§ Order of the Day for the Second Reading, read.
§ Moved, "That the Bill be now read 2a."—(The Lord President.)
§ EARL GRANVILLE,
in moving the Amendment of which he had given Notice, said: My Lords, last year, in moving a similar Resolution to that which I shall have the honour to submit this evening, I felt it my duty to enter 1870 into considerable details, and I had the great satisfaction of being told that I had said nothing which could tend to irritate or raise any acrimonious discussion. I shall try to escape troubling your Lordships again with so many details, and I trust that I shall not on this occasion depart from that tone of moderation in what I say. That a temperate and judicial tone should be observed is the more obviously necessary from the fact that the great body of the Nonconformists are unrepresented in this House, while the great majority of your Lordships are either lay or spiritual members of our National Church. My Lords, I could not help remarking last year that of the 14 Peers who took part in the debate, only six spoke against the Resolution which I then moved; and of these six, five made a great part of their argument turn upon the form in which I had introduced the subject. A Bill they might possibly consider; a Resolution was an abomination in their eyes. That I cannot escape this attack upon the question of form is obvious from the fact that my noble Friend the Lord President has twice—even before I introduce the subject—raised this very question of form. He has stated, and has been supported in his statement by the noble Chairman of Committees, that my Motion is equivalent to a rejection of the second reading of the Bill. In answer to this charge, I might say that the Government can always command so great a majority in this House that there is no chance of my Motion being carried, and that it does not, therefore, much matter what the consequences of my Motion, if successful, might be. But I repudiate such an argument altogether. With however small a chance of success, I would not be guilty of such an act of disrespect to your Lordships' House as to move that which I had no wish to carry. Moreover, I might say, and say with perfect truth, that I should, for reasons which I am about to give, not object to the carrying of my Motion being fatal to the Bill. But the fact is, that it need not necessarily have any such result. If my Motion were carried, the Bill could not be read a second time to-night:—but the second reading could be moved to-morrow, or any other day of the Session. Even if I were to move a direct negative on the second reading of a Bill, it would only apply to this evening; and it is for 1871 that reason that when a Peer wishes to defeat a Bill he always moves that it be read six months or three months hence, according to the probable length of the Session. It was impossible for me, my Lords, to introduce a Bill this Session. Her Majesty's Government had already done so. I could not be a party to the second reading of such a Bill as theirs, and I thought it best to give your Lordships an opportunity of asserting what you think essential to a settlement of the question in a manner which would not preclude the passing of this very Bill in an amended form.
What, then, I do wish is to give your Lordships an opportunity of deciding on a very important question, and which, if carried in the way I desire, will tend to gratify the wish of a large number of Her Majesty's subjects. Last year the Motions made on the subject and the debates which ensued, were almost exclusively directed to the religious difficulties of the case, and it was on those two occasions that assurances were given by the Government, and accepted, that they hoped to grapple with this point. But this year, in introducing his Bill, the Lord President has impressed upon us that his Bill is one of consolidation and of sanitary administration, and deals incidentally only with the religious difficulty. As to consolidation, I doubted the other day whether the arguments in its favour did not equally apply to most other subjects in the Statute Book. But granting that it is required for the Burial Laws, what course ought to be adopted? I shall be corrected if I am wrong in saying that you can properly amend and consolidate at the same time laws of which the amendment are obvious and likely to be generally accepted; but that this is not the case where the amendment is of a character which excites warm differences of opinion. Now, as to the sanitary portion of the Bill. I cannot help reminding your Lordships that the keen sense of humour of the most rev. Primate nearly overcame his natural and acquired self-control when he came to this point. It was all he could do to avoid laughing at this sanitary plea; but his Grace contented himself, if I recollect right, with calling it a veil thrown over the religious difficulty. I cannot help thinking that this veil will be torn, if not thrown aside, during the course of the debate. What is the ground on 1872 which this pressing need of sanitary reform Las been urged? That there are many churchyards which ought to be, but have not been closed, and that there is one case — that of Northampton—where, though the graveyard has been closed, sufficient consecrated ground has not been provided elsewhere. But are there so many churchyards which ought to be, but have not been closed? In an able preface to the collection of Acts relating to this subject, the learned editor, Mr. Barker, says that the working of the Act has been eminently satisfactory; and, if it had not, that it must have been the fault of the Home Office, which has had full powers for the purpose. It is impossible to believe that in any pressing cases the sanitary authorities should not have brought them under the notice of the Secretary of State. As to the one solitary exception which has been brought forward this year and last to show that, where churchyards have been closed a sufficient substitute has not