HL Deb 25 February 1867 vol 185 cc906-8

in moving an addition to the Standing Order No. 182, said, it would be necessary for him to make some explanation of the circumstances under which it became necessary to make the proposed alteration. In 1862–3 the Midland Railway Company obtained an Act to extend their line into London, and by that Act they were empowered to construct a bridge over a part of the churchyard of St. Pancras. In 1864 they obtained another Act, empowering them to construct a tunnel under St. Pancras churchyard, on condition, however, that the top of the tunnel should be twelve feet at least from the surface of the ground. In the course of last year the attention of the then Secretary of State was called to the method in which the Midland Railway Company were exercising their powers. A complaint was made that there had been a great disturbance of remains in the churchyard of St. Giles which was situated in the parish of St. Pancras. A memorial on the subject was also presented to the Board of Health. A gentleman also complained that his late father-in-law's grave, which was sixteen feet deep, was in that part of the churchyard of St. Pancras under which the tunnel was to be made, and as the top of the tunnel was to be within twelve feet of the surface of ground, the grave would be cut away from below. Sir George Grey had caused an inspection to be made, and from the Inspector's Report it appeared that the Company's engineer was in consultation with the advisers of the Bishop of London and the officer of the Health of the District, as to the safest mode of procedure to be adopted. In the month of December complaint was again made by an hon. Member of the House of Commons that the Company were making an open cutting in excess of their powers through St. Pancras churchyard, thereby disturbing a large number of bodies, and remains of bodies, and which he estimated at 10,000. Mr. Walpole caused another inspection to be made, and the Inspector (Mr. Holland) reported that a very great disturbance of remains had no doubt taken place—probably more than was contemplated by the Select Committee of the House of Commons; and that the Company were advised that they were not acting in excess of their powers. Under the circumstances, perhaps the method by which they were proceeding was less dangerous than that originally proposed; and he went on to say— The Incumbent, who was naturally very indignant at the indecent manner in which the navvies, who were at first employed, were hacking the coffins to pieces and throwing the bones about, now expresses himself quite satisfied at the respectful manner with which the remains of the dead are treated, and with the great pains taken to do a very improper thing with as little impropriety as possible; and Dr. Hillier and his assistants say that the officers of the company are not merely willing, but most anxious, to do everything he had suggested, both to guard against danger and avoid exciting alarm or giving cause for complaint. Now, it might be very necessary that in some instances a railway should be made through a burial ground; but it was a matter of great delicacy, and it therefore appeared to be desirable that Committees in granting such a power should have the fullest information before them. The machinery for obtaining that information without much expense existed at the Home Office, and Mr. Walpole therefore had concluded that, with that object in view, an addition to the Standing Order should be proposed in both Houses of Parliament. He therefore movedThat Standing Order CLXXXII. be amended by adding the following Words; viz., Where in any Bill Application is made for Powers to take any Churchyard, Burial Ground, or Cemetery, or to disturb the Bodies interred therein, there shall be deposited at the Office of the Secretary of State for the Home Department a Copy of all Plans, Sections, and Books of Reference required by the Orders of the House to be deposited in the Office of the Clerk of the Parliaments, so far as such Plans, Sections, and Books of Reference relate to the Churchyard, Burial Ground, or Cemetery to be so taken, together with a Copy of the Notice published in the Gazette of the intended Application to Parliament; and also a printed Copy of the Bill at the same Times when such Plans, Sections, Books of Reference, and Notice and such Bill are required to be deposited in the Office of the Clerk of the Parliaments; and any Report made under the Authority of the said Secretary of State shall stand referred to the Committee on the Bill.—(The Earl of Belmore.)

Agreed to; and Standing Order, as amended, to be printed and published, (No. 26.)