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Stands Penarth Liberalism…


Stands Penarth Liberalism where it Did ? TIIE CHURCH IN WALES. ;«THE OLD, OLD STORY.' MR. SAM THOMAS AND THE B-SHOP. A BIT TO BRAG ABOUT." Penarth is nothiyg if not intense, thorough, ex- treme. On taking a big thing in hand it devotes itself entirely to it, and quite unconsciously sets about making that thing bigger still. Thus, on Wednesday night, we, that is, Liberals, gave up our- selves heait and soul to politics, and so, under the auspices of the National Liberal Federation, an as- asemblage of H True Reds took place. Despite the fact that the President of the Penarth Liberal Asso- ciation had promised to pay for the hall, the place at 7.30 on thiii particular night presented a beggarly account of empty benches," as Mr Shakespear would have put it had be been the special correspondent of the Penarth Chronicle in the year of Lord 1895, Jan. 16th. Half an hour after the advertised time of commencement, the sparse sprinkling had grown into its teens, when the platform men filed in amid a painfully hushed silence of awe. Mr Gibbs, J.P., occupied the seat of honour, whilst on bis right sat the member for Crewe (Mr Walter McLaren), and on his left a London Liberationism Mr John Fisher. These were supported by Messrs J. W. Pyman, C. Batchelor, T. Bevan, Sam Thomas, C. B. Stoddart, F. H. Ammonia, and T. Sandey (hon. sec. Penarth Liberal Association). CHAIRMAN'S ORATORICAL FLIGHT. Mr Gibbs was sorry for the meagre attendance, but there was, unfortunately, a large number of workers busily engaged in Cardiff prepa, ing for the imminent reception of the Premier, and others had gone to hear Sir Wilfred Lawson. Letters of apology had been sent by Mr FH- Jotham, C.C., Mr Corn- well, and many others; Lieut.-General Clarke bad also been unavoidably detained through family sick- ness. In the course of his presidential address, re- plete with fervour, significance, and incisiveness, the speaker, after predicting the decisive and triumphant return of Mr A. J. Williams again, said that many accusations had been levelled against the heads of the Liberals and progressive policy. They had been called MAL-CONTENTS, FADDISTS, AND DREAMERS. He would plead guilty to the indictment, for they were discontented with unredressed grievances, inas- much as the poor could not obtain justice against the rich. Land laws and leaseholds were monstrous monopoly, and were the causes of the enormous rates which so injuriously affected the worker and the pro- ducer of wealth. Even in Cardiff the average atti- san had to pay nearly 30 per cent, of his total income for a house, and a third of the population was within measurable distance of having to seek parish relief, whilst "THE SPLENDID PAUPERS" wleto pensioned off on, and nourished by, the rales 1 and taxes paid by the submerged tenth. Faddists of course they were—not "dumb driven cattle, and of then wide, diverse, and pressing claims was one for the better bousing and Shllitation of the poor. (Cheers). They had a fad about Home Rule for Ire- land—(applause)—but it was 'ime to take a grip of the throat of the Irish landlord. Erin had a perfect right to go in for local governing powers as long as they did not affect Imperial. Another fad was drink- ing and if this habit were not curtailed it would soon master us. Still another fad was the disestablishment of the Church, its political machinery and injuriousness; and they had even the temerity to advocate the abolition of the House of Lords (Ap- plause). Ay, the people could not be withstood. Au unwitting compliment had been paid them by the Tories, who had dubbed the Liberals dreamers- John Morley asked for dreamers. They, indeed, dreamt of a time when there would be no warfare between classes; when the hatred, distrust, and fear existing between employer and employee would cease when the workman would have some tangible interest in his own country; and when equity and justice would reign, and a spirit of real brotherhood between man jXilS j &°°d time was coming, though long delayed- (Cheers). The member for Crewe then spoke, and said that as he was accornPanied on the platform by Mr John Fisher, be need not dwell on the burning question of the disestablishment of the Church. He would merely say that having been all his life a strong Voluntary, he was convinced ot the absolute unlawfulness of any action between religion and the State, and there was no measure before the country which he more warmly supported that the measure for the DisestalJlishment I and Disendowment of the English Church in Wales, and he hoped to live to see the time when the measure would be extended to the English Church in England as well. (Applause.) He desired rather to call the attention of the meeting to the efforts of the Govern- ment-to improve the conditions of Labour. He was not surprised that a large number of working men should