HL Deb 15 August 1919 vol 36 cc951-73

Order of the Day for the House to be put into Committee, read.

Moved, That the House do now resolve itself into Committee.—(Viscount Peel.)

On Question, Motion agreed to.

House in Committee accordingly.

[The EARL OF KINTORE in the Chair.]

Clauses 1 to 3 agreed to.

Clause 4:

Further provisions as to welsh ecclesiastical property.

4.—(1) The Welsh Commissioners may postpone the transfer under the Welsh Church Act, 1914, of any property vested in them to any person or body of persons, whether corporate or unincorporate, other than the representative body and such person or body of persons shall not be bound to accept the transfer of any such property until the Secretary of State so directs; and so long as any tithe rentcharge which was previously attached to a benefice remains vested in the Welsh Commissioners, the Welsh Commissioners shall be deemed to be the owners of a tithe rentcharge attached to a benefice for the purposes of the Tithe Rentcharge (Bates) Act, 1899.

(2) If the Welsh Commissioners so agree with the representative body it shall be lawful for the Welsh Commissioners to buy and for the representative body to sell to them any of the tithe rent charge transferred to the representative body under the Welsh Church Act, 1914, at a price to be ascertained by the same method as that prescribed by the Tithe Act, 1918, for the payment of compensation for the redemption of tithe rentcharge; and the Welsh Commissioners may determine out of what part of the funds vested in them the purchase money payable for any such tithe rentcharge is to be paid and the tithe rentcharge when purchased shall be dealt with by the Welsh Commissioners in like manner as if it had been derived from the same source as the purchase money:

Provided that if the tithe rentcharge at the time of sale is subject to any existing interest it shall be discharged from that interest, and the representative body shall be liable to pay to the person entitled to the existing interest., so long as that interest would have continued, an annuity equal to the annual value of his interest therein ascertained in manner provided by the Fifth Schedule to the Welsh Church Act, 1914, and this Act.

(3) There shall be included in the property which the Welsh Commissioners are required by subsection (1) of section eight of the Welsh Church Act, 1914, to transfer to the representative body any tithe rentcharge derived from sources other than endowments of any ecclesiastical office or cathedral corporation in the Church in Wales, and not being Welsh ecclesiastical property, which has been appropriated since the year sixteen hundred and sixty-two to benefices in Wales and Monmouthshire,

LORD DYNEVOR moved, in subsection (3), after "transfer to the representative body," to insert "(a)," and at the end of the subsection to insert "and (b) all burial grounds." The noble Lord said: In moving these Amendments I would point out that their object is to save to the Church in Wales the ancient churchyards. These Amendment which I propose to take together as being the more convenient course—would place the ancient churchyards under the care of the Representative Church Body, and not, as they are under the original Act, under the care of the local authorities. All the existing burial rights are preserved. The reason, I believe, why the original Act took the ancient churchyards away front the Church was because in just a very few cases the incumbent had behaved foolishly and had ridden a rather high horse in regard to his rights over the churchyard. The cases, however, were really very few, and it is a drastic thing to put the whole of the ancient churchyards under the care of the local authorities. I cannot think of anything that is more likely to cause friction in the future. It would always be a matter of soreness with the members of the Church, and it would always rankle. I am not at all certain that the local authorities would give the necessary care to the maintenance of the ancient churchyards, especially when it came to raising a rate for their maintenance, and assuredly the local authorities would have to raise rates for their maintenance. The way to avoid friction in the future is to let the Church Representative Body have the control of these ancient churchyards in the same way they have, under the Act, the control of all the modern churchyards—that is, those churchyards that have been given to the church since 1662. The people who have boon put on the Church Representative Body are men of very wide experience and wide minded, and if any difficulties arose in the future I am quite sure that those representatives would put the matter straight at once and that there would be no difficulties in the future. In the past there have only been very few, and therefore I think in the future there would be none at all.

Amendments moved— Page 3, line 35, after ("body") insert ("a") line 10, at end insert ("and (b) all burial grounds").—(Lord Dynevor.)


The noble Lord opposite has referred to the possibility, if his Amendment is not accepted, of friction ensuing. I ant not going back to the past in regard to the history of this question, but on both sides those acquainted with that history will know that in the past there have been many difficulties and painful episodes in connection with this matter. All I wish to impress upon the Government from my standpoint is that this matter has been gone into very carefully quite recently by representatives of both sides, and, as was announced in the other House by Mr. Bonar Law, every effort has been made in order to reach what might be deemed a satisfactory understanding on the point. These efforts have failed, and, in my judgment, so far from avoiding friction and difficulty in the future, the passing of this Amendment would be the cause of further difficulty and friction. Upon these grounds, and in view of the fact that every effort has been made to settle the matter, I think the wisest and best course would be to let the understanding remain.


