now give for charitable and other purposes to benefit persons of all religions and creeds will have to be diverted to the maintenance of the Church.

I am afraid there is something beyond this still. I have heard allegations of unfair treatment by Church landlords of Nonconformist tenants on the ground that they are Nonconformists, and by wealthy Church customers of Nonconformist tradesmen on the same ground. I do not believe that these allegations have ever been proved, but by this Bill you are compelling Churchmen to cling together and to help one another first before they can help anybody else, and that may give rise to loss and unpleasantness in the future to Nonconformists who have hithertc received equal treatment from Church people.

The noble Lord spoke of the advantages the Church would derive from pooling her resources. That could be done, of course, under commutation, but I do not think the scheme of commutation shows any generosity to the Church. I do not know that there is any call for generosity, but I think it is all important to the county councils and the University that a scheme of commutation should be sufficiently sound to be accepted by the Church. For this reason. If this Bill had been left as it was when it was first introduced without any scheme of commutation at all the simple effect would be that the county councils and University would come into possession of a number of little properties all over Wales, consisting of tithe and glebe, all subject to life interests, of which the glebe would be managed and controlled by the incumbents during their lifetime. These authorities would never know when the lives would fall in. They could only deal with their rights subject to those lives, and it would be practically impossible for them to formulate any sound and satisfactory scheme for years to come dealing with revenues that would ultimately accrue. Further, there would be continuous friction and unpleasantness because the county councils and University would be liable to pay the incumbents the annual income out of the livings. Commutation would avoid all that. It would, of course, mean that a certain capital sum would be mace over to the Church body by the Commissioners so that the Church body might arrange with the incumbents, and the properties would then be handed over to the county councils and University free of all life interests, and they would be able to deal with them at once as they chose. Is it not perfectly clear that this will be an enormous advantage to the county councils and University? But you cannot do that unless you can persuade the Church representative body to adopt a scheme of commutation.

A good deal has been said in another place about the terms of this scheme. I had hoped that the noble Lord, who has great financial experience, might have told us something on that subject. I have looked into it so far as I could. The investments of the Church representative body must necessarily be confined to a certain class of securities which has continuously depreciated in recent years; and having regard to the income they could obtain from those securities, and to the fact that it would be incumbent upon the Church during the earlier years of commutation to realise a large amount of her securities, I am of opinion that the terms of the scheme are not such as the Church in present financial conditions could safely accept. Nobody knows what the financial position will be when the Bill becomes law at some future date. But supposing the financial conditions to be as they are now, the best opinion amongst actuaries, I think, is that to calculate the value of the annuities on a basis of 32 per cent. practically dooms it to failure and that the basis ought to be altered to 3 per cent. if there is to be a fair chance to the representative body to carry through the scheme, to the great advantage of the county councils and University, without landing itself in bankruptcy. I know what Mr. McKenna's idea was. "Oh," he said, "you get a lot of voluntary contributors, and von can easily make the matter good," as if he had the faintest right to start a scheme of this sort dependent on future voluntary contributions to the Church, and not resting on a proper financial basis of its own. This, of course, is something in the nature of detail, and perhaps I ought to apologise for having troubled your Lordships with it, but it is so essential a feature in any scheme of Disendowment that I have thought it well to make these few observations upon it.

But, after all, what your Lordships have to deal with to-night are not the details but the principles of the Bill. I will venture to say that in my belief this Bill is a mere survival. I do not think that its principles are growing now; I think they are waning throughout the country. I agree with Lord St. Davids that the thoughts of the great mass of the electors are turning to quite other matters, many of which may come before your Lordships' House on some future occasion. I believe that people are beginning more and more to realise that there is nothing in the establishment and endowment of the Church in Wales or elsewhere which acts in any way injuriously to the interest of the Free Churches. I believe it is becoming more and more clear that that alienation of which the noble Lord spoke between the bulk of the people and the Church in Wales is passing away. It was due, as we all know, to mistakes and blunders unhappily made by English ministers and possibly by English Bishops who thought that they could Anglicise the Church in Wales instead of making it the Church of the Welsh people. It was the Church of the Welsh people before 1780, and with every year that passes I firmly believe that it is becoming more and more the Church of the Welsh people again. It is doing its work as well as any Church in the country with very small resources as is universally admitted.

Why is this Bill being pressed forward? It has been pressed forward by Nonconformist ministers in Wales on the Welsh Members. It has been pressed by the Welsh Members on the Liberal Party. It has been pressed by the Chancellor of the Exchequer on his colleagues in the Cabinet. That is the history of it. I cannot help thinking that even some of the Welsh Members who support it are ashamed of some of the meanness of its provisions and that they would sympathise much more with the attitude of Lord Pontypridd and Lord St. Davids than with the speeches of men like Mr. Llewellyn Williams. However that may be, of this I feel certain, that among the English Liberal Party there are very many men who cordially dislike the provisions of this Bill, and especially the provisions as to Disendowment. I do not think any one can pretend that, putting aside the opinion of the large majority of the Welsh Members, there is any mandate of the country behind this Bill.

How has it been passed through the House of Commons? Let us take its history in Committee. On three most important matters—whether the tithe should be the only property taken away from the Church in Wales; whether the glebe should be reserved to the Church; whether the curates should obtain compensation for their less of income and prospects— on these three important matters, an adverse vote on which would have meant the defeat of the Bill, the Government were only saved from defeat by the votes of 60 or 70 Irish Nationalist Members. I adhere entirely to what the most rev. Primate said with regard to those votes, if, they were conscientiously given. So long as the Irish Members are in the House of Commons they are entitled to give their votes on any subject; but remember what is the proposal of the Government themselves. Under the Government of Ireland Bill English Members are not to vote on Irish affairs, and at the very time that the Government make this proposal they are saved from defeat on this Bill by the votes of Nationalist Members who have no concern in the question. Suppose that the Irish Home Rule Bill should become law under the Parliament Act before the present Parliament is dissolved, and that the Bill now before your Lordships should not become law under the Parliament Act before the present Parliament is dissolved. Suppose that in the new Parliament there should be precisely the same balance between the two great political Parties as exists now. In that Parliament there will be between 50 and 60 fewer Irish supporters of this Bill than there have been in this Parliament, and in such circumstances I venture to say that this Bill in its present shape could never get through the new House of Commons.

I hope that your Lordships will reject the Motion for the Second Reading of this Bill. It has been hinted very plainly that if that is done the Bill may be passed into law by the operation of the Parliament Act. A Bill with such a Parliamentary history as this, and with such a probable Parliamentary future has no right to be passed into law under the Parliament Act. I do not think a more unconstitutional procedure could be suggested or one more certain to lead, with every justification, to reactionary legislation than that the Parliament Act should be used in such circumstances as those which I have stated to your Lordships' House to force this Bill on the Statute-book without allowing the constituencies to express their opinion on the great principles which it contains.


My Lords, this is the first occasion on which I have addressed the House, and I do so because, being deeply concerned for the welfare of the Church, I desire to add my protest against this harsh and unjust Bill, which partly disestablishes, most unreasonably dismembers, and drastically disendows the Welsh Church. Welsh Commissioners are to be set up who will take over the property of the Church. We know that one of these Commissioners will be a Churchman, and that the First Commissioner will receive a salary not exceeding £1,500 a year, and a second Commissioner a salary not exceeding £1,000 a year. Who will pay the Commissioners those exceedingly comfortable stipends? Not the Treasury. They will be paid out of money which has been taken away from the Church. I do not think I need make any further comment on that.

The Church will then elect a representative body. We do not know exactly who may vote for their election, because the Bill does not explain in detail the meaning of the word "laity." When the representative body has been elected, the Welsh Commissioners will transfer to that body the fabrics and a certain amount of income, but under what right will the representative body receive from the Welsh Commissioners the fabrics and the small amount of endowment? The Bill says by a Charter given by Order of the King in Council, so that the Bill first of all disestablishes the Church, and then by Royal Charter re-establishes the Church, but with this difference: the Church in the future is to be established according to the wish of His Majesty's Government, and not according to any desire expressed by Churchmen. Why is the Church to be, so-called, disestablished? The first reason is that the right rev. Prelates sit on the Benches opposite. The Government have pledged themselves to reform your Lordships' House. When they carry out that pledge, it seems to me, that is the proper time to determine whether the Bishops should sit in this House or not.

Then we are told, and I think it is the most extraordinary argument of all, that the Church will gain and will be free. Whether the Church will gain or not seems to me a question that must be decided by Churchmen and by Churchmen alone. But will the Church be free? Are not the Bishops and the clergy of the Church in Wales forbidden to be members of Convocation? When you have laid it down by Act of Parliament what a Church may not do I fail to see where the freedom comes in. Mire than that, the constitution of the Church and the area in which it may carry out its administration are laid down. One clause allows the Church, if she wishes, to set up ecclesiastical courts, and an appeal will lie from those courts to the provincial courts of the Archbishop of Canterbury if the leave of the King in Council is first obtained. That is State interference. If the leave of the Prime Minister of the day has to be obtained, I fail to see where the freedom comes in. But I go so far as to say that there is no such thing as a free Church unless you show me a Church which has no trust deeds and no endowments. Your Lordships will remember that in 1907 three Nonconformist denominations—the Methodist New Connection, the Bible Christians, and the United Methodist Free Church—wished to amalgamate and form the United Methodist Church. They were advised legally that they could do no such thing; if they did they would violate the trust deeds. So they did the right and proper thing; they asked for State interference and for a Bill. Parliament rightly granted their request. So far as I am aware there was no opposition from any quarter. Parliament created the United Methodist Church, which to my mind is a Church established by law.

But the Church of England in Wales has never been established by any one Act of Parliament, the Establishment being one of long, slow, and often silent growth. I am quite aware that the Church in certain Acts of Parliament is referred to as being "established" by law, but I am given to understand that that is only the translation of the Latin word stabilita, which means "recognised." All that Parliament has done in the past has been to recognise a Church which was already in existence. Parliament never created the Church; it would be nearer the mark to say that the Church created Parliament, for Wales sent; her representatives to the Convocation of Canterbury two and a half centuries before she ever sent a Member to the House of Commons. The first clause of this Bill starts off by saying that on such and such a day— the Church of England, so far as it extends to and exists in Wales and Monmouth (in this Act referred to as the Church in Wales) shall cease to be established by law. I hope some member of the Government will explain that clause, for I own that I myself have not the faintest idea of what it means. The Church will not cease to be established by law. Is there not at this moment an attempt being made to pass a Bill through the House of Commons on behalf of that Church? Will not the Church in Wales, for the first time I believe in history, under this Bill receive a Parliamentary title? If there is any dispute in the Church as to what it is doing, the question will in future have to be decided by His Majesty's Judges, who will have to turn to this Bill to see if the Church is acting ultra vires or not. This Bill says that all ecclesiastical law shall cease in Wales and Monmouthshire. I want to know where the ecclesiastical law begins, and where it ends. One would have expected to find at the end of this measure a Schedule giving a list of the Acts of Parliament which are repealed. No such Schedule exists; we are left absolutely in the dark. I foresee some pretty work for lawyers and some pretty fees in deciding that question.

