§ Debate on the Amendment to the Motion for the Second Reading, viz., that the Bill be read 2a this day three months resumed (according to Order).
THE LORD BISHOP OF ST. ALBANS
My Lords, I think of all the arguments which have been brought before your Lordships' House in defence of this Bill, perhaps the most striking was one which was adduced by my right rev. friend the Bishop of Hereford, when he stated that this had been argued mainly as a question of Disendowment, and that, as the question of Disendowment was practically settled by the question of Disestablishment, as a matter of fact there is no good arguing it further. I think my right rev. friend must have been a little astonished at the speeches which followed his own, and I do not think he could have complained, after hearing those speeches, that there was any desire to shirk the question of the Establishment of the Church. I shall for my own part, in the few observations I make to-night, touch very little on the question of endowment. I simply say, on the question of endowment, that there are three points in this Bill with reference to tithes, with reference to commutation, and with reference to curates, that seem to me to make the title "a mean little Bill" absolutely deserved. As to the point which 1230 has been made that it is sufficient for the Church to be able to raise funds enough for its maintenance from year to year without the help of endowments, I should only like to say that a significant comment upon that is found in the fact that the Calvinistic Methodists are doing all they can now to accumulate endowments and a Member of Parliament has in this very year given £50,000 to the Calvinistic Methodist Endowment Fund. I venture to say that if there had not been a real need of endowment there would scarcely have been this desire to accumulate this fund, and there could hardly have been this generous donation of which, I assure your Lordships, I speak only in terms of praise.
But let me pass on from this question of Disendowment to the question of Disestablislunent. The particular point I want to argue is the moral right of Parliament to dismember the Church of England. When I come to the history of the Church in Wales I cannot help noticing what was brought out so forcibly by the most rev. Primate last night, that long before there was a Parliament in existence there was in existence a vigorous Church in Wales; long before Parliament existed there were representatives in Convocation of the Church in Wales. But there is one point that I should like, if I may, to add to that. It is that during the last seven centuries there can be no question whatever that the Church in Wales has been an integral part of the English Church, and certainly in the earlier part of that time the Church—that is, the entire Church of which the Church in Wales formed a part—was taking a very remarkable part in the assertion of British liberty and the development of what I may call the self-consciousness of the nation to which we belong.
Perhaps I may be allowed to give two or three instances. In 1213, on August 4, a Council was held at St. Albans, the See City which I represent, called by Justiciar, the chief Minister of the Norman Kings, and the Archbishop of Canterbury, and attended by Bishops and Barons, and, what is the remarkable thing, by representatives of townships on Royal demesnes, each sending a reeve and four legal men. The ostensible cause for which this Council was convened was to discuss the question of assessment for the plunder that had been alleged to have been wrought upon the Church, but, as a matter of fact, the Council when 1231 convened discussed the general question of the government of the country. Bishop Stubbs, who will be admitted to be our first authority on constitutional history, says the Council was one of the most important things in the development of British liberty, and one of those gatherings which ultimately led to the creation of the House of Commons.
That year was a remarkable one, for a little later in it, on the 25th of August, a similar Council was held at St. Paul's, when Henry the First's Charter was produced; and on November 7 of that same year a Council was convened by the King at Oxford when four discreet men of the shire were to take the place of the four legal men of the Royal desmesnes. History does not tell us whether that Council at Oxford was ever held, but the fact that it was convened in this memorable year 1213, and convened largely, let me say, by the aid of the Bishops, who took part with the Barons and others in summoning these gatherings, shows that the Church at that time was vindicating the liberties of the British nation; and the Church at that time, without any question whatever, included the Church in Wales. I should like to add this further point. In all that turbulent twelfth century, which was characterised by considerable wars in Wales, the one fact which was helpful and which led to an ultimate conciliation, was the fact that the Church in Wales was then one with the Church in England, and just as in earlier centuries we find that the unity of the Church led the heptarchy to become one kingdom, so the unity of the Church in Wales and in England led undoubtedly to the civil consolidation and the ultimate unity of England and Wales. In that great historical duty, I venture to say, the Church in Wales must be allowed to have taken its share, and I thought it worth while in reference to this question of dismemberment to draw attention to the share which it undoubtedly had.
When I come to Parliament days, I venture to say that the advocates for this Bill will find little in Acts of Parliament which they can really consider to be precedents. They will find a series of Acts regulating the Establishment, regulating the endowments of the Church of England; and they have gone on from that day down to the present. As the most rev. Primate told us yesterday, many of these Acts of Parliament have been Acts passed at the 1232 request of the Church herself and after very careful consideration by all the authorities of the Church. But there are three things, I venture to say, that if you look through the Statute Book you will find it very difficult to discover. You will not find Acts of Parliament establishing the Church; you will not find Acts of Parliament endowing the Church; and you will not find before this Bill Acts of Parliament dismembering the Church. There is, I know, one precedent which is quoted. I should have thought almost that the speech of the noble Lord opposite, Lord Balfour of Burleigh, had disposed of the argument of the Irish Church, but I should like to add one or two points in reference to it. When the noble Earl, Lord Beauchamp, said that he thought the noble Marquess who leads the Opposition would find it perhaps a little difficult to explain how it was that, having voted for the Irish Church Disestablishment Bill, he now proposed to vote against this Bill to disestablish the Church in Wales, I could not help thinking that if the noble Earl had only heard two speeches which I had the opportunity of hearing from a Member of the Cabinet that disestablished the Irish Church he would have needed no further answer.
I remember perfectly well as a young clergyman being present in yonder gallery of your Lordships' House during the last day of the discussion on the Irish Church Bill. I remember very clearly that amongst the speeches I heard upon that evening was a speech from the late Duke of Argyll in favour of the Disestablishment of the Irish Church. Many years later I attended a very large meeting in the Albert Hall over which the late Archbishop Benson presided, and I heard the same noble Duke speak strongly and clearly against the Disestablishment of the Church in Wales, and vindicate his action by arguments which seemed to me perfectly irrefutable as showing the absolute distinction between the one case and the other. In the year 1800 Parliament thought fit to unite the Church in Ireland and the Church in England. There was no idea then of making the Church in Ireland an integral part of the Church of England. It could not be done. It was united as a sister Church. What Parliament could do, Parliament could undo, and in the year 1869 Parliament chose to undo that act by severing the union created in 1800, which was, as I have said, entirely a 1233 Parliamentary union. But when Parliament thought fit to sever this link and to make the Irish Church again quite independent, it took care, as Lord Balfour of Burleigh pointed out yesterday, to treat the Church of Ireland as a whole, and not to take any part of it; for only with the Church as a whole, I venture to contend, has the State as a whole any right whatever to meddle.
I want to lay it down, if I may, at least as a principle in my own mind, that the union between Church and State is a union which either side may desire to review. It might be that from the side of the Church conscientious members of that Church would feel that it is right now to sever the link that unites them to the State. It may be that the State may consider that for sufficient reasons it is right to sever the link on the part of the State. What I want to lay down, at all events as an axiom for my own guidance, is this. The State has only the right to deal with the Church as a whole, and not to sever a part of that Church. When the State presumes to sever a part of the living community and make it, as it were, a separate community, that is an outrage and an invasion of the spiritual rights of a spiritual body. When I come, therefore, to the question which concerns us to-day, I find that here there is a Bill which is doing everything that His Majesty's Government can do to sever the Church in Wales from the Church in England. I maintain that it is not only from the Welsh side but from the English side as well that this matter ought to be regarded. You may say, if you will, that if a surgeon touches my finger, it is only my finger that he touches; but I venture to say that if he cuts my finger he cuts me. It is I, my personality, that feels it. It is just the same if you sever a part from the Church.
I should be prepared to argue that we of the Church of England are suffering a real loss when we part with any portion of the body, and especially when it is a part which has been for more than seven centuries an integral part of the body and has taken a prominent place in obtaining British liberties and in guiding the British people in ways of righteousness and peace. I know you can find fault—who cannot?—with the Church in various periods of its existence. I know you may find fault with the Church in the last century and 1234 the century before. I am not likely to forget certain things connected with the Church in the earlier part of the last century. I happen to be the son of a man who was born in what is now a part of the city of Cardiff on property which belonged to his father and in which, therefore, I have a natural interest. My father was ordained in Llandaff Cathedral, and I recollect him telling me that at an early visitation held by Bishop Sumner a certain curate of the diocese expressed alarm lest he should starve because the Bishop told him that he could not possibly tolerate his remaining in charge of five parishes at once, and all on the large income of £40 per annum! But we have passed those days now, and if you asked me to what those bad days were due I should say they were due to many causes. The entire Church at that time was passing under a cloud. Any one who knows anything about Abbey and Overton's "Church History in the 18th Century" does not require to be told what those causes were. But one of the causes was certainly this, that during a long period under successive Ministers—and I am afraid I must say mainly Whig Ministers—appointments were freely made of Englishmen to Welsh Bishoprics, as if they were the appanage of Party and the spoils of victory. If you find that religion suffered because of these appointments, I venture to say that it is not the Church alone which must bear the blame, but that the Church must share the blame with those who made such appointments.
We have passed those days, I am glad to say, and we have now to consider what is the line we have undertaken. I am going to speak very plain and clear words, which may, perhaps, astonish some of your Lordships, and what I say I shall not be saving for the first time. I said it publicly more than twenty years ago at Portsmouth on an occasion when two of my right rev. brethren who are here now—the Bishop of St. Asaph and the Bishop of St. Davids—also spoke. I consider it such an outrage on a spiritual body to attempt to sever a part of it from the whole that I would far rather be a member of a Disestablished Church, would far rather be disestablished myself and go out together with the Church in Wales, than I would remain in an Established Church with the Church in Wales cut off from the body. I venture to say at least that if I make that statement it is not a matter 1235 of loaves and fishes, or a matter of endowments. It will not be considered that I am lightly making a statement which might involve the whole Disestablishment of the Church of which I am a minister; but I do say that it is possible to go beyond limits which a man can tolerate. I say that when the State, as a civil body, assumes to sever from a spiritual body an integral part of that body, the State is doing what there is no precedent in Parliament to permit it to do; it is, moreover, doing what I believe to be a moral injury, and an absolute injustice. It is for these reasons, apart from all other arguments, which have been adequately dealt with in this debate, that I venture to lift up my voice to-night against the Second Reading of this Bill.
§ LORD ABERCONWAY
My Lords, if I venture to take part in this debate it is because I approach the subject from the point of view of a Welshman by adoption, and at the same time from the point of view of one who has always regarded this question, if I may say so, from an impartial standpoint. But at the same time it is one of those questions which one almost shrinks from attacking. I feel that a Bill of this kind is calculated to wound the tenderest susceptibilities of tens of thousands of earnest, good men who have devoted their lives to the work of Christianity, and no one can have listened to the eloquent speeches which have been made by right rev. Prelates and others in this House without feeling that this is not a measure which can be treated wholly from a Party political point of view. Speaking as a member of the Party responsible for this Bill, I feel very keenly the suggestion that we are actuated by motives of plunder in regard to the disendowment clauses of the Bill. I also feel keenly the suggestion that we are actuated by hostility to the spiritual side of a great Church.
With regard to the remarks of the right rev. Prelate who has just sat down, I think I may say that with the greater part of his observations we on this side of the House most thoroughly agree. We have no quarrel with the English Church represented in Wales. We respect its history and we venerate the great names it has produced. We know that to the Church in Wales in the Middle Ages and the Tudor period a great part of the civilisation of Wales is due. It is only because we have 1236 asked ourselves, forced by what we believe to be the state of opinion in modern Wales, whether the time has not come when some changes in the constitution of the Church is not forced upon us that we have brought forward the subject for consideration in the Bill before your Lordships' House. The right rev. Prelate spoke of the act of a surgeon in amputating a finger, and said that the amputation of a limb would injure the whole body. I think he might have pushed the argument rather further. There are, I would remind him, cases where the surgeon has to consider the state of the whole body and where he finds that unless he performs a certain amputation the patient will not only lose a limb, but may lose his life.
What you have to consider is this. Is the situation in Wales such as to justify us in severing the Welsh branch of the English Church from the parent body? I quite appreciate the difficulties of the case. I quite appreciate the cogent and forcible arguments of noble Lords opposite, and particularly of the noble Viscount, Lord St. Aldwyn, who brought to bear all his well-known powerful critical abilities in order to search out the defects of this measure. I admit that it is not easy to frame a perfect measure when it has to be constructive in parts as well as destructive. I recognise the intense feeling which was expressed in such wonderfully fascinating and eloquent language by the Bishop of St. Asaph two nights ago. He handled the question with his accustomed fairness, and with that fire which only a Welshman possesses; and I may say that his speech supplies your Lordships with abundant evidence of the reason for the enormous popularity enjoyed by the right rev. Prelate in North Wales. I venture to say that, great as is admitted to be the popularity which the right rev. Prelate enjoys at present in Wales, if he were a Prelate of a Disestablished Church he would have no rival at all in North Wales, except Mr. Lloyd George.
As to the question of Disendowment, I own that I approach the subject with rather mingled feelings. I should have been very glad if the whole of the revenues of the Church had been left to the Church. True we only propose to deprive the Church of £50,000 a year. I know it has been said that the sum approaches nearer £100,000, but the figures are not particularly clear; and in any event there is 1237 no question of principle involved in the difference between £50,000 and £100,000. It is a mere question of expediency whether you leave the Church in possession of £250,000 or £300,000. But on this question of Disendowment there was the greatest difference of opinion in the House of Commons. A large number of members of the Liberal Party were opposed altogether to Disendowment, and I venture to say that if, instead of rejecting the Bill on Second Reading, as we believe you intend to do, your Lordships were to amend it in Committee and then send it back to the other House you would probably be able to effect such a compromise as would leave the Church in possession of her revenues. That, I fear, is not going to be done; on he other hand, as far as I can gather, the opponents of this Bill are going to stake all on the double chance of a Dissolution this year and of a Conservative Government coming into office after the General Election. It is quite obvious that if this chance does not happen and if the Bill is rejected to-night it will come back to your Lordships' House next session without a line or a syllable having been altered, and the whole of its previsions, whether we believe them to be generous and just or not, will in due time be incorporated in an Act of Parliament.
But take the question of Disendowment. We have had, I submit, abundant evidence that Disendowment does not injure a Church. The Irish Church is stronger to-day than it was even when in full possession of its endowments. Take the case also of the Roman Catholic Church in this country. It has built itself up practically from nothing. It is a poor Church, fortified by a few rich men, and yet it has covered the country with beautiful buildings; it has supported its clergy; it has maintained schools; and it has acquired an influence which comparatively a few years ago would have been thought incredible. In France a few years ago there took place a drastic separation of Church and State—a cruel measure of Disendowment. Not only were the funds taken from the Church, but the fabrics were taken also, and were turned into historic monuments. Yet the Church in France has never been so vigorous since the Revolution as it is to-day. Noble Lords who know Paris must be well aware that splendid churches are being built and new parishes are being created. Catholicism 1238 was never more powerful in France than it is to-day as a Disestablished and Disendowed Church. Take the Colonies, and take also the United States. In the United States they have magnificent churches, they have a highly-paid clergy, and they have all the paraphernalia of an Episcopal Church bar the Establishment itself. Under this Bill, if private individuals choose to endow a Church, we recognise the right of private endowments to remain in the hands of the Church and to be used for the cause for which they were intended.
I look upon the Church of England as the richest Church in the world. Why, therefore, should it alone be afraid of being Disestablished and Disendowed? The Welsh alone contribute £300,000 a year in voluntary donations to this Church; and will any noble Lord say that the Church is not generous enough to make up a small deficiency of from £50,000 to £100,000 a year? Look at the great revenues derived in South Wales from mineral royalties by gentlemen who are notoriously liberal in their benefactions to local charities and other useful objects. Those gentlemen, I feel sure, would be only too happy to devote a considerable sum, if necessary, to make good any deficiency which might arise in the funds of the Church in Wales. Personally I venture to say that the Church would not be worse off because of the Disendowment clauses of this Bill. My real hesitation is in regard to where the money which is taken from the Church is to go. Anything more disastrous than to apply religious endowments to the relief of rates I cannot imagine. On looking through the clauses of the Bill, however, I am glad to see that precautions have been taken to prevent this being done, and I hope the Home Secretary of the day will stand firmly against any attempt of the county councils to apply these revenues to the relief of rates. So far as the University is concerned, there is less objection; but if I were to be asked what I personally would do with these funds, I would say apply them to such objects as the endowment of research in medicine, which at present lacks any endowment. That might confer incalculable benefits on humanity at large, and such an endowment would not exhaust the possibilities of the position, as there are other objects of a similar kind worthy of attention.
1239 Offers were made in the House of Commons to allocate portions of these funds to dissenting bodies, and though they were rejected by the Liberal Party because Nonconformists would not accept money from the State, at the same time I could conceive no serious objection to applying portions of these funds to paying off the debts on existing places of worship belonging to denominations other than the Church of England. But my noble friend Lord Pontypridd puts his foot down on that proposal. However, I earnestly hope that when this Bill comes to be administered as an Act of Parliament this money will be preserved for purposes which cannot be said to be in relief of taxes or rates. It was said by a noble Lord opposite, Lord Dynevor, last night, that this Bill in effect creates, for the first time, a Parliamentary Church in Wales. I do not think that criticism, if indeed it touched a real principle of this Bill, is altogether sound. I may compare with it, for example, a Bill which passed your Lordships' House two or three years ago to deal with the United Free Church in Scotland. It was passed to remove certain difficulties, and this House is constantly dealing with Bills which affect private and public trusts. You cannot say that Bills which are necessary from a legal point of view to relieve difficulties in any way create a Parliamentary situation, and all that this Bill does is to enable the Church to administer its own funds in a legal way and to stereotype, if I may say so, the constitution which it already enjoys.
But nobody can deny the competence of Parliament to legislate for the Church of England. If we look at the history of the Church of England during the centuries succeeding the Reformation we see that from one generation to another it was the prey of every religious denomination. At one time Protestant; at another Catholic; at another a sort of Erastian Church; it was Presbyterian, Congregationalist, then again Anglican, and finally its troubled history was set at rest by the Act of Uniformity which practically stereotyped the position of the Church. I ask your Lordships to remember that this Bill does not attempt to deal with the spiritual independence of the Church in Wales. Church prayer will be left in its integrity; the Thirty-Nine Articles are untouched; and questions on which Churchmen are at variance are left for their own solution. 1240 All that the Bill does is to separate the Church from the absolute tutelage of the State. Noble Lords opposite, and particluarly right rev. Prelates, have taken the view that there is not a majority of the Welsh people in favour of this Bill. They say there is no mandate, and that Parliament has no right to pass a Bill of this kind in the absence of such mandate. I appeal to noble Lords who have followed the course of recent political history and ask them if that view is really justifiable.
The right rev. Prelate the Bishop of St. Asaph made an allusion to the payment of tithe, and stated, I think, that out of the total tithe paid in Wales the great proportion was paid by members of the Church of England. Noble Lords will remember that the tithe which used to be paid by the tenant farmer is now paid by the landlord under Lord Salisbury's Act which was passed twenty years ago. The mere fact that any particular member of the Church hands to the ecclesiastical authority the tithe he is compelled to collect from his tenants does not make the tithe payable only by persons of the religion of those who happen to hand it over. The tithe is collected from the farmer, and I venture to say that nine out of ten of the small farmers in Wales are strong opponents of the Established Church. They are its opponents largely because of the grievance they have always felt with regard to tithes, and you cannot now at this late period of history eradicate from their minds the idea that they have been paying for generations to a Church to which they do not belong.