The two speeches we have just heard illustrate, I think, the difficulty that the Government is placed in by a proposition of this kind, because my noble friend opposite says that if the churchyards are left as they are and not banded over to the Representative Body there will be friction and trouble in the future, and my noble friend behind me says exactly the opposite, and that if a change is made there will also be friction and trouble. The position of the Government on this matter is really a very simple one. My noble friend knows that the greater number of the provisions of this Bill were arrived at after long and careful negotiations between the Welsh Members, the representatives of the Welsh Church, and the Government's representatives. This Bill therefore represents general agreement.


They do not appear to have had all the facts before them.


I was not present at these conferences, and I really do not know. I should think if you have a number of Welsh Members and Welsh Bishops and representatives of the Government, that would be sufficient to ensure that all the facts were brought before them. I do not know if the noble Lord knows of any facts that were hidden or suppressed or not brought before them. I know the view the noble Marquess takes of the intelligence of the Welsh Bishops, which I do not share. These matters were discussed at great length, and I believe an arrangement was very nearly being arrived at on this question of the burial grounds, but unfortunately the negotiations finally broke down. No agreement has, therefore, been arranged, and the Government's position is that they can hardly accept an Amendment of this kind, which is outside the agreement, because it may upset the whole agreement which has already been arrived at. They cannot accept Amendments from one side or the other which would vary or alter the agreement. They could only accept Amendments which were the result of general agreement. Therefore, with great reluctance I am compelled on behalf of the Government to refuse to accept the Amendment moved by my noble friend opposite.


We met representatives of the Government on several occasions. An Amendment was put forward to place all the churchyards belonging to the Church, both ancient and modern, under the control of a joint committee of equal numbers, the chairman to be appointed by the Home Secretary. That arrangement, however, was not carried through. I think my noble friend will bear me out that the attempt to get it through has certainly had a very good effect upon the situation, and I look forward with hopefulness to these difficulties being solved.


It is a difficult position in which your Lordships find yourselves. If I may refer to the speech of the noble Lord who spoke second, I understood him to say that there had been hopes of a satisfactory arrangement being arrived at by the different parties to this painful controversy when the Bill was going through its stages in another place.


I did not intend to convey that. There was no question of hope or otherwise expressed. I only referred to the fact that this conference had taken place, and that every possible avenue of settlement had been explored and had failed. In the circumstances I thought it was wisest to let the matter remain as it is.


I think the noble Lord used the words "satisfactory settlement"; at all events I understood him to do so, and I am going to point out that that rather implies—though perhaps he did not intend it—that the settlement which we find in existence is a satisfactory settlement. This question has not been before the House of Commons in the form of an Amendment. I am open to correction, but there was, as the Right Rev. Prelate has just stated, an Amendment on this subject down on the Order Paper of the House of Commons. When it was reached the Home Secretary asked that the Amendment be not pressed because there was a hope of a settlement being reached, and the Amendment was not pressed in the hope of a settlement. That settlement broke down, as we have just heard. Therefore the House of Commons has never yet on this Bill debated this question. It is perfectly true that another House of Commons debated this question, but I submit to your Lordships that it is not easy for us to rest with the rather easy assurance which is given by the right rev. Prelate that he hopes that in due course this matter will be settled. Settled how? By the introduction of another Bill? The right rev. Prelate shakes his head. How can a matter like this, which depends entirely on Statute, be settled by some local agreement? I suggest that it is not possible.

What are the merits of the case as we see it? Ancient churchyards have been in the custody of the Church in Wales throughout fifteen centuries, and against that custody is placed the assertion that in a certain number of cases there has been friction. I would venture to think they were comparatively few cases. The noble Lord who spoke second might think they were more numerous, but I am sure he would not say that in all of those cases there has been friction owing to the unwisdom of the local incumbent—sometimes owing to the unwisdom of the incumbent, and sometimes also owing to the aggression of those who had severed their connection with the Church of England. It is an extraordinarily strong step to take these churchyards away from the Church and to put them in the hands of the local authority, a purely secular body, dependent on the ratepayers, without any religious obligation whatever, except the individual religious obligation of members composing the local authority, and to take them away just at the moment when, by its action in Wales, the Church in Wales has shown with what wisdom and moderation it has composed its Representative Bodies.

If you do not insert this Amendment you are closing for ever, so far as the Statute Law of the Realm goes, not only the possibility of the Church retaining control of these churchyards which she has controlled, I venture to say, wisely and reverently for fifteen hundred years; but also the chance of having any share in the management, because the right rev. Prelate has told us that he does not look to any other amending Bill in the future. Therefore, I do submit that the case for putting in this Amendment, which, for the reason I have given, was never discussed in the House of Commons, is a very strong one. If it is carried and it becomes law, I have the greatest confidence that in the years to come no complaints will arise from those of our fellow-countrymen in Wales, who, unfortunately, from my point of view, have left the ministrations of the Mother Church, but they will admit the true reverence and broad-minded wisdom with which the Church Representative Body has carried out the great trust imposed upon it.


