§ Order for Second Reading read.
§ MR. MONSELL
, in rising to move the second reading of this Bill, said he thought he could show that the grievances to which it referred were so serious that even in the present Session they ought 1068 to be redressed. At the present time the clergy of the Established Church in Ireland, though representing only about one-ninth of the population of that country, had power to prevent any religious service but that of their own Church from being performed in the parish burial-grounds. This matter was seriously complained of, not only by Roman Catholics but also by Presbyterians and by the members of other religious bodies. He was sure that no one would desire that Ireland should continue to be, as she was now, the only Christian country in which the great majority of the people were committed to the grave without any religious service. He understood that the hon. Member for Sheffield (Mr. Hadfield) intended to move that the present Bill should extend to England; he (Mr. Monsell) feared that additional difficulties would be placed in his way if the English were mixed up with the Irish grievance. The present law of burials in Ireland was founded upon a Bill passed under the auspices of Lord Plunket in 1824, which Bill provided that every person, whatever his religion, should have a right to interment in the churchyard of the parish where he died; but that no religious service should be performed at the grave without the permission of the Protestant incumbent. If the incumbent refused his sanction he was required to state in writing his reasons for so refusing, and to forward a copy of that statement to his Bishop, who was to transmit it to the Lord Lieutenant. Lord Plunket's intention as to the effect of the law was not doubtful; he stated that it would be mandatory upon incumbents to grant the permission asked for; and his intention, and also that of the Legislature, was that the application should be merely formal, and that it should be always assented to by the incumbent. Indeed, Lord Plunket gave as his reason for supporting the measure, that it could not be borne that Protestant clergymen should permit human bodies to be thrown into the ground like so many dogs. The question then arose, "Has the intention of Lord Plunket and the Legislature been carried out or not?" This question could be answered only in the negative. There was the highest authority—that of Archdeacon Stopford—for saying that "The Irish custom does not usually bring the Roman Catholic priest to the grave," and Dr. Doyle supplied the reason when he said that "Priests and prelates would rather be condemned to labour at a treadmill than 1069 ask for licences for interments." But when, by an overstrained humility, Roman Catholic priests had made application, they had frequently been refused. He would quote a remarkable instance which occurred at Enniskillen, the living of which was in the gift of Trinity College, and its incumbents were, generally, men of some eminence. There is a cemetery in the parish called Pubble—there has been no church there for eighty years; it is almost exclusively used by Roman Catholics. In twenty-five years there had been only five Protestant burials there. Within the last few years there had been three rectors of the parish—Mr. Maude, Mr. Magee, the present Dean of Cork, a man of the highest mark, and Mr. Greer; but though the burial-ground was far removed from the parish church, all three rectors had, in every instance, refused applications asking permission to read the burial service of the Roman Catholic Church. He might be permitted to say, with reference to the statement that Roman Catholic priests were unwilling to make an application to a Protestant incumbent, that the Protestant clergymen were accustomed, as might be seen by the placards now about Dublin in connection with the May meetings, to speak in a very gross way with regard to the Roman Catholic Church. But, the necessity of asking the incumbent's consent, however, was not only hard upon Roman Catholics, but also upon members of other religious bodies. Though the House had lately heard of the identity of feeling which existed between the Presbyterians and Protestant Episcopalians in Ireland, applications on the part of Presbyterian ministers had been refused. Lately an application to be allowed to perform a burial service was made by the Rev. E. Lyttle, a Presbyterian minister, at Donnybrook; it was refused, and the matter was brought before the Presbytery of Dublin, where Mr. Lyttle stated that—For some unknown cause many of the clergy of the Church of England about Dublin and through the South have, during the last three or four years, considered it necessary to assert their dignity and rights in this miserable and odious way. In all directions our clergy are being excluded from the parish graveyards. It is impossible to hear any longer with a state of things which is becoming worse, for such refusals are becoming the usage and the rule.The Wesleyans met with similar treatment. He had large quantities of correspondence, showing that contumelious refusals followed the most humble applications. He 1070 would give one case. In November, 1863, the Rev. Edward Best, a Wesleyan minister at Armagh, asked permission of the incumbent to perform the funeral service over a Mrs. Miller, and received this answer—Sir, I cannot grant the request made in your name; but I will be ready to perform the funeral service of the Church if called on by the friends of the late Mrs. Miller.An appeal was made to the Archbishop, and he said—The Act of Parliament leaves it entirely at the discretion of the incumbent to grant or refuse the permission, and