HC Deb 26 February 1879 vol 243 cc1791-822

Order for Second Reading read.


in moving that the Bill be now read a second time, said, that it had been conceived in a spirit of conciliation, and with the view of providing for Nonconformists in the rural parishes the same means of burial as had been provided for them in the Metropolis and in all the large towns in England and Wales. He hoped the subject would be approached in a spirit of forbearance and reasonable compromise, and he could not believe that the hon. and learned Member for Denbighshire (Mr. Osborne Morgan) would approach it in any different spirit. If the question was to be considered one upon which compromise was impossible, he (Mr. Monk) admitted that the Bill was not worth the paper on which it was printed, and it would be better to make no further attempts to settle the question. It was brought forward in no spirit of antagonism to the hon. and learned Gentleman's measure. Indeed, he hoped to see that measure carried into law, and he had always voted for it since 1870; but the hon. and learned Gentleman must be aware that Parliament at present would not accept his Bill, and he could not expect to see it passed into law until public opinion had a more considerable effect on the votes of Members of that House. But because the hon. and learned Member could not pass his Bill, he (Mr. Monk) did not see why other hon. Members should not endeavour to provide relief, even if it were not so effectual as that provided in the larger measure of the hon. and learned Member. In 1867 the Consecration of Churchyards Act was brought into the House of Lords by the late Bishop of Winchester. The object of it was to enable Bishops to consecrate additions to existing churchyards without the formalities which, up to that time, necessarily attended consecration—namely, the attendance of the Bishop's officials, the Chancellor, the Registrar, and others; and it also repealed the stamp duties payable on the conveyance of the ground so added to the churchyard. Under that Act, consecration of the whole of the ground was compulsory; but the Act had been found to be a great boon to parishioners. His present Bill proposed that a portion of the ground, according to the necessities of the parish, might be left unconsecrated. He had seen it stated that a mere strip of the ground was to be left for the burial of Dissenters; but there was nothing in the Bill about a strip of ground, and a-half or two-thirds of it might be left unconsecrated. In this Bill it was proposed that the whole ground should be under the control of the churchwardens, and that the setting apart of any portion of the ground to remain unconsecrated should be voluntary, as it was desirable that the appropriation of the donor should be respected. Should the House adopt the Bill, it would greatly facilitate the carrying out the principle of the Burials Acts, which had been in operation for something like a quarter of a century, and under which boards were created to provide public cemeteries—part of the ground to be consecrated, and the remainder to be unconsecrated. His experience was that it was not the act of consecration which the Dissenters objected to, and he had found that the Dissenting as well as the Church members of the board were always willing to meet the Bishop, when he came to consecrate a burial-ground. His Bill, therefore, did not propose to interfere with free gifts of land; but it tended to place public burial-grounds throughout the Kingdom on the same conditions that regulated public cemeteries. He regretted that he had inserted words in the Bill separating portions of the ground by means of boundary marks of stone or iron; but he must remind the House that those were the words contained in the Burial Acts. If the House allowed the Bill to go into Committee, he would himself move the omission of the words "boundary marks of stone or iron," as a mere pathway fixing the boundary between the consecrated and unconsecrated portions was sufficient. He did that in deference to the feelings of some of his hon. Friends, who thought the provision would be objectionable to Nonconformists. He could not help remarking that the Bill had been received with unnecessary warmth by some hon. Members, the hon. Member for Swansea (Mr. Dillwyn) having even asked the House to refuse its sanction to the first reading, although last year the Bill was read a second time without a division; while, as to opposition by Churchmen, he was of opinion that there was no reason to warrant it. The principle embodied in the Bill was one that had been strongly insisted on by the late Mr. Charles Gilpin and other leading Nonconformists in 1867; and that, he thought, should be a sufficient guarantee that it would not be objectionable to those who were acting on behalf of the Nonconformists in this matter. What was the act of consecration, which seemed to arouse their susceptibilities? The act consisted only in the Bishop of the diocese signing a document reciting the conveyance of the ground, and its appropriation to the burial of the dead according to the rites and ceremonies of the Church of England, and its registration in the diocesan registry. The Bishop usually recited a psalm, offered up a few prayers, and addressed the bystanders; but these after-proceedings were by no means essential to the act of consecration itself, which was purely a formal and official affair. He held in his hands letters from the Archbishop of Canterbury, the Bishop of Peterborough, the Suffragan Bishop of Dover, who was also Archdeacon of Canterbury, and other eminent ecclesiastics, who had expressed their hearty approval of the Bill. They believed that the Bill was a useful measure, and hoped that it would receive the sanction of the House. Although it might not have any very large effect, yet he believed it would prove useful in many instances. As the law at present stood, burials took place in large towns in ground which was partly consecrated and partly unconsecrated. That arrangement had given great satisfaction, and it was the object of the Bill to afford the same relief in rural districts with regard to the necessity for having the service read by a minister of the Established Church, while provision was made for the enlargement of churchyards at a mere nominal cost. He desired to repeat most emphatically that his Bill had not been conceived in a spirit of opposition to the Bill of the hon. and learned Member for Denbighshire, but simply in order to provide a remedy for the grievance under which Nonconformists undoubtedly laboured. That Bill was certain to pass one day, but, until it did pass, he hoped the House would not refuse to give rural districts the relief which in large towns had proved so acceptable and satisfactory. He, therefore, begged to move the second reading.

Motion made, and Question proposed, "That the Bill be now read a second time."—(Mr. Monk.)


