HC Deb 14 March 1850 vol 109 cc882-3

wished to put a question to the noble Lord the Member for Bath, and who was also a Member of the Board of Health, and which question he asked under the influence of intense feelings of disgust at witnessing almost the actual perpetration of the nuisance of which he meant to complain. As he was coming to that House to perform his duty that afternoon he passed through St. Margaret's churchyard, and under the tower of that church, and within a few yards of the House of Commons, he saw an open grave ready for the interment of a corpse. Now, it being in evidence that interments in St. Margaret's churchyard were injurious to the health of Members of that House, and also to the public in general, he begged to ask ths noble Lord whether he had any power to check or put an end to a nuisance against which the universal voice of the community has protested.


did not wonder that the hon. Gentleman expressed himself with disgust at the continuance of this horrible system of intramural interment; and hoped that he and other hon. Gentlemen would direct their attention to the report lately issued by the Board of Health, and then they would see, in all its length and breadth, the enormous mischief which this practice engendered. But he regretted to say that the Board of Health had no power whatever, under the General Health Act, to remedy the evil. Under the Nuisances Removal Act, during the late prevalence of the cholera, they indeed made the attempt to close some of the worst of the metropolitan churchyards; but the proprietors and the other authorities brought the case before the magistrates, when the magistrates declared that the Board of Health had exceeded its powers, and that it had no means whatsoever of interfering with these churchyards, excepting now and then to apply certain disinfecting processes. He trusted that a measure would soon be brought before the House to suppress so abominable and dangerous a practice.


said, that when he was Chancellor of the Exchequer he had had a communication with the parish authorities, and was assured by them that they were about to purchase a piece of ground for a new churchyard.


had been in communication with the present Dean of Westminster and the other authorities on this subject, and was informed by them that they were about to purchase a piece of ground for a new churchyard; but they had only been waiting in expectation that Parliament was about to introduce a measure respecting interments in towns, in order to ascertain first what conditions the Legislature should prescribe in any such Act. The report of the Board of Health had not been long in the hands of the Government, but it was now under its earnest consideration; and he hoped shortly after Easter to be able to present a Bill to the House founded on that report.

Subject dropped.

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