§ Order for Second Reading read.
§ MR. RICHARD
said, he rose to move the second reading of the Bill to amend the law relating to cemeteries. In doing so, he need not trespass long on the time and patience of the House, as he believed he could compress into a few observations all that was necessary to explain its principal provisions. The Bill dealt mainly with two points. One related to certain obligations which now devolved on Burial Boards or other burial authorities which were felt to be both unnecessary and oppressive. As the House was aware, under the existing Burials Act, Burial Boards were obliged to divide the cemeteries into consecrated and unconsecrated parts; to erect two chapels, one of which was to be consecrated; to apply to the Bishop to consecrate a part of the ground; to pay the costs; and, in the event of the Bishops refusing to consecrate, to apply to the Archbishop for a licence. All these arrangements rested on the unhappy notion, once general, but now fortunately disappearing, that the religious distinctions which separated men in life must be perpetuated after death. 1085 The Act of 1880 did a good deal to break down this prejudice by legalizing the burial of Nonconformists in consecrated ground in churchyards and cemeteries, and by permitting the Church of England Service to be celebrated in un-consecrated ground. But, even before the passing of that Act, there were many members of the Church of England who regretted the existence of this distinction, and admitted that it should be done away with. Amongst others, the right hon. Gentleman the Member for South-West Lancashire (Sir R. Assheton Cross)—who had dealt with the matter frankly and in a very Christian spirit in that House—had again and again expressed himself as opposed to the middle wall of partition in cemeteries. The late Archbishop of Canterbury also shared this feeling, for in a debate on the Burials Bill, in the other House, he used these words—A cemetery with two chapels in it is a proclamation to the whole world of the differences between the Church and Dissenters, and I shall not regret if the instances of that proclamation are not multiplied.The Bishops of Ely, Manchester, and Exeter had all expressed themselves very strongly in the same sense. But since the passing of the Act of 1880 these distinctions were not only offensive, but had become anomalous and absurd, for that Act had practically put an end to the difference between consecrated and unconsecrated grounds. So much was this felt that several of the Bishops—the Bishops of Peterborough, Ely, and Lincoln—had positively refused to consecrate any more cemeteries in their dioceses, on the ground, he (Mr. Richard) presumed, that it was useless and unmeaning. Well, the Bill proposed to abolish that obligation. The question was becoming one of pressing urgency. Cemeteries were being multiplied, and would be more and more so, as churchyards were closed; and, in many places, the question of consecration was giving rise to violent controversies, to the great detriment of good neighbourhood and Christian charity. But though the Bill relieved Burial Boards from the obligation to consecrate, it did not prevent consecration. On the contrary, there was a clause which expressly provided that no Board should have power to prevent the consecration of a part or the whole of a cemetery. 1086 They only asked that it should be simply an ecclesiastical proceeding carrying no legal consequences. The other main point in the Bill was to put an end to the existing arrangement, in consecrated ground in cemeteries, which placed the parochial clergy and other officials in the same position in regard to services and fees as they occupied in churchyards. The way in which the present singular custom arose was thus described by one of our journals—It is now half-a-century since the formation of Kensal Green Cemetery by Act of Parliament, followed in five years by the Act authorizing the Brompton Cemetery. The Cemetery Companies provided the ground, the labour, and the service when required. They were, therefore, wholly independent of the parochial clergy. The latter, however, successfully maintained a claim to burial fees, although it had never before occurred to any clergyman to claim a fee for a body carried out of his parish into another for burial.It must be remembered that the churchyards were closed because their capacity to hold more dead bodies was exhausted, and it was imperatively necessary for the public health that no more burials should take place, so that that source of income for the clergy had come to a natural termination. But, by the present Cemetery Acts, the clergy were asserting a sort of vested interest in their dead parishioners for all time. It was impossible that this extraordinary regulation could continue. It was giving rise, in many places, to great dissatisfaction and a sense of wrong. His Bill proposed that that power of exacting fees should cease with the death of existing incumbents. He believed that these proposals, so far from being injurious to the clergy of the Established Church, would only remove unjust and invidious privileges, which now served to excite prejudice and resentment against them and their Church. He begged to move the second reading of the Bill.
§ Motion made, and Question proposed, "That the Bill be now read a second time."—(Mr. Richard.)
§ SIR WILLIAM HARCOURT
said, that, without pledging himself to the details of the Bill, he thought his hon. Friend (Mr. Richard) had made out a clear case for an alteration in the law with respect to burials. The duty, more or less, devolved on the Home Office to 1087 determine, when a new cemetery was opened, how much ground should be consecrated and how much should be unconsecrated. The cemetery was provided at the expense of the ratepayers for the very desirable object, becoming more and more necessary every day —that was, the discontinuance of burials in crowded churchyards. Then the Home Office was called upon to determine what was the relative proportion of Dissent and Church man ship which should govern the appropriation of the land. But the question was, was it necessary to decide that? In any case he ventured to say that was a duty which should not be cast on the Executive Government to perform. His hon. Friend had referred to a sentiment, in which lie thought everybody would agree, that they did not desire the wall of partition between the consecrated and the unconsecrated ground to be made more conspicuous than was necessary. What was the advantage of having that distinction at all? There was one proposition of his hon. Friend with which he agreed, that persons who desired the remains of their friends to rest in consecrated ground should have the means of having that wish fulfilled; and he had pointed out that in this Bill provision was made that the ground should be consecrated. But why should not the whole of the ground be consecrated, so that those who attached importance to consecration should have the whole ground for burials, while others, who did not, would derive no injury from the mere fact of the consecration of the ground? That principle seemed to him to be sound, and one that might well be adopted. As regarded the chapel, it certainly seemed that in some parts of the country the Dissenters were the most numerous; and it would be a very great hardship if the parish should have to build two chapels, as if to emphasize the distinction between the Church and Dissent, when one common chapel might be employed for the services of the dead of all religious denominations. He did not understand the sentiment of those who objected to the same building being employed. It seemed to him a very reasonable proposition, and he did not see why anybody should object to it. Why should a Dissenting minister object to read prayers for the dead in a building where the Service of the Church of Eng- 1088 land had been performed, or why should a clergyman of the Church of England object to read the Burial Service in a chapel in which the minister of another faith had officiated? The question was, no doubt, complicated by another matter —a pecuniary one—and that was the question of fees. The present state of the law with regard to that was that the churchyard was divided into two portions, and since the Act of 1880 a Dissenter had as much right to be buried in the consecrated portion as in the unconsecrated portion, but if he was buried in the consecrated portion he was to pay the fees to the parson. But then he asked why, if he wished to be buried in consecrated ground, should he pay a fee to the parish clergyman as well as his own minister? Ho might have friends belonging to the Church of England, and he might desire to be buried with them, and he could not see why a fee should be levied upon him for a parson who did not perform the service. It might have been intelligible formerly, but it was not so now that the burial ground in question was not the parson's freehold. The question of fees would require further consideration in Committee, and should be discussed with justice to all parties; but in a matter which touched sentiment so much he hoped the pecuniary part would not be found an insuperable difficulty. He thought he had touched upon the several points raised by the Bill. He was bound to say that as churchyards became more crowded, and as new cemeteries were being made, the reluctance on the part of Burial Boards to a division of the ground would place the Executive Government in great difficulty; because, if they were not inclined to make the provision required by the Bill, he was not very well aware of any process by which they could be compelled to do so. It seemed to him there was nothing of which anyone could complain in having a joint cemetery open to everybody—as, in fact, it was open now. A general consecration of the whole ground might be secured; and he believed he was speaking the opinion of the great majority of the Bishops when he said that they had no sympathy with those few among their number who had declined to consecrate ground in which Dissenters desired to be buried. Speaking generally, ho believed the Bill would remove 1089 existing religious difficulties, and therefore, with the limitations he had mentioned, he would support the second reading.
