§ [SECOND READING.]
§ Order for Second Reading read.
§ * THE SECRETARY OF STATE FOR THE HOME DEPARTMENT (Sir M. WHITE RIDLEY, Lancashire, Blackpool)
I do not think it necessary that I should occupy much of the time of the House in explaining the reasons why the Government have introduced this Bill now. As 336 to its details, the Bill is sufficiently clear on the face of it regarding its intention and the mode of carrying out its proposals. For some years the subject of the burial laws has from time to time engaged the attention of the House, and in 1897 the Government accepted—for they did not initiate—a proposal that the subject should be referred to a Select Committee in order that some arrangement might be come to by those specially interested which would enable legislation to be passed. I am thankful to say that that Committee, under the presidency of my distinguished friend the Member for the University of Cambridge, did exceedingly good work, and came to conclusions which were almost unanimous; and I have reason to believe that those who were parties to that arrangement, if I may 337 so describe it, are still of the same mind. There was a great deal of disappointment not alone on one side of the House, but among all interested in this question, that the Government had not been able to deal with it last session; and before the commencement of this session I had the pleasure of receiving a deputation, including the noble Lord the Member for Rochester, the hon. Member for the Mansfield Division of Nottingham, and others, who urged that the Government should introduce a Bill based on the lines of the Report of the Committee. The Bill which I now ask the House to read a second time is an attempt practically to carry out in the main the suggestions of the Committee. I will say at once what it does not propose to do. It does not propose a consolidation of the Jaw; and I think it will be felt by hon. Members, that, although it would be very desirable to consolidate the law, still, when we are attempting to amend it in several important particulars, we should only be introducing fresh difficulties if we attempted to consolidate at the same time, and therefore this Bill does not propose consolidation, though I hope it will go a long way towards paving the road for future consolidation. Then there is another point in which the Bill does not exactly follow the recommendations of the Committee. It does not give the whole administration of the burial laws to one Government Department. It proceeds upon the principle that the management of burial grounds may be said to be partly ecclesiastical and partly sanitary and financial, and it proposes to give the ecclesiastical part of the administration to the Home Office and the financial and sanitary part to the Local Government Board. The sanctioning of sites for burial grounds, the closing of burial grounds and the sanitary regulations respecting them are all handed over to the Local Government Board, as well as the fixing and varying of the charges for burials, the letting of unused ground, and the disposal of surplus income. I propose to retain in the hands of the Home Office questions as to the consecration of grounds and chapels, and the fees taken by the clergy. On all those points I propose to amend the law almost exactly on the lines proposed by the Committee. There are other minor points to which I have not alluded, but 338 which are sufficiently explained in the Bill, and I am sanguine enough to hope that those interested in the question will think that it is an honest attempt to deal with a difficult question on the lines and in the spirit of the Report of the Committee. If the House will give the Bill Second Reading I propose that it be referred to the Standing Committee on Law, and I shall make every effort to secure its passage into law this session.
§ Motion made, and Question proposed, "That the Bill be now read a second time."—(The Secretary of State for the Home Department.)
§ * MR. CARVELL WILLIAMS (Nottinghamshire, Mansfield)
The last time I addressed the House on the subject of the burial laws was in support of a Bill read by a considerable majority in the last Parliament, but rejected in this. The promoters of that measure had, however, this consolation in their defeat. The opposition to the Bill was of a much milder character than on any other previous occasion, and during the discussion the admission was made by the opponents of the Bill that undoubtedly the burial laws required revision, and that some grievances existed which ought to be redressed. The Home Secretary going beyond that plainly stated that if an inquiry had been proposed into the character and operation of the burial laws the Government would have assented to it. The hint of the right hon. Gentleman was at once 'acted upon, and the hon. Gentleman the Member for the High Peak Division of Derbyshire very quickly proposed the appointment of a Select Committee, which the Government assented to. The Committee sat towards the end of one session and a considerable part of the next. It was composed of gentlemen all anxious to arrive at a satisfactory settlement of this question, and the evidence adduced was of such a character as to greatly strengthen that amicable feeling. The result was that the Committee were unanimous except on two points, to which I mean to refer. As the Home Secretary has stated, the Bill does not propose to follow the recommendation of the Committee with regard to the consolidation of the law. I admit the force of what the right hon. Gentleman has said, though I remember Bills which combined