I feel that it may be a little, I will not say presumptuous, but out of place for me to deal with the details of the matter, because my knowledge of the real working of the question in Wales, either in the past or what may be expected in the future, is very small. But I do think that the whole precedents of the working of the system whereby the Church retains control of the churchyards, though full freedom is allowed to other bodies, are all in favour of such a course as the Amendment of the noble Lord suggests. We go back nearly forty years to the legislation of 1880. I was then in a minority. I was not in this House of course, but I happened to be concerned in a subordinate capacity a good deal with the arrangements that were taking place both in this House and outside it. I remember the apprehensions aroused when the Burials Act of 1880 was passed—that if you left anything which should give to the authorities of the Church control over churchyards to which Nonconformists also were to have access, there would be all kinds of difficulties. The matter was met by the noble and learned Lord then on the Woolsack, the father of the noble Earl opposite, with a conclusive argument, and the then Archbishop of Canterbury supported the proposals of the Bill in the teeth of a great deal of apprehension which was then expressed as to the un workableness of it.

So far as I am aware, there is absolutely no body of opinion in England or Wales which will now say that what was then done was wrong. We are now trying to do very largely what was then done. I believe that nothing but good will ensue if, as the noble Earl said, we were to leave this matter to those on whom the responsibility has rested for centuries past. There is much evidence that they would invite co-operation from others in the practical working of it. The principle underlying the Amendment proposed by Lord Dynevor is one that I should like to support in the strongest way. What may be the action of the Government in the matter we must consider when that action is taken. I feel that the principle which the noble Lord has enunciated is one of high importance, and I believe that all precedents tend to show that it will work extremely well in practice.


My Lords, I want to say a word about the speech of the noble Earl, Lord Selborne. It has always struck me, in the case of Wales, that you have got to consider the population from the point of view of things that have happened there in the past. The noble Earl, in the course of his speech, very frankly used the term "Church of England and those who had left it." As far as I have been able to understand, that has been the trouble in Wales. The question is, what is the Church of Wales? Many changes have taken place in the course of the history of the country and the result is the varied population which we have before us now.

I really cannot see on what ground of logic or of justice it is possible to support this Amendment. It is all very well to speak of secularising graveyards. From the point of view of the Church to which I belong, such a thing as the secularisation of graveyards is one to which we object very strongly. Knowing Wales well, as I do, and I think the right rev. Prelate will bear me out, I say tat public life in Wales cannot be said to be a secular thing at all. Wales is, in a very peculiar sense, a religious country, and under whatever body the graveyards are placed in Wales, secularisation is not a term that can be applied to them. From the point of view of one who knows the country and who has studied the history of the country, I must oppose this Amendment.


My Lords, the noble Lord who has just sat down has spoken, in terms with which I would not quarrel for a moment, of the strong religious character of the people in Wales. That I believe to be absolutely true, and it is a matter for which we ought to be profoundly thankful. But here is no suggestion of allowing these churchyards to be managed by other religious bodies in Wales. I would not, of course, be prepared to accept such a solution, though there would be something to be said for the noble Lord's argument if that had been the proposal. As the Act of 1914 stands, if no modification is introduced into it, these churchyards will be managed by a secular body—the parish council.

Let the noble Lord try and place himself if he will, and he is a liberal-minded man, in the position of Churchmen, whether in England or in Wales. Here are these churchyards, hallowed by every memory and every sacred feeling aroused when we walk across them. For centuries they have been the loving care of the religious body to which we belong. Henceforward they are to be handed over to the parish councils. We do not know how they will treat them. We can fancy the churchyards of the future right up to the door of the church, probably neglected, overgrown, ignored; and here we are ready ourselves to look after them as we have always done, not only in the interests of the Church but in the interests of all people, to whatever denomination they belong.

No doubt there have been scandals in the past, and Lord Clwyd will believe me when I say that no one more profoundly disapproves of the scandals than I do. All we ask is that the churchyards should be left. I am certain nobody on the Government Bench would wish it otherwise, and I am sure the noble Viscount in charge of the Bill in his heart would intensely desire that the churchyards should be left to the Church. Why then are they not? In the past every one of the noble Lords opposite have pleaded for it; and when we are giving up so much something might be given to us in return; especially as it was shown absolutely conclusively last night that the Church would have enjoyed all the money she is to get under this Bill even if the Bill had not been passed at all.

We ask that the churchyards should be left, and that the House of Commons should have an opportunity of reconsidering the point. We do not put it higher than that. I ask the Government, confidently, to allow this Amendment to go into the Bill so that the House of Commons may have an opportunity of considering it again. My noble friend Lord Selborne reminds me that, owing to the circumstances of the case, no blame is attached to any one; the House of Commons have never considered this point. There were certain negotiations I know. I profoundly loathe the word "negotiations" now—all sorts of things are given away in negotiations, and, generally speaking, it is the things that I care about which are given away. It so happens that our opponents are more persistent, or more courageous, than ourselves. I hope the Government will allow this Amendment to go into the Bill and thus give the House of Commons an opportunity of considering it.


