- (1) Nothing in any Act, law, or custom shall prevent the bishops, clergy, and laity of the Church in Wales from holding Synods or electing representatives thereto, or from framing, cither by themselves or by their representatives elected in such manner as they think fit, constitutions and regulations for the general management and good government of the Church in Wales and the property and affairs thereof, whether as a whole or according to dioceses, and the future representation of members thereof in a general Synod or in diocesan Synods, or otherwise.
- (2) If at any time it is shown to the satisfaction of His Majesty the King that the said bishops, clergy, and laity have appointed any persons so to represent them, and hold property for any of their uses and purposes, His Majesty in Council may by charter incorporate such persons
849 (in this Act referred to as the representative body), with power to hold land without licence in mortmain.
§ Sir ALFRED CRIPPS
On a point of Order. Would it be in order, Sir, on this Amendment, to discuss the Amendment put down in the name of the right hon. Member for Ashford (Mr. Laurence Hardy) as an Amendment to this Amendment of the hon. Member for Falkirk Burghs?
§ The CHAIRMAN
The Amendment in the name of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for the Ashford Division cannot, of course, be moved as an Amendment to the Amendment on the Paper unless the Amendment becomes the substantive question. But as a matter of debate I apprehend that both the alternatives proposed will be open to discussion if hon. Members so desire.
Mr. MURRAY MACDONALD
I beg to move, to leave out Sub-section (1), and to insert the following:—(1) Notwithstanding any Act, law, or custom, it shall be lawful for the members of the Church in Wales to determine its constitution, and for this purpose the Bishops of Bangor, Llandaff, St. Asaph, and St. David's shall, within three months from the passing of this Act, summon and hold a convention in accordance with the provisions of the Fourth Schedule to this Act, or so far as such provisions do not extend in accordance with rules made by the bishops aforesaid.The said convention shall have power only to frame a constitution for the said Church, and to appoint the first members of the governing body, and to fix the date of the first meeting of that body.This provision shall come into operation on the passing of this Act.We have now come to the consideration of a Clause upon which the future of the Church in Wales appears to me to depend more immediately and more closely than upon any other Clause of the Bill. [The hon. Member read Sub-section (1) of the Clause.] As to that provision, I have three objections which the Amendment I move is intended to meet. The first is that it is purely permissive in character; 850 the second is, that the responsibility for acting upon it is left entirely undetermined; and the third is, that the word "laity" is undefined. I propose to deal with each of these points. As to the first, the permissive character of the Clause, I should like to point out, that, as it stands, this Sub-section of the Clause is unnecsary and uncalled for. Every Act, law or custom which at present prevents the Church in Wales from forming a constitution for itself is already abrogated by the Bill, and the Section may be dropped without producing the slightest effect on the future of the Church in Wales. That, however, is a small point. The point I desire to raise is far more serious. The Church in Wales is at the present moment an organised body, and it is organised by Act. of Parliament. Parliament, therefore, is responsible now for its general management and good government, but this responsibility is to cease, and all Acts, laws, and covenants are abrogated.
§ 4.0 P.M.
Of course the Act of Uniformity, unquestionably. It is quite certain that the organisation of the Church depends upon Acts of Parliament and the Courts established to enforce those Acts. The Acts of Parliament are in effect repealed, because they are definitely and expressly abolished. My contention is that Parliament has by its action made the Church in Wales and in England an organised body, and that Parliament is therefore at the present moment responsible for the general management and good government of the Church in Wales. But by this Bill the responsibility is to cease, and all Acts, laws, and customs in which this responsibility is embodied and by which it operates are to be abrogated. By the provisions of the Bill the Church is to cease to be an organised body and it becomes dissolved into its individual elements. The question I want to ask is, How these elements thus dissolved are to be brought together again so that the various interests shall be conserved and no injustice done to any of them? That is a question to which I think the Government is bound to give an answer. As the Bill stands, Parliament is not even to provide that these various sections shall be consulted with regard to the future government of the Church. Everything, so far as Parliament is concerned, is to be left entirely to chance. I cannot 851 myself believe that that is an adequate fulfilment of the obligation which the present responsibility of Parliament imposes upon it. We cannot justly divest ourselves of this responsibility in so easy and irresponsible a manner. If the Church had at present an organisation of its own charged with spiritual jurisdiction the whole character of the question would be altered, and no serious injustice would be done by the provision of the Bill as it stands. If, for example, the Church in Wales was in the same position as the Church in Scotland, then a simple measure of Disestablishment such as this measure might be passed without any injustice being done. The Church in Scotland has its own Presbyteries, its Synods and its General Assembly, and a simple measure of Disestablishment of that Church could be passed without any breach in the continuity of its spiritual life, and without the risk of any injury being done to any of its spiritual interests. That, as I contend, is very far from being the case in regard to the Church in Wales, and I would earnestly ask the Committee to consider whether Parliament can justly divest itself of its present responsibility without making some definite and positive provision that the Church, as a whole, shall be consulted as to the kind of government that is to replace the present government. That is my first point. I pass now to the second point, namely, who is to take the initiative in summoning the meeting which is to decide the question of the future government of the Church, and by what regulations are they to be guided in issuing the summons. Those are questions that are left altogether unanswered in the Clause as it now stands, but they surely cannot be left unanswered without at least the risk of serious injury being done to the Church as a whole. Suppose the bishops take upon themselves the initiative, are they to be allowed to pick and choose what representatives they think well from the beneficed and unbeneficed clergy and from the laity. If they are you are giving to a single interest in the Church a power and discretion which it ought not to possess. The bishops may exercise that power with due regard to the interests of the Church as a whole, but they also may not. They may have their own views of what those interests are, and they may exercise their initiative in the light of those views to the serous detriment of the interests 852 of the Church as a whole. Or, suppose the beneficed clergy or laity decide to take the initiative into their own hands, what is there in the Clause to prevent them? If they did so decide a state of confusion would be created which would make it impossible to give effect to the Clauses of the Bill dealing with the distribution of property.
I repeat, that to leave the future of the Church so uncertain as this Clause does is unfair to the Church as a whole, and is not a just fulfilment of the obligations which our existing obligations impose on us. I may be, and no doubt will be told that in the Clause the Government is following the precedent of the Act Disestablishing the Irish Church, and that in that case the provision was found to work in a manner entirely satisfactory. I believe that is true, but I have two answers to give to that. The first is that the mere fact that a permissive Clause of this kind worked well in one instance is no proof that it will work well in another. Much depends on the conditions under which it is brought into operation. I do not know that the conditions are less favourable to the operation of a Clause such as this in the case of the Church in Wales than they were in the case of the Irish Church, but I am certain that you ought not unnecessarily to expose the Church in Wales to the risks and dangers involved in such a Clause. My second answer is that the difficulty of determining who were the lay members of the Church in Ireland did not exist. I am informed at least, and having regard to the history of the Irish Church it is easy to accept the statement, that there was in existence at the time of the Disestablishment of the Church in Ireland, and for long before it, an official list of its lay members, and this fact made it easy to put a provision of this kind into operation without any injustice to any section of the Church. That is not the case in regard to the Church in Wales, which leads me to my third point, the absence from the Bill of any definition of the word laity.
The Clause gives the bishops and clergy and laity the power to hold Synods and to constitute a representative body. The bishops we know, and the clergy we know, but who are the laity? I have heard it confidently asserted, both by Churchmen and by Nonconformists, that every subject of the King in England and Wales is constitutionally a member of the Church of England, and I believe there is at least some legal foundation for that view. But 853 is that the meaning which the Government propose should be attached to the word laity? I do not believe it is. To call in a mixed multitude of persons professing all kinds of belief in order to determine questions of the most profound importance to the future of the Disestablished Church in Wales would be a wrong done to the bonâ fide members of the Church which would be of a most flagrant and irritating character. No one, I am convinced, desires that any such wrong should be perpetrated, but if that is not the definition the Government propose should be adopted, what other definition do they propose to substitute for it? The question is one the Government cannot evade. I repeat that the case with which we are now dealing is totally different from the Irish case. In that case the question of determining who were the lay members of the Church presented no difficulty. In this case it presents the greatest difficulty and uncertainty. I remind the Committee also that Parliament, and this House in particular, is at this moment in Church matters a lay legislature, and that it cannot divest itself of its present responsibility without specially safeguarding the rights of the laity in the Disestablished Church. Ought the Committee, for example, to agree to the proposal of the Noble Lord the Member for Hitchin (Lord Robert Cecil) that the four Welsh bishops should have the power of determining who are the lay members of the Church, and in what proportion they ought to be represented on the new governing body as against the clergy?
§ Lord ROBERT CECIL
My Amendment is only an Amendment to that of the hon. Member. I think it is better than his, but I do not say it is ideal.
To determine who are the lay members, and in what proportion they should be represented on the governing body as against the clergy. I ask again whether the Committee is willing to seriously consider a proposal which would hand over so unfair a power to the four bishops of the Welsh dioceses such as the Noble Lord proposes. To give them that power would be to do a possible serious injury to the laity in Wales, and the same criticism applies to the proposal of the right hon. Gentleman (Mr. L. 854 Hardy) and another hon. Member. Suppose that the four bishops, or Convocation of the Province of Canterbury appointed a strict communicant test to determine the lay members in the Church, or suppose that they gave to the laity only half the representation on the governing body given to the clergy, would Parliament in sanctioning a proposal of that kind be fulfilling the obligations imposed on it of safeguarding the rights of the laity? I myself have no doubt as to the answer that ought to be given to that question, and I embody that answer in the Amendment which I am moving and in the Schedule which consequentially follows upon it. The Bill, in effect, repeals the Acts of Uniformity which at present define and enforce for the Established Church in Wales the contents of its faith and the conditions of its worship. Into whose hands is the legal control thus relinquished to be delivered? It is because I profoundly believe that the Legislature cannot justly part with the old order without making some positive provision for the systematic organisation of the new that I move my Amendment.
§ Sir ALFRED CRIPPS
I quite recognise the friendly spirit in which this Amendment has been moved by the hon. Member, and I want to express as clearly as I can why, at any rate, from my point of view the Amendment is not an admissible one as regards the reorganisation and constitution of what is here called the Church in Wales. I start from this point, though I am not going back to the matter, that we have a portion of a dismembered Church, and that dismembered portion is both Disestablished and Disendowed. I agree with the hon. and learned Member that the question then arises what is to be done. In the first place I want to make this point clear. We are not here in any sense dealing with the re-establishment of the Church, and we are in no sense dealing here with what I may call the separate creation of the Church. I think the hon. Member would agree with me that it is wholly admissible for one moment to suppose that this House, or any similar body, could either re-establish the Church or re-create it in the sense in which I am now using the word. In fact, all we are doing is really as to the question of the reorganisation of a constitution, and as regards all spiritual matters they are wholly outside the present discussion, because I want to make it quite clear and I think I am stating very accurately the views of the laymen in the province of 855 Canterbury, for I have the honour to be the chairman of the House of Laymen, that whatever this House, or this Committee may do, the continuity of the Anglican Church in its spiritual life is not affected one iota. Of course this House has power to disemember it and to make it less efficient for the discharge of its great religious duties; but on the spiritual side it has no power whatever, and the continuity of the Anglican Church will be just the same after this Bill has been passed into an Act of Parliament as it is at the present moment.
Surely that is not the case. The disciplinary power of the Church is at any rate a very essential element of its spiritual power, and that power will practically disappear on the passing of this Bill.
§ Sir A. CRIPPS
I do not agree with that view. In fact, as regards the Established Church, certain disciplinary Acts—I suppose those are what the hon. Member refers to—and the Act of Uniformity do not in my opinion affect in any sense whatever the spiritual continuity of the Church as a religious body. The hon. Member opposite may disagree with me, but, dealing as we are here with one of the most important proposals contained in the Bill, and one of vital interest as regards the religious life of the Church, I want to make it perfectly clear that in my opinion the religious continuity will not be affected, and that as regards the question of reorganisation, with which you are dealing here, there is no question of the establishment of the spiritual life of the spiritual body by the interposition of a Parliamentary or statutory body. Whatever this Committee might affect to do, they could not in any way affect the question to which I have called attention. There is an area of conscience, and of religious conscience, within which the Legislature is wholly impotent, as far as my views are concerned. As this is a most important matter, let me say first of all how I understand the question will remain after the Bill has passed. I am assuming for this purpose that the Bill is passed, and that we are dealing with a particular Clause as regards the new reorganisation. In the first place, in my view, after the Bill is passed, the Archbishop of Canterbury will be Metropolitan within the Welsh area just as he is at present. This House cannot affect the power 856 of the Archbishop of Canterbury as Metropolitan throughout the whole province of Canterbury. I have a strong view, both on religious and on legal grounds, that after this Bill is passed the Archbishop of Canterbury will remain Metropolitan exactly as he is now. Secondly, in my view, the House of Laymen, which is a constituted body representing the views and wishes of the laity throughout the whole province of Canterbury at the present moment, cannot be interfered with by the passing of this Bill. The House of Laymen is a voluntary body, constituted some years ago, with Lord Selborne as the first chairman, in order that the views of the laity might be properly and fully represented in questions of Church work and Church organisation.
I want to ask the Home Secretary whether in his view the powers and position of the House of Laymen with regard to the whole province of Canterbury will be in any way altered if this Bill is passed. To my mind, that is an important question, and I want the right hon. Gentleman to answer it. I do not think that any Churchman desires more fully than I do that laymen should take full responsibility in Church matters and have effective powers to make that responsibility a real one. Since I have been interested in Church affairs my one desire has been to give a proper influence to laymen in the affairs of the National Church. I think they are entitled to it, and I do not believe that any Church, having regard to modern thought and modern developments, can endure in the sense of being of maximum efficiency, unless laymen are interested in the work of the Church, and given corresponding responsibilities. I should like, if I may, to enter a protest on a point of personal explanation. When I was arguing the other day against local option in parishes as to whether they should belong to the Established Church or the Disestablised Church, the hon. Member for Saffron Walden (Mr. Beck) and the hon. Member for Pontefract (Mr. Booth) attacked me—I do not mean in any unfriendly way—as though I was advocating a Church with as little lay influence as possible. What we were dealing with there was an absolutely different question. I do not know whether those hon. Members have ever really taken any part in Church work. If they had, and if they had watched what I have done in Church organisation, they would have known that 857 I have been a foremost advocate and champion of the introduction of the parishioner and of the lay element into all proper matters connected with the organisation of the Church. I make that personal explanation in order that a misunderstanding may be removed. I come now to a further point. We had no opportunity of discussing the matter when Convocation was broken up. As I understand it, after this Bill is passed, there can be no objection to the Welsh bishops and the Welsh clergy being summoned to Convocation for purely consultative purposes. I agree that they will not have over what is called the Welsh Church any of the semi-legislative powers which Convocation has at present; but I am referring to a different matter altogether.
As I have pointed out more than once, in my view one of the great hardships of this Bill is the breaking up of the organisation of the Church. Does the Home Secretary consider that there will be any objection to the Welsh bishops and clergy being summoned to Convocation for consultative purposes in order that the unity of what is undoubtedly one religious body and one religious community at the present time may be preserved? I have plenty of opportunities of hearing the views of laymen upon these matters. I do not want to speak in any way egotistically, but the position I hold enables me to have, and necessitates my having, much information from laymen upon these points. Therefore, I want to hear from the right hon. Gentleman whether upon these extremely important matters I have rightly interpreted, according to his view, the position as it will stand as regards the breaking up of the existing organisation. My next point is that you are not here dealing with the Church according to the precedent of the Irish Act at all. There was no question whatever of dismemberment in connection with the Irish Church. Therefore, when you come to the question of reorganisation, of reconstituting the body, you have to take into consideration an element that was wholly absent from the Irish case. What you have to reconstitute is a body combining not the Welsh Church by itself, but the whole Church, whether in the dioceses of Wales or in the other dioceses of the Church at the present time. The hon. Member for Carmarthen Boroughs the other day made a statement which to all Churchmen is quite unthinkable. He seemed to say, in reference to the border parishes, that when this Bill passed, if it does pass, you will get something like a 858 Celtic Church, and what he called an Anglicised Church. In other words, he argued that you wanted to get rid of the Anglicising influence in what he called the Welsh Church. That is an impossible conception. It does not matter what are the views of any hon. Member on that side of the House; you can never get that. We shall be one Church in future as we are one Church now. This idea of nationality may be possible as regards the destruction, the breaking up of the existing organisation; but it can never be effective as regards the construction of any new organisation in future. You cannot, even if you desire to do it, break up the unity of the Church in the sense of having two separate bodies to be organised in the future, one in the Welsh dioceses and one in the English dioceses.
I hope the Committee will bear in mind what I am going to say. Whatever may be the views of Welsh Members here, whatever may be the views of those who desire to dismember, disestablish, and disendow the Welsh Church, it is utterly impossible for them to dissociate in its religious work and its religious life what they call the Anglican part of the Church from the Welsh part of the Church. We shall all be together in future as we are at the present moment. Whatever is done by this very important Clause, nothing can prevent us from working together as one Church in the future, just as we are working together as one Church at the present time. That being so, there is a phrase in the Amendment to which I could not assent for one moment. The hon. Member says that the Church shall be reconstituted by what he calls the members of the Church in Wales. That is quite impossible. You are dismembering a portion of a Church which operates not only in Wales, but in the English dioceses, and if you have to reconstitute and reorganise it you must pay attention to the whole body, of which this is only one dismembered portion. It would be utterly absurd, in my view, to suggest that in the reconstitution and reorganisation of the Welsh dioceses you are not to take into consideration the opinions and views of the Church as a whole. You must, do it; you will have to do it. Just as in the case of the Irish Church you took into consideration the views of the Irish Church as a whole, so when you come to deal with the Welsh Church—I do not care what is said or done in this House—you cannot avoid taking into consideration the views and opinions of the Church as a 859 whole, and not only of the one separated or dismembered portion.
If we arrive at that point, which I put forward as an essential point in connection with this question of reorganisation, what is the proper step to take? Although the Amendment has been only partly moved in form, I understand that I may refer to it generally in the same way that the hon. Member for Falkirk did. What does he propose? He proposes, first of all, that the reorganisation shall be done by the whole body of what is now one Church. I want to know what are the views of the right hon. Gentleman, the Home Secretary, upon that point? Can he deny that if he does not want to injure the Church, but only wants to give it freedom, and only wants the Disestablishment and the Disendowment of the Church in Wales, that it has a right—that is the Church as a whole—to determine what the reorganisation and the reconstitution are to be? I am glad to say that I have never imputed motives to my opponents in the course of the discussion upon this Bill. Therefore, let me assume that there is no desire to injure the Church, and that the object, even of our opponents is to assist the Church. That is as far, I think, as it is possible to carry my assumption—and I have some doubts in pressing the assumption to that extent. This then follows, that the reorganisation must be left to Churchmen as a whole. I am glad I have assent upon that point, because you do not leave the reorganisation to Churchmen if you exclude the greater portion of what at the present time constitutes the one united Church. That is the essence of the matter.
The Home Secretary has stated more than once that he desires to give the greatest possible freedom to the Church for the purposes of reorganisation. I believe that in putting before him the view that I do now, I am putting the view, at any rate, of lay Churchmen in Wales as well as in England; and I want to know what his answer is to the point. You do not give freedom of organisation to a Church when you begin by dismembering the Church and taking away that organisation which if left freedom to do so it would adopt. I am assuming that this thing has been done: in other words, that the House has exercised its destructive force, as we are now doing, and that reconstruction has to go forward. I want to put this to the Home Secretary: How are you going to 860 give us the freedom which you say we ought to have? I say you can only give it in one way; that is, by allowing the whole body what they want, the power of reorganisation, and the power of reconstruction, which, under this Bill, has been assumed to be destroyed. What is the answer to that? Suppose I can convince the Home Secretary—I am sure I am accurate in what I am stating—that the view I am putting forward is that of the vast majority of Churchmen in this country—there is always, of course, some minority—is he going to give us that freedom or not? If he is not going to give us that freedom, what becomes of his boast that he is assisting the Church by destroying its present position? Is he going to leave it, as I have put it, to reconstitute itself? I ask the right hon. Gentleman to leave the Church to reconstitute itself. When I use the word "Church" I do not mean the mere dismembered portion of the Church, but the Church as a whole. It is one religious community now. It will be one religious community after the Bill has passed. Make no mistake upon that point! There would be no difference as regards the unity of our religious and spiritual life.
We come next to the point as to the assent of laymen. I understand I am in accord on this point with a large number of Members on the other side of the House. Surely when you are reorganising the constitution of a Church the laity ought to have a real voice. I am particularly strong upon that point myself, because as chairman of the House of Laymen I have always struggled in that direction. Let me come to what I should have thought it would have relieved the right hon. Gentleman the Home Secretary of a difficulty. He wants, he says, the laity to exercise their proper influence. We have at the present moment a representative House of Laymen. I do not know whether he has studied the constitution of our House of Laymen. We have tried again and again—and only the other day we had a business discussion, which took a long time—to make our House of Laymen the most representative possible. Therefore at the present time we have a House of Laymen which does represent the laity of the Church as a whole so far as the province of Canterbury is concerned. Let me ask the Home Secretary whether he is in earnest in what he says. He desires freedom, and that laymen should be consulted. What objection has he, then, under these circumstances that in the 861 reconstitution of the new organisation the House of Laymen, the body which represents lay opinion in the Church, the body which has insisted that lay opinion should be properly regarded, should be consulted? What objections has the Home Secretary to that part of the Amendment which says that the reconstruction shall be carried out with the assent of the House of Laymen? That is really a question for the right hon. Gentleman. Granted freedom, what objection has the Home Secretary to the two propositions I have put forward?
This is a most important part of the Bill. In a certain sense, if I may put it to hon. Members opposite, it is a touchstone of their sincerity when they say that they are moving in the interests of the Church itself. If that is true, must not they leave the reorganisation to be carried out in a way that the Church itself has asked for? I know, of course, what objection is likely to be made, and I might perhaps forestall it in one or two words. The notion is that after the dismemberment and Disendowment of the Church in Wales it will in some sense be a different religious community from the Church of the rest of England. That cannot be so. I am insistent upon that, because whatever is said upon this point, I can say without any doubt that that is an entire impossibility. This House can do certain matters: it cannot break up the unity of the religious and spiritual life of one great spiritual community. If it cannot do that, why are the Government not prepared to leave to that community as a whole the reconstitution necessary under this Bill and its destructive forces—if the Bill is passed? I do not want to use the word "persecution" unnecessarily. We have had several cases in history of persecution breaking up religious communities. But I want to say this: you have never had any case, I believe, where a religious community has not on religious and spiritual lines reconstituted itself in the same way as it existed before. I am glad to have the assent for that of the hon. and learned Member for Carmarthen. I do not want to be antagonistic or aggressive in what I am saying at the present time, but I feel so strongly the importance of proper reorganisation for the religious efficiency of the Church in the future that I hope I shall not appeal without getting some assistance from hon. Members opposite. You have deprived us of the old organisa- 862 tion. Give us freedom to do what we want in reconstituting this religious body, bearing in mind that whatever we do they will be one in their spiritual life and one in their religious work in the future.
§ The SECRETARY of STATE for the HOME DEPARTMENT (Mr. McKenna)
My hon. Friend has moved a very important Amendment. He supported it in a speech which, if the case were precisely as he believed it to be, would, I think, have carried very great weight with us all. I cannot accept this Amendment, because to do so would be to act in a sense contrary to the scheme and purpose of the Bill. I hesitated to rise immediately after he had spoken, and until I had had the opportunity of hearing the speech of the hon. and learned Member for South Bucks. He speaks, as we all know, with unrivalled knowledge upon this subject, and as this is a matter which vitally concerns the future of the Church in Wales I thought it was respectful of me, and an advantage to all, that we should first of all hear his views upon the point. The hon. and learned Gentleman has put a series of questions to me. By my answer to these questions he is going to judge the sincerity of the particular statements that we aver, as we have done most strongly, that in this reorganisation we desire that the Church should have every freedom, after Disestablishment, for its own development upon its own lines. I think I can clear up certain matters which, so far as I can judge from their speeches, have neither been quite understood by the hon. and learned Gentleman and by my hon. Friends on this side. What is the purpose of this Clause? My hon. Friend treated it as surplusage and as a declaratory Clause.
§ Mr. McKENNA
My hon. Friend pointed to Clause 3, saying that it abolished all Ecclesiastical Courts and in effect repealed Ecclesiastical Law as law, though the subjects remain for contractual agreement if desired. My hon. Friend has overlooked the fact that Clause 3 only comes into operation after the date of Disestablishment. Clause 13 operates immediately. Clause 13 relates to the period, the vital period, after the passing of the Bill, and before Clause 3 becomes operative. We desire during that period that the Church in Wales should have complete power by 863 calling Synods, and by other means that she may desire to establish for itself, no longer by Act of Parliament—its own future system of government. The hon. and learned Gentleman asked: "Why should not the governing body inside the united Church frame a constitution for the dismembered section of the Church which remains spiritually one with the great Church of England?" I do not know whether I shall entirely satisfy the hon. and learned Gentleman, but I think I shall very nearly do so. After the passing of the Bill the Welsh bishops and the clergy will remain in Convocation until the date of Disestablishment. During the interval they will be members of Convocation. There will be nothing to prevent, if Convocation so desires, Convocation from framing such a constitution for the future government of the Church in Wales as it thinks proper—with this condition, that such constitution has been at Disestablishment accepted by the Church in Wales. The whole purport of the argument of the hon. and learned Gentleman was the operation of Convocation. The operation of the House of Laymen, whose assent may be obtained, whose definition of laymen may be accepted, that if they choose may be done before the date of Disestablishment, and whilst the Welsh Church is for all purposes an integral part of the Church of England, with the single condition only, as I have said, that when they so frame a constitution that constitution is to be accepted by the Welsh Church. Now, who constitutes the Welsh Church? The Welsh Church will consist of the bishops, the clergymen, and the laymen. There is nothing to prevent a scheme for the future government of the Church, which, I suppose, will be framed by Convocation, from putting forward a definition of laymen, and I suppose Convocation provides for the calling together of the general Synod before the date of Disestablishment, I am still in that period either six months or a year; and during that period if Convocation provides for convening a general Synod of the Church in Wales consisting of the bishops, clergy, and laymen, I assume the laity being such persons as the House of Laymen may require. I will suppose Convocation, having accepted that definition, then the general Synod of the Church is called, and that that Synod discusses its own constitution. When the date of Disestablishment comes, and the Church of 864 Wales is Disestablished, and is cut off from Convocation, that general Synod, if it is representative of the Church, and it will be—
§ Mr. McKENNA
I will come to all the hon. Gentleman's points. That general Synod, if it is representative of the Church, will accept or not, as it chooses—it has complete discretion—
§ Sir ALFRED CRIPPS
May I ask the right hon. Gentleman one question? Would he have the same definition of laity in both cases?
§ Mr. McKENNA
That is for them. That general Synod, if it is representative of the Church and accepts the constitution already framed, for the future government of the Church, including the definition of laymen, can do so, and indeed, inasmuch as that general Synod which will be representative of the Church precisely in the same way that Convocation and the House of Laymen are now representative of the Church, because I assume, and I think I can justly assume, that Convocation and the House of Laymen would naturally constitute such a general Synod as would be just as representative of the Church, not less representative of the Church than convocation of the House of Laymen are themselves representative of the Church.