in moving, as an Amendment, that the Bill be read a second time that day six months, said, that, while admitting that the Bill was meant to be a conciliatory measure in favour of the Nonconformists and to remove the grievances under which they suffered, he thought that the hon. Member for Gloucester (Mr. Monk) had been successful in introducing a Bill which was equally disagreeable to all denominations. He considered it as repugnant a measure to every Liberal mind as it was possible to produce. It was one that ought to be—and, indeed, was—opposed by all Nonconformists; and it should be as repugnant to Churchmen as to Dissenters. It was in his character of a Churchman that he objected strongly to the measure, because nothing could be more dangerous to the Established Church than to offer to the Nonconformists, under the guise of a boon, that which insulted their best feelings. He could hardly imagine any hon. Gentleman sitting on the Government side of the House defending the Bill, because if the Bill of the hon. and learned Member for Denbighshire (Mr. Osborne Morgan) could be described as the thin edge of the wedge directed towards Disestablishment, this measure, though a little thinner as a wedge, was at all events a more insidious one and went in the same direction. Many hon. Members, himself among them, desired to see this question settled upon some statesmanlike compromise; but the compromise proposed by the Bill had been rejected by both sides, and it would certainly not offer any lasting solution of the difficulty. The Bill had passed a second reading last Session by the mere accident of coming on unexpectedly at a late hour of the evening towards the end of the Session, and therefore much importance could not be attached to the fact. With regard to consecration, as far as he understood the wishes of the Nonconformists, they had no objection to lie in consecrated ground; but this act of consecration was made an excuse for preventing their being buried in that ground with a service such as the people of their denomination were accustomed to. The Bill they were now asked to pass would, no doubt, allow Nonconformists to have a strip of ground where they might be buried according to their own rites; but that was in no wise what Nonconformists felt they were entitled to. They were entitled to much more than being buried with their own rites in a small strip of parish ground—a sort of pariah ground—separated from their relatives and friends, and where they would be looked upon as unholy and unclean. [Cries of "Oh!" "No, no!" and "Hear!"] He did not know how Nonconformists might regard it, but as a Churchman he so regarded it. He pointed out that though this piece of ground which they were proposing to set aside for Nonconformists was to be at one side of the churchyard, it would be within its walls; that the funeral cortége at a Nonconformist's funeral must enter by the common or lych gate, and that they would thus have what hon. Members opposite regarded with so much fear—an invasion of consecrated ground by rites other than those of the Church of England. The proposal was offensive to Churchmen also, for, in order to carry it into effect, it seemed that while the churchwarden was left to protect the unconsecrated, the clergyman was to be on guard to prevent any desecration of the consecrated precincts, by any service other than his own, and to keep the Nonconformists on their own ground. It was wrong to impose such an office on the clergyman. His main objection to the Bill was that as far as it went it would stereotype those old and painful divisions which existed in the country over the open grave, and which were so much to be deplored. Why could not Churchmen and Nonconformists alike be buried in the same old parish churchyard when there was plenty of room for them? There was no objection to the division of land in cemeteries where the ground was laid out in equal portions, and two chapels, as like as a couple of peas, were erected for the use of Churchmen and Nonconformists respectively. That was, however, very different to what was proposed here, and he should prefer to have no burial places at all except cemeteries, rather than have churchyards divided in the unprecedented manner now recommended. He could not conceive how anybody could hope to settle the matter by this Bill. He did not believe that the hon. Member for the University of Oxford (Mr. J. G. Talbot) could support it; and he trusted that it would be rejected by the House. He did not think that it could be amended in Committee so as to meet the views of those who wanted to see a permanent settlement of the question, and for that reason would move its rejection.

Amendment proposed, to leave out the word "now," and at the end of the Question to add the words "upon this day six months."—(Mr. Ernest Noel.)

Question proposed, "That the word 'now' stand part of the Question."


said, that as his name was on the back of the Bill he wished to say a few words in its support. The speech of the hon. Member who had just sat down (Mr. Ernest Noel) showed how vain was even the most sincere attempt to arrive at a settlement of the question by conciliation. It was but too evident that there were many Nonconformists who would not be satisfied with anything less than a total surrender on the part of Churchmen. He admitted that the Bill would not satisfy those who put their case on the high ground of principle; but he maintained that it did supply a practical remedy for a practical grievance, which to some extent prevailed. There were about 4,000 unconsecrated burial-grounds in the Kingdom, and as they did not supply the whole want, some such measure as the present was required. He respected the feelings of those Dissenters who wished to be buried in the parish churchyard, hallowed in their minds by so many old associations in connection with their ancestors who were buried there. If the Bill passed, additions might gradually be made to all the consecrated churchyards, surrounded by the same walls, in which Nonconformists could be buried with their own religious ceremonies, while the consecrated ground appropriated to the Church would not be interfered with. What objection could there be to trying the proposal as an experiment until some better solution of the question could be arrived at? There was no hope of the Bill of the hon. and learned Member for Denbighshire (Mr. Osborne Morgan) being passed by the present Parliament, and probably it would not be passed by the next—possibly by no Parliament at all. The present Bill was undoubtedly a step in the right direction, and it would leave the main question entirely open. Its effect would be to diminish the inconvenience that Nonconformists were subject to at present in having either to submit to have the Burial Service of the Church of England read over them, or to be conveyed many miles to the nearest cemetery. The practical result of the measure would be to extend to the churchyards the principle adopted in all cemeteries—of dividing the land into two parts, one consecrated and the other not. Dissenters had not originally objected to this division in cemeteries, and why should they in the churchyards? He was, however, sorry to see that some of them had lately protested against such a division as invidious and improper. If Nonconformists rejected this Bill, it would be fair to assume that they did not so much desire to have their practical grievance redressed as to secure a triumph over the Established Church. He believed that Dissenters and Churchmen, also, would be willing to give ground to be added to churchyards, and thus eventually the greater part, if not the whole, of what the Dissenters now demanded would be obtained. The Bill required or implied that a portion of the ground to be given should be consecrated; but he should like that provision to be altered, and it might be amended in Committee, so that no part of the ground given by Dissenters need be consecrated. He commended the Bill to the attention of the House, because it was a step in the right direction, and met a practical want in a practical manner, without offending what some might call religious prejudices, but which he (Mr. Forsyth) believed were sincere and conscientious convictions.


considered that of the six Bills which had been introduced during the present Session to settle the Burials Question this measure was incomparably the worst, and his only regret was that any hon. Member sitting upon the Liberal Benches should have been found to introduce it. It was some consolation, however, to find that his hon. Friend (Mr. Monk) could not get a single Liberal Member to back his Bill, and that he was obliged to seek that assistance within the ranks of the enemy. He could not help thinking that that opinion was shared also by the constituents of his hon. Friend, because he (Mr. Osborne Morgan) had read a correspondence purporting to emanate from the whole of the Liberal voters and Nonconformists of Gloucester, in which they spoke of the Bill in no measured terms. The Bill proposed in new churchyards to rail off by boundary marks of stone or iron a Dissenters' corner, just as there used to be a suicides' corner. The Bishops were to be the judges of the size of the corner. He was not a Nonconformist, but if he were, he should regard such a proposal as a deliberate insult. It was no answer to say that such a solution had been accepted by Nonconformists 12 years ago, for many things which might have been accepted as concessions then would be resented as insults now. As to the proposed introduction in the country of the cemetery system, so far from that being a recommendation of the measure, it was to him its objectionable feature. He detested the cemetery system. It divided members of families who in death ought not to be divided, and was a disgrace to England and to Christianity. Last year he had mentioned the case of a Nonconformist widower at Birmingham, who, having interred one of his wives in the Church of England cemetery, and another in the Roman Catholic cemetery, was compelled to purchase a third grave for himself in the Nonconformist cemetery. Was not such a system a disgrace to their country? He was taunted with refusing to accept a compromise; but his position being perfectly clear and defined, and having for its basis the common-law rights of all parishioners to interment in the churchyards, it was not to be expected that he could support such a pitiful makeshift as the measure now before the House. It would be impossible to invent any weapon more deadly to the Church of England than the opposition which had been offered to his (Mr. Osborne Morgan's) Bill, and the attempt to substitute for it this miserable stopgap. It seemed to be the determination of hon. Gentlemen opposite to make this a hustings' question, and to fight it out to the bitter end, for they had met all his efforts to settle it with a stubborn non possumus. On his side there could be no misgiving, for upon it he had common sense, justice, and humanity; and he felt sure that while the responsibility of the struggle would rest with hon. Gentlemen opposite, the victory would be with him.


