HC Deb 31 August 1880 vol 256 cc921-45

Order for Consideration, as amended, read.

Motion made, and Question proposed, "That the Bill be now taken into Consideration."—(Mr. Osborne Morgan.)


said, that the attitude of the independent Liberal Party had not in any way been affected by what had taken place on Saturday last. It might be said that the true policy for a considerable number of Liberals in that House would be to minimize that Bill, and to leave some means open which would allow the matter to be re-considered when there was more time at their disposal, and not at the very last moment of the Session, when measures must be swallowed wholesale by hon. Members on pain of being considered Obstructionists. It might be claimed, he thought, that the intention of independent Members was to make the Bill as good as possible; and as there was a considerable muster on that side of the House he did not expect the Government would vote upon the two Amendments on the Paper in the names of the two hon. Members on the Liberal side, as they had done last Saturday. He did not think the proceedings of that day were satisfactory for many reasons. The policy of the Government on that occasion was simply that of using no argument whatever, and, so to speak, putting a pistol at the heads of hon. Members, telling them to pass this Bill, or stand convicted before the country of being opposed to Liberal legislation. At least, he thought the speech of the right hon. and learned Gentleman in charge of the Bill could be regarded in no other light. He simply said—"Will you have the Bill or not, If so, you must not argue, you must not discuss, you must not object, you must take what we choose to give, and make the House of Commons into a registering machine at the caprice of the Government and the House of Lords." Under those circumstances, he thought that a certain number of Members of the Liberal Party would have been justified in opposing the further progress of the Bill; but he thought there would be manifested a truly Christian spirit on that side of the House if they allowed the Bill to pass, and simply state that it re-enacted, in an exceedingly offensive manner, certain civil and social penalties which had been heretofore borne by a large class of the community, and which would now fall upon a much smaller class which could not make itself heard; he thought those on that side of the House would be showing a just and generous spirit in rejoicing that their Nonconformist friends had fought so vigorous a battle on behalf of men whose opinions they did not share, and even regarded with dislike. He did hope that Nonconformists would remain firm, and would not allow themselves to be led away from advocating those principles which had been so ably advocated during that debate. If they did so, he should have no fears with regard to the matter. For those reasons, although the Bill rivetted the fetters more strongly on some of their fellow-citizens, he believed that those citizens would have the support of the Nonconformists in their legitimate grievances; and, that being so, he considered it his duty to vote for the third reading of that Bill.


said, that although the object that the hon. Member had in view was different from his own, and those who thought with him, still he could not help observing that the hon. Member for Newcastle (Mr. Ashton Dilke) appeared to think exactly as many hon. Members on that side did—namely, that the Bill, in common with some other legislation of the Government, had been forced upon the House, and, in fact, pitchforked upon them. They were not to discuss, nor to divide upon any matter, but to take what the Government chose to give them. He thought they had almost enough of that last Saturday. That Sitting commenced at 12 o'clock, and the consideration of that Bill continued until 10 o'clock at night. Such a Sitting ought not to have taken place on a Bill of that importance. Perhaps hon. Gentlemen opposite did not agree with him; but, in his opinion, it was not right that that Bill should be then considered, but at another Sitting. That consideration ought not to be taken when they were too weary to enter into a fair discussion of it. If they did enter into a discussion of it, then they would probably have a repetition of what had occurred on Saturday, when two of the Ministry, the right hon. and learned Gentleman the Home Secretary and the right hon. and learned Gentleman the Judge Advocate General, were unable to understand each other. He did think it was rather too much to ask that House to consider important Amendments on the Report of such a Bill at live minutes past 1 in the morning. He had no wish to place any obstruction in the way of the measure. He would not say that he wished it to pass; but he looked upon any opposition to that as hopeless, and, therefore, he was anxious to do nothing to prevent its passing. But there was something due to the dignity of that House, and to the country, whose Representatives they were, and they were bound to consider those great questions calmly and deliberately; and he must say that the House, having been occupied with the consideration of that Bill during 10 hours on Saturday, they ought not to be asked to re-consider it at that time of night. He begged, therefore, to move the adjournment of the debate.


seconded the Motion.

Motion made, and Question proposed, "That the Debate be now adjourned."—(Earl Percy.)


