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Church Assembly debated

15 November 2019

November 14th, 1919.

THE speeches in the Commons on Friday, when the second reading of the so-called Enabling Bill was in debate, revealed the poverty of the arguments against it. So unconvincing, indeed, were they that only 16 members were found to vote against as compared with the 304 who supported the motion. The Member, in particular, who discovered a parallel between the Primate and Lenin managed to raise a laugh, but could scarcely be said to strengthen the case against. On the whole, however, the adverse speeches were unexpectedly moderate in tone. Apparently, Dissenters in the House had decided to defer action till the Bill makes its appearance in Grand Committee, when they hope to modify some clauses to which they especially object. The strongest argument advanced in favour of the Bill was based on the fact that it has the support of all sections of Churchmen, a fact which makes it quite impossible for objectors to affirm that it is the underground work of High Church plotters. If the truth were told, it would probably be found that its most fervent opponents are to be found on the High Church side. The reason for this is, of course, that the Bill really does very little towards loosing the shackles of State control, beyond easing the difficulty of Church reform from within by removing the requirement that the Parliamentary machinery must be employed on every occasion of attempted legislation. It was shown in Friday’s debate how large a proportion of such attempts had come to nothing. The whole case seems to lie in a nutshell. If there is anything in the charge that the Church has lost touch with the nation, then the sooner it is enabled to reform the evils that give ground for complaint the better it must be. But Parliament has not the time, nor the willingness, nor the fitness to deal with them, and the Church must deal with them itself

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