said, that the number of Bills which had been introduced during the present Session on the subject showed that there was a desire in favour of some settlement of it, and he thought the proposal of the hon. Member for Gloucester (Mr. Monk) formed a basis on which some conclusions might be arrived at by those who could not accept the settlement supported by the hon. and learned Member opposite (Mr. Osborne Morgan). He did not approach the measure in any spirit of antagonism to the Nonconformists of the country, and it was in that mood that he ventured to support it. He knew of a case in point in which the system proposed by the Bill worked admirably. He was in the habit of attending a church in the country, where a portion of the churchyard was unconsecrated. It was inclosed within the churchyard wall, and formed an integral part of the churchyard. He could point out no distinction between that portion of the ground and the rest of the graveyard, and any distinction between them was only known, perhaps, to the clergyman and one or two other persons. It was open to the Nonconform- ists to avail themselves of that place for the burial of their dead with their own services. That was the arrangement proposed under the Bill, and there appeared to be no substantial difficulty in carrying out the proposal which it contained. No doubt, many persons would be willing to avail themselves of the provisions of the measure, and make grants of land for churchyards in their neighbourhood. There would be no distinction to the eye between one portion of the churchyard and the other; and he denied that it was any insult to the Nonconformist bodies to offer to allow them to enter an integral part of the churchyard, and use it in that manner for the interment of their deceased friends and relations.


opposed the Bill. He disputed it as being in any sense a settlement of the question, and thought the remarks of his hon. Friend who had just sat down (Mr. Gregory) told rather against than in favour of its principles. His hon. Friend had described the division of a churchyard in a remarkable manner, inasmuch as within its precincts the funerals of Dissenters wore conducted without let or hindrance. There was, his hon. Friend said, no visible distinction between the one portion of the churchyard and the other, and no stranger entering that churchyard would know what portion was consecrated and what was unconsecrated. He (Mr. Walter) presumed there was no more difference between the two than between the dust of Dissenters and that of Churchmen. If that case proved anything, it proved the utter absurdity of the present rule. If it was possible, in the circumstances which his hon. Friend had described, for Churchmen and Dissenters to be buried within the precincts of the same churchyard without let or hindrance, without the parishioners being aware that one part of the ground was different from the rest, why should not the same be the rule for the whole Kingdom? Then, how did his hon. Friend know that the old churchyards were consecrated at all? That was very questionable. It was doubtful whether there were any records of anything of the kind. But the great objection to that Bill as it stood was that it belonged to that most objectionable class of Bills of which they had had too many of late—namely, Permissive Bills, Whatever might fairly be the subject of permissive measures, there was one matter which he thought ought never to be so, and that was the law which regulated the burials of the people of this country. There was nothing permissive about death. A man must die, and the arrangements for his interment ought not to depend on permissive legislation, but on some broad and national principles. Since he first began to consider that question, it had seemed to him possible to solve it only in one way—namely, by recognizing the right of interment as a civil right, and letting the religious rites performed over the deceased follow the religious opinion of his friends. He could see no other rational mode of settling the question. A man must be buried somewhere. Granting that he must have a place of interment, and granting also that which could not be denied, that the common law had so far overridden the law of consecration—whatever that law might be—as to entitle every parishioner to be buried in his parish churchyard, it seemed to be only a matter of good feeling as well as common sense and justice that the funeral rites of the deceased should be in accordance, not with the rule of the Church and the opinions of the clergyman, but with the opinion of his friends. It was strange that while people detected so many gnats in that controversy they did not appear to see the real camels before them. The real difficulty was not so much the place of interment, as the strain which was put on the consciences of so many clergymen in being compelled to read the Burial Service of the Church of England over everybody indiscriminately. Two or three days after the last discussion on that subject he went home to his parish in the country, and the first person he met was the clergyman. "Why," said the reverend gentleman—"Old So-and-so is dead; he succeeded at last in drinking himself to death," referring to an old notorious drunkard who made no secret of his intention to drink himself to death. On that he remarked—"And you will have to bury him." The clergyman replied—"That is true; but I cannot help it." And he had to read the Burial Service over such a notorious drunkard as that, who had drank his life away. That grievance remained. How it was to be remedied was a difficult question; but in comparison with a grievance of that kind all those miserable squabbles about consecrated and unconsecrated ground, and whether Dissenters were to have a service of their own choosing road over their graves, were paltry and insignificant. As to the question of consecrated ground, had they thought what it amounted to? Whoever had found any such difficulty in regard to the case of persons who died at sea? It might be said that the sea was a different element from the land. Well, let them take the case of those who fell at Waterloo, Sadowa, or any other battle-field. Was it not the fact that the funeral service for Churchmen and Dissenters was read by their respective ministers over their common grave without any form of consecration having been gone through over the soil where they were buried? And why in the case of a churchyard was that form of consecration, which meant nothing more than that the soil was set apart for the interment of the dead and was not to be disturbed, to be so interpreted as if it constituted an eternal barrier between Churchmen and Dissenters after death as well as before it? He could not consent, then, to vote for the second reading of that Bill. As one of those who had given a piece of land for a churchyard, he confessed that under that Bill he could not—he should be ashamed to add to it another field, or any part of a field of his to form the unconsecrated corner of that burial-ground. He saw no sound objection to Nonconformist ministers entering the parish churchyard and reading their own burial service over the graves of deceased members of their congregations.