I know the heart of Welsh Wales, and wherever I go I see in every corner in the wildest districts a little chapel—a Calvinistic Methodist or a Baptist chapel. I know that they have been built with the hard-earned money of the poor people of Wales. They have been built by the small farmers, the small tradesmen, and the working-men. These are the chapels in which the mass of the Welsh country people worship God. The habitations of these people are far removed in many cases from the parish churches; but they have put these chapels where they are easily accessible among their valleys and mountains. They are their property, the centres of the social life of Wales, the places where they hold their tea-meetings and their eisteddfods, and where everything 1241 that goes on socially is conducted with decorum, with propriety, and I venture to think, with advantage to Welsh civilisation. They are constantly building new chapels and schools. Every man who lives in Wales knows that for one application he gets to subscribe to the Church or to Church schools, he gets a dozen applications for a subscription to Calvinistic Methodist or Baptist churches. The efforts these people make are extraordinary considering the smallness of their resources. If you go to the church in any parish what do you find? You find perhaps a Welsh service on one Sunday morning and an English service on the next. The people who go to the church are practically the squire—the man who lives in the big house—his upper servants, a few educated people who do not sympathise with the kind of thing they get in the Calvinistic Methodist church but prefer the ordinary Anglican service, and a few English visitors. But in no sense do these churches represent the country people of Wales. The situation reminds one of the old lines—The wee church, the Free Church, the church without a steeple,The old church, the cold church, the church without the people.That is the condition of the Established Church and the Dissenting Church in the Welsh country districts. I know it may be different in towns, but I believe I am right in saying that even in large towns the great majority of the inhabitants are Dissenters.
A noble Lord said yesterday that the Welsh care for nothing but preaching, and there is a great deal of truth in that. You have to recognise that, as a fact, the Welsh like good preaching, and they regard the preacher as more important than the celebrant—that is to say, they do not regard the sacerdotal part of the celebration as we do in England. They like a man in the pulpit of their own rank—a man from the farmhouse, or from behind the counter of the grocer's shop. Those are the men who are drawn into the ministry of the Calvinistic Methodist Church; those are the people who go about from place to place to administer religion in Wales; those are the men whom the people trust. They have them to tea at their farms, they give them dinner on Sundays, and these ministers acquire an influence and a power over the people by their eloquence and their self-denying work 1242 which it is impossible to over-estimate. Those are the men who to-day hold the mass of the Welsh people in the hollow of their hands; those are the men who have persuaded the people that they should have Disestablishment; those are the men who have sent persistently a majority to the House of Commons in the last twenty or thirty years in favour of Welsh Disestablishment. Noble Lords have only to look back on the history of religion in England to see how the same thing obtained here 200 years ago, when the Puritans loved preaching, and set an example to the whole country. The same is true in Scotland to-day. You do not in that country go to St. Mary's or to St. Cuthbert's, but you go to sit under Mr. Brown or Mr. MacGregor. Those are the men who have made Scottish religion, and who have kept the Presbyterian lamp burning so brightly. Then why blame the Welsh people because they care more for that than they do for the surpliced ministrations of the beneficed clergy in Wales? You have the same in Ireland. The Irish priest is a peasant-bred man, while if you go to France you find that the French priest also is a man of the same class. In most Christian countries, in fact, you find that the men who minister to the poor come from their own class, and often are not much more highly educated than those before whom they preach. These being the facts we have to face, is it any use referring to ancient history and the great traditions of the Church of England? It must be acknowledged that, after all, this Bill only proposes to give to Wales what Wales asks for, and to suppose that this little act of justice is going to ruin irretrievably the great Established Church to which the mass of the English people belong is to take a false view.
The Welsh people are determined to have this measure. A Welshman is naturally conservative to the backbone; he is a man who respects his traditions. A Welsh farmer is unwilling to embark on any new ideas; in social life he is conservative; all his ideas are conservative. Yet the mere fact that he wants the Church disestablished makes him a Radical in politics, and compels him to vote for a Radical candidate at every election. I believe that if the Church were disestablished you would have a great change in Welsh political feeling, and that the natural conservatism of the people would find 1243 expression at the polling booths. A question has been raise as to what is the actual majority of persons in Wales in avour of Dissent. All I can say is that no religious census I know of can be taken in Wales or any other part of the country, because you can never estimate the number of people who believe in a particular religion merely by the number of communicants. You have to consider the adherents, and when you have taken the mother of the family into computation, then you must take the children. I venture to say that if a census were taken on those lines there could be no question on which side the majority lies. The mere fact that the county councils are practically dominated by the Nonconformists and that the Welsh Members of Parliament are elected by Nonconformists, shows that the heads of the households in Wales are all of that way of thinking. And you may be pretty certain that their families will follow them on the same lines.
My opinion is that if this Bill were carried and the Church disestablished you would greatly strengthen the numbers of the Church in Wales. The more ornate services of the Church would attract people. In many English towns you find that numbers of people go to chapel in the morning and to church in the evening. It would be the same, I believe, in Wales. But at present a kind of social stigma attaches in Wales to farmers and tradesmen through being connected with the English Church. It is the same kind of stigma which in some parts of England attaches to people who absent themselves from the Established Church. The noble Viscount opposite, Lord St. Aldwyn, referred to the question of Presbyterian union in Scotland, and pointed out that latterly there has been a movement to unite the United Free Church with the Established Church in Scotland. Why is that so? It is because the ritual is the same, and the only bar to the union is the fact of the Erastian connection of the latter Church with the State. If that union comes off, I venture to say the first thing that will be done will be to remove the shackles of its State connection.
Finally, may I appeal to something perhaps lower than religious prejudices? I appeal on a mere question of tactics. Is it desirable that this Bill should be rejected? Is it desirable that, having regard to the pressure which is used in 1244 favour of this Bill from Wales, it should share the fate[...] of those other Bills which your Lordships have killed on Second Reading without hope of amendment? I venture to think, and I speak as an old Parliamentary hand, that it is not in the interests either of the Welsh Church or of your Lordships' House that that course should be adopted. There is a time when you can surrender without dishonour. You have fought a gallant fight. No fight could have been fought more valiantly than that for which the right rev. Prelates have been responsible; but the time has come when you might very well say, "We will surrender to a greater power; we will march out with colours flying." If the House takes that view I am certain that a brighter future for the Church in Wales would shine before us. If the House takes the opposite view, I am sure that the public, especially in Wales, will feel that the Parliament Act has been justified and those who, like myself, hope for a closer bond of sympathy between the two Houses of Parliament will again be disappointed.
§ THE EARL OF HALSBURY
My Lords, I have endeavoured to follow, and I am afraid I have not been very successful, the reasoning of the noble Lord who has just addressed the House. To speak quite frankly, I am not certain that I understand now the relevancy of the greater part of the observations he has made. We are discussing this Bill, and a discussion which involves the history of religion through the centuries is not to my mind particularly relevant to what we have to deal with here. I must say I believe this debate has been of infinite value. I do not think, when one looks at what has been debated and what has been admitted in the course of these discussions, that it will be possible to get a stronger case for the four dioceses of the Church of England in Wales than has been made out by the admissions from the other side of the House. Over and over again one asks oneself what is the case for taking away the property of the Church of England in Wales, or what is the grievance on the part of the people of Wales against the four dioceses belonging to the Church of England in Wales. Over and over again one has asked, What is the grievance? but nobody has been able to answer the question or has attempted to answer it.
I read with something like amazement what was said yesterday by the right rev. 1245 Prelate the Bishop of Oxford. He recommends your Lordships to read this Bill a second time, and he stated at the same time that to one part of it he was undoubtedly and strongly opposed. I cannot suspect the right rev. Prelate of giving your Lordships illusory advice. But I would like to say this. Excepting the right rev. Prelate himself, is there a single man in this House who believes, if any material portion of that part of the Bill to which the Bishop of Oxford says he is irreconcilably opposed was amended by your Lordships, that there is the slightest chance of that Amendment being accepted in the other House? It is childish to suggest it. That the right rev. Prelate should recommend your Lordships to accept the Second Reading and then suppose that it is possible that the Bill could be amended in that direction is, as I say, childish, and I will not further pursue it.
Over and over again those who have put forward the question of the people of Wales being opposed to the Church and being desirous of having it first of all disestablished and then disendowed, have been challenged with this proposition: If it is a question of the number of people—although I myself should not admit, even if the numbers were greater than they are, that that was a reason why a Christian Church should be disestablished and disendowed—but supposing it were a question of numbers, what is the test by which you can find out the real feeling? Many times have I been in the Lobby voting for a religious census. Who have opposed it? Why, those who are maintaining now the propriety of disestablishing the Church simply on the ground of numbers. Over and over again that request for a religious census has been made, and no answer has yet been given to it. I know something of Wales, and I do not believe that it is true to say that the enormous majority of the people of Wales are against the existence of the Church. Widely diffused as the subjects are with which Parliament deals, is there any subject except this one where statistics are not the first thing applied to it when you are dealing with numbers? Why is it that His Majesty's Government are afraid to have that test, the only test which can be applied when you are dealing simply with numbers? Why is it that you object to it? No answer has yet been given to that question. I could instance many times, both in this House and in the 1246 other House of Parliament, when it has been demanded and has been refused. What is the inference? When people keep back evidence the inference always is that it is a symptom that the evidence is not in their favour.
When you cannot get an answer to the demand for a religious census on such a subject, the only thing left is to appeal to the newspapers. I see in the Western Mail of yesterday this statement, which is said to have been made by Mr. Henry Radcliffe, a justice of the peace, a prominent Welsh Nonconformist, and formerly Liberal candidate for Merthyr. I observe, further, that there has been an address to him to ask him to become the Liberal candidate for some other constituency in Wales. This is what he says—To-morrow the Peers will be called upon to decide by their votes whether the Bill is acceptable to the people of Wales or not, whether there is absolute evidence that the transference of the endowments of the Church to secular purposes is approved by the people concerned in the question. No one can pretend that it is. As a matter of fact the indications have all pointed in the other direction. From time to time during the troublous stages of the Bill the Government were made to realise that they had not the country behind them in this matter, nor were there signs wanting of a spirit of revolt among Liberal Members, whose defection in important positions would have rendered the defeat of the Government on eight occasions possible but for the kindly help of the Irish Nationalists. Speaking as a Welsh Nonconformist and on behalf of the increasing body of Welsh Nonconformists who view the Government proposals with disfavour and indeed with anxiety, I do not hesitate to say that if a referendum were made to the Welsh people on the issue there would be a great majority in favour of reserving the endowments in question for religious purposes. Under these circumstances the Peers will be justified in taking the step which they are expected to take to-morrow for the rejection of the Bill, and it will have the effect, and there is reasonable ground for thinking that it may, of securing an ultimate reference to the people. The Government base their proposals on an alleged mandate from Welsh Nonconformists. It is my firm belief that now the proposals are more clearly understood Welsh Nonconformity is very largely hostile to the secularisation of these funds.I do not know who this gentleman, who is described as a prominent Nonconformist and a justice of the peace, may be, but he has published this in the newspapers and he claims for himself and for a large body of Nonconformists that that is their view on this subject.
The evidence on the other side is based on the question of numbers, and no doubt 1247 the numbers show a great majority in favour of this particular Bill. But when one has heard what has been stated by those who live in Wales and who are members of your Lordships' House, it is impossible to suppose that the feeling which is alleged to exist against the Welsh Church is what it is stated to be by those who are simply very violent political antagonists; and when one speaks of the members of the House of Commons it is impossible to dissociate what I might call the political element, the adverse political element, from this question so as to ascertain whether or not they are voting in that direction because they object to the Church, or because they have other views which they insist upon in the votes that they give. I confess that among other things I have been struck with is the mode in which the solemnity of this question has been overlooked, even, may I say with respect, in the speeches of two of the right rev. Prelates who have addressed your Lordships. This question is treated as if it were the most indifferent thing in the world. It seems to me a serious thing that in this particular place you can find advocates for taking away religious endowments contrary to the whole spirit of our laws. Hitherto I certainly have been under the impression that if there was one thing that gave an indefeasible right it was long possession; but I see that when one begins to discuss such questions as the noble Lord opposite was discussing upon the subject of tithe, and so on, all the authorities in law which I have been all my life supposed to recognise are swept aside and the ipse dixit of the Home Secretary is accepted. Lord Selborne, the father of the present noble Earl here, and other authorities are swept aside, and the ipse dixit of the Home Secretary is accepted as perfectly conclusive. My Lords, I believe that such treatment as is proposed by the Bill is absolutely inconsistent with that which we have held in reverence for centuries as the foundation of property.
This is a subject for serious meditation to anybody who looks at the signs of the times. I am not going into questions of theology. I shall confine myself to the Eighth Commandment. In these circumstances it seems to me that of all times in the world this is the very last on which you should strive to weaken the bonds which tie men together in religious life. I 1248 was struck by what the noble Lord who raised the tone of the debate last night so much—Lord Balfour of Burleigh—said as to the religious life which the State indeed may elevate or depress; and if the State sets the example of taking away from the poor and taking away from an institution which has lasted for seven centuries what belongs to it, in spite of the recognised principles upon which property is held in this country, it seems to me it is an extremely bad example. It is very inappropriate in the times in which we live for the State to set an example of that sort. I wish to associate myself thoroughly and entirely with what was said by the right rev. Prelate who addressed your Lordships first to-night. I say that the State has no right to take the four dioceses of the English Church in Wales and dismember them. It has the power, as the noble Lord opposite suggested, but it has no right to do it. Of course, Parliament has power to do anything; but it has been recognised, I think, all through our history that Parliament has no right to do such a thing except in such circumstances as have been stated over and over again—i.e., if the property has been misused. I will not go through the whole category again. But to take away that which it did not give from an institution which has undoubtedly not been guilty of any wrong against the law and on which it has for several centuries maintained itself, is grossly unjust. It is a very dangerous thing indeed for the State to set an example of doing that which it has no right to do—to dismember a Church and to take away from it property which Parliament never gave to it and which the Church has the right to retain.
As I have said, I believe that the admissions made in this House by supporters of the Bill are the strongest case that could be made against the Bill. There is no doubt that at all events we still recognise the obligations of religion. No right exists to take away property that does not belong to you. There is no doubt that on this occasion you are asked to take away property which is being properly used and used for the purpose for which it was given, and property which is of inestimable value to the country. All this you are asked to do on no other ground whatever than that the people of Wales wish it. I for my own part, dealing with such a question as this, would not admit that that was a 1249 sufficient reason even if it were true. But assuming that that is a reason, I maintain that there is no proof whatever that there is such a feeling in Wales. By Act of Parliament is said you may do anything, and you may; but by doing this you are setting an example of the absolute disregard of the principles on which property is held in this country. Although you may starve an already poorly provided clergy and make their lives more miserable and make it more difficult for them to do their duty, not believe for one moment that by so doing you will strengthen your own position. On the contrary, you set an example of absolute disregard of what in this country has been looked upon at all events as one of the most sacred elements of property—that that which has been long possessed and long enjoyed and not abused shall not be taken away without reason.
I believe that this debate itself will be the strongest argument in favour of rejecting this Bill. The tone of the debate has in one sense been a great improvement on what we have read in another place, because here we have had admissions made that the Church of England in Wales has been doing its duty, that it has been acting efficiently, that it has improved and is improving and increasing. Notwithstanding that, you are asked now, with no statistics to justify it, to say that the Church in Wales shall be disestablished and disendowed in order to proceed, I presume, with some of the scientific experiments in the various county councils; and that is to be in substitution for Christianity. Because there can be no doubt whatever that in proportion as you take away the means you take away the power of diffusing, what ought to be the primary object of every State to diffuse, Christianity among the population. This is a Bill which ought to be absolutely thrown out without the least regard to the power of amendment which has been suggested by the right rev. Prelate the Bishop of Oxford, which is purely illusory. I do not know, after what he said last night, what he would say if the Bill came back again with his Amendment, such as it was, thrown back upon him and he was then asked whether we would pass the Bill as it stood denuded of his hypothetical Amendment. But I am confident that your Lordships will, without the smallest hesitation, reject this Bill to-night.
THE LORD BISHOP OF ST. DAVIDS
My Lords, I desire, as a Welsh Bishop, to express my most respectful gratitude to the noble and learned Earl whom I have the honour to follow for the way in which he has to-night used the weight of his great authority and experience in the cause of justice. The reasons why Welsh Churchmen appeal to your Lordships to refuse this Bill a Second Reading to-day have been expressed by the right rev. Prelate the Bishop of St. Asaph in a powerful speech, which commanded the respect of all parts of your Lordships' House, delivered under circumstances of special difficulty with that public spirit which is very characteristic of my right rev. brother. Four noble Lords from Wales, of whom the Church in Wales has good reason to be proud, have submitted to your Lordships the reasons why Welsh Church laymen oppose this Bill root and branch. To sum up the position which we Welsh Churchmen take in this matter, I would say we ask your Lordships' House to refuse this measure a Second Reading because it is a measure of great gravity, and because it has not been put, as it ought to have been put, before the country.
I presume that no noble Lord in this House will deny that this is a measure of great gravity. I assume that His Majesty's Government admits that. The Chief Secretary for Ireland once truly observed that Disestablishment was "a great and grave" question. I also presume that the noble Marquess the Leader of the House, when he sums up the debate, will not claim that this Bill has been put before the country, at the last General Election, in any real or effective sense, or in any sense approaching the fair and square way in which the greatest Liberal of the last century, Mr. Gladstone, put the case of the Irish Church before the country in 1868. Your Lordships will remember how the noble Viscount the President of the Council, who speaks with special authority of all that concerns Mr. Gladstone, said here that though Mr. Gladstone's Government of that time passed many Liberal measures, one and only one question was the essential question before the country at the General Election of 1868. I think the noble Viscount's words were that "the electors had in the forefront of their electoral vision" the question of the Disestablishment of the Irish Church. As a contrast to 1251 that, what happened at the last General Election with regard to the Disestablishment of the English Church in Wales? Take the election addresses. There were only four Liberal candidates in the whole of England, excluding Wales, who mentioned Welsh Disestablishment in their election addresses. Is that putting it before the country? Take the platform speeches. As far as I have been able to ascertain there was not a single Cabinet Minister who mentioned the matter in England on any platform, except the Prime Minister, who, in a speech at Hull, did not discuss it but did mention it by way of formal notice as if—if I may so speak with great respect of such a great man—he were serving a summons to a County Court.
I am not going into the constitutional question. It is not for me to discuss the theory of mandates, but I was very much impressed with the right rev. Prelate the Bishop of Oxford's observations last evening about majorities in the House of Commons. As I shall have to refer to his powerful speech more than once, I hope he will allow me to thank him for that speech most sincerely and for his candour as well as for his sympathy. I believe in frankness. I think it is as well to know where we are and to clear the air, and I shall most respectfully endeavour to follow the right rev. Prelate's example and be frank in my turn. He drew an eloquent and striking contrast between the "small" and "precarious" and "strangely-constituted" majorities by which this Bill was saved by the skin of its teeth by Irish Nationalists several times in Committee and on Report in another place, and the "solid and unreduced" majority on Third Reading which sent this Bill to your Lordships' House. The argument of my right rev. brother was that because of that contrast this House would do wisely and rightly to give this Bill a Second Reading, while insisting upon—I hope the noble Marquess and the noble Earl on the Front Government. Bench noted those words—substantial Amendments in Committee. What struck me last evening, and I think what struck us all, was the false antithesis of the right rev. Prelate. It so happens I hat what he called the solid, unreduced majority was indeed a strangely constituted majority for a Bill of this kind. I do not think that the right rev. Prelate was aware that there was not a majority of votes 1252 from England and Wales taken together on the Third Reading of this Bill in another place. The majority was 107. It was indeed a solid, unreduced majority such as the power of Party discipline can produce, but it was composed of 66 Irish Nationalists and 41 Scottish Members.