said, that the House must be aware that he would not impute to the noble Earl (Earl Percy) the slightest desire to obstruct the passage of the Bill. He was quite sure, however, that the House would see that that Bill, having reached the stage that it had in that House, and having been passed by the House of Lords, any Motion of delay must take the form of mere obstruction to the passing of the measure. He accepted fully the assurance of the noble Earl, that his only object was that the discussion should take place at a convenient time. In reply, he could only say this —that it was the wish of the Govern- ment to consult the convenience of the House; and he believed, so far as he was aware, that it was the desire of the majority to proceed with the Bill. He believed that it would be more to the convenience of hon. Members that the Bill should be taken then, as many hon. Gentlemen were staying in town waiting for the Bill to be disposed of. He wished it, however, to be distinctly understood that the Government had not the slightest intention of pressing upon the House the consideration of a measure of so much importance at that hour of the morning. He might observe that ample time had already been given for the discussion of the principle of the measure, so that they were quite justified in proceeding then with it, if they thought proper. Nothing could be clearer than the explanation of his right hon. and learned Friend (Mr. Osborne Morgan), that that Bill was in the nature of a compromise. The hon. Member for Newcastle (Mr. Ashton Dilke), and those who thought with him, wished that the Bill should be repudiated, and thought that they had better wait until they were able to pass a more original measure; but they must bear in mind that the Bill then before them had been accepted by the House of Lords, and the dignitaries of the Church, and, he believed, was not unacceptable to the Church of England generally. It was for the House to consider whether it were wise to risk a conflict by refusing what had been accepted as a satisfactory compromise by both Parties. He thought it was hardly fair to say that the Bill had been passed by a pistol being placed at their heads. It was a measure which, he believed, was accepted as a settlement of the question by the majority of that House; and he was, moreover, of opinion that that majority was willing to proceed with the consideration of it at that time.


said, that no one objected more to the compromise in that matter which had been alluded to by the noble Lord than he did, because it was a compromise in which it seemed to him that they were giving up everything that could be given up. He should not have much to say upon the question at that time, although he thought they had considerable grounds for complaint so far as the Government were concerned, and for this reason. That Bill, although it had come down from the other House about the month of June, they had not had an opportunity of discussing it practically until the time when the Appropriation Bill was brought in. It must appear to everybody in that House that considerable modifications had been introduced, whether rightly or wrongly he was not going to argue; and surely it could not be said that they were treating a matter, which the noble Lord himself candidly confessed to be one of great importance, in an altogether proper way. Amendments which had been put down had to be considered, and the Bill had to be sent up to the other House for reconsideration within three days of what was then openly proclaimed to be the end of the Session of Parliament. He could perfectly well understand the opinions of the Government in regard to that matter. They had, in fact, been told by the Prime Minister that that Bill had been passed by the House of Lords, and was intended to have been considered a long time ago. No doubt, the reason why it was not considered was that there were other measures which the Government thought of considerable importance, which opinion was, he believed, not shared by the House and the country, and they wished to force those measures upon the House before that Bill was taken; and so far had they carried that policy that it had been almost impossible to discuss even the question of Supply, which was the legitimate function of that House, because they were so anxious to press forward certain measures. He remembered some time ago, when the then Government asked for more of the time of the House for the consideration of their measures, that a great deal was said by the present Prime Minister about almost a conspiracy which the Government had entered into by which they had shut out the right of independent Members to take part in general discussion. They had then simply put down Supply for Mondays; and the present Government had extended the principle which the Prime Minister, when in Opposition, had so entirely condemned and abused. Having said that much, he would mention that it was not his intention to oppose a Bill at that stage, which the Government seemed determined to pass before the end of the Ses- sion. What the noble Lord the Leader of the House had said was true, that it was not the intention of the noble Lord the Member for North Northumberland (Earl Percy) to oppose that Bill simply for the sake of Obstruction; but he could, not agree with the noble Marquess that a great number of hon. Members had gone to considerable inconvenience for the purpose of discussing that Bill. However, he deeply regretted that that debate should be adjourned, although he did not in the least agree with the Bill, or with the way in which the Government had conducted it; but, as it had advanced to that stage, he thought it better that the discussion on it should be completed. He trusted, therefore, that the noble Lord would not press his Amendment; but that they might be allowed to go on.


said, that the noble Lord opposite had made an appeal to him to withdraw his Motion, on the ground that many hon. Members were remaining for the express purpose of being present at that stage of the discussion on the Bill who were anxious to get out of town. That appeared to him to be precisely a reason why he should urge upon the House the desirability of not proceeding with it when the majority of hon. Members had already left and many more were anxious to get away. At the same time, it was, no doubt, a disagreeable thing for an hon. Member of the House to stand against the general feeling; and although he would have felt it his duty to do so upon a matter of principle, this was not one of that character, and, therefore, he begged to ask leave to withdraw his Motion.


