§ Debate resumed (according to Order) on the Motion moved yesterday, by the Lord Archbishop of Canterbury, to resolve, That in accordance with the Church of England Assembly (Powers) Act, 1919, this House to direct that the Prayer Book Measure, 192—, be presented to His Majesty for the Royal Assent.
§ EARL STANHOPE,who had given Notice to move to leave out all the words after "That" and to insert "this House declines to proceed with the Prayer Book Measure, 192— until it is accompanied by a Measure to ensure order and discipline in the public worship of the Church of England," said: My Lords, it is a matter of extreme regret to me that I should find myself in opposition to the most rev. Primate the Archbishop of Canterbury and that this should be so on a matter which I know lies very near to his heart. For some twenty-five years he and my father worked together on the Ecclesiastical Commission, and I personally have to thank him and am indebted to him for kindnesses shown me over a long period of years. Although I fear that the most rev. Primate may disagree with some of the things that I shall have to say, I trust that he will find that I shall show nothing but the greatest respect both to him personally and to the high office which he holds.
§ I suppose in these days I may be considered a Low Churchman, and I must admit also that I view with considerable regret the advent of the new Prayer Book. I regret the new Book, partly because I dislike some of the changes which are made in the ritual of the Book as we used to know it, partly because I regret some of the changes made in the order of the services, and partly because I feel that two Books of Common Prayer admit of so many alternatives that I think it will be a matter of considerable difficulty to those who are attending churches to which they do not normally go to keep in touch with the services which they find in such places. Your Lordships are aware that some noble Lords go a great deal further than I do in those few words that I have said, in their opposition to the new Book. They view some of the changes in ritual with far greater alarm, they consider them destructive of the Protestant religion, and, feeling this, they are convinced that this House should 832 oppose at any rate parts of the new Prayer Book to the utmost of its ability and should veto the new Book for ever and quite definitely. That is not my view. I find myself agreeing with almost every word that was said by the most rev. Primate in the weighty speech that he made in this House last night, and, although I regret some of the changes that are made in the Book, I should not feel justified in voting against it were I convinced that the new Book would restore order and discipline in the services of the Church of England. Unfortunately I am convinced that such will not be the case.
§ The most rev. Primate referred to the Royal Commission which sat in 1906. He told your Lordships of the composition of that Commission, of its fourteen members whose names are well known to your Lordships and of the great work that they did in many directions. He told you also of the length of time that they sat, the meetings that they held and the number of witnesses that they examined. It is unnecessary, therefore, for me to say anything with regard to the weight which attaches to the recommendations of that Commission, and it is because I desire this House and Parliament to give full effect to its recommendations that I find myself standing here to-night to oppose the passage into law of the Measure which is before your Lordships' House. Your Lordships have been reminded, I might say incessantly, of one of the conclusions of that Royal Commission. It was, I think, quoted by the most rev. Primate last night. It declared that the law of public worship in the Church of England was too narrow for the life of the present generation.
But you have seldom been reminded of the other conclusion at which the Royal Commission arrived, and I ask to be allowed to read it. It runs:—
… . the machinery for discipline has broken down. The means of enforcing the law in the Ecclesiastical Courts, even in matters which touch the Church's faith and teaching, are defective and in some respects unsuitable. They have been tried and have often failed, and probably on that account they have been too much neglected.
The machinery for ensuring discipline in the services of the Church of England is the same to-day as it was in 1906, when the Royal Commission reported. We have before us in the Deposited
Book the proposals which are made by the Church Assembly to meet the first conclusion—that public worship should be widened—at which the Royal Commission arrived. Where are the recommendations to fulfil the second? Again may I quote from the Royal Commission?—
With regard to the future we desire to state with distinctness our conviction that, if it should be thought well to adopt the recommendations we make in this Report, one essential condition"—
I ask your Lordships to mark these words—
of their successful operation will be that obedience to the law so altered shall be required and, if necessary, enforced by those who bear rule in the Church of England.
The Royal Commission made ten recommendations. The first was that anti-Protestant services should be stopped, if necessary by proceedings in the Ecclesiastical Courts. The second and third, which I think were quoted by the most rev. Primate last night, were that new rubrics should be introduced making legal new ornaments in the church and the wearing of vestments and so on by the clergy, the permitting of wider services, the sanctioning of new prayers, hymns and special services. Recommendations four to nine were that increased powers should be given to the Bishops, that the Ecclesiastical Courts should be reconstituted, and that those Courts should have their powers enlarged. The tenth recommendation was that dioceses should be subdivided and made smaller so that the Bishops should have greater control over the Provinces under their charge.
The Royal Commission prefaced its recommendations with this significant sentence:—
We desire to state that those of our recommendations which will require legislation are framed as a complete scheme and must be considered mutually dependent.
The Ecclesiastical Courts are constituted now as they were in 1906. The powers of those Courts and of the Bishops are now what they were then and yet this House is being asked to do exactly what the Royal Commission recommended it should not do—to pass this Measure for a wider form of worship into law independently of a Measure to enable the Bishops and Courts to ensure obedience to its provisions. I am aware that the most rev. Primate has made the following
pledge on behalf of the Bishops:—"You may take it from me as absolutely certain that the Bishops will require obedience and will do their utmost to secure it." May I say, and I am sure the whole House agrees, that I accept that pledge in the spirit in which it was made? May I also say that my interpretation of that pledge is different from that of the noble and learned Lord opposite, who seemed to think that it would take years in which to get discipline accepted by those who disagreed with the provisions of these two Books of Common Prayer. I understand the pledge to mean that the Bishops will at once do their utmost to get obedience to those Books of Common Prayer, and I trust that if I am not right we shall be told so before we are asked to vote on this Measure. My point, however, is this, not that the Bishops will not do their utmost, but that the most they can do under present conditions is and must remain inadequate.
§ May I be allowed to describe very briefly the powers which the Bishops at present have? This is a matter which is extremely complicated and I need hardly say that I speak under correction from the many ecclesiastical authorities sitting behind me. I trust that the summary I am giving is correct. It is, so far as I have been able to make it. Supposing a clergyman proceeds to carry on services which are not in accordance with either of these two Books of Common Prayer, and supposing his Bishop calls him to order, and insists that he shall desist from such services as the Bishop considers illegal: what then happens? If the clergyman refuses to obey the demands of his Bishop, the Bishop can admonish him, and if that fails he can then put that church under discipline, and by "under discipline" is meant that the Bishop then publicly announces that he will refuse ever to attend the church so long as those illegalities continue. I think you will agree that where an incumbent has already quarrelled with his Bishop to the extent of refusing to do what is required, it is not likely to be very effective if his church is then put under discipline.
§ What further can the Bishop do? He can summon that clergyman before the Ecclesiastical Courts. The Ecclesiastical Courts have been referred to on several occasions by various Commissions which 835 have sat upon the subject. The Ecclesiastical Courts Commission of 1883 and the Royal Commission of 1906 were both of them extremely severe in what they said with regard to the Ecclesiastical Courts. They remarked that their composition was such that many clergymen refused to recognise the authority of those Courts. They remarked that the practice of those Courts was academic, that the delay and expense were excessive, and above all, that the only punishment those Courts could inflict was the totally unsuitable one of imprisonment. I disagree with Lord Phillimore, who seemed to be satisfied that the punishment of imprisonment was adequate and suitable for this purpose.
§ LORD PHILLIMORE
The noble Earl will forgive me. I speak with knowledge. The ordinary practice is to deprive a man of his living, and under the Public Worship Regulation Act you can imprison him.
§ EARL STANHOPE
The noble and learned Lord did not refer to that in his speech last night, and at any rate the rest that I have said is true—namely, that the Courts are slow and archaic in their methods, and expensive. I cannot conceive that any Bishop would desire to institute long and expensive proceedings against a clergyman under conditions such as those. It may be said that I am giving less than fair consideration to the moral suasion exercised by the Bishops. I trust I am doing nothing of the kind, but I would point out that it has been said over and over again that the Bishops have found it impossible to obtain discipline in the Church because so many parts of the service to which we are all accustomed are not in accordance with the Book of Common Prayer as it at present exists, and that therefore they were unable in certain cases to bring the clergy to order for doing what was illegal, when in other cases it was quite obvious that although equally illegal, it was a matter in which everybody agreed. Surely, in cases such as that, it is not necessary to refer to the orders and rubrics of the Prayer Book. If moral suasion by the Bishops were adequate it would be unnecessary to introduce a new Book.
Since history has a habit of repeating itself, may I refer to another matter mentioned by the Royal Commission of 1906? They quote several cases in which 836 a Bishop found certain practices going on in his diocese of which he disapproved and he thereupon on more than one occasion suggested a compromise. He suggested that if these clergy gave up certain services which he thought should not be allowed to continue, he, on the other hand, would agree to services which were equally illegal and which he thought were less harmful. In those cases I believe many of the clergy agreed to the compromise at once; some of them agreed to it after persuasion, and a few of them refused to accept the compromise at all. What happened? When it was found that no further action was going to be taken against the extremists, a certain number of the clergy who had agreed to the compromise drifted back, and proceeded again to continue with the services of which their Bishop had disapproved. Will any of your Lordships say that in the future, if this Book passes into law and if it is found impossible again to take action against the extremists, there will not once more be a drifting back by some of those who have accepted the persuasions and the orders of their Bishop?
I venture to say that the right time to institute discipline is at the moment when you are giving greater liberty, and that the Royal Commission was perfectly right in saying that these two questions are interdependent and should be brought forward together. I suggest to your Lordships that we should be right to postpone this Measure for wider services and for alterations in the ornaments of the Church until Parliament has before it at the same time a Measure to increase the power of the Bishops, to reconstitute the Ecclesiastical Courts and to add to the powers that those Courts possess. The delay need not be long. A Committee of the Church Assembly under the Chairmanship of the most rev. Prelate the Archbishop of York has been sitting on this subject for some time. They have issued a Report, which I understand is before the Church Assembly. All that is required is to translate that Report into the form of a Bill, to get it approved by the Church Assembly and passed by that Assembly through all its stages, and then to bring it before Parliament. It seems to me that if the Church Assembly really so desires, there is no reason why that legislation should not be before this House next year.
837 May I briefly anticipate some of the arguments that may be used against me for suggesting a postponement of this Measure? I may be told that a postponement will increase the chaos and disorder in the Church. Your Lordships were told last night by the most rev. Primate that the proposals which have culminated in this Book have been under consideration for some twenty-one years. For the purposes of my argument—because I wish to be perfectly fair—I would prefer to take the later date, the date when the Church Assembly was first constituted and when the Letters of Business were laid before it to produce a wider form of service. The Assembly, as your Lordships are aware, was constituted in the year 1920. Therefore it is hardly for members of the Church Assembly, or for others, to lay blame on Parliament for holding up this Measure for one year when they themselves, quite rightly as I think, have taken seven years to produce it. Again, I may be told that to pass a Measure of discipline at the same time as you pass this new Prayer Book is making a threat against the clergy. I fail to understand why it should be considered a threat against the clergy if we pass a Measure by which those who disobey the orders of their Bishops and the rubrics of the new Prayer Book should be dealt with by the Ecclesiastical Courts or by their Bishops if they choose to disobey the law. You might just as well say that, if it were proposed that those who drive a motor car to the danger of the public should be imprisoned without the option of a fine, such a proposal would be a threat against the general body of the motoring public. Nobody would consider that a threat, except those who intended to disobey the law. To those it is a threat, but to no one else.
I differ in this from the noble Earl, Lord Beauchamp. He seemed to think that if the Bishops were armed with a Measure of discipline they would go to those who disagreed with them with the Prayer Book in one hand and the Measure of discipline in the other. Such a suggestion never entered my head. I am the last person to wish that the Bishops should act like drill-sergeants. I trust, and I believe, that they will act with the greatest tact and the greatest consideration; but when a clergyman flouts the authority of his Bishop, and when he makes it perfectly clear that 838 he is not going to obey him, then I want that Bishop to have power at hand in order to be able to deal with him at once. I believe that if you deal with the extremists in that way you will find that the clergy who have not quite made up their minds, and who are rather inclined to disobey the orders of their Bishops, will think twice and thrice before they actually do so, and that they will come into line far more readily. Personally, of course, I have only the layman's knowledge of the law, but I know of no law which has been produced which does not contain a clause imposing penalties on those who disobey its provisions, and I see no reason why in this particular instance Parliament should be asked to pass a law when it is perfectly well known that there is no power to obtain obedience to its provisions.
What are the arguments for postponement? As I see them they are these. First, I think your Lordships would agree that it is far more difficult to regain control once it has been lost than to maintain control from the beginning. I suggest that the right moment to get control is when you are passing this new Book, giving wider services and other liberties, rather than to wait for several years until disobedience to its provisions has developed and has been proved. Secondly, consider the position of the Bishops. Your Lordships have been told that the occupants of the Episcopal Bench have given pledges that they will do their utmost to see that obedience is maintained. If they wait until they find that they have been unable to fulfil that pledge, and then come back to Parliament and ask Parliament for power, saying that they are unable to fulfil their pledge to maintain discipline until their powers have been increased, personally I can imagine nothing more derogatory to the authority of the Bishops than that they should be placed in a position such as that.
Thirdly, as regards the passage of a Discipline Measure into law, I understand that it will be no easy matter to get a Measure of discipline passed by the Church Assembly. It raises many difficult questions—the authority of the Bishops and matters with which many people are not entirely in agreement. I submit that it will render the passage of that Measure through the Church Assembly far easier if it is realised that 839 until they can agree on a Measure of discipline which they can present to Parliament they will not be able to get this new Book, which the large majority of them desire to have. I submit, therefore, that it will help to get this Discipline Measure through the Church Assembly if they feel that they cannot get the Book until they do so. Fourthly, I think the whole Episcopal Bench will agree that they are anxious, I might say more than anxious, to allay the fears of those who feel that this new Book is a step, and only a first step, in making the services of the Church less Protestant than we have known them. Would it not help if it were realised that this Book is to be the Book which we will adopt, and that anything beyond this Deposited Book will not merely be discountenanced by the Bishops, but will be stopped?
Fifthly, I submit this point. It is, I think, an open secret, in fact the most rev. Primate said so quite frankly, that the prayers for the King were made optional by an inadvertence. If we delay the passing of this Measure it enables the Book to be taken back to the Church Assembly for the Church Assembly to insert a rubric making the prayers for the King not voluntary but compulsory in the Morning and Evening Services of the Church. It is reported, I am told, by the Royal Commission that prayers for the King were illegally omitted in the past as long ago as 1906. At that time they were omitted illegally and I submit to your Lordships it is not likely that they will be put into this Book any more when it is now made legal to omit them. I submit, and I think the Episcopal Bench will agree, that it would be far better to put into a rubric that the prayers for the King are compulsory than that it should be left to an instruction from the Bishops which, of course, would have far less legal authority than would a rubric in the Book.
With reference to the Parliamentary side of the question, supposing this new Book does not bring the order and discipline which have been promised for it, in what position is Parliament placed? If any Measure were brought into either House of Parliament to give the Bishops and the Ecclesiastical Courts greater powers, I think your Lordships will agree that we should at once be told that it was a matter the details of which should 840 first be considered by the Church Assembly which was set up for the purpose, and I think we should be told so quite rightly. Even if that objection were brushed aside, your Lordships will realise, I know, that it would be impossible for a Measure of that kind, which obviously could not be a Government Measure, to be passed through both Houses of Parliament in one Session and to become law. No, I venture to submit to your Lordships that the right procedure is that we should retain our hold over the new Book until it is accompanied by a Measure of discipline. In that way we shall be able to bring pressure on the Church Assembly to see that the recommendations of the Royal Commission are given effect to, and we shall not be divorcing the wider service from the Measure of discipline which the Royal Commission said should be kept together and treated as one part of one great subject. No one will deny that the lack of discipline in the Church in the past has been bad for the country. It has been stated constantly, and it has been stated all over the country during the past month, that this new Book is necessary in order to restore discipline in the services of the Church of England. How much worse will it be for the country if it is found that, although this new Book has been passed into law, lack of discipline and order still persist in the services of the Church?
May I quote to your Lordships for the last time from the Report of the Royal Commission? It says:—It is important that the law should be reformed and that it should admit of reasonable elasticity, and that the means of enforcing it should be improved; but above all that it should be obeyed. That a section of clergymen should, with however good intentions, conspicuously disobey the law, and continue to do so with impunity, is not only an offence against public order, but also a scandal to religion and a cause of weakness to the Church of England.It is because I believe that it would be unwise of the Church, wrong of Parliament and bad for the country if we passed this Measure into law until it is accompanied by a Measure to ensure discipline that I have ventured to put upon the Paper the Amendment which stands in my name. I understand, however, that if I were now to move it I should limit the debate to the question of discipline only and I should preclude your Lord- 841 ships from dealing with other points in this matter on which you desire to address this House. Moreover, as my Amendment implies and as I intended that it should imply, although I and those who think with me dislike some provisions in the new Book, we should not feel justified in voting against it once it was accompanied by a Measure to restore discipline. Those who whole heartedly oppose parts of the new Book obviously could not vote for a resolution carrying an implication of that kind. Therefore, they would be unable to support it and it would be necessary to have a second Division.
I am anxious not to limit the debate on this great question, and as I and those who think with me on the matter of discipline find ourselves compelled to vote against the Book as circumstances are now, it is obvious that we shall have to oppose the Resolution moved by the most rev. Primate. Therefore, as I am anxious not to limit the debate and as I do not wish to put your Lordships to the trouble of two Divisions, I do not propose to make the Motion which stands in my name on the Paper. I trust, however, your Lordships will realise that though we are actuated by no petty motive in regard to this great Measure we feel strongly about it and feel that it is our duty to oppose the Motion which has been proposed by the most rev. Primate.
§ VISCOUNT HALIFAX
My Lords, I had not intended to take any part in the debate on this subject to-day. Indeed, I had not intended to attend the debate or to vote on this question. But on thinking the matter over it occurred to me that I should be guilty of an act of cowardice if I shrank from expressing my opinion upon the matter now before your Lordships. I will, therefore, ask your Lordships' indulgence for a few moments while I make some observations which I think are to the point. I have no sort of intention of discussing the provisions in the Deposited Prayer Book. I do not think those are subjects which come properly within the scope either of this House of Parliament or the other; but I have certain observations to make in regard to the dangers which I see in connection with this matter and to which I desire to invite your Lordships' attention.
We have been told, and it has just been alluded to by Lord Stanhope, that 842 the primary reason of this Measure is the desire to carry out measures for a greater enforcement of the law in regard to order and discipline. We have also been told that it is the intention of the ecclesiastical authorities to make such enforcement operative and decisive. The enforcement of ecclesiastical discipline is, on the face of it, desirable, but if you wish for an argument to show that such enforcement is not always desirable and not always possible you have it in the reason alleged for the introduction of this Measure. I will ask your Lordships for one moment to carry your memories back fifty years. I believe, though I am not quite certain of the date, that it is just fifty years since the Public Worship Regulation Act was introduced into Parliament. The reason for that Measure was precisely the same as that which is assigned for the present Measure—a desire to increase facilities for order and discipline. The Queen was vehement on its behalf, so was the Prime Minister, so was the Archbishop of Canterbury, so were most of the Bishops, so were both Houses of Parliament. There was much discussion and much heartburning, but eventually the Measure was carried with a considerable amount of approval, certainly with the approval of those in authority.