Why is the Church to be disendowed? The usual argument is that the Church's property is national property. If so, then let the nation produce its title deeds. We used to hear the argument, though I own it is not heard so much now, that what the State gave the State could take away. If the State gave the Church her property, I call upon the State to produce the Act of Parliament by which she did it. This Bill puts Nonconformists in a position of privilege over the Church. The endowments of the Church are to be taken away, but the endowments of Nonconformists are left alone. I do not want to disendow Nonconformists, neither do I wish my Church to be disendowed. The ancient churchyards surrounding our churches are to be taken away, but the burial grounds surrounding Nonconformist places of worship are untouched; they remain part of the Nonconformist property. Therefore I maintain that this Bill is putting Nonconformists in a position of privilege over the Church. These churchyards when taken away from the Church will be given to the local authorities. We reverance our churchyards and want to see them well maintained and carefully looked after, but we have no guarantee that the local authorities will do it. Even if they do, I think it is a cruel hardship on the Church to take away these churchyards.

What is the amount of the endowments that the Church enjoys? In 1910 the amount was £273,000 a year, and the 1909 Bill, after existing life interests had been taken into consideration, proposed to take away £253,000 and left the Church with £20,500 a year, or 1s. 6d. in the pound; but when the Home Secretary introduced his 1912 Bill he told us he meant to make an alteration. He took the income of the Church for 1906. I think when a Minister of the Crown brings in a Bill of this magnitude the figures should be more up to date; but I will take his figures. He told us that the income of the Church from endowments was £260,000 a year, and, after existing life interests had been considered, £173,000 was to be taken away, leaving the Church with £87,000 a year, or, as he put it, 6s. 8d. in the pound; but I hold that the Bill does not ensure to the Church even 6s. 8d. in the pound, but only 1s. 6d. The 6s. 8d. was arrived at by putting in a clause which said that the Ecclesiastical Commissioners and Queen Anne's Bounty may, if they like, not shall, continue to pay to the Church in Wales money which came from English sources, and everything which came from Welsh sources is to he taken away. I see no difference between what comes from English sources and what comes from Welsh sources; it is all the Church's property. Two Amendments moved by Liberal Members in another place were accepted leaving the Church another £15,000 a year, so that the amount of property which the Bill takes away, after existing life interests have been considered, is £158,000 a year; but it makes no difference to me whether 1s. 6d., 6s. 8d., or 15s. in the pound remains, for I hold that the Church has a perfect right to retain the equivalent of 20s. in the pound. Some of the property of the Church comes from tithes. There are two kinds of tithe, as you know—the tithe which goes to the Church, and that which goes to individual laymen. The latter in round figures comes to £40,000 a year. Under the Bill the laymen keep the whole of that £40,000 a year, but the Church loses every farthing of her tithe. We are told that tithe is national property. If that is so, why is £40,000 left in the hands of the laymen? It is only another proof, if further proof is needed, that the whole of this Bill is based on hostility to the Church.

We are told that the Church should not rely on its endowments but should practise the voluntary system. I agree that the voluntary system is a most excellent one in principle. Everyone should give as much as he can afford to the denomination to which he belongs, but the Nonconformists have found that the voluntary system will not bring in a sufficient amount, I hold that the Church has always practised the voluntary system; she was a pioneer in that system, for, if she had not in the past practised it, there would not be at this moment any ancient endowments for the Government to take away. Where will this money go in future? To the county councils, the University in Wales, and the National Library of Wales. I think that to take away money which was dedicated to the Church and to put it to secular objects is one of the most monstrous proposals ever put into a Bill. But the part of the Bill to which I object more than any other is that for dismemberment. The Church of England and Wales is one. As the late Mr. Gladstone said, you might as well talk of the Church of Wales in England as the Church of England in Wales. The Church knows no hard and fast line between England and Wales. There are parishes in Wales which belong to English dioceses and there are parishes in England which belong to Welsh dioceses. A parish now situated in England which belongs to a Welsh diocese will be taken away from the Welsh diocese and be given to an English diocese, and will not be disendowed. Parishes situated in Wales which now belong to English dioceses will be given to Welsh dioceses and will be disendowed.

Allusion has been made already in these debates to the question whether Nonconformist bodies would like to be dismembered. Mention was made of the 'National Free Church Council of England and Wales. Before the late Royal Commission a prominent Wesleyan witness was asked whether he thought Dismemberment would be good for his Church. He replied, "No; Welsh Methodists get such help from their English brethren that such Dismemberment would be disastrous." If Dismemberment would be disastrous to the Welsh Nonconformists, why should it be considered good to sever Churchmen in Wales from Churchmen in England? I hold that Parliament has no right to dismember any Church, whether young or old, against the wishes of that Church. There would be a great outcry, and rightly, if Parliament attempted to legislate on those lines for the Nonconformists against their wishes. I consider this proposal a most mean and unjust one, and one which is utterly unworthy of a great nation like ourselves. We have been passing lately through a time which is generally known and referred to as one of industrial unrest. It is no time for one denomination to be attacking another denomination. All denominations should preach goodwill amongst all men. Some Nonconformists would be doing far finer service than egging on the Government to dip its hand deeply into the pockets of one single denomination.

Has the Government the right to break a trust as it is doing on this occasion? hold that there are occasions when a Government may break a trust. One would be when the trustees are not carrying out the trust. Another would be if the reasons for which the trust was formed had become obsolete. The third would be that the trustees had more money than they knew what to do with. None of these charges can be brought against the Church. She is doing everything she can. Any test you like to take proves that the Church is rising from elevation to elevation. What good will this Bill achieve? It seems to me that if it is not going to do any good to religion no Christian man or Christian woman should have anything to do with it. Who is going to gain by the Disendowment proposals? Obviously the Church is not going to gain. Will the Nonconformists gain? None of the money taken away from the Church is to be given to them. Indeed, if the money is to be taken away from the Church I would far sooner that it should go to Nonconformists. Will the tithepayer gain? Tithe is to be paid in the future as in the past. Will the ratepayer gain? I understand from the statement of the Home Secretary that it is not likely that any money will be taken for the relief of rates. Will the taxpayer gain? Well, there is that £158,000 a year which is going to be given to objects to which it is conceivable the taxpayer might otherwise be called upon to contribute. What is £158,000 a year to the State when last year's Budget was for over £180,000,000? This £158,000 is a drop in the ocean to the State, but it means so much to the Church.

There was an Amendment moved in another place by a Liberal Member to the effect that the Church should retain all her property except tithes. I do not agree with that Amendment, but from the Government's point of view I cannot see why it should not have been accepted. The Home Secretary, however, informed the House that if it were carried he would have to drop the Bill, and the reason which he gave was that it would mean no settle- ment. Why would it not have meant a settlement, and why would the Home Secretary have had to drop the Bill? It would have made no difference to the question of so-called Disestablishment or to the question of Dismemberment, on both of which the Government seem to have set their mind, but it would have left the Church a little more of her property. We now see the way in which the wind blows, and that the real object of the Bill is to get hold of the Church's property. I shall record my vote against this Bill with a most sincere conviction that I am doing what is right, and my earnest hope is that this Bill may never foul the Statute Book.

[The sitting was suspended at eight o'clock and resumed at nine o'clock.]


My Lords, I hope it will not be considered presumptions that one who is not a member of the Church of England, and not a Nonconformist, and not connected with Wales, should attempt to express an opinion on this grave subject, which I approach, therefore, in a frame of mind of complete impartiality. It is clear that in Wales the Free Churches cannot accept the privileged position of the Established Church. There is no want of recognition of the good work done by that Church, neither can its means be said to be in excess of its requirements, but the sense of injustice is serious. The most rational settlement would be a redistribution of existing endowments in accordance with the spiritual needs of the Principality. In another place in Committee and on Report Amendments were moved to Clause 18 of the Bill in order that the property transferred should be applied to the support and maintenance of some one or more religious denominations. The Amendments to that effect introduced by the Opposition constituted the method of concurrent endowment. My noble friend Lord St. Davids and the noble Viscount opposite, Lord St. Aldwyn, both admitted that in that direction a solution might, perhaps, be found. I have always been in favour of concurrent endowment, but unfortunately that proposal was not accepted by the Nonconformists on account of the stubborn voluntarism which is a distinctive feature of the Free Churches.

Concurrent endowment, however, is certainly quite compatible with spiritual independence. It would not in any way limit the freedom of any Church if grants-in-aid were accepted by it from any source, and it would remove the existing inequality. I wish to call the special attention of your Lordships to what the Chancellor of the Exchequer said on December 13, in the debate in Committee on Clause 4— The hon. member for Kilmarnock [Mr: Gladstone] said, 'Let us have peace, let us have settlement, let us put an end to this war between people who ought to be co-operating for great common purposes in Wales; do not let us allow £10,000 or 120,000, or £40,000 to stand in the way of establishing peace, and working for the greatest purpose to which any community can devote itself.' If that appeal had been responded to I say without hesitation that the Government and the Welsh Members would be the first to respond to it. … am willing to seek peace and to ensure it. I am willing to go down to my constituents and to recommend settlements winch might, on the face of them, even appear to be unjust from our standpoint—if it is a settlement. It is clear, therefore, that if this Bill were to obtain a Second Reading, Amendments could be carried in Committee securing a settlement on more favourable lines to the Welsh Church than are at present included in the Bill. I think, especially with regard to the commutation scheme, as was shown by the noble Viscount opposite, Lord St. Aldwyn, that it would be well to give more liberal terms in accordance with the wishes of many Nonconformists as well as of Churchmen.

I am not opposed to the principle of Establishment where Establishment represents the general religious feeling of a country and exercises a powerful influence for good; but where it no longer represents that general feeling it is against its own interest for the Church to maintain its character of an Established Church. I wish to speak with due respect of the Welsh Church. I am sure that its influence will not be weakened but strengthened when it has obtained its freedom to organise its own affairs. That freedom implies the faculty of entering into close alliance with other Churches. We are in Scotland at this moment attempting to establish a union between the Established Church and the United Free Church. That requires on the part of both Churches certain concessions. I am sure that the same concordat—to call it by that name—could be established by the Disestablished Church in Wales if its representative council wished to enter into close connection with the Established Church of England or any other Church. It is our duty, I take it, to remove causes of friction between Churches which are engaged in the same field of operations and which ought to act as allies. In the mission field in India the missions of the Episcopal and of all the other Churches have agreed to join in a common effort. In that same spirit we ought to join our forces against the many evils with which our churches have to grapple, and not to engage in internecine warfare. A settlement ought to be arrived at by removing causes of irritation. With goodwill on both sides that ought not to be impossible, and instead of discord we ought to try and establish in Wales as well as in other parts of the Empire the bonds of Christian unity.