§ MR. WARTON
said, that the mode in which legislation was accomplished in this country was such that it was only necessary for a cry to be got up by a certain class of persons, and the question immediately became a burning question, and one fit for legislation. This Bill has been brought forward as an act of enmity against the Church of England, and was drafted entirely from a Dissenter's point of view. It was supposed at the time that the compromise effected by the Act of 1880 would finally settle this question; but instead of being satisfied with what they had gained, the Dissenters now came forward with a new demand, which not only wounded the sentiments of Churchmen, but would affect the pockets of the Clergy. The rights of the Clergy would be summarily extinguished by the measure, the object of which was confiscation as well as irreligion. These things were often combined, and they went very well together; and, no doubt, this was a reason why the Government would support the proposal. The Government had already confiscated the property of the Irish landlords; and they were now going, if they supported this Bill, to confiscate the property of the parsons of England. The House should remember that in 1880, only by the narrow majority of three, blasphemous proceedings were prevented from taking place in our churchyards. Who could tell that proposals of a similar character to those then made would not be made when they got into Committee? He was quite sure that the Bishops and Clergy had carried out the Burials Act in a fair spirit, and he thought that this was a very bad return to make them. He feared that since Her Majesty's Government, in its demoralized condition, had pronounced itself the friends of Atheists and Infidels, some of their supporters would oppose the maintenance of consecrated burial grounds through sheer hostility to the Church.
§ MR. SALT
said, he was not prepared to make any definite objection to the second reading of the Bill; but ho must ask the hon. Gentleman who introduced it to understand that he reserved his right to examine the Bill very carefully 1090 in detail, and, if necessary, to oppose it at a further stage. Speaking for himself, there was one thing in which he cordially agreed with the introducer of the Bill, and that was in his desire to do away with the necessity of two chapels in a graveyard. He must confess that he had often looked with some degree of pain at two exactly similar chapels standing side by side in the same cemetery; and his own feeling was that, whatever religious difficulties might exist during life, they ought to be buried in the grave. He felt rather sorry that the Bill had been introduced, because he doubted whether there was any demand for such legislation throughout the country. He had never heard in any locality an objection raised to the present system, and he knew that there was a strong feeling — even in localities where it might not be expected—not only among Churchmen, but Dissenters also, in favour of being buried in consecrated ground. There were many questions connected with the Bill upon which it was difficult to decide. Those questions, as the Home Secretary had observed, would require very careful attention when they came to consider the Bill in detail. It had occurred to him that the best course to adopt with regard to this Bill would be to refer it to a Select Committee; but that would take time, and there was this difficulty—that under the present system of carrying on the Business of the House hon. Members were completely overtaxed in Committee work upstairs. He did not, therefore, propose to refer the Bill to a Select Committee; but he hoped the introducer of the Bill would, after taking the second reading, postpone the next stage for some time, in order that they might be able to obtain fuller information as to the feeling of the country on the question. With regard to the question of fees, he did not quite follow the remarks which fell from the right hon. and learned Gentleman the Home Secretary. They should be very careful not to do any injustice. He admitted that if they were dealing with the matter de novo the House would probably not adopt the present system; but the House must not overlook the ancient privileges and customs which had formerly prevailed, and which had been modified from time to time. For his part, he would discountenance any interference with the pe- 1091 cuniary rights of so hard-worked and meritorious a body of men as the Clergy of the Church of England. As he had said, he should raise no objection to the second reading of the Bill, but reserved his liberty of action at a future stage.
§ MR. CROPPER
said, there seemed a feeling in the country that there was some incantation about the ceremony of consecration; but it merely meant there was to be a sanctity about the ground which would prevent its being interfered with by any of those strange ceremonies which had taken place in this and other lands. While he approved the general objects of the Bill, he thought it required one or two alterations. He thought that the provision made by Clause 3, for taking into a churchyard an adjoining field if necessary, ought to be struck out, as it might be open to a good deal of objection. Then, as to Clause 6, he was sure his hon. Friend did not mean that, where there were two chapels, it should be a matter of choice in which of the two Services should be performed. Upon this point matters should be allowed to remain as at present. As to the future erection of chapels, he (Mr. Cropper) could only say that whether he passed through the country by road or rail he always shuddered to see in the burial grounds two chapels. It seemed as though they existed to commemorate and make public the difference which had existed in the Protestant Church. Again, as to Clause 10, it was desirable that there should be some proper authority as to the use of particular inscriptions on tombstones, and he would suggest the Bishop as the best authority. Difficulty frequently arose on these points —sometimes, of course, of a very slight description; for instance, as to whether hallelujah should be spelt with an "h." He thought such questions ought not to be left to be decided by the Burial Board, consisting, it might be, of small tradesmen. One advantage of this Bill would be to render unnecessary the passing of another measure which was before the House on this subject—namely, the Burial Fees Bill, which contained a good many elements of difficulty, and many points on which differences would certainly arise in the House and in the country. It was a matter for congratulation that the subject had been discussed in so temperate a manner, and 1092 he hoped that this Bill would have the effect of settling it for good.