gives the Bishop no right to interfere. You will observe that I have done all that the law requires or permits me to do in this case.The House would recollect Lord Plunket's explanation of the law. He said that the words enabling permission to be given were mandatory; yet in this case neither incumbent or Bishop so treated it. An appeal to the Bishop was made, and the grievance was not redressed. In February, 1866, the Rev. Mr. Quarry, Wesleyan minister in the county of Kerry, received a peremptory refusal. When he attempted to perform the service outside the graveyard, it was very near being attended by serious consequences. But a more extraordinary case was one which occurred in the county of Galway. George Mitchell died, having previously specially requested that his minister, the Rev. W. B. Le Bat, should conduct his funeral service. The rector, however, would not consent, and (he quoted Mr. Le Bats words) "assisted by a mob of missionaries and other persons, stopped the procession to the grave, and there was a great deal of disturbance." A memorial upon the matter was addressed to the Lord Lieutenant, who referred it to the Bishop, who sent it to the rector, and the latter returned it to the Lord Lieutenant; so that, as Mr. Butt said, the parties, instead of getting redress or satisfaction of any kind, were baffled, disappointed, and annoyed. He thought that he had said enough to show that there was a serious grievance, and that the intention of Lord Plunket and the Legislature in passing the Act of 1824 had been defeated. It had been supposed that Lord Lieutenants and Bishops would secure the carrying out of the intentions of the Legislature. It appeared that Lord Lieutenants and Bishops were unwilling or unable to control uncharitable or crotchety incumbents. The remedy which this Bill proposed was a simple one — that in the case of 1071 burials of persons not belonging to the Established Church in the parish burial-grounds, the priests or ministers of the denomination to which the deceased belonged should have the right to perform the burial service of that denomination. The Bill did not in any way interfere with the rights of the parochial clergy to the freehold of the churchyards; all it provided was that the national burial-grounds should be freely used by the nation.
§ Motion made, and Question proposed, "That the Bill be now read a second time."—(Mr. Monsell.)
§ MR. LEFROY
said, he regretted that he felt it his duty to oppose the Motion of his right hon. Friend the Member for Limerick (Mr. Monsell). He should, however, regret still more if his motives for doing so were misunderstood. He was therefore anxious to state in the briefest and most temperate language the objections which he entertained to the measure. His right hon. Friend had made a most ingenious speech in support of his Bill, and had drawn off the attention of the House from its objectionable features. The right hon. Gentleman alleged that the objects which Lord Plunket had in view when he introduced his measure upon this subject had been frustrated by the clergy, but he (Mr. Lefroy) could not admit this to be the case. He deemed it necessary to call the attention of the House to the advances which had been made in this matter of late years by the enactment of measures in favour of the Roman Catholics—measures at which he rejoiced. In the reign of William III. the Roman Catholics were deprived of the right of burial even in the monasteries or grounds adjacent, and a penalty of £10 was enacted against any violation of that law. In the reign of George IV. a Bill was introduced by Lord Plunket, the object of which was to do away with that prohibition, and throw open all those burial-places to Roman Catholics. The Act of Will. III. forbade the performance of burial service by Catholic priests. Lord Plunket's Act removed this difficulty also, and gave power to the Protestant incumbents, on the application of a Roman Catholic priest, or Nonconformist minister, to grant to the priest or minister permission to perform the burial ceremony in churchyards over individuals of his communion. The application for leave, as well as the reply of the incumbent, was to be made in writing; the object being to protect the 1072 rights of the Church, to secure as far as possible the proper and uninterrupted performance of the burial service, and also that if a refusal were given, it should not be upon unreasonable or trivial grounds. But that was not all; the Bill also provided that in case of leave being refused by the incumbent copies of the application and the reply should be forwarded to the Bishop of the diocese, and transmitted by him to the Lord Lieutenant. It would, therefore, be seen that every security had been given to secure to the Roman Catholics the privilege intended to be given to them by Lord Plunket's Act. In a few cases, clergymen might have withheld permission, but the fault, if any had been the priest's, in neglecting to avail himself of the remedy prescribed by the Act. He was not in possession of information with respect to all the cases referred to by his right hon. Friend; but with regard to Enniskillen, he held in his hand the correspondence which had taken place with the Rev. Mr. Greer, the incumbent, who had but a short time before entered upon his office. The first letter of Mr. Greer was in answer to an application that the Roman Catholic priest should be allowed to come in his robes, and was to the effect that he would make inquiries, and if it could be arranged without inconvenience, he would gladly give permission. On inquiry, however, Mr. Greer was obliged to refuse leave for the proposed burial, as he found that the graveyard