May I be allowed to say one word more? The noble Marquess has raised a personal question, and if I had been at this conference myself I should have most vigorously fought for handing the churchyards over to the Representative Body. But this is not a personal question. It is a matter of general agreement. I only want to say 'two things. The first is, that I made clear the position of the Government, that they could not assent to the change proposed unless an agreement had been arrived at between the Welsh Members and the Welsh Bishops sitting in conference with the Government. I have listened carefully to the debate and I have not heard, even from the right rev. Prelate, The Bishop of Asaph, any statement indicating that if further negotiations went on there was much likelihood of some arrangement being arrived at.

The second point is with regard to the statement that the House of Commons never really did have an opportunity of deciding this question. I think they had an opportunity on the Report stage, because they could have pressed the matter then. They were told by the Government that no agreement had been arrived at between the parties to the issue, and that the Government, unless an agreement was arrived at, would be unable to accept such an agreement. The House of Commons, had they chosen, could have forced the issue. If the Amendment goes down to them they will hear again that no agreement has been arrived at, and will receive the same advice from the Government. I understand the noble Lord intends to press the Amendment but I can only repeat that, if your Lordships are successful, the Government will have to adopt the same position again in another place. They could not stand neutral; they could not let the House of Commons take its own view, and would be obliged to reaffirm the decision, that, an agreement not having been arrived at, they would be compelled to refuse the Amendment. That is the exact position and, therefore, your Lordships must take what course you think best.

On Question, Amendment agreed to.

Clause 4, as amended, agreed to.

Clauses 5 to 7 agreed to.

Clause 8:

Saving for divided parishes.

8. No parish situated in Wales or Monmouthshire and which is in an English diocese shall be deprived of the right of self-determination granted to border parishes by section nine, subsection (1), of the Welsh Church Act, 1914, by reason of its having been separated or divided off from a larger parish, situated partly in England and partly in Wales and Monmouthshire, if such separation has taken place subsequently to the year eighteen hundred and fifty.


The first Amendment on this clause is purely drafting. The words as they appear in the Bill, I am advised, mean nothing at all, and the Amendment carries out the intention of the clause.

Amendment moved— Page 5, line 7, leave out from the beginning to the first ("of") in line 10, and insert ("Where an ecclesiastical parish which before the year eighteen hundred and fifty was situate partly in Wales or Monmouthshire and partly in England has since that year been divided into two ecclesiastical parishes, one of winch is situate wholly in Wales or Monmouthshire, and one wholly in England, and both those parishes are situated in an English diocese, then subsections (1) and (3) of section nine"),—(Viscount Peel.)

On Question, Amendment agreed to.


The next Amendment is also a drafting one.

Amendment moved— Page 5, line 10, leave out from ("1914") to the end of the clause, and insert ("(which relates to border parishes) shall apply to the ecclesiastical perish so situate wholly in Wales or Monmouthshire in like manner as if part thereof were situate in England").—(Viscount Peel.)

On Question, Amendment agreed to.

Clause 8, as amended, agreed to.

LORD PHILLIMORE had on the Paper an Amendment, after Clause 8, to insert the following new clause: Subsection (5) of clause 3 of the Welsh Church Act, 1914, is hereby repealed, and in lieu thereof it is enacted as follows:— It shall be lawful for the representative Church body acting on behalf of the Bishops and Clergy of the Church in Wales to request the Archbishop of Canterbury to be relieved from attendance in the Convocation of the Province and thereupon the Archbishop may relieve them from attendance, and so long as such request is not withdrawn it shall not be necessary for the Archbishop when summoning Convocation in obedience to the royal writ to include in his citation the several Bishops and Clergy of the Church in Wales.

The noble and learned Lord said: The primary object of my Amendment is to get rid of a subsection in the original Act, which is as follows— As from the date of Disestablishment the bishops and clergy of the Church in Wales shall cease to be members of or be represented in the Houses of Convocation of the Province of Canterbury, but nothing in this Act shall affect the powers of those Houses so far as they relate to matters outside Wales and Monmouthshire. From the time this subsection was enacted it has given great offence and been the occasion of much soreness of feeling. There have been times when I shared that soreness and when I thought that this subsection was put in the Act by the then majority of the House of Commons—your Lordships are guiltless of any responsibility in respect of it—out of pure arrogance and outre cuidance, as it were, a deter mination to stamp upon Church feeling; but reflection, and perhaps increasing age, has led me to suppose that a more charitable construction might be put upon the clause, and that it really represents a kind of meticulousness on the part of the Law Officers of the Crown, and, if I may say so, a certain clumsiness of thought and expression.

Convocation has, of course, two aspects. It is a body with a secular position and secular authority, and therefore liable to secular control. It can pass, with a license from the Crown and subsequent assent under the Great Seal, canons which will have within their limited sphere the force of law. It has still, though it is suspended since the time of Charles II, a power of taxation, and it has a specially authorised power of representation to the Crown in certain ecclesiastical matters. It is a body assembled by the King's Writ, addressed to the Archbishop, and it has therefore a side or form in which it is desirable and possible that Parliament, on such catastrophes happening as this Welsh Church Act, should deal with it. On the other hand Convocation is, as one of those canons which have the force of law says, the sacred synod of the province, and to say of the sacred synod of the province that it should be composed in this way or that, by the introduction or omission of certain bishops and clergy of certain dioceses, is nothing but an outrage upon the feelings of many Church people.