§ Mr. McKENNA
I know, but this Clause 13 gives the general Synod the power. I am quite well aware of the argumentative difficulty in the case, and I would not venture to put it before the Committee with such positiveness as I do if the matter had not been definitely settled by the operation of a complete example. The Irish case supplied precisely the same argumentative difficulty. [HON. MEMBERS: "No, no."] Here, again, hon. Gentlemen are not quite right to contradict me. I see the point, but it does not answer mine. The argumentative difficulty was the same. There may have been less difficulty in fact, but the argumentative difficulty that the Bill did not define laymen was the same. It spoke of the Disestablished Irish Church consisting of bishops, clergy, and laity, but it never defined the laity, and the whole of the difficulty was who were your laity? Who are to define them? Are the laity defined for 865 the Convocation in the House of Laymen going to be hereafter the laymen? All these difficulties existed in the case of the Irish Church. But to come back again for a moment to the possible developments: I am not re-establishing the Church.
§ Mr. McKENNA
No, I am doing nothing of the sort. I am only giving the Church liberty. It must be understood that the whole purpose of this Clause is to give the Church the fullest liberty to frame its own constitution for its own future government. In my judgment, it would not be the business of Parliament to reconstruct the constitution of the Disestablished Church. I do not propose to do it; I do not purport to do it. There is not a word in this Bill which does it, but when I am asked as to my sincerity, whether I am willing to give to the Church in Wales freedom for Convocation to do it—because most hon. Members opposite I believe would say the same thing, that Convocation and the House of Laymen were the best body to define the Government of the reconstructed Church—when hon. Members put to me as a test of my sincerity whether I am willing to give the Church that liberty, I answer that between the date of the passing of the Bill and the date of Disestablishment liberty is given to Convocation subject to the final acceptance of the constitution so framed by the Disestablished Church.
§ Lord ROBERT CECIL
The right hon. Gentleman says that liberty is given to Convocation. It is not given by the Bill. Would it not require Letters of Business?
§ Mr. McKENNA
I do not think it would, but I will inquire. So long as the Church is Established and remains Established, it ought to receive all the advantages of Establishment, and no technical difficulties ought to be put in the way of the Established Church. The Government wish to assist it according to the recognised methods, and if any difficulty of that sort were to arise, I would be very glad to assist in putting it right. I am advised that it would not be necessary.
§ Sir A. CRIPPS
Letters of Business would be necessary unless you put special powers into this Bill dealing with the question.
§ Mr. McKENNA
If that be so, I shall deal with it when it arises, but I am advised it is not so, but I shall make 866 inquiry, and if it is found to be necessary, I will deal with it. During the period of Establishment the still Established Church should reap all the advantages of consultation in Convocation, and if necessary I shall be happy to put in such terms. The only other point is what will be the Disestablished Church? Will there be any difficulty in practice 2 We have got, I will assume, a scheme framed by Convocation and the House of Laymen, although not necessarily so—do not let it be said that the re-established Church with a basis or scheme put forward by Convocation should choose the laymen. I only say they may do so—but I suppose a scheme is put forward by those authorities which provide for the convening of a general Synod representing the Church. If that general Synod is upon the face of it representative of the Church, it will represent the Church for the purposes of this Bill. There is nothing to prevent it. There is the representative body provided for in Sub-section (2) of this Clause which must not be left out of sight. This representative body is only necessarily constituted for the purpose of holding and dealing with property. It is not necessarily, or very likely would not be, the governing body of the Church which would be the general Synod, but it is a representative body of the Church, and if hon. Gentlemen will look at the words of the Subsection they will find it says:—If at any time it is shown to the satisfaction of His Majesty the King that the said bishops, clergy, and laity have appointed any persons so to represent them—So that there must be a representative body which is representative of the Church to the satisfaction of His Majesty the King. That means that the King's advisers would have to be satisfied that the representative body was really constructed upon a representative basis. I can only say that if it is my duty to advise His Majesty whether true representation exists or not, I should consult the leaders of the Welsh Church, the representative spokesman of the Welsh Church, in order to be assured that anybody so representing them was really representative.
§ Mr. JOYNSON-HICKS
The right hon. Gentleman is dealing now I take it not with the representative body or government of the Church, but merely a body of trustees who are entirely separate?
§ Mr. McKENNA
I am dealing with that. What I am leading up to is the indirect assurance that the general Synod, which also represents the Church, will really be framed upon a fair basis. I say there is a body of trustees or representative body who have got in a fair sense to represent the Church. I have no doubt that that body will represent the laymen on terms and conditions precisely the same as the representation of laymen is founded for the purposes of the general Synod. There would be no reason of differentiation, and consequently there is this security that His; Majesty's adviser would act—I am speaking for myself at any rate—upon the advice of the leaders of the Welsh Church, and would have to be satisfied that the laity were really representative of the Churchmen. If that is true in the case of what I may call the compulsory representative body, the Committee may be satisfied that similar considerations would be borne in mind in considering the constitution of the general Synod.
Mr. MURRAY MACDONALD
This is a point of very great importance. Whose definition of the word "laity" is to be taken? Docs the right hon. Gentleman propose to adopt as the course in the case of Ireland whether or not this body really represents the laity of the Church? There are a great many Churchmen in England who dispute entirely that the views of the House of Laymen in the Province of Canterbury are really representative of the lay body. How are we to ensure that the new governing body in Wales will more adequately represent lay opinion?
§ Mr. McKENNA
The last words used by my hon. Friend have destroyed his own case if the Disestablished Church is to have a very strict test applied to laymen as communicants.
§ 5.0 P.M.
§ Mr. McKENNA
The Church in Wales has to decide by itself. You cannot on the one hand Disestablish them and take away from the Church many of the positions which the Church now holds, and at the same time limit and cramp them by any definition of this kind. The Church must be free, and the Church must decide for herself. In the case of the representative body, if I were so advised by the leaders of the Church, I should be content to take 868 as a definition of "layman" precisely the same definition as is now accepted at the Welsh Diocesan Conferences, and which was accepted in the case of the Irish Church. If hereafter the general Synod wishes to restrict the term "layman," they ought to be pefectly at liberty to do so. In the same way the Nonconformists would resent any control interfering and denning who their members should be.
§ Mr. McKENNA
The Church of England in Wales must be free to govern itself. Suppose the Church of England in Wales, when Disestablished, comes to the conclusion that it wishes to be bound hereafter by all the doctrines, ritual, and discipline of the Church of England. Whatever the doctrines and ritual of the Church of England may be, the Church of England in Wales would be perfectly at liberty to make that a binding rule in its own constitution. That is a question, however, which the Church of England in Wales must decide, and it 'must not be imposed upon them from outside. The hon. and learned Member asked me whether the Welsh bishops after Disestablishment would be entitled to attend Convocation. I think he meant by "attend" attendance for limited or consultative purposes, and not for business purposes. The Welsh bishops could attend the meeting which consists of all persons who are ordinarily summoned for Convocation, but they could not attend that meeting' if it was called to conduct the statutory business of Convocation when assembling on the King's Writ for the purpose of carrying out the business contained and defined in the letters of business.
§ Sir A. CRIPPS
I know that Writ is issued through the Archbishop. I know because I have had to sign them.
§ Mr. McKENNA
I was referring to the King's Writ. When Convocation assembles in its legal and formal way, then I do not think the Welsh bishops could attend, but the very same persons who met in Convocation could invite the Welsh bishops to meet them, and together they could consult and advise; but, of course, there would be no quasi-legal effect to any conclusions which they might arrive at 869 and it would not be the business of Convocation. There is one subject which the hon. and learned Member has frequently made a matter of complaint, and it is that by this Bill we are dismembering the Church. If the Bill is to be passed at all, that is, in the circumstances of the case, an inevitable condition. Dismemberment arises not merely from Disestablishing the Welsh Church, but from the Establishment of the English Church. Do not let it be supposed that I am suggesting that the English Church should be Disestablished in England. [An HON. MEMBER: "Why not?"] Because the subject is not before us at this moment. I am not making any suggestion whatever on that point, but if the Church of England were Disestablished the whole of the hon. and learned Member's complaint about dismemberment would disappear. It is the fact of the legal restraints upon the Church of England that necessitates what the hon. and learned Member describes as the dismemberment of the Church. A great many hon. Members on this side of the House would be perfectly willing to avoid that condition of this Bill, but it would be repugnant to the great mass of the people in England, and consequently it could not be considered. When the hon. and learned Gentleman makes this complaint he must remember that it is a complaint against the existence of the Bill, and it has nothing to do with the method or the manner by which we carry Disestablishment into operation. It is not due to any ill-will on our side towards the Church, but it is the essence of any proposal to Disestablish what is at the present time an integral part of the Church of England. I think I have now answered all the points put to me, and again I assure the hon. and learned Member that so far as we are concerned, up to the date of Disestablishment, we should be only too willing to assist in every way by the removal of any technical objections there should be to enable the Welsh Church to be reconstituted in conformity with the general wishes of the Church as a whole. Provided that reconstitution after Disestablishment is accepted by the Church in Wales, we should be only too glad to see that form adopted.
§ Mr. ALFRED LYTTELTON
I hope to show before I sit down that the Home Secretary has not really answered the speech which was made by the Mover of this Amendment. Before I show how the right hon. Gentleman has failed in this 870 respect let me take, at any rate, the more agreeable task of noting where we are. I listened to the speeches made by hon. Members opposite, and I have gathered that the main principle underlying the Bill with which we disagree is that there is to be no dictation to the Disestablished Church as to how its affairs should be arranged. I think the Under-Secretary for the Home Department said in very distinct terms on a previous occasion that it is not for Parliament to decide these matters. The Church if it is Disestablished and Disendowed is to be a really voluntary and uncontrolled society, not tainted, as our opponents say, by any contact with the State but a spiritual society absolutely free, autonomous, and self-governing. Those are the principles which have been definitely stated again and again as the advantages to be gained if the supreme disadvantage of Disestablishment and Disendowment is brought about. I will say nothing as to the exceedingly nebulous character of Clause 13. How do you propose to accomplish that task and carry out the principle which we are told is the definite principle behind this Bill? It appears to me that the right hon. Gentleman does preserve in an exceedingly invidious shape the control of the State hereafter in the affairs of the Church.
What does the right hon. Gentleman do? Quite fairly he says that up to the date of Disestablishment the bishops of the Welsh Church would be members of Convocation, and that there is nothing in this Bill to prevent them attending Convocation between the date of the passing of this Bill and the date of Disestablishment, and therefore making that Convocation and the House of Laymen the representative body of the Church in Wales. After the date of Disestablishment, Convocation—I am speaking in its relation to the Disestablished Welsh Church—would cease to be an authority, and would merely become an advisory body. Judging from what the right hon. Gentleman has said, a Convention of the Synod thenceforward to be constituted in Wales would decide whether or not they would accept the constitution which had been devised for them during the time when Convocation still existed as representing the united Church. The hon. Member, who moved his Amendment so temperately, pointed out that it was unfair to the Church and unfair to everybody concerned that a question so controversial and thorny, as the definition of laity, not only 871 from the point of view of Nonconformists and the ordinary citizen, but also from the point of view of the Church, should be left to be decided at large by this representative Synod in Wales. Although I admit the right hon. Gentleman's speech dealt very lucidly and carefully with every point raised, I am quite unable to see how he met this difficulty at all. It may be there is a controversy upon this question in Wales. The whole principle which underlies this Bill in the minds of hon. Members opposite is that there should be absolute freedom to the Church when it is Disestablished, and that it should be divorced from all connection with the State. How in the world can that principle be implemented when you have in Clause 2 authority in His Majesty, which of course means Mis Majesty's Ministers, to declare whether the scheme propounded by the Church in Wales is satisfactory or not. Can the right hon. Gentleman point to me what makes the decision of the Synod in Wales decisive?
§ Mr. McKENNA
The representative body is the only statutory body contemplated in the Bill. It may have other duties, if the Synod chooses to give it other duties, but, so far as the Bill goes, it is only compulsory for the purpose of being a body to hold the property transferred to it. So far as the general Synod is concerned, the Synod would, if the constitution were framed by Convocation, form part of that constitution, and, when so formed, the Synod—all this taking place before the date of Disestablishment—would itself declare whether it accepted that form of government or not.
§ Mr. A. LYTTELTON
I perfectly follow the right hon. Gentleman. If a scheme was propounded by Convocation before Disestablishment, and that scheme went down to the Synod, it would be open or not to that Synod to accept the scheme. That is perfectly true, and, supposing it did accept the scheme so propounded, that scheme, according to the principle which has been laid down by the right hon. Gentleman, ought to be conclusive and final, and the State ought to have no connection with it whatsoever. I would point out, however, that the State would have a connection with it, and the right hon. Gentleman has not cleared the point up. The whole connection between the Church and the State as regards this fundamental 872 point is retied round the neck of the Church. If any representative on that bench comes to answer hereafter, I hope he will point out where is the flaw in my argument. I see none. Perhaps I ought to say that, speaking for myself—I have not had time to consult those who act with me in the matter—I should be quite content that laymen should be defined in the way the right hon. Gentleman himself suggested, namely, that they should be defined in the same way, and I think it is very proper it should be so, as the matter is now the subject of definition as regards representation at the Welsh Diocesan Conferences. Speaking for myself, I think that would be a satisfactory definition, but do not for a moment understand that I wish that inserted here. If the Government insist on retaining their plan as against that indicated by my hon. and learned Friend the Member for Buckinghamshire (Sir A. Cripps), I trust most sincerely, in the interests of peace and of the good government and management of the Church that definition will be inserted on the face of the Bill, so that at any rate one question of great difficulty and complexity may be withdrawn from all discussion and controversy in the future.
I ought to say before I sit down that I am in thorough harmony with the able arguments which were given by my hon. and learned Friend as to what is the true way of solving this difficulty. The Church, as he said, whatever is done by this Bill, remains a continuous spiritual body. The Welsh bishops will always come to Convocation as the Canadian, the Colonial, and the Indian bishops now come, not as members, but to consult and advise the Convocation. They will have that connection with Convocation, and surely, when you have this ancient historical body which has met these hundreds of years and which has had dominion over such matters, the proper way of solving the constitution of the dismembered portion of the Church in Wales would be that consultative and advisory character of Convocation should be continued, and that this extremely valuable body, with the House of Laymen acting in conjunction, should, speaking with all the weight and authority which age and tradition has given them, themselves pronounce what this constitution in effect should be. The differences between us are not so fundamental as I feared, but I earnestly urge the Government to accept the plan of my hon. and learned Friend or to at least 873 give a definition of laymen of the kind suggested by the Home Secretary, which would at least remove one burning subject of controversy from our Debates.
§ Lord HUGH CECIL
The right hon. Gentleman opposite appeared to assent to the full to the view that the Church should be allowed to settle its own constitution with absolute freedom; but he certainly has not faced the difficulty that if you give to a body power to settle its own constitution you must provisionally and in the first place settle what that body is to be. He says by all means let Convocation prepare a scheme, subject to the condition that it is acceptable to the Church in Wales. But who are the Church in Wales'! That may be the very point of difference which may arise; it may arise in all sorts of ways. The question who are laymen has already been discussed in connection with the constitution of a voluntary body, the Representative Church Council, which consists of the two Convocations of Canterbury and York, and the Houses of Laymen which are attached to those Convocations. An elaborate definition consists in saying a layman shall be a person having the status of a communicant, which means not an actual communication only, but also those who are qualified, according to the rules of the Church, to be communicants if they choose to be—that is, confirmed Churchmen not under excommunication. That is the existing definition, but there was a sincere and conscientious difference of opinion before that was arrived at and that difference of opinion may recur. Some favour a baptismal qualification, some like the old qualification of a parishioner, and some like the stricter definition of an actual communicant. How is the question to be decided? How are laymen to be determined?
That is not the only difficulty. It might very likely be held by some to be expedient that there should be two Synods in Wales, one for South Wales and another for North Wales. Other people might desire a Synod for the whole of Wales. How are you going to decide that question? Again, there might be differences of opinion—and very probably there would be—on matters of detail between the bishops, clergy, and laity. Whose opinion of the three is to prevail I The existing rule of the Representative Church Council is that all three bodies must assent before anything becomes the act of the Council, but it is 874 obvious that in these conditions there might be difficulty in working a rule of that kind because you have to decide within a limited period. You have, therefore, to have some solution of what in constitutional matters would be called a deadlock between the various constituent elements of the Synod. All that is left quite unprovided for. It is all very well to say the Government contemplate the Church in Wales having the constitution they like. We are all agreed about that. The point is: What is to be the initial constituent assembly which is to be the Church in Wales and which is to decide what constitution the Church in Wales is subsequently to have? The Home Secretary has said nothing on that point to guide us. It would strictly be possible for the Bishop of Bangor and the Bishop of St. David's to meet in one room and for the Bishop of St. Asaph and the Bishop of Llandaff to meet in another, and for each body to claim an equal right to be regarded as the Church in Wales.
§ Lord HUGH CECIL
Disagreements of opinion are, of course, quite possible, and I should like to know what would be the legal result if there were any disagreements. It will be observed it is an exceedingly important matter, because the whole fabric of the future rule or law of the Church will rest on this initial stage. Suppose when the Synod is established there is disagreement about its constitution. A section of opinion may say it is not the right Synod, that the laity ought to have been differently qualified, and that the bishops ought to have had a different degree of authority in its deliberations. Another section of opinion may say the Synod ought to have been divided into two. Suppose that difference is got over, the minority being suppressed, then the law is set up under the new constitution, and one of the first things the new body takes in hand is a thing often calling for reform, the resignation of aged incumbents. Suppose it is considered necessary to have a new rule to secure that incumbents when past their work shall retire. The Synod passes a new law dealing with that matter. The first incumbent who is retired under it, not wishing to be retired and being a cantankerous person, at once brings an action and says this is no law because the constitution of the Church in Wales was not properly set up, the Synod assembled was not the proper Synod, the 875 laity were not the true laity, and the bishops had not the right canonical authority they ought to have had. All that must go to the Courts of Law, and it might be decided anyhow. Surely, since the Home Secretary agrees with the principle, it would be much better to put in the words suggested by my hon. Friend the member for Ashford (Mr. Laurence Hardy). They would, at any rate, decide the matter. Convocation would prepare the scheme and decide the original constitution. If the Home Secretary does not like to go so far, might not the Church of England in Wales, at least, be the body recognised by Convocation as being the Church of England in Wales?. You must decide one way or the other what the Church is to be, and it is much more important than the Home Secretary's own principle, that that should be in the hands of a spiritual authority than that it should be decided subsequently in a Court of Law. The Irish Church Act contains a curious phrase to which the Home Secretary did not refer. It deals with representative bodies and appears to define the word"laity"—a definition which I suppose would be held in litigation on the subject to define that word for the purposes of the whole Act. Clause 22 says:—If at any time it be shown to the satisfaction of Her Majesty and the bishops, clergy, and laity of the same Church in Ireland, or the persons, who, for the time being may succeed to the exercise and discharge of the episcopal functions of such bishops and the clergy and laity in communion with such persons, have appointed any person or body to represent the said Church.I do hot know how the word "communion" would be understood. I presume the clergy and laity are those persons whom the bishops recognise to be in communion with them, and it would be held that only those clergy and laity are in communion with them as may be by the bishops determined. That would give some solid basis upon which to put your structure, but as the Clause stands you cannot define it. It is essential, therefore, that the Home Secretary should give to some spiritual authority the power of definition.
§ Sir HENRY CRAIK
We have had two speeches from the Government side, and I would like to remark on the fundamental differences of opinion which have been shown to exist between the right hon. Gentleman the Home Secretary and the Mover 876 of the Amendment. Both of them of course are prepared to vote for the Disestablishment and Disendowment of the Church of England in Wales, but the hon. Member who moved the Amendment told us that Parliament could not divest itself of the responsibility of framing a constitution for the new Church. He told us that possibly if it had been the Church of his own country they might have been allowed liberty to do that, but he was not prepared in the case of Wales to allow the dismembered Church to frame its own constitution. The hon. Member went into more exact particulars which showed an even greater difference between himself and the Home Secretary. He told us there might possibly be established some qualification such as being in communion with the Church, but that he, for his part, thought that that was open to the gravest objection, and should be resisted on democratic principles. The Home Secretary, on the other hand, told us that complete liberty should be left to the Church to frame its own constitution, and he added that it might adopt membership of the Church as a qualification—such membership, perhaps, as sufficed his own case when he described himself as a member of the Church, habitually availing himself of the Toleration Acts. There is, therefore, an essential difference between the views of those who are united in their enmity to the Church; and, although I am obliged to oppose most strongly the Amendment of the hon. Member for Falkirk, yet I am bound to say I am equally opposed to the view put forward by the Home Secretary. I would much rather have the "is" dotted and the "it's" crossed in the way proposed by the hon. Member than the vague and indefinite proposals of the Home Secretary.
Let us see exactly what is done by this Clause. In the first place, I do not think the right hon. Gentleman quite perceives the point it raises. It has two Subsections. One Sub-section establishes a representative body which has nothing whatever to do with the government of the Church, and which is simply a body to act as trustees to hold the property of the Church. Sections 19 and 22 of the Irish Act, upon which this is based, did two quite different and distinct things, one of which is omitted entirely in the present Clause. In the first place, these two Sections gave power to establish a Convention, in the case of the Irish Church, in order to establish her Constitution. 877 That Convention is not provided for in the Clause of the right hon. Gentleman, and in fact it is pointedly omitted, and I am not surprised that the hon. Member for Falkirk should wish to bring it in. The other provision gave power to frame certain rules and regulations for the subsequent administration of the Church. The two things are completely different. The right hon. Gentleman's Clause drops one altogether. He asks us to believe that he is strongly affected with a benevolent feeling towards a Church which he proposes to dismember and Disestablish; that he for his part is prepared to allow a totally different freedom from that which is contemplated by the hon. Member for Falkirk, and that he would readily give a Synod appointed by Convocation of the province of Canterbury the right to accept a constitution laid down by the House of Convocation. He says that there should be full and absolute freedom on the part of the House of Convocation, jointly with the Synod, to establish and frame an entirely new constitution for the Welsh Church. Have we any right to believe that he will be able to get his Welsh followers to adopt the same views? The hon. Member gave us a definition of the word "laity," but is there any such definition to be found in the Bill? We suspect the indefiniteness of the Clause put forward by the right hon. Gentleman opposite. We have no reason to trust in the absolute sincerity of any wishes that may be expressed on the other side for full freedom being given to the new Church to be created. What have you tried to do in Clause 3? You insisted—
§ Mr. EVELYN CECIL
On a point of Order. Many Members who have followed these Debates realise that Clauses 13 and 3 are absolutely bound together, and I venture to suggest that it is absolutely impossible, when discussing Clause 13, not to refer to Clause 3, as the two are so intertwined.
I did not rule the hon. Member out of order; I only 878 suggested he was going rather wide of the Amendment.
§ Sir HENRY CRAIK
I had only uttered a few words about Clause 3 before the hon. Member, who is so energetic a defender of the Rules of Order, thought fit to interrupt me, and he had given so little attention to the words I had uttered that he professed not to know whether I was in favour of or against the Amendment proposed by the hon. Member for Falkirk. If he was really in that position, I can only say I think he was alone amongst all my audience in holding that view, because I have over and over again stated that I am opposed to the Amendment. And while I am opposing that Amendment I wish it to be understood that I am equally opposed to the provisions of the Clause as they stand. The very indefiniteness of the Clause as it stands makes me hold that view. We have in previous parts condemned the inherent vice of this Bill in attempting to destroy the continuity of the position and the life of the Church as it now exists. The life and central principle of the Church is embodied in traditions which were not created by any Act of Parliament, and which you should not interfere with or destroy. They are intertwined with the history of the country. The Church has grown up with the country. It has a debt to the past; it owes a duty to the future, and to interfere by legislation with a Church which you are robbing of its Endowments by trying to throw its constitution into the melting pot is one of the worst forms of the dangers of Erastianism. I believe myself that as the Church has had a great history in the past so it has a great future before it, and it is surprising to me that any Scottish Members should be found to propose to interfere with it in this manner—to interfere with the Church of a sister country in the manner in which he would not attempt for one moment to interfere with the Church of his own country. I would like any hon. Member for Scotland to get up and tell his constituents that he would be prepared to deal with his Church in the same manner. I am certain that if ever such a thing were proposed in Scotland it would be universally resented, and, in that view, we ought to realise that the life of the Church of Wales is equally dear to the people of that country, and it ought to be equally safe from attacks of those who would desire to rob it or change the continuity of its traditions.
§ Sir D. BRYNMOR JONES
I should not have risen at, all to take part in this Debate had it not been for an observation which fell from the hon. Member who has just sat down. He used language which seemed to imply that there were Members on this side of the House, or that there were Nonconformists in Wales, or supporters of hon. Members in this House in Wales who would wish to embarrass any proceedings which may be consequent upon the passing of this Bill by affecting to be laymen of the Church of England in Wales when in fact they are not. We have, of course, had occasion in explaining the principles on which we base our demand for this Bill to say that all baptised persons, at any rate all baptised persons who are parishioners in Wales are in law members of the Church of England, and that as such they have their rights, and that in terminating the Establishment and in dealing with the property which has to be disposed of upon the dissolution of the ecclesiastical corporation, their rights ought to be considered. But it should not be inferred from that that we do not fully recognise the fact that there is a distinction between those inhabitants of the Principality who habitually attend a Church of England place of worship, who have been confirmed and who communicate in the Church of England, and the rest of the community in Wales, who choose to join other religious organisations which have sprung up during the last 200 years. I wish simply to say that so far as we who sit here are concerned, and so far as the great Nonconformist bodies are concerned, we wish to allow those who are either bonâ fide members, in the sense that they have been confirmed and communicate in the Church in Wales, or those who like to state that they are adherents of the Church of England in Wales, the fullest and freest liberty in regard to the constitution of the new body which takes the place, according to the terms of the Bill, of the existing portion of the Church of England in Wales.
I really do not know that it is very necessary for me to add anything to that statement. So far as I myself am concerned, I can of course make the statement absolutely. Whether you are going to define the term "laity" or not, or whether you leave the Bill as it stands, I certainly shall not, although it has been suggested in certain quarters that I might, take part in any Synod, Convention, or meeting of any representative body connected with the matter, and I feel per- 880 fectly certain that I am speaking for my hon. Friends around me when I say that we do not intend to exert any influence whatever in the matter.
§ Sir D. BRYNMOR JONES
I am coming to that in one minute. From my knowledge of Wales and of the views entertained by the leaders of the great Welsh Nonconformist denominations, I am perfectly certain that none of the Welsh Nonconformist bodies will attempt to influence in any way, either directly or indirectly, the deliberations of any body of Churchmen that may take place as a consequence of this Bill. I should rather like to challenge the Noble Lord (Lord Hugh Cecil) on this point. He and I were members of the Welsh Church Commission, and I think that as a result of listening to a great body of evidence, both he and I came to certain common conclusions. I think, for instance, that I got to learn a great deal more about the Church of England than I did before, and it is embodied in the Report of Commission which I signed. I think also that the Noble Lord learned a great deal about the views, the organisation, and the general attitude of the Welsh Nonconformist bodies through listening to the same evidence. We embodied our common conclusions in a Report which he and I signed. I believe that I am expressing what he will agree to when I say that no man who listened to all those witnesses and who signed that Report would for a single moment believe that the leaders of the Welsh Nonconformist bodies would have the slightest hostility, on any spiritual ground, to the Church of England, or that if and when the Church of England is Disestablished in Wales they will in any way attempt to prevent it from obtaining such a constitution and carrying on its organisation in such a way as will result in general spiritual benefit to the Principality. I do not think the Noble Lord will deny that.
§ Lord HUGH CECIL
I cannot honestly say that either in the Commission or out of the Commission I have been impressed by the fraternal love Nonconformists are supposed to have for the Church of England. I should say there are a great many Nonconformists both in Wales and in England who hate the Church with a most unchristian hatred, 881 but it is not necessary to go into that question. The hon. and learned Member will not say there will be no cantankerous people in Wales, whether Nonconformists or Churchmen. Supposing some of these persons are excluded from the Synod, what security have we that there will not be subsequent litigation turning on the question whether or not they ought to be in the Synod?