was overcrowded, and that it could not take place without disturbing the remains of persons already interred, and thereby causing much pain to their relations. The rev. gentleman expressed his regret at this circumstance, and suggested that a subscription should be immediately commenced for the purchase of additional ground; and he said he should himself be most happy to contribute. The rev. gentleman not only was justified in what he did, but must be considered to have acted with great kindness and prudence. He (Mr. Lefroy) regretted that difficulties existed in any case. He should rejoice to see all differences of opinion forgotten at the grave, and that all those who mourned over their deceased relatives and friends should be allowed to assist at that religious service which was most agreeable to their feelings. But at the same time, he did not think that the Established clergy could consistently give up their rights in this matter. In the first place, the churchyard was in the nature of 1073 a freehold vested in the clergy and churchwardens, who were answerable for the care of it. He denied that the Roman Catholics laboured under any grievance in this respect. The necessity which the existing law imposed of asking permission of the incumbent for the performance of religious service over the grave was not really an obstacle to such performances. The practice was, as a general rule, to grant the permission sought; and what was the use of encouraging persons to assume a right in opposition to the clergy, which the clergy willingly conceded in all ordinary cases as a matter of courtesy? Moreover, there would be danger of collision, if, without any notice or arrangement, Roman Catholic processions had a right to enter the ground and perform religious ceremonies, at a time when, perhaps, Protestant service was going on. It would form a perpetual ground of dispute and irritation, and would, in all probability, lead to rioting and outrage. As to the Wesleyans, individuals might have made complaints; but he was informed that the great body of them were satisfied with the present arrangement. For the reasons he had just given, he felt it his duty to enter his protest against the propositions of his right hon. Friend. Looking at the state of the House, he saw no advantage in dividing against the second reading; but he should certainly oppose the further progress of the Bill in its present shape.
§ MR. PIM
was glad that the hon. Member for the University of Dublin did not intend to divide the House. He hoped that the House would unanimously agree to the second reading of the Bill. There were many cases in which a clergyman would believe it to be his duty to refuse the permission sought; while, at the same time, no real ground could be urged why it should not be given. A large number of Roman Catholics in Ireland had been buried for centuries in the parochial burial-grounds; and it was very galling to a Roman Catholic that he was obliged to get permission for the priest to read the service over the remains of a relative. But Protestant Dissenters complained on this subject as well as Roman Catholics. He had a few days since presented a petition from the Presbyterians of Dublin, in which they asked that "they should no longer be subject to this grievance, which they conceived to be as inconsistent with the spirit of the age as it is uncongenial to that of the Gospel." He held in his hand a 1074 letter from a Wesleyan Methodist minister strongly protesting against the continuance of an irritating law, and stating that his "brethren felt much as he did." The Bill would be received in Ireland with general satisfaction; and he ventured to express a hope that the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Limerick would be able to pass it through the House without any serious opposition. If any Amendments were required they could be introduced in Committee.
§ MR. GREENE
said, he could not allow the Bill to pass through another stage without entering his strongest protest against it. He felt that the time had come when it was the duty of that House to watch narrowly the progress of events. So far as he could form an opinion upon this subject it did not appear to him that there was any practical grievance affecting the Roman Catholics. He thought that the passing of the present measure would lead to scenes in Ireland which they would all deprecate. Although he was willing to give every liberty to the Roman Catholics, consistently with the security of the Established Church and its rights, he could not yet fail to remember the narrow views of the Romish Church, which interdicted all liberty of conscience and all freedom of action in its members. He said they were advancing towards a state of things that demanded their most serious consideration. To allow the Roman Catholic Church all the privileges of the Church of England was inconsistent with the maintenance of the principles of the Reformation or the national religion. This measure, if passed, would let in the keen edge of the wedge to be followed by further aggression. So long as he had the honour of a seat in that House he would raise his voice against any proposition for the progress of the Romish Church. The hierarchy of that Church not only sought for greater spiritual power in the country, but also for temporal power. One concession after another had been given them by Protestant England with a view to conciliation. Let the people of England mark well what was going on, and take warning in time. Although he should run the risk of being called illiberal, he should certainly feel it his duty if a division took place to vote against the second reading of this Bill.
