HL Deb 26 April 1841 vol 57 cc1066-9

Viscount Duncannon moved the second reading of this Bill.

The Earl of Wicklow

said, he hoped the report was correct which he had heard, that it was the intention of the Government to throw open to the public the whole of the Regent's Park; and also that they intended to form a Park in the Eastern end of the Metropolis.

Viscount Duncannon

said, that he had great pleasure in stating, that her Majesty's Government was prepared to open the whole of the grass part of Regent's Park, as far as it could be done with a due regard to the rights of those who had laid out large sums in the purchase of villas in the neighbourhood. The whole of the park would be thrown open to the public, except the private enclosures. Communications would be made to it from Hanover-terrace, from Macclesfield-bridge, and there would be two communications into the broad walk. With regard to the other question, the Government was most anxious to comply with the requests which had been made for a park in the eastern end of the Metropolis. Great difficulties stood in the way of accomplishing that object; such as the difficulty of obtaining in that locality a piece of ground of sufficient size; but he could assure his noble Friend, that every exertion would be made to effect the purpose desired with as little delay as possible.

Lord Ashburton,

said, he thought it was a great mistake to suppose, that throwing open every part of the parks was the best way to consult the pleasure of the public, for the preservation of the ornamental gardens was as necessary to their enjoyment as was the access to the open parts surrounding those necessarily enclosed spots. There was another point to which he wished to direct the attention of their Lordships. He alluded to the present state of the churchyards in the Metropolis, which was fatal to the health and comfort of the community. This was an evil which demanded an immediate remedy, and he thought that that remedy should be applied by the large mercantile classes who collected together in different spots such immense masses of population. It would not be too much to expect from the large manufacturing towns that they should keep the atmosphere as pure as their employments would allow.

The Bishop of London

was desirous of expressing his concurrence with the remarks just made by the noble Lord who had that moment resumed his seat. With regard to the evils arising from the present state of the churchyards in the Metropolis, he had frequent opportunities of witnessing their magnitude. In a small parish at which he had been called upon to officiate yesterday afternoon, he had been informed by the clergyman that, at a recent funeral, thirteen skulls had been turned up, and he could assure their Lordships that the evil would be much less than it at present was, if bones were alone turned up from late interments. Cemeteries had, within the last few years, been formed, which, to a certain extent, diminished this evil, but they brought with them another evil—though an evil, he confessed, of not equal magnitude. He was not one who would stand up for the secular advantages of the clergy, when opposed to the benefit of the community at large, but they were, at the same time, not to be overlooked or disregarded. Now, these cemeteries produced a serious effect on the incomes of many of the clergy, and he believed that one of them in the neighbourhood of the Metropolis—the Kensal-green cemetery—had caused in the income of the rector of a neighbouring parish a diminution of not less than 200l. a-year. Might not, however, some measure be introduced which would prevent the latter, and, at the same time, effect the former good? Might not some small cemeteries be formed in the neighbourhood of the Metropolis, such cemeteries were in fact formed, though they were not always consecrated, he regretted to say, which the bishop of the diocese should consecrate, where the poor might be interred at a small cost, and a part of the proceeds of which he should receive for the benefit of the clergy whose incomes had been seriously affected? He threw this out as a suggestion which might be attended with advantage to all classes. At any rate the evil of the present churchyards was universally admitted, and some remedy ought to be applied. Whilst the attention of their Lordships was directed to the enjoyment of the public, he would take that opportunity of saying a word in favour of the large and miserable classes of the community who inhabited the northern and north-eastern districts of the Metropolis. With them and their wretched condition he felt the strongest sympathy. He took an interest in their condition—he took an interest in their welfare—and consequently he took an interest in their health and in their wholesome amusement. No opportunities were afforded to these poor people of taking a breath of fresh air; and while their Lordships were liberally and properly attending to the amusement of the public, by which was generally meant the upper and the middle classes, he trusted that some parks, public walks, or other means of healthful recreation, would be afforded to the miserable and neglected inhabitants of Bethnal-green, Spitalfields, and that neighbourhood, which was in a state which none of their Lordships could conceive, unless they took the trouble of walking through its streets.

Viscount Duncannon

was most anxious to do the utmost to improve the neglected and unhealthy localities in that part of the metropolis to which the rev. Prelate alluded; and, in fact, in the Metropolis Improvement Bill, and in the Drainage Bill, that object was to some extent provided for. But with respect to the proposed purchase and planting of the Royal Park, he thought it better not to state at present what his intentions were, lest by doing so he should render it impossible to carry them into effect. As to the new road from Pimlico, a question respecting which had been put to him by his noble Friend opposite (Lord Ashburton), he would only at present state that there was no part of the metropolis to which a great thoroughfare was more necessary.

The Marquess of Normanby

said, that he was desirous of framing such a measure as that to which the right rev. Prelate had alluded for the improvement of interment in the metropolis, and for providing cemeteries. But he had found the subject so beset with difficulties that he had as yet made no progress with it. However, he did not despair, and he would be very happy to assist the right rev. Prelate if he would take the question into his own hands.

Bill read a second time.