§ Mr. EDE
I beg to move, in page 10, line 34, at the end, to insert the words:(8) This section shall not come into force until it has been submitted to and approved by at least three-fourths of the census boards in each country in which the Salvation Army has a territorial commander, and a statement of the result of such submission, signed by the General, has been filed in the central office.This House, as was said by the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Hendon (Sir P. Cunliffe-Lister) in the previous Debate, does not reject a Bill on Third Reading, or amend it when it comes from one of the Private Bill Committees, un less a very considerable case is made out, and I hope this evening that such a case can be made out. I would like to draw attention to the peculiar way in which this particular Bill comes before the House. There was a Motion—
§ Sir KINGSLEY WOOD
On a point of Order. Will it be in order on this Amendment to discuss the conditions under which this Bill came to the House? I think that that is a matter which can be discussed on the Motion for the Third Reading.
Mr. DEPUTY-SPEAKER (Sir Robert Young)
The hon. Member must keep to the Amendment which is before the House.
§ Mr. EDE
This Amendment aims at allowing the rank and file of the Salvation Army to give their opinion upon the main Clause of this Bill before the Bill becomes operative. The Salvation Army is one of the organisations, which, I think, convinces most men that the age of miracles is not past. The history of the last 60 years of this particular organisation is probably unique in the history of the world. It is the history of the inspired idea of one man being carried into effect by the loyal, self-sacrificing work of a very large number of quite humble individuals who have had to carry out his ideas in the localities where the Army has become rooted. This is the first time that this particular organisation has come to this House asking for the sanction of the House to any of its proposals or to any modification of its trust deeds. So marvellous is the structure of this organisation, that I should not like to inflict upon the House the long description which might be necessary to justify this particular Amendment. I will, therefore, ask the permission of the House to summarise it in the words of a former Member of this House who had every qualification for expressing an authoritative opinion, the late Mr. Sylvester Home who was at one time the Member for Ipswich. In his "Popular History of the Free Churches" he says:Lest it should be supposed "—
§ Sir K. WOOD
On a point of Order. The hon. Gentleman—I know he will forgive me as I do not mean it personally—is endeavouring to make a speech which would be more appropriate on the Third Reading. The Amendment, as I see it, suggests that the election of General of the Salvation Army should be made in a particular way. The hon. Gentleman, I understand, is going to quote—I have some recollection of it myself—certain criticism about this organisation coming to the House of Commons, and surely it will not be in order to do so on this particular point.
§ Sir DONALD MACLEAN
On that point of Order. The remarks of the hon. Member would, I suggest, come pro- 1702 perly on the Motion which stands in his name to reject the Third Reading.
§ Mr. EDE
May I submit that the quotation which I was going to read is not any such quotation as the right hon. Gentleman has suggested? It deals entirely with this particular organisation, the method of its inception and growth, and would have been aimed, if you had permitted it to be read, at proving that before this Bill comes into operation, if it receives the Third Reading, the rank and file should be consulted, which is the object of the Amendment.
When the hon. Gentleman was interrupted by the right hon. Gentleman, I was not quite sure to what he was leading up. I do not know yet what is the connection of the quotation with the Amendment, and whether it is in order or not. If it has no bearing upon the Amendment it is not in order.
§ Mr. EDE
I know that it is an exceedingly difficult matter to deal with this Amendment. I am trying strictly to comply with the Ruling which you gave at the commencement of my speech, and am trying to avoid making anything like a Third Reading speech. Mr. Home, after dealing with the work of Dr. Dale and Robert Browning in the 19th century, said:Lest it should be supposed that such contributions to the defence of the faith were the principal ones which the age were to owe to Free Churchmen, it will be necessary to speak of a new and marvellous movement which convincingly demonstrated that evangelical passion was neither dead nor dying. The greatest argument for Christianity is not, and can never be, intellectual; it is practical.He then points out that the Free Churches had failed to make any effect on the mode of life of what he called the criminal classes, and he went on to say:William Booth had been a preacher in the Methodist New Connexion. He had married a woman of whom it can be said without exaggeration that she was one of the noblest forces of her age. Together they worked out the scheme of the Salvation Army, and began to direct its operations in East London. Strange and repellant as many of its methods and much of its phraseology were, autocratic as its government was, it had to be judged by its results. The Army was only created in 1877, but it was soon seen that the higher spirit of soldierhood, complete devotion to the cause for which the fight was waged "—
Nothing that the hon. Member has quoted has anything to do with the approval of the census boards.
§ Mr. EDE
The point that I desire to make is this, that here we have an organisation which, up to the present time, has been a voluntary organisation of people who have been holding a faith and practising a life in accordance with the trust deed that was drawn up by the Rev. William Booth when he started the movement in Whitechapel 60 years ago. He in his time and they up to the present time have been able to manage their affairs under that trust deed. When this Bill was brought before the House, the Attorney-General made a report in which he drew attention to the various points that were raised in the Measure. He made it quite plain that there were certain things that he thought ought to be proved before the Bill should be assented to by the House of Commons. He said:The English law has always regarded the intentions of the founder of a charitable trust, expressed in the deed or will creating the trust, as possessing a peculiar sanctity…How far can the proposals in this Bill he said to represent the wishes of the members of the Salvation Army…Parliament should be satisfied that the overwhelming majority of Salvation Army members desire that the proposed alterations should be made…By "members" I mean, not merely the officers but the rank and file.I think it will be generally agreed, even by the supporters of the Bill, that in connection with a private Bill it is up to the promoters to prove their case. Until a prima facie case has been submitted by the promoters and has been proved to have some strength in it, there is no call on the opponents of the Measure to produce contrary arguments. Before such a voluntary association as the Salvation Army can be turned into a body relying for its faith and practice upon an Act of Parliament, there should be strong proof that the individual members of the organisation desire it by a very large majority. I am one of those who always dislike to see a religious body having to come to this House for any sanctions, but, unfortunately, in the history of religious organisations, the freest of churches have found themselves compelled to come to this House and to ask for certain sanctions. I suggest that before the House gives this Bill its sanction it should 1704 be assured that it has a very large majority of the organisation behind it in so doing.
What are the facts in this case 1 Some 5,000 officers, all of them, I believe, paid officers, have been consulted, and of those 5,000 officers a very large majority have declared themselves in favour of the Bill. That is conceded from the first, but that fact is by no means conclusive in as widespread and all-embracing an organisation as the Salvation Army. I am told that even in this country there are 20,000 officers who have not been consulted, not paid officers but unpaid officers, the people whose predecessors and themselves by their voluntary labours have built up this great organisation. When one goes to the overseas organisation, which represents three times as many people as the Salvationists in this country—I believe I have under-estimated the figure in saying three times as many—one finds that they have not been consulted at all. Prior to the introduction of the Bill, a committee were considering reforms in the Army and they recommended that legislation should not be sought in order that the Army could be brought into conformity with what might be the desires of the ruling powers at the moment. In spite of that recommendation the Bill was proceeded with, and it was not until the Bill had been launched for some weeks that any effort was made to ascertain the feelings of the rank and file, even to the limit of extent that I have indicated in the figures that I have given.
The organisation with which we are dealing to-night has managed to get its international influence very largely through the structure upon which it has been built up to the present time. To crystallise it into an Act of Parliament, to make its trust deed and the method of appointing its general a Schedule of a British Act of Parliament is not going to make international organisation as easy as it has been in the past. That there have been difficulties no one can deny, but I would point out that this Bill is not one that will remove those difficulties. Again, I turn to the report of the Attorney-General. He said:I desire to draw the attention of Parliament to the fact that in the absence of a secret nomination by his predecessor, the General of the Salvation Army is to be appointed by the High Council. The Bill does 1705 not therefore provide a new and untried method of appointing a General, but merely gets rid of one of two alternative methods.The Bill actually reduces the freedom of the ruling powers of the Salvation Army to deal with the matter. A very wide international movement like the Salvation Army ought not to be hampered as it may very well be by having its policy confined within the Schedule of an Act of Parliament, unless this House can be assured that the humblest members of the Salvation Army, equally with those who are responsible for Headquarters organisation, are in accord with the proposals of the Bill. This House of Commons, in my opinion, is the very last body to settle questions of faith and practice of any religious denomination. I am not so much concerned in this Amendment or in the Bill as a whole with anything that has to do with the property of the Salvation Army; I am concerned here with faith and practice and leadership, which I believe have been the main springs of the Salvation Army's success. Unless the Salvation Army as a whole desires to alter them I believe it will be much better to leave them in the position they have been hitherto.