Ecclesiastical jurisdiction is a plant of tender growth, and if you touch it from outside you immediately create cases of conscience and impose a burden upon many honest and religious people. The clause is quite unnecessary in the form which it takes, and I invite your Lordships to take this opportunity of modifying it. It has been suggested to me, from more than one quarter, that it would be enough simply to repeal this subsection, and there is a good deal to be said for that, but I think it would leave the Crown lawyers and possibly the Archbishop in a certain amount of difficulty. We know that it is under consideration to establish a separate province for the Church in Wales, and as far as my humble opinion goes that might be a very desirable thing. I apprehend that without the consent of the Metropolitan, the Archbishop of Canterbury, such a thing could not legally be done according to Church law, but that with that consent, which I dare say would be fully and freely given, for the Welsh Church to establish itself as a separate province might be a very desirable thing.

As I am upon this matter, may I make a suggestion which is perhaps not quite germane to my Amendment, but which, as one who has given much study to this question during now a very long life, I should like to have an opportunity of ventilating. It is quite possible to have an ecclesiastical unit higher than a province. The Metropolitan, sometimes called the Archbishop, I take it presides over the province, but you may have an ecclesiastical unit higher than that presided over by a Primate. The Archbishop of Canterbury is Primate of all England, and the Archbishop of York Primate of England. They are Primates with only one province under them, but there are instances in Church history, and living instances, where provinces are grouped into larger units under a superior Archbishop, who may be very properly called a Primate. In the south of France, under the old Constitution before the Concordat arranged by Napoleon, such things were not unknown. The Archbishop of Bordeaux was Metropolitan of his province, but was subject to the Archbishop of Bourges, who was Primate of his province and also of Bordeaux, and there was an appeal from the Court of the Bishop to the Court of the Archbishop of Bordeaux, and from the Court of the Archbishop of Bordeaux to the Court of the Archbishop of Bourges. In the same way I think the Archbishop of Aix was a Primate over several provinces. At this moment in Canada and Australia the Colonial Church has adopted an equally convenient arrangement. There are several provinces in Canada, but they all meet in one general Synod over which one of the Metropolitans, chosen for this purpose, presides, and in Australia, where it is desirable to combine recognition of State rights and to let each of the Colonies have their own province and Metropolitan, it is still felt desirable to unite the whole Church of Australia under one Archbishop who presides over the whole body.

I hope if the Church in Wales takes this step of forming itself into a province it will still recognise the primacy of the Archbishop of Canterbury, or that if he is asked to part with any rights it will only be such as are necessary for their being a separate province. At the moment there is nothing in the Welsh Church Act separating the Welsh Bishops or Church from the Province of Canterbury, for which one may be thankful, but there is this provision separating them from the Convocation. It has been pointed out to me by a high authority that under the terms of the King's Writ, which I had not before me at the moment when drawing this Amendment, if they cease to be part of the province the Archbishop will not be bound to summon them, because the King's Writ does not dictate to the Archbishop who is in his province or what dioceses, but only desires him to summon the Bishops and clergy of his province. If, therefore, the Welsh Church should become a separate province this clause would be absolutely unnecessary, and might be simply repealed, but as they have not yet become a separate province, and as it is not certain, but most probable, that they will, I suggest that my Amendment had better stand and that it should proceed, after repealing the subsection, something in the language which I have proposed.

I venture to make two corrections in my proposed new clause which perhaps the noble Viscount will pardon me for making, considering the hurry in which this has necessarily been drawn up. The Lord Bishop of St. David's has informed me that the right word should not be "representative" Church body for this purpose, but the "governing" Church body. If that be so I propose to insert the word "governing" instead of "representative." I had also made this a kind of temporary provision. I had left it that as long as the Bishops requested not to be summoned, they should not be summoned, but I did that rather against my own feeling, and it has been pointed out to me that it would be very unwise to leave the matter in a state of suspense, and that the Bishops and Clergy of the Church in Wales had better go out of the Convocation of Canterbury once and for all, particularly as they might almost be embraced in the larger unit which I have suggested under a Primacy. Therefore I would cancel the words "so long as such request is not withdrawn." My Amendment would then read as follows— It shall be lawful for the governing Church body acting on behalf of the Bishops and Clergy of the Church in Wales to request the Archbishop of Canterbury to be relieved from attendance in the Convocation of the Province and thereupon the Archbishop may relieve them from attendance, and it shall not be necessary for the Archbishop when summoning Convocation in obedience to the royal writ to include in his citation the several Bishops and Clergy of the Church in Wales. If that Amendment is carried all that, as I venture to suggest, is arrogantly and clumsily expressed in the original Act of Parliament will be attained, and at the same time the position of the Church as a spiritual body will be preserved.

