Liberal government uses Parliament Act for Welsh Church Bill

Published: 18 June 1913

The proposed rejection of the Welsh Church Bill was defeated in the House of Commons last night by 99 votes.

The bill proposes the separation and disestablishment of the Church of England in Wales and Monmouthshire, leading to the creation of a Church in Wales. The proposal is part of a long campaign by Welsh non-conformists, dating from the nineteenth century, who object to paying tithes to the Church of England.

Prime Minister Herbert Asquith said that he deplored the growing embitterment in the debate, which, he lamented, seemed characteristic of religious controversies. After the bill granting Home Rule to Ireland, the Welsh Bill is the second measure introduced by the Liberal government using the Parliament Act.

Opposing the move, the Conservative Party leader, Andrew Bonar Law, said the Welsh Church Bill would never have reached its present stage but for the votes of the Irish Party: ‘Political cynicism had never sunk lower than that’.

On behalf of the government, Walter Runciman told the House of Commons that only a few months previously Mr. Bonar Law had told Parliament that the disestablishment of the Church in Wales was a matter for the whole of the United Kingdom: ‘If it was a United Kingdom question, why deprive Parliament of the votes of those who came from one part of the kingdom?’

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