been found, I trust that the Lord Lieutenant of Northamptonshire will give explanations this evening showing how inaccurately that case has been represented. This Bill of nearly 90 clauses is a Bill partly of consolidation, partly of amendment; and it is not easy in reading it to distinguish what is consolidation and what is amendment. It transfers from the Secretary of State to the Government Local Board all the powers now possessed by the Secretary of State—which is probably an administrative improvement. It confers on the Secretary of State new and undefined powers. The Bill deals with churchyards. It provides for closing them either for want of burial space, or on sanitary grounds, without the consent of the parishioners, at the option of the President of the Government Local Board. It provides for the maintenance of the disused churchyards. This Bill also makes new provisions for the creation of cemeteries. The burial authority is bound to provide such cemeteries where there is not sufficient consecrated or unconsecrated ground. If they fail to do so, one-twentieth of the ratepayers can, subject in the first instance to the discretion of the burial authority, and on their refusal, by appeal to the Secretary of State, insist upon the provision of a new cemetery. When the Secretary of State is appealed to, he is enjoined by the Bill to consider the num- 1873 ber and situation of the population, and "all the circumstances of the case." The noble Duke on the first reading said that the Secretary of State under these words "all the circumstances of the case" would be bound to take into consideration the religious difficulty; but I find nothing of the sort in the Bill, and nothing can be less obvious from the wording of the clause. A Secretary of State may be a High Churchman, a Low Churchman, a Roman Catholic, or a Nonconformist. Would these all take the same view of their duty under such vague words? Would the noble Marquess opposite (the Marquess of Salisbury) and myself, after the diametrically opposite views we took last year of the claims of those who do not belong to the Church of England—could we conscientiously take the same course under such vague words? Where a burial authority does not exist, it is to be the Vestry. I much doubt whether, when there is so general a complaint of our system of local government, and when Her Majesty' Government have promised to consider a measure for remodelling it, that it is wise to confer new duties on Vestries. I am sure that they are not a proper assembly to carry on the duty of a burial authority; and this seems the opinion of the noble Duke, who, although he shrinks from doing it himself, yet gives a power to the Vestry to transfer their functions to a Committee which will act for the future alone, or to transfer them to the sanitary authority—in either case constituting a Burial Board, to which I understood the most rev. Primate last year strongly to object. I do not think a Vestry would be a good body to undertake those duties with or without the aid of a committee of ratepayers; and with regard to the election of these committees, I think it would be a great pity to infuse into the parishes fresh elements of religious discord, because there is very little doubt that the elections would go, or at all events would be supposed to go, very much in accordance with the religious opinion in the districts where these burial boards will have to act. Then, again, how is the Bill to be put into operation? Supposing the burial authority refuses to act, it is to be done by one-twentieth of the ratepayers; but unless the Bill is greatly amended there will be considerable difficulty, and I do not think it will be desirable that 1874 the clergyman and one-twentieth of the ratepayers should be allowed to create new cemeteries for the burial of Dissenters at the charge of the parish. At present there are 8,000 parishes in which the churchyards are not full, and a competent person has calculated that to supplement them with cemeteries would cost £3,000,000. I have very little data to go upon, but taking two cases, one in Devonshire and the other in Kent, last year I find that a new cemetery for one of them cost £8,000, and for another £12,000; and taking the lower sum, the total amount required for all the parishes would be £6,000,000. Of course, some of them will do nothing, and in others the cost will much exceed £10,000; but is it just to impose upon the ratepayers a sum of £6,000,000, merely for the purpose of removing the Dissenters' grievance? Now, my Lords, there is one clause of the Bill to which I wish to draw your Lordships' particular attention, and in which there is another apparent concession made to those who do not belong to the Church of England. The title of the 74th clause is this—" On request to incumbent from relative or person burying deceased, the burial to take place without religious service." The mere recital of the title has to one something grating on the ear. When your Lordships further consider it you will see that while it is fair to relieve non-members from the necessity of your services and your ministrations, it is repugnant to your feelings and to justice to make these silent burials compulsory upon those who conscientiously object to the ministrations of our Church. On the first reading of the Bill, the Lord President stated, as a justification of his course in making a half concession instead of a whole one to the claims of the Dissenters, that the numbers who were suffering from this grievance were constantly and rapidly diminishing; that only 8,000,000—which is, however, more than one-third—out of 22,000,000 could suffer, as the remaining 14,000,000 had unconsecrated ground within their reach. He further diminished this number by subtracting not only members of the Church of England, but those Nonconformists who do not object to the Burial Service of the Church of England. I stated at the time, and I repeat now, that these statistics