The other day the hon. Gentleman the Secretary to the Admiralty was good enough to say that a statement would be made as to the position of the Roman Catholic chaplains in the Royal Navy, and that an explanation would be given as to what is intended to be done by the Admiralty with regard to the Catholic Church in this matter. I asked a question of the First Lord of the Admiralty a few days ago on this subject,* and the reply which he gave to me led to some misunderstanding amongst those interested in this matter. The right hon. Gentleman said the Admiralty had made arrangements which had met with the approval of the; Catholic hierarchy, and practically that nothing more was to be done.
No, I did not say that they had met with their approval, if I conveyed that impression it was not what I intended. I cannot remember the exact words which I used, but I stated that the matter had been settled in consultation with the clerical authorities.
What the right hon. Gentleman has just stated is, to some extent, a justification of the statement which I made a moment ago that some misunderstanding exists on this*See page 371 of this volume (19 Feb.).matter. The right hon. Gentleman says I he did not state that he made arrangements which had the approval of the Catholic hierarchy, but he certainly led us to understand that the arrangements which had been come to were made in consultation with the Catholic hierarchy, and consequently they were satisfactory. Such undoubtedly is not the case, because, as the hon. Gentleman the Financial Secretary to the Treasury already knows, no later than the other day a very strong statement was made on this question of Catholic chaplains in the Navy by so high an authority as Cardinal Logue in Ireland, who oven went to the length of pointing out to the parents of Catholic children in Ireland that it would be dangerous to the religion of their children if they allowed them to join the Royal Navy. I do submit that, when you have an ecclesiastic of the high authority of Cardinal Logue in Ireland making a statement calculated to discourage the Catholics of the country from joining the Navy on the ground that no provision is made for their spiritual needs and welfare, it is quite time for the Admiralty to pay serious attention to the matter. I do not propose to enter at length into the grievances of Catholics on this matter, because my hon. friend the Member for; East Mayo has over and over again placed them before the Committee. All that we claim is that Catholic chaplains in the Navy should be put on the same level as Catholic chaplains in the Army. In the Army there is no complaint whatever in this matter. Catholic chaplains have a recognised status; they hold commissions, their position is well defined, and, as far as I know, they are treated in every respect as are chaplains of other denominations. That is not the case in the Navy. Catholic chaplains are not on the same footing as Protestant chaplains, and are not given the same facilities for ministering to their co-religionists.
ADMIRAL FIELD Sussex, Eastbourne
They are, when in harbour.
It occasionally happens that a man may require religious ministration when he is not in harbour. You cannot expect a man not to want religious ministration except when he is riding at anchor. Considering the number of Catholics in the Navy, I think it is not in accordance with the spirit of the age that Catholic chaplains should not be placed on an equality with the chaplains of other denominations. I am much interested to hear the answer of the hon. Gentleman the Civil Lord of the Admiralty, because on it will depend whether my hon. friend the Member for East Mayo will take further action in this matter.
THE CIVIL LORD OF THE ADMIRALTY (Mr. AUSTEN CHAMBERLAIN,) Worcestershire, E.
When this question was discussed on previous occasions, my right hon. friend the First Lord of the Admiralty expressed his sympathy with the views put forward on behalf of Roman Catholics in the Navy, and his great anxiety to meet them as far as possible. The subject is one of very considerable difficulty, as I think the hon. Member himself will be prepared to acknowledge. I have not, however, risen for the purpose of referring again to the old difficulty, but rather to tell the hon. Member what we have done. We have been in communication with certain authorities of the Roman Catholic Church, with a view to arranging a more satisfactory method for meeting the religious needs of Roman Catholic officers and men.
Have you been in consultation with the Irish hierarchy as well as with the English hierarchy?
No, Sir; we have had no direct communication with the Irish hierarchy. It is one of the difficulties of dealing satisfactorily with this question, and it appears to be very difficult to find any central authority empowered to speak for the Roman Catholic Church. We have tried to deal with the Roman Catholics in the same spirit and as far as possible in the same way as we have dealt with the Wesleyans and the Presbyterians. In the case of the Wesleyans we were much assisted by the fact that they have an association with a permanent secretary, who was able to keep us fully informed as to their views, and with whom we were able to arrange. I wish there were some similar Roman Catholic association whose views would be binding over the whole Roman Catholic Church, and who would have authority to speak for it. No little part of our difficulty has been that after we had arranged to meet the views of what we believed to be the highest authorities of the Roman Catholic Church in England, we found other authorities claiming the right to speak in respect of particular cases, and who did not consider themselves bound by the opinions of the authorities we had consulted.
