HC Deb 21 May 1852 vol 121 cc891-3

Order for Third Reading read.

Motion made, and Question proposed, "That the Bill be now read the Third Time."


said, he rose pursuant to notice, to move an Amendment. He complained that the principle of allowing compensation to the clergy for interments was recognised in the present Bill, although it had been previously denounced and given up in the Metropolitan Interments Bill of the Government. While this measure apparently supported the Government Bill, the effect of its passing would in fact be practically to repeal that Act. If this Bill was to be viewed as a private one, it was a measure that would prove not only inefficient, but superfluous. The cemeteries of London belonging to private companies embraced already 260 acres, of which 150 were available for public uses. It was obvious that such an extent of ground as this Bill proposed to enclose—namely, 2,000 acres—could not be required by any company for the purposes of a cemetery. Mr. Walker, the able and meritorious pioneer in exposing the abuses of intramual interments, as well as many other authorities upon the subject, concurred in stating that a piece of ground of 400 or 500 acres would be quite sufficient for the purposes of a permanent burial ground for the inhabitants of the whole metropolis. This, then, was the time for the House to pause before they passed such a measure as the one before them. The principle of the Bill was irreconcilable with that of the "Metropolitan Interments Act," one of whose main purposes and most important objects was to wrest from the hands of private individuals and private companies the management of so important a matter as the burial of the dead.


seconded the Amendment.

Amendment proposed, to leave out from the words "That the" to the end of the Question, in order to add the words "Third Reading of the Bill be postponed till the Bill introduced by the Government on Metropolitan Interments has been printed and in the hand of Members,"—instead thereof.


said, if the Amendment of the noble Lord should be agreed to, he should regard it as a great public misfortune. As Chairman of the Select Committee to whom the Bill had been referred, he had come to the conclusion, in which the Committee unanimously concurred, after a most full and close inquiry into the merits of the case, that the Bill was one deserving the sanction of Parliament. It had been made perfectly clear to them that there was existing in London a most dangerous and scandalous state of things with reference to interments, for which there appeared to be no remedy that could by possibility be suggested except some efforts like those of which the plan proposed by this company was one. Several projects had been from time to time suggested; but so far as regarded any efforts of the Board of Health to supply the existing wants of the metropolis, he believed it was quite admitted by all parties that any powers they had for that purpose had been tried without effect, and that, if this Bill were not carried, it would be perfectly hopeless to expect any remedy from the Board of Health. He had never seen a Bill more diligently investigated by a Committee than this had been, and there never was one in which the result arrived at had been more perfectly unanimous.


agreed with the statement which had just been made by the right hon. Gentleman, so far as he was in a position to corroborate what he had said. If the noble Lord (Viscount Ebrington) thought the Bill would interfere with the Metropolitan Interments Act, he must say generally that such an opinion was erroneous. On the part of the Government there was no hostility to this Bill. On the contrary, it appeared to him to be, to some extent, calculated to remove the great evils which now existed in the metropolis. He must ask the House, therefore, to reject the proposition of the noble Lord.


said, he considered it was absolutely necessary that this Bill should be passed along with the Government Bill, for when the Government chose to declare that no more burials should take place in the metropolis, here was the ground provided for the purpose by this measure. He would give the House an instance that had come to his knowledge of what took place under the present system. A gentleman had followed the remains of his nephew to the burial ground of St. Clement Danes, in the Strand, one of the most populous neighbourhoods, and on visiting it about three weeks afterwards he thought he saw the ground disturbed in which his nephew had been buried, and a gravedigger at work there. On going to the place he found the grave was opened —his nephew having died of a malignant smallpox—the coffin was dug up, and the inscription upon it was thrown aside. That was a thing that had occurred a few days ago, and it was only a single instance of much greater atrocities and abominations that were going on in the metropolis.


said, he should support the third reading of the Bill, because it would provide for extramural interment, and cheapen the cost of interments.


would not oppose the third reading, but thought that care ought to be taken that when the general provisions of the Act, which involved the purchase of cemeteries, came into action, there should be some check imposed with reference to cemeteries of this kind.


said, he considered the measure most important, and knew that it would be sanctioned by a large body of the inhabitants of the metropolis.


was perfectly satisfied that the Bill should pass, as the rights of the poor people on the ground were completely protected.

Question, "That the words proposed to be left out, stand part of the Question," put, and agreed to.

Main Question put, and agreed to.

Bill read 3°, and passed.

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