HC Deb 08 September 1887 vol 320 cc1842-3

(Mr. Lawson, Mr. Hunt, Mr. Howell, Mr. James Rowlands.)


Order for Second Reading read.

MR, J. ROWLANDS) (Finsbury, E

I am sorry that I have to trouble the House at this early hour of the morning (3.50 a.m.) about this Bill; but I had hoped that the Government would have been able to accept it, without its being necessary to offer any explanation. I hope, under any circumstances, they will be able to accept it. It is merely an Amending Bill of some of the existing Acts of Parliament, and I believe that if they had been worked strictly, instead of being worked in a lax manner, it would have been possible to grapple with the case this measure is particularly intended to meet. I believe that if there is one subject more than another which has created a great deal of feeling in this House it is the subject of burial grounds. Hon. Members on all sides of the House have taken an interest in it, and all are most anxious that these places should not only not be desecrated, but should be properly respected. Now, for some considerable time, as is known to a great many persons, a great scandal has been taking place in the north-west of London in connection with a burial ground in Tottenham Court Road. I believe the owners of the burial ground got into some financial difficulties, and disassociated it from the Whitfield Tabernacle, and it fell into the hands of a speculative gentleman, who has tried to build on the ground. He commenced removing the remains of persons who had been interred, and he had to be prevented doing that. When he found it was impossible to build on the ground he seems to have taken other action, not out of disrespect to the ground, but for the benefit of the Whitfield Tabernacle. He then let it to someone who uses it for the holding of fairs. I ask can anyone look without outraged feelings at the fact that one of these burial places, consecrated not in the sense that burial grounds are consecrated in the Church of England, but by the remains of the ancestors of the people living in the locality, and which must be sacred to those relatives who remain, is being utilized for the purpose of merrymaking and for the holding of a fair. A relative of a person buried in this ground came to me to-day, and asked me to try and do my best to get this nuisance removed. As I say, there is an ordinary public fair going on upon this burial ground; there are rifle shooting galleries and all the rest of the nuisances—admitted nuisances to everyone living in the neighbourhood—which usually attend these fairs in crowded neighbourhoods. The inhabitants of the district have no means of preventing the nuisance, consequently this little Bill is brought in to grapple, if possible, with the difficulty. I am prepared to accept any Amendment the Government may think necessary, in order, if the Bill is not workable, to render it workable. I ask the Government sincerely, if they possibly can, to help us to get this Bill through, and to stop this grave scandal which, I believe, the police authorities have tried to put a stop to; but, if refused, it is powerless to prevent. An injunction has been obtained against the proprietor or lessee of the ground; but it only applies for one hour during the week while service is going on in the Whitfield Tabernacle on a Wednesday evening.

Motion made, and Question, "That the Bill be now read a second time,"— (Mr. J. Rowlands,)—put, and agreed to.