§ Order read for resuming adjourned Debate on Amendment to Question [16th June], "That the Bill be now read a second time."-[Mr. McKenna.]226
§ Which Amendment was to leave out the word "now," and at the end of the Question to add the words "upon this day three months."—[Lord Hugh Cecil.]
§ Question again proposed, "That the word 'now' stand part of the Question." Debate resumed.
§ sir A. GRIFFITH-BOSCAWEN
I desire to make a few remarks on the Second Reading of this Bill. I promise the House that I shall be very brief, and that for two reasons. First of all, I know that there are many other hon. Members who desire to speak in this Debate; and, secondly, I candidly confess that I regard the whole of these proceedings as an absolute farce. What the Government are trying to do is exactly what the Prime Minister said in the Debates on the Parliament Bill they would not do—they are trying to smuggle into law a Bill the Second Reading of which they are asking for without having regard to its proper discussion in this House or to public opinion outside. I regard the whole of these proceedings as absolutely farcical and the sooner we get through them the better. It is a matter of common knowledge that there never was a measure so unpopular in the country or in this House as this Bill is. The Home Secretary yesterday referred to by-elections. He was not very fortunate in the selection he made of the by-elections. He referred to Bolton. There was a large reduction in the Liberal majority at Bolton. But if the Home Secretary had taken the trouble to ascertain what has been going on in every part of the country, he would know that at every single by-election the Central Church Committee has had agents and canvassers who have turned hundreds of votes upon this question against the Government. I can give the House one example that came under my own personal observation. We had an agent at the by-election at Newmarket He canvassed a large number of Liberal Churchmen and others opposed to the Bill, and I know for a fact that he obtained promises from a sufficient number of Liberals who had never voted Unionist before to turn the election and convert it into a Unionist victory. I do not say that this alone was responsible for the large majority with which my hon. Friend the Member for Newmarket (Mr. Denison-Pender) got in, but I say that this alone would have put him in, and that is surely quite sufficient for us. What right have the Government, after their 227 declarations on the Parliament Act, to proceed with this measure in face of evidence of that sort? Take another case. The right hon. Gentleman the Financial Secretary (Mr. Masterman) made light of the demonstrations that are held all over the country against this Bill. All I can say is that in every part of the country these demonstrations have been held, and resolutions have been passed in these words:—We will not have our Church dismembered and four of its dioceses Disestablished nn1 Disendowed.I have had the honour of being at many of these demonstrations. That is nothing; what is important is that I have not been to one at which one of the speakers has not been either a known strong Liberal or a Nonconformist. These demonstrations have been most signally successful. What have we to say of the demonstrations on the other side? They cannot get up a decent demonstration. They announced a great demonstration for Whitsuntide, at Cardiff, at which 200,000 were to be present. How many were present? About 2,000; that was all. Let me give another example. Last week there was a demonstration in the Rhondda Valley, which is supposed to be a stronghold of the party opposite. The meeting was held at a place called Williamstown, and a Nonconformist divine was going down to speak in favour of this Bill. What happened? There was an unexpected large attendance. The chairman quickly apprehended that the great majority were against this Bill, and, therefore, he altered the programme, and announced that the Nonconformist divine would not speak on the Disestablishment Bill, but would give a lecture on Church history. Probably his Church history was similar to the Church history of the Home Secretary. A resolution was carried by an immense majority against this Bill. Let us take another case. This is said to be a great national cause. People generally back a great national cause with money, and lately our most recently created Privy Councillor, the right hon. Baronet the Member for Swansea (Sir A. Mond) has been issuing a plaintive appeal in aid of the great national cause in Wales. What has been the response? In the month of March, from the whole of South Wales, he obtained £16 is. 6d., and for the whole of North Wales £8 9s.; that is £25 a month, roughly, for a great national cause, not as much as the salary the 228 right hon. Gentleman draws as a Member of this House. Really, when a nation cannot back a national cause beyond the tune of £25 a month, I think we may say that it is a dead cause, so far as that nation is concerned. That is exactly the thing I want to bring before the House to-night: Liberationism is a dead cause. It is clean gone. I am not relying upon my own view or the view of anybody on this side of the House in saying this. I will take the opinion of two newspapers known to hon. Members 'opposite, the "Daily News" and the "Westminster Gazette." On 27th January, 1912, just when the Bill was being brought in, the "Daily News" wrote this:—One may admit quite candidly that English Nonconformists have not the same grip of Liberationist principles as bad their forefathers in the days of Miall and Bright.What did the "Westminster Gazette" say? Writing much later when the Bill had been in Committee for some time, and after certain small concessions had been made on the Bill, they said this in defence of the Government:—The Government have to reckon with the fact that the Liberationist movement has to a considerable extent lost its hold upon Nonconformists themselves in recent years.I am perfectly certain that if this is not an absolutely dead cause, it is a dying cause Liberationism, separation of the Church from the State, and the secularisation of Endowments were undoubtedly a great cause a few years ago, but that cause has gone, and when we have defeated this Bill we shall never hear of another Bill of a similar kind. I have spoken so far of the feeling in the country, but take the House itself. Does anybody pretend that this Bill is popular in the House? Is it popular on those benches? I know lots of Members on those benches who would be only too glad to see the Bill dead and buried, but it has to be maintained for the purposes of political expediency. Take the majority in this House. After all, this Bill only affects England and Wales. It does affect England as well as Wales. It dismembers the whole Church of England, and England has a right to express itself. But if you take England and Wales and exclude Scotland and Ireland, who have no direct concern with the matter, what do we find? We have a majority against the Bill. There are 250 Unionists Members in England and Wales and only 243 Government Members. Apart from that we know quite well that there are many Members upon those benches who by their 229 voices and their votes time after time have protested against the iniquity of this measure. What is the argument, the solitary argument, for this Bill? It was expressed by the Home Secretary yester-day. It is that there has been for many years a majority returned from Wales in favour of the Bill. He told us that the figures had never been worse from their point of view than twenty-five to nine. That was after the election of 1895. He might also have told us that if he had taken not the number of Members returned but the votes cast he would have found that 42 per cent. on that occasion voted against the Bill, so that if we had had proportional representation we should have had at least fourteen Members. Let us see what the position is. I quite admit that for years past in Wales there has been a sort of pious national aspiration for something called Disestablishment. But whenever a Bill has been brought forward in a concrete form, the movement has gone back, and I am convinced if you could put this Bill to the people of Wales at the present time you would lose a very large number of seats in that country. If I may be permitted to indulge in a personal reminiscence, I would say that I remember making almost precisely the same remark on the Second Reading of the Bill of 1895. I then said that "if an election is fought now in Wales, we should win seats and you will lose seats." After I had made that remark, I happened to be speaking in the Lobby to a number of Members of the Welsh Radical party, and they were convinced that I was wrong. They said to me, "You know nothing about it." One actually went so far as to offer me a wager that he, at all events, would not lose his seat. I thought if he could stretch his Nonconformist conscience so far, I might be tempted to make a similar investment, and we had a level half-crown. He lost his seat in the first fight, but I never got my half-crown. I am not complaining; I will not give his name, but subsequently he came to live in my Constituency as manager of a steam laundry, and we be came great friends, What I said then, I repeat now. In 1895 the election was taken directly upon this issue, and we won more seats than we had had for many years before, or than we have had since in Wales, and I am convinced that if an election could be taken now on that one Bill, and no other, we should win a great many more seats in Wales than we hold at the present time.
230 I want to say one word upon what I can only regard as the misrepresentations by which this Bill is being committed to the country at the present time. It is not put fairly before the country by those Gentlemen who support it. Let me give one example. There was an election at Altrincham the other day, and it did not result entirely favourably to hon. Gentlemen opposite. During that election the Welsh Church question was prominent. How did the Government supporters deal with it They went about telling the farmers that if the Bill passed, there would be a remission of tithes so far as they are concerned. Does the right hon. Gentleman deny that? If so, I will read a quotation from the "Manchester Evening News," which circulates in the Division, and which is the official Government paper there. Its issue of the 21st May contained the following paragraph:—In Wales the abolition of the tithe would give very substantial relief to the farmers; but in matters affecting the Church in Wales, religion, according to Mr. Hamilton, must come before politics, and as the Disestablishment and Disendowment of the Church in the Principality would destroy a Christain religion in Wales, and even result in four bishops, good Conservatives all, no doubt being removed from the House of Lords—well, the Welsh farmers need not look in that direction for relief.That declaration contains two grievous misstatements. In the first place, four bishops will not be removed from the House of Lords under this Bill, as this House knows, because although the four Welsh bishops would not sit there, four other English bishops would sit there. In the next place, the suggestion that the tithes would not have to be paid by the farmer in the case of the Bill passing is, as everybody knows, absolutely untrue. But I may take a far more grievous misrepresentation—I mean the misrepresentation put forward by the Home Secretary, who, I regret to see, is not here, for I would not wish to charge him with misrepresentation in his absence. The misrepresentation to which I refer is that the Church in Wales would only lose £50,000 or £60,000 a year if this Bill passes. The Home Secretary in argument yesterday with my right hon. Friend the Member for St. George's, Hanover Square (Mr. A. Lyttelton) tried to make out that he never said that, but he said it most clearly in this House on the 10th January this year. These were his words:—We started with an income for the representative body under the Bill of £102,000. Adding this £70.000 (that is, the interest on the commutation money), we get £172,000, and, consequently, if the Ecclesiastical Commissioners and the Governors of Queen Anne's Bounty are willing to give this money,231 —he was here referring to another £31,000—in future to the income of the Disestablished Church, its Endowments, say, from gifts, will be £203,000 a year."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 10th January, 1913, cols. 1567 and 1568, Vol. XLVI.]Its total Endowments now are £260,000. What did that mean but that the Church would only lose £57,000 a year under this Bill? He went much further. He published a White Paper in the House of Lords, and gave us what he called the Church's Balance Sheet after Disestablishment. After putting down the present income of £260,000, and various items which the Church would have udder this Bill if it passed, he brought out a deficit of £51,338. I venture to say that this statement that the Church would only lose £50,000 or £60,000—I notice that the Home Secretary is not sure of his figures, for sometimes he says £50,000 and at other times £60,000 a year—is an absolute travesty of the whole situation. What you are taking away from the Church is £168,000 a year. How does the Home Secretary get his £50,000 or £60,000? He does it in this way. He says that the present value of the life interest is £2,000,000. The interest on that is £70,000 or £75,000 a year. He gives that as the future income of the Church, but if the money is to pay the life interest, how can it remain the permanent income of the Church'? In order to get this figure, you are assuming that the Church people will find £50,000 or £60,000 a year. Let me put this to hon. Members. This money is to pay the life interest. What will happen? In the first year the life interest will amount to £158,000; £75,000 will not pay that, and you will have to expend part of the capital to provide it, and every year you will have to go on expending part of the capital. The chances are that, under the exceedingly ungenerous scheme of commutation which you have given us, before the last life interest has expired the whole of the capital will be eaten up. How, then, can you call it a permanent Endowment of the Church? Take another case. The right hon. Gentleman reckons on £31,000 a year coming from the Ecclesiastical Commission and Queen Anne's Bounty. What is that money? It is money now given on the average to the Church in the way of augmentation of capital. He treats that as income in the future. He puts it on the income of the Church after Disendowment. No wonder that the Ecclesiastical Commissioners 232 wrote to the right hon. Gentleman and objected to his jugglery with figures. What did they say?—As the Memorandum purports to be based on information contained in the return presented to the Welsh Church Commission by Sir Lewis Dibdin, First Church Estates Commissioners, on behalf of the Governors of Queen Anne's Bounty and of the Ecclesiastical Commissioners, the Commissioners desire to point out that this conclusion is not supported by the information furnished by the return and is erroneous, in fact.4.0 p.m.
How on earth can you include this £31,000 in the balance sheet in that way? You leave it out from one side of the balance sheet. You do not include it in the present income of the Church, but you put it in as being a sum the Church will enjoy after Disendowment. If you include it on one side, you must include it upon the other. The right hon. Gentleman the Member for St. George's, Hanover Square, made some comparisons of the Home Secretary which were not altogether complimentary. This Church balance sheet the Home Secretary has sent round reminds me of nothing so much as the front page of a prospectus of a very fishy company. Much as I admire the Home Secretary, I think he would earn a greater reputation and certainly more money in the rôle of company promoter than by plundering the Church or letting the suffragettes in and out of prison. There is only one more point with which I will deal The Government take great credit to themselves for what they call the generous concessions they have made during the course of this Bill. Let us look at those concessions. What do they give us? First of all, the Welsh part of the Royal Bounty Fund in the hands of Queen Anne's Bounty, which amounts, roughly, to £9,000 a year. How they could refuse to give us that I cannot make out, because every penny of the Royal Bounty Fund is long subsequent to 1662, the date which they take as their starting point, after which everything is to be taken away, and it is all derived from the savings on dues levied upon clergymen themselves. Then they give us the Parliamentary Grants, which amount to £5,000 a year. In doing that they have destroyed not the best, but the chief argument they used in favour of Disendowment. Their usual argument for Disendowment is that this is national property and. has been derived from the State—the only part of the Church's property that is derived from the State—and which we admit is so derived, that they give us back under the Bill, and they confiscate every- 233 thing that comes from private sources. I want to ask how were these concessions obtained? We know quite well what the Home Secretary says. He made the concessions because he said he was impressed by the arguments, and because he saidhis sole and earnest desire was to do justice.That is a very nice sentiment, but, unfortunately for the Home Secretary, a member of the Welsh Radical party entirely gave him away. What happened was this. There was great indignation in Wales among the arch-enemies of the Church at these concessions. They held a convention in Cardiff, and the Home Secretary was expected to be there. As a matter of fact he did not go, and one paper said it was not safe for him to go. [An HON. MEMBER: "Because of the suffragettes."] I do not know who was going to attack him. I thought it was the Welsh party, but it may have been the suffragettes. I did not know that the Welsh party's conventions were invariably attended by suffragettes. However, there was great indignation at these concessions, and a great many different reasons were put forward why they were made. Among other things it was suggested that the hon. Member for Carmarthen Boroughs (Mr. Llewel3Tn Williams), who used language of great indignation in this House upon these concessions, had himself drafted a Resolution enabling the Home Secretary to make them. After a good deal of discussion the hon. Member for Mid-Glamorgan (Mr. Hugh Edwards), whom I do not see in his place now, bur who made a very eloquent speech last night, got up and made what the newspapers calla plain, straightforward, unvarnished statement upon the matter.Here is what he said:—Mr. McKenna,' he said, `did come to our meeting and told Os he was being pressed by Liberal Church-men.'that was the meeting of Welsh Radical Members—He said he was afraid he would have to give ii ay. We told him we wanted him to resist it. and he said lie would if lie could. 'Supposing I am forced?' Mr. McKenna asked, and we then said, We leave it to you.' Mr. McKenna went away determined to fall in with our wishes; but it was when the Liberal Churchmen presented the pistol to the head of the Whip that the concessions were made.This, Mr. Speaker, is being impressed with the arguments and with the sole and earnest desire to do justice. J ask the Prime Minister whether he is prepared to go on with a Bill which is being pushed through by methods of that sort? Is that his idea of justice—a pistol at the head of 234 the Whip? Are we coming to this: that under the Parliament Act measures are being forced through against the wish of the great majority in this House, and the often expressed desire of the people, simply because a pistol is held to the head of the Whip by a certain section in this House? I am sure the Prime Minister does not wish to believe that. This little recital of what occurred is very interesting, for two reasons. First of all, it shows the strong and conscientious objection to the Bill which was held by many Members upon the other side of the House; secondly, it shows that the real backers of this Bill, the people who are behind the Welsh party in this House, the wild men from Wales, are animated by one feeling, and one feeling only, that of absolute bitterness towards the Church, envy, strife and malice, and that their one desire is to plunder the Church of every possible farthing if they can. Against that we intend to fight.
There has been a talk about compromise. We do not want any compromise. When we are fighting people animated by that spirit no sort of compromise is possible. We intend to fight against it because we hold it is one of the most iniquitous measures ever brought before this House. Is it pretended that you are proposing to do this because you believe we should do better as a Church without Endowments? If so, why do not you give up your own Endowments at once? Is it pretended that this Bill is going to benefit religion? I venture to say you are going to strike a knock-down blow at the Church, and not benefit any other religion. Your policy is pure secularisation. It comes to this: that because a certain section in Wales do not choose to avail themselves of the benefits which follow from the Endowments of the Church there, they say nobody else shall enjoy these Endowments. Is it in the interests of the State? Does the State want £158,000 a year? At a time like this, when wt are presented with a Budget of £195,000,000, does the State want £158,000 a year? We do not know for what purpose you want the money. You have changed the object over and over again. You talked about your museum, your baths and washhouses. You are ashamed of that, so you have taken them out of the Bill. Your one object, so far as I can see, is to deprive the Church of her Endowments. We hold that this Bill is thoroughly unjust. Looking at the dismemberment hart of it, I ask what right has Parliament, without the desire of the 235 Church, to dismember our Church and to break up Convocation I Parliament never united the Churches of England and Wales, for they were one Church long before the two countries became one. We had representatives of the Welsh dioceses sitting in the Convocation of Canterbury 150 years before we had the advantage of Welsh Members sitting in the House of Commons. I say that upon this Bill there can be no compromise. We will fight it to the end, and we believe we shall succeed.
§ The PRIME MINISTER (Mr. Asquith)
I expressed my views upon the principles involved in this Bill at considerable length in the speech which I made on the Second Reading last year, and I am free to confess to the House that I have nothing substantial to add and nothing to take away from the consideration which I 'then put forward. As the controversy has proceeded from that time to this there has been, I am afraid, a growing embitterment of feeling both upon the one side and the other. I am speaking the language of absolute sincerity when I say that I think for myself it is just as unfair to use the language which I heard with great regret fall from the hon. Member who has just sat down, who otherwise made a very interesting speech, in which he attributed the whole force and driving power in the movement for Disestablishment in Wales to the lowest motives, spite, envy, voracity—I think it is just as unfair to represent in that light the motives of those who are in favour of Disestablishment as I myself should think it unfair to represent the motives of the hon. Gentleman and his Friends, in defending the possession of the Endowments of the Church, as being due to anything better than greedy self-interest. It is the most lamentable illustration of the fact, which I am sorry to say is attested by the experience of history, not in this or that controversy, but in a hundred controversies, that whenever the matter proceeds upon an ecclesiastical ground, there is exhibited a bitterness of partisanship and an uncharitableness of temper which in purely secular controversies we are generally able to avoid. In the very few observations I am going to make I am not going, certainly with any minuteness, into the question of what movement of opinion there has been indicated by either electoral or Parliamentary statistics upon one side or the other. The more we hear about the by- 236 elections which have taken place the more mysterious the problem becomes. After we have had a few more Debates on other Bills besides the Home Rule Bill and this Bill, it will puzzle the most ingenious calculator in this House to say what was or what was not the determining factor in each election. But, so far as this House is concerned, if there be any movement of opinion, the figures are rather striking. I find that whilst the First Reading of this Bill was carried by a majority of 78, the Third Reading was carried by a majority of 107. Excluding the Irish Members, whom we are told we ought to exclude, the Government majority was 39, and while when I recall my own experiences in conducting a similar Bill, nearly twenty years ago, through Committee, we had majorities of eight and ten, I find that the average majority in Committee on this Bill was I10. From the Parliamentary point of view, then, it does not appear as if there had been much set back in the course of the year.
But I do not want to waste time upon that. I want to approach what seems to me the most serious argument that has yet been developed in the course of these Debates, which was presented by the Noble Lord (Lord Hugh Cecil) in his Motion to reject the Bill on the Second Reading. I only say this by way of preliminary—it does not go to the merits of the controversy—but I think the Noble Lord will agree with me, that this is not the occasion on which we can appropriately rediscuss the merits or the policy of the Parliament Act. The argument which the Noble Lord put forward yesterday, as far as I can understand it, is that whenever a contentious measure is seriously resisted by a substantial minority on the Second Reading in this House, instead of its proceeding again a second and a third time, as it has to do under the Parliament Act, to test whether the opinion of the House, and the opinion of the country as reflected in the House, remains the same, or substantially the same, it ought to be submitted to a special Referendum. That argument is absolutely destructive, as I have often pointed out, of the very foundation of representative government. We never heard of any such suggestion during the ten years in which the Noble Lord and his Friends exercised undisputed domination over the legislation of this House. Bill after Bill was passed through the House of Commons, often in 237 the teeth of a resolute and determined minority, accepted by the House of Lords without demur, and passed into law, not in the second, nor yet in the third, but in the first Session. My Parliamentary memory is absolutely blank as to any suggestion being made or any countenance given to any suggestion from those who sat then on this side of the House that it should be in the power of a minority to demand a reference back to electors. It is a totally novel doctrine invented during the last few years under the stress of the popular indignation excited by the action of another Chamber.
§ The PRIME MINISTER
The situation is different in this respect, that the Noble Lord and his Friends are now in Opposition.
§ Lord HUGH CECIL
The situation is different because in those days there were two Chambers, both with equal power. Now there is only one.
§ The PRIME MINISTER
In those days there were two Chambers, one of which contented itself with being an automatic registering machine. Although I am far from saying our present constitutional arrangements are perfect, it is both the intention and the hope of the Government to make them much more perfect than they are; but I must, say in reply to the Noble Lord that they are infinitely better than they were. In other words, the safeguards which we now have that the will of the people shall prevail, though not complete, I agree, are still very much more effective than they were during the tenure of office of the Unionist Government. I want to deal, and deal quite seriously, with the arguments which the Noble Lord brought forward on what I admit is a solid ground of principle, both from the point of view of the ethics and from the point of view of the policy of the proposals which this Bill embodies. Let me try, if I can, to state in the strongest possible way against myself what I conceive to be the Noble Lord's position on what I may call the ethical standpoint. It was directed mainly, I think not exclusively, rather to the question of Disendowment than of Disestablishment, and the position is this. He says these Endowments, going back to the very distant days when most of them were created, were not given by the donors to the Church because it was a National 238 Church—that was not in their minds at all—they were given to the Church as such.
The Noble Lord went on to say that no mediaeval donor, when he was providing these benefactions, gave them for the purpose, or at any rate primarily for the purpose, of education or for the relief of the poor or of distress, but for the maintenance of the services of the Church, and that therefore it followed in point of justice and historical accuracy that if these Endowments were to be taken away from the Church of England in Wales, they, or the part which was taken away, ought not to be applied for the benefit of the Welsh community either locally or as a whole, but to be restored to the Roman Catholic Church. I think that is a fair statement of the Noble Lord's argument. I confess it surprised me very much, and that for many reasons. I have been good humouredly taken to task by my own Friends, and a great deal cited by my opponents as having laid down the position that there is a substantial unity and continuity between the mediaeval or pre-Reformation Church in this country and the Church as it has existed since the Reformation from the definite point of view of a spiritual and religious body.
§ Lord HUGH CECIL
I do not want the right hon. Gentleman to misrepresent me as saying that the Roman Catholics had a good claim. I said expressly they had not a good claim, but a better claim than the county councils.
§ The PRIME MINISTER
I am coming to that presently, but let me proceed by steps. That is the position which twenty years ago, when I was perhaps more familiar, or fresher, with the general historical research than circumstances have since allowed me to be, I said seemed to me to be established by history, and I am not at all satisfied that I was wrong. That has been accepted, adopted, and quoted by the Church Establishment in Wales as one of their argumentative, or perhaps rhetorical, sheet anchors. How does that fit in with the Noble Lord's argument? I was laying down the proposition that the Church of England was one identical, continuous, spiritual entity. I never said the Establishment. In the very same speech, and, indeed, in the very same context—and in this respect I have a right to complain of the manner in which my statements have been used—I clearly distinguished between the unity and identity and continuity of the Church as a spiritual body and its 239 position as an Establishment and its title to these Endowments. I pointed out that whether or not the view which I held, which was sanctioned by the highest historical authorities, as to its spiritual continuity, was true or not at the Reformation and in the legislation of the Reformation, this Parliament assumed the title—and it was a title which was acquiesced in by the Church at the time—and prescribed the term as to doctrine, as to ceremonial, as to jurisdiction, as to supremacy—prescribed every one of the terms upon which every ecclesiastical benefice either in England or in Wales should be held. Let me go back. If, as I believed then, and still believe to be the case, the Church of England was a National Church, and not a mere branch or appendage of the Roman Church, how are you going to say that these pious benefactors of the past, owing to whose beneficence the Welsh Endowments, as well as the English Endowments, were accumulated, had not in their mind and in their view the conviction that they were giving aid to a National Church, to a Church which to them represented, as in those days before our unhappy modern divisions had developed and accentuated themselves, in the days when the Church and the State were co-extensive, England and Wales, spiritually, as the State represented it. on its national side. The Noble Lord is not entitled, at any rate, to leave out of view as a determining element or factor in the case that if you are to look into the presumed intentions of those dim and shadowy figures in the past, if you are to dive into their presumed intentions and interpret them as we may try to interpret them, and to divorce from those intentions the fact that they did intend benefiting the State, the community of England and \Vales, as well as the Church itself.
Let us go a step further. The Noble Lord said, and I agree with him, that it would be a very material element in the case if it were so, that they had regard, not to education, not to the relief of distress, but to making provision for the offices and services of the mediaeval Church. Does the Noble Lord really think it is so? Just let him consider. Take Oxford and Cambridge, Eton and Windsor, St. Alban's, and the noble benefactions out of which those great foundations were created by mediæval Churchmen themselves, what is their object? I agree they intended to keep up 240 those places and to make permanent provision for the offices and services of the Church, but who shall say that they had not at least as much my view—in some cases, I think one may say, and say quite truly, even more prominently and intimately in view, the making provision for education, for learning, and for research? It is an historical calumny upon the memory of the great benefactors of the Church of England, whether in England or in Wales, in mediæval times, to represent them as having been animated by the simple and exclusive desire to make permanent provision for what I may call the more mechanical side of the work of the Church.
They were men who had in view in all these great Endowments not merely religious purposes, though I agree as to the importance of provision for the services of the Church, but also the enrichment, improvement, and development of the moral and intellectual life of the community among which they lived. On these grounds I should entirely deny—and I think it follows if what I have said is historically accurate—the validity of the Noble Lord's conclusion, that if there were two claimants coming into the field and asking now in the interest, or the supposed interest of the community—I leave that an open question—that a certain portion of these funds which are going to be diverted from purely religious purposes, by which I mean the services and ordinances of the Church—and if on the one hand the Roman Catholic Church, and on the other hand the community, whether it be the State at large or a large number, were to claim that portion of funds which are local in intention, ambit, and application, in every sense—whether it be the community at large or some smaller area which was originally intended to benefit by them—the arbiter who had to determine that dispute by reference to the intention, or the presumed intention, of the donors must decide in favour, not of the Roman Catholic Church, but in favour of the community. I hope I have dealt with the argument of the Noble Lord. I submit that, for the reasons I have laid before the House, there is an ample, and indeed an abounding, case to justify the principles which lie behind this measure. I do not think we are under an obligation to go back in this matter, though I am not afraid to do so, because every argument which the Noble Lord so well presented to the House yesterday with a single exception, 241 namely, what is called the dismemberment of the Church by the separation of four dioceses from the Province of Canterbury—with that exception which is peculiar to this case, every one of the arguments was presented with equal amplitude and seriousness, and quite as distinctly in the discussions on the Disestablishment and Disendowment of the Irish Church. There is not a single point which the Noble Lord made yesterday which was not made then and met by Mr. Gladstone, one of the best Churchmen and most devoted sons of the Anglican Church that ever lived in this country.
I said a moment ago that there was one point which I admit to be peculiar to this Bill, and which is not, directly speaking, involved in the Irish Church question, and that is what is called the dismemberment or the Province of Canterbury. But there w as something equally serious and of an analogous kind, and that was that the principal Churches of England and Ireland were by the Act of Union united and described, as they are in that instrument, as a united Church. Anybody who is as old as I am and can carry his memory back to the controversies of that day will remember that one of the great arguments used was analogous to this one, that you are cutting asunder the union between these two Churches, which is not merely a union of tradition, convention, or history, a secular union, but a union actually sanctioned by solemn treaty. It is a matter of history that Queen Victoria herself was much exercised whether her, Assent to the Act would not involve a breach of the Coronation Oath which she had pledged herself to maintain in the Act of Union. That was an analogous difficulty which was overruled by larger considerations of policy. What does this question of dismemberment amount to? Everybody knows that I am not speaking as one in any sense hostile to the Church of England. I am trying to look at this for the moment from the point of view of the Church itself. I have said before, in the most serious and formal way, that I would not give my assent to any measure in this country if I thought it would prejudice the spiritual unity and work of the Church. I say that honestly.
