HC Deb 30 November 1906 vol 166 cc437-9


Order for the Second Reading read.


, in moving the Second Reading of this Bill, explained that its object was to rectify an unsuspected defect in the previous Act, which had resulted in much confusion in the Law Courts, inconvenience to the local authorities, and misapprehension as to what ought to be the future administration of cemeteries and burial grounds. Under Section 9 of the Burial Act of 1855 it was indicated that no burial ground within 100 yards of a dwelling house should be used without the consent of the owner, lessee, and occupier of such dwelling. It was not assumed either in 1855 or since that the consent of owners, lessees, or occupiers of dwelling houses was necessary after once the cemetery was used, but a decision of the Law Courts in June last had compelled the Government to introduce this Bill with the consent and approval of the whole House, and at the earnest request of 1,500 burial authorities. In his judgment the decision of the Court was right and the defect in the Act was due rather to its ambiguity as it left Parliament than to the Court. The Bill provided in its first, clause that the consent of the owner, lessee, and occupier of a dwelling house to the use for burials of any ground used for a cemetery mentioned in Section 9 of the Burial Act of 1855, should not be and should be deemed never to have been required in any case where the dwelling house was or had been begun to be erected after any part of that ground had been so used or appropriated. The Bill did not interfere with agreements, contracts, or undertakings of any kind; it simply dealt with the difficulties pointed out in June last, and for that reason he asked the House to consent to its Second Reading.

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

MR AUSTEN CHAMBERLAIN (Worcestershire, E.)

cordially welcomed the Bill, and commended the right hon. Gentleman for acting so promptly in the matter. It was a subject of great urgency to local authorities. He mentioned that in his own district there was the case of a cemetery of 57 acres which, if the decision of the Court stood, would be reduced to 15 acres. There were 3,600 graves that had been purchased within 100 yards of the limit of the cemetery, and the local burial board would have to compensate the owners at a cost of £15,000 if the decision of the Court wore allowed to stand.