consoli- 339 dation with amendment. However, I will not contest the point with the right hon. Gentleman, but will only urge upon him that if this Bill should happily become law the Government should feel it their duty to follow it up within a reasonable limit of time with a measure for consolidation. Otherwise this Bill will simply increase the existing confusion without having done anything very essential to bring order out of chaos. With regard to the departure from the recommendation of the Committee with respect to the administration of the law, I cannot help thinking that the arrangement which the Bill proposes will be found to be inconvenient, because it divides the administration of the law between two Government Departments, and that is likely to cause inconvenience and loss of time. But that is a point which I do not regard as vital to the Bill, and therefore I do not pro- pose to do more than protest against it. There are two other recommendations of the Committee which have not been adopted in the Bill, and to which the right hon. Gentleman has not referred. One has reference to the two methods of rating in connection with burial grounds. Obviously this is an anomaly which ought to be considered. It may be that the right hon. Gentleman will reply that this anomaly concerns a general measure of local rating. Then the Committee recommended unanimously that burial authorities should possess compulsory powers for the acquisition of land. Here again the right hon. Gentleman may reply that this can be best dealt with in a general measure relating to land: but I wish to impress on the right hon. Gentleman the fact that burial authorities are sorely in want of the means of obtaining grounds for new cemeteries. I have spoken of two points in regard to which there was a difference of opinion with the Committee. One related to the fees payable to clergymen, and the Committee were unanimous in recommending that in all new cemeteries clergymen henceforward should not receive fees for the opening of graves, the erection of monuments, and such like, but should receive fees only for services rendered. That, I admit, is a very important concession, but this Bill has reference only to the new cemeteries to be provided under the Act, and the existing fees are to continue during the lifetime of the incumbent who now receives them, and on his death it is provided that the fees 340 should continue for a period of fifteen years. The argument for this extension is that in some cases it may cause considerable inconvenience if the fees ceased on the death of the incumbent, but I may remind the right hon. Gentleman of the fact that the Select Committee on Burial Foes, which sat in 1882, recommended that compensation should be paid only in cases where the fees constituted an important portion of the income of the living. A minority of the Committee were in favour of fixing ten years as the limit, but on consideration I have come to the conclusion that it is far more important to establish essentially sound principles in connection with this measure than to haggle over monetary details. The promoters of burial reform have always been willing to conserve existing interests, and for my own part on this question of fees I would rather err on the side of generosity than on the side of niggardliness. The result of the provision in the Bill will be that the ancient fees which are virtually condemned as being improper fees will continue to exist in many parishes for a very lengthened period. That, I think, is likely to cause some ill-feeling, and therefore the Committee, in my opinion, very wisely recommended that facilities should be afforded for the commutation of fees, so that they might come to an end at as early a period as possible without inflicting pecuniary loss. In this connection I venture to suggest to the Government that the process of commutation, which I think most desirable, would be considerably facilitated if that clause of the Bill which provides that commutation funds shall be vested in the Ecclesiastical Commissioners should be so extended as to put it in the power of the Commissioners to make grants in certain cases with a view to commutation. I think it would greatly conserve the interests of the Church of England if Parliament does all it can to put an end to those old fees which have been a source of so much discontent and friction in the past. The second point in regard to which the Committee were divided in opinion was the allotment of portions of the unconsecrated parts of cemeteries for the use of particular denominations. The Burial Act of 1853 enacts that "the unconsecrated part of a cemetery shall be allotted in such manner, and in such portions, as may be sanctioned by the Secretary of State." In my opinion, 341 that was intended only to require the sanction of the Home Secretary as to the portions to be consecrated and left unconsecrated. Mr. Byrne, the representative of the Home Office, told the Committee that he could "not explain in any way what denominations were referred to; it is only a sort of guess one has to make that it is intended to be allotments to different sects." Yet, on the strength of that mere guess, the Home Office has sanctioned a considerable number of allotments to Roman Catholics or Jews. It has also advised burial authorities that such allotments are under the exclusive control of the bodies to whom they are given; that they are free from the obligations of the Burial Act of 1880, and that the Home Office has no power to vary or to withdraw the allotments. That has become a serious matter, because