are capable of being 1875 used to prove just the opposite of what he said; and the noble Duke misstates the grievance. A majority of Dissenters do not object to the Service itself; but what they do object to is the exclusion of all other services, and of all ministers excepting the clergy of the Church of England. The noble Duke's own figures show that while there are about 10,000 parishes, fewer than 700 cemeteries have been made in the last 70 years—that is, an average of 10 a-year. Then the noble Duke says that 38 Burial Boards have been set up in one year, and that the number will increase—which I doubt, as, of course, the most urgent cases have already been taken up; and in the numerous new churchyards and in the additions to old ones great space has necessarily been provided. But at the rate of 50 per year it would require 200 years to accomplish the work of change. Returns were presented last year for 7,369 parishes. 2,339 were omitted—probably the small parishes, which would tell most in favour of my argument. Even these defective Returns showed that in more than half the parishes the Nonconformists had no burial grounds of their own, and that there were nearly 10,000 churchyards not closed. The progress of closing is very slow indeed. In 20 years 857 have been closed, at which rate it would require 230 years to close the whole. These figures afford no ground for the statement that the grievance is rapidly decreasing, and certainly afford no ground for dealing with the subject on such a narrow basis. It was stated by the most rev. Primate last year that the number of Nonconformists who suffer from this grievance is not nearly so great as is supposed; and the most rev. Primate expressed a hope the other night that all sensible Dissenters would approve some such compromise as is now offered in this Bill. Now, we are very apt to consider those persons sensible who take the same view of a subject as ourselves. On 99 subjects out of 100 on which the most rev. Primate speaks, I have thought him one of the most sensible and persuasive speakers I know; but I would not rely exclusively on the two speeches he has made on burials to illustrate my opinion of his good sense—probably for the reason that I do not agree with them. But I will venture to ask, where are these sensible Dissenters? A circular 1876 has been sent to me, and therefore I presume to others of your Lordships, showing the unanimous condemnation of this Bill by all the Nonconformist denominations. I defy you to produce any one denomination of any weight which does not utterly condemn it. No fewer than 60 meetings have been held by members of all denominations. The Wesleyans, the most friendly to the Church, condemn it. The Presbyterians, a moderate Church, who are not members of the Liberation Society, but are in close sympathy with Irish and Scottish Presbyterians, will not hear of it. Last year the most rev. Primate held a conference with some of the most eminent of our Dissenting brothers. It was an act characteristic of that charity and that toleration which is one of the most honourable attributes of our National Church. Can he produce one of these persons sensible enough to approve this Bill? The Lord President foresaw this last year, for he complimented me on my sagacity in not being satisfied with my first Resolution, as no Dissenter would accept it alone. I regret that, with that knowledge, he should have introduced a Bill which, on his showing, can settle nothing, and can be agreeable to no member of the community—except, possibly, to the few who may wish to make political capital out of it. I have given reasons why I object to the administrative portion of the Bill; I believe the machinery is bad, that it will not work, and that if it does work it will lay large and often unnecessary burdens upon the ratepayers. But what I desire to know is, by what portion of the community the mode of settling the religious difficulty can be liked? I believe it would be impossible to name any sect of. Dissenters of any weight or consideration which approves of the Bill; and as to the Church of England, what proportion of its members approve of it? The members of the Church of England may be divided into four classes—The few who know nothing and are indifferent on the matter, and can therefore have no opinion in favour of the Bill. Those who think that there is no grievance, and that the bulk of Dissenters do not think they have a grievance, and that all concession to political agitators is dangerous; who believe that the grievance is entirely in another direction—that it oppresses the clergy- 1877 man, who is now obliged by law to express assured hopes of salvation over the graves of evildoers and of those who in their eyes are not properly baptized. The Bill does make concessions which this portion of the Church does not think called for, and it does nothing to relieve the only grievance they think valid. There is another section of the Church who rather agree with the President of the Council that, even if there is a grievance, it is exaggerated and diminishing, but who deplore the animosity between Christian denominations, and who believe it is desirable to make some sacrifices for peace. Can this section of the Church like this Bill, as giving any security for peace? Well, there is another party in the Church, comprising both clergy and laity—some of the most intellectual and devoted friends of the Establishment — these think that the grievance is real, that it will take generations to remove it by any indirect means, and that it is consistent with the highest principles of the Church of England, and necessary to its well-understood interest, completely to put an end to this grievance. Can they possibly be satisfied with this Bill? Many of your Lordships may vote for this Bill because it is brought in by Her Majesty's Government, and because they prefer it to my Resolution; but can any one of you like it? How is it with Nonconformists?