put labour questions to the front. They were as much entitled to do so as the Irishmen were to put Home Rule, and as Welshmen to put Disestablish- ment in the forefront of their political programme. He did not hesitate to say that a Government which did not improve the condition of labour and Hfe was not worthy of the confidence of the country. But equally he would maintain that if a Government did achieve great reforms in this direction they were entitled to the confidence of every working man. He believed that THE INDEPENDENT LABOUR PARTY were making a considerable mistake in separting from the Liberal ranks—(applause)—and thought they would much more quickly achieve the objects they had in view by working from within rather than from without the Liberal party. The Government were, as they knew, large employers of labour, and they had established an eight hours' day in the Army and Navy workshops, factories, and dockyards. They prevented overtime, and bad raised the wages of their labourers from ,17s and 18s to 20s a week. These re- turns embraced something like 30,000 men, and to all of them they were now paying the recognised Trade Union rate of wages. (Applause). They resolutely SET THEIR FACES AGAINST SUB- CONTRACTING and insisted that in all Government contracts there should be a clause forbidding it, and compelling con- tractors to pay the Trade Union rate of wages. (Applause). They had further taken the great step of abolishing the old regulation which forbade Government employees to be members of Trade Unions and the Postmaster-General had reinstated certain men in his department who had been members of Trade Unions, and as such made themselves promi- nent by demanding reforms, men who had previously been dismissed by the late Conservative Postmaster- General. (Applause). In addition to this the Government had established a labour department and the Labour Gazette, which were of the greatest use to the Unions throughout the country, The Home Secretary had appointed a large number of working men inspectors of factories, workshops, and mines, and was prepared to appoint more, all of them being practical working men conversant with the trades they inspected. The hon. member also dwelt upon Free Education, Women Inspectors, One Man One Vote and other current topics of interest. WELSH DISE-ST -VBLISti.AIF.NT. Mr Fisher, in referring to the unswerving fidolity of the Irish members, stated that the House was framing new Irish land laws, but as the Welsh party was equally as loyal to the Government the Welsh people were being propitiated by the Legislature at- tempting to abolish an alien Church. (Cheers). Since 1885 there had been no wobbling among the Princi- pality's representatives, and they had ever loyally sustained the G.O.M. The question, too, would be discussed in the coming Session, but though the measure would inevitably be rejected by the Lords, they must not be dejected, for socner or later the principle of religious equality would be triumphantly vindicated- (Hear, hear). The battle would also be fought out in England, and he therefore advised his friends to recognise that fact and send emissaries to convert England, for she would be gravely affected. Jt would be remembered that the SIAMESE TWINS that tusus natural, lived and died together. Daring their fatal illness skilled surgeons were called in to find out whether the life of one, at least, could be saved by dividing them. This was deemed inadvis- able, and so the both expired. Subsequently a post mortem was held, when it was discovered that the operation could have been successfully performed. So would it be found that both the Church in England and Wales would ultimately perish together. HOW <• SHE HAS FAILED. It was notorious that the bulk of the Welsh were Nonconformists, thus the Church had obviously failed in its mission, and consequently it was a stupendous anomaly and most unjust to perpetuate its continu- ance and emoluments. The Church had been, and is still doing good he admitted especially since its revival 20 or 30 years ago. All would rejoice and recognise the splendid duties of the clergy. He did not suggest they were one wit inferior in enthusiasm or spirituality than ministers. It wis unnecessary to pass reflections on those points. (Applause). Yet he must maintain the Church had signally failed to accomplish the mission for which she was presumably established. Take the means placed at their disposal. There was one Bishop enjoying an income of X4,500, three others with £ 4,200 each, and four Deans with £ 700 each. The late Archbishop Tate, during a, de- bate in the House of Lords, said that when he was I Dean of Carlisle he was for two years vainly trying to find what duties to do—(laughter)—but still he ¡ received £1,300 a year. (Renewed laughter). There were, too, 954 incumbents in this country having an average income of f251 lls 2d, making a total of X229,000 