of the idea evidently entertained by some of the members of the Committee that it may be possible to extend the system to the Church of England. In justification of that statement, let me quote these passages from Mr. Byrne's evidence. He was asked, "Could the Church of England apply for an allotment?" and answered, "According to the strict words of the Act, I do not see why not, because the Act is so extremely vague." Asked if the part allotted could be consecrated afterwards, he expressed a doubt whether without the possession of a freehold it would be possible. Being further asked whether, if the Church obtained an allotment, it would be free from the obligation of the Act of 1880, his reply was, "That is the Home Office view, if an allotment can be given to the Church of England at all." He was further asked if the allotments already made are free from that Act, and answered, "We hold it is so; but we cannot rely on any legal decision to that effect." Finally, asked if Roman Catholics, Quakers, Jews, and any Nonconformists having allotments are not in a privileged position not at present enjoyed by the Church of England, his answer was "Yes, certainly." Now, I hold that this allotment system is a vicious system, because the ground the public pays for should be used by the public without regard to sectarian distinctions, and those who wish for burial grounds for the exclusive use of one religious body should pay for them themselves. If this system is to be extended it will be a distinctively retrograde step; 342 it will be contrary to the spirit of recent legislation, and, so far as cemeteries are concerned, it will practically repeal the Act of 1880, which was passed with great difficulty after many years of struggling. I hope, therefore, that if the Government maintains the allotment system it will place it on a more satisfactory footing, and that it will resist all attempts to extend it, lest the Bill should become the cause of fresh contention. If this matter can be satisfactorily adjusted, and some minor Amendments can be made in the Bill, I see no reason why it should not become the means of putting an end to strife in connection with the burial of the dead which ought never to have existed.
§ * MR. JEBB (Cambridge University)
I had the honour to be the Chairman of the Select Committee which inquired into this question, and I offer my congratulations to my right hon. friend on the measure he has just introduced. I believe it is a reasonable and equitable compromise, one which will go very far indeed to remove the painful dissensions which have occurred in the past. I should like to say a word on one of the points referred to by my right hon. friend, in which the Bill differs from the Report of the Select Committee. I do so merely to guard against the difference being thought more important than (in my opinion) it really is. The Select Committee recommended that the one central authority for the administration of the burial laws should be the Local Government Board. The Bill proposes to leave the ecclesiastical administration to the Home Office, and gives only the sanitary administration to the Local Government Board. Now, in proposing that the Local Government Board should be the sole central authority, the Select Committee, as their Report has shown, did so from no failure to appreciate the efficiency, the discretion, the patience, and the tact which have marked the exercise of functions which were sometimes exceedingly delicate by the right hon. Gentleman and his predecessors at the Home Office. I need not detain the House by entering into the reasons which led the Select Committee to think that, on the whole, there should be one central authority, and that the supreme sanitary authority would be the best. I may say that, in my own opinion, the plan suggested 343 by the Bill is not open to very serious objection, even on the part of those who, for certain reasons, might have preferred the scheme suggested in the Report. It is not quite so, however, with regard to the consolidation of the burial laws. I was very glad to hear from my right hon. friend that he regards the present Bill as one to pave the way for consolidation of the laws of burial. The Government of Lord Beaconsfield in 1877 introduced a Burial Acts Consolidation Bill which was not passed; and I may mention that a central feature of that Bill was in making the Local Government Board the sole central authority. It is permissible to hope that at no distant period the Government may see their way to bring in another measure for the consolidation of the laws of burial. That was one of the objects which the Select Committee most earnestly desired. The hon. Member for the Mansfield Division has described with perfect correctness the spirit in which that Committee worked, and this may be recognised in the Bill before the House. It was animated throughout by a desire for conciliation. Concessions were made on both sides with the view of arriving at a satisfactory result, and an equitable compromise. That spirit animated every member of the Committee, and none more so than the hon. Member for the Mansfield Division himself, and a Member of the House who is now doing duty in South Africa, the noble Lord the Member for Rochester. I think the Government may be congratulated on this Bill. It will certainly go far to remove causes of dissension which sometimes were very acute, and the intrusion of religious discord is never more painful when it arises in the presence of death. I think we may hope that the operation of this Bill will go far to promote peace and goodwill.
