HC Deb 25 June 1884 vol 289 cc1305-32

Order for Second Reading read.


This is the same Bill as I brought forward last Session of Parliament. It was then received, at least in the first instance, with considerable favour by the House. The Home Secretary approved of the principle of the Bill, and supported the second reading. It was also discussed in a friendly spirit by some hon. Members on the other side—the hon. Gentleman, the Member for Stafford (Mr. Salt), and the hon. Member for Liverpool (Mr. Whitley). But when it was on the eve of passing the second reading, there was a sudden invasion of hon. Members on the other side; and, after an unsuccessful attempt to adjourn the debate, it was talked out by the allied forces of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for the University of Cambridge (Mr. Beresford Hope), and the hon. Gentleman the Member for Dungarvan (Mr. O'Donnell). I was not without hope, from a reply I received to a Question I asked of my right hon. and learned Friend the Home Secretary towards the end of last Session, that the Government would take up the matter, for undoubtedly it is a question that urgently demands legislation, and is likely, while it remains unsettled, to occasion serious and increasing embarrassments to the Home Office itself. The Bill deals mainly with two points. One relates to certain obligations which now rest upon Burial Boards, in providing new cemeteries. These obligations are to divide cemeteries into consecrated and unconsecrated parts, to erect a chapel for each, to apply to the Bishop for consecration, and to pay the cost; and, in the event of the refusal of the Bishop to consecrate, to apply to the Archbishop for a licence in lieu thereof. It cannot be denied that there is in the country a great and growing opposition to this system. It adds greatly to the costs of cemeteries, and ratepayers object to what they deem a waste of public money. It imposes on burial authorities needless trouble, and sometimes involves them in great perplexity, and often leads to controversies and conflicts of a very undesirable character in various localities. It proclaims, as it were, by outward visible symbols, differences which separate men in life, but might surely be forgotten at the grave. Many members of the Church of England share the repugnance to perpetuate these distinctions after death. The right hon. Gentleman the Member for South-West Lancashire (Sir R. Assheton Cross) has repeatedly and strongly expressed in this House his feelings on the subject. Last year I quoted the words of the late Archbishop of Canterbury to the same effect. The Bishop of Ely has again and again declared his opinion on the subject in his charges and in speeches at Diocesan Conferences. "I do not recede," he said on one of those occasions— From the opinion that in our future cemeteries there should be no division of ground into consecrated and unconsecrated, but that the whole cemetery having been legally secured in perpetuity for burial purposes, the Church should be content to adopt the principle that the grave, in whatsoever part it may be dug, is sufficiently consecrated by the words of prayer said beside it. The Bishop of Manchester, speaking at Royton in 1879, said— The Chairman of the Local Board has expressed a hope to me that the time might come when it will not be necessary to have lines of demarcation in the cemeteries—one plot of land being set apart for the Church of England, another for the Nonconformists, and another for the Roman Catholics, and it will not be necessary to build on each plot a special chapel. I entirely agree with that hope, and have never concealed my feelings upon the subject. I am certain that the Church of England becomes stronger, and more in the confidence and affection of the people by being tolerant and large-hearted, and comprehensive and open-handed, than by being exclusive and narrow, and bigoted and anathematising. Therefore, I do hope the day will come when Churchmen, Nonconformists, and Roman Catholics may at last agree to use the same building set apart for the holy purpose of reading a service over the dead. The Bishop of Exeter, in his visitation charge in 1882, referring to the probability of further alteration in the Burial Laws, said— It would be necessary, in providing for the future, to do away with the distinction between consecrated and unconsecrated ground. It would not be possible in the future to compel the erection in cemeteries of separate chapels for the service of the Church of England. Nor could he say it would be desirable. The very existence of the two chapels in a cemetery was a scandal and a reproach. It affords me great pleasure to cite these liberal sentiments from Bishops of the Church of England—sentiments which, in my opinion, reflect infinite credit on their Christian spirit. I should like to say a few words on the question of consecration. I do not wish to speak disrespectfully, far less in scorn, of any form or observance around which, in the estimation of any body of my countrymen, a religious sentiment gathers. To me, and to many others who have been brought up in a different school, though I hope not less earnest in our religious convictions, the meaning and value of the ceremony are somewhat inexplicable. No mortal man surely believes that the destiny of the departed spirit depends, in any manner or degree, upon the kind of ground in which his body has been interred. In that case, what becomes of the thousands that are drowned at sea, and what became of the noble army of martyrs, many of whom perished at the stake? But, undoubtedly, there are many excellent men, earnest and devout Christians, who do, in some way, derive comfort from the thought that the bodies of themselves and their friends should be deposited in ground over which a certain religious form has been recited. Far be it from me to speak with levity or ridicule of such feelings. All we ask is that those who believe in consecration should have it performed on their own initiative, and at their own expense; that it should be simply an ecclesiastical proceeding, and carry with it no legal consequences. There is, therefore, power given in my Bill to consecrate a cemetery, or part of a cemetery, if there are those who wish it, only that it should confer upon them no privileges, and impose upon