Do not the vast majority of the Catholic sailors in the Navy come from Ireland?
Yes; but the hon. Member will see that in order to deal freely and fully with this matter it is important, if possible, that the persons representing the Roman Catholic Church should have easy access to the Admiralty and that the Admiralty should have easy access to them. Unfortunately we cannot find in Ireland an authority to whom that would apply. We have no desire to exclude the views of the Roman Catholic Church in Ireland from our consideration, but from the circumstances of the case the communications, often verbal, must be made and the decision arrived at in London. Now, what we have endeavoured to do is to give fixed allowances to Roman Catholic priests for ministering to the Fleet at all our principal depots throughout the world. We have arranged twenty-one of these fixed allowances, varying from £200 in the case of each of our three great home depots—Portsmouth, Devonport, and Chatham—and also Malta, down to £25, which is really only a grant-in-aid given to Army chaplains for receiving Roman Catholics from the Fleet at their services. The chaplains at Portsmouth and Devonport begin at £175 a year, rising after five years to £200. They are established officers, and when they retire they will receive a pension on the ordinary conditions. The chaplains at Chatham and Malta are paid on the same scale, but are not entitled to pensions. Altogether there are four allowances of from £175 to £200, four of £100, three of £75, five of £50, and smaller grants. Where no fixed allowance is given, the Roman Catholic chaplain is paid for the services he renders to the men of the Fleet in proportion to the number of men to whom he ministers, and if the service is a special service for the men of the Fleet a further special payment is made. I think, therefore, the hon. Member will see that we have done our best to meet the wishes and needs of Roman Catholics in the Fleet. We have proceeded on exactly the same lines as in the case of the Wesleyans and Presbyterians, except that the grants to Roman Catholics are more numerous than the grants to either the Wesleyans or the Presbyterians, and even more numerous than to the two combined.
Is not the complaint that there are no Catholic chaplains on board ships in the Navy left unmet? May I ask if the rank of the Catholic chaplains is the same as that of the Protestant chaplains?
Yes, Sir, it is perfectly true that the question of Roman Catholic chaplains with the Fleet at sea is left untouched. That is another branch of the subject. On previous occasions my right hon. friend stated his anxiety to do what he could, but at the same time he pointed out the difficulties in the way. We cannot undertake to find accommodation on board our ships for Presbyterian, Wesleyan, and Roman Catholic chaplains. The proportion of Roman Catholics in the Navy is about eight per cent., that of Wesleyans about six per cent., and that of Presbyterians something less. Roman Catholic officers in the Navy would be the first to admit that it is impossible to make arrangements by which Roman Catholic chaplains should be borne on a ship's books or be accommodated on board ship at sea. Arrangements might be made for Roman Catholic priests to accompany or follow the fleets, and remain at the places where the fleets have a station, so as to be handy for service. We did that in the Mediterranean last year, and though the results were not all that could have been desired, I hope that they will be satisfactory next year. The Hon. Member alluded to a pastoral which Cardinal Logue issued the other day, a notice of which I admit I saw in the newspapers with the most profound regret. I cannot but hope that the Cardinal, seeing the attempt which the Board of Admiralty has made to meet the wishes of his church, will see fit to withdraw the opinion he has expressed. I can only say that if that opinion were to be widely followed throughout the southwest of Ireland, and if the result was that the recruits now obtained from that part of the country ceased to join the Navy, the Admiralty would of necessity have to withdraw the training ship from Queenstown, just as on a previous occasion the training ship "Ganges" had been withdrawn from another port when the Navy ceased to obtain any number of local recruits there. I think that the pastoral of the Cardinal must have been issued under a misunderstanding, and having regard to the spirit in which the Admiralty has striven to meet the wishes of the Roman Catholics, and the fact that at any rate the department has made a considerable advance on recent practice in the direction the hon. Member desires, I trust we shall not hear of any more demonstrations of this kind.