said, that as he was unable, in consequence of illness last week, to be present when the Bill was in Committee, he wished to say at this stage what he would have said then, when the Amendment of his hon. Friend the Member for Bradford (Mr. Illingworth) was before them. Civil and religious liberty he had always considered as the special watchword of the Liberal Party. For years they had contended for that principle, until, one by one, the disabilities of former times had been removed; and now, when it was supposed that religious equality was an established maxim of our legislation, it was not a little astonishing to find that maxim limited and qualified by a Bill brought in by a Liberal Government. The right of burial in the parish churchyard was a civil right established by the Common Law of England. The Bill proposed to remove the canonical conditions by which it had hitherto been fettered and restricted, and so to make it operative in its fullest and widest sense; but it did so only in favour of those of Her Majesty's subjects who professed the Christian religion. To non-Christians it said—"Bury your dead in the churchyard if you please; but you shall do so without the consolation of any religious Service, without any outward mark of respect for the departed, without the solace, which all men, Christians and non-Christians alike, for the most part, seek and require in time of sorrow." To Nonconformists it allowed the attendance of their own ministers, and the use by them of such religious Services as were most in harmony with their feelings and religious sentiments. To others, it denied such comfort altogether. Why, he asked, was the Bill so limited? Was it just or wise, or was it consistent with the principles of the Liberal Party and of a Liberal Government? He (Mr. Serjeant Simon) did not profess or assume to speak the sentiments of the religious body to which he belonged. He had, and he claimed, no authority to do so. He spoke for himself only. The Jews had their own cemeteries, and, so far as he knew, they had no desire to bury their dead in the parish churchyard. Yet it was possible, indeed it was by no means improbable, that a Jew residing in some remote part of the Kingdom, where there was no burial-place except the churchyard, might die there. Was he to be laid in the ground, and, to use a common phrase, "buried like a dog?" That was what the Bill proposed with regard to the Jews and other non-Christians. The Burial Service of the Jews was of the simplest character. It was purely Scriptural. Not one word did it contain which could offend the most sensitive Christian, or in which he could not heartily join. Indeed, one portion of it formed part of the Burial Service of the Church of England. Upon what ground, then, should the Jews be excluded from the benefit of the Bill? There were also other non-Christians who, as well as Jews, were treated in the same way. Such persons, although not of the Christian faith, had their forms of burial, and their means of comfort in affliction; and they desired to pay, and did, no doubt, pay due reverence to their dead. They knew what grief was, and they felt it the same as other men. Why should they be visited with insult and indignity in the hour of trial? To admit a right, and then surround it with every circumstance of humiliation, so as to make the exercise of it offensive and intolerable, was a mockery and an insult, and not to be justified by any consideration whatever. The Bill before the House he regarded as a piece of retrograde legislation. While it relieved some from disability, as regarded the Jews and other non-Christians, it re-enacted and positively riveted disability on account of religion. It ignored, and even reversed, the principles which the Liberal Party had been accustomed to uphold, and for which they had contended with success. As it gave relief to his Nonconformist fellow-subjects, he would not imperil the Bill. On the contrary, he would, for their sakes, support it, as he had always done every measure intending to benefit them, or in which they were interested. But, speaking for himself, as an Englishman and a Liberal, he was bound to say that the Bill was to him a great disappointment, and he had felt it his duty not to allow it to leave the House without his protest.

Motion, by leave, withdrawn.

Main Question put, and agreed to.

Bill, as amended, considered.


begged to move the following Clause which stood in his name:—

(Act to apply only to parish, &c. where no un-consecrated burial ground for parishioners.)

"The foregoing sections of this Act shall only apply to the churchyard or graveyard in any parish or ecclesiastical district where there is is no unconsecrated burial ground or cemetery in which the parishioners or inhabitants have rights of burial, and shall cease and determine in respect of any such parish or ecclesiastical district so soon as such unconsecrated burial ground or cemetery has been provided by private gift within one mile of the aforesaid churchyard or graveyard, and that an endowment shall have been provided by private gift for the maintenance of such unconsecrated burial ground or cemetery such as, together with the fees authorised to be charged, shall by the President of the Local Government Board be certified as sufficient: Provided always, That no such cer- tificate may be given in reference to any endowment which may be offered after the thirtieth day of June one thousand eight hundred and eighty-one."

The objections which the right hon. Gentleman the Judge Advocate General had raised at the Committee stage to the similar clause of Lord Edgcumbe's had, he believed, been removed. There was a modification of the clause in regard to defining the distance of the new ground from the old churchyard, which was to be within a mile. It would also be observed that he proposed that the ground must be given privately, and not bought out of any rate; and it must be accompanied by some such endowment as the President of the Local Government Board might consider sufficient to keep the ground in order. He had tried to meet his right hon. Friend's objections, and he believed that many people in the country would be gratified if the clause were accepted. At the same time, if the right hon. Gentleman was not disposed to accept it, he did not propose to divide the House upon it.

Clause (Act to apply only to parish, &c, where no unconsecrated burial ground for parishioners),—(Mr. Beresford Hope,)—brought up, and read the first time: —

Motion made, and Question proposed, "That the said Clause be read a second time."


said, he observed that the President of the Local Government Board was to certify whether a cemetery was a proper one or not. He was afraid that that right hon. Gentleman would scarcely survive such a process, which would end in his being torn in pieces by contending factions. He could not accept the clause.

Question put, and negatived.



moved that in the Preamble the words "Channel Islands" be added. He proposed to extend the Bill to those Islands.

Amendment proposed, in page 1, line 2, after "England" to insert "and the Channel Islands."—(Mr. Osborne Morgan.)


asked whether that was not rather an unusual course, as those Islands were almost entirely independent of such Acts. Per- haps the right hon. and learned Gentleman the Home Secretary could explain the matter to them.


said, his right hon. Friend seemed anxious about that matter. He was unable to say distinctly what the effect of making the Bill applicable to the Channel Islands would be, but he would take the responsibility of that.


said, that under those circumstances he should have nothing more to say upon the question.