I will now briefly allude to the most salient objections which are raised to the subject of my Resolution. One of these objections is the novelty of the complaint. Even if it were true that the complaint was new, that would not prove much. When the Nonconformists had to complain of the law of registration of marriage, of exclusion from the Universities, and of the payment of church rates as well as of the Law of Burials, and had to meet determined opposition on all these points, it was natural that they should take only one point at a time. But as a matter of fact there is no novelty in the complaint. Last year I quoted a volume, published 60 years ago, in which this grievance is set forth; and I can refer also to a pamphlet published in 183–1, 10 years before the establishment of the Liberation Society, of which the title is The Case of the Dissenters; and the injustice of the Burial Law is there as clearly insisted upon as 1878 ever it has been since. But, while all those have been one by one removed, this one still remains. It is said, again—If you admit the Dissenters with their services to the churchyard, you logically must admit them to the church.In a courteous and very kindly letter which I received a fortnight ago from a right rev. Prelate—whom I do not see in his place—and for which I offer my thanks, he warned me that the passing of my Resolution would be followed by the disestablishment of the Church, by the destruction of the House of Lords, and by the overthrow of the Monarchy. I need hardly say that if I believed any one of these results would follow from this Bill; or from my Resolution, I would be the first to oppose them both. This argument was disposed of last year in a single phrase, by a most rev. Prelate (the Archbishop of York). He said—I am not able to look upon the question as one of establishment or disestablishment. I desire very much to separate the question from disestablishment. We shall fight the battle against disestablishment on very bad ground if we have to fight it by the side of the grave.And he added—There is a great difference between the entrance to the churchyard and entrance to the church. A man is by no means obliged to go into the church, but is quite certain to find his way into the churchyard; and that alone makes a great distinction between the two cases."—[3 Hansard, ccxxix. 627.]These, my Lords, are words of great weight, and those who wish to maintain the Establishment should take them to heart. Then, again, it is constantly urged—If you make concessions, they are sure to be followed up by demands for further concessions.But this is an argument which has been used over and over again against all concessions, however just; and, so far as this particular case is concerned, it is impossible not to be aware that it has not been upon concessions, but upon refusals, that the Nonconformists have reconsidered the strength of their position and increased in their demands. There is another argument which has been often used, and as often refuted—that as to an obligation of maintenance. It is not necessary to dwell on an argument which is not sustained by 1879 the proposal of the Government; but I may repeat that if there was to be any bargain of this sort it should have been made at the time of the abolition, and that it ought to apply, if at all, as much to that large portion of Churchmen who contribute nothing to the maintenance of the fabric or of the churchyard. Another argument put forward is that it is very unfair to those persons who, in recent times, have built churches, created churchyards, and have dedicated them to the Established Church in the belief that the Burial Laws would be maintained by Parliament. It is said that it would have been most repugnant to these persons that the burials of Nonconformists—who have, of course, the right given them by the common law to be buried in such churchyards—should be accompanied by such religious services as to their friends seemed fit. It is rather begging the question to decide that those persons would have objected at all, and it would certainly be a serious objection to endowments if they were held to be obstacles to any improvement in any direction, and however desirable. But the objection now falls to the ground so far as those who are in favour of the present Bill are concerned, for the Bill introduces an important change in the conditions of burial in a churchyard which has been recently endowed. And does this difficulty about endowment tell entirely on one side? Some years ago Sir Morton Peto, a Baptist, purchased a large estate in Norfolk. In the interests of his Church of England tenants he created and endowed, at the expense of many thousand pounds, a national church and churchyard. Soon after the consecration of the churchyard he lost a beloved daughter. Your Lordships may imagine his feelings when he was obliged to carry the corpse of his child many miles to a strange cemetery because only a silent burial would have been permitted to her in the churchyard which he had created and presented to the Establishment, and which was associated in his mind with the memory of her early life. There is another argument against the substance of my Resolution which appears to me so fallacious that I should not have thought it necessary a second time to allude to it, if it had not been a principal topic in an eloquent speech of the First Lord of the Treasury against the claims of the Dissenters, and 1880 if it had not constantly been repeated up to the present moment. It is that the Resolution is of a one-sided character, inasmuch as it gives complete liberty to the Nonconformist, and none to the member of the Church of England, who must be buried by one clergyman, with one burial service. This argument may be a good one against a Church Establishment, against its discipline, its laws, and especially its parochial system; but it is futile against my proposal. It appears to me that my Resolution will give the most complete liberty to the Churchman as well as to the Nonconformist. It is true that if the Resolution was embodied in a law it would give to the Roman Catholic liberty to be buried by a layman, or a Quaker with a Roman Catholic service, if there were the most remote chance of their wishing it. But in the same way the Resolution gives liberty to members of the Established Church to be buried, if they wish it, in any Christian orderly religious way they prefer—if you can suppose the case of a sincere member of the Church of England wishing to dispense with the services and the clergyman of his own Church. What is more, the Government Bill does exactly the same thing in its degree. Like my Resolution, it does not touch the question of discipline in the Church itself, and relieve the clergyman from any obligation by which he is now bound; but it does set every other member of the Church at liberty, like Nonconformists, to be buried, if he wishes it, like a favourite hound, an excommunicated person, or a suicide. There is another argument, which weighs much with some persons, and not unnaturally, if the thing they apprehend was likely to be the case. It is that no provisions could be framed under the Resolution which could prevent scandalous and indecent occurrences in the churchyard. I believe that merely enacting such occurrences to be misdemeanours and punishable by our Courts would be sufficient; but I rely on the habits and on the feelings of the people of this country, and on the evidence given by the example of the cemeteries. I am told by a director of the Liverpool Cemetery that 70,000 persons have been buried without the slightest scandal. I believe this is the case universally, and if there be one or two exceptions, of which I am 1881 not aware, they would only prove the rule. If there be danger of it under my proposal nothing could be easier than to frame a clause making any indecent behaviour at a burial a misdemeanour, leaving the clause to be interpreted by the Courts of Law. Being on this subject, I must ask a question of the Government to which the House is entitled to have an answer before we go to a second reading. I beg the Lord President's particular attention to it. Has the Government considered the effect of the words of the 74th section, which permit, upon application, the burial to take place without the performance of any religious service or of any other ceremony? Do these words exclude spontaneous prayer, singing of hymns, political and even Atheistical addresses? None of these are religious services or ceremonies. Will the noble Duke also tell me—whatever his answer to the previous question may be—what are the means under this Bill by which any Christian, religious, and orderly services, as I desire, or, on the other hand, any unchristian, disorderly, and irreligious ceremonies, which I deprecate, can be prevented? What are the means of prevention now? I believe there is only one—namely, the legal provision against brawling. These provisions come into effect when the clergyman is present and the service is celebrated. But the Bill provides for the absence of a service and the absence of an officiating minister. I shall be obliged if the noble Duke will tell me where is the protection under the Bill, or whether he proposes to provide it by penal amendments in Committee?