others no disqualification. The other point dealt with in the Bill relates to the rights now possessed and exercised by the clergy and other officials to receive in the consecrated parts of cemeteries the same fees as they had in churchyards before those were closed. I dare say there are many Members of this House who are are not aware of this extraordinary arrangement. I will, therefore, briefly explain its character and origin. It is now some 50 years ago since attention began to be called to the over-crowded condition of churchyards in London and other towns, as a matter that very nearly concerned the health of the population. Acts were passed authorizing the formation of cemeteries in the neighbourhood of large towns. But during the discussion on this question there was a great outcry as to the loss that would be sustained by clergymen by this cessation of the fees they had been accustomed to receive for burials, and for the right to erect stones and monuments. And it was found necessary, as a condition of passing the Acts, to insert a clause giving compensation to the clergy for the loss of their fees. I am told by my hon. and gallant Friend the Member for East Aberdeenshire (Sir Alexander Gordon) that in a Bill introduced by the Conservative Government in 1852, for the creation of parochial cemeteries, there was no such provision in the Bill in its original, form, but was inserted as it passed through Parliament. The compensation varies in different cemeteries, from 1s. 6d. in Kensal Green to 10s. in Brompton. The Cemeteries Company provide the ground, the labour, and the service required, and are wholly independent of the parochial clergy. Before the formation of cemeteries, parishioners were sometimes buried elsewhere than in the parish churchyard; but it had never occurred to clergymen to claim a fee for the body so interred. But when the cemeteries were formed they succeeded in getting their claim recognized. At Brompton this principle seems to be carried to an extreme, for the fees of 10s. are payable to every clergyman within 10 miles round the cemetery, and this for no service performed; for the Company, or, I believe, in this case, the Government, provide two chaplains at £250 a-year each to perform the service. And I am told that many in- cumbents now receive those fees who minister in churches which have never had any burial-grounds attached to them; district churches built since burial within the Metropolitan area has been prohibited; so that they are receiving compensation for the loss of fees which they never received. These fees are, moreover, in perpetuity. We have often known instances where obsolete or useless offices have been abolished, and the existing; occupants of those offices have received compensation. But who ever heard of that compensation being continued to their heirs or successors in perpetuity? My Bill proposes to abolish these compensation fees, except as regards the present incumbents. I think it is impossible to justify the retention of these fees, and I venture respectfully to appeal to members of the Church of England whether they think it really can serve the interests of that Church to retain these invidious and unjust privileges for the clergy? Will not the inevitable effect be to fret and irritate men's minds at a moment when their feelings are peculiarly susceptible, and so to create a prejudice, not only against the individual clergymen who compel them to pay what they cannot but feel to be an unjust, and sometimes an extortionate exaction, but against the whole class to which they belong? I really hardly know, even now, what are the objections to this Bill, though I had the advantage of listening; to a long debate on the subject when I brought my Bill in last year. There were some 20 speeches, great and small, made against the measure during that discussion. I have read the report lately; but, on careful examination of those speeches, I am bound to say that the proportion of argument to words in them is very much like Sir John FalStaff's proportion of bread to sack. One of the reasons assigned for opposing the Bill was that it had been sprung upon the House by surprise. That it had come on unexpectedly on that day was true enough, for there were two other Bills before it on the Paper. But to say that the Bill itself was a surprise was too absurd. It had been before the House during the whole Session of 1882; but I had been so unfortunate at the ballot at the commencement of the Session that I failed to secure a day. Then it was introduced on the first day of the Session of 1883, and was in the hands of Members almost immediately afterwards. One of the strongest objections arose from an unguarded concession, or semi-concession, which I had made to my hon. Friend the Member for Kendal (Mr. Cropper), that I would be willing to reconsider and modify one or two minor points in the Bill to which he referred. I have heard this done a hundred times in this House on the introduction of a Bill, without its being made a ground for the rejection of the whole measure. But in stress of argument of a more forcible or plausible kind, this was turned to account against me, and then I was told that the Bill was a different Bill. Well, I shall not fall into that snare to-day. I will not listen to the siren voice of my hon. Friend the Member for Kendal. The Bill must stand on its merits, and any objections of detail must be discussed in Committee. But the real gist of the opposition seemed to consist in the cry of "The Church in Danger." Now, I should not like to belong to a Church which is always in danger. Several hon. Gentlemen intimated that by my Bill I was making an attack upon the Church. I do not know whether hon. Gentlemen opposite will accept a disclaimer from me. But I can give them a positive and very sincere assurance that nothing1 was further from my thought in introducing this measure than to injure the Church of England. And my strong conviction is that if it were passed, far from injuring, it would benefit the Church. Everything that helps to remove invidious preferences, and privileges calculated to provoke resentment and hostility among classes not otherwise ill-disposed to the Church, must tend, not to weaken, but to strengthen the Church. The hon. Gentleman concluded by moving the second reading of the Bill.


