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Rhondda Valley Trade Unionists…

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Rhondda Valley Trade Unionists I DEMAND FOR HALLS TO BE OPENED ON SUNDAYS. QUESTION POSTPONED A MONTH. I A deputation again appealed before the Rhondda Urban District Council last Friday eevening demanding the opening of the halls on Sunday. The liberty of speech has been denied ? the people of the Rhondda. by a resolution of the Council prohibiting the opening of thea- tres, cinemas, and other public buildings on Sun- day, The deputation consisted of 26 miners' lodges, a few railway men's lodges. Trades and Labour Councils, and the Rliomlda Socialist Society. The Chairman, after consulting with his col- leagues, consented to hearing four of the de- putation, representing the four bodies. Mr. Noah Ablett, Mardy, first, spoke, on behalf of the Rhondda Miners' Lodges, and said that "we are here representing 26 111iners, lodges, the whole of the miners' lodges from Mardy to Porth. and from Porth to Treherbert, j as well as the Rhondda Socialist Society; and. as you have divided us up, we have decided to put the case of the Rhondda Socialist Society as well as the Miners' Lodges. This is a very populous area-one of the most populous areas in the country; and as far as I know, it is the only place where there is a restriction in the opening of halls such as this. It is im- possible to carry on our work as Trade Union- ists without having the halls open on Sundays, because the district is such that it requires the halls opened in order to settle disputes on Sundays to enable the men to work on Monday. I also appeal on behalf of the Rhondda So- cialist Society, because you must admit that we, as Socialists, have a right in a free country like ours to have every reasonable facility to express our views, and invite the people to hear our case. As Britishers, you ought to remove this restriction in order to preserve the right of free speech. Mr Whiting spoke on behalf of the Railway- men. and said that they had an Orphan .Fund to alleviate the sufferings of the orphans, but had very great difficulty in getting a hall to hold their annual concert, the proceeds of which go to this fund, and he asked that the haals be thrown open on Good Friday to en- able them to hold their charity concerts. Mr. D. Jones next spoke for the Cambrian Workmen, and said that he was very sorry to be there among business men as the P..Ti.C., to appeal for ever for the opening of ^he halls. You are despotising Democracy, and what you condemn on the Continent of Eu- rope to-day you carry in action at the Council here. We are only asking you for a very little privilege, and that is. for the use of our own property on Sunday. You know that we have spent thousands of pounds in erecting Workmen's Halls, and when we want to meet on Sundays to discuss Trade Union matters, a few Councillors here object to our using our own property. It is impossible for the work- men to meet on week nights, and we demand that the lialu be thrown open; if we asked for the opening of all the graves in Trealaw Ceme- tery, you would not be more aghast over it. You say this will take away the sanctity of the Sabbath; there is no sanctity of the Sabbath more glorious than fighting for the rights of men. Mr. Matthew Banner, speaking on beahlf of the Maindy and Eastern Workmen, said that! if the men had any grievance they must meet on Sundays, or else stop the wheels and meet on Monday, and, a stoppage at the present! moment would be very undesirable. Coun. Dr. Thomas then asked Mr. Banner: Would you be satisfied if we allowed the halls open on Sunday fer Trade Union purposes only P" Mr. Banner: No; I do not think the Maindy and Eastern Workmen would consent to that; they reserve the right to hold whatever meet- ings they like. A discussion then followed as to whether it would comply with the Council's standing or- ders to let the deputation remain. It was moved by Coun. T. R. Daviess, and seconded by another, that the deputation be allowed to remain." The following motion was then read and meved by Coun. E. Roderick, seconded by Coun. T. Owen: — That any condition imposing a restriction on the use of theatre and cinema buildings on Sunday and Good Friday for any other purpoises than those in respect of which the licence is actually granted, be withdrawn. In moving the motion. Councillor Rode-! rick said that it was impossible to hold any Trade Union lneeetings on any other day but Sunday, and that there are less people in the Churches to-day than there were before the restriction was put on the halls. If you will not øe tolerant the movement will enter upon a new campaign, and if you are not careful they wild retaliate on the Churches, because nearly all of them are assessable. Ooun. T. Owen, in seconding the motion, said: "1 have a mandate. from my constitu- ents to effect the opening of the halls on Sun- day The halls should be open on Sunday to enable the young people to hear lectures, which, I can say from experience, are very entertaining, and much enlightenment can be gained from them." The opposition was so completely overwhelm- ed with the force of argument in favour of the opening of the halls on Sunday, that Coun. Dr. Thomas and the Chairman very meekly protested against the discussion of the motion continuing, because we could get quite as large, if not a larger deputation ag- ainst the opening of the halls on Sunday." Then came the "star turn of the evening. Coun. Horatio Phillips' '(not Horatio the arm chair fighter) denunciation of Socialism. He said: "I am tolerant to people in speaking out their minds, and every man has a right to be a Socialist, every man a Liberal, and ev- ery man a Conservative, and I would support this motion if I could put a limit on it, and that is, Trade Union meetings in special emer- gencies and sacred concerts." He then went on to say that if we allowed tie Socialists to hold public meetings on Sunday, where would! the sanctity of the Sabbath be? The Social- ists who want the halls opened are looking at the wrong side of Socialism; they are the ma- terialists. and do not consider the moral aspect. Councillors Abel Jacobs, Jones (Porth), Mark Harcombe. T. R. Davies, T. Owen, and James James spoke in favour of the motion. After a little discussion, it was decided to adjourn tire question for a month, to enable the other side to be heard.

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