§ MR. WHITLEY
said, ho rose to express his general concurrence with the view of the hon. Member for Stafford (Mr. Salt). For his part, he had no feeling with regard to this Bill, except that which he was sure they all had. He was sure they would all be most happy to promote good feeling between the members of the Established Church and Dissenters. His hon. Friend the Member for Kendal (Mr. Cropper) spoke with reference to the alterations which the hon. Member, he (Mr. Whitley) had no doubt, was willing to introduce into this Bill. He was quite certain that those alterations would very much add to the progress of the Bill through the House. In the City he had the honour to represent they had, at the present time, four cemeteries; and there had never been the slightest difficulty between Church people, Roman Catholics, and Dissenters. They had all their own chapels built within the grounds, and all these chapels had undergone some measure of consecration. The Roman Catholic chapels were consecrated by the Bishop of that Church, the Church of England chapels by the Bishop of that Church, and the Dissenting chapels had had a Dissenters' Service, and the ceremonies had been worked in perfect harmony throughout; and, therefore, one of the alterations suggested by his hon. Friend the Member for Kendal would meet this; and he (Mr. Whitley) was quite sure it would be very undesirable to disturb the harmony that existed. In regard to the churchyard, he quite agreed with his hon. Friend that the removal of the dead would very much influence many hon. Members on this side of the House. There was one point upon which he would venture to commend to the hon. Member who introduced the Bill. In the Bill there was a proposition that the Bishop might consecrate any portion of the ground; but that ground, when so consecrated, might be open to Dissenters as well as to Churchmen. For his part, he entirely concurred. He did not think that the old line of demarcation between Church people and Dissenters now existed. He was quite in harmony with the views of his hon. Friend the Member for Stafford; but he must say, with regard to the Roman Catholics, that the Roman Ca- 1093 tholics had some very strong views with respect to consecration. What would they do in the event of one chapel only being available? He did not believe that the Roman Catholics would avail themselves of it. There would be this hostility to the consecration of the same place by the Roman Catholic Bishop and by the Bishop of our Church. He confessed he saw that this would create a difficulty which did not occur to the mind of his hon. Friend who introduced the Bill. He was quite satisfied of this— that, however the Bishops of the Church might not object, the Roman Catholic Bishops would. He agreed with the observation of the Home Secretary, that perhaps the majority of the Bishops of the Church at the present moment would not object to consecrate ground, although possibly the consecrated part would be available for Dissenters; and he hoped the majority of the Bishops would not; but he fancied, with regard to the Roman Catholic Bishops, they would insist on the ground not being used for other than members of their own faith. That, perhaps, had not occurred to the hon. Member. He would wish, if possible, to meet the difficulty —perhaps the scandal almost—of having the same chapel consecrated by two different classes of Bishops. Generally, he concurred most heartily with the provisions of the Bill; but he might observe, like his hon. Friend the Member for Stafford, that when they came to the details of the Bill it might be arranged, because the Bill had been introduced into the House somewhat suddenly, and he had not had an opportunity of studying it till within the last few minutes. He hoped that the alterations which would be introduced in Committee would make the Bill acceptable to the House and to the country.
§ MR. THOROLD ROGERS
wished to point out, with regard to the difficulty adverted to by the hon. Member for Liverpool (Mr. Whitley), that Roman Catholics attached but little importance to the consecration of the building. They principally required the consecration of the altar, which, in the case of burial grounds in which there was one chapel only, might be a movable one.
§ COLONEL KING-HARMAN
said, it was an entire mistake to suppose that Roman Catholics would assent to burials in cemeteries not consecrated by their 1094 own Bishops; and, speaking from experience, he could say that if they were not so consecrated there would not be a single Roman Catholic burial in them. One objection to this Bill was that it permitted any cemetery chapel to be used for any burial. What would be done in the case of an Infidel who, on the occasion of a burial, chose to go and make an oration over his friend, first in the chapel of the Established Church, then in the Dissenting chapel, and then in the Roman Catholic chapel? He also thought sub-sections 2 and 3 of Clause 4 were open to objection. He was sorry to find that the settlement of this question, which was supposed to have been made in 1880, should so soon be attempted to be disturbed.
§ MR. THOMAS COLLINS
said, he did not think that any Bill could be regarded as a settlement between the different religious denominations with regard to this question. He believed that, so far from any settlement being arrived at between Churchmen and Dissenters on this question, the wrangle, which had lasted so long, would go on for many years to come. It was necessary that there should be graveyards for the interment of the dead, for the sake of public health and decency; but he was certainly of opinion that where religious denominations required chapels for what was really their religious worship they ought to provide them for themselves, and not throw the cost upon the ratepayers. Chapels were the luxuries, and not the necessaries, of interment. A great deal was said about the endowment of religion by the State; but this was the endowment by the State of the various denominations for whom the chapels were provided. Some parts of the Bill seemed to him to aim more or less at the Disestablishment of the Church of England, and to endeavour to place the members of the Church in a worse position than Nonconformists. It could not be said that the clergy and laity of the Church of England had not fairly and honestly adopted the Act of 1880; but if this legislation were pressed further and the Church was driven into a corner great ill-feeling would result. Moreover, the practice would grow up, which he should regret to see, of the different denominations maintaining their separate graveyards vested in the hands of trustees. While he objected to the prin- 1095 ciple of the Act of 1880, yet he had likewise also opposed the theory of making any part of the churchyard a "Potters' Field" in which to bury Nonconformists. For his own part, he would like to see the Burial Service conducted in the church of a denomination, and the body then taken direct to the grave.
§ MR. RICHARD
said, he must express his great satisfaction and gratitude at the fair spirit in which the Bill had been received by hon. Gentlemen opposite. He did not deny that the points which had been suggested were deserving of very grave consideration; and, without absolutely pledging himself, he was perfectly willing to entertain them in a most conciliatory spirit.
§ MR. SPEAKER,
interposing, said as there was no Amendment before the House the hon. Member was not entitled to make a second speech.
§ MR. BERESFORD HOPE
said, he was sorry to break the unanimity and concord of the House on this Bill; but, to put the hon. Member for Merthyr in Order, he would move, as an Amendment, that the Bill should be read a second time that day six months. If he did not mistake, the Bill was the result of a Committee upon which both he and the hon. Member for Merthyr sat last year with regard to burial fees.
§ MR. BERESFORD HOPE
said, that, at all events, the question was thoroughly thrashed out by that Committee, and resulted in a very eloquent Report, which, beginning with a statement of first principles, ended, as a climax and peroration, with a scathing denunciation of iron railings around burial places. With regard to this Bill, while it did not prohibit the consecration of cemeteries, it relieved the owners from any necessity of having them consecrated. Nor need there be any chapel provided for the Burial Service of any form of Christianity. He could not but regard those provisions of the Bill as a gross and unjustifiable denial of religious freedom and equality. It was virtually to deny to those large classes, who cared for consecration and for worship in connection with burial, the opportunity of carrying out their conscientious convictions. Then, again, to deprive the parochial Clergy of their right to the 1096 burial fees of those of their parishioners who were buried in the cemeteries was another illustration of the fashionable policy of confiscation. It would be a serious loss of income to the Clergy if they were not allowed to treat the cemetery which had been substituted for the churchyard as part of it. The Clergy had been plundered a great deal already, and he feared were destined to be plundered still more in the sacred name of civilization. As the Bill sought to sanction an act of intolerance and an act of brigandage, he moved that it be read a second time that day six months.
§ 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. Beresford Hope.)
§ Question proposed, "That the word 'now' stand part of the Question."