said, he had never addressed the House on this question before; one reason being that there was nothing new to say, the other being that the matter had now passed away from the region of argument to that of mere pride and prejudice. When they were attacked for not wishing to compromise they were just simply being attacked for being logical and consistent. There could be no compromise in this matter, for it was impossible to divide a principle. If the principle entertained by himself and, others was correct, that everybody had a right to interment in the churchyard, they could not consistently compromise the matter by retreat- ing from the position they held—that the right of using their own ceremonies must also be conceded to those who were by the law of nature compelled to come to the churchyard sooner or later. There were only two compromises which he could suggest as meeting the point at issue. One would be a Bill to dispense Dissenters from the necessity of dying. No doubt, that would be very satisfactory to the Dissenters, but he was afraid it would be ultra vires. But if they could not relieve Nonconformists from paying the debt of nature they might, perhaps, relieve everybody from the necessity of being buried, by a Bill providing that they should all be cremated. Perhaps some hon. Members opposite would propose this. But, seriously, he deprecated these frequent discussions, because they were painful and often very mischievous. The Bills of this character which were brought in were trying to evade the question, not to settle it, and he condemned more than any other the Bill then before them as being the worst that had as yet been proposed, and as one that sought to settle the difficulty by aggravating it. The promoters of this measure were not content with perpetuating distinctions at the grave side. They would maintain them long after the grave was closed, and even the generation had passed away. In Ireland Roman Catholics and Protestants were buried side by side by the ministers of their own denominations without any difficulty arising, and why should not the same thing be done in England? He hoped before many years were over this question would be settled on the only basis—namely, that of the Bill of his hon. and learned Friend the Member for Denbighshire. If this became a hustings' question, he, for one, would not fear the result.


I regret most sincerely that the hon. Member for Berkshire (Mr. Walter) is about to oppose the Bill, and that, as it appears to me, his opposition is based upon most intolerant grounds. I have served with him for many years in this House, and have known him, I may say, from boyhood; I sincerely regret that he should have uttered it, for I cannot conceive of a more intolerant speech than his, unless it be the speech of the hon. and learned Member for Denbighshire (Mr. Osborne Morgan). It is my intention to vote for the second reading of the Bill on the same ground that I most anxiously supported the Cemeteries Act—because the Bill proposes in nothing to violate the common-law right of the Church of England, as a denomination, but, on the contrary, recognizes that common-law right. Every parishioner has a right to be buried in the churchyard, if he be a Churchman, or one who respects the Services of the Church of England. Parishioners have no right in the churchyard, except as the yard of the church belonging to the denomination called members of the Church of England. To say they have no other right whatever, and never had any right, that is a bold assertion, which is only a half truth; but to assert that everyone has a right amounts to a statement absolutely false, for I deny that any man, has any right whatever by common law to interment in the churchyard, according to any other ceremonies or rites than those of the Church of England. It is the performance of those ceremonies and those rites which constitute the common-law proof, and recognition, of the title. With regard to the feeling in favour of the Services of the Church of England, I must say, for my part, that I value the Burial Service for its tolerance. The hon. Member for Berkshire said that he met his own clergyman one day, and wished him joy of having to read that Service over a neighbour, of whose past life neither approved—and that the clergyman, who seems to have had but little charity, expressed his difficulty in performing the Service in such a case. This is the very kind of intolerance that I detest, because what is the substance and the tenour of the Burial Service? Is it not the expression of a fervent hope that Almighty God has pardoned the sins of the departed, and received him into eternal rest? I cannot help saying that a clergyman who hesitates to read the Burial Service in a case where no objection is made on the part of the friends of the deceased is open to the charge of a presumptuous intolerance which is unworthy of civilization. I repeat that I value the Services of the Church of England, but still I would not force them upon anyone who has a conscientious objection to them. I would do my utmost to respect the conscientious feelings of all persons who entertain such objections, however much j mistaken I may think them. Therefore, I would make provision to meet their difficulty, and that is done in the present Bill without invalidating the common-law right with regard to the churchyards. I honour the feeling which makes a man wish to be buried near the old church of his parish. When I say that I vote for the second reading of the Bill moved by the hon. Member opposite (Mr. Monk), because he respects the feeling to which I have just referred, and proposes to give effect to it, without violating the common-law right and title of the Church of England, as a denomination, I put it simply as a civil matter, and maintain that we have no right or title by use and custom to the churchyards capable of proof, except through the condition that the Service of the Church shall be performed there. That is the necessary proof of our right. The vice of the Bill of the hon. and learned Member for Denbighshire is that it strikes at the very root of the common-law title of the Church; it would dispossess the majority in order to benefit the minority; whereas the Bill of the hon. Member for Gloucester (Mr. Monk) suggests a plan whereby we may preserve the title of the Church as a denomination, while respecting the conscientious feelings of those who, though they have separated from the Church, still feel a veneration for her. The Bill may need alteration in Committee; but I am convinced that it is a step in the right direction. The hon. and learned Member for Denbighshire said he hated the Cemeteries Act. Well, I differ from him totally on this, for I laboured in support of the passing of that Act, and I think of all measures it is one of the most tolerant. I worked in order to obtain the passing of the Cemeteries Act, and I saw it passed into law. It is an Act which respects the feelings of everyone—the feelings of Nonconformists not less than those of members of the Church of England. That was a thoroughly tolerant measure, and I am sorry that the speech of the hon. and learned Member for Denbighshire distinctly marks the progress of this agitation towards intolerance. I detest intolerance. There is no greater intolerance than an attempt to invade the civil rights of a great denomination, simply because it cannot, consistently with security of the posses- sion of the trust property it holds, accommodate itself to every suggested means for satisfying the scruples of others who form no part of that denomination. The Bill of the hon. Member for Gloucester is a tolerant measure; it may need amendment in detail, but its principle recognizes the dignity, which ought always to be considered, as attached to every question which affects the religious feelings of the people. I shall certainly vote for the second reading of the Bill.


said, he had, as a Churchman, always supported the proposal of his hon. and learned Friend the Member for Denbighshire (Mr. Osborne Morgan); at the same time, not desiring to offend the feelings of Churchmen on this question, he would not use strong language, but when he looked at the Bill of the hon. Member for Gloucester (Mr. Monk), he was bound to say that it was neither a compromise, nor would it lead to a settlement of the question. In the first place, it was merely a permissive Bill, capable of being worked only in a limited number of parishes, for there were hundreds, lie might say thousands, of small parishes in the country where no landowner was likely to be found willing or able to give land in the way indicated by that Bill. The measure was, therefore, no answer to the demand of the Nonconformist bodies. In the second place, the Bill also seemed to make a distinction between members of the Church of England and members of Nonconformist bodies, for the latter were to be given a small strip of land adjoining the churchyard. In the majority of cases, the funerals of Nonconformists would have to enter the gate and pass through the churchyard in order to enter the unconsecrated ground set apart for them; and that being so, he asked whether it was not fighting for a shadow to oppose the Bill of his hon. and learned Friend? It was a question admitting of no compromise, and this House had had set before it by the House of Lords an example of the way in which it would be treated. Instead of finding fault with Nonconformists for wishing to be buried in the parish churchyard, Churchmen ought rather to be pleased that they were ready to give up their conscientious objections and allow their dead to be interred there. After all, what was that rite of consecration? Some Bishops said it was one thing, and others said it was another. Speaking as a Churchman, he could not see that there was the least difference in principle between allowing the Nonconformists to go to a piece of ground to be added to the churchyard under a Bill of that kind and giving them access to the burial places now surrounding their parish churches. The present Bill would not settle that question, and therefore he must vote against it. He thought the Government, in whose hands the question had been left for the last few Sessions, should give the House their views on it.