It is possible, and indeed even likely, that this Amendment might be very greatly improved. I had to prepare it at very short notice. I can conceive another form in which it might be put. "If the Bishops and Clergy of the Church in Wales shall, with the consent of the Archbishop of Canterbury, form themselves into a new province, then it shall not be necessary for the Archbishop to summon them." I can conceive an Amendment somewhat of that kind, and if anyone proposes it now or hereafter, I shall be only too glad to submit to it. I will not weary your Lordships with details. I think that my clause is a workable one, and I do not think it will injure any feeling that ought to be considered, or any interest that ought to be considered. I cannot conceive it mattering two straws to any Nonconformist, and I cannot conceive it mattering to the Government, how this is expressed so long as it is effectually expressed; while on the other hand it will certainly recognise, as I feel sure your lordships would wish to recognise, the spiritual life of the Church. Therefore I commend it to your Lordships' notice.

Amendment moved— After Clause 8, insert the said new clause—(Lord Phillimore.)


This is a really important matter, rather perhaps constitutional than practical, but it is, I think, very fortunate that an occasion has arisen for raising the points which the noble and learned Lord, Lord Phillimore, has so clearly and cogently put before your Lordships. The matter is not obviously part of what was within the original purview of this particular Bill, but it does give an opportunity for doing what I regard as most desirable, and I very cordially support the Amendment which the noble and learned Lord has moved. I wish to say a few words about it both on its constitutional and on its practical side.

As regards the constitutional question, there is no doubt at all that there is a very widespread and strong feeling among Churchmen both in England and in Wales as to the proceedings—the high-handed proceedings—which Parliament took in putting in this particular clause in the teeth of the objection which we expressed to it in the Act of 1914, and it was with a view to the reconsideration of that that the Select Committee of this House was appointed in June, 1914. They put in the forefront of their reference this very point. The reference was this— That a Select Committee be appointed to enquire and report whether the constitution of the Convocation of the Church of England has ever been altered by Act of Parliament without the assent and against, the protest of Convocation. That reference led to the calling of a considerable amount of expert evidence before the Select Committee as to the constitutional bearing of this matter, and if any of your Lordships will be at the trouble to look at the evidence there given, there will be, I think, no doubt whatever in your minds that had that Committee been able to make a Report it must have stated quite specifically that there was no precedent whatever for the action which Parliament had at that moment provisionally taken. I dealt with it myself at some length, and with very considerable care, investigating the references and the authorities, and I may read a single sentence, namely— My point is that if you say the wishes of Convocation have been often protected or overridden by the action of Parliament, that does not cover the ground. Of course that has constantly happened. Parliament can do as it likes, but that is totally different from altering the constitution of Convocation. I do not say that there is anything that Parliament cannot do, but to alter the constitution of the body is absolutely without precedent and those facts as to overriding its wishes in other matters will be no precedent for the alteration of its constitution, least of all for the alteration of its constitution in the teeth of its own protest. That was what I myself said. But what was much weightier than that was the evidence, of the high constitutional authorities who were unanimous in saying that there was no precedent for the action Parliament was taking in acting contrary to Convocation's own wish, and in reconstituting Convocation according to act of Parliament. I do not want to assume any undue or almost ludicrous authority for Convocation, but it is older than Parliament, and goes back before the con stitution either of the House of Commons or of the House of Lords. That Parliament should say in a light and easy way—I am not pressing the point to a fantastic degree—" We propose to alter the constitution "is a thing which is absolutely without precedent.

As has been already said by the noble and learned Lord, I cannot conceive who are the people who would be likely to take any exception to this change. It cannot be supposed for a moment that there is a desire on the part of Nonconformists in Wales or England that something should be done unnecessarily to hamper the freedom of action of the Church in England or Wales as regards its own religious gatherings and its own relations to fellow Churchmen on the other side of the Border. If a Constitutional question is raised as to the exact position of a non-established body which desires to have membership in the Convocation then it will be for the two bodies themselves in England and Wales to settle what they themselves desire to do. I venture to think that the initiative ought on every possible precedent and for every reason to come from them in the matter. Therefore, without fear or doubt, I claim that we have a right to ask that the constitutional wrong which was, I think, perpetrated when that clause was passed should be set right by the matter being placed in the position in which the noble and learned Lord's amendment would place it.

Having said that, I want to say that the question is really a constitutional rather than a practical one, because as a matter of practical fact the thing which the Act of Parliament would desire to bring about, though in an erroneous way, is as far as we can at present judge practically certain to be brought about without any interference of Parliament. At this moment I have been for some time in communication with the bishops and others in the Welsh portion of what is now the Province of Canterbury as to what is to happen after Disestablishment, and, as the matter is causing very wide interest, I venture to ask your Lordships to allow me to read to the House a formal letter which I wrote, which has received some little publicity, but very little, but which is really of very wide general interest in the Church, and is entirely germane to what we are now discussing. It is a letter to the Bishop of St. Asaph, written on May 24. The letter is as follows—