As to the argument derived from Convocation, I confess I attach very little weight to it. Convocation, no doubt, is a very ancient body, but I think that for a hundred and fifty years it lived, if it 242 lived at all, in a state of suspended animation, and from the time it was reintroduced, sixty or severity years ago, I say with the greatest respect to the eminent persons who constitute it, that I doubt very much whether it has contributed effectively to the life and usefulness of the Church of England. I am perfectly certain that the vitality of the Church and its organising power depend, if at all, very slightly indeed on that which is done or riot done in the two houses of the provincial Convocations. But to say that by the legal carrying out of a form of separation between these four dioceses in the Province of Canterbury, to which they now belong, any real, substantial, working obstacle would be interposed to their intimate and continued co-operation and union for all effective Church purposes, is to me an unthinkable proposition. We are ant to be so much immersed in the position, both secular and religious, with which we are familiar, that it requires a certain amount of imagination to conceive. that the position should be otherwise.
Anyone who looks at what is going on in this matter in one or all of the self-governing Dominions, or who sees the growing' tendency, first towards federation, then for union, and finally for fusion, which is so marked a feature of the life of the great Nonconformist bodies in this country—if you refer to what is going on in Scotland at present, one of the most remarkable ecclesiastical phenomena of our time—anyone who is acquainted with these facts, which are perfectly familiar to us, must see that the power of combined, as distinguished from competitive working for ecclesiastical and religious purposes, is coming to be felt more and more not to be dependent upon formal or conventional ties, but upon real spiritual conviction and belief. I confess that I should be disappointed, I should be more than disappointed, if, when this Bill becomes law, it were not found possible to preserve within the actual spiritual area of the Province of. Canterbury, certainly within the limits of the organisation of the Church of England, as much co-operation, and just as much friendly and intimate union for' all practical religious intents and purposes as have existed with such beneficent results hitherto. The Irish Church problem was a more serious problem than this. The sums dealt with were enormously greater, measured merely by material standards. After the diversion of the surplus from the 243 Church to the State, has there ever been any question of going back on what was done. Last night tht Leader of the Opposition interjected a statement to the effect that if this Bill passed into law, it was his intention, or the intention of his party, to take steps, I suppose by legislation, to restore to the Welsh Church the money now proposed to be taken under this Bill. That can be left over for the future. What happened in the case of Ireland The sacrilegious act there was equally great.
§ Mr. BONAR LAW
I should like to put this point. I understood in the course of the Debates on the Parliament Act that the right hon. Gentleman himself said that if this House clearly did anything which was against the will of the people, it would be the duty of the next Parliament to reverse it. I put it to him: Suppose it is clearly shown that you are going against the will of the people now, would it not be our duty to undo this?
§ The PRIME MINISTER
I do not say that it would not, but how it is going to be done is a different matter. What I am pointing out now, and I think it is very relevant, is that every argument used against this change on the grounds of sacrilege, robbery, iniquity, and spoliation was used just as strongly, and with as much conviction, against the Disestablishment and Disendowment of the Irish Church. What happened was that although not very long afterwards a Conservative Government came into power—
§ The PRIME MINISTER
Very likely. At any rate they came into power. What happened? For more than twenty years, for twenty-five years, both parties in the State alike lived from the administrative point of view on the fruits of the sacrilege of the Irish Church. During the whole of Mr. Gladstone's Government, and during the years which followed in Lord Beaconsfield's administration, down to a time within my recollection, every year with almost automatic and mechanical regularity, whenever there was a special Irish emergency, any failure of seed potatoes, or necessity for building harbours in Connemara—purposes of the most secular kind, no matter what it was, they were not confined to education, or museums, or relieving distress—each party in turn dipped its hand into these funds. I do not say that 244 they were wise to do so. A great deal of the expenditure was extremely imprudent. I think that no one in this matter in Wales will be able to attempt anything in the nature of such expenditure. That is due to the moderation of my right hon. Friend. But in this case, where the fund to be resorted to was very large, and in fact was regarded as a kind of Fortunatus purse by the statesmen of both parties, for nearly a Parliamentary generation without any remorse, without thinking of what they had said, or of what their predecessors had said, at a time that this fund was created and placed at the service of the State, they with one accord all used it for the secular incidence of the Irish service. That is the history, which no one who knows the facts will dispute, of what was actually done as the sequel to the Disestablishment and Disendowment of the Irish Church. I do think, and I submit to hon. Gentlemen opposite in all seriousness, that a great deal of the opposition to this Bill, certainly so far as it is founded not upon criticism of details but upon opposition to the principle, is due to a certain lack of imagination. I think that it would he well if they would only put, or try to put themselves in the position of the Welsh people, if they would only think of themselves as the majority of the Welsh people now actually find themselves, and when they do that, do not let them imagine that it is irrelevant, for it is not, to leave out of account that which has gone on in the past. The attitude of the people—I am not going into any nice questions of nationality—if there is anything in the nature of a distinctive life and history in regard particularly to its spiritual and ecclesiastical concerns, is largely governed not merely by the actual circumstances and considerations of the moment, but by the past, through which they have gone, and the memories which they and their fathers have inherited.
§ The PRIME MINISTER
That is one of the great difficulties about Ulster, I quite agree. I have always said that.
§ The PRIME MINISTER
The hon. Gentleman is simply giving another illustration, not by any means an impertinent one, of how important it is in these 245 matters to have regard not merely to the material and financial, or even the ecclesiastical conditions of the existing moment, but to the garnered memories, the stored up traditions, prepossessions, prejudices if you like, antipathies if you like, of the people with whom you are dealing. No wise statesmanship can ignore those things. They swell together like tributaries which come together and by their confluence form that strange mixed and almost un-analysable product which we call the volume of national feeling and national opinion. I ask hon. Gentlemen to put themselves in the position of Welsh people and to remember what went on in the centuries of the past. We have seen the spiritual life of Wales built up—there is no question about this, this is a matter of history—during the eighteenth and the early part of the nineteenth centuries, not by this great Church with its traditions and Endowments, but built up by the men whom the Church would not have within its walls, Churchmen in origin and in sentiment, men who would have liked to live and die in the Church, who were not allowed to do so, while the Establishment itself was, as everyone knows, used as a convenience and as an appendage largely for English political purposes. I agree that that has gone, that it is a thing of the past, and no one has said more clearly and frequently than I that the Church of England in Wales during the lifetime of this generation has nobly attempted, and with great success, to overtake the arrears of a past which no one I am certain laments more than she does now, and to establish a new title to the affection and devotion of the Welsh people. But there again the Church lost, as so many institutions have lost in this country, the golden opportunity. There are certain opportunities which can never be recovered. The Welsh people, as they now have shown and have been showing by the persistent demands of their electors during the lifetime of more than a generation, are determined at last to achieve within their borders complete religious equality.
§ Mr. HOARE:
It, is always difficult for one like myself to follow the Prime Minister. It is doubly difficult in the case of one who has often taken part in the Debate which we had last year, and from whose speeches any freshness they may have had has gone. The Prime Minister to-day gave us a conspicuous example of the difficulties in which we have been placed during this Debate. He 246 brought forward a number of historical arguments. No one is better qualified to make those arguments than he is, but if we had the time and if the House desired it I believe that we could put forward other historical arguments which would contradict the conclusions which he drew. He joined issue, for instance, with my Noble Friend the Member for Oxford University as to the length of time during which the Established Church has been in existence. Upon that it seems that we must only hold divergent views. Let me say in passing—he made a statement which seems to me of great value—even he, holding the views that, he does, admitted that for 350 years we have had an unquestioned title to our Endowments. Again, with reference to the argument that he used as to Establishment, he read the Tudor Settlement in one way. We read it in another. It was the same again with dismemberment. I own that I was surprised when he told the House that because the Act of Union contained a provision as to the Irish Church, to Disestablish it was a more difficult thing to do than to break up a relationship which, although not enclosed in the four corners of an Act of Parliament, has existed for 500 or 1,000 or 1,500 years. But these are examples of the difficulties in which we have been placed in the Debates which we had in the earlier part of the year. These questions of historical fact cannot really be settled in argument and Debate in this House at all. I have ventured to support the suggestion which was made by a great Free Churchman, Dr. Meyer, that they should be referred for arbitration to some impartial arbitrator or some expert tribunal. I have quoted them to-day to show the difficulties in which we are placed in arguing matters which are—and I say it with all deference—really not within the cognisance of this House at I would now draw the attention of the House not so much to what the Prime Minister has just said, but what he said on the 11th February, 1911. I think that his words were directly germane to the stage of this controversy in which we are now engaged. He said in introducing the Parliament Bill:—Further, the delay of three Sessions or of two years when the suspensory veto of the House of Lords is interposed precludes the possibility—and I say this with the utmost assurance—of covertly or arbitrarily smuggling into law measures which are condemned by public opinion, and it will at the same time ensure an ample opportunity for the reconsideration and revision of hasty and slovenly-legislation. Lastly—247 and this I venture to say is very germane to the intervention of the Leader of the Opposition—and this is certain as daylight—in ninety-nine cases out of one hundred the new House of Commons both could and would reverse legislation Which had been shown by the General Election to be opposed to the will of the masses of the electors.For the purpose of my immediate argument I confine my attention to the first of those paragraphs which I have quoted. The Prime Minister will not, I think, say that I misrepresent him when I say that he advocated the Parliament Bill in the first place, as a safeguard against the passage of unpopular Bills, and, in the second place, as an instrument for the reconsideration and revision of hasty and slovenly legislation. The question that we have to ask ourselves to-day is: First, is this Bill an example of hasty and slovenly legislation? If the answer be in the affirmative we should be given a full and free opportunity for revision and amendment. I group the details which are contained in the Bill under three heads and apply that test to each of these three groups. As far as I can understand them the details of the Bill concern the future government of the Disestablished Church, the rights of individual citizens and the allocation of the funds. I maintain that in each of those three groups there are details in Clauses of this Bill which must lead to confusion, and which very likely may make the Bill in certain directions unworkable if we are not able to amend them on such an occasion as this. The Clauses dealing with the future government of the Church bristle with difficulties as to the constitution of the new body, as to the institutions with which its discipline will be maintained, as to the relations which will be exercised with the English Church. In each of these directions I believe that there is no ecclesiastical lawyer who will deny that amendment is necessary if the purpose of the Bill is to be carried out. Then there is the group of details connected with the rights of individual citizens. Up to now the existence of the parochial system, whilst in your view it has given certain privileges to the Church, has at the same time imposed certain obligations upon it.
As the Bill now stands we are left in doubt as to which of these obligations is to continue, and as to which of those privileges have been abolished. Take only two instances—the instance with reference to burial grounds and the instance with reference to the marriage law. The right hon. 248 Gentleman will remember that after the passing of the Irish Disestablishment Act into law there was no question which occasioned greater difficulty than the relations connected with the marriage law in Ireland. I am told by those who are well qualified to speak, that the Clauses at the present embodied in this Bill, and which I would remind the House, have not been discussed for a single moment in this House, bristle with difficulties for the future unless they are amended. Lastly, there is the great question with reference to the allocation of funds. The contention of the Home Secretary and other Members of the Government who have spoken from that bench, is that English money should not be taken into the funds which the Commissioners will administer when the Disestablishment and Disendowment Bill becomes law. On more than one occasion we pointed out, I might almost say with the assent of the Home Secretary, that there was probability, not to put it higher, that certain English funds would be confiscated, as the Bill now stands. That example is sufficient, to show that, in regard to the great group of questions connected with Endowments, if the purpose of your Bill is to be carried out, amendment is necessary. Yet what are we told? We are told that, though ninety-nine out of one hundred Members in this House may agree that amendment in one or other of those ways is necessary, not a single comma or a single syllable is to be altered. First of all then I say that the first assurance which the Prime Minister gave us, when introducing the Parliament Act, two years ago, is being falsified. I come to the second kind of Bill with which he dealt, and here again I desire to test what he then said by the Clauses of this Bill.
Can it be said that this Bill has behind it a stable body of public opinion? In answering that question, I pass by the number of petitions which were presented. I pass by the analysis of by-elections that have taken place, and I concentrate my attention upon two facts, and two facts only. I concentrate my attention, first of all, on the conduct of Members in this House, and, in the second place, on the confessions of prominent supporters of the Disestablishment campaign outside this House. What happened in this House during the course of the Bill last autumn? Hon. Members on this side of the House were interested, were even amused, at the negotiations which, we were informed, were continually going on 249 between this or that section of the party opposite. We had examples of their differences in this House; still more, we had examples of their differences in the Division Lobby. Surely, when on a measure of first-class importance the Government majority falls in one critical Division to sixty, in another to forty, and a third to thirty, we have a right to draw the conclusion that Members opposite are not quite certain whether they have a sustained and stable body of public opinion behind them! When a party is sure that it has behind it public opinion, or to put it even lower than that, when it is sure that it has behind it a strong and sustained body of party opinion, it does not behave like that in the House or in the Division Lobby. Let us pass from the conduct of Members opposite within the House to the confessions of prominent supporters of the Disestablishment campaign outside the House. My hon. and gallant Friend gave an instance drawn from the accounts of the Liberation Society, and, in connection with that, let me quote an extract from an interview which took place between a representative of the "South Wales Daily News" and a gentleman well qualified to speak about the fortunes of the Disestablishment campaign—the Secretary of the Disestablishment Campaign Committee. The interviewer asked:—And what are the Central Campaign Committee doing to counteract this work?This is the secretary's answer:—Unfortunately, our resources are exceedingly small. The Central Campaign Committee are only too ready to increase their efforts likewise, but our financial resources are more limited than those of our opponents. As a matter of fact, the support from supporters of the. Bill in Wales has been most inadequate. Our friends in Wales have hardly realised the, necessity for a great campaign in England. Hitherto we have relied on our English friends to a great extent for our financial support.I would ask the House to note that last sentence. Surely that is an example of the fact that even in Wales there is not that strong and stable body of public opinion in favour of your proposal which you ask us to believe. Let me strengthen this part of my argument by another quotation. I understand that one of the strongest papers in support of the Disestablishment campaign in Wales is a vernacular paper known as the "Tyst." In the issue, of 10th April I find this passage:—The Members must he in the House with the utmost regularity and stay there day and night to watch the covert movements of the Opposition. That is our only hope of obtaining Disestablishment in any fashion whatever. To obtain it anyhow? Yes, we fear it may come to that, even if we get it.250 That extract does not seem to me to correspond with the tone of that confident exultation that we heard a year or two years ago. I maintain that, in view of the conduct of Members in this House, and in view of the confessions of prominent supporters outside, the two assurances which the Prime Minister gave have not been carried out. When I ask myself the reason, I own that I do not think the answer is far to seek. I do not believe that this reaction, to call it nothing more, against the Welsh Disestablishment Bill, is an example of the fickleness of the electorate. I believe it, has come about because the grounds of your arguments have been cut from under your feet. My hon. and gallant Friend alluded to the extraordinary changes that have modified the Liberationist campaign during the last generation. Fifty years ago Liberationist was a power in the land; it was a part of the general system of political thought under which it was considered as wrong for the State to set its foot in the factory as it was for it to set its foot in the Church. I believe that body of thought has now been shaken to its foundation. As an example of that, I turn to the course which the Debate took in this House during the autumn. Let me give the House two examples of the distance we have travelled from the Liberationists of a generation ago. A prominent Member on the other side, and one who is well qualified to speak on this question—the hon. Member for Ipswich—actually proposed that the State should take over the cathedrals and should hold them on behalf of the various denominations. A proposal of that kind would have made Dr. Dale and Mr. Miall turn in their graves. Let me take another instance, one of the many which could be taken from the Clause under which you re-establish the Disestablished Church, The Liberationists thirty or forty years ago would have said, "Separate the Church from the State, but leave the Church absolutely free to reconstitute itself on whatever basis it desires." This Bill goes, I do not say in a contrary direction, but it does contravene that theory in a whole variety of ways and manners. I could amplify that argument, but it is sufficient simply to state it, for I do not believe anyone will dispute it.
If I want a further example outside I have only to turn to the many evidences which we have on every hand that what 251 was known as voluntaryism a generation ago has now broken down. We see it in the efforts which are being made by every Nonconformist body in England and Wales not to cut itself off from the ancient Endowment of the past, but, whether it be by sustentation fund or forward movement, or centenary fund, to raise endowments to help themselves in the future. These two instances seem to me to be conclusive of the general change that has come over political thought with reference to the Liberationist doctrines of a generation ago. I say, then, that there is no sustained body of public opinion, whatever there may have been thirty years ago, behind your Bill to-day. In view of these facts, I ask myself the question, "Why should this Bill be proceeded with?" Hon. Members opposite might say that it would b.3 insincere in me to give any advice, and to say that by these proposals they will lose votes in the country. Let me only remind the Prime Minister of what one of his colleagues in the '90's said to Sir William Hareourt—I refer to Sir Henry Fowler, a man who was weighty in the counsels of the party opposite. He told Sir William Harcourt, in a, letter which has been published in his "Life," that "he would proceed with the Welsh Disestablishment Bill at his cost." He went further, and said that it would "lose him Derby and his majority in this House." Many issues may have entered into elections in those days just as they enter into elections of to-day, but I ant quite confident that behind the defeat of the Radical party in 1895 was the fact that a great body of Churchmen, many of whom may have been Liberals, in an unostentatious way cast their votes against the party which they had supported in the past.
But after all, it is something more, than a question of winning or gaining votes or winning this or that election. The Prime Minister, in what I thought was the weightiest part of his speech, asked us English Members who are opposed to this Bill to do what we could to put ourselves into the position of Welsh Members opposite. I have ventured to try to do so. I see that Welsh Members opposite are proud of their national history. I see that they possess aspirations for greater national recognition, and I see, further, that they demand, whether that demand be just or riot, new institutions for the expression of their national ideals. The oldest instituion, the sole institution which has existed 252 unbroken in Wales for many centuries is the Established Church. I am aware that in the past it has had its faults. Its activities have been restricted: its ideals may have been obscured. Against what other institution could not the same charge be made? In spite of all its faults and failings, surely in the hands of Welshmen it might prove in the future a great instrument for national regeneration. I say to them, therefore, do not cripple it in its efforts. That was not the mind of the great leaders of the Methodist revival in the eighteenth century. Griffith Jones was a Churchman who loved the Church. Howell Harris saw its faults, but yet he forbade anyone to leave it. These are his words:—We do not find the Apostle St. Paul urging the Corinthians to leave the Church of Corinth although it was guilty of marry irregularities.To William Williams the doctrine of the old reformers as set forth in the articles of the Church of England was only next in value to the Bible itself. Thomas Charles, a great name in the history of your revival, declared in words than which none could be clearer:—I am a Churchman on principle and shall therefore on no account leave it.Most conspicuous of all, Daniel Rowlands, the most eloquent of all those eloquent men, addressed to his son on his death bed these words. He bade his son "stand by the Church in spite of all." He said:—There will be a great reformation of the Church of England: God has revealed this to me in prayer.I carry the testimony of these witnesses right up to the time when the gulf had been made and when the dissenters from the Church were driven apart. Here is a resolution which was moved in 1834 by another man whose name stands high in the history of Welsh Nonconformity, John Elias:—That we deeply lament the nature of that agitation, now so prevalent in this Kingdom and which has for its object the severance of the National Church from the State, and other changes m ecclesiastical affairs. We therefore are of opinion that it pertains not unto us to interfere in such matters.I believe that that spirit is not now dead. I have in my hand another quotation from a man whom I believe you respect as one of your leaders. This is what Dr. Campbell Morgan wrote to a correspondent about a year ago:—In these days, when the forces of the devil and materialism are threatening the religious life of the country, I feel that nothing ought to be done to perpetuate strife among the forces of spirituality. Without discussing the question whether the Endowments of Church were all righteously gotten, I am convinced 253 that the Free Churchmen would greatly add to the power of their spiritual testimony if they left the whole of those Endowments to the Episcopal Church.I go further and I say not only leave to the altar the funds which were given for the services of the altar, but do not break the tie which unites your nation to a great institution. I believe that, though for the moment you regard it as feeble and unsympathetic, the time will come when you will find in it a great force for your national regeneration. But, above all, do not at the very outset of your national efforts connect your aspirations with an attempt to plunder and to degrade the most ancient institution you Possess in the Principality of Wales.
§ Mr. T. H. PARRY
May I claim that indulgence which the House always extends to those who attempt to address it for the first time? I hope that I may have a little more even than the usual indulgence, although that is always generous, because I am intervening in the Debate on a subject which must be and which is of a highly controversial nature. I think I have some slight claim to say a very few words on this question, because I had the privilege of fighting a by-election in the Flint Boroughs at the very time when this measure was proceeding last Session through one of its stages in the House of Commons. Therefore I think in justice to my Constituency, and, in a lesser measure, in justice to myself, I ought to say something as to what took place on this particular question at that by-election. It has been stated in this House, and also in another place, that I shirked and eluded this issue at that election, and that therefore this issue was not clearly before the electorate. The hon. and gallant Member for Montgomery Boroughs (Colonel Pryce-Jones) went further and stated in this House, when he spoke on the Third Reading of the Bill, that I refused a challenge to make this question an issue at the election. I understand those charges. They are couched in definite and unmistakable language. I hope to make my reply in equally direct and unmistakable language, and I say those statements are assertions which are incorrect in fact and are unsubstantiated by any evidence whatsoever. If ever there were an issue placed before an electorate at any election, whether a by-election or a General Election, the issue of the Disestablishment and Disendowment of the Church of Wales was that issue at the recent by-election in Flint Boroughs. If hon. 254 Gentlemen opposite had had the opportunity of choosing the battle-ground upon which to fight this issue as far as North Wales is concerned, they could not have chosen a battle - ground more favourable to them than that of Flint Boroughs. First of all, the county of Flint is a border county, with Cheshire on the one side and Shropshire on the other. The boroughs of Flint consist of ten component parts commencing at Overton which lies on the border of Shropshire, passing thence on through the centre of the county through Caergwrle and Mold on to Rhuddlan and St. Asaph. Then it takes in Flint, Bagillt and Greenfield which are on the banks of the Dee to Holywell.
Therefore you have in this constituency an industrial population, a rural population, and also a town population. Reverting to Overton, which is, as it were, a detached portion of Flintshire, it is practically an island surrounded by the land of Shropshire and Denbighshire. Anyone who knows that particular district must admit that it is not Welsh at all, but English in every sense of the word. We have had as well a large influx of people from over the border, and we are glad to see them, and the majority of those people who conic across the border into the Flint Boroughs have always attended the Established Church on Sundays. We also have the ancient city of St. Asaph and the various places in the constituency are within the diocese of the Bishop of St. Asaph. That is a very important matter, because the bishop is not only a man who is an exceedingly able and astute bishop, but a great power not only in Flintshire, but in Wales generally, and as well you have in him a gentleman who not only opposes the present Bill but has always been a stern and strenuous opponent of any measure for the Disestablishment and Disendowment of the Church in Wales. The Boroughs of Flint are not a typical Welsh borough and in fighting a by-election there you are, as it were, fighting a by-election in the Durham or Canterbury or Winchester of North Wales. Let us see what the Liberals did to make this a prominent issue. I placed it in the forefront of my address, and kept it in the forefront of my programme right up to the-end of the campaign. It is quite true that I did fight upon the whole Liberal programme, and that I did not, confine the issue to this one particular question. The reason for that is to me quite a simple and 255 adequate one. I wanted if returned as Member for my native borough, to have the authority of the people and the mandate of my Constituents to allow me to vote for Home Rule and for a Plural Voting Bill and for the Trade Union Bill. I feel sure had I only fought on the question of this issue and been returned on this issue alone I should have been open to the criticism, and the legitimate criticism, of hon. Gentlemen opposite, who could have said to me, "You have no mandate to vote for Home Rule and the other measures which are now before Parliament." In order to avoid that I fought upon the whole political programme.
Speaking personally, may I say I absolutely fail to see why any particular question is less before the electorate because it is one of several questions than if it stood alone. Perhaps hon. Gentlemen opposite might think that the electors would not be able to grasp more than one issue. I do not think they would suggest that of Flint Boroughs. I am quite sure, as far as the Flint Boroughs are concerned, the electors there are sufficiently capable and educated in political matters to understand the whole questions of current politics which are put before them at any particular election. This by-election lasted for about ten working clays. During that time I addressed about thirty meetings, and in every one of those meetings I devoted the major portion of the time allotted to me in dealing, as far as I could, exhaustively and adequately with the Welsh Church question. Not only that, but I had the valuable assistance of many hon. Members who sit on this side and a large contingent of Welsh Members, who dealt with this question in a very exhaustive manner. In addition to that, the Central Welsh Campaign Committee, about which so much has been heard, had gentlemen down there speaking all over the place upon this particular issue. Not only that, but so anxious was I that this question should be put clearly and prominently before the electors that I took good care to see that the Under-Secretary for Home Affairs (Mr. Ellis Griffith) should come down to address meetings on the last day possible for him before the poll. The position of the hon. Member for Anglesey in regard to this matter is special and unique. He has always been known as a stalwart on this particular question. If you asked anybody in Wales, even 256 people belonging to the younger generation, what the hon. Member stood for, they would tell you that he was a stalwart on the question of Disestablishment in Wales. Moreover, in conjunction with the Home Secretary, he has played a prominent part in carrying this measure through its various stages. Surely if anything more were required to identify me once and for all with this particular question, the fact that the hon. Member for Anglesey lent me his assistance was sufficient.
§ But the case does not rest there. Let us see what the other side did. While on this point, may I pay a generous tribute to the gentleman who opposed me at that election? He fought a clean, straight, hard fight, without importing any personal animosities or bitterness whatsoever. It is well known that there was no bitterness or recrimination in this particular fight. The Noble Lord the Member for Oxford University (Lord Hugh Cecil) stated yesterday that, if this Bill became law, a great deal of bitterness would be left in Wales. One would have expected that in a by-election of this description there would have been a great deal of bitterness and recrimination of a personal nature. But that was not the case. The election was marked by the absence of anything of the kind. The Leaders on both sides will tell you that there never was an election conducted in this constituency with less personal animosity and feeling. What is the reason? It is that to-day the Welsh people are fighting this question not from the religious point of view, but purely and solely as a political issue. My opponent made this issue the only plank in his programme. He confined his election address to this question. He also had the valuable assistance of many hon. Members opposite, amongst them being the Noble Lord the Member for Hitchin (Lord Robert Cecil), the hon. Member for South Bucks (Sir A. Cripps), the hon. Member for Dudley (Sir A. Griffith-Boscawen), and the hon. Member for Denbigh Boroughs (Mr. Ormsby-Gore). The fact that my opponent had the assistance of these Gentlemen, who are well known in this House, in Wales, and elsewhere as ardent and stem opponents of this Bill, is sufficient to prove that the other side did their best to make the case against the Bill as strong as possible. For the first time in my knowledge of political history, the clergy came out of their shell, so to speak, and took an open and prominent 257 part in the election. We had the unwonted experience of rectors and vicars presiding at meetings at which the Lord Bishop of St. David's spoke. We had clergymen exhaustively and extensively canvassing the electors, and on the day of the poll the curates and other members of the clergy saw that the gentlemen who were against this measure were safely placed in the polling booths. The Lord Bishop of St. David's came up North and addressed meetings everywhere. I may say with great respect that there is no one in Wales or elsewhere able to make out a better case against this Bill than he can. Moreover, he appeals in a peculiar way to the people of Flint Boroughs, because he was there as Dean for many years and was extremely popular. He was held in high esteem because some years ago, amongst other things, he drafted a scheme for the administration of the Intermediate Act in Wales. You could not have had a more powerful opponent of this measure. Last, but not least, on the Saturday before the poll, the Lord Bishop of St. Asaph issued a most urgent and earnest appeal to every elector in the constituency, reminding them that on the following Tuesday they would have to vote on a very serious issue. This was the letter:—
§ "The Palace, St. Asaph,
§ 18th January, 1913.
§ Dear Sir,—Will you please read the enclosed? On Tuesday next your vote will be given on the Welsh Disestablishment and Disendowment Bill. This Bill, if passed, will wound and rob the Mother Church of our land. I ask you. therefore, to consider whether, in the sight of God, you are justified in supporting a measure which must injure the cause of Christ in Wales?
§ Yours faithfully,
§ A. G. ASAPH."
That was posted on the Saturday and reached the people on the Sunday, or, where there is no Sunday delivery, on the Monday. That shows that as far as the Lord Bishop of St. Asaph was concerned, he did his best to make the people remember that they must vote according to their consciences. He also issued the following pamphlet:—
If this Bill passes into law, these will be its results in the Diocese of St. Asaph upon the death of the present holders:—
The bishop will be left with nothing but the bare walls of the palace, which was wholly built and paid for since 1791 by two bishops of St. Asaph, who were men of large private means.
The cathedral, founded in 980 and restored —indeed well nigh rebuilt—by Churchmen within the last hundred years, will be left without one penny for dean or canons or choir. The whole of their incomes, and that of the bishop, will be taken from the Church to which they have belonged for more than 1,000 years and given to the Aberystwith, Bangor, and Cardiff Colleges, which are already endowed with £40,000 a year from public funds.