My Lords, I rise in the confident hope of receiving at your Lordships' hands some measure of that consideration which I know will be extended to one who can only occupy a subordinate position in this debate. I am sure that you will allow me to take this opportunity of thanking the right rev. Bishops of St. Davids and St. Asaph, in the name of the Welsh laymen, for their great endeavours on behalf of our ancient Church. No words of mine can express what we owe to them. We know that their earthly reward will be writ large on the pages of ecclesiastical contemporary history, just as we know that their greater reward hereafter will be worthy of their high endeavours. As a layman residing almost entirely the whole year in South Wales I may say that we who live in that part of Wales support whole heartedly the action taken up by the right rev. Prelates to whom have referred, and I myself shall give my vote whole-heartedly in support of the Amendment moved by the noble Lord. I do so feeling confident that my action will be endorsed by thousands of Welsh Churchmen and Churchwomen in all parts of the Principality, who have courageously expressed their opinion in public against any measure of Disestablishment and Disendowment, and especially against this measure which is now before your Lordships' House.

I can assure you that we who live in almost daily intercourse with all classes of society in South Wales cannot lock at this question dispassionately, nor contemplate without horror the harm that will inevitably ensue, and the utter disorganisation of all religious life in Wales that will be caused if this Bill is forced on the community. We are under the honest conviction that if such a Bill were ever to be passed into law, far from tending to remove the so-called hardships under which Nonconformists are supposed to exist, it would rather, and in the near future, give rise to a general movement against religion altogether, and deprive many parishes of the opportunities of public worship, especially rural parishes. Those are some of the bad results which would arise under this Bill. We should be deprived in many cases of the whole, and in other parts of a considerable part, of our ancient endowments, making it thereby impossible for us in many parishes to support an incumbent. My Lords, this inevitable tendency towards irreligion is more generally felt by members of the various denominations in South Wales than the promoters of this Bill are aware, and I respectfully urge that this is a point which ought to be most carefully considered before an attempt be made to force this Bill on a community who are not really in favour of it.

Speaking on the Third Reading of this Bill in another place, the Chancellor of the Exchequer gave some figures with regard to the seating accommodation in Nonconformist churches in Wales, and he gave that accommodation as 1,900,000. The noble Earl, in introducing this measure to your Lordships' House, gave the figure of 550,000 as representing the adherents of the Nonconformist bodies. Before the Royal Commission there was a witness who in his evidence said the average attendance at chapels in Wales was half the number of adherents. If that is so, I fail to see why the seating accommodation of 1,900,000 was required. If I had ten pairs of boots in my dressing-room it does not mean that nine other men are going to share my dressing-room with me or that nine other men are required to fill the boots. We have asked repeatedly for a religious census in Wales, for we know very well that had we had that religious census the figures would have been altered, and by a simple sum in addition instead of one of multiplication we should have arrived at the correct figures. In rural Wales it is only to clergymen of the Church of England that members of other denominations have an opportunity of turning for religious ministrations. For instance, take Radnorshire. That is a county of 470 square miles, and it is the smallest of the South Wales counties. It has 25,000 inhabitants, and there are 46 parishes, while there are 53 resident clergymen of the Church of England, 8 of whom reside in 4 of the principal towns. There are also in Radnorshire 32 Nonconformist ministers, 16 of whom are resident in those 4 towns, leaving 16 only for the rural parts of the county, where 45 clergymen find their time fully occupied in ministering to their parishioners of every denomination. There are very few cases where a Wesleyan will send to a Baptist minister, or, for that matter, to any Nonconformist minister when he is dying—he always sends to the clergyman of the Church of England.

The Prime Minister has himself referred to the work of the Welsh Church. I venture to suggest that, if read with unprejudiced eyes, the Report of the Royal Commission would prove beyond any possibility of contradiction that the Welsh Church is the central part of the religious life of Wales. On January 3 of this year there was a letter published in the Press from the right rev. Prelate the Bishop of Hereford, who has always bestowed his episcopal benediction on any question of Disestablishment and Disendowment. In that letter the writer says that it would not be for the spiritual welfare of those parishes on the Welsh borders if this Bill were passed, while, at the same time, a purely Welsh diocese would derive benefit from the operation of this Bill. I fail to recognise the logic of that, because, clearly, what is good for one sort of diocese would be good for the other. On the legal immoralities of this Bill, if I may call them so, I think the less said the better. They are only conceived and framed in a spirit of ignoble and lustful greed for what belongs to the Church. The Solicitor-General has stated as being beyond dispute that which constitutes Church property, and now at the eleventh hour the strong advocates of Disestablishment have declared that they will not touch a penny of that, evidently conscience stricken at the last moment at the great wrong which would be perpetrated if this Bill were forced into law. All forms of charity will, and must, inevitably suffer if the Bill is passed. Charity is a great feature in the Welshman's life, but it must necessarily occupy a subordinate position in the event of this Bill passing, and when that comes about charitable objects will suffer by being deprived of the support which they have been accustomed to receive for so long. I believe also that religious bequests in some cases would practically cease. It cannot be supposed that it would be beneficial to have bequests confiscated in the future, which is what would be brought about by the action of the Government in this case.

There are other things underlying this Bill, and I think the greatest one is that of the cry of Home Rule for Wales. Disestablishment preceded the cry of Home Rule for Ireland, and I fear that to-day that will be the inevitable result in this case, and Wales may find herself in the throes of the same internal conflict as has been the case for so many years in Ireland, and which by their late action His Majesty's Government seem determined to keep alive. I would implore the promoters of this Bill to pause before forcing it on Wales, and thereby starting a spirit of religious wrangling and ill-feeling between bodies who for years have worked side by side for the good of the Welsh people without any denominational distinctions. We are told that this Bill will start a new era of peace between Churchmen and Nonconformists in Wales, but to that I would reply that when a man desires to cultivate the goodwill of his neighbour he does not begin by trying to take 12s. 2d. in the pound out of his property.

What this Bill does is to inflict upon Churchmen in Wales an intolerable injustice. We have not had from the noble Earl opposite or from any other supporter of the Bill in this House what specific grievance it is that Nonconformists in Wales suffer from, whereas if we had that knowledge I am sure it would be found worth while trying to redress the grievance. The only case I have heard of during this debate is the case that the most rev. Primate gave to-night, but in that case the wrong, he explained, had been redressed. If it is said that by this Bill they seek the promotion of mutual goodwill in Wales, I would reply that the Government are going the wrong way to work when, in redressing Nonconformist grievances, they inflict a great and new grievance upon the Church which will rankle for generations in the minds of Churchmen. My Lords, all Welshmen, Nonconformists and Churchmen alike, fifty years hence will look back upon this Government as one which inflicted upon Wales as a whole a grievous wrong by humiliating the Church and alienating its ancient endowments.


My Lords, my object in rising is to say why I would have your Lordships give this Bill a Second Reading. I would suggest that your Lordships should give the Bill a Second Reading and then take the opportunity, in Committee, of inserting certain Amendments. I must say I experience a certain sense of discomfort standing, as I do, in the immediate neighbourhood of my episcopal brethren of the Church in Wales, the Bishop of St. Davids and the Bishop of St. Asaph, because I have in mind how they have fought so gallantly and so successfully for what they have believed to be the rightful position of the Church in Wales. I cannot but feel that it must seem like an act of unfriendliness to do anything which would appear, as it were, to be an attempt to put a spoke in their wheel; and that kind of feeling of discomfort passes into a feeling of a very different kind when I reflect upon the many conflicts of which, in common with the rest of the public, I have been the spectator in the public journals between the Bishops of St. Davids and St. Asaph and their many opponents, from Cabinet Ministers downwards, because I am conscious that in almost all these conflicts they appear to me to have left their opponents, if not dead, on the field, at any rate, unhorsed, and very seriously wounded. But I am greatly comforted by feeling that the region of history and archæology in which my right rev. brethren have won those notable victories are regions upon which I do not propose to entrench to-night. As far as I know anything of those regions I am entirely with them.

I am comforted also by feeling that not only in respect of these archæological and historical matters, but also in respect of matters which concern us more immediately to-night I agree with them. I am cordially with my right rev. brethren in demanding a great many substantial Amendments to this Bill, and most particularly that is so with regard to the relation of the Welsh dioceses to the other dioceses of the Province of Canterbury and to the Convocations. I can very well understand that it was the duty of the Government to give entire freedom to the Welsh dioceses to organise themselves, if they would have it so, apart from the Province of Canterbury, but I cannot see any justification for laying violent hands upon them and separating them, by force, in a manner which grossly offends the instincts and principles of Churchmen, from the rest of the Province of Canterbury. I am prepared to wage war without truce against that principle in the Bill of His Majesty's Government. Once again I am amongst those people who recognize—and I will not detain the House by endeavouring to explain the principles upon which I recognise it—that Disestablishment is quite sure to be accompanied, and I think must legitimately be accompanied, by some measure of disendowment. In particular I recognise that it is not right or reasonable to expect that a Disestablished Church should retain legal security in regard to the tithe; but I was greatly disappointed by the reception which His Majesty's Government gave to the proposal that the Welsh Church should be allowed to retain the glebe. I think the Church and the friends of the Church would have been in a very much better position to get generous treatment for the assistant clergy, the curates, as we call them in ordinary language, if the Church had, while it had the power, already secured a better legal position for the assistant clergy. It is a great scandal in our management of Church affairs that we should have left the assistant clergy in so precarious a position over the period of so many years of power. Still, I did think that the Government might have met more generously the proposals for including the assistant clergy in the benefits of commutation; and I was heartily glad to read what the noble Earl who introduced this Bill said last night, indicating a readiness on the part of the Government to make Amendments on this point, and perhaps on other points. I should be prepared to press very strongly on the Government modifications, and important modifications, of their measure.

I listened with the greatest interest just now to the speech which Lord Reay delivered. He expressed, in speaking from the Front Bench, a confidence, which I should hardly have ventured to express myself, that if your Lordships would give this Bill a Second Reading and then introduce into it important Amendments in these respects, they would find His Majesty's Government not unprepared to admit them. I own that it seems to me that that is a matter of the greatest importance. With regard to the main principle of this measure, I cannot conceive, on principles which would be accepted in modern society of any kind, of possible justification for a religious Establishment after it has ceased to commend itself to the great majority of the inhabitants. Therefore I cannot conceive how Churchmen can rightly oppose the Disestablishment of the Church in Wales. That is the reason why I would strongly press upon Churchmen in general, and upon your Lordships here, the desirability of not offering this root and branch opposition to the principle of Disestablishment, and to Disendowment, and to Disendowment in particular, of the Welsh Church, but to accept Disestablishment, and then to amend the Bill so that the measure of Disestablishment might be as innocuous as possible, and the measure of Disendowment as mild as possible for the Welsh Church.

We have heard in this House a great deal of quite legitimate criticism on the Bill in various respects. I listened with the greatest possible amount of agreement to what was said in certain respects by the noble Viscount, Lord St. Aldwyn. We have heard very forcible arguments by way of criticism passed on this Bill, but I venture to say that the logical result of such criticisms is to amend it. These criticisms really do not touch the principle of Disestablishment. They are grounds for amending the Bill. I ask you to contrast the precarious majorities and the strangely constituted majorities by which certain details of the Bill were passed in the other House with the solid, unreduced majority by which the Bill was passed on Third Reading. It does seem to me that this is the greatest possible reason for claiming to amend the Bill, but not for rejecting the whole principle. I look forward to the time, I cannot help it, when the Welsh Church will find itself disestablished. But what I am afraid is that it will find itself, not only disestablished, but disestablished under conditions very much less favourable than it might have received, and with very much less endowment retained for spiritual purposes than it might have retained, simply because of this root and branch opposition, which I call an unjustifiable opposition in the circumstances, to Disestablishment in principle.