Amendment agreed to.

Clause 1 (After passing of Act, notice may be given that burial will take place in churchyard or graveyard without the rights of Church of England).

On the Motion of Mr. OSBORNE MORGAN, Amendment made in page 1, lines 14 and 15, by leaving out the words "in which the parishioners or inhabitants have rights of burial."

Clause, as amended, agreed to.

Clause 3 (Time of burial to be stated, subject to variation).


begged to move, in page 2, line 37, to leave out "or" to "following" in line 39. He would not detain the House, but simply say that a large minority voted for that Amendment in Committee. On that account he submitted the Amendment again, and would state the grievance that it proposed to remedy. That was that on 54 days of the year, except by consent of the Rector, Vicar, or Incumbent, no poor person could be buried. Therefore, it might happen that those attending the funerals of these poor people might have to forfeit a day's wage, at any rate, when they were of the wage-earning class. There was nothing to excite religious prejudice, or ought to induce hon. Gentlemen opposite to vote against it. The question was, would they refuse a privilege to the poor by the way that clause was worded? There were only two arguments urged against the Amendment. One was that of the right hon. Gentleman the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster. Everyone listened with respect and pleasure to what fell from the right hon. Gentleman; but he must say that what he had said seemed rather to be in favour of the Amendment than for its rejection. The first argument was that the carrying the Amendment might irritate the clergyman of the parish; but it should be remembered that in Ireland, where religious feeling ran high, the Roman Catholic population had been buried in the Protestant yards on those days without any difficulty or irritation having arisen. Another argument that had been used was with reference to the Nonconformist clergy. It had been stated that they were not in favour of Sunday funerals, because it would increase their labour. He would say, in regard to that, that it would be purely voluntary on their part, and that if they did not wish to take part or officiate in such services they need not do so. It had been also urged by the right hon. Gentleman that drunkenness would probably prevail at Sunday funerals. He was sorry to disagree with that; but he did not think that drunkenness was more likely to occur in connection with Sunday funerals than with those held on any other day. The right hon. Gentleman the Judge Advocate General had said that Sunday funerals were not often held, so far as his experience went. He (Mr. Bradlaugh) would say, from his knowledge of the working classes, that in a great many cases they were obliged to have recourse to funerals on that day. When a poor man died, it was not at all unusual for the poor people of the district to wish to attend the funeral, and they were unable to do so without loss unless it was held on Sunday. He felt sure that no impropriety would be likely to occur from Sunday funerals; and he, therefore, hoped that the House would assent to the Amendment which he then begged to move.

Amendment proposed, in page 2, line 34, to leave out from the first word "or," to the word "following," in line 35.— (Mr. Bradlaugh.)

Question proposed, "That the words proposed to be left out stand part of the Bill."


said, the question with regard to Sunday funerals had been fully discussed last Saturday. He had Spent a great part of his life in a rural parish, and had never seen a Sunday funeral conducted there. Moreover, during the 10 years he had devoted to this question, he had received thousands of letters from persons in all parts of the country, many of them expressing opinions against Sunday funerals being permitted, while he had not had one single letter in favour of allowing them to take place. The hon. Member for Northampton (Mr. Bradlaugh) said the Nonconformists were placed in a worse position than the members of other Bodies; but he reminded the hon. Member that under the law, as it stood at present, a clergyman of the Church of England could refuse to bury on Sunday; and, therefore, as a matter of fact, the Bill gave to the Nonconformists an advantage which the Churchman did not possess. Sunday, in many country parishes, was occupied by the religious services of the Church; but, if the Amendment were carried, it would be treated like any other day of the week. The Amendment could not be accepted; but he should propose, if it were not carried, to exclude cemeteries altogether from the operation of the Sunday clause.


said, he should support the Amendment of the hon. Member for Northampton, on the ground that it only claimed to place the working man who was a Nonconformist in the same position as the working man who was a member of the Church of England. He could not agree with the argument of the right hon. Gentleman the Judge Advocate General who sought to establish an inconsistency, inasmuch as he proposed to allow Sunday funerals in cemeteries, while he denied them to the people who had only the churchyard for the purpose of burial. He felt that the House could not agree to such an inconsistency. With regard to the statement that Sunday funerals would promote drunkenness, he apprehended that when in the interest of sobriety public-houses were closed altogether on Sundays, it would be better that they should take place on Sunday than on any other day in the week. But this was a question particularly affecting the working people who were remarkable for their sympathy with their neighbours and fellow-workmen, and when one of their number died, there was on the part of his fellows a widespread desire to follow his remains to the grave. Now, it was well-known that Sunday was the only day on which they could do this, without sacrificing a day's wages, and, under those circumstances, he thought they would only be doing a humane and kindly act by giving facilities for the burial of the poor which would allow their neighbours and relations to pay the last mark of respect to their departed friends without, at the same time, wronging their families by sacrificing their day's wages. There was one point mentioned by the right hon. and learned Gentleman the Judge Advocate General—namely, that out of the large number of communications received by him regarding this Bill not one had been in favour of Sunday burials. But the obvious answer to that was that the class most interested and affected by the disability in question was not that which would be likely to spend their time in the writing of letters to the Lord Chancellor, or the Judge Advocate General; and, therefore, the fact mentioned by the right hon. Gentleman was no proof that Sunday burial was not desired by that class. It could not then be used as an argument against the Amendment of the hon. Member for Northampton. He trusted the Amendment would be agreed to, because it would make the Bill an act of justice to the people in the matter of funerals.