§ Sir D. BRYNMOR JONES
I will deal with that in a moment. I am astonished that the Noble Lord said that any witness on the Nonconformist side—
§ Sir D. BRYNMOR JONES
Showed any lack of fraternal love for the Church of England. I do not believe a single witness, even under the acute cross-examination of the Noble Lord, ever expressed any hostility at all to the Church in Wales or to the Church of England.
§ Lord HUGH CECIL
I did not say that any witness had expressed it. I remember a gentleman who offered himself—a Mr. George—who sent in a proof that was very hostile to the Church of England, although he was not actually examined.
§ Sir D. BRYNMOR JONES
I have no recollection of receiving any such proof. I made my observations in order to find a common basis of action upon this Amendment between the Noble Lord and his Friends and myself. I do not agree with the Noble Lord when he suggests that the evidence disclosed any want of fraternal love between the Nonconformists on the one side and the Church of England people on the other. What it did disclose was the impossibility of co-operation between the clergy of the Church of England and the Nonconformist bodies. I was quite prepared for that. If any hon. Member likes to look at the Report of the Commission, he will find that we had to report that co-operation in regard to Divine worship and such matters between the Church of England and the Nonconformist bodies was impossible. Three of the bishops were positive on the point, and one lord bishop who gave evidence said that possibly such co-operation might to a limited extent take place. I was quite surprised at even the slightest contradiction to what I was saying on the point in order to explain the attitude who take in regard to this Amendment. I 882 gather that there are three courses open to the Committee, the first is to allow Clause 13 to stand as it is in the Bill; the second, is to adopt the Amendment—possibly to some extent amended—of the hon. Member for Falkirk Burghs (Mr. Murray Macdonald); and the third, is to adopt the Amendment suggested by the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Ashford (Mr. Laurence Hardy). In either of the first two cases the question which the Noble Lord put to me as to the laity arises. If the Amendment of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Ashford be accepted, that question hardly arises, because I understand that the Convocation of the Province of Canterbury will of itself determine the whole matter. With regard to the definition of "laity," I can only reiterate what was said by the Home Secretary. If the hon. and learned Gentleman the Member for South Bucks (Sir A. Cripps) can suggest some satisfactory definition of the term "layman," I am quite willing to accept it.
§ 6.0 P.M.
§ Sir D. BRYNMOR JONES
I can only say in answer to that, that we take no strong view on the matter at all, but may I observe that the more closely you define the term "layman," and if you put in a particular Amendment dealing with an ascertained legal right, which was the point the Noble Lord had in mind, you may find yourselves in a greater difficulty? Suppose, for instance, you take the case of somebody in Wales who is at the present moment a Calvinistic Methodist, taking a part in the work of that body, but suppose that when he was a, youth of sixteen or seventeen he had been confirmed, and that consequently he communicated in the Church of England, and, it may be, communicated in the Church in Wales for sometime during the course of his life, but has altered his opinion and now become a member of the Calvinistic Methodist denomination. If you make your definition of laymen strict you may find yourself in any parish confronted by men who say, "according to your strict definition I am entitled to come and take part in these proceedings because of the definition which has been inserted in the Bill." I will not exercise such ingenuity as I possess by inventing other difficult cases, but if you are going to have any definition of the term "laymen" at all, 883 I suggest that it should be made of the broadest possible kind—some such term as is suggested in the Amendment of the hon. Member (Mr. Murray Macdonald). The only thing which justifies my interference in the Debate is my recognition of the fact that the determination of the constitution and of the character of the Church after Disestablishment is fraught with matters of grave import, as I think, to the future of the Welsh people. I leave the question of the definition of laymen. As far as I and my friends are concerned It is really a matter for the opponents rather than the supporters of this Bill to determine.
Let me take the point of view which I have just expressed—the point of view that the character of the Church in Wales after Disestablishment is a matter of great importance to the future of the Welsh people. It might be said, of course, that for one who takes my view in regard to this Bill I ought not to say anything about it. According to hon. Gentlemen opposite we are doing an entirely wrong thing in Disestablishing and even partially Disendowing the Church, but in argument to-day we must assume the first principle, that this Bill is going to become law. I should like to ask the hon. and learned Gentleman (Sir A. Cripps) whether what he has said to-day has been said with full knowledge of the state of things among Churchmen in the Principality of Wales.
§ Sir A. CRIPPS
I had very full information of the views of laymen in the Church of Wales—very full information indeed.
§ Sir D. BRYNMOR JONES
I ask that not in the least with any polemical intention—not in the least to make a point against the hon. and learned Gentleman or any of the great Church defenders on the other side of the House. I do it for this reason that I have learned, in the course partly of what I gathered during the taking of the evidence of the Welsh Church Commission, but still more largely from the friendships I have made during the course of a not by any means short life, in regard to public affairs in Wales that there is a very large element among the Welsh clergy who are strongly in favour of a National Welsh Church, who hark back to the days before the Norman Conquest and to the days when the Archbishop of Canterbury had no jurisdiction 884 or any authority except such, of course, as might be derived from paternal love in the Principality of Wales.
§ Sir D. BRYNMOR JONES
The Noble Lord is historically wrong in thinking that the Archbishop of Canterbury always claimed or was always accorded any jurisdiction at all over the area of the four Welsh dioceses. To resume, I have here a letter from a clergyman, who is now the vicar of an English parish, who represents, as I think, a considerable body of opinion among the younger clergy in Wales, which I should like to read. It follows from what I have said that I am not expressing his ideas in any dogmatic sense, but I think no one on the other side has even indicated the sentiments, as I believe, of an increasing number of clergy in Wales. He says:—I am for ever dreading lest the Anglicising passion now wielding all power in the Welsh Church should do something that will continue to keep the Church tied to Canterbury and Anglicising influences, notwithstanding Disestablishment.…We must above all things avoid allowing the Church in Wales to be converted into a new and perhaps more objectionable type of Church of England in Wales. We must somehow provide that what nationalism there may be in the Church shall, at the very outset, have the means of making itself heard and felt in high places. The difficulty for me is that it is hard to tell where and what nationalism does exist in the Church; but one thing seems certain, that it is not to be found among the Dignitaries For the purposes of the representative body I should define the Welsh laity as residents of either sex in the thirteen counties who have been baptised and confirmed and declare that they are communicants of the Church now Disestablished. I should deprecate every attempt to exclude members of other Christian denominations among the Welsh Church laity or to give a doctrinal complexion to the new establishment—Catholic, Protestant, broad, or what not. On the other hand I welcome every effort to give it a Welsh national stamp. What I want to see is a Church of Wales as independent of Canterbury as is the Protestant Church of Ireland.That is a letter of one of the most scholarly of Welshmen who are in Orders in the Church of England, and I have reason to believe that he represents, though to what extent I do not know, a very considerable body of sentiment among the clergy of Wales.
§ Sir D. BRYNMOR JONES
I suppose, being a Welsh Nationalist, he was not appointed to a Welsh parish. I do not know the circumstances.
§ Sir D. BRYNMOR JONES
A Welsh vicar might fear to express his real sentiments, because he might think he "would be prejudiced in regard to his future career. That is why I have read this letter, and said that it represents the sentiment of a certain section of the Welsh clergy; and we believe it is a growing section, because our Welsh national colleges have now come into reasonably full and adequate operation, and many of their students are now going into the Church of England, and they are tinged, in a way that the clergy of two or three generations ago are not tinged, with an understanding of the desires of the Welsh people in regard to religious affairs. I thought, as no hon. Member from Wales on the other side had expressed the views of the Nationalist clergy, I should be failing in my duty if I did not bring to the notice of the Committee the fact that such a body of opinion does undoubtedly exist. We desire, if possible, that this new voluntary episcopal society that is going to be established in Wales shall be a strong, a broad and a comprehensive Church, and, above all, that it shall not be out of sympathy with the great Welsh Nonconformist bodies. Though we take a strong view in favour of religious equality and hold that no rights and privileges should be given to any particular religious body, we certainly do not for a moment say that we are uninterested in the progress of the various religious organisations and their relations among themselves. We recognise that they have a great part to play in the development of the civic life and the religious life in Wales in the future, and all that we desire in passing this Bill is to get rid of the body of mediaeval law, to get rid of an organisation which has, I regret to say, retarded, not in all but in many directions, the progress of the Welsh people in the way that we desire and that the majority of the Welsh people desire that they should go. I think the general idea we have formed in this matter, and, indeed, so far as I can see apart from the Amendment of the hon. and learned Member for South Bucks (Sir A. Cripps), is that what is desired would be best obtained by adhering to the words of the Bill as they stand. If any Amendment could be suggested which would preserve the freedom we desire by means of a convention, Synod, or meeting, or by whatever name called under the new constitution, we will not be found opposing the reasonable desires of hon. Gentlemen opposite in the matter. Upon the whole I 886 counsel the Committee to adhere to the words of the Bill as they stand.
§ Mr. LAURENCE HARDY
I confess there was a great portion of the hon. and learned Gentleman's speech which I could not follow the drift of. I fully admit that his remarks were perfectly friendly and conciliatory, but it was only towards the end of the speech that we found what he wished the Committee to do. I think that, coming from a party which is always so strongly appealing to popular feeling, we ought to have had better evidence than that which he gave. If he was going to produce unanimous evidence, it might as well have been unanimous from Wales as from England. If he says he speaks for the Welsh National—
§ Mr. LAURENCE HARDY
I am perfectly indifferent; I was only referring to the hon. and learned Gentleman's speech, in which he said the letter which he read expressed the unanimous opinion. If he wishes to give the name afterwards it is a matter of perfect indifference to me. If he gets his representative national opinion in the way he indicated it is not so likely to carry weight with the House. I have an Amendment on the Paper lower down, but, seeing that the Debate has got extremely general—although I think it is most desirable that the House should have an opportunity of voting on my Amendment—I take it, Mr. Chairman, that you desire that the Debate should be on the Amendment we are now discussing. I would like to say one or two things with reference to some of the remarks made by the Home Secretary. Of course, the real difficulty we are in is this: We quite admit that the Home Secretary to-day made a very friendly and conciliatory speech, and he seemed to a large extent to meet our view, but I would point out that it is entirely the Home Secretary's opinion. There is nothing in the Bill to carry out what he foreshadowed in such an encouraging manner. I must confess that looking back to an earlier debate it seemed to me that his speech hardly harmonised entirely -with the speech he made on the first day of the Committee on the Bill. We were told then in answer to arguments that time was not required. I had an Amendment desiring more time, and the right hon. Gentleman said that the matter could be settled in ten minutes outside of this 887 House. Now we understand that he has foreshadowed in his mind exceedingly complicated procedure under which first of all Convocation is to take the matter in hand. Then it is to be referred to a future Synod in Wales, and if approved by that Synod, authority may be obtained. But that is not to be obtained in such a short interval as we were told would be sufficient at the earlier stages of the Bill.
I should have liked the right hon. Gentleman to tell us why this Bill differs from the Irish Act in respect of the representative body which he suggests, and which he says is to be a mere body of trustees. I should have liked him also to say why this representative body is only to be appointed at the will practically of the Home Secretary. Under the Irish Act the words were "shall issue a charter." In this Bill it is only provided that he may do so. He reserves to himself full power in connection with the future constitution of the Church in Wales, and although he stated that the representative body would be merely a body of trustees, I cannot think that judges when they come to construe the Act will take exactly the same view. Under the Clause we passed on Friday last, the representative body will have to decide on the selection of the diocese to which outlying parishes are to be attached. That is not trustee business. Their powers go far beyond those of trustees. In Clause 14, which is to be discussed on Friday, there is a proviso which says:—Provided that if he resigned the office which he last held with the consent of the representative body on the ground that he was incapacitated by permanent mental or bodily infirmity for the performance of his duties, he shall be entitled to receive during the remainder of his life an annuity equal to one-third of the average net income of the office which he held at the passing of this Act.…Although the Home Secretary has told us that it is simply a body of trustees, it was contemplated in the Bill when drawn that they should have other powers and authority, and it may be conceivably held that these powers and authority go a great deal beyond anything which has been defined by the Home Secretary. In his friendly observations we always after all found a "but" which severed the whole of his speech from being of practical importance. He says that after the day of Disestablishment the Convocation of Canter- 888 bury can act and prepare a scheme, but the new Synod has got to approve of it. Anybody in the country can prepare a scheme, but what is to be the authority of the scheme? That is what we want to know. What is meant by stating that Convocation can take the matter in hand and prepare a scheme? Does the Government mean that it is to have any authority whatsoever? Has the new Synod to take that scheme or any other put before it? My Amendment takes an entirely different point of view. It seems to me that the Home Secretary has foreshadowed what was within the competence of the Convocation of Canterbury. He says the same regarding the laity. That is another occasion where you have a "but," and I do not know how the Synod is to approve of what is proposed. There seems to be very considerable doubt in connection with that matter. It was exactly the same when he came to answer the question put by the hon. and learned Member for Bucks (Sir A. Cripps) as to whether the Welsh bishops and clergy may in future go to Convocation. He says that in future they may go to Convocation, but that as soon as it has legal business to do they have no business there. The Welsh Bishops may go to any Pan-Anglican Conference in connection with the English Church, but they will have no authority whatever. Although the hon. and learned Gentleman' speech was friendly and conciliatory, it does not amount to anything whatsoever. It leaves us in the same vague position.
We are in a much more difficult position with respect to the Church in Wales than the Irish people were in as to the Irish Church. There was no dismemberment in the case of the Irish Church. It is on this Clause that we have finally to get at the real opinion of hon. Members opposite. We do not want in any way to aggravate opinion, but it is inevitable that we shall have to get a definite statement from them on this Clause. I was sorry that the hon. Gentleman opposite (Sir D. Brynmor Jones) did not definitely state his opinion as to the alternatives before the Committee at present. He named them once or twice, and ended by saying that he thought it better to preserve the words in the Bill as it stands. He did not say why, but he stated that he and those who act with him are willing to move with the general opinion of Church people, and to accept what they put forward as the best solution of this particular question. This is not a question on which we are irreconcilably 889 opposed. We have to assume that Disestablishment and Disendowment have taken place, and that dismemberment has taken place. All we are considering is the new form of constitution for the Church in Wales which hon. Gentlemen opposite say they desire to leave perfectly free. What we on this side say is that the constitution should be regulated by the old authority, and that the matter should be dealt with by the Central Council of the Church. Is it conceivable that hon. Members would support the proposal if this House said in connection with the Free Church Council that some resolution was not to be carried into force unless voted upon specially by that portion of the Free Church which resides in Wales? They would not accept that position, and yet this Church, after Disestablishment, and when all its law is abolished, must stand in the same position as those bodies allied in the Free Church Council, but hon. Members wish to give it a position which they would never accept for their own Churches.
The right hon. Gentleman in his speech did not condescend to give us any reason for refusing to give us what we desire. We have heard the old allusions to dismemberment. That is all very well, but everybody knows that dismemberment—the Home Secretary now confesses it—is forced upon them by the exigencies of the case. He says it is only forced because the Church of England remains Established in England, apart from Wales. That is because they dare not bring up the other question. It is not a question of mere political expediency. They know that they could not possibly deal with this matter if they brought it up as a whole, and, therefore, they deal with it piecemeal. By dealing with it piecemeal they are doing what has never has done before, namely, dismembering a Church which has no connection with the State. After this Bill passes into law, the Church in Wales will have no connection whatever with the State. They have tried to meet the new situation, and in my opinion they have utterly failed to do so. Having put the Clause in such vague words, they try to leave it to others to decide, instead of taking the responsibility themselves. We have had nothing but friendly words. We have had no due regard paid to the position of affairs, and it is on that account that I wish to get more information on the matter. The Government leave us in this position, and decline to guide the House in the matter. In my opinion they have left us in an extremely difficult position 890 which cannot possibly be cleared up in the time between the passing of the Act and the date of Disestablishment, There is an alternative in the Motion which has come before us which I think does deal with the matter, and I hope the House will reject this Amendment and accept the subsequent one. Then, at all events, we shall feel that all the protestations on the other side in favour of liberty, justice for the Church, and a desire that the Church should decide for herself in the future are genuine, and are not mere political speeches. It is on those grounds I hope the House will reject the Amendment with a view to accepting the alternative which is to be placed before the House.
§ Mr. JOYNSON-HICKS
The question which we have to decide this afternoon really is which comes first, the egg or the hen. I can imagine the Home Secretary getting up and saying, "Of course the hen comes first." But there must have been, first of all, an egg. Then it is admitted that the egg comes first. Yes, but there must have been a hen to lay it. That is exactly the position of the right hon. Gentleman. I would ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer whether the Government have not adopted exactly that attitude this afternoon? We want to know what is the new Church in Wales; how is the body of the new Church in Wales to be constituted? The Home Secretary says you must have a Synod. The Synod would be the new body which would govern the Church in Wales. How will the Synod get there? The Synod must be elected by the bishops, clergy, and laity. The Synod presupposes a laity to elect it. Who is to be the laity? Where are you going to get your electors from? The Home Secretary says the Synod will decide who the laity are. I would ask the Chancellor, who is fresh to this discussion, when dealing with this matter this afternoon, to tell us which is to come first. If the House will look at the Bill itself I cannot help feeling that the decision what is the Church must be the same all throughout the Bill. The right hon. Gentleman the Member for Swansea District has told us perfectly frankly this afternoon, when he wants to Disestablish the Church and to retain a portion of the Endowments for the Church, he claims that every baptised person is a member of the Church. That is not the basis of the Bill. If that is so there is nothing in any Clause of the Bill which says that for the purposes of Disestablishment the 891 Church shall mean the body which is composed of all baptised persons, but for the purpose of the new Re-established Church it shall consist of So-and-so.
What the right hon. Gentleman gives us in exchange for this nebulous position is "trust the Welsh Nonconformists." We have heard of the confidence trick before. I am not going to suggest—it would be futile—that the right hon. Gentleman himself is going to interfere, but I agree with what the Noble Lord the Member for Oxford University told us plainly as to this new representative Synod. I am not dealing with the trust body, the representative body in the second Sub-section of Clause 13, a small non-elected body, which would be appointed, I assume, by the Crown after consultation with some of the leaders of the Welsh Church. That, I think, we need not discuss. But the more important body is the Synod which is to govern the Church. That is to be established in some way not defined by the bishops, clergy, and laity, and it is not said at all how that Synod is to be brought into being. The Home Secretary said, let the Convocation of Canterbury prepare a scheme. But, as my right hon. Friend behind me has just said, the Convocation of Canterbury has nothing more to do with preparing such a scheme as a voluntary act than any debating society in a suburb of London. The hon. and learned Member for Bucks suggested there should be letters of business. I do not think so. There is no power to establish any binding scheme under this Bill, and any number of letters of business would not enable Convocation to prepare a scheme binding on the Welsh Church. All they can do is to discuss in Convocation what they consider would be a desirable scheme for Re-establishing the Welsh Church. The right hon. Gentleman said, "Let them come together in Synod—the Welsh bishops, clergy, and laity; let them form that Synod on whatever basis of lay representation they can get." Probably they would get an excellent body. They may say that qualified person means a lay member of the Church of England, and has the status of a communicant, that is to say, is either an actual communicant or has been baptised, and is admissible to Holy Communion, and does not belong to any religious body which is not in communion with the Church of England, and who signed the declaration contained in the schedule to this scheme.
892 That qualification would, I think, in almost all circumstances, be one which Convocation would establish and upon which Convocation would call together this Synod. But you have got to go a step behind that Synod. The Secretary of State says that the Synod being called together then it has got to have the consent of the Welsh Church. But the Welsh Church under this Bill is the whole of the Welsh Church as by law Established, that is to say, clearly, all baptised persons, all parishioners, and that is the consent unless this Bill is altered, which has got to be obtained. How is that consent to be obtained under the Bill? It is suggested that the bishops, clergy, and laymen shall summon some nebulous body. Suppose the four bishops take upon themselves to summon this body, it is open to anyobody to say, "You have no authority to summon us at all." What authority have the bishops under this Bill to summon a meeting of the Welsh Church in order to decide the constitution of the Welsh Church? It would be open to the right hon. Gentleman to say to those bishops, "You have no authority at all." The Home Secretary might perfectly well say, "I am a Churchman under the old constitution, but there is nothing in the new Act which alters or repeals my position as a Churchman. I decline to attend the meeting called by these bishops; they have no authority to call us." Suppose the bishops call for themselves some leading laymen and then they summon a Synod of the Welsh Church, under the provisions of this Clause 13 they have no power to do it. Neither the bishops, the clergy, nor the laity have any power whatever to call together a meeting which can approve of any scheme, however good, passed by any number of Convocations you like, in accordance with the provisions of this Bill.
This is much the more important body of the two. If the Committee looks at Clause 3"which is inextricably mixed up with this Clause it" will see what this Synodical body has to do. It is as easy to call it a Synod in the case of the body of trustees which is referred to in the second Sub-section of Clause 13; but the body which is to be established somehow or other in this undefined manner is to be the most important body in connection with this Church in Wales, which has to reestablish the whole of the Church corpus. How are you going to get your Church corpus re-established by a body which has no legal establishment itself, and no legal foundation? You are not going to 893 get it through this body called together from nowhere, by nobody, with no legal foundation, passing resolutions, "we will re-establish the Church corpus," and calling upon the Church judges to sit again. The Church judges will at once say: "What right have you under this Bill, either Clause 3 or Clause 13, to ask us to sit? It is true the Church in Wales may call upon us to sit, but are you the Church in Wales?" The Church in Wales, under the new position, must be the same unless you alter it as under the old law. We know what the old Church in Wales was. The Church in Wales was a body which could only legislate through Parliament. The Church of England Convocation itself could not re-establish itself. No Church body has power, so long as the Church is established, to make any law. Convocation docs not do it. It cannot alter a single rubric to-day without getting it passed through this House, and yet you are going to give this nebulous body, which is not defined, power to re-establish the Church in Wales, and modify Acts of Parliament, practically any Act of Parliament. The whole of the Church law is to be at the disposal of this nebulous body, formed without any authority whatever. Look at Clause 3, Sub-section (4)—The power of making by such constitutions and regulations, alterations, and modifications in ecclesiastical law shall include the power of altering and modifying such law so far as is embodied in the Church Discipline Act, 1840, the Public Worship Regulation Act, 1874, the Clergy Discipline Act, 1892, or the Ecclesiastical Dilapidations Acts, 1871 and 1872, or any other Act of Parliament.You are going to give to this body, which was never established, the right to modify Acts of Parliament which have been passed for many years. The Noble Lord, the Member for Oxford University, was perfectly right in his speech, which has not been dealt with by one single Member except the right hon. Gentleman, who merely says: "Trust the Welsh Nonconformists." But the Noble Lord did not refer to the Nonconformists. He referred to cantankerous Churchmen, and there may be such. We will have this Synodical body trying to do all these things, and everybody who objects to anything will have a legal right to object. I will ask the right hon. Gentleman the Home Secretary, who is himself a lawyer, if this Synodical body is established by consent, and set up on a 894 summons of the bishops and laity, and if there is one single Churchman who does not agree with the mode of establishment, would it not be possible for that single Churchman to apply to the Courts of Law, the ordinary courts of the realm, for an injunction to restrain that Synodical body from doing anything whatever which interferes with his rights as a Churchman? I believe that that is the legal position, and unless some form of constituted authority is put into the Bill, I quite agree that the Bill is perfectly impossible as it stands. I would prefer handing it over to the Convocation of Canterbury to make this new constituent body, but you must have somebody or other acting with the authority of the Imperial Parliament, to call together the new Synod, and establish what is to be the basis of representation in that Synod. I would suggest that the Government should reconsider this matter, and unless they are able to give us some far better answer than they have given up to the present, that they should accept the Amendment to be moved very shortly in the name of my right hon. Friend the Member for Ashford.
§ The CHANCELLOR of the DUCHY (Mr. Hobhouse)
The hon. Gentleman who has just down has suggested that the provision of the Bill is so framed that it-would be perfectly impossible for the Welsh Church in future to constitute itself; but the fact is that under exactly the same provision, and almost in exactly the same language, with one slight omission to which the Noble Lord the Member for Oxford University (Lord Hugh Cecil) called attention, not the slightest hitch of any sort or kind, nor any legal difficulty, has arisen in the case of the Irish Church. The hon. Member at the beginning of his. remarks, if I may say so, rather re-echoed the speech made by the Noble Lord the Member for Oxford University, who asked I think a very pertinent question, which has been asked over and over again in this Debate, Who are the laity—who are going to constitute the main portion of this new Church? The hon. Gentleman opposite who sits for one of the universities of Scotland said that there is. not only the difficulty of defining the word "laity," but there is danger if you do not define it. He said there is no such danger in the case of Ireland, because in Ireland everybody else who was not a member of the Church of Ireland was a Roman Catholic, and it was not to be 895 supposed that any Roman Catholic would attempt to enter any assembly of Protestants. The hon. Member forgot that a large portion of the North of Ireland is composed of Presbyterians and of Methodists whose religious beliefs are -very closely allied to those of the Church of England itself. There is a vast population of Protestants, I think about a million and a half, in the North of Ireland, all of whom take a keen interest in the management of Church affairs.
The Noble Lord the Member for Oxford University said it was very desirable to have a definition of the word "laity," and I think he or somebody else referred to the definition existing in the case of the Welsh diocesan conferences. In the case of Bangor and Llandaff Diocesan Conference there is a definition, and I think a satisfactory definition, of who is and who is not a member of the Church of England. But there is no mention in the other dioceses of there being any such qualification required from the members of the diocesan conferences. I may be wrong. [An HON. MEMBER: "You are wrong."] Then I accept that, and let us say that in the four dioceses there is a definition requiring a person to be a communicant. In the case of the Irish Church the words of the Irish Act to which the Noble Lord drew attention were—"Of appointed persons, and of clergy and laity, in communion with such persons." It is not a little remarkable that when the Irish Church came to consider who were to be eligible to vote either in the Diocesan Synod or in subsequent meetings of lay representatives and delegates, although the proposition was that no person should be qualified to vote who was not a communicant of the Church of Ireland, that qualification was struck out by a majority of two to one, notwithstanding what was almost a direction conveyed in the Irish Act as to the lay electors being actually, in communion with the clergy. This is a very remarkable example of lay feeling within the Protestant Episcopal Church that ought not to be disregarded by this House, and has not been disregarded by the Government in the preparation of this Bill, because they feel that this matter ought to be left entirely to the clergy and laity of the Church, and should not, directly or indirectly, be given sanction to by the words of this Bill. It applied to the persons who were to be the laity to elect 896 representatives from the parishes and from the Dioceses to the Congress of lay delegates. They subsequently were declared the delegates to frame the constitution of the Church of Ireland. There has been no attempt by any authority in the Church of Ireland to lay down what does or does not qualify a person to be a member of the Church of Ireland, with one exception, that he is to sign a written statement that he is a member of the Church of Ireland. I think the Government has very sound ground for refusing to define the word "laity" in this Bill.
Another point raised by the Noble Lord was: what is the initial convention which shall set in operation the machinery of the Church by which the constitution of the Church shall be hereafter determined? The Welsh Disestablished Church will have one great advantage over the Irish Disestablished Church in this matter. In the case of the four Welsh bishoprics there are actually in existence at the present moment four diocesan conferences, constituted upon a regular basis of representation of the parishes, accustomed to consider the business of the dioceses and various legal and other matters that arise in course of the administration of a diocese. The diocesan Synods have to be constituted in the interval between the passage of the Act and the date of Disestablishment. What happened in the case of Ireland is this: The Archbishops of Armagh and Dublin met each other and agreed that the provincial Synods should meet. At the provincial Synods clerical representatives were elected to represent the views of the clergy, and, later on, the bishops of the dioceses were asked to convene diocesan conferences, at which both the clerical and lay elements were present; and, at those diocesan conferences, lay electors were appointed to meet at a lay representative gathering, which in turn elected lay delegates for the purpose of considering with the clerical delegates a draft constitution of the Irish Church which had been drafted by a small committee of lay and clerical representatives. They had then a general convention composed of these lay and clerical delegates; they discussed at great length the draft constitution prepared for them, and eventually passed and carried it with practically no dissent at all. With regard to the fears expressed by the hon. Gentleman opposite as to whether some cynical and cantankerous Protestant might not arise—
§ Mr. HOBHOUSE
Then I will say cantankerous person might arise who would paralyse the whole machinery of this Disestablished Church. My answer is that in the course of the forty odd years which have elapsed since the passing of the Irish Act there has not been a single action at law brought by any person against the Disestablished body. I do not suppose that Ireland is less litigous than Wales, and the example which Ireland affords us in that respect may be taken with every confidence as representing what is likely to be the state of Wales in the future.