Out of 209 parishes in the diocese, 116 will by left without one penny of their ancient Endowments.
After naming St. Asaph, Rhuddlan, Caerwys, Mold, Flint, and Overton as among the parishes that will be despoiled, the pamphlet concludes:—
I ask this solemn question: Can any Christian man support this measure?
My opponent a day or two before the poll made a final appeal to the electorate, reminding them that there was only one question before them, and saying:—
At present there is a Bill occupying the attention of Parliament. This election is an unique opportunity of taking the opinion of Wales upon this question.
§ May I say quite frankly, conscientiously and candidly, that I make no complaint whatsoever of the clergy and bishops who spoke and worked for my opponent. They were perfectly entitled to do what they did. I am sure they did what they thought was best for their cause, and they were quite right in doing it. All I say is, that having done that, it is not open to them, or to anyone else to say that this question was not an issue at the recent by-election. Supposing my opponent had succeeded in capturing the seat. Hon. Gentlemen opposite would have legitimately claimed it as a victory for them in reference to this particular Bill. You cannot have it both ways. Therefore, as you chose this ground and lost upon it, it is fair for us to say that the electors of Flint, speaking not only for Flint Boroughs, but for the whole of Wales, have sent a message to the House of Commons, saying that not only has Wales been keen on this measure in the past, but it is as keen upon it to-day as ever it was. If this has been the result in Flint, I leave it to the imagination of the House to work out what the result of a by-election would have been in, say, Cardiganshire or Anglesey. The movement in connection with Disestablishment and Disendowment of the Church has right along been characterised by consistency and constancy for two generations. I say without the slightest fear of contradiction that there never has been any movement in any country supported by the people immediately concerned with such unwavering and unfaltering devotion. This Bill is neither the Bill that the Welsh people expected nor the Bill originally introduced into this House. It has been considerably altered and amended; concessions have been made. Even so, speaking as a private Member, I welcome it cordially, hoping sincerely that it will be a 259 permanent settlement of the question. If I for a moment believed that the passing of this measure into law would injure or imperil the cause of Christianity in Wales, I would not vote for it. But I do not think that it will have that effect. I believe the reverse is the truth. What is the complaint to-day, not only in England, but in other countries in connection with religion? It is that the people are drifting towards indifference and materialism. I believe that the only way to stem that tide is to free the Church from all civil authority whatsoever, and allow it to stand alone as a great spiritual organisation. It is true, paradoxical as it may seem, that there is no bitterness like religious bitterness. The Noble Lord the Member for Oxford University said yesterday, that, if this measure were passed, it would leave a great deal of bitterness behind it. I do not think that that will he so. At any rate, it will leave a great deal less bitterness than the Noble Lord thinks. And even so, although it may be acute at the time, that bitterness will soon pass away. In a few years, certainly in a generation, the last traces of it Will have vanished, and a brighter day will dawn, when the ministers of the Established Church and the ministers of the Nonconformist Churches will work in harmony for the benefit of religion, and for the benefit of humanity at large. I beg to thank the House for the very generous way in which they have listened to a crude and raw beginner.
§ Mr. E. WOOD
We have heard so much about by-elections recently that it is refreshing to have a concrete example, so to speak, immediately before us. I was told that the hon. Member, who has just made a most interesting speech, had, at his recent election, rather tried to avoid directly facing this issue. I am extremely glad to learn from him that there is no truth whatever in that statement. After hearing the hon. Gentleman's speech, I recognised that there is quite sufficient charm about him in all sorts of ways to account for any votes that he may have received. In spite of the hon. Gentleman's eloquence and other qualities, the best presentment that he was able to give of this question was unable to avoid the approximate halving of his majority. Hon. Members who have a turn for mathematics may be able to calculate what would be the result on the repre- 260 sentation in this House if that were the general result of the direct presentment of this particular question. Those who have followed the Debate will have been very much interested by two main lines of argument. I was very much interested yesterday by the speech—which I did not hear, but with which I made myself familiar—of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Swansea District (Sir D. Brynmor Jones). He stated that at the present time there was hardly any need for discussion, because there were no new arguments; all the arguments had been disposed of last Session. Does the right hon. Gentleman consider that an argument has been disposed of when it has been automatically voted down by a mechanical majority in this House? An argument is not disposed of until it has been answered. Not one of the arguments, that we have advanced has been answered. All that Members opposite have done is to advance other arguments which, in our opinion are quite irrelevant and appear to have no relation to the arguments we have put forward. The right hon. Gentleman also said—and this goes to the root of the discussion—that he was very glad to think that at the present moment this Bill was in the grip of a legislative machine. That is precisely the position in which this Bill is. It is because the grip of that machine is so inhuman and so inexorable that I, for my part, object to it. I was saying that we have seen two main lines of argument. I do not wish to travel over the old ground, and I shall not do so more than I can possibly help. The first main line has been an appeal to the voice and opinions of the Welsh Members in this House, and the supposed opinions of Wales. To that we are spared the necessity, as has been pointed out, of providing an answer, because it has been provided by the Government themselves.
Really if the Government, even after Ireland has become a separate political entity, refuses to her the right to express all opinion about this question of religion, by what process of reason or logic is it suggested that Wales in her present position should be invited to express an authoritative and final opinion upon the four dioceses which are as much an integral part of the English Church as any English diocese? That, I think, is an answer to that Dart. The other main line of argument is an argument that rests upon antiquarian theories—in some cases of doubtful history, and in some cases of 261 doubtful relevancy. May I just draw the attention of the House to one other aspect in which there is a certain significance of interest attaching to any comparison between the procedure of this Bill and that which has been pursued in the case of the Home Rule proposals for Ireland. The best argument for Home Rule that I ever heard, and the only argument that has ever come near appealing to me in this House—I state quite frankly that it has appealed to me very often—is the argument advanced by those who believe in it, that the Home Rule proposals, if adopted, would inaugurate a happy era, and would find a solution to Irish problems, and so on; and that we must not expect to solve the Irish problem by looking backward to the past, but by looking forward, and going forward in faith, and that by so going forward in faith we shall find our solution. That argument, I confess, is rather telling.
But in this Bill you adopt the reverse method. You refuse to look forward, you refuse to go forward in faith, you insist, so far as I can judge, of drawing all your inspiration in this Bill from the barren past, some passages of which every section of Church opinion and every section of Nonconformist opinion would be glad to forget. Why cannot you look forward in regard to this with the same faith that you invite us to have in regard to Ireland? I deduce from that—I think it is a fair deduction—that it is just the fact that you do rely upon the facts and theories of by-gone centuries that explains the opposition and hostility of its enemies to the Bill, and also the lukewarmness and lack of interest with which it has been received by its own supporters. The thing is not real. I have here rather an interesting quotation—the only one which I want to offer to the House—from the same right hon. Gentleman to whom I referred before, the Member for the Swansea District, the Leader of the Welsh party. In this he puts beyond dispute that there are very few instances—certainly so far as I have been able to read political history I have found none—in which a first-class Government measure of this magnitude has been received with such open indifference by its own supporters. This is what the right hon. Gentleman said on 26th December, 1912, in an interview with a representative of the "South Wales Daily News":—Our friends in Wales hardly realise how critical the whole situation has been"—262 that was, if my memory serves me right, after one of the concessions in Committee—not through any lack of effort on the part of the Government or want of energy on the part of Welsh Liberal Members, but because of the determined objection of a section of the Liberal party, and the lukewarmness of nearly the whole.You do not find nearly the whole of a great party in this House being lukewarm if their constituents are burning hot. You can state no more conclusive argument for the real feeling of the country than here stated, when Members of this House, as the right hon. Gentleman said, in this interview, have very little interest in this question. I do not want to travel over the ground so well covered by my hon. Friend just now with regard to the support of the Bill in this House. Everybody knows that its vicissitudes have been many and its fortunes doubtful. If the Financial Secretary to the Treasury were here, I should have asked him—and I venture to say in his absence—that the reason for the growing opposition to the Bill, opposition that is growing and being shown in every available form, is, I think!, that people outside are beginning to discover what it is that is the real motive force behind the Bill. I do not want to make any charge against hon. Gentlemen opposite that I should not like made against myself, but I do say that the man in the country, the earnest Churchman, does ask himself what possible connection of thought is there between the Financial Secretary, who, I have always been brought up to believe—and I do believe—is an earnest Churchman, and—I may say I hope without offence and perfectly frankly—the Home Secretary or the under-Secretary for the Home Office, who do not profess, in that form, affection for the Church. The Financial Secretary said yesterday that he was anxious to resecure the liberties of the Church that he considered were impaired by Establishment, and that for that object he was prepared to sacrifice Endowments. I do not want to discuss here how far that was a sound conclusion—that is beside my point. It is his conclusion. But what possible connection is there between that and the position of men like the right hon. Gentleman opposite or the Home Secretary, who frankly admit that the driving force behind the Bill Ts Endowments? The right hon. Gentleman opposite knows very well that he has commended this programme in relation to Endowments as being a programme with money in it, and as being the 263 only programme worth having. The Home Secretary, if I remember rightly, said, after one or two of his small concessions, that if anything more was done in that direction he would not proceed with the Bill. The first place in the scale of values in the mind of the right hon. Gentleman is 'attached to this question of money—to the resumption of Endowments. I do not think that is an unfair thing to say. I think it is the only conclusion that people can draw.
If that contradiction between the supporters of this Bill is so very surprising, what are we to say about the contradiction that occurs so often between their arguments? I am going to take and use to myself an expression that the last hon. Gentleman who spoke used in regard to this matter when he said that we really cannot eat our cake and have it. What I mean to say is, you must make up your minds whether you are going to treat the Church as a sect or as a National Church. If you are treating her as a sect, if that is your ground, I am prepared to argue with you as to whether or, not you are justified in dealing with her Endowments. But the fact that you treat her as a sect absolutely precludes you from having any say in her internal, or, for that matter, external, organisation. Therefore you cannot, at the same time, as I have heard so often, dictate the policy of the Church while at the same time treating the Church as a sect. On the other hand, if she is a National Church, by what right do you advance your claim to Disendowment? On what does that claim for Disendowment rest? It rests upon the fact, according to your theories, that the Church having been the Church of the nation, and, as such, having received Endowments and having been accorded Establishment—though I am bound to say that when the Prime Minister in his speech was developing that theory as to continuity in relation to Establishment, and vice versa, I could not help remarking to myself that surely if the argument be sound, it is pertinent to suggest that it would appear to retain for the Church and all Endowments that were subsequent to the Reformation—but that, by the way—you say that because the Church is no longer the Church of the nation, therefore she must be Disestablished and Disendowed. May we ask this question, which has been asked before but never answered: What do you mean when you talk of Establishment?
264 Everybody who, has thought about it knows that the real difficulty of the draftsman in drawing up this Bill, and the whole difficulty of passing it into law, is that you cannot say what you mean by Establishment. You are dealing with a thing that is quite unrelated to any Acts of Parliament, that moves in another sphere than the sphere of legislation; it is a product of history with which legislation has not grappled. It is an association more implied than real between the State and the Church in times past when they were in deed and in truth what now some people are trying to forget they are, namely, two respective authorities each with their own sphere of jurisdiction, which the other had no right to touch. We have heard many Debates in this House, interesting enough, as to whether Christianity is anything more or less than the sum of the Christianity of the individuals composing it. If you develop arguments on these lines, I should not in the least wish to contradict. If the hon. Member had put it on the ground that morale and ethical feeling depended upon the individual effort of every individual, I should have quite agreed with him. On the other hand I think surely he would accept this: That at the present time, as the product of history, the association of Church and State has a certain characteristic which are the result of that association, and which you can get in no other way if you do away with it now, and that does now stand, however imperfectly, for a real religious basis of society as a whole. And it is true in the sense that religion and the State does gain by having great religious expressions at moments of great national importance. We all feel that an occasion like the Coronation of the King or the celebration of peace at the end of a great war, or in connection with a great national disaster is made a finer thing and a truer thing by being identified with the religious instinct. I should imagine the answer of some hon. Members opposite to that would be, "Let us have undenominational religion, so that we can all join in it." [HoN. MEMBER: "Why not?"]
§ Mr. WOOD
The hon. Gentleman asks what about our Oversea Dominions. May I point out to him that when the foundation stone. of the new capital of Australia was laid, that was exactly their difficulty. 265 There was no religious service, and that being so, I say rightly or wrongly, although I do not hope to convince hon. Gentlemen opposite, I am not prepared to sacrifice the one form of religious expression that is left to us. Hon. Gentlemen opposite think that is unreasonable. I want to be frank, and I often ask myself the question if I, being a Churchman living in a Nonconformist State where exactly the reverse state of things held, would I, in order to assert equality, or to get rid of what I cannot but think are largely imaginary grievances, feel called upon to destroy what I venture to think does stand for a Christianising value in the State. I can honestly say that I should not. The State and the Church are each essential in their respective spheres, and it is as intolerable for the State to interfere with the affairs of Church as it is for the Church to interfere with the affairs of the State. It is for these reasons that we Churchmen resent so bitterly the attempt to perform a surgical operation upon the internal constitution of the Church which will have the effect of its dismemberment. I know it is possible to exaggerate these things. I know people on the other side will tell you that whatever you do in this Parliament will not affect the constitution and the real life of the Church. Of course it does not, but what is not an impertinent consideration is this, that inasmuch as all over human life you have the inward spiritual significance seeking to clothe itself in some outward form, because that is so you are not entitled to turn round upon the spiritual life and say the outward form is absolutely unimportant. You have no right in this House, although, of course, I know you cannot interfere with the internal work of the Church, to try to deprive the inner interior spiritual unity of the Church of Wales and England of that outward expression which is its right. You cannot do that.
The question of whether or not it is possible to have a Free Church is one that has been mentioned many a time in history. It can be answered in many ways. Sometimes we think it is answered wrongly; sometimes it is answered rightly. It is full of significance for those who have. got eyes to see at the present juncture, that at this moment in Scotland the Scottish people are offering a solution of that very question and are affirming their belief that it is possible to 266 have a Free Church in a Free State. If that be true, and I think nobody can dispute it, I would then, with all the earnestness at my command, ask hon. Members opposite whether even now they do not honestly think that their energy would be better directed towards an attempt to promoting union between men of whatever denomination who value Christianity than doing anything that would weaken Christianity, and to try and promote that sort of unity, rather than promote a measure like this, which I firmly believe is inimical to those objects which they and I wish to serve?
§ Mr. GLADSTONE
The hon. Gentleman who has just sat down began his speech by asking us a question. He asked, "Why do you bring in a Bill in which you put a veto upon the Establishment of any religion in Ireland, and yet at the same time affirm that Establishment is a national question." My answer to that is that in the case of Ireland this veto is a safeguard put into the Bill primarily for the satisfaction of hon. Members opposite—a safeguard by which the establishment of a religious ascendancy, of which we understand they are afraid, should be prevented. I have risen not so much for the direct purpose of following the hon. Gentleman who has just sat down, but rather for the purpose of reminding the House, if I may venture to do so, that there does exist another method of solving this problem, and that is by mutual accommodation and mutual concession. The position of those who desire this Bill to be carried into law, yet in certain respects amended, cannot be said to be a particularly easy one at this stage. While we still feel in some respects that the Bill does not show that degree of consideration, that degree of generosity, which we think would have been befitting, nevertheless we know that this Bill does at any rate confer the opportunity of self-government upon the Church in Wales, and that so long as the Church is burdened with a certain Endowment, namely tithe, so long the way will never be opened up for the reconciliation of the people of Wales to the Church. And was under the impulse of these conflicting opinions and the realisation that right was not confined entirely to one side, that we made it our object, when this Bill was last before the House, to endeavour to promote a compromise and the settlement of this question by consent. The basis for that compromise was contained in the 267 Amendment put forward by my hon. Friend the Member for Morley in the Committee stage of the Bill on Clause 4, to the effect that the Church should be Disestablished, and to the extent of the tithe and the tithe only, that it should be Disendowed. That was a compromise, the genuineness of which and the general desirability of which may be measured very fairly by the way in which it was discountenanced and opposed by the violent and irreconcilable men on both sides, awl although we feel satisfied that the vast body of intervening opinion would have been greatly relieved if some such compromise was brought about, yet I believe for the time being the violent men have got their way and they are to be allowed, at any rate for a little longer, to avert the settlement of this question by consent.
It seems perfectly clear that the violent men have been able, without a very severe struggle, so far as I can judge, to induce the Church to set its face resolutely against any idea of compromise and any idea of concession. Those of us on this side of the House who desire to sec a settlement of this question by consent feel bound to admit that of the two sides to the dispute it is the Church and not the Government which is now responsible for shutting the door upon compromise. Speaking as one very earnestly desiring compromise, I must say without any hesitation that at the present stage of the Bill the Church and not the Government has shown itself the worst enemy of compromise. I believe, rightly or wrongly, that the Government would accept compromise if the Church would. The Church would not have it, even if the Government would, and I think it should in justice be recorded that at this stage of the controversy, at any rate, it was the Church and not the Government which broke down and destroyed all idea of compromise and of concession.
The attitude of those who represent the Church on the other side of the House has been one of taking everything and giving nothing. As friends of compromise, we cannot co-operate with those who take up such a position, and as friends of compromise, we are bound to throw what weight we can against the party which is most opposed to compromise, and that is why I for one, and, as I understand, nearly all of us, intend to vote for the Second Reading of this Bill, and why we shall not 268 make ourselves responsible for any suggestions from this side of the House during the suggestion stage of the Bill. If the Church had been disposed to consider compromise our action would certainly have been different. Our vote upon this occasion, and our silence when the suggestion stage, is the direct result of the refusal of the Church to consider compromise. We are deeply disappointed at the decision of the Church to entertain no compromise. We do not want to indulge in any recrimination as to the wisdom of the course they have adopted. We believe it to be an extraordinarily unwise one. It seems only too likely that the Church has been induced to take up the position of no compromise in the forlorn hone that something will turn up soon enough from somewhere, before this Bill becomes law and gets carried into operation, to turn the present Government gut of office and prevent it from being returned to power again. Some of us on this side of the House, and I dare to hope some hon. Members opposite, think that is a slender and precarious foundation for such an important decision. It is too much to hope that hon. Gentlemen opposite will publicly acknowledge the insecurity of the course they have taken, but it should not be too much to hope that they will allow that consideration to weigh with them in their counsels. For my own part I would far rather see the future of my Church decided wrongly here and now by reason tempered with the spirit of forbearance and mutual accommodation, rather than decide it rightly by such precarious and desperate guesswork.
Those of us who have at heart the settlement of this question by consent have locked with anxiety and expectancy to the course which might be adopted by the one man who is now in a position to bring about a compromise and a settlement of this subject. We have looked with anxiety and expectancy to the course which might be adopted by the Archbishop of Canterbury, believing as we do that there is a great opening for a great peacemaker, and calling to our minds the great achievement of Archbishop Tait in the case of the Irish Church Bill, who in the face of opposition no less robust than that which exists to-day, intervened and played a part which brought about a settlement which would not have been brought about had he not so intervened. It is said sometimes that it is unreasonable 269 to expect that the Archbishop of Canterbury should consider the question of overriding the determination of the majority of the Church in Wales to refuse all compromise. With all deference to the Opposition I venture to say that that argument is no longer open to them. They have committed themselves far too fully and too deeply and too often to the position that this is as much an English as a Welsh affair to enable them now to plead the will of Wales against English intervention. So far as that obstacle is concerned, let us not deceive ourselves, the way is still open for intervention. I notice that there is a tendency as a controversy proceeds, and as the details of the matter have been examined more and more fully and more and more closely, to fall back upon the simpler and broader issues of the matter. I desire to put one broad and simple question to hon. Members opposite. What is the wisdom of maintaining a Church in Wales by external intervention, the constitution of which Church is notoriously repugnant to the feelings of an overwhelming majority of the very people whom it is the desire and duty of the Church to endeavour to bring within its fold? Why, I wonder, is it absolutely necessary that the national Church of Wales should be made to defy the wishes of the Welsh nation until compelled to submit to them by the Parliament Act?
The existing constitution of the Church may seem best to English people. Very well, let them maintain it in England, hut do not let them try to maintain it also in Wales against the wishes of the majority of the people. Why should they conclude that because it is best for England that therefore it is best for the Welsh people? The Welsh people look at it in a different light altogether. They say to the Church, "If you are going to be our Church at least conform to our ways and to our feelings; do not look for our allegiance if you desire to cling to your English mould. If you refuse to allow yourself to be moulded by Welsh public opinion, we shall regard you as an alien Church, and we shall give you neither our confidence nor our good will." That, I believe, is the present situation, and in the meantime the existing constitution of the Church in Wales has to be bolstered up and protected from the Welsh people by English votes. That is no kindness and no benefit whatsoever to the Church in Wales. Every time you enable the Church in Wales by English votes to escape and elude and defy the wishes of the Welsh 270 people you make it more and more clear to the Welsh people that the Church is anti-national, that she refuses to accept the national decisions of Wales, and entertains for them only fear and distrust. I say that is not kind to the Church in Wales, and this is a deplorable spectacle which ought not to be allowed to go on.
The Church, with all its advantages of priority and privilege, should have been able to have resisted by itself and by its own exertions any demand for its reformation which was unjust or unreasonable, but the demand for that reformation has not been so checked. On the contrary, it has been sanctioned and sustained by an overwhelming majority of the Welsh people time after time. I want to know what is the justification for continuing to refuse to look at this question from the point of view of the Welsh people. Is it absolutely necessary that the constitution of the Church should be maintained absolutely rigid and uniform in all parts of the Kingdom, regardless and irrespective of the feelings of the people who live in the various parts of the United Kingdom? It ought not to be so. It ought to be possible to modify the constitution of the Church in accordance with the feelings of the people who live in particular parts of the Kingdom, who may be different in their character and everything else from the people in other parts of the country. If that be so, why do you stand between the Welsh people and the reformation of the Church in Wales? The Welsh people and the Church in Wales have been kept apart far too long, and it is more than high time that they were allowed to come together. If only you can make up your minds to allow the Welsh people to mould their Church according to their own ideas and according to their own feelings, you will find that you will have destroyed once and for ever that antagonism which exists today between the Church in Wales and the people of Wales. And surely to attain that object no cost and no sacrifice should be too great.
§ Mr. CAMPION
I am sure every Member of the House has listened with a great deal of interest to the speech we have just heard. I may say for myself, and I am sure for those who sit on this side of the House, that we do recognise, and must recognise, the very difficult position in which the hon. Member who has just spoken finds himself. We all appreciate 271 that. I understand from the hon. Member's speech now and from what he said during the Committee stage of this Bill, that he is very much opposed to certain features of this measure. Nevertheless, he and his Friends now feel that they will be bound to vote this evening for the Second Reading of this Bill, a measure which they do not approve of because, according to them, we members of the Church on this side of the House are not prepared to accept any suggestion of compromise on the subject of Disendowment. I think it would be idle to pretend that it would be possible for us to consider for one moment any suggestion of compromise on this question. We are opposed to the whole Bill. We are opposed equally strongly, and personally I am far more strongly opposed to the principles of dismemberment and Disestablishment than I am to the principle of Disendowment. It would therefore be quite impossible for us to sacrifice our principles on these great and important questions for any monetary concession we might receive on the question of Disendowment. The speech we have just listened to brings home to us more forcibly, if indeed it were necessary, the very grave position of responsibility in which the Government finds itself at the present time. This is a very great and a very serious question. There is evidence, at any rate, of very considerable opposition to this Bill in different parts of the country and in Wales. We see from the statement which the hon. Gentleman opposite has just made that there is a considerable divergence of opinion in this House itself.
Surely, if that is the case, the responsibility of the Government is a very grave one, and surely we ought to have some justification for pressing forward and forcing through this measure on which evidently there is so much difference of opinion. So far as I can see, the only statement that has been made to attempt to justify the action of the Government was the statement the Home Secretary made yesterday when he said that this Bill represented the considered and matured work of the House of Commons. I can show that, although it may be the considered and matured work of the House of Commons, the result of that consideration leads to very different conclusions on the other side of the House. We know that there are many Members on the other side of the 272 House who dislike this Bill very much. They realise that to injure a particular Church will benefit no single community in this country, and they fear, and I think with justification fear, that when this Bill is passed, if it is passed, which I very much doubt, the whole religious influence in this country will be very considerably damaged. I notice that speaker after speaker on that side of the House—certainly it was the impression conveyed to me by the speech of the Financial Secretary to the Treasury (Mr. Masterman) yesterday when dealing with this question—advocate Disestablishment, not from the point of view of the four dioceses of the Church in Wales, but from the point of view of Disestablishment as a general proposition. That is what we complain of. Surely, if they advocate Disestablishment, they should have the courage to come to this House and put before us, not a piecemeal form of legislation involving dismemberment to which we object, but a proposal to Disestablish the Church as a whole. It would be far more honest and it would be far more understandable by the public. It would receive my strenuous opposition, but. I think it would be far more businesslike, and I am quite convinced that, if they' carried their convictions to the right conclusions and adopted this policy and put the question as a whole to this House and to the nation, the verdict of the nation would be unanimously against them.
We have heard the view of the hon. Member for Kilmarnock (Mr. Gladstone), and we know the view of the hon. Member for Morley (Mr. France) and others. We know that they consider this Bill is too drastic in its proposals with regard to Disendowment. I have no doubt that they have done their best on that side of the House honestly and sincerely to endeavour to get further concessions made, but. we also know the opinion of the Welsh Members. We know that not long ago there was a great panic in the ranks of the Welsh Members. They were terrified lest some further concessions should be made to this Church which has already been so heavily robbed of its property, with the result that we had the Home Secretary declaring that no further concession could possibly be made in the Bill. I just bring those two conflicting views before the House—those hon. Members who honestly wish to make the Bill less drastic and those hon. Members who insist that there should be no concession whatever—to show that even in 273 this House of Commons there is no really matured or considered work of the Members, or at any rate that they have come to very opposite conclusions. That is the position, as I conceive it, in this House of Commons. What is the position in the country? I know that many allusions have been made to this particular argument before, but after all, when we remember that during the Committee stages of this Bill, position after position which has been occupied by the Government, and argument after argument which has been held by supporters of the Government were one after another abandoned, and when we remember the one argument on which they have always insisted and which, to my mind, is honestly the soundest argument they possess, the argument of the mandate, is about the only argument that remains, surely then one is justified in referring to this argument, even if by so doing one is compelled to repeat, more or less, something that has been said before.
I need not refer to the omission to mention this subject in election addresses, but I should like to say a word about what happened in Wales, and about meetings which have taken place in Wales itself in opposition to this Bill. I have had some little experience of meetings in Wales, and all I can say is that at every meeting I attended in Wales to protest against this Bill there has always existed the greatest enthusiasm and there has always been present a considerable number of Nonconformists. The meetings have always been very well attended, and we have always carried a resolution protesting against the Bill, generally unanimously. If I may give a small experience, I will state what happened to myself only some two weeks ago at Lampeter in Cardiganshire. I am quite aware that at Lampeter there is the Ecclesiastical College of St. David's, I think of 150 students, which no doubt has some influence on the district just around, but that is a district in the centre of, perhaps, the most Liberal portion of Wales. A meeting was held open to everybody in that particular rural deanery, a rural deanery of 101 square miles, consisting of a population of 8,502 people, and no less than 2,400 people coming from considerable distances arrived in order to protest against the Bill, and carried a resolution unanimously.
§ Mr. CAMPION
2,400. There were many Nonconformists present, and one of the principal speakers on the platform at that meetong was the senior deacon of the Welsh Calvinistic Methodist Connexion at Lampeter. The resolution which was carried unanimously stated that there, is no demand in the country for the Bill. I know this both from my own experience and from what one has learned from others who have had the good fortune to attend these meetings in Wales, and to be inspired by their enthusiasm. I know that my experience there was the experience of all others throughout Wales, that there is really no enthusiasm for this. Bill in any class of the people in Wales, but that there is a strong and determined and a growing body of opposition to it. If that is the case, surely the responsibility of the Government in endeavouring to force this Bill through, evidently in the face of greet opposition, and in a time of suspension of our Constitution is a very great and a very serious one, and it does behove them as honest thinking men to pause in face of this opinion before they inflict upon religion in this country generally a Bill which may have serious damaging and lasting effect. One need not in this connection refer to meetings in England to protest against the Bill. One knows that the opinion of the people in England is much the same as the opinion of the people in Wales. [HON. MEMBERS: "Hear, hear."] Hon. Members cheer, but I have heard it frequently stated, and I believe it, that if an honest Referendum could be obtained on this matter alone in Wales, there would be a decided majority against this Bill in Wales itself. I make no doubt whatever that there would be a decided majority in England against the Bill.