said, a churchman had not the right to burial on Sunday, and, therefore, the Nonconformists could not complain if, at all events, they were put upon the came footing. He felt sure that, among the letters received by the right hon. Gentleman, there were many from persons belonging to the classes indicated by the hon. Member who had just spoken, and if the matter had really been felt of importance to them, they would certainly have mentioned it among their grievances.


said, in opposing this Amendment, the right hon. Gentleman the Judge Advocate General, had brought out a whole armoury of rusty weapons. They had just heard, for the first time, that a clergyman might exercise the right of refusing funerals on Sunday. But that was only a virtual power in the hands of the clergy, and was never exercised. Therefore, for the purposes of the present measure, it had no practical value. He was sure that every Member of that House would be supremely anxious that no real offence should be given to the clergy, and held that the Amendment of the hon. and gallant Member for East Aberdeenshire (Sir Alexander Gordon), that no burials should take place on Sunday during the usual time of Divine Service, and the half hours immediately before and after such service, fully met the case. That would apply equally to the funerals of Dissenters and Churchmen, and he thought the Government would act wisely in assenting to it. The hon. Member for Newcastle (Mr. Ashton Dilke) had intimated that he did not propose to raise the question debated under the 6th clause of the Bill. And he thought in so restricting himself he had acted wisely, because the division taken on the question showed that there was something like a balance of opinion among the Liberal Party, and it would not, therefore, be right to press the Government to make the change proposed. But the question now before the House stood on a very different footing, and he pressed its consideration on the right hon. Gentleman the Chancellor for the Duchy of Lancaster, the convictions and instincts of whose mind were clearly in favour of the Amendment now being pressed on the Government by hon. Members on that side of the House. He thought he could almost promise that if that feeling were manifested there would be an almost unanimous desire for compromise, and he hoped that the Government would act in the same spirit with regard to this question as had characterized their other acts during the Session.


said, his experience of Wales, with reference to the absence of Sunday burials, was the same as that of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Denbighshire (Mr. Osborne Morgan). The hon. Member for Pembrokeshire (Mr. W. Davies), had, however, testified that the custom of Sunday burial existed in his county. But the House must remember that they were not now legislating for Wales only but for the whole of the Kingdom. It had, moreover, been shown that Sunday burials were very frequent in the North of England, and it would, therefore, be a great grievance to deprive the people of burying their dead on Sunday, especially, as the hon. Member for Northampton (Mr. Bradlaugh) had pointed out, it would cost them a day's wages. He felt strongly that great allowance should be made for the feelings of the clergy in regard to this subject, and would be sorry that anything should be done calculated needlessly, to wound their susceptibilities. Therefore, he cor- dially agreed with the Amendment of the hon. and gallant Member for East Aberdeenshire (Sir Alexander Gordon), and regretted to be compelled to differ on this point with the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Denbighshire. He took that opportunity of expressing his deep sense of the valuable services rendered by his right hon. Friend in advancing this measure, and it was to his courage and perseverance during the last 10 years, that they owed the victory they were about to win. He had a strong conviction that the passing of this Bill would be far more to the advantage than the detriment of the Church of England, as freeing it from the continual scandals arising under the recent law in all parts of the country, which had awakened even bitter hostility against her. He trusted this would be the closing of all controversy on the subject, and concluded by saying that if his right hon. Friend had been foremost in promoting this settlement the right hon. Gentleman the Member for the University of Cambridge (Mr. Beresford Hope), had been the most effectual instrument in preventing it up to the present time. Ten years hence he should like to have the opportunity of ashing him whether the alarm he had felt with regard to the passing of this measure had been realized.


said, that if the Amendment then before the House was negatived, his hon. and gallant Friend behind him had an alternative Amendment, which he believed he would move.


said, he was sorry to trouble the House, but the hon. Member for Merthyr Tydvil(Mr. Richard) had made a statement to which he must refer. The hon. Member had said that a Dissenter, except on Sunday, Good Friday, or Christmas Day, should give notice of the time the funeral was to take place. But in the 36th line it said—"And it shall take place at the hour so appointed." The effect would be that upon ordinary days they would be able to dictate to the clergyman as to the hour at which the service should take place. ["No, no!"] He believed he was strictly stating the facts of the case. It had been said, also, that Dissenters were not on a footing of equality with regard to the Sunday funerals. The only foundation for such a statement was that it was supposed that the clergyman had no option under ordinary circumstances of refusing to bury on any day that the relatives might appoint. But, in truth, he had already this right with regard to Members of the Church of England, and therefore, hon. Members would see that that inequality between Churchmen and Dissenters was really founded on an absolute misconception of the state of the case. The hon. Member seemed to desire that the Dissenters should have greater powers with regard to burials in churchyards than were granted under that Bill. If so, Dissenters would positively be in a position of superiority to Church people. He fully recognized what had been expressed by the hon. Member—that the Bill was distasteful to the clergy. Representing, as he did, many of the clergy, he would say that there could be no doubt that it was distasteful to them. But it seemed to him that what was suggested would make what was already distasteful almost intolerable to them.