, in seconding the Motion, said, it would almost seem as if the Bill ought to come from the Church of England, and not from the Nonconformists. One of the great weaknesses of the Church of England had been the maintenance of this injurious subject of dispute between the Church and Nonconformity. That was especially the case in Wales. The people of Wales had a very strong reverence for precedent, and everything that was historical in their nation; and it was owing to the mistakes of the Church of England that Nonconformity had become so powerful in Wales. What he would say to the Church was, that two things were perfectly clear: first, that the Church of England and all other sects had quite enough to do in this generation in fighting their avowed enemies; and, secondly, that if they expected to work together for the common good, they ought to banish every irritating injustice which separated the different sections of the religious Bodies. Some hon. Members were often referred to as political Nonconformists. A greater benefit could not be conferred on political Nonconformists if such existed, than by maintaining this injustice. It gave them the greatest lever power they had, and if the Church of England was wise it would not leave them a single injustice or grievance to bless themselves with.

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


Mr. Speaker, in rising to move that this Bill be read a second time this day three months, I must present my especial thanks to my hon. Friend the Member for Carnarvonshire (Mr. Rathbone) for his services in seconding the Bill of the hon. Gentleman the Member for Merthyr (Mr. Richard). I own that if I had only to follow my hon. Friend the Member for Merthyr I should have found the Bill—I will not say a difficult Bill to grapple with—but one of those which take a little trouble to thrash out and reduce to specimens. The speech of the hon. Mover belongs to that style of Parliamentary eloquence of which he is a very good master, one which wraps up a very stern and determined purpose and intention in some rambling language of flabby kindness. That is a difficult form of speech to deal with. But my hon. Friend the Member for Carnarvonshire, with the cool chivalry of his character, breaks through constraint, and tells us bluntly that we Churchmen ought to have brought in this Bill ourselves, because it removes one of the injurious subjects of dispute. Why, everything that any man wants to get from anybody else is demanded as an injurious subject of dispute. A cottage to an Irish labourer, or a piece of land to a dynamiter, or the concession of a loan to a speculator— everything that a man wants to get and does not get, and does not quite see his way to get, is an injurious subject of dispute. I thank the hon. Gentleman for so neatly summing up the policy of the Party which he and the hon. Member for Merthyr so very ably and so very loyally to their cause represent. The hon. Member for Merthyr has told us that this is an illustration of the Church always being- in danger. The Church, I believe, is not, and never was and never will be, in danger through its own action; but I believe that the Church, like every other institution, may be endangered by the fussiness, wrong-headedness, and insincerity of sham friends, lukewarm supporters, and concealed enemies. Now this policy—I mean the injurious subject of dispute policy—is the policy of the Liberation Society, a Society which is engaged in an ingenious and mealy-mouthed conspiracy against the Church of England, and which calls itself a Society to liberate religion from State control. As to this Liberation Society, I am going to say a thing which I am afraid may be rude and un-Parliamentary. The hon. Member for Merthyr would not refuse to be compared with the lion, and the hon. Member for Carnarvonshire would not object to be compared with the antelope; but there is a certain animal of such marvellous and pronounced intellect, that an article in a former number of The Quaterly Review was devoted to the glorification of that intellect. That animal is a rodent of small size, given to live in cellars, and fond of cheese, and that sort of thing. It is a monosyllabic animal, and it represents very accurately the policy of the Liberation Society. The Liberation Party for years have been banded and pledged together to destroy the Church of England by perpetual nibbling. They coyly plead that they only want to tackle it in its Establishmentarian aspect; but when I see that those who are leagued against the Established Church of England represent Calvinists, Agnostics, and all sorts of forms and shades of belief, or the absence of belief, I do not believe they are only banded together against the establishment of the Church of England, and not against its doctrine also. This Liberation Society, following the instincts and line of operation of that most intelligent rodent, is always nibbling away at something or other, and then it makes up its pious mouth, and it tells us—"We are only striking at an injurious subject of dispute. Get rid of that and all will be peace and happiness and prosperity hereafter." But as soon as one injurious subject of dispute is got rid of another, punctual to time, springs up for the benefit of the Liberation Society. Some years ago we heard that compulsory church rates were the stone of offence. ["Oh, oh!"] Well, if you are so very ungrateful for their abolition, I am heartily sorry they were abolished. We made you a present of compulsory church rates. I myself scandalized some of my Church friends by my readiness to do so. But the result was that the Liberation Society came forward the very year after with still more inflated and malignant charges against the Church. Mr. Spurgeon, Dr. Landels, Dr. R. W. Dale, and others entered into a kind of competitive slanging match against the Church of England; and the charges they made were not only unfounded, but abusive and vindictive. Well, as I have said, the compulsory church rates were got rid of, and yet the crop of injurious subjects of dispute remained. The Universities were thrown open, the Irish Church was thrown to the monsters of the deep, and, ultimately, in the year 1880, the present Government, by the agency of my right hon. and learned Friend (Mr. Osborne Morgan), who had himself, after he had been crying in the wilderness, with very uncertain support from his friends, and fighting the battle year after year, carried the repeal of the existing Burial Laws as the mouthpiece of the Government; and then we heard that at last the great grievance was removed—["No !"]—and that hereafter Church and Dissent might work together in peace and in harmony. And I must call my right hon. and learned Friend (Mr. Osborne Morgan), and every other candid man, to witness that after our great defeat and collapse—it was a defeat and collapse, and I should be foolish to deny it — we Churchmen, both laymen in Parliament and clergymen in the country, did submit with great good humour and great political candour to the new and, of course to us, unpleasant state of things. Of course, there were exceptions. Amongst the 15,000 clergymen of the Church of England there must be some unpolitic, unwise, and hot- headed men; but the number of cases in which anything like a grievance could be brought up was simply infinitesimal. Such as it was, however, it enabled the Liberation Society to pose themselves like ancient Christian martyrs. But the ink of the Royal Assent was hardly dry on the Burials Bill before the Liberation Party came forward with its new injurious subject of dispute; and in spite of all that we Churchmen had yielded, in spite of our admirable behaviour on the occasion, they tried to tear up the understanding and sow again the seeds of ill-will.

But what, Sir, was the real state of the case? We know very well that the burials grievance was a very simple one, and that the actual law or custom—it was partly law and partly custom—was one of those old things that existed in England, and in which, happily, a tradition far older and more sacred than the mere letter of the law prevailed. The old law and custom only saw one possible class of persons in the land; those who, being citizens, were also Churchmen; and as everyone who was a citizen and a Churchman must belong to some parish or other, he had a right to be buried in the churchyard of the parish. Well, but how was he to be buried there? The old custom of England recognized a National Church, both before and after the Reformation. Various as may have been the changes at the Reformation, this was one point on which the continuity was rigidly kept up. The old custom, besides recognizing a National Church, recognized a national form of burial, and that form of burial was at the disposal of the representatives of any deceased parishioner. The deceased parishioner might have been a man who had in life repudiated that form; in which case that form, of burial was not enforced over him. The Church said— "We are very sorry for you; here is the form, there is the grave; the grave is yours, the form may be yours; if not, you must be buried without the form." That was the old state of things. The grievance grew up with the growth and toleration of other forms of religion. Alongside of the old churchyards a new series of graveyards have been created by the legislation, I may say, mainly during the present century, which witnessed the recognition of a variety of sects in the land. In these cemeteries a portion was laid out for that which was still the national religion and still the religion of the majority of the people, and other portions were laid out for the interment of those who belonged to other forms of religion. That was the state of things recognized in 1880, and I must say that the temper of men who, after such a concession, after such a change, after such a revolution as that of 1880, and after the way in which the Church bore itself, now try to tear up the compact, is one for which I have no respect, or sympathy, or understanding. What is the present Bill before the House? My hon. Friend the Member for Merthyr, whose goodness and candour no man can doubt, has just assured us that it is not his wish to injure the Church. All I can say is, I am very sorry my hon. Friend has fallen into such bad company; his goodness and his candour have been dreadfully played on. He comes here to-day, he tells us, as the advocate of those who do not wish to do harm to the Church. My hon. Friend the Member for Carnarvonshire is a judicious bottle holder, for he says all we wish to do is to get rid of an injurious subject of dispute. I was reading one of the evening papers last night, and I came across a very amusing article in it, by a gentleman who I think calls himself "An Apostle of St. Giles." The writer was speaking of burglars, one of whom said—"Any man of our confraternity who tries to do injury or harm is not a brother—is not one of us." Now these burglars are like the Liberation Party, who have been distilling their leprous ointment into the ears of the hon. Member for Merthyr, for they are gentlemen who will come up to us smiling, take our jewellery and loose cash out of our pockets, and say they are only removing an injurious subject of dispute.

