HC Deb 15 February 1939 vol 343 cc1732-3
Mr. Hannah

I beg to move, That leave be given to bring in a Bill to amend Section three of the Disused Burial Grounds Act, 1884. That Act permits churches to be enlarged, but says nothing about enlarging or providing vestries or parish houses. Accordingly, in order to do anything of that kind it would be necessary to introduce a Private Act of Parliament, which is exceedingly costly and frequently may prevent a desirable scheme being carried out. In some cases in remote parts of the country the Act has been actually ignored. The Bill which I seek permission to bring in proposes to permit any church, or chapel, or other place of worship to build or enlarge a vestry, parish room or chambers, purely for the use of the church, by Order in Council, on the recommendation of the Ministry of Health, with the following provisions, that if any bones are disturbed—[Laughter]—the sense of humour of the House is very acute to-day—if any bones are disturbed, they must be decently and properly re-interred either in the same or some other recognised burial ground. Further, the consent of the local authority must be obtained. In the Metropolitan area that is understood to mean the London County Council and the borough concerned. No children's playground may be reduced in extent under the provisions of the Bill. As a further provision against destroying open spaces or amenities, in no case may more than one-tenth of a burial ground be covered by the new building, whether in one instalment or more under the provisions of the Bill. The City of London is to be excluded from the operations of the Bill.

I claim that this is an opportunity for a very desirable delegation of the powers of this House to the local authorities. I should be the very last to do anything that would reduce open spaces in London or any other city or town, but I would point out that under this Bill the local authority will actually be in a better position than before. At the present time the local authority can do no more than oppose a Private Act of Parliament, but under the proposals of the Bill a local authority will be able definitey to veto a scheme should it so desire.

Question put, and agreed to.

Bill ordered to be brought in by Mr. Hannah, Mr. Mander, Mr. Leonard, Mr. Graham Kerr, Sir Samuel Chapman, Sir Patrick Hannon, Mr. Arthur Henderson, Mr. Thorne, Brigadier-General Sir Ernest Makins, Mr. Lipson, Miss Horsbrugh, and Colonel Clarke.