HC Deb 24 June 1852 vol 122 cc1269-73

Order for Committee read.


said, that if the House assented to this Motion, which was to go into Committee on the Compen- sation Clauses of the Bill, it would establish a precedent for heavy drafts on the public purse to serve merely local objects. If compensation were granted to the proprietors of metropolitan graveyards from this source, he did not see why the same principle should not apply to Manchester, Liverpool, and other provincial towns.


begged to explain that it was not intended to give compensation, except in those cases where the Secretary of State should take upon himself to close the burial ground, and, as the Secretary of State had no power under this Bill to do so, the objection did not apply.


said, he had had the honour to be the Chairman of the Committee which sat some years ago to inquire into the subject of Metropolitan Burials, and he must say that he saw no reason why the proprietors of graveyards should receive any compensation from the public. It was proved in evidence before that Committee that one Company had received, through burial fees, as much as 80,000l. for one acre of ground. These persons had been enriching themselves by augmenting the unhealthiness of the metropolis; and he, for one, must object to their receiving any further emolument, particularly out of the public purse. If compensation were granted in this instance, the House would lay down a principle which would apply all over the country.


said, that where burial grounds were filled to such an extent as to be a public nuisance, no compensation would be given.


said, he must confess that he did not quite understand the distinction drawn by the noble Lord the First Commissioner of Works. He (Mr. Hume) objected to any charges being imposed upon the community at large for the mere benefit of the metropolis. He admitted that the Metropolitan Burials Bill would effect a great improvement in the metropolis, and he entirely approved of it; but if the House allowed compensation for improvements of this nature, the next step would bring them to compensation for roads, bridges, &c. He should object, therefore, to the proposal of Mr. Speaker's leaving the Chair, unless he heard some principle laid down which would operate as a cheek to the abuses which would otherwise arise.


said, he considered that the Compensation Clause would throw too much responsibility upon the Secretary of State. He doubted whether the noble Lord (Lord J. Manners) was aware of the amount of labour and trouble which he was about to entail upon the right hon. Gentleman. The noble Lord did not know the parties with whom the right hon. Gentleman would have to cope. He would be beset by parochial authorities contending against any interference with their accustomed places of burial; and in addition to this, the noble Lord proposed that the Secretary of State should decide upon the claims of parties to compensation. If this arrangement were carried out, the hon. Member for North Essex (Sir J. Tyrell), who was sitting behind the right hon. Gentleman, would be entitled to compensation for shutting up the Bethnal Green graveyard, which was the most notorious nuisance in London: he therefore thought it would place the Secretary of State in an invidious position if he were called upon to decide on claims of such a nature.


said, he considered that when private property was destroyed for the public benefit, the public ought to pay for it. He meant to propose the insertion of words to empower the Secretary of State to order compensation for the closing of burial grounds in which burials might lawfully be made.


said, that, in the absence of his right hon. Friend the Chancellor of the Exchequer, arising out of circumstances which could not be controlled, there was considerable difficulty in dealing with this question, and he confessed he did not know exactly what course to pursue. The question, no doubt, was one of considerable difficulty, whether these compensations should be charged upon the Consolidated Fund or not. On the part of the Treasury, he (Mr. Hamilton) wished, for time to consider the subject. If the resolution were allowed to pass now, he thought an arrangement might be made afterwards.


said, that his hon. Friend the Member for Southwark (Sir W. Molesworth) had raised a question of great magnitude. The principle laid down by the hon. Baronet was, that public abuses were not to be removed unless a claim for compensation were established upon the Consolidated Fund. At this period of the Session, when public business was in a confused state, he deprecated any proceedings which would have the effect of imposing a charge upon the public Treasury, unless Parliament were well advised upon the consequences of the step which it was proposed to take.


said, that the hon. Member for Finsbury (Mr. T. Duncombe) had thought fit to call the attention of the House to the burial ground in Church Street, Bethnal Green, in which he (Sir J. Tyrell) had an interest. It was true that the graveyard in question might be a nuisance; but the National Gallery was built on the site of an ancient graveyard, and the quadrangle of Somerset House comprised an old burial ground. He received a ground-rent for the property to which the hon. Member for Finsbury had adverted, and he did not see why he should be prevented from turning it to the best advantage he could. Why should the House confiscate his property? It was a misfortune, no doubt, to have property of that description; but he had no more control over it than the Archbishop of Canterbury or the Bishop of London had over the property which belonged to them in the neighbourhood of that House, though the revenues accruing from that property arose from immoral sources.


said, that he had made himself master of the case at the suggestion of the hon. Baronet, who now considered the repression of a public nuisance to be confiscation.


said, that he had received a communication from his right hon. Friend the Chancellor of the Exchequer since this debate had commenced, and his right hon. Friend was of opinion that the Government ought to oppose this clause.


said, it was his intention of dividing the House upon the question.

Motion made, and Question put, "That Mr. Speaker do now leave the Chair."

The House divided: Sir William Moles-worth was appointed one of the Tellers for the Yeas, but no Member appearing to be a second Teller for the Yeas, Mr. Speaker declared the Noes had it.


said, he would take the liberty of saying that he had proposed the compensation clause upon a clear and distinct understanding with the noble Lord (Lord J. Manners) that the consent of the Crown would be given. More than that, he had applied yesterday to the right hon. Chancellor of the Exchequer, and having obtained his consent, he had thought it his duty to persevere with it.


said, he considered, as a matter of order, that the House ought not to allow questions of this kind to be raised, unless the consent of the Crown were publicly stated. Any other course would lead to compromises which might be injurious to the public interests.


said, that the Queen's recommendation and assent only had the effect of enabling the House to consider the question of compensation.


said, that, in justice to the hon. Baronet (Sir W. Molesworth), he ought to state that the arrangement assented to by the Government was conditional upon the proviso being given up. As that had not been done, the Government thought they ought not to consent to the compensation clause.

House in Committee. Bill considered in Committee.

House resumed. Committee report progress.

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