§ MR. STANLEY LEIGHTON
said, that the hon. Member had not drawn up his Bill in accordance with the recommendations of the Committee on Burial Fees. The Bill was objectionable for several reasons. It was retrospective, and affected, in Clause 4, every building in a cemetery consecrated before as well as after the passing of the Act. The measure was decribed as a Cemetery Bill. It was nothing of the kind. It was a Churchyards Bill, and was intended to govern churchyards as well as cemeteries. Any ground added to a churchyard was defined in the Bill as a cemetery; and, therefore, when the Bill provided that the cemetery authorities should not apply to the Bishop for the consecration of the ground, it amounted to this—that the clergyman and churchwardens of a parish would not be able to obtain the consecration of a parochial burial ground. The Burial Fee Committee had not gone so far as this, though it had, indeed, regarded the matter from a partisan point of view.
§ SIR ALEXANDER GORDON
I rise to Order. I wish to know whether it is in Order for the hon. Gentleman to impute to any Committee of this House that they have acted partially or in a partizan spirit? As Chairman of the Committee, I deny altogether that we acted partially.
§ MR. SPEAKER
The hon. Member has made the statement upon his own responsibility, and I did not feel called upon to interfere.
§ MR. STANLEY LEIGHTON
said, he would prove to the House and to his hon. and gallant Friend that the assertion he had made was correct. The Report of the Committee to which he had referred was adopted by the vote of a Member who was fetched from Ireland, and who had not attended a single previous Sitting, and who was instructed how to vote by the hon. Member for Bradford (Mr. Illingworth).
§ MR. SPEAKER
I must remind the hon. Member that he must apply himself to the Question before the House.
§ MR. STANLEY LEIGHTON
said, he had thought that the Report of the Committee was not wholly irrelevant to the subject of the Bill. The Bill was supported on the ground that it would get rid of fees; but it would in reality increase them, fees being very seldom charged under the present system for the burial of the poor in parish churchyards, and what fees were charged were insignificant compared with the fees in cemeteries. The Bill was objectionable both from the Churchman's and the ratepayer's point of view, for the new cemetery authorities could not raise the necessary funds except from fees or from the rates. Thus the Bill was both an injury to the ratepayers and an attack on the Church.
§ SIR ALEXANDER GORDON
said, the hon. Member for North Shropshire (Mr. Stanley Leighton) began his speech by remarking that partiality and partizanship had been shown by the Committee which sat last year. As Chairman of that Committee, he' repudiated the idea, and denied in toto the accusation. The best proof he could give of that was the patience and toleration which the Members of the Committee showed to the obstruction and the partial conduct of the hon. Member himself, who endeavoured, by every means in his power, to obstruct and oppose their action. He wished, in reference to the Bill now before the House, to point out specially to Members of the Government a fact that was not generally known. The fees to parish ministers were only allowed when they were derived from, immemorial custom. There was no law which originally enabled parish ministers to demand the fee; but the custom had become law, and in order to make it law it must be immemorial. In 1862 the first Burials Act was passed by 1098 a Conservative Government. It provided for the creation of parochial cemeteries in the place of churchyards which were become overcrowded. By that Act, which was introduced by the noble Lord (Lord John Manners) and Mr. Walpole, the Board which had purchased the land to make the burial ground was empowered to sell the exclusive right of burial in perpetuity, or for a limited time, and to charge a certain price to those who used the ground. While the Act was passing through Parliament a Proviso was added—he could not ascertain in which House, or by whom, to the effect that there should—Be payable to the incumbent or minister of the parish out of the fees or payments to be paid in respect of any rights acquired under this enactment in the consecrated part of such burial ground [in lieu of the fees or sums which he would have been entitled to on the grant of the like rights in the burial ground of his parish] such fees or sums as shall be settled and fixed by the vestry.That gave to the parish minister the right which had been given, for the first time, to Burial Boards to sell the right of burial. Under the plea that they had the like rights in their own parish churchyards, this Act of Parliament gave the ministers power to charge fees. He asked any hon. Member to point out a single case of a parish minister who ever had the right to sell any portion of his parish churchyard, either for temporary purposes or in perpetuity. Since that time the parish church ministers of the Church of England had been demanding these fees, and the amount that had gone into their pockets was almost incalculable. Fees of £4, £5, and £6 on a single interment went to the parish minister under that additional clause. They never received them before, and he hoped, when the Bill became law, that they would receive them no longer.
§ MR. TOMLINSON
said, that the disadvantage of the practice, which seemed to be becoming frequent, of introducing a Bill apparently framed with care, and then, when difficulties were pointed out, offering to omit some of the most essential parts, was strongly illustrated in the present instance. If this were simply a Bill for the purpose of providing a different mode of dealing with new cemeteries, he might not have opposed the second reading; but applying, as it did, to all consecrated ceme- 1099 teries and also to churchyards, and also empowering any person, whatever views he might hold as to the proper mode of conducting a burial, to make use of chapels consecrated for the Services of a particular denomination, he felt it his duty to oppose it. The Home Secretary had admitted that one of the most essential parts of the Bill— that relating to the burial fees—was unworkable, and would require complete revision. He should have expected, therefore, that the right hon. and learned Gentleman would have suggested that the Bill should be withdrawn, and that if the Government thought any Bill was required to give further effect to the principles of the Act of 1880 they would bring it in upon their own responsibility. He could not help thinking that the Government, when that Act was passed, expected that it would be an end of the burial controversy; and that was borne out by some remarks of the Judge Advocate General (Mr. Osborne Morgan) at the time of moving the second reading of that Act.
§ THE JUDGE ADVOCATE GENERAL (Mr. OSBORNE MORGAN)
said, ho must apologize for not having been present during the first few speeches that had been made about this Bill. The fact was that an Irish Bill appeared as the first Order of the Day on the Notice Paper, and it had not struck him that any Irish Bill could be got rid of so speedily. He deeply regretted that the hon. Member for North Shropshire (Mr. Stanley Leighton) should have charged the Committee that had considered the question with partizanship. In his opinion, the proceedings of the Committee were as fair as they could be, and if any partizan spirit was exhibited by anyone it was by the hon. Member himself. The Committee thought that the payment of burial fees was a most objectionable mode of paying an incumbent. In some places the fee was £1, in others 2s., and in others—e.g., the Diocese of Salisbury—no fee was exacted. A second objection was that there was no mode of enforcing the payment of disputed burial fees. Again, since the passing of the Burials Act of 1880 the incumbent received his fee, whether he performed the Service or not at a burial. Notwithstanding the partial settlement of the question effected by that Act, therefore, he held that it was his duty to support 1100 the present Bill. Though that Act created interchangeable rights between the Church and Dissenters, it did not make those rights co-extensive. Section 12 of the measure gave a clergyman an absolute right to read the Service of the Church of England in any part of the unconsecrated portion of a cemetery. He had, therefore, practical jurisdiction over the whole cemetery. But when they gave the right to the Nonconformist minister to go to the consecrated portion of the cemetery, the Service must be held at the grave, and he could not enter the mortuary chapel, even if it were snowing or raining at the time. This anomaly had, in some cases, resulted in the scandal of having two chapels, one labelled "Church" and the other "Dissent." This state of things Dissenters resented as a slur; the ratepayers resented it, because it imposed an unnecessary burden on the rates; and two or three Bishops had characterized it as a disgrace to the country. Until the right hon. Gentleman the Member for the University of Cambridge (Mr. Beresford Hope) throw the apple of discord into this debate, he understood the House to be unanimously in favour of reading the Bill a second time. ["No!"] Well, up to that time not a single Member had offered to move the rejection of the measure. He hoped that the House would now be allowed to go to a division, and ho believed that most of the objections urged against the Bill could be fairly met when they came to deal with its details in Committee.
