International Vegetarian Union (IVU)
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Vegetarian Federal Union 1889-1911

From the Vegetarian Messenger (Manchester), July, 1890, p.187 :

Official Announcements

The Executive have received from their deputation the following report, a perusal of which will be instructive to the members and friends of the Society generally :-

Report from the Deputation attending the last meeting of the Vegetarian Federal Union.

At the meeting of the Federal Union, held at the Church of England Young Men's Society, Norwich, on Tuesday, 20th May, 1890, The Vegetarian Society was represented by five delegates, as follow: Mrs. W. Harrison, Rev. James Clark, Messrs. P. Foxcroft, W. Harrison, and Joseph Knight. Upon the reading of the minutes of the last meeting, a letter was submitted from Mr. Axon (who was unable to be present personally) challenging the accuracy of the minutes, so far as a regards the statement that at the last meeting the constitution of the Union was altered by the adoption of a new rule, authorising the payment of delegates' expenses by the Union. There was a minute to the effect that it was understood that The Vegetarian Society and the London Vegetarian Society would not in the future affiliate local societies; the inaccuracy of which supposition, so far as regards The Vegetarian Society, was pointed out by the Rev. James Clark. The minutes also contained a statement that a grant of £5 was voted to the Norwich Society at the last meeting, upon which point Mr. Kight inquired as to its accuracy, poiting out that our own delegate at that meeting (Mr. Axon) reported to the executive that a grant of £5 was offered to The Vegetarian Society if the Executive would accept it and arrange for a week's mission at Norwich in connection with its May Meetings. Mr. Knight asked that the discrepancy between the minutes and the report of our delegate might be explained. It was stated in reply that the grant was offered not to The Vegetarian Society, but to the Norwich Society, but there being no duly organised society at Norwich, the Union had been unable to make the grant. Further consideration of these matters was deferred until they should be reached in the business of the agenda, and the minutes were then passed.

After the report from the honorary secretary and the passing of the statement of accounts, proposals were made by the chairman (Mr. Hills) as to further grants, including a proposed grant of £5 to The Vegetarian Society coupled with the erroneous assertion that Mr. Knight, in his previous remarks, had asked for it. Mr. Knight replied that he had not asked for a grant, but had simply pointed out the discrepancy between the minutes and our delegate's report, and asked for an explanation. He further, in reply to the pointed inquiry whether we wanted the £5, said that The Vegetarian Society's deputation had no instructions to ask for a grant. After a little further discussion, the proposed grants were moved with the exception of the one to this society, which was deleted from the motion.

On the motion for a new rule, "That the expenses of the delegates to the Federal Union shall be paid, where necessary, out of the funds of such Federal Union," delegates from various societies intimated the feeling of their committees upon the question, and Mr. Knight stated that the Executive of The Vegetarian Society gave their assent to the principle embodied in the resolution (quoted above) as set forth in the agenda. Various modifications were suggested, and eventually it was resolved that the Union should he authorised to pay the travelling expenses of one delegate from any society, it being understood that request for such payment would only he made under pressure of necessity.

The following motion was proposed by Mr. Hills, in the name of the London Vegetarian Society: "That inasmuch as the objects of the Vegetarian Federal Union are to create a bond of mutual help and organisation between existing Vegetarian Societies, and to strengthen the development of local societies upon a self-governing and independent basis, that the affiliation of smaller societies by larger societies is contrary to the rules of the Union." The Rev. James Clark requested that the rule referred to in the resolution, to which rule and policy of the Union the affiliation of societies was stated to be contrary, might be read. Mr. Hills then read section 2 and 5 of the constitution, as follows:-

"No. 2. Definition. - It shall be defined as an association of such Vegetarian Societies throughout the world as may be willing to unite together for certain specific purposes hereinafter determined."

"No. 5 Function.- The function of the Vegetarian Federal Union shall be primarily that of uniting in one common family all those who are in sympathy with the principles and work of Vegetarianism, by receiving and considering the reports of the affiliated Societies as to the work done and advances made during the past session; and giving advice as it shall think good in each case; discussing questions, and consulting as to the best mode of further spreading Vegetarianism.

He stated that in these was embodied the principles which the resolution before the meeting was framed to declare. Mr. Clark pointed out that the sections read contained no rule and indicated no policy to which the affiliation of one society by another would be contrary, but referred to the printed rules of The Vegetarian Society, in which definite provision was made for the affiliation of local societies by the Vegetarian Society. When the Vegetarian Federal Union was being established, no suggestion whatever was that The Vegetarian Society, if becoming connected with the Union, would have to alter its rules in this respect. It was understood that the Union was organised to proceed by way of advice, but from the present proposal it would appear to be endeavouring to proceed by legislation or even by castigation. Considerable discussion followed, in the course of which it was pointed out that the resolution before the meeting was one which could not be taken into consideration, there being no such rule in existence as was stated in resolution. On this point Mr. Hills replied that the purport of the resolution was the formation of a new rule, and that the resolution did not declare the existence of a rule at present . Although it was pointed out that the resolution distinctly stated that affiliation "is contrary to the rules," &c., Mr. Hills failed to see that it was incorrect but eventually agreed to the substitution of the words "shall be contrary" in place of "is contrary" Mr. Foxcroft and Mr. Harrison condemned the proposal as being inconsistent with the purpose for which the Union was formed. Mr. Hills stated that the London Vegetarian Society had relinquished its affiliates, and that the Vegetarian Society would be in no worse position in this respect than that organisation. Several delegates from other societies took part in the discussion, and among the remarks made were some in deprecation of privileges being offered by societies like our own to such other organizations as become affiliated with them. The present proposal was asserted to be intended to prevent friction. Mr. Forward stated that when collecting information, some time since, he found that the Vegetarian Society had three societies affiliated with it, while the London Vegetarian Society had thirteen, so that the London organisation lost far more by this arrangement than would be lost by the Vegetarian Society.