Some hon. Members on the other side referred just now to the fact that in our Colonies there is no Established Church. The circumstances are different. This is a country of old associations and of great history. After all, the great principle of Establishment, to my mind, is that it entails on the Church not privileges but an obligation of service. It is the Church not of the rich or of the poor, nor of High Churchmen or of Low Churchmen, but it is an all-embracing Church, and it is its duty to so organise its affairs as to bring the ministration of religion close to the door of every man and woman in this country who desires it. That, to my mind, is the great feature and advantage of Establishment. 275 I would remind hon. Members who say that these advantages are secured in our Colonies without Establishment of a letter that was written to the "Times" by the Bishop of Willesden. It struck me very considerably at the time. He said that he had had eighteen years' experience in Canada, and he could say, after those 'eighteen years' experience, that he would far sooner see some Nonconformist Church Established than no Church Established that sooner than see no Established Church he would rather see the Wesleyan Methodist or the Congregational or some other Nonconformist body as the Established Church of the country to minister to the people and to do this obligation service. Those are principles with which I entirely agree. In this country the Church of England is the one Church that can carry out that duty, the one Church that is so organised as to be able to carry out that duty, and I say here, and I most sincerely believe it, that sooner than have no Established Church at all, I would far rather see some Nonconformist body established.
§ Mr. BECK
The hon. Member who has just sat down has made one of those earnest speeches to which everybody in this House always pays respect, but I do not think that he has advanced any argument with which we are not familiar, and which has not been dealt with very fully on this side. He told us some gentleman had said that after experience of religious life in Canada he would have desired to see an Established Church in that country. I think he must be unique. If I may say so, I do not believe that in any one of our great Dominions it would be possible to get any material support whatever in favour of a proposal for an Established religious community. I say this because I did that which I very much regret doing—I interrupted an hon. Member opposite in the middle of his able speech—the hon. Member for Ripon (Mr. E. Wood)—who was saying that in those great religious ceremonies by which nations endeavour to express either thankfulness or humiliation in times of great crises, the absence of the Established Church was fatal to the dignified and due performance of such religious ceremonies. That really is. a most amazing argument to use, because quite recently, in the very country whose case we are considering, at the Investiture of the Prince of Wales, a religious ceremony of an undenominational 276 character was held, and on the committee which arranged the details of that ceremony bishops and Nonconformists sat side by side in harmony, dignity, and reverence. When an argument of that sort is brought forward, one despairs of ever getting any just or fair decision. The speech of the hon. Member for Ripon moved all of us by its ability and the genuine feeling which ran behind it. But I will say this, that history teaches us that men like the hon. Member, and those who hold views such as he does, are more ecclesiastically minded than any priest, and are the men who strike the most deadly blows at the Church they desire to defend.
I sneak here as a representative, a humble representative, of that class which plays so important a part in the oratory and newspaper quotations of hon. Members opposite—men who are supposed to hold what are commonly called moderate views. It is always said that men like myself are being dragged along on some wild career by the Government and by hen. Members below the Gangway, and that we are greatly troubled in consequence, and that we go into the Lobbies in a state of servitude to vote as we are told, unhappy and miserable. Are hon. Members opposite a close corporation? Is it impossible for us to cross the floor if we hold the views we are suppoed to entertain? Why should we sit here to fight the battle of Liberalism, if such be the case? The whole of this is a myth. It is true that some hon. Members on this side, as was well put by the hon. Member for Kilmarnock (Mr. Gladstone), do believe that in achieving a great reform such as we hold this to be, it is possible to be over generous, to err on the side of great generosity, and that it might be thought well to give the Church more than perhaps it is justly entitled to. I am not one of those who sympathise with that view. But if some hon. Members do it does not alter the fact that they believe in the principle of Disestablishment. Money, after all, is a matter of detail—an important detail it may be. It is true that hon. Members opposite devote themselves entirely to dealing with the Bill in the terms of pounds, shillings, and pence, and even bishops, who ought to know better, do the same thing.
Nothing, however, does so much harm to any Church as this constant talk about Endowments. We had a speech this afternoon from the hon. Member for Chelsea (Mr. Hoare). He used the well-worn argu- 277 ment that every church is now laying up for itself endowments; that in the struggle to propagate religious opinions, churches are providing themselves with great endowments, whether they be Established, Churches or Nonconformist Churches. The hon. Member dealt with this point at great length, and he ended by quoting Dr. Campbell Morgan, who said that, never had there been a time when religion was in such peril, never had there been a time when the cause of materialism was so strong. I submit to this House that experience teaches us there is great danger in churches developing too much machinery. The Church is essentially a spiritual organisation, and when it begins to develop both elaborate and expensive machinery it is likely to lose a great part of its spiritual side. That is why I believe in Disestablishment Hon. Members opposite have but one idea of the State. They believe in a State, rigid and inelastic, in -which Church and State go hand-in-hand, ruling the people on some beautiful mechanical plan. The State they have in their minds is as rigid as iron: I believe it to be as brittle as glass. Our idea is entirely different. We believe that as between Church and State there should be no connection whatsoever. We believe there is a tremendous amount of work to be performed by the great religious communities in the world, but we believe also that the mere fact that England is looked upon by so many millions as a State establishment, that her Church is looked upon as a public building, that her ministers are regarded as Government servants—we believe that these things hamper her in a way it is impossible to calculate or consider. We believe that if any of our Free Church friends do hold those bitter views for the possession of which they are attacked, if they do desire to injure the Church by Disestablishing her, they are going about it in an entirely wrong way. We believe that nothing would do so much good to the Church as to Disestablish her.
I must say I am amazed at some of the arguments which have been used. The questions have been asked —"What is Disestablishment, and what do you mean by it? What freedom do you give to the Church under this Bill?" The hon. Member for Ripon put that argument forward with great force. But surely, under Clause 13, we do give the Church absolute freedom to manage her own affairs. If the laity in Wales are earnest in their support of the Church; if they desire to have 278 a reformed and renewed Church, then, under that Clause, they have absolute powers for governing the Church according to their own views. What we believe is this: That one of the greatest evils of the Establishment is that it divorces the ordinary layman from having any great say as to the way in which his Church is conducted. I know hon. Members opposite think that this control is one of the most disastrous things possible; but I believe it to be exactly the reverse. I have had something to do with the Church in other parts of the world, and I have always been struck by the tremendous difference between the earnestness and enthusiasm of the ordinary lay member of the Church of England over the Seas, as compared with the same person in this country. We know there are many men of the very highest character who devote their abilities and energies to the welfare of the Church in this country. I say there is a canker at the root of the Church, when you find the ordinary Churchman in this country absolutely detached from the Church; he has nothing to say as to the way in which the Church is run; he has no power over the funds of the Church in his village; no power over the minister or clergyman, no power in regard to his appointment, and no control over his departure, no control over his doctrine, and no control over his salary. I know hon. Members opposite approve of that idea, and it is the fundamental difference between us. We believe that the Church is strengthened and revivified and refreshed by contact with laymen. They believe that the management of the Church should be left in the hands of a specially dominant priesthood; that is, I submit, the difference between us. It is that for which every bishop will demonstrate next Saturday. It is that for which these high ecclesiastics have always fought, and it is that which I and millions of people like myself, who take a humble part in the services of the great Church to which we belong, resent, and dislike. We have no sign of it in our great Dominion. We believe it to be unnecessary and harmful in this country.
We believe that the great Church to which we belong might and would be a real National Church, both in Wales and in England, if only it were not hampered by being tied to and fettered by the State. We believe by some such Bill as this—and I do suggest that this is a just and reasonable Bill—the Church can be freed from 279 these unwholesome doctrines, and can take that great part which her past history and her present opportunities entitle her to. Let us not forget that the ordinary Britisher is not essentially a Nonconformist. He is, as a rule, rather fond of ancient ceremonies. He is fond of treading the path which his father and grandfather trod before him. Those who pose as her best champions and the greatest friends of the Church have driven out time after time men who ought to be the bulwarks and backbone of the Church itself, and I say in all humbleness to those who are leading the Church, whether in this House or outside, that they are once again leading the Church not as they should do as the head of the nation, but contrary to the wishes of the nation. Hon. Members talk about the Welsh people being against this Bill. If they were in power by a majority of thirty-one to three, would they think that the country was against them? By every test you can apply the principle of Disestablishment has the support of the Welsh people. I quite admit, in all fairness, that there is not the interest in England in this matter that there is in Wales. If I may quote my own Constituency, I say there is no enthusiasm for the Bill there. Why should there be? Why should underpaid agricultural labourers, who cannot get a cottage to live in or a decent living wage, agitate themselves about the spiritual affairs of a Church on the other side of England? But if there is no enthusiasm for the Bill, I say there is no antagonism to it. Men who use their position as ministers of the Gospel for party purposes endeavour to stir up hatred, but I have not had any of those petitions from my Constituents about which we hear so much, and I have not received letters or anything of that sort which would show that there is any animosity- to this Bill in that part of England. I believe that every day that goes by is once more educating the people in this question of Disestablishment. It has lain aside for a long time. Hon. Members opposite were in power for many years, and it was laid aside, but the people are beginning to take a little more interest in this ancient question, and you will find once again that the Church has been led into a wrong position if she continues to take up the line she is adopting now. Finally, we have been told that this Bill ought to be postponed. I 280 understand that twenty years ago the cry was, "Postpone the Bill. Give us a few more years, and you will find that we are in truth and in fact the true Church of Wales." Those years have gone by but this question is still with us, and practically every Member on this side will vote for the Second Reading of this Bill with easy consciences, because we believe that we are the true friends of the Church of England, and that hon. Members opposite, with every good intention, are as deadly enemies to the Church of England as was Philip of Spain to the great Romish Church, or those people who endeavoured to force the doctrines of the Church down the throats of ignorant people.
§ Colonel PRYCE-JONES
Although the hon. Gentleman who has just spoken and my hon. Friend who preceded him are both Churchmen, I must say that if any one wanted to know anything about the Church and what would benefit her they would do better to apply to my hon. Friend. The hon. Member (Mr. Beck) taunted my hon. Friend with belonging to the High Church Party, and I must say I do not like the way in which he treated this great subject. The hon. Member said, in regard to the present representations of Wales in this House, that there were only three out of thirty-one in favour of the Church.
§ Colonel PRYCE-JONES
I should like to point out that I am one of the three representatives of "gallant little Wales," and I challenge anyone to deny that I speak on behalf of at least one-third of Wales. We are fully entitled to some eight or nine representatives in this House. As a Welshman I can say that there is not that feeling in favour of this Bill, which hon. Gentlemen opposite try to make out. The last time I had the honour of saying a few words in this Chamber, I took the occasion to thank English Members in this House for helping our Welsh Church, and I included in particular the hon. Member for Kilmarnock Burghs (Mr. Gladstone) who bears a very illustrious name. I am very sorry that upon this occasion he has not shown that courage which his illustrious predecessor would have shown in such a splendid cause as that which is now before the House. He, and some thirty or forty hon. Members opposite, have done their utmost in the House and outside it to get the Government to be reasonable and just towards 281 the Welsh Church. He has failed to move the Government in that respect, and although we are grateful to him and the other hon. Members for the help they gave us, I am sorry that upon this occasion, when we are getting near to the end of this controversy, we can no longer thank them for coming to our rescue. I am not going to say anything about Disestablishment, because I should like to see all religions established if it were possible. But when you come to the Endowments and the taking away of money which is doing good work, we did expect hon. Gentlemen opposite, the gallant supporters of a great Liberal Government, who have been guilty of extravagance in the expenditure of public money—no Government, certainly in my time, has ever been guilty of such extravagance, for they spent hundreds of thousand pounds in carrying forward good measures which have been extravagantly carried out at the expense of other great interests—would have shown magnanimity, and would not have introduced what I term a mean Bill, and one of the meanest ever brought into this House. There can be no doubt that if this Bill were left to the inner consciences of hon. Members, and that if the Whips were taken off, it would last but a very few hours in this House.
It is a great pity that the real motive power which is trying to force this Bill through is not the kind of motive power that you would expect it to be. I speak en behalf not only of the Church people in Wales, but of religious Nonconformists. [HON MEMBERS: "Oh, oh!"] Yes, I feel confident that if the Disendowment part of this Bill were put before the religious people of Wales, they would not vote for it. It is not the people of Wales, it is certainly not the Churchmen, and it is not the Nonconformists of Wales who are backing up and trying to force the Government to pass this. Bill. It is a certain section of our Nonconformist friends who are more politicians than they are of a religious turn of mind. I am sorry to think that one of the oldest Churches, perhaps the oldest Christian Church in the world, should be attacked in this way, and that the Welsh Church should be damaged by those who ought to put religion first. I desire to thank the Catholics for not helping forward this Bill, I thank the Jews for not helping this Bill, and I thank even the Labour Members and the Socialist, Members. I regard all the religious denomina- 282 tions as so many bridges by which travellers of all religions can pass from this life t] a better one. There are Jewish bridges, Roman Catholic bridges, and Protestant bridges. The Protestants have their sub-bridges, and I am very sorry indeed to find that the opposition has come from fellow Protestants, who are trying to pull down the old bridge of their faith. I still hope that some hon. Members opposite will not follow the example of the hon. Member for Kilmarnock Burghs, but will help the Churchmen in Wales to keep the funds which are doing good work for their Church, and who, it must be admitted, both in Wales and throughout England, are showing their faith in their cause by not agreeing to any compromise. It shows their faith that the cause they consider a good one will ultimately triumph. I wish to correct the hon. Member for Flint Boroughs (Mr. Parry). He seemed to think I had referred to him, but I never did so, and he made a mistake inadvertently.
Mr. LLEWELYN WILLIAMS
The brunt of the opposition that has been shown to this Bill this afternoon by all the previous speakers on the opposite side has been that not even in Wales can you find a majority in favour of the Bill. The hon. and gallant Gentleman (Colonel PryceJones), who is one of the three Welsh Conservative Members has, with that candour which characterises him, admitted that he represents only one-third of the electors. I congratulate him upon his common sense and his candour. He is the only one on that side of the House who sees what is the real fact in the situation, namely, that as long as you have thirty-one Members from Wales pledged to Disestablishment and only three against, as long as representative government is the government of this country, the will of the majority must prevail. That is what the hon. Member (Mr. Gladstone), with his hereditary political instinct, has understood from the beginning. My hon. Friend has always addressed this House with acceptation. He always charms and fascinates us by the elevation of his thought and expression, but this afternoon he addressed the House with much more sympathy than he has ever received before. I well remember his first deviation from the straight line last December. He was careful to say then that though he was in favour of concessions being made with regard to the Disendowment proposals, he did not look upon those concessions as being vital to the principle of the Bill, and 283 I am glad to recollect now that he said that the reason why he advocated those great concessions, some of which he was able to obtain, was that he thought this matter ought to be settled in a spirit of accommodation. That is his view to-day. Like another great man in a previous century he cried "peace" when nobody wanted peace. I can quite understand the hon. and gallant Gentleman (Colonel Pryce-Jones) being in favour of compromise, or, rather, being in favour of the hon. Member (Mr. Gladstone's) suggestion for a compromise. I have a recollection of reading a report in a newspaper, at the commencement of the recent controversy, of a convention of Churchmen which was held at Shrewsbury, when the hon. and gallant Gentleman mentioned the blessed word "compromise" and was howled down. I can quite understand why he had a fellow feeling towards the hon. Member (Mr. Gladstone), who has also been crying out "compromise" when no one wants compromise on a matter of this sort.
The Welsh bishops have said consistently that the consciences of Churchmen are not in the market, and last year, on the Second Reading, the right hon. Gentleman (Mr. F. E. Smith) said that even if the Government were to offer 19s. 11d. in the £,the Church would not accept any such compromise. We on these benches, the Welsh Members at all events, accepted those expressions of opinion at what we thought were their face value. We thought that those expressions of opinion would not have been made unless they were really meant, and we felt therefore that my hon. Friend from the start was going on the wrong track when he thought for a moment that by suggesting compromises or concessions he would be able to effect a settlement of this unhappy controversy. We felt it was impossible that there should be compromise. That was why we objected to those great concessions which were made last December, because we knew they were taking away money which, in our view, belonged to the people of Wales, and we got no return whatever in the shape of getting an easier passage for the Bill. The three hon. Members who spoke before the hon. and gallant Gentleman (Colonel Pryce-Jones) tried to get away from this fundamental, constitutional fact. The only method Wales has of expressing her desires and opinions in this matter is by sending Members to the House of Commons. No 284 other constitutional way can be suggested. I should have thought English Members, of all people in this House, would have been proud of the representative system which has grown up in this country. It is the great creation of English genius it is a thing that England has superimposed upon every civilised country in the world; it is the one great creation of English character, and, with all its defects, I believe the representative system has added more to the sum of human happiness than any other thing, and therefore you have invited Wales to send Members of Parliament to express in a constitutional way what the desires and opinions of the Welsh people are, and thirty-one out of thirty-four of those Members say, "We want Disestablishment and Disendowment. We want this Bill." What is your answer? What can be the answer? If it was a chance majority, I could have understood people saying we must wait and see whether this is a settled opinion, but that cannot be said.
I well remember Lord St. Aldwyn and Sir Edward Clarke in 1895 saying that if another twenty years were given to the Welsh Church, the whole character of the Welsh people would have changed, and they would be reconciled to the Church of their fathers. Nearly twenty years have gone by since then, and we find that the proportion of Members for Wales in favour of the Bill is as great to-day as it was then. As long as you have got this question you stereotype Welsh representation exactly as Irish representation is stereotyped as long as you have the Home Rule question. Not only that, but you cannot hope to alter that representation in our own lifetime unless this Bill is carried. What are the majorities of the three hon. Members from Wales who oppose this Bill? Their total majorities amount to something like 400. What are the majorities of the thirty-one Members who sit on these benches? Considerably over 100,000, or an average majority of over 3,000. How can it be said, if representative Government means anything in this country, that the claim of Wales has not been made out? Hon. Members opposite say there have been public meetings. One hon. Member has been attending a meeting of 2,400 people at Lampeter. That is a very large meeting. There is no hall in Lampeter big enough to hold them. I suppose it was out of doors. Then we have been told of another meeting at Williamstown, somewhere in Glamorganshire, and we have 285 been told that because of these meetings, attended largely by Nonconformists, where there has been no disturbance, no books thrown at the heads of the orators, no disturbance of the peace, no necessity for an English stranger to escape in the guise of a policeman, because they are met with the frank courtesy and politeness which characterise the Welsh people, attended largely by Nonconformists, who did not want to disturb the meeting by voting against the resolution, we are told that the ballot box is not to count and representative Government is not to count, and that elections mean nothing. Special meetings in Lampeter and Williamstown are to override the declared opinions in the ballot box of the Welsh electors. That is the sort of constitutional theory that has been evolved, because hon. Members opposite cannot get. out of the quandary in which they find themselves by finding thirty-one Welsh representatives claiming Disestablishment and Disendowment for their country and only three against it. Hon. Members must find some other way. Some of them have tried. The hon. Member (Sir A. Griffith-Boscawen) said he was convinced that there was no real demand in Wales for this Bill. He knows perfectly well that he tried to get in for a Welsh seat himself, and he said, at the conclusion of that unhappy escapade, that but for this question which we are discus-sing to-day his votes would have been far greater than they turned out to be. The hon. Gentleman is well known in that Division and is well respected, and on personal grounds he would have been a most acceptable candidate, but he was defeated by I forget how many thousand votes, and now he, the Ulsterman of this question, the Orangeman of the. Welsh Disestablishment Bill, the man who forgets nothing and learns nothing, the man who has been saying that Nonconformists are animated by spite and malice and uncharitableness—
§ sir A. GRIFFITH-BOSCAWEN
No, I did not make any such charge against Nonconformists. I said those people who are supporting the Bill. I did not make a charge against Nonconformists generally, many of whom are opposed to the Bill.
Mr. LLEWELYN WILLIAMS
I beg the hon. Member's pardon. The vast majority, at all events, of the Nonconformists of Wales who support, this Bill are actuated, he says, by malice and uncharitableness. The hon. Gentleman could not find a seat in Wales which would 286 enable him to get up in this House to make these observations, and he has had to find a city of refuge sometimes in one part of England and sometimes in another. He will never get a city of refuge in Wales as long as this Bill remains a Bill and not an Act of Parliament. I could not help thinking, before the hon. Member (Mr. Hoare) and two or three other hon. Gentlemen had spoken, that we had entered on a new phase of this question. I could not help contrasting yesterday's Debate in my own mind with the Debate on the Second Reading that took place last year. Personally,. I was filled with apprehension this time last year as to what might happen to the Bill when it got into Committee. It is quite true it would not be candid not to admit that public -opinion in England is not as keen or as excited in this matter as public opinion in Wales, and therefore we. Welsh Members were aware of the fact, that there was a lukewarmness in some quarters in this House, and we, whose special interest was to see that Wales should have her rights in this matter, were anxious then, but now what has happened? This Bill has been debated line by line and Clause by Clause in Committee. Over twenty days were spent on the Committee stage. The majority; it is trite, fell on one occasion to sixty, on another to fifty, and on another to thirty-six, and the hon. Member seems to imagine that the decline in the majority shows that the interest or the belief in the Bill was lessened. Nothing of the kind. We all know how these smaller majorities occurred. The thirty-six was a snap vote on a Monday afternoon which failed, and the other two were taken on a Friday afternoon, when everyone knows what always happens.
The real test is whether this Bill is now more popular than it was last year? It passed the First Reading by a majority of 78, the Second Reading by a majority of 80 or 82, and the Third Reading, in spite of the fact that my hon. Friend voted against it, by a majority of 107. I decline to go into the small minutiæ of Parliamentary procedure in estimating whether a Bill is representative of the accepted view of the House of Commons. That again is a new constitutional doctrine. I never heard of it before. A majority of thirty or forty used to be thought sufficient for anything, and it is now theoretically. But why should the fact that on one occasion the majority fell to fifty or sixty be used as an argument against this Bill? I 287 have always been taught that a majority of one in this House is perfectly sufficient to carry out any Act of legislation. I could not help thinking when the Noble Lord (Lord Hugh Cecil), who moved the rejection of this Bill, was speaking yesterday, that he at all events does at the back of his mind realise that he must return some other answer than a non possumus to the people of Wales. No responsible statesman or politician can get up and say that things must go on exactly as they have been going on for forty or fifty years. You cannot leave this question alone after the Bill has received its Third Reading in February last by a majority of 107. Something must be done. What do hon. Gentlemen opposite propose? No definite proposal has been made. My hon. Friend the Member for the Kilmarnock Burghs (Mr. W. G. C. Gladstone) has offered a compromise, and he has backed his opinion in the Lobby. I say that in fairness to him. He has backed it on every occasion as long as he thought compromise was possible. His offer has been rejected. It is condemned by his own bishop, the Bishop of St. Asaph, and it is condemned also by the Bishop of St. David's, and by every responsible Churchman who has spoken on the question. There was one observation made by the Noble Lord last night in an interjection during the speech of my right hon. Friend the Financial Secretary to the Treasury (Mr. Master-man) which showed that he, at all events, has advanced somewhat. When my hon. Friend argued that freedom was greater than emoluments, the Noble Lord intervened and said, "Give us freedom and emoluments." What does that mean? It means that the Noble Lord is willing that the Church should be Disestablished as long as she is allowed to keep her Endowments. That is cloaked, covered, and concealed by the speeches delivered on this subject. I believe that if such a course were possible, and if it were acceptable to the Welsh people and the Government, a Bill for mere Disestablishment—in spite of the professions made here—perfectly sincere professions that they regard Disestablishment as a greater crime than Disendowment—would receive the general assent of this House of Commons at present.
I agree thoroughly that you cannot argue the question of Disendowment on the same ground as the question of Disestablishment. I say, and I challenge contradic- 288 tion from any responsible man, that the first thing statesmanship ought to inquire into when it discusses the question of Disestablishment, is, what do the people concerned think about it? That was the view taken by the Marquess of Hartington when he was Leader of the Liberal party in 1878. It was the view taken by the right hon. Gentleman the Member for West Birmingham (Mr. J. Chamberlain) later on. It is the view of Lord Rosebery. That has been the generally accepted view of statesmen in the country with regard to Disestablishment. I agree that when you come to decide the question of Disendowment a different set of considerations, or, rather, a further set of considerations arise. You have not only to convince a representative assembly such as this that the people of Wales want Disendowment, but you have to show that the proposals for the Disendowment of the Church are just, fair, and equitable. I say with regard to this Bill, judged by any criterion at all, judged by the precedents of other Disendowment measures in any other part of the world, these are the most generous proposals for the Disendowment of a Church that have ever been made before any representative assembly. I remember that the hon. Member for Chelsea (Mr. Hoare) on one occasion did mention one or two cases where a Church was Disestablished without the Endowments being taken away. I am talking of the great countries of the world, and I say that if you compare this Bill with the Disendowment Bills passed in any other great country, these are the most generous proposals ever put forward. I will not discuss what happened in England at the Reformation. I will only say that, whatever may be the true view about what happened at the Reformation—whether the Prime Minister be right that there was spiritual continuity from the medieval Church to the modern Church; I do not propose to argue that question—there were hundreds and thousands of clergymen who had been introduced to livings or had been consecrated bishops at that time, who were dispossessed of their offices, sees, and parishes, because of an Act of Parliament.
The Act of Uniformity of 1599 drove out from Wales two of the Welsh bishops. One was the Bishop of St. Asaph. That prelate had been appointed by his Sovereign and consecrated by the Archbishop of Canterbury, but when the Act of Uniformity was passed, what happened to him? He had to fly the country. He was 289 not only not given compensation for the loss of his stipend, but he had to fly the country and live in Rome, a pensioner on the Pope's bounty. Another bishop, Dr. Morris Clenocke of Bangor, who wrote one of the first books which was ever published in Welsh, and which was printed in Milan, had to fly for refuge from the consequences of the Act of Uniformity. The same thing happened to Dr. Morgan Phillips, Precentor of St. David's and founder of the college in Douay. All over the Continent of Europe during the time of Queen Elizabeth—in Milan, Rome, Naples, Douay, and other great centres—you found the old Welsh Catholics who had to live away from this country as exiles because of the change in the faith and teaching of the Church to which they belonged. It is idle, therefore, to say that there was no change. There was a change, and many people suffered from it. There was not a penny of compensation given to them any more than the ministers of 1662 were allowed a penny of compensation.
Let me ask the House to consider what comparison there is between the Disendowment proposals of this Bill and the Disendowment proposals of the Irish Church Act of 1869. I think that is a fair method of comparison. Mr. Gladstone, whose Churchmanship no one can dispute, and a man with whom all would agree today, whatever might be the case forty or fifty years ago, would never have done wrong consciously to the Church he loved, carried through the House of Commons a Rill for the Disestablishment and Disendowment of the Church. What was the effect of the Irish Act? It did not restore to the Church any Endowments, ancient and modern. Mr. Gladstone said, "These Endowments have been given to the Church in Ireland because she is the Established Church in Ireland. When once she ceases to be the Established Church in Ireland she ceases to have any moral or legal title to these Endowments." But in order to get his Bill through the House of Lords, he did make a concession on the quest ion of modern Endowments. He gave a comparatively small sum, £500,000, in lieu of these modern Endowments. What is proposed by this Bill? Without the intervention of the House of Lords or anybody except the Government, we leave the Church in Wales £102,000 a year of her modern Endowments. I will not go through all these matters in detail. Let me summarise the case in this way: The capital value of the whole Endowments of 290 the Church in Wales comes to something between £6,500,000 and £7,000,000. I think some £5,000,000 accrue to the Church and less than £2,000,000 to the people of Wales. Mr. Gladstone's Irish Church Bill, as it left the House of Commons, gave 50 per cent, to the Church and 50 per cent, to the people. This Bill, as it left the House of Commons, gave two-sevenths to the people and five-sevenths to the Church. I ask any hon. Gentleman, or anyone who wants to consider the question with an impartial mind, to consider what has been done by this Bill, granted that you believe in Disendowment at all, for, if you do not, of course the whole thing is wrong. Granted our standpoint, granted that we are as conscientious in believing the opinions we hold as the Noble Lord opposite is with respect to his opinion, is not that fair and generous treatment of the Church in those circumstances?
I would urge the House to return some answer to Wales other than a mere non possumusin this matter. Wales has been the oldest partner England has had in the government of her Empire. I think it was the hon. and gallant Member for Dudley (Sir A. Griffith-Boscawen) who said that the Welsh Members have been sent here since the days of Henry VIII., and they were in some Parliaments long before that. We have taken our fair part in the legislative work of the country. No one can say that we have shirked our duty. No one can say that we have been other than law abiding. No one can say that we made difficulties out of England's danger, or that we have done anything else except act loyally by the English Crown and the English people. We have done so because we believe that in the long run we could trust the sense of justice of the people of England. Sir Henry Sidney, father of Sir Philip Sidney, one of your great men, was president of Wales for thirty years in the reign of Queen Elizabeth, and he said of the Welsh people that a better people to govern there was not in all Europe, and everyone of your statesmen, who has come in contact with Wales, will bear out that testimony. And it is not because we have not spirit. I think that we have shown plenty of spirit, both in politics, if you like, and in the larger fields of Empire. But we have been law abiding, and the only thing we ask, the only separate demand that we have ever put forward to the High Court of Parliament, is this one that we are discussing to-day. We have put it forward for forty or fifty years, in the 291 constitutional way in which you have taught us to nut it forward. We have used no threats, and use no threats to-day. We shall be as loyal in the future as we have been in the past; but we do ask this House of Commons, this High Court of Parliament, to which no one with a just grievance ought to come in vain to redress at last this old old grievance of the people of Wales.