§ SIR R. ASSHETON CROSS
said, that a good many on his side of the House thought that the Bill of 1880 was a very bad Bill; and he was very glad to find that even the right hon. and learned Gentleman (Mr. Osborne Morgan), although he might not share that opinion, at any rate considered that it was a very imperfect scheme. What they really wanted was that these matters should be settled—the House should not be troubled with questions of this kind from time to time. There might be some sentimental grievance to remove; but there certainly was not a practical one. In the largo county he represented, he had never heard of a shadow of a grievance on the subject. The hon. Member for Merthyr (Mr. Richard) had stated that he (Sir R. Assheton Cross) 1101 had expressed great dissatisfaction at seeing different chapels in burial-places. That was true. He thought it a great pity to see such marks of difference in our public cemeteries. The late Government brought in a Bill to consolidate all the Burial Acts, and the notion at that time in their minds was that it would be a wise thing for all denominations to have Burial Services in their own chapels before coming to the cemetery, as the Roman Catholics had, so that all that would be wanted in the cemetery would be a shelter from the rain; but this attempt at legislation failed, and the Bill did not pass into law. He did not know whether he understood that the hon. Member for Merthyr proposed that the Bill should only apply to future cemeteries, or whether he wished that it should not apply in any places where there were already two chapels. With regard to the Amendments which it was suggested the hon. Member was prepared to accept if the Bill were read a second time, it was most inconvenient that such concessions should be made at this stage in order to secure votes. The proposition, whatever it was, should be clearly set before the House, and should be allowed to remain unaltered until they went into Committee. The clause in the Bill to which he chiefly objected was the one relating to fees, which would very prejudicially affect a large number of the clergymen of the Church of England. The vested rights of incumbents had been saved by the hon. Member; but this was a mistake which would be as fatal as that made in the Irish Church Act in this respect. The vested interest was not that of the incumbent, but of the parishioners. To his mind, the 7th clause was a matter of principle, and if it was left out of the Bill he should not object to the second reading. So long as such a clause was introduced into any Bill of the kind he should be bound in conscience to vote against it.
§ MR. T. C. THOMPSON
said, that, if the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Cambridge University (Mr. Beresford Hope) went to a division, he should vote with him, though not exactly upon the same principle. He disapproved of the Bill, because it would, practically, put an end to consecration. Now, he believed that would be distasteful to a large class of the people. There was 1102 probably nothing more dear to the hearts of the members of the Church of England than the feeling that, when their time came, they would be laid by the side of those whom they had loved, in consecrated ground. But that feeling was not confined to members of the Church of England; for it was well known that it was shared by many without her pale. All had a right to be buried in the churchyard, and the law insured to all the use of what religious service they like. But before many years were over cemeteries must come into universal use, for the churchyards would be full; and the question now before the House was, how ceremonies in cemeteries were to be ordered? At present the cemeteries are divided into consecrated and unconsecrated parts. Those whose friends pay respect to consecration were buried in the one; those whose friends did not regard it might be buried in the other. It was simply a question of choice. But this Bill sought to do away with the separation—to allow consecration indeed, but to authorize also the burial of those whose friends did not like it, in consecrated ground, with alien rites. Nothing could be more liberal than the present system; nothing more likely to outrage feeling than what was proposed. For this reason he objected to the Bill. Objection had been taken to the double chapels at the entrance of cemeteries. It had been said that religious differences should end with the grave. If religious differences were a thing to be ashamed of, he would agree to that; but he believed that nothing had contributed so much to the welfare of man as religious differences. These chapels were a public symbol of that difference, and they marked how generations of men had devoted themselves earnestly to religious thought. England owed much of her prosperity to Dissent. Before Dissent our people were narrow-minded and intolerant; but Dissent had forced the examination of religious questions. Though at no other time were there more religious sects than now in England, so never was she a more religious nation than now. There was no opinion which he deprecated more than that one religion was raised by the depreciation of another. The Church of England was raised in tone by raising the tone of Dissent, and Dissent by raising the tone of the Church of England, There was 1103 room and work for all, and these Sister Churches had one common end in view. One other point in the Bill to which ho objected was that with regard to fees. He would do away with these fees altogether. There were no fees on admission by baptism into the Church; why should there be for the interment of the dead? But it had been said that the money was needed; that it was the means of living of the clergyman. In his opinion, that argument should not prevail. The Church of England, the Church of the aristocracy and of the wealthy, should be ashamed to use such au argument. She ought not to be heard complaining of want of funds. From what he had seen and heard of Dissent, he believed that the members of those Churches were always most ready to provide for every spiritual want for their people. Surely the Church of England should have no hesitation in doing the same. Again, then, he urged that each religious body should be protected in the use, in their own way, of a chosen portion of the common cemetery, and allowed to use its own rites exclusively therein.
§ MR. O'DONNELL
said, he thought that, with regard to the payment of fees, there would be conscientious objection from that side of the House; but, under the cloak of a Bill for amending fees and other details, they had been treated to a whole series of enactments for secularizing and Atheizing the cemeteries of the country. This was only another chapter in that scheme of which the Atheistic Affirmation Bill formed part. It seemed to him that the venerable name of Nonconformist had been utilized somewhat indiscriminately of late. If there was any attack to be made, they would always find, if they looked carefully enough, that a Nonconformist was at the bottom of it. It was one thing to relieve the grievances of the Nonconformists, and quite another thing to disregard the religious convictions of everyone else in doing so. The general principle of the Bill was to secularize burials in this country. If the Nonconformists did not want a consecrated cemetery, let them have an unconsecrated one and welcome; but Clause 4 said that the cemetery authority should not divide the ground into consecrated and unconsecrated parts, nor permit the erection of any boundary mark. What was there in the Noncon- 1104 formist conscience which required that no such boundary should be erected? It was an intolerable interference with the religious liberty of other people to tell them that because Nonconformists did not believe in religious authority nobody else should be allowed to believe in it. It seemed to him that the new class of Liberals were very like the old class of persecutors. The clause also provided that the cemetery authority should not apply to the Bishop for consecration of a portion of the ground. But the Bishop might of his own freewill come down and consecrate such portion. He thought the encroachments of the Episcopate were regarded with suspicion by the Nonconformists; but that did not appear to be the case from this Bill. But, notwithstanding this power given to the Bishop, a subsequent clause said that the ground, when consecrated, might be used otherwise than for burials according to the rites of the Church. In fact, the authors of the Bill invited the Bishop to consecrate on the understanding that no attention was to be paid to the consecration when that had been done. The provision as to chapels was no better. He failed to see why he should be asked, as a Member of the Imperial Parliament, although not a member of the Church of England himself, to make that Church a special mark for the persecution of all the world besides. Clause 8 provided that the cemetery authority might appoint persons to officiate, but that no person was to have an exclusive right to officiate. What was the use of an appointment of chaplain made under such conditions?
