HC Deb 09 March 1891 vol 351 cc481-2
MR. WILLIAM M'ARTHUR (Cornwall Mid. St. Austell)

I beg to ask the Secretary of Stats for the Home Department whether his attention has been called to the circumstances attending the funeral of Mrs. White, a member of the Wesleyan Society, at Loddon, Norfolk, on the 11th February last; whether he is aware that the Vicar of Loddon was duly advised that the body was to be buried in the churchyard without the rites of the Church of England, pursuant to "The Burial Laws Amendment Act, 1880;" and that upon application being made to the sexton for the bell to be tolled at the funeral, that official, in reply, exhibited the Vicar's notice—namely, The Act of Parliament respecting funerals which are not taken by the Clergy of the Established Church does not contemplate the tolling of the Church bell; the bell therefore will not be tolled at funerals except when conducted by the Clergy of the Church of England; that, although the bell was not tolled, the account of fees presented to Mr. White included a charge for the sexton of 1s. 6d. for the tolling of the bell at the funeral; and that upon Mr. White's protesting, the clerk refused to receive any payment at all unless all the fees were paid; whether the tolling of the church bell at the funeral of a Nonconformist in a churchyard under the Act of 1880 is included among the duties of the sexton; and whether, if the bell be not tolled, the parochial officers have a right to impose the fee charged for that service?


I have received a telegram from the Vicar, from which I gather that the facts are as stated, except that the clerk did not refuse to receive any payment at all unless all the fees were paid. The duty of tolling the bell is prescribed by a Canon, the terms of which make it doubtful whether it applies to any persons but parishioners who have been attended by a minister or curate of the Church. I beg to refer the hon. Member to an answer which I gave in this House on July 30, 1888. The answer to the last paragraph de- pends on the proper construction of Section 5 of the Act of 1880, under which I presume the sexton as well as the Vicar considers himself entitled to the same fees as he would have been entitled to had the burial taken place according to the rites of the Church of England, although those rites are not performed.