This is a Bill which concerns Wales most closely and most directly, but it does not concern Wales alone. As the Bishop of St. Albans pointed out, it has no precedent at all in the history of this kingdom. The noble Earl who moved the Second Reading of the Bill will correct me if I am wrong. Is there any precedent for it in the whole of the British Empire? I go further and ask, Is there any precedent in any civilised country in modern times for such a Bill as this? It concerns the Church of England as a whole. The Westminster Gazette, on the day of the Third Reading in another place, exhorted Liberal Members to remember that the Bill would set a precedent for the Disestablishment and Disendowment of the whole Church of England. I was very thankful to the Bishop of Oxford for saying, with the candour which one always expects from him, that on the first principle of this Bill he was prepared to wage war with the Government without a truce. I refer to the principle of Dismemberment. I am quite sure the right rev. Prelate when he said that had not fully considered that according to the author of this Bill the principle of Dismemberment is the very "essence of any proposal to disestablish what is at the present time an integral part of the Church of England." The right rev. Prelate is as well aware as I am that the usual course, and the proper course I venture to add, for any one who is prepared to wage war without a truce against the essence of a Bill submitted to this House is to vote against the Second Reading, and not to endeavour to extract the essence out of it in Committee.
So much has been so well and ably said by much better authorities than myself—by the most rev. Primate, the noble Viscount, Lord St. Aldwyn, whom I desire to thank for his speech, and my brother the Bishop of St. Albans—that I need only trouble your Lordships now with one aspect of this question; that is, Dismemberment in its relation to and its bearing upon the sentiment of Welsh nationality. I am truly grateful that no speaker in your Lordships' House 1253 has denied the value and the reality of Welsh nationality. On the contrary, the two most rev. Primates have spoken true and sympathetic words about it. The question is not whether Welsh nationality is a fact or not; the question is what is its meaning and what is its bearing. At the First Reading of the Bill the Home Secretary presumed to take credit to himself for restoring the Welsh dioceses to the isolated position they occupied in the twelfth century. I am grateful to the Bishop of Oxford for supporting me in the view I take that ancient history is by no meats the Home Secretary's strongest subject. But, my Lords, this is no question of ancient history. The Home Secretary does not know much about ancient history, but he knows must less about religious liberty. The question is not what happened hundreds of years ago, but whether the great mass of Churchmen in England and Wales to-day value the organised unity of the Church on deep, religious, conscientious grounds.
The noble Lord, Lord Sheffield, from his interesting position of detachment from all theology, administered with gusto on the first night of the debate a lecture on Church principles to the Bench of Bishops. He took for his text, after the manner of some preachers, a wrong exposition of a word used by my right rev. brother the Bishop of St. Asaph, and I venture with all respect to say to the noble Lord that his lecture was as irrelevant as his text was mistaken. We thank the noble Lord for his instruction, but we do not require him to remind us Welsh Bishops that there are limits, thank God, to the mischief which it is in the power of Parliament to do to the Church of Christ. Yes, my Lords; but that is no reason for allowing the House of Commons to do as much harm to the Church of Wales as it possibly can. In the evidence before the Royal Commission—about which Lord Beauchamp, like his colleagues in another place, was discreetly silent except for a reference or two—a weighty Wesleyan Methodist witness expressed the strong objection which Welsh Wesleyan Methodists would have to being dismembered from the Wesleyan Methodist Conference The centralisation of that great Nonconformist Church is far greater than anything we have in the Church of England, but even in the wildest flights of denominational feeling, I have never yet heard anybody 1254 venture to suggest that Welsh Wesleyans are less patriotic or less sincere in loyalty to Welsh national sentiment than any other denomination of Welshmen.
Reference has been made here to a memorable decision arrived at in 1909 by the four Welsh federations of the National Free Church Council of England and Wales. A proposal had been put forward, in the interests of what I call Welsh political particularism, to dismember that great organisation of Nonconformists in England and Wales; but they put religion before politics and decided that it would not be for the good of the movement in Wales to have a distinct and separate Council for Wales. They were influenced in their decision, and rightly so, by the statesmanlike speech of one speaker who said that "nothing but good could come of the uniting of England and Wales in one solid force." Those are wise, true Christian words. There is an essential difference between particularism and patriotism. Particularism means the protection of selfishness, the cultivation of vanity, as the speeches of more than one Welsh Member of Parliament abundantly illustrate. Patriotism, on the other hand, means quite a different thing. It is a growing preparation for greater service. The true idea of Welsh nationality means no separation from England in any respect, least of all in religion, but the uniting of all Welsh people among wholesome varieties of opinion, political and religious, in persistent practical enthusiasm for the welfare of Wales, so that Wales may give its best more and more as time goes on for the consolidation of the United Kingdom and the strengthening of the British Empire for the service of mankind. The root of Welsh nationality does not consist in uniformity of opinion, political or religious, but in the unity of life and of a great patriotic purpose.
A great intellectual stand, supported by solid arguments, against dismemberment was made in another place by Sir Alfred Cripps and others. The Home Secretary was only able to plead with great pathos, in reply, that without dismemberment of the Church this "mean little Bill" for piecemeal Disestablishment and Dismemberment would be impossible. I think a weighty speaker said yesterday that if that was so, so much the worse for the Bill. Let me quote a fine reply given 1255 in anticipation to Mr. McKenna by a man whom I am proud to call my friend, a man who has taught me a great deal and who, in my humble opinion, is one of the ablest thinkers in the country. He is as strong a Liberal as the Home Secretary and I believe a stronger Nonconformist, and he is a firm believer in the principle of religious equality. I refer to the Rev. J. Bradley, who possesses in a large degree the virtue of manly courage. He was quoted by Lord Kenyon. In his book on Nonconformists and the Welsh Church Bill, he says—To sever the Church in twain by legislation against its own desires and aspirations, against its prayers and pleadings, without, it seems, care or concern for its future, will stand out as a legislative crime against the very life of that Church. If Disestablishment essentially involves that, Disestablishment from every point of view, religious and spiritual, is without defence.I wish the right rev. Prelate would imitate—I will not say the courage, for he has plenty of that—but the consistency of Mr. Bradley, for Mr. Bradley has taken his courage in both hands and made immense sacrifices in denouncing this Bill.
Piecemeal Disestablishment in itself is essentially unfair to democracy. It is not loyal to the central principle of democracy for Parliament to try and do a great and grave thing, as Mr. Birrell called it, while hiding from the people of this country the real magnitude of the thing that is going on. The piecemeal method, which is the foundation of this Bill and its distinctive characteristic, only obscures the real issue and puts in the forefront a subordinate issue. The real issue is a religious issue, the subordinate issue is a political one; and I object to the far greater issue being mixed up in this way with a merely subordinate one. In my opinion this piecemeal method is fatal to anything like a rational discussion of the issues raised in the Bill. Thankful as I am to the Bishop of Oxford for his speech, I noticed even in that powerful speech a marked inequality—I almost go so far as to say a painful inequality—between the political and the religious parts of it. That speech, great as it was, would have been very much greater if this was not a question of piecemeal Disestablishment.
What is the real issue? There are two great principles in question—the national recognition of religion and the principle 1256 of religious equality. The question we have to ask about those two great principles is, first, Are they essentially incompatible? Many of the Nonconformists who support this Bill—and I prefer to take them as a type of the rest—support it on religious grounds, but the Nonconformists of Wales have no desire whatever to secularise the State or national life. I can point to Lord Pontypridd as a most admirable example of the type I am referring to, and I for my part am very glad to see that type represented in this House by the noble Lord. They have got mixed up in this matter between the incidents and the essence of Establishment, and when I listened to the Bishop of Oxford referring to what lie called a certain kind of piecemeal Disestablishment going on, I asked myself what he meant. It is perfectly true that various trappings of Establishment have been removed, and I think for good, one after another by a gradual, wise, and statesmanlike process; but the root of the matter, the real issue, is, Shall this country go back on its history and give up the national recognition of religion? I may pause to say that, so far from there being anything in the circumstances of Wales to require this experiment to be made in the Principality. I think Wales should be the last part and not the first part of the country to give up the national recognition of religion. The noble Earl who introduced the Bill gave us some figures, but in doing so forgot a profound obiter dictum of the Chief Secretary for Ireland, who besought Dissenting Deputies whom he was addressing after lunch, as I have no doubt he had often besought his colleagues before—I do ask you" said Mr. Birrell, "to argue this question on principle. Do not be content simply to run about counting heads and noses, and trying to make out, one way or another, that the Church in Wales ought to be disestablished.If the noble Earl meant to rest his case, as he did, on religious statistics in Wales, surely he would not have taken the course he did in this House of opposing the religious census asked for by Lord Newton. It is unworthy of His Majesty's Government to refuse a religious census in Wales such as was given in Ireland before the Irish Church was disestablished, and then come here and guess at figures. Both the Home Secretary and the noble Earl have been guessing at figures, and I would say to them that if they must guess they might have made better guesses. Both the noble Earl and Mr. McKenna 1257 have guessed wrongly at the strength of the Church in Wales, and the noble Earl did as the Home Secretary did in the case of Cardiff—he divided the strength of the Church by two. I will give the noble Earl an official fact instead of guesses. The greatest Nonconformist body in Wales is the Calvinistic Methodists, and in their Year-book which has just been published they give the total number of their adherents, men, women and children, and they come to just one-eighth of the present population of Wales. I think the noble Earl relied on the precedent of Ireland. He knows quite well that in Ireland there was a single Church, the Roman Catholic Church, with its adherents amounting to three-fourths of the population, whereas the largest denomination in Wales only numbers one-eighth; yet the Irish precedent was delightful to the noble Earl! I do not want to go into figures. I only thought that some one ought to challenge the noble Earl's figures. When he challenged the figures of the right rev. Prelate the Bishop of London, the noble Earl reminded me of a Senior Wrangler so strict was he in dealing with the figures, but he displayed no caution at all in the figures he was good enough to guess for us.
Now let me go back and try and do what Mr. Birrell asks us to do—argue this question on principle. Let us look at the history of Wales. What is the most distinctive feature of Welsh national life? It is that all through Welsh history, from its first beginning, some centuries before St. Augustine came to Kent, Welshmen have been lovers of religion. A striking example of an unfortunate lapse from patriotism to partisanship was afforded by my brilliant countryman the Chancellor of the Exchequer when he said in the House of Commons that Wales, his beloved Wales, had been wallowing in a slough of perdition until a century ago. Mr. Gladstone, who also loved Wales as Mr. Lloyd George does, but who knew its history, said some years ago at the Welsh Eisteddfod that aspersions on Welsh national character in past days had been made of which he did not believe a word. The Chancellor of the Exchequer picked out the golden age of Welsh history, the age of the Tudors and the Stuarts, to blacken it as an age when Welshmen were "absolutely indifferent to every form of religion." Time will not permit me to correct the right hon. gentleman's history. I will content myself with the broad 1258 proposition that, apart from these controversies, plenty of authority can be found for the fact that Welshmen have been all along just as they are to-day lovers of religion. What about the present time? The Royal Commission reported, in its Majority Report, that the Welsh people show a marked tendency to avail themselves of the provision made by the Churches of all denominations for their spiritual welfare. The right rev. Prelate, the Bishop of Oxford, though he did not say it last night, feels that one of the difficulties in the way of national religion is that there is such great indifference to religion in parts of England. He ought to have paused at Wales, because in Wales the indifference is not so far gone as is the case in England.
Let me come to what I consider the root of the matter at issue between the right rev. Prelate and myself. I think he has taken a one-sided view of the relation between the Church and Nonconformists in England and in Wales. I would not have presumed to pit my judgment against his had I not been able, which he is not, to speak on this subject with a knowledge of this question from two sides, because I have the honour to be the son of a Welsh working man who was a Nonconformist deacon. It is perfectly true, as the right rev. Prelate said, that there is a difference, a real difference which I for one do not wish at all to minimise, between the Church and our Nonconformist brethren, and if you asked me to sum it up I should not put my finger on the conception of the ministry to which he referred, but rather on the conception of what is meant by Church and by Christian unity. I think there have been times when Nonconformists have been in the past too apt to think that the root of unity lay in uniformity of opinion. It lies in unity of life, and that change of standpoint "incredible in its magnitude" to which the Chancellor of the Exchequer bore witness in the House of Commons means particularly this, that the distinctive opinions which used to separate various Welsh Nonconformist denominations from each other are disappearing, if they have not all but disappeared, and therefore the road is nearer, I think, to a cordial understanding between Churchmen and Nonconformists in Wales. Where I criticise my right rev. brother on this point is that he emphasised the difference between Churchmen and Nonconformists but forgot 1259 what the Pan-Anglican Congress did not forget, that the area of common agreement between Christian people in this country is, after all, far wider and deeper than the lines of difference. While one is a thing that needs to be taken into due consideration, the other is a most important and vital thing; and while the right rev. Prelate spoke—and no one is better able to speak upon the subject than he is—of the influence of modern thought upon English and Welsh theology, I think it is very unfortunate, from more points of view than one, to forget that there is a large area of common ground summarised in those fundamental articles of the Gospel of Christ which are summarised in the Apostles Creed. I do not for one moment want to suggest to your Lordships that there is anything like corporate reunion above the horizon in Wales, for I do not believe it; nor do I think the time has come for anything like a federal arrangement. But I do think the time is not far off, if this "mean little Bill" is defeated, for what the French and we call a cordial understanding.
There was one other point in my right rev. brother's powerful speech which touched me greatly. He referred to the parochial system. So did Mr. McKenna. I am prepared to show that, according to the author of this Bill, one of its main objects is to wreck the parochial system in the Welsh country parishes. Mr. McKenna talked of 106 parishes in Bangor and Llandaff in order to support his contention as to waste of money in country parishes, but as he did not give the names of these parishes it was impossible to check him. But I know something about the Home Secretary's arithmetic by this time, and I venture to say that he is not likely to be more right on this occasion than he generally is. I was able, however, to check the Home Secretary in regard to my own diocese of St. Davids, and Mr. McKenna said that his argument applied much more to the dioceses of St. Davids and St. Asaph. There are sixty-two incumbencies in the diocese of St. Davids, with an average of thirty communicants. In these parishes the population is 354 on an average, and therefore this group of sixty-two country parishes has about as high a standard—a very small shade lower—of proportion of communicants to population as the whole Church of England and Wales. The average area of these parishes is seven square miles, and the average 1260 income £166. Taking those figures, the only conclusion possible to draw from the speech of the Home Secretary is that he aims by this Bill at definitely wrecking the parochial system of the Church in these rural parishes. The Church is the only religious body in Wales that works on the parochial system. I could give figures showing the failure in Wales of the voluntary system, which the noble Earl said had never failed in the world. He evidently has not read the South Wales Press or Mr. Radcliffe's weighty letters. In the Western Mail there has been an interesting discussion going on about the merits of concurrent endowment, on which I am not going to enter. The protagonist of the Free Church Council in South Wales severely attacked Mr. Henry Radcliffe, of Cardiff, who I venture to say is a Nonconformist worthy of the greatest respect and who speaks with great authority. Dr. Cynddylan Jones, who is admitted to know more about South Wales than any Nonconformist minister, said—and it was common ground—that it was impossible for Nonconformity in Wales, as at present organized, to provide for rural parishes as they would like to do.
The right rev. Prelate the Bishop of Oxford spoke last night of "residual religion." I venture to think he ought to have called it "initial religion." He said that one of the greatest dangers to the Church to-day was the strong drift from membership. That was due to indifference, and that indifference is the greatest moral danger to-day in this country. It shows itself in politics as well as in religion. Yet my right rev. brother, by way of a remedy for this tendency to indifference, is prepared to allow the State itself to set the example of indifference to religion, particularly in its parochial application. What is the essence of the parochial system? What gives it its distinctive value? It is this, that there is a man in every area whose duty it is to take the Gospel to the homes of the people, whether they are indifferent to it or whether they are not, or whether they could pay for it or not. My right rev. brother says, Yes, but they would be much better Christians if they paid for it. I have heard Nonconformists themselves admit that there is a danger there, but on the whole I agree with him on that point. But here I differ. What is the stage at which an indifferent person comes to our public 1261 worship? The economic law of supply and demand does not operate in things of the spirit or in things of the mind, and those who are indifferent have first to be taught their need of religion before they will pay for it. I do not pit my judgment against that of my learned and able brother, but I would refer to the great Scottish thinker and divine, Dr. Chalmers. If your Lordships will read his great book on National Churches you will see, from the testimony he bears to the value of the parochial system, that not the least of the blunders which Mr. McKenna has made is to imagine that the parochial system of the Church means waste of money in the rural parts of Wales which are too poor to maintain a resident ministry without the aid of endowments.
Now to touch on Disendowment. Strange as it may seem to the Bishop of Hereford, and with all respect to his learning and his years, it is not Disendowment that interests me most, and to suggest that I would give up Disestablishment in order to obtain better terms on Disendowment is to misunderstand the entire position. The reason why I regard Disestablishment as far and away a greater evil to the country than Disendowment is that in the flow of time the evil of Disestablishment will be aggravated and not alleviated; it will grow greater one generation after another, whereas with the evil of Disendowment it will be the other way about. If you have to choose between two evils, choose the ill which you can heal; for the most dangerous ills that flesh is heir to are those which men do not feel at first. The man in the street pricks up his ears when he hears about Disendowment in this Bill, but he does not realise in the sane way the disaster of Disestablishment. The Bishop Oxford said that to run away from principle is a disaster. I entirely agree with him. There is a great temptation to us Welsh Bishops to swim with the stream. I think if we were to do so we might be very popular in Wales in a short time, for whatever failings the Welsh people have they certainly are not a sullen race. They are hasty, but if they believe that a man is honest and is really seeking their good according to his lights they will not be angry with him for long. But I submit that history teaches that one of the greatest dangers the Church of Christ has undergone in this world is to bow to the popular mood of the moment and swim 1262 with the stream. Therefore although I know that in a kind of way—because they do not understand it—there is a majority in Wales for Disestablishment, I decline absolutely to give up or abate in any way my whole-hearted opposition to Disestablishment as a principle in order to get better terms on Disendowment.
This is a question of justice and commonsense. The most rev. Primate last evening truly said that the arguments for Disendowment are in a state of absolute chaos as advanced by His Majesty's Government. That "horrible folly" which Professor Freeman denounced, the idea that property, which the Solicitor-General says belongs to the Church by solid title, is "national property," will not be supported, I am sure, by noble Lords on this side of the House. My brilliant countryman the Chancellor of the Exchequer, speaking of the distinction between the use of a trust and its beneficiaries with his picturesque confusion of thought, and the Home Secretary, with that rigid precision of uninformed dogmatism which characterises his mathematical mind, said that what you have to consider is not the use of a trust, but the beneficiaries thereof. What do you mean by the beneficiaries but the people who are entitled to derive benefit? This false antithesis between use and beneficiaries is absolute nonsense, with all respect to the Chancellor of the Exchequer. The real question is whether there is waste. It cannot possibly be established that there is a waste of this trust property in Wales, and the Parliamentary census makes it absolutely clear that there are more Churchmen in Wales to-day than there ever have been in its previous history.