said, the impression which that debate had given him all throughout was that on the other side there had been singular weakness. He did not mean weakness of language, for he had never known so much unmitigated use of strong adjectives as had been indulged in by the hon. and learned Member for Denbighshire (Mr. Osborne Morgan), who had uttered the adjective "miserable" half-a-dozen times in as many consecutive sentences. What was all that fume and fret about? They were simply asked to pass a Bill which would allow a man to make an innocent use of his own property for the chance of other people liking to avail themselves of his gift. If it had been intended to compel landlords to give land for the burial of Dissenters, or to send the parish constable to seize the corpse of a Nonconformist and carry it, vi et armis, and the living minister too, to the graveyard, and to compel the minister to use the Church Service there, the vehemence with which the Bill had been opposed could hardly have been exceeded. It had even been made a complaint against it that it was not a Party measure, because it was backed by Members on both sides of the House. Surely a question about the burial of the dead was one into which no feelings but those of religion, humanity, and order should enter; and yet it was now made a matter depending on this or that side of the House. Why was the Bill to be rejected because it had the singular good fortune to be supported by hon. Members sitting on both sides? He might himself have used that argument a week ago, but he should have scorned to do so. He left the other side to do that, and he congratulated them on the true Liberalism of their sentiments. This was a purely permissive Bill. The Church was an established one, and it accordingly existed under regulation. The duties of the clergy were more or less regulated by Statute; the churchyards were regulated by Statute. There were certain limitations on those churchyards. That Bill merely proposed to relax those limitations for the advantage of the whole community. On the one hand, they had men willing and able to give the land, and on the other, ecclesiastical authorities were willing and able to second them in their intention, which was only impeded by the limitations of a very recent Statute. Why not let the Bill be read the second time? Why not indulge those who desired to help in appeasing the burials' agitation in the hope that something might now be done? Why not reserve to themselves in grim silence the satisfaction of seeing that Bill prove a failure in its working hereafter? That would be common sense. But hon. Gentlemen opposite showed that they were nursing the question up for the hustings. The position of the hon. and learned Member for Denbighshire reminded him (Mr. Beresford Hope) of the old story of the squire who asked a friend out to shoot with him. The snipe rose, up went the friend's gun, and down went the snipe. "Good heavens!" exclaimed the squire, "what have you done? You have spoilt my sport—you have killed my snipe!" The Burials Question was the snipe of the other side, and especially of the hon. and learned Member for Denbighshire. If it were settled, the hon. and learned Member would, no doubt, be free to devote his learning, ability, and industry to those general questions which he was so well able to handle, but his snipe would be killed. Where, then, would be the Dissenting clergy of the mountains of old Wales? He asked the House to rise above Party and do a generous thing by assenting to a Bill which might do some good, and certainly could do no harm. It would at least be an innocent Act on the Statute Book—a good deal more than could be said for a great many other portions of their legislation.


I have so frequently spoken here on this Burials Question, and the objections to the present Bill have been so well stated by previous speakers, that it will not be necessary for me to trespass on the attention of the House for more than a few minutes. I was rather glad to hear the protest of the hon. Gentleman the Member for the University of Cambridge (Mr. Beresford Hope) against the use of strong language. I hope he will take the lesson home to himself; for, of all those who take part in these discussions, no one employs such energetic and emphatic epithets as he does. I am quite at a loss to understand what could have prompted my hon. Friend the Member for Gloucester (Mr. Monk) to bring forward this Bill, and to press it forward against the declared wishes of those more immediately concerned, and against the earnest remonstrances of his own political Friends. He declares himself in favour of the Bill of my hon. and learned Friend the Member for Denbighshire (Mr. Osborne Morgan), and has, in fact, constantly and consistently voted for it for seven successive Sessions of Parliament. But now that the principle of that Bill has been affirmed by a considerable majority of the House of Lords, and would have been affirmed in this House last week if the opponents of the Bill of the hon. Member for Hertford (Mr. Balfour) had not been afraid of submitting to the test of a vote, when everything is thus so well proceeding in the direction which the whole Liberal Party desires, my hon. Friend comes and trails his little red-herring across our path. This Bill is not only utterly inadequate as a settlement of the question, but it is in direct contravention of the essential principle of the Bill of my hon. and learned Friend; for whereas the latter seeks to remove the disabilities under which the Nonconformists now labour, this Bill distinctly, and even offensively, perpetuates them by still excluding Dissenters from being buried in consecrated ground, even though it be within the same walls as the other. I am quite sure it was not the intention of my hon. Friend to put an affront upon the Nonconformists; but the effect of his Bill will undoubtedly be to place them in a most invidious and humiliating position by banishing them from the common resting-place of their fellow-parishioners, as though they were something common and unclean, and relegating them to a spot which would, no doubt, come to be called the Dissenters' corner. Of course, in thousands of parishes it would be wholly inoperative, for there are thousands of churchyards in the rural districts which would require no enlargement and would receive no enlargement; while, as respects the thousands and tens of thousands of Dissenting families whose relatives are already buried in churchyards, it would either oblige them to be separated in death from their nearest and dearest kindred, or submit, as now, to be buried as members of the Church of England. Then, as has already been remarked, it would introduce into our churchyards the offensive distinction between consecrated and unconsecrated ground. I am glad to see the right hon. Gentleman the Home Secretary in his place, for I remember when, 10 years ago, I had the honour of sitting on the same Committee with him upstairs—the Committee to which the Bill of my hon. and learned Friend the Member for Denbighshire was referred—he expressed with great emphasis his disapproval of this distinction as it exists in our cemeteries. With regard to consecration, I think I can explain the views of Nonconformists in a sentence. A great Christian teacher in the Primitive Church was asked his opinion in a case of conscience, as to whether Christian converts might eat of meat that had been offered to idols. His answer was—"Certainly you may, if you have no scruple about the matter yourselves, for," he added, "an idol is nothing at all." I do not wish to say anything offensive to the feelings of hon. Gentlemen opposite; if they attach any significance or sacred-ness to the act of consecration, I entirely respect their feelings; but to us Nonconformists consecration "is nothing at all." We have not the smallest objection to be buried in what is called consecrated ground; for, in fact, the whole purpose and design of the Bill of my hon. and learned Friend the Member for Denbighshire is to secure permission for us to bury our dead in consecrated ground with such forms and rites as are in harmony with our feelings. This insistance upon keeping a distinction between Churchmen and Dissenters in death betokens a state of mind which is to me absolutely inexplicable. Some time ago we had a declaration circulated amongst us signed by a considerable number of noblemen, gentlemen, and clergymen—I observed, indeed, that nearly one-half of them were clergymen—in which they said in effect that, having given bits of ground for purposes of interment, if they had thought it possible that the time would ever come when the ground so given would be profaned by the foot of any Christian minister except one episcopally ordained, or when the air floating above it would vibrate to the voice of prayer and praise from any but sacerdotal lips, they would never have given those bits of ground at all. I sometimes wonder what such people think of the life to come. I suppose they will insist upon having a corner of Heaven to themselves, free from the intrusion of all vulgar Dissenters, railed off, as my hon. Friend proposes to do with the churchyards, by boundaries of stone or iron, where they could sit in solitary grandeur, singing their own psalms, presided over by their own Archbishops and Bishops in lawn sleeves. My hon. Friend the Member for Gloucester admits that his Bill, even if passed into law, would not settle the question. But the settlement of the question once for all is surely what everybody must desire. Does he think it would be wise to try to patch up the difficulty by a small measure of this sort, leaving the grievance complained of practically unredressed, and rendering further agitation necessary for its removal? For this reason, if for no other, I would oppose the Bill, because it leaves open a question which breeds so much irritation and animosity.