And now, my Lords, I come to the issue between those who are in favour of the Government Bill and those who approve the Resolution. We are told that in this matter feelings are excited, but that we are bound to think of the feelings of the Clergy as well as those who differ from our Church. I entirely admit it; I feel it would be a great mistake to ignore feelings which are conscientiously felt and excited by long habits, by tradition, and by one particular train of thought. But what is the position we are in? Her Majesty's Government admit the necessity of legislating, and have brought in a Bill dealing with a question on which the feelings of a large portion of our Clergy and of the Nonconformists are diametri- 1882 cally opposed, and of course they naturally clash. I think that if we seek to respect their feelings, we are bound to inquire on which side the feeling is best grounded on reason, and to which side justice inclines. Now, what are the feelings of the Clergy? I feel some hesitation in quoting what the objection is. It was stated very strongly by a right rev. Prelate (the Bishop of Lincoln). He said—They regarded the act of consecration as a very solemn one—that the essence of it consisted in separating from common uses that which is consecrated, and in transferring it from man to God; and that as the church is not the house of man, but the house of God, so the churchyard is not man's property, but His; and as He is not the author of error and confusion, but of truth and peace, so it was not consistent with the fundamental principle of consecration to allow the quiet haven of the churchyard to be disturbed by the storms of polemical controversy, and to be agitated by the winds of false doctrine and religious division and even of unbelief."—[3 Hansard, cxxix. 635.]I beg leave to point out that my Resolution precludes polemical controversy and unbelief, and to ask how can the burial of a Nonconformist with a Christian and religious service be more desecrating than the burial of heathens, whom you are now obliged to bury thus? What are the feelings of the Nonconformists? Their feelings revolt against being obliged, in a place where they wish to be buried—and often the only place where they can be buried—to be buried, either with the ministrations of a Church that is not their own, or else to be deprived at the moment of committing the corpse to its last abode of those religious ceremonies in harmony with their deep-seated convictions. There can be no one present who has not assisted at the last mark of respect paid a dear friend or beloved relative. You must all have felt how easily trifling circumstances, which in other cases would have no effect, jar upon your feelings. If a person has any religion at all, it is the moment when religious feelings are most excited and when there is the greatest desire to give way to those feelings in the way that you believe to be the most acceptable to God. Can you venture to say that at such a moment, in a country which professes perfect religious freedom, if you were debarred from the services of the minister who has extended Christian ministrations to the deceased, and from all mode of religious expression in har- 1883 mony with your convictions, that your feelings would not be equally and reasonably excited? I will not trouble your Lordships with my opinions of compulsory silent burial. I will give you the opinions of others who have more weight. I might give extracts from numerous letters which I have received during the last month, not only from laymen, but from clergymen, approving my Resolution and deprecating these silent burials but I prefer quoting persons known to you, and whose declarations have been publicly made. What have some of our great lawyers said? Sir John Nicholl, a great master of ecclesiastical law, said from the judicial bench that "the Church of England know no such indecency as putting the body into consecrated ground without the service being at the same time performed." This opinion might be twisted into an argument for keeping things as they are; but it is fatal to the Government proposal. I presume no one will deny the attachment to the Church of England of the last two ex-Chancellors. They are perfectly agreed on this point. Their opinions were expressed by one of them in these words:—Such a proposition as a compulsory silent burial cannot be a settlement of the question, because it will never be accepted. In reason it cannot be any settlement. It is a necessary corollary of the principle of religious liberty that when you have got so far as to the point of dispensing with the services and the clergyman of the Church you must permit people who bury their relatives in the churchyard to do it religiously if they think fit. I cannot understand how any churchman can take up the ground that such an act as the burial of the dead, unless done with the service of the Church, ought to he done irreligiously, or in a less rather than in a more religious way. As a churchman, it appears to me not only that religious liberty gives Nonconformists a right to be relieved from services to which they conscientiously object, but that the service of the Church is prepared, and the Church wronged by forcing that service upon them. It is contrary to the first principles on which the Church was founded to say to Nonconformists, If you will not accept religion in our way, you shall, as far as we have power to compel you, do the thing which you wish to do religiously in a way that is not religious.'"—[3 Hansard, ccxxix. 