One priest in the suburbs of London, when it became law, refused to obey it. He was promptly sent to Holloway Gaol and I rather think, if my memory serves me, that five other clergy in different parts of the country followed his example and one of them was shut up in Lancaster Castle for something like the best part of a year. The Archbishop of Canterbury will remember the circumstances. What was the result and what is the final result that we see to-day? It is that precisely the things for which those clergy were put into prison are the things which the Deposited Book is now attempting to legalise, and not only so but the Book states definitely and positively that those particular matters for which those clergy were sent to prison are entirely in accordance with the mind and practice of the Church of England. I do not think your Lordships will deny that time brings its revenges. I think, however, if we are well advised we shall also endeavour to profit by its lessons.
Whatever may be the fate of the Deposited Book in Parliament and the 843 special Measure I do not suppose that anybody for a moment will consider that the clergy who were aimed at by the Public Worship Regulation Act are in the least likely to be interfered with in regard to those matters to-day. If that be the case what becomes of all these promises and undertakings to enforce eccleciastical order and discipline? I have no doubt it will be said that there are other matters besides those particular matters which are specially mentioned in the Deposited Book that ought to be taken in hand, just as it will be said that no one who dislikes the Deposited Book will be bound to accept it. I would like to ask very seriously whether that statement is entirely true. In connection with the Deposited Book, rubrics have been made, rubrics have been altered and various changes—not perhaps really important or, rather, some of them are not very important—have been made in regard to the public services of the Church of England. In regard to the statement that if this Measure is agreed to by Parliament steps will be taken to enforce discipline in the Church, I would ask your Lordships to consider, in view of past experience, what is the likelihood of a successful effort to enforce that discipline in respect to some of the changes in regard to which the enforcement of that discipline will have to take place?
There is a large number of clergy who will have nothing to do with the Deposited Book and they are not only anxious in regard to some of its provisions, but they are also troubled by the effect that the rubrics passed in regard to the Deposited Book may have upon the present Book of Common Prayer. What is likely to be their attitude if any attempt is made to coerce them? There are also other services. I do not wish to enter into details, but I desire, in order that your Lordships may be able to judge as to the future, to mention a few. There is first of all the change in the celebration of Holy Communion. That is a change which alters what has been the practice of the Church of England ever since the days of St. Augustine and, if carried, will necessitate the alteration of every single book of private devotion in regard to Holy Communion throughout the country. It may or may not be desirable, but at all events it is a matter of some importance. Next you have the proposals in 844 regard to the Athanasian Creed. I ask you to carry your memories back far enough to what happened in the days of Dr. Pusey and Canon Liddon who threatened to give up their preferments if not dissimilar changes were forced upon them. There are changes in regard to the Marriage Service and the Baptismal Service, not perhaps very important in themselves but one of which, by implication, affects words of our Lord in regard to Noah and the Flood, and the other flatly contradicts the definite statement of St. Paul in the Epistle. Those are matters about which people are likely to feel very seriously.
Then I should like to ask—and this has reference to what fell from my noble friend Earl Stanhope—how your Lordships suppose the ecclesiastical authorities will be able to deal with the view which is held by a great many of the clergy, and which has a great deal to support it in the history of the Church? How, for instance, will they deal with the view of the clergy who deny the right of any Bishop to forbid the reservation of the Blessed Sacrament in the parish church? The suggestion in regard to the reservation of the Blessed Sacrament is that it should be only for the sick and for the benefit of those who are prevented from coming to the parish church. Do they suppose that those clergy are in the least likely to acquiesce in an alteration of their view of what may be due to our Lord in the reserved Sacrament, or that it will make any difference in regard to that in the celebration of Holy Communion in the ordinary service? I think you must know very little of the temper of the clergy in England, or in South Africa and other Colonies, and largely in America, if you think there is the least probability of their assenting to any change in their belief or their custom in regard to these matters.
I will not go further into particulars, but I want to make one or two other remarks. Our difficulties in England and in regard to the English Church are difficulties which arise from our divisions and disputes. Those are the things more than anything else which want mending. Do you think that these difficulties and divisions can possibly be met by any Act of Parliament? Acts of Parliament can do nothing in the matter. They can only aggravate, and what we should really ask ourselves in regard to all the Measures 845 brought forward is, in what way are they likely to remedy our divisions or in what way are they likely to increase them? That is what we have to ask ourselves. For my own part I think that our divisions largely arise from ignorance—almost every speech that you hear shows how very much there is to learn—and from prejudice. I believe, though you will perhaps think it rather a presumptuous statement, that if, for instance, Sir William Joynson-Hicks, Sir Thomas Inskip and myself could be shut up together, there is every good reason for thinking that we should come to an understanding and a very considerable measure of agreement.
I think the difficulties which are likely to arise in regard to all questions of enforcing discipline and in regard to the different provisions connected with the Deposited Book, reveal great possibilities of danger in the future. I would ask in the interests of peace, in the interests of the real welfare of the Church of England, whether we cannot, without any recourse to Parliament, all try to do something to bring us together? Why cannot their Lordships the Bishops, in their various dioceses, call meetings of leading members of the different parties in the Church and try to see if they cannot be brought together? Why cannot they imitate the example of the discussions which have taken place during the last five years at Malines which have had such wonderful results? I believe there is hardly anything better that could be done, with God's blessing, to bring us together. If that be done there might be, a little later, a revision of the Prayer Book which might be agreed to by all.
I have never been able to understand why the Episcopate as a body did not support the proposal of the Archbishop of York some time ago, that where it was wished the first Prayer Book of Edward VI might be acquiesced in. That Prayer Book has the full sanction of Parliament. It is the first edition of our Prayer Book. It was used by Archbishop Cranmer, by Bishop Latimer and by Bishop Ridley and the other reformers. Bishop Gardener had been willing to acquiesce in it. It has a history which is very important from every theological point of view. Those who rejoice in the name of Protestant could not possibly object to a Liturgy of that sort with such 846 a history, and people such as myself would rejoice in it, too. I speak with knowledge because that Liturgy, with the acquiescence of two Archbishops of York, has been used in a church in Yorkshire for over twenty-five years, and I have full experience of it. Every sort of person has worshipped in that church, but there has never been a single complaint, not one.
If that proposal had been agreed to I believe it would have brought us all together. People might have been surprised at first, but they would have got accustomed to it. We should have been brought together and there is no sort of reason why a little later on revision might not have been carried on with every one's good will and consent. The Archbishop of York, I have no doubt, will tell your Lordships that no one supported him in that proposal. I can only say—and I say it with great deference to him—that if he had persevered in his proposal I think he would very soon have found what little real weight there was behind the silence of which he complained. What I have said I have said in the interests of peace and unity. We are told that a house divided against itself falls. That is what we all ought to lay to heart.
I have only one other word. It is this. My apprehension about the revised Prayer Book is that it will not bring peace and that it will not bring order. I think the two Prayer Books and the discussions in church councils throughout the country are simply an invitation to strife and difficulty. I am quite certain that on the lines on which I have spoken much, and very much, might be done. But, having said this, I have too great a respect and, if I may be allowed to say so, too great a personal affection for the Archbishop of Canterbury to vote against this Measure. I shall not vote against it, on those personal grounds. I cannot vote for the Measure, more especially in view of the speech of Lord Stanhope and the sort of things that I hear said in different places about the necessity of coercion, because I cannot take the responsibility of supporting any Measure which contemplates action of that sort. I believe that coercion of that kind is absolutely impracticable and most undesirable.
§ LORD PARMOOR
My Lords, we have just listened to a most interesting and constructive speech, and I should like to accept the test which Lord Halifax suggested—namely, whether the adoption of the revised Prayer Book is likely to lead to peace and unity or to division and discord. I want to state quite shortly it is my view—though no doubt there will be some divided opinions—that on the balance of all considerations the House would be well advised to support the Resolution of the most rev. Primate, on the very ground to which Lord Halifax has referred, that it is likely to promote a greater measure of peace and unity. I may say, too, that I agree with what was said by Lord Halifax on the question of discipline. I regard comprehensiveness as one of the great features to be preserved in our English Church, and it is because, I think, this comprehensiveness has been allowed that there is so large a measure of loyalty towards the Church among the English people.
I admit that I am entirely out of accord with the view stated by the noble Earl, Lord Stanhope. I believe that in matters of religion and conscience, coercion, which has been tried more than once, is certain to fail and I particularly agree with what Lord Halifax said regarding the Public Worship Regulation Act, 1874. I do not propose on this occasion to discuss matters of ecclesiastical law, and I am sure that the noble Earl would not desire me to do so, particularly now that he has not proceeded with his Amendment. But there is no doubt that that Act has failed to be enforced over a long period of years because the public conscience of this country is opposed to putting men in prison on matters of religious conscience when it is satisfied at the same time that they are convinced of the truth of their action. As regards the five persons put in prison, I certainly agree with what Lord Phillimore said in his speech last night and I do not wish to go back to that point. I do, however, feel most strongly that, when the time comes, I shall find myself in opposition to any scheme of so-called discipline which would interfere with the comprehensiveness that is now allowed in our English Church, and I shall certainly be opposed to any measure of coercion which would put those who hold certain 848 religious opinions in risk of imprisonment and coercive punishment.
So far as matters now stand, there appears to me to be ample power, within the existing powers which the Bishops now exercise in order to obtain loyal co-operation in bringing unity and peace, within the terms of this proposed Measure for the revision of the Prayer Book. Indeed I go a little further. I am one of those who think that perhaps too much power, if we are to draw a distinction, has been given to the Bishops under the proposed Measure as it now stands. There are seventeen cases in which authority of decision is given to Bishops under conditions in which they have no such authority at the present time. Perhaps I may add that some years ago I procured the Second Reading of what might be perhaps called a Discipline Bill in the other House on the basis of giving the particular Bishop, not a coercive power, but a persuasive power in order to deal with certain clergy who at that time were said to be disobedient to the ecclesiastical law. That Bill received a Second Reading, but it was subsequently rejected on two grounds: (1), that you would get great variety of decision by giving a power of that kind to individual Bishops; and (2), that if you did give that power you must protect the clergymen concerned by a very excellent appeal court. I still hold that opinion, and I think that the noble Earl will really find that the complaint which he makes that there is not sufficient power given to the Bishops in this Measure ought rather to be considered from the other point of view, in order that we may preserve the comprehensiveness of our Church as far as possible.
I do not wish to follow further the remarks of the noble Viscount, Lord Halifax. He has special views of a very definite kind on these Church questions. I realise the sincerity and conviction with which he speaks, but I doubt very much whether, so long as he retains the standpoint which he is known to entertain at the present moment, there can be any possibility of any proposals to bring about that concordat between all parties in the Church which, in my opinion, is the most desirable result that could possibly be obtained. I think that he will have to make concessions in the first place and, until we know what those concessions 849 would be and how far they are likely to go, I for one will certainly on no ground of that kind cast my vote against the Resolution that has been moved by the most rev. Primate.
I want to confine what I have to say, apart from the comments which I have made, entirely to the position of Church laymen. It is in connection with Church laymen that I have always taken an interest in these ecclesiastical questions. More than forty years ago I became a member of the House of Laity of the Province of Canterbury, and more than twenty years ago I became Chairman of that Assembly. As Chairman, I was asked to bring forward before the then Representative Church Council a resolution, expressing the opinion that a Church established was not inconsistent with a Church having full spiritual independence. It was on that resolution, which was accepted with only one dissentient in the Representative Church Council, that the most rev. the Archbishops of Canterbury and York appointed the Committee whose Report resulted in the drafting of the Enabling Act. I would do nothing which in my opinion would weaken the effect of that Act. I regard it as the Magna Charta of the Church layman. It has given him a recognised position for the first time. It has given him authority for the first time, and it has to a very large extent indeed created an interest which he never before felt in Church matters. I regret, in regard to the figures which have been quoted, that the electoral rolls have not been more largely signed, but I do not think that that is other than what we should expect, having regard to the short time during which that Act has been in operation.
When this question of the revision of the Prayer Book first came before the Church Assembly and the House of Laity I was Chairman of the House. I wish to express my opinion that on every occasion—and certainly that was my own view—the House of Laity, desiring to promote peace and unity, avoided extreme views or extreme opinions, and I do not think that any body, even if imbued with the views of Lord Halifax, could have used its influence more directly and more immediately in the direction of peace and unity between all sections of the Church. I want to speak on behalf of laymen who 850 go to church. They are the people for whom we ought to provide. They are the people for whom these services should be as suitable as we can make them. His Grace the Archbishop of Canterbury, in the speech which he made yesterday, quoted from a resolution of the House of Laity when the matter was passing out of their hands, at the time when this question had been discussed before them. I am in entire agreement with every word of that resolution, which was in these words:—That while this House believes that the great majority of the laity are satisfied with the present service of the Holy Communion"—I am certain that that is true of the vast majority of the laity in this country who take an interest in Church matters. They do not, however, stop there. It is not sufficient to stop still in matters of this kind. You have to have regard to the tendencies of your age, and to direct the Church, if you love it as most laymen do, or endeavour to direct it, in the right direction. The resolution continued:—the House will nevertheless agree to the insertion by the Bishops in the Prayer Book of one alternative form containing provision for vestments and reservation for the sick only, if in their opinion"—that is, of course, the opinion of the Bishops—this will promote peace and order in the Church.I am entirely in agreement with the test taken in that resolution.
Will the alternative Communion Service in the Prayer Book promote peace and order in the Church? Of course, to answer a question of that kind means an uncertainty, because the question arises as regards the future, and we can only hope to see what the future will bring out by what the past history has been. I understand, however, and I think the Archbishop of Canterbury made it quite clear, speaking yesterday, that in the opinion of the Bishops this alternative service will promote peace and order in the Church. If that result be obtained, of course it is a result which we all wish. I have had a large experience of the opinion of Church laymen during the last forty years. As already stated, I was their first Chairman in the new House of Laity, but owing to the progress of time and age I resigned before the revisions of the Prayer Book had been finally con- 851 sidered; but I have looked through the whole course of procedure, and I find no difference between the original attitude taken by the House of Laity and that which they finally adopted. Their attitude was this. "Give us peace and order. Let us get rid of disunion. Let us agree in the truth of God's Holy Word. If that can be assured, and if you, the Bishops, tell us your view is that it will be assured, we are willing and desirous to assent to the alternative form of Holy Communion, although, merely for our own wishes, we should be contented with the old single form."
There are one or two matters in addition upon which I should like to say a word. As I think Lord Hanworth stated in his speech yesterday, I am one of those who feel some doubt whether the alternative Communion Service has not introduced a new doctrine, and my doubt is perhaps enhanced by the omission from the alternative service of what is called for the sake of convenience (of course it is not an apt phrase) the Black Rubric. But, although that has been my opinion, I am willing to accept, and do accept in all sincerity, the views stated yesterday by the Lord Archbishop of Canterbury when he assured us, as I understood in concord with the opinions of all the Bishops, that there was no new doctrine whatever in the alternative service, although I presume it is thought that the change in regard to vestments and rubric would make that service more palatable for those for whom the noble Viscount, Lord Halifax, so often speaks. If I accept that, as I do, that brings me to the conclusion that, desirous as I am to have peace and order in the Church, if the Archbishops and Bishops, with their knowledge and authority, tell me that they have convinced themselves that that will be the result, then I for one will cordially support the present Motion moved by the most rev. Primate.
I am not particularly convinced myself by the Report of the Royal Commission which came out more than twenty years ago. There has been, I think, an enormous change of opinion since that date, a change of opinion in the direction of a desire to encourage sincerity of conviction in Church matters and to grant, as Lord Hanworth said, the same freedom to others that you claim for yourself. I have never looked with anything like distaste upon the conditions in the 852 Diocese of London. On the contrary, I believe that in the aggregate what has been called disorder in the Diocese of London has largely contributed to an increase of Christian work and Christian spirit. We have to see how these matters change from time to time. I know, of course, that there is some very real doubt among laymen about the advisability of the alternative Communion Service. I had to-day a letter from a messenger, one of the most active women messengers in the Diocese of Oxford, where I live. I will not read the letter, but I will quote just a sentence because it is so obviously sincere. She says: "I fear from my experience it will cause great division in every parish." That is the serious outlook on the other side. But, on the whole, I believe that is not true. On the whole I believe we shall have a greater measure of unity and order, and upon that point there are no greater authorities in this country than the Archbishops and Bishops.
One of the most saintly of our Bishops, who was my adviser on matters of this kind, but who now is dead, told me the last time I met him, very shortly before his death, that he deplored more than he could tell me this disunion and disorder in the Church. Looking back this morning on letters and memoranda, I felt sure that if he were alive to-day he would whole-heartedly support the Motion of the Lord Archbishop of Canterbury, and on this ground. He said once: "My experience of the Church at the present moment is that it does not attract as it should the young and eager spirits who are wishing for Christian direction and idealism. It is a great misfortune that we are mixed up in these matters of disunion and discussion. Let us get rid of them as soon as we can; let us concentrate on the life and words of Christ, and let us push forward, in every direction of ethics and morality, real, united Christian practice, and then there will be no complaint either that our Christianity is half-hearted or that our Churches are empty of congregations."
THE LORD BISHOP OF WORCESTER
My Lords, the noble Lord opposite (Lord Parmoor) has more than once let you into his mind. You can see that he is not at all happy about the Measure, though he is going to vote for it. He 853 is not confident that the peace which he thinks he is going to get from it will, in fact, materialise, but he has such a regard and reverence for the Bishops' Bench that he must vote for it all the same. He followed the pathetic and wonderful speech of the noble Viscount, Lord Halifax. I am inclined to think that anybody who, like myself, is, for various reasons which I hope to give you directly, a convinced opponent of this Measure may very well allow Lord Halifax's speech to answer all the purposes that we have in view.
Nevertheless, there is a duty resting upon us, and upon me in particular, a duty of real sadness. It falls to me to be the first of my brethren to rise from this Bench in opposition, and that is a task which no man takes in hand inadvisedly, lightly, or wantonly; nor, if I may say so, do I do it because my right rev. brother the Bishop of Norwich has kindly written my speech. He really has not. There is added to the task an element of quite poignant distastefulness when to oppose the Measure is also to oppose the dear desires of the most rev. Primate the Archbishop of Canterbury, at the vigorous acme of long and eventful years spent in the service of your Lordships' House and, indeed, in the constantly growing esteem and regard which you have for him. Nothing but the clear conviction that truth is at stake can justify such a separation from the most rev. Primate, and the proverb that Socrates is dear, and Plato is dear, but truth is dearer still, seems somehow to have been invented in order to put heart into a nervous man who finds himself unequally matched against two most rev. Primates.