said, that the noble Lord the Leader of the House had complained because his hon. Friend the Member for Newcastle (Mr. Ashton Dilke) had said that that Bill had been passed by a pistol being put at their heads. That certainly was the case. Hon. Gentlemen opposite represented the pistols, and as many Gentlemen as there were on that side so many pistols were there. The numbers taken at the Division in Committee were 103 to 100. He had looked at the Division List, and had found, that of those who had voted for the Amendment, 99 were Liberals, and one a Conservative. Of those who voted against the Amendment, there were 61 Conservative pistols, and 42 Liberals. Of those Liberals, 20 were Members of the Liberal Party, and, consequently, there were only 22 independent Liberals against, together with 61 Conservatives. Therefore, he thought it must be admitted that that clause was entirely passed in its present form by the aid of the Conservatives. There were only two practical objections that had been raised against the present Amendment— one by the Judge Advocate General, and the other by the late Home Secretary (Sir E. Assheton Cross). The Judge Advocate General had said that at present there was no inequality between Dissenters and Churchmen, because the clergy had a right to refuse to allow a Churchman to be buried on a Sunday. The right hon. Gentleman had referred to the remarks of the Lord Chancellor with regard to that inequality. He thought they had had a good deal too much of the Lord Chancellor in that Bill. The Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster had put the matter fairly when he said that they were obtaining a good deal from the clergy, and that they ought to yield on that one point of inequality on Sunday. The right hon. Gentleman the late Home Secretary had also stated the case reasonably when he said that the object of the clause in its present shape was to maintain decency and order. But he would ask whether it was a fact that, if the funerals of Dissenters were allowed in churchyards on a Sunday, decency and order would be violated? If so, that was an insult to the whole body. He entirely agreed with the hon. Gentleman, who had stated that, if the clause of the hon. and gallant Member for East Aberdeenshire (Sir Alexander Gordon) were proposed, they ought to accept it. He really did think that that inequality and injustice might fairly be removed, and that, so far, at any rate, they might be allowed to escape from the thraldom of the Lord Chancellor.


said, that the Judge Advocate General had stated that he had received a number of communications against that Amendment, and the hon. Gentleman opposite, who represented the Nonconformists, had said that the Amendment had been brought forward in the interests of the working classes. He did not dispute their right to speak in the interests of those classes, but he must say that from what he had seen of the working classes, they appeared to be as thoroughly divided in their opinions as men of other classes. He wished to say a word in favour of a class who worked hard on Sundays— namely, the clergy of the country, of whom there were more than 20,000 in England and Wales, and the Judge Advocate General knew that more than 16,000 of them had signed a Petition against this Bill. If this Amendment were carried, the clergy would feel a far greater sense of injustice. He thought, as regarded the Amendment, that Sunday funerals should be discouraged, whether of Churchmen or Dissenters, because it was certain that if those funerals increased, there would be a much greater infringement of the day of rest. A great deal of Sunday labour must necessarily follow if those funerals increased, and he, therefore, objected strongly to the Amendment of the hon. Member for Northampton.


said, they were going away from the question under discussion. That question was not whether Sunday funerals should be abolished, but whether or not a large number of the working classes held their funerals on that day. In his opinion, there was no doubt whatever about that. He happened to have with him an interesting report about Sunday funerals, from the Burial Board of Liverpool. What was the proportion of Sunday funerals, taking a daily average from a return of 42 undertakers? Six declined Sunday funerals, seven merely superintended them in special cases, and the remaining 35 had twice as many interments on that day as upon the other six days. Several larger establishments had three or four times as many. He only wished to establish the fact that it was the custom of the working classes to have funerals on that day. He had made personal inquiries of four leading undertakers of Liverpool. The first told him that he had two to one on a Sunday, the second three to one, a third had more on Sunday than any other day, and a fourth said that the number of funerals on that day largely predominated. Therefore, he hold that objections to those funerals were beside the question. The real question involved was this—whether an individual clergyman was to be allowed to prohibit Sunday funerals in the case of Nonconformists if they wished to hold them on that day. A Churchman would probably be allowed to hold that service, while a Nonconformist was to wait until Monday. That was one law for the Churchman and another for the Dissenter. He would simply add that a similar Amendment stood in his name on Saturday when in Committee, and he was exceedingly sorry he was not present; believing Saturday to be a blank day, he had gone away. He felt strongly that the Amendment was of importance to the working classses, and when he found the Committee was to be taken on that day, he had asked the hon. Member for Morpeth (Mr. Burt) to move the Amend- ment for him. Unfortunately, he also was unable to be present; but he was of opinion that the Amendment was one of great importance to the working classes, and ought to be carried. He should certainly support the Amendment-then before the House.