§ MR. NEWDEGATE
said, this Bill for Ireland was the same in substance as the Bill which had been introduced for England 1075 on behalf of the Protestant Dissenters by Sir Morton Peto, and which was discussed upon the Motion for its second reading on the 15th of April, 1863. The House, after a mature consideration of its principle, rejected that Bill by a majority of 125. In 1861 the subject had been also before the House; but the proposal of that day was rejected by a small majority, because the division upon it was taken unexpectedly. The right hon. Gentleman the Member for Limerick now made a similar proposal for Ireland on the part of the Roman Catholic hierarchy. It was perfectly understood that the right hon. Gentleman on all these subjects represents the Roman Catholic hierarchy in Ireland. He (Mr. Newdegate) wished to put to the right hon. Gentleman this simple proposition. The House was perpetually told that the Roman Catholic hierarchy was an aggrieved body. He asked in what respect were they an aggrieved body? He could not understand how they could be considered aggrieved; for the course of legislation had of late years been one continual system of concession to their demands, unless it was assumed that the whole of the ecclesiastical property in Ireland had once belonged to them, and that it ought now to be restored to them. ["No. no!"] He said that that was the ground assumed — not so strongly in that House as out of that House. The grievance everywhere stated by the organs of the Roman Catholic hierarchy was, that the ecclesiastical property of Ireland had been taken from them. Every man who reads the newspapers—every man connected with the Press knows this. It was a principle publicly proclaimed by them out-of-doors. It was, therefore, plain that what the Roman Catholic hierarchy now demanded was restitution of all that ecclesiastical properly which they assert had once belonged to them. The right hon. Gentleman opposite might shake his head at this statement; but he must know very well that this was a principle laid down by the Roman Catholic newspapers and publications. This was the grievance put forward by the Roman Catholic hierarchy. He denied that those complaints came from the Roman Catholic laity. The former asserted that the ecclesiastical property now held by our Church in Ireland was taken from them some 200 or 300 years ago, and that it should now be restored to them. If they would not, in the case of the Church of Ireland, admit the possession for 100 years as establishing a 1076 right, which was the rule under the canon law of Rome as regarded such rights, he wished to know to what extent that principle of restitution might not be carried? Another grievance was that the confiscated estates were held by the descendants of those to whom they had been granted by the Sovereign at the time that these estates were confiscated 200 or 300 years ago. Well, he asked whether the House was prepared to meet that assumed grievance, and to disturb the settlement of property in Ireland? Those grievances hung together, and they would never hear the end of them so long as they encouraged the idea that they were willing to gratify these claimants, by concessions, gifts, and largesses—to subvert the tenure and title not only of ecclesiastical property, but of all property alleged to have been confiscated centuries ago, and now held by Protestant owners. He put this matter plainly, because he confessed he was tired of hearing of those grievances, which were perpetually stated out-of-doors, and were acted upon without being avowed in that House. He now came to the consideration of this Bill. If it were deemed just and wise on the part of this House to reject the proposal made on behalf of the Dissenting body in this country, with a similar object in view as the measure before the House, with what consistency or justice could they assent to the proposal now made by the Roman Catholic hierarchy of Ireland? They all knew that special facilities had been granted by law for the accession and preservation of graveyards by the Roman Catholic community. Acts of Parliament had also been passed to provide cemeteries to be open to all religious denominations in Ireland. Nothing, however, would satisfy the Roman Catholic hierarchy, but to gain possession of the property now held by members of the Established Church. They said that the Established Church in Ireland was an insult. Now, he knew at that moment that negotiations were going on through our Foreign Office to obtain sites in Spain for the burial of Protestants, and up to the present time the Government of Spain had refused their assent to such applications. Wherever the Roman Catholic Church obtained command, as in Spain, she would forbid the burial of any Protestant in any of her cemeteries. He would take an early opportunity of asking for the production of the Correspondence in order to verify his statement. He would mention the particulars of a case which occurred 1077 in Galway, and which had a bearing upon this subject. A College had been founded in Galway by Edward VI. Some years ago it was broken up, and the property divided into two or three rectories by the Ecclesiastical Commission. A Protestant gentleman having property in Ireland purchased the advowsons of those rectories. The clergy of the Church of England had shown themselves extremely tolerant as to the use of two graveyards which were not immediately connected with these churches. They permitted the Roman Catholic priests the free use of those graveyards, exacting no payment whatever from them, which they might reasonably have done. What was the result now? Those Roman Catholic priests had obtained a very considerable income by possessing themselves of these graveyards, which belonged to the Protestant Church, and it might happen that they would refuse to allow Protestants to be buried in those graveyards. As much intolerance of principle was shown in Ireland by the Catholic priests as was practised by the Catholic Government and hierarchy of Spain. He could not see how the House could justify to itself concessions to the pretended grievances on this subject put forth by the Roman Catholic hierarchy of Ireland, when they knew that those very meek and humble petitioners were really the most aggressive and intolerant when they had the power of being so. By assenting to this Bill they would be making a concession to the Church of Rome which they refused to all religious denominations other than the Church of England in this country. Hon. Members might fancy that they were proving themselves very liberal; but the country would understand their motives for assenting to this Bill. The people would say it was passed under the pressure of apprehended disturbances in Ireland. They would feel that that House was endeavouring to propitiate those whom they never could satisfy without sacrificing the rights of property and the principles of justice in Ireland.