My hon. Friend the Member for Merthyr has given us a Bill which I must say has a gleam of sunlight about it. There is one extremely amusing provision in it; there is a stroke of audacious wit in it which I think the hon. Baronet the Member for Carlisle (Sir Wilfrid Lawson) would hardly be guilty of. It is this. The cemeteries are not to be consecrated compulsorily; but nothing in this Act shall prevent, and no cemetery authority shall prevent, the consecration of a ceme- tery, or any part thereof, or any building therein, by the Bishop of the diocese after everything which makes consecration valuable, everything that makes it real, has been swept away. I have heard many odd permissions in my life; but I never heard a permission so absolutely grotesque as this, unless it be the permission given this Session to General Gordon to leave Khartoum. This question of consecration is one which it is so easy to make a mock of that I must say a little about it. The hon. Member for Merthyr talks of the toleration and large-heartedness of certain Bishops, and he says he knows that some people do attach great importance to the act of consecration. Yet he follows this up by a sneer which he must know to be baseless; he does not, forsooth, suppose consecration affects the destinies of the departed spirit. He would more wisely have refrained from making such a remark. An imputation of that sort, though dressed up as a sham negation, is only one of those jests that return to the author. The more modern great Christian Bodies, of which that to which the hon. Member for Merthyr belongs is one, perhaps attach a more literal value to the Mosaie Code than either the Church of England or the Church of Rome, and in their eyes the first day of the week is hedged in by even stricter provisions than it is with those Churches. Our Dissenting friends' reverence for the Sabbath is a feeling which others may think exaggerated in certain details. But yet they would have a real grievance if Parliament trampled on their feelings. The same considerations hold good as to the older Churches and consecration. May not a man, whatever be his belief as to Orders, to succession, to ceremonies, to liturgies, claim that his belief in the efficacy of consecration ought to be as much respected as a Dissenter's reverence for the Sabbath? I contend, therefore, that we ought not to be deprived of consecration, neither ought our Roman Catholic fellow-Christians, who value consecration just as much as we do. The Church of Rome being less elastic in various arrangements than the Church of England, would feel the hardship resulting from the abolition of consecration as one which would operate upon them even more hardly than we might feel it. Last year the hon. Member for Dungarvan (Mr. O'Donnell) made an admirable speech on this subject. It is not always I agree with the hon. Member for Dungarvan; but I did agree with the speech to which I refer, arid I trust that to-day he or some other Roman Catholic will see fit to show that the grievance we have in this matter is also the grievance of Roman Catholics. I will not go into the burial fees part of my hon. Friend's Bill. I may have a good deal to say about that at some future time; but I am so convinced that the Bill breaks down in its early part, breaks down on its broad principle, that I oppose it, irrespective of its monetary arrangements. I think it is a mischievous, a provocative, and an aggressive violation of the concordat of four years ago, it only tends to irreverence, it is only one more contribution to the cause of anti-religion and anti-Christianity, and, taught as I have been by the various dodges of the Liberation rodents during the last 20 years, I do not think it will dispose of the injurious subjects of dispute. I beg to move that the Bill be read a second time this day three months.


seconded the Amendment. He objected to the Bill because it was of a mischievous character and entirely unnecessary. They had been assured that the Act of 1880 settled the whole question; and he submitted that the Conservatives and the clergy had a right to complain of any Bill which re-opened it. Unfortunately, the assurances of right hon. and hon. Gentlemen on the Ministerial side of the House upon that point were worthless. The Bill now before the House would have the effect of imposing a new, and, he thought, unnecessary rate upon the country parishes. They all knew that when a country churchyard became overcrowded, two or three wealthy parishioners or a landowner gave a portion of land to be added to the churchyard. In that way the wants of the parish were supplied without cost to the parishioners, or without any charge being made upon the rates. If, however, this Bill became law, there would be an end to anything of that sort, and some body would have to be created to impose a rate whenever a churchyard needed extending. He thought that, this being an unnecessary rate, it was a rate that was wrong and ought not to be levied. The hon. Member for Carnarvonshire (Mr. Rathbone) had pointed out that the existence of this grievance against the Church of England was a weapon that could be used against the Conservative candidates at the next Election. He would venture to suggest to him that the Conservatives felt that the passing of a measure which imposed an unnecessary rate, and a rate which was wrong in principle, would be putting a powerful and useful weapon in the hands of the Conservatives. As to consecration, whatever might be thought about that, this was not a proper time for going into the question; and he merely wished to make the one practical remark that it had the effect of preserving for large towns many open spaces which would not otherwise be preserved. That was, no doubt, one of the smallest considerations; but he thought the House would do well to consider it. He opposed the measure, therefore, because it was a violation of the understanding entered into between the Nonconformists and Churchmen, and accepted by the country generally at the time of the passing of the Burials Act of 1880; because, from the operation of that Act, any legislation was now entirely unnecessary; because it disregarded the feelings of a vast number of the people of the country in regard to the consecration of cemeteries, and because it increased unnecessarily the rates and burdens of the people.

