§ 55. Sir H. BRITTAIN
asked the Minister of Health whether his attention has been called to the refusal of many local authorities in Wales to undertake the control of the ancient graveyards, as provided in the Welsh Church Act; that, in consequence of this refusal and of the absence of any funds by the Welsh Church Commissioners for the purpose, the graveyards are falling into disrepair; and whether he is prepared to take action in the matter?
The UNDER-SECRETARY of STATE for the HOME DEPARTMENT (Lieut.-Colonel Sir Vivian Henderson)
I have been asked to reply. Yes, Sir, it is the case that a large number of local authorities have refused to accept the transfer of the burial grounds and that, in consequence, some of them are falling into a state of disrepair. Though it is within the power of the Secretary of State to transfer them compulsorily, my right hon. Friend is very loath to exercise any coercion in this matter; and in the hope that they had found a way out which would be satisfactory to all parties, the Government introduced a Bill last year to enable the grounds in such cases to be transferred to the representative body of the Church of Wales. Unfortunately the proposal has met with a considerable amount of opposition in this House and there has not been time so far to proceed with it. A decision on the matter cannot however be much longer delayed 1168 and my right hon. Friend hopes to be able to take up the matter again at an early opportunity.
§ Sir R. THOMAS
Is the hon. Gentleman aware that this matter has been before the Welsh National Parliamentary party, and that a deputation has been appointed by that body to interview the church authorities of Wales in order to endeavour to arrive at a settlement?
§ Mr. MARDY JONES
Can the hon. Gentleman say why there has been such strong objection to the taking over of the burial grounds by the local authorities?