Let me refer to the testimony of the Prime Minister, which was read in this House, to the strong devotion shown by the Church to the best needs of the people of Wales during the last seventy years. The Prime Minister is entitled to the greatest respect for making that frank admission in 1909, and for standing by it last year. I am entitled to say this, that if he were pleading the case of Disendowment and made that admission in any Court of Justice there is not a Judge on the Bench who would care to hear another word after that eloquent admission, but would stop the case against the Church at once and give judgment for the defendant, with 1263 costs. But I may be told that it is of no use talking about Courts of Justice in this connection. This is going to be done by the House of Commons, but, if it is done, His Majesty's Government will have poisoned the fountain of justice in this country by asking the House of Commons to use the power of the Parliament Act to do a thing which no Judge on the Bench would do in a similar case with regard to private matters.
The noble Earl will agree, I hope, that the two objects to which this sum of £158,000 a year is to be applied are education and public health. The State is in duty bound to make whatever provision is necessary to-day for education and public health. Therefore, my Lords, what the Government is doing is to take this money away from the Church and to give it to the State. If the Church had withdrawn its national service it might be right then for the State to take away a part of the money, as the Bishop of Oxford suggested, but when the Church is, according to the Prime Minister, more and more endeavouring humbly to do its duty by the State in this matter, then I say to take this money from the Church and give it to the State is another question altogether. I am not talking now of justice; I am talking of common sense. That is why I call this Bill a "mean little Bill." I have used that phrase in the country repeatedly and I want to stand up here and justify it. Can any one deny that for a State with a revenue of over £180,000,000 a year in its last Budget and a surplus of £6,000,000 in its Exchequer which the Chancellor did not know what to do with for months, for so wealthy a State as this, the wealthiest State in the world, to take away this small pittance from the poorest dioceses of the Church is a mean transaction? With all respect I say, therefore, to His Majesty's Government that this is a mean little Bill. In my humble judgment the way is open for constructive statesmanship to grasp the problem of readjustment of Establishment in England and Wales on the lines of national recognition of religion and true religious equality. What this petty Bill does is not that but to secularise Welsh religions endowments at the bidding of 31 Welsh Members. I say solemnly and deliberately that if you were to have a poll of the people in Wales to-day you would not get a majority for the secularisation of endowments—I do not say Disestablishment. What has given this 1264 movement whatever power it has had is this, a false idea—which is, thank God, on the wane—that what is good for the Church is bad for the chapel, and what is good for the chapel is bad for the Church. That is a false idea and it lies at the very root of this Bill. We are getting to see the evils of selfish competition in commerce, and you may depend upon it that the religious people of this country cannot keep up much longer an ideal of denominational competition for Churches which workmen decline to accept as an ideal in trade.
I look forward to a better understanding and to the dying out of this false idea of religious antagonism between the Church and Nonconformity. It is contrary to the best thing in the spirit of our age. The secret of what we call industrial unrest lies in a deep and passionate longing for brotherhood. This false idea is contrary to the best feature in Welsh character, the power of sympathy; it is contrary to the deepest aspirations of Nonconformists as well as Churchmen; and it is contrary, last of all, to the central command—nay, He himself said the one command—of the Lord and Saviour whom we all adore. On a measure of this great gravity I ask the House not to consider the votes of thirty-one Welsh Members a sufficient reason for giving this Bill, with its vicious principles, a Second Reading. I must remember that by my office I am in a position of trust as a Bishop of the Church with a duty to the past, to the old people of long ago who had no motor-cars or telephones or any of the inventions of modem science, but who knew one thing perhaps better than we do, that the worship of God is the root of the happiness of man. We owe them a duty. But, my Lords, what makes me speak without any hesitation and with a clear conscience against this Bill is that this generation owes a duty to the future. We are but tenants for life, here to-day and gone to-morrow; and this generation has no moral right whatever, especially without consulting the country, to secularise for all time the religious endowments of Wales. This Bill would take away every brass farthing of the ancient endowments of the Church in Wales, after they have been raided by Norman Barons, plundered by Henry the VIII, and further depleted by Cromwell's curious Propagators of the Gospel in Wales. Notwithstanding all the juggling with figures, that fact comes out clearly; and I say that you have no 1265 moral right to take this income away from the Church and divert it to secular objects. I apologise for trespassing so long upon your Lordships' time, and I thank you for the patience with which you have listened to me. I earnestly appeal to noble Lords on both sides of the House not to give this Bill a Second Reading without allowing the people of the country a chance of expressing their opinion upon it.
§ THE MARQUESS OF SALISBURY
My Lords, I think your Lordships will allow me to say without impertinence that perhaps the most striking feature of this debate, which has now continued for three days, has been the earnest eloquence which has proceeded from the Episcopal Bench in opposition to the Bill before the House, and, if the right rev. Bench will forgive me for one further observation, I think I may be allowed to say that what has most impressed the House has been the wealth of knowledge, the earnestness, the eloquence and the convincing arguments of the two right rev, Prelates who come from this unfortunate Principality of Wales. What a contrast to the only representative of His Majesty's Government! They spoke with confidence, but he was almost apologetic. His statistics and his figures—not his own, of course—have been blown to smithereens. But one cannot help being struck by the almost recklessness which the noble Earl must have shown in accepting these figures as they were given to him. I think that the motive is apparent. The noble Earl was somewhat ashamed of the Bill, and it was necessary for his purpose to eke out the case with the most convincing figures upon which he could lay his hands. It was unfortunate that they happened to be inaccurate. But what a testimony that is to the strength of the case. Why should it have been important for the noble Earl to show, or to try to show, that the endowments which were to be taken away from the Welsh Church were so small. If he and his Government really believe in Disendowment, if he really thought that endowments were bad for a spiritual body, if he really believed that these endowments of the Welsh Church were ill-gotten gains, he ought to have gloried in the size of what he was taking away and not tried to minimise it to the full extent of his power.
These apologies for Disendowment almost amuse one. Disendowment is represented 1266 to us as positively a benefit to the person or the community which is disendowed. It is as though in olden times a highwayman had said to his victim, "I want your purse, but do not trouble yourself, I am not doing you any injury. Just conceive how I am improving your character, what industry, what zeal I shall call out in you in order for you to make good the deficiency which I am causing you." And one can imagine the victim saying, "But I have a family, and I have certain dependants who rely upon my aid," and the highwayman replying, something like the noble Earl, "Well, that will call out the generosity of your friends; they will have to come to your rescue; that will improve their character, too. You take me for a robber; I am really a public benefactor." That is positively the kind of argument which is advanced in your Lordships' House to justify Disendowment. There was another argument, the argument of the right rev. Prelate the Bishop of Hereford. His argument appeared to be this, as far as I understood it. He said, "Everybody agrees that the Welsh Church ought to be disestablished; Disendowment is intimately wrapped up with Disestablishment, and therefore everybody agrees that it ought to be disendowed as well."
THE LORD BISHOP OF HEREFORD
I did not say that. What I said, or what I intended to say, and I think I actually said it, was that there was a great contrast between the discussions of twenty years ago and those of the present time, and that on this occasion Disestablishment had been comparatively little argued by the opponents of this Bill.
§ THE MARQUESS OF SALISBURY
If that was the right rev. Prelate's view, all I can say is he must be convinced that he was wrong after hearing the debates in your Lordships' House, for I think I may say that far and away the greater part of the time which has been occupied in the speeches to which we have listened has been occupied in discussing Disestablishment.
THE LORD BISHOP OF HEREFORD
I was speaking with reference to the public discussions in the country prior to the discussion which has taken place here.
§ THE MARQUESS OF SALISBURY
Then I hope that the right rev. Prelate will have been enlightened by the discussion which he has subsequently heard. I do not admit for a moment, even if the Church in Wales were disestablished, that it ought to be disendowed. I do not think there is any argument which has been advanced during the speeches I have heard on the present occasion which went to show in the least that it would follow as a matter of course that because the Church were disestablished it ought to be disendowed. In order to justify Disendowment noble Lords must look at the realities of the case. I am not going to labour the point now, for it has been discussed over and over again; but what is perfectly clear is that the Welsh Church, so far from being a rich Church, is a poor Church, and that so far from neglecting its duty it is doing its duty, and there can be no grounds whatever for depriving what is a poor Church of what is necessary to enable it to do its duty when that duty is being adequately performed. I believe this has already been said in the debate, but I will venture to repeat it. If you want any further argument to prove it look at the present action of the Ecclesiastical Commissioners. Under the present system the Ecclesiastical Commissioners award their grants according as they are required. If you look at the comparative statistics of England and Wales you will find that a far larger proportion of the grants from the Ecclesiastical Commissioners is given to Wales, and for that very reason, that the Church of Wales is a poor Church.
It has always struck me as peculiarly impossible to argue the case of Disendowment in Wales when it is shown that if you deprive the Principality in many of its districts of the services of the clergy of the Established Church there is absolutely nobody to take their place. That is abundantly proved. The right rev. Prelate the Bishop of St. Asaph, who delivered the other night one of the most eloquent speeches we have ever listened to, showed it in the case of his own diocese; and I am quite certain that the right rev. Prelate who has just sat down could show it in the case of his diocese as well. I think I am right in saying that rather more than one-third of the parishes in the diocese of St. Davids have no resident Nonconformist minister of any kind whatsoever. Yet you are positively suggesting that it would be 1268 well, in the interests of the community, to abolish the establishment and the endowment of the only religious body that is in those districts to minister to the spiritual and temporal wants of the poor. I think the case for Disendowment has been absolutely shattered.
The mistake which I venture to think has been made by so many speakers in discussing Disestablishment is that they identify Establishment with nothing but exclusive privilege. The right rev. Prelate who has just sat down has pointed out, I think with the greatest force, that the important part of Establishment is not exclusive privilege but the recognition of religion. As regards exclusive privilege much of it has already gone, but much more of it might very properly go. The noble Earl who introduced the Bill is, of course, quite aware of it. There was a passage in his speech in which he explained to us that the Church of England was being gradually disestablished, and the right rev. Prelate the Bishop of Oxford also spoke with scorn of piecemeal Disestablishment. He seemed to think, which I confess astonished me, that the gradual abolition of these exclusive privileges of the Church of England was a great disaster. I do not think he meant it, but otherwise why should he speak with such scorn of piecemeal Disestablishment.
THE LORD BISHOP OF OXFORD
I thought that Disestablishment was so much in the air that it became inevitable, and I would rather that it were done openly than that it were done in the manner that I call piecemeal Disestablishment, which in fact means that the advantages and strength of Establishment are to be gradually and subtly withdrawn while at the same time the Church retains all the disadvantages and fetters of the established position.
§ THE MARQUESS OF SALISBURY
I do not agree with the right rev. Prelate. I do not think, properly considered, that Disestablishment is in the air. On the contrary, it is the other tendency which we are really witnesses of. The right rev. Prelate objects to losing the advantages of Establishment while he still has to submit to what he called the intolerable fetters and bonds of Establishment. Far be it from me to say that the actual position of the control of 1269 the Church of England by the State is ideal. I think, as I have often said, that there ought to be greater liberty in the Church of England to manage its own affairs. But I believe that would be perfectly compatible with Establishment. What has been done in Scotland could be done in England, and there is no reason why the fetters and bonds of which the right rev. Prelate complains should not be struck off. But I should not like to go so far as to say, having regard to the enormous importance of the Church of England, having regard to the many points at which it touches so closely the welfare of the people, that it would be well that there should be no sort of State influence over its conduct. I avow myself so far an Erastian as to believe that the balance which the State affords to the Church is a permanent advantage to the Church, and that it would not be well that it should be absolutely and perfectly free.
I turn to the point of the very courteous interruption of the right rev. Prelate, and I assert with great respect that he is not right, but wrong, in saying that Disestablishment is in the air. During the whole course of my political life we have been witnesses of what the most rev. Primate the Archbishop of Canterbury called the striking off of the disabilities of the Nonconformist bodies. Let me give a few examples, all of them being examples of Establishment and not of Disestablishment—that is to say, of the recognition of religion by the State. First of all there is the well-known case of the rating of ecclesiastical buildings. Every one knows that Nonconformist places of worship are not subject to taxation. Then take the case of the burial laws. Everyone knows that under recent legislation the Nonconformist minister has the right to read the service which belongs to his denomination over the burial of his co-religionists in the churchyards. Every one knows that the old monopoly of the Church of England in respect to the administration of marriages in churches has been balanced now by the Marriage Acts, under which Nonconformist ministers and Nonconformist places of worship are licensed to celebrate marriages. We see the same tendency going on every day. There is a Bill now before Parliament to enable Nonconformist bodies to acquire places of worship. I do not think much of the Bill myself; I do not favour it, but I recognise the grievance and 1270 should like, so far as my humble opinion is concerned, to give any recognised religious body the absolute right to acquire some place where they can build a chapel in which to worship God after their own heart in any part of England. But that is all Establishment. That is the recognition of religion by the State in every instance which I have given.
The last and the greatest and the most important case is the case of education. Establishment has gone so far in the case of education that the State has absolutely established a new religion of its own, a thing which we know as Cowper-Temple religion. I cannot say that I defend that experiment. I think it very wrong that the State should lay down what are the proper tenets of religion; but all of us on this side of the House, I believe, are in favour of giving what are called "facilities" to Nonconformist bodies in our schools. When that comes about that will be Establishment—it will be yet a further recognition of religion by the State. Indeed, in every direction we witness this phenomenon, that the State is willing more and more to recognise organised religion. Your Lordships will realise what this means when you contrast this attitude with the attitude of the Nonconformist bodies thirty years ago. Then it was different. They were entirely opposed to any recognition by the State of religion. That was shown, of course, in the education controversy. I do not know whether your Lordships have ever read the evidence which was given by the Nonconformists before the great Royal Commission on Education about thirty years ago. The argument then was this, that it was immoral that the State should have anything to do with religion; that it was ipso facto wrong that the State should prescribe in any form or exercise coercion in any form in respect to the teaching of religion. That has all passed away. The Nonconformists themselves have absolutely abandoned that attitude.
§ THE MARQUESS OF SALISBURY
They have in practice, if not in theory. The Nonconformist bodies admit as clearly as we do that the State may and ought to give facilities for and recognise religion; 1271 in other words, that the State may and ought to accept the principle of Establishment so far as the recognition of religion is concerned. What is the reason for this change? The right rev. Prelate the Bishop of Oxford, in a passage which I think deeply impressed your Lordships and which certainly deeply impressed me, spoke in a tone of profound regret of the condition of religious opinion in this country. Far be it from me to make any comment upon that assertion of his. There is no man in your Lordships' House who is able to speak with greater authority upon such a subject as that than the right rev. Prelate. We know how splended has been the work he has done in the various dioceses over which he has presided to combat the irreligion of which he speaks. But does he not think that this recognition by practically the whole of British public opinion of religion and of the function of the State with regard to religion is really caused by the consciousness we all have of these forces of irreligion which are being marshalled against us? Nonconformist bodies themselves, earnest religious Nonconformists, are as well aware as we are that we can afford to cast aside no weapon in the struggle which lies before us, and they are therefore much more willing than they formerly were both to accept the recognition and assistance of the State and to join with the Church of England in opposing the common enemy. That being the state of opinion, I would make an appeal to Nonconformists. Surely they will lay aside some of the old arguments for Disestablishment, which are really out of date and not believed in by themselves; and surely, having cast them aside and received our assurance that the Church does not care about the exclusive privileges which are so bitter to them—privileges that we have given up one after the other, and, so far as I am concerned, I should not be sorry to see all of them go—they might acknowledge with us the essential necessity of helping forward religion by the action of the State and by the recognition of Establishment. I go a little further than that. I think they ought to be willing, not only to recognise Establishment, but to accept the primacy of the Church of England. Why should they not? They do not differ so much from the Church of England as all that.
§ THE MARQUESS OF SALISBURY
The noble Lord confirms what I say. I was very much struck on reading a passage from the evidence of a Nonconformist witness before the Welsh Church Commission. It is the evidence of the Rev. Thomas Jones, ex-chairman of the Welsh Congregational Union. The Chairman of the Commission asked him—Are the differences between the Episcopal Church and your Churches in matters of doctrine very great?The witness replied—No, not very great. I think we aim at the same thing.I am not sure that I should be able to say that, but what I desire to point out to your Lordships is that Nonconformists themselves are beginning to recognise that the differences compared to the agreements are very small. I will read another passage. The Chairman said—I am asking you whether you can specify any doctrine of the Episcopal Church, a principal doctrine, that you object to as being wrong.This was the answer—We do not keep away as Nonconformists from the Church of England on account of any point of doctrine.Then a further passage—You have just told me that you do not keep away from the Church of England on any point of doctrine. Then why is it that you do keep away from the Church of England.And the witness answered—On account of its connection with the State.I have just shown that, if that is the only reason, it is in fact and in truth and in essence already abandoned by the Nonconformist bodies.
That quotation has another significance. Your Lordships will remember that last night the Bishop of Oxford repudiated the Scottish case. He had been very much struck, as we all were, by the speech of my noble friend Lord Balfour of Burleigh. Lord Balfour had shown that the Scottish case demonstrated how we might hope that religious bodies which had been much divided in sentiment and dissenting bodies which had been bitterly opposed to the Establishment might be brought round to take a different view. The Bishop of Oxford said—That is no precedent; you cannot compare the differences of opinion between the different Scottish Presbyterian bodies with the differences of opinion which exist between the Church of England and the Nonconformist bodies.1273 What was the difference between the Scottish bodies? I can assure your Lordships I am not going into any doctrinal matter. The principal difference was, of course, the connection with the State. That was the point upon which they split. I have the authority of the Nonconformist witness I have quoted that it is that and precisely that which is the cause of difference between the modern Nonconformist bodies in Wales and the Church of England in Wales. Therefore I say, if that witness is to be believed, the Bishop of Oxford is wrong, and the Scottish precedent is a good and sound precedent and may be quoted as showing that we may hope that before very long the Welsh Nonconformist bodies will themselves come to see that the principle of Establishment is not so wrong as they had thought.
May we not then hope that we shall have a recognition throughout Wales of the importance of a national recognition of religion? After all, the Welsh are an intensely religious people. It cannot be repugnant to them that the State to which they belong should itself do homage to religion; and when we have, if it may be possible, got rid of all the bitter feelings of privilege and reduced the problem to its true proportions and shown that it is the recognition of religion itself which is in issue, may we not hope that they will join us in supporting the Establishment? But if, unfortunately, it be not so, then alas! we cannot help it; we cannot surrender to their view; we cannot consent to dismember our own Church even for their sake. I am not going to repeat what has been said about dismemberment in the course of these debates. It is nut merely a matter of sentiment, although we would be the last to despise sentiment in a matter of this kind. We believe that we shall weaken the Church both in England and in Wales if we separate there into two bodies. I know it is said that you cannot force them asunder, that they may elect to work together even after Disestablishment; but my Lords, after all, though we are proud of the Welsh Bishops of to-day, there may be successors not so wise as they, and what guarantee have we that this very small community, the Welsh Disestablished Church, would be well guided by its four Bishops?
1274 And, my Lords, are we not to think of the minority? What guarantee have the Churchmen in Wales that they will have their interests as members of a great communion safeguarded by even a majority of Welsh Churchmen in the time to come? You would not allow such treatment to be meted out to much humbler societies than the Church of England. You would not allow it to be said to a great friendly society, "You have branches in England and Wales and we think the government and the administration of them ought to be separate; we cut you in half; we deprive the members of the society in Wales of the advice and administration of their English fellows; we deprive the members of the society in England of the advice and administration of their Welsh fellows." That would not be said to any commercial society. Why should it be said to the Church of England? We cannot admit that any case has been made out for Disendowment. We hope that with a little more time Welsh Nonconformists themselves will see that no case has been made out for Disestablishment. But whatever may be said of one or the other, Disestablishment or Disendowment, we will not consent to dismember the Church of England.