The statement of the hon. Gentleman is extremely interesting, and shows that some sort of attempt has been made to deal with the Roman Catholic seamen, but the last part of his statement will be received with great dissatisfaction in Ireland; because it means that unless the claim which the Roman Catholics have made through Cardinal Logue is withdrawn, unless Roman Catholic seamen are satisfied to enter the Navy under conditions which they think unfair to their religion, then the training ship will be withdrawn.
I beg the hon. Gentleman's pardon; I cannot allow that interpretation of my words. I said I hoped that Cardinal Logue would see the propriety of withdrawing his ruling that Roman Catholic parents would not be justified in allowing their children to enter the Navy. The hon. Member himself will see, and Cardinal Logue will see, that if recruits are to be withdrawn it would be useless to keep a training ship at Queenstown.
The hon. Gentleman will acquit me of any desire to misinterpret him, but his statement just now, to my mind, amounts to what I said. What did he mean but that unless the claim we made through Cardinal Logue was relinquished the training ship would be withdrawn? Speaking as the first authority and head of the Catholic Church in Ireland, Cardinal Logue has simply said that, if he mistook not, Protestants had their chaplains on each ship, while a Roman Catholic chaplain did not even accompany the squadron. The result was that Catholic sailors were left without spiritual guidance, that they might live as they pleased, and die as if they were not Christians; and this might account for the fact that so few Catholics were found in the Navy. The Cardinal added in his pastoral that if Roman Catholic parents permitted their boys to join the Navy before this want was remedied, they would be guilty of the violation of the sacred duty of securing the spiritual welfare of those committed to their charge. Now, really, I think it would be a most unreasonable thing for the hon. Gentleman to require that a single word or sentence of that statement should be withdrawn.
I expressed the hope, which I sincerely feel, that Cardinal Logue would cease to dissuade Irish Roman Catholics from entering the Navy, seeing what we have done, and what advances we have made towards meeting their requirements, and seeing that no other cleric of the Roman Catholic Church has ever thought that these dangers to their faith were incurred by the Irish Roman Catholics under the conditions now provided.
It is; not Cardinal Logue who has persuaded Irish Roman Catholics not to join the Navy; but it is the conditions insisted upon by the Admiralty which have dissuaded them. It is in the interest of the, Navy to remove these disabilities which: prevent parents sending their children into the Navy. I venture to say that if the hon. Gentleman asks the opinion of any Catholic Churchman, he will find that it is in complete accordance with that of Cardinal Logue. The hon. Gentleman did not tell us what the position of Catholic chaplains is compared with that of Protestant chaplains. Are they on equal terms?
There are two chaplains on the Establishment list who are in all respects similar—the chaplains at Portsmouth and Devonport. The other Roman Catholic priests are not chaplains in the same sense as the chaplains on the Navy List: they are not men whose whole life is devoted to the service in the Navy. The Admiralty have no claim upon them for their whole time or to order them about from one place to another. But we pay them allowances as long as they are in residence at these particular places to minister to the religious wants of the sailors.
Are not a considerable number of the clergy of the Church of England in the position of commissioned officers in the Navy? There is not a single Catholic clergyman a commissioned officer. [Mr. AUSTEN CHAMBERLAIN dissented.] This is one of the most important points on which dissatisfaction has been expressed. There is a list of those Church chaplains who are appointed on shore, and you ought to give them the same position and the same rank that you give to the clergyman of the Church of England. There is not a single Catholic clergyman a commissioned officer in the Navy ashore or afloat, and every fair person will see that impartial justice has not been done in this matter. We are told that there are few Wesleyans, Catholics, or Dissenters; and it comes to this, that the Church of England, as the Established Church, has every possible facility given to its members, and that no facility is given to the members of the other churches. That is simply the case, on the showing of the hon. Gentleman himself. I regret that he has not given a more satisfactory reply, and I feel sure that this matter will not be allowed to drop. It was the same in regard to the Army, and we had to keep pegging away about the Army until that inequality and injustice was completely done away with, and I can assure the hon. Gentleman that his Department will be troubled about this matter in the future.
* ADMIRAL FIELD
I think the Civil Lord has stretched his duty almost to the utmost limit by the courteous manner in which he replied to the hon. Member. The hon. Member complains—and I will speak very frankly on this matter that the Admiralty do not give Roman Catholic chaplains to Her Majesty's Fleet. That is because Roman Catholics, in common with Wesleyans, Congregationalists, and other Nonconformist bodies, are Dissenters. In the Navy we are very pleased to receive Irishmen, for we know that we are getting good fighting material; but if Irishmen insist that their priests should come with the men, then, we say, take your men away.