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

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


said, he would congratulate the House on the fact that the hon. Gentleman who had just sat down had approached the subject-matter before the House in a different strain from that adopted by the right hon. Gentleman the Member for the University of Cambridge (Mr. Beresford Hope.) He had heard many extraordinary speeches in that House, but none that could rival that of the right hon. Gentleman. The language the right hon. Gentleman had permitted himself to indulge in in respect to the Nonconformist Party and their leaders was such that he would not submit to it without raising a very strong protest. The language which the right hon. Gentleman had used was language that ought not to have been applied to any religious Body. He would only say that he knew nothing which so imperilled the Church, which so aggravated the unfortunate differences and distinctions that existed, as speeches of that class and description, which trampled on the dearest and most sacred feelings of those who were opposed to the right hon. Gentleman, and which created a feeling between Nonconformists and the Church of England which would not otherwise be provoked. The right hon. Gentleman had spoken of this Bill as a violation of the compact of 1880. The Bill of 1880 was not a compact. The Conservative Party fought on that occasion to the very last. It was a fair-fought political fight; the Conservatives were fairly beaten by the sense of the House of Commons and the country, and it was no more a concession or a concordat than the repeal of the Corn Laws. He contended that this Bill was a natural, legitimate, and logical consequence of the Act of 1880, and in no way interfered with or disturbed that Act. The principle of the latter Act was that every parishioner had a right to be interred in the churchyard of his parish, and that his friends should have a right to indicate the service in which they wished his burial to be conducted. It was simply proposed to extend that principle to cemeteries. The Bill did not prohibit the consecration of cemeteries, or of any part of them, or of chapels. It was always assumed that the Dissenters wanted to do something very wicked against the Church and against consecration. He had no such sentiment or feeling. He much respected the sacred setting apart of a piece of land for such a purpose; and whether it was done in the manner adopted by the Church of England or in that adopted by the Church of Rome, the principle was one which every Christian and right-minded man would appreciate and respect. There was nothing in that Bill to interfere with consecration. All that it said was that it should not be the absolute duty of the cemetery authority administering the public funds in the control of a cemetery, to divide it into two portions, one consecrated and the other unconsecrated. But that was really a small part of the matter. The real gist of the complaint was that great scandal to their Christianity, the erection of two chapels in each cemetery ground; and the main object of the Bill was to prohibit the absolute necessity at present existing for the erection of those two buildings, and that, too, at the public expense. The law was as unfair to Nonconformists as it well could be. The law was that the public authority was compelled to build a chapel on the consecrated ground at the public expense; but it was not compelled to build a chapel on the unconsecrated ground, unless three-fourths of a vestry meeting and the Home Secretary otherwise determined; and, although it provided that the clergy of the Church of England might use the unconsecrated chapel, Dissenting ministers might not use the consecrated chapel, and were therefore left to perform their services in the rain and snow, without there being any provision made for them at the public expense. The Bill would do away with that invidious and unhappy state of things, and enact that the building should be available for the Church of England, the Church of Rome, Dissenters, and all who came to the cemetery to perform the religious service which they wished to associate with the burial of the dead. The part of the Bill referring to fees raised a question of a fiscal character. The rights of living incumbents would not be interfered with; but it was proposed that in future Burial Boards should be enabled to revise the fees. The Bill was a simple development of the Act of 1880, and he asked hon. Members to deal with the grievance which it sought to remedy. Did they defend the two chapels in the cemeteries? [An hon. MEMBER: Yes.] He said that was a relic of barbarism and a scandal to Christianity. But the question raised a clear and definite issue which they should decide in the Lobby. He had great pleasure in supporting the second reading of that measure.


said, he thought that after the discussion which took place last year there was little new that could be said on that measure. The hon. Member who spoke last had given a Roland for the Oliver which had come from the right hon. Member for the University of Cambridge (Mr. Beresford Hope); but beyond that there was little that was new in his speech. When they made a cemetery by Act of Parliament he admitted that Parliament was the proper authority to decide whether there should be one chapel or two; and he agreed that in regard to cemeteries which existed and were regulated only by Act of Parliament it was undesirable that there should be two chapels; and he did not think there would be anything necessarily injurious to the Church by the use of one building for different religious services. For a long time past, and perhaps now in the Crypt of St. Paul's, and certainly in the Crypt of Canterbury Cathedral, a Dissenting community, the French Huguenots, had been allowed to hold their services. Therefore, on broad principle, he thought the two chapels part of the arrangement might be given up. But he objected to the Bill because it applied not only to new cemeteries, but also to every new churchyard in a new district parish. Apparently, if the Bishop did come, he was to have the appearance of passing accidentally that way. He had no doubt that this part of the Bill was brought forward perfectly seriously now; but it must have arisen out of a joke. As to the 5th section, providing that in default of consecration the ground should become the parish burying ground, that would be all very well as a clause in a Bill for the disestablishment of the Church; but that was a question which ought to be fairly fought out on its own merits. As to the question of fees, he considered that the cases which had been brought forward were exceptional ones. It was well known that the Common Law did not allow the exaction of burial fees, and the exceptions were only certain parishes which were allowed to charge them by ancient custom, which ancient custom had to be proved. These parishes were not so common as hon. Members might suppose. The fees, as a rule, which could be imposed were not more than 5s. or 6s.; and it should be remembered that they, in all probability, formed part of the income of the clergyman, or part of the value of the advowson. If, therefore, the House wished to abolish these fees, it must take care to compensate everybody affected by their abolition. As to the chapels in statutory cemeteries, he thought that some agreement might be come to; but he hoped that the scheme of confusing and degrading the rite of consecration would fail entirely.