Yet, if the minority were now to be silent your Lordships would have just reason to complain of being seriously misled. Let me put my point in words which, as it happens, are not mine:I think it extremely unfortunate that a delusive unanimity should mark the Episcopal Bench, and that the impression should be conveyed to the public—an impression which is certainly false—that the general opinion of the Church of England is behind this Bill.Those words were spoken on the Bishop of Oxford's Liquor (Popular Control) Bill by the right rev. Prelate the Bishop of Durham, and I believe that if you substitute "Measure" for "Bill" the 854 statement is much truer in the present case. Here, I will venture to say, the unanimity, the impression of unanimity, is vastly more delusive and insistence upon it is more dangerous than in the case of that Bill. I cannot but think it deplorable that the printed records of the Bishops' long discussions, or at least the figures of their many divisions on controverted points, have not been released for publication. If that were done—and honour compels me not to do any such thing—your Lordships would realise that the prevalent impression of a Divine inspiration guiding the results is only to be maintained at the cost of ruling out of any such afflatus those who on grounds of conscience voted mostly in the minority.
What, then, is the conscientious conviction which, after all these years of labour, after having been present myself at every single day of the long deliberations, can justify a man in my position in asking your Lordships not to assent to this Book as it stands? For a great part of it I am thankful beyond words, and I used the little powers which I possess to make that part of it more thankworthy than it was when it reached the House of Bishops. But I am convinced that the changes which it makes in the Communion Service and its adjuncts involve corresponding changes in the doctrine of the Church of England. Therefore, when your Lordships read these now familiar words of the Preface—If the minds of any be troubled because we have allowed another Order of Holy Communion as well as the old, and have made further provision for the communion of the sick, let them not think that we mean thereby any change of doctrine or intend that the Sacrament be used otherwise than as our Lord Himself appointed—I venture to ask you to include me among those who are troubled in mind; and I beg your leave to tell you why.
I ought at this point to make my apology to those members of your Lordships' House who are convinced adherents of the Roman Catholic Church. But I understand from some words which fell yesterday from the noble Earl, Lord Denbigh, that those members contract themselves out of the present discussion and, therefore, I will speak as freely as if they were not here. I think I am not putting it brutally when I say—indeed, the words are practically Bishop 855 Creighton's own and he was never brutal—that the purpose of the great movement which brought the Church of England into separate and independent existence was that it might "turn the Mass into a Communion." The effort of the Church of England has, therefore, been to make the Holy Communion a service for the people to which they come prepared to receive the gifts of grace in the way in which the Lord has appointed. For years past there has been a powerful effort, splendidly and consistently led by the aged and noble Viscount to whom you have listened to-night, a movement on the part of men whose devotion to their own ideals is beyond any praise of mine, but whose purpose was to get beneath this basic purpose of the Reformation and to assimilate the Holy Communion once more to the Mass.
To that end what are called the Mass vestments were intruded into many churches and this Book legalises them. To that end the Prayer Book order of Holy Communion was frequently dislocated without any authority and this Book follows suit as far as it dares. To that end in a great number of churches the Holy Communion was made every Sunday morning what is called the principal service, with the implication that Morning Prayer, which the people love, might be thrust into a corner as of no account; and this Book encourages that practice. To that end the people were instructed that the midday celebration is not intended for their communion but for worship; in a word, that it is the Mass that matters.
The new Book makes certain changes to deal with the communion of the people. The first rubric in the Communion office of the old Prayer Book runs thus:—So many as intend to be partakers of the Holy Communion shall signify their names to the curate, at least some time the day before.I have known, most Bishops have known, that rubric to be called in aid in order to diminish the number of communicants at a midday celebration. I have known this to be done when the Bishop himself has been coming to celebrate and has expressed what was his quite natural desire that as many of the parishioners as possible would meet him at the Lord's Table. In the new Book—you will find it 856 on page 203—the rule is, indeed, mitigated into a counsel of perfection. It reads:—It is convenient that so many as intend to be partakers of the Holy Communion should signify their names to the curate.I do not doubt that in that form it can still be made to serve the precise but unintended end to which I have referred.
But in this connection I take leave to note that the new Book—while it does say "it is much to be wished" that the worshippers present will communicate with the minister who celebrates—has missed altogether the opportunity of dealing with the teaching which lies at the root of this difference between the Communion for reception and the Mass for adoration. I mean the teaching quite commonly given in our day which lays it down to be a sin to receive those sacred elements which signify the body and blood of Christ after you have on that day received any food. It is not so long since the Episcopate, at least of the Southern Province, gave synodical expression to the contrary opinion. These were their words in 1893:—That, regard being had to the practice of the Apostolic Church in this matter,"—that is, fasting—to teach that it is a sin to communicate otherwise than fasting is contrary to the teaching and spirit of the Church of England.If those words are true, as I believe them to be, then the teaching and spirit of the Church of England are being violated every day. Or are we to conclude that the Episcopate of to-day has parted [...]mpany with the Episcopate of thir[...]our years ago, and now agrees [...]t what is admittedly a pious and [...]quent practice, to be received by [...]ose who can receive it and who gain good from it, is on the contrary to be exalted into a rule—a rule enforced to frustrate the communion of those who want to come to the Lord's Table at midday in obedience to his command? I can get no answer to my question, as the new Book and the Episcopate are alike silent about it. All I can gather is that reservation has been widely introduced into the Church of England, particularly into certain dioceses, ostensibly because it is difficult, as sometimes it is, to arrange for Communion Services in sick rooms, but in sober truth because there are clergy who will not celebrate the sacred mysteries unless they are fasting. What they believe (I am sure quite honestly) 857 to be a rule of the Church is more to them than the comfort of the dying. The new Book gives them some of the reservation which they want, though, as the noble Viscount has quite candidly told you, not all that they desire or intend to have, but it says nothing to correct their error.
In effect, I am asked to accept these reversions to pre-Reformation type because in a certain respect I have something more than a quid pro quo. The Prayer of Consecration in our present Book, hallowed by centuries of use, is now said to be defective, to need (shall I say?) Protestantizing, to be made less Roman, to be assimilated to the forms of the holy orthodox Church of the East, because it lays, it is said, too much stress on the effect of the actual words of the Lord with which it closes. The contention, I would say frankly, strikes me as a cold-blooded affront to the countless generations who have used the language of that most sacred prayer with thankful hearts as well as to those who now resent any change in it. But any such criticism of the old Book has been more than counterbalanced by the efforts to sanction in the new Book those inclinations towards the Romeward side of the line which caused such lively anxiety to the Royal Commission on Ecclesiastical Discipline of which the most rev. Primate was the foremost figure and is the greatest survivor.
Those inclinations are perhaps most emphatically revealed in what has been hardly too bluntly called the legalisation by the present proposals of the Feast of Corpus Christi. Let me state how the case stands. In a large number of our churches there has arisen of late years the custom of observing the Feast of Corpus Christi. It is a late mediæval addition to the feasts of the Church of Rome, dating only from the year 1264, and then adopted for the express purpose of defending the doctrine or, if you like, the theory of transubstantiation. The new Book attempts to meet that innovation by allowing thanksgivings for the institution of the two Sacraments of the Gospel. But you will notice that it prescribes no date for either thanksgiving. So the men who delight in the Roman observance of Corpus Christi are from henceforth free to observe this day, if this Book is enacted, and it remains 858 to be [...]er they will thank you for leave to celebrate the institution of Holy Baptism.
Changes such as these are sufficient to show that the new Book encourages—it says it does not intend—a change of sacramental doctrine, and I take off my hat to any man who has the courage to protest against the errors which are thus involved. For myself I would rather join in a protest against what I hold to be the errors of transubstantiation than find fault with the Bishop of Birmingham's methods of exposition. It is so easy to find fault with methods when it is courage that matters.
It is said that contentions such as that between the Communion and the Mass are better left among "unhappy far off things and battles long ago." It is said that we have grown quite out of them, and that we are not to be still constrained by the bands of the 16th century, but I venture to hope that we may still somehow illustrate the courage and the consistency of that wonderful era. Let me give you, and I will do it quite briefly, an instance. When the first Prayer Book of King Edward the Sixth, to which the noble Viscount referred to just now, was being introduced, the See of Worcester was held by a certain Dr. Nicholas Heath, one of the best and gentlest and sincerest of the men who regretted the doctrinal changes which the Reformation had brought. Even the Book of 1549 caused him deep searchings of heart, but when there came in 1550 a new Ordinal for the setting apart of Bishops, Priests and Deacons, and he found that he was expected to go against his own convictions, to take down altars, as he said, and to set up tables, to side with the Communion which he did not like and to take up arms against the Mass in which he wholeheartedly believed, he refused his consent and was conveyed a prisoner to the Marshalsea or the Fleet, I forget which. Next year he was deprived of his bishopric. Mary Tudor followed Edward VI, and Heath was restored to Worcester and was soon made Archbishop of York. That See, rendered illustrious by the most rev. Prelate who will address you to-morrow, owes much to Heath. But Elizabeth followed Mary and slowly but surely the Communion came to its own again. Once more Heath must go into retire- 859 ment, a martyr to conviction as surely as his predecessor at Worcestor, Hugh Latimer, was a martyr.
I have indicated to your Lordships certain features in the Deposited Book by which once more those who have convictions, those who believe what the Church of England has told them hitherto, are faced with a crisis—a judgment—of the same kind. I do not mean that for myself I can already scent the chill odours of the Marshalsea. I do not mean that as I pass through Oxford in the train I can hear the shouts of glee because the faggots must again be collected in front of Balliol to burn a Cambridge Bishop, presided over benevolently and most compassionately by the noble and learned Viscount who sits upon the Woolsack, and I sincerely trust that on that day the fate of King Nebuchadnezzar's myrmidons in similar case will not happen to one golden thread of his bullion robe. I do not mean that at all. But I do believe that certain provisions of this Book and the rule-making powers which the Measure confers on any majority of the House of Bishops do force upon those who share my convictions a doctrinal standpoint which is not the standpoint of the Book of Common Prayer, but which nevertheless, if it passes, will henceforth give the Bishops what the right rev. Prelate the Bishop of Durham most justly declares to be "an authoritative statement of the mind of the Church of England." Against that change I must make my protest by my vote. I must leave my future to take care of itself. A man who has ventured to speak as I have tried to speak has not his future very much in his mind.
THE LORD BISHOP OF CHELMSFORD
My Lords, I echo the feelings of the Bishop of Worcester of deep regret at finding myself at variance with my friends. I honestly do not covet the position that I stand in to-day of being compelled to follow the right rev. Prelate who has just spoken, but perhaps it is easier to criticise a friend and to make a reply to him than it would be if I were facing one whom I had not the honour to reckon as a friend. I cordially agree with the right rev. Prelate that where truth is at stake everything must give place to truth, but I honestly fail to find within the covers of the Deposited Book the grounds for 860 fear that the Bishop has set before us in the very able speech to which we have just listened. It seems to me that he has run the risk of reading into the Book things that are not there. I should like, in the course of the few remarks that I shall address to your Lordships, to deal with what is perhaps the most fundamental of all the points that he made.
The right rev. Prelate spoke of getting beneath the basic purpose of the Reformation by making the Holy Communion, not a Communion for reception but a Mass for adoration. If it were quite true that the Deposited Book did this thing, I should be quite willing to go to the Marshalsea with the Bishop of Worcester or to be burnt outside Balliol College in protest against it. It is always difficult, as I am sure your Lordships will realise, to attempt to raise questions of theology in this House, but the right rev. Prelate has made a plain statement and it seems to me some sort of reply ought to be given. I have very much sympathy with the right rev. Prelate. I belong, I believe, to the same school of thought in the Church to which he belongs. I have always belonged to it, and I see no sort of sign in my own mental apparatus that I shall ever depart from it. But I still dare to say that I believe that the new Communion office safeguards, perhaps even more adequately than the old Communion office, what I believe to be the true doctrine of the Holy Communion.
May I venture to quote some of the words that will be found in the Deposited Book? In that great prayer to which the right rev. Prelate has referred, the new prayer elaborates the petition that we make to God and prays, in connection with ourselves and with the elements that are to be consecrated:—that they may be unto us the body and blood of thy Son, our Saviour, Jesus Christ, to the end that we, receiving the same, may be strengthened and refreshed both in body and soul.I call your Lordships' attention to the phrase "receiving the same." It occurs in the old prayer and it occurs in the new prayer. If it did not occur in the new prayer, I should be standing alongside the right rev. Prelate who has just spoken. But more than that. After the reception by the people is over the 861 priest, in the new order but not in the old order, addresses them with the words, "Having now by faith received," and so on. You will notice again the emphasis upon faith and the emphasis upon reception. With all respect—and I want to speak with the utmost respect of my brethren of the Roman Communion—it is that kind of emphasis upon reception and upon faith that, perhaps more than anything else, compelled us to part company with them in the days of the Reformation. I dare to say, speaking doctrinally, I think, from the same point of view as the right rev. Prelate, that this new Book has preserved all that was best and truest in the Reformation—a Reformation for which, despite whatever anybody else may say, I most devoutly thank God.
Let me pass to a second point. The Bishop of Worcester referred to the "delusive unanimity which pervades the Episcopal Bench." It is perfectly true that by a very large majority indeed, though not quite unanimously, the Bishops accepted the Deposited Book. The Bishop of Worcester thinks that if the minutes of our proceedings were published urbi et orbi all kinds of horrible revelations would result. It is perfectly true that a very large number of divisions took place while the Bishops sat in Committee, but it would be quite absurd to publish the figures, because those who made up the majority and the minority differed in case after case. You would have to publish the names and you would have to publish the speeches. We sat for very many days and we have not the privilege that belongs to this House of getting our proceedings printed in full at the public expense, but I think my friend the Bishop of Worcester will bear me out when I say that there were occasions—a great many—when I voted with him in the majority, that there were occasions—a great many—when I voted with him in the minority, that there were a great many occasions when he was in the majority and I was in the minority and vice versa. Does not that sort of thing happen in any careful work of a committee kind upon almost any Bill that comes before your Lordships?
What happened at the end? We had carried through, taking into account what had been done by the House of Clergy and the House of Laity, a very 862 careful revision of the original Report of the Committee of the Church Assembly and, indeed, of the work ever which Convocations had spent many years. At long last, for you must have finality some day, we had to make up our minds upon a basis. Does any noble Lord in this House make up his mind upon anything? Very rarely, I suspect, is there complete agreement with every single word in an Act of Parliament. I have seen long pages—your Lordships are familiar with them—of Amendments moved from all sides of the House, and some are passed and some refused. At long last what does one do? One acts upon a balance of advantages. We acted upon the balance of advantages in this case. I do not suppose that a single Bishop who voted for the Measure approved of every single thing in it. I certainly did not and I have said so over and over again in public and in private. But as a great contribution, I believe, both to peace and the future effective working of the Church, thankfully I accepted the Measure and I hope that this House will do the same.
Will your Lordships bear with me if I say one word or two about the question of peace? We have been told more than once in this debate that if this Measure passes there is in front of us, not peace but a long period of discord and difficulty. I venture to think that it is not quite wholly realised what the effect of passing this Measure will be. I do not imagine for one moment that the whole of the Book will be immediately adopted in this parish and in that. I venture to hope that parts of the Book will be adopted in all parishes. To tell the honest truth they are already being adopted in some parishes. We have arranged in the new Book, by a method of paragraphing, that it will be possible in various parishes to introduce variations of services as well as alternative services. I think that in many parishes both forms of Celebration of the Holy Communion will be used. I believe that according to our ordinary English genius—for however divergent we may be in politics we are all, I think, conservative at heart—we shall go slowly ahead, making experiments. Of course there will be some stupid clergy. There are no doubt a few stupid people in the world. It is even possible, though I hardly dare say it, that there are a few 863 stupid laymen, and possibly a large section of deluded Bishops. I believe, however, that allowing for people who act from conviction we shall settle down after a long period of experiment to use that which is best in the new Book and retain that which is best in the old.
May I say a word about discipline? It has almost been suggested, although it has not been said in so many words, that the new Book should not be allowed to pass because we have failed to maintain discipline in the past. I frankly admit that we have failed in the past. I am speaking in a privileged position and so I dare to say it without risk of consequences. I believe that your Lordships' House in the near future will be asked to consider a Bill dealing with the traffic of motor-cars on public roads. Will it be quite fair to oppose that Bill with vehemence because the present law as to motoring has wholly and completely broken down? I am speaking in a privileged position. I do not mind admitting that I sometimes exceed twenty miles an hour in my motor-car. To my own knowledge the Minister who will be responsible for the introduction of this Bill has in the matter of motoring done the same thing. Would it be fair to refuse him a new law with regard to motoring because the existing law as to motoring has broken down?
Again, we are told—the first speaker this afternoon told us with great eloquence and plainness of speech—that until you have new powers for the maintenance of discipline, until we can be sure that in future the Bishops will maintain discipline, this Bill should not be allowed to pass. It would seem to me a very unfortunate thing if you connected a manual of public worship, for that is what this new Book is, with disciplinary laws. You do not want to put at the end of your Book that those who do not obey will be fined or imprisoned. The Bishop of Worcester referred to going to the Marshalsea on conscientious grounds. You can generally get out of people what you want more by reasoning with them than you can by threatening them. Penalties there must be, but, as your Lordships have already been informed, the Church Assembly is hard at work producing a Courts Measure. I do not know what your Lordships would feel if the Church produced to you two great 864 Measures in the same year, and asked your Lordships to pass them. Probably there would be a protest, and we should be asked: Why does not the Church move more slowly?
We have adopted what seems to me to be the logical order. The old law has broken down. No one, I think, in this House would wish to enforce it. Is not the best plan to get a new rule of public worship, and then with reasonable speed, but not at such a speed as to be hasty, get the Courts Measure which in due course will be presented to this House? I wonder if I am right. I think there is at least something to be said for the point which I am trying to make—namely, that the best legislation does not very often need to be enforced at all. A little while ago the two Houses of Parliament in this Realm presented to the King a Bill for keeping out of our newspapers those disgusting details which had nauseated most respectable men. That Act has been passed. I keep a careful eye on the newspapers, and, although I do not see all of them, so far as I can discover, there never has yet been a prosecution under that law. Does that mean that the law is worthless? No. It means that the law has really fulfilled its purpose, and I believe that that kind of moral effect of a good law will have an influence in the Church of England, both in the direction of peace and in the direction of discipline, greater than any threats of penalty could possibly have. At my own diocesan conference two of the leaders of that school of thought to which Lord Halifax referred, and of which he is such a distinguished ornament, got up and said, quite frankly, that if this Measure passes and the Bishop commands, his commands will be immediately, willingly and generously obeyed. I believe that will be true.
May I try to see if I can clear up the difficulty which has come into certain minds about the so-called Black Rubric? The new Book is not intended, is not ordered, in the Measure to be the standard of doctrine. The standard of doctrine in the Church of England remains exactly where it was. The Measure does not touch it in the least. I believe that the new Book is consonant with that standard of doctrine. A clergyman of the Church of England who makes the Declaration of Assent will 865 have to say in future, as he has had to say in the past:—I assent to the Thirty-nine Articles of Religion and the Book of Common Prayer and I believe the doctrines therein set forth to be agreeable to the Word of God.He will have to give his assent to the Prayer Book as a standard of doctrine being the Book of 1662, and that Book contains, as, of course, the Deposited Book also contains, the Black Rubric. So, whatever the Black Rubric means, whatever it teaches, its position doctrinally is the same as it ever was before. Then, with regard to the rest of that Declaration of Assent, the parson goes on to say:—I will use the form in the said Book prescribed, and none other, except so far as shall be prescribed by lawful authority.And all that the Measure does is to bring the use of the new Book within that lawful authority, by which the clergyman is bound.
