Skip to main content
Hide Articles List

5 articles on this Page




THE TITHE BILL Is at last within measureable distance of becoming law. The debate during the committee stage wasquitein accordance with the best traditions of Parliament. The conduct of the Welsh members was that of statesmen, who, though naturally disliking the measure, were yet careful that their opposition did not degenerate into obstruction. This temperate spirit was reflected by the promoters of the Bill, their hands being strengthened and upheld by Sir W. Harcourt, who appeared to take an almost fatherly interest in it. It has now been definitely settled that the landowner is to be directly liable for the payment of tithe, and that in default of payment proceedings may be instituted against him in the County Court. Mr Arthur Williams tells us that this change will have no effect in Wales, but that her 40,000 yeomen will continue to resist payment. There was a twang in this remark of Mr Williams that strongly reminds us of the old Cornish song, where their loved Bishop being committed to the tower 11 30,000 Cornish boys will know the reason why." Then the Nonconformists of England were ready to take up arms in defence of the Church and Bishops, who were their bulwark against Romanism and the aggression of the Roman Catholic King James 2nd. Times are changed now, the Noncon- formists represented by Mr Williams are ready to hand over, not only the Church and Bishops, but their own Nonconforming brethren, to the I tender mercies of the Priests and their bigoted followers. Whether Mr Williams' bravado will find QJ1 echo in Wales remains to be seen. We must confess to having our misgivings, the Welsh have a natural affinity for law, and the prolonged agitation against tithe has given them opportunity for studying its intricacies in connection with the subject. No doubt they will continue to agitate, at any rate, for a time, against the payment of tithe. Mr j Williams' yeomen may even seek to baffle the 1 County Court bailiffs, but we trust we may be spared a repetition of the scenes of violence that have lately disgraced our country. When magistrates openly encourage resistance under the name protest, to the payment of just and legal debts, on the flimsy and oft exploded pretext of conscientious scruples, we cannot be surprised that rough country lads should construe protest" to mean the heaving of brick bats. They are not so much to blame as the educated men who have led them into the error, but at the same time actual assaults upon officers of the law is an amusement that cannot be indulged in with impunity. The sooner our farm boys realise this fact the better. Pelting a bailiff with eggs and stones or tearing the coat off his back is no doubt great sport, but it is hardly worth a month in Carmarthen gaol. If they have any regard for their own interests, our ardent youths will in future avoid the bailiff and join the ladies in noisy protest beyond reach of temptation. The clause of the Bill that provides for remission of tithe, when that x -1- i j_l_ 1 t- "1- > 1 i impost exueeus- (iwo-x/iiircis oi fcne annual value of the land, will not affect us in Wales where- the Commutation Act has proved so favour- able to the farmer. It is, however, a tardy acknowledgement of the injustice suffered for years past in certain parts of England, where tithe has swallowed nearly the entire economic value of the land, and from the original tenth has become the whole. We must confess to feeling some sympathy with the amendment of Mr Bryn Roberts, which would have had the effect of reducing the limit to one half the value. There is one point that is placed forcibly before us by the recent disturbance in Pembrokeshire coupled with the late conduct of the Cardiganshire Police Committee. The Chief Constable whose duty was to provide for the peace of the county was afraid to under- take the responsibility. The Police Act places the Chief Constable at the mercy of the present Joint Standing Committees. In Pembrokeshire the tithe agent after submitting patiently to outrage and insult applied for the police protection that he had a right to claim, the Chief Constable did not daro to provide it without previously consulting his committee. This is all very well in a case of tithe distraint, when a few days delay may not be of great consequence, but carried to a logical conclusion it means that, in case of a possible riot, the lives and property of tax payers are to be imperilled for several days, while a committee meeting is being summoned. We pay taxes on the understanding that the Government protect us in our legal rights if these whom 0 in the Government charge with this duty fail in carrying it out, the Government will have no option but to do it themselves, by taking the police under its own control. The Pembroke- shire Committee have been equal to the occasion, but the delay that has occurred might under other circumstances have led to serious consequences.