§ Mr. MALCOLM
Even to those who do not agree with the words of the brilliant speech to which we have just listened, it must be a matter of gratification to find the hon. and learned Gentleman who has just addressed us in such good spirit as to a Welsh Disestablishment Bill. From beginning to end those good spirits were noted by us, as we recollect that in the past he was rather a spectre at the feast. He explained how his convalescence had come about, It was because he discovered that the hon. Member for Kilmarnock (Mr. Gladstone) and Liberal Churchmen were not going to vote against him on this occasion, and that he discovered also that the Home Secretary had no more concessions that he was inclined to make. His position reminds me of the rhyme whose last lines are:—Came back from that ride with the lady inside, A ml a smile on the face of that tiger.I think that the hon. and learned Member would have a great deal more force in his argument about the representation of Wales always being on the side of Welsh Disestablishment, if on the present occasion, the precedent to which he referred at the end of his speech, Mr. Gladstone's Irish Bill of 1869, had been more closely adhered to. The hon. and learned Member will remember, and no doubt the hon. Member for Kilmarnock will remember also, that the Irish Bill was not passed without two very important preliminary things being done. Mr. Gladstone laid the Resolutions which were finally embodied in a Bill upon the Table of this House early in 1868. He then took a General Election in that year, and if ever a General Election resembled a Referendum, it was the election of 1868 upon the Bill for Irish Disestablishment. He did then one more thing which is very important in a consideration of this Bill. He so cleared the King's Speech in 1869 that only one first-class measure was taken from beginning to end of that year, and>Mr. Glad-stone had the right to say that which I do not think the Home Secretary has a right 292 to say, that the Bill of 1869 did represent something like the considered wish of the House. I am afraid that it is not the first time that speeches have been listened to from Liberal Churchmen which were very disappointing to the Church to which they belong. I listened with the sincerest disappointment to the decision arrived at by the hon. Member for Kilmarnock Burghs and his Friends; and we have had the declaration made by the hon. Member for Saffron Walden (Mr. Beck), that he is an out-and-out Disestablisher, and that of the hon. Member for Kilmarnock that he is a compromise man. He did not tell us exactly what the compormise was that he was enabled to offer, and which we were told the Bishop of St. Asaph declined. I wish that we had known exactly the compromise which he was prepared to offer, and upon what authority he offered it.
Mr. LLEWELYN WILLIAMS
I am afraid that I must have expressed myself inaccurately. I did not mean to suggest for a moment that the hon. Member for Kilmarnock made a suggestion of a compromise, and that the suggestion was refused by the bishop.' All that I meant to convey was that while the hon. Member for Kilmarnock was suggesting a compromise here and in the newspapers, at the same time his diocesan, the Bishop of St. Asaph, was saying that no compromise would be accepted by the Church.
§ Mr. GLADSTONE
The compromise suggested was the Amendment put forward by my hon. Friend the Member for the Morley Division (Mr. France).
§ Mr. MALCOLM
I think that the bishop very properly declined to have anything to do with that on the one side as the hon. Member for Kilmarnock declined to have anything to do with what we consider compromise on the other. The hon. Member for Kilmarnock was quite right. This thing goes deeper than anything on which we could compromise here. On one side and the other it goes too deep for compromise. Each side will have to abide by the principles which they really hold clearest to their hearts. The Prime Minister in his speech, which we all enjoyed so much this afternoon, told us that the real spirit and ambition of this Bill is to make for religious equality in the end in Wales. The French Republic claim the virtues of equality, fraternity and liberty. Does this Bill really offer us any of these three things as a lasting composition of a very long-standing difficulty? 293 It seems to me that to the people of oar Church in Wales it offers a Church liberated but not free. It offers a spirit which can never be at all akin to brotherhood so long as the feeling of injustice rankles in the minds of perhaps one-third of the people of Wales. It offers an equality which is to be brought about by levelling down and not by levelling up. It offers all these three things, and I venture to say with the greatest sincerity that I do not think that any of them makes either for peace or for spiritual progress. The Prime Minister, addressing hon. Members on this side of the House, also asked us to look at all these things, if we could do so, from the Welsh point of view. I say very respectfully that I think all through this week we should all be very well advised, if we could, to put our selves in our neighbour's place in this House, and see how we should act in his Place and judge according thereto. But I do not think it too much to ask hon. Members to try to put themselves in our place, and to ask the Welsh Members, especially if they were suffering, or smarting as they say, under the conditions imposed under this Bill upon our Church in Wales, both as regards Establishment and and Endowment, would not they do exactly what we are trying to do, and fight this thing out to the end, honourably and without any compromise at all?
am perfectly sure that they would, and the person they would respect the least is the person who was for compromise at every turn. We are told, among several arguments which are used to vindicate this Bill, that the Church in Wales is not a National Church. I do think that that confuses the issue very much indeed. It is not a question of a National Church just now. That is an argument I know that was used last night by the Financial Secretary, of whose religious opinion and attitude I thought I knew something. But speaking for myself, I should never claim that the Church in England was a National Church. I look upon it as part of a far wider conception of the Church to which I belong than that it should belong to England, or that what you call the Church of Wales should belong to Wales. I look upon it as a part of the huge corporate entity which does not know the boundaries of seas, rivers, or mountains-as part of the great Catholic Church to which we could not possibly do a worse disservice than carve it up into secular zones and say 294 of them, "This is the Church of England; that is the Church of Wales; and something else is the Church of Ireland." I think it just as ridiculous to talk about a National Church of England, and to object to it on any ground of that kind, as to say that you would not support art or science because of a national exclusiveness, if it did not happen to be the art or science of the country to which you belong. It seems to me to be just as absurd as to say that the Welsh people would not support Italian art with Welsh money as it was not Welsh, or that they would not go in for German scientific research because it was not Welsh. That seems to me to be just as reasonable as to try to hinder the spiritual progress in the works of a great historic and ancient Church simply because it does not happen to fall in with the views of a large section of the population in Wales.
I look upon the Catholic Church in these Islands in a far higher and more indivisible sense than that of the people who use the expression "National Church." We must remember who the people are who say that the Church in Wales is not a National Church. I am afraid when that expression is used that those who use it, like the Home Secretary and others, really mean that the only people who are National are Welsh Nonconformists. It seems to me a consideration that ought to be present to the minds of hon. Gentlemen, that the Bishops of St. David's and St. Asaph, both Welsh speaking prelates, have just as much right to be the exponents of national feeling, with one-third of the population attached to their Church, as the hon. Member for Merthyr Tydvil who also speaks Welsh no doubt with a very high eloquence. Do not let us be carried away because one section of the population say that this is not a National Church, because, whatever that may be worth, another influential, though perhaps Snot so numerous, a section of the population are inclined to think that the old Church of the country, which has baptised, married, and buried Welsh people for over a thousand years, is not an alien Church. The Irish analogy has been used. It can, of course, be shown to be imperfect, because the disparity in numbers, as regards Roman Catholics and Protestants in Ireland is far greater than the disparity between the Church and the various Nonconformist communities in Wales, and there is also the question that the election throughout Great Britain was 295 certainly fought in that case upon the definite question of the Irish Disestablishment, and it remains to be seen, when we are given an opportunity of fighting an election on Welsh Disestablishment, what the answer of the electorate of Great Britain will be.
The only thing which I think is valuable in connection with the Irish example is this, has Irish Disestablishment been a success or has it not I have really taken a great deal of trouble in regard to that question. I have lived in Ireland, and I heard the opinion of Irish persons of authority on the subject. Those opinions differed tremendously, and it is by no means certain whether Disestablishment is an unqualified success, or is an unqualified advantage to the spiritual life of Ireland. I for one have come to the conclusion that it is rather, if anything, on the side of disadvantage to Ireland. The Irish Episcopal Church has certainly progressed in the years that have passed, but I believe that its progress has been in spite of Disestablishment, and not in consequence of it. I have certainly no good data for a foundation on which I should wish to erect any similar example to be followed in the case of Wales. As to dismemberment, I think it was the Prime Minister who told us that he did not really set any great store by the argument of dismemberment. I am not sure that I set very great store by it myself, but still I do say that coming cumulatively, as it does, on the top of Disestablishment and Disendowment, it is a cruel and fatal blow to inflict upon the Church of the country. It may not, it is quite possible, destroy her efficiency, but it does tear asunder her historic and more than glorious connection with the See of Canterbury in a manner which I think humiliating to those upon whom it has fallen, and humiliating to those who survive the operation.
In regard to this, I have a sort of analogy in my head. I remember that some time ago the War Minister on our side of the House moved to turn the Highland Light Infantry out of the Highland Brigade. That would not have hurt their efficiency at all; they were probably just as good a regiment, but it hurt tremendously their esprit de corps, and their sense of corporate existence, and, to that extent, injured their efficiency. It is very much the same thing I think with the Church in Wales, and its connection with 296 the See of Canterbury, and the least that should be done in this Bill is to leave these four dioceses within the Province of Canterbury, as you could easily do, if you have real goodwill towards the Church in Wales. Most of all, I dislike the Re-establishment Clauses in the Bill. I do not know what the hon. Member for Saffron Walden means when he says that he did not know where Establishment came in, and he added that the Church was absolutely free from the control of Parliament. But Clause 13 is stuffed with restrictions on the liberty of the new Church in Wales, and I submit that the present Cabinet, composed as it is of Ministers of utterly divergent religious views, among them the Financial Secretary to the Treasury, the Attorney-General, and the Chancellor of the Exchequer, really is not a Cabinet whom you could expect to lay down the constitution of a Church like the Church in Wales and expect it to be accepted with any enthusiasm. We only ask this House, not merely on behalf of the Church of Wales but on behalf of the Catholic Church in this country, to leave that portion of the Church which is in Wales alone to fulfil, as the Prime Minister said its high mission and place in the world. I am assured every hon. Member really looks for spiritual progress, whether it be of the Roman Catholic Church, the Church of England, or any of the communities that really do Christian work, and they would be the very last in their hearts to vote for a Bill which the hon. Member for Kilmarnock told us was dangerous and speculative guess-work, or to vote for a Bill that would hinder the work of one of the greatest Churches the world has ever seen.
§ Mr. KELLAWAY
The hon Gentleman who has just sat down, in a speech of much interest, unconsciously did an injustice to my hon. Friend the Member for Kilmarnock, in attributing to him a description of this Bill as dangerous and speculative guess-work. My hon. Friend, as we understood him, when he used that expression, was applying it to the policy of the Opposition in regard to the question of accommodation on this Bill.
§ Mr. MALCOLM
I should be the last man in the world to attribute anything to an hon. Member that he had not said. My recollection was that he referred to the advantages of one side and the advantages upon the other, and described the Bill as a piece of dangerous and speculative guess-work.
§ Mr. KELLAWAY
My hon. Friend was speaking of a policy of the Opposition, and it was in that connection he used the words referred to. It is quite clear that was the intention of my hon. Friend, and I am sure the hon. Gentleman opposite, with his conspicuous fairness, which we all recognise, had no desire to do my hon. Friend any injustice. On this Bill, I wish to speak from the point of view of an English Liberal Member, and to give my reasons why I find myself able to say, and compelled to say, that the claim of this Bill is stronger now than ever it was. We have never heard from the Opposition, in any single speech, any answer to what I regard as the strength of the claims of this Bill and the fundamental weakness of the attack upon it. The position was put with an eloquence I could not hope to equal by my hon. Friend who sits below me. It is the fact that in General Election after General Election, for more generations than one, you have had from the people of Wales, expressed in a constitutional way, in the only way that the Constitution leaves open to them, a demand for this measure of religious equality. What answer can any Liberal, holding the foundations of our principles as we do, make to a claim of that kind? To deny the claim of Wales to this measure of justice would be to deny the whole foundation on which some of us understand that Liberalism rests. What right have you to force upon the people of Wales the English notion as to what should be their policy upon the matter of religion? Of all things that are tender to men of pride and men of honour, it is their religion. You would not submit to the Welsh if they attempted to dictate to you what should be the nature of the religion of this country, and you have no right, I respectfully submit, to atempt to impose upon the Welsh people an established religion which they tell you, in a constitutional way, by a majority of ten to one as expressed in this House, is thoroughly alien and distasteful to them.
Every Liberal in this House must stand for political and religious equality. Attacks have been made on some of my hon. Friends for having attempted to find some solution of this controversy which would be agreeable and reasonable to both sides. I think that those attacks have been singularly ungenerous, for there never was, on the part of any of those who were prepared to make some sacrifice to peace, any uncertainty about any of the essential principles on which this claim is 298 based. I think that reasonable men will always be prepared to go some way to meet reasonable men who differ from them; but it is not fair to attack Members on this side of the House who are prepared to make concessions for the sake of peace, as if those men had been uncertain or wavering in their devotion to the religious equality which they regard as being expressed in this measure. But I do believe that of all the things which are most odious to men and most dangerous to the State, the one which stands out most conspicuous is the according by the State to any one body of religious opinion special privileges front the State. That has always been most odious to men and most dangerous to the safety of the State. I do not venture, and I never have ventured, to base my defence of this Bill, nor am I impressed by those who have made their attack upon this Bill, on the particular proportion in which the Welsh Church have the support of the Welsh people. Whether it is one-third, one-fifth, or one-tenth of the Welsh people who support the Establishment is not a matter of overwhelming importance to me. I do not see much in the defence of a Church which is based on vulgar fractions.
The essential thing is, by the admission of all parties in this House, that the Welsh Established Church is not the Church of the Welsh people. I think there has never come from any responsible speaker in this House any denial of the statement that the Welsh Established Church is not the Church of the Welsh people. If you ask me what is the Church of the Welsh people, I reply that it is the Free Churches. [Hon. MEMBERS: "Which one?"] I mean by the Free Churches of Wales those Churches which are not trammelled by alliance with the State, and, underlying, there is a unity which I believe is the real unity for which all Christian Churches should seek. To my mind, real unity, the spirit and determination to make the world better, is through the Christian Churches working in co-operation one with another. By common admission the State Church in Wales does not represent more than one-third of the people, and you find it in possession of property which was left by Pious founders for the benefit of the Church at a time when that. Church was co-extensive with the whole of the people of Wales. In my opinion there is justification for the proposal to Disendow the Church, and you are not justified in leaving in the hands of 299 a body which is now only a fraction of the Welsh people, funds which were left by pious founders at a time when the Welsh nation and the Welsh Church might almost be said to be one.
The argument was worked out and developed the other night by the Noble Lord the Member for Oxford University that this property, once having been left to the Church in Wales, no Parliament had any right to take that property away from them. That is a claim which goes in defiance of much history and some history which his family had a hand in taking part and in the moulding. I do not think that you will find outside a group, a very narrow and small group, of enthusiastic Churchmen, many who are prepared to take that view that when the time comes, when the religious body to which the trusts were made, ceases to be in a position to carry out the conditions under which those trusts were granted, that the time has not come when you are entitled to carry out all the intentions of those who made those grants without having regard to the strict letter under which they were made. I do not think it has always been the view of hon. Gentlemen opposite that any form of Disendowment was unjustifiable. The Noble Lord summed it up in the phrase that Disendowment was a form of robbery. That was his bluff, hearty, English way of putting it. I am certain that was not the Noble Lord's view as recently as Thursday evening last when he by no means took the view that Disendowment was necessarily a form of robbery. I am sorry the Noble Lord is not in his place, because I want to call attention, as I think we on this side are entitled to call attention, to a Bill that was brought in on Thursday evening last, supported, as I understand, by the Noble Lord the Member for Oxford University, and which is a working model of what Disendowment is, and in my opinion, ought to be. That Bill was the Oxford University (St. Edmund Hall and Gatcombe Rectory) Bill. It was supported by the senior Member for Oxford University (Sir W. Anson) from the Front Opposition Bench. That Bill proposes to take away from and Disendow the parish of Gatcombe in the Isle of Wight of a sum of £150 per year and to hand it over to a secular institution at Oxford University. It appears that the Noble Lord only objects to Disendowment when his own constituency does not get a share of the plunder.
§ Mr. POLLOCK
Was not that to be paid to a chaplain at St. Edmund Hall, and does the hon. Member call that a secular purpose?
§ Mr. KELLAWAY
I am addressing a House of English Gentlemen and not a house of Jesuits. It was made perfectly clear when the Bill was under discussion that it is to-day a necessity of life at any college or hall that a chaplain should be there as head. There is a chaplain at that hall to-day, and they now say under this Bill, "We take £150 away from some rectory in the Isle of Wight and hand it over to a gentleman who is now receiving pay," and thus you have simply set free the money he is receiving for the chaplaincy to be used for some secular purpose. That is a mere juggle. The real fact is, you are now putting this charge upon the income of the rectory of Gatcombe in the Isle of Wight of £150 per year. I am quite certain if hon. Members will get that Bill and read the terms of it they will see that there is nothing in the Welsh Bill nearly so drastic as the way in which that Bill proceeds to, if I were to use the language of hen. Members opposite, "rob God" in the interests of St. Edmund Hall, Oxford. If hon. Members opposite could show anything like Clause 5 of that Bill, I think they would have a far stronger claim on the support of English Liberals. That Clause provides:—
"As from the commencement of this Act, the tithes, rents, profits, and emoluments of the living, shall by virtue of this Act be charged with payment to the principal of the hall of the yearly sum of £150."
And Clause 6 provides remedies for nonpayment of the annual sum, and these are the remedies:—
"If and so often as any sum payable in respect of the charge created by this Act to the principal of the hall shall be in arrear and unpaid for two months after becoming clue, such principal shall be at liberty by deed under his hand and seal to appoint a receiver for the purpose of enforcing such charge."
That receiver is to be in the position of a mortgagee and to have first claim upon the grant left by the pious donor for the care of souls in the Isle of Wight. I repeat that the Noble Lord does not object to Disendowment when he finds that his constituents are going to get a share of the plunder. There was one statement made 301 by the Noble Lord as to the unreality of this discussion. I do not think it was the unreality of the discussion which worried the Noble Lord or hon. Members opposite, but what is worrying them most is the reality of this discussion. There have been unreal discussions on Welsh Disestablishment Bills before now, and unreal because every man knew that when the Bill left this House it passed through a sort of valley of the shadow of death and was destroyed at the other end of the corridor. To-night it is because we know that the discussion is a real one, and because the Noble Lord knew of the reality of the discussion that he was troubled in his mind. I have the honour to represent a constituency (Bedford) whose greatest glory it is that it is associated with the name of John Bunyan. Readers of Bunyan will remember how he describes Christian passing through the valley of the shadow of death, and that he had to go by where two old giants stood at the end of the valley, and saw in front of those two giants the bloody bones and mangled remains of numerous pilgrims who had been destroyed on their way through. He was amazed to see that Christian, when he went by, went by in safety. The remains of many of the Bills for securing religious equality, the mangled remains, lie outside the gates where the giants have stood in the past, but this Bill is going by without any injury, and in safety, for, to use Bunyan's language, it shall go by because the giant, grown old and crazy, can do no more than sit in the mouth of the cave, grinning at the pilgrims as they go by, and biting his nails because he can do no more to get at them. It is the reality of this discussion that is worrying the Opposition. Every Liberal who supports this measure will have the satisfaction of feeling that he has taken one of the longest steps forward in the history of this country towards that unity of the Churches which in my opinion is the most clamant demand of our time.
§ Mr. MOUNT
The hon. Member who has just spoken occupied a good deal of his speech in discussing a Bill dealing with Gatcombe Rectory. I do not propose to follow him in his remarks with regard to that question, but I should like to point out that there is a, very great difference, to my mind, between that Bill and this. The money which is taken from the Gatcombe Rectory is to be devoted not, as under his Bill, to purely secular objects, but, as mentioned by my hon. Friend, for the payment 302 of a chaplain. In the second place, under the Welsh Disestablishment Bill, we have taken away from the Church twelve shillings out of every pound of money belonging to the Church, while that other Bill takes away £150 out of £500. For these reasons I think that the prejudice which the hon. Member tried to drag into this question need not detain the House for long. The hon. Member stated that the Endowments were left by pious donors to the Church when it was co-extensive with the Welsh people. We have had from the Prime Minister to-day a most impressive and powerful speech, in which he reiterated a point which I have always felt to be of great importance, namely, that the Church after the Reformation was the Church before the Reformation. So that it is admitted that the money was given to the same Church as now or to a Church which has developed on continuous lines since the time when it was co-extensive with the nation. The money was given to that Church for what reason? In order that the spiritual side of the nation's work might be developed. It was not given to the Church because it was a National Church, but because there was no other body doing the work which the Church was doing for the spread of the truths of Christianity. When we find that we have a Church which is the same now on the spiritual side as the Church then, and that this money was given to the Church for its spiritual work, I say that it requires further argument than has yet been adduced by hon. Members opposite to entitle the House to take from the Church now money which was given to the Church then. The Prime Minister dealt with the question of how far this money was given in ancient times for purposes other than religious. He quoted cases where money had been given to various educational institutions and to certain venerable abbeys. But he did not deal with the really important questions of parochial tithe and glebe. The Church in Wales is having taken from her the sum of £158,000 a year, almost the whole of which is parochial tithe or glebe. It has not been suggested that either parochial tithe or glebe was given for any other purpose than the services of the Church and the spread of the truths of the gospel. Therefore it was beside the point for the Prime Minister to quote the figures he did with regard to the objects for which this money was given.
This is a question about which it is difficult to say anything new. It has always 303 seemed to me that there is only one argument of real weight used in support of this Bill, and that is what I may call the national argument. We had from the Financial Secretary to the Treasury last night, a speech in which the right hon. Gentleman asked us whether we were determined to choose money rather than freedom, whether we intended to stick to our Endowments and were determined to resist Disestablishment. We are determined to resist Disestablishment. When listening to the remarks of the right hon. Gentleman I wondered how it was, if he really believed, as no doubt he did, in the advantages of Disestablishment and the disadvantages of Establishment, that he did not urge upon his colleagues the necessity of Disestablishing the Church in England as well. He is, I believe, a devoted member of that Church. I am bound to say that almost every word which he used was as applicable to a demand for the Disestablishment of the Church of England as to the Disestablishment of the Church in Wales. If that is so, the only reason why a similar proposal has not been brought forward 'with regard to England is that the Government know that the people of this country are bitterly and strongly opposed to it. The only argument which, in my opinion, has any real weight in support of this proposal is that it is a national demand. I do not dispute that Wales is a nation in the same sense that Scotland is a nation, that Ireland is a nation, or that England is a nation. But I do not think that that carries us very far in this controversy. We are told that there is a national demand for this Bill. I think that we want considerably more evidence than we have yet had on that point. We have been told in a forcible speech by my hon. Friend (Sir A. Griffith-Boscawen) that the contributions which the Welsh Nonconformists are prepared to make for the support of this Bill amount to something like £25 a month. That is not very strong evidence of their desire for the Bill.
It may be true that, so far as the principle of Disestablishment and Disendowment is concerned, you would get a vote in its favour from the Welsh people. I do not know whether that is true or not so far as the general principle is concerned, but I do not believe that you would get a vote from the Welsh people in support of this Bill as it stands. It is one thing to get a vote in support of a general principle, but it is a very different thing to get 304 a vote in support of the concrete proposals in which that principle may be embodied when a Bill is presented to Parliament. Let me give one instance. I suppose that if two years ago a Referendum or vote of the people had been taken on the general principle of national insurance, there would not have been much doubt as to a favourable reply being received. But if you were now to put the National Insurance Act to a Referendum or vote of the people, the vote would probably be as decidedly against it as two years ago it would have been in favour of the general principle alone. I do not think it is very difficult to explain why the people of Wales would refuse to support this Bill if it were placed before them. Let me divide the people of Wales into three classes—Churchmen, Nonconformists who are bitter opponents of this Bill, and those who do not take a very strong view one way or the other. You would find all Churchmen unanimous in their opposition to this Bill. [HoN. MEMBERS: "No, no."] Well, all practically unanimous. [Hox. MEMBERS: "No, no."] It is my opinion that you would find Churchmen in Wales practically unanimous against this Bill, because they would know that it crippled the good work that the Church is doing, and because they know it would cut it off from the Church here with which it has been connected for so long. They would find many of the opponents of Establishment and Endowment dissatisfied. I think hon. Members from Wales, who have probably heard a good deal from their constituents during the progress of this Bill through the House of Commons, will bear me out that some who thought that they would escape the payment of tithe when the Disestablishment and Disendowment Bill was passed into law and found that they had to pay tithe all the same, though it did not go to the Church, would bitterly resent it. I have no doubt but that there is also a large number who regret that even this small amount of money which is still left to the Church should still be allowed to remain as part of its Endowment.
Again, take that class who have not very strong views one way or the other. Some of these are Nonconformists. We heard of them when hon. Members on this side of the House go to speak against this Pill in Wales. I have no doubt that the large majority of them object to this Bill because they believe and will find the 305 work which the Church is doing in order to stern that tide of materialism about which we hear is to sonic extent hindered and stopped. I do not propose to go into the question of the evidence we get from petitions and meetings in respect to the progress of the support of this Bill. That has been already attended to and I think figures speak for themselves. Let me just ask the House to go further with regard to this question. Your argument is that Wales being a nation, and there being a National demand for it, this Bill ought to be passed into law. I remember when I was at Oxford, when we were learning logic, we were reminded of the fallacy of the "undistributed middle." Those that take the line that because Wales is a nation, and because there is a demand for this Bill, therefore this Bill shall be passed into law, are falling into that same fallacy which many of us in our early days fell into. Why do I say that? For this reason: that this question of Disestablisntnent and Disendowment of the Church of England in Wales is not simply and solely a Welsh question, but, as cannot too often be pointed out, is a question which affects the Church in England as well as the Church in Wales.
You have only to look at the title of the Bill, which is "to terminate the connection of the Church of England in Wales." We have in Wales a portion of the Church connected for many many generations by the closest ties with the Church in England. You propose to cut off from our Church the ancient portion of it. Surely, then, we have a right to be heard I Surely we have a right to express our own opinion, and to vote upon the matter in this House? I know that there are many who would say that the result of Dismemberment will not be half so serious as we suggest. They will say that the Church, when it is Disestablished, will still go on. It will. They will say that the Church, when Disestablished, will he able to work and to co-operate with the Church of England. That only goes half the way. Will it be able to work and co-operate with it then as fully as it is able to do now? What has been the inevitable result of Disestablishm3nt of a Church 1 What has been the great difference between an Established Church and an Unestablished Church? It is, that, whereas in the Established Church you get a breadth of view and a comprehensiveness of doctrine which is of the greatest value, in a Disestablished Church or in 306 an Unestablished Church, you get a narrowness of view and a want of breadth of opinion which is a great mistake. You run a great risk that when this Church is no longer Established, it will become less and less broad in its views, will represent more and more one sect or one portion of the Church, and will become. more and more out of touch with the Church as a whole.
Though you may honestly believe-and I desire to give all credit for honesty and sincerity of opinion to hon. Gentlemen opposite—that this proposal to dismember the Church, to cut off from the Church of England the four dioceses in Wales, will not have those evil results which we fear, I say that our apprehensions are far better founded than your hopes, and I fear the step you propose to take will be found to be one leading to great disaster in the future of this Church. I cannot see for myself how it is that hon. Members opposite can be satisfied with the position which they have taken up. You have never proved that there is a national demand. You have no right to claim that this is a Welsh question, and a Welsh question alone. It is not. It cannot be decided, and ought not to be decided purely and simply upon the ground of nationality. Just as in regard to Establishment you have no right to try and settle this question on the ground of nationality, so I say you have no right to deal with the question of Endowment simply and solely because you say these funds were given entirely to the Church, because it was the Church of the nation. These funds were not given to the Church because it was the Church of the nation. They were given to the Church when it was the Church of the nation: that is a very different thing. There is only one other matter to which I should just like to refer. Reference has been made in the course of these Debates to statements which were made by the Prime Minister during the passing of the Parliament Act. He tried to take away from us the sense of the danger which would result from the passing of the Parliament Act. He said that any new House of Commons could and would reverse any Bill which was passed by the House of Commons if the people of the country expressed their opinion against it.