§ Mr. JOYNSON-HICKS
The right hon. Gentleman has spoken of the machinery of the diocesan conferences. Is he prepared to accept the four diocesan conferences as the constituent bodies?
§ 7.0 P.M.
§ Mr. HOBHOUSE
Is there really any necessity for doing so, or any doubt as to the ability of the clergy to meet? I am inclined to think that it was perhaps out of abundance of caution that the words, "Any Act, law, or custom," were inserted. We think that the connection between Church and State ought to be severed, and, if it ought to be severed, it ought to be completely severed, and there is nothing to prevent their meeting and deliberating and settling their constitution as they, and they alone, think best. Let me come to the case of the representative body. The hon. Gentleman who has just sat down apparently was in very great difficulties as regards the method of election and the functions of the representative body. The representative body will exist under this Bill just as the representative body exists in the case of the Irish Church, and it is provided for in almost precisely the same words as are contained in the Irish Act. The representative body which my right hon. Friend alluded to is a body of trustees; in the case of Ireland it is composed of thirteen archbishops and bishops, with one clerical representative and two lay members coming from each diocese, and those forty-two persons co-opt another thirteen, giving a total membership of fifty-five. They control the whole financial business of the Irish Church. They are, to all intents and purposes, the executive and financial committee of the Church. That has been found to work in the most excellent way. Of course the property which they have to control is very much larger than that 898 taken over by the Welsh Church, and necessarily the duties under the Irish Act are more onerous, and it is not to be supposed that what the representative body is able to do without litigation, and without; unnecessary friction in Ireland, cannot be done without litigation and unnecessary friction in the case of Wales. The governing body without doubt in Wales will be as in Ireland, the general Synod of the Church. In the case of Ireland, without a definition of laity and in the easy manner described, the laity insisted on being represented in the general Synod by two lay members for every clerical one. I imagine the same thing will happen in the case of the Welsh Church, that the laity will insist upon having the dominating voice in the affairs of the Church. I was asked before I got up to make a clear and definite statement on these points. I have endeavoured to meet the two points which have been raised ever since my right hon. Friend sat down. I have endeavoured to clear up any ambiguity on them, and I confess, after having studied the precedent of the Irish Church with very great care and in very great fulness, I am perfectly satisfied what has occurred so happily in the ease of Ireland, which from the point of view of management and care has carried them through a period, I agree of some difficulty, smoothly through their difficulty, that that will happen too in the case of Wales.
§ Sir WILLIAM ANSON
The right hon. Gentleman who has just spoken is very optimistic as to the future of this Clause, and he was also good enough to tell us that he had cleared up any ambiguities.
§ Sir W. ANSON
I am sorry I cannot admit the hope. The right hon. Gentleman's way of clearing up the ambiguity is simply to say that the Disestablished Church in Ireland has not experienced some of the difficulty which we think the Disestablished Church in Wales will experience under this Clause. I think everyone admits that in the Irish case there was at any rate an attempt to define the laity who were to take part in the government of the Irish Church. There was also a perfectly distinct division into three groups of Roman Catholics, Presbyterians, and members of the English Church in Ireland. Because under those circumstances the Irish Church 899 has been so fortunate as not to experience those difficulties in the government, which I take on trust from the right hon. Gentleman, it does not seem to me to follow that the Government is justified in leaving this Clause, which is all-important for the future government of the Disestablished Church in Wales, with an almost studied ambiguity which we cannot help noticing. I look at the Clause, and it is quite impossible for anyone to say whether there are two bodies contemplated or one. I look at Sub-section (1), and I see there is a body which is not merely to look after the property, but which is to make a constitution and regulations for the general management and good government of the Church in Wales. I look at Sub-section (2), and I see a perfectly distinct body, wholly for the purpose of property, discharging the duties of trustees. I do think this Clause is so important for the future Disestablished Church in Wales that the Government might have gone to the trouble of defining clearly the nature of the body or bodies which are to look after the property and the government and the general regulation of the affairs of the Church in Wales. Are we to have a body for the general government of the Church and also a body of trustees, or does Sub-section (1) mean the body the nature of which is somewhat obscured by Sub-section (2)? I think that might be explained before we part company with this Clause.
When we come to the body which is to exercise the function of government, surely the mode in which that body is to be constituted should be clearly defined. The right hon. Gentleman tells us there can be no difficulty about the term "laity" because no difficulty was experienced in Ireland. I pass over the clergy, but as the laity will be an important constituent in the Synod or body which is to exercise those powers, surely it would be right that laity should be defined, or that somebody should be given the power of defining which would be equivalent to a Parliamentary definition. We have had before us this evening two definitions of laity. The right hon. Member from the Swansea District (Sir D. Brynmor Jones) said that he would define the laity as baptised persons, but the Amendment under discussion states that the laity who are to take part in this work are simply parishioners of full age who make a declaration in writing before a churchwarden that they are bonâ fide members of the Church in Wales. 900 In the one case we have baptism and in the other a declaration, the bona fides of which I will not dispute, but still it is a perfectly different definition or mode of appertainment of the laity who are to exercise this important function. Is it not perfectly simple for the Government to deal with this matter? The right hon. Gentleman who has just spoken rather scoffed at the notion that there would be any layman so cantankerous as to press himself into a society where he is not wanted; but human nature being what it is I think it is perfectly possible disputes might arise as to who were the laity and as to what was the definition of laymen capable of doing the work.
If such a dispute does arise under the Clause as it stands, the only possible way of settling it would be by a decision of a Court of Law. That is not a satisfactory way of getting at the proper constitution of a body which is to exercise powers of Church government. It would be expensive and irritating, and would have many defects, and that could be remedied quite readily by the Government. How else can it be done? Either you put in a Parliamentary definition or you give the power to somebody or other to define the laity in such a manner as that their definition shall have the force of a Parliamentary definition. That is what has been suggested by my right hon. Friend the Member for the Ashford Division (Mr. L. Hardy). I will venture to say it will be far better not to leave this matter merely to be fought out in the Courts of Law, not to define it in the Act as is proposed by the hon. Member for Falkirk (Mr. M. Macdonald), but to leave it to that body from which this portion of the English Church is to be dismembered, the representative body of the English Church. I do ask the Government to make clear to us whether we are dealing with one body or two, and to relieve us from the doubts which must exist as to the proper definition of the various constituent parts of this Synod, which is to come into existence and which is to govern henceforth the action of the Church in Wales, and to accept the proposal of my right hon. Friend the Member for the Ashford Division, and to allow the Church, from which this body is to be dismembered, at any rate to have the last word and determining voice in the government and composition of the governing element in the Church in Wales.
§ The CHAIRMAN
The discussion seems now to be mainly on the proposal of the 901 right hon. Gentleman, the Member for the Ashford Division. The hon. Member for Falkirk Burghs (Mr. M. Macdonald) has intimated that he does not propose to press his alternative. I suggest that that Amendment might now be negatived and then the other one may be moved.
§ Amendment put, and negatived.
§ Mr. LAURENCE HARDY
I beg to move, at the end of Sub-section (1), to leave out the words "the bishops, clergy, and laity of the Church in Wales from holding synods or electing representatives thereto, or from framing, either by themselves or by their representatives elected in such manner as they think fit, constitutions and regulations for the general management and good government of the Church in Wales and the property and affairs thereof, whether as a whole or according to dioceses, and the future representation of members thereof in a general synod or in diocesan synods, or otherwise," and to insert the words "and it is hereby declared that the Convocation of the province of Canterbury may, with the assent of the House of Laymen of the province, prepare a scheme for constituting in such manner as they think fit a body representative of the Church in Wales; and the said body, when so constituted, may make such regulations as they think fit for the general management and good government of the Church in Wales and of the property and affairs thereof."
I have in a large measure anticipated the remarks I desire to make on this proposal, but I understand from the manner in which the Amendment has been placed before the House that this discussion can go on practically on the general lines on which it has proceeded, directed, of course, more to the particular Amendment. I think that the tenor of the Debate has shown that there really is almost unanimous opinion in favour of the alternative I put forward. The Home Secretary practically admitted that he thought that Convocation of Canterbury was the best authority for preparing this scheme. The right hon. Gentleman the Member for Swansea District (Sir D. Brynmor Jones), though he did not give an opinion, left it very much to be inferred that he had very little objection to that course, and the right hon. Gentleman who spoke last also indicated that so far as the Government is concerned, they desire to follow that which has been successful in the past. After all, 902 we must remember that all the details he gave in connection with Ireland, were details given in connection with the Church which was a whole Church. We ask now that the constitution of the Church in Wales shall be decided by the Church as a whole and in doing that we shall arrive with the least friction at the most satisfactory results. I think the Debate that has occurred in connection with the question of laymen shows that it is better not to put into the Bill an authoritative statement of what shall be the initial constitution of the Church. There are very considerable difficulties in dealing with the matter in connection with the definition of the word "laity" in a Bill; but if you refer this matter as is, I believe the wish of the vast majority of Churchmen to the old authority, that of the Convocation of the Province of Canterbury, then the House is indicating the manner in which it desires the question to be dealt with, and it has shown the authority that has to deal with it and that it is sufficient to leave it to that authority to decide what shall be the initial constitution of what is practically a new Church, whatever we may say. We, at all events, do feel very strongly on this matter, and we have put it forward as the touchstone on the reality of the professions that come from the other side. It is on those grounds I desire to submit this Amendment to the House.
We have had an acknowledgment on the part of this Government and by the present Prime Minister and by his predecessor that Convocation is the proper authority to deal with these matters, and therefore we cannot have criticism that Convocation is not fit to deal with the Church matters. The Prime Minister has issued letters of business for Convocation to deal with one of the most serious matters conceivable, namely, questions affecting the doctrine and ritual in the Church. If, therefore, the Government has shown its confidence in Convocation we ask it to do so again by appointing that body to decide this question which affects the whole Church and not merely one portion of it. We have to remember that that with which we are now dealing is only a portion of the Church of England. We have been told in the concluding words of the Home Secretary that the question in England may be dealt with in subsequent years. Therefore, it is very important that in establishing the precedent we should decide very strictly as to the authority which is to fix the constitution of one 903 portion of the Church of England, not as a State body, but as a religious body. Therefore we say that there is no better authority than Convocation. It is one generally accepted. It certainly has the support of Churchmen, and it ought to have the support of Nonconformists, and I cannot conceive any argument which could be used against it which does not in some way go back upon the professions which we have so frequently heard in this House.
§ The UNDER-SECRETARY for the HOME DEPARTMENT (Mr. Ellis Griffith)
The right hon. Gentleman who has moved the Amendment said that his proposal raised in the main the same point of principle as that which we have been discussing for some hours. He stated that the majority of Churchmen were in favour of the proposal in this Amendment. I do not think that we have any evidence of that as far as Welsh Churchmen are concerned. There are two Welsh representatives now present on the other side, but I do not think that they would claim to represent thoroughly Welsh Churchmen. There are Welsh-speaking Churchmen, and the hon. Member opposite would be the first to admit that he does not represent exactly that element in the Church. There is really a national element in the Church which, as far as we know, has no voice in this House at all.
§ Mr. ELLIS GRIFFITH
The hon. Member has not followed me. All who have taken part in this Debate on that side are English Churchmen; they know a great deal about the English Church, but, if they will allow me to say so, they do not really know much about the Welsh Church.
§ Mr. ELLIS GRIFFITH
Of course I know that, and if I did not I have been reminded of it many times in this Debate. This Amendment may be looked upon from two points of view. First of all, I understand that the substance of it is that the Convocation of Canterbury, consisting of representatives from England and Wales, shall decide the new constitution of the Disestablished Church, and be responsible for the new Synod and the new represen- 904 tative body. How does that matter stand? One would have thought that in this respect the Irish case was really a precedent. There have been many disputes between the two sides as to whether or not the Irish case was a precedent, but I should have thought it was clearly so in this matter. There were two Convocations in Ireland and for Ireland alone, and one would have thought that Convocation would have taken this matter in hand in Ireland. The provinces of Armagh and Dublin met, but they decided not to settle the question of the laity representation in the General Committee. It was the parochial machinery that was taken in hand. There were representatives appointed from every parish; those representatives appointed delegates; the delegates met, and it was they, the delegates of the representatives of the laymen of the parishes of Ireland, who ultimately decided how the laity should be represented. Therefore the Irish case is really a precedent here. There is an elaborate organisation for the diocesan conferences in Wales. The diocesan conferences provide very fully for the lay element. I notice that there is an ex officio lay representation in the Llandaff Diocesan Conference, and that all Members of Parliament representing constituencies in the diocese come within that ex officio designation. I hope my hon. Friends attend.
§ Mr. ELLIS GRIFFITH
I submit that the Irish precedent is absolutely to the point. The clerical element in Convocation did not take upon itself to decide this question affecting the laity, and I submit that that is a precedent which ought not to be departed from in this case. In the second place, consider the proposal upon its merits. The right hon. Gentleman suggests that the Convocation of Canterbury, consisting of representatives from both England and Wales, should decide once and for all the constitution of the new Church in Wales.
§ Mr. ELLIS GRIFFITH
Take an extreme point, but one which might arise. Would the right hon. Gentleman suggest that if in Convocation the representatives 905 of Wales were on one side and the representatives of England were on the other, the English representatives, being in a majority, would force their scheme upon Wales? Of course they would not. Hon. Members opposite would admit that the ultimate determination must rest with the Welsh Churchmen. The position then is that the Convocation of Canterbury with the Welsh members up to the date of Disestablishment can make any recommendation and give any advice they like. When the Welsh Convention, consisting of the representatives of the bishops, clergy, and laity, meet, they would, I suppose, in natural course have that draft scheme before them. If they adopt it, the scheme of the Convocation of Canterbury will have been adopted in fact. If they do not, why should not the Welsh Synod have an opportunity of reconsidering the whole matter?
§ Mr. ELLIS GRIFFITH
They will from time to time, but why should they not from the very start? Our position is that in a Bill that purports to Disestablish the Church we cannot at the same time Reestablish the Church by saying what shall be the Synod and the representative body governing that Church. I know what hon. Members opposite would have said if we had done that. They would have said that our desire was to get rid of an Establishment in which we did not believe in order to set up an Establishment in which we did believe, and I think we should have been open to that taunt. Our policy throughout upon this Amendment has remained the same. We say that Disestablishment, Disendowment, Dismemberment if you like, which is the same process from another point of view, is to take place. Once that process has taken place we want the Church to have every possible right of reconstituting itself upon whatever lines it thinks fit, but we want that reconstitution to depend on Welsh opinion, and not upon Welsh plus English opinion. That being so, we cannot accept the Amendment, but must leave the reconstitution of the Church, its Synod, and its representative body to be determined by Welsh Church opinion, and by Welsh Church opinion alone.
§ Mr. DUKE
I think it will be agreed on both sides that members of the Church in Wales are entitled to have in this Bill, if it is to become an Act, a definite, intelligible, workable plan for the establishment of the new means of government. I do not 906 think that that can be gainsaid by anyone who approaches' the subject under discussion honestly. This scheme does not satisfy any one of those tests. It is not definite. It does not deserve to be designated as ambiguous; it is so unintelligible. As to its being workable, there is no means for bringing it into operation. If this subject had been approached either by legislators or by draftsmen who were members of the Church of England and who understood the point of view of the Church of England, they could not have arrived at the result embodied in this Clause; it would have been utterly impossible. By this Clause you make it clear to Churchmen in Wales that you intend, not only to destroy the unity of the Church to which they at present belong, but to insist that their future scheme of government shall not be government as members of the Church to which they at present belong: they are to constitute themselves a new religious sect. The moral of that was pointed somewhat by the speech of the hon. Member for Swansea, who made it clear that the ambition chiefly animating himself and his friends in dealing with this matter is to establish what he describes as a new National Church in Wales. Let us consider what you are doing. You are avowedly taking away from the Church in Wales two-thirds of its Endowments. By the joint operation of this Clause and Clause 3 you propose to deprive the Church in Wales of the rest of its Endowments, and to give them elsewhere, to some body which may, or may not, be constituted. That is not fair play. I cannot conceive that it is the intention of the Ministers responsible for this Bill. If it is not their intention, and if it is not fair, the Church in Wales ought not to be exposed to the risk of its taking place.
Let us consider what is the task which the Government has set itself as trustees for Churchmen as well as for Nonconformists in Wales. First of all, the Government has set itself to provide for the future Church, a scheme of Church government. That is one thing. It has also set itself to provide for the future disposition of the property left to the Church. If the operation of this Clause is such that the devolution of the property left to the Church in Wales may be a devolution in one direction and the devolution of the government of the Church a devolution in another direction, that cannot be described as fair dealing with the Church in Wales. The form of this Bill obviously defeats their purpose, their 907 justification, namely, that His Majesty's Government is leaving to the Church in Wales that part of the Endowments of the Church to which, in the view of His Majesty's Government, the Church can fairly lay claim. A date is stated, a date which, as compared with the history of the Church in Wales, is of comparatively modern account. You take that period and say they shall benefit from the Endowments from that time inuring. You take certain Endowments which you classify, and you propose to mass the whole of these in one fund, but you take no care that that fund shall go in the direction, and be impressed with the same trusts as at the present time. That is the failure of this Bill. I ask the right hon. Gentleman, whom we have the good fortune to have present, just to consider what this Bill, if it becomes an Act, does to secure a convention? I think it will be agreed that it is desirable, in the first instance, to have a convention. Most constitutions, following their pre-existing constitutions, have been framed by way of convention. There is no provision here for calling a convention. There is no body named here that has any authority to convene it.
You describe here an uncertain body of people whom it would be impossible for a Court of Law even to define. There is no such body to whose action you could look, and look with any certainty, as the bishops, clergy, and laity of the Church in Wales. If there is such a body it is a body consisting of hundreds of thousands of people: it is a body consisting of, of course, the bishops and clergy, who are easily ascertained, but as to the whole mass of the laity of the Church who is to convene them: who is to decide the question which the right hon. Gentleman agrees must be decided, and any man of sense must also agree has to be decided, as to who is a layman of the Church of Wales 1 You have no qualification for your electorate. You do not define your franchise. You have no means of describing what is your elective body. You do not decide who shall bring your elective body into operation. Obviously, the thing ought not to be left in that way. Reference has been made to diocesan conferences in Wales. The Under-Secretary doubts whether Convocation represents the Church in Wales. I suppose he does not doubt that diocesan Conferences represent Welsh Churchmen in Welsh 908 dioceses! If the Government do not trust Convocation to discharge the duties which at the present time belong to it, and which have belonged to it during the whole period of the identity of the Church of England, as comprising England and Wales, why does not His Majesty's Government provide means for establishing a convention by joint action of the diocesan conferences? That is a simple enough matter. Let the Government take some practical steps for identifying the authority which is to bring into existence the convention. It is most material that that should happen.
It has been said there is great difficulty in defining the position of laymen. The position of a member of a Church is known and the identity of a Church is ascertained by identity of doctrine and identity of government. The identity of the individual, of one individual amongst thousands, may create a difficult problem; but you must bear in mind here that you are entrusting a body which you are going to set up, not merely with the government of the Church in the constitutional sense, but even if it thinks fit with recasting the doctrines of the Church. The Government is ready to leave a process of that kind to whatever body finds itself able to exercise sufficient power to satisfy the Government that it answers to the description in the second Sub-section of this Act. It is not a proper thing to do. The Government should define the constituent body which is to nominate the convention; it ought to define the summoning officer, and to provide some obvious tribunal which should decide the many questions which may arise where perhaps unreasonable persons come and claim control in the formation of the convention and the constitution. I do press upon the Government to treat this as a practical matter of business; to treat themselves as enemies of the Church of England if they will, but, as honest enemies of the Church, to give the Church what they profess to give—that is the power in the future to manage its own affairs in Wales. Let them not complicate this subject by attempting, as at any rate one of the members of the Government has suggested, to set up in Wales two conflicting bodies, the old Church, a branch and essential part of the Church of England, and some new imaginary Church, the conception of the brain of the hon. Member for Swansea and some few other Members 909 who sympathise with him, which looms up here with the apparent promise of effort to capture from the members of the Church of England who are loyal to its old constitution the remnant of its Endowments and to transfer them to a body which they think fit to describe as the National Church of Wales.
These are questions of real permanent interest, questions of justice and fair play upon the matter of the constitution of the body, and the means of calling the convention into being. Nobody can find in this Section any means of bringing it into being. There is no provision that it ever shall come into operation. This Committee, I think, ought to call upon the Government to remove this uncertainty, to make this provision definite and intelligible, and to show us some prospect that it will be workable. It is said of the Convocation of Canterbury that it cannot be entrusted with this task; but, after all, it is only an administrative task. It is the task of putting the Welsh dioceses into the position of maintaining the continuity of their religious life. Does anybody suggest that the Convocation of Canterbury is going to be false to the principles which Churchmen recognise both in England and Wales'! Is it imagined that the constitution of the Convocation of Canterbury has not the confidence of the great body of Churchmen in Wales? If it has not this confidence this Amendment, at any rate, will remove from the Bill the reproach that it disables Churchmen in Wales from taking charge of their own affairs, for as I pointed out to the Under-Secretary, in the course of his speech, if that what is done by Convocation of Canterbury with the co-operation of Churchmen in Wales does not commend itself to all Welshmen when the thing comes into operation under Clause 3 there is ample power for undoing what shall have been done at the Convocation and Welsh Churchmen, if they think well may modify their government. His Majesty's Government even enables them to modify their Church doctrines.
I am not sure that this Clause does provide for the creation of two representative bodies. I suspect that the draftsman intended by Sub-section (2) that the representative bodies which should be established should be incorporated by an Order in Council, and that in them should be vested the property which is left to the Welsh Church. I do not know. That is a secret of the draftsman, or perhaps it 910 is a secret divided between the draftsman and the Government. Sub-section 2 is quite uncertain as to what is the nature of the representation to be required in the representative body which is hereafter to ask that it shall be treated as a representative body representing the Church in Wales for the purpose of being invested with the remnant of its property. That ought to be made clear. The Government, in making that clear, will also bear in mind, I have no doubt, that this property will only be vested in a representative body which satisfies the Government that it is a representative body, because it is Ministers, and not the Privy Council, which will deal with that subject. In that fact there is absolute security against the suggestion which is made on the other side of the House, that Convocation of Canterbury will enter upon a wild course of vagaries, and further complicate and embarrass the situation of Churchmen in Wales by treating them in some way foreign to their own wishes and the interests of the Welsh dioceses. I do not, for my part, profess that the solution which the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Ashford provides is the only possible solution; but, at any rate, it is a solution, and it is a solution without which the problem which is set by this Clause as it stands is insoluble, and is, insoluble to the immediate detriment and permanent injustice of the Church in Wales.
§ Mr. ORMSBY-GORE
I have made a good many speeches on this Bill, and I do not propose to spend long upon this particular point, although I do regard this Clause as one of the most vital in the Bill. The present position that we are in is most unsatisfactory. What occurs to me is that the Government's intention—whether they carry it out is another matter—is to give to the Disestablished Church in Wales a constitution similar to that of the Disestablished Church in Ireland. The Home Secretary does not like to say so. He has been most anxious to get rid of that halo given to him in earlier Debates by one of the right hon. Gentlemen who sits for the City of London. This afternoon the right hon. Gentleman took refuge in a series of provisional Clauses which left us in a most hopeless condition as to what is really his intention and view as to what will happen. The Chancellor of the Duchy was much more precise. He made it perfectly clear that it is the intention of the Government to give 911 to the Disestablished Church in Wales a constitution, if not exactly similar to, at any rate on the lines of that given to the Disestablished Church of Ireland. The Under-Secretary got up and said, "Oh, but we want to know the opinion of the Welsh-speaking Churches." I cannot speak authoritatively except for myself and a certain number of my Constituents, but I would say that I do not think that that is the sort of constitution that Welsh Churchmen want. They do not want to model themselves on Ireland. They want to model the Church of Wales as nearly as possible in conformity with the constitution of the Church to which they have always belonged.
I do not share the view myself, but I think that it is the view of some Welsh Churchmen that they would like to become, if they are to be Disestablished, a province at it were, just as York and Canterbury are provinces, of the Church of England. They would like, I think, to become a separate province, have a House of Convocation and a House of Laymen of their own, and possibly an Archbishop of St. David's. This proposal, enforced upon them, I take it means a general Synod or four Synods. We are not told definitely what this all important body is going to be—this all-important body which is going to deal with the rites, rules, doctrines, ceremonies, and discipline of the Church; which is to have power of amendment and repealing principles in toto and whole Acts of Parliament, dealing with ecclesiastical discipline, and that kind of thing. I submit that the desire of the overwhelming majority of Churchmen in Wales, of laymen, is to be as closely as possible in communion with the rest of the Established Church of England, and also to protect themselves against that which the Government are forcing upon them against their will with as little change as possible. I think that is the overwhelming feeling of the majority of the Welsh-speaking and English-speaking Church. But this Clause is a real revolution in the constitution of the Church in Wales. According to the idea of the Chancellor of the Duchy, it should have a Finance Committee of, say, fifty-five, and then you are going to have bishops meeting, and then a Synod composed of this, that and the other to carry out these matters. I submit there are two perfectly distinct things. There is this representative body, which is going to be a secular authority merely acting as trustees 912 of funds to which in future the Church will have a Parliamentary title, because you are taking away the whole of the Endowments of the Church and handing a certain part back. You are giving to the Disestablished and Disendowed Church a Parliamentary title, and these funds are to be invested in a certain body. That is a secular body and need not offend anybody if constituted by Parliament, but it should be clearly defined what this body would be under this Bill, but they are two separate things. There is this representative body, which is to hold the property of the Disestablished Church as to which in future there is to be a Parliamentary title, and therefore it can be constituted by a Parliament, but it should be clearly defined in the Act. Then there is the other body, which I regard as far more important—that is, the body which in the opinion of Churchmen should be largely clerical. I quite agree to a lay element, but it will have to deal with doctrine and rites and rules and ceremonies, and it is essential that that body should have not a secular origin, but a spiritual origin—that it should not be a new creation of a new Church, but that it should be a continuation, and that it should be a product of spiritual organisation and part of the whole existing spiritual organisation.
After all, what are the facts? The Welsh bishops are clearly the continued representatives of the ancient Convocation of Canterbury for nearly 250 years longer than Wales has sent members to that body. There is a great tradition and authority for that, and I submit that in framing the constitution of the body that is to deal with these almost entirely spiritual matters and to deal with that aspect of Church government it should be left to Convocation to produce that new body. The very word "Synod" is I think undesirable. I am not at all sure I would not far rather that Convocation should delegate to some House of Welsh Convocation that authority, or some of that authority, so that you would get a certain continuity, which I maintain is most desirable.