§ Mr. FRANK SMITH
I beg to Second the Amendment.
Like the hon. Member for South Shields (Mr. Ede) I feel considerable difficulty in dealing with a single issue when the Bill has not been debated as a whole. One of the curious features about the Bill is that it has never been before the House. [Interruption.]
We are now discussing an Amendment dealing with the election of the General, and the hon. Member must confine himself to that question.
§ Mr. SMITH
I hope impetuosity will be governed by a little generosity. I desire to support every word that the hon. Member for South Shields has said because I have a peculiar knowledge of the work of this organisation. For some years I was associated with the founder of this great movement, and I can say without fear of contradiction that I knew, and know, his mind concerning the organisation which he claimed, and which the Army as a whole believes today, he was divinely inspired to undertake. I will not for a moment ask the 1706 House to go into a theological discussion upon divine inspiration.
If the hon. Member did I should not allow it. The hon. Member must realise that Clause 3 deals with the election of the General of the Salvation Army and the Amendment is to secure the approval of a certain number of people. That is all that arises on this Amendment.
§ Mr. SMITH
Yes, but it appears to me to go right down to the foundation of things concerning the Salvation Army, the election of the General and the powers which the General shall exercise. We are moving this Amendment in order to ensure that those who form the Army shall have a voice in the election of its General. We shall hear no doubt that General Higgins comes to the House with the weight of a majority behind him to ask for changes in the constitution of the Army.
The hon. Member must try and confine himself to the Amendment. He will have an opportunity of discussing the Bill on the Third Reading.
§ Mr. SMITH
I was under the impression that I was very much on the Amendment. It lays it down that in the judgment of some people before sanction should be given to an alteration of the foundation deeds of this organisation that those who are connected with it as an organisation shall have a full right to have their voices heard as to how the election shall take place. I heard General Higgins, when speaking to hon. Members of this House, say that it was undesirable for a plebiscite to be taken of the members of the Salvation Army and also that it was impossible to secure a decision from the rank and file of the Army. I wish to controvert that statement. Anyone who is acquainted with the organisation of the Salvation Army 1707 knows that from top to bottom there are unbroken lines of communication, which enables those at the top to communicate their wishes to the youngest recruit in the ranks, and I suggest that the machinery that is capable of conveying wishes from the top to the bottom is also capable of conveying wishes from the bottom to the top. We shall be told that 5,000 officers support the General in promoting this Bill.
There is one statement in the report of the Attorney-General which really destroys the right of the promoters of this Bill to bring it forward in this form. The Attorney-General refers to a charitable trust possessing a peculiar sanctity. The Salvation Army from one end to the other believes in that sanctity. The learned Attorney-General, dealing with the point, says that in his judgment no alteration should be sanctioned unless it can be proved that the overwhelming majority of the Salvation Army are behind it. If that is sound—I believe it is as sound as it is just—what objection can there be to giving the rank and file of the Army the fullest opportunity of expressing their views regarding those who shall lead and direct them? We shall be told that certain of them were consulted. How were they consulted? They received one morning by post a Bill of 50 pages, and they were required to reply to headquarters, in course of post, their acceptance or rejection of the Bill, which they had never seen, concerning which they had never been consulted and of which they knew nothing.
§ Mr. SMITH
In course of post. That was the term used in the letter—" in course of post." That cannot be held to be anything of the nature of a fair and clear opportunity to discuss the merits of the case. Therefore, when in this Amendment we ask that this Section shall not come into force until it has been submitted to the various component parts of the Army, both at home and abroad, we are asking that which is fundamental democracy. We have been told that these proposals are made in 1708 order to democratise the organisation. If that is the fundamental desire, there can be no objection to the acceptance of the Amendment. The Amendment is reasonable and just and fair, because the rank and file of the Army are those who maintain it, who do its work and who provide its funds, and surely there can be no objection to giving them the fullest opportunity to exercise their judgment in a matter of this kind.
The limited number of officers who voted are officers in this country alone. They are said to number 5,000. But there are 25,000 officers, full-time and paid, throughout the world. There are 250,000 local officers who are engaged in assisting to maintain the organisation, and there are probably upwards of 1,500,000 of soldiery. In view of those colloseal figures, which cannot be denied, ought the House to be satisfied with the mere adherence of 5,000 to warrant changes in the foundation deed of the Army? It is because of the elementary principle of right and of common honesty, and in the name of democracy, that I second the Amendment. I would support any proposal for the organisation of the Army if I were assured that it represented the wishes of the majority. No evidence has been given that these proposals represent the wish of the majority. They have never been consulted, and the present head of the Army in my hearing said that it was undesirable to consult them. Unless those who ask for the alteration of the foundation deed can assure the House that they come here with the full backing and good will of those whom they claim to represent, this House should not agree to the proposal. I ask the House to safeguard the Measure by laying it down that, even though a Third Reading be granted to the Bill—I hope it will not—the Bill shall operate only when the Army as a whole has had an opportunity of stating its views.
§ Sir K. WOOD
Perhaps the House will allow me to state the effect of this Clause of the Bill, and also what the Amendment purports to do. I think that, having heard that statement, the House will not incorporate this Amendment in the Bill. This Amendment does not, as the Mover and Seconder seemed to think, deal with the Bill as a whole but simply with one Clause—Clause 3, which is 1709 entitled, "Election of General of the Salvation Army." For the information of hon. Members who may not be aware of it, I may say that the present position as regards the election of the General of the Salvation Army is, roughly, as follows. If the Bill, including this Clause, is not passed, the present General of the Salvation Army can appoint his successor by means of what is called the "secret envelope" system, and if that method is not adopted, then the next General is elected by the High Council of the Salvation Army. This Clause is unanimously recommended by the committee which examined the Bill, and it simply says that in future no General of the Salvation Army shall be permitted to appoint his successor by means of the "secret envelope" system.
I should think that that provision has only to be stated to receive unanimous acceptance in the House, and, as I say, the Committee which dealt with the Bill unanimously recommend it, at the request of the promoters. I cannot conceive that anyone would wish for the continuance of what is, I think, a most undesirable method to be used by the head of a great religious and social institution of this kind in appointing his successor. The effect of the Bill therefore is that the operation of the "secret envelope" system is done away with, but the prevailing practice or rather the prevailing rule, in the Salvation Army, namely, that the General shall be elected by the High Council is maintained. That is already in the existing constitution and in the trust deed and therefore no alarming revolution is taking place but merely the elimination from the constitution of what is known as the "secret envelope" system.
What does the Amendment seek to do? I do not think that I have ever heard or read of a more extraordinary Amendment being submitted to the British House of Commons. It says, with regard to one particular matter, namely, the elimination of the "secret envelope" system in connection with the appointment of a General, that before the Clause comes into operation—although it has been passed by the British House of Commons—it shall not come into force until it has been submitted to and approved by three-quarters of the census board in each country, in which the Sal- 1710 vation Army has a territorial commander, and a statement of such result has been filed at the general headquarters of the Army. We must remember that this vast and wonderful organisation has over 1,000,000 adherents and that it is operating in no fewer than 82 countries and colonies in which 73 different languages are spoken. Yet this Amendment means that before this Clause can be approved and the "secret envelope" system altered, the proposal must have received the assent of three-quarters of those concerned in all these different countries and colonies. The proposition is obviously impossible. No one can say that this House would not be stultifying itself if it passed such a prohibition upon its own legislation. We have to decide that this system is to be eliminated, or that it is not to be eliminated, and it is idle to suggest such a proposal as this with regard to the operation of the Clause.