I venture to say in regard to this Bill that it would be extremely difficult to repeal it. I do not mean to say it would be 307 impossible, but that it would be extremely difficult. You would have aroused the cupidity, if I do not use too harsh a word, of the county councils and the parish councils in Wales who, having put their hands on the funds which would come to them under the Bill, would then have to be told that they would no longer be allowed to have anything to do with them. One of the great evils this Bill is bringing about is an increase of the bitterness between the Church and Nonconformity throughout this land. I believe there was a prospect before this Bill was introduced of some coming together between the various denominations. I believe that is very largely at an end, at any rate, in Wales, no matter whether this Bill passes or whether it does not. We are told we must pass this Bill in order that we may put an end to the bitterness betwen the various denominations in that country. I do not think that a higher compliment was ever paid or could be paid to the Church of England than to say that it would forgive and forget this grave injustice done to it by Disestablishment and Disendowment forced on it at the invitation of the Nonconformists of Wales. It is because I believe the Bill is grossly unjust and unfair to the Church that it will cripple the work of the Church in the Principality of Wales that I shall do all I can at all its stages to oppose this Bill in this House.
§ sir JOHN M'CALLUM
We have been favoured this afternoon with very eloquent speeches from both sides of the House., and I am sure we rejoice at the tone and spirit of the whole of the speeches, and that they have been such as to be greatly in advance of former experiences we have had when this Bill was before the House. The hon. Gentleman opposite has averred that if this Bill passes there would be a great absence of toleration. All the toleration we have had in our religious squabbles has sprung from dissent, and there has been a martyr in every church where that toleration is displayed. The Church of Scotland, England, and Ireland in days gone by were only purified when the dissenters came out from their ranks and lived noble, pure, and self-sacrificing lives, and in this way displayed the spirit of meekness and toleration; so I think the hon. Member need not he afraid of the results that will follow, because the experience of the Church in bygone ages has been exactly the opposite of what he has indicated. We have the experience of 308 the Irish Church. The Archbishop of Ireland, Dr. Alexander, said he feared that if Disestablishment took place in Ireland it would be injurious to the best interests of religion. At the end of seven years he said all his fears had been falsified; the Church was in a healthier state, both spiritually and from the secular point of view, it was sending out missions, and in its home work there was abundance of fruit and considerable promise; so I think we need not fear now for righteousness, equity, and justice, or that any of the fears entertained will be realised or will bring about the condition of things now indicated.
The evils of this Bill are very few in number. I think that the Bill is not only just, but most generous. The injustice of ages has long lingered and clamoured for the settlement of this question and for religious equality in England and Wales, and in Scotland also. The practices of the Apostolic Church show that the Welsh dissenters have gone out and have really proved that they were the shepherds of the people. When seven-eighths of the Church-going people in Wales are found among Nonconformists, it is proof that the Church of England in Wales has failed in its mission. It has failed not because there have not been good people with the highest aims, whose lives we admire and who are anxious for the extension of the Kingdom in every sense of the word, but they were not acting in harmony with the highest spirit of true religion. I think the Leader of the Labour party, the hon. Member for Leicester, yesterday told the great secret of the whole situation in Wales. He said in Wales they have attempted to have a Church based on State recognition, and they failed, he said, because they had not Christ at the head of it, and that was the origin of the nonsuccess of the Church in Wales.
It is quite evident that a House like this made up of various opinions, Presbyterians, Congregationalists, Baptists, Catholics, Unitarians, and Agnostics cannot possibly deal with Church matters. It is impossible in this House dealing with foreign and home affairs that we can possibly manage the affairs of all the Churches and attend to the wants of the Churches and that is the reason the Church of England in one sense has been so powerful. We welcome this instalment of Disestablishment and Disendowment. A State Church is opposed to the idea of what a Church should be. When the 309 original founder instituted the Church he did not appeal to Caesar. He instituted another method of procedure; He selected His apostles from the poor men who were around Him by virtue of their character not by the size of their purses, and that Church has gone on in all the ages since manifesting power and influence which no State connection in any Church has ever been able to cope with. Foreign Missions, home missions and all good work have started within the boundaries of the smaller Churches and the Church of England has followed their example. All honour to them for the way in which they have through voluntary means made such progress as is the admiration of those of us who watched their work. I make that statement simply to show that it is clear proof that dissent, taking it during the last century, has clearly demonstrated that it is not only upon right lines but that it is upon apostolic lines. They have initiated a great work in the direction in which I am now speaking, and the result has been that during all that good work the dissenter has in every respect followed the example and manifested in many respects a desire for closer membership. I wish to make a reference to the movement now going on in Scotland. The Noble Lord the Member for the Newton Division, and likewise the hon. Member for Aston Manor, made some references yesterday to which I should like to call attention. I should like to read first what was said by the Noble Lord the Member for Newton:—We are seeing a great movement in Scotland today, for the success of which every Christian must Tray, of the two great branches of the Presbyterian Church drawing together under the condition of Establishment.In the same Debate the hon. Member for Aston Manor (Mr. Evelyn Cecil) said:—On the other hand, why should we not try and imitate an example of Scotland? There the opposite is going on at this very moment. Different religious sections are endeavouring to unite in mutual Endowment and mutual Establishment. The prospect there seems to me far greater from the religious point Of view than it can possibly be in Wales under the present. Bill, if it ever becomes law.The Free Churches in Scotland have been working together for three or four years, and the result has been so far satisfactory. The ecclesiastical situation in Scotland can be borne out by the following facts. The Prime Minister said, and rightly said, this afternoon, that the movement for Presbyterian union now going on in Scotland was one of the most remarkable ecclesiastical movements of our time. And surely the most remarkable thing about that remarkable movement is that if any 310 thing can be taken as already settled between the Churches, it is that if there is to be a union between them, such a union can take place only on the basis of the absolute freedom of the Church in all spiritual matters, which means, of course, the absolute freedom of the United Church from any special relation to the State or any subjection to the authority of the State other than that implied in law. In the General Assembly of the Established Church on the 27th May, the Moderator said:—We are in agreement with our brethren as to the inherent spiritual freedom and spiritual jurisdiction of the Church. We have also fully and frankly realised that our conferring brethren find themselves unable to accept a settlement which involves restriction of this freedom in virtue of special relations with the State.In the Assembly of the United Free Church, on the same day, Dr. Henderson said:—The spiritual powers of the Church ought not to be controlled or restrained by any relation to the State. The Church claims the right to frame its own standards, to frame its own creed or to revise it, and to do that without going to Parliament. The Church (that is the United Church) would also reserve the right to alter the constitution itself. That is a very long way from a constitution given by the State.In the same Debate Dr. Young said:—As a United Free Church they could not become part of a State Church in any shape or form. Recognition by tile State as of a position of privilege, or of superior claim to chat of other branches of the Church of Christ, they must avoid if they were to remain united and free.9.0 P.M.
The. United Free Church Assembly adopted a resolution in favour of the Welsh Bill, and in that way gave practical expression to the principles laid down by Dr. Henderson and Dr. Young. I have no fear as to how the United Free Church of Scotland will act in this matter, because they have made great sacrifices in the past, and they are not people likely to agree to the trammels of the State. The ecclesiastical history of Scotland shows that all her Churches as they left the Establishment and contributed for the support of their own ordinances, have given a clear proof that the only method to improve the Church is to go on the lines that it is dangerous to have a connection between Church and State.
§ Colonel GIBBS
The hon. Member who has just sat down has made a very interesting speech. In the remarks in which he referred to the Bill before the House, I must say that I altogether disagree with what he said. There have been many speeches from Churchmen and Liberal Churchmen, and I was surprised to hear the speech which was made from the other 311 side of the House by the hon. Member for Saffron Walden (Mr. Beck). He made a great attack, not only upon his own Church, but upon the Churchmen who attended it. He also told us that although he did not believe there was any very great feeling in favour of the Bill, on the other hand he did not think there was any great feeling against it. I wish the hon. Member would go down to his constituency and take a Referendum on the Bill, and I believe he would find that the majority which he had at the last election would disappear altogether, and there would be a very great majority against him. I am glad that this afternoon the air has been cleared of all idea of compromise. I have noticed in the papers once or twice that some people thought compromise was possible. On this side of the House, however, we never thought for one moment that it was possible because we would not have it on any conditions whatever. I am glad, however, that the air has been cleared this afternoon in order that the country may realise that the Unionist party will not have compromise under any circumstances whatever. I rise to enter my protest against this unjust and sacrilegious measure. On this matter I voice the feelings of those who live in my part of the country. There is a strong feeling amongst the Unionists in my part of the country against this Bill, and that feeling is shared not only by Unionists but by Liberal Churchmen and many Nonconformists.
Many petitions have been presented against this Bill. Meetings have been held in opposition to it, and they culminated last week in a huge demonstration and a big procession attended by a vast concourse of people. It was a very representative gathering, and the people forming the procession, marched several miles and held big meetings. Why did they have that procession and hold those meetings? They did it to show their strong opposition to this Bill as a whole, and because they wished to tell the country that they felt that money given for religious purposes was being taken away to be devoted to secular purposes. The Prime Minister told us on more than one occasion that the Parliament Act was intended to give the people of this country an opportunity of expressing their opinion. That is what they are doing to-day in the only way they can. By the meetings which they hold and by these great demonstrations they declare, as we declare, that 312 the Church's property is no more national property than any property, which may be held by any hon. Members in this House, including the clothes they wear on their backs and the hats they wear on their heads. All the money, and it is not much, was given originally for the service of God. It was given for that purpose and no other, and it has been used for hundreds of years for that purpose in the same manner that the money of the Nonconformists is used for that purpose. I was surprised at the time I heard it stated that the Church of England in Wales is an alien Church. Surely it must be well known that for centuries the Church of England in Wales was the only Church in the Principality. The Church of England is the oldest institution in the country, and the Church of England in Wales is the oldest part of that old institution. The ancestors of many hon. Members who are supporting this Bill to-day must have been, as my hon. Friend the Member for Croydon (Mr. Malcolm) stated, baptised and married and buried by what those hon. Members are now describing as an alien Church.
What is the position of the Church of England in Wales at the present time? The members of the Church are more numerous than they have ever been for years and they are largely on an increase, and the clergymen belonging to the Church of England are faithfully doing the work with the limited funds at their disposal. The Prime Minister himself has often paid tribute, both inside this House and outside, to the work they are doing. Yet this Bill largely hampers that work and does not help religion in any other way. No, hon. Members support this Bill because it is politically expedient for them to do so. It is the inevitable conclusion to which we must come that they place their politics before their religion. There never was a time when national recognition of religion was more wanted in this country, when there is a great wave of materialism passing over it. There never was a time when members of all Christian communities ought to stand solidly and do their best for the Christian religion to which after all they all belong. But that is not the case. This is the time chosen by these smaller denominations in Wales to fly at the throat of the greatest denomination, the Church of England, and to do their best to squeeze the life out of her altogether. They allow themselves to be carried away by jealousy of what they 313 believe to be her superiority, and they try to stab her in the back instead of helping on, with her, the cause of religion. I believe I am right in saying that in more than 400 parishes in Wales the Free Church Council cannot afford a resident minister. Surely, if that is the case, Nonconformists ought to rejoice that there are clergymen of the Church of England there, instead of doing their best to deprive those parishes of all religious services and all religious teaching. The hon. Member for Merionethshire (Mr. Haydn Jones) stated yesterday that by passing this Bill they were going to bring peace. Peace is not going to come with the passing of this Bill. If this Bill ever does pass, which I hope it will not, you are going to bring war-to-the-knife into the Principality until the Bill is repealed. Why not leave the Church alone? The Church is only doing good. Why stir up this bitterness which will only do harm to the Christian religion?
sir HOWELL DAVIES
My hon. Friend and colleague who has just sat down, in a desire to promote Christian spirit has, I am afraid, allowed himself to use some rather violent expressions against the Churches in Wales who are not associated with the Establishment. I am quite sure if he knew Wales, knew the work of the Welsh Nonconformist Churches, and knew the spirit which prevails amongst them, he would be the first to admit that such rivalry as exists between the Churches there is not a rivalry which seeks to stab one another in the back, but rather to assist in every way possible the great spiritual work in which they are engaged. Upon the whole, I rather welcome the spirit in which the discussion to-day and yesterday has been carried on. It is inevitable in a subject like this that there should be strong feeling and some bitterness, hut if the House only realised that the men who desire that the Bill should pass have for years been working for the regeneration of Wales, I do think that in the opposition we have had in this House and in the opposition we have had outside a little more consideration might have been shown to the Nonconformist Churches in Wales than has been shown. We have from time to time received numbers of resolutions passed at Church meetings couched in language of a somewhat wild character, charging the Government and the people of Wales with fighting against religion, robbing God, and many other expressions very distasteful to those of us who desire 314 the passage of this Bill upon many and different grounds. I am not a Welsh Member, but I am a Welshman, and in my early life in Wales I was brought in contact with many of the great Nonconformist preachers. I heard discussions upon this question nearly fifty years ago, and in the minds of the Welsh people it has been ripe for the last two generations.
What has Nonconformity done for Wales? It saved Wales in the eighteenth century and in the nineteenth century. The Church was Established in those days, and, if there is any virtue in the act of Establishment, surely that in itself would have been something in the cause of spirituality, but notwithstanding the Establishment the whole of Wales was in a most serious condition. Then there came the great preachers of that century who created such a moral reformation not only in Wales but also in England, that it has altered the whole face of our country. My grandfather had the privilege of entertaining Wesley when preaching in the western part of Wales, so that I have been associated through my family with the great upward spiritual movement which has been taking place in Wales during these last two generations. There have been no doubt many very important demonstrations against this Bill. There was one referred to by the hon. and gallant Gentleman who has just sat down. There was held is Bristol, on Saturday, a demonstration of a very large and impressive character. I would be the very last person in the world to minimise for one moment the greatness and importance, or even the reverence, of that demonstration, but I contend that to a very large extent the people who attended it were badly informed in regard to the question. They were told the Welsh people are very different to what they really are, that they have no love for and no desire to promote religion, and that their only wish is to pull down the Church of God.
But if there is one thing especially characteristic of the Welsh people; it is that they are intensely religious. You find that a purely Welsh person is attached to his Church. He attends the services with great regularity; he attends the Sunday Schools from the cradle almost to the grave, and the fidelity with which the real Welsh people follow their services is remarkable. They know, and know well, what their fathers and those who have gone before them have done for the spiritual regeneration of Wales. They see their own ministers, who are doing 315 splendid work in the Principality, are not recognised as equals by other ministers of God in Wales. Is there not every reason why they should desire to go forth and ask with persistence and perseverance that there should be a greater spirit of equality throughout the Principality? An hon. Member opposite, in the course of a very moderate speech, said he was prepared to admit that Wales is a nation. We are much obliged to him for that admission. It is very little that we have had of admissions in that respect during the time these discussions have been proceeding. Wales is a nation. It is a separate entity. It has a separate language, and a separate spirit. The Welsh people, by nature, are almost theologians. Whether it is that those who live in the valleys or on the mountains find more time to commune with the unseen, I know not, but the mysteries of life have always had for the Welsh people great interest and great power. A Welshman would rather discuss theological than political subjects. I remember well, in the days of my boyhood, how I heard my father and others discussing theological subjects, and I wondered what they saw in them to create so much interest and fervour. They are theologians. They love sermons, and they love to discuss them, and that is one reason, I believe, why the Church of England has not established herself in Wales, and does not get down into the life of the nation. Purely liturgical services, however beautiful they may be, do not appeal to the nature of Welshmen. There is also the fact that they are, to some extent, divorced from their share in the Church service. That is another reason why the Church of England has not made greater progress.
In the great demonstration which took place at Bristol there were many mottoes displayed, very interesting and very suggestive, and, to the mind of some, somewhat alarming. "Why rob religion?" "The Church demands justice!" I thought that was the very thing that the Welsh Nonconformists are demanding. "Church property is not national property!" That is a doctrine which I do not think some of my Friends opposite would be prepared to support. Here is another motto: "Protection for the alms of the poor!" Are we doing anything to deprive the poor of alms? "Reverence the wishes of the dead!" I know that considerable sums have been left for the 316 benefit of the Church in Wales, but if we could only know—if we could only go back to those distant years and learn exactly how those sums were obtained, I think we should probably find—I say it with all respect—that they were Death Duties exacted by Ecclesiastical Commissioners rather than by Civil Commissioners. It is upon these moneys, obtained perhaps in no ordinary way, that the Welsh Church to-day is supposed to live. I say "supposed to live," because, according to figures published in 1906, the whole contribution of the Church in Wales for the support of the ministry amounted to only £48,000 a year, whereas the contributions for the support of ministers of the Nonconformist bodies in the Principality amounted to about £480,000 a year. We do know this, that although the Church of England in Wales represents something like from one-quarter to one-third of the population of Wales, it has a very much larger share of the wealth of Wales, and, if so, it stands to the everlasting disgrace of the Church in Wales that Churchmen find only as small a sum as £48,000 to support their ministers. I retort to people who charge us with robbing religion, "You are robbing religion, because you are avoiding your own duty, the natural, proper Christian duty of supporting out of your own pocket the services of God, which you are enjoying." I do not understand a man corning under the vicarious charity of a pious founder of 500 or 600 years ago, and saving his own pocket. As a firm believer in the principle of voluntary contribution, I say there is a great opportunity for the Church in Wales to fill a much larger place in the life of the nation when it shakes itself free from those pious founders and those pious bequests of so many years ago.
Some people might have thought that it is only adding insult to injury to take away the Endowments, and, at the same time, to tell them that it is an act for their own benefit. But I say without hesitation that the very fact of a certain proportion of the Endowments of the Welsh Church being taken away, will in itself be of assistance to the people of Wales. When the people in Wales belonging to the Church of Engand love their Church with the zeal and earnestness with which some hon. Members have spoken, there will be no shortage of money to carry on the work in connection with that Church. I support this Bill because I believe that with a free church in Wales we 317 shall find a greater friendliness amongst the ministers of religion. At the Edinburgh Conference we saw all sections of the Christian Church gathered together, offering a great and wonderful spectacle to the whole world, when they were considering the question of a world religion; but when those men who were willing to stand together at Edinburgh to consider the conversion of the world go down to their own parishes, they will not stand and work side by side. There is something standing in the way. Is that something the Establishment? I can honestly say that I look at this question with great hopefulness. I am a member of the Nonconformist Church which is nearest to the Church in doctrine. You might say that as a Wesleyan Methodist I am a first cousin to the Church. I know so far as the Wesleyan Methodist Church in Wales is concerned, that when the Church is Disestablished it will not be to the advantage of that. Church. I care nothing for that, but I do believe that a Disestablished Church in Wales will create a friendliness amongst the various Churches, and that its influence will be far-reaching and deep-rooted in the country. I most earnestly desire a settlement of this question, and I pray God it may be settled without bitterness.
We have just listened to a very earnest speech from the hon. Member. He has talked about the advantage to the Church in Wales on Disestablishment. He talked once of the Church of England in Wales, and at another time of the Welsh Church. Which does he really believe it to be, because it makes all the difference? If he regards the Church of England in Wales as an alien Church, it is one thing, but if, as we believe, it is the National Church and not an alien Church it is quite another thing. The hon. Member talked about the advantage of the Church in Wales of its being deprived of Endowments, and of the freedom it, would give to the Church. He said it would create an enthusiasm which would lead its members to support their own ministry. When he compared the amounts raised for the support of the ministry, he did not go into all the figures of church finance. He forgot that that was not the whole of church finance, that Churchmen and Churchwomen, to whatever Church or body they belong, are not only responsible for the upkeep of their own Church and ministry, but are respon- 318 sible for the needs of the poor and for the call of the heathen. When you are taking into account the contributions of Churchmen and Churchwomen, whoever they may be, it is not fair to take merely the home collections for their own denominations. You must also take into account the amounts they give to other bodies and outside things. If you take the whole contributions of the Churchmen and Churchwomen in Wales, to whatever body they belong, you will find that the total contribution, which is a voluntary offering, for one thing or another, is quite as large among Welsh Churchmen as it is among Nonconformists. The hon. Member also talked about the freedom of the Church and the money that was going to be taken away. What does he want to do with the money that is going to be taken away? He said that the taking away of the money would be for the benefit of the members of the Welsh Church, because it would give them an opportunity of subscribing to their own pastors. He is going to take away a. certain number of thousands of pounds a year. What is he going to do with it? He talked about freeing the people from the responsibility to dead ancestors. For what did these dead pious people give the money? Did they give it for museums, for Welsh colleges, or for secular education? No! they gave it to the service of God, and if you want to do what you say you do, benefit the religious life of the community are you for that purpose going to take away money which, by the confession of hon. Members, was given more than twice 500 years ago, in some cases, money which for 1,500 or 1,600 years has been devoted to religious purposes, and are you going to give it to museums? Is that not what you call doing evil that good may come? If you said you were going to take away that money and give it to Nonconformists —
I am very much interested in that answer, because I have never yet met a religious body which was not cramped for funds to carry on its religious work.
Consider the appeals that are being made at this moment. There is an appeal by the London Missionary Society, a Congregationalist body, asking for £100,000.
Can the hon. Member say that a single penny of the money that is going to be taken away conies out of taxes?
We are broadening the argument considerably. First, we had taxes, then we got to national finance, and now we have got on to tithes. Taxes are one thing, national money is another and tithe is another, and taxes and tithes have nothing whatever to do with each other. Tithe, if you like to say so, is national money, I agree, but still that was not the argument I was using. The hon. Member below the Gangway says that no Nonconformist body would accept national money. One deduction to be drawn from that is that no Nonconformist body is a national body. That was not my argument. It was a very useful interruption, as most interruptions from the other side are, because they very often are founded upon a sort of flashlight upon what is being said at the moment. They are generally found to be a mere flashlight that comes and goes, and has no more foundation than the flashlight which takes a photograph in a dark room.
I ask the hon. Member what he is going to do with the money he has taken away. By his own confession this money was given for religious purposes. By taking away this money, which by their own confession for generation after generation has been devoted to religious purposes, it may be that they are freeing present Members of the Church in Wales from one particular obligation, but they are not freeing them from the obligation to devote any particular portion of their income to the service of God. Every Christian man is bound to devote a certain portion of his income, it may be a tenth, or a twentieth, or a fifteenth, to the service of God. If he gives in support of his own ministry he has less to give to foreign missions. A man cannot give 320 more than that with which he has been entrusted by God for religious purposes. You are presuming to dictate to Welsh Churchmen, how they are going to provide that proportion of their income which they have conscientiously dedicated to the service of God. You are going to say to them compulsorily, by Act of Parliament so to speak, "You are to give so much more for the support of you own clergy, and you are to give so much less to home missions or to foreign missions." Is that really the view of my Nonconformist friends? That is the result of the Bill. The hon. Member (Sir Howell Davies) in his speech, which was dictated by a real religious feeling, carefully abstained from giving any approval of the use to which this money was to be put.
I put it now to my Nonconformist Friends, it is quite true that you desire to take away this money, it is quite true that the House of Commons has power to do a good deal, right or wrong, but are you in your consciences satisfied that you are right in taking away money which for generations has been devoted in one form or another to the service of God and putting it in one form or another to purely secular uses? Is that good or is it evil? I say it is distinctly evil, and when hon. Members try to palliate their consciences by saying, "We are doing good to the present generation of Welsh Churchmen and women," is it not doing evil that good may come? And what are they doing for the next generation of Welsh men and women? How many of the present generation of Welsh men and women, of Nonconformists and others, owe their Biblical knowledge, owe their religious convictions, to the teaching in the day-school, the teaching given them very often by the Church of England, and if this money is turned away and the Church is impoverished, how are they going to get their teaching? Is it to be for the advancement of religion in the coming generation? Is the state of religion in our day so good, are the children and the younger generation growing up in the fear of God and the knowledge of the Bible as they used to be? Is that the case in Wales? I do not know. I ask my Welsh Friends, Are you going to devote money which, whether you agree with every detail of the expenditure or not, is yet being expended for the benefit of the rising generation, and is being expended for true religion in Wales—are you going to take away that money, 321 whether it amounts to £1,000 or £100,000, and put it to secular uses? If I had heard one single word in this Debate from any single hon. Member opposite that they were going to take this money. and use it for religious purposes some part of my objection to the Bill would have been removed, but not one single word have I heard from any single Member on that side. We have heard some very earnest and religious speeches, but not a single word have I heard of a proposal to keep this money, as it was given, for religious purposes. Take it away if you like from the Church of England—from the Welsh people who belong to the Welsh Church—but I say in God's name keep it for God's purpose, as it was given, and do not put it to secular uses.
§ Mr. BONAR LAW
In the course of my hon. Friend's speech an hon. Member opposite made an interruption which rather surprised me. He said that no Free Church would touch a penny of public money. Was not that putting it rather high? I understand that Nonconformist churches or chapels, even when they are used at election times for political purposes, do not pay rates because they are churches or chapels. Is not that taking public money in precisely the same way as if it was given in any other form? The hon. Gentleman (Sir Howell Davies) made a remark which I have heard frequently before in these Debates, and which has never appealed to me, and it did not appeal to me when it was made by him. He expressed nothing but love for the Church of Wales. He said, "I am going to take their money from them because they would be better without it," and then he told us again that he was himself a member of the Wesleyan body. I understand that it is one of the glories of that body that they have created a great fund of endowment. If it is to the advantage of the Church of England to lose this money, why does he not take money from the Wesleyan Church, and see how much better it would get on without it?
sir HOWELL DAVIES
As a Wesleyan Methodist, I do not know what the right hon. Gentleman means when he says we have a great fund for endowment purposes.
§ Mr. BONAR LAW
The only inference I can draw from the hon. Member's remark is that he knows very little about the Church to which he belongs. I think 322 everyone knows that that church does possess large endowments.
§ Mr. BONAR LAW
Perhaps the hon. Member is speaking of a different body from that of which I am speaking. I am speaking of the Wesleyan Church. Does he think that they have not done so? If he does, I can tell him that he knows nothing about it. I remember on the first occasion on which I spoke in connection with this Bill I asked this question: What good is this Bill going to do to any man, woman, or child in Wales? I think it is a relevant question, and, so far, it is a question to which no answer has been given. I should like to put another question: What harm does the present arrangement inflict; what disadvantage does it impose on anybody in Wales or out of it? I know of none. I do not pretend to be personally familiar with the conditions in Wales, and I confess at once that what has surprised me in connection with these Debates is to find how small the privileges of the Church in Wales are. That was proved conclusively by the speeches of the Chancellor of the Exchequer himself. He reminded us that the head of a local body cart choose his own chaplain, irrespective of the denomination to which he belongs. We all know that at the investiture of the Prince of Wales the different Churches in Wales, the different religious bodies, were represented in proportion to their numbers and I have never been able to discover one single grievance to which Nonconformists are put by the existence of the Church in Wales. The Under Home Secretary, who is a special expert in these matters, was asked pointedly to point out what the grievances were, and he failed utterly to name a single grievance which could commend itself to any fair-minded man in any part of the country.
So far as I am able to discover, the real position is this, that the existence of the Established Church in Wales means, not that it possesses invidious privileges, but that it is under serious obligations. Some of these obligations were pointed out yesterday by my right hon. Friend (Mr. Lyttelton). He pointed out, for instance, that by the present arrangement that Church is compelled by law to give spiritual services at marriage and at death to every parishioner in the parish. I do not suggest that if the Church were Disestablished it would not try still to fulfil that duty. It 323 does not object to the obligation, but can anyone pretend that to take away that obligation can by any possibility be of any advantage to anyone in Wales? There is one point of view—and it is one I am sorry to say which has been frequently used in these Debates—from which I do understand the grievance. Many hon. Members from Wales have spoken as if these different Christian denominations were rival traders, and as if the fact that one trader was prosperous was a disadvantage to another, and they seemed to suggest that if you take away anything from the strength of one of them, it would help another. It seems to me that the business in which these firms, if I may so call them, are engaged is to improve the moral and the spiritual welfare of the people of Wales. There is surely room for all, and in the present condition throughout the whole of the United Kingdom, and not less in an industrial community, will not everyone admit that the field is large enough, that it is ripe for harvest, that the reapers are not too many, and that when every Church has done its utmost, there will still be room for more? Under these circumstances, if it is really going to weaken the Church, if taking away its funds is really going to hamper its power for usefulness, is that anything which this House, under such conditions, ought to lend itself to carrying out? This Bill proposes, as I understand it, to do three things. It proposes to Disestablish the Church, to dismember the Church, and to Disendow the Church. All these three proposals are regarded with the utmost repugnance by, I believe, practically every Churchman in Wales, and by nine out of ten, or ninety-nine out of a hundred, of Churchmen in England as well. The last of these proposals is regarded with almost equal repugnance, it runs against the sense of fair play of at least the great mass of Nonconformists who are expressing their opinion in no mistakeable terms. Indeed, if I may venture to make a distinction, which I think is not unjust, it is this: Nonconformists like the Bill who put their politics before their religion, but those Nonconformists hate it who put their religion before their politics.