* ADMIRAL FIELD
I say Roman Catholics are dissenters, and they have no i more claim to force their priests on board men-of-war than Wesleyans and other dissenting bodies have to force their pastors. If you want fair play, that is fair play. I can quite understand the aim and the game of the Irish Roman Catholic Members. Nothing will satisfy them except to get a priest on board every ship. But that will never come to pass as long as the Church of England is the Established Church of the land. Cardinal Logue said that there is a Protestant chaplain on board every ship in the Navy. That is not true. Protestant chaplains are only carried on board ships commanded by a post-captain. I do not know what you want, but I hope if this agitation is continued the Admiralty will withdraw the training ships from the Irish ports altogether. There is no room on board for two chaplains teaching different creeds and doctrines. We do not want to be questioned and catechised in that way; it would only breed dissension. Turning to the question of training, I disagree with the statement that there is no difference in the ordinary man and the man trained in a training vessel of masts and yards. The North German Lloyd is so impressed with the value of trained crews that they are fitting up special ships for that purpose. I do not challenge the policy of the Admiralty in dismantling the training squadron at the present time, although we fear it may be the beginning of a new policy. All I ask is that no hurried decision shall be arrived at for demolishing the training squadron. Now I pass away from that and come to. the question of the marines. I think it is grossly unfair, when marines are doing duty on shore at the front in South Africa, that they should be deprived of lodging allowance for their wives, whilst the soldiers' wives are granted separation money of 1s. per day.
With regard to the statement made a few moments ago by the Civil Lord, I should like to ask if it is not a fact that since the "Black Prince" has been stationed at Queenstown permanently the anticipations of the Admiralty have been realised, and the experiment proved perfectly successful.
There is at present no reason to consider the removal of the "Black Prince," as a very satisfactory class of boys is being obtained. If, in consequence of the advice of the hon. Gentleman and his friends, those boys cease to enter the Navy at Queenstown, then the "Black Prince" will have to be removed elsewhere, but I hope such a condition of affairs will never arise.
As the Irish boys have turned out quite satisfactory as naval recruits—
Will the hon. Gentleman consider the claim of the Catholic chaplain of Queenstown, whose duties have been considerably increased within the last few years, and whose allowance would be larger if calculated upon the old capitation basis. I do ask. the hon. Gentleman's favourable consideration as to this.
There is no doubt great anxiety that a certain number of Irish boys should go into the service, but the Government is not disposed to consider the religious views of these boys. If the hon. Gentleman wants these boys to enter the service then he must respect their religious convictions. It is absolutely absurd to say "we want the boys, but we do not want their priests to intrude on the ship." That view is bigoted to a degree.
I do not represent a seaport constituency, and I am very glad of it on this occasion, because I should be sorry to see any constituents of mine go into the Navy to be treated in the way they evidently would be by officers like the hon. and gallant bigot who addressed us a while ago.
* THE CHAIRMAN
Order, order! That is not a proper expression to use.
I withdraw the expression "bigot." The difficulty of Irish Catholics in speaking here is that even gentlemen who ought to understand better than the hon. and gallant Gentleman never seem to learn anything in this House. We are sick of hearing your profession of a desire to treat everyone in religious matters on an equality. As soon as a Roman Catholic question arises the Government is dead against any concession being made. We are tired of listening to praise and flattery of the gallant Irish soldiers and sailors; if it is worth while having Irishmen with your flag you ought to give them the consolations of their religion. If these are not afforded them it will act as a deterrent to their entering the service. We all recognise the proper spirit in which the Civil Lord has approached the subject. Apparently he was not satisfied with his own statement. He only talked of it as the best that could be done for the present, and he almost gave me reason to think that if he and the Admiralty got the opportunity they would go further. Irishmen are largely taxed in cash as well as in blood, and we hold that if you take Irishmen into your Navy you should give them the same facilities for practising their religion as are given to others. We are told you make provision for the Catholic sailor when he goes ashore, but surely in that case he can easily go to any place of worship he likes. Then we are told there is no room on board ships for priests, but the room that is used for the exercise of one religion can be used for the exercise of another, just the same as is done in your gaols. To tell a young man going into the Navy that he is not to have proper religious attention is to tell him a very serious thing. The greatest terror you can put before an Irish Catholic is to tell him he will die without the priest. If a man is to be executed on the scaffold, he has the advantage of having the priest; but in the Navy he is not to have that advantage because it might cost you, perhaps, £100 a year per ship. That is not my view of the best way to induce Irishmen to enter the Navy. The criticisms passed upon Cardinal Logue are most absurd, and can only emanate from people who do not understand the duty of a bishop or a priest. The bishop is bound to tell his people not to go on board ship or anywhere else where they incur risk to their immortal souls. He would fail in his duty if he did not do it. Wherever Catholics go, they should look forward to having provision for receiving spiritual consolation when the hour of death arrives. It will be our duty, on every occasion that arises here, to keep this question pressed upon your attention until equality is dealt out to Roman Catholics in the Navy as well as elsewhere.
