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THE HOME RULE CONFERENCE." On Wednesday a meeting of representative Welshmen was held at Cardiff, which had been somewhat inaptly called in the placards a The Welsh Home Rule Conference," to discuss Mr. Alfred Thomas' National Institutions (Wales) Bill. In the morning, a meeting of the South Wales Liberal Federation was held, in which it was resolved to adopt Mr. Thomas' Bill as an instalment of a larger measure which will be introduced at some future time. This is the attitude which we have from the beginning taken up with regard to the National Institutions Bill, and we aie glad to find that the members of the South Wales Liberal Federation are sufficiently in touch with the growing and progressive Nationalist Party in Wales to understand that Mr. Thomas ?Bill is not all that is required by Wales or that is sufficient to satisfy Welsh aspirations. We have on several previous occasions discussed the provisions of the Bill. It is sufficient here to remind our readers that the Bill provides for the appointment of a secretary for Wales, who shall be invested with similar authority with regard to Wales as the Irish secretary is with regard to Irish affairs. The Bill also proposes to forma Welsh Education Depart- ment, a National Council, a Welsh University, and a Museum. The general principle of the Bill was approved by representative Welshmen from all parts of the country who met at a conference at Llandrindod in August last. It will be seen that the Bill is a most moderate one, and only asks for the transference to Welsh departments of certain administra- tive tf unctions which are now enjoyed by English departments of State. No new powers are applied for. It is true that by the adoption of the Bill the claims of Wales to separate legislative treatment will be conceded. Even in this, however, there is no novelty, for in the Welsh Sunday Closing Act, the Burial Act, and the Intermediate Education Act these claims have been already recognised. The establishment of a National Council-important as it may appear to be--is but a slight extension of Section 81 of the Local Government Act of 1888. The Bill if passed will, therefore, only make the administration of Welsh affairs more efficient it will transfer existing powers from English State Departments to local bodies. This is by no means all that Welsh Nationalists demand or require. We are, therefore, glad that the Federation only accepted the Bill as an instalment of a larger measure—the first fruits of a more abundant harvest. We consider that it was a mistake to call -the Conference a Welsh Home Rule Conference." The provisions of the Bill have been made as moderate as possible in order to attract the sympathy and support of the most -halting Welsh members. By calling the con- ference a Welsh Home Rule Conference the very people who were intended to be conciliated by the mild character of the Bill were frightened away, while the advanced Welsh "Nationalists are dissatisfied that a Bill which -only touches the fringe of the question should be called a Home Rule Bill. The afternoon conference and the public meeting in the evening were very well attended, and the conference was fairly representative. We confess, however, that we were somewhat -disappointed at the result of the meeting. The conference, as we said, was fairly representativo of South Wales, and some of the speeches showed how short the Bill falls of satisfying the demands of the Principality. The con- ference had been called together to discuss the detans of the Bill, but the time was too short to allow of anything like a thorough discussion. Difficulties were shirked disputed points were either ignored or left for future con- sideration many who agreed with the main principle of the Bill, but who I wished to amend it in some of its details, had to forbear even to suggest any modifications, lest the conference should end in nothing and, as a consequence, the National Institutions Bill was confirmed by the conference practically unaltered. Though the conference, as far as the Bill itself is con- cerned, did not result in much, it will not be without good effect. It has resulted in a more pronounced declaration than we have ever before hear.l from Sir Edward Reed of his agreement with the principle of separate legislation for Wales it has shown the advance that National- ism is making in Wales it has drawn from Major Jones a valuable definition of Welsh Home Rule and it will tend to familiarise the Welsh mind with the demand for Welsh autonomy and to ripen Welsh thought on the subject. The 'evening meeting at the Park Hall was extremely well attended, and one or two good speeches were delivered but it was by no means a Welsh Home Rule meeting. Sir Edward Reed discussed the Bill in its rela- tion to Cardiff Mr. Pritchard Morgan, in the best speech of the evening, pointed out the evils of royalties and the mis-government of the Crown lands the Rev. Towyn Jones, in a Welsh speech, talked of Disestablishment and education and cognate topics Mr. Alfred Thomas explained the principles of the Bill and Mr. C. P. Scott attempted to answer Mr. Chamberlain's Llanybyther speech. The. speeches were good, but they were not what was wanted. They might have been delivered anywhere at an ordinary political meeting. Most of them were somewhat dull, and did not betoken that clear understanding of the Nationalist position which characterised the all too short speech of Mr. T. D. Sullivan at the afternoon conference. We were disappointed also to see so few pre- sent of the Welsh members who backed the Bill. Mr. Pritchard Morgan and Mr. T. P. Price spoke at the meeting, and Mr. Samuel Evans was present at the public meeting at the Park- hall, though he did not speak. Where were, however, the other Welsh members who have promised to act as sponsors for the Bill ? Mr. T. E. Ellis, Mr. Bowen Rowlands, Mr Randell, Mr. Lloyd Morgan, Mr. Lloyd George, and Mr. T. Lewis were absent. Mr. Abel Thomas, who had been announced to speak, was also absent. What prospect is there, if the Welsh members are not unanimous, of getting the Bill through Parliament ? Many excellent things were said at the meetings, but they were not said by the right people. The representatives of Wales in Parliament were, by accident or design, unable to be present. We confess that we are disap- pointed with the result. We had hoped that the meetings would have marked the commence- ment of a new era in Welsh political history it is true that we have gained something by them, but the gain has fallen far short of our expectations. We had hoped that one or two objectionable features in the Bill would have been removed or modified by discussion but the Bill has been practically left untouched. We had hoped that the Bill would have united together the Nationalists of Wales but the Conference has shown how disorganised and disunited we still are. ♦ The sound of the coming fray is drawing near. Councilllor Bryant of the Tondu Division has ten- dered his resignation, feeling that he is unable, through stress of other work, to devote the neces- sary time to the duties of his office as County Councillor. The best thanks of the Liberals of the division are due to Mr. Bryant, not only for his faithful services, but for coming out, as he did, at the last moment to contest the seat against the Tory candidate. Mr. Bryant has not been able to devote as much time as both he and his constitu- ents would have wished to the discharge of his duty at the Council, but lie has always been faith- ful to his trust when occasion called on him to record his vote, and he has been most diligent in his attendance in the committees on which he sat. As will be seen in another column, the Liberal Association of Tondu and Aberkenfig have reluc- taritly accepted Mr. Bryant's resignation, and selected a successor in the person of Mr. T. J. Hughes, of Bridgend, who is a warm personal friend of the retiring councillor. We hope that the Liberals of the whole division will be unanimous in their choice, and that they will see their way to follow the example set them by the larger electorate of Tondu and Aberkenfig, and select Mr. Hughes as the Liberal candidate. It is unfortu- nate that the gentlemen living in the locality, who might have represented the division at the Council with honour to themselves and credit to their con- stituents, have found it impossible to consent to being selected by the Association. In Mr. Hughes, however, the Liberals of the division have found an admirable substitute, who will prove to be an acquisition to the Council. We earnestly hope that the whole of the Liberals will agree in his selection, and return him unopposed.




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