said, that some hon. Gentlemen opposite professed to be the friends of religious liberty, yet they seemed to think that religious equality ought to be secured only for those who were dissentients from the Established Church; but he wished to uphold the right of Churchmen to religious liberty. As Churchmen, they had a religious system of their own, and they had a right to practise their own religion and their own ceremonial according to the laws of their own Church. The proposal of the hon. and learned Member for Denbighshire conflicted with their religious convictions, and impaired the security of the religious system to which they were attached. He admitted that this Bill would not settle the question; but why would it not settle it? Because the question was really one of religious equality—of the Disestablishment of the Church with all its consequences—and everybody must know that the Bill would not settle that. Still, to what- ever degree the Bill might operate, it must have the effect of mitigating the difficulty of the present position. He could not understand, indeed, why the hon. and learned Member for Denbighshire should have become so exceedingly infuriated against this very harmless measure, unless it was because he thought it would cut away the position which he held in the House; but he did not believe it would have that effect, for so long as there was a Church in this free country there would be always some agitation, and he did not regret the wholesome exercise of it. The hon. and learned Member contended that every parishioner had the right to be buried in the churchyard, and with the ceremonial of the religious body to which he belonged. [Mr. OSBORNE MORGAN: I said he ought to have the right.] Every parishioner had a right to join in the services of the parish church; but if he chose to join any one of the 161 sects which existed in this country, it surely would not be contended that he had the right to worship in the parish church with the ceremonial of the seceders he had joined? If such a right were allowed and exercised, utter confusion and chaos would be the result. He maintained that the arguments which would disestablish the churchyards would logically disestablish the Church. This consequence was denied as improbable, and he concurred in that opinion, for mankind were not logical; but they, as legislators and statesmen, should be logical, and not yield to arguments which would carry them on to measures which they now repudiated. They could not separate the church from the churchyard. Together they made the portion of the parish which had been placed in the custody of the clergyman. No doubt it belonged to the nation, but it was to the nation in its religious character. Churchmen had great respect for their consecrated buildings and consecrated grounds. They looked upon the dead in the churchyards as lying there till the Day of Resurrection, and they naturally objected to throwing open either their churches or their churchyards to those who disbelieved the Resurrection, and who would do in their churchyards what was done the other day at Berlin. There, not long ago, the body of a Socialist was accompanied to the grave by 10,000 people, and was interred in a cemetery of the Free Congregation, over the portals of which was the inscription—"There is no hereafter, and no meeting again." He asked that Christians should not be exposed to the indignity which they would suffer, if all persons, whether believers or unbelievers, had unrestrained freedom of access to their consecrated churchyards. The right hon. Gentleman the Member for Clackmannanshire (Mr. Adam), who made a kind of political progress last summer in the Northern counties of Scotland, whilst informing his countrymen of the many enormities of the Burial Laws of England, said— Though you may be loth to believe such a very shocking thing, it is the case that in English churchyards burials are refused to those not of the same denominations as the Church of England. He was surprised that the political conductor of the Party opposite should give such inaccurate information to the highly intelligent and educated people of Scotland. He took the opportunity of writing to The Scotsman, to explain that the English burial law did nothing of the kind. The law of England enjoined Christian burial to every Christian, whatever his denomination. If any difficulty was raised on the subject it was by the friends of the deceased, for the Church, in her charity, asked no questions and withheld the Service prepared for the burial of departed Christians only where the departed had not been christened. This erroneous exposition of the Burials Law by the right hon. Gentleman (Mr. Adam) was accompanied by his declared adoption, in the name of the Liberal Party, of the hon. and learned Member for Denbighshire's (Mr. Osborne Morgan's) BurialsBill—a declaration the more ominous when they knew that the Bill of the hon. and learned Member was admitted to be the first step towards the acquirement of religious equality, to be evidenced in the Disestablishment of the Church of Scotland, and to be followed, when quite prepared, by the Disestablishment of the Church of England. Such was the programme, to the overture of which, in the Burials Bill, the Liberal Party were invited through the lips of the Liberal Whip. It might be useful to have some sensational rallying cry; but he trusted the great Liberal Party might find some nobler, some more patriotic and generous object for which to unite, than an attack on that Constitu- tion, to which they owed, in its growth of centuries, not only their power and their wealth, but their religion and freedom as a people.


said, the right hon. Gentleman the Member for the City of London (Mr. J. G. Hubbard) seemed to suppose that the right hon. Member for Clackmannanshire (Mr. Adam) made a most extraordinary statement when he asserted that, according to the present Burial Laws of England, a clergyman might, and sometimes did, refuse to bury persons who considered themselves and were supposed to be Christians.


said, the right hon. Member for Clackmannanshire did not speak about what an individual could do, but the law.


said, it appeared to him that, according to the law, an incumbent had the right to refuse burial to persons who were unbaptized.