659.]But if you are not satisfied with the opinions of legal Churchmen such as these, what have ecclesiastical authorities said about these silent burials? A right rev. Prelate spoke and voted in favour of my Resolution last year (the 1884 Bishop of Exeter), giving thereby the best protest against silent burials. The Bishop of Manchester gave a complete sanction to the reasonableness of the desire that the minister under whose teaching Nonconformists had lived, and by whose ministrations they had bean comforted, should be the minister at the burial service. The most rev. Prelate who presides over the Province of Canterbury last year gave a most touching description of the funeral processions he had seen winding over the mountains of Wales and of Cumberland, the sound of the hymns the mourners were offering up echoing among the hills and the valleys—then the whole stopping because the mourners had come to the sacred ground, and they could only enter it in silence. It is true that his Grace thought the difficulty might be got over by permitting verse instead of prose; but the noble Marquess opposite (the Marquess of Salisbury) reminded him that prose might be turned into blasphemous rhymes, and that hymns might be profane. This year he has thrown out another suggestion, that Convocation should settle a Church service to be read by the clergyman which should be unobjectionable to all Nonconformists. But what has Convocation been about for the last 20 years? At the request of 4,000 clergymen they have been trying to settle what burial services will be acceptable to the clergy and laity of the Church of England. But we have not yet heard that Convocation has arrived at a service which will satisfy even the members of the Church. I cannot, however, conceive why Convocation should take upon itself so responsible, so invidious, and I would add so hopeless a task as to attempt to frame a service that would meet the views of Roman Catholics and of Nonconformists of every denomination —particularly when the objection generally felt by them is not so much to the service as to its exclusive use, and to the ministrations of a minister who is not their own. When men are driven to shifts of this character I think it shows the weakness of the case they present for our acceptance.
Last year I went into details, with which I will not now trouble your Lordships, as to the burial laws of nearly all civilized, countries. I showed that the present grievance did not exist in the United States—I might have added some 1885 Catholic countries in America; that it did not exist in France, in Germany, in Austria, in Hungary, in Italy, in Russia, and in Turkey; that it did not exist in any of our Colonies and dependencies, that it did not exist in Scotland; that it had existed, but had been abolished by a Conservative Government, in Ireland; that, in fact, in the whole civilized world, with the exception of Spain and Belgium, England and Wales are the only countries guilty of this small piece of intolerance, at a moment when all petty differences of life are over and all sorts and conditions of men are gathered into one place. What was the answer of the President of the Council? He passed over most of the cases. He said that the case of France was similar to that of our cemeteries, which is not the case. The French have public cemeteries for their great towns; but in the country all are buried together in the churchyard. It is true, by a law which passed before the Revolution, a piece of the churchyard is unconsecrated; but in the churchyard the Protestant is buried by his own pastor, and with his own service, in the same place as his neighbours and friends. With regard to Scotland the noble Duke said there was a difference, as the churchyards belonged to the heritors, I believe just in the same capacity of trustees as the rector of a parish, and that the Presbyterians performed themselves no service in their churchyards. I believe, however, this practice is being changed, and I would ask the noble Duke whether there is a single churchyard on his estates in which persons of all denominations cannot bury their dead according to their convictions, and whether he has known any frequent scandals to have arisen? With regard to Austria and Italy, he said they did not concern us. This is true in one sense, but not in another. The sense I mean is that understood by the Archbishop of Canterbury when he said it would not do for us to appear more bigoted than the Empires of Russia and of Austria. My Lords, there is a famous old toast—"Religious liberty all over the world." It was at one time monopolized by the Liberal Party. I hope and believe that there are few Englishmen who do not share now in that wish. Is there not something that jars upon our feeling, that on the point of religious liberty we are now discussing England 1886 and Wales should, along with the two exceptions I have already named, be the only exceptions to the universal example of the civilized world?
It is good of you, my Lords, to have borne with me so long. I hope I have not entirely failed in laying down some ground for asking you to decide to-night whether, when you are about to free your Christian fellow-subjects from the obligation to accept the ministrations of your own Church, you will condemn them to these secular, godless funerals, or allow them to bury their dead with Christian and orderly religious ceremonies, in harmony with their feelings and with their conscientious convictions? The noble Earl concluded by moving the Amendment.
Amendment moved,To leave out all the words after ("that") in order to insert the following words, ("no amendment of the law relating to the burial of the dead in England will be satisfactory which does not enable the relatives or friends having chare of the funeral of any deceased person to conduct such funeral in any churchyard in which the deceased had a right of interment with such Christian and orderly religious observances as to them may seem fit.")—(Earl Granville.)