said he had listened with extreme regret to the speeches made by hon. Members from Ireland. No doubt it was very desirable that their countrymen should have the consolations of their religion, but the position they took up was an impracticable one. If they were going to have chaplains for Roman Catholics (as Irish Members insisted) on every warship, then Scotsmen would insist on having their Presbyterian chaplains. Presbyterians sent more men to the Navy than Irish Roman Catholics, and Wesleyans and Methodists sent ten times as many. It would be practically impossible to send chaplains belonging to all these different denominations, and hon. Members from Ireland must see the position they took up was illogical. They should, as in olden times, make the chaplains the church militant—they should make them fight as well as preach—because, if all denominations were to be represented, they would form a considerable proportion of the crew.
The Catholic priests have fought.
I am sorry the great Protestant religion is divided into so many segments. With regard to the Roman Catholic religion it is different—it is one and universal, there are no sections in it and they all believe the same thing. I believe the Admiralty object to appointing more Catholic chaplains. You have Protestant and Catholic chaplains in the force. Those Protestant chaplains are commissioned officers. I want to know whether the Admiralty will appoint the present Roman Catholic chaplains in the Navy to the same position as that held by Protestant chaplains; they ought certainly to be of equal status.
influence to obtain the realisation of this long-felt desire.
pointed out that inasmuch as Roman Catholics believed in confession, the presence of a minister was absolutely necessary. Some answer to the point raised by the hon. Member for East Clare was certainly required, as it was not right that a badge of inferiority should be put upon the Roman Catholic chaplains attached to the Fleet.
I cannot hold out any hope that the expectations or desires just expressed will be fulfilled. I have already explained to the Committee that the position of these Roman Catholic priests is altogether different from the position of the chaplains, though I cannot for one moment admit that in any sense a badge of inferiority attaches to them. The power which the Admiralty can exercise over them is altogether different in the case of these priests from the case of the chaplains serving afloat with the ships. Under these circumstances I cannot hold out any hope that their position will be altered.
The last few words of the hon. Gentleman make it almost necessary that we should take a division on this Vote. The hon. Gentleman told us in the plainest terms that the Admiralty will not grant to Catholic priests serving as chaplains to the forces of the Navy the same position and rank as that granted to ministers in the service of the Church of England. He says that no stigma of inferiority is cast upon the Catholic priests in this matter. I beg leave to differ from him. There is no reason whatever why the Catholic priest in the pay of and serving the Navy should be in the position of not being a commissioned officer, while Church of England ministers are commissioned officers. On the face of it, it is unjust and unfair. The hon. Gentleman says he does not see his way to increase the number of Roman Catholic priests in the Navy. I am sorry for that. If the Presbyterians do not seem particularly anxious about having more chaplains, that is no reason why we should not have more. We hold our own views, and we do not follow the example and precepts of any particular section of people in this matter. We are told that amongst the crews of the ships the Catholics are so few that it would be unreasonable to ask the Admiralty to ship Catholic chaplains for their special service. But if we cannot have more chaplains, it cannot be said that we are unreasonable in asking that the present Roman Catholic chaplains attached to the naval service should receive the same rank and have the same position as the ministers belonging to the Church of England. Should I be in order, Mr. Chairman, in moving a reduction under the sub-head at which we have now arrived?
That's all. Good and safe sailing and bon voyage