The first proposal is to Disestablish the Church. My right hon. Friend (Mr. Lyttelton) said yesterday, and so did my Noble Friend (Lord Hugh Cecil), that this to them was a question of right or wrong—a question of principle. I think their 324 view is right, and I am quite ready to admit that there is a body of opinion in this country—a body which I think is diminishing—which looks upon it as a question of right or wrong from the other side, and who regard it as wrong that there should be any State connection with the Church. I quite admit that, and I go further and say that where there is this difference of opinion, it is perfectly right that the State should decide, and under constitutional Government, if the State decided that there should be no State connection, then I think we should have to accept the decision. I quite admit that. It is a question, more or less, of right or wrong. As it happens I take the view of my right hon. Friend. I was brought up in what you might call now a very narrow religious atmosphere, and among the dogmas impressed upon me was this, that a Christian State must have official recognition of the Christian religion. I still hold that view, but I am in favour of an Established Church, not only on that ground, but on the ground that I think it is an advantage. It is my belief that religious work, like every other human work, can only be carried on efficiently if it is carried on in an organised way, and I believe that the Establishment helps that organisation. My right hon. Friend quoted yesterday words from a book written by the right hon. Gentleman, the Financial Secretary to the Treasury, in which he pointed out that while Nonconformity was strong among the middle classes, when you get down to the lower classes, its influence was not so powerful, and that it was the State Church with State machinery that did attempt to deal with those classes. I know that the right hon. Gentleman yesterday read other extracts from the same book in which he decried the Established Church.
§ Mr. MASTERMAN
My whole argument in that book is that largely because of the Establishment, and the spirit and temper engendered by the Establishment, it was impossible with all those advantages for the Church to do much for the religious life of the community.
§ Mr. BONAR LAW
I accept that view, but, in accepting it, I would point out that the right hon. Gentleman said that it was only the Established Church, owing to its machinery, which could touch those classes of the population. I notice that the hon. Member for Leicester yester- 325 day, discussing that very point, said we had had some experience of that kind of Church. He admitted the value of the social work which the Church was doing, but he denied that it was doing its spiritual work. Anyone can judge of the social work. How are you to judge in any country or among any people of the spiritual? Another argument of the hon. Member was that you cannot get religion as the people are so poor. I do not believe it, but, in arty case, what is his remedy? To wait until the people have ceased to be poor? Does the House take that view? Are we going to wait until he has his social revolution before we attempt to touch the spiritual needs of the people? If not, the organisation which goes with an Established Church is a distinct advantage to the State and to everything which religion is meant to give to a country. But the thing does not end there. It has been pointed out constantly and truly that there is no Established Church in America or in our Colonies, but are you sure that that is an advantage? My right hon. Friend read yesterday a letter from Mr. Horsfall which I thought very striking. In addition to what he read from that letter, I may remind the House that in the same letter that gentleman points out that in the lower parts of New York during the last twenty years, while the population has increased to the extent of 200,000, there are fourteen fewer churches. That is the universal experience ill this country as well, and, indeed, the whole principle has been abandoned by the Free Churches themselves. The lead in that abandonment was given by Dr. Challoner, who was the soul of the Free Church in Scotland, who recognised that a Church, if it is to do efficient work, must have money behind it. And he says that money and credit and organisation enable it to do the work which is desired. For these reasons I, for one, am on principle, and on the ground of advantage, opposed to the Disestablishment of the Church in Wales or England or Scotland.
The Bill proposes also the dismemberment of the Church. Of all the proposals in the Bill, while it is not the most important, that seems to me the most unjust. What right have you to do it? You would not dream of interfering with the liberty of any Free Church or any legal corporation in this country to have any connection, however close, with a similar body in any part of the United Kingdom. The Prime Minister to-day seemed to think there was 326 very little in that. Surely he is wrong. Most Churchmen take a different view, and I may point out this—and it is sufficient for my purpose—that the Bishop of Oxford, who is in favour of Disestablishment, feels so strongly how gross this injury is that because of it, and it alone, he is prepared to oppose the Bill now before the House of Commons. The State has no right to interfere in that. So far as I can judge, it amounts to this: You are penalising the Welsh Church in two ways. You are penalising it by Disestablishment, and also because the Church in England is not Disestablished. That is to say, because you do not Disestablish the Church in, England, you are refusing to the Church in Wales, which you are going to set up, the freedom which would be given to any other institution in this country. But I believe that it is the Disendowment proposals of this Bill, which are in themselves most unjust, and which have aroused the largest amount of hostility throughout the country. There is no necessary connection between Disestablishment and Disendowment. I can quite understand the right hon. Gentleman the Prime Minister, who told us to-day, and I am sure, with absolute sincerity, that the last thing he wanted to do was to injure the Church in England, being willing to Disestablish the Church. But I cannot understand how he can support the Bill, which takes from this poor Church the poor Endowment it so greatly needs. There is no connection between them.
The Prime Minister has said in previous speeches that Disendowment of some kind necessarily followed Disestablishment. But we have also the opinions of his followers. The right hon. Gentleman, for instance, the Leader of the Welsh party, in accepting the concessions which the Government had made, after pointing out the circumstances which compelled them, said that what they wanted was religious equality, and, therefore, he could still support the Government. And, more than that, there was a contradiction from the right hon. Gentleman the Home Secretary; but that is not uncommon on this subject. The right hon. Gentleman said explicitly that there was no connection between the two, and he gave a good reason that there were cases where there had been Disestablishment without Disendowment, and cases of the other kind. Is not it perfectly evident that the two things stand perfectly separate, and it is no use advancing arguments in favour 327 of Disendowment, however valid you think them which apply only to the Disestablishment of the Church in Wales. I will try to examine very briefly the arguments on which Disendowment is justified. The Prime Minister to-day spent a great deal of time in historical survey, connected with the speech of my Noble Friend the Member for Oxford University. I am not competent, and I have no intention, to enter into that controversy, but in spite of my lack of knowledge I think that the right hon. Gentleman confused the issue. He confused Endowments which were largely given for the monasteries in which education was given with parochial Endowments, which are dealt with under this Bill, for it is a fact which I think is admitted by everybody that in the old days a bishop would not consecrate a Church until it had been properly endowed, and these Endowments with which this Bill deals are largely parochial Endowments, which were given for spiritual purposes. But the right hon. Gentleman forgets something else. My Noble Friend was dealing with an argument which was constantly used by the Chancellor of the Exchequer and which was used yesterday by the Member for Leicester, who said that the Church in England has lost its right to the Endowments, because it is not the same Church.
Against that view we claim with reason and with the authority of the right hon. Gentleman that it is the same Church, that it has had identity of spiritual life right through the ages from the earliest time up to now, and therefore the argument of my Noble Friend seems to me perfectly relevant. If you say that the ground on which you take away the Endowments is because it is not the same Church, because they were given to a Church with different dogmas, surely it follows that if they were given for spiritual purposes, then you are bound to continue them for these purposes, and the Church of Rome has a better claim upon them than the county councils. But the Prime Minister to-day, as they have done before, claimed that there was no need to argue this question on the ground either of principle or of expediency. Why does he make that statement? He made it on account of the analogy of the Irish Church. I really thought that point had been made so often in this House and out of it that the Prime Minister would not have brought forward that argument 328 again. The people who Disestablished the Church in Ireland specially disclaimed the very argument the right hon. Gentleman now gives us. Mr. Gladstone's ground for Disestablishing the Church in Ireland and Disendowing it was precisely the ground that the funds were not being properly used and could not be properly used. That was the ground on which Mr. Gladstone Disestablished the Church in Ireland. In the Third Reading Debate Mr. Gladstone used these words:—We never could admit an Establishment, which we think in the main good and efficient for its purpose, is to be endangered by the course which we may adopt in reference to an Establishment which we look upon as inefficient and bad.Why those words? In using those words Mr. Gladstone precluded all his Friends for ever from citing the Irish Church as a precedent on the question of Disendowing any other Church which can claim that it is efficient and good, and the Prime Minister has admitted in the most generous terms, and he did it again today, that the Welsh Church is doing good work and faithful work. How, then, can he claim as a precedent the Disestablishment of a Church which was using its funds well and for proper purposes I remember the right hon. Gentleman in a previous speech quoted another parallel, but he has not quoted it again, because I suppose he has discovered that it tells against him, and that is the precedent of the Scottish Church. I am going to quote it because the principles which were then adopted by Parliament, if they were to be carried out now, would make it utterly impossible for you to carry this Bill into law. What were those principles? I am not going into details, but this is the substance of them. For instance, the Courts decided that the property of the Free Church should, as it had been before, belong to the minority which still adhered to the principles of the Free Church. What did Parliament do? The first thing it did was what has always been done in regard to trusts. It gave to that Church all the money which it could usefully use. [An How. MEMBER: "It does not use it.") That is the opinion of the hon. Member. But in that case, he went even further than I imagined the Government would go. I am only asking the Government to leave to the Church the funds which it admittedly does use well. The principle there is that to the trust is to be given the funds which can be usefully employed. What was done? The surplus was not given to national purposes, it was not given to secular purposes; it was given to 329 another religious body because it could use it for the same purpose for which the funds were intended. On both those principles the Bill which we are now discussing is condemned. What is the argument on which they justify the Bill. The Prime Minister did not use the argument, as did others of his. supporters, that this is national funds, and being national funds Parliament is entitled to take them away. Just test that. If that has anything to do with the question, and if that be true, of the property which belongs to the Church, it is equally true of tithe, which has fallen into the hands of laymen, and if they have the right to take it from one, they have equally the right to take it from the other. Why do you not take it from the other? Because the party is not advanced enough for that yet; because they know that to do a thing like that would shake to its foundation the whole security of property on which civilisation depends. If it is wrong in the one case, it is equally wrong in the other. I am not going to base my claim that the Church is entitled to claim these Endowments on the grounds which are put forward by my hon. Friends, who are proud of the history of their Church, and even in argument wish to bring that history in; but I wish to place them on the grounds given by hon. and right hon. Gentlemen opposite for taking Endowments from the Church. More than once hon. Members opposite argued that by the Act of Uniformity of 1662, Parliament gave these funds to the Church in Wales, and the Church of England, and it is argued that what Parliament gave Parliament can take away.
What does that mean? Then as now, there was a minority which did not accept the new doctrines if you call them that of the Church. The funds were given to this Church irrespective of the new doctrines. What is the position? They have a prescriptive title of something like 260 years, which was given by Act of Parliament, and if that is not good enough, on what possible ground can there be any claim to any of the property? I do not deny that Parliament has the power to take away that property. But Parliament has equally the right to take every farthing that the right hon. Gentleman has and give it to me. It is a power, but it is not a right. In my deliberate opinion, it is confiscation in the one case just as much as it would be in the other. But now what is the real argument on which all this takes place, the only argument in fact. They tell us that the Welsh people have, for 330 I do not know how many General Elections—[An HON. MEMBER: "Eleven."]—for eleven General Elections presented this mandate, and therefore we must give it to them. Let us examine that. Let us see exactly what that argument means. I do not deny that it has a great bearing on the case. I do not deny that the fact that the people of Wales want it should influence the decision of the people of this country. But that is not your claim. Your claim is that they are bound to give it because they ask it. Wales is a nationality, in a sense, I do not deny. So is Ireland. But you pass the Home Rule Bill in which you specially deny to Ireland the right to establish a Church if she wished to establish it. Is there any difference in principle between the right to disestablish and the right to establish a Church?
Why do we deny that to Ireland? I know of no reason except this, that a question concerns the whole people of the United Kingdom, and therefore, must be settled by them. This question concerns the whole of the people of Great Britain, and not the people of one particular locality, and it is they who are bound to settle the question. Look at the matter from another point of view. We in the House of Commons are responsible. Supposing the majority demanded that the land of Wales should be divided in equal proportions among the people. Supposing they demanded that generation after generation. Would we be bound to give it to them? The same thing is true here. It is for us to decide whether or not it is right or just, and you have got to convince us that it is just. I feel as I am sure everyone does who has taken part in this Debate, and that under the conditions in which we are debating, they are pretty unreal. I think it is more important to consider the conditions under which it is proposed to carry this Bill unamended. What are those conditions? My Noble Friend yesterday, I think, quite pointedly asked what is the meaning of your Parliament Act? We understood it to mean this, that if in the interval there was a clear indication that public opinion was against it, you would not carry the Bill info law. Can there be any clearer indication that public opinion is against it than has been given in regard to this Bill?
I think so, and I will give you reasons. Take what has happened in the House of Commons. The right hon. Gentleman is 331 quite satisfied with what is happening in the House of Commons. I always feel sorry when I find that he is prostituting intellectually his great abilites by arguments, the fallacy of which nobody knows better than he does. He gave us the average number of the votes in the divisions in Committee. Does anybody know better than the right hon. Gentleman that where the guillotine is set up the Divisions mean very little unless there is some vital question for which people come down. There is not a Member of the House, and certainly the Prime Minister is not one, who does not know that this Bill could not have reached its present stage but for the votes of the Irish Nationalist party. It is easy to give the average number of votes with the Divisions in Committee, but let me remind the right hon. Gentleman and the House that on the two Divisions, at least which I remember, the Division on the suggestion that everything should be left to the Church from a certain date and the Division in regard to compensation for curates, the Government majority was much smaller than the Nationalist votes which supported them. I really wish to put this to any fair-minded man. The Church of England is not my Church and never will be, but I did not understand the point of view of the hon. Member for Leicester (Mr. Ramsay Macdonald) yesterday when he told us that the services of the Church of England made him feel as an alien and an outcast. That is not my feeling. Before I had ever entered the Church of England I had admired the liturgy of the Church of England, and now that I have been present at her services, as I was last week, it is not admiration, but something much stronger, which I feel for that service. If that is the feeling which an outsider entertains, I ask hon. Gentlemen to judge themselves what the feeling of Churchmen must be who love their Church, and who feel that that Church is in danger, and may be overthrown by the votes of hon. Members who, by their own admission, care nothing about the question, and are supporting it altogether apart from its merits. [HON. MEMBERS: "Oh, oh!"]
§ Mr. DEVLIN rose——
§ Mr. BONAR LAW
If the hon. and learned Gentleman (Mr. J. Redmond) the Leader of the party had been present, I should gladly have given way to him, but 332 the hon. and learned Gentleman himself said in this House in my hearing that British questions did not concern him or his followers, and that he gave his votes in what he believed to be the interests of Ireland.
§ Mr. BONAR LAW
Look at it from another point of view. The Government profess that this is a question in which a locality's interests are concerned. Their whole principle of Home Rule all round is based on that. Admittedly, by their own admission, the number of Irish Members is greater than it will be when their Home Rule Bill becomes law, and what are they doing? They are using, as they hope for the last time, the votes of the Irish Members in their present numbers to do what they could not do if they depended on the votes of the people of Great Britain alone. I say that political cynicism has never sunk to a lower level than that. What about opinion outside 1 I will say nothing about petitions, although I think it rather striking that a million adults in Wales have signed petitions against this Bill. That needs some explanation. [HON. MEMBERS: "Half a million."] I am sorry; I was speaking from recollection. My hon. Friend tells me that it is half a million. Is not that striking? I do not say that the party opposite could not get petitions in favour of the Bill. But does anyone suggest that they would not get them if they thought they could equal the number against the Bill? The same about public feeling. The hon. Member for Carmarthen made an interesting speech on that subject this afternoon. He thought nothing of these public meetings in Wales. He said that when people go down there—we strangers—the Welsh people are so polite they will not express disapproval of what is said. I have had experience of the politeness of the Welsh people. I mean it, and I accept what the hon. Member has said. I once addressed a meeting there when I thought three-fourths of the audience were against me, and the only sound I heard was some expression of opinion from a menagerie in the neighbourhood. But when the hon. Member says that the people would not even raise their hands in opposition to a motion, that is carrying courtesy too far. That is rather difficult to believe. In every parish in England meetings have been held against this Bill, and they have been well attended. You have had almost none in favour of the 333 Bill. Does anyone suggest that if you could have held meetings in any way comparable to those against you would not have held them in order to have some expression of public opinion behind you After all, it is not open to argument. The Leader of the Welsh party has given the case away. He said:—Our friends in Wales hardly realise how critical the whole situation has been, not through any lack of effect on the part of the Government or want of energy on the part of Welsh Liberal Members, but because of the determined objection of a section of the Liberal party and the lake-warmness of nearly the whole.What better evidence can you have? In the face of that admission and of the known facts, is there anyone who doubts that what I am now saying is true, and that the Government intend in the case of this measure to use the Parliament Act in order to make sure that the will of the people shall not prevail? It is no wonder in these circumstances that the right hon. Gentleman the Leader of the Welsh party said that he was glad the Bill had got into the grip of a machine. I think it is worth while reading his exact words—We do assume that the Bill is in the grip of a legislative machine of absolutely good pattern and up to date, and I am rejoiced that the Government will do nothing to stop the action of the machine.That is constitutional Government up-to-date! I was surprised this afternoon to find that the right hon. Gentleman attaches some importance, or at least referred to, an interruption of mine to the right hon. Gentleman the Financial Secretary to the Treasury, when he was speaking last night. I said that if the country declared against the Bill the new Parliament would revise what you had done. I did not think I was making a declaration. I thought I was stating a proposition that was self-evident. This afternoon, quoting from memory, I said that the right hon. Gentleman had himself said that it would not be our duty. I have found the exact words to which I then referred. In regard to the Parliament Act, the right hon. Gentleman said this:—This arrangement precludes the possibility—and I say this with the utmost assurance—of covertly or arbitrarily smuggling into law measures which are, condemned by a public opinion "—He went on to say:—And this is as certain as daylight, in ninety-nine cases out of one hundred the new House of Commons both could and would reverse the legislation which had been shown by a General Election to be opposed to the will of the mass of the electorate.Is it not evident, whoever is responsible for the policy of the new Parliament, that it clearly will be their duty—they could not do any less—to reverse what you have done 334 if the people of the country declare against it. I would like, as an example of the kind of argument which the right hon. Gentleman sometimes uses, to remind the House of what he said this afternoon. He said, "You did not reverse the Irish Church Bill." Why? The Irish Church Bill was passed when the Constitution was not in suspense. It passed through the House of Lords, who were not in favour of it, but accepted it because the House of Lords believed the people of this country were in favour of it. They had every reason to believe that, for there never has been an election in this country, in my belief, where the issue was more clearly the one and sole issue than was the election of 1868 on the question of the Irish Church. That is all I wish to say, except this, the Prime Minister this afternoon did use one argument, and one only, which appealed to me. He said that he believed that this Bill would mitigate religious bigotry and religious bitterness. If I believed that, I would be in favour of it. How can it? It may be quite true—I do not deny it—that the Church in Wales, as other Churches of which I have any knowledge, has a past, part of which it has no reason to be proud of. The right hon. Gentleman says that the people in Wales have long memories, or something like that. Yes; but members of Churches have memories, and they believe in what you are now doing you are inflicting an act of intolerable injustice. Do you think that is going to cure religious bitterness? And it is not merely the bitterness of those to whom you are doing a wrong, for my experience and my belief is that those who inflict a wrong are far more bitter than those who suffer it, and that it is easier for those who have suffered to forgive than it is for those who have inflicted a wrong. It is easier for those who suffered to forgive than for those who inflict it to forget. You will not cure religious bitterness in that way, and, after all, since there is this bitterness—and I do not deny it—is it, not at least becoming less than it was? What is the experience throughout the whole of the United Kingdom? Everyone admits that the demand for Disestablishment is dying down in Scotland. [HON. MEMBERS: "No, no!"] The Financial Secretary to the Treasury admitted last night in the Debate—
§ Mr. BONAR LAW
I beg the right hon. Gentleman's pardon, but if he looks up his 335 speech he will find he did. And look at what is happening in Scotland to-day. I should be the last to say anything to endanger what is happening in Scotland; but what is happening? At the time of the Midlothian campaign the Disestablishment movement was as strong in Scotland as in Wales to-day. In Scotland to-day both the Churches—the Free Church and the Established Church—are as I have good reason to hope on the point of agreement and an agreement on the basis of Church Establishment. [HoN. MEMBERS: "No, no."] There is no doubt of that.
§ Mr. BONAR LAW
I say it is on the basis of Church Establishment. I have read the report. It is quite true that both sides have given up a great deal, and it is quite true that when they come to an agreement, as I hope they will, they will come to this House for a new constitution.
§ Mr. BONAR LAW
For a new constitution—that is the intention of the leaders of both Churches—which, while recognising Establishment, will make the Churches free in spiritual matters—the ideal of Establishment in my opinion. Why have they done that? It is because earnest men in both Churches have realised two things. They have realised that important as their points of difference are, and vital as they once thought them, they are very small in comparison with the points on which they are agreed, and they have realised that what they have to fight is the common foe, and that they have no time to fight each other. That is one thing. They have realised also that all the funds they can get are needed for the Church's work, and they will be no party to handing over spiritual money for secular purposes.
§ The PRESIDENT of the BOARD of AGRICULTURE (Mr. Runciman)
Any English Member who would venture to enter a Scottish ecclesiastical question as boldly as the right hon. Gentleman would obviously find himself in one of the 336 thorniest bushes into which any politician could tread; but there has surely never been a graver misrepresentation of the common basis upon which union alone in Scotland is possible than that given by the right hon. Gentleman. I have no intention whatever of discussing that.
§ Mr. RUNCIMAN
I have no intention of discussing the right hon. Gentleman's speech at any length. I will content myself with reading one statement made at the recent General Assembly, when the negotiations were reported on by Dr. Henderson. He stated emphatically:—Now from the starting point it is important to, remember, its the memorandum of the Church of Scotland states, that union is impossible between the two Churches except on the basis of entire spiritual freedom.The memorandum goes on to state:—If the two Churches are to be united they must have the power to constitute their own courts, to legislate and judge in all matters of doctrine, government, worship, and discipline.[HON. MEMBERS: "Hear, hear."] I am glad to hear that even hon. Gentlemen opposite when they find the principles of Disestablishment applied to a country where every man is a theologian, where they understand the niceties of ecclesiastical argument far better than we do in this House, are prepared to endorse the view that the Church should be free from State control, should have the right to set up their own courts and decide all matters of discipline and doctrine according to its own belief. That is exactly the proposal of the Welsh Church Bill. [HON. MEMBERS: "No, no," and "Read the Bill."] I have no intention of following the right hon. Gentleman through his usual statement about elections.
§ Mr. RUNCIMAN
The right hon. Gentleman referred to what he called the electoral expression of opinion, an argument used on every occasion whenever we are discussing any measure which has to have the benefit of the procedure of the Parliament Act. I cannot imagine any good purpose that is served by telling the House, when Home Rule is under discussion, that that was or was not an issue at by-elections, and when the Welsh Church Bill was before us that that was or was not before the electors. I suppose we shall be told on Friday that 337 the Scottish Temperance Bill was or was not an issue at the by-elections. The old arguments are trotted out by the right hon. Gentleman and he even repeats quotations he used on the Second Reading of the Bill last Session. He quoted Mr. Gladstone, leaving out then and now that part in which he said that the case for Wales was overwhelming.
§ Mr. RUNCIMAN
A later speech. Mr. Gladstone said in. 1891:—In two vital and determining points I cannot deny that the case of Wales corresponds with that of the Church of Ireland. In the first place, it is the Church of the few against the Church of the many; it is the Church of the rich against the Church of the comparatively poor. These broad features are so stamped upon the case that in my opinion it is impossible to deny it.Mr. Gladstone's later statement in 1891 is equally suitable for us to (mote in support of this case. One of the old arguments trotted out by the right hon. Gentleman is that this Bill could not have been carried without Irish votes. [An HON. MEMBER: "That is true."] The right hon. Gentleman further declared that Irishmen were not concerned with this question. Five minutes before that he was arguing that the Disestablishment of the Welsh Church was a matter which concerned the United Kingdom. I hope the right hon. Gentleman will not think it an unfair rejoinder for me to say that if he regards the Disestablishment of the Welsh Church as a United Kingdom question, he would not surely deprive Parliament of the votes of those who come from any one part of the United Kingdom. Indeed, if there is any section in this House which is justified whether by direct interest or by memory, or by the fact that they themselves have been relieved from State interference with Church matters to take part in our Divisions on this Bill, it is surely the Irish party. But, even if we return to Great Britain alone, the right hon. Gentleman has once more forgotten that there is a clear British majority for this and other measures. The right hon. Gentleman, however, whittles down the expression of view in favour of this Bill at last to Welsh opinion, and I think he made use of the great petitions which have been signed and deposited here as an expression of Welsh opinion. One may forgive him for making a mistake between 1,000,000 and 500,000. If 1,000,000 was striking, 500,000 was only half as striking. I make no complaint of the 338 right hon. Gentleman's suggestion that petitions signed so numerously may be taken as an important expression of view. We have relied not upon petitions—they have been deliberately ignored—but upon the expression of opinion given in no less than ten General Elections, and. that opinion, I venture to suggest, is more reliable than the long list of names which are attached, no one quite knows how, to these petitions. The right hon. Gentleman was not content with taking an example from Scotland, but he began his speech by a reference to the Wesleyan Methodist body to which my hon. Friend the Member for Bristol (Sir Howell Davies) belongs, and he said that if the Wesleyan Methodists have endowments why should they object to the Church of England in Wales having Endowments? The right hon. Gentleman overlooked the fact that the great funds which have been raised by the Wesleyan bodies have been raised by themselves. They have not had assistance from those who are not of their faith. They are exactly in the same position as the possessions of the Welsh Church which are left untouched. The Wesleyan Methodist body was not in existence before 1662, and what he had in mind I have no doubt was what is called "The Million Guinea Fund." That was raised by the poor and the rich alike of the Wesleyan Methodist body. They made no demands upon those of other faith; they were prepared to support their Church out of their own generosity, and there is no comparison whatever to be made between the endowments of the Wesleyan Methodist Society raised by themselves and the pre-1662 national possessions which have been in the keeping of the Welsh Church up to the present date.
I turn away to some of the other points made by the right hon. Gentleman. He, touched on what is really of far more importance than the mere by-play of a Parliamentary Debate — and that is whether the effect of this Bill will be to damage the cause of religion in Wales. I quite understand that the right hon. Gentleman, who knows deeply the value of religion, should deprecate anything which would in any way diminish the power or the influence of any religious body in Wales. Perhaps he will allow me to say that I hold exactly the same view myself. I have no desire to in any way diminish the influence of the Christian religion in Wales. If I thought that this Bill would diminish the influence of the Christian bodies in 339 Wales I should not merely refrain from voting, but I should vote against it. I believe, however, that is quite contrary to the fact. Let me take one or two points raised by the right hon. Gentleman. He said, first of all, that this Bill would tend to break up the parish system. I think that was one of the charges he brought against it. I quite recognise that if there is to be a rearrangement of Church funds in Wales the amount of money which is now spent on some parishes will not be spent in the future, but those parishes will not be one whit the poorer, because they are those where the population is overwhelmingly Nonconformist. The money which will he taken away from them will in no way cripple the cause of religion. Indeed, the Christian religion could exist without the parish system, and, good as it is, I have never looked on the parish system as being essential. I agree that in order to cover the ground completely no scheme has been devised which is better than the parish system, but a parish system which is fixed, which takes no account of the religious needs of the country, does, in course of time, by its sheer stagnation, deprive the country of the full benefits of its religious Endowments.
The right hon. Gentleman seemed to think that this Bill would destroy all Church organisation in Wales. I am sure the great Church organisation will go on as it was before. Churchmen do not believe that Establishment is an essential of organisation. That surely is not one of their arguments. They do not believe that Establishment is necessary for work among the poor. And really, if one takes the case of Wales again, I think it will be found that in the poorest and most crowded districts it is less essential. Is it suggested that without Establishment work cannot properly be done among the poor? The right hon. Gentleman has forgotten the excellent work done among the poor by an organisation so badly off as the Salvation Army, and by the Methodist body, and especially the very poorest branch of that body, which, without establishment and without wealth, has been enabled to bring greater blessings to the darkest spots in England and Wales than even the Established Church. I have no desire to deprecate the value of the work done in the great towns or even in country districts by the Established Church, but I do deny 340 that Disestablishment will, in any way disorganise Church work. It will enable it to be arranged for the benefit of the Welsh people; it will enable a redistribution of funds in Wales which can only be for the benefit of the Christian religion. The right hon. Gentleman suggested that by the closing down of some livings Wales would be religiously poorer. But let me put to him the cases of Cardiff, Swansea, Newport, and a mining district like the Rhondda Valley. There are no parts of Wales at the present time which more require the ministrations of the parish priest, or of ministers of religion. But we only take for national purposes from Cardiff, £700 a year; from Newport, £336; from Swansea, £150, and from the Rhondda Valley, £25. It is not from those districts that the Endowments will be taken away for national purposes.