said, he was surprised that the Amendment had not been accepted. If it was a question that would at all imperil the Bill, he could understand the refusal of the Government to accede to it; but the right hon. Gentleman in charge of the Bill had given them no such intimation. On Saturday, in Committee, that question was made an open one, and in a most authoritative speech the right hon. Gentleman had distinctly stated that it was well nigh a matter of indifference which way he voted. He was bound to say that it appeared to him that they had not heard the whole of the argument, and that the course the Government were taking was due to some mystery which they did not understand. He did not think that the real reason for refusal was before the House.


said, that in the neighbourhood of large towns Sunday funerals often gave occasion to scenes of drinking of a disgraceful character. The clause should be so drawn as to minimize such scandals, and in such a course they ought to be able to reckon on the assistance of the Nonconformists.


said, he did not rise to continue the argument, but to make an explanation with regard to the matter which hon. Gentlemen opposite especially did not appear to understand. There was an Amendment which his right hon. Friend the Judge Advocate General was prepared to accept. It was that of the hon. and gallant Member for East Aberdeenshire (Sir Alexander Gordon), and although it did not go the length of the Amendment before the House, still it did affect the question, he believed, considerably. It was this— That if a clergyman shall refuse, or intimate his intention not to consent to a funeral taking place, he shall be obliged to give his reasons in writing, &c. He referred, of course, to Sunday funerals. He thought that every hon. Member must see that if a clergyman took upon himself to refuse to allow a funeral to take place and had to give his reasons in writing, that refusal would have to be of a very real character. Therefore, he would put it to the House whether that might not be an unsatisfactory course to take with regard to the matter? If it did not meet the views of hon. Members, he could not help it; but he thought it would be found desirable to accept that alternative Amendment, in lieu of the present one. He merely wished to make that explanation before they went to a Division.


said, that, as his Amendment had been referred to, he should wish to say a few words. The House would recollect that on Saturday a division was taken upon an Amendment of his.


rose to Order. The hon. and gallant Member was discussing an Amendment not before the House.


The remarks of the hon. and gallant Member seem to bear upon the Amendment.


said, he had wished to make an explanation with regard to his Amendment. After the Division the other night, the Judge Advocate General had agreed with him with regard to another Amendment which he had drawn up, and which they believed would be acceptable both to him and his Friends, and also to the Government.


The hon. and gallant Member is not now speaking on the Amendment.

Question put.

The House divided:—Ayes 88; Noes 60: Majority 28.—(Div. List No. 159).


proposed, in page 3, line 4, to add— If any such day proposed by notice shall be objected to, notice in writing shall be given within a reasonable time by the person receiving such notice.


said, he should advise the House to accept the proposal of the right hon. Gentleman. He did not pretend to like the Bill either in its entirety or its details; but there were degrees in all things, and he was bound to say that those who wished the preservation of anything like order in our churchyards and churches must be thankful to the right hon. Gentleman for the way in which he had opposed the most mischievous Amendment which had just been before the House.


said, he presumed that the decision arrived at by the House must be regarded as final, and he complimented the Government in having found, on the other side of the House, a number of supporters just sufficient to defeat the proposal of the hon. Gentleman the Member for Northampton (Mr. Bradlaugh) but that support was not such as they could place much confidence in. It had been remarked from the other side of the House that 16,000 clergymen had, in an emphatic manner, condemned this Bill, and prayed that it might not pass into law. He had no doubt that the opposition to the measure was deep-rooted and genuine. But he would do the clergy the justice to say that if power were put into their hands they would honestly administer it; but he ventured to think there would be numberless instances of capricious refusal on the part of the clergy. The right hon. Gentleman had said the refusal must be in writing; but he had not stated the wording, or what action would have to be taken upon it. The Government were giving the Nonconformists a Bill on the same lines as the Act which was repealed, as unworkable and unsatisfactory in 1868; and he did not think that this fact, when known, would redound to the credit of those who had unnecessarily forced it upon the House. He presumed any further appeal to the Government would be useless, and, therefore, could not but think the present settlement of the matter was scarcely final, and certainly not as satisfactory as it might have been. He trusted the present Amendment would not be hastily accepted, inasmuch as it was likely to lead to a good deal of trouble and bitterness in time to come. If the House would consider for a moment the position of the question, it would be seen that the result of that evening's discussion would be that, in future, all classes of Nonconformists and Churchmen would stand with regard to Sunday burials in the same position as Churchmen stood before in respect of the law and practice. The refusal on the part of the clergy to bury on Sunday could not but lead to angry controversy, notwithstanding the previous notice of burial and the reasonable grounds on which refusal would have to be based.


said, he voted this evening with the Government be- cause he had seen an indication on their part to go as far as they reasonably could. It seemed to him that the Amendment was of real value to the Nonconformists, because, although the Bill as it stood enabled the clergyman to dismiss in the briefest manner an application for Sunday burial, the Amendment would require him to give a substantial reason for his refusal. It was in view of that he had changed his vote of Saturday, and would now support the proposal of the Government.


said, he thought the House would do well to accept the Amendment of the right hon. Gentleman.


said, he should give his support to the Amendment before the House, because he believed it would meet the purpose he had in view nearly as well as the Amendment standing in his name.