Mr. Knight urged the Union to proceed with very great caution in the matter under discussion. He referred to several points that had been raised, stating that the giving up of thirteen societies was a voluntary action on the part of the London Vegetarian Society, which now sought by coercion to force The Vegetarian Society to take the same step. He pointed out that the London Society, which made this proposal, was the continuation of The Vegetarian Society's former auxilliary, which had become dissatisfied with the basis of organisation, and therefore separated itself, and organised upon a different, and he believed, weaker basis. The rules of The Vegetarian Society did not permit affiliation of any other societies than those organised on a basis like its own, of which there were but few, while the London Society was able to affiliate all other societies organised on a weaker basis, as well as those which could affiliate with The Vegetarian Society. The offer of privileges to affiliated societies by The Vegetarian Society, which had been objected to, was not a new thing; this offer was contained in the rules of The Vegetarian Society, which were formulated long before the Vegetarian Federal Union had been thought of. The present proposal was practically a vote of censure against The Vegetarian Society by the Vegetarian Federal Union - or rather by the London Vegetarian Society, who moved the resilution - which, if carried, would be a very ungraceful act.

Mr. Clark proposed an amendment, "That the Vegetarian Federal Union having been established on the basis of offering advice and co-operation and not of using constraint, this meeting declines to declare the acceptance of affiliated societies by any other society to be contrary to the rule," and stated that The Vegetarian Society would not submit to be forced by the Vegetarian Federal Union in the way contemplated. The amendment was seconded by Mr. Harrison,

Mr. Hills then put forward a somewhat novel interpretation of the new rule, but did not wish to do anything which would cause The Vegetarian Society to withdraw from the Union, the constitution of which left to each affiliated society full freedom of action and power to from its own rules, but the intention of the proposal was that, if any one society was affiliated to another, the affiliated society should thereby be precluded from affiliating with the Union. Mr. Knight suggested that if this were the intention of the proposal, it would be better that it were worded accordingly. Mr. Hills proposed that no decision should be come to at that meeting, but that the question should be adjourned to the next meeting of the Union, which would probably be held in London, in connection with the International Conference in the autumn. Meantime the question could be more fully considered by the committee of the various societies. Mr. Harrisob urged that the matter having been fully discussed should be diecided, and a vote taken upon it at once, stating that, in seconding the amendment, he was acting upon the instruction of the Executive. Mr. Clark then said he approved of Mr. Hills' suggestion to defer the matter, which he hoped would be agreed to. He added, that in what he had previously stated about our refusing to submit to the resolution, he was guided by the instruction of the Executive. It was then agreed to postpone decision upon this question to the next meeting.

Mr. Hills, in his further remarks, made a reference to The Vegetarian Society and other local societies, upon which Mr. Knight asked whether The Vegetarian Society was considered by the Union to be a local society? Mr. Hills replied that there was a tendency for societies to become local, and though The Vegetarian Society, from its extent and long establishment, would resist this tendency for a time, it would doubtless, he thought, eventually become a local society; to which Mr. Knight replied that, for nearly 43 years The Vegetarian Society had existed, not as a local, not as a national, but as a world-wide international society, and he was satisfied it would never forsake its proud privilege in that respect. (It was gratifying to hear two or three hearty voices respond "hear, hear," to this statement.)

On the question of the Vegetarian Federal Union being asked to prepare and issue free literature to its affiliates, no decision was arrived at; this question considered to be closely connected with the former matter, as also the proposed general catalogue of Vegetarian literature, to which reference was made. On the item on the agenda, "the best methods of mission work conducted under the auspices of the Union," Mr. Hills proposed, in the name of the London Vegetarian Society, that any future mission work undertaken by the affiliated societies should be conducted under the name and to the credit of the Union. Mr. Clark was unable to see what was the object of the suggestion. He supposed that if an individual should choose to conduct a mission in any part of the world the Union would raise no objection. If this might be done by an individual, why not by a society? Mr. Hills said the onject of the proposal was not to hinder such work, but to unite the strength of the various societies. This question was also postponed to the next meeting. It was then arranged that the International Conference should be held in London on the 11th, 12th, and 13th of September, the London Vegetarian Society being requested to arrange for the Congress and for the appointement of a reception committee of influential friends from the country at large. For the next meeting of the Union, the 10th of September at 3 p.m. at the Memorial Hall, London, was appointed.