I think it is important to labour this point because, both inside and outside this House, all kinds of difficulties have arisen. I received a letter yesterday morning telling me that a small group of ordination candidates had been called together at a meeting last week, and that they had been told that the Bishops had secretly determined after two or three years to expel all Evangelicals from the Church of England. That was sent to me by the principal of a Theological College, who asked me if it was true. I believe that in your Lordships' House there is one short English word which is unparliamentary, and I do not intend to use it. But I am an Evangelical. I hold my own views as tenaciously as the right rev. Prelate the Bishop of Worcester holds his, and I honour him for holding them, and I know that he respects me for holding mine. I honour other people who hold their views tenaciously. I believe there is room within the Church of England for people of all schools of thought, so long as they will really be loyal to our Anglican tradition; and it is because I believe that this new Book does not transgress our Anglican tradition, that it does reserve to me the right to hold the views which are life-long with me, and which I am not in the least likely to desert now, that I hope, for the sake 866 of my brethren and for the sake of those who think with me, that this Measure may pass.
I think that the noble Earl who opened the debate this afternoon has, to a certain extent, side-tracked us into a discussion about discipline, and it may be entering the minds of some of us that this Prayer Book is intended simply to deal with the problem of discipline. That would not be true. My own interests in this matter began in the days of my youth because I was longing for something which was more elastic, more varied, more suited to the needs of to-day, than the Book that we had had ever since 1662. And I believe there is a very large body or Church people, who perhaps do not name themselves by the name of any school of thought, but who are anxious to worship God in a difficult age and generation and to do it in language which appeals to them; and the enrichment, and the variety, and the elasticity, and the variation of the new Book, much more than anything else perhaps, commend it to that great body of people among whom the younger folk of to-day are not the least significant. I hope that your Lordships will pause, and pause long, before this Measure is rejected. I honestly believe it will make for peace. I believe it will give new life to the dear old Church that I love so well, and I believe it will help people, not only to worship as they love to worship, but to worship in unity in the days to come.
§ LORD CARSON
My Lords, it is with some hesitation, after the two speeches by right rev. Prelates to which we have just listened, that I venture, as a member of a sister Church, the Irish Church, which has up to this been in communion with the Church of England, to ask your Lordships to hear me for a few moments on this matter. Because naturally when I came to live in England, now a very long time ago, though I never left my own Church, which I dearly love, I found in the English Church the same Church, although for political reasons it had been disestablished, and I naturally came into the Church with which my own was in communion. Let me make this one confession at the outset. It is the first time in my life (and I am now a very old man) that I have ever felt grateful to Mr. Gladstone for disestablishing the Irish Church, and for this reason—whatever your Parliament may do here in 867 relation to the Prayer Book, it will not bind the Irish Church, which can still go on cherishing the precious heritage of the Reformation.
I feel very grateful to the Lord Bishop of Worcester for the speech he delivered this evening. But, when I listened to the speech of the Lord Bishop of Chelmsford, which followed, having heard one of those right rev. Prelates tell us of the changes of doctrine which prevented him from supporting this Measure, and the other, with equal power, assure us that there was no such change, I could not help wondering—perhaps it is because I am a lawyer—what will be the decision in the end, and what a vista it opens out when an attempt is made, if it is ever made, to enforce discipline in the Church. When two right rev. Prelates, both equally honest, equally learned, and equally God-fearing, take absolutely different views of the fundamental principles upon which the change is founded, that fact shows you the disastrous position in which we are this evening. We, who cannot shirk the responsibility of placing, or not placing, the new Prayer Book upon the mass of the people, are not allowed even to make clear the matters upon which these two right rev. Prelates have taken exactly opposite views in relation to the very fundamental doctrines which divide the various Churches in the land.
In every way to me it is disastrous that we should be discussing this matter here at all. What a spectacle for other Churches! What a spectacle for the masses of the people! No, I cannot see what we are to gain by it. We have had our Prayer Book for 300 years and I well know how venerated that Prayer Book was in the homes of the more humble people of our country. "How I love my Prayer Book," said one old woman, "and how my mother loved it and how she died believing in it. And now we are being told it is all wrong."
§ LORD CARSON
But that is what they are told, that it is all wrong. You cannot get them to go into these minute distinctions, nor can you get them to discover the difference between the Bishop of Worcester and the Bishop of Chelmsford. How can you? Your Lordships will see in a moment why I mentioned that. There is a kind of suggestion that 868 the language of the Prayer Book is out of date. I think His Grace the Archbishop of Canterbury said yesterday that after 300 years it no doubt wanted changing in its language and otherwise bringing up to more modern times. Religion does not change even in 300 years. As to the language, there might be language more appropriate, but I have searched in vain through the Prayer Book to see what there is in the new language that is different from the old. Do not let us deceive ourselves; it was not the language that was objected to. It was an effort to bring in practices which had grown up in the Church and which brought you not to a change of language but to a change of the settlement that was made at the Reformation.
It is disastrous also, I think, from another point of view. We are to have alternative Prayer Books. Is that an advantage to the Church? Is that a symbol of unity in the Church? When I want to go to church in the country am I to write and say: "Reverend and dear Sir, which Prayer Book do you use; and can you tell me what is used in the neighbouring parishes in order that I might provide myself with the proper books?" That would be bad enough; but when we come to two Communion Services in a church, going to the very root of the most solemn mysteries in which we are brought up from our childhood, one no doubt sincerely believed in by one section of the Church and absolutely abhorred by another section, does that make for unity in the Church? No. It cannot be a matter other than of great grief and great sorrow to anybody that such a discussion should take place in this House and that when your Lordships pass the Measure, as I suppose you will, it should take place in the other House. These are not topics for Parliament. For my own part I think it is a great calamity that the Church of England (Assembly) Powers Act was ever passed at all. But why put forward a change of language or a change of doctrine as the real reason for this Measure?
Why are we here at all? Let us get at the reality of it. I will tell you why we are here. We are here to legalise illegalities. We are here to admit the triumph of those who for the past thirty years have refused to obey the rubrics 869 of the Church. That can be proved as clearly as any matter of history can be proved, and do not let us pretend otherwise What is more and what is worse, this is a triumph of the so-called Anglo-Catholics. No one respects their views more than I do, but if you have an established Church yon must draw lines. It may be that you ought not to have an established Church, but that is another question. I would be sorry to say one word disrespectful of anybody's opinions, and I have never done so in my life. But the question is a different one when you are dealing with an established Church. This is the triumph of those members of the Church who, as I said before, have been setting at nought the rubrics of that Church for the last thirty years. But what is worse is this. The very fact that you yield to that illegality so far from terminating—as the Bench of Bishops no doubt perfectly sincerely believe it will—all discord within the Church, as they are so ready to do, by throwing over not those who were guilty of the illegality but those who are prepared to obey the rubrics of the Church, will have the opposite effect. That it will bring about peace seems to me the most extraordinary doctrine. It will only make those who have gained so much long for more.
What will be the end of it? I say that this Prayer Book is the product of the illegalities of the last thirty years and now I will show your Lordships, at least I think I can, that that is so. I will not take long. As far back as 1903, twenty-four years ago, replying to a deputation representing 114 Members of Parliament, the Archbishop of Canterbury, at Lambeth Palace, said, and said deliberately, that in his view to cases of flagrant and defiant illegality and disobedience, which were very few, tolerance had reached and even passed its limits. The sands had run out and drastic action was in his judgment quite essential. As far as he was concerned, they must give them a little time. Has any effort ever been made since then to put down these things? Your Lordships must not imagine that I am in favour of what they call coercion in regard to clergymen in a church and I shall say a word about that hereafter. Twenty-four years have passed since those words were uttered. Has any action been taken in any single case?
870 Then came the Church Discipline Bill into the House of Commons. I remember well the speeches made upon it and I wish to give a quotation from one made by Sir William Harcourt. He said:—I read with satisfaction that statement by the present Archbishop of Canterbury. But I read five years ago with equal satisfaction a statement by the same Prelate, who was then Bishop of Winchester… . In 1898 I read the first charge of the Bishop of Winchester in which he said: 'The Bishops and clergy have been of late years too lax, or, to use a colloquial expression, too casual. Episcopal authority will now be exercised decisively, and, if need be, sternly, wherever in England any difficulty arises.'That was in 1903. Sir William Harcourt at that time warned the country in these words:—The gravest danger of all is to be seen in the teaching and usages of an increasing number of parish priests with respect to Holy Communion … . swinging back half unconsciously into something like the materialistic doctrines of the fifteenth century … . and insensibly drifting away from the true proportion of the faith of the Church of England into the peril of something sadly like the materialistic superstitions of pre-Reformation days.Nothing was done and now you have before you the Measure that legalises all that was commented upon by Sir William Harcourt.
Next came the reference of the Bill to the Commission on Ecclesiastical Discipline, which sat for several years and eventually, in 1906, issued its Report. That has been read before, but I ask your Lordships to allow me to read it again because it is so germane to my argument. They said:—The practices to which we have referred in paragraphs 397 and 398 of our Report"—in a few moments I will show your Lordships that they refer to this question of reservation—as being plainly significant of teaching repugnant to the doctrine of the Church of England and certainly illegal, should be promptly made to cease by the exercise of the authority belonging to the Bishops and, if necessary, by proceedings in the Ecclesiastical Courts."Should be promptly made to cease." That was in 1906, twenty-one years ago. From that day to this no single effort to make them cease has been attempted, but in lieu of it there are those who have set themselves to try to remove the necessity for making them cease by bringing 871 in this new Prayer Book which makes legal what was illegal. They say: "It is our duty to make these illegalities cease by throwing over those who oppose them and taking to our hearts those who refuse to obey them." It is as plain as anything could be that this Prayer Book—and let us face it—is not changed because of the inequality of our religion or of our post-Reformation literature or the beautiful language of our old Prayer Book. No; it is changed because the Bishops found it impossible to bring about discipline in the Church over which they preside.
I will say a word about that in a moment. I do not agree, with those who think it is only necessary to pass a disciplinary Measure and say everything will then be all right. The right rev. Prelate who has just addressed us says there will be peace in the Church. He says there is nothing like trying experiments. With great deference to the right rev. Prelate, I would say if there is anything in the world in which I would deprecate experiments it is the matter of religion. Remember that religion is a thing that you learn at your mother's knee. I say that without any disrespect to any of the right rev. Prelates. Any religion I ever learned was from my mother, and it is to me one of the most precious possessions. But experiments in religion!
THE LORD BISHOP OF CHELMSFORD
I did not say experiments in religion. I said experiments in the use of services in the Book.
§ LORD CARSON
Very well, experiments in the use of the services of the Book. Where are we now? We had before two Prayer Books, now how many are we going to have? A bit here and a bit there; one tacked on to the other and added to no doubt by the generous provisions that are made for the Bishop of each diocese to enable him to make any additions or subtractions that he desires. It is worse than I said before. It makes the whole matter more confused and more confounded than ever. I do not like repeating something that was said recently by somebody as it may sound rather profane. I do not intend to be profane. I heard of a gentleman, known to some of your Lordships, who was asked: "What do you think of these alternative Prayer Books?" I am sure 872 he did not mean it profanely, but, having thought for a moment, he replied: "I suppose the next thing is that we shall have an alternative Bradshaw." One can easily see the utter confusion that there will be if we are to have one Prayer Book in one church and another Prayer Book in another church. I am glad I have the assent of the right rev. Prelate in putting that proposition.
A good deal has been said which I think is entirely fallacious—I am not using that word offensively—about the authority in favour of those who are promoting this Prayer Book. I deny that that authority is so great as has been suggested. What the proposal lacks is the authority of the masses of the people. It is all very well to tell us that five or six hundred people out of our population were elected, how or on what issue or under what circumstances I do not know, as representatives of the people. When this Bill passes you will find a great deal of difference. There is a statement from the Protestant Alliance, to which I have not seen any answer, that says:—303,673 adult communicant members of the Church of England, of whom 2,638 are clergy, have signed a memorial to the House of Bishops protesting against the alternative Communion Services and reservation of the Sacrament.Is that true? Why was not that told us? Are the 600 members of the Church who met together, of whose discussions and divisions we have heard, are they to be taken as absolutely representative against 303,673 who, as communicants, have actually signed a petition against the Book? What was done with that petition? Was it considered? Were the petitioners communicated with? And it does not rest there. Here is what the Bishop of Gloucester is reported to have written in The Times of November 15, 1922. He said that he had to admit that at least 90 per cent. of the ordinary members of the Church of England would much prefer that there should be no alteration in the Prayer Book. Ninety per cent., as against 600 in the whole of the great English Church.
Do reflect, my Lords, what you are doing. I have not the slightest doubt that the aristocracy of the Church, or the bureaucracy, whichever you like to call them, are in favour of this Measure. Have the people no rights? Have the 873 communicants of the Church no rights? Are they to be set aside just because discipline cannot be enforced otherwise in the Church? I am, I suppose, as Tory as most people, but I am bound to say here that I would rather see the Church of England disestablished and standing upon her own basis than that these thousands to whom the Bishop of Gloucester referred should be set at naught and driven, as they will be driven, to reconsider their position in relation to the Church to which they have been so faithful and so loyal, in order that you may conciliate those who refuse to accept discipline.
The Church of England is not the Church in England. It is the Church throughout the whole of the British Empire, and it is the Church throughout parts that are not our Empire. Have you taken them into your confidence? I have seen no report about it. Take the case of my own Church, the Church of Ireland. Here is an extract from the constitution of the present Church of Ireland:—The Church of Ireland, as a reformed and Protestant Church, doth hereby reaffirm its constant witness agains all those innovations in doctrine and worship, whereby the primitive faith hath been from time to time defaced or overlaid, and which at the Reformation this Church did disown and reject.Then it goes on later:—The Church of Ireland will maintain communion with the sister Church of England, and with all other Christian churches agreeing in the principles of this declaration.You are putting an end to that communion, because you are going behind the Reformation and re-introducing matters that have been long since discarded. So you terminate your communion with the Church of Ireland.
In this Report which has been issued I find that a petition was received from certain inhabitants of the Island of Jersey setting out that the Enabling Act has no legal force there, that the Prayer Book Measure proposes to enact that the Measure shall apply to the whole of the Province of Canterbury, including the Channel Islands, of which Jersey is one, and that this constitutes a violation of their constitutional rights. I find that the petition goes on—And whereas we, although members of the Church of England, have no representation 874 whatsoever in the House of Clergy and Laity, we regard it as a further violation of our constitutional rights that it should be proposed to impose upon us 'The Deposited Book' in the debating on which Book and the voting thereon we have had no part by representation;And whereas the Prayer Book Measure. 192—, may not be amended in any particular but must be passed or rejected, 'in the form laid down before Parliament' according to Section four of the Enabling Act, there is no other course open to us except to petition you to reject the said Measure.What was done with that petition? By this Bill you are going to ride rough-shod over them in changing the doctrines of the Reformation which they have had as their protection and privilege for the last three hundred years. It applies to the Isle of Man in the same way.
What will it be all through the Empire? How many Prayer Books will they have? Which of these doctrines will they accept? Would it not be far better to postpone this matter for some time, to give people a little more opportunity to get accustomed to all this that has been put forward at a time when they know so little about the reasons for the change, and upon which, at all events, this debate may thrown some light? When you have passed this Measure then you will come to the question of discipline. I have been furnished with a document, which may or may not be accurate, in which it is stated that under a resolution of the Federation of Catholic Priests 1,400 Anglican clergy say that if the Bishops try to interfere with them in relation to the question of reservation they will refuse to obey the Bishops. What a vista of the peace we have been hearing so much about! How are these clergy to be dealt with? It has been pointed out very ably by my noble friend Earl Stanhope, this afternoon, that you have no discipline possible. Of course if you have had no possible discipline for the last twenty-one years or longer you have not got it now.
There is not one line from beginning to end of this Measure which gives any additional disciplinary powers whatsoever. Assume that it is true that these 1,400 Anglican clergymen will refuse to obey—what will happen? I know what will happen. It may not happen immediately, but in course of time you will bring in another Measure taking away the right of veto and the necessity for a licence for the reservation of the Sacrament, 875 and you will say: "Let us have peace by bringing in those clergymen who will not submit." This Measure does not make for peace. This Measure cannot make for peace. I do not believe that any disciplinary measure will make for peace. I candidly say that I agree with what Lord Halifax has said upon that subject. You cannot to-day, if ever you could—of course there was a time when you could put people to the stake—bring public opinion with you if you proceed to prosecute either clergy or laity because of the religious opinions that they hold. That must be left entirely to the knowledge, religion and scruples of the clergy themselves. If you get clergymen who will go into the Church and will immediately proceed to break their ordination vows, you have no remedy. Do not let us base false hopes upon the new Measure that we are told is before the Bishops. You will never be able to keep discipline in the Church by prosecution. Therefore even the advantages which you are hoping to get out of this Measure by surrendering principles which ninety per cent, of Church people hold and by offending all those who are so anxious to obey your rulings, will all be thrown away and have absolutely no value.
I very much dislike venturing upon criticisms about the doctrines of the Church. I have myself a very clear view, which I do not suppose would ever prevail against the Bishops. But there is one matter which seems to me to be so conclusively proved that I ask to be allowed to say one word upon it. Let me first say that the view that I have formed—I cannot examine it now, for it would take too long and this is not the appropriate place—is that it is by bringing back a series of things that were abolished at the Reformation or after the Reformation that you show the whole tendency of the changes in the Church. Let me ask some simple questions. Why was the sacrificial vestment called, I believe, the chasuble re-introduced into the Church? It was abolished in 1552. Why is it brought back? Has it a meaning? If so, what is the meaning? Lord Halifax, I believe, would openly and honestly say that he would have these vestments because they bring back or assist in bringing back the Mass. Of course that is what they are aiming at. They want to be able to say that they have 876 the Mass and to call it the Mass, although the Mass is one of the first things repudiated by the Reformation. Why do they bring back—it seems a very small point—the use of the wafer? Were they not contented with the pure bread of the Reformation? The wafer was in the Church for a while, and it was then repudiated and struck out. It is brought back now. It all sounds so little and so innocent! But what is the gesture of the wafer? Does it mean nothing? Then why is it put in? Does it mean something? Then what does it mean?
