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----Welsh Policy.


Welsh Policy. HOME RULE FOR WALES. Last Tuesday was a great day in Carnarvon. It was the day of the Convention of Represen- tatives of all Liberal Associations and Free Church Councils to decide upon a national policy in view of the general election. Prior to the Convention proper a meeting of the Campaign Committee of the Welsh County Councils was held, and at this meeting Mr. D. Lloyd-George, M.P., delivered a very important speech, dealing with educational matters. In the course of it the right honourable gentleman said that the time had now come for summing up the position. To have replied earlier would have been to supply the enemy with the Welsh plans and with ammunition. He detailed the position which had to be faced when they met at Cardiff, and showed that the Welsh policy had averted passive resistance on a wide scale throughout the Principality, with its consequent bitterness, recrimination, dissension, and dis- traction in their own ranks, and enabled them now to meet on the eve of battle as a united party full of hope of a great triumph. If they had administered the Act they would have helped the supporters of the Act to return men to Parliament to keep its worst features on the Statute Book. Passive resistance might have led to breaches of the peace, and the Liberal County Councils would have been very reluctant to make use of force for dispersing crowds of men with whom they were in full sympathy. Passive resistance again would have meant withholding part of the poor rate, which was the basis of qualification for registration. Tory agents would not have scrupled to take advantage of that fact, and now they would have had thousands of Nonconformist electors off the rate books in Wales as they had in England. This in Wales would have meant a present of a ten or a dozen seats to the Tory party, and could there, from a tactical point of view, have been a greater folly than a policy of that sort ? It had been said that the Cardiff policy was starving one-third of the schools of Wales by under-staffing them. So far from that being true, if they looked carefully into the matter they would find that the reverse was the case. If they had levelled up these schools imme- diately they would have had to increase the numbers of the certificated staff in the non- provided schools by So or 60 per cent. The resources of the denominational colleges were already taxed to the utmost to find men and women to take positions in these schools, and it would have been impossible to have increased the staffing of these schools in Wales 50 per cent. without having jobbed these schools with an inferior type of teachers. Once appointed they could not get rid of them, and he could not conceive of anything worse for Welsh education than that the standard of education in one-third of the schools of Wales should be debased for a period of 20 or 30 years. From all these contingencies the Cardiff policy had saved them. Reviewing the operation of the policy he pointed out that the Board of Education itself acknowledged that the Act of 1902 broke down when they introduced the Defaulting Authorities Act. That Act was unlike anything else on the Statute Book, and made the Board of Education both parties and judges in every case. An Act of that sort was fit only for Russia-and even Russia was now getting tired of defaulting authorities. That Act meant that Wales had to formulate a new policy. It was very difficult, but they did it. Merioneth- shire up to the present had not levied a rate, in spite of the Defaulting Authorities Act, though it would have been face to face with the neces- sity of doing so for the first time in January or February next. Montgomeryshire had acted with courage and promptitude, and in face of the action of the Montgomeryshire County Council, the Defaulting Authorities Act was hopelessly broken down. The letter written by Lord Londonderry to Colonel Pryce-Jones constituted, he believed, the last official act of his lordship, and a last act which was worthy of his whole career in the Board of Education. His lordship admitted that he could do nothing under the circumstances. In fact, he had been beaten completely by the Montgomeryshire County Council. So far, then, from the second Cardiff resolution not having been a failure, the last thing the Marquis of Londonderry did was to write a testimonial to the complete success of the second Cardiff resolution, and that morning they had heard from Montgomeryshire that now that the Defaulting Authorities Act had been with- drawn, they were now about administering the Act exactly under the same conditions and in the same manner as they did before the county was put in default. Of course, the whole ex- pense of administration must be put on the rates, because that represented control, and they could not complain that they were paying for the only control they had under the Act. In Brecon- shire, during the six months that the Tories administered the Act before they were turned out, the Education rate was is. gd. in the pound per annum, but during the eighteen months the Liberals had been in power on the Breconshire County Council the rate had been eightpence. Not a single teacher had had his salary cut down, and the Cardiff policy carried out both in the letter and in the spirit in Breconshire had resulted in a saving of is. id. in the rate. In Carnarvonshire the administration of the Act would have meant an addition of std. to the rate. The Welsh 2 policy had substantially benefited the people from a purely financial point of view. Dealing with the Amendment of the Education Act, Mr. Lloyd George said I have not the faintest doubt that it will be very satisfactory to Wales. I do not think anyone need have any apprehension on that point. I do not think any time will be lost. Indeed it is quite an open secret that it is going to be dealt with at once. As to compromise I am perfectly clear there will be no compromise on the two leading principles, that there must be complete popular control and that there must be