HL Deb 12 February 1872 vol 209 cc200-2

Order of the Day for the Second Reading, read.


, in moving that the Bill be now read the second time, said, it was the same measure as that he had introduced into their Lordships' House last Session, and which, after having been carefully considered by a Select Committee, had been passed by their Lordships and sent down to the other House. It had there passed the second reading, after a division, by a considerable majority; but the pressure of business prevented its further progress, and it was ultimately withdrawn. A very brief explanation of its contents would, therefore, be sufficient. One of the grievances complained of by the Dissenters, and intended to be remedied by the Bill, was this—that they did not enjoy the same facilities for acquiring land for burial purposes as the members of the Established Church. The Bill would remove this injustice, and would place the members of both bodies on precisely the same footing in that respect. The other principal object of the Bill was this—that persons desiring to be buried in churchyards where their ancestors were lying, might be solemnly interred without having the burial service of the Established Church read over them, if they had left in writing their wish that it should not be read, or if their relations and representatives desired to dispense with it. He would add that during the Recess he had received a great number of letters from clergymen—many of them totally unknown to him—expressing their approval not only of the purpose of the Bill, but also of the machinery it provided for carrying that purpose into execution. Some of them had even declared that the facilities for acquiring land should be made still greater, and that power should be given to vestries to buy and sell land for that purpose; but that was a suggestion which he felt it would not become him to introduce, whatever might be the course adopted with regard to it in the other House.

Moved, "That the Bill be now read 2a"—(The Earl Beauchamp.)


said, he should support the second reading. The Bill, he believed, would remove almost the only real grievance relating to burial under which the Nonconformists suffered in the present state of the law, and everyone must desire to see it remedied. It was also unjust to the clergymen of the Church of England, for it was unquestionably a grievance that a minister should be compelled to read the Church of England Service over the remains of a person who entertained an objection to that service. It was generally assumed that the clergyman was now compelled to do that, on the strength of a well-known legal decision; but it should be remembered that in that case, the object of the suit was to ascertain whether the clergyman had the right to refuse when he was asked to read the service, and not whether he was legally bound to read it when he was asked to abstain. However, it would be very desirable that the joint should be clearly settled. At the same time he had reason to think that he grievance, though existing, was not felt at all as widely as was sometimes represented. Last year he had taken some pains to ascertain from the various chaplains of the metropolitan cemeteries what services were used in the unconsecrated portions of those burial grounds, and he was very much astonished to find that the service generally used was that of the Church of England, either in whole or in part—that was to say, it was the Church of England Service, in the main, with some omissions. No doubt, however, difficulties were felt, and it was right they should be removed. The other portions of the Bill, by which the same facilities for obtaining burial grounds were given to Nonconformists as to Churchmen, did only common justice. He, therefore, hoped their Lordships would give a second reading to the Bill.


welcomed the re-appearance of the Bill very heartily, and hoped it would prove more successful "elsewhere" than had been the case last year.

Motion agreed to; Bill read 2a accordingly, and committed to a Committee of the Whole House on Thursday next.