Those are, roughly, the propositions upon which the House has to come to a decision. The Attorney - General is present and it has been submitted that in his report he suggests that the House ought not to approve of this Bill, unless the Bill has received not merely the support of the officers of the Salvation Army, but also of the rank and file, and that in the alternative the proposal ought to be examined with a very critical eye. But I do not think it can be pretended for a moment that when the hon. and learned Gentleman wrote that report he had in mind any other than the rank and file and officers of the Salvation Army in this country. No British Attorney-General is going to suggest that, in such a case as this, all the million and more adherents of the Salvation Army scattered up and down the world have to be consulted. Obviously that phrase in the Attorney-General's statement refers to the Salvation Army in this country. It is not therefore germane to the Amendment because the Amendment is not limited to asking for the approval of the rank and file in this country, but suggests that there should be a plebiscite throughout the world. As regards the views of the Army in this country, the answer, shortly, is, in the first place, that the General of the Salvation Army has satisfied the Committee that he has taken every possible step to give information 1711 concerning these proposals, and, as a practical man, to ascertain the wishes of the Army itself. The Committee are unanimously satisfied on that point. Secondly, it has been frankly admitted by the Mover and Seconder of the Amendment that the overwhelming majority of the officers are in favour of the Bill, and, thirdly, I do not think and the Committee which had to examine the Bill did not think, that it is practical politics that there should be a poll of all the adherents of the Salvation Army in this country.
The final test is this. I ask the House to observe the number of petitions against the Bill. It would have been easy, as those who oppose the Bill know full well, if a large number of members of the Salvation Army were against the proposals, to obtain their signatures to a petition against the Bill. With a great organisation such as this, I should not be surprised if even the small minority against the Bill had been able to obtain some hundreds of people who would desire to oppose it. But, as a matter of fact, I think there are 27 people who signed the petitions against it. When these facts are stated, it is apparent to every fair-minded person that every reasonable step has been taken to make the Salvation Army in this country duly acquainted with the Bill; secondly, there is the fact that an overwhelming majority of the Army are in favour of it; and, finally, the Amendment itself is impracticable and impossible.
§ Sir D. MACLEAN
This Amendment has been moved, I am quite certain, in good faith, but the effect of it clearly would be to wreck' the Bill. Hon. Members are entitled to move such an Amendment, because that is their desire, but it is for the House to consider whether it desires the Bill to be wrecked in that way. My right hon. Friend has stated with complete clarity and force what are the main objections to the Amendment, and I would like to emphasise the utter impracticability of such an Amendment in operation. There are no fewer than 15,000 census boards scattered all over the world, knowing nothing whatever about the constitution of the Army in England, speaking their own languages, and the issue would have to be presented to them in almost every 1712 known language, because there are 80 nations where the Army operates and 40 territorial officers, who would have to be taken off their great work and have their attention directed to this issue. That would have to be the work of the Salvation Army for at least 12 months to come. Do my hon. Friends who moved the Amendment really intend that? I am pretty sure that they do not. It is impracticable to work such an Amendment.
Then let the House think back for a moment to what has happened within its own Committee. This House delegated to a Committee upstairs the special duty of considering this Bill in detail, and the Clause to which this Amendment is moved was one which took up a very considerable part—I am not sure it was not the major part—of the attention of the Committee. To that Committee there was submitted the whole range of evidence which was obtainable, and we must assume that that was so, because the six petitions which were presented were presented in the names of those in this country who must be assumed to be best aware of any possible opposition to this Clause; and our Committee—ourselves, really, in microcosm—heard all these things at very great length. The conclusion to which they came was that the report of the Attorney-General dealing with the specific point that they should be satisfied that the rank and file and the general opinion of the Army had been sufficiently consulted, and was sufficiently instructed as to what were the merits or demerits of this proposal, namely, the election of the General, had been met.
Having done that, they sent this Bill down to us with this Clause exactly as it is, and the House has to decide, here and now, whether it will sidetrack that Clause, and indeed this Bill, and transfer this Debate from the Floor of this House to 15,000 census boards scattered all over the world, talking all kinds of languages, and switching themselves off from their real work to such a discussion as that. Having stated the matter in that way, I have not the slightest doubt, in spite of what the hon. Member who seconded the Amendment said about common honesty, as to what is my duty, and I shall not have the slightest hesitation in voting against the Amendment.
§ Mr. HOLFORD KNIGHT
Fortunately in this matter we have the guidance of the learned Attorney-General, and I rise to ask him a question. The House has already heard his statement, which I will repeat. It was as follows:Before giving favourable consideration to these proposals, Parliament should be satisfied that they are in accord with the wishes of the overwhelming majority of the Salvation Army members, and by members I mean, not merely the officers, but the rank and file.Those are the words of the learned Attorney-General, on whose guidance we have to rely, and I venture to ask him whether he is now satisfied that the evidence in his possession satisfies this condition?
§ The ATTORNEY - GENERAL (Sir William Jowitt)
I will answer that question at once by saying that I merely propounded a question. I left it to the Committee to decide the matter, merely putting before the Committee such considerations as I thought might prove useful to them. I have not the least idea of what the evidence before the Committee was, and, to be quite frank, I have not followed it at all. I have no means for saying even that they posed that question to themselves, still less whether they were justified in answering it one way or the other. I am not going to take any part in this discussion. I have taken throughout a completely impartial and neutral point of view. It may be that I may still have to go on trying to bring the parties together, and I am very anxious to do so if I can. I think my position to do that usefully would be weakened by my casting a vote on this Bill one way or the other, and therefore I propose to take no part either in the discussion or in the Division.
§ Sir K. WOOD
When the learned Attorney-General spoke about the necessity of obtaining the views of the rank and file, will he say whether he meant all over the world or only in this country?
§ Mr. ERNEST BROWN
In regard to the question as to whether the census boards are the rank and file, they certainly are not. The census boards are composed of the divisional officer for every division ex officio, the commander, 1714 the lieutenant and seven non-commissioned officers. They are at the moment, and have been all along, in the closest touch with these officers, who have been consulted and who have returned an overwhelming majority. It is true that responsibility works upwards as well as downwards, and I have no doubt that if there had been any large body of feeling at all on the Bill, the seven noncommissioned officers on every census board who are to be the court of appeal under this Amendment would have made their views heard long before this to the divisional commanders.
I have no doubt that any Member of this House who took advantage of the Easter Recess, as I did, to spend some part of it attending the Easter festival of the Salvation Army in his own district, would be under no doubt whatever that the great mass of the rank and file not merely desire the Bill to go through, but are praying that it may go through. The census board is not the rank and file. I do not want to add any words to those of the right hon. Gentleman as to the difficulty of taking the views of the census board, not merely in this country but all over the world.
The House may take it for granted that the Committee were at great pains to find out whether the rank and file had been consulted, and they were satisfied that the General had done all possible in that respect. I would point out what the essential question is. In the first instance, it was not called the Salvation Army, but the Christian Mission. They deliberately altered that to Salvation Army, and founded their system upon the military system. They called their superintendent the General of the Army and adopted the military method right through, from the General to the rank and file—lieutenant, captain, and so on. Does anyone know any instance of where the rank and file of any of the religions organisations of this country have been consulted with regard to the heads of those organisations? I am a Wesleyan Methodist and I am not consulted as to who should be the President of that body. A great number of the Members of this House belong to the Church of England. What have they to do with the appointment of the Archbishop of Canterbury or even of their 1715 own parish priest? While, in theory, I agree that the rank and file should have something to say, in practice I am quite sure it is quite impracticable. The Army is now simply to be placed into something like the position of the rest of the religious organisations in this country. The Committee took great pains to find out how far this question had been brought before the rank and file.
§ Question, "That those words be there inserted in the Bill," put, and negatived.
That Standing Orders 240 and 262 be suspended."—[The Deputy-Chairman of Ways and Means.]
§ Motion made, and Question proposed, "That the Bill be now read the Third time."
§ Sir K. WOOD
On behalf of those who are promoting this Bill I should like to make some re-statement with reference to their motives in bringing these proposals forward, and on the contents of the Bill. I know that there are certain objections raised to the Bill, amongst which has been the hope which was expressed that the Salvation Army would have been able to avoid coming before this House and seeking any Parliamentary sanction to any of these proposals. On that point, I should like to say that there is nothing in the Bill which affects any doctrinal matter, nor does it touch in the slightest degree upon the activities or methods of the Salvation Army, or in any way affect the work for which the Army stands. The Bill has no concern whatever with the philanthropic work of the Army or its administrative control in any part of the world. I think that that should be clearly stated and understood from the commencement. Parliamentary intervention is sought for, and is entirely con-fined to, a modification of the existing secular machinery, and has no concern with any religious or spiritual matter whatsoever. The Bill is simply confined to two vital and imperative reforms which are certainly most desirable in the interests of the Army.
