MR. CARVELL WILLIAMS (Notts, Mansfield)
I beg to ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department whether he is aware that the Vicar of St. Thomas, Ashton-in-Makerfield, Lancashire, on learning that a Nonconformist Burial Service was desired, refused to permit the interment in the new graveyard of that parish of Mrs. Merry, a parishioner, on the ground that Nonconformists had objected to the provision of such graveyard, and would grant a grave space in the old churchyard only; and that the Rector of Holy Trinity, Downall Green, in the same township, refuses to grant new graves when the Church of England Service is not to be performed; and whether he will take steps to protect the 343 parishioners of those two parishes in the exercise of their parochial rights, that the intention of the Legislature in passing the Burial Act of 1880 may not be defeated?
THE SECRETARY OF STATE FOR THE HOME DEPARTMENT (Mr. ASQNITH,) Fife, E.
I am informed by the Vicar of St. Thomas that he did not refuse to permit the interment of Mrs. Merry in the new graveyard of the parish; that Mr. Merry had the choice of a grave either in the old or new ground, and that he selected the old because his relations had two graves there which were no1; then filled up. As to the Rector of Holy Trinity, I may remind my hon. Friend that he put the same question to me on the 25th of July last. I then told him that I was satisfied that the Hector claimed and exercised the right of appropriating private graves to members of his own congregation, and of leaving Nonconformists to be buried in graves where one or more interments had already taken place, and he sought to justify his action on the ground of the limited space available for new graves in the churchyard. The Rector now informs me that he is not aware that any new case has occurred since that time, and, as he refers to the explanation he then gave, I conclude his practice is still the same. I can only repeat my statement that I was not prepared to say that the Rector was not acting within his legal rights, but that I must express my strong opinion that such a discrimination as he seeks to exercise is in entire variance with the intention and spirit of the Burials Act, 1880.