§ MR. SPEAKER
interposed, and said, the House was now engaged in considering the principles of the Bill on the second reading.
§ MR. O'DONNELL
said, that there were five or six different principles introduced into this Bill; and he should be obliged if any Member would show what was the principle or the philosophy in it, unless it was the avowed truth and the avowed philosophy of secularization and Atheism. Clause 12 seemed to be directed against the religious convictions of the poor, and, in his opinion, ought to be scouted by every man of generous feeling in the whole community. Under existing Acts paupers of any religious denomination could be buried in conformity with their religious convictions; 1105 but Clause 12 of this Bill provided that so much of any Act relating to paupers or pauper lunatics as authorized burial in consecrated ground should be constructed as applicable to their burial in unconsecrated ground. That was to say, that those poor creatures, who were, of all others, entitled to their sympathy and consideration, were to receive the burial of a dog. Such was the measure which the Home Secretary thought ought to be passed without discussion. The Bill had come upon the House by surprise, for it was anticipated that the afternoon would have been occupied by the discussion of the measure that preceded it on the Paper. He was satisfied that the country at large had not the slightest suspicion of the discreditable infraction of every human right that would be perpetrated by this Bill. He, therefore, begged to move the adjournment of the debate. He thought the longer the debate was adjourned, and the more thoroughly the country understood the sort of legislation after death which this Liberal Government was preparing for them, the more strongly would they express their opinion upon it.
§ Motion made, and Question proposed, "That the Debate be now adjourned."— (Mr. O'Donnell.)
§ SIR WILLIAM HARCOURT
said, the discussion on this Bill had certainly taken a singular course. The Bill was introduced in a very moderate speech by his hon. Friend the Member for Merthyr (Mr. Richard), and he (Sir William Harcourt) waited to hear what would be said against it. But it was intimated to him by the right hon. Member for South-West Lancashire (Sir R. Assheton Cross), who, with several of his Colleagues, sat upon the Front Opposition Bench, that he would rather hear what the Government had to say on the subject. He accordingly rose and gave the reasons why he thought the Bill, in its general principles, ought to be supported. There was a consultation on the Front Bench opposite, and then the hon. Member for Stafford (Mr. Salt), who, he believed, very much enjoyed the confidence of hon. Gentlemen opposite, especially on ecclesiastical questions, was instructed to get up to say he had no objection to offer to the second reading. The debate then went on, apparently in a very reasonable and very conciliatory spirit, so far 1106 as hon. Gentlemen opposite were concerned.
§ MR. WARTON
rose to Order, and asked whether the right hon. and learned Gentleman had any right to say that an hon. Member was instructed by the Front Opposition Bench to get up and say anything? How did the right hon. and learned Gentleman know what took place at a consultation of the Front Opposition Bench? If he did, it was a breach of confidence to state it; if he did not, it was imagination.
§ SIR WILLIAM HARCOURT
said, he was quite willing to withdraw any word that might be objectionable to the hon. and learned Member for Bridport. At all events, the hon. Member for Stafford did make that statement. But at a later stage came posting down the right hon. Member for Cambridge University (Mr. Beresford Hope), and, as might be expected from him on any measure for the extension of religious liberty, he thought it right to appear surprised at the measure being supported by the leading Gentlemen on the Opposition Bench, and to rise and denounce the Bill, and to move its rejection. So the debate went on, and then the hon. Member who had just moved the adjournment of the debate denounced in very violent language a measure which seemed to hon. Gentlemen on both sides of the House, at an earlier stage of the debate, to be a very moderate and reasonable proposal. ["Oh, oh!"] The hon. Gentleman who had now taken another view of the case did not hear the Bill introduced, and did not hear the manner in which it was supported by hon. Members on the Opposition side of the House. It did not seem to him (Sir William Harcourt) to be a proper course now to adjourn the debate. It should be stated on what grounds the Bill was opposed. As he had said, the proposals of the Bill were admitted by hon. Members opposite to be moderate in character.
§ LORD RANDOLPH CHURCHILL
reminded the right hon. and learned Gentleman that the Question before the House was a Motion for the adjournment of the debate.
§ SIR WILLIAM HARCOURT
said, the hon. Member who moved the adjournment had himself entered on a dis- 1107 cussion of the Bill. He should oppose the Motion, as he thought it most unreasonable.
§ MR. DALY
said, the Homo Secretary had described this Bill as a moderate one. He, on the contrary, thought it an aggressive Bill, and one that pressed hardly, not only on the Church of England, but also on the religion which he himself professed. He desired that the House and the country should have an opportunity of considering the Bill. Though the Bill did not refer to Ireland or Scotland, yet there were 1,000,000 of Irish Roman Catholics in this country who would be affected by it. This Bill was simply another instance of the aggressive policy of the Nonconformist Body in England.
§ MR. SPEAKER
reminded the hon. Member that he must confine himself to the Question of the Motion for the adjournment of the debate.
§ MR. DALY
said, he was merely following the example set him by the Home Secretary; but he supposed that what was but choler in the captain was blasphemy in the private soldier. While, however, submitting to the ruling of the Chair, he felt bound to say that this was a Bill that ought not to be smuggled through the House. Its issues were so important that it ought to have full and fair discussion, and the Government ought not to force on the discussion of such a Bill on a Wednesday afternoon. In addition to the many mistakes already made by the Government during the present Session, they were committing another in attempting to press on a Bill which seriously affected the susceptibilities of their country, and in not accepting the Motion for Adjournment. As a Catholic, and in the name of 1,000,000 of his poor co-religionists, he protested against this measure; and he should, therefore, support the Motion for the Adjournment.
§ MR. ILLINGWORTH
said, he trusted the Motion for Adjournment would be withdrawn, as it prevented the removal of the misconception of the Bill presented by the hon. Member for Dungarvan (Mr. O'Donnell) in his impromptu speech. It was true the hon. Member for Merthyr (Mr. Richard) had no suspicion that morning that the Bill could by any possibility come on; but there was so much unanimity in the early part of the evening upon the Bill that his hon. Friend 1108 was led to hope that the measure would be allowed to pass the second reading. He should himself consider a victory on second reading to be dearly won if the Bill contained any provisions to which grave objections could be taken in regard to the just claims of any denomination. It was evident that the hon. Member for Dungarvan had not read the Bill, and his arguments could be easily answered; at any rate, the Bill might be discussed for another hour.