My first statement on behalf of the promoters is that the contents of the Bill are put forward with the unanimous endorsement of the committee which inquired into it. Secondly, I think I can say that every one of the pieces of advice 1716 of the Attorney-General to the House has been complied with. The Bill deals simply with two matters, one of which we have just been discussing, namely, the future election of the generals by the High Council. Secondly, it deals with the vesting of all the very large amount of property of the Army in England and Northern Ireland in a trustee company. Both of those reforms are not only of importance to the Army itself, but of considerable public and national importance. I do not think the wisdom of either of these reforms can be doubted. We have briefly discussed the elections of generals by the High Council, and I think everybody will agree that in an organisation of this kind a great deal depends on the high characteristics and leadership of the General. It is certainly necessary in a wonderful institution of this kind that the General should have the full confidence of the rank and file, and public confidence as well. I do not wish to refer at any length to the present method, but no one has referred with greater discretion and emphasis to this particular method of nominating the General by secret envelope than the Attorney-General himself. He said:I do not doubt that the existence of the sealed envelope containing the name of the successor to the office of General and the power of the General to alter the name of his successor at will up to the time of his death or retirement, greatly aggravated the internal dissensions within the Army both before and after the removal of General Bramwell Booth from the office of General.One need make no comment on that very wise statement. All that the first part of the Bill does is simply to abolish that system, and I want at once to say—again supported, as I am, by the Attorney-General's statement—that only an Act of Parliament can abolish that system. I want to make that perfectly plain. If anybody has any doubt, the Attorney-General will confirm me when I say that, having regard to the constitution and the two deeds of the Salvation Army, it is impossible to eliminate that most undesirable method of appointing a General of the Salvation Army without coming to Parliament to do it. Such a method of appointing the head of a great social and religious organisation has entirely outgrown whatever usefulness it ever had and is out of date, and undoubtedly the proposal in this Bill that in future all Generals of the Salvation 1717 Army are to be elected by the High Council is obviously the desirable and long overdue reform. So far as other parts of the Army outside these islands are concerned they are represented upon the High Council, and by that means some attempt is made to bring in the views and the desires of other countries. It should not be forgotten that this country was the birthplace of the Salvation Army; its roots are here, and to a very large extent its inspiration comes from this country.
There is another reform in these proposals, and I should say that of all the reforms that are desirable in connection not only with the Salvation Army but with other social and philanthropic institutions, this one is the most necessary; and I doubt whether any Member of the House will be prepared to go into the Lobby and vote against it. It proposes that in future all properties belonging to the Salvation Army are to vest in a board of custodian trustees. Surely the present method by which the vast properties, sums of money and gifts which come to the Salvation Army—and I hope will come increasingly in future years—are vested in one man, is very undesirable. The evil—and there is no other word for it—of sole trusteeship is everywhere condemned to-day, and particularly in the case of the Salvation Army, to which the contributions from the public come every year in such large sums. There is no doubt that large numbers of people, who perhaps would desire to give gifts, think that the system by which the property is vested in the name of one man does not make for stability, and does not give the safeguards which certainly ought to be given in cases of this kind.
Looking at it solely from the point of view of cost and difficulty, what more undesirable system can you have than that on the death of a General the property should vest in his executors, and that the executors should have to transfer the property to the name and into the possession of the new General? No one would say that this is a desirable method of conducting the Salvation Army's business, for it is not only very costly, but raises many difficulties. This Clause insures the maintenance of stability in the Army with the minimum of expense so far as transfer is concerned. The Attorney-General again has 1718 recommended to the House that this course should be taken. He says:With regard to the vesting of the Army in a trustee company as custodian trustee, it is obviously inexpedient for the whole of the property in this country in a large charitable organisation to be vested and to remain in the sole control of one person, as in the Salvation Army is the case with regard to the General for the time being.Therefore, both these Clauses have been recommended by the Attorney-General, and they have received the unanimous sanction of the Committee. We believe, and I think the Committee was completely satisfied, that the proposals in this Bill are not only necessary and vital to the Salvation Army, but have received the overwhelming support of the Army itself. Anybody who is associated with it and desires to see its work prosper and extend, cannot stand by a system which permits one individual to have the whole of the property vested in his name. Anyone associated with the Army, too, desires to see the method of the appointment of General by the system of secret envelopes and nominations of that kind done away with. It can be said that this Bill is greatly in the Interest of the Salvation Army and its manifold public and social work; that it will increase the confidence of the nation and of those large numbers of rich and poor who have so generously supported, and still desire to support its philanthropic and humane activities; and that it will secure a vitally important and, I believe, eminently desirable reform; and I strongly commend the Bill to the House.
§ Mr. KNIGHTrose—
§ Mr. KNIGHT
I beg to move, to leave out the word "now," and, at the end of the Question, to add the words "upon this day six months."
The House is aware that this Amendment stands on the Order Paper in the names of several hon. Members, and I ask the courtesy of the House to proceed with it. We are in a special difficulty because a similar tactic was used on the Second Reading, and the House was debarred of the opportunity of considering this important matter.
§ Mr. SPEAKER
If the hon. Member had been longer in the House he would have known more about procedure.
§ Mr. KNIGHT
I am saying that this House by an accident did not have an opportunity on a previous occasion of considering this Bill. That is a plain matter of fact, and I respectfully call attention to it now as showing the special difficulty we are in. The feeling between both sides of the House on this matter is much more genuine than some hon. Members think. We do not desire in any part of the House to take any course that will harm the Salvation Army. We are all united in our desire to do anything in our power to further the work of this great organisation. Changes have got to take place in the organisation of the Army, it must bring its machinery up to date, and there is a general desire on all sides of the House to assist it to do so. I am moving the rejection of the Bill for the following reasons, one a minor reason and the second a major reason. The minor reason I shall not dwell upon, because it has been the subject of a short discussion on the Amendment which was not proceeded with.
The learned Attorney-General advised the House that a certain condition should be satisfied. The Chairman in charge of the Bill has told us that the Committee were satisfied that the bulk of the officers and the rank and file of the Army have been consulted about this Bill. I am a perfectly impartial person in this matter, I intervened originally at the express desire of the widow of the late General, and I have no bias whatever, but I have received overwhelming evidence, which has reached other Members, that considerable numbers of the officers of the Army have not been consulted. However, that is a minor matter, which I do not press, except to remind the House that the test suggested by the Attorney-General cannot be satisfied on a true review of the evidence.
Now I come to the major reason. First of all, I am satisfied that it is unnecessary to come to this House at all to effect the purposes which are desired. Granted that a change must take place, it can be effected by amending the existing trust deeds. Those trust deeds were the result of the work of some of the most eminent lawyers who ever practised in our courts. Two of them were distinguished Members of this House, and I have been associated with them in the course of my life. One was the late Lord Haldane and the 1720 other the late Lord Oxford. Those eminent men framed trust deeds designed to cover the two purposes covered by the Bill, a method of election of General and a method of vesting and distributing and disposing of the properties of the Army. There is not a lawyer in this House who will deny that by amending those trust deeds the purposes sought in this Bill can be achieved. I do not want to press the matter unduly, but I ask the House to act upon the view that a method which was adopted by the late Lord Oxford and the late Lord Haldane is a method which this House can with confidence allow to continue. I say that the business of the Salvation Army can be managed and changed by a revision of the existing deeds, and that it is unnecessary to come to the House of Commons. The existing law makes ample provision for it.
I beg the House to consider what will be the result of clamping an Act of Parliament on to the Salvation Army. We shall restrict its activities within the ambit of that Act of Parliament. We shall lay it down that it cannot change its General except by a method within the Act of Parliament. If hereafter anyone desires to change the method he will have to come to Parliament to amend the Act of Parliament. There can be no change in the vesting and distribution and managing of the property of the Salvation Army except through an amending Act of Parliament. If I were to stand alone in this matter, and I rejoice to think that I do not, I should remain convinced that at this time of day the more we can keep spiritual agencies outside the ambit of Acts of Parliament the better. I am astonished to find hon. and right hon. Gentlemen opposite who, I understand, take up an attitude hostile towards this Amendment, ready to conic forward at this time of day to help to clamp on the Salvation Army the fetters of an Act of Parliament. I ask pardon for detaining the House so long, but I am satisfied, first, that the bulk of the members of the Salvation Army have not been consulted; I am satisfied that the purposes of the Bill can be effected without a new Act of Parliament and under the present statutes; and I am satisfied, also, that one of the worst disservices the House 1721 could do to the Salvation Army would be to bring it within the ambit of an Act of Parliament.