§ EARL GREY
My Lords, I have listened with the greatest pleasure to the speech of the noble Marquess. His speech encourages me to hope that he will be a foremost champion in a future movement for uniting the Protestant Churches of this country. The movement in Canada in favour of the union of the Protestant Churches is perhaps the most encouraging feature in the life of the Dominion. When one in the great position of the noble Marquess, whose influence arising from his personal character is even greater than that from his great position, approaches the Nonconformists in the conciliatory and sympathetic speech to which we have just listened, I say there is good ground for hope that we may be embarking on a period of close conciliation which may eventually result in union.
But I did not rise to make any remarks upon the principles of Establishment. I rose because the noble Earl in charge of the Bill made a personal reference to me in his speech in moving the Second Reading. The noble Earl called the attention of the House to the fact that in 1886 I, as a member of the 1275 House of Commons, moved an Amendment to a Resolution then brought forward, and he informed the House that I carried my Amendment with the aid of the votes of the Conservative Party, and that this Amendment made two affirmations—first, that the National Establishment had failed to fulfil its expressed object as a means of promoting the religious interests of the Welsh people, and, secondly, that the time had come for reforming the National Establishment without delay in such a way as would enable it to adapt itself more efficiently to the religious needs and wishes of the Welsh people. The noble Earl pointed out that in his opinion no reform had taken place in the National Establishment in Wales since 1886, and therefore he came to the dismal and gloomy conclusion that dissolution of the Establishment was called for. I wish to correct the noble Earl on this question of reform.
In considering reform in relation to an organisation like the National Establishment one has to bear in mind, not only the machinery of the Establishment, but the spirit of the Church and the personnel of the clergy. I admit that the reforms which I called for in the House of Commons in 1886 in the machinery of the Church have not been passed. It seemed to me then, and it seems to me now, that it is a great cause of weakness and injury to the Church that any owner of an advowson should be able to present any ordained Churchman to a benefice however ill-adapted he may be to the parish to which he is appointed; and it seemed to me then, as it seems to me now, to be a cause of great injury and weakness to the Church that a clergyman appointed to the cure of souls should be able to defy the joint wishes of his Bishop and his parishioners. I pointed out in 1886 how certain reforms which might reduce the present autocracy of the beneficed clergyman and bring him under the joint authority of his Bishop and his parish would be a means of making the Church a more efficient instrument for promoting the religious needs of the people. But I ask the noble Earl to consider has not real reform of the Church been brought about during the last quarter of a century? In 1886 no one had a good word to say for the Church of England in Wales. Now no one has a bad word to say for it. In 1886 it was regarded as an alien Church. 1276 I think the Prime Minister, Mr. Asquith, in introducing his Bill even in 1894, described the Church of England in Wales as an alien Church. Now nobody describes the Church as the Church of England in Wales. It is regarded in Wales as the Church of the Welsh. It is no longer an alien Church, but the Church of the people. And why? Because of the better appointments that have been made.
The right rev. Prelate the Bishop of St. Albans pointed out that the State is very much to blame for the Nonconformity that exists in Wales to-day. Mr. Gladstone made the same remark in 1870. He pointed out that the rise of Nonconformity in Wales had been a direct result of bad ecclesiastical appointments. He pointed out that in the time of the Tudors and the Stuarts Welsh-speaking Bishops were invariably appointed to the Welsh Sees, and he made the statement—which I have not verified, but coming from Mr. Gladstone I do not think a better reference is needed—that forty-four Welsh Bishops had been appointed to the four Welsh Sees between the time of Henry VIII and the Revolution, and that in the time of the Tudors and the Stuarts not only were Welsh-speaking men appointed to the Welsh Sees but men of Welsh descent overflowed into England and were appointed, to the great advantage of Englishmen, to some of the higher places in the Church in England. At that time Puritanism had its stronghold in England, but had not even a foothold in Wales. What happened? William III decided to Anglicise the Welsh people by appointing English-speaking Bishops. Was there ever so fatal a step taken? Between the Revolution and 1870, when Mr. Gladstone was speaking, only two Welsh-speaking Bishops were appointed to the four 'Welsh Sees. Is it any wonder that the Church lost its hold upon the confidence and affections of the people? When they were taught that England regarded the Welsh Bishoprics as a means for killing their language, when the Welsh people were taught that we regarded the Church as an instrument for their special conquest, can we be surprised that five-sixths of the people lost their allegiance to the National Establishment? I am only surprised that a still greater proportion did not revolt from it.
What has happened since 1870? Mr. Gladstone appointed the first Welsh-speaking Bishop, Bishop Hughes, to the diocese of St. Asaph in 1874. In the first year of 1277 his Bishopric the number of Church communicants in the diocese was 7,000. What was the number of communicants in that diocese last year? It was 30,000. In that rise from 7,000 in 1874 to 30,000 in 1912 you may see what the result is of giving the Welsh people a clergy and Prelates who understand how to offer the ministrations of religion in consonance with their own feelings. Now, if we wanted a really effective illustration of the various, reforms that have been made by the Church in the National Establishment in Wales since that Resolution was passed to which the noble Earl called the attention of the House, it is in the speeches which have been made by the right rev. Prelates who have come to us from Wales. Speeches such as those of the Bishop of St. Asaph and the Bishop of St. Davids make us realise that we have only to continue a little longer to secure that the people of Wales will come in to the Church in increasing numbers and into new allegiance to the Church of England.
I will conclude with this one remark. I do not want at this hour in the evening to embark upon a controversial speech as to the theory and principles of the Establishment, but I have been taught the old Whig doctrine that the National Establishment is not an institution of divine origin or with divine authority, but is a purely human institution whose mission it is to offer the ministrations of religion to the people under conditions approved and altered from time to time by Parliament. That is a big subject and I cannot embark upon it, but I say if that theory of the Establishment is correct, how dare yon, a so-called Liberal Government, take away from the people their national inheritance? You are now the trustees to see that the endowments bequeathed by successive generations of our forefathers fur offering ministrations to the people shall be administered in a right way, and I say you are faithless and false trustees if, simply to mutilate and to injure and to hurt the Anglican Church by taking away some of its revenues, you abandon all future control over these endowments which, when the day comes which the noble Marquess has foreshadowed when we are a united Protestant Church, will be controlled, by the common consent of all concerned, by the Parliament of this Kingdom in a way which will conduce most efficiently to the spiritual well-being of the people.
My Lords, as a Welshman and a Churchman I rise to support the Motion for the rejection of this Bill. I do so with some hesitation, first, because this is the first time I have addressed your Lordships' House, and, secondly, because when the Church to which one belongs is threatened with spoliation and robbery one is apt to say too much and to say what one might regret a moment or two afterwards having said. I am what I suppose would be called a "backwoodsman"—that is to say, I do not often attend the debates in your Lordships' House. I do not know anything about Parliamentary procedure, nor am I a politician. I am here to support my Church to the best of my ability, and have not missed, I think, a single word that has been said during this solemn and serious debate. But I cannot help saying that I was surprised and almost horrified to see noble Lords opposite during the discussion of what was going to happen to the poor curates in Wales smiling, and to see Members of the other House at the Bar and in the Galleries laughing heartily even during the most solemn sentences of some of our most eminent divines, and to hear the noble Earl who opened the debate so manipulate his figures that the House was deceived, or might have been deceived, to the extent of possibly something like £100,000. If this is politics, I am glad I am not a politician.
I was also astonished to hear Bishops of our own Church supporting this mean and unjust Bill, apparently forgetting, I suppose, that they themselves had keen in the same position of the said urates at one time or other. It makes one think that possibly Disestablishment after all may have this advantage to us in Wales, that we should then be able to elect our own Bishops and to take care to elect men who would support and do their best for their Church in its evil times. I do not think chat the Government have realised the strength of feeling there is against this Bill in Wales, and especially in South Wales. I do not think they realise that Churchmen are smarting under a sense of gross injustice such as, I imagine, the loyalists in Ulster are feeling at the present moment. The passing of this Bill is hound to cause friction. In these days all subscriptions have to he cut down on account of recent legislation and all charitable institutions are feeling the 1279 effect of that recent legislation in the way of reduced subscriptions, and when we have to make good the deficiency which has been caused to us it is not in human nature to suppose that we shall allow our own people to be the first to suffer. Therefore this Bill is bound to cause friction.
Disestablishment has been already fully described, so I will only say one word on the Disendowment part of the Bill. No noble Lord on the other side has yet justified Disendowment in any way whatever. The noble Lord, Lord St. Davids, rather suggested that it should be done according to a calculation of the numbers of Churchmen and Nonconformists, as I understood him, but no one has given any justification for it. If it is right and justifiable, why not take the whole amount? If it is not justifiable, why not leave it all? It is difficult to understand how anybody who calls himself a Christian or an Englishman can possibly be found to support this Bill—as a Christian on account of the doctrine of brotherly love which we all profess, and as an Englishman on account of that love of fair-play of which we are all so proud. There is neither one nor the other in this Bill, neither justice nor fair-play. The argument that Disendowment is for the good of the Church is a childish argument, and one that it is hardly worth discussing. You might just as well say that it would be for the good of the Ministers of the present Government if you took away their salaries. I do not know that they would be inclined to think that that was very much to their advantage.
We feel very strongly on the point in South Wales. We feel that you are crippling the Church without doing anybody else any good whatever. Not a single individual in the Principality benefits under this Bill. The ministers of religion do not get anything, the chapels do not get anything, and the rates do not get anything. The only people who do benefit are those who will join the ever increasing crowd of officials, the Commissioners of the Welsh Church, who come into being under the Bill. Therefore why cripple the Church, a Church which is admitted to be doing so much good? I hope your Lordships will not hesitate as to the course you should pursue with regard to this Bill. I venture to think that if there had not been a Second Chamber this Bill would never have passed the First, and that if it does not pass your Lordships' House 1280 this evening we shall hear no more of it and that it will pass into that oblivion to which we hope its authors may soon follow it.
§ [The sitting was suspended shortly before eight, and resumed at nine o'clock.]
§ VISCOUNT PEEL
My Lords, the right rev. Prelate the Bishop of Oxford told us that one of the things he regretted most in this debate was that the case for the Church in Wales had rested rather too much on the question of Endowment, and not so much on the question of Disestablishment, but I confess that I have not seen signs in the course of this debate of too much weight being attached to the question of endowments. That may be a very proper criticism from members of the Episcopal Bench, but I think laymen like myself, and especially a member of a Church associated so closely with the Church of England as the Church in Wales, may take rather a freer view of the subject. But I did note that, although the right rev. Prelate dealt so forcibly upon this point, he himself was not satisfied with the provisions of the Bill, and though I think he agreed to its provisions with regard to tithe, he nevertheless lamented that the Government had refused to accede to the Amendment moved in the House of Commons with regard to glebe.
Now I confess to being a whole-hearted supporter of endowments. One has seen too much of the system by which voluntary Churches attempt to get their supplies. The difficulty is this, that precisely at the time when funds are most required and when Church interest is most slack and indifferent, it is most difficult to get the funds by which the Church work can be carried on. The great benefit of endowments is that they serve to tide over those periods of indifference, and to carry on the Church to more happy and more energetic spiritual times. Moreover, if we may take a lesson from Nonconformists, we find the opinion of Nonconformists has wholly altered in this respect. One can hardly take up one's newspaper on any day without seeing that they themselves are impressed by the difficulties of their purely voluntary system, and are determined to safeguard not only their work but their position by endowments. They argue in this way; but when the case comes home to them they seem to take a very different view.
1281 I was in Scotland during the great controversies which attended the union of the independent Churches in Scotland, resulting in the United Free Church. I was at that time in one of those small villages in Ross-shire which took a different view of that question from the rest of the United Free Church. It will be remembered that by the Courts in Scotland the whole of the property was adjudged to the United Free Church, but that decision was reversed when it came to the House of Lords. In that little village where I was at the time they took a very vigorous view, a very muscular Christian view—shall I say?—of the position, for they seized the Church, and they seized the manse and drove the United Free clergyman from it, and at that time the noble Earl, Lord Halsbury, if he had come to that village would have been received with almost divine honours. That is a very good example of the way in which Scotsmen look upon the case for endowments. The remarkable thing, too, about this argument for episcopal poverty is that it is preached by many of those whose own lives are examples of exactly the opposite state of things. I have heard it preached by some of those whose private income I should imagine was considerably in excess of the whole income of the Church in Wales. Even if you go back to historical instances, I do not think, taking even the time of Henry VIII, that he did worse in despoiling the monasteries and nunneries and driving the inhabitants out.
This argument has not been heard very much in your Lordships' House, but it is one which has been used on platforms and in other circles where the real force behind this Bill comes from. We are told that this measure is proposed for the benefit of the Church, that it is done out of loving kindness for the Church. If that is so, why should both these measures of Disestablishment and Disendowment be brought on together An Instruction was moved in the house of Commons, and a very valuable one it would have been if effect had been given to it, to the effect that the Bill was to be separated into two parts, and that the question of Disestablishment was to be taken in one Bill and the question of Disendowment in another. Had that been done I think the question might have been far more fairly argued, because as it is you have at one and the same time cast upon the Church the whole 1282 duty of reconstituting its entire organisation, and, in addition, of dealing with its organisation at a time when the Church has laid upon it the far more material duty of trying to collect fresh funds. I am bound to say that the Government when they are dealing with questions of Constitutional reform go by a more deliberate method of procedure.
I shall be interested to hear from the noble Marquess who will wind up the debate to-night what is the real basis on which this—shall I call it?—spoliation of the Church proceeds? If you look into the old Liberal records you find that the theory was that you could not have a great power within the State. If you took away the Church from the State and its guardianship from the State, you were also bound to diminish its property, because otherwise its power would be too great. That argument, of course, has died a natural death with the growth of great populations, and it seems almost ludicrous even to mention it in the case of a Church so poorly endowed as is the Church in Wales. The Government have shifted their ground in a remarkable way during the course of these discussions, and I am sure that the plethora of their arguments does more credit to the versatility of their minds than to the permanence of their convictions.
Take, first of all, tithe. We are told that the tithe is the gift of the State. The whole of the learning of history is against the Government on this point; yet they proceed in their argument in that way. I imagine that, to mention one name alone, on the question of ecclesiastical history the authority of the late Bishop Stubbs is nearly equal to that of Mr. McKenna, and, it that is so, that argument cannot apply to the glebe, which no one has ever pretended was anything but a private gift. I assert that during the whole of this controversy even the utmost malice of hostile research has been utterly unable to find any argument to support the theory on which this Bill was launched before the House of Commons. Then they refer to the wishes of the donor. I think it is a little difficult to speculate on what could have been the motives of some medieval donors, but I am convinced of this, that if a mediaeval donor had heard that the Nonconformists were about he would have not only made these gifts but 1283 would have stripped himself of even more and given all the silver that he had in his coffers. Then we are told—and I think the historian on this occasion is the Chancellor of the Exchequer—in defiance of all authority, that an entirely different Church was set up and established at the Reformation; but, if that were so, taking them on that ground, surely the prescription of 300 years is enough to establish the property in the hands of the Church. But we are told that is not so, and yet twenty-five years is said to be sufficient to secure the property in Nonconformist chapels. Twenty-five years is enough in the case of Nonconformist chapels, but 300 years is not sufficient in the case of the Church! Then take another argument—the question of the tripartite division of property as applied to the property of the Church. It is argued that only one-third of this endowment property ought to go to the ministers of religion, and that the Church has long since ceased to be the sole authority by which the poor are benefited in this country, and, in fact, that the county councils have now taken the place of the Church as dispensers of benevolence. That has been absolutely disproved as regards parochial endowments, however much it may apply to the endowments to monasteries. The most rev. Primate the Archbishop of Canterbury has commented, and I will not say a word about it, on what I think he described as the "jugglery in the Ministerial finance." Perhaps I may say a word in extenuation of the action of the Government, because I imagine that the confusion of their arithmetic is due to the fact that they have been so busily occupied lately in condoning their own financial irregularities. I very much regret that, in spite of several offers, Nonconformists have refused to accept the principle of concurrent endowment. They assert that it is contrary to their principles. It is curious how often men are apt to mistake the feelings of the moment for eternal principles. That has not been always their view. In the case of the Presbyterians, we know that they were endowed in Ireland; you may even argue, I think, that there was a heavy endowment in regard to religious education in the country, no doubt in regard to a form of religion which was certainly more acceptable to Nonconformists than to any other set of men. Then, in addition, 1284 Nonconformists have not to pay rates on chapels, and surely the remission of rates on their chapels is quite the same thing as taking an endowment from the State.
We are told that we have a majority in the House of Commons against us. Now, my Lords, I have seen nearly too much of the way in which those majorities are cemented and compacted together to have any respect for them. If you take mere majorities I admit as regards the House of Commons that the question may be said to be settled. But if you apply yourselves to getting together a general argument for the taking away of these endowments what is the result? It is said that the endowments are excessive. First of all, are they excessive? No one has ever argued in this House or in the House of Commons that they are. Then are these endowments misused? No one would contend that for a moment. Everybody admits—the Prime Minister has handsomely admitted it—the splendid work that has been done for the last seventy years, the date he gave, by the Church in Wales. In fact, so far as I have heard, the attacks on the Church both here and in the House of Commons have practically concentrated on a certain slackness in the eighteenth century. The Church in Wales has had a very hard measure meted out to her. First of all, before the Reformation it was very largely a Church endowed in connection with monasteries, and therefore at the dissolution of the monasteries it suffered more than did the more parochially endowed Church in this country; and again, when it had recovered from the blow inflicted at that time, the Church in Wales suffered most severely at the hands of Cromwell. After this double blow, and when it was suffering from this loss of endowments, was it likely that the Church could display great activity? Moreover, everybody knows, of course, that during the eighteenth century there was a general decadence of religious feeling not only in Wales but in England and other parts of Europe. What is the charge that is brought against the Church in the eighteenth century? That the Whig Government had made some bad appointments to the Bishoprics in Wales. Surely that condition of things reflected more discredit on the Whig Government than on the unfortunate Church in Wales which suffered under it.
1285 We have heard much in these debates of the Welsh nationality question, but it does not seem to me that, however much you admit Welsh nationality, you admit the claim of Welshmen to this Bill. If Wales is still part of the United Kingdom you cannot pretend that you must take Welsh opinion alone in order to settle these matters. If, on the other hand, you project yourselves into some remote future and imagine that Wales is going to have its own Parliament, there again I contend that the claim for this Bill cannot be put forward. It is a matter of the kind called in the United States inter-State matters, in regard to which the opinion of one State is not able to outweigh the opinions of others. I need hardly cite authority to prove the fact that an absolute historic unity exists between the Church in England and the Church in Wales, and the so-called advantages of piecemeal Disestablishment in Wales cannot be an argument for severing the Church there from the life of the Church in England itself. Indeed, my Lords, if one takes rather a long view of the matter, I cannot help thinking at this moment that it is very inopportune to bring forward a measure involving so tremendous a change, and certainly, so far as one can judge, there is a general feeling of weariness growing up at the constant splitting up into sects which has been the result of the breaking away from the Church of England. The tendency is rather to grow disgusted at what Matthew Arnold called "the dissidence of Dissent," and the tendency is all towards greater union. And when one talks about greater union and greater organisation one turns naturally to the Church which is the symbol in this country at least of greater union.