§ MR. O'BEIRNE
said, he would not have interfered in this discussion, if it had not been for the remarks which had fallen from the hon. Member for North Warwickshire (Mr. Newdegate), who seemed to be under a singular misapprehension, both as to the question before the House, and the scope of the Bill proposed by his right hon. Friend the Member for Limerick (Mr. Monsell). The hon. Member compared 1078 the present Bill with the Bill which had been introduced and defeated in 1863. Now, there was no sort of similarity between the two proposals. The Bill of 1863, which referred to English Nonconformists, was intended to give to those who dissented from the Church of England a right of interment in the graveyards which belonged to that Church. That right had been already conferred on Irish Roman Catholics and Irish Dissenters in 1824, by Lord Plunket's Act; and, therefore, it was not now sought to confer any right of burial. The hon. Member seemed to look upon this proposal as another concession to Roman Catholics, and as such he, of course, opposed it. He (Mr. O'Beirne) must remind him that if it was a concession, it was one which applied to all sects of Christians, and gave them equal rights to have the burial services performed over the graves of their dead. Surely such a reasonable enactment could not be seriously opposed. His right hon. Friend the Member for Limerick in quoting the Act of 1824, had correctly called it a mandatory Act. Lord Plunket, beyond all question, so understood it, as shown by his own words just read to the House. But there was still stronger evidence to be found within the Act itself, as he would show by reading the 5th Section, that Section enacted—That if such permission [referring to the permission for burial] be in any case withheld, the cause of withholding the same shall be specially and distinctly declared in writing by such officiating minister of the Church of England, one part of which written declaration shall forthwith be delivered to the person making such application as aforesaid, and one other part thereof shall be transmitted to the Bishop of the diocese in which such churchyard shall be situated, and shall be by him forthwith forwarded to the Lord Lieutenant, signed by the registrar, &c.Now, he contended that that Section showed very clearly that refusal of the permission was only intended to take place in very special cases. It was, he thought, not a little surprising that this Section, although referred to by hon. Members opposite, had not been read to the House; and, moreover, the cases read by his right hon. Friend showed that the refusals which had been given in writing in no instance complied with this requirement of the Act. On the contrary, this provision that the causes of refusal should be distinctly and specially stated were, it would seem, systematically disregarded by the reverend gentlemen by whom those refusals had been 1079 signed. No case whatever had been made against the Bill; no argument had been used, unless, indeed, we were to accept as an argument the repetition by the hon. Member for North Warwickshire of his usual bitter invectives against the Roman Catholic Church and her hierarchy. He (Mr. O'Beirne) had no desire to occupy the House by offering any reply to the hon. Member on that part of his speech; but he could not allow a remark which fell from the hon. Gentleman as to the funds of the Irish Church Establishment, to pass unchallenged. The hon. Member stated, much to his surprise, that the Roman Catholic Bishops had demanded a restitution of the funds which had been taken from the Roman Catholic Church in centuries past. Now, the hon. Member must have known, when he made that statement, that it was wholly without foundation, and he heard him give expression to it with extreme regret, as the hon. Member had had ample and frequent opportunity of satisfying himself that such a charge was entirely without justification. Many hon. Members of this House, who were fully authorized to state the opinions of the Catholic Bishops and ministers, had over and over again stated in the most distinct and unequivocal language, that although it was quite true that the Roman Catholic religion—of which he had the privilege of being a member—had been despoiled and plundered, by unjust laws, of their Church property, in seeking religious equality, which they now demanded, they not only repudiated all idea of touching directly or indirectly one shilling of the funds now enjoyed by the Established Church, but they also very recently rejected all offers of such a nature. How, then, could the hon. Member—who enjoyed a just influence and respect in that House—permit himself to make a statement which, he repeated, he must or should have known was utterly unfounded and contrary to the fact? The hon. Member talked of publications and declarations out-of-doors, he (Mr. O'Beirne) had nothing to do with such publications or declarations. He repeated that the Roman Catholic Church would not touch one shilling of the moneys of the Establishment, and he hoped that such an assertion as that to which he now gave this unqualified contradiction, would not be again repeated within that House. He trusted the discursive remarks to which he had been obliged to give a reply, would not lead the attention of Members away from the fair consideration 1080 of the Bill before them. He believed it was a just measure; that it would correct an abuse which was irritating and mischievous; and, if passed, that it would be productive of much social good and give very general satisfaction in Ireland.