§ Mr. F. SMITH
I beg to second the Amendment.
I am supporting the rejection of the Bill with a very keen feeling of responsibility. First, I would like to make it clear that my activity in this matter does not arise from any personal feeling. I have been asked by numerous Members why I am opposing the Salvation Army. I am taking this action to help the Salvation Army, and I am doing it, not from personal motives, although I have grounds for doing so even from the personal point of view. It was my privilege to work with and to enjoy the confidence of the giants of the Salvation Army in the years gone by, the men who were inspired to create this movement. There is one peculiar circumstance which justifies my action to-night, and it is this: I know from personal experience, by contact with William Booth and his saintly wife, and their wonderful and no less illustrious son and successor, Bramwell Booth, that the one thing that they hoped would never come, and to which they were opposed in the strongest possible way, was Parliamentary interference with the work of the Salvation Army. I believe that in standing here to-night and taking this action I am voicing the wishes of the founder of the Salvation Army, and I say that, not with the desire to include a personal note, but because I want to give grounds for my action.
It was really the political question which ultimately led to my severance officially from the Salvation Army. I wanted the founder to take advantage of legislative machinery and I remember him, as only those who were associated with him can remember him, saying that the moment Parliament interferes with the Salvation Army, or the Salvation Army associates itself with political machinery, that will be the beginning of the end of the Salvation Army. He said:Parliamenary machinery works in one direction, and we are working in another.The learned Attorney-General, in his report, stated that the views of the founder should be regarded with peculiar sanctity, and he goes on to say:This form may have been the condition without which the Army would never have been established.1722 That is true. The world could never have had a Salvation Army under any other condition, and, under any other method of organisation than that which obtains to-day, and it is because I believe that any interference with that organisation will be detrimental to its work that I have seconded the Motion for the rejection of this Bill. It has been said that every opportunity-has been taken to find out the wishes of the officers and members of the Salvation Army. I have here a number of communications signed by officers of the Salvation Army. I will not read their names, but hon. Members can see them if they doubt my bona fides. This is what they say:We, the undersigned loyal objectors to the Salvation Army Bill, shortly to come before the House of Commons, ask your help and assistance in voicing our views and making plain the grounds of our objections to the Bill. We are unable to speak for ourselves in the House of Commons, and we ask you to speak for us. Needless to say it is a matter of deep and sincere regret that we find ourselves in opposition to the proposal of cur leaders and comrades in the Army. It is distressing to us to appear to be in conflict, but as you know we are a loyal opposition, loyal to the Army and its principles which we love, and in which Borne of us have spent our lives. You know the Army and its work, its aim, and its organisation. You know what it has accomplished. We hope the House of Commons will not agree to the alteration as proposed in the Bill, and so enable us to continue our work on the lines which for all the past years have proved so eminently successful.This communication is signed by a large number of officers, soldiers in the Army, from the highest to the humblest rank. We have been told that every effort has been made to secure adherence to the proposals of this Bill. I want to say that if efforts have been made to secure adherence efforts have been made also to suppress the expression of objections. [HON. MEMBERS: "No!"] I hope those doubting Thomases will listen to what I am about to tell them. This is an illustration, one of many, of an officer of high rank in the Salvation Army, who writes as follows:What will he the official attitude towards officers who take steps to present their views at Westminster in opposition to the Bill.1723 What is the answer? The answer of General Higgins to that inquiry from a loyal officer, loyal to the Army to the core, is this:It would be contrary to all known principles of Salvation Army Government for you to oppose what the Army is now trying to accomplish.Perhaps those who said "No" will have reason now to realise that there is another side. [Interruption.] I am not advertising names at the moment, for obvious reasons. We have been told that the support for the Bill was spontaneous; that is the impression that we have. An hon. Member of this House came to me on one occasion and said, "Here is undoubted proof that the Army wishes this Bill, because of the letters I have received from my constituency." How was that engineered? Here is a copy of a letter sent by instructions of headquarters to divisional headquarters:Very Urgent.My Dear Comrade.—I have just received a wire from Commissioner Horan intimating his desire that every commanding officer should write to their Member of Parliament on Monday, the day you receive this letter, urging his support to the Army's Bill.Does that indicate a spontaneous, voluntary expression of opinion? And not only is this request made, which is an order—for those who know the spirit of the Salvation Army know that an expressed wish is an order—but it goes on to say:You will realise that this must be done without fail on Monday, and your letter should be addressed to the House of Commons, Westminster, and should be worded as follows.Here is the letter which hon. Members of this House received, and which they thought was a spontaneous expression of opinion—[Interruptio]—but which was engineered—[Interruption.] There are Members of this House who received it. These are the words which they were instructed to write to their Members of Parliament:You will no doubt be aware that the Salvation Army Bill is being placed before Parliament, embodying certain desirable reforms, and I am writing you, therefore, on behalf of your Salvationist constituents "—that is not from the constituents, but from the officer in charge— 1724expressing their desire that you should support the Army Bill as drawn. Yours truly "—and then it says:Sign, giving your title.This was issued by the divisional commander from Nottingham, and the officer who sent me a copy of it puts these words at the bottom:Salvation officers have no choice in this matter.
§ Mr. SMITH
I make that statement to discount the idea which is prevalent that the backing which the Army Bill, or rather, General Higgins's Bill, has received, is a spontaneous one. It has been engineered, and does not reflect the real feeling of those who are held to have given expression to it.
I second the rejection of this Bill on the ground, which among others has been referred to by my hon. and learned Friend, that it is unnecessary, and I ask the House, ought this House to agree to its machinery being used where it is unnecessary? This Bill is unnecessary because what it asks for can be done without Parliament. [HON. MEMBERS: "No!"] Do not let hon. Members be in a hurry. I am expressing my opinion, and I would ask them to allow me to explain it. The present deeds permit the election of a General, and, therefore, it is unnecessary. Does anyone contradict that? If they do let me point out that it has already been done; and what greater proof could there be of its being unnecessary than the fact that the present General was elected two years ago? Fancy coming to the House of Commons for an Act of Parliament costing thousands of pounds, for such a purpose. I protest in the name of the members of the Salvation Army—the men and women who are the Salvation Army—the men and women who stand at the street corner night after night day after day, and sometimes 10 and 12 hours on a Sunday. These are the Salvation Army. They are ignored at present; but I protest in their name against this wicked, wanton, and unnecessary expenditure of money given by large-hearted people, not to be squandered in this way, but to feed the hungry, to clothe the naked, and to shelter the 1725 homeless. On that ground also I ask the House to show its disapproval by the rejection of this Bill.
It is unnecessary, and the facts have proved it, because General Higgins him self was elected two years ago. As regards his trusteeship, I want the House to realise that this is really a camouflage claim. It means nothing. The right hon. Gentleman the Member for West Woolwich (Sir K. Wood) said it was safe guarding the property of the Salvation Army in a way that it had never been safeguarded before. Does the right hon. Gentleman suggest that in the last 50 years' history of the Salvation Army a single thing has ever occurred that suggested that there were any grounds for fear as to the custody of the Army property? Two years ago, General Higgins was elected to the position he now holds, after having been a party to providing the only black page in the history of the Salvation Army, a page which, when historians write about this great movement in the years to come, will make its readers' faces burn with shame. In the name of religion one of the basest acts of treachery—
§ Mr. SPEAKER
On the Third Beading the hon. Member must confine himself to what is in the Bill and must not deal with the history of the past.
§ Mr. SMITH
I thought I might be permitted to refer to those happenings, because the Attorney-General in his report refers to them. However, I am not pressing that line beyond saying that, if what they did two years ago, in regard to the election of their head, was legal, they can keep on doing it; and, if it is not legal, they ought not to try to secure the prestige and power of the House of Commons to lend shelter to it. The custodian trustees are not co-trustees with General Higgins. The illustration is that, instead of one man carrying the bag and dealing with its contents, half a dozen men will carry the bag, but the General, as the President of that company, will still he the only voice in regard to the matter, so that the idea that these custodian trustees are going to be of any value is a great mistake and has no foundation in fact.