said, the words used by the right hon. Member for Clackmannanshire were that burial could be "refused to those who were not of the same denomination as the Church of England."


said, he did not suppose the right hon. Gentleman really wished to dwell upon that mode of putting the case. What the right hon. Member for Clackmannanshire doubtless meant to say was that burial could be refused to unbaptized persons. Such a statement appeared to him to be strictly true, and, no doubt, any Scotchman would be surprised to hear that such a law existed in this country. Another statement was that if the parish graveyard was thrown open to Dissenters it was a necessary and logical consequence that the Dissenters would acquire the same right over the churches. This was an argument which the defenders of the Church ought to be wiser than to use, for it might be used against the Church hereafter. He was himself surprised at the persistency with which that argument was raised, and that it should not be admitted, after all, that there was some difference between the freedom which it was possible to exercise in regard to a place of worship and a place of sepulchre. The question had been debated as if it was not going to be settled soon, whereas everyone knew that it must be settled very soon, and that that settlement would proceed on the lines of what the House of Lords had already agreed to, and what there was every reason to believe the great dignitaries of the Church had also agreed to. The question would never be satisfactorily settled until a clergyman was prevented from refusing the right of burial to anyone with such services as accorded with the convictions which the person had entertained during life. Such a settlement would come, if not before the next General Election, certainly immediately after it. He hoped the hon. Member for Gloucester (Mr. Monk) would consider the course which the debate had taken, and withdraw his Bill. The hon. Member, he was sure, had brought forward this Bill believing it would do some good and no harm, while it would tend to remove unpleasantness in some places, and that, at any rate, it was not a foe to the Bill of the hon. and learned Member for Denbighshire, which he himself supported; but he (Mr. W. E. Forster) thought what had been said on the other side of the House would tend to show him that such was not the case, and that the proposal was really in direct opposition to some of the fundamental principles of the measure his hon. Friend supported. The objections to the present law were based on both right and feeling. The Dissenters considered that they had a right to burial in the churchyards, and that that right carried with it the right to be buried with their own services. As a matter of feeling, Dissenters thought they ought to be allowed to rest alongside of their Church relations. To neither of these claims did this Bill offer any respect; indeed, the hon. Member must be convinced, from the arguments by which his Bill had been supported from the other side, that it was opposed to the principles which he himself had at other times advocated. As for the cemetery system, he regarded it as a disgrace to a people who were supposed to desire Christian brotherhood, and altogether the situation was such that he had expected some statement would be made on behalf of the Government, and was disappointed that none had been given.