Amendment agreed to.

Clause, as amended, agreed to.

Clause 5 (Regulations and fees).


said, he believed the exactions of the fees referred to in his clause were the cause of much dissatisfaction amongst Nonconformists, who objected that the salary of persons connected with the Church of England should be increased at their expense. He believed the effect of the clause would be that about £10,000 a-year would be added to those salaries at the expense of the Nonconformists. He had no desire to see the salaries of the clergymen of the Church of England reduced; but he could not see why they should be increased in this manner, and he was surprised that in this respect the Government had imposed more than had been sought to be imposed by the late Government when the Bill of 1877 was brought before the House of Lords and passed. He begged to move the Amendment standing in his name.

Amendment proposed, In page 3, line 16, at end of Clause 5, to insert the words "Provided, That such fee or fees shall not exceed the sum of five shillings."—(Sir Alexander Gordon.)

Question proposed, "That those words be there inserted."


said, he was unable to accept the Amendment of his hon. and gallant Friend. The question of fees was a portion of a much larger question than that dealt with by the Bill.

Amendment negatived.

Clause agreed to.

Clause 6 (Burial may be with or without religious services).

Amendment proposed, In page 3, line 26, to leave out the word "Christian," in order to insert the words "Christian and religious services,"— {Mr. Warton,) —instead thereof.

Question proposed, "That the words proposed to be left out stand part of the Bill."

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.


moved, in page 3, line 26, after the word "Christian" to insert the word "service."


wished to point out that, by that Amendment, they were about to make a definition of a religious service. A Christian service was not an ordinary religious service.


said, that he certainly thought such a service was an ordinary religious service.

Amendment agreed to.

Clause, as amended, agreed to.

Clause 13 (Liberty to use burial service of Church of England on unconse-crated ground).


rose to propose an Amendment that he was unable to move on Saturday. The effect of it would be merely to enable a clergyman to officiate in any chapel or other building standing in the cemetery or churchyard.

Amendment proposed, in page 5, line 21, after "cemetery," insert "or in any chapel thereon."—(Mr. Woodall.)


said, he should not object to the Amendment; but he thought it unnecessary, for, as a matter of course, if the ground was thrown open, the clergyman could officiate in the chapel on the ground.

Amendment agreed to.

Clause, as amended, agreed to.

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


said, he could not agree to that proposal; but, at the same time, he should not then oppose it. He would not detain the House, but he wished to say that he protested against the measure; it was based upon a wrong principle, and was not what was required to be done in the matter. They had not by that Bill created any liability by Statute upon any Bodies or Corporations of any sort or description to provide burial-grounds where they were wanted. The real grievance which lay at the root of the evil had not been remedied; but he did not intend to oppose the final stage of the measure.


said, he simply wanted to protest against the Bill, and also against the manner in which it had been forced upon the Liberal Party in that House. It was brought in for the purpose of conferring civil rights on the community; but its effect would be to deprive a large section of their rights. The Nonconformists were, by that Bill, placed in the charmed circle of privilege; from being oppressed they had been placed among the oppressors. He protested also against the manner in which the right hon. Gentleman the Judge Advocate General had conducted that Bill. Although he had promised repeatedly to answer the arguments brought against several parts of the Bill, he was unable to find that he had given them any answer whatsoever. On Saturday the only argument used appeared to be that they were within three days of the 1st of September. That Bill ought not to have been forced on them in the way it had been. The Government had used the Opposition to defeat their Friends. He pointed out that they were beginning a very dangerous policy. That policy was always a dangerous one. If he were required to show that, he should refer them to the last time the Liberals were in power in 1870. They then had a great majority, though not so great as the present. That majority was first made uncertain, and then destroyed by similar action on the part of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Bradford (Mr. W. E. Forster) when, on the Education Question he called in the aid of the Opposition to beat his own fol- lowers. The hon. Member for Newcastle (Mr. Ashton Dilke) had aptly described the manner of the passing of that Bill by saying that a pistol had been placed at their heads. Although a most loyal supporter of the Government, he begged emphatically to protest against that Bill, as it stood, being passed into law.


said, that at the last stage of that measure, with resistance to which he had been identified in Parliament for many years, and had followed about the right hon. Gentleman the Judge Advocate General like his shadow, he must be allowed to offer a few words. They should be short and decided. He simply desired to attest that he had never feared to bring before the House the injustice of the change, and had exposed what would occur if that Bill was passed. Now, he would say in all sincerity, after listening to long arguments that had been employed on both sides, that he was conscious of having done his duty in the matter, and that he sat down unconvinced and impenitent.

Motion agreed to.

Bill read the third time, and passed.

Forward to