§ * MR. PERKS (Lincolnshire, Louth)
As a member of the Select Committee I venture to endorse what the Chairman of the Committee has just said as to the anxious desire which the different members, whose ecclesiastical opinions were of the most diverse nature, had in endeavouring to come to a practical working compromise concerning the future position of the burial grounds of this country. But I would point out also that the Government has not accepted in this Bill what certainly 344 some of the Nonconformist members of the Committee considered was one of its vital features, namely, the consolidation of the Burial Laws, and the passing of the control of the burial grounds of this country out of the hands of the Home Secretary and his officials to the Local Government Board. Now, the recommendation to which the Committee unanimously came, and which has not been accepted by the Government, arose, I think, from a sort of conviction arising, from practical experience extending over many years, that on the whole the Local Government Department was more modern in its methods, was perhaps more businesslike, and was not so ecclesiastical in its sympathies and tendencies as the Home Office. That certainly was the view which I myself took, and it was the view which many of the local authorities throughout the country take, because the tendency of modern times has been to adopt what is called the Martins Act, and to fight shy of the old Burial Acts when new cemeteries have to be acquired by local public bodies. But I gladly recognise that in the Schedule to this Bill many important powers have been transferred to the Local Government Office, and that the duties which are retained by the Home Secretary are those which I would have thought he would have been most anxious to get rid of, namely, the settling of ecclesiastical disputes between Anglican and Free Churchmen in this country. However, he has thought proper to retain these delicate powers, perhaps partly because he considered them an enjoyable exercise of his duty, and does not credit the Local Government Board with sufficiently mature judgment or well-balanced convictions to administer the whole of these measures. Now, I would like to. say that this Bill does not entirely com-mend itself to one of the great religious bodies of this country, a church which did not present any evidence before the Select Committee, the Wesleyan Methodist Church, which ranks next in numbers to the Church of England in Great Britain. I trust we shall all recognise that there is a legitimate demand which we endeavoured to meet in the Report of the Select Committee—a demand on the part of the members of the Church of England for the consecration of a reasonable portion of any cemetery which, may be purchased and laid out with, 345 public funds. We cannot ignore the very strong feeling which a very large number of people in this country have, that they will, when dead, rest in peace better if their bodies have been laid in consecrated ground. The Wesleyan Methodist Church, like its great founder John Wesley, attaches not the slightest importance to the consecration of burial places and graveyards. John Wesley's may have been an extreme opinion, but his contention was that consecration was a very modern institution, and he went so far as to say that it was a remnant of Pagan superstition. Nevertheless there is no doubt that very many of the people of this country do like to be buried in consecrated ground; and the Committee felt, and I am glad the Government recognise, that in public cemeteries which may be constructed by the money of the taxpayers in towns where the Church of England is in a very considerable minority—even there provision should be made for consecrating a proper area for the burial of the members of the Church of England and others who desire to rest in consecrated ground. But I do trust that we shall not sanction in this Bill the chopping up of our cemeteries into a number of little, isolated ecclesiastical camps, Jewish, Baptist, Congregational, Presbyterian, Roman Catholic, Anglican; and the Anglican section again chopped up possibly into many sub-sections. I can conceive of nothing more tending to create a spirit of sectarian bitterness and folly than a process of that description. I hope that Bill does not provide for any such contingency. There is another point which was referred to by the hon. Member for Mansfield. I do not myself see why a clergyman who discharges no duty whatever in a cemetery, and who has received for many years income from what he calls his own graveyard, should receive fees for burials in the consecrated portions of the cemetery which has been constructed purely out of public money. Why should he continue for fifteen years to draw a large income from the consecrated portion of the cemetery when he renders no services, because he had originally an income from the parish churchyard? I would, with a very light hand indeed, wipe away all these fees. I do not desire to swell the income of the clergy of this country by giving them a tax on the burial of the dead. The Bishop of London lately 346 told us that there were only 110,000 communicants belonging to the Church of England in his great diocese of over three million souls. If these figures be correct, and probably they are put as high as possible, it shows that there is a very small percentage of the people in the parishes of London who belong to the Church of England. Nevertheless it is apparent that there is a vast, an overwhelming proportion of the people of this country upon whom a burial tax is levied in behalf of the clergy of the Established Church, who render no services whatever in connection with the burial, and who never were associated with the dead in any shape or form. Therefore I am not so happy as my hon. friend the Member for Mansfield in making this provision for these clergy. There is only one other point to which I wish to call attention, and that is that while this Bill has undoubtedly met a grievance, and I trust will have the effect of putting an end to some local controversies which have been sometimes extremely inconvenient, and often extremely painful, I want to call attention to the fact that the most troublesome annoyances connected with the burial are not covered by the Bill. To some extent they are perpetuated. I mean the circumstances connected with parochial graveyards, to which I have often had occasion to draw the attention of the Home Secretary—the refusal, for example, of a bier for the burial of a Dissenter, the refusal to toll the parish bell for a Dissenter, the arbitrary refusal to allow wreaths to be put on the graves of Dissenters, the arbitrary refusal or selection of sites, the obnoxious condition with reference to forty-eight hours notice in the parish churchyard. It is true that these are dealt with so far as public cemeteries are concerned, but nothing is done to remove the grievances of which Dissenters complain with reference to the control of the parish churchyards by the parish clergy. At the same time, we on this side have to be satisfied with small mercies while the present Government is in power, and I hope that this Bill will have the effect of putting an end to some of those controversies which have arisen concerning the purchase and laying out of rural cemeteries.