I suppose that your Lordships intend to throw out this Bill to-morrow. It will come up again. I suppose it will be thrown out again. There are some men who are as ignorant as I am about the way in which the Parliament Act is going to act, who entertain the idea that it will be possible to amend the Bill at the last moment. I do not know how the Parliament Act is going to work. No doubt many of your Lordships have information a great deal more adequate than that at my command; but what I ask myself is this, Is there any justifiable ground for confidence that the last resort, when it makes no difference to the Government whether the House of Lords throws out the Bill or whether it does not, because in any case it will pass, will be a favourable time for negotiation? Its own supporters will be urging upon Ministers the undesirability of making any more concessions. The Bill will be going to pass in a few days, whether the House of Lords agree to it or not. I ask, Is there likely to be in the future a place and time for negotiation? It seems to me that the friends of the Church in Wales are running the greatest possible risk of causing the Welsh Church to be disestablished under circumstances far more disadvantageous than those under which it might have been disestablished, and with a measure of disendowment much severer than need have been, simply because of this root and branch opposition to the principle of Disestablishment under conditions when Establishment can no longer be legitimately claimed.

Now I come to another point. I cannot conceive how any of those phrases which are used to describe a legitimate Establishment can be any longer applied to an Establishment when it no longer represents the good will of the great majority of the inhabitants of any country. I have heard the most rev. Primate argue that the existing state of Parliamentary representation does not really represent the actual majority in favour of this measure in Wales, and that if we had proportional representation the support would be as twenty to fourteen, and not as it stands at present. But, my Lords, twenty to fourteen is quite a big enough majority for my purposes. Again, we have heard of these great petitions. I have a most profound distrust of petitions, I must admit. I remember once receiving what was represented to me to be a unanimous petition from a certain parish in favour of a clergyman whom I had reason to believe to be an undesirable person. It was in my power to remove him, and I did bring about his removal. Then I went down to the parish in the veriest alarm because I had been acting altogether adversely to this petition which was said to represent the unanimous wish of the whole parish, but I found I was greeted with enthusiasm. They all said, "We are so delighted to have got rid of him." I said, "Well, what about this petition, which represents the unanimous wish of the parish?" and I was told, what one always is told under such circumstances, that they did not like to refuse to sign the petition, and that it had been brought round to them and they thought it would not do any harm. As a matter of fact, it had not done any harm. But there is nothing that I believe to be a more misleading force in English common life than what I would call weak good nature, the kind of tendency to do what you are asked to do, and to yield to pressure to do that kind of thing because you think it probably will not do any great harm. I therefore very largely discount the value of these enormous petitions. But supposing that every one of the names signed to these petitions is to stand for its full legitimate value, it does not affect my argument. On no showing is there anything like a majority of the inhabitants of Wales who desire the maintenance of the present Established position of the Church.

Now, my Lords, what is an Establishment? I listened with the greatest possible interest to the speech of the noble Lord, Lord Balfour of Burleigh, who said it is the organisation of the higher life of a people. That is a magnificent conception. It is very often expressed in other words. It is said that the Established Church must be the religious organ of the whole people. I cannot claim any great familiarity with Scotland, which the noble Lord so rightly represents in this House, but I know enough about Scotland to know that there is there, as there is in Ireland, though from quite a different point of view, a united religious sentiment which would admit of a quite legitimate religious Establishment. In old days when I used to go more often to Scotland the divisions which Lord Balfour of Burleigh has done so much to mitigate, and I hope will at last triumphantly remove, were more acute; and, believe me, there is nobody who has paid greater reverence than I have paid to the work which the noble Lord has done in removing those religious differences. But, after all, even all those years ago, when they were more acute, even then one felt, as an outsider, that they were preposterous divisions, because they represented no reality of principle, and one felt that it was only a matter of arrangement or something easy of adjustment which was keeping those parts of the great Presbyterian sentiment separated from one another. I trust that those divisions will be finally broken down, and that the Church there really will represent a great united sentiment in Scotland, a sentiment which might be expressed in one great religious organ.

But can any one in England believe that anything at all approaching the same state of things exists, or is likely to exist, amongst us? Partly it is that the religious principle as expressed by the Church and by Nonconformists contains elements of difference which are so much greater and lie so much deeper than exist in Scotland, especially on the question of the priesthood; but at any rate the fact is, however you explain it, that if you use about the Church in England the phrase "the religious organ of the nation," and then try to apply it, it breaks down, and always breaks down. In education, can you apply it? No. If the State wants to assist in education it must give up the theory of an Established Church. It must apply at once to all the different organs of religious belief—to the Church, to the Roman Catholics, to the Jews, to the Nonconformists—and find some method by which it can use, not one Church as its religious organ, but every variety of religious opinion as simultaneous and co-ordinated organs. It may be that you are starting so simple a thing as a soldiers' institute, and you want the support of the military authorities; but the military authorities, you are at once told, will not, and cannot, give their support if it is a Church of England institute. No, it has to be an interdenominational institute. What does that mean, my Lords? It means that as soon as ever you apply at any part of our common life the theory of the Church as the religious organ of the nation it breaks down because there is no religious unity amongst us to admit of the practical application of this principle. In Scotland, yes. In Ireland, perhaps, yes. But in England, no.

In the greater part of England there is no demand to have Disestablishment at present. I do not know how long that demand will be withheld. But my point is this, that the Church cannot and ought not to claim the Established position unless it can have the support of the great majority of those whom it claims to be of the Established Church. To claim to be the Established Church, to claim to retain that position in face of the refusal of the great majority of the inhabitants to concede that demand, is to claim an immoral position. It is a position which is demoralising to religion. You cannot have what the noble Lord, Lord Balfour of Burleigh, so truly and magnificently expressed by the phrase "the organisation of the higher life of the nation," you cannot be the religious organ of the nation if the nation is standing against you and saying, "We do not want you for our organ." That is the fact. In England there is an acquiescence in the principles of Establishment, but for how long that will continue I do not know. At present there is acquiescence here. But in Wales that is not the case. I do not suppose that our system of representation is perfect, but for my own part I prefer a system of representative government to a great many other systems which are suggested as substitutes. I prefer a system of representative government, for my own part, to the referendum. So long as we retain our system of representative government I cannot conceive any matter with respect to which a clearer demand has been made than with regard to this matter of Disestablishment in Wales.

It is said that opinion is changeable. I have tried to say something about the difference between England and Scotland. I do not know how long the Scottish Church will retain the hold which it has had in the past upon the affections of the Scottish people. I cannot say as to that. But I am quite sure of this, that the change which has passed over Scotland, and which has made the position of the Establishment so much stronger, is a change which neither has occurred, nor is occurring, nor is likely to occur in England. If we know anything about the drift of opinion upon religious subjects in England, we know that it is not drifting nor likely to drift in a direction more favourable to Establishment. If Nonconformists in Wales are losing their position, I venture to doubt very seriously whether it is because there is a corresponding gain in Church membership. The fact is that there is a very large drifting out of definite religious membership, and I do not see the slightest sign in our English society and in the tendencies of English thought which makes in the direction of fortifying Establishment.

Then it is said that Wales is not a nation and that it cannot be dealt with apart. For my own part those very careful, eloquent, and just words which were spoken by the most rev. Primate seem to me to give grounds enough for admitting its claim to be dealt with specially according to its deliberate wish in this matter of religious Establishment. I cannot deny to Wales sufficient identity and distinction to admit of its being separately dealt with in this respect. I cannot, for my own part, see any disadvantage in Disestablishment being dealt with first in one region and then in another. We have heard a great many denunciations of piecemeal Disestablishment. But there is a piecemeal Disestablishment which is continually going on in England which does appear to me to be one of the most disastrous kinds of Disestablishment that can be imagined. We are being disestablished in England piecemeal. We have been disestablished in the elementary schools. We were disestablished in the Universities so far as the ordinary curriculum goes a generation or so ago, and now it appears that we are being disestablished in the Universities so far as our theological degrees go. The process is continually going on, and we are finding ourselves disestablished almost everywhere except in the lunatic asylums. As far as I know that is almost the only department of public life in which the Established Church is allowed to minister without competitors. But in almost every other department of our public life we are being disestablished, and we are being disestablished piecemeal. It is this sort of gradual ousting of the Church from the position which it ought to occupy, if it indeed were the organ of the common life of the nation—it is this ousting of the Church from one position and then from another which appears to me to be piecemeal Disestablishment of the most disastrous kind. We are con- tinually losing all that really remains of a profitable sort to the possession of Establishment, while at the same time we retain all the shackles and all the bonds, which hamper us to a degree which was very mildly expressed by the noble Viscount, Lord St. Aldwyn—shackles and bonds which some of us feel in an increasing degree to be intolerable.

There is one other argument which you very often hear and which I would ask you to remember. It was urged with great force and pathos by Lord Balfour of Burleigh, and that is that the welfare of the poor, the interest of the poor, is bound up with the maintenance of the Established and Endowed position of the Church. He said it is thereby enabled to take note of the religious needs of the whole mass of the nation, so that, as the noble Lord said, the endowment of the Church is the patrimony of the poor. This argument that au Established religion, an endowed religion, ministers to the relief of the poor is one which from my heart I wish I could accept. But if you look at experience I am quite sure you will be obliged to recognise that this argument falls lamentably short in practice, at least in England, with regard to which I am best qualified to speak. What does it mean in effect? There is a religion provided, which all men may have, without contributing anything. There may be occasional attendance or habitual attendance, and they may have it "without money and without price." Now I venture to say that it is impossible to have an intimate acquaintance with our country districts or our towns without recognising that the Church of England has not succeeded in becoming the Church of the poor, as is the Roman Catholic Church in so many parts of Europe, or the Salvation Army, or Primitive Methodism.

Ask yourselves about all these forms of religion and you will find that the religions of the poor are the religions which they have to pay for. The religions which offer themselves saying, "We are provided, and you can avail yourselves of us exactly as much as you please. You have to pay nothing for us; we have been founded by benefactors long ago; here we are waiting for you and nothing is expected from you"—those are the religions that men do not value. You may say quite generally for the mass of the labouring classes that the religions which are really winning their hearts are the religions for which they have to pay. The religions which offer themselves for nothing, as far as money is concerned, do not appeal to them. And so it is that I venture to think that that argument about the Established religion being the religion of the poor, and being enabled by its established and endowed position to provide for the religious needs of the whole community, is an argument that, when looked at in the light of experience, we ought to use indeed with very bated breath. In England it is an argument which we can only use with profound humiliation, whether we think of the country or of the towns. We are now striving in the Church of England to revive the principle of lay membership. We have our organisations like the Church of England Men's Society, by which we are striving to enlist the real co-operation of all, and exactly in proportion as we succeed in stimulating again a vivifying sense of real membership will it appear that we are not the sort of Church which can claim, as a real actual religious organisation, to represent the whole country—a part, but not the whole.