There is one other point to which I must refer, and that is the question of land. I think it is most important. I asked the Home Secretary a series of questions upon this point, and he went so far as to say, in answer to a question across the floor of the House, that he would be willing, if there was an expression of opinion in favour of it, to put a definition of land into the Bill. I should like to ask him 913 Has he taken any trouble to find out what the feeling is from any of the Welsh bishops? I quite agree with the Under-Secretary that I do not sufficiently or adequately represent the Church laymen. I am only one member of St. Asaph's Diocesan Congregation, and I am only one member of the House of Laymen of Canterbury as representative of that diocese, and I say that on grave matters of that sort that the Home Secretary should consult leaders of the laymen and of the clergy of the Church in Wales and ascertain their opinion. The hon. Member for Swansea talked of other baptised members. I believe the hon. Member for Carmarthen Boroughs (Mr. Llewelyn Williams), who is the bombastes furioso of Welsh Nonconformity, is a baptised member of the Church of England in Wales. At any rate for some period in his life, he will correct me if I am wrong, he was a very strictly conforming member of the Church of England in Wales. There may be people of that kind, who are now quite outside, those who ought to form the constitution of the Church. I have heard some very astonishing speeches in Wales which have caused me very grave apprehension as to what the future may be on this very point. It was only a few weeks ago I went down to my Constituents to the annual function of going to Church with the Mayor of the borough of Wrexham, which I represent. The Mayor made a most astonishing speech on that occasion. He is a prominent Nonconformist. I do not know if it was a breach of tact on my part to say anything about the Disestablishment Bill, but, at any rate, I introduced the subject, and the Mayor said, "I think the Church ought to be Disestablished, because then I shall be able to proclaim the Church as my own, and I shall be able to go into that Church and say, This is my Church, which I cannot do now."
The idea a large number of people have in their heads is that after the Church is Disestablished and Disendowed in Wales, then by reason of their existing local position as parishioners that they will have a little more voice in the ownership and control of Church affairs. I think it is exceedingly important, because there is an important difference between the condition of Ireland and the condition of Wales that we should have some clearer idea as to what is to be the new kind of government, and as to what is the intention of the Home Secretary with regard to this. And for this reason: In spite of his speech about giving the Church the utmost free- 914 dom, it all depends upon him; he has got to decide. It will be for him to decide whether the Synod is really representative or not before the representative body can be incorporated by charter. He may try and get out of it, but it does devolve upon him as the adviser of His Majesty to assent or to dissent from the various constitutions which he proposes to give to the Disestablished Church, and I think we have a right to be brought out of these nebulous, shadowy suggestions thrown across the floor of the House as to what is to be the future of the Church in Wales, and that it should be put clearly before us what the Government think is going to be the future constitution of the Church in Wales under this Act. The representative body—the body holding property as trustee with a Parliamentary title is one thing. The other body at present utterly undefined, whose powers even are undefined except in regard to Clause 3, which is to be of a. purely spiritual character, and ought to have a spiritual composition, is another thing altogether.
Mr. LLEWELYN WILLIAMS
I should not have intervened except for one remark made by the hon. Gentleman. He seems to imagine that I have some sinister purpose in connection with the re-established or the reconstituted Church after Disestablishment. If he really thinks that I or any other non-member of the Church of England in Wales intends in the slightest degree to embarrass or to hamper the good of the new Church, he is, I can assure him, entirely mistaken. There is nothing that the Welsh Members wish more than that the real bonâ fide members of the Church in Wales should have every facility and every authority given to them to establish their own Church in their own way, and we look upon this opportunity that is given to the Church as one that may be of immense service to the Church as a spiritual organisation, and as a Church belonging to the Welsh nation. It is the hope of the Church people and the people of Wales generally, that the Church should be established on a strong and sound foundation, and she will now have the opportunity given to her which she has not had for many centuries of bringing herself into conformity with the national sympathies and aspirations of the people in Wales. I quite agree that Clause 13 seems to be inadequately drafted. I confess I see what the Home Secretary has called the "argumentative 915 difficulties" surrounding this Clause. The problems raised by hon. Gentlemen opposite, may be very real problems, and but for one fact I myself would be in favour of putting some definition of the word "layman" into the Bill. That fact is the one already alluded to by the Home Secretary that this very Clause was put into the Irish Church Act and has met the difficulty there. Though I agree that the argumentative difficulties that have been raised are very serious, I think they will disappear, but if hon. Members are really afraid that there will be a practical difficulty in their way when they come to reconstitute their Church, I do not believe there is a single Welsh Member on this side of the "House who would not be willing to face the question in the fullest and frankest manner. At the same time I confess I am not in favour of the Amendment proposed by the Tight hon. Gentleman (Mr. Laurence Hardy). I do not think it would be right that this House should tie the hands of Welsh Churchmen in the future. Why should we hand over the Church to laymen and the clergy of the Convocation of Canterbury for them to determine what the future constitution of the Church in Wales should be?
§ 8.0 P.M.
Mr. LLEWELYN WILLIAMS
I quite understand. The House of Convocation of Canterbury and the House of Laymen can give valuable advice to the Welsh Church of the future, and I am quite certain that Welsh Churchmen would pay a great deal of respect to Convocation and the House of Laymen, but the ultimate decision as to what form the Disestablished Church will take must rest assuredly with bona fide members of the Church in Wales, and I look forward with much greater expectation and hope to that decision than the hon. Gentleman who has just sat down. If he thinks that I have any animus, I assure him he is mistaken. My own hope and belief is that after the Church is Disestablished it will become a really national Church. We want to find our fellow countrymen standing side by side with us in the future. We want these two million souls working together, and we value the co-operation of Churchmen in the rebuilding of Welsh nationality. This is a great task we have set our hands to. There never has been in the history of this King- 916 dom such a spectacle as that which has been going on in Wales during the last generation. We are building up our national institutions, and we would welcome the co-operation of Churchmen as well as Nonconformists in that task. For myself I believe that we shall see a regeneration of nationalism in the Welsh Church after it has been Disestablished. I believe that after we have reconstituted the Church upon a Welsh foundation it will attract the respect and affection of Welshmen, though they may not belong to it. It is in that spirit that I welcome this Bill, and if it is really desired in the interests of the Church that the word laity should be defined, I for one am perfectly willing to accept any definition which commends itself to hon. Gentlemen opposite.
§ Lord HUGH CECIL
What can the hon. Member's objection be to the new organisation of the Disestablished Church having spiritual freedom. Has he any objection to putting words in the Bill carrying out that object?
Mr. LLEWELYN WILLIAMS
I am not in a position to pledge anybody but myself, but I should be perfectly willing to agree to any such suggestion as that which has been made by the Noble Lord. It is the first time that such a suggestion has been made, and I should like to see the actual form of words or the suggestion put into shape before I give a final assent to it. I agree with the idea that underlies the Noble Lord's suggestion. I am entirely in sympathy with it, and I believe the same can be said of every Welsh Member of this House. We have not the slightest desire to put anything in the Bill which will trammel or shackle the freedom of the new Church. Although the hon. Member opposite has used rather harsh language about me I assure him I am not animated in the slightest degree by animosity to the Church or its spiritual organisation. He spoke of an Archbishop of Wales. As a Welshman the very phrase thrilled me. No one in this House or in the country would be more glad than I should be to think that as a result of this Bill, we shall get a real Welsh national Church in sympathy with the people of Wales, taking part in her joys and sorrows, helping to rebuild the fabric of Welsh nationality, and going on from strength to strength and from elevation to elevation.
§ Mr. POLLOCK
One point which has emerged from this Debate is that Clause 13 is unsatisfactory. Speaker after speaker has declared that he would 917 be prepared to accept one Amendment or the other, but apparently neither of the two Amendments so far offered have proved to be acceptable to those in charge of this Bill. There is only one justification offered for Clause 13, and it is that it follows the terms of the Irish Church Act of 1869. The chief arguments on that ground were presented by the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster and the Under-Secretary of State for the Home Department, and both of them laid stress on the fact that as this Clause was very much akin to the Clause which had worked well in the case of the Irish Church it is likely to work well in Wales, and so they recommended it to the House as the best solution of the difficulty. The Under-Secretary for the Home Department failed to appreciate the grounds on which the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Ashford (Mr. Laurence Hardy) has proposed his Amendment. He pointed out that in the case of the Irish Church you were going to deal with the Church as a whole which had been Established as a whole, and which was being Disestablished as a whole. If the argument of the Under-Secretary is to have any weight, and if you are going to take the Irish precedent as your guide, that reasoning should lead you to accept the Amendment of the right hon. Member for Ashford, because his proposal is that the Church as a whole, with which the dismembered portion in Wales has hitherto been associated, should have the opportunity of guiding the counsel and preparing the Constitution of the new and dismembered portion which has hitherto been an integral portion of the Provinces of Canterbury. The Under-Secretary has failed to convince me, and a great many more hon. Members on this side of the House, that there is any real substance in his belief that Clause 13, because it has worked well in the case of the Irish Church, will work well in the very different circumstances of the dismembered Church in Wales. I desire to approach this Clause from the point of view which the Home Secretary put before the Committee earlier in the afternoon, when he averred that the Church should have every freedom for development on its own lines. The question before the Committee is, Will the Church under Clause 13 have every freedom for development on its own lines? I am content to deal with this Bill as it stands. What took place in Ireland may have been good in those days in the par- 918 ticular circumstances of the Irish Church, but let us look at what we have done so far in the Bill. By Clause 1, what is called the Disestablishment of the Church has been done, or, at any rate, something has been done which makes the Church Disestablished, whatever that phrase may mean. Under Clause 3 we have destroyed the Courts and law applicable to the Church, but we have reimposed them by contract upon members of the Church in Wales. By Clause 8 we have transferred a large amount of property, which is to be handed over for the use and purposes of the Church in Wales. Sub-section (2) of Clause 8 provides—Save as otherwise provided by this Act, all property transferred under this Section shall be held subject to all existing public and private rights with respect thereto.What does that mean? It may mean that it only deals with rights of way or something of that sort in the case of landed property, but, on the other hand, it may mean that you have transferred your cathedrals and churches subject to all the public and private rights hitherto existing. What are the public and private rights in relation to the churches and cathedrals in Wales? They are under the common law as it exists at the present time. Parishioners have a right to seats in the parish Church, and they have a right to be buried in the parish churchyard, and when we have transferred the Church to the new body we may under these very words have transferred it subject to rights which are binding and effective in the hands of the parishioners, whether members of this new Church in Wales or not. I think the Home Secretary will appreciate that point. It is a very simple one, but it is necessary to state it clearly, and it needs to be answered very clearly, because the aspiration is that the new body should have every freedom for development on its own lines. Has the right hon. Gentleman reflected that in the transferred property there may be rights existing in persons not members of that Church existing in the parishioners, and rights which cannot be got rid of unless freedom is granted under Clause 13, which he declines to have amended. I think the Home Secretary will appreciate that at the present time we have not got that freedom. It is all very well to approach this subject as if you were framing the rules of a diocesan society not established by the 919 tradition of centuries and by rights which have accrued through a long period of time to a large number of persons who were parishioners.
The point I am making is not the less important from the statements which have been voiced this afternoon by hon Members from Wales, who have expressed the hope that when this new body has been set going it may be found to meet the national aspirations of Wales, the national needs, and become a National Church. At the present moment the Church is a National Church. It has got rights which belong to the citizens of Wales at the present time which can be claimed by those citizens, and if you are going to make this new body a National Church and in that sense give the rights to the citizens of Wales, then under Clause 8 you mean that you have transferred the property to this representative body subject to rights which may be claimed by the citizens of Wales as members of the nation. Under these circumstances you have not given that freedom to the new body to carry out its own development on its own lines, and I press the Home Secretary for a very clear answer upon this point. It is a point which has created a good deal of misgiving amongst hon. Members, and many other Churchmen who have considered it, and it is one which certainly needs and requires a very clear answer indeed. I desire to emphasise this point by calling attention to another difficulty. It must not be overlooked that we are not free agents in this matter. There is already a body of law and decision which makes the difficulty of getting rid of the rights of parishioners no easy task. This matter has already been before the Courts, and it has been decided in a well-known case that prima facie all the inhabitants of a parish have a right to a seat in the Church and to burial in the churchyard. That has been decided in the House of Lords. Again, so great an authority on Church matters as the late Lord Selborne said:—It is true now as much as ever that the Church does not reject from the rights and privileges of Church membership any persons baptised and not excommunicated who honestly seek or willingly accept them. It is also true that the law does not without proof of the fact presume any man to he a Dissenter. But the question is one of fact.The question is one of fact, and unless you give us some definition which will make us free you will leave us with the onus of establishing that a man is not a member of the Church and not a "member of the Church 920 to vote in this new body. That onus lies upon the Church. We have to establish it; we are not free Churchmen, because that onus lies upon us, and at the present time there is a presumption that every member of the parish has his rights as a parishioner or as a citizen, and can claim those rights in the Church. Unless therefore you give us that freedom, we are in a real difficulty from which this Clause, as it stands, does not release us. The Home Secretary said it is quite true there is a dismemberment which will take place, but it arises from the nature of the case, that it arises from the fact that we are severing a portion from an hitherto integral Church. The result of that is that there must be dismemberment. That is an argument which adds weight to what I am pressing upon the Committee. You are cutting off a certain portion from an integral Church. That is one of the difficulties that did not occur in Ireland, and it is one of the difficulties which necessitates a much more effective Clause being given to us if you desire to give us that liberty, which I believe the Home Secretary in all sincerity desires to give us. The difficulty of the Clause in its obscurity arises from the fact that it is put in the negative form. There is nothing affirmative about it at all. All it says is that nothing in any Act, law, or custom shall prevent the bishops or clergy… That is to say, the Act of Henry VIII. preventing meetings or Synods could not be pressed against us. We have therefore got the right of meeting and the right of proceeding, but, though you have given the bishops, the clergy, and the laity the right of meeting, you have given the meeting no affirmative rights at all. These persons are going to meet under the disability that arises from Clause 3 by being bound by laws hitherto existing and under the difficulty and disability arising from Clause 8, because they have a lot of property which is subject to rights vested in other persons. That meeting cannot affirm and it cannot declare rights; it cannot clear the rights: of third persons away, and it has no affirmative powers whatever. All you have given is a right to meet; you have given no power to elucidate or clear up any of the difficulties which must surround a meeting of that nature.
I am quite satisfied the Home Secretary does not mean that. I accept most heartily his declaration this afternoon as being a clear declaration of what he was. minded to do, and I hope I have effectively 921 illustrated the difficulty under which any meeting of the Welsh Church must take place and also the many questions which may arise between persons who are parishioners and persons who at one time or another may for a certain time have been members of the Church of England, or who having been members of other Free Churches, have, shortly before this Act passes, become members of the Church of England in Wales. There are a number of borderland cases, and, if you do not give some affirmative constitution, some effective power to the Synod, you do not deal with the difficulties that must arise, and you do not give that freedom that ought to be given. It is for those reasons I find great difficultiy in accepting any of the apologies that have been made for this Clause, and I do beg the Home Secretary to listen to what his own supporters have said as to their willingness to give some sort of constitution to this new body and some sort of affirmative powers if some framework for those powers can be discovered. On that ground I say the Amendment moved does meet a real difficulty and gives us some sort of order where there was chaos before, and does give certain powers, but I do beg the Home Secretary to give an answer to these doubts and to say he will give real freedom, and I do also press upon him this Amendment as the simplest course of giving Churchmen the possibility of that constitution in which they believe, the possibility of a spiritual and effective constitution from which a really strong Church might arise.
§ Mr. THOMAS TAYLOR
We are first asked to Disestablish the Church in Wales, and then we are asked to order a control of that Church after its Disestablishment. Surely that is paradoxical. I hold this House should not exercise or presume to exercise any power over the Church when it is a Disestablished Church. I hold very strongly that when the Welsh Church is Disestablished it will, as an independent Church controlling its own affairs, be in every respect stronger than it can be influenced in any way whatever by this House. I am a Member of the Church of England. I have held most of the offices in the Church of England that a layman can hold. I have worked for my Church from my youth. I admire the Church of England as a religious institution; I do not admire it so much as a social institution, and I admire it less as an institution belonging to one certain political 922 party, but I love the Church of England, and I desire that it should have even greater success than now, and for that reason I have always advocated Disestablishment and Disendowment. I believe that once the Church is rid of the feeling against it of inequality by Establishment and injustice by Endowment—once the Church is rid of that feeling it will draw to it more men, it will become a larger Church, and it will become more than ever—not the Church of Wales or the Church of England—I would Disestablish them both—but it will be more than ever the Church of the people of Wales. Therefore I argue that this House should not, even if it were not inconsistent with Disestablishment, try to exercise any control over what I hope will eventually be a free Church. During my recent campaign a few weeks ago I had a number of questions sent to me. I was asked: Would I vote for certain curtailments of the authority of the bishops; would I vote for changing certain rights claimed by Parliament; would I vote against certain ceremonies—for their improvement or correction—would I vote for certain regulations regarding clergymen's vestments? And, having looked through the whole list of questions, I replied that I would give one answer to the lot, and that, as a Free Churchman, I would not vote for the House of Commons having anything to do with these matters. I have always thought that the House of Commons was not a suitable authority over religious services, and I must confess that since I have come here I have strengthened the conclusion that it is desirable to free the Church from the rule of this House.
I would free my Church from any feeling of injustice or unfairness in regard to its Endowments. At one of my election meetings I was asked if certain people had not left the Church. I do not forget the fact that 350 years ago the Church expelled 2,000 members and that this Parliament passed the Five Mile Act. I also remember that later the Church rejected John Wesley. I do not think it would do such things now, and, as a professed Liberal, I repeat that I should like to see the Church free. I am taking my stand on the ground that there should be absolute equity and justice between all Churches. There must not be one favoured Church. I would leave the Welsh Church absolutely free. It would then be able, if it chose, to co-operate with Canterbury; it could have the benefit of 923 consultation with or advice and support from Convocation, and it would not be told that it must necessarily associate itself with Canterbury. There is a chance now for the Church to lose its life in order that it might gain it. It would gain that life more abundantly as a Free Church. Let the Welsh Church be free, let it work out its own salvation, and, if that is the desire of the House, there is no necessity, and indeed it would be most inconsistent to pass this Amendment.
I should like to say one word with reference to the maiden speech to which we have just listened. It was characterised by a rugged simplicity and earnestness which must have impressed all who heard it. I think the hon. Member is one of those who is learning something as this Debate goes on. Now I come to the speech of the Under-Secretary, and I would appeal to Nonconformist Members opposite; I would ask them, do they really mean to dismember a spiritual body? What would be their feeling if this House were to set itself to work to divide the great Wesleyan body into halves, and to cut one-half from the other? I think there would be a great outcry from many hon. Members opposite. Not long ago there was a movement in the Wesleyan Church to reform that body, and it was stoutly resisted by the part which it was proposed should be cut off from the central body; the result was that one governing body still remains for the whole Church. I would appeal to Nonconformists and to Free Churchmen not to seek to dismember the Church of England. They ought not to seek to dismember a spiritual body. I challenge any Free Churchman to get up and say that anybody has a right to do that, and least of all the House of Commons. That being so, I submit that this Amendment ought to be accepted. Whatever the faults of Convocation may be, the fact remains that it is the governing authority of that spiritual body known as the Church of England, and members of the Welsh dioceses are part of that spiritual body. If you cut them off from the Convocation of Canterbury you are cutting in halves a spiritual authority by means of an Act of Parliament, and if hon. Members who are opposed to such a practice are true to their principles they cannot accept this Amendment. It may be suggested that the Welsh are but a small part of Convocation. But they belong to the same spiritual body. It 924 does not matter whether they come from Lancashire, Oxford, or Cornwall, or Wales, they are all still members of the same body. You have exactly as much right to say to the county of Dorset or to the county of Cornwall, "We will give you a spiritual body," as you have to say to the Welsh Church, "We will cut you off from your spiritual body and will set up a new spiritual body of our own by Act of Parliament." Free Churchmen cannot vote for it and ever again go down to the country and call themselves Free Churchmen. We are not asking for a body which shall be the final maker of the rules, rites, and doctrines of the new Church which is to be made by Act of Parliament, and which our Free Church friends are setting up in Wales. The last speaker and the hon. Member for the Carmarthen Boroughs (Mr. Llewelyn Williams) actually talked of the "re-established" Church. We are getting on in the enlightenment of the country as to what this Bill means, when Welsh Members speak of the re-established Church. There is to be a certain interval after the passing of the Bill before the Disestablishment. The moment Disestablishment comes into force this new body, whatever it may be, must take over its powers. You cannot have an interregnum when there is only a nebulous Church; you must have one particular date when what powers there are, spiritual or legal powers, are transferred definitely from one to the other. That is why we press for a very much longer interval between the passing of the Bill and the date of Disestablishment. What we are asking is this: that the Church of England and Wales, to which these men all belong, who are legally represented in Convocation, which has associated with it the House of Laymen, should in the interregnum form, for those members who are going to lose their Church legally, but not spiritually, a spiritual body to take over the rights, duties and privileges the new Church will have when it comes into operation.
I was not referring to what the hon. Member said, but to what was said by the hon. Member for Carmarthen Boroughs. It will not be so easy to set up that body as the Home Secretary seemed to think, because you will have done away with ecclesiastical boundaries in Wales after the Bill is passed. Until there is some body to 925 re-enact that the civil boundaries shall be the boundaries of the parishes there will be no such thing as a parish in Wales, from the Church point of view, after the Bill is passed. Until that is done there will be no basis of election, because I presume the parish will be the ultimate basis for election. Supposing Parliament took upon itself to split the Wesleyan body in half, and to say, "We will have one Wesleyan body north of the Thames and another south of the Thames, and we will allow the Wesleyan Conference, as it stands, to govern the Wesleyan Church south of the Thames, and we will set up a new conference to govern the Wesleyan Church north of the Thames," what would be said directly? "We people north of the Thames do not want a new body by Act of Parliament; we want to adopt the old rules." That is all the Amendment asks, that the undivided Church—because it is going to be an undivided Church in spite of our Free Church friends—shall have the power to set up, first of all, a new spiritual body which shall be the new spiritual authority for the Welsh dioceses, and leave it to make any alterations it likes. If you do not pass some such Amendment as this, enabling some existing body to devolve part of its powers upon the body which is going to be created, you will have, during the interregnum a time of chaos, because it may very likely be found impossible to set up any new body for the Welsh dioceses and parishes unless a very much longer time is allowed than is allowed by the Bill between the date of the passing of the Bill and the date of Disestablishment.
§ Sir A. GRIFFITH-BOSCAWEN
The Committee listened a few moments ago to a very interesting speech from a new Member of this House (Mr. Thomas Taylor), and I am sure we were all very pleased to hear what he said. We recognised in him a Liberal Churchman, and, although I could not myself agree with the views he put forward, I was very glad to hear many of the statements he made. I am not going to follow him into all the arguments he put forward, some of which were of a rather general description; but I want to deal with his statement that the Welsh Church will be left absolutely free to frame its constitution. I entirely agree with that, for it is precisely what this Amendment would carry out. We shall have to leave the body which is now the constitutional body of the Church in 926 Wales, namely, the Convocation of Canterbury and the House of Laymen of Canterbury, to frame a constitution for the Church in Wales. That is the body which represents the Church in Wales at the present time, and in which the Church in Wales has had representation for eight or nine hundred years.
§ Sir A. GRIFFITH-BOSCAWEN
I am speaking now of the Convocation of Canterbury. Although the House of Laymen has no legal position constitutionally, I am sure the hon. Member will agree with me that it is a great advantage and a progressive move on the part of the Church of England in Wales to have set up the House of Laymen. The Convocation of Canterbury has been the constitutional body representing the Church in Wales for at least £00 years; it is far older as representing the union of the two Churches of "England and Wales into one Church than the Union of Parliament. It is absolutely true that representatives of the Church in Wales have sat in the Convocation of Canterbury for at least 250 years longer than the Welsh Members have sat in this House of Commons. Therefore, what body could you have more truly representative of the Church in Wales, which you wish to leave free in the future, than the Convocation of Canterbury? We ask, therefore, that the Disestablished Church in Wales should make use of this old constitutional authority with the addition, to which we all agree, of the House of Laymen for the purpose of defining what is to be the constitutional position of the Church in Wales in the future. What is the Church in Wales?
§ Mr. THOMAS TAYLOR
What is the Wesleyan Church in Wales? The Wesleyan Church in Wales can work its own way and organise itself.
§ Sir A. GRIFFITH-BOSCAWEN
I quite agree, but I imagine—I do not know—there is some definition of what is a member of the Wesleyan Church which is generally accepted. At present, unless you adopt some such plan as is proposed by the right hon. Gentleman (Mr. Laurence Hardy), or unless you put in some definition of what is a layman of the Church in Wales, there is no definition now. It is impossible to say what is the Church in Wales, and because we want to get a definition, because we want to make sure that the people who are to take part in the government of the Church are well 927 understood, and there is no doubt about it, we say that you must put a definition in this Bill, or else you must allow the old constitutional body of the Church in Wales to define who are the body to be free and to form the constitution in the future. Unless you do one thing or the other, we do not know where to begin and we do not know where to end. The whole thing is left absolutely vague.
§ Sir A. GRIFFITH-BOSCAWEN
I say what is the Church? We know who the bishops are, and we know who the clergy are, and the Under-Secretary said five or six minutes' consideration will enable us to say who the laity are, but we have no definition, and to talk like that about five or six minutes' consideration telling us is to trifle with the subject. We want the matter to be upon a definite and certain basis, and you must either define "laymen" in this Bill, which, on the whole, I should prefer, or else you must allow the old constitutional body of the Church in Wales to make the definition, and that is the proposal of my hon. Friend. It is quite true the Government have refused to accept this Amendment. I regret that they have, but as they have I will ask the right hon. Gentleman a question: Is he prepared, as he will not allow Convocation and the House of Laymen to define what is the body to make these regulations, to admit a definition in the Bill itself? I believe it will be quite satisfactory to members of the Church in Wales, at all events to those with whom I have discussed the matter, if it were agreed that a definition was inserted similar to that which is employed now for the electing of members to diocesan conferences or to the House of Laymen. The qualification now, I believe, is a man who is confirmed and declares himself to be qualified to be a communicant—to have the status of a communicant. Are the Government prepared to accept that definition? If they are, it may modify our attitude to this Amendment, although I would very much sooner arrive at that definition in the proper Church manner, by utilising Convocation, than I would put it into the Bill itself, but it would ease matters undoubtedly, supposing the Government will not accept the Amendment, if they would agree to 928 such a definition when we reach the Definition Clause of the Bill. I believe that is a fair definition.
It comes to very much the same as the definition which was employed in the Irish Church Bill, which, as far as I remember, was this: the bishops, the clergy, and the laity in communion with them. I believe "laity in communion with them" undoubtedly meant communicants. [An HON MEMBER:"NO."] It seems to me to be the natural interpretation, and I believe it is the interpretation which was put. I say emphatically to the hon. Member, whose support as a Liberal Churchman I value in many respects, unless you get some definition of what the Church is it is impossible, as far as I can see, to start the new procedure under this Clause. We all want the Church to be free. We all want the best possible arrangement made for the poor Church that has been Disestablished and Disendowed in the Principality in Wales. We are not arguing this in any angry spirit, but unless you get some kind of definition or enable a body like Convocation to set up a definition for the life of me I do not understand how this Clause is to work and how the new Church is to set about its business. Turning for a moment to the Clause itself, the whole thing is illustrative of that feature of the Bill of which we have heard far too little in these Debates, but which is most important, namely, the dismembering character of the Bill. The Home Secretary makes light of that.