The right rev. Prelate the Bishop of Oxford said he thought that the drifting was rather, not back to the Church of England, but away from all Churches. Certainly in my small experience I have met numbers of ministers of religion who have told me that they have received into the Church of England a considerable number of Nonconformists, and when I have asked them the reason they have generally said this, that the Nonconformist ministers find it very often difficult to distinguish between religious activities and political activities. I remember there was a famous preacher at Oxford of whom it was Fail that in his sermons you would find 1286 no trace of either religion or theology. Well, I do not think the warmest admirer of the Nonconformists could say that in many of their sermons at least you could find no trace of politics. I am aware that we are promised freedom for the Church of England in the case of Welsh Disestablishment. The forms of freedom, we are told, alter in every age, and one of the signs and marks of this freedom is that the representatives of the Church in Wales are not to be allowed to go to Convocation. Surely that is rather a limited and prohibitive kind of freedom. And, after all, who are those who object to the Church in Wales? Who are those who offer this freedom? I have sat on Committees and in the House of Commons when measures for the benefit of the Church were promoted by Churchmen, and they were all obstructed and fought most bitterly by the very men who now conic forward and use this argument to try and press freedom on a Church that does not ask for it.
The greatest glory and honour of the Church during all these centuries has been the parochial system. What a blow is struck at it by this Disestablishment Bill ! I think we should note that Mr. McKenna, in speaking on the Third Reading of this Bill in the House of Commons, practically said that if only he had the power he would not only disestablish the Church in Wales but would disestablish the Church in England as well. I should like to know whether the noble Earl opposite shares that view of Mr. McKenna's. The right rev. Prelate the Bishop of Oxford told us that there was slackness and indifference. But surely it is a great thing that in every parish, even for the slack and the indifferent in moments of sickness or sorrow, there is one man at least to whom they can go for consolation and sympathy; and it is a great thing also that we should be able to secure for the clergyman in a parish that independence which he never can secure if he has to depend wholly and entirely on the results of the voluntary system. The truth is that the whole of this measure, as regards the separation of the Church and State, depends upon a very antiquated Liberal theory, and surely the present day, when the State is penetrating more than ever and more deeply into the life of the people than it has ever done hitherto, can hardly be a time to undertake the separation of Church and State in matters religious and matters spiritual. In a 1287 democratic age, when more than ever we are considering material questions and the necessity of healing material wrongs, it is increasingly important that there should be some historical institution that would appeal to the heart and to the imagination and to the spiritual side of man.
My Lords, you must not rely on any amendment of this measure. I think those who saw how in the House of Commons any small concessions given by the Government were received by the Welsh Members will recognise that there is no hope that if this Bill were sent back to the House of Commons our Amendments would be accepted. There would be a revolt, among the Welsh Members. And if any one rests his hope on later amendment of this Bill, let him remember the Parliament Act, that quaint instrument of Government which prevents anything of that kind being done, and forbids any alteration even in a date or a comma being made in the measure. I do not suppose that the Government would be so rash as to insert Amendments at a later stage which would give this House the chance of throwing out the Bill altogether. This property that you are attempting to take from the Church is trust property, property that you have no right to take. We hear much of the omnipotence of Parliament. Fortunately the omnipotence of this Parliament is limited by the omnipotence of the next Parliament, and if injustice is done by this Parliament we must look, and look only, to a subsequent Parliament to redress that wrong.
§ THE MARQUESS OF LANSDOWNE
My Lords, I shall trespass for only a few moments upon your Lordships' attention, and indeed but for my desire to make something in the nature of a profession of faith before this debate closes it would not be necessary for me to intrude upon your time at all. The case against this Bill has, in our view, been already stated with sufficient force. It has been stated, not only from the Benches behind me, but from the Episcopal Bench opposite with an overwhelming weight of authority, with much wealth of illustration, and with a force of argument which I do not remember ever having heard equalled in debates in your Lordships' House. I do not know that we, at all events, shall be disposed to admit that the case for the Bill has been argued with equal success. The noble Marquess who leads the House will be 1288 on his legs at midnight if he attempts to meet the mass of arguments that has been directed against the Bill for which he and his colleagues are responsible.
Let me say one or two words as to the course of this debate. I have been a member of this House for a great many years. The noble Earl in charge of the Bill reminded me on Tuesday—rather unkindly, I think—that forty-four years ago I recorded a vote in this House in connection with a Bill for disestablishing and disendowing the Irish Church. I shall have a word to say upon that analogy in a moment. But, my Lords, in all those long years I can recall no case of what we sometimes speak of as a full-dress debate in which the Government responsible for the measure before the House has taken such slight pains to justify it to your Lordships. At the opening of the debate we had the speech of the Cabinet Minister who is responsible for the conduct of the measure. Since then we have had speeches—memorable speeches, I venture to think—from the two most rev. Primates and from the two right, rev. Prelates who preside over the dioceses of St. Asaph and St. Davids. We have had, besides those, five speeches from this side of the House from Peers of Cabinet rank. During the course of those speeches we have been able to show that the "facts" adduced by the advocates of the Bill were anything but accurate; that the figures employed were figures which no respectable firm of chartered accountants would have allowed to pass muster; and that the history adduced in support of the arguments has been, to put it mildly, of a most unhistorical description. I am almost inclined to borrow a phrase that fell from ! the right rev. Prelate the Bishop of Oxford, when he told us that on certain points the ! supporters of the Bill had been left, if not dead, at any rate unhorsed or seriously wounded upon the field of battle.
In spite of that long array of speeches not even a solitary Lord-in-Waiting has been put up to give us an idea of the manner in which the official members opposite regard the arguments of my noble friends upon this side of the House. When I say that, I do not for a moment leave out of sight that speeches, able speeches, in support of the Bill were delivered from the Back Benches opposite and by two at any rate of the right rev. Prelates. But we may be permitted to 1289 notice, in passing, that most of those speeches were, so far as many important provisions of the Bill are concerned, by no means wholehearted in support of the measure. I take in particular the extremely interesting and telling speech delivered by the Bishop of Oxford. I should like to ask the House, supposing the Bill upon the Table were to be handed over to that right rev. Prelate for reconstruction, what kind of a Bill would emerge after it had undergone reconstruction at his hands? Would the parents of the measure recognise their offspring? Would the reconstructed Bill stand a ghost of a chance of being even looked at by the Radical Party in the House of Commons?
In spite of all that, up to the present moment the noble Earl opposite has been the only Ministerial supporter of the Bill upon the Table. I dwell upon that, and I think I have a right to, because this is a fair example of the way in which the House is being treated under the new dispensation. We were told when the Parliament Act was under discussion that we should at any rate have the fullest and freest opportunities of discussing and suggesting revision of Government measures; but it has come to this—that in one of the Houses of Parliament that freedom of discussion is limited by the guillotine, and in the other by something which can only be described as very like a boycott on the part of the Bench opposite.
Let me turn for one moment to the observation that was made by the noble Earl in charge of the Bill as to the vote which I gave on the Irish Church Act in 1869, and may I be permitted to suggest to the noble Earl that when he has been as long in public life as I have he will find that he is quite indifferent to any criticisms which are made upon votes which he has given or things which he has said in his salad days. But whether my vote in 1869 was a wise or a foolish vote—I may say, in passing, that it was given in very good company, and that, as far as I am able to judge retrospectively, I should give the same vote again—there is no inconsistency between the vote which I gave in 1869 and the vote which I hope to give this evening at the conclusion of this debate. Most of the reasons have already been 1290 touched upon in the course of this discussion, and I will only enumerate them quite shortly. In 1869 we were dealing with a Church which was a distinct Church with a separate organisation of its own—a Church which had been joined to Ole Church of England within the memory of people alive at the time of the introduction of the Bill; in this case we are dealing with a Church which from time immemorial has been an integral part of the Church of England. Again, in 1869 we were confronted with a unanimous demand from the Roman Catholic population of Ireland, numbering, roughly speaking, about four-fifths of the whole population and solid in its opposition to the Established Church. In the year 1913 we have a demand made on behalf of a Nonconformist population which numbers, I believe, something less than one-half of the total population of the Principality, which is not a solid body and which represents not one religious denomination, but, I think, altogether something like four. Thirdly, in 1869 we were dealing with a Church which was, as Churches go, a wealthy Church and which had at any rate a certain abundance of means. To-day you are asked to deal with a Church which is notoriously a very poor Church, and which wants every farthing of which it can dispose. And I think I might almost add that there is this further difference, that in 1869 we had before us a great and bold scheme of Irish policy outlined by the master-hand of Mr. Gladstone, which had been fully thought out and fully unfolded to the country. In this year we are offered what I can only describe as a very paltry measure designed for the purpose of keeping quiet a turbulent section of the supporters of His Majesty's Government.
I have one further criticism to make upon the noble Earl's references to the case of the Irish Church. He told us in the course of his speech that when the Irish Church Act was passed there were 467 curates in existence, and that these, by the time the Act had come into operation, had sprung to a figure of no less than 918. Of course the suggestion was that there had been a wholesale creation of curates for the purpose of obtaining the financial advantages of the Act. I have ascertained that on this point also the noble Earl has been incorrectly informed. The correct figures are these. There were, not 467, but 720 1291 curates serving prior to the passing of the Irish Church Act and 921 a year or two after its passage, so that there is only a balance of 201 to be accounted for, and I am informed that of that 201 the great part can be explained by the normal appointment of curates, taking the average number of such appointments made from year to year.
I apologise for detaining the House with these apparently trivial matters: what your Lordships have to consider this evening is not the question of the abstract merits or demerits of a Church Establishment. Nor have you to consider whether in the case of the Church of England it is a good thing that there should be a connection between Church and State. What your Lordships are asked to consider this evening is whether it is right or wrong to sever from the Church of England a fragment of that Church and to despoil it of the endowments which it has so long enjoyed. I take it that the feeling in most of our minds is a desire to protest against this fragmentary treatment of so great a question. Wales is geographically, politically, and ecclesiastically part of this country. The Welsh dioceses stand in no different position from the other dioceses of the Church of England, and it is worth remembering in this connection that just as the Church in Wales is indistinguishable from the Church in England, so the Nonconformist denominations of Wales are indistinguishable from those denominations on the other side of the border. It is on record in the Report of the Royal Commission that not one denomination in Wales pays any regard to the boundary line between England and Wales. Therefore, my Lords, we hold that this question concerns not merely Wales but the State as a whole, and that it should be dealt with from that point of view; and therefore we remain unmoved by the statement so often reiterated that this Bill is desired by the people of Wales.
I hope that nothing that I shall say or that I have said about Welsh or Irish nationality will be interpreted as indicating that I have any want of respect for what I might call local sentiment in any part of the country. The right rev. Prelate the Bishop of Hereford told us last night that the Welsh people had, I think he said, a character, a temperament, a sentiment of their own, and 1292 that they had their own poetry and their own language. All these are to my mind peculiarities deserving of every possible encouragement. I attach importance to them because they seem to me to make for a kind of intensified patriotism which is a good thing from a public point of view. There are a great many people who are sound patriots but for whom patriotism in the larger sense is something too vague and remote, and whose feelings are much more moved when that patriotism comes to be applied to a smaller area, their own country, their own province, even, it may be, their own parish. But while we admit all this we cannot allow these local sentiments to prevail when the question at issue is not merely a local question, not merely a municipal question, but a great question of policy involving the relations of Church and State.
The noble Earl asked me the other evening why I was so tender hearted in the case of Ulster, and so hard-hearted in the case of Wales. That was, I think, in effect his argument. Well, there is an analogy between the case of Ulster and the case of the Church in Wales, but it is not the analogy that the noble Earl supposes. The real analogy is this. Ulster desires to remain inside the Union; you desire to drive her out; we desire that she should remain where she is. The Church in Wales desires to remain in the English fold; you desire to drive her out, to cut her off from the parent Church; we desire that she should remain where she is now. I ask noble Lords to remember where this, I was going to say, mania for allowing purely local sentiment to prevail is going to lead them. You are committed up to the hilt to some scheme of devolution for the British Isles, perhaps for the British Empire. We do not know what it is. I doubt very much whether you yourselves know what it is. But unless your language is absolutely insincere you have been thinking about this for a long time, and you propose eventually to give effect to your ideas. Now, the question that I want to ask is whether, when those ideas are realised, when you have brought into existence your heptarchy, you then propose that the question of the connection of Church and State should be left to the decision of each member of that heptarchy. That seems to me, my Lords, to be an unthinkable proposition. Supposing Mr. Winston Churchill's plan to be carried out, are you going to have an Established.
1293 Church in Lancashire and no Church Establishment in Yorkshire? Could anything be more preposterous? And remember—the argument has been used already—that in your own Irish Bill you have expressly reserved the question of the Establishment of a Church as a question which is not to be dealt with by the local Legislature but is reserved for higher authority. This, at any rate, we may affirm with confidence, that the burden of proof lies upon those who desire to sever this ancient connection and to confiscate benefits which have been bestowed upon the Church by pious men on the faith of that connection.
What then is the first question that has to be answered? Is it not this—and perhaps When the noble Marquess replies he will give me the answer—Who is injured by the Establishment of the Church in Wales? Can any one say that any man, woman, or child receives any practical wrong or is caused any substantial inconvenience from the fact that the Church in Wales is connected with the State? I am, I must own, sometimes moved to indignation when I read the kind of language that is used by friends of noble Lords opposite in regard to this question—language like this for example, that "the system of Establishment has been a curse to the land of Wales." My Lords, what a ridiculous and exaggerated statement! What are the incidents of Church Establishment? Let me take one or two of them. The Sovereign is the head of the Church. Not long ago His Majesty the King visited Wales for the purpose of the Investiture of tire Prince of Wales at Carnarvon Castle. Those who were present on that occasion described the ceremony as one of the most moving they had ever witnessed. It was in part a religious ceremony. The ritual was, I believe, settled by the most rev. Primate in consultation with the heads of the Nonconformist Churches in Wales. That consultation would not have been possible if there had not been an Established Church to form a kind of nucleus for that purpose. From all I have heard I gather that upon that occasion there was an almost passionate display of loyalty on the part not only of the Churchmen of Wales but of the Non-.conformists of Wales, and I totally disbelieve that the connection of the Sovereign with the Church in any way injures the feeling of anybody in the Principality.
1294 Another incident of the Establishment is the presence of the Welsh Bishops in this House. As to that I will only say this, that if I were a Welshman I should be proud to have my country represented in one of the two Houses of Parliament by such men as the two right rev. Prelates who have addressed us as the representatives of Wales on this Bill. Then another incident of Establishment is the power of Parliament to deal by legislation with the affairs of the Church. That is not a grievance that hurts the Nonconformists. If any one has cause to complain of that, it is the members of the Church in Wales. I take yet another incident of Establishment—the connection of the Church with Convocation. The Bishop of Oxford announced his intention of, I think he said, waging unrelenting was against the proposal to cut off the Church in Wales from Convocation. And, my Lords, note this, that if you are going to cut off, as you will by this Bill, the Church in Wales from Convocation, you are placing the Church in an infinitely worse position than that which is occupied by the Nonconformist Churches in Wales, because they are free to organise themselves and to combine with their brethren on the other side of the border. It is the Church in Wales alone which you are going to cut off from the parent body.
Upon this question of the alleged grievance of Establishment, a very pertinent observation was made last night by my noble friend Lord Dynevor. He called the attention of the House to the fact that under this Bill a new kind of Establishment is to take place. A new Welsh Church will arise from the ruins of the old one. It is to have a statutory constitution, it is to have a charter, and it will retain its cathedrals. Are you quite sure that, with all those things left to it, the Church in Wales will no longer be held up to obloquy as a privileged body differing from the humbler religious bodies that surround it? I do not believe that the feeling, such as it is, which exists against the Established Church in Wales is due to any of these things. If it exists at all, it is, I think, much more due to the causes mentioned by my noble friend Lord St. Aldwyn last night, to a certain personal estrangement between the incumbents of the Church of England and those who live in their neighbourhood. I think it highly probable that such a feeling of aloofness, or call it exclusiveness if you prefer, does exist in certain parts of 1295 the Principality. But we have this consolation, at any rate, that we know that with every year that passes Churchmen and Nonconformists are drawing more closely together, and we believe that if they are only encouraged in that direction that estrangement will in time become a thing of the past. At any rate, my Lords, we may say without fear of contradiction that the Welsh Church as we know it to-day is not only the most ancient institution in the land, but it is the largest; Church in the Principality of Wales and there is no charge of inefficiency against it. The old indictment, based upon an alleged neglect of opportunities during the seventeenth century, is heard no longer. We have the testimony of Minister after Minister to the effect that the Church is not only doing its duty but is doing it admirably in Wales. There is no Welsh parish without a Church of England place of worship and a Church of England minister. There are 210 parishes in which the Church is the only place of worship; and there is this also in evidence, that it is the Church of England which takes most of the hardest and roughest work that is done in that part of the United Kingdom. We find the Church in the remotest glens and in the slums of the great cities doing its duty and doing it with increasing success. On what ground, then, is this sentence to be passed upon the Church in Wales?
I come now to the question of Disendowment. When you come to Disendowment you are dealing with a question, not of sentiment, but of fair play and of common justice. There is an apparently hopeless confusion of thought about some of the questions connected with the endowments of the Church in Wales. The noble Lord who spoke second this evening, Lord Aberconway, repeated the old fallacy that the Welsh tithe was a tax on the Welsh farmers. The noble Lord could not have been in his place when my noble friend Lord St. Aldwyn dealt with this part of the case or he would have known that the tithe in Wales is not a tax upon the farmers; it is a charge upon the land in Wales, a charge subject to which the land in Wales has been transferred from one individual to another. If it was no longer paid by the farmer the farmer would have to pay more rent. If the owner of the land sells the land he sells it subject to the tithe; and if the tithe were done away with by a stroke of the pen to-morrow morning no benefit 1296 whatever would acme to the taxpayer of Wales. Of these proposals for Disendowment I would only say this, that I believe them to be cordially and universally disliked, and not least by a great many of those who are habitual supporters of His Majesty's Government.
As to the question of the loss which will fall upon the Church, I desire to say one word as to the kind of balance-sheet which has been laid upon the Table of your Lordships' House, and which professes to show what the financial position of the Welsh Church will be after these arrangements have been accomplished. There is a kind of Nemesis of inaccuracy in all the figures which are produced in connection with this subject. There is a glaring inaccuracy in the figures which appear on page 8, and I call the attention of the noble Marquess to it. He will find that amongst the assets which the Welsh Church is to enjoy after Disendowment there is mentioned £28,000, the grant of the Ecclesiastical Commissioners, and £3,000 granted by Queen Anne's Bounty. These are not new assets at all. These are assets which are already part of the property of the Welsh Church. It is true the money is not used as income, it is added to the capitalised endowment; but if this statement of accounts had been a fair one, those items would have been shown on both sides of the account. The suppression of them on one side is, I venture to think, a most extraordinarily misleading performance. The item, which follows, of £75,000 for interest on the capital sum paid for existing interests is, I am told, also an inaccurate item. The £75,000 represents a sum taken as interest at 3¾ per cent. on the £2,000,000 of commutation money. I am informed that the rate of interest of 3¾ per cent. is unduly high, and that the commutation money has been calculated on the basis of twelve and seven-tenths years' purchase of the secularised income—a number of years' purchase higher than that which the Home Secretary has ever offered in connection with the same transaction. The fact is that this deficit, which is shown as £51,000, should, if the account has been properly stated, have stood as £86,000. That is a specimen of the accuracy of the figures put forward by His Majesty's Government.
I will not dwell on the consequences of this spoliation to the Church itself. We are all familiar with the argument that this 1297 kind of misfortune is very often a blessing in disguise to the victims. From that point of view I suppose we may be told that the influenza, or the Super Tax, or the suffragettes, are blessings in disguise. I do not know that there are many of us who will hold that view. But I am quite sure that a badly paid Welsh clergyman will not think it a blessing in disguise when he finds that, although the funds which lie already enjoys have been reported by the Royal Commission as insufficient for the spiritual needs of the parish, yet in the case of about half the incumbencies the ministers will be left without any endowment at all, and that in 132 cases they will be left with less than £10 a year. The figures were given in great detail by the Bishop of St. Asaph, and those figures have not, as far as I am aware, yet been challenged by any one on behalf of His Majesty's Government. It seems to me extremely cruel to leave the Welsh Church with its cathedrals and other buildings and at the same time without any funds for their proper maintenance. I entirely agree with what has been said by some of my friends near me, that the whole result of these operations can only be to leave a lasting feeling of rancour and irritation in the minds both of the ministers who have been despoiled and of their flocks, who will suffer from that spoliation.