said, it was his intention to vote for the second reading of the Bill. His only regret was that it did not go far enough, inasmuch as it only dealt with burials in parochial cemeteries near large towns, where public opinion was beginning to have effect in controlling the abuses which had gone on for two or three centuries. The Bill ignored altogether the rural parishes of the country, where the greatest abuses prevailed; for inasmuch as they were far removed from the centres of population the local clergyman often took everything upon himself. He hoped, if the Government intended to legislate on this question, that they would bring in a complete measure, applicable to the whole country, and not merely to the parochial cemeteries. He also hoped that the Government would not forget to deal with the question of mortuary fees. These mortuary fees had existed since the time of Henry VIII. Every person dying in the parish had to pay a certain sum to the rector. Strange to say, that law was still in force now in many parts of England, and in many instances created great hardship. The Government should do away with these fees entirely, as it had done in fees for baptism, which were now prohibited. Baptism was optional, but burial was not; and there was, therefore, more reason for prohibiting fees in the latter case. If the Government would only bring in a Bill to abolish these fees, and nothing else, it would be a step in the right direction. As to consecration, that was a modern innovation altogether. In early times there was nothing known of consecration, and even after the Act of Uniformity was passed it was not recognized as an authentic part of the ritual of the Church of England; and in proof of that he would point out that there was no form in the Prayer Book for the consecration of churchyards or cemeteries. Nothing was known of consecration in Scotland. In the vestry of the parish of Kensington, with which he was connected, it had been decided to remove the remnants of separation between consecrated and unconsecrated ground. Nonconformists treated consecration as a perfect nonenity; but they objected to separation of any kind be- tween themselves and other religious denominations. In his country a new burial ground was established in a parish where one or two members of the Parochial Board were Episcopalians, and attached importance to consecration. The Board did not wish consecration; but these gentlemen thought they would have their way, and so they got a Bishop to go to the burial ground one morning without anybody knowing anything about it. The Bishop walked round the ground, and said what he had to say. The Episcopalians thought the Board would be annoyed; but the Board said they did not care the least about it, the Bishop could come and do the same thing again next week. He believed that would be a way of dealing with this question. Let the Bishop consecrate the burial ground to any extent; but let it not affect in any way the fees of the clergy. This was really the history of consecration. It had been encouraged, because it brought money to the clergy. Hon. Gentlemen opposite who were so keen to maintain an inner and an outer circle should remember that it was quite possible that hereafter there might be other circles, and they might find themselves on the outside of their inner circle. No man dared to say on which side of the line he would lie, and the less they spoke now of such divisions the better. In old days they knew of the Cave of Machpelah, in which the friend of God was buried; and they knew of the Cave of Golgotha, wherein was laid the Son of God; but they heard nothing of consecration; and should they now pretend that the soil of the earth, as it came from the Maker's hand, was not fit to receive their poor bodies without being consecrated by the hand of man?


wished to see everything done to conciliate the members of the Nonconformist Body that was not inconsistent with the principles upon which the Church Establishment was founded. The question of the two chapels was not new to him, for very lately it led to something like a public uproar in a neighbouring parish. It was a question he would gladly see removed from the sphere of contention; but there were other points in respect to which he objected to the Bill, and he would not be able to support it. In the first place, notwithstanding what had been said by Gentlemen opposite, it did throw obsta- cles in the way of consecration, and this would prevent landlords from giving land. He thought the country generally would object to the provision that the cemetery authority should not be empowered in any sense to divide a cemetery into unconsecrated ground. But he thought the prohibition to any cemetery authority to apply to the Bishop to consecrate any portion of the ground was really grotesque.


said, in the absence of the Home Secretary, it devolved upon him to express the views of the Government upon this Bill. The word "concordat" applied to the settlement of 1880 by his right hon. Friend who moved the rejection of this Bill was a most extraordinary term to apply to the termination of one of the fiercest struggles the House was ever engaged in, and a struggle conducted to the bitter end. They might as well call Waterloo a "concordat." The Bills introduced by him in 1870 and succeeding years never touched the question of cemeteries, which was the only question the Bill now before the House dealt with. His Bills dealt entirely with churchyards, and he had purposely kept the two questions distinct. There was a great difference between churchyards and cemeteries. The former were generally given by some benefactor of the Church, and were maintained at the expense of the clergy, whereas the latter were provided at the cost of the ratepayers, and were maintained at their expense. He had, therefore, held that the proper way would be to deal with churchyards and with cemeteries in two different measures. But when the Bill of 1880 was under discussion great pressure was put on the Government to remove the impassable barrier which at that time separated the consecrated and unconsecrated ground. The way, however, in which the Bill dealt with that question was not altogether satisfactory, as it gave the clergyman an unqualified right to perform his service in any part of the unconsecrated ground; but, in the case of the consecrated ground, limited the right of the Nonconformist to perform, his service at the grave side. In addition to that, it required the Nonconformist when a burial took place in the consecrated ground to pay exactly the same fee as if the clergyman had performed the service, and, consequently, he had to pay twice over. He maintained, and nobody Lad denied, that the Burials Act of 1880, which dealt with churchyards, had been a most satisfactory piece of legislation. As to the prophecies of outrages and scandals that would take place, they had proved utterly false; and the services performed by Nonconformist ministers had been as decent, as solemn, and as reverent as those performed by clergymen of the Church of England. The only scandals that had occurred had been where clergymen had committed breaches of the law. As to the question of duplicate chapels, he would like to read to the House an extract from a speech of the Dean of Chester, delivered in the Convocation of York, on July 6, 1880. The reverend gentleman said— Duplicate chapels were conspicuous everywhere about the country. Travellers from the Continent of Europe, and especially from America, were struck with them, and asked what was the reason, and the answer was—'It is the principle of the English, a principle that even in death we are to be visibly divided.' Our children were brought up in the sight of these duplicate chapels, and when they asked what was the meaning of these circumstances, their answer was—'It is the existing principle of the English that even the wounds which have been felt during lifetime cannot be healed in death.' A gentleman once said to him—' These divided cemetery chapels are the very petrification of Dissent.' If we wanted to weaken the Church of England and strengthen Nonconformity, he should say—' Perpetuate this system of burial chapels and divided cemeteries.' The principle of the present Bill, as he understood it, was to leave to consecration its full effect and consequence as an ecclesiastical or religious ceremony; but, at the same time, to take away from it any force as a legal instrument. He maintained that that was the true way to solve the difficulty. More than that, he was certain that the problem could not be solved in any other way. The Government were prepared, therefore, to support the principle of the Bill. They, at the same time, held themselves free to discuss in Committee the various questions which would arise. There was the question whether the Bill should be retrospective or only prospective. He did not himself like retrospective legislation. Then there was the question of clergymen's fees, and Churchmen would agree that a more unsatisfactory way of paying the clergy of the Church of England could not be devised. The Select Committee already referred to went into this subject, and the conclusion they came to was that there was no legal way of enforcing the fees if payment of them were refused. Moreover these fees were a matter, not of law, but of custom; and they differed widely, not only in different dioceses, but even in different parishes. He was informed they did not exist at all in the diocese of Salisbury. The present mode of remunerating the clergy by fees, unsatisfactory as it was, was especially unsatisfactory where the service was performed by a Nonconformist minister and the clergyman stepped in and took a fee for work which he had never done. There were other questions —such as the application of the Bill to churchyards—which might be dealt with in Committee. He earnestly hoped the Bill would not be talked out, which was a most unsatisfactory way of disposing of questions, and was becoming a perfect scandal; but that the House would decide aye or no whether the Bill should be read a second time. There was a strong feeling, indeed, in favour of the Bill, which was by no means confined to Dissenters; but was, on the contrary, shared by ratepayers, who resented the providing of these double chapels, and this division of consecrated and unconsecrated ground, as a needless and wanton charge on their pockets.