§ MR. NEWDEGATE
said, that Dr. Moriarty, who calls himself Bishop of Kerry, in a letter published, he thought, last autumn, stated that if the property of the Church of Ireland was placed at the disposal of Parliament a portion of it should be appropriated to Roman Catholic purposes. This was stated in a letter which had been published.
said, that if the House divided he should give his vote for the second reading of the Bill, on the ground that its object was simply to give effect to the Act of 1824. At present the right of Roman Catholics to burial in the parish burial-grounds existed; but it was clear that, as a matter of fact, it had in many cases been refused, not merely to Roman Catholics, but also to Presbyterians and Wesleyans. Indeed the movement in favour of this Bill was far stronger on the part of the Protestant Dissenters of Ireland than on that of the Roman Catholics. He was at a loss to understand why Spain was so often quoted by the hon. Member for North Warwickshire. Was it that we should imitate her, or that we should act in the spirit of retaliation? In the name of both sides of the House he repudiated both courses. He had supported the Bill introduced by Sir Morton Peto, but which was unfortunately rejected. They must, however, consider the principles of this Bill in connection with the circumstances of the case; and was it not intolerable that in Ireland a small minority should have power to withhold Christian burial from the great majority of the people?
§ SIR PATRICK O'BRIEN
said, the Bill had been introduced to prevent the continuance of a great scandal, and to promote conciliation, and not for the purpose of giving any right to the Roman Catholic Church beyond those of other religious bodies. He had supported Sir Morton Peto's Bill. He assured the House that there was in Ireland a strong feeling of reverence for the dead; and consequently there was a great desire that a religious ceremony should be performed over the grave. He recommended the hon. Member for North Warwickshire (Mr. Newdegate) to turn his attention to Lutheran 1081 Sweden, where he would find a bigotry calling for the denunciation of one who so strongly condemned the religious feeling of Spain.
said, he believed it was generally conceded that, except in very few instances, the Act of 1824 had been carried out. If, however, there were cases in which it had not been acted upon, there ought to be an amendment in the law. This Bill would require amendment. No provision had been made for the preservation of order in the burial-grounds. If he did not consider that the Bill could be altered in that sense in Committee, he would not vote for the second reading. As the Bill now stood, the bodies of persons belonging to two or three different persuasions might be brought into the graveyard at the same moment. The services had to be performed within a limited space; and when persons entertaining different opinions thus came together, religious animosity might lead to unseemly scenes in the graveyards. The right hon. Gentleman the Member for Limerick (Mr. Monsell) evidently had some misgivings on that point, for, in the Bill, it was provided that burials should not take place during the hours of Divine worship. He (Mr. Henley) thought it would be desirable, when in Committee, to prescribe at what hours deceased persons of the different religious persuasions should be buried, or to give some power to the rectors to regulate the hours.