As I say, in England at the present time the Establishment of the Church is acquiesced in. How long that will be so I do not know. But in Wales it is not so. And I venture to say that not in Wales any more than in England can you set up this claim that in virtue of this Establishment has it really succeeded in being the Church of the poor. I cannot help looking across the sea to the French Church in this connection. There is hardly anything in Europe which interests me at this moment so much as the great spiritual revival which we see taking place in the French Church. The French Church is in many ways vindicating its claim to be the Church of the country in directions which surprise us. The French Church has passed through a great crisis of Disestablishment and Disendowment. I think what attracted our attention at that time was the magnificent loyalty with which it asserted its principles and made its spiritual claims, and at the same time betrayed an extraordinary degree of indifference as regards its secular position, and as regards its financial resources. I think that was extraordinary. I watched that process with admiration. As a result, though doubtless the French Church has lost influence in many ways, there has been, and I believe there will increasingly be, a great revival. Whatever their spiritual claim was—and, of course, I cannot but regret that that spiritual claim bound the Church in France in such complete subjection to Rome—but whatever their spiritual claim was they asserted it. They put their spiritual principles first, and their secular position and their finances last. They did wisely.

I regret profoundly that in our day, when if anything is true it is true that there is going on now in our Church a doctrinal disintegration unparalleled in our history, such that if things go on as they are going on now it will not be possible in a generation's time to say what the Church of England's real position is even in fundamental matters of doctrine—that in such a period as this the Establishment is running away from principles and taking refuge in historical institutions; for that is what we are doing. We are trying to keep the Church of England together by flying for refuge to Establishment, when we ought to be taking the trouble to assert what our principles are and saying whether we intend to stand by them. I believe generally that to run away from principles to institutions is a grave disaster. I believe that the Church of England would have been far, far wiser in this crisis if it had sought to make the Welsh people understand what it stands to, and had shown far less zeal on behalf of its secular position or its endowments.


My Lords, I am sure that we have all listened with great admiration to the eloquent and forcible words which have just fallen from the right rev. Prelate in a speech full of that sincerity which is associated with his character and position. His remarks covered an immense range of ground and gave all of us food for reflection. But I find some difficulty in understanding the relationship of his speech and his attitude to the immediate issue before this House or, perhaps because I did not hear his opening remarks, to which Lobby he proposes at the conclusion of this debate to enter.


Might I say that the most rev. Prelate could not possibly have any doubt as to that had he heard me from the beginning. I desire that we should pass the Second Reading and then amend the Bill in certain particulars, of which I enumerated three or four.


Then I find it not less difficult to see how my right rev. friend reconciles that statement with the one which I did hear and was glad to hear when I entered the House—namely, that he was prepared, I think his words were, to wage unrelenting war with the Government in regard to one of the provisions of this Bill which they have declared to be essential to its character and purposes—what one calls the dismemberment of the Church. As to the other Amendment to which the sanguine expectations of my right rev. friend seems to look forward, in regard to the treatment of endowments, I really think he is, if he will allow me to say so, straining our credulity if he supposes that the spirit hitherto shown by the majority of the Welsh Members, and which has so largely influenced the policy of His Majesty's Government, is likely to be fundamentally changed. In any case I would venture to submit that to some of us at least this matter touches principles far too closely and profoundly to make it possible for us to enter upon any such stage of bargaining as that which the right rev. Prelate seems to desire.

Even though the matter has been traversed so much before, I would venture, with your Lordships' permission, to say a few words upon this question of principle in which some of us find ourselves in opposition to this Bill. Of course, it is easy for the right rev. Prelate to find difficulties; indeed, he almost seemed to pour scorn upon the principle that underlies the phrase "Establishment." But I think he was more occupied in stating the difficulties than in endeavouring to appreciate himself, or to put before the House, the real basis of that principle, and the real reason why some of us still wish to retain it until we are convinced, by evidence far stronger than any yet attempted, that the whole body of the people of this country repudiate and disown it. What is that principle? It is one which concerns not the character of the Church, which, of course, would remain in all its essential features whether established or disestablished; it concerns very directly the character of the State. The question before us—and it is one from which not all the forcible eloquence to which we have just listened can drive us—is whether in the public corporate life of the nation there is to be any assertion at all of its religious basis, of its acknowledgment of Almighty God, of its concern with the religious life of the people. The old Liberationist policy was clear, logical, and intelligible. It followed from the conception of the State as a sort of police committee protecting the competitive interests of the individuals who composed the State.

But surely there has come to us a deeper and wider conception of the State. To some of us it is something which we do not as individuals compose but which as individuals we enter, and which from the very first, by virtue of its own intrinsic character, moulds and frames our life and being. It has an organic unity and spirit of its own, and that character and spirit are built up by traditions and associations running far back into the past. Its life is expressed not only by the policies and pursuits of the present, but also by a sort of subconscious continuity which endures and profoundly affects the character of each generation of citizens who enter within it. The questions before us, as some of us consider it, is whether just there, in that inward region of the national life where anything that can be called its unity and character is expressed, there is or is not to be this witness to some ultimate sanction to which the nation looks, some ultimate ideal which it professes. It is in our judgment a very serious thing for a State to take out of that corporate heart of its life any acknowledgment at all of its concern with religion. I do not for a moment deny that it is difficult to explain in such an Assembly as this all the consequences that might be expected to flow from such an act of self-secularisation by the State. But I believe it to be true that in nations, as in individuals, it is in the region of inward instincts, habits, and associations that the powers are formed which slowly, silently, yet surely mould for good or ill the character and ultimate ideals of life. And it is a still more serious thing for the State to remove from that centre of its organic unity any witness to religion when that witness has been intertwined with its life for long centuries, as has been the case in England and in Wales. There is in this matter really no analogy between Wales and our Colonies, or the United States, to which the noble Earl, Lord Beauchamp, called our attention. It is one thing to set up all that is meant by Establishment for the first time; it is another thing to uproot all that is meant by Establishment from the life of a nation that has been accustomed to it and has been profoundly moulded by it through long centuries. For my part I cannot doubt that in ways, sure though subtle, the whole conception of government will be lowered in tone and in spirit by any measure of Disestablishment under existing conditions.

There are other aspects of this question to which eloquent expression has been given—the aspects that are associated with the simple words "the parish church." I cannot follow the right rev. Prelate in the way in which he spoke of the offers of the parish church of religious ministry to all who care to avail themselves of it. For my part there is something extremely moving in the thought. As one makes a journey through this country one sees the parish churches—witnesses so eloquent of the continuity of the religious life of this nation—opening their doors to all persons, of whatever kind or class or creed, who care to enter; and I do not understand the contempt with which the right rev. Prelate spoke of what he called the residual religion represented by the Establishment. To my mind, it is a great thing that there should be in this country, in every part of it, in the remotest country village and in the most mean and squalid slum of the cities, a parson and a church offering to all, even the most careless and indifferent., some voice that speaks of higher things, some link with things that are unseen and eternal. I cannot regard it as a matter of indifference to the public life of this whole nation that it should be possible for those classes, at the moment of marriage, or when they are taking those who are near and dear to them to burial, to be brought within the healing and elevating influences of religion. No one would for a moment maintain, of course, that that religion was perfect, was sufficient, but it is a great thing that there should be secured to every person in the country the opportunity throughout his life and at every stage of it of being brought within remembrance of the things that really matter amidst the various pursuits and occupations of life.

As I am dealing with this matter now, let me deal for one moment with what the right rev. Prelate said about the claim of the Church of England to be the Church of the poor. I do not know, my Lords, that that claim has ever been made. Would to God that it could be made! Some of us may say that we are doing all we can by every possible means to see that increasingly it may be so made. But the claim involved in the position of the Established Church is not necessarily that it should be the Church of the poor, but that it should be a Church for the poor, open and available to them in spite of their poverty and where they have as good and real and assured a place as those who are more largely possessed of this world's goods. Even if it were not so, I think that the right rev. Prelate was hardly fair to many of his brethren the clergy in the implication which I think he offered that in a much less conspicuous degree than in the case of any other body the Church of England was the Church of the poor. Certainly I can speak with some experience. I have worked all my life among the poor in great cities, and, as your Lordships know, I have spent eight years in the East-end of London, and I do not for a moment hesitate to say, that though I cordially recognise and acknowledge the invaluable work done by many other religious communities, if there is one body which more than any other has a right to claim to be, certainly in the East-end of London, the Church of, as well as the Church for, the poor it is the Church of England. God knows, the last thing I desire on this occasion and at such a time is to sound any kind of note of boasting or vaunting, but when in his place in Parliament the right rev. Prelate uses the language that he has, I am bound to say that I think it is not only somewhat wanting in generosity to the labours of his brethren, but that it is not in accordance with the facts such as I know them after a life of considerable experience among the poor.

But, my Lords, let me return to the principle which some of us feel to be of so great value that we are unable to surrender it as citizens in order even to receive better treatment for our brethren in Wales. Let me repeat that the point is simply whether at the present time and under existing conditions we are to take out of the heart of our national life in England and Wales a public and corporate acknowledgment of the religious basis of the State which has been there for all these centuries and which gathers round it so many of the most sacred associations of our national life. If the theory has any value at all, if it represents, as I hope it does, something more than words, then there is no other way by which it can be realised than by maintaining the existing relationship between the State and the Church of England. I quite acknowledge that there are other ways in which the principle of Establishment might be recognised. One, which is impracticable, might be the establishment of some other religious body. One, which I hope is unthinkable, is the establishment of any kind of what might be called State religion. I think that must have been in the mind of the late Lord Selborne in the passage, of which the Home Secretary made much capital in his speech, in which Lord Selborne protested against the idea of such a thing as a national religion. In a sense that is a right protest. A State-determined, a State-directed religion, one which reflected the passing majorities of the House of Commons, would certainly be a religion that no Christian could possibly profess and follow. Therefore the alternative before us in discussing the principles of this Bill is whether at this time we are to sever the connection between the Church of England and the State.

I quite admit that there are circumstances in which it would be right, natural, and legitimate, for a citizen in this country to insist upon Disestablishment. I can conceive the State exercising whatever powers it has in regard to the Church with such lack of considerateness to its spiritual character, claims, and faith that it would be no longer possible for a citizen who was also a Churchman to submit to it. I quite admit that in the long run the continuance of Establishment, as I have tried to interpret and express it, does depend upon the national consent—that is to say, where there was a clear, definite, and distinct decision of the overwhelming majority of the nation against the continuance of Establishment it would no longer be possible for a citizen to insist that it should be retained, with however profound regret he might see it go. And it is here that we come to what is, I suppose, the bedrock of the argument upon which the case of His Majesty's Government and their supporters in regard to this Bill really rests, and that is the persistent and most impressive demand of the great majority of Welsh Members for Disestablishment. Here I notice, and I hope that your Lordships will notice, that the right rev. Prelate at once admitted that that demand from the Members for Wales could not at present in the least degree be described as involving a similar, demand from the people of England, and, as I perhaps may be able to explain in a moment, I think that is a matter of very great importance.