§ * SIR F. S. POWELL (Wigan)
I hope that the House will allow me in a few words to express my great satisfaction that 347 the Government have seen their way to introduce this Bill. I feel that we are under great obligations to the Select Committee which gave so much attention to the subject, as well as to the Government for giving effect to the result of their deliberations. I do not intend to follow my hon. friend who has last spoken in his observations upon subjects beyond the scope of the Bill. This is a Bill which will remedy evils which have lasted too long, and I express satisfaction that the end of these strifes and struggles should be so near. I have had the opportunity of observing some of these strifes in the West Riding of Yorkshire. They are injurious to good neighbourhood and to the cause of Christianity wherever they break out. There has been no doubt a feeling of hardship on the part of members of the Church of England that they have not been able to secure that consecration to which they attach great importance, and also a feeling on the part of Nonconformists as to the present laws to which this Bill will put an end, if it passes. The Acts with which we are dealing are not ancient Acts. They do not involve sentiment except that which must always be connected with the burial of the dead. Indeed, many Members of the House can very well remember the passing of the first of these Acts. I remember the inquiry which preceded the passing of the first Act; and therefore we are not dealing with anything in the nature of the old parish churchyards, but with something which, in its essence, purpose, and operation, is a modern institution. The burial grounds are in themselves intensely prosaic; in some cases they are even commercial in their character, and I rejoice myself that the difficulties and incongruities which have arisen in regard to the burial laws will be put an end to in the course of the present session. I, however, would express the desire that the Government would take in hand the consolidation of these Acts at an early day. I believe that when this Bill comes into law consolidation will be an easy task; and even this session a Consolidation Act might be put on the Statute-book. It would not occupy much time, and the present session would be the best time to undertake it, because the subject is fresh in our minds.
§ * MR. BROADHURST (Leicester)
There is one desirable concession which I 348 would like to see embodied in this Bill—the compulsory power to acquire land for the purpose of forming a cemetery. So far as I know there is no such power in existence. There is a case within my own knowledge where they have been four or five years endeavouring to negotiate for a site for a cemetery, but up to the present moment they have utterly failed. I do not know what they will have to do shortly. Of course there is the sea at their command, and unless they obtain authority from Parliament for compulsorily acquiring land for cemetery purposes resort may have to be had to the sea. I would ask the Home Secretary whether he can put a clause of that kind in the Bill as it passes through Committee. There is no determined opposition to the Bill, and such a clause would not take a long time either in this House or in the Committee, and it would meet a great public necessity. I could have wished something would have been done to put an end to the heart-rending scenes with which we have been made acquainted owing to the arbitrary character of some of the unwise clergy Laws are made to control unreasonable and ill-conditioned people, and I think the right hon. Gentleman the Home Secretary should have provided in this Bill some control calculated to prevent the out- rages we hear of far too frequently in many parts of the country, which are caused by a section of the clergy of the Church of England. This Bill, which is termed a Consolidation Bill, goes, as I understand it, rather in an opposite direction. You are not only not going to consolidate the law, but you are going to divide the authority. The authority is now in part to rest with the Local Government Board and part with the Home Office, as my hon. friend says, probably for ecclesiastical reasons. The Local Government Board is not so noted for its spiritual gifts as the Home Office, and therefore all that relates to ecclesiastical questions will be retained by the Home Office. I am at a loss to understand why that should be so. As I regard it, the local burial boards have quite enough difficulty to deal with without their not knowing what authority to write to when disputes arise; hut by the Bill greater difficulties are provided, and I think the right hon. Gentleman will see that that is the case. However, I am not going to take any hostile action upon this Bill. Like my hon. friend I do not 349 at all agree with the fifteen years provision for fees of present incumbents I do not see that it is either just or necessary, but, as has been pointed out to the House, it might have been worse: therefore we must be thankful for small mercies. I do, however, appeal to the Home Secretary to tell us what difficulty, if there be a difficulty, and what reason, if reason there be, against inserting a clause in the Committee stage as to compulsory powers to acquire burial grounds. The grievance is a real one, and the difficulties are great, and I think it is only right that we should take this opportunity of appealing to the right hon. Gentleman to see that this is done.