The Bill is unnecessary and it is undesirable, because it will interfere with the foundation of the movement. Every- 1726 one knows that when you begin to tamper with foundations, you put the structure in jeopardy. I am against it also because there is no proof that the army desires it; there is every proof that the army has never been consulted. Experience has shown that it is a bad policy to interfere with the internal machinery of a religious organisation. In this age, when most people are talking about Disestablishing the Church, are we to be asked to Establish the Salvation Army? I would ask the House to consider this final point. If the Bill is passed this House will deal one of the deadliest blows at one of the most vital points of the Salvation Army organisation, namely, its international aspect. There is no organisation of a religious nature which has gone sweeping round the world as has the Salvation Army. First of all, faced with opposition and great fears, it gradually overcame opposition, and has finally been received with open arms in every country in the world. Why? Because of the international spirit which it represents.
I have heard the founder, and his great son, time after time say, "The Salvation Army is not a national institution; it is international." As Wesley claimed the world as his parish, so the Salvation Army claims the world as its battlefield. The world has received the Salvation Army gladly because of its international character. If this House puts the fetters of a national institution upon the Salvation Army, it will deal one of the most deadly blows it is possible to deal. If you make it a national institution by an Act of the British Parliament, it will destroy its international appeal. I beg of you to leave the Salvation Army alone. Allow them to do their work in their own way, as they have done for the last 50 years, with honour to all concerned and with credit to the organisation and in a way which has earned them the affectionate regard of the world. Do not damage it. Do not interfere with it, but say to the promoters of the Bill, "Your past is sufficient to prove your ability to manage your own affairs. Go and do it. Do not come to this House and ask us to put national fetters upon you."
§ Sir D. MACLEAN
The hon. Member for Nuneaton (Mr. F. Smith) cannot complain that the House has not given 1727 him a full opportunity to say whatever he likes in whatever way he likes on his opposition to the Bill. Therefore that point has been completely disposed of. I will riot say anything about the hon. Member's speech except that he spoke words of denunciation which in my judgment, and I think in the opinion of the majority of the House, are not founded on fact.
§ Sir D. MACLEAN
With regard to the letter which the hon. Member read, there are few Members of the House who have received that letter, and I am not in a position now to deal with the authenticity or otherwise of it, in so far as the high command is concerned.
§ Sir D. MACLEAN
It is a matter which, if it is considered worth while, will be inquired into. The hon. Member in the last part of his speech said that the Bill would impose the fetters of establishment on the Salvation Army. If that is the case, then we may say that there is establishment of the Wesleyan Church, establishment of the Baptist Church, establishment of the Congregational Church and establishment of the Presbyterian Churches. Such a Bill has nothing whatever to do with State recognition of any religion, Christian or otherwise. What has happened is this, that a religious organisation which, after great tribulation, has achieved worldwide recognition, found itself fettered by a trust deed. Such a trust deed cannot be altered except by the authority of Parliament. Like any other charitable trust, it must come here if it desires to accommodate itself to the needs of modern conditions.
General Higgins made it quite clear to the Committee and to a meeting of Members of this House that after he took office and before he took office he stipulated that he took it on condition that two things were altered, first, the election of the new general as and when occasion demanded, and, secondly, the holding of and, indeed, the absolute ownership of the vast sums and property owned by the Salvation Army, at any rate in this country. He was unable to 1728 fulfil these two conditions permanently unless he had the authority of Parliament so to do. I agree with what was said by the hon. Member for South Nottingham (Mr. Knight) that it is the law—so far as I am in a position to say so, I think he correctly stated it—that it is open to General Higgins to make those alterations with regard to the succession of the next general and to make very material alterations in the legal ownership of the funds and properties, but there is nothing whatever to prevent another general a few years afterwards making another alteration and reverting to the system of the secret envelope which is, I think, roundly condemned by the common sense of the great majority of this House and of the country.
In the second place it is most undesirable that these large funds, in the legal sense and indeed in the effective sense, should be at the complete and absolute disposal of the man who for the time being is general of the Army. That is the reason why it was most desirable to make this a permanent change. That is the sole foundation for the claim of the hon. Member, in his impassioned speech, that we are clamping the fetters of the State upon a great religious body. Surely that is nonsense. The House has listened during the Debate to the hon. Member who was Chairman of the Committee. I wish to say a word or two in regard to the evidence of the support behind this Bill. Where was the great volume of hostile opinion, the thousands of soldiers who were rankling under an injustice? Was there a scintilla of evidence brought before the Committee as to this vast body of hostile opinion? Whatever our party divisions may be the House can be proud of the fact that there is no committee in the world which can equal the Committee upstairs in an impartial and efficient examination of the evidence which comes before them on a Private Bill, and we have the hon. Member who was the chairman of the Committee saying quite frankly that every opportunity was given to those who were hostile to the Bill and that the Committee were satisfied that the vast majority of those who were entitled to be heard were heard, and could have been heard if they desired.
§ Mr. SMITH
Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that the Chairman of the Committee stated thatThe Committee had been greatly impressed by and are strongly in accord with the view put forward in this case by both sides as to the undesirability of the continuance of these proceedings before Parliament.
§ Sir D. MACLEAN
I do not want to continue an unnecessary Debate. Let me say this in conclusion. This great organisation has achieved a position of public confidence not only in this country but throughout the world, and I am certain that every one followed with great interest and with great pain the unavoidable disputations, I will not say disputes, which have taken place. Before the House loses control of this Bill may I express the view of all parties that it is a very splendid and amazing thing that the wishes of the founder, which were stated perfectly correctly by the hon. Member for Nuneaton that the Army should keep itself clear of politics have been fully and amply fulfilled. Never has the Salvation Army been charged with taking one side or another in our party passions, and it has achieved this in every country to which it has extended its operations. I am sure that the desire, the prayer, of the vast majority of the Members of this House is that when this Bill passes into law this great, beneficent and spiritually guided and dominated organisation will resume its work free from the handicap of these unhappy divisions, and will devote itself in an even larger and wider measure to usefulness to the sick and suffering of the world physically and spiritually—resume that position and that magnificent service for mankind of which this nation, which produced the Army, is so justly proud.
§ The FIRST COMMISSIONER of WORKS (Mr. Lansbury)
I wish to join with the right hon. Gentleman who has just spoken in the last sentences of his speech, in regard to the respect and esteem that all of us hold for the Salvation Army. But I would recall to the House the fact that that esteem and admiration and love for the Army have been built up under the system which to-night it is proposed to change. It is that fact which causes me to go into the Lobby against the Bill. I have 1730 never been a member of the Salvation Army, but it was born within a stone's-throw of the place where I lived during most of my childhood days. I knew its founder and I knew his wife. Mile End Waste is the spot, and it is hallowed by a million memories of the unselfish and self-denying work done by unknown men and women, led by one of the most splendid women our country has produced—Mrs. Catherine Booth. The whole of the success was built up on personal inspiration.
We all have our views about theology and supernatural things. General Booth and his wife felt themselves inspired by God to do a certain work, and they did it in an autocratic manner, in a manner of which lots of people disapproved. But if we believe in inspiration at all, the tremendous success that accompanied their work is a testimony to their faith that they were carrying out something which was inspired by God. The work went on for 60 to 70 years. So far as I know, men like the late Lord Asquith and the late Lord Haldane, cool and calm lawyers, never raised any question about the wrongfulness of the procedure which they had helped to set up. No one called it into question as it has been called into question to-night. It is said that no one to-day will support, the envelope, but it was never challenged during all the years when the Army was building up its work. Why is it challenged to-day? I understand that it is challenged because of circumstances that arose owing to the illness of General Bramwell Booth. All those difficulties were overcome; a new general was legally appointed, and no one has Called in question what was done, and if, as regards General Higgins, the head of the Salvation Army to-day, the same set of conditions arose again, it is quite certain that those difficulties could be overcome again. It is said by the right hon. Gentleman the Member for West Woolwich (Sir K. Wood) that there was a question of all the property belonging to the executors, but I cannot myself believe that in the case of General William Booth there was anything of the kind. I never heard anything about the executors owning the Salvation Army property when he died.
§ Sir K. WOOD
In fact, on the death of General Bramwell Booth, instead of the 1731 property vesting in trustees on behalf of the Salvation Army, as it would do under this Bill, it went to General Bramwell Booth's executors.