§ Sir A. GRIFFITH-BOSCAWEN
What the Home Secretary says is that if you Disestablish and Disendow the Church in Wales it follows of necessity that you must dismember it. But that is no consolation to us. That is only a condemnation of his own policy of Disestablishment and Disendowment piecemeal. I object entirely to Disestablishment and to Disendowment, but I object to doing it piecemeal more than any other way, because it involves dismemberment. If there is one aspect of this Bill which is thoroughly disliked by Liberal Churchmen it is not. so much Disestablishment, it is not so much Disendowment, or even the secularisation, as the dismemberment. The right hon. Gentleman has only to consider the speeches which have been made by hon. Members opposite, or speeches quoted the other day in a letter in the "Times" from Canon 929 Scott-Holland, to know that if there is one thing we abominate more than anything else it is the interference of Parliament in the internal arrangements of our Church and its dismemberment which is carried out by this Bill. We have heard far too little about it, because Clause 3, Sub-section (5) was guillotined. That Sub-section broke up the Convocation—a very monstrous thing in our opinion for Parliament to do—and all we are asking in this Amendment is that at all events, for the future regulation of the Church, the unbroken and undivided Convocation of Canterbury should be consulted in order to bring the Act into operation.
There is another statement that the right hon. Gentleman made this afternoon that I should like to refer to. His speech was moderate and was from his own point of view a fair statement, but he used these words. He said it was of the essence of the proposal of the Government that the Church in Wales should be free in the future. But at the same time it takes away from it the right to be free in the respect it most wants to be free. It wants to be free by remaining in the Church of England, and yet he takes away that right by his own Bill. I confess that we are in a difficulty. The right hon. Gentleman dismembers the Church. We object to it, we protest against it; but, if the Bill is passed, of course, we have to recognise the fact. That being so, I agree that something has to be done. The right hon. Gentleman has proposals in the Bill, and I take it from the fact that he would not accept the last Amendment or this Amendment that he adheres to those proposals. He says the proposals in the Bill will leave the Church absolutely free. Do they?
§ Sir A. GRIFFITH-BOSCAWEN
Yes. I think he said it would be free to regulate its own spiritual affairs in future.
§ Sir A. GRIFFITH-BOSCAWEN
If you look at Sub-section (2), Clause 13, you will find that the representative body shall not be incorporated unless it is proved to His Majesty in Council that the persons appointed are truly representative of the Church. Unless, therefore, the representative body is held by the Government of the day to be a satisfactory body, the Charter 930 may be refused. How did the right hon. Gentleman try to get out of that? He did it by saying that that only refers to the representative body which will have nothing to do with the management or regulation of the Church. He said that it only holds property. He stated also that the Synod, or whatever the body may be called which is to manage the Church, will be entirely free, and will govern, not by any action of the Government of the day, but in its own way according to the wishes of Churchmen, Really I think there is a fallacy underlying that. Let me point out how it works. The right hon. Gentleman in his capacity as Minister may advise refusal of the assent of the Crown to the incorporation of the representative body on the ground that the Synod which set it up was not properly constituted. It is to be a body representative of the Church in Wales, and you have to be satisfied that it represents the Church in Wales. If a body is set up which you say is not truly representative, you can refuse the Charter, and therefore it all comes back to the same thing that, disguise it as you like, you are setting up a Parliamentary Church in the future. It is no earthly use talking about a Free Church. This is a Church which is going to have a Parliamentary constitution. Its representative body has to be approved by the Government of the day, and therefore its constitution can never be altered, once the Charter is granted, except by a similar process. To get it altered you will have to get the assent of His Majesty in the ordinary constitutional way. The constitution of the Church depends upon an Act, and you are giving it a Parliamentary title it never had before.
You dismember the Church, and Parliament, which is younger than Convocation, deliberately cuts off part of the Church, separates it from the rest, and gives it a new constitution. Look at Clause 3, Subsection (2), which we discussed very briefly on a Friday afternoon, and you will see that the Church law is put on a Parliamentary title and a contractual basis. When you come to Clause 13 there is the same thing. It is obvious that a new constitution is set up by Parliament. The Church, so far from being a Free Church in any true sense of the word, is far more a Parliamentary Church than it ever was before. You know that you cannot point—we have challenged it before—to any Act of Parliament that established the 931 Church in England or Wales up to the present day. In the case of Ireland we know that Acts were known and cited to the House at the beginning of the Debate on the Irish Disestablishment Bill. In the present case you have really cited no Statutes, because there are none you can point to. But in future, if this Bill becomes law, you can always point to this particular Act as the Act which established the Church in Wales.
From that difficulty there may be no absolute way out. At the same time it is most' important that the House and the country should realise what we are doing. To talk about a Free Church is really absolute nonsense, for it depends upon a Charter granted by the Government of the day. If that is so, and it is so, we can, at all events, try to modify the position and ease it in some direction, and in no contentious spirit I accept the assurance of the right hon. Gentleman that he wishes to make things as easy for the poor Disestablished and Disendowed Church in Wales in the future as he can. Accepting his assurance in the spirit of moderation in which he spoke this afternoon, I do say that he would make matters very much easier for us if he would assent to this Amendment, and allow the old constituted body of the Church to be the body to define who are to be Churchmen, and to draw up regulations for the Church in Wales in the future. I cannot see what reason there is for refusing. What would he lose by accepting our proposal? He would really say we are to endeavour to put our house in order according to the old constitutional means that have always belonged to the Church. If he will not do that, I hope he will assent to my alternative proposition, though I agree it is far inferior to the Amendment of my hon. Friend the Member for the Ashford Division (Mr. Laurence Hardy). I hope he will allow us on Clause 35 to put in an Amendment defining what a layman of the Church in Wales is to be, and that he will take the definition which is used in the House of Laymen, and, so far as I know, at every conference of the Church in England and Wales.
§ Mr. McKENNA
The hon. Member has put a number of questions to me, most of which I was under the impression I had answered in advance in the earlier speech with which I am afraid I tried the patience of the Committee at somewhat great 932 length. I will endeavour, if he will allow me, to restate the case, as I understand this Clause, as shortly as I can. I can assure hon. Members, so far as I appreciate the case they have brought forward, there is extraordinarily little between us. As I understand, they wish it should be laid down by Statute that Convocation in the interval between the passing of the Bill and the appointed day shall frame a constitution for the Disestablished Church. I do not understand them to mean that after Disestablishment that constitution is for ever to remain the constitution of the Disestablished Church. [HON. MEMBERS: "No."] If I interpret their speeches correctly, they say that the day after Disestablishment the governing body of the Church so set up could, if it liked, reorganise itself and set up what is a new governing body. That is what they mean by the Amendment. They are satisfied to accept the assurance that the Church of England, both English and Welsh, would like this Clause to be inserted in the Bill in order to make the establishment of the new governing body, a temporary governing body as it is, so long as it is not altered by the Disestablished Church, compulsory by Statute. What do I say to that? I say that under this Clause the day after this Bill becomes law Convocation, without being compelled to do so by Act of Parliament, but carrying out what they are assured are the best wishes of the Church of England, both in England and Wales, can frame this very constitution for the Disestablished Church. It can do what this Amendment says it must do. The only difference between us, so far, is that this Amendment says that Convocation shall frame a constitution, while we say that Convocation can frame a constitution for the new Church. Let us see the difficulties in the way of Convocation framing the constitution. Convocation can define the laity now.
§ Mr. McKENNA
The Church at this moment, and on the passing of the Bill, is not Disestablished; it is still Established and Convocation is still in existence. It is just as open for Convocation to define laity then as it is open now. It does not do it. The organisation of the English Church never has had the difficulty.
§ Lord ROBERT CECIL
It does not demand it. The whole point can be put in a kernel. You say laity. That is a 933 word in some Act of Parliament. It must be defined by judicial authority. If it is left as it is, the definition will depend entirely on the judgment of a Court of Law. If you say Convocation shall define it, then Parliament has given Convocation authority to define it, and the definition will depend not on the temporal judge, but on the spiritual Court, the Court of Convocation.
§ Mr. McKENNA
I recognise the authority of the Noble Lord on all questions of law, particularly this class of law, but he will forgive me if I say that I really do not think he has stated the position correctly. Convocation may, after the Bill becomes law, define the new governing body of the Church, which you may call either a Synod or a diocesan or provisional conference, or whatever name you like to give it. It may define laity. I am asked to admit a definition in the Bill, not, says he, that that would be the best way of defining laity. It ought not to come through an Act of Parliament; it would be better if we could arrive at a definition through Convocation. Let Convocation define it and settle the proportions of clergy and laity on the new governing body. Let them determine of whom this new governing body is to consist. Let Convocation outline their duties and do all in the way of defining and setting up a new governing body for the Church in this specific place. The whole of these proceedings will take place while the Establishment is still in existence. The new governing body is now set up. It has no authority because the date of Disestablishment has not yet been reached, but the moment the date of Disestablishment is reached this new governing body consisting, if Convocation so decrees, of bishops, clergy, and laity; laity being defined in accordance with the rules laid down by Convocation, meets and either ratifies, or does not ratify the constitution given to it by Convocation.
§ Sir A. GRIFFITH - BOSCAWEN
If Convocation defines laity in the way the right hon. Gentleman suggests without this Amendment being made, specifically empowering it to do so, will that definition have the force of law?
§ Mr. McKENNA
I am approaching the other point where law comes in. Law will have nothing to say to the definition of laity for this purpose, and it will never, as the Noble Lord suggests, become the subject of definition by judicial decision, 934 any more than now it is the subject of judicial decision. I am dealing now only with the government of the Church of England in Wales. That government is absolutely free, because though it may if the Church so wishes, define by Convocation, although layman may be defined by Convocation, though the governing body may be set up by Convocation, yet the moment your governing body comes into existence on the date of Disestablishment, it can either refuse to raitfy its own existence or it may amend its own constitution, and it may determine for itself what the future government of the Church in Wales shall be. That is the position, as I understand it. I may not be right, but I really think that is what it is intended to do. I may not have appreciated the meaning of this Clause, but I can assure hon. Gentlemen that they have not yet satisfied me that I have misunderstood it; they have said nothing in contradiction to what I have said. But there is another kind of person who may be the subject of judicial decision, or who may be the subject of inquiry and investigation by the civil authorities—I refer now to the representative body. The case of the representative body is one on which I will do my best to answer the acute questions put to me by the hon. Member for Warwick and Leamington (Mr. Pollock). In the representative body we do have an authority which Parliament declares shall be incorporated by charter, and the constitution of which must be satisfactory to His Majesty's advisers. What are the functions of this body? So far as this Bill is concerned they are purely financial functions. The representative body has to take possession of the funds which are left to the Church of England. Those funds will be impressed with certain trusts, public and private. It is essential that the body which has those great powers and duties should be a body in which the lay authority can repose complete confidence for this particular purpose. It is quite conceivable, though I do not think it would happen, that the general Synod or governing body of the Church might be a body in which the laymen might not be regarded by me or anybody else as being truly representative. It does not at ail follow, because the representative body might be truly representative of the whole body of laymen, that in the general Synod they might be so truly representative of the whole body of laymen.
935 All that we have to see is that the representative body, which shall not deal with doctrine or ritual, or the government of the Church, and which deals only with the trusts and property of the Church, is truly representative of the Church. That is Sub-section (2) of this Clause. So far as Sub-section (1) of the Clause is concerned, it deals with the government of the Church in its spiritual side, and we ' leave the Church absolutely free, almost to the date of Disestablishment falling. On that day, whatever governing body may have been devised in the interval after the passing of the Bill and before the date of Disestablishment, that governing body is free to alter its own constitution and to declare another governing body to be the true governing body—to set aside all the rules and regulations laid down for it in advance. The new governing body will be absolutely free in its own settlement of the future government of the Church. We all see in this case the essential difficulty, in bringing a new body into existence, that the new governing body might not be representative of anybody. We leave it with confidence to the good sense of the Church of England to see that the framework of the governing body which is instituted in the interval, while the Church is still Established, is really a solid framework representative of the Church as a whole. We believe that the Church of England in practice will not find any of these difficulties in Convocation, or in whatever way the Church finally decides the matter. I agree with the hon. Member for Denbigh Boroughs (Mr. Ormsby-Gore) that they will probably proceed by way of Convocation to frame a scheme and to constitute the Church in Wales on the basis of a single province. I think that is true, but the Church is free to do it or not? I may be wrong, but I think that is how they will proceed. I am asked my intention. I have no intention with regard to the future government of the Church. What I think will happen will be that Convocation will frame a scheme. I think that Convocation will in all probability define laymen precisely as laymen are defined in the present Welsh Diocesan Conferences. I think they will set up a governing body, and I think that governing body, after it has been framed by Convocation, will, on the day of Disestablishment, ratify its own existence.
But when we come to deal with a representative body I am quite confident it will 936 be elected, so far as laymen are concerned, upon the same definition of laymen as in connection with the general Synod. I think that the definition of laymen for the general Synod as defined in Convocation will probably be a very fair definition, and I can only say, when it comes before me, and "laymen" is there defined as in the case of the Welsh Diocesan Conferences, I shall accept such a definition. But these are all difficulties which have no existence in fact. The ultimate points we have to decide upon, if we do divide upon this Amendment, are only these: Hon. Members opposite say that Convocation "shall" frame the governing body; we say they "may."[An HON. MEMBER: "They should have power."] They have power. [An HON. MEMBER: "Have they?"] The constitution so framed by Convocation "shall" be binding upon the Disestablished Church in Wales—that is what hon. Members opposite say. We say that the scheme so framed by Convocation shall only be binding on the Disestablished Church is the body set up by Convocation ratifies its own existence. I assume that Convocation has, in fact, complete power to set up the governing body of the Welsh Church, and the only difference between us is that we leave the governing body so set up, after Disestablishment, power to ratify its own existence. We say they ought to have that power. We say that if the Welsh Church is to have freedom of government, it must declare what the governing body is to be. Hon. Gentlemen opposite say that the governing body instituted by Convocation shall be the binding authority on the Disestablished Church. My hon. Friend, the Member for Bolton (Mr. T. Taylor), in a most interesting speech, hit the nail on the head in a single phrase, that if we accept this Amendment we are accepting something which is inconsistent with the whole principle of the Bill. Believing, as I do, that in practice there is nothing between us, I beg of hon. Members to look at this matter from our point of view for a single instant, and they will see that we could not be parties to re-establishing by Act of Parliament a Church which we are engaged in Disestablishing.
§ Lord ROBERT CECIL
I have listened to the very interesting speech of the right hon. Gentleman the Home Secretary, and, as so often happens in listening to him, I feel that there is some kind of gulf between him and us by which he never seems to 937 understand our point of view, and we have, consequently, great difficulties in appreciating his arguments. This Clause is purely a business matter, and I think we shall be credited by the other side with having discussed it purely as a business matter right through. It is merely a question of how the Church is to be organised after it is Disestablished, and what rights it is to have in reference to its own organisation. Let me make a reference to a phrase of the right hon. Gentleman which I think illustrates the kind of gulf of which I was speaking. He said, "We are anxious that the Church should be spiritually free." The right hon. Gentleman need be under no misapprehension on that point. Nothing this House can do or Parliament can do can interfere with the spiritual freedom of the Church. The spiritual freedom of the Church remains and always must remain exactly what it always has been. That is the essential position with which I am glad to believe Nonconformists, or at any rate old Nonconformists, for certainly Nonconformists nowadays say strong things, but old Nonconformists would have heartily agreed with that proposition. When we come to look at this Clause, the first thing that is really striking is its extraordinary obscurity. We have been referred to the Irish Act, and it is quite true that the greatest part of it is taken verbally from the Irish Act, but what the Government have done is this: They have taken four Clauses which make a group in the Irish Act arranged in logical sequence, providing first for the setting up of the authority, and then giving it its powers, and so on. They have divided them between Clause 3 and Clause 13. The powers that belonged to the body are apparently contained in Clause 3, and are given to the body by a kind of implication without any statement as to such powers but referring to them as though they had already been given. For instance, there is the power of dealing with Acts of Parliament. Nowhere is there given any power of dealing with Acts of Parliament, and it is merely said that its powers shall include powers of dealing with Acts of Parliament. That is characteristic of the drafting.
The result is extraordinary and enormous obscurity in actually ascertaining what the meaning of the Bill really is when you come to construe it. That is a very serious matter for the Church in view of the future. I confess until I heard this Debate, and I am not ashamed to confess 938 it, I wholly misapprehended what the right hon. Gentleman now says is the meaning of the Bill. I thought the Bill was this: that there was to be a Synod, that the Synod was to appoint the representative body, that the representative body was to be incorporated by charter, and that the government of the Church was substantially to be in the hands of the representative body. I am not at all sure that that is not the meaning of the Bill as it stands, and that it is not, as the right hon. Gentleman explained. The Bill, however, is so loosely drawn that it is impossible to say his construction would be illegal, if it were adopted, after the Bill has passed. He says Convocation is to meet, and that it is to prepare, or may prepare, a scheme. The scheme is then to be adopted by the Synod, which will remain the governing body of the Church, and the representative body is reduced to the position, according to the right hon. Gentleman, of mere trustees. It is characteristic also of the Bill that the two Cabinet Ministers who have spoken on the subject have entirely different conceptions of the duties and functions of the representative body. The Home Secretary regards it as mere trustees, with practically no power except some small financial powers. The Chancellor of the Duchy, if I did not misunderstand him, looks on it as the future executive committee of the Church which is to carry on its work, except so much as the Synod chooses to reserve in its hands. It is obvious that those are two entirely different conceptions of the representative body, and which will prove to be right in practice it is very difficult to say.
There is one thing I think the Home Secretary has totally misapprehended, and that is the effect of incorporation on the representative body. Incorporation will be by charter. The charter will have to set out the purposes for which the representative body is incorporated, or at least that is the usual course. If those purposes include all the purposes which the representative body appears to be called on to undertake in the Bill it will be a great deal more than a body of trustees. And observe this, if it is, as I think it will be, in a very large degree one of the governing factors in the Church, that will be a governing factor created and given its whole legal power by the exercise of the prerogative of the Crown and a State establishment if ever there was one. Passing from that, I take 939 the right hon. Gentleman's own account of his own constitution, and let us see how it will work out. I really want to try, if I am so fortunate, as to make the right hon. Gentleman understand if I can what is the difficulty, the real practical difficulty, that we feel. Convocation is to make the scheme, and a Synod is to be appointed or is to come into existence. It is necessarily vague, according to the right hon. Gentleman's theory of the Bill, as to how it is to come into existence. When it comes into existence it is going to be a legislative body, and the Committee must recollect that almost the first thing it will have to do is to appoint Ecclesiastical Courts. That is especially alluded to in Clause 3. The right hon. Gentleman, or I think it was the Chancellor of the Duchy, thinks that there will never be any disputes, and they refer us to the Irish precedent continually in support of their view. Let me remind them that the Irish Church is not the only Disestablished Church in the Empire. There are Colonial Disestablished Churches, and everyone knows that there have been frequent disputes and law suits in reference to those Colonial Churches.
There have been whole series of cases with reference to the South African Church. There is the very well-known case, the Colenso case, and several others. There have been a very considerable number of cases with reference to the Australian Church, and they have always arisen in this kind of way. The incumbent, as we should call him in this country, that is the clergyman of the Church, has had an order given to him by his ecclesiastical superior Synod or bishop or whatever it may be, and he has disputed the legality of that order, and the Ecclesiastical Court has thereupon ejected him from his benefice. The clergyman resists, and the civil law is necessarily called in to carry out the decree of the Ecclesiastical Court. What has happened? The clergyman has said the Ecclesiastical Court authority is not good, for this, that, or the other reason. He disputes the authority of the Ecclesiastical Court, and that has been the subject of the litigation. What right have we to assume that such questions as that will not arise in the new Church? Let me give merely as an illustration the question of vestments, into the merits of which I do not now go. We know that the ecclesiastical law is to be made applicable in the Welsh Church under 940 Clause 3. Take the question of vestments. You might take a thousand other questions. The legality of vestments is a great matter of dispute. Proceedings are taken against a clergyman in the Welsh Church for choosing to wear vestments. The Ecclesiastical Court decides that the clergyman is wrong. He says, "I conscientiously believe that your interpretation of the law is incorrect, and I shall not submit." Thereupon ejectment proceedings are taken to turn him out of his parsonage. That is the kind of thing that has repeatedly happened in the Colonies. What happens? The clergyman says, "That is all wrong; you have no right to give such an order." Among other things, he says, "By the way, you are the creation of a Synod; that Synod was entirely irregularly appointed. It had no authority to appoint this Court. It did not comply with the Act of Parliament. The Act requires that the bishops, clergy and laity shall appoint the Synod. I deny that the laity did appoint the Synod." The question immediately comes up and must come up before the Court as to whether the laity did or did not appoint the Synod.
§ Lord ROBERT CECIL
It does not matter if it is the representative body. I am referring to the first Sub-section:—Nothing in any Act, law or custom shall prevent the bishops, clergy, and laity of the Church in Wales from holding Synods or electing representatives thereto.That is the Synod. The Clause is oddly worded, I agree, but it is the only Clause giving the Synod any authority. If there is any other, perhaps the right hon. Gentleman will point it out. As far as I know there is no other Clause giving power to constitute the Synod which is to have this legislative power.
§ Mr. McKENNA
It is not necessary at all. The Bill gives no power of any sort or kind to any Synod in this or any other Clause. The Synod gets its own power.
§ Lord ROBERT CECIL
It cannot get its own power. We are under civilised government. The supremacy of the law is a fundamental institution. That and the sovereignty of Parliament are fundamental doctrines of our Constitution. The Synod can no more usurp power in virtue of itself than you or I can. It has no 941 power except what it can find in this Act of Parliament. That is quite obvious.
§ Mr. McKENNA
There ought not to be any misunderstanding on this point. The Synod, by whatever name you may choose to call it—the governing body of the Church—has its power, not from any Act of Parliament, but because it is the governing body of the Church.
§ Lord ROBERT CECIL
The Church cannot make it the governing body unless it is given authority to do so by Parliament. [HON. MEMBERS: "Of course, it can."] Of course, it cannot. I am sorry the hon. Member for Falkirk is not here, because the part of his speech dealing with this point was obviously right. Here is the Church in Wales, a legal institution—I will not say statutory, because it is not statutory—existing by force of law. That is your whole case. You take away all its law. A governing body comes into existence with power to repeal Acts of Parliament, to set up Ecclesiastical Courts, and all the rest of it. It is nonsense to say that any governing body can have these powers unless they are given them by Act of Parliament. When you say that the governing body must have these powers, as obviously it must, you say that the governing body must itself be the creature of an Act of Parliament. Of course it must. It cannot come into existence except by the carrying out of some authority given to some body by an Act of Parliament. That is the whole meaning of our Constitution. The moment you try to turn out a clergyman, the moment an action for his ejectment is brought against him, the clergyman would immediately ask, "By what authority are you turning me out? You say that I hold the parsonage by a contractual right, and the definition of that contractual right depends upon the Synod or governing body of the Church. Where is the authority for that?" The bishop or whoever the prosecutor might be, would have to show in this Act of Parliament the authority by which he was seeking to deprive the clergyman of his parsonage. I am amazed that any hon. Member should dispute it. One of the first things the litigant would do would be to dispute that the laity were fairly consulted when the governing body was brought into existence.
942 These matters have been treated in the Debate as if they were purely questions of ecclesiastical opinion. There is the question whether Nonconformists have not a right to be treated as laity of the Church of England. I do not think that that is the only or even the most important point. There are other questions. Who are members of the Church in Wales? Who are members of the Church of England? Is a man who sometimes attends the Church in Wales a member of the Church in Wales? Is a man who lives there a short time in the course of the year a member of the Church in Wales? What is your definition? These difficulties did not turn up in Ireland, because the whole ecclesiastical life of Ireland was always separate from the ecclesiastical life of England. It was a separate Church. Here the life, social, ecclesiastical and political, is absolutely intertwined. There are many men who live on the borders of the two countries; it is impossible to say whether they are Welsh or English; sometimes they are on one side of the border, sometimes on the other. Are they members of the Church in Wales or not? The number of people thus situated may be trivial in point of number, but they may be fatal to the governing body when it gets into the Law Courts; because if all the laity have not had an opportunity of appointing the governing body it would have been irregularly appointed and would have no authority, and the incumbent would necessarily win his suit, however much he had offended against the discipline or the law of the Church. What is true of the laity is true of every other step necessary properly to constitute the governing body. Whatever else is necessary in this measure must be regularly and properly fulfilled in order to give the governing body any authority.
The truth is that there has been a fundamental fallacy, if I may say so respectfully, running through the whole of this Debate. We have perhaps too much insisted that you must define laity or create a body with authority to define it. The truth is that however you draft your Bill you cannot help defining laity. You must create a body with authority to say what your definition means. You have done it in the Bill as it stands; you have done it by using the term "laity of the Church in Wales." It is a very bad and lax definition; it will lead to endless trouble; but it is obviously true that that is a legal description which will have to be given legal effect by the Courts of Law. What you have done in the Bill is to define laity 943 very imperfectly and to leave it to the Courts of Law to say what your definition means. We propose to leave it to a spiritual authority to say what laity means, and let the Courts of Law merely say, "Has the spiritual authority in fact defined laity? If it has, that definition is final." That is what we ask. That is of the very spirit and essence of your Bill. That is what I understood you meant by Disestablishment. I thought you meant transferring the authority of the Welsh Church to some spiritual body representing the Church, and the turning out of the State altogether. You have not done that in the most essential part of your Bill. You have left the Church, to use your own phraseology, "under the heel of the State." What we ask is that you should make it quite clear that it is an ecclesiastical authority, and an ecclesiastical authority alone, which has the right to create the governing body of the Church which you are setting up. The right hon. Gentleman said that the only difference between us was that the Government say that Convocation "can" define the laity, and that we said, Convocation "shall" define the laity. That is an epigrammatic way of putting it, but it is very largely true.
The real point is this: We say that Con-vocation—and I should prefer to say a spiritual authority—taking that authority, shall have the legal power of defining what is meant by the laity. The right hon. Gentleman merely says that the spiritual power may express a pious opinion which will have no force in law at all as to what the laity is. He will leave the whole legal definition of the laity to the Temporal Courts, a State organisation representing the State, which he and his friends so much despise and dislike. This is a crucial matter, because the right hon. Gentleman has told us that to accept our Amendment will be contrary to the whole spirit and purpose of his Bill. I think the right hon. Gentleman did not know what he was admitting when he made that statement. We believe—I myself believe profoundly—that there never was a more Erastian measure than the one before the House. I believe it is the most shameless and indefensible interference in spiritual things attempted by a purely secular authority that has ever occurred in the history of this country. I believe there is nothing even in Reformation times which can compare with the course of interference in spiritual matters which is being attempted by this House on this occasion. I am not 944 going to develop that argument: it would not he germane to this Amendment. But I do say that if there is the slightest honesty, candour, or good faith left in the other side they will accept this Amendment.
§ Mr. EDGAR JONES
I really think that the Noble Lord has given, in his own person, an excellent illustration of that difference in point of view that he alluded to in the beginning of his speech. I must say again, after listening to practically the whole of this Debate, and listening with every respect to the Noble Lord, that I cannot see at all where the basis of his fears lies. I will try and tell the Noble Lord why. As I understand the position under the Bill in regard to the representative body and the reconstitution of the Church it is this: First of all, I repeat again so far as I personally can see, after listening to the Home Secretary and following the Debates on the Bill from the very commencement, the Home Secretary is absolutely right in fact and in detail when he says that we shall not in any way by any kind of authority be, as a State or a Parliament, touching the new constitution of the Church. The whole point of this Clause 13 is—and that is where some difficulties arise—because hon. Members do not seem to have yet grasped it—that it is only permissive, and is not authoritative at all. Clause 13 will not give any authority to any representative body or any Synod as such. Clause 13 does not do it. Nothing in the Bill does. So far as I can gather, if the Church agrees or neglects to set up a Synod—she can please herself—there is no compulsion anywhere in the Bill. I defy the Noble Lord or anyone else to show where the compulsion comes in. There is none anywhere for the new Church to set up a Synod, or a representative body, or a particular kind of organisation whatever. All that the Bill says is—I am not using the word in an offensive sense, but merely for the sake of convenience—"we are, as it were, cutting the Church adrift—"
§ Mr. EDGAR JONES
Certainly, I was only using the word, as I said, as a convenient term to convey my meaning. There the Church is practically in a state without organisation; theoretically, I say, for it will not happen in fact, theoretically she is cut adrift without reorganisation-—
§ Mr. EDGAR JONES
Yes. I know Clause 3. But it does not in any way dictate to the Church anything she has to do at all.