My dear Bishop of St. ASAPH,

I have received your very important letter in which, as Chairman of the Governing Body of the Church of England in Wales, you ask for my counsel respecting the future relation of the four Welsh Dioceses to the rest of our present Province of Canterbury. You are aware that I have continuously on behalf of our English Bishops pressed upon you and your Welsh Brethren in the Episcopate the assurance of our simple wish to be guided by your wishes and the wishes of the Church in Wales as regards the relation of the Church in Wales after Disestablishment to the Province of Canterbury and its Convocation. We have learnt to value the presence of our four Welsh brethren so highly that the loss to us would be very great if or when they leave our Convocation House, and I am certain that the same feeling is entertained in the Lower House. I have protested publicly and privately against the proposed statutory enactment interfering, without any consultation with us, with the existing Constitution of Convocation. I have pointed out in my evidence before the Select Committee of 1914 and elsewhere the wrongness of such Parliamentary action and its unconstitutional character.

On the other hand, if, as seems now to be the case, the disestablishment of the four Dioceses must unhappily be regarded as a fait accompli to take effect after the war, we have to consider what ought in future to be the position of your four Dioceses. I have, as I think you know, taken counsel on the subject with most of our English Bishops, as well as with all the Welsh Bishops, and I am prepared to say that I have the support of, at the very least, the great majority of them in expressing my deliberate opinion that it will conduce to the happy and orderly working of the whole Church in England and Wales if by our own joint action a separate Province be formed for Wales: indeed, I cannot help fearing that sinless this be done there is some danger of confusion, and even chaos, in the arrangements for the future. We shall hope in every possible way to retain the close followship in thought and action which has subsisted between the Bishops in the English and the Welsh Dioceses: but constitutionally the formation of a new Province will, as I believe, be essential to due orderliness and smoothness of working.

If I had reason to believe that this advice ran counter to the deliberate opinion of the bishops, clergy, and laymen who have been devising a new Constitution for the Church in Wales I should feel more hesitation than I do in giving you the advice which I here tender. Most gladly will I confer with you and with your colleagues in the Welsh Sees if you so desire. But the power and the resource which have been shown by the Welsh Church in the construction of its new arrangements seem to make it improbable that if once your decision be adopted you will be in need of any help at our hands. Whatever we can do with you and for you at this juncture in our history is wholly at your service, and I repeat that we are not going to allow the legal severance of some of the formal bonds which at present unite us to impair in the smallest degree the fellowship of the deeper kind which will continue to unite us in things spiritual.

I am, yours very truly,


I apologise for troubling your Lordships with that letter. It really is important in the Church's view that the matter should be understood as it stands to-day. Therefore it makes it the more natural that such an Amendment as the noble and learned Lord proposes should not be objected to or thrown out. It is not effecting any change which is not otherwise likely to be brought about, but it is making the whole procedure move in a constitutional way instead of an unconstitutional way, and it is, from the Churchman's point of view, safeguarding the privileges and the rights of the most ancient deliberative body in this country. I have reason to believe that all is likely to go forward in the direction of producing the result which is here aimed at, and I venture to hope that this Amendment will be carried, because I think it will smooth away certain constitutional difficulties which have arisen. It would smooth certain ruffled, and not unnaturally ruffled, feelings on the part of Churchmen who are deeply interested in this constitutional question, and I can conceive no one to whom the passing of that Amendment could do the slightest harm, or who could legitimately take exception to its operation.


The noble Marquess was quite right when he kindly assumed that I am of a liberal mind, and I always try to put myself in the position of other people. The difficulty in this case has been all along the number of people with whom you have to put, yourself in sympathy when you come to deal with Wales. But on this particular question I had intended to speak strongly against the Amendment, and I want your Lordships to bear in mind the reason, though I do not press it now as an argument exactly. All through the history of the Church in Wales, not merely since the Reformation (and there is a good deal of conflict about the time of the Reformation—a great many Welshmen did not accept it) all through history since the Normano-Saxon invasion the Church in Wales has not always been the Church of the People but it has always been governed from abroad.

The noble Viscount in charge of the Bill used the expression "extreme provincial feeling." What he calls provincialism we call nationalism, and there is a great deal of difference between them. The thought I had in my mind when I first read this Amendment was this. I have had a good deal of experience in dealing with ecclesias- tics in my own church, among other places, and I have come to the conclusion that when you are up against a principle of such a kind that the ecclesiastical body cannot in decency yield you have to treat it as you would treat traditionally a small boy when you want to teach him to swim—throw him into the water and see how he will get on, because he will probably find a way out. I was going to act upon that principle, but as the question is put now, and after the discussion we had the other day over the Enabling Bill, when I was glad to do what I could to help it, I certainly think there is reasonable ground for allowing this thing to work out or: ecclesiastical lines.

It is not really a matter which will interest the Nonconformists in Wales. You will not get them to protest one way or the other. I am saying this because I feel that at the bottom of their hearts my Welsh friends will agree with me that the strength of the Church in Wales in the future may lie in its having a chance for the first time in its history of being a thoroughly Welsh Church. I have a sort of feeling that, realising this, they will make use to the full of the powers which are given to them in the Amendment which is now proposed. For that reason I support the Amendment.