Then comes the question of the reservation of the Sacrament and, reading the Book as I have read it very carefully and as conscientiously as I could, I cannot help thinking that reservation is mixed up with the doctrine of the real presence in the Communion Service. Of course the changes in the Communion Service with reference to the offerings at Communion cannot be dissociated from reservation, because if in the reservation there is a real presence, as is suggested in the new Prayer Book, then of course there is all the more reason why you should be afraid of adoration, which is looked upon as such idolatry in the Church. The question of reservation is one of those matters which for a long time those people who have set up these illegal practices in the Church have been attempting to foist upon the Protestant Church. I have here an extract from Dr. Temple, who, when he was Archbishop of Canterbury in 1899, along with the Archbishop of York held an inquiry on this very subject of reservation. They delivered separate judgments, and here is what Archbishop Temple thought of reservation:—The Book of Common Prayer contains no order and provides no opportunity for the practice of reservation. But this is not all. The language of the 28th Article cannot be taken otherwise than as condemning the practice altogether. To say that the Sacrament of the Lord's Supper was not by Christ's ordinance reserved, carried about, lifted up or worshipped, is to say that those who do these things use for one purpose what our Lord ordained for another.Again, when this matter came before the Royal Commission, one of the matters to which they specially referred was the question of the reservation of the Sacrament under conditions which led to its adoration.
877 I noticed yesterday that the Archbishop of Canterbury said that he felt uneasiness upon the subject, because, of course, once you have reservation you cannot prevent adoration, no matter what you do. The Royal Commission said:—Among the practices which we have already distinguished as being of special gravity and significance will be found the following: reservation of the Sacrament under conditions which lead to its adoration.Then they go on to say:—These practices lie on the Romeward side of a line of deep cleavage between the Church of England and that of Rome.That is what you are authorising now in your alternative service, and still you tell us that there is no change from Reformation doctrine.
The right rev. Prelate who has just addressed us spoke of the Black Rubric and said that there was misapprehension about it. With great respect to the right rev. Prelate, anybody who looks at the Book can easily see that there is no possibility of doubt upon the subject and that the alternative Communion is not subject to the Black Rubric. What is the importance of this in their own Communion Service as it exists at present, and as it will be in one of the Communion Services in the new Book? it is now declaredThat thereby no adoration is intended"—that is a reference to the kneeling at the Communion Service—or ought to be done, either unto the sacramental bread or wine there bodily received, or unto any corporal presence of Christ's natural flesh and blood. For the sacramental bread and wine remain still in their very natural substances, and therefore may not be adored; (for that were idolatory, to be abhorred of all faithful Christians;) and the natural body and blood of our Saviour Christ are in Heaven, and not here; it being against the truth of Christ's natural body to be at one time in more places than one.That Black Rubric, which is the very strongest statement on the doctrine of the Reformation, is in the new Book applied to the old Communion which is carried on, but it is left out, absolutely and entirely, as regards the "Alternative Order for the Administration of the Lord's Supper." There can be no doubt about that. Is it intended or is it not? I know some people are arguing that you 878 meant to carry it on, and it was not necessary to print it twice, but it is put at the end of one Communion Service, and then you turn over a leaf and you get the alternative order of Communion.
It does not rest there. On February 7 there was published the Composite Book containing the two Communion Services. The first Communion Service, the one to which we have always been accustomed, had the Black Rubric at the end. Then the Book was altered and a special rubric was put in for the two joint services, to be applicable to both; but again at the end of the first service is printed the Black Rubric, and if, as stated, the Black Rubric was to apply to both services, why has it not the same heading as the rubric applicable to the same thing? The thing is not arguable, and therefore we are going to meet together in one church, those of us who believe that the Black Rubric is true, that the bread and wine remain still in their very natural substances and therefore may not be adored, for that were idolatry, to be abhorred by all faithful Christians, and those to whom it is open—and I am afraid there will be many who will avail themselves of the opening—those among the clergy throughout the land to whom it is open to avail themselves of what has happened and to take advantage of it, and to say: We are entitled now under the new services to pay no attention whatever to the Black Rubric. I think that is disastrous. I hope I offend nobody when I say that I believe the Black Rubric to be right. I respect the opinion of anybody who does not. At the same time, whatever it may be in the Roman Catholic Church I respect their opinions, only I say, do not let us have this chaos in the Church not only of two Prayer Books, which is bad enough, but of two Communion Services, in one of which something is declared to be absolute idolatry while it is legalised in the other. How can a Church stand in those circumstances?
We are told that the only way to have peace is to pass this Prayer Book. All I can ask is what is to happen to those who do not want it? You always seem to forget them. I see nothing about them in any of these Reports which I have had so much difficulty in procuring. Am I to get a church everywhere I go in which I can dictate which Prayer Book is to be used? It is impossible. But the matter goes further than that. May I 879 mention a matter which I think has not been sufficiently considered, and it is this: what about our children at school? What about our children when they come to be confirmed? Is my child to be confirmed, because I send him to a public school, by a man who legally tells him that the Black Rubric is wrong, and that it is no idolatry to worship the reserved sacraments? In my own case it may be easy, because I can conveniently transfer him to Ireland, and to a church where they will not have anything to do with this; but what about the people of England who cannot do that? What about all the missionary work throughout the whole world? Will it add strength to the great Church of England that throughout the various Overseas Dominions we have all these alternatives?
Already I have had a letter—I suppose others of your Lordships have received it, too—from a clergyman, and I think it is worth reading, because of the sadness of it. He is hon. secretary of the Bible Churchmen's Missionary Society, and he writes under date December 9, 1927:—Five years ago I resigned a good preferment in the Church to start (with others) this society so as to maintain constructive work on the Church's scriptural and Protestant basis. Already we have an income of £40,000 per annum, and 120 first-class British workers, mainly in Burma, India, Persia, China, and Canada. But the scriptural and reformed character of the Church is undone by the proposed new Prayer Book, and in the name of some 500 clergy I beg you to vote against it; otherwise many of us will be compelled by conscience to leave the Church we have loyally served for thirty, forty and even fifty years.When this Bill passes, when this Prayer Book becomes law, every man who dislikes it will have to consider, with prayer and with his conscience, the course which he ought to take. Each man must consider it for himself, but believe me, many of them will do what that priest has said, leave your Church, and you will find, even more than at present, many of those churches empty and the Noncomformist churches gaining in proportion. I have spoken perhaps strongly, but not more strongly than I feel, because I believe we have arrived at a real crisis, and that after the passing of this Measure nothing but disaster can follow.
My Lords, in these days, when the Church of England is 880 no longer co-extensive with the nation or with the microcosm of the nation which is found in Parliament, there are bound to be certain absurdities in the discussion by Parliament of the doctrine and service of a particular Church. It might well be that the Church might profit by a separation from the State. That, I need hardly say, I am not going to discuss. All I desire to do is to affirm, while the present position remains, what is my constitutional right and the constitutional right of every member of either House—to give a vote, if he so thinks fit, upon any question touching the Church. But apart from one's constitutional rights there are questions of one's personal feelings as to fitness and propriety, and my own feeling is—and I thought it right to state it to your Lordships—that in a discussion on the doctrine and the services of a Church of which I am not a member, and whose faith I do not share, it would not be seemly that I should take any part, and I propose therefore to express no opinion upon this Measure and to record no vote upon it.
§ THE MARQUESS OF SALISBURY
My Lords, before we adjourn for dinner, may I say that I find that it is for the convenience of those who are interested in this very important subject that the House should meet at a quarter past three to-morrow.
§ [The sitting was suspended at a quarter before eight o'clock, and resumed at a quarter past nine o'clock.]
§ LORD DARYNGTON
My Lords, as I happen to have the honour of being Vice-Chairman of the House of Laity I feel it would not be right for me to give a silent vote on this occasion. Therefore I should like to say a few words about the question before the House and the reasons why I am supporting this Measure. The noble and learned Lord who preceded me and whom we have all known for many years, made one of his powerful speeches but, if I may say so, ignored to a very great extent many of the answers which have been already given to the questions which he brought forward. Anyone who knows his skill in rhetoric and as an advocate will realise the difficulty of those who have to contend with him in debate, but as he left out of account practically altogether the Enabling Act and the fact that there 881 is such a place as the Church Assembly, there are several points which can easily and effectively be made with regard to his speech. I should like to deal with one or two of those points.
In the first place, he made one about the statement of the Archbishop of Canterbury to Canon Storr, on October 29, which has already been mentioned in your Lordships' House. The most rev. Primate wrote to Canon Storr as follows:—I did not speak lightly when on July 6th I publicly used the words—'You may take it from me as absolutely certain that the Bishops will require obedience to the new rules, and will do their utmost to secure it.' I was sure at the time that I was speaking correctly but I have now, in conjunction with the Archbishop of York, had an opportunity of meeting, or communicating with, all the diocesan Bishops of both Provinces, forty-three in number, and I am able to tell you that I have obtained the concurrence of every one of them (except the Bishop of Norwich) in reiterating the announcement I have referred to It is obvious that the methods by which this clear and definite intention will be fulfilled cannot be specified in detail beforehand; but those whom you represent, and indeed all those who are interested in the matter, may rest assured that what is laid down in the new Book will, if the Measure receive the Royal Assent, be faithfully administered and that the Bishops will act together in the matter.The noble and learned Lord referred also to the Black Rubric. That question was fully dealt with by Lord Phillimore last night. He referred also to the question of the consecration prayer with regard to that. I should like to say that the service in the new Book is much more in accord with that of the Primitive Church and is further removed from Rome, from the clock-time idea of consecration and from the danger of magical ideas than is our present form. With regard to the Enabling Act I should like to say that the noble and learned Lord does not seem to realise what powers were given to the Church; in fact, he does not seem to realise at all the method by which the Church Assembly is elected. I venture to say in your Lordships' House that the election of the Church Assembly is just as businesslike as the election of any other assembly in the world. If your Lordships will allow me I should like to reiterate what has been said in reference to that matter. Any one who really wishes to become an elector and is a member of the Church of England can do 882 so by placing his name on the roll. The parochial council is chosen and generally two representatives are sent to the ruridecanal council. The ruridecanal council then appoints members of the diocesan conference and the diocesan conference elects the representatives of the National Assembly. I fail to see how it would be possible in any circumstances to find a more representative assembly anywhere.
The noble Lord also referred to statements which have been made by various evangelical persons in regard to this Measure and I should like to refer to one in particular, a man who has very considerable knowledge and a man of very great ability, the Rector of Cheltenham, Canon H.A. Wilson. I have heard him speak on more than one occasion. He said that the Evangelical clergy who voted in the Church Assembly for the passage of the Prayer Book Measure contemplated with dismay the strenuous efforts being made to secure its rejection by Parliament, and that no good could possibly arise from the throwing out of the Deposited Book by Parliament. He added:—The Book will be an effective instrument to restore discipline, which cannot be restored otherwise.Further, he stated that—there are solid grounds for hoping that its legalisation will produce good results.Any member of your Lordships' House who takes the trouble to examine the letters of many prominent Nonconformists and others in The Times and other journals will realise that there is a great body of opinion in support of this Measure from men who might be called very Low Churchmen.
The most rev. Primate yesterday asked members of your Lordships' House to take a broad view in regard to this matter. We realise that there has been no change, or practically no change, for two hundred and sixty-five years in our Prayer Book. Everyone knows that the world is changing very rapidly in every direction and it does not seem to me personally unreasonable that the Royal Commission should consider that the Prayer Book also should be changed. I realise to the full that there are many who think that that change should be made more gradually, but does any one believe that if no steps are taken a better state of affaire will exist in the Church 883 than exists to-day? Something like twenty years have been spent in trying to frame a satisfactory Prayer Book. I am one of those who do not particularly want to see changes in many respects, but I believe, conscientiously and honestly, that a change of this kind is for the betterment of the Church, which I love. As for dividing the Book, the balance of different parts of this Book make it a unity with which it is dangerous to interfere. We all want to see spiritual unity in the Church, if it can be obtained.
The noble Marquess who spoke yesterday afternoon referred to many churches and to his feelings in regard to the old Prayer Book. I should like to ask him, does he think his action in voting against this Measure will in any way make for betterment from his point of view? We must have the new Deposited Book, we must pass this Measure and we must ask the Archbishops and Bishops to carry out their promise in regard to observance of the law. The worst of an obsolete law is that it tends to weaken the sense of the sacredness and obligation of law altogether. I have considerable sympathy with the noble Marquess, because I quite realise that it is difficult to make some of these changes, but as one who has no extreme views and was born a Quaker, I realise the difficulties in regard to the situation as well as most people. Personally, I do not favour some of these changes, but I do believe that they are for the betterment of the Church. I should like your Lordships to realise that some of the difficulties which exist to day may easily pass away, but some of them it is almost impossible to overcome in a short time. The noble Marquess said yesterday that he found things happening everywhere which he did not like. As I see him in his place now, I should like to ask him why he thinks that by voting against this Measure and drowning the voice of the Church Assembly he is going to find conditions which suit him better?
With regard to the question of reservation for the sick, I am one of those who do not find any great difficulty in that matter. If any one turns to the rubric on page 283 he will see that this reservation is for the sick, and for the sick alone. Personally I feel much more strongly in regard to the question of men entering the Church of England who do not believe in the cardinal points of 884 the Christian religion—I mean, and I speak with some reluctance, the doctrines of the Incarnation and the Atonement and the Resurrection. It is difficult to understand any one joining in the service on Christmas Day who does not believe in the Incarnation. It is difficult for any one to understand the feelings of a clergyman on Good Friday who does not believe in the Atonement of Christ. It is above all difficult to understand the feelings of the man who on an Easter morning does not believe in the Resurrection, which Bishop Westcott, one of the greatest men in this country, said was one of the best attested facts in history.
It is only natural that there are many people in this House to-day who feel more strongly with regard to one point than another, and I would not for a moment wish to suggest that those who differ from me have motives which are less worthy than my own. As to the subject of doctrinal changes I think, from a constitutional point of view, that was dealt with by the Ecclesiastical Committee. I do not know whether all noble Lords realise that that is an absolutely representative Committee composed of members of both Houses of Parliament. Their decision was not quite but almost unanimous, and it was to the effect that there is no doctrinal change in this Prayer Book from the Constitutional point of view. There are some changes, and in my own view they are wise ones. One, for instance, is with regard to baptism. A child is no longer a "child of wrath." With regard to the Athanasian Creed I am personally very glad that under this Measure it will not be said so often and will not be obligatory, because I believe that the vast majority of the people of this country, who perhaps do not know the proper translation of "Quicunque vult," really do not believe in the Athanasian Creed and, if they do not, I think it is a very great mistake that it should be said in churches. Then there are extensions in regard to evening Communion and extempore prayer, and there has been a shortening of the Psalms. I think that all those changes will meet with acceptance from some people. There may be some small changes which are not generally accepted, but I think that your Lordships will find that there are some people in favour of all of them.
885 I should like to say one word with regard to the speech made by my noble friend Lord Hanworth yesterday. He spoke of the Enabling Act, in which he said he took part, and added that he did not know who was his representative in the Church Assembly. It is quite easy to explain, as Lord Beauchamp explained yesterday, how it is worked, but what I could not understand is how, since the noble and learned Lord was responsible to some extent for the Enabling Act, he did not realise how the election took place. So far as your Lordships' House is concerned, we have not the opportunity of receiving all the communications that have been received in another place. I am afraid that a great deal of money has been spent on literature opposing this Measure and I sincerely trust that it will not have the desired effect. I should like, in conclusion, to say that I feel very strongly in regard to this Measure because I think that it would be very unwise for Parliament to drown the voice of the National Assembly of the Church. The Assembly has studied this question for a long time, it has had an opportunity of considering all points of view and the majority by which the Measure was passed was a very large one. I think that the figures ought to be remembered by the House of Lords, If one considers the decision from the point of view of the diocesan conferences, one realises that practically every diocesan conference in the country as well as the Church Assembly itself voted in favour of this Measure, and I think that this is a very good reason, apart from any other, for asking your Lordships to give this Measure your support.
THE DUKE OF BUCCLEUCH
My Lords, like many others who are not in favour of this Measure, I regret having to oppose the most rev. Primate, not only as an old friend of my family and a near neighbour, but as one for whom your Lordships have so much respect. It is rather curious how often Episcopal England has had to come to Presbyterian Scotland for its Archbishops, and as your Lordships are well aware the two most rev. Primates, who so adorn their positions, have the great advantage of coming from the country north of the Tweed. There is only one thing which I regret about it, and that is that apparently they have not inherited any of the Covenanting principles of their forefathers. If they had done so, then 886 this Measure would not have been before your Lordships' House, and a deadly blow would not have been aimed at the Protestant cause of the Church of their adoption. I do not want to go into the details of the Measure, because there are many others who want to speak, and I fully admit that I am not properly qualified to do so. It is, I think, exceedingly difficult for anyone to speak on this question, because we all realise how little we know and how slight is the distance which human knowledge goes. Still, we have our opinions, right or wrong, and if we believe in them we ought, I think, to state them.
During the nineteen hundred years of the Christian religion I think there has been one teaching which very few, if any, have ever been able to carry out; you cannot worship God and mammon. There may be some alive in this world who have been able to do so, but they must be very few. There is another teaching which we probably all agree with but which probably we are none of us ready properly to apply, and that is the parable of the mote and the beam. We are apt to consider the beam in the other party's eye, and too often to think that even the mote is not in our own eye. What I would ask, particularly on this occasion, whether your Lordships approve of this Measure or whether you do not, is that you should remember that you are incurring a very great and grave responsibility if you pass it without an appeal to the people, or without letting the people know what is taking place. I venture to say, and I think a large number will agree with me, that it is only just dawning on the people of this country what is in this Measure. Therefore I maintain that even those who are strongest in favour of it will make a great mistake if they pass this Measure, and let the people of England say that they have been jockeyed into it without being given an opportunity of seeing what it means. This House generally poses as trying to protect the people from rash and sudden legislation. Surely there never has been a case where your Lordships' interest in the care of the people is so much needed as at the present time. Thee is no appeal from this Measure, and I consider that if this Measure is passed, whether it be right or wrong, without giving the people, and especially those who belong to the Church of England, an opportunity of really con- 887 sidering and understanding it, you are running a grave danger not only for your Lordships' House but also for the country.
We are told that it is very necessary to get it through. I think I am not misinterpreting the most rev. Primate when he said that there had been something like twenty-one years' discussion—what might perhaps be called procrastination—over this Measure. If it has taken twenty-one years (another speaker, I think, said seven) to produce this Measure, surely it is not asking too much to say that there should be another six months' or even one year's delay. I cannot help thinking that it would be more advantageous to the Church of England and to the cause which the right rev. Prelates represent if they would adjourn this debate until next Session. Why has it been brought on this Session? The only explanation that occurs to me is that those who are responsible for it were afraid to let the people of the country know what it means. Why, after these twenty-one years, not delay the Measure till next Session, or even the Session after? Surely in an important question like this, a matter of six months or a year is not very much. Although I am opposed to this Measure, if I felt convinced that the people of the country wanted it I would certainly not oppose it; but at the present time I feel, on such evidence as we have, that it is not wanted.