per year over and above what Churchmen contributed. This money was originally intended, not for any particular section, but for the entire community. The Nonconformists raised for their schools, colleges, and churches 1400,000, per y,ea, but the late Dean of Bangor, one of their ablest fenders, and the fighting Bishop of Asaph, both stated that half this amount was wasted because two or three chapels were erected when one would have done, to gratify DENOMINATIONAL PRIDE. These men, however, wasted their own money- money toiled for and voluntarily given-but what a waste to give Bishops £4,500 and Deans £ 700 yearly for ill-defined duties In England f 13, 000,000 were annually absorbed by the Church, the number of benefices was 18 679, and there was one parson to every 700 Church people. Estimating liberally tha number of Churchmen in Wales at 500,000 and cor- rectly admitting the number of benefices at 1,349, there was one parson to every 350. This was excesl sive! Evidently there were enough to convert us- (laughter)-and yet they had failed to do it. Then the Church had control over parochial charities, which aocording to Dr Rees, Swansea, amounted to X23,000 a year. THE CUSTODY OF CHURCHYARDS was an immense leverage in their hands, and by thus bringing them into direct contact with the people, might be made a great factor for good. The burial fees were also claimed, despite the passing (It a Bill in 1880 granting permission for Dissenters to inter their own dead. RELIGIOUS CENSUSES. In 1851 a census was taken by Mr Horace Mann, when it was found that out of a total sitting accom- modation for 689,000 the Church had only provided 301,000, leaving a deficiency of 387,000. The Non- conformists had provided seats for 692,000. Last year's census, taken from the Blue Book, showed the Church deficiency to be 613,000. Allowing for all the Church's alleged marvellous progress, they never- theless had failed to induce the people to take ad- vantage of the accommodation. In taking the cen- sus some amusing remarks had been heard. Oln person upon being asked what religion be professed and where he went, said, I go nowhere put me down Church." (Laughter)- Another arbitrary power possessed by the Church was to hold an in- quisition and force paupers to state their religious beliefs. This, he supposed, was one of tha penalties of pauperism, but the time was not far distant when all this would be done away with, for had not 31 out of 34 of their Parliamentary representative pledged themselves to its abolition ? (Applause). IVlr Thomas then moved the following resolution That this meeting of the Liberals of Penarth expresses its hearty appreciation of the present Liberal Government and its programme, and while thanking them for the passing of the I People's Charter the Parish Councils Act-and Sir William Harcourt's democratic Budget, looks forward hope- fully to the pas ing of the Welsh Disestablishment Bill during the coming session, which will give Welshmen that religiouse quality so long fought for," and in the course of his facetious remarks, which kept the house in a constant roar, said he objected to the phrase—Liberals of Penarth-because that was a public meeting, and hence somewhat mixed. He was sorry the member for Crewe had gone, as he did not agree with his pronouncement anent the House of Lords. With Mr Fisher he entirely concurred but he hoped the point he raised would be definitely settled by the Federation, viz., that the House of Lords be entirely abolished. (Loud clamours). They all knew the famdar distich beginning with If foul the streamlet run," thea the source of all obstruction should be done away with. He was a Churchman, BORN NEXT DOOR to a church, and had been a chorister nearly 40 years ago. It was rather a serious matter, but the Bill in Committee had contended that in rural parishes meet- ings be held in any public building, say a schoolroom. which received recognised aid aud support from the Government. This the Lords would not pass, and said, Let the parish meet in a public-house-" (Laughter). Mr Thomas; Don't laugh; I'm rather-a nervous man. (Henewed laughter). Continuing, Mr Thomas said that recently in going to London he got into a carriage at Cardiff wherein be was introduced to a real live Bishop. Of course the Bishop was cultured and courteous and he hoped he himself was very civil. In the course of conver- sation he told the Bishop that although he was a Churchman, he was nevertheless ashamed of the Lords wanting the public meetings held in a public- house. The Bishop said if the same clause came up again he would vote the other way. This was neces- sarily very gratifying to the speaker to know that he had influenced a Bishop, and was a bit to brag about. In conclusion, with the exception of those reserva- tions and qualifications mentioned, he would move the resolution. (Applause). Mr rr. Bevan seconded, and it was carried Mew. con.