§ Mr. LANSBURY
I said General William Booth, and I should imagine that when he put the name in the envelope, in all probability be made a will transferring the whole of the property of the Salvation Army to the man whose name was in that envelope. I should think he did so and that General Higgins or whoever is head of the Salvation Army could do the same thing. I am speaking not as a lawyer but as a layman, and I believe that the general who puts the name in the envelope can, at the same time put in a will transferring the whole of the property to the person whose name is in the envelope. [Interruption.] Of course no one knows what he might have done. [HON. MEMBERS: "Hear, hear!"] This will not do. The argument was quite simple. It was that it would cost a lot of money if we did not have this Bill, and I am pointing out that when General William Booth's son took over, I never heard, and I do not think anyone else heard, of any proceeding through executors for dealing with the property of the Salvation Army.
§ Sir K. WOOD
I do not think that the right hon. Gentleman knows that on the death of General Bramwell Booth, instead of the property of the Salvation Army vesting, as it ought to do, in trustees on behalf of the Army, under General Bramwell Booth's intestacy the whole of the property went to his executors, and the Salvation Army had to pay for the transfer of all its property from the executors to the present General.
§ Mr. LANSBURY
The right hon. Gentleman has still not met my point. There was no need for General Bramwell Booth to have left it in that position. Hon. Members seem to wish to tie me down to a legal point. They tell me what a person can do, or cannot do legally, but the only point which I am making, in answer to the right hon. Gentleman, is that there is no reason whatever why any general should not, legally, make ample provision for the transfer of the property. Therefore, I say that the argument that this procedure must of neces- 1732 sity mean a great expense on the decease of a General of the Salvation Army goes by the board. If this Bill were not passed, and if General Higgins wished that the expense should be saved, it would be easy for him to make provision accordingly, and if either of the other Generals did not make that provision, then I think they failed in their duty.
It is argued to-night that all the Nonconformist bodies have to come to this House in one way or another about their trust deeds. Personally, I think it is a great pity that the one big undenominational organisation that stands separate and apart from all other religious organisations in this country should have to come here in this way, and at a time when many members of the Church of England are longing for procedure to be established by which they can get rid of Parliamentary control altogether, I think it is rather bad that we should be interfering in the business of the Salvation Army. It may very well be that some other general will arise and will want the trust deeds of the Salvation Army settling its doctrine, and in a way we to-night are settling it in a particular sense by giving the present people a legal standing to lay down laws and rules and regulations for the governance of the Army. I think we are emphasising and strengthening that side of the business, but I do not think that any case has been made out for the Bill, because everybody who has spoken has said what a splendid body the Salvation Army is, and we all agree that it is so, but it came into existence and has been brought up to the position which it now holds without this law, without these regulations. That is the greatest argument—more than any words that I could utter—for leaving things as they are.
I do not argue whether the members have been consulted or not. I do not know. I have had fewer letters about this question than I have about many another question that has come before the House of Commons. My whole objection to the Bill is that, in my judgment, the less the House of Commons, as a corporate body, has to do with organised or unorganised religion, the better for the religion. It is for that reason, in the main—the other reasons are subsidiary—that I object to putting this on to the Salvation Army. When it is said 1733 that we are not tampering with the Army, we are. We are breaking the very thing on which the founder of the Salvation Army pinned his whole faith, and his faith was that whoever succeeded him and carried on his work should be inspired, not by a legal document, but by something very much higher. It is for those reasons that I shall vote against the Third Reading of the Bill.
§ Mr. E. BROWN
I should like to answer the right hon. Gentleman's three points. First, about the late General William Booth, of course, the thing did not arise, for the reason that General William Booth made General Bramwell Booth both his successor and his executor, but he might have done something very different, though he did not. The right hon. Gentleman will see, therefore, that the farther you get away, in the case of an organisation like this, from the original founder, the more difficult and complicated the question becomes for the successor. That is the answer to that point. The second point was the question whether the change could be made without coming to Parliament. There is no doubt whatever that General Higgins was elected by the High Council from all over the world after his expressed determination if elected, to give effect to the two changes which are proposed.
§ Mr. BROWN
If the right hon. Gentleman will listen as quietly to me as I did to him, he will permit me to conclude my sentence. The Attorney-General pointed out that if the changes are to be made legally binding on the General, his officers and successors, then they must come to Parliament to alter the terms of the trust. The only other point is one which must appeal with very great force to many hon. Members who, like myself, are members of the Free Church. Before I put my name on the back of this Bill I gave three weeks anxious consideration as to whether I could do so, and I was sure of it for reasons which are obvious. My old father carried the flag of the Army back in the days of persecution. Like any Free Churchman, I am opposed to any interference with religious organisation in terms of law and I had to satisfy my conscience on 1734 one point—did the proposals of the Bill, or did they not, interfere with the doctrine, the faith, the beliefs and religious practices of the Army? I was sure that the Bill did not, and I am confirmed in that by a passage in the report of the Attorney-General. If Members will look at page 5 they will see that he said:In no sense can the Bill be said to provide a complete Parliamentary constitution for the Army or to affect in any respect the spiritual side of its work.I think that those words are decisive. The Army is not merely a religious organisation, but a sociological organisation as well, for General William Booth discovered darkest man before he discovered darkest England. It is in the nature of the thing that the organisation is not now as it was when it started. When it began, it was purely an Evangelical movement. It is not merely that now, but also a great sociological movement, and I do beg hon. Members who love the work of the Army, although they may differ from this, not to stand in the way, but rather to end the dissensions which have hampered its work. As far as I am concerned, I have made very careful inquiries from my friends in the country, and I am sure that the rank and file of the Army will offer hallelujahs if the Bill gets a Third Beading to-night.
Lieut.-Colonel Sir WILLIAM ALLEN
I do not very often intervene in these Debates, coming as I do from Ireland, but I would like to add any weight I may have in favour of the Bill. We know the work that has been done by the Salvation Army, though there may be some hon. Members who may be inclined to dispute the fact that it has done the Irish very much good. May I add that we might have been in a very much worse state without it? I had the honour of having the original General Booth in my own house when he visited Northern Ireland, and I would like to say, in regard to the words that fell from the hon. Member who seconded the rejection of the Bill, that so far as my conversation with the late General on Parliamentary interference went, he made a distinct difference between Parliamentary interference and political interference. If this Bill meant political interference, many of us would have nothing to do with it.
1735 Another point is made with regard to tampering with the foundations of this great organisation. If you tamper with the foundations, the superstructure will fall. I have seen great buildings erected on piles driven into the ground. These wooden piles have rotted and a proper foundation substituted therefor, and that is what this Bill will be to the Salvation Army. It has been urged that the Salvation Army should be left to work out their own salvation in their own way, but this Bill will not interfere with that. The Army was founded on a great inspiration. This Bill will not interfere with the in-
§ spiration of the Salvation Army. They will carry out their work as they have carried it out before, and this Bill will assist them to do it. Their ability to manage their own affairs will not be interfered with in the slightest way. They will carry on in the same magnificent way as before and with the same succcess, and it is because of that that I, as a Northern Irishman, give my wholehearted support to the Bill.
§ Question put, "That the word 'now' stand part of the Question."