I must pass rapidly on, as I wish to say a word or two on the general question of Disestablishment before we proceed to a division. There is a great division of view between those who sit on this side, and hon. Members opposite on the subject of Disestablishment. The right hon. Gentleman seemed to think that those who voted for this Bill placed politics before religion. But he altogether overlooks the fact that in the last three hundred years, or longer, many devotedly religious men have organised themselves into effective religious communities who have regarded Establishment with disfavour. They believe the interference of the State in their religious affairs tends to secularise their religious societies. They believe that a State Church carries with it no guarantee of a religious State. They believe the religious character of the State consists in the religious beliefs of the individuals who compose it, while they freely admit the view put forward by one of the hon. Members for Yorkshire, that there is something in that mystical organisation which is called the Church which adds to its strength and tends to spread out and radiate from it religious influence. But that influence radiates from it, not because of Establishment, but because of the spiritual power within it. There is a very simple test of the influence of the Established Church, and it is that the religious side of country life depends not on the parish organisation, not on having a parish priest in every parish, but on the spiritual force of the parish priest, or of the minister, or of the laity in that parish, on the strength of character and faith which inspires 341 their teaching, and on the sincerity and consistency of their daily life. It depends upon nothing else. I think we are merely stating one of the commonplaces of religious experience when we say that the influence of a minister of religion, or a parish priest is great, not because just or unjust State privilege or State control, not because he is fit to dine in polite society or has had a good education, but is due to the fact that—there dwelleth in him the spirit of God which worketh great marvels.Nothing more or less can add to his religious influence. That is a view which I know is not accepted by the right hon. Gentleman, and those who believe, as he does, that through Establishment, and Establishment alone, is the only way—[HON. MEMBERS: "Who said that?"]—to make the Christian religion a predominant factor in the State. That is tile view which has been put forward in this Debate. The case in Wales is not only a religious case; it is a national case. Surely, however strong may be the arguments for the Establishment in England, the case in Wales is weakened by the fact that the English Church is the Church of the minority, that the Nonconformist bodies are more powerful, more effective, cover a larger number of men, women and children, and a larger number of pastors, raise from their own members a larger sum of money per annum, and are more in harmony with the national spirit and the national aspirations. I am not prepared to say that a sense of superiority on the one hand, and equally a sense of the unjustness and unfairness of religious privilege on the other, does not enter into the life of the Welsh people. I believe it does. That is one of the essential facts the right hon. Gentleman and his Friends have overlooked. The truth is that his arguments might be good if they were applied to some other parts of the United Kingdom, but in Wales they fail because he ignores the facts of Welsh life and the sentiments of the Welsh people. In the conflicts of the past centuries, whenever Christian dogma has been under discussion, there is no doubt that differences have arisen because of the rivalries of race or accidents of geography. It may be that is the case in Wales as elsewhere. The fact remains that throughout the last 150 years the main religious influences in the Principality have been found among the Nonconformist bodies, and that it is only in recent 342 years that the English Church has reawakened to her duty.
The right hon. Gentleman says that the memories of Nonconformists are long. Why should they not be? They have to forgive a good deal of the past, but in Wales they are reminded of the past every time they pay tithe. That is where the right hon. Gentleman overlooks the bitterness of the Welsh case. The Welsh farmer is asked not only to support his own chapel and religion out of his own income, but he has to pay the tithe to support a religion which may be antagonistic to himself, and transfer that sum of money to a parish priest, who may not only be antagonistic to his own religious body, but who may hold that anyone believing Nonconformist doctrines to be a religious outcast. That cause of irritation will be removed when this Bill is passed. I need not refer to the extension of the Methodist movement into Wales, for there sprang up in Wales, even before Wesley and Whitfield went there, a strong Methodist movement, which began within the Church of England, owing to the influences and the stupidity of those who controlled the Church of England at that time. That is one of the facts which remain well fixed in the Welsh memory. There are some men in this House whose great grandfathers took part in the movement which led to the disruption in Wales, no less remarkable than the disruption in Scotland. The social schism in Wales between the English Church and the Nonconformists has had a considerable effect upon Welsh life. I think the social grievance may easily be neglected, but the social schism has been a serious bar to religious co-operation in Wales.
For my own part I have no desire to do harm to the English Church. All I desire is that all religious bodies shall be put on an equal basis. I look forward to the time when they can all co-operate in the greatest tasks which lie before any social or religious reformer. If the English Church refuses co-operation with Nonconformist bodies on a basis of equality, I can only deplore that fact and repeat that equality is an essential preliminary to co-operation. We can have no permanent interruption of external communion in a country where we believe in the same God, and we worship very much in the same manner, and your great teachers and preachers are those whom we claim as our own. There are 343 some of the greatest names that adorn the roll of the English Church, on whom we lean week after week and Sunday after Sunday; but we must not forget our own Divines. We are not altogether unmindful of Wesley and Whitfield, nor are the Welsh unmindful of Daniel Rowland and Thomas Charles, who founded their Sunday school system, nor are the Scots unmindful of Chalmers and Guthrie. None of these are inferior to any Anglican name which is among the
§ glories of the Anglican Church. We are prepared to take part in supplementing the main work of the scholars and the preachers of the Established Church. I believe there is no hatred or malice in our determination to make equality as well as freedom the basis of religious fellowship and closer communion.
§ Question put, "That the word 'now' stand part of the Question."
§ The House divided: Ayes, 357; Noes, 258.347
|Division No. 115.]||AYES.||[10.58 p.m.|
|Abraham, William (Dublin, Harbour)||Craig, Herbert J. (Tynemouth)||Harmsworth, Cecil (Luton, Beds)|
|Abraham, Rt. Hon. William (Rhondda)||Crean, Eugene||Harmsworth, R. L. (Calthness-shire)|
|Acland, Francis Dyke||Crooks, William||Harvey, A. G. C. (Rochdale)|
|Adamson, William||Crumley, Patrick||Harvey, T. E. (Leeds, West)|
|Addison, Dr. Christopher||Cullinan, John||Harvey, W. E. (Derbyshire)|
|Adkins, Sir W. Ryland D.||Dalziel, Rt. Hon. Sir J. H. (Kirkcaldy)||Haslam, Lewis (Monmouth)|
|Agar-Robartes, Hon. T. C. R.||Davies, E. William (Eifion)||Havelock-Allan, Sir Henry|
|Agnew, Sir George William||Davies, Timothy (Lines., Louth)||Hayden, John Patrick|
|Ainsworth, John Stirling||Davies, Sir W. Howell (Bristol, S.)||Hayward, Evan|
|Alden, Percy||Davies, M. Vaughan- (Cardiganshire)||Hazleton, Richard (Galway, N.)|
|Allen, A. A. (Dumbartonshire)||Dawes, J. A.||Healy, Maurice (Cork)|
|Allen, Rt. Hon. Charles P. (Stroud)||Delany, William||Healy, Timothy Michael (Cork, N.E.)|
|Arnold, Sydney||Denman, Hon. Richard Douglas||Helme, Sir Norval Watson|
|Asquith, Rt. Hon. Herbert Henry||Devlin, Joseph||Hemmerde, Edward George|
|Atherley-Jones, Llewellyn A.||Dewar, Sir J. A.||Henderson, Arthur (Durham)|
|Baker, H. T. (Accrington)||Dillon, John||Henderson, John M. (Aberdeen, W.)|
|Balfour, Sir Robert (Lanark)||Donelan, Captain A.||Herbert, General Sir Ivor (Mon., S.)|
|Barlow, Sir John Emmott (Somerset)||Doris, William||Higham, John Sharp|
|Barnes, George N.||Duffy, William J.||Hinds, John|
|Barran, Sir John N. (Hawick Burghs)||Duncan, C. (Barrow-in-Furness)||Hobhouse, Rt. Hon. Charles E. H.|
|Barran, Rowland Hurst (Leeds, N.)||Duncan, J. Hastings (Yorks, Otley)||Hodge, John|
|Barton, William||Edwards, Clement (Glamorgan, E.)||Hogg, David C.|
|Beale, Sir William Phipson||Edwards, Sir Francis (Radnor)||Hogge, James Myles|
|Beck, Arthur Cecil||Edwards, John Hugh (Glamorgan, Mid)||Holmes, Daniel Turner|
|Benn, W. W. (T. Hamlets, St. George)||Elverston, Sir Harold||Holt, Richard Durning|
|Bentham, George Jackson||Esmonde, Dr. John (Tipperary, N.)||Hope, John Deans (Haddington)|
|Bethell, Sir J. H.||Esmonde, Sir Thomas (Wexford, N.)||Home, C. Silvester (Ipswich)|
|Birrell, Rt. Hon. Augustine||Essex, Sir Richard Walter||Howard, Hon. Geoffrey|
|Black, Arthur W.||Esslenmont, George Birnie||Hughes, Spencer Leigh|
|Boland, John Plus||Falconer, James||Isaacs, Rt. Hon. Sir Rufus|
|Booth, Frederick Handel||Farrell. James Patrick||Jardine, Sir J. (Roxburgh)|
|Bowerman, Charles W.||Fenwick, Rt. Hon. Charles||John, Edward Thomas|
|Boyle, Daniel (Mayo, North)||Ferens, Rt. Hon. Thomas Robinson||Johnson, W.|
|Brace, William||Ffrench, Peter||Jones, Rt. Hon. Sir D. Brynmor (Swansea)|
|Brady, P. J.||Field, William||Jones, Edgar R. (Merthyr Tydvll)|
|Brocklehurst, W. B.||Fitzgibbon, John||Jones, H. Haydn (Merioneth)|
|Brunner, J. F. L.||Flavin, Michael Joseph||Jones, J. Towyn (Carmarthen, East)|
|Bryce, J. Annan||France, G. A.||Jones, Leif Stratten (Notts, Rushcliffe)|
|Buckmaster, Stanley O.||Furness, Sir Stephen Wilson||Jones, William S. Glyn- (Stepney)|
|Burke, E. Haviland-||Gelder, Sir W. A.||Jowett, F. W.|
|Burns, Rt. Hon. John||George, Rt. Hon. D. Lloyd||Keating, Matthew|
|Burt, Rt. Hon. Thomas||Gill, A. H.||Kellaway, Frederick George|
|Buxton, Noel (Norfolk, North)||Ginnell, Laurence||Kelly, Edward|
|Buxton, Rt. Hon. S. C. (Poplar)||Gladstone, W. G. C.||Kennedy, Vincent Paul|
|Byles, Sir William Pollard||Glanville, H. J.||Kilbride, Denis|
|Carr-Gomm, H. W.||Goddard, Sir Daniel Ford||King, Joseph|
|Cawley, Sir Frederick (Prestwich)||Goldstone, Frank||Lambert, Rt. Hon. G. (Devon, S. Molton)|
|Cawley, Harold T. (Lanes., Heywood)||Greenwood, Granville G. (Peterborough)||Lambert, Richard (Wilts, Cricklade)|
|Chancellor, Henry George||Greenwood, Hamar (Sunderland)||Lardner, James C. R.|
|Chapple, Dr. William Allen||Greig, Colonel J. W.||Law, Hugh A. (Donegal, West)|
|Churchill, Rt. Hon. Winston S.||Grey, Rt. Hon. Sir Edward||Lawson, Sir W. (Cumb'rld, Cockerm'th)|
|Clancy, John Joseph||Griffith, Ellis J.||Leach, Charles|
|Clough, William||Guest. Major Hon. C. H. C. (Pembroke)||Levy, Sir Maurice|
|Clynes, John R.||Guest, Hon. Frederick E. (Dorset, E.)||Lewis, Rt. Hon. John Herbert|
|Collins, Godfrey P. (Greenock)||Guiney, Patrick||Logan, John William|
|Collins, Sir Stephen (Lambeth)||Gulland, John William||Lough, Rt. Hon. Thomas|
|Compton-Rickett, Rt. Hon. Sir J.||Gwynn, Stephen Lucius (Galway)||Low, Sir F. (Norwich)|
|Condon, Thomas Joseph||Hackett, J.||Lundon, Thomas|
|Cornwall, Sir Edwin A.||Hall. Frederick (Normanton)||Lyell, Charles Henry|
|Cory, Sir Clifford John||Hancock, J. G.||Lynch, A. A.|
|Cotton, William Francis||Harcourt, Rt. Hon. Lewis (Rossendale)||Macdonald, J. Ramsay (Leicester)|
|Cowan, W. H.||Harcourt, Robert V. (Montrose)||Macdonald, J. M. (Falkirk Burghs)|
|McGhee, Richard||O'Kelly, Edward P. (Wicklow, W.)||Sheehan, Daniel Daniel|
|Maclean, Donald||O'Kelly, James (Roscommon, N.)||Sheehy, David|
|Macnamara, Rt. Hon. Dr. T. J.||O'Malley, William||Sherwell, Arthur James|
|MacNeill, J. G. Swift (Donegal, South)||O'Neill, Dr. Charles (Armagh, S.)||Shortt, Edward|
|Macpherson, James lan||O'Shaughnessy, P. J.||Simon, Rt. Hon. Sir John Allsebrook|
|MacVeagh, Jeremiah||O'Shee, James John||Smith, Albert (Lanes., Clitheroe)|
|M'Callum, Sir John M.||O'Sullivan, Timothy||Smith, H. B. Lees (Northampton)|
|M'Curdy, C. A.||Outhwaite, R. L.||Smyth, Thomas F. (Leitrim, S.)|
|M'Kean, John||Palmer, Godfrey Mark||Snowden, Philip|
|McKenna, Rt. Hon. Reginald||Parker, James (Halifax)||Soames, Arthur Wellesley|
|M'Laren, Hon. H. D. (Leics.)||Parry, Thomas H.||Spicer, Rt. Hon. Sir Albert.|
|M'Laren, Hon. F.W.S. (Lincs., Spalding)||Pearce, Robert (Staffs, Leek)||Stanley, Albert (Staffs, N.W.)|
|M'Micking, Major Gilbert||Pearce, William (Limehouse)||Strauss, Edward A. (Southwark, West)|
|Manfield, Harry||Pearson, Hon. Weetman H. M.||Sutherland, John E.|
|Markham, Sir Arthur Basil||Pease, Rt. Hon. Joseph A. (Rotherham)||Sutton, John E.|
|Marks, Sir George Croydon||Philipps, Colonel Ivor (Southampton)||Taylor, John W. (Durham)|
|Marshall, Arthur Harold||Phillips, John (Longford, S.)||Taylor, Theodore C. (Radcliffe)|
|Martin, Joseph||Pirie, Duncan V.||Taylor, Thomas (Bolton)|
|Mason, David M. (Coventry)||Pointer, Joseph||Tennant, Harold John|
|Masterman, Rt. Hon. C. F. G.||Ponsonby, Arthur A. W. H.||Thomas, J. H.|
|Meagher, Michael||Price, C. E. (Edinburgh, Central)||Thorne, G. R. (Wolverhampton)|
|Meehan, Francis E. (Leitrim, N.)||Price, Sir Robert J. (Norfolk, E.)||Thorns, William (West Ham)|
|Meehan, Patrick J. (Queen's Co., Leix)||Priestley, Sir Arthur (Grantham)||Toulimin, Sir George|
|Menzies, Sir Walter||Priestley, Sir W. E. B. (Bradford, E.)||Trevelyan, Charles Philips|
|Middlebrook, William||Primrose, Hon. Nell James||Verney, Sir Harry|
|Millar, James Duncan||Pringle, William M. R.||Wadsworth, J.|
|Molloy. Michael||Radford, G. H.||Walsh, Stephen (Lanes., Ince)|
|Molteno, Percy Alport||Raffan, Peter Wilson||Walters, Sir John Tudor|
|Mond, Rt. Hon. Sir Alfred||Raphael, Sir Herbert Henry||Walton, Sir Joseph|
|Money, L. G. Chiozza||Rea, Rt. Hon. Russell (South Shields)||Ward, John (Stoke-upon-Trent)|
|Montagu, Hon. E. S.||Rea, Walter Russell (Scarborough)||Wardle, George J.|
|Mooney, John J.||Reddy, Michael||Warner, Sir Thomas Courtenay|
|Morgan, George Hay||Redmond, John E. (Waterford)||Wason, Rt. Hon. E. (Clackmannan)|
|Morrell, Philip||Redmond, William (Clare, E.)||Wason, John Cathcart (Orkney)|
|Morison, Hector||Redmond, William Archer (Tyrone, E.)||Webb, H.|
|Morton, Alpheus Cleophas||Rendall, Athelstan||Wedgwood, Josiah C.|
|Muldoon, John||Richards, Thomas||White, J. Dundas (Glasgow, Tradeston)|
|Munro, R.||Richardson, Albion (Peckham)||White, Sir Luke (Yorks, E.R.)|
|Murphy, Martin J.||Richardson, Thomas (Whitehaven)||White, Patrick (Meath, North)|
|Murray, Captain Arthur C.||Roberts, Charles H. (Lincoln)||Whitehouse, John Howard|
|Nannetti, Joseph P.||Roberts, George H. (Norwich)||Whittaker, Rt. Hon. Sir T. P.|
|Needham, Christopher T.||Roberts, Sir J. H. (Denbighs)||Whyte, A. F. (Perth)|
|Neilson, Francis||Robertson, Sir G. Scott (Bradford)||Wiles, Thomas|
|Nicholson, Sir Charles N. (Doncaster)||Robertson, J. M. (Tyneside)||Williams, J. (Glamorgan)|
|Nolan, Joseph||Robinson, Sidney||Williams, Llewelyn (Carmarthen)|
|Norman, Sir Henry||Roch, Walter F. (Pembroke)||Williams, Penry (Middlesbrough)|
|Norton, Captain Cecil W.||Roche, Augustine (Louth)||Williamson, Sir A.|
|Nugent, Sir Walter Richard||Roe, Sir Thomas||Wilson, John (Durham, Mid)|
|Nuttall, Harry||Rowlands, James||Wilson, Rt. Hon. J. W. (Worcs., N.)|
|O'Brien, Patrick (Kilkenny)||Rowntree, Arnold||Wilson, W. T. (Westhoughton)|
|O'Brien, William (Cork)||Runclman, Rt. Hon. Walter||Winfrey, Richard|
|O'Connor, John (Kildare, N.)||Russell, Rt. Hon. Thomas W.||Wing, Thomas|
|O'Connor, T. P. (Liverpool)||Samuel, Rt. Hon. H. L. (Cleveland)||Wood, Rt. Hon. T. McKinnon (Glasgow)|
|O'Doherty, Philip||Samuel, J. (Stockton-on-Tee)||Young, William (Perthshire, East)|
|O'Donnell, Thomas||Scanlan, Thomas||Yoxall, Sir James Henry|
|O'Dowd, John||Schwann, Rt. Hon. Sir Charles E.|
|Ogden, Fred||Scott, A. MacCallum (Gtas., Bridgeton)||TELLERS FOR THE AYES.—Mr. Illingworth and Mr. W. Jones.|
|O'Grady, James||Seely, Col. Rt. Hon. J. E. B.|
|Agg-Gardner, James Tynte||Benn, Arthur Shirley (Plymouth)||Carson, Rt. Hon. Sir Edward H.|
|Amery, L. C. M. S.||Benn, Ion Hamilton (Greenwich)||Cassel, Felix|
|Anson, Rt. Hon. Sir William R.||Bennett-Goldney, Francis||Cator, John|
|Anstruther-Gray, Major William||Bentinck, Lord Henry Cavendish-||Cautley, Henry Strother|
|Archer-Shee, Major Martin||Bigland, Alfred||Cave, George|
|Ashley, Wilfrid W.||Bird, Alfred||Cecil, Evelyn (Aston Manor)|
|Astor, Waldorf||Blair, Reginald||Cecil, Lord Hugh (Oxford University)|
|Baird, John Lawrence||Boles, Lieut-Col. Dennis Fortescue||Cecil, Lord R. (Herts, Hitchln)|
|Baker, Sir Randolf L. (Dorset, N.)||Boscawen, Sir Arthur S. T. Griffith-||Chaloner, Colonel R. G. W.|
|Baldwin, Stanley||Boyle, William (Norfolk, Mid)||Chamberlain, Rt. Hon. J. A. (Worc'r., E.)|
|Balfour, Rt. Hon. A. J. (City, Land.)||Boyton, James||Chambers, James|
|Banbury, Sir Frederick George||Brassey, H. Leonard Campbell||Chaplin, Rt. Hon. Henry|
|Banner, John S. Harmood-||Bull, Sir William James||Clay, Captain H. H. Spender|
|Baring, Maj. Hon. Guy V. (Winchester)||Burdett-Coutts, William||Coates, Major Sir Edward Feetham|
|Barlow, Montague (Salford, South)||Burgoyne, Alan Hughes||Cooper, Richard Ashmole|
|Barnston, Harry||Burn, Colonel C. R.||Courthope, George Loyd|
|Barrie, H. T.||Butcher, John George||Craig, Charles Curtis (Antrim, S.)|
|Bathurst, Hon. Allen B. (Glouc., E.)||Campbell, Capt. Duncan F. (Ayr, N.)||Craig, Ernest (Cheshire, Crewe)|
|Bathurst, Charles (Wilts, Wilton)||Campbell, Rt. Hon. J. (Dublin Univ.)||Craig, Captain James (Down, E.)|
|Beauchamp, Sir Edward||Campion, W. R.||Craig, Norman (Kent, Thanet)|
|Beckett, Hon. Gervase||Carlile, Sir Edward Hildred||Craik, Sir Henry|
|Crichton-Stuart, Lord Ninian||Ingleby, Holcombe||Rawson, Colonel Richard H.|
|Cripps, Sir Charles Alfred||Jackson, Sir John||Rees, Sir J. D.|
|Dalrymple, Viscount||Jardine, Ernest (Somerset, E.)||Remnant, James Farquharson|
|Dalziel, Davison (Brixton)||Jessel, Captain H. M.||Roberts, S. (Sheffield, Ecclesall)|
|Denison-Pender, J. C.||Joynson-Hicks, William||Rolleston, Sir John|
|Denniss, E. R. B.||Kerr-Smiley, Peter Kerr||Ronaldshay, Earl of|
|Dickson, Rt. Hon. C. Scott||Kerry, Earl of||Rothschild, Lionel do|
|Dixon, Charles Harvey||Keswick, Henry||Royds, Edmund|
|Doughty, Sir George||Klnloch-Cooke, Sir Clement||Rutherford, John (Lanes., Darwen)|
|Du Cros, Arthur Philip||Knight, Captain E. A.||Rutherford, Watson (L'pool, W. Derby)|
|Duke, Henry Edward||Kyffin-Taylor, G.||Salter, Arthur Clavell|
|Eyres-Monsell, Bolton M.||Lane-Fox, G. R.||Samuel, Sir Harry (Norwood)|
|Faber, Captain W. V. (Hants, W.)||Larmor, Sir J.||Samuel, Samuel (Wandsworth)|
|Falle, Bertram Godfray||Law, Rt. Hon. A. Bonar (Bootle)||Sanders, Robert Arthur|
|Fell, Arthur||Lawson, Hon. H. (T. H'mts., Mile End)||Sanderson, Lancelot|
|Fetherstonhaugh, Godfrey||Lee, Arthur Hamilton||Sandys, G. J. (Somerset, Wells)|
|Finlay, Rt. Hon. Sir Robert||Lewisham, Viscount||Sassoon, Sir Philip|
|Fisher, Rt. Hon. W. Hayes||Lloyd, George Ambrose (Stafford, W.)||Scott, Leslie (Liverpool, Exchange)|
|Fitzroy, Hon. Edward A.||Lloyd, George Butler (Shrewsbury)||Scott, Sir S. (Marylebone, W.)|
|Flannery, Sir J. Fortescue||Locker-Lampson, G. (Salisbury)||Smith, Rt. Hon. F. E. (L'p'l, Walton)|
|Fleming, Valentine||Locker-Lampson, o. (Ramsey)||Smith, Harold (Warrington)|
|Fletcher, John Samuel||Lockwood, Rt. Hon. Lt.-Col. A. R.||Spear, Sir John Ward|
|Forster, Henry William||Lonsdale, Sir John Brown lee||Stanier, Bevilie|
|Gardner, Ernest||Lowe, Sir F. W. (Edgbaston, Birm.)||Stanley, Hen. Arthur (Ormskirk)|
|Gastrell, Major W. Houghton||Lyttelton, Rt. Hon. A. (St. Gee, Han. S.)||Stanley, Hon. G. F. (Preston)|
|Gibbs, G. A.||Lyttelton, Hon. J. C. (Droitwich)||Starkey, John Ralph|
|Glazebrook, Captain Philip K.||MacCaw, William J. MacGeagh||Staveley-Hill, Henry|
|Goldman, C. S.||Mackinder, H. J.||Steel-Maitland, A. D.|
|Goldsmith, Frank||M'Calmont, Major Robert C. A.||Stewart, Gershom|
|Gordon, John (Londonderry, South)||M'Mordie, Robert James||Strauss, Arthur (Paddington, North)|
|Gordon, Hon. John Edward (Brighton)||M'Neili, Ronald (Kent, St. Augustine's)||Swift, Rigby|
|Goulding, Edward Alfred||Magnus, Sir Philip||Sykes, Alan John (Ches., Knutsford)|
|Grant, J. A.||Malcolm, Ian||Sykes, Sir Mark (Hull, Central)|
|Greene, W. R.||Mason, James F. (Windsor)||Terrell, George (Wilts, N.W.)|
|Gretton, John||Meysey-Thompson, E. C.||Terrell, Henry (Gloucester)|
|Guinness, Hon. Rupert (Essex, S.E.)||Middlemore, John Throgmorton||Thompson, Robert (Belfast, North)|
|Guinness, Hon. W. E. (Bury S. Edmunds)||Mildmay, Francis Bingham||Thomson, W. Mitchell- (Down, North)|
|Gwynne, R. S. (Sussex, Eastbourne)||Mills, Hon. Charles Thomas||Tobin, Alfred Aspinall|
|Haddock, George Bahr||Moore, William||Touche, George Alexander|
|Hall, D. B. (Isle of Wight)||Morrison-Bell, Capt. E. F. (Ashburton)||Tryon, Captain George Clement|
|Hall, Marshall (E. Toxteth)||Morrison-Bell, Major A. C. (Honiton)||Valentia, Viscount|
|Hambro, Angus Valdemar||Mount, William Arthur||Walker, Col- William Hall|
|Hamersley, Alfred St. George||Neville, Reginald J. N.||Wairond, Hon. Lionel|
|Hamilton, C. G. C. (Ches., Altrincham)||Newdegate, F. A.||Ward, A. S. (Herts, Watford)|
|Hamilton, Lord C. J. (Kensington, S.)||Newman, John R. P.||Warde, Colonel C. E. (Kent, Mid)|
|Hardy, Rt. Hon. Laurence||Newton, Harry Kottingham||Weigall, Captain A. G.|
|Harris, Henry Percy||Nicholson, William G. (Petersfield)||Weston, Colonel J. W.|
|Harrison-Broadley, H. B.||Nield, Herbert||Wheler, Granville C. H.|
|Helmsley, Viscount||Norton-Griffiths, J.||White, Major G. D. (Lanes., Southport)|
|Henderson, Major H. (Berkshire)||O'Neill, Hon. A. E. B. (Antrim, Mid)||Williams, Col. R. (Dorset, W.)|
|Herbert, Hon. A. (Somerset, S.)||Orde-Powlett, Hon. W. G. A.||Willoughby, Major Hon. Claud|
|Hewins, William Albert Samuel||Ormsby-Gore, Hon. William||Wills, Sir Gilbert|
|Hickman, Colonel Thomas E.||Paget, Almeric Hugh||Wilson, A. Staney (Yorks, E.R.)|
|Hills, John Waller||Parker, Sir Gilbert (Gravesend)||Winterton, Earl|
|Hill-Wood, Samuel||Parkes, Ebenezer||Wolmer, Viscount|
|Hoare, Samuel John Gurney||Pease, Herbert Pike (Darlington)||Wood, Hon. E. F. L. (Yorks, Ripon)|
|Hohler, Gerald Fitzroy||Peel, Lieut-Colonel R. F.||Wood, John (Stalybridge)|
|Hope, Harry (Bute)||Perkins, Walter Frank||Worthington-Evans, L.|
|Hope, James Fitzalan (Sheffield)||Peto, Basil Edward||Wortley, Rt. Hon. C. 8. Stuart-|
|Hope, Major J. A. (Midlothian)||Pollock, Ernest Murray||Wright, Henry Fitzherbert|
|Horne, Edgar (Surrey, Guildford)||Pretyman, Ernest George||Yate, Colonel C. E.|
|Horner, Andrew Long||Pryce-Jones, Col. E.||Yerburgh, Robert A.|
|Houston, Robert Paterson||Quilter, Sir William Eley C.||Younger, Sir George|
|Hume-Williams, William Ellis||Randles, Sir John S.|
|Hunt, Rowland||Ratcliff, R. F.||TELLERS FOR THE NOES.—Lord|
|Hunter, Sir Charles Rodk.||Rawlinson, John Frederick Peel||Edmund Talbot and Mr, Bridgeman.|
Main Question put, and agreed to.
Bill read a second time, and committed to a Committee of the Whole House.— [Mr. McKenna.