§ THE MARQUESS OF SALISBURY
My Lords, the noble Earl who has just sat down (Earl Granville) showed a fitting consciousness of the weakest point in his procedure to-night when he devoted so large a part of his speech to a defence of the form in which He has invited your Lordships' opinion on this question. Last year there was much to be said in justification of that form of raising the question. My noble Friend then only desired to obtain a decision upon an abstract point of policy, and perhaps it would have been too much to require that he should have been at the pains of framing and introducing a Bill. But now we have a Bill introduced covering a very large extent of the ground, dealing with the whole law of burial, introducing many most important ameliorations, and giving great facilities where difficulties existed before. It is a Bill of considerable volume, extending over 80 clauses, with seven pages of Schedules besides and, I think, the objections of the noble Earl apply only to the 74th clause, and to one portion of the 6th. What would have been the ordinary course for the 1887 noble Earl to take under these circumstances? It would be to wait for Committee, and when the clauses to which he objected came up for discussion to state his objections. But, instead of that, the noble Earl prefers, deliberately, to expose himself to the imputation—just imputation—of resisting all the consolidation, and all the sanitary and administrative improvements we propose in order to obtain an opinion on this one isolated point. In this Bill there are clauses for enforcing on each community the duty of providing a burial ground which did not exist under the present law; there are many provisions for facilitating the creation of Burial Boards, which are much required; and there are sanitary provisions which the researches of recent years have shown to be highly important. But the noble Earl is content to pass by all this in order to bring one point before your Lordships. And why does he take this course? He does not expose himself to such a disadvantage gratuitously. The noble Earl knows perfectly well that it would baffle not only his skill, but the skill of the distinguished lawyer at his side (Lord Selborne) to produce a Bill which would embody the Resolution he has laid on the Table. There is a great distinction between the action of the noble Earl and the action of his coadjutor in the other House. The noble Earl, taking into view the state of opinion in this House, has shown himself painfully alive to the subject of decent Christian burial. His coadjutor in the other House, however, has freed himself from any such hampering considerations. But the noble Earl knows that one of the vital difficulties of this question—one which more than any other has prevented any approximation between the conflicting parties on this point—is the impossibility of giving a legislative definition to the word "Christian." We know what we mean when we talk of "a Christian" pretty well. We know what communities we should designate by that name, and to what communities we should refuse it. But we cannot frame a legislative definition which will mark the distinction between those who are Christians and those who are not. The result is that any change in the law which you can make must give opportunity for those burials in which infidel and free-thinking sentiments would be 1888 pronounced over the grave. The proposal of the noble Earl slurs over the difficulties which stand in the way of the settlement of the question. The noble Earl, though he has followed the precedent of last year in this respect, has departed from it in a material particular in another. Last year the noble Earl made two proposals—one giving permission for burials without a religious service; another for giving permission for Christian burials with a service other than that of the Established Church. Well, we argued the matter at great length, and opinions of various kinds were expressed upon it. This year, though it does not form a main part of our scheme, we have added at the end of the Bill a clause, adopted at the suggestion, not of Dissenters, but of Churchmen, which will give facilities for one of the things which the noble Earl asked last year, and for which Mr. Osborne Morgan in the other House also asked. We expected that the concession would at least be received with approval—but what do we hear? Mr. Osborne Morgan last year proposed, as one of his alternatives, a silent burial service, and so did the noble Earl. But now we are told that this which they proposed last year is this year "grating" to the noble Earl's ear, and he quotes Sir John Nicholl to show that his own proposal would be a gross indecency. That is not an encouragement to concession. The noble Earl told us that it was not concession which did harm, but the continual refusal of concession. That is an argument which might be expressed in a somewhat hackneyed form by the phrase of a distinguished writer which I saw in a newspaper this morning, exhorting us to consider the story of the Sibyl. But I fear the Sibyl of these days is a very altered and degenerate Sibyl. The Sibyl of old, if somewhat hard-fisted, was at least honest and stuck to her bargain; but the Sibyl of our time, though she demands more if you refuse her offer, demands a great deal more if you concede it. I do not intend to follow the noble Earl in the details of his speech, but I would like to make one or two observations on the statistics of the subject. The noble Earl said that 8,000 parishes had not had their churchyards closed, and, he, therefore, concluded that these 8,000 parishes were subject to the special grievance He de- 1889 sires to remedy. In the first place, I would point out that this is, in a great measure, a mistake. What constantly happens in country districts is that when the churchyard is full a neighbouring landowner gives a bit of ground for a new churchyard without closing the old one. Closing an old churchyard is a proceeding which is much disliked, and it is only in thickly-peopled districts that it is resorted to. In my belief, 8,000 exceed enormously the number of parishes whore the old ancestral churchyards are still available. The noble Earl went on to draw a most extraordinary conclusion from the figures he adduced. He said he had ascertained that