Possibly my noble and learned friend who moved this Amendment will discharge me from the duty of dealing with the charges of outre cuidance and arrogance which he brought against the draftsman of the Bill. I have never heard the crime of outre cuidance very carefully defined, and I need not say very much upon this Amendment, because the most rev Primate has dealt with it far more fully than I am capable of doing. I wish to lay stress on only one point. He did state that really the question was not one of very great practical importance, because I understand that the Church in Wales has intended to form itself into a separate province. If it does that there is really no need to give it the power not to attend Convocation any longer, because apparently it cannot be called upon to do so, as, in the terms of summons to Convocation, the words are— At all convenient speed in lawful manner to call together all and singular the Bishops of your Province. I suppose it is clear that, if the Bishops are not "of your Province," you cannot under this Writ call them together.


Hear, hear.


I was not sure what meaning my noble friend attributed to it. He said that the Archbishops would not be bound to call them together, suggesting rather that he might call them together. I was advised that he could only do what he was entitled to do under the Writ of Summons, and that therefore he could not call them together.


May I say that we are dealing with two different things. If the Welsh Church ceases to be part of the Province the matter is simple. All that is then necessary is to repeal the offensive subsection which compels people to do that which they may do but which they ought not to be compelled to do. But if they are still part of the Province, then the Archbishop would have to summon them all. If they are not part of the Province he cannot summon them.


I really think that the noble and learned Lord agrees with the statement I was putting forward


Hear, hear.


On the assumption that they are going to form themselves into a separate Province and cannot be summoned to Convocation, the question then really has no practical importance—I lay stress on the word "practical." I am not sure how the Amendment as altered—


I have altered the word "representative" into "governing," because I understand that is correct.


But the words "the Archbishop may relieve them from attendance" remain in?


Then I cancelled a word making it temporary only.


The words "the Archbishop may relieve them from attendance" remain in?


Yes, and "it shall not be necessary."


I am obliged to the noble and learned Lord. I was only going to suggest to my noble and learned friend that if you are going to give complete freedom to the Welsh Church, ought you not to say "the Archibishop shall relieve them?"


Would the noble Viscount like me to say at once what the objection to that is? That is, again, Parliament dictating to the Archbishop what he is to do in a spiritual matter.


I thought that would probably be the answer of my noble and learned friend. I put it forward merely because it was suggested to me, although I felt the force of the objection that would be made. As to accepting the Amendment the position, therefore, is this. The provision in the Act of 1914 could not have effect for very long; but the difference, I understand, is that the Welsh Church says (if I may use the vernacular) "We do not want to be pushed out; we want to have the right to go out if we want to do so. We do not think that the State has the right to say to us on a point of this kind that we shall go out." That is the short point.

I am not exactly clear as to the relation of this particular Amendment to the agreement of which I have spoken. It appears to stand rather outside it. But, as has been pointed out, there does not seem any real reason to think that this would excite any particular susceptibilities in any quarter; and although I cannot accept the Amendment I am ready, with your Lordships concurrence, not to oppose its going in. I will go further and discuss the matter with the authorities and ask them whether I can allow it to stand.

On Question, Amendment agreed to.

Clause 9:


My Amendment on this clause is purely consequential.

Amendment moved—

Page 5, after line 18, insert the following new subsection: (2) The provisions of the Welsh Church Act, 1914, specified in the first column of the Schedule to this Act are hereby repealed to the extent mentioned in the second column of that Schedule."—(Lord Dynevor.)

On Question, Amendment agreed to.


The next Amendment is also consequential.

Amendment moved— Insert the following Schedule:

4 & 5 Geo. 5, c. 91. Extent of Repeal.
Section 8 In paragraph (a) (vii) of subsection (1) the words ("and not being a burial ground")
Paragraph (a) (viii) of subsection (1)
Paragraph (b) of subsection (1).
Section 19 In subsection (1) the words ("and burial grounds")
Section 24 Subsections (3) and (4).
—(Lord Dynevor.)

On Question, Amendment agreed to.

Title: An Act to continue in Office the Welsh Commissioners appointed under the Welsh Church Act, 1914, to postpone the date of disestablishment, and to make further provision with respect to the temporalities of, and marriages in, the Church in Wales.


I think there must now be some alteration in the Title.

THE MARQUESS OF SALISBURY moved, in the last line but one of the Title, after "the" to insert "constitution and." The noble Marquess said: In order to bring the Title into conformity with the Amendment of the noble and learned Lord that has just been passed, the words proposed in my Amendment will have to be inserted.

Amendment moved— Title, line 4, after ("the") insert ("constitution and").—(The Marquess of Salisbury)

On Question, Amendment agreed to.

Title, as amended, agreed to.


I think it will be convenient to take the remaining stages of this Bill now, as we do not propose to sit to-morrow.

Then (Standing Order No. XXXIX having been suspended) Amendments reported; Bill read 3a and passed, and returned to the Commons.

[The sitting was suspended at half-past one o'clock and resumed at a quarter past two.]