also trusted that a Division would be taken on the Bill. As a member of the Rochester Diocesan Conference, he wished to explain why he should vote against the second reading. It was said there was a considerable demand for the Bill; but no evidence had been afforded of that demand. He believed that most people were under the impression that the Burials Act was a final measure, and were it not for the discussions which had taken place in reference to this Bill, those in whose interest it was introduced would have had little knowledge of the disadvantages under which they were now supposed to be labouring. As to the abolition of fees, he did not think that was a vital point of contention; but there were other provisions of the Bill which appeared to him to stamp it as one that should be opposed. He had presented a Petition from the Rochester Diocesan Conference against the Bill. The Bill was objectionable in principle, and the 3rd clause, by which additions to churchyards were to be made subject to the Burial Board, and not to the parish clergyman, was specially unjust. Gentlemen who might be disposed to grant land for the enlargement of burial grounds would be discouraged from doing so by a provision such as this. He thought the plans of tombs and monuments should be, in the first instance, submitted to the approval of the Bishop. There was no general demand for the Bill, and he hoped the House would that afternoon reject it.


said, he was convinced that the Burials Act had resulted in producing harmony and getting rid, to a great extent, of those scandals which were so frequently before reported in the newspapers. That Act might be said to have settled the question of principle, and the present Bill proceeded upon the smaller ground of economy. The three great requirements in burial were—first, that it should be sanitary; secondly, economical; and, thirdly, in accordance with the sentiments of respect and reverence which we all entertained towards our dead relatives and friends. The Bill really only dealt with the economical aspect. It disposed of the questions of the division of the ground, the two chapels, the payment for consecration, and the fees payable to the clergy. There was really no question of principle involved. He was in favour of the Bill in the main; but, like the noble Lord opposite, he objected to Clause 3. He had always objected to the two chapels; but that and other questions could be dealt with in Committee. In the meantime, he hoped that the House would give the measure a second reading.


said, it was impossible to look upon the measure except as one which attacked the Established Church, and was by piecemeal action sapping her foundations. He agreed in the objections which had been expressed to fees, and thought it injurious to the interests of the Church that the clergy should be paid in that way for any of the services which they rendered to the living or the dead. With respect to consecrated ground, the suggested concession that the clergy should be entitled to use unconsecrated ground, in return for the use by Dissenters of that which is consecrated, amounted to nothing at all. The Church, which was a Divine institution owning no head but its founder, and bound by no laws which that or any other similar Assembly attempted to impose upon it, had always maintained the custom, of consecration. None could deny that consecration had been of immense benefit in preserving places free from the associations of secular life for the religious purposes of the living and for the reception of the dead. Even if the Church attached no special value to the ceremony of consecration in itself, it, at any rate, prevented the perpetration of such scandals as happened some time since in the burial ground attached to Whitfield's Chapel in Tottenham Court Road, when the bones of dead Dissenters were dug up and sold to market gardeners for potting their geraniums. He therefore appealed to his Dissenting friends, as well as to those belonging to the Church, not to allow this ceremony to be interfered with. The right hon. and learned Gentleman the Home Secretary had said that this was a sentiment that ought to be respected. The Bill, in its earlier and most important sections, went distinctly against the principle of consecration; and, this being so, it ought not to be adopted. So long as there was a religious Body with whom the Sovereign must be in communion it was impossible that they could have what they might call religious equality. With regard to the fees, he did not wish to impose or perpetuate upon Dissenters from the Church of England the slightest pecuniary or civil disadvantage. He was in favour of removing any and every disability which rested upon Dissenters consistently with maintaining the National Church as a part of the Constitution in harmony with the religious profession of the country. He was, however, under the impression, by reading Nonconformist publications, that there were no grievances to redress—["No, no!"]—at any rate, several eminent Nonconformist divines had so expressed themselves. The question of consecration was one upon which, in virtue of the constitution of the Church, it set a high value, and it could not be surrendered. A Bill dealing with that question, therefore, was one which they could not possibly entertain.