I will not detain your Lordships longer. This Bill raises enormous issues—the relation of Church and State; the sacredness of trusts; the value of prescriptive rights; and, perhaps, most important of all, the right of a local majority to usurp the functions of the State in regard to great questions of national principle. My Lords, the Bill deals with these questions, and it deals with them, I venture to think, upon the wrong lines. By rejecting this Bill your Lordships will at any rate give His Majesty's Government time to consider whether they are justified in forcing upon Parliament under the Parliament Act proposals as indefensible as these, supported by arguments as unsound as many of those which have been used in the course of this debate; proposals so little liked by many of their own friends and supporters; proposals, lastly, calculated to throw a serious obstacle across that better path which was indicated for us this evening by my noble friend Lord Salisbury.
THE LORD PRIVY SEAL AND SECRETARY OF STATE FOR INDIA (THE MARQUESS OF CREWE)
My Lords, however different may be the views which in different parts of the House are held upon this Bill, we shall all, I think, agree with what the noble Marquess who has just sat down said in effect—namely, that this business has been approached throughout these three days with a high seriousnesss and a tone, I think without exception, worthy of this Assembly and of the subject debated. I can assure your Lordships that I fully feel the responsibility which rests upon me in rising to close a debate upon a subject such as this, which strikes so deeply into both the emotions and convictions of many on both sides of the House. The noble Marquess said that if I were to attempt to cover the whole of the ground, which he hinted we had somewhat in the course of the debate neglected to cover, I should keep the House here till past midnight. That is true, and I have no intention of attempting to cover the whole of the ground. Before I sit down, however, I shall endeavour to say a word on the subject of the complaint which the noble Marquess made of the manner in which we propose to deal with this measure under the Parliament Act. But I must remind him of this, that if there has been a failure on the part of His Majesty's Government, or those who lead it, to cover the whole of the ground in this debate on the Second Reading, that failure must have been and would have been corrected to a great extent if the noble Marquess opposite had thought fit to pursue the further stages of the Bill and to take it into Committee. The mere fact, as the noble Marquess complains, that some of the members of His Majesty's Household have not taken part in this debate does not, I think, afford a reasonable subject of comment or complaint for noble Lords opposite who are treating the whole measure in this somewhat cavalier way.
In the observations I shall make I propose to deal very shortly with the purely business or financial side of the Bill as expressed in the measure of Disendowment which the Bill inflicts upon the Church in Wales. Knowing the view which is held of His Majesty's Ministers, I must state that if I do not attempt to juggle with figures I will not ask noble Lords to believe that it is owing 1299 to any moral unwillingness to do so, but to a complete mathematical inefficiency which has pursued me all through life. It is beyond my competence to do anything of the kind. Various noble Lords—the noble Earl opposite, Lord Selborne, and also the noble Viscount, Lord St. Aldwyn, and one right rev. Prelate, the Bishop of St. Asaph—have dealt fully with these financial matters, and the noble Marquess who has just sat down once more accused us, if not of deliberate misstatement, at any rate of a confused method of presenting the figures which is liable to mislead. As I understand from the speeches of the various noble Lords, the charge against us is this, that we say we are depriving the Church in Wales of only between £50,000 and £60,000, whereas in reality we are taking away £158,000. Now, my Lords, neither of these statements is accurate. The Bill does not take away £158,000. What it does is this. It will diminish the revenues of the Church in Wales by that amount—noble Lords laugh, but they must kindly allow me to finish my sentence—it will diminish the revenues of the Church by that amount when all the present life interests are extinct. That is not the same thing as taking away £158,000. Neither is it the case that anybody ever said that all we are doing is depriving the Church of a sum of £50,000 odd of revenue. What we have said is that if a sustentation fund were formed from the time of the passing of the Bill, amounting to a payment of that sum of £50,000 odd a year, by the time all the life interests are extinct that annual sum will represent the whole diminution of the Church's income; and I think your Lordships will see that that is by no means the same thing as saying that all we are doing is to take away the sum of £50,000 odd a year from the Church.
Then the most rev. Primate the Archbishop of Canterbury dealt with another point which has also been touched upon by the noble Marquess who has just sat down, and that is with regard to the sum of £31,000 mentioned in what the noble Marquess not quite accurately described as the balance sheet on page 8 of this Paper which has been circulated to your Lordships. That is not a balance sheet in the sense that it describes what the funds belonging to the Church were before Disendowment and what they will be 1300 after. It is a statement of the assets and liabilities after Disendowment, which is, of course, altogether a different thing. The most rev. Primate said, "It is all very well to speak of this £31,000 a year as a further subvention from the Ecclesiastical Commissioners or from Queen Anne's Bounty; but how if at some further time, owing to unforeseen circumstances, things go badly with the funds of these corporations and they are not able, owing to the claims that they have to meet in England, to supply this £31,000 to Wales?" That would be, no doubt, a doleful possibility for the Church in Wales to look forward to. But surely exactly the same possibility exists if the Church remains Established. What would be the difference between the fate of the Established and that of the Disestablished Church, if for one reason or another, the Ecclesiastical Commissioners and Queen Anne's Bounty were unable to produce the whole sum? The noble Marquess accuses us of juggling in speaking of this £31,000 as a part of the assets of the Disendowed Church. Surely there is a substantial difference in fact in this, that that sum is now paid year by year by the authorities of the corporations in question to the Church in Wales, but they are obliged to invest it and can only spend the interest; whereas after the transaction named in the Bill has taken place it will be reasonable and prudent for the Church to use it as part of its regular income.
Then the noble Viscount, Lord St. Aldwyn, dealt with the subject of commutation in a manner which I am sure interested the whole House. Several speakers have appeared to argue that if commutation takes place it is not right to include the capitalised value of the sum commuted among the future assets of the Church, which is practically to say that, so far as the Church is concerned, it does not in the least matter whether commutation takes place or no. Anybody who looks into the experience of the Irish Church will see what an important difference it made in the arrangements of that Church, and, though to a less extent, it would do the same in Wales—that is, instead of the life interests being paid as they would be if there was no commutation, in precisely the same amount and to the same individuals as they are at present, things can be so worked that economies can be effected in the general administra- 1301 tion of the Church. The noble Viscount, whose authority on such a matter, of course, we all profoundly respect, seemed to hint that it was likely that the terms offered were such that it would not be wise for the Church to accept them, and he largely founded that statement on the fact that it was a 3½ per cent. basis which was offered by the Bill, and he went on, if I remember rightly, to say that if you were to take those terms to an actuary in the ordinary way of business he would say they were not good enough to accept.
§ VISCOUNT ST. ALDWYN
The opinions of actuaries may differ; but this may be said, that 3 per cent. is the rate which the Post Offiee—the Government, that is—calculated as the basis for Post Office annuities and for National Debt Commissioners' annuities.
THE MARQUESS OF CREWE
I was aware of that fact. The noble Viscount is himself, no doubt, aware that the reason for which the 3½ per cent. basis was named was that a special inquiry is to be made into the individual lives which it is believed will make the terms almost as good as if a 3 per cent. basis were taken on lives treated as a class. It is quite true, no doubt, that if you were to go to actuaries in the ordinary way of business and state those terms, some actuaries would say you ought to ask for a larger margin in respect of the possibility of a further fall in securities. That I quite admit and, of course, the point is an arguable one. But we consider that the terms offered are such as, with a reasonable forecast of the course of events, would not be unfair to those who would be affected by the commutation terms.
There is one other small point with which I want to deal before I leave this question of Disendowment. It was stated in the course of the debate—quoted, I think, from a statement issued by the right rev. Prelate the Bishop of St. Asaph in his diocese—that among the hard possibilities was the dismissal of curates at once. Of course, that is not strictly accurate. It is true, as the noble Marquess said by way of complaint, that we are not dealing with the interests of curates in precisely the same manner as that in which they were dealt with in the Irish Act. There the curates were taken as individuals, and their interests were dealt 1302 with separately. In this case the stipend of the curate is treated as part of the life interest of the incumbent—not so good terms, obviously, as the Irish terms, but terms which certainly do not make it fair or reasonable to say that on the passing of the Bill all curates will be unpaid and therefore have to be dismissed.
THE LORD BISHOP OF ST. ASAPH
The point is an important one, and I would ask the noble Marquess kindly to explain it. Do I understand him to say that the curate's salary is to be regarded as part of the incumbent's salary and to be added to it and regarded as a vested interest?
THE MARQUESS OF CREWE
Yes, that is so; it is to be regarded as part of the life interest of the vicar or the incumbent.
THE LORD BISHOP OF ST. ASAPH
That is to say that where an incumbent has a living of £200 a year and the curate a salary of £120, the vested interest will be regarded as £320 a year?
THE LORD BISHOP OF ST. DAVIDS
This is an important point. Are we to understand that the noble Marquess says that when an incumbent has £200 a year and the curate's stipend is £120, the vested interest is £320 and not £80?
THE MARQUESS OF CREWE
I can only promise to make further inquiry. I will now pass from curates, who, I can only once more assure the House, are not altogether left out, and I will say one word on the subject of tithe. That is a matter which in one sense stands half-way between the purely business aspect of the measure and those deeper matters of principle which have formed the subject of so much of the debate. I listened with interest to the noble Earl, Lord Selborne, who, as we all know, has an hereditary right to deal with this subject. I cannot help thinking that he adopted rather freely the dialectical 1303 device, one which is not unfamiliar to Parliamentary speakers, of treating as matters of certainty matters which are really dubious and in dispute. It is not possible to speak of these matters by going back into the dark recesses of history with the sort of sureness with which we should speak of the events of, say, one hundred years ago. The noble Earl quoted the opinion, for one, of his most distinguished father, who, it is only fair to remember, was a great Churchman as well as a great lawyer, and also the opinion of Dr. Freeman and of Dr. Stubbs. Of course, we admit the vast weight attaching to all these authorities; but I should like to ask the noble Earl whether he considers that it is an absolutely proved fact that there is no difference in the origin and purpose of tithe as between England and Wales, because, as a matter of fact, the arguments used by Dr. Stubbs and Dr. Freeman, and, I should conceive, also to a great extent by the noble Earl's father, largely apply to the origin of tithe in England, and it appears to be something of an assumption to say that there was no difference between the origin of that institution in Wales and that in England. At any rate, I think it is an arguable point, that there was a difference; and although I confess I am no student in these matters, yet it is stated that there is at any rate some evidence that the payment of tithe was not a universal practice in Wales, but that the duty of payment was confined in some cases to certain individuals.
But to come to the present day and to touch on the point mentioned by the noble Marquess, it cannot be disputed, so far as the feelings of those are concerned who pay tithe and do not belong to the Church in Wales—or the Church of Wales, whichever you care to call it—that they are contributing towards the support of a Church to which they do not belong. Their feelings, at any rate, are much the same as those which existed and were the subject not very long ago of inquiry in reference to Church rates, and which led to the abolition of that impost. And when the noble Marquess points out that it is in reality the landlord who pays the tithe, and that if the farmer did not pay it he would have to pay more rent—as a matter of fact, it is now actually paid by him—I cannot help asking him what is going to happen when the great mass of freeholders have been created, towards whose institution the 1304 noble Marquess and his friends are apparently going to supply hundreds of millions of public money? Those peasant proprietors will certainly find themselves paying the tithe, even on the showing of the noble Marquess, and it is not, I think, to be argued that if they are Nonconformists they will very much enjoy doing it.
I pass on to the more general arguments which have been advanced on the ground of principle. But, in the first place, I should like to say a word about the case of the disestablished Irish Church, upon which my noble friend who introduced the Bill has been made the subject of rather severe criticisms for quoting it as an analogy. It is, of course, true that the analogy is not a perfect one, and that the cases of the Church in Ireland and the Church in Wales are by no means identical. It is easy for anybody who compares the two to find plenty of differences between them, but what is apparent to anybody who reads about the debates of 1869 is the resemblance between the arguments used on both occasions. Unlike the noble Marquess opposite, I was not a member of this House at that time and therefore was unable to register my vote for the Bill, but I can remember having come as a school-boy and heard some of the debates, and I well recollect the imposing figure of the great Lord Derby of that day in the course of the debate. What is striking to anybody who glances through the debates of that time is the identity of the arguments used then with those which the opponents of this Bill use now. Phrases like "sacrilege" and "confiscation of religious property" were as frequent then as they are now. The Government of that day were told, as we are told now, that a new spirit of animosity was certain to be created in Ireland between the members of the Church of Ireland and the members of the other denominations.
I may say, in passing, that it is curious to observe that noble Lords opposite speak of that Act of Disestablishment as though it simply applied to the relief of the Roman Catholic body in Ireland, entirely forgetting their own friends of to-day, the Nonconformists in the North of Ireland, who were quite as much interested in the disestablishment of the Church as were the Roman Catholics. The Government of that day were told then, 1305 just as we are told now, that the secularisation of the Church surplus was a profane act which honest men, particularly if they were Christians, ought not to undertake. Yet noble Lords opposite, I think, took a considerable share in applying that gradually diminishing surplus to secular uses, as much as we did on this side of the House. Then the Irish Church Bill was freely described as being "a most niggardly measure," which reminds one of the phrase of the right rev. Prelate the Bishop of St, Davids, of which he is the gratified patentee, when he described this Bill as "a mean little Bill." Then the Church of Ireland, it was said, would be so maimed by its removal from the orbit of the Church of England that it could not possibly be reconstituted in any satisfactory shape, just as we hear about the Welsh Church to-day.
I freely admit once more that the cases are not in the least identical, but it is a fact that many of those prophecies were falsified in the event, as I think I shall be able to point out. Some proved to be greatly exaggerated, others proved to be altogether unfounded; and at any rate it may be argued that there is a prospect that some of the prophecies which are made to-day will also not prove to be perfectly accurate. I quite agree that to those who think that they are suffering a severe moral and material loss it is not pleasant or reasonable that they should be told that the loss will have a highly bracing effect. That I freely admit, and it is an argument which I have never used. Assuming that we are, as noble Lords think, engaged in persecuting the Church after the manner of Diocletian, we should all agree that it would have been very hard if Diocletian had pointed out to thru early Christians what scope he had afforded them for the exercise of the manly virtues. Therefore I abstain from any comment of that kind. But I think that when the noble Marquess speaks of us as passing sentence of death on the Church in Wales he is somewhat exaggerating on his side. It does not in any way represent the effect of our action any more than it represents our intention.
Much has been said in the course of the debate on what may be described as the national argument in favour of Disestablishment. Nobody on our side of the House should fail to note with interest and with respect the serious manner in which both the most rev. Primates spoke of the 1306 weight which ought to be attached to the preponderating opinion of the Parliamentary representatives from Wales. That opinion, however, was not so seriously spoken of by all who took part in the debate, and it has been largely discounted by two arguments, one of which is an old one and the other new. The old argument is that the measure had never been properly before the country. That is an argument which I can remember all my life as being used. It was a favourite argument, I think, of the distinguished father of the noble Marquess opposite, the late Lord Salisbury; and although I am sure noble Lords opposite would admit that they have not themselves always acted on the principle that unless you can show that a particular measure was practically the sole object of thought of the voters at the time of the General Election you had no right to pass it—of course, we could name various instances to the contrary—yet the argument is one to which I suppose a certain degree of force will continue to he attached. What mention was made of the Disestablishment of the Welsh Church by English and Scottish Members in their election addresses I have no idea. I think one right rev. Prelate spoke of the addresses in which Disestablishment was mentioned as being exceedingly few. That may be so. If that is the case I should put it down to the fact that the measure having been before Parliament before and having been adopted as one of the regular, defined objects of the Liberal Party, Members of Parliament who knew that their constituents were not locally interested in the question did not think it necessary to place the entire catalogue of measures before those whose votes they desired to gain.
The second objection which is taken is in one sense the offspring, and a rather newborn offspring, of the other contention—namely, that you have no right to pass a measure of this kind at all unless you are prepared to have a Referendum about it. I am not going to argue the question of the Referendum, upon which, as we know, the noble Lord above the Gangway feels so strongly, but I cannot help being reminded of an observation made, I think, by one of the Labour Members of Parliament the other day in relation to the question of Women's Suffrage, when he pointed out that people who disliked a measure always wished to have a Referen- 1307 dum about it, whereas those who desired to see a Measure passed never did. All that we who are not believers in the Referendum can say is that we do not feel that it is possible to get behind the representative system, and certainly we are not prepared to indulge in what I can only describe as the most separatist course that it is possible for an arguer to take—namely, to examine into the place of origin of the voters in this United Kingdom, which you are determined all of you to keep as a United Kingdom, in the sense of having no devolution admitted; we are not prepared to examine into the place of origin of the particular voters who have supported a measure in order to decide whether their general character and sympathy with ourselves is such as to make it clear that their votes ought to count. The votes in the home counties are, of course, reckoned at their full value, and I daresay some noble Lords would secretly like to reckon them at double their value, but the votes of Irishmen, if they are Nationalists, are not to be allowed to be counted at all in relation to questions effecting a part of this United Kingdom.
We are told that almost the greatest injury that we are by this Bill inflicting upon the Church in Wales—in fact, it is the most obviously candid and deeply entertained opinion of many of the right rev. Prelates—is what is described as its dismemberment; that is to say, its legal separation from the Church of England. It is said that the Church of England and Wales is to be regarded as one and indivisible, and that in attempting to make any division between the two countries we are doing something which we are morally incompetent to do. In fact, if you press that argument to its furthest it will be something of this kind. We an know that the ancient kingdom of Wessex has undergone, as it were, a kind of reincarnation under the wand of a famous writer of the day, and those who object to the provisions of this Bill would, I take it, almost go so far as to say that it would be as unreasonable to disestablish the diocese of Salisbury because it is in Wessex as it is to disestablish these four dioceses which form part of the English Church in Wales. In our view Welsh nationality exists not only by the sentiments eloquently described by the right rev. Prelate the Bishop of Hereford, but also as a hard political fact interpreted in many Statutes by Parlia- 1308 ment. Of course, we entirely appreciate the feelings of the right rev. Prelates from Wales who have given utterance to their thoughts in terms so eloquent and so moving in the course of this debate; but I confess it is hard for us to understand how the existence of the Welsh dioceses or of the Church in Wales can in any way depend upon the legal tie with the Province of Canterbury, however clear that tie may be on historical or on personal grounds; because except in its purely legal aspect and meaning there is no reason, so far as we can see, why it should be severed at all. The noble Viscount, Lord Halifax, who spoke yesterday, described Convocation, from which the four right rev. Prelates are withdrawn by the Bill, as the Synod of the Church in England and to Church in Wales, and he implied that it was a hardship to withdraw those four Prelates from the Synod of their Church. But, my Lords, Convocation has neither the duties nor the privileges of a Synod, and it is a pure misnomer so to describe it. Nobody knows better than the noble Viscount that it has no power of enforcing upon members of the Church of England its will in a large number of matters on which a Synod could enforce it. Therefore it is not accurate to describe it as the Synod of the Church, and it is only because of its purely formal and legal connection with the State that the Disestablishment of the Church in Wales involves the withdrawal from it of the four right rev. Prelates.