§ LORD RANDOLPH CHURCHILL
said, he seriously hoped the hon. Member for Dungarvan (Mr. O'Donnell) would not withdraw his Motion, and he would point out that it was quite competent to the House to discuss the Motion for Adjournment; and, if it was not agreed to, the House could then resume the discussion of the Bill. He himself had several comments to make with respect to this measure as to its history and its law; and he should be glad to make them, if the House would allow him, whenever the debate was resumed. There was one matter which he had several times had occasion to comment on before, and that was the extraordinary conduct of the two Front Benches. The House was accustomed to look for advice and guidance on occasions of this kind to the occupants of those Benches. The Home Secretary had spent, including broken intervals, about three-quarters of an hour in the House that afternoon.
§ LORD RANDOLPH CHURCHILL
Before any discussion had taken place on the Bill, and before the right hon. and learned Gentleman could have learned the opinions of the House upon it, he rose and gave the opinion of the Government on the measure. He then took himself off, and, by the merest chance in the world, he only arrived back in time to hear the adjournment moved. Ho (Lord Randolph Churchill) maintained that that was anything but a proper and respectful attitude on the part of a Minister when an important Bill was before the House. But the conduct of the right hon. and learned Gentleman was far transcended by that of his Colleague, the Judge Advocate General. What did he do? He did not take the trouble to come down to the House until 1109 half-past 2 or 3 o'clock. He then sauntered into the House, delivered a speech, and, having done so, he immediately took himself off again, and did not come into the House again until after the adjournment of the House had been moved. He wanted to know whether that was the proper way for Government to take part in the discussion of an important Bill? Then as to the conduct of the Front Opposition Bench. He thought that under the circumstances it was absolutely impossible for hon. Members on that side of the House to know what vote they were to give. It was very necessary that there should be an adjournment, to enable Gentlemen on the Front Opposition Bench to take their usual time to make up their minds. The hon. Member for Stafford (Mr. Salt) got up prematurely and in a hurry—a hurry which he (Lord Randolph Churchill) had before had reason to regret—and, on the part of the occupants of that Bench, accepted the Bill. No sooner had he done so, than down came the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Cambridge University (Mr. Beresford Hope) and moved the rejection of the Bill, and denounced it in very proper terms. How were hon. Members on that side, how were the Irish Party to know how to vote, when the House had such a difference of authority on the subject of burials? Under all the circumstances of the case, and remembering that the bulk of Members were not prepared for the Bill coming on, and had not had an opportunity of discovering the insidious character of the Bill, he should support the Motion for the adjournment of the debate.
§ THE JUDGE ADVOCATE GENERAL (Mr. OSBORNE MORGAN)
remarked that he had been in the House that day long before the arrival of the noble Lord, and had heard every speech delivered in the debate since that time, except part of that of the hon. Member for Dungarvan (Mr. O'Donnell).
§ MR. HICKS
said, he thought that the House should agree to the Motion for Adjournment, because it was impossible for hon. Members to make themselves acquainted with the details of all these Bills before they came before the House. Without question, a full debate was necessary on this Bill. It seemed to him that under the guise of religion and 1110 toleration an attempt was being made to pass a measure which was both irreligious and intolerant, as had been so clearly stated by the hon. Member for Dungarvan. He should support the Amendment for the same reasons that the Home Secretary objected to it.
MR. TATTON EGERTON
said, he should also support the Motion for the adjournment of the debate. He denied that there was an unanimity of feeling on the Conservative Benches in favour of the Bill.
§ MR. R. H. PAGET
thought the majority of the House was not prepared to discuss a Bill which actually involved part of the question of disendowment. A division taken in a thin House would have no real effect in deciding the question.
§ COLONEL KING-HARMAN
said, the Conservative Members had been taken aback by what had occurred. In the first place, they expected to have been called upon to discuss two Irish Bills, which preceded the present Bill upon the Orders of the Day; and, in the second place, even if they had been prepared to discuss the Bill of the hon. Member for Merthyr, he had since so modified it that it was now entirely different from the Bill they received in the morning, and he thought they should not agree to its second reading without full discussion. Hon. Members did not know what had been promised in the way of Amendments to the Bill in Committee.
said, that no one had anticipated that this Bill would come under discussion this afternoon, and that was the explanation of the asserted unanimity which prevailed in its favour at the beginning of the Sitting; in fact, the debate had proceeded for a long time when only half-a-dozen Members had been present. There were scarcely any Members of the Government or of the leading Members of the Opposition present; and certainly a large number of hon. Members who would desire to take part in the debate were absent. He had no desire to discuss the principle of the Bill at that moment; but he believed that he should be in Order in merely alluding to the contents of the measure. The House could never proceed too 1111 cautiously when it was asked to assent to the wholesale repeal of Acts of Parliament; and, certainly, before it passed a repealing Schedule like that attached to this Bill, it was entitled to have the assistance and advice of the Law Officers of the Crown, who were not then present. In the absence of the leading Members of the Government and of the Opposition, hon. Members were, practically, like sheep without a shepherd. He was, therefore, convinced that the proposal of the hon. Member for Dungarvan (Mr. O'Donnell) to adjourn the debate was both a sensible and a reasonable one.
§ SIR JOHN R. MOWBRAY
said, he thought that a good case had been made out for the adjournment of the debate. The Motion for the second reading of the Bill had come on unexpectedly; and, from what he had learnt since he had entered the House, it was now proposed to amend the measure in such a way as to entirely change its character, and the House ought to have an opportunity of thoroughly understanding what the amended Bill would be before they were asked to read it a second time.
§ MR. RICHARD
said, he had not withdrawn any portion of the Bill; but only said he would consider in a conciliatory spirit any Amendments which might be suggested.
said, the Bill had come upon the House somewhat unexpectedly, as several Orders preceded it on the Paper. Consequently, many hon. Members who had strong opinions upon the measure were not in their places; and the debate ought, under such circumstances, to be adjourned.
§ MR. MORGAN LLOYD
begged the House to come to a decision upon the Question of Adjournment, as there was really nothing more to be said either for or against it. He objected to the time of the House being wasted in discussing the adjournment, instead of going on with the debate upon the Main Question.
§ MR. THOMAS COLLINS
assured the hon. Member that there was a great deal more to be said in favour of the adjournment. He had come down to the House with the object of discussing the first Order of the Day; but he could not help feeling, after what had fallen from the hon. Member for Merthyr Tydvil, that the debate on the present Bill ought to 1112 be adjourned. Attached to the Bill there was what was called a Memorandum, which purported to explain the meaning and objects of the Bill. This was a comparatively new practice—at any rate, it did not prevail in former days, when he had the honour of a seat in Parliament. He did not object to these Memoranda provided they corresponded with the Bill itself. But it was possible that the Memorandum might contain a little colouring, which would mislead those who had not studied the Bill itself. He would point out the differences—
§ MR. THOMAS COLLINS
said, that he was endeavouring to show that as in this case the Memorandum did not correspond with the Bill, that constituted an argument in favour of the adjournment. For that reason, and also because it was impossible to have a satisfactory discussion of the merits of the Bill at that hour, he should vote for the adjournment of the debate.