MR. HERBERT ROBERTS (Denbighshire, W.)
I join in the congratulations that have been passed on the introduction of this Bill at this period of the session. I was not on the Committee which considered this question, but I was one of those who took the opportunity of urging on the Government the necessity for this Bill to be brought in this session. I am glad to see that it was possible for the Committee to agree on certain points, and several reforms even, in regard to the different questions which were involved, and I wish to join in the congratulations to the Committee on the patience they have shown, and the conduct of the hon. Members who formed that Committee. But I would like to say a word on this occasion as briefly as I can in relation to the Bill with regard to Wales. This question of burials, I am sorry to say, is very acute there, and the nature of the opinion of Wales makes it impossible that any other condition of things should exist. I think it is quite time that the House of Commons, not in any partisan spirit, but as men dealing with a national grievance, should join together in coming to some general agreement on these different questions, which would at all events do away to a certain extent with the disagreement of opinion which now exists about the country, and especially in the principality of Wales. On this point I cannot disguise from myself that, however useful certain of the reforms in this Bill are, they cannot from the condition of things touch the real evils of the case in Wales. I am aware that it was impossible for the Committee to go into the question of amending the Act of 1880, or the laws generally with regard to churchyards, but what I wish to make clear to the House 350 is this: however useful this step may be, so long as it does not touch the mischief and evils connected with burials in churchyards and cemeteries which have been already alluded to, it cannot so far as Wales is concerned be regarded as a solution of the question. There are two Amendments on the Bill upon which I would personally lay special importance; first, the Amendment which has been already alluded to in favour of altering that clause of the Bill which makes it impossible for any change to take place in the payment of fees in cemeteries, at all events for fifteen years. I hope I may in that spirit of harmony which has characterised this discussion urge that before the Committee stage the Government will, at all events, consider the advisability of shortening that period, and that we may look forward to a shorter period than fifteen years. The other point is the granting to burial boards compulsory powers to acquire land. Instances in England have been quoted with regard to this point. I also could quote instances in Wales. I hope on both these points it may be possible for the Government to reconsider their position to a certain extent. I am glad it has been possible to agree in certain measures of reform on this subject, and so far as it is a step in the right direction I shall give the Bill my cordial support.
§ * SIR M. WHITE RIDLEY
I congratulate myself on the way in which this Bill has been received, and, with one or two exceptions, on the spirit in which it has been treated. I would remind the House that it is not directly a Government proposal. It is taken up by the Government because it represents the agreement arrived at by a Committee which did excellent work on a very controversial question. My answer with reference to some of the points raised by hon. Gentlemen opposite is that they are not included in the recommendations of the Committee. On the other hand, if fault is found for keeping the ecclesiastical fees going for fifteen years, my reply is that that was distinctly a recommendation of the Committee, and that is the reason why it is in the Bill. The Committee gave us no lead as to the treatment of the larger question of the differences of rating, and no guidance with regard to the compulsory acquisition of land. It is quite true that the Committee did speak of these questions, but they gave us no lead as to the desired 351 amendments of the law, which, however desirable they may be, form, I think, a difficult and thorny subject. I have no personal objection to these matters being considered in the Committee stage, but I would remind hon. Members that they cannot have it all their own way—that if concessions are made by one party there ought to be reciprocity by the other party. I think the hon. Member for Leicester is under some misapprehension as to the Central Departments already involved in the administration of the burial law. For instance, in the acquisition of ground by a Burial Board there frequently has first to be obtained the approval of the Home Office as to the site, and then the approval of the same site by the Local Government Board from a financial and sanitary point of view—the drainage and water questions and all that sort of thing—matters with which the Home Office does not deal. Under the present Bill all ecclesiastical questions will still be under the Home Office, and all the sanitary arrangements will be under the Local Government Board. This does not mean extra complications, but, on the contrary, it will greatly simplify the existing methods of dealing with the whole matter.