The subject of Disestablishment has been discussed at some length during the course of tins debate, and in a manner which I am sure must have profoundly interested the House. Both the most rev. Primates, in the speeches to which we so closely listened, stated the case for the maintenance of the Establishment both here and in Wales with the greatest power and with the greatest moderation. Then we had the striking speech of the right rev. Prelate the Bishop of Oxford, which I am sure impressed deeply even those who did not agree with his conclusion. It cannot have been an easy speech for the right rev. Prelate to make, sitting on those Benches; but I am quite sure that we all recognised that in every sentence of his speech his conscience was speaking. Then the right rev. Prelate the Bishop of Hereford also spoke on Disestablishment, but to him I am afraid it is not so novel an experience 1309 to find himself in isolation amongst his right rev. brethren on those Benches.
I have neither the will nor the power to discuss the matter at any length, but one or two points occur to me which I will venture to mention. It seems to have been assumed by some that the parochial system as such in regard to its maintenance depends on, the existence of an Establishment. Of course, it is quite legitimate to argue, as some have argued on different grounds, that the financial position of the Church would not allow it to maintain its full parochial system. That, of course, is quite a fair argument to use, although I think it may prove to be not a well founded argument. But it is certainly impossible to maintain that the parochial system as such has any connection with the existence of Establishment. As we all know, there is no Church which makes more use, nor very often a finer use, of the parochial system than the Roman Catholic Church, and it would be easy to multiply instances in other parts of the world. But we are asked, after all has been said and done, what is the benefit which the Bill confers on the State in which the Established Church exists? I know, my Lords, what can be said of the advantage to the State of a close connection of the Church; it was my father, I think, who was the author of a phrase which gained some notoriety at the time, when he spoke of "that department of the Civil Service which is called the Church of England." The benefit which accrues to England from having a branch of the Civil Service of that kind has appealed to many people in the past, just as in the same way in the country it has been regarded as a desirable and improving thing for any district that the clergy should be active members of the county bench, that they should take part in the general rural life of the county, so that as the average everyday man walks along the dusty path of life he may have often at his elbow somebody who makes him think of eternal things. That is, I am sure, a highly respectable view, and we all know, and we all have known in our own individual experience, admirable instances of clergy of that kind.
There exist, of course, the two views which have been exemplified in the course of this debate. The tight rev. Prelate the Bishop of Oxford would not, 1310 I think, be prepared to admit, as We can all judge from his speech, that in fact the Stat gets the advantages claimed for it from connection with the Church, and so far as the Church is concerned he does not think that the disabilities in respect of the management of its affairs which are placed upon it through its connection with the State make that connection worth keeping. It is only fair to add that there are others who dread the idea of Disestablishment on entirely different grounds. There are some who are not signally favourable to the existence of the Establishment as it is, but who look forward with a certain degree of nervousness to the existence of a very wealthy and very powerful independent corporation such as the Church of England, if disestablished, would be, even though it were subjected to a certain measure of Disendowment. I noticed that the noble Marquess. Lord Salisbury, who spoke before dinner, put before the House a somewhat singular argument in support of Establishment—namely, that the tendency was in the direction of establishing all forms of religion; and in support of his theory he instanced various disabilities from which Nonconformists had been of late years relieved. That, I confess, seemed to me a somewhat strange argument, because I cannot see how the granting of religious liberty such as is involved by allowing Nonconformists to hold a religious service in a churchyard can be described as in any sense involving the Establishment of that Nonconformist body.
It is quite true that, if the country is convinced by the arguments of the right reverend Bench and by noble Lords opposite that the English Church and the Church in Wales are one and indivisible, if these arguments are good, something like a new lease of life would be given to the Church in Wales, because I will not pretend that if these arguments are held to be good His Majesty's Government would be prepared to-morrow to come down with a Bill involving the Disestablishment of the Church of England as well. I can conceive a Liberationist of the type who, according to the elegant political slang of the day, would be described as a "whole-hogger," not entirely lamenting that fact. He might argue on the ground of what I believe is a familiar trade maxim, that you never ought to crush a weak opposition. I suppose it might be that 1311 such a Liberationist would use the parallel argument that it is not wise to deal with the weakest instance of what you consider an abuse, the weakest, that is to say, from its own standpoint. I do not mean to say if that were so, if it were taken to be a proved truth that you could not disestablish the one Church without the other, that a campaign would be immediately started for the Disestablishment of the Church of England. But I do say this, that many people who have never thought about the subject at all in that light would be tempted to examine with close care and attention the masterly argument put forward by the right rev. Prelate the Bishop of Oxford in that connection.
We have been told that somehow or other the existence of the Establishment goes to help a re-union between the different Churches in Wales. I noticed that the noble Earl on the Cross Benches, Lord Grey, took what I cannot help thinking is a somewhat g sanguine view of the future when he looked forward to such a re-union taking place under the generalship of the noble Marquess, Lord Salisbury. But we have been told—I think it was Lord St. Aldwyn who said it—that the difference of feeling and sentiment between the Established Church and other Churches is really more a social matter than anything else, and that it depends upon a sort of caste feeling, if that is the right word, between the members of the different Churches. I do not know whether that is quite accurate. When you come to think of it, the social differences between two such Nonconformist bodies as the Unitarians and the Primitive Methodists are pretty nearly as wide as those between the Church of England, for example, and such a body as the Unitarians. I do not think, therefore, that the noble Viscount's explanation entirely meets the case, and I think the difference, the deplored difference, that exists between the Establishment and the Nonconformist bodies depends on something deeper than that. The noble Marquess, Lord Lansdowne, asked, as others have asked, Who is injured by the existence of Establishment? Who feels any the worse for it? And I think he mentioned the magnificent and touching celebration at Carnarvon as an instance of how true union of a desirable kind might be brought about for a particular national object between the Church and the Nonconformists. As regards that particular case 1312 that is true, and all of us who know the most rev. Primate would have been absolutely certain that such would be the case. We all know that there is no man of wider mind in this House or out of it. But, after all, the most rev. Primate need not have done it. If there had been an Archbishop of Canterbury of a different type he would have been quite within his rights in confining the religious part of the celebration to the Established Church, and though some might not have thought it the wisest course, nobody would have had any strict right to complain. That being so, I must remind the noble Marquess opposite that to receive a favour of that kind, however gracefully granted, as it was in this instance, is not quite the same thing as being placed on terms of equality and joining by an equal claim in a great national festivity.
The noble Marquess then alluded to the presence of the Welsh Bishops in your Lordships' House. It is no empty compliment or figure of speech to say that if and when they leave this House on all grounds we shall be sorry that they should cease to adorn it. But who knows but that in the future when the noble Marquess opposite brings about his measure of reform of a drastic character depending, as a great many of his supporters I believe desire, largely on election from outside the compatriots of those right rev. Prelates would very likely send them here to adorn these Benches again. The Scottish case has been mentioned in this connection, the case of the kind of re-union which the noble Lord described as likely to take place and indeed as taking place between the Church of Scotland and the Free Church. I do not know that the union of the Churches of Scotland can very reasonably be prayed in aid in this particular connection. After all the doctrines and practices of the different Scottish Churches involved are identical in a much more strict sense than are the doctrines of the Church of England and of some of the Nonconformist bodies. But the Scottish Church goes to work in a somewhat different way. It loses no opportunity, while remaining a respected and popular Establishment, of getting rid on all sides of the control of the State. Some of your Lordships may, perhaps, remember the measure of 1905 called the Churches (Scotland) Bill, which had to do with the allocation of the property of the Free Church on the one side and of 1313 the United Presbyterian Church on the other. In that Bill appeared a clause which gave the Church of Scotland and the other Church involved in the Bid the power of dealing with its own formularies without the consent of Parliament. The fact was duly mentioned in the title, and therefore it properly formed part of the Bill; but the connection between that and the main subject of the Bill was almost as remote as if the clause had been placed in a Bill brought forward by my noble friend behind me dealing with Councils in India. Therefore so long as the Church of England remains, as it does, in a totally different relation to other Churches from that which the Church of Scotland remains in, I do not think it is possible to pray in aid that particular instance.
Then we are told that if you must divest the Church of some of its property why not engage in concurrent endowment? My Lords, a great many people would argue, and I do not know that I might not argue myself in some cases in other parts of the world, that concurrent endowment ought not to be regarded as malum in se, and that if the various people composing the community desire it, it could properly, at any rate, be introduced. But one thing is quite obvious, and has been obvious for many years, and in different relations—namely, that the people of these isles will not have concurrent endowment, and to attempt, therefore, to introduce into this measure an allocation of what, for this purpose, may be called a surplus fund would, so far as I know, satisfy nobody, and the money, as we know, would not be accepted by those to whom it was proferred. I rather console myself with the reflection that, although noble Lords opposite say, "Why do you not introduce a system of concurrent endowment?" if anything of the kind had been done, if the Nonconformist Churches had accepted a single penny of this money to pay off a debt on their buildings, or for the erection of Sunday schools, or for any other thoroughly religious purpose, they would, of course, have been told unanimously by noble Lords opposite, and I may say also by right rev. Prelates, that all their talk about religious equality was the merest fable and pretence, and that all they desired to do was to collar a share of the "swag" in the great robbery which was taking place.
This full House is, as we know, preparing to reject this measure. I am not 1314 going to assume, because I do not believe it, that the refusal of your Lordships to discuss this measure arises out of a kind of pique with the Parliament Act. As I say, I will make no assumption of that kind. Noble Lords opposite must judge for themselves what, from their own point of view, is the best way of putting the case against this Bill before the country. The noble Viscount, Lord Peel, who spoke first alter the dinner adjournment this evening, seemed to fall into the same error which others have often fallen into in assuming that the Bill could not be amended, even though Amendments were made here. That, of course, is not the case. If the Bill is reintroduced it has to be reintroduced in the same form. The object of that is clear, because if an entirely different measure were introduced it would not be fair or reasonable to have it said that the House of Lords had seen it before, and that therefore it was being sent up to them again, merely because it dealt with the same subject. But if a Bill is amended, as your Lordships who have studied the subject well know, at any step, at any of the periods in the life of a Bill, under the Parliament Act Amendments to which both Houses agree can be accepted and added 1;o the Bill. But, as I say, noble Lords opposite must use their own discretion as to the way in which they think it is wisest to put their case before the country. We have never disputed, indeed it is part of the case advanced for the method of acting under the Parliament Act, that if the views of noble Lords are so much accepted by the country that pressure can be brought to bear upon the Government on particular points which may be disliked or condemned that there should be, and ought to be, an amendment of the Bill in those respects, then that could be done. That we have never disputed for a moment. But, of course, if the whole principle of Disestablishment in any sense, and in any form, and under any conditions, is considered by the Party opposite so monstrous and so odious that it ought not to be considered at all, then, of course, there is nothing more to be said.
Many hard things have been said in the course of the discussion, to some extent in this House, though not, I am sure, beyond the bounds of Parliamentary license, on the action of the Government in introducing this Bill. Those of my colleagues who have been specially 1315 attacked for it, as well as my colleagues in another place, are well capable of meeting the charges levelled against them, and they have already done so in respect of this subject, and I have no doubt they will do so again. But when we are told that in introducing this measure we are deliberately inflicting a blow on religion, when we are told we are actuated by nothing but sectarian bitterness, when we are told that we are engaged in the
§ simple confiscation of other people's property, I can only say we are not affected by such observations as those, because we know they are not true.
§ On Question, whether the word "now" shall stand part of the Motion?
§ Their Lordships divided: Contents, 51; Not-Contents, 252.1317
|Haldane, V. (L. Chancellor.)||Sandhurst, L. (L. Chamberlain.)||Inchcape, L.|
|Morley of Blackburn, V. (L. President.)||Aberconway, L.||Loch, L.|
|Airedale, L.||Lucas, L.|
|Crewe, M. (L. Privy Seal.)||Ashby St. Ledgers, L.||MacDonnell, L.|
|Ashton of Hyde, L.||Moulton, L.|
|Breadalbane, M.||Blyth, L.||Pontypridd, L.|
|Lincolnshire, M.||Colebrooke, L.||Reay, L.|
|Courtney of Penwith, L.||Rotherham, L.|
|Chesterfield, E. (L. Steuard.)||Cowdray, L.||St. Davids, L.|
|Beauchamp, E.||Devonport, L.||Save and Sele, L.|
|Craven, E. [Teller.]||Elgin, L. (E. Elgin and Kincardinc.)||Shaw, L.|
|Kimberley, E,||Shuttleworth, L.|
|Russell, E.||Emmott, L.||Southwark, L.|
|Spencer, E.||Eversley, L.||Stanley of Alderley, L. (L. Sheffield.)|
|Allendale, V.||Glantawe, L.||Stanmore, L.|
|Granard, L. (E. Granard.)||Strachie, L.|
|Hereford, L. Bp.||Grimthorpe, L.||Weardale, L.|
|Oxford, L. Bp.||Hemphill, L.||Welby, L.|
|Herschell, L. [Teller.]|
|Canterbury, L. Abp.||Brownlow, E.||Lovelace, E.|
|York, L. Abp.||Cairns, E.||Malmesbury, E.|
|Camperdown, E.||Mansfield, E.|
|Norfolk, D. (E. Marshal.)||Cathcart, E,||Manvers, E.|
|Beaufort, D.||Chichester, E.||Minto, E.|
|Bedford, D.||Clarendon, E.||Morley, E.|
|Devonshire, D. [Teller.]||Cottenham, E.||Morton, E.|
|Leeds, D.||Cromer, E.||Munster, E.|
|Marlborough, D.||Darnley, E.||Northbrook, E.|
|Newcastle, D.||Dartrey, E.||Northesk, E.|
|Portland, D.||Devon, E.||Onslow, E.|
|Richmond and Gordon, D.||Doncaster, E. (D. Buccleuch and Queensberry.)||Orford, E.|
|Rutland, D.||Pembroke and Montgomery, E.|
|Somerset, D.||Eldon, E.||Plymouth, E.|
|Wellington, D.||Essex, E.||Powis, E.|
|Ferrers, E.||Radnor, E.|
|Ailsa, M.||Fitzwilliam, E.||Romney, E.|
|Bath, M.||Fortescue, E.||Rosse, E.|
|Bristol, M.||Graham, E. (D. Montrose.)||Rothes, E.|
|Camden, M.||Grey, E.||Saint Germans, E.|
|Cholmondeley, M.||Guilford, E.||Selborne, E.|
|Dufferin and Ava, M.||Haddington, E.||Shaftesbury, E.|
|Exeter, M.||Halsbury, E.||Stanhope, E.|
|Lansdowne, M.||Harrowby, E.||Stradbroke, E.|
|Normanby, M.||Howe, E.||Strange, E. (D. Atholl.)|
|Salisbury, M.||Ilchester, E.||Vane, E. (M. Londonderry.)|
|Zetland, M.||Innes, E. (D. Roxburghe.)||Verulam, E.|
|Kilmorey, E.||Waldegrave, E.|
|Albemarle, E.||Leicester, E.||Westmeath, E.|
|Amherst, E.||Lichfield, E.||Wharncliffe, E.|
|Ancaster, E.||Lindsey, E.||Wicklow, E.|
|Bathurst, E.||Londesborough, E.||Winchilsea and Nottingham, E.|
|Bridport, V.||Brancepeth, L. (V. Boyne.)||Lovat, L.|
|Chilston, V.||Brodrick, L. (V. Midleton.)||Meldrum, L. (M. Huntly.)|
|Churchill, V. [Teller.]||Burnham, L.||Mendip, L. (V. Clifden.)|
|Colville of Culross, V.||Carew, L.||Merthyr, L.|
|De Vesci, V.||Cheylesmore, L||Methuen, L.|
|Elibank, V.||Clements, L. (E. Leitrim.)||Middleton, L.|
|Falkland, V.||Clifford of Chudleigh, L.||Monckton, L. (V. Galway.)|
|Halifax, V.||Clinton, L.||Monk Bretton, L.|
|Hampden, V.||Clonbrock, L.||Mostyn, L.|
|Hill, V.||Cloneurry, L.||Napier, L.|
|Hood, V.||Colchester, L.||Newton, L.|
|Hutchinson, V. (E. Donoughmore.)||Cottesloe, L||Northbourne, L.|
|Crawshaw, L.||Oriel, L. (V. Massercene.)|
|Iveagh, V.||Dawnay, L. (V. Downe.)||Oranmore and Browne, L.|
|Llandaff, V.||De Mauley, L.||Ormathwaite, L.|
|Peel, V.||De Saumarez, L.||Penrhyn, L.|
|Portman, V.||Desart, L. (E. Desart.)||Playfair, L.|
|St. Aldwyn, V.||Digby, L.||Plunket, L.|
|Templetown, V.||Dynevor, L.||Ponsonby, L. (E. Bessborough.)|
|Bangor, L. Bp.||Ellenborough, L.||Rathdonnell, L.|
|Bath and Wolls, L. Bp.||Elphinstone, L.||Rathmore, L.|
|Carlisle, L. Bp.||Estcourt, L.||Redesdale, L.|
|Gloucester, L. Bp.||Faber, L.||Revelstoke, L.|
|Liverpool, L. Bp.||Farnham, L.||Ribblesdale, L.|
|Llandaff, L. Bp.||Fingall, L. (E. Fingall.)||Ritchie of Dundee, L.|
|London, L. Bp.||Forester, L.||Sackville, L.|
|Peterborough, L. Bp.||Glanusk, L.||St. Audries, L.|
|Rochester, L. Bp.||Grenfell, L.||St. John of Bletso, L.|
|St. Albans, L. Bp.||Grenfell, L.||St. Levan, L.|
|St. Asaph, L. Bp.||Gwydir, L.||St. Oswald, L.|
|St. David's, L. Bp.||Hampton, L.||Sanderson, L.|
|Southwell, L. Bp.||Harlech, L.||Sandys, L.|
|Wakefield, L, Bp.||Harris, L.||Savile, L.|
|Winchester, L. Bp.||Hastings, L.||Seaton, L.|
|Worcester, L. Bp.||Hawke, L.||Sefton, L. (E. Sefton.)|
|Addington, L.||Heneage, L.||Silchester, L. (E. Longford.)|
|Aldenham, L.||Hindlip, L.||Somerhill, L. (M. Clanricarde.)|
|Allerton, L.||Hylton, L.|
|Ampthill, L.||Kenmare, L. (E. Kenmare.)||Somerton, L. (E. Normanton.)|
|Ashbourne, L.||Kenry, L. (E. Dunraven and Mount-Earl.)||Stewart of Garlies, L. (E. Galloway.)|
|Atkinson, L.||Kensington, L.||Sudeley, L.|
|Balfour, L.||Kenyon, L.||Sudley. L. (E. Arran.)|
|Barnard, L.||Kesteven, L.||Suffield, F.|
|Barrymore, L.||Killanin, L.||Tennyson, L.|
|Basing, L.||Kilmaine, L.||Teynham, F.|
|Bateman, L.||Kilmarnock, L. (E. Erroll.)||Torphichen, L.|
|Belper, L.||Kinnaird, L.||Trevor, L.|
|Berwick, L.||Kintore, L. (E. Kintore.)||Vaux of Harrowden, L.|
|Biddulph, L.||Lamington, L.||Vivian, L.|
|Blythswood, L.||Langford, L.||Willoughby de Broke, L.|
|Bolton, L.||Lawrence, L.||Worlingham, L. (E. Gosford).|
|Botreaux, L. (E. Loudoun.)||Leconfield, L.||Wynford, L.|
|Bowes, L. (E. Strathmore and Kinghorn.)||Leith of Fyvie, L.||Zouche of Haryngworth, L.|
§ Resolved in the negative accordingly, and Bill to be read 2— this day three months.