Orders of the Day — Welsh Courts Bill

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons on 14th October 1942.

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Photo of Dr William Thomas Dr William Thomas , Southampton

Any kind. I should not support it. I hope that we are not moving in that direction and that this Bill will not become a stepping stone for the extreme nationalists to proceed further with their particular ideas. Do not let us look upon it in that way. We have seen the effect of that in Ireland and South Africa, where there are two races speaking different languages. A great deal has been said about the Tudor dynasty. Whatever their faults, they had great personality, which they probably owed to their Welsh blood. I always looked upon Henry VII as a Celtic king, and it was a great triumph for the Celtic race when once more a Celtic king ruled England over all the different peoples that went to make this realm. I feel that perhaps his son Henry VIII did not realise, in the application of his Statutes to Wales, that in fact the people were thinking as well as speaking in a strange tongue. If you follow him closely, you will find that he hoped to educate Wales in order to meet that difficulty. One of the Charters that he granted to a school in Wales shows that he was concerned not only for the ecclesiastical but for the educational welfare of the people. Let me read the Preamble to the Charter. I do not think it is amiss: Our subjects and lieges dwelling in the southern part of Wales, being sore pressed by poverty be not able to bring up their sons in sound learning, and no Grammar School is kept therein, whereby not only shall the clergy and laity of all ages and conditions become rude and unlearned men, and ignorant of their duty unto God and of the obedience which they owe to but shall also be unacquainted with the English tongue and therefore unable to observe the Statutes which we have set forth and provided thereunto or to understand what they are bound to do in accordance with the form and tenour of such Statutes inasmuch as they know not the tongue of the English people. But he endeavoured to teach them as it were, and he appointed a schoolmaster, and of course a lecturer of divinity at the same time. So that he concerned himself with education in order that the people should the better understand and obey the laws. Let us by all means encourage the culture of the different elements which go to make this kingdom in so far as it will have no ill effect on the whole, but do not let us encourage those violent protagonists of nationalism to proclaim the doctrine of separatism. Let us guard against this Bill being made the beginning of a revival of intense nationalism and racialism. The greatness of our country lies in the unity and singleness of purpose of the whole people, whose blood is made up of so many virile kinds. Do not let us by misplaced sentiment impair it. I join with my countrymen in thanking the Government for the gesture it has made.