§ MR. PELL
said, he had read the Bill, and was paralyzed when he came to the Schedule of Acts which it proposed to repeal. The Bill dealt with matters in which hon. Members were interested only after their death. He suggested that the debate should be adjourned, so as to enable hon. Members to take the opinion of their executors upon the Bill.
MR. JOSEPH COWEN,
believing it was useless to prolong this discussion, expressed a hope that the division on the Motion for Adjournment might be taken at once. If that Motion were defeated they might at once proceed to discuss the merits of the Bill.
§ SIR JOSEPH M'KENNA
said, he and other hon. Members had come down to the House without the slightest expectation that the Bill would be brought forward. He trusted that the Motion for the Adjournment would be agreed to without a division.
§ Question put.
§ The House divided:—Ayes 121; Noes 150: Majority 29.—(Div. List, No. 71.)
§ Main Question again proposed.1113
§ MR. ILLINGWORTH
said, the hon. Member for Dungarvan (Mr. O'Donnell) was mistaken as to the effect of the Bill on pauper interments. The alteration proposed in the Bill was for the purpose of giving absolute freedom to the friends of paupers and poor persons to have interments made in consecrated or unconsecrated ground. The object of the measure, as a whole, was to make more symmetrical and complete, and more in harmony with the necessities of the case, the legislation of 1880. It was intended to remove the last vestige of civil disabilities in the case of public burial grounds. The late Home Secretary asked why could not these things be settled all at once? Why was Parliament troubled with them over and over again? The answer was plain. It was because those who had been asking for justice had been obliged to content themselves with a miserable instalment of justice. An impression seemed to prevail that there was some innovation in this measure compared with the Act of 1880. He wished to assure the House that it contained precisely the same principle which received the sanction of Parliament in that measure. Among the witnesses who appeared before the Committee to which reference had been made was a Catholic priest, who not only strongly supported the Bill, but in a correspondence with him went even further, and expressed a hope that the Church of England would be disestablished. That priest was, no doubt, a better representative of Roman Catholic opinion on this subject than the hon. Member for Dungarvan. The Bill would give to Catholics as complete freedom as would be enjoyed by any other class of Her Majesty's subjects. Hon. Members who were so sensitive on the question of considerations should bear in mind this fact—that the Act of 1880 allowed Nonconformists to go into the consecrated churchyards of the country; and this Bill only proposed to do that which the great majority of the people wanted—namely, to remove the last vestige of civil disability connected with our public burial grounds. The Bill put no restriction whatever upon consecration; but it left it to the option of those who attached value to it to see to the carrying out of the Act. But there could be no line drawn between the consecrated and the unconsecrated ground. In conclusion, he main- 1114 tained that the distinction between consecrated and unconsecrated ground was already practically abolished, and repelled the insinuation of an hon. Member opposite—namely, that the Bill was intended for the benefit of Atheists.
§ SIR JOHN R. MOWBRAY
said, he regretted that the hon. Member had not thought fit to give an explanation as to how the House was to deal with the Bill, whether, as explained by the hon. Member for Merthyr (Mr. Richard), or as it was printed, with the obnoxious provision in relation to churchyards still unaltered. He wished to know whether the promoters of the Act of 1880 no longer looked upon it as a final settlement of the Burial Question, and whether, treating it as a "miserable instalment," they hoped to re-open that question? There was, however, no reason for re-opening it, because there was no longer any grievance. The present Bill would inflict injury on the ministers of the Church of England, because it would take away from them the pecuniary rights reserved to them in the Act of 1880; and he wanted to know why so obnoxious a provision should be inserted as that which proposed that any future addition to a churchyard should be placed under the control of a cemetery authority? As to the consecrated chapels, he would ask who wanted them? It was the universal practice to have in cemeteries one consecrated chapel for the use of members of the Church of England, and another for the use of other religious denominations. Why take away from the Church of England that which was built for it, consecrated for it, and decorated with a special view to the performance of funeral rites? To take these chapels away would be to subject the Church of England to gratuitous and unnecessary degradation. He should certainly support his right hon. Friend the Member for Cambridge University in the division.
MR. LYULPH STANLEY
said, hon. Members on the other side of the House complained that the Bill would bring about the intrusion of Dissenters in chapels built and decorated by Churchmen. Well, for the future, did not these hon. Members think it desirable that the cemetery authorities should have power to lay out their cemeteries in such a way that all buildings might be used by all persons? Unless some 1115 legislation of this kind took place to permit the cemetery authorities to provide a chapel or building of this kind, it might be impossible for the authorities to provide Nonconformists with shelter from the weather in cemeteries in case there were not two chapels. It was admitted that this was an unsatisfactory state of things; and many eminent authorities, even Bishops in the Established Church, were in favour of the necessity for the two buildings being done away with. With regard to the question of fees, he pointed out that the Bill respected the existing rights of incumbents, and only proposed that future incumbents should not be paid burial fees unless they should actually discharge the burial duties. It appeared to him that the proposal that the person who did the work in the cemetery should be the person to receive payment was a very moderate one. In conclusion, lie stated that the Act of 1880 was not admitted by its chief supporters to be a final settlement of the Burial Question.
§ MR. J. G. HUBBARD
said, ho held that the purpose of the measure was distinctly to narrow and restrain religious liberty. There was not in it one enacting clause which did not contain the word "not;" and every one of these "nots" was a restraint upon religious liberty. In their resistance to the Bill members of the Church of England did not stand alone, for they had on their side those who believed with them in the Divine origin of the Church, and who, therefore, cherished their consecrated buildings and the religious Services for which they were provided. The measure was one of absolute intolerance. Much had been said about the scandal caused by the presence of two chapels in one cemetery. But how many churches and chapels of various denominations were to be found in even one London street? Would the House be told that their presence so close together was a scandal? Mourners at a funeral often partook of the Holy Sacrament in the chapel, which must, therefore, contain an altar and other necessary accessories. Was it possible that people who were accustomed to chapels so consecrated and utilized could be satisfied to see them open to the emissaries of the Hall of Science? The movement of which this Bill was part was a move- 1116 ment directed to the destruction of the idea of consecration. Its supporters desired to degrade the elevating worships to which consecrated buildings were conducive to the level of those who held that religion was a matter of man's invention, which could be subjected to change at any time. The question of fees was not a religious question at all. If men were not satisfied with having obtained religious liberty, and intended to struggle for what they chose to call religious equality, they would have to struggle for many and many a-year. In fact, religious equality, in the strict sense of the expression, was incompatible with the existence of a sovereignty which could only be exercised by a member of the Church of England.
§ And it being a quarter of an hour before Six of the clock, the Debate stood adjourned till To-morrow.