To keep for the present to Wales, the argument which we have heard over and over again in this long debate is, I suppose, this: In any nation where there is a clear national decision against Establishment, Establishment must go; Wales is a nation where there is a clear national decision against Establishment; therefore Establishment in Wales must go. I think we should all agree with the major premiss of that argument, but the minor premiss involves a twofold assumption, first, that Wales has a nationality, and, second, that there is a clear and decisive local majority. I do not wish to detain your Lordships over the first of those assumptions. It has been dealt with repeatedly, but I think there is some significance in what was said by the right rev. Prelate the Bishop of Hereford when he claimed that Wales was a nationality in the sense of its character, its language, its sentiment, its poetry, its history, and in that claim I entirely agree with him. He spoke of the political aspect of nationality as one in comparison with these of comparative unimportance. But, my Lords, in this respect it is precisely that political character of nationality that really matters. This is, after all, a political matter. It cannot be maintained that Wales has a national right to deal with Establishment or Disestablishment unless and until it is in fact as well as in sentiment, in prose as well as in poetry, a political nationality with the coherence and the responsibility which political nationality brings with it. Even if it were organised as a separate political unit in the United Kingdom, I doubt whether it lies with His Majesty's Government to say that Wales has an entire right, by virtue of its nationality, to manage its religious affairs for itself, because, if I remember rightly, His Majesty's Government in another Bill have expressly asserted that the management of its own religious affairs in the matter of Establishment is not one which is neces- sarily involved in the principle of nationality. Therefore, my Lords, I think that it is at least a very great assumption that Wales is for this purpose a nationality.

What about the other assumption—that in Wales there is a clear local majority? As the most rev. Primate reminded us this afternoon, and it would be idle to deny it, this is a fact most impressive, most significant, which any Government is bound to recognise, to which every Government is bound to give the greatest possible importance; but a majority of Members of Parliament is not something sacrosanct, which cannot be questioned, the nature and significance of which dare not be examined. One sometimes feels, and I almost felt through the speech of the right rev. Prelate who preceded me, that this thing, a Parliamentary majority, is almost a fetish before which we have to bow down and worship, and the reality and force and meaning of which must not be so much as questioned. But when we come to question this formidable majority in Wales I do not say that its significance is removed, but I do say that its significance is immensely lessened. And I for my part cannot so lightly dismiss the surely very impressive number of persons in Wales who have signed petitions against this Bill. The right rev. Prelate drew an amusing picture of the effect of petitions, and the illustration which he used, is one very familiar to me. But there is a great difference between signing a petition in favour of a person against whom people do not wish to seem to have any ill will or whose interests they do not wish to frustrate, and signing a petition upon a matter of principle which obviously concerns very closely the lives and the homes and the religion of the people of Wales; and if there be not so much as some of us would think of impressiveness in the number of petitions against the Bill, there is, I think, something most impressive in the total absence of any petitions on its behalf. Nor do Llook upon—I hope I may be forgiven if I say so—the fact of there being thirty Members in Wales to three as constituting an irresistible proof of the opinions of the great majority of the Welsh people. I do not think that that contention comes with a very good grace from those who have, as we all know, consistently and persistently refused the only sure and certain way by which, as in the case of Ireland, the real number of persons who are members of the Church of England, or of the different bodies in Wales, can be ascertained.

At least, my Lords, I venture to submit that the significance of this local majority in Wales may be very easily exaggerated. If so, what is the position of our syllogism? Let me put it in the form which it now reaches. In every nation where there is a clear national decision against Establishment, Establishment must go; Wales is a section of a nation in which there is a local majority of Members of Parliament against Establishment. It does not follow in the same degree that therefore Establishment must go. Therefore there are many of us who feel that when we are dealing with a matter which we regard as one of real value, as a great principle, we desire some stronger warrant of the beliefs and convictions of the people of this country before we can assent to the proposal at all. I have already noted that the right rev. Prelate admitted that in England at any rate it could not be said that there was any strong movement of public opinion against Establishment. I think that is very significant. If Establishment in the sense in which some of us have tried to put our belief in it was a thing in England at this present time so inherently wrong, illogical, and impossible, as was presented by the right rev. Prelate, then I think it is very strange that there should not be these signs of a movement in the great majority of the English people against it; and so long at any rate as there is no evidence that the great majority of the people of this country feel the principle of Establishment to be wrong in itself, so long we who care for all that it represents are entitled to insist that it deserves a place in our public and national life.

I do not wish, after all that has been said in this debate, to dwell very much on the other features of the Bill. I would venture to say this only with regard to Disendowment that the assumption seems to have been made very largely throughout the discussions both here and in another place that a measure of Disendowment was involved in any measure of Disestablishment. I do not think that that assumption is true. It is, I think, true only if either the amount of property that is left to the disestablished society were so great that it would be against the public interest, or, secondly, if the amount of property left to the disestablished society were far in excess of the services which that society could render. But in this case, my Lords, no one for a moment could pretend that either of these assertions was true. Therefore in this case I do not think that there is any necessity in a measure of Disendowment being tied up with a measure of Disestablishment. We are driven back upon the question which has been so often asked, but which, I think, has not yet received a very convincing answer—If there is no necessity, what is the public advantage in bringing in Disendowment of the Church in Wales?

I do not for a moment deny that Parliament has the right—it has been admitted over and over again fully by the most rev. Primate this afternoon—to revise any such vast and important charitable trusts as those of the Church in England or in Wales. For myself I have never been able to use the language which is sometimes used elsewhere, and may be used possibly in the House, about sacrilege. I do not feel myself that, because at some remote date a benefaction was given ostensibly for the cause of God, any subsequent Parliament is estopped from revising its conditions or its application. But I think the thing is very different when property which was originally given for the cause of religion, has been continuously used for that cause, is used for it still, and by virtue of that use is performing services of great value to the whole community—it is a very different thing when Parliament intervenes and brings the use of that trust to an end. Therefore if there is no necessity, what I think we ought to ask is, What is the public advantage that is to be served by crippling the resources of a Church which admittedly is doing good work, and admittedly is none too well endowed with resources to do it? I suppose, and I hope I am not uncharitable in supposing it, that it is the difficulty of proving this public advantage that has led to that change in the type and spirit of argument to which the most rev. Primate alluded in his speech this afternoon, and which has marked the manner in which the Bill has been carried through the House of Commons.

I wish to say one word about these arguments. It is very difficult to know upon what principle the framers of this Bill base their claim of the reasonableness of Disendowment. The condition of the arguments addressed on the subject from even the Government Bench in the House of Commons can only be described as a condition of chaos. I am not sure that the best thing would not be to leave the arguments of members of the Cabinet to be answered by other members of the Cabinet. If the Chancellor of the Exchequer urges his theory of the effect of a breach of the continuity of the Church of England, it is quite sufficient for our purpose that he should be answered by the Prime Minister. If the Home Secretary advances his theory of the origin of tithe, it is quite sufficient that he should be answered by the Royal Commission which was appointed by the Government. Another theory has since been started, the theory of the beneficiaries. I gather from the speech of the Home Secretary that he thought that there he had, so to say, at last stumbled upon a real principle upon which the Disendowment portion of this Bill could be applied. But it is not a theory that carries us very far. It is that those who object to this Bill are thinking only of the uses of the trust, while those who are promoting it are thinking of the beneficiaries. But you cannot in reason make this distinction between the uses of the trust and the beneficiaries. The beneficiaries are simply all those persons who are entitled to use the trust. In this ease that is the whole nation. It is perfectly entitled to use the benefits of the trust, and I do not think it can be alleged that in Wales there is any want of desire or want of zeal on the part of the trustees to apply the benefits of the trust to the whole of the beneficiaries.

But what I wish to bring home to His Majesty's Government is that we cannot but have an irresistible impression that these arguments express, not the reasons for the Bill, but rather the reasons for getting the Bill through the House of Commons. What I think we have a right to ask—and perhaps the noble Marquess who will reply at the end of this long discussion may be good enough to tell us—is, What is the real principle upon which the treatment of the property of the Church in the Disendowment part of this Bill is based? Speaking frankly, I do not like the spirit or the manner in which this part of the Bill has been conducted. I do not like the way in which responsible Ministers of the Crown have, it would appear, been obliged to cast about for arguments to justify proposals submitted to Parliament. I do not like the spirit and attitude more than once shown by a majority of the Welsh Members. I do not like the way in which comparatively small gifts to county councils and Universities have been used as a set-off against the purposes which these endowments were intended to serve. All this looks as if this part of the Bill were based upon a belief, either that Disendowment of some sort was necessary, or on a belief in Disendowment for its own sake and apart from the trust upon which endowment is based. For my own part I think that any proposals of Disendowment of any sort or kind carry with them a grave moral risk, and that those who embark in it ought to be very certain of the necessity and justice which have led them to make the venture. Therefore for my own part I feel that, however good the original motives may have been, somehow this business of the Disendowment part of the Bill has become morally discredited, and it is not one in which I as a citizen jealous for the honour of the State care to be a partner.

We are justified, I think, in saying that His Majesty's Government and those who have supported them, have dealt with this very grave matter in what I should venture to call a too exclusively political manner. They have not attached sufficient weight to the gravity, the importance, and the far-reaching effect of the issues involved. Some of these, I think, have been treated almost with a spirit of levity. Disestablishment has been treated by them not in the manner in which it was treated, rightly or wrongly, by the most rev. Primate, but rather as a legal question with regard to certain legal incidents in the system of the Church and without regard to the long history out of which Establishment in our English life has sprung. With regard to Dismemberment, I do not think the Government at all appreciate the sense—is it too strong a word to use?—almost of outrage with which our fellow-Churchmen in Wales regard the suggestion that they should be forcibly taken out of a union which has lasted for centuries and been cemented by long years of common faith and service. With regard to Disendowment, I think there has been something almost cynical, at all events light hearted, in the way in which a poor and struggling Church, straining at the present moment to the very full the resources which it possesses, has been approached with the words, "Permit us to dispossess you of the larger part of these resources, and at the same time to assure you that it is perfectly competent for you to provide new resources by yourselves." If this be so, then we are entitled to feel that there are graver issues here involved, graver questions at stake, than His Majesty's Government have really appreciated.