To whom does the Church belong? Of course, the Church, as we all know, belongs to the Almighty, but the Church is for the people of this country, not the people of this country for the Church; and I am not at all sure that your Lordships will not have to decide to-morrow, not merely this question of the Prayer Book, but whether the Church of England belongs to the people of England or to the Bishops of England. The most rev. Primate alluded to the Scottish Episcopal Church, and said that that Church also had an alternative Prayer Book. I belong, I suppose, more to the Church of England, but I have belonged to the Episcopal Church in Scotland for a very considerable number of years, and I am glad to say that all the churches that I have attended were churches which always used the Prayer Book of the Church of England, and have never allowed any alternative. If you look at the Scottish Episcopal Church at the 888 present time, with its alternative Prayer Book, can you say it is in a flourishing condition? No one can say it is. At the present time there are several members of the Episcopal Church who are seriously thinking whether, under present conditions, they would not do better to join the Church of Scotland.
Allusion was also made to services in the Church of St. Giles and St. Cuthbert's. Everyone who knows Scotland knows that the services in nearly all the churches in Scotland, and certainly in the Church of St. Giles, differ very considerably from what they were many years ago. At the same time, no one can say that any illegality has been committed there; no one can say that the services in the Church of St. Giles, or these other churches, have driven the people into the streets. But that cannot be said of many of the services in churches of the Church of England. What I should like to know is this—and it is what Protestants want to know: Supposing this Book is passed, and certain concessions of great principle are made in a direction which they believe to be entirely wrong, are they going to gain anything from it? What is going to happen in the case of the clergy, or possibly the Bishops, who are to-day in the Church of England, who take the vows of the Church of England, who draw the pay of the Church of England, and practise the rites and customs of another Church? Is anything going to be done to them? Are there any powers in this Bill to deal with them? I should also like to know what is to be done to the 1,400 clergy who have already been mentioned.
I would also like to put another question to the most rev. Primate. If this Measure passes, what redress is there to be for those who have been driven out of the churches into the highways by these illegal practices? They have had none up to the present. Are they to have any in the future? I am afraid we must almost all admit that, in spite of everything that has happened in the last nineteen hundred years, the priests, the Pharisees and the Sadducees are precisely the same to-day as they were nineteen hundred years ago. We all know that nineteen hundred years ago the priests were in the wrong. Are we certain they are right to-day? Their 889 wrong, of course, led to a great right for it led to the great sacrifice which enfranchised the whole world. Now the Church of England, it is generally admitted, when the Great War broke out, was found to have far less hold on the people than was expected and it would not be incorrect to say that, with many notable exceptions, it was one of the failures of the Great War. I have heard it stated that a great deal of its work and that of other Churches, too, was left to the Young Men's Christian Association. We have to be very careful to see that to-day we are not rejecting the truth and accepting a false gospel, as was done nearly nineteen hundred years ago.
There is another point I would like to put to your Lordships because history sometimes repeats itself. Nearly 300 years ago a Prayer Book was forced on the Episcopal Church of Scotland by Archbishop Laud. The result of that was that the Archbishop lost his head and his Sovereign lost both his throne and his head. I ask your Lordships to consider, if that happened when an English Archbishop forced a Prayer Book on the Scottish people, what will happen when two Scottish Archbishops force a Prayer Book on the English? There are many other noble Lords who want to speak, but, before sitting down, I do ask your Lordships to pause before passing this Bill so that the weight of public opinion may be known either for or against it because, whatever we may argue or say here, if this is to be a success and if the Church of England is to have a greater future, it can only do so by the force of public opinion and by the belief of public opinion in the truth of its word.
My Lords, I would like to say a few words from a point of view that has not been put before your Lordships in the course of this debate. We have listened during a day and a half to some very great speeches, informed by knowledge and inspired by a sincerity such as has seldom, if ever, been heard in your Lordships' House, but I cannot help thinking that there has been one great omission. It has been rather noticeable that almost every speech has been prefaced by the speaker stating what his claims are to speak upon the subject, except, of course, in the cases where, like the right rev. Primate, no such introduction 890 could possibly have been necessary. I am going to make exactly the opposite claim. I think it is important to make some observations from a wholly unimportant point of view. It is a paradox, but it is also one of the glories of religion that the unimportant point of view is, when all is said and done, the most important view of all. We have heard practically nothing from what I may describe as the purely ordinary layman. We have had the great ecclesiastics, both clerical and lay. We have heard those who have been concerned with Church discussions and ecclesiastical controversies for a generation or more. But we have not had anybody yet speaking from the point of view of the perfectly ordinary attendant at our Church of England services.
I should like, first of all, to express my strong disagreement with one remark that fell from the noble and learned Lord, Lord Carson. He said that in his view it was disastrous that a discussion of this kind should take place in Parliament. From that view I wholly dissent. I think that such a discussion is not only essential but does the greatest possible amount of good. Everyone has the right to express his view; but, after all, who really will be affected by any change in our public services? More than those who conduct the services, more than those who have taken part in theological controversies is the position of the ordinary man and woman who attend our Church of England services. I would claim to speak, not of course as a representative—no member of your Lordships' House could do that—but at any rate as a fairly typical person brought up in the Church of England and with the intention of bringing up in the same faith those who come after me.
I cannot understand some of the remarks that have been made in the course of this debate. For example, the noble Duke who has just sat down spoke as if the whole matter was altogether unknown to the average layman. Going about and talking to people who are not concerned with theological controversy, who very likely do not even know, strictly speaking, what a rubric is, I find that this subject of the revised Prayer Book is a matter of perfectly common knowledge and discussion throughout the length and breadth of the country. How 891 any one can say in the same speech that your Lordships are being jockeyed into it and then go on to speak of the length of time that has elapsed, of the procrastination that has taken place before it reached your Lordships, and to ask that it should be postponed until the people of this country have heard something about it, really passes my comprehension.
I would like to put before your Lordships what I believe to be the point of view of the average man and woman who attend our Church of England services with regard to the Measure now before us. It seems to me there are four points. In the first place, no one who reads the newspapers at all can be ignorant that this Measure and the Deposited Book have been assailed throughout the last year or more by the extremists of both sides. He is perfectly familiar with the fact that some people say it goes too far and that others say it does not go far enough. Those points of view have been repeated in the course of your Lordships' discussions. I am absolutely certain that the average person, taking no particular interest in theological controversy, says that if that is so, if it is accused first of going too far and then of not going far enough, it is about the kind of Book for him. That is the first point I should like to make.
The second is this. He must be excessively ignorant if he has not become aware that this Deposited Book has received the overwhelming majority of the collective voice of the Church. He may not know how the Church Assemblies or Convocations are exactly formed, but he does know that they consist of people who have made it their business to study these particular questions and, without going into figures which have been given again and again in your Lordships' House, everybody knows that this Book comes before Parliament with a great majority of all those who for years have really considered and studied the subject. The third thing that everybody knows is that there is not only no order in the Church of England services to-day, but that it is impossible unless there is a revised Prayer Book that there should be any order. Much has been made by speakers like the noble Lord, Lord Carson, as to the need for keeping strictly to the old Prayer Book. I do not 892 know of any church in England which strictly carries out the Prayer Book of 1662. You cannot go to any church in the kingdom and be sure exactly of what kind of service it will be, or whether it will include prayers which are authorised or not.
The noble Earl, Lord Stanhope, speaking on the question of discipline, said that he was quite persuaded that if the Bishops could effectively use moral suasion there was no need for a new Book at all. I say without fear of contradiction that is not the conviction of the great mass of people who attend our church services. They desire something more than can be found in the Prayer Book of 1662. More than that, they are getting it to-day; they are getting it, though it is not lawful. The English, as a race, do not express any great fondness for illegality. They would much prefer that, in the words of the noble Lord, Lord Carson, this illegality should now be legalised. They do not want to be confined to the rigid and narrow service which is all that is allowed by the Prayer Book of 1662. It is quite impossible to imagine any church going back strictly to that service. That is in the knowledge of everybody who attends church.
And the fourth point in everybody's knowledge is on the question of doctrine. The English as a race have never taken a great delight in theological discussions and, as a whole, are extremely ignorant on matters of doctrine. They now find themselves confronted with a great doctrinal controversy. They know that by an overwhelming majority, with very few dissentients, the Episcopal Bench has assured the country that not only is there no intention that there shall be a change of doctrine but, in their view, that there is no change of doctrine. The noble Lord, Lord Carson, made play with the fact that the average man would have to balance the views of the right rev. Prelate the Bishop of Worcester with those of the right rev. Prelate the Bishop of Chelmsford, but, if I may say so with all respect, that struck me as a purely debating point. Very often two eminent lawyers differ on some interpretation of the law, but there is never any real difficulty afterwards in discovering what the authoritative view of the law is. Can you get a more authoritative 893 exposition of doctrine than that which is being given to the country at large on this particular point by the words of the most rev. Primate? And after all the average man or woman not knowing himself or herself anything about theological points is apt to say: "Well, he is the person, and those many Bishops who think with him are the people, we can fully trust." That I believe to be the ordinary opinion of the average person.
I should like to pass from that for one moment to the question of the Black Rubric. The noble and learned Lord, Lord Carson, spoke as if no argument at all had been addressed in answer to the words which had fallen from the noble and learned Lord, Lord Hanworth, and even went so far as to say that the position which had been carefully argued on the previous day was not arguable. It is very difficult to understand what meaning can be attached to English when such words are used. The noble Earl, Lord Beauchamp, went rather fully into the matter early in the debate yesterday and there has been more help from such authorities as Chancellor Smith, in The Times to-day, and from the noble and learned Lord, Lord Phillimore, last night, and to-day again a categorical reply on the subject from the right rev. Prelate the Bishop of Chelmsford. I find it very difficult, though trying as one always would to enter into the minds of those who oppose anything in which one oneself believes, to understand quite what is their difficulty in this matter.
One was quite familiar during the War with the mentality of those who never obeyed an order unless it was repeated, who also never took an order to be an order unless at the end of it there was put the words: "This order must be obeyed." Further everyone who served in the War will know that distinction was drawn between the words "Secret," "Very Secret" and "This must not be divulged." There were many who understood the word "Secret" to mean that they could regard it as only generally confidential among their friends. I cannot help thinking, in view of the fact that apparently such an attitude of mind as that is not so uncommon as one would have supposed, that it is rather a pity that the Black Rubric was not repeated in the alternative Communion Service. But the fact that it is not repeated surely 894 does not mean, if it is included in the Book and not repealed, that it has not exactly the same force as if it had been repeated. I cannot understand how an eminent lawyer like the noble and learned Lord who first spoke in opposition to the Measure, can really maintain that a thing which is not repeated and not repealed has not exactly the same value as it had in the beginning. With all the will in the world one cannot understand how that can be a stumbling block and an important matter to those who oppose this Measure.
I come to another point. It has been a matter of some surprise to me that in the course of the many speeches which have been delivered by noble Lords and by one member of the Episcopal Bench against this Measure, no reference of any sort or kind has been made to the Report of the Ecclesiastical Committee of both Houses of Parliament. It is obvious, of course, that neither House of Parliament is bound in any way by the Report of a Committee, but surely that document should have been answered in some way by those who oppose this Measure. The Committee, after all, cannot be said in any way to be engineered, as has been alleged of other gatherings which have reported in favour of this Measure. It consists, as your Lordships know, of fifteen members of Parliament drawn from each House, and though there are one or two members of it who are ecclesiastical controversialists, the vast majority of the members of it are perfectly ordinary members of Parliament. I have been a member of that Committee since its inception under the Enabling Act, and I cannot remember equal care and attention being given to the study of any Measure referred to it. I cannot help thinking that it is rather surprising that those who oppose this Measure should have allowed this really important Report to go entirely unchallenged. I have always understood that a thing unchallenged is accepted. There are two paragraphs, numbered 12 and 13, going with some detail into the reasons why the Committee by a very large majority considered that it would be advisable that your Lordships should agree to this Measure. I think they require some answer from those who oppose the Measure.
There is a further point that I wish to make. I cannot help thinking that 895 the vote that we shall give to-morrow night is one of extreme importance, and that we should give it only after we have asked ourselves and decided for ourselves one question: whether the passage of this Measure will be for the good or for the bad of the Church in England. I cannot avoid the conclusion that, if that question is deliberately and seriously asked, there can be only one answer. It has been ignored in many of the speeches in opposition that this revised Prayer Book is actually in usage now in a great many churches in England. Such has been the interest created by it, so well do many parts of it meet the needs of modern life, that it has been impossible to avoid using many prayers and alternative services. It is difficult to see what will be the result if, in fact, this Measure does not receive the assent of Parliament. The noble and learned Lord, Lord Carson, spoke, so far as I could gather from listening attentively, as if elasticity was a bad thing, but elasticity of services and variety and enrichment of services appeal, as no one can doubt who has been about among our parish churches, to the average churchgoer. This is what he desires and he finds many things which cannot be met in any way by the Prayer Book of 1662.
One final point. Many noble Lords have spoken of the lack of authority of the Episcopal Bench. How will that authority stand, how will it be strengthened, if those who have sincerely considered that the passage of this Measure is necessary and good see it now rejected? It seems to me that their moral and spiritual authority must be weakened and that, whereas there is now no order, if we do not have the revised Prayer Book there will be nothing but chaos in the Church of England.
§ LORD DANESFORT
My Lords, the question that we have to consider to-night is one which deeply affects the religious life of millions of the laity in this country. The Church of England is the Church of the nation, of the laity as well as the clergy, and let us not forget that the laity has had little voice in framing or in approving this Measure. Let me quote in support of that view the evidence of one whom the Episcopal Bench reverences and admires, as I do, that authoritative voice which we are going to hear to-morrow, chosen by the supporters of the Measure to represent their 896 views; let us hear the voice of the Bishop of Durham. The right rev. Prelate, not once but, I think I am right in saying, twice—first in an episcopal charge, "Quo tendimus?" delivered in 1924, which I have read with the utmost interest and satisfaction, and again in a letter which he wrote to the papers in the year 1925, said this:—The representative character of the House of Laity is utterly fictional.If I may say so with deep respect I most entirely agree with that version of the Bishop of Durham, who supported his view by a careful analysis of the figures showing how that representation of the House of Laity was reached in the Church Assembly.
But in this matter I trust that the laity are not without persons to represent their interests. Parliament is the trustee of the nation, and everyone of us individually is bound to consider and to protect the interests of the laity, as well as of the clergy. Lord Gorell informed your Lordships that he had talked to many presumably intelligent persons, members of the laity, who had, as he assured us, deeply studied this Prayer Book question from every point of view, and who had expressed to him their approval. I regret to say that my experience as to those with whom I have spoken was the exact reverse. I found that, although they knew that this Prayer Book debate was coming on, the vast majority of them, intelligent men and women too, had little notion as to what the true effects of these changes were, and had not considered whether they would be to the advantage of the nation or not. Individual opinion upon this matter is, however, worthless. Certainly I make my noble friend a present of the fact that my personal experience is valueless. I rely upon the right rev. Prelate, who has told us definitely that the representation of the laity of this country in the Church Assembly is fictional. Whether they have studied the Measure or not does not matter, for the fact remains that the laity have had little voice in framing or approving it.
Lord Gorell expressed some surprise that no one had referred in this debate to the Report of the Ecclesiastical Committee. I hope he does not imagine that we have not studied it. I have read every word of it; but may I ask what 897 is the duty of the Ecclesiastical Committee in this matter? It is not to say whether a Measure which they send up is good or bad. That is wholly outside their constitutional duties and rights. Their duty is simply to say whether there is such an invasion in the Measure of the constitutional rights of the people of this country as would justify them in refusing to send up this Measure to Parliament. I find that the Committee by a majority took the view that the constitutional rights of His Majesty's subjects are not in this respect prejudicially affected and that therefore they were justified in sending up the Measure.
It is quite true that in the following paragraph the committee say they are generally of opinion that these points to which they refer do not individually or collectively afford grounds for the rejection of the Measure. They had no justification whatever for expressing that opinion. They are not there to decide whether the Measure is good or bad. That is the duty which is cast upon Parliament, and that is the right which Parliament has. I am not questioning the decision of the Committee in saying that the constitutional rights of the subject are not affected, but I do most decidedly say that the Committee have no right to decide what your Lordships are here called upon to decide, whether this Measure is a right one or not.
There are many grave objections to this Measure. I desire to consider one aspect of it, and one only, but that I conceive to be a vital one. This Measure is avowedly put forward as a means of promoting peace in the Church and of securing discipline in the Church. In saying that I am sure I shall have the concurrence of the Episcopal Bench. But two questions arise. The first is: Will the acceptance of this Measure lead to peace and unity in the Church. The second question is: Is there any effective method, should this Measure pass, of securing obedience and discipline in the Church? Neither of those questions is strictly or even mainly an ecclesiastical question; both are questions on which we laymen sitting in this House and in the other House of Parliament are fully competent to decide upon the evidence before us, and I ask your Lordships to say that the answers to both questions must be "No."
898 May I examine a little further why I ask your Lordships to say that? First, as to the prospects of peace and unity. If this Measure pass there will no longer be one uniform Book of Common Prayer, but a series of alternative services, and in almost every parish in England the Church will be divided into two camps—one for the new service, and one against. Sometimes one party will prevail, sometimes the other, and confusion and disunity are inevitable. My noble and learned friend Lord Hanworth cited yesterday the strong testimony of three Bishops, including two right rev. Prelates who now adorn the Episcopal Bench, the Bishop of London and the Bishop of Gloucester, both of whom gave their unqualified verdict against alternative Communion Services. And yet they are here to-day supporting a Measure which puts forward that very proposition. We have not yet heard, but we shall perhaps hear before this debate closes, the reasons for this startling change of opinion. Is it possible that the new Book, with its alternative services, can lead either to peace or to unity? There are even stronger considerations than those which I have put forward. There is overwhelming evidence from the public utterances of the most prominent leaders on one side and the other that the new Book and specially the new Communion Service, if it be adopted, must lead to increased disorder and intensified differences.
Take, first of all, the Evangelical side of the Church of England. The opponents of this Measure on the Evangelical side are not, as some whom I venture to call imperfectly instructed persons would have us believe, extremists. The noble Lord who spoke just now-referred to them as extremists, but I assure him that he is incorrect in that view. These men of Evangelical views in the Church who oppose this Measure include vast numbers of deeply religious men, clerical and lay, whose consciences are vitally affected by these controversial changes and who express their profound conviction that, if they are carried, there is no hope for peace in the Church. I could quote many passages, but if your Lordships desire to see evidence of this I would refer yon to page 28 of the Report of the Ecclesiastical Committee, where they refer to the widespread belief 899 on the part of Evangelical members of the Church that this Measure will not lead to peace.
I refer next to the views of the Anglo-Catholic section of the Church. Do they think it will lead to peace? Do they think the adoption of this Measure is going to bring unity to the Church? Your Lordships heard—I doubt not with deep emotion—the speech of the venerated noble Viscount, Lord Halifax, this afternoon. He has had a lifetime's experience of these questions. He has studied them. He feels deeply as regards them and, in touching accents, at the close of his speech he assured your Lordships that this revised Book would not bring peace or order in the Church of England. And may I call your Lordships' attention to a witness on this point of quite a different type—namely, the right rev. Prelate the Bishop of Durham? He made a brilliant speech, as he generally does, in the debate in the House of Bishops in April, 1923. I call your Lordships' special attention to the views he expressed then because we should be extremely glad if he will repeat tomorrow, when he is speaking as the authorised exponent of the supporters, the views which he expressed to the House of Bishops. What he said to the House of Bishops was:—The proposed changes are largely in the nature of concessions to the law-breaking party.It would ill become a mere layman to use language of quite so picturesque a character as that, but that was the language used.