said, he felt that the speech of the right hon. Gentleman opposite (Mr. J. G. Hubbard), like so many of those which had preceded it, dealt rather with points of detail which might very properly be considered in Committee. The fact of the matter was that this Bill must in fairness be looked upon as the very natural corollary of, and accompaniment to, the Act of 1880. He had heard the economical argument urged by the hon. Member for North Staffordshire (Mr. Davenport); but he thought that he would have some difficulty in making an appeal to the constituencies against this measure on the ground of its adding any cost to the ratepayers. With reference to the double chapels, he said it was rather a hard circumstance that Burial Boards, Corporations, and other Bodies dealing with the public funds should have to erect a chapel, not only at the ratepayers' cost, but which must be in accordance with the plans submitted to the Bishop. It was satisfactory to know, in respect to this question of chapels, and as indicating the growth of public sympathy, that there had been a practical agreement with regard to the impropriety and non-necessity of the second chapel. Much had been said with regard to the importance of consecration, and the right hon. Gentleman opposite (Mr. Hubbard) had spoken very warmly on that subject. But he (Mr. Woodall) wished to point out that the Bill had been framed in a spirit of fairness, liberality, and sympathy with those who attached importance to that ceremony. Nothing which the Bill contained prevented it; on the contrary, there was a practical invitation to come and consecrate any portion of the ground. What the Bill did was this. After satisfying life interests, it did away with the vested interest which had been so long enjoyed, and which they thought had been so unjustly enforced, which gave fees to the clergy for services which they did not necessarily render, which gave them a right of veto upon monuments in the erection or cost of which they had not been consulted. It was, therefore, asked that the Bill should be allowed to pass, in order that those subjects might be divested of their ecclesiastical bearing, and in order that they should be treated in a spirit of common sense, and with regard to the general convenience and sanitary considerations of the day.


said, the supporters of the Church of England were willing to go a considerable way in meeting the promoters of this Bill. They were willing to give up the dual chapels, and to give up anything like an invidious distinction between the consecrated and the unconsecrated portion of the ground. He had, however, a very strong objection to the provision that the cemetery authorities, whatever they might be, should not have the power of calling upon the Bishop to consecrate the ground as the Bill stood. If the Bishop entered the ground, he would be an intruder, as the proper persons to put him in motion were the cemetery authorities; nor, indeed, were there any others who could do so. He believed that there was a strong feeling amongst the people generally in favour of burials in consecrated ground, and that any measure tending to limit consecration was uncalled for, and antagonistic to the wishes and habits of all classes of the community. If the Bill was altered in this and one or two other respects he should have no objection to it.


said, he objected to a chapel of any kind being maintained. He held that it was the business of the State to provide for the decent interment on sanitary grounds of the people of the country; but they had no business, as ratepayers, to set up chapels, whether belonging to one religious denomination or another. He objected to any chapel being set up to be used at the cost of the ratepayers. Nonconformists had no right to the chapel; all they had a right to was the shelter of a shed for the purpose of conducting the burial ceremony. He protested against the principle that the ratepayer was to be compelled to provide for either one or two chapels for the purpose of permitting religious worship connected with the burial of the dead. It was the erection of those chapels which made the cemeteries so costly to the public. He considered that the proposal to appropriate the consecrated chapel at cemeteries was merely a gratuitous insult, inserted for the purpose of enabling the promoters of the measure to say that, after having obtained redress of all their grievances, they had at last succeeded in invading the Church itself. He opposed the Bill in its entirety.


said, he disagreed with the contention that the Bill was one designed in favour of the Church of England, because, on looking at the names of those who promoted the Bill, he found them to be those of the oligarchy of the Liberation Society. He regarded the measure not so much in the character of a Bill as the battle cry of those who advocated Disestablishment. With reference to the question of dual chapels, he said that although he was willing to see them abolished, yet as long as the present difference of opinion existed between the Church of England and the Nonconformist Body, he thought, as a matter of necessity, those chapels should be in the cemeteries if they were to exist at all. He protested against the admission of Dissenting funerals to consecrated chapels, inasmuch as those places were de facto portions of the Church of England. He regarded the 4th clause of the Bill as a most objectionable one. If it were to become law, they would see that take place which was repudiated in 1880; having obtained the right by law to enter churches in cemeteries, the right would be claimed to enter churches which were otherwise situated. The question of fees was by no means personal to the clergymen, as the Bill appeared to make it, but they were attached to the office; and in some parishes the burial fees enabled the vicar to keep a third curate. While giving the hon. Member for Merthyr (Mr. Richard) credit for honesty of motive in making his proposals, he could by no means support the second reading of the Bill; for, in his opinion, it was intended as an attack on the Church.


said, he thought it was very desirable to come to a Division; but there were one or two points upon which he would wish to say a few words. As to the Bill being a necessary corollary to the Act of 1880, he would observe that if it were so, it ought to be brought in by the same people. What he objected to was this nibbling kind of legislation; and he looked upon this Bill as a most uncalled-for attempt oil the part of a private Member to deal with a subject which the Government were strong enough, if they chose, to carry out themselves. With regard to the dual chapel, he had no objection to have unconsecrated buildings open to the services of all sorts and conditions of men; but what he did object to was the infliction of unauthorized ministers and services upon buildings set apart for the worship of the Church of England. It was openly stated by the members of the Liberation Society that they wanted to take the buildings of the Church of England for this sort of use. That was a thing which Churchmen could never consent to. They never could consent to have their churches used for services other than those of the Church of England. It was not members of the Church, but it was Nonconformists, the clients of hon. Gentlemen opposite, who set up the dual chapel and rival places of worship to those of the Church of England; and then they asked Churchmen to give up all the principles they held dear.

Question put.

The House divided:—Ayes 176; Noes 154: Majority 22.—(Div. List, No. 134.)

Main Question again proposed.

It being after a quarter of an hour before Six of the clock, the Debate stood adjourned till To-morrow.

House adjourned at five minutes before Six o'clock.