Let me close by recalling a fact which it is perhaps difficult to mention, but which is very much present in my mind, and to which your Lordships' attention was called by the most rev. Primate. In thousands of churches throughout the length and breadth of the land prayer has this day been offered to Almighty God for the guidance of Parliament and the nation at this time of grave importance. I mention that, my Lords, because it is a sign that this is a thing for which thousands and thousands of our fellow-countrymen care to the very depths of their hearts. It is to them not a question of ecclesiastical privilege or emoluments; it is a question which concerns the very cause of religion itself. It is, as we have been already reminded, a time of manifold change. The Chancellor of the Exchequer has admitted that Nonconformity in Wales is passing through very profound changes, and I am more sanguine of the position and influence of the Church to which I belong than is the right rev. Prelate, that it may be used, in spite of its many imperfections and infirmities, in a sense which he does not seem prepared to admit, as the centre of a growing unity among those who really care for religion in this country. It seems to me, to speak only of Wales, that the Church in Wales is fitted by its character, its order, and its historical position to be a rallying ground for all those who believe that the spiritual foundation of the people must be set upon a stronger basis than the shifting sands of time, and must reach a rock which has been tried and tested by the experience of centuries. I believe, my Lords, and I think I see symptoms and signs of it in our towns and villages, that the Church, not only because of its own inherent faith and character, but because of the place which it has always held by virtue of its Establishment in connection with the public life of the people, is fitted to be a centre of unity amongst all those who care for the strength and forces of religion. It is because of this, and because of all that may be in store in the future, that we feel that it is unwise, to say nothing of whether it is just or unjust, to take a step in Wales which is fraught with consequences so momentous to the whole religious life of the country. What we feel is that we in this House are at least entitled to give the nation time to stop and to think before it takes a step which, once taken, can never be retraced.


My Lords, the reasons for this Bill may be summed up under two heads—reasons founded on the phrase "established by law"; reasons founded on the alleged origin of Church funds. I will ask your Lordships for a moment to examine both these reasons in the light of some considerations which I do not think have been sufficiently emphasised. If the Church is established by law, there must be a Statute or a series of Statutes to that effect. Where are they? If any such Statutes exist, it would be an easy matter to refer to them, but, in fact, no such Statutes exist or ever have existed, and the best proof of this is that with the exception of the first clause, declaring that the Church shall be disestablished, the rest of the Bill almost exclusively deals with the property of each parish and each capitular body.

Forgive me if I insist upon this point, but it goes to the root of the matter: the phrase "established by law" suggests a whose series of considerations which in fact have nothing to rest upon. That phrase wherever found is never creative but always descriptive—descriptive of a condition of things pre-existent to the document which thus describes it. The phrase was first applied to the Church in 1604, as a translation of the words of the third of the Canons Ecclesiastical of that date, but the actual words of the Canon are, Ecclesiam anglicanam sub regia majestate stabilitam. Observe, not by any Statute, but by the laws of the land the Church of England enjoys—what? Not Establishment, not privilege, not preferential treatment, but stability and security, a very different thing indeed. The phrase "established by law" simply expresses the elementary truth that every institution existing in a nation must be either outside its law, or else legal in the sense of being within it—legal, that is, if not by a Statute, at least by the manifest consent of the nation from time immemorial.

Lord Chief Justice Mansfield, giving judgment in the final Court of Appeal in 1767, referred to the 1689 Act of Toleration in these terms— The Dissenters' way of worship is permitted and allowed by this Act … it is established, it is put under the protection and is not merely under the connivance of the law. That protection of the law which Dissenters obtain by Statute the Church gained centuries before Parliament began, but it is the same in kind for Churchmen and Dissenters alike. According, therefore, to the only historical and legal interpretation of the words, the first clause of the Bill "that the Church shall cease to be established by law," deprives the Church, not of a privilege, as the right rev. Prelate the Bishop of Oxford has just said and as others have said in the course of this debate, but really extrudes it from the position of stability which in common with all other legal institutions is now secured to it by law. This is a Bill, as Lord Selborne so admirably said last night, to put an end to that recognition of Christianity on the part of the State which has existed in this country ever since the time of the conversion of our Saxon forefathers. It is not a Bill to deprive the Church of a privilege; it is a Bill to deprive the Church of the protection of the law. It is a Bill to enable each parish and Cathedral Church to be deprived of its property with impunity, as may be seen by the consideration of nearly every other clause of the Bill. The fact is, indeed, practically recognised by the Government itself. I have carefully noticed ever since the beginning of these debates every utterance of every member of the Government, and of every Member of Parliament who has spoken on behalf of this Bill. Mr. Ellis Griffiths, in a speech made last year, told us that— Disestablishment is a programme that has money in it, and that is the only sort of programme worth having, a statement endorsed by Mr. Lloyd George, who has told us that the object of Disestablishment is "to get rid of those who now have the control of the endowments."

I pass on to the Disendowment clauses of the Bill. Mr. McKenna informs us that it is a Bill to restore money given by the nation to the nation, and that it is a Bill required by justice and the duty of equal treatment. Were it a Bill, he says, to deprive the Church of endowments given by individuals, then, indeed, it would be an unjust Bill and one he could not defend; and Mr. Lloyd George, in a candid moment, has told us that if the property does not belong to us, the nation, we ought not to have it; to take it would be an act of pillage. I have no hesitation in saying that on their own showing Mr. Lloyd George and Mr. McKenna are bound to oppose this Bill. On their own showing Mr. McKenna and the Chancellor of the Exchequer have written themselves both down as robbers of churches. I am not going to repeat what has been said a dozen times in the course of this debate as to the origin of the endowments of the Church. Everyone knows that they were the gifts of individuals in the past, as in the present. Churches were built and endowed in the past, just as churches are built and endowed to-day, by the piety of individuals. Look through the records of all the parishes in England and Wales and you will find plenty of individual benefactions; you will find none given by the State. The fact cannot be disputed. The endowments of the Church were given by the piety and generosity of individuals to this or that parish, this or that Cathedral, just as your ancestors, it may be, or you yourselves have given money to the clergy and the Church where you worship. There is no other origin for tithe than this; it was property given for religious purposes by individuals, the payment of which came in process of time to be enforced by the State, just as gifts made under a legal will are enforced by the State now. Does that make property inherited under a will national property which the State may treat as its own? And what is true of the tithe is true of the glebes, of the funds in the hands of the Ecclesiastical Commissioners, and of the money derived from Queen Anne's Bounty. They are none of them moneys or lands given by the State; they are all the gifts of individuals. Yet it is this property, this tithe, these glebes which it is proposed to take away. I defy any one to disprove that statement, and therefore, on Mr. McKenna's own showing, the Bill is an "unjust Bill," and according to Mr. Lloyd George an "act of pillage."

I know that Parliament can do what it likes, but there is one thing it cannot do. It cannot turn wrong into right; it cannot make what is unjust, just; nor an act of pillage less an act of pillage because it happens to suit the political interests of the Government. It cannot make robbery anything but robbery, and I will ask you to consider how great and indefensible this robbery is, both in itself and in the manner of its doing. As already shown in the course of this debate, when the scheme of Disendowment has been carried out many parishes, so far as this Bill is concerned, will be deprived of any income at all, the income of many of the parochial clergy will be reduced to little more than £10 a year, and many parishes will be left without a resident clergyman.

Why is it proposed to do this? Is it because the Church is not doing her work? The opposite is the fact, on the admission of the Prime Minister himself. Is it because the Church is too rich? No one, not even the most violent political opponents, pretend that to be the case. Is it because the Church is in a minority in Wales? If it were so it would be no excuse for such a Bill. The Church has a right to its endowments whether its members be many or few. But the reverse is the fact. The Church in Wales is increasing by leaps and bounds, and it is the Nonconformist bodies which are going back. Do you want proof of this? According to the returns of their own recent figures, while the four leading Nonconformist sects have lost some 26,000 members, the Church in Wales has added, not occasional occupiers of sittings, but 10,000 communicants to its roll. That half a million of the population of Wales should have signed a petition against this Bill is a significant fact. I cannot help, in this connection, asking your Lordships whether it is a very creditable thing for the present House of Commons, at the very moment when they are proposing to deprive the struggling Welsh Church of money which nobody professes is at all larger than is required, when every post brings us appeals for help for some struggling Welsh parish—I ask whether it is a creditable sight at the present moment to see them proposing to deprive the Welsh clergy of these endowments and at the same time voting themselves £400 a year each without any reference to the country and only for their own additional comfort in life.

But, it is said, all this does not touch the real point. "Not the Church, nor the clergy, but the people to whom the Church ministered are," according to Mr. Lloyd George in his speech on the Third Reading of this Bill, "the beneficiaries of Church funds." The endowments were given to the Church when the Church was coterminous with the nation, and included objects which were not directly spiritual, such as education, relief of the poor, etc. The Church, therefore, under existing circumstances, has no right to appropriate the whole of the endowments or to insist that they should be applied exclusively to religious purposes. I will make two remarks upon this. The religious bodies in Wales outside the Church have all left it of their own accord. People can leave the Church if they choose, but they cannot leave the Church and carry their rights with them. Moreover, if the argument is good at all, why does not the Government propose to give the money taken from the Church to the other denominations, as was proposed in the House of Commons, and as I see was advocated the other day at a meeting of Nonconformists in Wales, who protested against the attitude taken by their representatives in Parliament on the subject? But that is just what the Government refuse to do. They prefer to secularise the funds and to give the money to washhouses and museums, which Mr. Lloyd George will, I suppose, tell us was an object contemplated by the donors!

In regard to the other point, that the endowments of the Church were in part given for secular purposes, I will only say, as Lord Hugh Cecil said in the House of Commons last week, that to suppose medieval persons would have ever dreamt of leaving a penny towards education except in so far as it was religious, or to the poor except in so far as the poor might be relieved through the Church, is a supposition which can only result from the most boundless ignorance or the most unblushing audacity. I re-echo that sentiment. However, my Lords, Mr. Lloyd George and other supporters of this Bill are never at a loss to find another argument if the one they have already discovered is found to be unavailable, and I observe that the Chancellor of the Exchequer has a series of other arguments in support of this Bill. The next to which I will allude is this. He says the State has despoiled the Church before, with the inference that it can do so again, and he has alluded more than once to the dissolution of the monasteries. It is quite true; the State has not only destroyed the monasteries, but it has in many cases robbed the parish churches; it has taken possession of innumerable charitable institutions for the use of the poor. But is that any reason why it should do so again? Mr. Lloyd George, I am glad to see, appears to disapprove of such proceedings in the past. If so, why does he propose to repeat them in the present? I leave it to him to reconcile his appeal to Henry VIII on one side and Mary Tudor on the other in order to justify the provisions of this Bill. For myself I will only say that I am at a loss to see what Henry VIII or Mary Tudor have to do with the matter, or how the description—your Lordships will all remember it—of the noble Duke, the Duke of Devonshire, as one "whose hands are reeking with the fat of sacrilege" can in any way be held to justify the action of the Government.