§ Mr. EDGAR JONES
I do not want to be led aside by Clause 3. It is quite consistent with Clause 13, or, to my mind, with all the other Clauses. You can conceive of the new Church in Wales, after all, as being very much in the position in which the Welsh Calvinistic Methodist societies were after they had decided finally to secede from the Church of England.
§ Lord ROBERT CECIL
Look at Clause 3. You cannot discuss Clause 13 without Clause 3. You will see that so far from it being like the cases referred to, the constitution of the Church as a corporate life is a theoretical, contractual obligation on the members of the Church, and until and unless they appoint or create a governing body to make alterations and give it such autonomy as it has the laity have no control.
§ Mr. EDGAR JONES
That only applies to the period between the passing of the Act and the Disestablishment proper.
§ Mr. EDGAR JONES
Its function and constitution is, first of all, to enable the Church to get through the transition period; and, secondly, it is a convenience in case the representative body is not ready with regard to certain rules. The same thing applies to property later on. We can easily assume what the position of the Church will be very much what these Methodist societies were. There was no difficulty at all with the Methodist societies—not more than there has been with the Baptist denomination in Wales, which, by the way, has built its constitution up independently altogether of the Baptist denomination in England. It is, to all intents and purposes, a separate denomination. As to the Calvinistic Methodist societies, it is true they had considerable trouble. It is true there were very keen controversies over a period of years, but they got a good constitution. It is a very elaborate one. There has been no challenge anywhere down to the present. Without assistance from any previous organisation or any advice from any Par- 946 liament or constituted body whatever, the constitution has been built up. The authority has remained. It holds its property. It appoints its ministers. I repeat again there never has been any difficulty or any challenge at all. Are we to imagine, as. the Noble Lord has, all these difficulties. You can easily imagine them in unregistered trade unions or any kind of voluntary body or organisation which has been got together into a federation or a trade union gradually in a more or less haphazard way apart from the lines of common sense. I say these bodies have found no difficulty. In theory, of course, if one were to contemplate the creation of such a body you could conjure up all the difficulties the Noble Lord has laid down, but I submit to hon. Gentlemen opposite that the Church starting as she does, starts much more fortunately than did the Methodists in their early chaotic condition. With a very complete organization she will have no difficulty whatsoever, and authority will come, not from any thing in this Act but from the authority of the body they themselves constitute, after it commences its work. Now as to those different representative bodies and Synods you can say in one sense that there may be three different representative bodies under Clause 13. First of all there would be what you might call the free and easy loose convention that will; meet. That loosely gathered convention will determine the future representation of the permanent Synod. There will be a permanent Synod set up by this loosely gathered body, and you may have as has been said this very body itself coming to be incorporated. I personally cannot see why one body cannot be in corporated that will be both the governing body of the Church and the holder of the property, if the Church so desires and determines. It seems to me to be as easy to incorporate a body to govern the Church in Wales and hold its property as it has been in recent years to incorporate bodies, for instance, from the Universities of Wales, or any institution of that kind. I do not see that there need be any difficulty at all in the matter, and I take it that the position is that the Bill has left all that purposely open, so that we can consistently and in fact say that we are not in any way on the Establishment of the new body. We leave it loose purposely, and I myself am very glad that it is left loose.
As to this definition of laity I do not think that there is any need to worry 947 about that definition, because it is obvious, from the remarks made in the course of this Debate, that you cannot arrive at anything like an accurate definition of laity. Some hon. Members have suggested one definition and others another, and then somebody got up and pointed out that these definitions would break down. It is perfectly clear that one of a dozen cantankerous Churchmen, using the phrase used by hon. Gentlemen opposite, cannot affect this tremendous body which is to represent the whole of the nation. To do that you must assume in practice the swamping of your local conferences—call them what you like, your parish meetings or your diocesan meetings—you must assume the swamping of that by a considerable body of those who are not bonâfide communicants of the Church to have any danger whatever. I simply say what was said with much more authority than I can say it, several times in this Debate, that hon. Members can rest assured that the whole solid mass of Welsh Nonconformity will have nothing to do and no interference of any kind whatsoever with -this business of the setting up of the new body. The Church will be perfectly free. I venture to assert that the average parish, take for example my own borough of Merthyr, if they find a dozen cantankerous Churchmen to go there, will not find a dozen Nonconformists to go there. It is inconceivable in practice and it cannot affect in any material way at all this great gathering together of the Church until it has got a central elective body that will have finality and form with authority and local status as every other denomination in the land has got. We really could not countenance this particular Amendment at all. While it is possible, as the Home Secretary has pointed out, during the six months for the Convocation of Canterbury to suggest a constitution, to assist the Welsh people in every way, we think there is a demand that ought to be heard on behalf of many of the younger Welsh clergy that they should have a voice in deciding and finally accepting whatever scheme is put before them. That is all we submit. To say that Canterbury shall draft a scheme and constitution and plank it down upon the Welsh people and say this is your scheme and constitution drafted for you without any decision of yours, and you are to accept it as a whole for the new Church, is a thing we cannot submit to. Now that we have left the contentious 948 item of Disendowment, I do really appeal to hon. Members opposite to believe that the mass of the Welsh Churchmen and the Welsh Nonconformists will not be such wild and bitter people as is assumed for the purposes of these Debates. We will have to live together long after hon. Members from England will have anything to do with our domestic affairs. We had to live togther up to the present under the government of Canterbury, and we shall set about this work with that governing idea, and I hope, and I am certain that there will be a paternal spirit pervading the whole land that will not give to the Noble Lord the Member for Hitchin or anyone else in this House the slightest cause to complain.
§ Viscount WOLMER
The very interest-speech to which we have just listened shows the very great danger in which the Church will be put if this Amendment is refused by the Government. The hon. Member does not appear to see, either because he is so optimistic in what he called his free and easy loose manner or else because he has not read the Bill sufficiently carefully, how this Bill in every Clause of it binds the Church and must bind the Church. The Bill speaks of the laity of the Church, and whenever differences or disputes arise within the Church as to what constitutes the position of the laymen of the Church, that question must be referred to the Law Courts. It seems to me almost inevitable that these cases must be brought up before the Law Courts before very long, because even in the best and most religious societies and Churches where the best feeling exists between members you do get disputes. Only a few days ago I read in the newspaper that in the hon. member's own church, a Baptist minister was locked out of his chapel by the laity of his congregation.
§ Viscount WOLMER
The hon. Member says by the trustees, and the Noble Lord the Member for Hitchin has referred to cases that have arisen in South Africa and Australia. It seems to me that when such a gigantic revolution has got to be carried out in the organisation of the Church as is laid down by this Bill when the whole of the Church as it at present exists is changed into a contract between members of the Church a certain amount of friction and difficulty is absolutely inevitable. It seems almost inevitable that 949 the case will arise in some matter as to whether the governing body of the Church has got the authority which it claims. The hon. Member for Merthyr spoke about a dozen cantankerous Churchmen, but one cantankerous man, whether a Churchman or not, or one man whether cantankerous or not, can bring a lawsuit and get a decision, and one single man, if this Bill is left with this loose phraseology, by taking the case into Court can bind the Church in a manner that is not intended by this House. That is why we ask the Government, in the name of common sense to name some authority in this Bill which will be able to set its hall-mark upon the governing body of the Church, and provide some method of stating in this Act that the governing body of the Church in Wales has got the authority which it will claim. For the life of me I cannot understand what the objection of the Government is. The Home Secretary comes down to the House and says, "We do not wish to hamper the opinion of Welsh Churchmen. We do not wish them to be out-voted by English Churchmen." The plan which we are proposing would not involve that in any degree at all because if hon. Members will look at Clause 3 they will see that the governing body of the Church has absolute power under the Clause to alter its constitution and to alter all the rules and regulations and laws of the Church, in fact to alter any Act of Parliament, therefore if the constitution of the Church, as laid down by Convocation of Canterbury, was displeasing to Churchmen in Wales, all that the Churchmen in Wales would have to do would be to call a meeting to alter it in the direction they desired. The difficulty would be that when they did alter it they would not have behind them this Act of Parliament as their authority in so doing, and unless this Amendment is carried they will simply be expressing a pious opinion, and their action will be bound to be disputed in the Law Courts of the country.
I appeal to the Government to assent to this Amendment, which cannot by any construction placed upon it tie the hands of the Church in Wales in the future. It cannot by any means go contrary to the objects which hon. Members opposite claim for this Bill. Its only effect will be that it will give the governing authority of the Church a legal basis on which to stand and a legal title which it can show in the Law Courts and know that its position is 950 secure. This is a matter of vital importance to the Church, and it is a question on which Churchmen on all sides of this House, representing all shades of Church opinion, have spoken with an absolutely unanimous voice. This proposal has behind it the support of the leaders of the Church in Wales and it comes with every sign that it is possible to bring to show that it is the wish of the Church in Wales that it should be carried. We have heard a good deal about the nationalism of the new Church in Wales. I have attended many meetings of Churchmen in Wales and addressed many Welsh Churchmen in different parts of the country, and I have seen at those meetings the most fervid Welsh nationalism, but it was not in the remotest degree antagonistic to their fellowship with Englishmen in one common mother Church. It is a nationalism which is not antagonistic to our old nationalism, but is, in fact, ready to co-operate with it. Therefore Churchmen in Wales feel that this is an Amendment which they could accept. Earlier in these Debates hon. Members opposite have said that if the Church in Wales asked for certain conditions, and those conditions did the Nonconformists no harm and did the people of Wales no harm, that the Government would not put obstacles in the way of effecting some compromise with the Church. Now Churchmen come with a unanimous demand to the Government that the governing body of the Church in Wales should have legal authority and legal solidarity behind it. The Government refuse that demand, and by doing so they are imperilling the authority of the new Church that will be set up under this Act. By refusing that demand you are threatening to plunge the Church into chaos. You are threatening all the difficulties that have been found to exist in the case of Disestablished Churches in the past in law and in the uncertainties and difficulties which have done so much harm before.
The hon. Member for Merthyr spoke about three assemblies he conceived that the Church would constitute under this Bill. The first was the constituent assembly from which the Church is to get the whole of her authority from the assembly which he described as a free-and-easy, loose convention. Does the hon. Member for Merthyr think the Law Courts of this country would have any regard for the decisions of a free-and-easy, loose convention? There is one thing the Law 951 Courts will insist upon, and that is definiteness and certainty, and therefore by taking this course the Government are setting up a store of trouble in the future. There is one other point, and that is the representative body. That is as much Erastian as this definition of laity which has been forced upon the Church by the other parts of the Bill. The Home Secretary has told us to-night that he will not be prepared to agree to a representative body of the Church unless it contains a proper representation of the laity. What does the right hon. Gentleman consider to be a proper representation of the laity? He will be able to say, "I do not think your definition of the laity or of State communications is a right one; I do not think the way in which the constituent assembly appointed you as the governing body of the Church was a proper way." As a matter of fact, the Government will be able to control and dictate the manner in which this representative body is to be appointed and constituted, and therefore that representative body will be a purely Erastian body created and approved of by the Government of the day. I should very much like to ask the Government what was the history of this representative body in the Bill. I believe when the Bill was first introduced the Government intended that the representative body should be the sole governing body of the Church. I will give the Committee my reasons for thinking so. In the first place, the whole wording of the Bill is consistent with that idea. It presumes there will be one representative body that shall not only manage the property of the Church, but shall settle its dogmas as well. Not only that, but Clause 13, Sub-section (2) reads:—(2) If at any time it is shown to the satisfaction of His Majesty the King the said bishops, clergy, and laity has appointed any persons so to represent them, and hold property for any of their uses and purposes, His Majestyetc. The word "so" definitely links up Sub-section (2) to Sub-section (I) of this Clause, and therefore I argue that when this Bill was first drafted the Government intended the representative body should not only have charge of the property, but should be the one and only governing body.
§ Mr. HOBHOUSE
The word "so" crept in by accident. It was never intended to 952 be there. I think the Noble Lord has, drawn a very legitimate conclusion, but he will accept my assurance that we intend to move to leave the word out.
§ Viscount WOLMER
I am very much obliged to the right hon. Gentleman. I am aware the Government intend to move to leave the word out. It is on the Order Paper, and that was one of the things to direct my attention to the point. I should also like to point out that Clause 9, Subsection (3) says the representative body shall decide which parishes in Wales have been cut off from English dioceses, and to which Welsh dioceses they shall be allotted. That is not the duty of the trustees; that is the duty of the governing body of the Church. Therefore, I suggest the Government have absolutely altered their original intentions with regard to the constitution of the Church in this matter, and the result of the whole thing is that the constitution of the Church and the government of the Church will by this Bill be left in the state of the most appalling chaos. The Government refuse to help us, out of that chaos. They refuse to allow Convocation to settle finally some ordered government for the Church. Why? Because they say it will interfere with Welsh nationalism. I believe that argument to be altogether absurd. Welsh nationalism is not antagonistic to English nationalism. Welshmen can be perfectly loyal Welshmen and strong nationalists, and yet perfectly loyal members of the Church, which includes England as well as Wales. The Church in Wales is as much a part of the Church as the Church in England, and to say that for the common governing body of that Church Convocation, to decide what the future constitution of the Church in Wales should be would be to denationalise the Church in Wales is an insult to the Churchmanship of Welshmen. Welshmen may be Welshmen and yet be enthusiastic and loyal members of the Anglican community, and that the Church in Wales should derive her authority from the Convocation of Canterbury should be no derogation to her, but should give her that legal authority and stability which is so vital and necessary to the successful discharge of her arduous duties.
§ Mr. WALTER ROCH
Our difficulty is that we cannot see that hon. Gentlemen opposite do not under the Bill get substantially what they are asking for under the Amendment. Under the Clause, as framed, it is open during the period of 953 interregnum for Convocation to draft a scheme which the Welsh Church may adopt. Hon. Gentlemen can, therefore, get what they want. Let us assume that such a scheme is adopted by Convocation of Canterbury; and that it comes before the Welsh body. If the Welsh body adopts the scheme surely hon. Gentlemen will not say it will be any worse because it is adopted by a national body which we call the Disestablished Church in Wales? But suppose the Church body in Wales does not like the work of the Convocation of Canterbury. Surely hon. Gentlemen will not say that, though the Free Church of Wales does not like the scheme drafted by Canterbury, it must adopt it. This Clause gives them all they want. If they approve of the scheme of the Convocation of Canterbury they can adopt it. If they prefer another scheme, they can modify that of the Convocation of Canterbury in such way as they think fit. Surely hon. Gentlemen will not say if you have this great free body with a strong opinion of its own, it is to take the scheme of the Convocation of Canterbury, and allow that to over-ride the wishes of the Free Church body. I take it the real practical difficulty that will arise under this Clause—I have not the good fortune to be an ecclesiastical lawyer like the Noble Lord opposite—is that under the Act for the Submission of the Clergy of Henry VIII. the Church cannot meet and decide these matters except at Canterbury under King's Licence. But, as a matter of fact, this Clause will make it possible for this free body to meet. At present it is impossible, owing to the Act for the Submission of the Clergy, for a Welsh Synod to be formed of Welsh clergy and bishops. This Act removes that disability, and they will be free to meet. What happens? The Welsh bishops, clergy, and laity will meet—
§ Mr. W. ROCH
Is there any other denomination in this country which does not know who are its members?
§ Lord ROBERT CECIL
Certainly. All the other bodies have been made up by taking something out of the National Church. They have been made up by separating themselves from the National Church. It is a matter of history. They were originally members of the National Church. The theory of the Established Church is that everyone is a member of it until he separates himself from it, and 954 whether he separates himself is entirely a question of fact, and is a matter which must be determined by the particular definition of the Act of Parliament.
§ Mr. W. ROCH
I cannot accept the Noble Lord's definition. I cannot think that in Wales we shall know what a Baptist is, what a Wesleyan is, what a Methodist is, what a Catholic is, and what a Jew is; but the one person we cannot bring our minds to conceive of is a Church layman. If the Noble Lord came down to Wales and found himself in a Welsh parish, he would not have the smallest difficulty really, for anyone in that parish could point out, one by one, who were the Churchmen and who were members of Nonconformist bodies.
§ Mr. SCOTT DICKSON
There would be great difficulty in Scotland in distinguishing between a "U. F." and the Free Churchman.
§ Mr. W. ROCH
I cannot follow the hon. Member into Scottish metaphysics or Scottish ecclesiasticism. I feel very great difficulty, because I compare the very short but practical English catechism with the Scottish catechism, and I find that while the English catechism begins by asking the practical question, "What is your name?" the Scottish catechism gives us one of the most awful puzzlers as to what is the ultimate end of man.
§ Mr. W. ROCH
I am afraid I have been led away. I can only give one further point. I say that, in the interests of Wales and in the interests of the Welsh Church, it is advisable that the Government should stick to their plan. I have tried to show to hon. Members opposite that they can, in effect, get all they ask in this Amendment. In conclusion, may I quote them the present Archbishop of Canterbury as an authority in favour of giving Welsh opinion due weight? Speaking at Carnarvon, at a Church Defence meeting, the Archbishop used these very remarkable words:—Whatever might be said about the term ' nationality,' these four dioceses and thirteen counties had a distinct character of their own, which added weight to any special claims they urged about their own circumstances and their own policy.That is really all we ask now. If the Welsh Church chooses to follow what the Convocation of Canterbury thinks best, they are free to do so; but if, in the words of the Archbishop, they think something 955 is better in their own interest, they can urge something about their own circumstances and their own policy. I think hon. Gentlemen opposite would be wise, in the interests of the Church in Wales and in the interests of Wales itself, while giving the Church every opportunity to profit by the experience to which they will, no doubt, give due weight, as to what the
§ Convocation of Canterbury may decide, to let them work out their own salvation according to their own lines, and in such a way as they think best.
§ Question put, "That the words 'the bishops' stand part of the Clause."
§ The Committee divided: Ayes, 297; Noes, 178.959
|Division No. 488.]||AYES.||[10.30 p.m.|
|Abraham, William (Dublin, Harbour)||Duffy, William J.||Keating, Matthew|
|Acland, Francis Dyke||Duncan, C. (Barrow-in-Furness)||Kellaway, Frederick George|
|Adamson, William||Edwards, Sir Francis (Radnor)||Kennedy, Vincent Paul|
|Addison, Dr. Christopher||Edwards, John Hugh (Glamorgan, Mid)||Kilbride, Denis|
|Adkins, Sir W. Ryland D.||Elverston, Sir Harold||King, J.|
|Agar-Robartes, Hon. T. C. R.||Esmonde, Dr. John (Tipperary, N.)||Lambert, Rt. Hon. G. (Devon.S. Molton)|
|Alden, Percy||Esmonde, Sir Thomas (Wexford, N.)||Lambert, Richard (Wilts, Cricklade)|
|Allen, Arthur A. (Dumbartonshire)||Esslemont, George Birnie||Lardner, James Carrige Rushe|
|Allen, Rt. Hon. Charles P. (Stroud)||Falconer, J.||Law, Hugh A. (Donegal West)|
|Arnold, Sydney||Farrell, James Patrick||Lawson, Sir W. (Cumb'rld, Cockerm'th)|
|Asquith, Rt. Hon. Herbert Henry||Fenwiek, Rt. Hon. Charles||Levy, Sir Maurice|