an abolition of sectarian test in the appointment of teachers and in the management of the schools as well. If we get these two great principles conceded you must give and take within these limits as much as you possibly can. In the course of his speech the hon. member dealt also with the proposal to form a Welsh Education Joint Council for Wales. He expressed opposition to a Board like that of Scotland selected by the Imperial Government that selected the men. That was not what Wales wanted. Wales wanted education in her own hands. Though there was a Welsh office in Whitehall there would be a smack of Whitehall about it. Wales wanted her primary education run from Wales exactly as her secondary and higher education were run at the present moment. That was the scheme but he was sorry to say that Carmar- thenshire upset it. The scheme was not a mere skeleton and once the Board was set up delega- tion of powers would follow, and the delegation would not stop with the Board of Education. There are powers under the Local Government Board, the Board of Trade, and the Home Office, which he hoped to see delegated to the Council for Wales. He would like to see certain control over temperance given to such a Welsh authority. He had very great hopes that they would see all this realised in the course of the next four or five years. Mean- while they must proceed with the formation of this council, and he thought the best plan would be that the County Councils of Wales should once more meet in conference soon after the election, and he trusted that Carmarthenshire would then see its way clear to attend, not by means of a formal deputation in which counsel was engaged as if they were appearing before a hostile tribunal, but as colleagues and comrades discussing their difficulties frankly. There had never before been such unity in Wales. Even the strangers within their gates displayed the same pride in the country as Welshmen, and he hoped when this council was set up, when these denominational difficulties were out of the way, there would be neither Englishman nor Welsh- man, Churchman nor Nonconformist, but that there would be simply one body, thoroughly one in sentiment, and that sentiment a sentiment of real desire for the advancement of the country which, after all, they all loved in common. The afternoon Conference, which was the Convention proper, assembled in the Moriah Calvinistic Methodist Chapel, a spacious build- ing, which was crowded. Mr. Lloyd-George, who was welcomed with rounds of cheering on entering, occupied the chair on this occasion also, and was supported on the platform by Sir Alfred Thomas, M.P., Mr. J. Bryn Roberts, M.P., Mr. Ellis Jones Griffith, M.P., Mr. William Jones, M.P., Mr. J. Herbert Lewis, M.P., and Mr. Osmond Williams, M.P. In his opening speech the Chairman said that the last time they met they met to arrange for the battle. Now the battle was half won, but they must fight to the end. He was there not as a member of the Ministry, but as a Welshman, and that he hoped to be first and last. What was their programme ? First of all, they congratulated the country on having got rid of the Tory Government. The second item was Disestablishment, the third was educa- tion, the fourth temperance, and the fifth general. Disestablishment was an old question in Wales, and at least since 1868 they had been pretty unanimous about it. Of course, in Disestablish- ment he included Disendowment, so he would not repeat that word. Since 1892, the people who were in favour of Disestablishment had not slackened in the slightest degree. On the other hand, there were those of the minority, who thought it an injustice and a grievance in 1892, who were convinced that there would be no religious peace in Wales, that there would be no spiritual harmony-nay, that the Church itself would never get a real grip upon the con- science of the people, until it was emancipated from the fetters of the Establishment. That in his opinion was the great advance made in Disestablishment. He had been very much struck by the attitude of the abler men amongst the younger clergy. They felt that their sphere of influence was narrower, that their powers were crippled by the fact that they were in a kind of hostile entrenchment in their own country. They had begun to feel they would rather take part in the great national life, get their legitimate weight in the councils of the nation. He thought Disestablishment was coming in a way which really he would rather see it come-in the way of peace and concord. He believed the fighting had been done, and that when Disestablishment came it would come almost (not altogether) by a voluntary surrender, and as far as many of them were concerned an ardent surrender on the part of the best men in the Church itself. He did not believe there ever had been much opposition to Welsh Dis- establishment amongst Welsh laymen. They wanted to see the ancient British Church, from which they were able to trace their pedigree- a church which was in this country when Canterbury was purely a pagan shrine-still taking part in the great spiritual life of the people, and they knew perfectly well that that could never be accomplished as long as the present system, alien one in its origin and in its sympathies, was maintained. Disestablishment of the Welsh Church had been an essential part of the Liberal programme since 1889. It had never been taken out, and his friend, Sir Alfred Thomas, and himself had the authority of the Prime Minister for saying that it was still an essential part of the programme. Time and opportunity were questions to be decided, questions like education and temperance had been forced to the front by the action of the late Government. There was another question, and it might come to the front at any moment, and that was the question of the right of an irresponsible Chamber, never elected by the people, not based upon the will of the people, taking upon itself to thwart the will and to mangle and mutilate measures. He could not imagine that any Liberal Government would tolerate such a state of things. All these