Then it is said that the Church in Wales has neglected its duties in the past, and may rightly, therefore, be deprived of its property in the present. I freely admit a measure of neglect in the past, largely due—and here I am for once in agreement with Mr. Lloyd George—to appointments made to the Episcopate in Wales for political reasons on the Hanoverian Succession; but is past neglect any justification for present oppression? There has also been neglect in the Church of England, and if the argument possesses any validity it is an equally valid argument for robbing the Church of England. The truth is that this Bill is an attack, not only on the Church in Wales, but on the Church of England as a whole, and this on the admission of Cabinet Ministers themselves. After the differences exhibited in the Cabinet the other night in regard to Women's Suffrage, it is possible that Mr. Harcourt may not agree with Mr. Lloyd George, and that others may be as profoundly at variance with one another on this subject as those two gentlemen seemed to be in regard to Women's Votes; but, meanwhile, Mr. Runciman has told us—and I have seen no dissent from other members of the Cabinet—that "the Welsh Church is only put in order of precedence; it would be good for the Church of England to be disestablished." "Unfortunately," Mr. Runciman adds, "the Government can only deal with the Welsh Church at this moment." Mr. Birrell said much the same thing at Bristol last year, and the noble Earl who is in charge of this Bill, in a speech made at Alton, which has already been alluded to, told us that the Bill dealing with the Church in Wales is only the first step towards dealing with the Church of England. "It would be good," he said, "for the Church to be disendowed." My noble friend will, I am sure, forgive me if I venture to remind him that he forgot to tell us whether he thought a similar process of disendowment would be good for himself.

Only the other day a leading evening newspaper—the property, I believe, of a supporter of the Government and an ardent advocate of this Bill—insisted on the importance of negativing any concessions to the Church in regard to glebes, in view of the effect such concessions must have on the future disendowment of the Church in Enlgand; and Dr. Clifford, whose relations with the Government in regard to education we cannot ignore, has definitely told us that this Bill is only a step to the Disestablishment and Disendowment of the whole Church of England. Indeed, all the arguments against the Church in Wales are only to be explained on this hypothesis. We are informed that "the Church is the creation of the State," and that "the nation demands that the funds of the Church should be used for the purposes for which they were intended, and not for the personal licentiousness of those who are enjoying them." This, I think, was a flower of speech in one of Mr. Lloyd George's Welsh speeches. "Tithe," we are also told by Mr. Lloyd George, "is paid by the poor tillers of the soil who have to provide their own minister and their own spiritual needs, and then to pay twice as much again in order to pay and keep up a chaplain for the squire." I will only ask, if this is so, why does not the Government propose to deprive the lay impropriator of his tithes? Every argument applied to the tithe in possession of the Church applies with double force to the tithe in lay hands. If you touch one, why do you decline to touch the other? It can only he because you make your own the assertion of Mr. Ellis Griffiths, that Welsh county councils would deal more honestly with Church property than the Church has done, and on the principle expressed by Mr. Evan Jones that "it is for the strong to take and the weak to squeak,"

I think I have said enough to show how little there is to be said in support of the arguments on which the Government base their proposals for Disendowment. I claim no privilege for the Church; I ask only that the Church should be protected in the enjoyment of its property—property which it is admitted is not excessive or employed in any but the best way and for the good of the people. I think if there is one thing that excites indignation more than another in regard to all those proposals it is when it is said that we should be grateful to the Government for leaving the Church a portion of that which belongs to it. If the property is ours, why should we be grateful because we are left with a portion of it: if it is not ours, there is no question of gratitude at all. I am not grateful to them for any of these proposals. I venture to tell the Government we are going to fight them to the very end. If you find a burglar in your house you do not make him a bow and thank him for leaving you your forks when he has taken your spoons, but you hit him in the eye if you can, and you call in a policeman. I venture to say that when the proposals of this Bill are referred, as they will have to be, to the electors of the country, when the policeman appears in the shape of the electors, we shall see the end of this Bill and its authors.

You will observe that in everything I have said I have not asked for any position of privilege for the Church. I have simply asked for equal treatment, and that the Church should be protected in the possession of its own endowments, just as I should ask that the Nonconformist bodies should be protected in the possession of theirs. Sir D. Brynmor Jones, in a speech on the Third Reading, told us that the principle the Government were contending for was the principle of religious equality. That, my Lords, is the principle I am contending for—equality of treatment. I ask nothing for ourselves that I do not ask for others. The Nonconformist bodies have large endowments. In the general attack upon property which seems now to be advocated in certain quarters, the time may come when it will be proposed to deprive them of these endowments. In that day, if I am alive, I shall say on their behalf what I am saying on behalf of, the Church to-day. Meanwhile, let them be sure of this. If they put Party before principle, if they do not stand up for justice and right in the case of others, they may have cause to repent their conduct when an attack is made upon themselves. Of the political Nonconformists I expect nothing. The only thing that could be said about their conscience is that, so far as I have had opportunity to observe it, it is the most elastic thing in the whole world. But there are religious Nonconformists and I think better of them. I am sure that they dread the secularisation of money given for spiritual purposes, and I rejoice to think that many of them are fighting on the side of the Church to-day, just as we shall be found fighting with them when they are attacked and have need of our help in defence of their own interest.

I have omitted my reference to the seats of the Welsh Bishops in the House of Lords, or to the powers of the Ecclesiastical Courts, for neither of these matters is material to the subject. As things are, all Bishops have not seats in this House, and it might easily happen that no Welsh Bishop was a member of this House. Whether the Ecclesiastical Courts enforce their decisions directly or by virtue of contract is also a detail, and makes no real difference. But before passing on to the history of the Bill in the House of Commons there is one other matter to which I wish to draw your Lordships' attention. I refer to the 12th Clause of the Bill, which enacts that the Bishops and clergy of the Church in Wales shall cease to be members of, or represented in, the House of Convocation of the Province of Canterbury. Why? The Convocations of Canterbury and York are purely ecclesiastical bodies. The constitution of Convocation was settled by the Church, not by the State. It is the recognised Synod of the Province, and it is not less the Synod of the Province because it suited the King in times past to use the Provincial Synods for other than their natural purposes, or because the clergy under the King's Writ formerly taxed themselves in Convocation, or because the Crown, for political reasons, at one time refused it permission to sit. Every one knows that if any Government were in the present day to forbid the sitting of Convocation, or the sitting of the General Assembly in Scotland, such an order would be disregarded on both sides of the Tweed. Does the Government really suppose that the most rev. Prelate the Metropolitan of All England, in the event of this Bill passing, will abstain from summoning to the Provincial Synod of Canterbury, of which they are a constituent part, the Welsh Bishops and clergy? If it does, I can only say there is no limit to its illusions, and apply to it the saying, Quern Deus vult perdere prius dementat.

I pass from the contents of this Bill to its history. This Bill would never have come to your Lordships' House had it not been for the votes of the Nationalist Party. On seven or eight occasions it would have been dead had it not been for the alliance between the Irish Roman Catholics and the political Nonconformists in the House of Commons. Now I am not going to dispute the right of Irish Members as long as they are Members of the House of Commons to take their own part in the debates and vote as they please, but I wish to draw your Lordships' attention to this fact, that Mr. Dillon, on the Third Reading, informed the House that it was a source of the deepest gratification to the members of the Nationalist Party that they had been enabled in some measure, by voting for this Bill, to repay the debt of gratitude they owed to the Welsh Members for their support in regard to Home Rule; while Mr. Redmond, at a meeting not long ago in Wales, informed his audience that "British politics were no concern of the Irish Members in the House of Commons, but that their votes were only given in reference to Ireland and Home Rule"—that is to say, the Bill is carried by those who openly say they care nothing for the Bill in itself, but that their only concern is to keep the Government in office for purposes of their own. It may suit Mr. Dillon to say that this is not an unholy alliance, and that the Irish Members in voting for the secularisation of Church property are not voting against their principles, but he will scarcely deny that there is hardly any matter which is more emphatically condemned by the rulers of the Church than the secularisation of Church property, or dispute the authority of the following letter from Cardinal Rampolla, then Secretary of State to Leo XIII, written to me in 1895, on the occasion of the first Bill to disestablish the Welsh Church. The following is a translation of the Cardinal's words— The Holy See condemns all proposals for the secularisation of ecclesiastical property; it is a matter of principle, and the Holy See proclaims it everywhere. I say again, therefore, and I challenge contradiction, that the Irish Members vote against their principles to keep the Government in office; the Nonconformists sacrifice their hostility to Roman Catholics in order to rob the Church; and the Government, who refuse to allow the Irish Members to interfere in ecclesiastical matters in Ireland, depend upon and welcome their support to enable them to disestablish and disendow the Church in Wales, declaring all the time that such Disestablishment and Disendowment is a local matter which concerns only Wales, and with which English people have nothing to do. I think when the country understands this matter and how this Bill is being carried, and realises how discreditable and—I will not shrink from the word—how dishonest the whole arrangement is, John Bull will, in spite of all political log-rolling, declare his intention of being master in his own house.

But I will end what I have to say tonight on a different note. We do well indeed to be angry in such a cause, but there are things better and stronger than even righteous anger. It is better to convince men than to upbraid them. Let me then ask the Government and the noble Lords opposite this question, Can a measure which, if carried, must provoke the bitterest hostility and the deepest sense of injustice, conduce to the harmony and well-being of the nation? My Lords, look around. Do you think the world is in such a state that it can afford to dispense with the teachings of religion? What do you see on all sides, at home and abroad, in the political, the religious, the social world? What is the truth about the morality, not only of our great towns, but of our country districts? Can Wales itself afford to dispense with any influences that make for righteousness? What does the general unrest, which is so marked a feature of the present time, portend? What lesson should we learn from the growing neglect of duty and pursuit of pleasure? Surely the lessons of the Gospel were never more needed than now.

What is the real strength of a nation? My Lords, the strength of a nation is the character of the individuals who compose it. There is no safety for a nation except in the character of the men and women who compose it. How is that character to be formed except by religion? What has the Emperor William been saying on this very subject in regard to Germany only the other day? Our only hope as individuals, our only hope as a nation, is in the religion of Jesus Christ. Is it open to doubt that in the estimation of the world, inside and outside our own borders, such a measure as the Disestablishment and Disendowment of the Church in Wales will be looked upon, if not as an attack upon, at least as a token of indifference to, Christianity itself? Everywhere such a measure will be welcomed by the enemies of Christianity; everywhere it will be regretted by those who believe that Christianity is the abiding hope of every nation. Have we the courage—I might call it another name—to say, after the history of more than twelve centuries, that we will now sever the connection which for all that time has subsisted between the Church of Christ and the nation? that we will trample underfoot all the principles which, so far as they have been observed, have been the cause of our prosperity and greatness, and turn our backs upon the Christian faith? My Lords, let us pray God to help us to avert so great a misfortune, for this is the very heart of the question. We pray morning by morning, evening by evening, "Thy Kingdom come." Can we lay our hands upon our hearts and say the Kingdom of God will be advanced by such a measure as this? That is the question we have all to ask ourselves. I think the question admits of but one answer, and that is the answer which is being given with no uncertain voice by innumerable meetings throughout the length and breadth of the country. What has happened in the House of Commons under the despotism which now reigns in that House is no indication of the mind of the country; and in the last resort, should this Bill be passed over the head of this House, it is my conviction that the voice of the nation will insist upon the King, as the ultimate guardian of the rights and liberties of his people, refusing his assent to such a measure until it has been referred to the electors and the country has had the opportunity of definitely expressing its mind upon it.

Further debate adjourned till To-morrow.

House adjourned at a quarter before Twelve o'clock, till To-morrow, half-past Ten o'clock.