I must apologize for having been detained from the House by Public Business during the early part of the afternoon. I have, however, heard the speeches of the hon. Member for Merthyr Tydvil (Mr. Richard), and those who followed him, and I wish to say a few words on the subject under consideration. I do not quite appreciate the humiliation of which he spoke. I do not understand that those who do not belong to the Church of England feel any humiliation at their friends being buried in unconsecrated parts of cemeteries; nor, therefore, do I believe that there would not be a large majority of Dissenters who would not to some extent feel conciliated if ground were provided in which they could bury their dead with their own services. For my part, however, I never pass a cemetery anywhere without feeling the deepest possible regret at seeing that in this Christian country we are obliged to have three chapels in every public burial-ground. I am not ashamed to state that in the House, and should not be elsewhere. At the same time, the system has worked without much difficulty so far, and I believe has received a certain amount of general acceptance, and will, I presume, continue. I do not quite understand, however, why there should not be both consecrated and unconsecrated ground. It seems to be the very height of ecclesiastical tyranny to say that, because you do not care to have consecrated ground for burials, those who do care for it should not be allowed to have it. And if there is to be consecrated ground in the future, as well as in the past, there must, of course, be a distinction between the burial-places of those who take one view on this point, and those who take the opposite. In that light, the question is in the broadest possible way one of religious freedom. A practice has, I believe, been very long in force in a very large section of the Christian Church—namely, that of consecrating, not the churchyard itself, but the graves; and I have never yet heard of any satisfactory reason why this should not be done in the churchyards of other denominations. Moreover, I am not one of those who think that the presence of a Bishop is necessary to consecration, there being no reason why the ceremony should not be conducted by the parish clergyman. That is allowed in the Church of Home. All, however, that I want to enforce in connection with this part of the question is, that those who say that there is a broad distinction between consecrated and unconsecrated ground must, in order to avoid being guilty of religious tyranny, allow us to have consecrated ground, the logical result being that all cannot be buried in the same piece of ground. The right hon. Gentleman who has just spoken conveyed to this House an incorrect impression of the law on the subject of burial in parish churchyards, for he stated that there were certain classes of persons who differed from the Church of England—those who are unbaptized, for instance—and who are not entitled to burial in a parish churchyard. That is not so. The law, as I take it, says that every person has a right to be buried in the churchyard of the parish in which he has died; and only when we come to the question of the clergyman of the Church of England reading the Service of the Church over the grave does the law step in. The law says that over unbaptized persons, excommunicated persons, and those who have laid violent hands on themselves, the Service of the Church shall not be read. [Mr. W. E. FORSTER: There shall be no service.] No service, of course. As for the statement that those who oppose the Nonconformist demand fear that to admit it would be to make way for the Disestablishment of the Church, I have never heard that fear expressed by my hon. Friends; but what I understand them to say is, that Disestablishment is the avowed object of the Liberation Society in agitating the Burials Question. Of course, hon. Gentlemen on this side are quite entitled to use the argument in question without being bound to support Disestablishment, should any change be made in the Burial Laws. If any grievance at all arises from the present laws, it is this—and I admit that it is a substantial grievance—that there is no power of any kind or description in anybody to enforce the making of a burial-ground where one is needed. In making any change you ought not to provide simply for the present, but also for the future. There is no doubt that a very large proportion of the churchyards scattered up and down England will, in the course of perhaps the next 10 years, be closed, and in all the parishes with which they are connected the Bill of the hon. and learned Member for Denbighshire (Mr. Osborne Morgan) would have no effect whatever. There is an instance of this in Northampton. There, all the churchyards are closed; and when the people met, as they were bound to do, to consider this state of affairs, they decided to have no burial board, and, therefore, to have no burial ground; and the only satisfaction which remains to the people of Northampton lies in the fact that there is at that place a cemetery which belongs to persons differing from the Church of England. I think that a state of the law which produces such a result ought not to be allowed to exist. One outcome of it is that the Church of England has provided of its own free gift, from time to time, and especially during the last 100 years, burial-grounds all over the country, or at least in a great number of parishes, thus supplying a want which the law of England of itself did not supply. Hon. Members opposite have often alluded to the law of Scotland as entirely in their favour, and as a reason why we should make a change in the present case; but if the law of England were the same I should be perfectly content. But that is not the case. In Scotland the burial-grounds are the property of heritors, and, oftener than not, they are away from the church instead of being near it. How do the hon. and learned Member for Denbighshire and his Friends propose to pro-coed? They pass over the real grievance which I have pointed out, and proceed in a totally different way. Some time ago they were bound, like everybody else, to pay church rates; but these were abolished, even as concerned churchyards. At that time they said—"No, we don't want the churchyards, and we won't pay the rates for them." But the moment the latter part of their declaration is acceded to they come to this House and say that now they have got rid of the burden of paying rates they must have their rights in the churchyards again. That is, I think, proceeding on a wrong principle. I find fault equally with all the Bills which have been brought before the House on this question, for not one of them proposes to provide a burial-place in every part of England. They all, in fact, come to this—"Here is an apple. So long as there is any apple left we will eat it; but we make no provision for any other apple for the persons coming after us." The first principle that ought to be dealt with in this matter is that any law amending the law of burial should enact that there should be burial-places in every part of England, not necessarily, however, in every parish. No one of the half-dozen Bills before the House touched that point, and for that reason I deem them all unsatisfactory. The Bill presented by the Government proceeded in that direction, for it provided that there should be a burial-ground provided convenient for every person to be buried in. You would find that, starting from this point, you could make very much better provision for the intermediate stage during which the existing churchyards could be used without injuring the consciences of those who are at present interested in them. See for one moment what the result of any of the Bills which we have before us would be! If one of them were passed, its effect would be to allow any religious body but the Church of England to have burial-grounds where its own religious services might be exclusively used, while the Church alone would not be allowed to provide at her own expense a burial-ground exclusively for the use of her own people. That, I think, would be a grievance, and I cannot think that my hon. and learned Friend the Member for Denbighshire would press his demand to that point. Let every person, I say, be buried with the services which he or his friends like. That would not, however, be the case if the law said that the Church of England, as the Established Church of the country, were bound to provide burial-grounds, both consecrated and unconsecrated, for everybody. Surely, in altering the law we ought to consider, as far as possible, the conscientious scruples of Churchmen as well as of Dissenters; and though you may think them foolish you are not entitled to deny the fact that those conscientious scruples exist. Therefore, we ought to be as tender as possible in trying to get rid of what they consider a grievance, instead of doing it as roughly as we can. For the sake of argument, I am not denying the Nonconformist grievance; but I do not hesitate to say that the House could not inflict a greater blow at the conscientious scruples of the Laity as well as Clergy of the Church than by carrying the Bill of the hon. and learned Member for Denbighshire. Then, what are we to do with the Bill of the hon. Member for Gloucester (Mr. Monk)? It certainly does not meet my view. The really important provision to which I have just alluded as being desirable was embodied in the Government measure brought forward some time ago; and I cannot help thinking that when it is made the groundwork of legislation, as I hope it will be, there will not be so much difficulty in making provision for the intermediate stage—which will be practically the only difficulty—in the work of giving a burial-ground to every part of the country. This Bill does not do that. It is entirely permissive, and I am rather surprised that it should have been treated so seriously by hon. Members opposite. I do not myself believe that it carries the law the least bit further than it is at the present moment. I know several parishes myself, and I have a very strong impression that there are many more, which, without the assistance of this Bill, have given for Nonconformist burials considerable portions of land attached to the churchyards. If, however, the Bill did not do very much good, what harm could it do? I cannot understand the objection to that kind of permissive legislation, when not the slightest harm can be alleged against it. If asked my opinion of the Bill, there are certain things in it which I do not like. I should not like to see those little hits cut off from the churchyards; but I cannot conceive any reason why people who do like them should not be allowed to have them. I shall give my vote for the Bill, for the simple reason that it is a permissive Bill, which enables persons to do what there is not the slightest harm in doing. It will show a feeling I cannot understand, if hon. Gentlemen vote against a measure which would, at least, alleviate their grievances. I hope that when a measure is brought forward to settle the whole question it will lay down the principle that there should be burial-grounds in England where all persons should have a right to be buried with their own religious services.


said, he not only disliked little strips of unconsecrated ground attached to their old churchyards and permissive Bills, but also those little nibbling attempts to deal with a great question, which everybody knew must shortly be settled in another manner. But there was another thing he also disliked, and that was a strong Ministry which admitted that there was a grievance and yet would vote for a Bill which they acknowledged did not deal with it, and would not bring in a Bill to deal with it themselves. On both sides of the House there was too great a disposition to look on this matter in a Party light. The right hon. Gentleman who had just sat down devoted the greater part of his speech to attacking a measure which was not before the House; and then, with respect to the Bill they were discussing, said that he did not think it would do any good, but would vote for it because he thought it would not do any harm. To such legislation he (Mr. Knatchbull-Hugessen) objected. The right hon. Gentleman the Member for the City of London (Mr. Hubbard) claimed liberty for the Church of England; but the Church of England did not require liberty, for she claimed authority, and her demands for liberty were quite of another character from those of denominations which protested against and existed in spite of her authority. The true wisdom of the Church of England was not to exclude Nonconformists, but to open her arms to receive them. With Infidelity on one side, and the Church of Rome on the other, the real policy and the safety of the Church of England was to encourage, and not to check, that feeling which led Nonconformists to wish their dead to be laid in the old churchyards, and to smooth a way rather than to perpetuate the points of difference between Nonconformists and Churchmen. He strongly opposed this Bill.


said, that the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Sandwich (Mr. Knatchbull-Hugessen) objected to permissive Bills; but the Act of 1867 was permissive. The right hon. Gentleman also regretted that a strong Government like Her Majesty's Government did not bring in a comprehensive measure to deal with the question. The answer to that was that Her Majesty's Government had brought forward such a measure, and if it had failed in the House of Lords, the attempt was an honest one, and the failure was through no fault of theirs.


regretted that his hon. Friends around him had unanimously condemned the Bill. It was intended to afford relief in rural parishes; but after this debate, it must be evident that the Bill would not give that satisfaction he had expected. He was entirely in the hands of the House. He would ask leave to withdraw the Bill.


said, there was an Amendment before the House, and the Motion could not be withdrawn unless the Amendment were first withdrawn.


said, he was quite prepared to withdraw the Amendment. ["No, no!"]

Question put.

The House divided:—Ayes 129; Noes 160: Majority 31.—(Div. List, No. 29.)

Words added.

Main Question, as amended, put, and agreed to.

Second Reading put off for six months.

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