§ The House divided: Ayes. 221; Noes, 31.1737
|Division No. 248.]||AYES.||[10.59 p.m.|
|Acland-Troyte, Lieut.-Colonel||Foot, Isaac||Makins, Brigadier-General E.|
|Albery, Irving James||Forestier-Walker, Sir L.||Mander, Geoffrey le M.|
|Alexander, Rt. Hon. A. V. (Hillsbro)||Fremantle, Lieut.-Colonel Francis E.||Mansfield, W.|
|Allen, Lt.-Col. Sir William (Armagh)||Gardner, J. P. (Hammersmith, N.)||Marcus, M.|
|Alpass, J. H.||George, Megan Lloyd (Anglesea)||Markham. S. F.|
|Ammon, Charles George||Gibson, H. M. (Lanes, Mossley)||Marshall, Fred|
|Arnott, John||Gill, T. H.||Mathers, George|
|Aske, Sir Robert||Glassey, A. E.||Merriman, Sir F. Boyd|
|Attlee, Clement Richard||Gould, F.||Messer, Fred|
|Baillie-Hamilton, Hon. Charles W.||Gower, Sir Robert||Millar, J. D.|
|Baldwin, Rt. Hon. Stanley (Bewdley)||Graham, Rt. Hon. Wm. (Edin., Cent.)||Milne, Ward law-, J. S.|
|Balfour, Captain H. H. (I. of Thanet)||Granville, E.||Milner, Major J.|
|Barnes, Alfred John||Greene, W. P. Crawford||Mitchell, Sir W. Lane (Streatham)|
|Batey, Joseph||Greenwood, Rt. Hon. A. (Coine)||Monsell, Eyres, Com. Rt. Hon. Sir B.|
|Bennett, Sir E. N. (Cardiff, Central)||Griffiths, T. (Monmouth, Pontypool)||Morgan, Dr. H. B.|
|Benson, G.||Grundy, Thomas W.||Morris-Jones, Dr. J. H. (Denbigh)|
|Bevan, S. J. (Holborn)||Gunston, Captain D. W.||Morrison, Rt. Hon. H. (Hackney, S.)|
|Birkett, W. Norman||Hall, J. H. (Whitechapel)||Morrison, Robert C. (Tottenham, N.)|
|Bondfield, Rt. Hon. Margaret||Hall, Capt. W. Q. (Portsmouth, C.)||Mort, D. L.|
|Bourne, Captain Robert Croft.||Harmon, Patrick Joseph Henry||Muff, G.|
|Bowyer, Captain Sir George E. W.||Harbord, A.||Muggeridge, H. T.|
|Boyce, Leslie||Harris, Percy A.||Naylor, T. E.|
|Braithwaite, Major A. N.||Haycock, A. W.||Newman, Sir R. H. S. D. L. (Exeter)|
|Biscoe, Richard George||Haynay, Arthur||Oldfield, J. R.|
|Broad, Francis Alfred||Henderson, Capt. R. R. (Oxf'd, Henley)||Oliver, George Harold (Ilkeston)|
|Bromfield, William||Henderson, W. W. (Middx., Enfield)||Oliver, p. M. (Man., Blackley)|
|Brown, C. W. E. (Notts, Mansfield)||Herriotts, J.||Oman, Sir Charles William C.|
|Brown, Ernest (Leith)||Hirst, G. H. (York, W. R., Wentworth)||Owen, Major G. (Carnarvon)|
|Burgin, Dr. E. L.||Hollins, A.||Palin, John Henry.|
|Buxton, C. R. (Yorks. W. R. Elland)||Hopkin, Daniel||Paling, Wilfrid|
|Cadogan, Major Hon. Edward||Horrabin, J. F.||Parkinson, John Allen (Wigan)|
|Campbell, E. T.||Hunter, Dr. Joseph||Percy, Lord Eustace (Hastings)|
|Cape, Thomas||Hurd, Percy A.||Perry, S. F.|
|Carter, W. (St. Pancras, S. W.)||Inksip, Sir Thomas||Pethick-Lawrence, F. W.|
|Cautley, Sir Henry S.||Isaacs, George||Potts, John S.|
|Cayzer, Maj. Sir Herbt. R. (Prtsmth, S.)||Iveagh, Counted of||Preston, Sir Walter Rueben|
|Chamberlain, Rt. Hn. Sir J. A. (Birm., W.)||John, William (Rhondda, West)||Pybus, Percy John|
|Charleton, H. C.||Jones, Henry Haydn (Merioneth)||Ramsay, T. B. Wilson|
|Chater, Daniel||Jones, Rt. Hon. Leif (Camborne)||Rathbone, Eleanor|
|Christie, J. A.||Jones, Morgan (Caerphilly)||Raynes, W. R,|
|Cluse, W. S.||Kenworthy, Lt.-Com. Hon. Joseph M.||Remer, John R.|
|Cocks, Frederick Seymour||Lang, Gordon||Reynolds, Col. Sir James|
|Colman, N. C. D.||Latham, H. P. (Scarboro' & Whitby)||Richards, R.|
|Compton, Joseph||Law, Sir Alfred (Derby, High Peak)||Riley, Ben (Dewsbury)|
|Cowan, D. M.||Lawther, W. (Barnard Castle)||Ritson, J.|
|Crichton-Stuart, Lord C.||Leach, W.||Romeril, H. G.|
|Cripps, Sir Stafford||Lee, Frank (Derby, N. E.)||Rosbotham, D. S. T.|
|Crookshank, Capt. H. C.||Leighton, Major B. E. P.||Rothschild, J. de|
|Daggar, George||Lindley, Fred W.||Russell. Alexander West (Tynemouth)|
|Dalton, Hugh||Lloyd, C. Ellis||Russell, Richard John (Eddisbury)|
|Davies, D. L. (Pontypridd)||Lockwood, Captain J. H.||Salmon. Major I.|
|Davies, Maj. Geo. F.(Somerset, Yeovil)||Longbottom, A. W.||Salter, Dr. Alfred|
|Dawson, Sir Philip||Longden, F||Samuel, H. Walter (Swansea, West)|
|Denman, Hon. R. D.||Lovat-Fraser, J. A.||Sandeman, Sir N. Stewart|
|Duncan, Charles||Lunn, William||Sanders, W. S.|
|Edmondson, Major A. J,||Macdonald, Gordon (Ince)||Sawyer, G. F.|
|Edwards, C. (Monmouth, Bedwellty)||McGovern, J. (Glasgow, Shettleston)||Scrymgeour, E.|
|Elmley, Viscount||Maclean, Sir Donald (Cornwall, N.)||Shakespeare, Geoffrey H.|
|Falle, Sir Bertram G.||McShane, John James||Shepherd, Arthur Lewis|
|Shepperson, Sir Ernest Whittome||Sullivan, J||Welsh, James (Paisley)|
|Shiels, Dr. Drummond||Taylor, vice-Admiral E. A.||White, H. G.|
|Shillaker, J. F.||Taylor, W. B. (Norfolk, S. W.)||Whiteley, William (Blaydon)|
|Short, Alfred (Wednesbury)||Thompson, Luke||Wilkinson, Ellen C.|
|Simms, Major-General J.||Thomson, Sir F.||Williams, Charles (Devon, Torquay)|
|Simmons, C. J.||Tinker, John Joseph||Williams, T. (York, Don Valley)|
|Sinclair, Col. T. (Queen's U., Belfst)||Todd, Capt. A. J.||Wilson R. J. (Jarrow)|
|Sinkinson, George||Tout, W. J.||Winterton, G. E.(Leicester, Loughb'gh)|
|Smith, Louis w. (Sheffield, Hallam)||Townend, A. E.||Womersley, W. J.|
|Smith, Rennie (Penistone)||Viant, S. P.||Wood, Rt. Hon. Sir Kingsley|
|Smith, Tom (Pontefract)||Walkden, A. G.||Wood, Major McKenzie (Banff)|
|Smith-Carington, Neville W.||Wallace, H. W.||Young, R. S. (Islington, North)|
|Somerville, A. A. (Windsor)||Ward, Lieut.-Col. Sir A. Lambert|
|Somerville, D. G. (Willesden, East)||Watkins, F. C.||TELLERS FOR THE AYES.—|
|Sorensen, R.||Watson, W. M. (Dunfermline)||Captain Hudson and Dr. Hastings.|
|Strauss, G. R.||Wellock, Wilfred|
|Barr, James||Jowett, Rt. Hon. F. W.||Sutton, J. E.|
|Beaumont, M. W.||Kelly, W. T.||Taylor, R. A. (Lincoln)|
|Bowerman, Rt. Hon. Charles W.||Kennedy, Rt. Hon. Thomas||Thurtle, Ernest|
|Colfox, Major William Philip||Lansbury, Rt. Hon. George||Whiteley, Wilfrid (Birm., Lady wood)|
|Courtauld, Major J. S.||McElwee, A.||Williams, David (Swansea, East)|
|Davidson, Rt. Hon. J. (Hertford)||Moore, Sir Newton J. (Richmond)||Williams, Dr. J. H. (Llanelly)|
|Ede, James Chuter||Morrison, W. S. (Glos., Cirencester)||Wilson, C. H. (Sheffield, Attercliffe)|
|Freeman, Peter||Palmer, E. T.|
|Gardner, B. W. (West Ham, Upton)||Phillips, Dr. Marion||TELLERS FOR THE NOES.—|
|Groves, Thomas E.||Richardson, R. (Houghton-le-Spring)||Mr. Frank Smith and Mr. Holford|
|Hirst, W. (Bradford, South)||Rodd, Rt. Hon. Sir James Rennell||Knight.|
|Hudson, James H. (Huddersfield)||Rowson, Guy|
Question put, and agreed to.