Then the right rev. Prelate makes it clear who are the law-breaking party in his opinion, and he says this:—The so-called Catholic Party stands absolutely alone in breaking the law on principle; that is, in repudiating the law itself.He proceeds (and this I venture to think is of the utmost importance to the subject we are now considering):—Have we any reason for thinking that the party in deference to whose demands this revision has been mainly undertaken will obey the proposed rubrics if they become law?The right rev. Prelate examinee all the facts and conditions before him and to that question he gives a decided "No." It will be said by some that the position may have changed since 1923. In order to 900 satisfy you that the position has nowise changed since the right rev Prelate came to that conclusion, may I turn to three recent and most important documents? The first of them is a memorandum presented to the Archbishops and Bishops by the Central Council of the Catholic Societies in March, 1927. Those societies represent the English Church Union, the Federation of Catholic Priests and other Catholic societies. In the course of that memorandum they express this view—"It is certain," they say, "that the Bishops' proposals will not produce peace."
The second document to which I refer is the uncompromising speech of Dr. Darwell Stone, the Chairman of the Federation of Catholic Priests, which he delivered in the Church Assembly during the consideration of this Measure, on July 6, 1927. He relentlessly opposed this Measure and told the Assembly that it would not produce peace. The third and last document is a letter which perhaps some of your Lordships may have read from the Federation of Catholic Priests in November, 1927, and to which the noble and learned Lord, Lord Hanworth, has already referred. In it this body, representing some 1,400 priests, gave a solemn assurance that if any of their number defied the authority of the Bishops their society would stand behind them and support them in that defiance. I need hardly say that I do not agree with the views of these men of the Anglo-Catholic section, but I believe that they are absolutely sincere when they say that they cannot render obedience to the new Book. I confess that when I read in an article by Dr. Percy Dearmer, one of the protagonists in support of this Measure, which appeared in the Nineteenth Century and After in December last, a suggestion that those Anglo-Catholics who declared their determination honestly and sincerely to resist were "cranks," the suggestion appeared to me not only incorrect but offensive.
These controversies will not be settled by abuse. They will only be settled by the belief and sincerity of those who express their opinions on the one side or the other. I have given you the opinions of the Evangelical section and I have given you the opinions of the Anglo-Catholic section, and they unite in saying that this Measure cannot lead to peace. I ask your Lordships what 901 becomes of the avowed object with which this Measure is brought forward—namely, to produce peace in the Church of England? So much for the first question which I put, Will it produce peace?
I now pass to the second question: Is there any effective method, should this Measure pass into law, of securing obedience? The most rev. Primate has assured us that the Bishops in this matter will act together and will administer the Book faithfully. I do not for a moment doubt the sincerity of those assurances, but in view of the number and the influence of those who conscientiously have announced that they will not obey the new Book, I gravely doubt the power of the Bishops to enforce obedience. We were told that they will use moral suasion. I think the noble Earl, Lord Beauchamp, rather suggested that course, and the most rev. Primate the Archbishop of Canterbury, in your Lordships' House, looked forward to moral suasion as a great agent for obedience. I should accept that view much more readily did I not know that for twenty-five and more years past moral suasion has been absolutely useless. It has not succeeded in suppressing any of those more flagrant illegalities which the Royal Commission in 1906 found to exist, which even this Measure does not legalise, and which illegalities have since the Commission's Report increased both in volume and intensity.
The noble Earl, Lord Stanhope, this afternoon referred very fully to the Report of the Commission of 1906, and if I may say so, I think his speech was most valuable for he called attention to many matters which are not referred to in any of the literature in support of this Measure that I have seen. May I remind your Lordship in two or three words what the Commission did report? They found as a fact that the existing machinery for maintaining discipline had broken down; in other words, the machinery of the Courts had broken down. And they found, further, that attempts to deal administratively with irregularities had been unsuccessful; in other words, the Bishops had been unsuccessful in securing order. They recommended therefore the issue of Letters of Business to give greater elasticity to the services of the Church, and they also recommended, as Earl Stanhope pointed 902 out, the establishment of new Ecclesiastical Courts to deal effectively with that illegality. It is certainly a remarkable thing that in almost every one of the statements that I have seen in respect of the Measure, while they all referred to the recommendation as to the issue of Letters of Business, there was not one word as to the other and, as I think, in some ways even more important recommendation—namely, the establishment of Ecclesiastical Courts.
What has happened? One recommendation of the Royal Commission has been adopted, the other has had no effect whatever given to it up to the present time, and there is no effective machinery whatever to enforce obedience or discipline upon those who have announced their intention of breaking the law. In these circumstances I urge most strongly that before your Lordships are called upon to pass this Measure the recommendation of the Commission should be adopted and that these new Courts, as the existing machinery has broken down, should be set up. Again I find myself strongly supported by the right rev. Prelate the Bishop of Durham, whose authority in these matters, as I am sure the Episcopal Bench will readily admit, is beyond question. What does the Bishop of Durham say? I quote from his speech in the House of Bishops on April 23. The right rev. Prelate said:—These proposals as to the new Communion Service ought, in my judgment, to stand over until the Church is provided with a legal machinery which the general conscience of the clergy sanctions, and which, therefore, the Bishops can use effectively in restraint of disobedience.In other words, the right rev. Prelate entirely endorses the argument which was put so powerfully to-day by the noble Earl, Lord Stanhope. I cannot but feel that no circumstances have intervened which would in any way alter the opinion so expressed by the right rev. Prelate.
I have to thank your Lordships for listening so kindly to me, but before I sit down I want in a very few words to refer to an argument that has been strongly urged in almost every public utterance I have seen in support of the Measure, and that is that the new services are entirely optional. That statement seems to me to be grossly inaccurate—by misapprehension no doubt but none the less inaccurate. In the first 903 place, where no parochial church council exists, as in the case of cathedrals, college chapels and so on, these new services can be imposed without the assent of and against the wishes of the great majority of those who worship in those cathedrals and other places. But that is not all, because even where there is a parochial church council it is frequently unrepresentative, as every one of your Lordships knows. It is frequently unrepresentative or is under the control of the minister, and in those cases the minister and this unrepresentative council can adopt the new services against the wishes, it may be, of the great majority of those who worship in the parish church.
There is one other consideration which seems to me to be a very important one. Even where there is a representative church council the minister, if supported by the Bishop, can, under Clause 2 of the Measure, impose the new Book, or any part of it he chooses, on the parish against the wishes of the church council. You may say that is an improbable thing. Possibly it may be. It may not happen often. But under the Measure as drawn it can happen and may happen, and if it does I call it a gross injustice to the laity of the parish in question. My last word is this. I deeply regret that owing to the way in which this Measure is brought up to us, your Lordships' House cannot pass the very valuable and uncontroversial parts of the new Book and reject the others. As that possibility is denied to us I can see no alternative in the circumstances but to ask your Lordships to reject the Measure.
§ LORD DAWSON OF PENN
My Lords, if it is not too late an hour to continue this debate and will not weary your Lordships, I should like to interpose at this moment. The speech of the noble Lord who has just sat down seems to me to consist of two parts. In one part any arguments connected with the Bill are submerged in technicalities which certainly we laymen can ill understand. The other part of the speech seems to me to be concerned in demonstrating to your Lordships' House that the Bishops are guilty of inconsistencies. If the Bishops were not guilty of inconsistencies, they would be an exceedingly dull set of people. What we want to 904 know is, not what this Bishop or that Bishop said a few years ago, but their considered opinion now, and we have had it. This is not an cccasion, in a highly technical matter of this kind, when you content yourself with counting heads. This is an occasion for expert opinion. Surely a majority of 21 out of 25 Bishops is more than adequate. Compare it with that of a body of 25 lawyers or 25 engineers or even, if I may say so modestly, 25 doctors, and I doubt very much if you would get a stronger consensus of opinion than was obtained for this Measure. There is the further advantage that the minority is just big enough to give adequate evidence of intellectual vitality.
The opponents of the Measure do not, I think, give sufficient weight to the result of its rejection. Parliament in its wisdom has recognised on the one hand, that it wishes to maintain the bond between Church and State, and on the other hand that it is itself incapable of managing the Church. It therefore allowed the Enabling Act to be forged as an instrument for maintaining the relations of Church and State and at the same time giving the Church power over its own destiny. Can it be fairly said that, the very first time the machinery so set up produces a large constructive proposal, the rejection of that proposal will not have a very damaging effect on the prestige and power of those who are behind it? All new bodies are sensitive to rebuffs, and a rebuff on this occasion would have serious import. Whether your Lordships are for or against this Measure, I think it is only on proof of fundamental reasons against it that it would be wise to encompass its rejection.
Are there any fundamental objections of this kind? I will pass over the question of prayers for the King. I really thought my noble friend Lord Hanworth was in "Queer Street" when the first argument he adduced was that there was not provision for prayers for the King. Surely we can trust the people of this country. May it not be said that the affection for the Throne and in particular for the present occupant of it, is such that the people themselves will demand ample opportunities of offering up prayers for their King, without any intervention on our part? Such opportunities are many.
905 Passing from that, it seems to me that the real controversy centres round the question of the Communion. I hope to show—and I do not share the views of the Anglo-Catholic Party—that really the fears which have been expressed are to a large extent unjustified. I take it the Bishops had to face realities. They are not the first people who have had to do that. How many instances are there in our history when we have begun by struggling with those with whom we disagreed and then after a period of struggle we have come to the conclusion that it was advisable to make an arrangement with them? Politics have given us an example of this in nearly every decade. We have only to go back to Gladstone and the Parnell Treaty and to the War Cabinet and the Suffragettes. Bishops, like statesmen, and the Church, like the State, have to face realities and the realities are these: It cannot be gainsaid that the Anglo-Catholic Party form in this country a powerful body of people, united by one big purpose, and when you test them by their deeds, whether you agree with them or not, their deeds are great. They are people of sincerity of purpose and give themselves up to the service of the unhappy and the needy, and, tested by their deeds, you cannot find them wanting. They have a unity of purpose which many other parts of the Church might wisely emulate.
What is wanted? Is it proposed to ask these people to find accommodation elsewhere? Is it not obviously the purpose of statesmanship to bring them into a larger comprehension and a larger measure of unity? I agree with the noble Lord who said that in no circumstances must the principles of the Reformation be transgressed. Is there any serious transgression in the action or views of the Anglo-Catholic Party? I should like very briefly to try to show what are the grounds on which the Anglo-Catholic Party have this strength of appeal to such a large body of people. The first is this: the doctrine of the real presence is a comfort and a life-giving force to a large number of people in this country. That is a fact. It is a part of their personal religion. Why not, if it helps them along the rough places of this world? If it is only a personal religion there is nothing but good for them in it. Then 906 there are a large number of people who are helped by the ritual and ceremonies of the Anglo-Catholic Party. There, again, if these are part of their personal religion, what objection can there be?
Thirdly, consider this world of high pressure, of conflicting controversies on this question and on that. I take the recent question raised by Sir Arthur Keith on the origin of man. Look at the number of people who were discomfited—and why? Their own authorities in the Church had told them that the first chapter of Genesis must not be taken as historical truth. They then said: "Well, if it is not historical truth, if there was no fall of man in the Garden of Eden where comes in the foundation of your doctrine of incarnation?" There were thousands who thought like that. And there is an increasing number of people who, among these conflicting controversies, are seeking for certitude and quietude, and they fall back on authority and they can find that authority in the Anglo-Catholic section of the Church. And I am not at all sure that, as time goes on, that question of authority may not philosophically form the line of cleavage between two big parties in the Church, those who seek authority and those who prefer to choose for themselves. But the vital question there is this—that the individual seeks the authority, and that authority is not imposed from without. As long as that vital condition is satisfied it cannot be said that there is any Romish tendency in any of these views.
Where lies the really vital source of the strength of the Reformation movement? Surely, it does not lie in this or that item of personal belief, voluntarily adopted by the individual under the influence of those around him. The real question we fought for at the Reformation, and for which I believe this nation would rise up and fight again is this, that we must have freedom of choice, that there must be no sense of constraint; and if we contrast the views of the Anglo-Catholic Party with, for example, the Church of Rome, is not the difference this, that the Church of Rome, from quite good motives, no doubt, is exercising constraint and force, and if it happens to be in a country where they are powerful that force and that constraint are brought home to the social life of the people in no uncertain way.
907 I can give you one example. Take the harsh and hard attitude of the Church of Rome on mixed marriages. Those mixed marriages inflict a great deal of trouble and suffering in a country like this, where the majority of the people are Protestants. Now, that is a transgression of the principles of the Reformation, and if any Anglo-Catholic priest or party ventured to impose, by constraint or otherwise, any of their views such as I have just delineated on any party or section of this country, I venture to say they would never do it twice. I believe they would find in no uncertain manner that this country would never listen to such a thing for a moment. It is that liberty to choose which is the real dividing line, in my judgment, between what I may call Romanising influences and those which belong to the Protestant Church.
I now come to a matter which has not been mentioned before in your Lordships' House. May I point out that a good deal of the criticism of this Measure is a criticism which is a view of the world through middle-age spectacles. I cannot but think that the Bench of Bishops said to themselves: "After all, people having set opinions are not the people concerned." They have their set views, the old Prayer Book is theirs. What really matters is what concerns the people who are now about to get into the saddle in the public life of this country. Anybody who was in the War must have realised what a measure of insufficiency the Church of England showed, and it showed it because of its absence of flexibility. It was enslaved by its own Liturgy and one of the criticisms that I feel towards this Book is that, although it does show greater flexibility, it is nothing like flexible enough. I realise that as statesmen Bishops have to get the best they can. They have made offending phrases optional, it is true, but they have still left them in. I think I can assert with assurance that, if you ask what is the position among the young people of this country to-day, yon will find that a large proportion of them are not hostile to the Church, but they are not for it. They conform, they acquiesce, but there is not amongst them any sort of real allegiance, and that applies to thousands of educated youths in this country.
As to their being irreligious, they are nothing of the kind, but there has been a big jump forward in the last twenty 908 years. The Church's thoughts are not their thoughts, the Church's ways are not their ways. It is worth while thinking out what they do think. One thing about them is that they are characterised by an intellectual candour hitherto unknown and they are offended by the want of intellectual candour the Church shows, the want of courage in statement and restatement. I cannot but think that the Bench of Bishops had them in mind and the one hope I see (and a great deal depends upon it in the future) is whether the Church is able to win back those people to allegiance. I will try to bring home my meaning by an episode that is buried in my memory. At one of the worst periods of the War, when we were struggling to get over sepsis with very indifferent success, when man after man of the finest type fell victim, I remember an occasion when there was an officer for whom we had been struggling for weeks to try and save him from septic infection following fracture of the thigh bone. His wife was there watching him day by day. There were two children, we happened to know, and no money whatever to keep the wife or children if he died. The wounded man was a particularly fine type of man. We were defeated: he died. It was not often that medical officers had time to go to funerals, but many of us went to that one.
It was chilling beyond measure. I never realised more how the Church of England was enslaved by its Liturgy. Nothing less suitable could have been imagined than our burial service on that occasion and when we came to that prayer at the end, which I have written down here, and which begins:—We give thee hearty thanks, for that it hath pleased thee to deliver this our brother out of the miseries of this sinful world … .you can imagine the chill that fell upon the audience. How we hated it! We knew it was not true. We did not thank the Lord our God; it was an intellectual untruth. It is very seldom that we do thank God for taking away our friends from us. It is that want of intellectual candour which damages the Church in the eyes of the young generation that believes in truth and the almost brutal expression of it. The effect of that on that audience I shall never forget. It alienated them from their Church and all about it. There was an atmosphere 909 of tragedy, pathos and sorrow; we were ready reverently to acquiesce in what was prescribed for us; we were not willing to thank. That is an example.
It so happened that the very next funeral was conducted by a minister of the Presbyterian Church. It was wonderfully adapted to the occasion, and the contrast between the Church in which I was born and the Scottish Church was such that it was left embedded in the memory of every person there. It is such things that make us say that anything is better than keeping as we are. Although, speaking for myself, this Measure does not give anything like sufficient flexibility, I hope it is a beginning and that on this beginning more and more freedom will be built until people of wide views and larger comprehension can all be embraced in one united Church in this country.
The noble and learned Lord, Lord Phillimore, perhaps the greatest authority on ecclesiastical law in this country, carried your Lordships back to a bit of history in his speech yesterday, to a time when passion and ecclesiastical differences clashed so acutely as to culminate finally in the imprisonment of several priests for conscience sake. He showed your Lordships how little good resulted. He forgot to mention, however, what to my mind was a very interesting episode connected with the imprisonment of those priests. When Mr. Mackonochie was still in prison, Archbishop Tait was on his deathbed, and he sent the present most rev. Primate as an envoy to make peace. That was in an early part of the career of the most rev. Primate whom we all admire so much. Not only was he sent as an envoy of peace, but he made peace and brought to an end a very painful period of history in this country. I venture to hope that he whose career has become ever greater as it has proceeded until one doubts whether even now it has reached its limit, will, if your Lordships pass this Motion, bring about a wider comprehensiveness, a larger tolerance alike for the benefit of the Church and of the State.
My Lords, like the noble Lord who spoke a little earlier in the evening I am not a member of the House of Laymen but just an ordinary Churchman and I trust that a few words from me on that account will not be 910 deemed to be out of place. The Deposited Book came into being, as I understand, as a result of Letters of Business issued to the Convocations by the Crown. Those contained instructions to revise the Prayer Book presumably because the Royal Commission had stated that the law of public worship in the Church of England was too narrow for the religious life of the present generation. Have the Bishops strictly adhered to the instructions given them in the Letters of Business? It seems to me that they have not. They have brought back the old Book of Common Prayer with some slight modifications and some alterations and additions to the rubrics, and in addition they have produced a fresh edition of the Prayer Book and presented this fresh edition, first to Convocation and now to Parliament, not in place of the old Prayer Book but as an alternative. That does not seem to me to be in the least the same thing.
If the Bishops had precisely carried out the instructions given to them one cannot help feeling that they would have produced a Book which, whilst allowing greater liberty in the forms of worship and making certain alterations in it upon which all parties were agreed, would have steered clear of controversial matters. A Measure founded upon such a Book would have had an easy passage through Parliament. There would have been no occasion for a Committee for the Maintenance of Truth and Faith nor even for a League of Loyalty and Order, and the world would have been spared the exhibition of acute differences of opinion such as have been shown in this debate, in the columns of the Press and otherwise. I cannot help feeling that those who have taken up the position that the Church of England is not ripe for such changes as have been made in its Liturgy have been abundantly justified by the course of events. I know that it has been said that this Book has been approved by large majorities in Convocation, in the Church Assembly and in diocesan conferences, but one cannot shut one's eyes to the fact that the Book is definitely condemned by a very large number of Anglo-Catholic clergy on the one hand and of Evangelical clergy on the other.