|Baker, H. T. (Accrington)||Ferens, Rt. Hon. Thomas Robinson||Lewis, John Herbert|
|Baker, Joseph Allen (Finsbury, E.)||Ffrench, Peter||Low, Sir Frederick (Norwich)|
|Balfour, Sir Robert (Lanark)||Field, William||Lundon. Thomas|
|Baring, Sir Godfrey (Barnstaple)||Fitzgibbon, John||Lyell, Charles Henry|
|Barlow, Sir John Emmott (Somerset)||Flavin, Michael Joseph||Lynch. A A|
|Barnes, George N.||Furness, Stephen||Macdonald, J. M. (Falkirk Burghs)|
|Barran, Rowland Hurst (Leeds, N.)||George, Rt. Hon. D. Lloyd||McGhee, Richard|
|Barton, W.||Gilhooly, James||Maclean, Donald|
|Beale, Sir William Phipson||Ginnell, L.||Macnamara, Rt. Hon. D. T. J.|
|Benn, W. W. (T. Hamlets, St. Geo.)||Gladstone, W. G. C.||MacNeill, J. G. Swift (Donegal, South)|
|Bethell, Sir J. H.||Glanville, Harold James||Macpherson, James Ian|
|Birrell, Rt. Hon. Augustine||Goddard, Sir Daniel Ford||MacVeagh, Jeremiah|
|Black, Arthur W.||Goldstone, Frank||M'Callum, Sir John M.|
|Boland, John Pius||Griffith, Ellis J.||M'Curdy, Charles Albert|
|Booth, Frederick Handel||Guest, Major Hon. C. H. C. (Pembroke)||McKenna, Rt. Hon. Reginald|
|Bowerman, C. W.||Guest, Hon. Frederick E. (Dorset, E.)||M'Laren, Hon. H. D. (Leics.)|
|Boyle, D. (Mayo, N.)||Gulney, Patrick||M'Laren, Hon. F.W.S. (Lincs.,Spalding)|
|Brace, William||Hackett, J.||M'Micking, Major Gilbert|
|Brady, P. J.||Hancock, John George||Manfield. Harry|
|Brocklehurst, W. B.||Harcourt, Rt. Hon. H. L. (Rossendale)||Markham, Sir Arthur Basil|
|Brunner, John F. L.||Harcourt, Robert V. (Montrose)||Marks, Sir George Croydon|
|Bryce, J. Annan||Hardie, J. Keir||Marshall, Arthur Harold|
|Burke, E. Hav[...]and-||Harmsworth, R. L. (Caithness-shire)||Martin, Joseph|
|Burns, Rt. Hon. John||Harvey, A. G. C. (Rochdale)||Mason, David M. (Coventry)|
|Burt, Rt. Hon. Thomas||Harvey, T. E. (Leeds, West)||Masterman, Rt. Hon. C. F. G.|
|Buxton, Rt. Hon. Sydney C. (Poplar)||Harvey, W. E. (Derbyshire, N.E.)||Meagher, Michael|
|Byles, Sir William Pollard||Haslam, Lewis (Monmouth)||Meehan, Francis E. (Leitrim, N.)|
|Carr-Gomm, H. W.||Havelock-Allan, Sir Henry||Millar, James Duncan|
|Cawley, H. T. (Lancs., Heywood)||Hayden, John Patrick||Molloy, M.|
|Chancellor, H. G.||Hayward, Evan||Molteno, Percy Alport|
|Chappie, Dr. William Allen||Hazleton, Richard||Mond, Sir Alfred Moritz|
|Clancy, John Joseph||Healy, Timothy Michael (Cork, N.E.)||Money, L. G. Chiozza|
|Clough, William||Hemmerde, Edward George||Morgan, George Hay|
|Collins, Stephen (Lambeth)||Henderson, Arthur (Durham)||Morrell, Philip|
|Compton-Rickett, Rt. Hon. Sir J.||Henry, Sir Charles||Morison, Hector|
|Condon, Thomas Joseph||Herbert, General Sir Ivor (Mon., S.)||Morton, Alpheus Cleophas|
|Cornwall, Sir Edwin A.||Higham, John Sharp||Muldoon, John|
|Cotton, William Francis||Hinds, John||Munro, R.|
|Crawshay-Williams, Eliot||Hobhouse, Rt. Hon. Charles E. H.||Munro-Ferguson, Rt. Hon R. C.|
|Crean, Eugene||Holmes, Daniel Turner||Murray, Capt. Hon. A. C.|
|Crooks, William||Holt, Richard Durning||Nannetti, Joseph P.|
|Crumley, Patrick||Hope, John Deans (Haddington)||Needham, Christopher T.|
|Cullinan, J,||Home, C. Silvester (Ipswich)||Neilson, Francis|
|Da[...]ziel, Rt. Hon. Sir J. H. (Kirkcaldy)||Howard, Hon. Geoffrey||Nicholson, Sir C. N. (Doncaster)|
|Davies, E. William (E[...]f[...]on)||Hudson, Walter||Nolan, Joseph|
|Davies, Timothy (Lincs., Louth)||Hughes, S. L.||Norman, Sir Henry|
|Davies, Sir W. Howell (Bristol, S.)||Isaacs, Rt. Hon. Sir Rufus||Norton, Captain Cecil|
|Davies, M. Vaughan- (Cardiganshire)||John, Edward Thomas||Nugent, Sir Walter Richard|
|Dawes, James Arthur||Jones, Rt.Hon.Sir D.Brynmor (Swansea)||O'Brien, Patrick (Kilkenny)|
|Delany, William||Jones, Edgar (Merthyr Tydvil)||O'Connor, John (Kildare, N.)|
|Denman, Hon. Richard Douglas||Jones, H. Haydn (Merioneth)||O'Connor, T. P. (Liverpool)|
|Devlin, Joseph||Jones, J. Towyn (Carmarthen, East)||O'Doherty, Philip|
|Dewar, Sir J. A.||Jones, Leif Stratten (Rushcliffe)||O'Donnell, Thomas|
|Dickinson, W. H.||Jones, William (Carnarvonshire)||O'Dowd, John|
|Donelan, Captain A.||Jones, W. S. Glyn- (T. H'mts, Stepney)||O'Grady, James|
|Doris, W.||Joyce, Michael||O'Kelly, Edward P. (Wicklow, W.)|
|O'Kelly, James (Roscommon, N.)||Robertson, Sir G. Scott (Bradford)||Ure, Rt. Hon. Alexander|
|O'Malley. William||Robinson, Sidney||Wadsworth, J.|
|O'Neill, Dr. Charles (Armagh, S.)||Roch, Waiter F.||Walsh, Stephen (Lancs., Ince)|
|O'Shaughnessy, P. J,||Roche, Augustine (Louth)||Walton, Sir Joseph|
|O'Shee, James John||Roe, Sir Thomas||Ward, John (Stoke-upon-Trent)|
|O'Sullivan, Timothy||Rose, Sir Charles Day||Ward, W. Dudley (Southampton)|
|Palmer, Godfrey Mark||Rowlands, James||Ward[...]e, George J.|
|Parker, James (Halifax)||Rowntree, Arnold||Waring, Walter|
|Pearce, Robert (Staffs, Leek)||Runciman, Rt. Hon. Walter||Warner, Sir Thomas Courtenay|
|Pease, Rt. Hon. Joseph A. (Rotherham)||Russell, Rt. Hon. Thomas W,||Wason, Rt. Hon. E. (Clackmannan)|
|Philips, John (Longford, S.)||Samuel, Rt. Hon. H. L. (Cleveland)||Wason, John Cathcart (Orkney)|
|Pirie, Duncan V.||Samuel, J. (Stockton-on-Tees)||Webb, H.|
|Pointer, Joseph||Scan[...]an, Thomas||White, J. Dundas (Glasgow, Tradestonp|
|Pollard, Sir George H.||Schwann, Rt. Hon. Sir C. E.||White, Sir Luke (York, E.R.)|
|Power, Patrick Joseph||Scott, A. MacCallum (Glas., Bridgeton)||White, Patrick (Meath, North)|
|Price, Sir Robert J. (Norfolk, E.)||Seely, Col. Rt. Hon. J. E. B.||Whitehouse, John Howard|
|Priestley, Sir W. E. B. (Bradford, E.)||Sheeny, David||Whittaker, Rt. Hon. Sir Thomas|
|Primrose, Hon. Neil James||Sherwell, Arthur James||Whyte, A. F. (Perth)|
|Pringle, William M. R.||Simon, Rt. Hon. Sir John A[...]sebrook||Wiles, Thomas|
|Radford, G. H.||Smith, H. B. L. (Northampton)||Wilkie, Alexander|
|Rea, Rt. Hon. Russell (South Shields)||Smyth, Thomas F.||Williams, J. (Glamorgan)|
|Rea, Walter Russell (Scarborough)||Snowden, Philip||Williams, Llewelyn (Carmarthen)|
|Reddy, M.||Soames, Arthur Wellesley||Williams, Penry (Middlesbrough)|
|Redmond, John E. (Waterford)||Spicer, Rt. Hon. Sir Albert||Williamson, Sir Archibald|
|Redmond, William (Clare, E.)||Stanley, Albert (Staffs, N.)||Wilson, W. T. (Westhoughton)|
|Redmond, William Archer (Tyrone, E.)||Sutherland, J. E.||Winfrey, Richard|
|Rendall. Athe[...]stan||Taylor, John W. (Durham)||Wood, Rt. Hon. T. McKinnon (Glas.)|
|Richards, Thomas||Taylor, Theodore C. (Radcliffe)||Young, Samuel (Cavan, East)|
|Richardson, Albion (Peckham)||Taylor, Thomas (Bolton)||Young, W. (Perth, E.)|
|Richardson, Thomas (Whitehaven)||Tennant, Harold John||Yoxall, Sir James Henry|
|Roberts, Charles H. (Lincoln)||Thomas, J. H.|
|Roberts, G. H. (Norwich)||Thorne, G. R. (Wolverhampton)||TELLERS FOR THE AYES—Mr.|
|Roberts, Sir J. H. (Denbighs)||Trevelyan, Charles Philips||Illingworth and Mr. Gulland.|
|Aitken, Sir William Max||Crichton-Stuart, Lord N[...]n[...]an||Jessel, Captain H. M.|
|Amery, L. C. M. S.||Cripps, Sir Charles Alfred||Joynson-Hicks, William|
|Anson, Rt. Hon. Sir William R.||Croft, H. P.||Kebty-Fietcher, J. R.|
|Astor, Waldorf||Da[...]ziel, D. (Brixton)||Kerry, Earl of|
|Baird, J. L.||Denniss, E. R. B.||Kimber, Sir Henry|
|Baker, Sir Randolf L. (Dorset, N.)||Dickson, Rt. Hon. C. Scott||Kinloch-Cooke, Sir Clement|
|Balcarres, Lord||Doughty, Sir George||-Knight, Captain E. A.|
|Baldwin, Stanley||Duke, Henry Edward||Law, Rt. Hon. A. Bonar (Boot[...]e)|
|Banbury, Sir Frederick George||Eyres-Monsell, B. M.||Lawson, Hon. H. (T. H'mts, Mile End)|
|Baring, Maj. Hon. Guy V. (Winchester)||Fell, Arthur||Lee, Arthur H.|
|Barlow, Montague (Salford, South)||Fetherstonhaugh, Godfrey||Lewisham, Viscount|
|Barnston, Harry||Fisher, Rt. Hon. W. Hayes||Lloyd, G. A.|
|Barrie, H. T.||Fitzroy, Hon. Edward A.||Locker-Lampson, G. (Salisbury)|
|Bathurst, Charles (Wilts, Wilton)||Fleming, Valentine||Locker-Lampson, O. (Ramsey)|
|Beach, Hon. Michael Hugh Hicks||Fletcher, John Samuel||Lockwood, Rt. Hon. Lt.-Col. A. R.|
|Benn, Arthur Shirley (Plymouth)||Forster, Henry William||Lonsdale, Sir John Brownlee|
|Bennett-Goldney, Francis||Gardner, Ernest||Lowe, Sir F. W. (Birm., Edgbaston)|
|Bentinck, Lord H. Cavendish-||Gastrell. Major W. H.||Lyttelton, Rt. Hon. A. (Hanover Sq.)-|
|Bigland, Alfred||Gibbs, G. A.||Lyttelton, Hon. J. C. (Droitwich)|
|Bird, A.||Gilmour, Captain John||Macmaster, Donald|
|Blair, Reginald||Glazebrook, Capt. Philip K.||M'Neill, Ronald (Kent, St. Augustine's)-|
|Boles, Lieut.-Colonel Dennis Fortescue||Gordon, John (Londonderry, South)||Magnus, Sir Philip|
|Boscawen, Sir Arthur S. T. Griffith-||Gordon, Hon. John Edward (Brighton)||Middlemore, John Throgmorton|
|Boyton, James||Goulding, Edward Alfred||Mildmay. Francis Bingham|
|Brassey, H. Leonard Campbell||Grant, J. A.||Moore, William|
|Bridgeman, W. Clive||Greene, W. R.||Morrison-Bell, Major A. C. (Hon[...]ton)|
|Bull, Sir William James||Guinness, Hon. Rupert (Essex, S.E.)||Mount, William Arthur|
|Burdett-Coutts, W.||Guinness, Hon.W.E. (Bury S.Edmunds)||Newman, John R. P.|
|Burn, Colonel C. R.||Gwynne, R. S. (Sussex, Eastbourne)||Newton, Harry Kottingham|
|Butcher, J. G.||Haddock, George Bahr||Nield, Herbert|
|Campbell, Rt. Hon. J. (Dublin Univ.)||Hall, Fred (Dulwich)||Norton-Griffiths, John|
|Campion, W. R.||Hamersley, Alfred St. George||O'Neill, Hon. A. E. B. (Antrim, Mid)-|
|Carlile, Sir Edward Hildred||Harris, Henry Percy||Orde-Powlett, Hon. W. G. A.|
|Carson, Rt. Hon. Sir Edward H.||Harrison-Broadley, H. B.||Ormsby-Gore, Hon. William|
|Cassel, Felix||Henderson, Major H. (Berks, Abingdon)||Parker, Sir Gilbert (Gravesend)|
|Cator, John||Hewins, William Albert Samuel||Parkes, Ebenezer|
|Cautley, H. S.||Hickman, Colonel T. E.||Pease, Herbert Pike (Darlington)|
|Cecil, Evelyn (Aston Manor)||Hill, Sir Clement L.||Peel, Captain R. F. (Woodbridge)|
|Chaloner, Col. R. G. W.||Hills, John Waller||Perkins, Walter F.|
|Chambers, J.||Hill-Wood, Samuel||Peto, Basil Edward|
|Clay, Captain H. H. Spender||Hoare, Samuel John Gurney||Pollock, Ernest Murray|
|Coates, Major Sir Edward Feetham||Hohler, Gerald Fitzroy||Pretyman, Ernest George|
|Cooper, Richard Ashmole||Hope, Harry (Bute)||Pryce-Jones, Colonel E.|
|Courthope, G. Loyd||Hope, Major J. A. (Midlothian)||Rawlinson, John Frederick Peel|
|Craig, Ernest (Cheshire. Crewe)||Horne, W. E. (Surrey, Guildford)||Rawson, Col. R. H.|
|Craig, Captain James (Down, E.)||Horner, Andrew Long||Rees, Sir J. D.|
|Craig, Norman (Kent, Thanet)||Houston, Robert Paterson||Roberts, S. (Sheffield, Ecclesall)|
|Craik, Sir Henry||Ingleby, Holcombe||Rolleston, Sir John|
|Rutherford, John (Lancs, Darwen)||Swift. Rigby||Wilson, A. Stanley (York, E.R.)|
|Rutherford, Watson (L'pool, W. Derby)||Sykes, Alan John (Ches, Knutsford)||Winterton, Earl|
|Salter, Arthur Clavell||Talbot, Lord E.||Wolmer, Viscount|
|Sanders, Robert A.||Terrell, H. (Gloucester)||Wood, John (Stalybridge)|
|Sandys, G. J.||Thynne, Lord Alexander||Worthington-Evans, L.|
|Sassoon, Sir Philip||Touche, George Alexander||Wortley, Rt. Hon. C. B. Stuart-|
|Scott, Sir S. (Marylebone, W.)||Tryon, Captain George Clement||Wyndham, Rt. Hon. George|
|Smith, Harold (Warrington)||Ward, A. S. (Herts. Watford)||Yate, Col. Charles Edward|
|Spear, Sir John Ward||Warde, Colonel C. E. (Kent, Mid)||Younger, Sir George|
|Stan[...]er, Beville||White, Major G. D. (Lancs, Southport)|
|Stanley, Hon. G. F. (Preston)||Williams, Col. R. (Dorset, W.)||TELLERS FOR THE NOES—Mr.|
|Stewart, Gershom||Willoughby, Major Hon. Claud||L. Hardy and Lord Robert Cecil.|
|(Strauss, Arthur (Paddington, North)||Wills, Sir Gilbert|
§ It being after half-past Ten of the clock, the CHAIRMAN proceeded, pursuant to the Order of the House of the 28th November last successively to put forthwith the Question on an Amendment moved by the Government, of which notice had been given, and the Question necessary to dispose of the business to be concluded at half-past Ten of the clock at this day's sitting.960
§ Government Amendment made: In Sub-section (2), leave out the word "so"["any persons so to represent them"].—[Mr. McKenna.]
§ Question put, "That the Clause, as amended, stand part of the Bill."
§ The Committee divided: Ayes, 300; Noes, 179.963
|Division No. 489.]||AYES.||[10.40 p.m.|
|Abraham, William (Dublin, Harbour)||Cotton, William Francis||Hancock, John George|
|Acland, Francis Dyke||Crawshay-Williams, Eliot||Harcourt, Rt. Hon. H. L. (Rossendale)|
|Adamson, William||Crean, Eugene||Harcourt, Robert V. (Montrose)|
|Addison, Dr. Christopher||Crooks, William||Hardie, J. Keir|
|Adkins, Sir W. Ryland D.||Crumley, Patrick||Harmsworth, R. L. (Caithness-shire)|
|Agar-Robartes, Hon. T. C. R.||Cullinan, J.||Harvey, A. G. C. (Rochdale)|
|Alden, Percy||Da[...]ziel, Rt. Hon. Sir J. H. (Kirkcaldy)||Harvey, T. E. (Leeds, West)|
|Allen, Arthur A. (Dumbarton)||Davies, E. William (E[...]f[...]on)||Harvey, W. E. (Derbyshire, N.E.)|
|Allen, Rt. Hon. Charles P. (Stroud)||Davies, Timothy (Lincs., Louth)||Haslam, Lewis (Monmouth)|
|Arnold, Sydney||Davies, Sir W. Howell (Bristol, S.)||Havelock-Allan, Sir Henry|
|Asquith, Rt. Hon. Herbert Henry||Davies, M. Vaughan- (Cardiganshire)||Hayden, John Patrick|
|Baker, H. T. (Accrington)||Dawes, James Arthur||Hayward, Evan|
|Baker, Joseph Allen (Finsbury, E.)||Delany, William||Hazleton, Richard|
|Balfour, Sir Robert (Lanark)||Denman, Hon. R. D.||Healy, Timothy Michael (Cork, N.E.)|
|Baring, Sir Godfrey (Barnstaple)||Devlin, Joseph||Hemmerde, Edward George|
|Barlow, Sir John Emmott (Somerset)||Dewar, Sir J. A.||Henderson, Arthur (Durham)|
|Barnes, G. N.||Dickinson, W. H.||Henry, Sir Charles|
|Barran, Rowland Hurst (Leeds, N.)||Donelan, Captain A.||Herbert, General Sir Ivor (Mon., S.)|
|Barton, W.||Doris, W.||Higham, John Sharp|
|Beale, Sir William Phipson||Duffy, William J.||Hinds, John|
|Benn, W. W. (T. Hamlets, St. Geo.)||Duncan, C. (Barrow-in-Furness)||Hobhouse, Rt. Hon. Charles E. H.|
|Bethell, Sir J. H.||Edwards, Clement (Glamorgan, E.)||Holmes, Daniel Turner|
|Birrell, Rt. Hon. Augustine||Edwards, Sir Francis (Radnor)||Holt, Richard Durning|
|Black, Arthur W.||Edwards, John Hugh (Glamorgan, Mid)||Hope, John Deans (Haddington)|
|Boland, John Pius||Elverston, Sir Harold||Home. C. Silvester (Ipswich)|
|Booth, Frederick Handel||Esmonde, Dr. John (Tipperary, N.)||Howard, Hon. Geoffrey|
|Bowerman, C. W.||Esmonde, Sir Thomas (Wexford, N.)||Hudson, Walter|
|Boyle, D. (Mayo, North)||Esslemont, George Birnie||Hughes, S. L.|
|Brace, William||Falconer, J,||Isaacs, Rt. Hon, Sir Rufus|
|Brady, P. J.||Farrell, James Patrick||John, Edward Thomas|
|Brocklehurst, W. B.||Fenwick, Rt. Hon. Charles||Jones, Rt.Hon.Sir D.Brynmor (Swansea)|
|Brunner, John F. L.||Ferens, Rt. Hon. Thomas Robinson||Jones, Edgar (Merthyr Tydvil)|
|Bryce, J. Annan||Ffrench, Peter||Jones, H. Haydn (Merioneth)|
|Burke, E. Haviland-||Field, William||Jones, J. Towyn (Carmarthen, East)|
|Burns, Rt. Hon. John||Fitzgibbon, John||Jones, Leif Stratten (Rushcliffe)|
|Burt, Rt. Hon. Thomas||Flavin, Michael Joseph||Jones, William (Carnarvonshire)|
|Buxton, Noel (Norfolk, North)||Furness, Stephen||Jones, W. S. Glyn- (T. H'mts, Stepney)|
|Buxton, Rt. Hon. Sydney C. (Poplar)||George, Rt. Hon. David Lloyd||Joyce, Michael|
|Byles, Sir William Pollard||Gilhooly, James||Keating, Matthew|
|Carr-Gomm, H. W.||Ginnell, L.||Kellaway, Frederick George|
|Cawley, H. T. (Lancs., Heywood)||Gladstone, W. G. C.||Kennedy, Vincent Paul|
|Chancellor. H. G.||Glanville, Harold James||Kilbride, Denis|
|Chapp[...]e, Dr. William Allen||Goddard, Sir Daniel Ford||King, J.|
|Clancy, John Joseph||Goldstone, Frank||Lambert, Rt. Hon. G. (Devon,S.Molton)|
|Clough, William||Griffith, Ellis J.||Lambert, Richard (Wilts, Cricklade)|
|Collins, Stephen (Lambeth)||Guest, Major Hon. C. H. C. (Pembroke)||Lardner, James Carrige Rushe|
|Compton-Rlckett, Rt. Hon. Sir J.||Guest, Hon. Frederick E. (Dorset, E.)||Law, Hugh A. (Donegal, West)|
|Condon, Thomas Joseph||Gu[...]ney, P.||Lawson. Sir W. (Cumb'rtd, Cockerm'th)|
|Cornwall, Sir Edwin A.||Hackett, John||Levy, Sir Maurice|
|Lewis, John Herbert||O'Donnell, Thomas||Schwann, Rt. Hon. Sir C. E.|
|Low, Sir Frederick (Norwich)||O'Dowd, John||Scott, A. MacCallum (Glas., Bridgeton)|
|Lundon, Thomas||O'Grady, James||Seely, Col. Rt. Hon. J. E. B.|
|Lyell, Charles Henry||O'Kelly, Edward P. (Wicklow, W.)||Sheehy, David|
|Lynch, A. A.||O'Kelly, James (Roscommon, N.)||Sherwell, Arthur James|
|Hacdonald, J. M. (Falkirk Burghs)||O'Malley, William||Simon, Rt. Hon. Sir John Allsebrook|
|McGhee, Richard||O'Neill, Dr. Charles (Armagh, S.)||Smith, H. B. L. (Northampton)|
|Maclean, Donald||O'Shaughnessy, P. J.||Smyth, Thomas F. (Leitrim, S.)|
|Macnamara, Rt. Hon. Dr. T. J.||O'Shee, James John||Soames, Arthur Wellesley|
|MacNeill, J. G. Swift (Donegal, South)||O'Sullivan, Timothy||Spicer, Rt. Hon. Sir Albert|
|Macpherson, James Ian||Outhwaite, R. L.||Stanley, Albert (Staffs, N.W.)|
|MacVeagh, Jeremiah||Palmer, Godfrey Mark||Sutherland, J. E.|
|M'Callum, Sir John M.||Parker, James (Halifax)||Taylor, John W. (Durham)|
|M'Curdy, Charles Albert||Pearce, Robert (Staffs, Leek)||Taylor, Theodore C. (Radcliffe)|
|McKenna, Rt. Hon. Reginald||Pease, Rt. Hon. Joseph A. (Rotherham)||Taylor, Thomas (Bolton)|
|M'Laren, Hon. H. D. (Leics.)||Phillips, John (Longford, S.)||Tennant, Harold John|
|M'Laren, Hon. F.W.S. (Lincs.,Spa[...]ding)||P[...]r[...]e, Duncan V.||Thomas, J. H.|
|M'Micking, Major Gilbert||Pointer, Joseph||Thorne, G. R. (Wolverhampton)|
|Manfield, Harry||Pollard, Sir George H.||Trevelyan, Charles Philips|
|Markham, Sir Arthur Basil||Power, Patrick Joseph||Ure, Rt. Hon. Alexander|
|Marks, Sir George Croydon||Price, C. E. (Edinburgh, Central)||Wadsworth, J.|
|Marshall, Arthur Harold||Price, Sir Robert J. (Norfolk, E.)||Walsh, Stephen (Lancs., Ince)|
|Martin, Joseph||Priestley, Sir W. E. B. (Bradford, E.)||Walton, Sir Joseph|
|Mason, David M. (Coventry)||Primrose, Hon. Neil James||Ward, John (Stoke-upon-Trent)|
|Masterman, Rt Hon. C. F. G.||Pringle, William M. R.||Ward, W. Dudley (Southampton)|
|Meagher, Michael||Radford, G. H.||Ward[...]e, George J.|
|Meehan, Francis E. (Leitrim, N.)||Rea, Rt. Hon. Russell (South Shields)||Waring, Walter|
|Millar, James Duncan||Rea, Walter Russell (Scarborough)||Warner, Sir Thomas Courtenay|
|Molloy, Michael||Reddy M.||Wason, Rt. Hon. E. (Clackmannan)|
|Molteno, Percy Alport||Redmond, John E. (Waterford)||Wason, John Cathcart (Orkney)|
|Mond, Sir Alfred Moriltz||Redmond, William (Clare, E.)||Webb, H.|
|Money, L. G. Chiozza||Redmond, William Archer (Tyrone, E.)||White, J. Dundas (Glasgow, Tradeston)|
|Morgan, George Hay||Rendall, Athe[...]stan||White, Sir Luke (York, E.R.)|
|Morrell, Philip||Richards, Thomas||White, Patrick (Meath, North)|
|Morison, Hector||Richardson, Albion (Peckham)||Whitehouse, John Howard|
|Morton, Alpheus Cleophas||Richardson, Thomas (Whitehaven)||Whittaker, Rt. Hon. Sir Thomas P.|
|Muldoon, John||Roberts, Charles H. (Lincoln)||Whyte, A. F. (Perth)|
|Munro, R.||Roberts, G. H. (Norwich)||Wiles, Thomas|
|Munro-Ferguson, Rt. Hon R. C.||Roberts, Sir J. H. (Denbighs)||Wilkie, Alexander|
|Murray, Capt. Hon. A. C.||Robertson, Sir G. Scott (Bradford)||Williams, J. (Glamorgan)|
|Nannetti, Joseph P.||Robinson, Sidney||Williams, Llewelyn (Carmarthen)|
|Needham, Christopher T.||Roch, Walter F.||Williams, Penry (Middlesbrough)|
|Ne[...]son, Francis||Roche, Augustine (Louth)||Williamson, Sir Archibald|
|Nicholson, Sir C. N. (Doncaster)||Roe, Sir Thomas||Wilson, W. T. (Westhoughton)|
|Nolan, Joseph||Rose, Sir Charles Day||Winfrey, Richard|
|Norman, Sir Henry||Rowlands, James||Wood, Rt. Hon. T. McKinnon (Glas.)|
|Norton, Captain Cecil W.||Rowntree, Arnold||Young, Samuel (Cavan, East)|
|Nugent, Sir Walter Richard||Runciman, Rt. Hon. Walter||Young, William (Perth, East)|
|O'Brien, Patrick (Kilkenny)||Russell, Rt. Hon. Thomas W.||Yoxa[...]l, Sir James Henry|
|O'Connor, John (Kildare, N.)||Samuel, Rt. Hon. H. L. (Cleveland)|
|O'Connor, T. P. (Liverpool)||Samuel, J. (Stockton-on-Tees)||TELLERS FOR THE AYES—Mr.|
|O'Doherty, Philip||Scanlan, Thomas||Illingworth and Mr. Gulland.|
|Aitken, Sir William Max||Butcher, J. G.||Eyres-Monsell, B. M.|
|Amery, L. C. M. S.||Campbell, Rt. Hon. J. (Dublin Univ.)||Fell, Arthur|
|Anson, Rt. Hon. Sir William R.||Campion, W. R.||Fetherstonhaugh, Godfrey|
|Astor, Waldorf||Car[...]e, Sir Edward Hildred||Fisher, Rt. Hon. W. Hayes|
|Baird, J. L.||Carson, Rt. Hon. Sir Edward H.||Fitzroy, Hon. Edward A.|
|Baker, Sir Randolf L. (Dorset, N.)||Cassel, Felix||Fleming, Valentine|
|Ba[...]carres, Lord||Cator, John||Fletcher, John Samuel|
|Baldwin, Stanley||Cautley, H. S.||Forster, Henry William|
|Banbury, Sir Frederick George||Cecil, Evelyn (Aston Manor)||Gardner, Ernest|
|Baring, Maj. Hon. Guy V. (Winchester)||Cecil, Lord R. (Herts, Hitchin)||Gastrell, Major W. H.|
|Barlow, Montague (Salford, South)||Chaloner, Col. R. G. W.||Gibbs, G. A.|
|Barrie, H. T.||Chambers, J.||Gilmour, Captain John|
|Bathurst, Charles (Wilts, Wilton)||Clay, Captain H. H. Spender||Glazebrook, Capt. Philip K.|
|Beach, Hon. Michael Hugh Hicks||Coates, Major Sir Edward Feetham||Gordon, John (Londonderry, South)|
|Benn, Arthur Shirley (Plymouth)||Cooper, Richard Ashmole||Gordon, Hon. John Edward (Brighton)|
|Bennett-Goldney, Francis||Courthope, G. Loyd||Goulding, Edward Alfred|
|Bentinck, Lord H. Cavendish-||Craig, Ernest (Cheshire, Crewe)||Grant, J. A.|
|Bigland, Alfred||Craig, Captain James (Down, E.)||Greene, W. R.|
|Bird, A.||Craig, Norman (Kent, Thanet)||Guinness, Hon. Rupert (Essex, S.E.)|
|Blair, Reginald||Craik, Sir Henry||Guinness, Hon. W.E. (Bury S.Edmund.)|
|Boles, Lieut.-Col. Dennis Fortescue||Crichton-Stuart, Lord Ninlan||Gwynne, R. S. (Sussex, Eastbourne)|
|Boscawen, Sir Arthur S. T. Griffith-||Cripps, Sir Charles Alfred||Haddock, George Bahr|
|Boyton, James||Croft, H. P.||Hall, Fred (Dulwich)|
|Brassey, H. Leonard Campbell||Da[...]ziel, D. (Brixton)||Hamersley, Alfred St. George|
|Bridgeman, W. Clive||Denniss, E. R. B.||Hardy, Rt. Hon. Laurence|
|Bull, Sir Wiliam James||Dickson, Rt. Hon. C. Scott||Harris, Henry Percy|
|Burdett-Coutts, W.||Doughty, Sir George||Harrison-Broadley, H. B.|
|Burn, Colonel C. R.||Duke, Henry Edward||Henderson, Major H. (Berks, Abingdon)|
|Hewins, William Albert Samuel||M'Neill, Ronald (Kent, St. Augustine's)||Scott, Sir S. (Maryiebone, W.)|
|Hickman, Colonel T. E.||Magnus, Sir Philip||Smith, Harold (Warrington)|
|Hill, Sir Clement L.||Middlemore, John Throgmorton||Spear, Sir John Ward|
|Hills, John Waller||Mildmay, Francis Bingham||Stan[...]er, Beville|
|Hill-Wood, Samuel||Moore, William||Stanley, Hon. G. F. (Preston)|
|Hoare, Samuel John Gurney||Morrison-Bell, Major A. C. (Honiton)||Stewart, Gershom|
|Hohler, Gerald Fitzroy||Mount, William Arthur||Strauss, Arthur (Paddington, North)|
|Hope, Harry (Bute)||Newman, John R. p.||Swift, Rigby|
|Hope, Major J. A. (Midlothian)||Newton, Harry Kottingham||Sykes. Alan John (Ches., Knutsford).|
|Home, W. E. (Surrey, Guildford)||Nield, Herbert||Talbot, Lord E.|
|Horner, Andrew Long||Norton-Griffiths, John||Terrell, H. (Gloucester)|
|Houston, Robert Paterson||O'Neill, Hon. A. E. B. (Antrim, Mid)||Thynne, Lord Alexander|
|Ingleby, Holcombe||Ormsby-Gore, Hon. William||Touche, George Alexander|
|Jessel, Captain H. M.||Parker, Sir Gilbert (Gravesend)||Tryon, Captain George Clement|
|Joynson-Hicks, William||Parkes, Ebenezer||Ward, A. S. (Herts, Watford)|
|Kebty-Fietcher, J. R.||Pease, Herbert Pike (Darlington)||Warde, Col. C. E. (Kent, Mid)|
|Kerry, Earl of||Peel, Captain R. F. (Woodbridge)||White, Major G. D. (Lancs., Southport)|
|Kimber, Sir Henry||Perkins, Walter F.||Williams, Col. R. (Dorset, W.)|
|Kinloch-Cooke, Sir Clement||Peto, Basil Edward||Willoughby, Major Hon. Claud|
|Knight, Captain E. A.||Pollock, Ernest Murray||Wills, Sir Gilbert|
|Law, Rt. Hon. A. Bonar (Bootle)||Pretyman, Ernest George||Wilson, A. Stanley (York, E.R.)|
|Lawson, Hon. H. (T. H'mts, Mile End)||Pryce-Jones, Col. E.||Winterton, Earl|
|Lee, Arthur H.||Rawlinson, John Frederick Peel||Wolmer, Viscount|
|Lewhham, Viscount||Rawson, Colonel Richard H.||Wood, John (Stalybridge)|
|Lloyd, G. A.||Rees, Sir J. D.||Worthington-Evans, L.|
|Locker-Lampson, G. (Salisbury)||Roberts, S. (Sheffield, Ecclesall)||Wortley, Rt. Hon. C. B. Stuart-|
|Locker-Lampson, O. (Ramsey)||Rolleston, Sir John||Wyndham, Rt. Hon. George|
|Lockwood, Rt. Hon. Lt.-Col. A. R.||Rutherford, John (Lancs., Darwen)||Yate, Col. Charles Edward|
|Lonsdale, Sir John Brownlee||Rutherford, Watson (L'pool, W. Derby)||Younger, Sir George|
|Lowe, Sir F. W. (Birm., Edgbaston)||Salter, Arthur Claveil|
|Lyttelton, Rt. Hon. A. (Hanover Sq.)||Sanders, Robert A.||TELLERS FOR THE NOES—Mr.|
|Lyttelton, John. J. C. (Droitwich)||Sandys, G. J.||Barnston and Mr. Orde-Powlett.|
|Macmaster, Donald||Sassoon, Sir Philip|
§ Committee report Progress; to sit again upon Wednesday next (8th January).