§ MR. HADFIELD
said, the Bill did not merely relate to Roman Catholics, but also had reference to the members of other Christian denominations. He begged to point out that in the burial-ground belonging to the denomination of Christians to which he belonged a very simple arrangement was adopted. It was open to all classes of Christians who chose to use it, who might perform such religious ceremonies as they desired; or, if they preferred, there might be no religious ceremony at all. No difficulty had been found in arranging the interments of different classes, under reasonable restrictions as to time, and other matters of a reasonable nature. The sting of the Bill, in the opinion of the hon. Member for North Warwickshire, seemed to be, not the burial of Roman Catholics, but of Protestant Dissenters, in the Church of England burial grounds. The hon. Gentleman seemed to have a greater dislike to Dissenters than to Roman Catholics, and lost no opportunity that the forms of the House permitted of opposing 1082 everything they wished. Their claim to interment in the Church burial-grounds in England ought not to be forgotten, and he hoped the Bill of 1863 would soon be revived. There was no reason why the privilege claimed by the Bill for Dissenters in Ireland should not be extended to their brethren in England. He hoped that a clause to that effect might be introduced in Committee; but if it endangered the passing of the Bill, he should not press it.
§ MR. MONTAGU CHAMBERS
hoped the House would not divide, but read the Bill a second time. The clergymen of the Church of Ireland had hitherto been placed in a false position. The Act of 1824 gave the right, not the privilege, of being buried in the Church burial-grounds in Ireland, which in many instances had been refused. Those who objected to the Bill showed that they had not advanced as they ought to have dune as to their sense of what was due from them to the members of other religious denominations. At the grave all religious differences ought to be forgotten. If there was a wedge at all in this case, the thin end had been inserted by the Bill of 1824. He was, he believed, as sincere a Protestant as any Gentleman in that House; but he thought he acted in thorough conformity with Protestant principles in supporting the second reading of the Bill.
§ MR. HUBBARD
said, this was not so simple a case as had been described, for the Bill was supported by different speakers on contradictory premises. He did not wish to refer to the question which lurked behind this Bill—namely, that of the Irish Church. The Act of 1824 had, in the great majority of cases, worked well. Power was by that Act reserved to the clergy, because on that power depended the whole legal position of the Church in Ireland; and if it had not been an act of indulgence, but a right as this Bill proposed, there would have been no Established Church in Ireland. They could not accept this Bill without anticipating the great solution of the Irish Church difficulty which was looming before them. The Bill now before the House would be as complete an abolition of the legal status of the Irish Church as any that could be effected by the Resolutions of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for South Lancashire (Mr. Gladstone). This Bill was a short cut to the point which that right hon. Gentleman proposed to reach by a more circuitous route, and conconsequently he was not prepared to agree 1083 to the second reading of the Bill. The few instances of inconvenience that had arisen were not sufficient to warrant the passing of this Bill. Believing the Bill to be unnecessary, and seeing its indirect effect upon the Irish Church, he could not support it.
§ MR. CRUM-EWING
supported the Bill. As a Scotchman, he protested against the views of Gentlemen opposite who opposed the Bill. In Scotland persons of all denominations were allowed to have their own religious service at their burial. He hoped the House would not pledge itself by rejecting this Bill to pursue a bigoted policy in religious matters.
§ MR. REARDEN
said, that the people of Ireland were not only not allowed to live in their country, but were not even allowed to be buried in it. He protested against the practice of the hon. Members for North Warwickshire and Bury St. Edmund's (Mr. Newdegate and Mr. Greene) of outraging on all occasions the feelings of the Roman Catholic Members of that House. He had a high respect for the hon. Member for North Warwickshire; but he unnecessarily insulted Roman Catholic Members by his constant reference to the Reformation. He might reply to the hon. Member by saying that Nero was an angel in comparison with Henry VIII.: and as to Elizabeth, he would not say anything of her moral character. The Reformation had led to the establishment of as many different religions as the number of years that had since elapsed. He asked how long the grievances of the Roman Catholics of Ireland were to continue?
§ COLONEL W. STUART
said, as the hon. Member for Buckingham had omitted to make the Motion in his speech, he would do so. He said Protestants had as much, if not more, reason to complain of the language used by Roman Catholics towards Protestants than the former had of the latter. The remarks they had just listened to were not calculated to conciliate Protestants.
§ Amendment proposed, to leave out the word "now," and at the end of the Question to add the words "upon this day six months."—(Colonel William Stuart.)
§ Question put, "That the word 'now' stand part of the Question."1084
§ The House divided:—Ayes 74; Noes 51: Majority 23.
§ Main Question put, and agreed to.
§ Bill read a second time, and committed for To-morrow.