It has aroused no enthusiasm in any quarter. Even the speeches in favour of the Measure in this House have been rather of an apologetic nature than filled 911 with ardent approval. The noble Lord, Lord Daryngton, who spoke earlier in the evening, quoted from Canon Wilson, the rector of Cheltenham, because he is one of the principal apologists for the Book amongst the Evangelical clergy, but in the letter of Canon Wilson urging its adoption by Parliament he confesses that parts of it have filled him with concern and dismay. A letter written on behalf of certain of the Anglo-Catholic clergy who are not opposed to the passing of the Measure is still mote striking, because they reserve to themselves—or some of them do—the right not to use the alternative Book at all. How often has it been said by those who accept the Book that they do so, not because they like it but for the sake of unity or because the Bishops have been twenty years in producing it and they think it is a pity that all that time should be wasted? I fear that this Book will produce, not unity but strife.
Right rev. Prelates have let it be known that in future they intend to enforce obedience to their rules, that is, I suppose, to their interpretations of the alternative Book. But so much has been done and at the same time so much has been left undone that this will be a matter of extreme difficulty. I do not think that this is a suitable occasion for discussing in detail the changes which have been made in the Prayer Book. Besides, your Lordships have no power to amend. Therefore I will confine myself to a few general observations. It has been said that many of these changes have been made in order to provide legal sanction for acts of the clergy which, whilst not contravening the doctrines of the Church, were not specifically allowed by the existing rubrics—assimilating the Prayer Book to practice was how the noble and learned Lord who spoke last night described it. He referred no doubt to such changes as the limited reservation of the Blessed Sacrament, prayer for the faithful departed, and the introduction of the services of Prime and Compline.
Such additional freedom of action having been provided, the Bishops consider that they are now in a position to declare to their clergy: Thus far shall you go and no farther. But by this demand for implicit obedience to the letter of the new Book, by this denial of all that reasonable latitude which has been 912 hitherto the privilege of the Church of England, because it is both Catholic and Reformed, right rev. Prelates are going to cause grave trouble. May I, without entering into any discussion of doctrine, point out one small but not unimportant particular in which the Bishops will assuredly fail in securing obedience? On page 230 of the Deposited Book leave is now given to use immediately before the prayer of consecration in the service of Holy Communion the anthem known as the Benedictus, beginning "Blessed is He." I may say that this anthem is regularly in use as a part of the service at a dozen churches within a short walk of your Lordships' House and in hundreds of churches besides all over the country.
This is another but incomplete attempt to assimilate the Prayer Book to practice. For, at every one of these churches where this anthem is used, another anthem, or rather a prayer, known as Agnus Dei, is also said immediately after the consecration prayer. This prayer is not included amongst those authorised. One is authorised but the other is not. Do right rev. Prelates really believe that from the passing of this Measure this beautiful and most valuable prayer will cease to be used because it is not printed in the alternative Book? Scornful things are said sometimes about rebellious priests, but it is not an expression which can be used about the majority of the clergy who now make use of this prayer and, it is safe to say, will continue to use it. It is not conceivable that people who have been brought up on this prayer and learned to regard it as an integral part of divine service will lightly allow their parish priest to relinquish its use.
THE LORD BISHOP OF WINCHESTER
May I interrupt the noble Lord to say that the prayer he refers to is allowed?
Not in the printed Book. In my opinion there was a case for a revision of the Prayer Book on non-controversial lines. It may be that there was also a case for an alternative Book, although I personally dislike the sugges- 913 tion. Would it not have been better in that case to have produced something that would have been acceptable to at least one party in the Church? Let me quote from a speech of the right rev. Prelate the Bishop of London, made when the proposal for an alternative Communion was before Convocation in 1915. The noble Lord who has just spoken objects to quotations from old speeches of Bishops, but I think your Lordships will agree that this is just as applicable to-day as when the words were spoken. The right rev. Prelate said that the proposal would not satisfy the Catholic Party, and that when they were going to offend somebody they should at any rate find someone whom it would satisfy. He added that it seemed to him, as a practical person, that to do something to put the whole of one side against you and not to satisfy the other side was a thing that no wise person would do.
When the Deposited Book was before Convocation, a book known as the Green Book was presented on the authority of the Council of the English Church Union. This book would have completely satisfied the Catholic party in the Church and could hardly have met with more strenuous opposition than the alternative Book now before us. From that point of view the Green Book would have been worth having, but, on the advice of the Bishops, it was rejected. The alternative Book as we have it appears to me to be an ill-advised attempt on the part of the Bishops to control the Catholic party in the Church. In my opinion it will only succeed in stirring up strife where before there was peace. For that reason, and because, in the words of a distinguished writer, its whole effect will be to lessen the comprehensiveness of the Church, I cannot vote for the Motion of the most rev. Primate. I think that, in view of the opposition that the alternative Book has provoked, and particularly because it fails to satisfy any party in the Church, the most rev. Primate would have been well-advised to withdraw it.
My Lords, the letter which was addressed to The Times by the noble and learned Lord who usually sits on the Cross Benches, Lord Wrenbury, so precisely expressed my feelings on at least one aspect of this Measure that it makes unnecessary a part of what I had proposed to say to 914 your Lordships. It says it much better than I could say it. My own predilections were certainly opposed in the first instance to what I read about the Measure now before your Lordships. The sort of worship that satisfies me is that which satisfies my noble friend below me (the Marquess of Lincolnshire), and what appeals to me is simplicity, intelligibility and the absence of ornament. Unnecessary vestments distract me rather than otherwise. In point of fact if this Measure had been passed by the House of Laity by a very narrow majority I should have thought it right at any rate not to vote for it, but the figures are eloquent. One cannot ignore the significance of the majority of 5 to 2, and I cannot persuade myself that a House of Laity elected upon the principles upon which I know the House of Laity to be elected, does not reasonably represent the feeling of Church people who care about their Church.
I realise very fully what was said in such eloquent terms by my noble friend Lord Dawson of Penn, that some of the most earnest and most effectual work is done by the clergy of the Anglo-Catholic School. Are we to exclude those people from the Church of England? Because it seems to me that it must be one thing or the other. Either they must be within the Church or without it, and certainly the Church of England would be the poorer without them. I realise the danger which has been referred to, of the parish church in the country in which services may be held which are not in accordance with the wishes of some of the parishioners. I could have wished there was some greater protection for them. I should have preferred to see that the voting at the parochial council should determine whether certain practices were to be followed in their church or not; but I understand, and I believe it to be the fact, that the protection to be afforded in the appeal to the Bishop under the Measure will be greater than the protection now enjoyed by parishioners whose parish priest follows practices to which they do not adhere. I know a case at the present moment where practices prevail in a parish where many of the parishioners are not in accord with their minister. Fortunately there is an adjoining parish in which they can worship, and they go there. Therefore, as I have said, it appears to me that there 915 is more protection afforded by the Measure than exists at present.
In this connection I may perhaps refer to a point raised by my noble and learned friend Lord Hanworth, who complained that Clause 9 of the Measure provides that:—All orders and forms authorised to be used by, or lawfully issued under the provisions of this Measure, shall be deemed to be ordered by lawful authority within the meaning of the Declaration of Assent—and he submitted that if this House had its way or had power to amend, a proviso would have been added to that clause. As I read that clause it is an enabling clause and it is necessary to give effect to the rules and orders of the Bishops and to enable an incumbent who has made a declaration to obey those orders without breaking his assent.
But the learned Master of the Rolls seems to have overlooked the last paragraph of Clause 2 of the Measure, which says in terms:—a minister shall not be under any obligation to use in public worship any orders or forms of service other than those contained in the Book of Common Prayer, or to follow any rubric, table or direction not contained in the Book of Common Prayer, except such rubrics as under this Measure are to have effect as if contained in the Book of Common Prayer.Therefore the minister is absolutely protected. Clause 9 is merely an enabling clause, and no minister is compelled to depart from the Book of Common Prayer. From the speeches of Lord Carson and Lord Danesfort it might be inferred that the Book of Common Prayer had been taken away from people who desire to use it. Nobody proposes to take away the Book of Common Prayer. The Book of Common Prayer is there, and the alternative services are merely alternatives, which cannot be forced upon any minister.
Speeches such as those of the noble and learned Lords to whom I have referred fill me with despair. They tell us that no peace is to be obtained under this Measure, but they offer us no alternative. Are we to go on as we were? We are invited to postpone this Measure on two grounds. The first is in order that a Measure may be framed which contains only non-controversial matter; the second is in order that a new disciplinary Measure may be introduced. If any noble 916 Lord has read much of the literature which has been showered upon us within the last three weeks on the subject of this Measure he must surely wonder what the consequences of postponement would be. Is this to go on until an agreed Measure is reached? I can conceive nothing more disastrous to the Church than a continuance of this controversy. There is a good legal maxim to which I am much attached—Interest reipublicæ ut sit finis litium. This controversy must be settled. The Measure has been passed by overwhelming majorities in the National Assembly and in Convocation, the right rev. Prelates hold out a hope that it will lead to peace, and they tell us confidently that without this Measure they cannot guarantee either peace or discipline, and therefore in the interest of peace I dare not vote against it. I recognise that local controversies may follow in some parishes. I think that that danger has been exaggerated, and I read in the Measure that there are means of settling them. At any rate, those controversies can be settled, but first of all this great controversy has got to be settled and, in the interests of peace, I think we ought to support this Measure.
§ LORD HAYTER
My Lords, the noble Earl, Lord Beauchamp, yesterday quoted from a Nonconformist newspaper a statement advocating the acceptance of the alternative Prayer Book and he argued that Nonconformists are friendly to the Book. I think the noble Earl is wrong in that assumption. I would draw the attention of your Lordships to a leading article in last Thursday's Methodist Recorder, a semi-official newspaper of 65 years' standing. I will only quote one paragraph:—Parliament is asked officially to recognise and to foster in the Church by law established a form of worship which alters the complexion of the religious life of the country. It is to set the seal of its approval upon an interpretation of Christianity which it formerly repudiated and which to-day is alien to the religious conviction of probably the majority of Christians in the country.We are dealing with a matter that goes far beyond the confines of the Church of England. If the Church of England is what the name indicates, it represents the doctrines and forms of worship which find general acceptance in England. It leads the way, or ought to, in religious practice and belief, and anything which 917 alters or affects the influence of such a powerful Church is bound up with the general religious life of the nation.
If your Lordships consider that this matter does not concern Nonconformists, I must apologise for intervening in the debate, but my view and the view of probably the large majority of Nonconformists is that this present discussion affects every Englishman in a greater or lesser degree. Though I am not in any sense speaking as an official representative of the Wesleyan Methodist Church, I believe that by far the preponderating opinion of our Church does not approve of the Deposited Book. John Wesley always claimed that in his work he was doing nothing else than teaching the religion of the New Testament and the Book of Common Prayer. Does one wonder therefore that to-day what are called "the Church Prayers" are regularly used in a large number of our Methodist churches? It may be new to many here to know that most of the service of Holy Communion in the Book of Common Prayer is used in practically every Wesleyan place of worship. All this not only proves the friendly connection of at least one Nonconformist Church with the Established Church, but it also proves the right of members of my Church to show their interest in the proposal now before your Lordships. As Methodists we are allied by history and by sympathy to the Church of England, and we are averse from anything being done that might injure its usefulness or which in our opinion would undo the work of the Reformation, but it is felt that the influence of the new Book would be all in one direction, away from instead of towards the Reformation which gave to this country the incomparable Book of Common Prayer.
It has been said, rightly or wrongly, that discipline in the Church of England has broken down, but his Grace the Archbishop of York recently stated that, if the Deposited Book is accepted by Parliament, it is proposed afterwards to introduce a Measure to improve the ecclesiastical law of the Church. Should that stage in the evolution of the Church of England be reached, I dare to commend to those who may have to undertake the task to study the ecclesiastical law of the Wesleyan Methodist Church, which secures uniformity without narrowness and hardship and which has 918 now stood the test of nearly two hundred years working. From what I have said your Lordships will readily understand that many of the alterations in the new Book, especially some in the Service of the Holy Communion are entirely opposed to the beliefs of Wesley's followers. Therefore, in what I consider to be the true interests of the Church of England and of the Protestant religion in this country, I shall feel bound to record my vote against the Deposited Book.
§ Moved, That the debate be now adjourned.—(Earl Grey.)
§ THE MARQUESS OF SALISBURY
My Lords, I beg to move as an Amendment to that Motion, to add at the end the words "till to-morrow and be then taken as first Order." I move that in conformity with the notice I gave at the beginning of the present sitting.
At end of the Motion insert ("till to-morrow and be then taken as first Order.")—(The Marquess of Salisbury.)
§ LORD STRACHIE
My Lords, I am sure that the noble Marquess the Leader of the House must have moved this Amendment with a good deal of reluctance, because he has always told us that he was anxious to preserve the rights of unofficial members of the House. While I have had the honour of sitting in this House for some sixteen years, even as regards public business the Government have never yet taken the whole time of the House until the other day. I suppose that, having begun that kind of thing, the noble Marquess will seek not only to take the whole of our time for public business, but that he feels that it does not matter and that he can pick and choose to the detriment of private members' opportunities. He has always boasted that he was a protector of unofficial members, but I suppose that we shall not in future have that freedom of debate that has been the peculiar honour and glory of this House, and has made it so different from another place, in which the noble Marquess and I sat for some years and where private Mem- 919 bers are simply at the disposal of the Government and cannot speak unless the Government wish them to do so.
I am all the more surprised at the noble Marquess opposing my Motion and preventing me from moving it to-morrow because it deals with the serious depression in agricultural land. The Motion is in these terms—That it is desirable in view of the most serious depression in agriculture that agricultural land should be entirely relieved from all local rates by increasing the grants under the Agricultural Rates Acts.That ought to commend itself to the noble Marquess because it is very similar to a Motion proposed at the Cardiff Conservative Conference last autumn by agricultural members of the Conservative Party, who supported it in very strong speeches. The Motion seemed to meet with general approval, so far as I can judge from the report of the discussion. What happened? To my great surprise I found that the Minister of Agriculture, the last person one would expect to take objection to such a Motion and to leave the unfortunate agriculturist to suffer under disabilities, is reported in The Times as having said that he could not possibly hold out any hope that such a far-reaching change could be passed during the life-time of the present Parliament. I found also to my surprise that these good Conservatives ignored the interests of their constituents and, like good little children, obeyed the Minister of Agriculture, and withdrew the Motion.
I should like to draw attention to the fact that the Council of Agriculture for England had this question before it during the autumn, and that a resolution similar to the one that I have placed on the Paper was moved by myself and defeated by three votes. It was defeated, I think, simply because the Minister of Agriculture made a very strong Party speech in the course of which he said, according to the official report, that the proposal was absolutely out of the question. It is certainly most startling that a Government which professes to look after the interests of agriculture and the Minister of Agriculture refuse, when farmers are asking with a 920 united voice for relief, to consider such a Motion as this. A resolution was sent to the council of the Central Land Association from the county which I have the honour to represent upon it, and that Council passed a similar resolution asking the Government to do away with the rates. Then we have the National Farmers' Union who, I believe, are absolutely unanimous in asking that this justice should be done to agriculturists so that their raw material, land, should no longer have to pay rates. And this was refused.
Last but not least we have the very much more important body—a body which I should have thought the noble Marquess (the Marquess of Salisbury) would have recognised had some right to speak on this matter—the Unionist Agricultural Committee of the House of Commons who, I understand, unanimously passed a resolution asking the Government to relieve agricultural land from any burden of rates. Why is it necessary to do this? Because the rates are most oppressive not only upon farmers but upon smallholders. I can tell the noble Marquess that in my county the County Council has the large amount of over 21,700 acres of land let for small holdings at a total rent of nearly £57,800 a year and in some cases the rates are now equal to 16s. per acre, so that it is not a small matter. There is a very strong feeling about this and I am very much surprised at the noble Marquess who really put his whole objection when he spoke on this matter originally. He was anxious he said that the debate on this important matter of the Prayer Book should not be interrupted. I made an offer to the noble Marquess that I would move my Motion to-morrow simply sub silentio, having the idea that the noble Marquess would have said: "I am quite, satisfied" and would have accepted it at once. To my great surprise he refused, saying that he could not accept it. Therefore I ask the noble Marquess, why does the Minister of Agriculture refuse this help to agriculturists in their present position? I do not think the noble Marquess or any noble Lord would deny that things are very serious at the present moment and that farmers are suffering from great depression.
I would ask the noble Marquess: Is it the case that the Prime Minister has 921 refused the acceptance of my Motion? If that is not so I would ask: What other legitimate reason is there for not accepting the demand of practically all agriculturists both inside this House and outside it? I have had an opportunity of talking to a great many noble Lords who support the proposal, and they have told me that they had not the slightest idea why the Government refuses a Resolution such as mine which does not ask for anything to be done at once but simply expresses the opinion that what I urge is desirable. The noble Marquess nevertheless refused to accept it and told me that even if I moved it sub silentio he would refuse to accept it. The Government, for some reason we cannot understand, are absolutely out of touch with the agricultural needs of this country. They do not appreciate what a serious matter this is and how great would be the relief if this proposal were adopted. It is admitted generally that every farmer in the country, large and small, would receive some benefit from it. We think the Government should adopt this policy rather than the policy of the heavy subsidy of £10,000,000 a year to sugar-beet. I am sorry to say that the Government are absolutely unwilling to do anything to assist agriculturists.
§ THE MARQUESS OF SALISBURY
My Lords, the noble Lord knows very well that it was with the greatest reluctance that I ventured to use the little influence which I possess in your Lordships' House in order to secure that his Motion should not be allowed to interrupt the great debate upon the Prayer Book Measure. If I may say so, the noble Lord, if he thinks so, is absolutely wrong in thinking that that would be an appropriate course in your Lordships' House. I would suggest to my noble friend for his consideration that it is never a good plan to speak against the wishes of the whole House.
§ THE MARQUESS OF SALISBURY
It is always the duty of the Leader of the 922 House to do what he can to interpret the general wishes of the House. As regards the substantive part of the noble Lord's speech just now, I did not interrupt him because in the circumstances it seemed wiser to allow him to make his speech, but he was entirely out of order, in addressing the House upon the Motion for Adjournment, to deal with the substance of a Resolution which still remains on the Paper, and in anticipating his own Motion, which ought to be discussed at the proper time, when it comes in its proper place on the Order Paper. I must say that the noble Lord is not at liberty to conclude, as he wishes to conclude, that the Government are necessarily opposed to the suggestion which he makes. The proper time for dealing with that is not yet.
§ THE MARQUESS OF SALISBURY
I told the noble Lord I could not give an affirmative reply, but at the proper time no doubt His Majesty's Government will be in a position to reply. In the meantime our present obvious duty is to continue and conclude the great debate upon the Prayer Book Measure, and it is necessary for me to take this step in order to secure that that should be the case.
§ On Question, Amendment agreed to, and Motion, as amended, agreed to, and ordered accordingly.