the price of a new burial-ground in Bromley was 1500; and he multiplied the 8,000 parishes by that £500, and by that means arrived at the conclusion that some £4,000,000 would be required to provide the country with new churchyards. But, my Lords, it must be within the knowledge of everybody that the places where these still unfilled churchyards exist, and where the grievance can therefore be supposed to arise, are places in remote country districts, where land is comparatively cheap. I am not using the language of exaggeration when I say I believe that in the vast majority of cases £50 would provide the land necessary for burying Nonconformists. Do not distort the statistics involved—it would be a very small burden, and this Bill would not only enable you to buy burial grounds, but will enable landowners to give them to the parish at great personal sacrifice. I agree with the noble Earl that the landowners have no wish to hinder the Dissenters in the performance of their solemn rites—the impediment assuredly arises from no such feelings. The noble Earl is quite right in saying that the churchyards are closing slowly; that is our case, and is the reason why we have provided the new facilities. If Parliament will pass this Bill new cemeteries, wherever they are wanted, or wherever it can be shown that a real grievance exists, will be established in the easiest and freest manner. We believe that wherever the Dissenters feel the grievance they will be enabled to free themselves from it easily. The real question your Lordships have to consider is, whether you will pass this Bill and take the 1890 subject-matter of the controversy out of the way, or whether you will adopt the proposal of the noble Earl. We have not offered any attempt to reconcile contending parties—there would be no encouragement for such an attempt; nor have we tried summarily to put an end to the controversy—but we have certainly afforded the means of doing so. My Lords, the radical fallacy in the argument of the noble Earl is that, in his view, the controversy has only one side, and that if you satisfy that one you put an end to the dispute. But it should be kept in mind that a controversy is like a quarrel, and requires two persons to make it. This controversy rages between two sets of controversialists whose consciences are equally tender; but its area is limited, and the number of, persons who really feel the grievance is comparatively few. My belief is, that the grievance of which we have heard so much is a political grievance, upheld in the main by political agitators for political purposes. They may, perhaps, have a perfect right to pursue the object on which their hearts are set—the Disestablishment of the Church—and their efforts may be conscientious, yet I cannot see that there is any use in Parliament giving so fragmentary a satisfaction to their wishes. They will not leave you more at peace, because they have larger objects to gain, and this is only one stage of the road along which they desire to travel. Compromises no doubt are useful things; but they are only really useful when they have the effect of arresting the controversy. If I were pursued by a lion it would be no use for me to present him with one of my legs and expect him to be satisfied; and in the same way there is no use in compromising with these political Dissenters, or in presenting them with a minute, an infinitesimal sop, in the hope that their appetites will I be assuaged. I quite concur with the noble Earl that the grievance should be respected, and I earnestly wish that it had not arisen on this subject, and that the sanctity of the grave might be observed by the absence of all disputed questions. But we wish to remove the grievance, and our Bill simply proposes to maintain arrangements that have existed for a thousand years. But, are there no other parties to the controversy besides the Dissenters? Granted that 1891 their grievance is one that should be removed—and we admit it by our Bill—we believe that it can be removed by imitating the practice of the French Church—namely, of reserving a portion of ground unconsecrated. That is, in our mind, the best arrangement, and the controversy is disappearing in those parishes where that arrangement exists. But will the proposals of this Resolution produce peace? The noble Earl thought it inconceivable that any objections should exist on the other side; but every one must know that Churchmen, especially in the rural districts, feel very keenly on the question. There are those who take the view of political considerations, and who think that the granting of this concession will be an additional argument for entering the church itself. Is that an unreasonable position? But we are told that every one need not go to church, while every one must be buried; well, every one need not be married, and I want to know whether Dissenters have not the right to be married in church? Is that really made a grievance? As a matter of fact, they are often married elsewhere; but the truth is that all sentimental arguments apply with equal force to entering the church itself; and of course there is the stock argument of the funeral procession being stopped and silenced at the door of the churchyard. Well, suppose it is stopped, instead, at the church door, the argument is the same. Perhaps we should not admit the justice of the analogy, because there is nothing so illogical as to apply logic to public affairs, and we should not submit to a pitiless application of logic. I am sure that the clergy will regard that proposal, not as a settlement of the question, but as the herald and prelude to new attacks and greater dangers. And not only the clergy have these fears, but many Churchmen, and it is not easy to convey to the mind of those opposed to us the precise scruples which weigh with them. They may be right or wrong; but it is necessary to recognize those feelings which are very strong in the rural parts of the country, and to admit that many persons regard as profanation the performance of rites of one kind in a place set apart for ministrations of another. In some sense I presume there is no one who will not admit the truth of that 1892 principle in an extreme case, such as the preaching of a Positivist sermon, or the performance of Hindoo rites in a Christian Church. On the other hand, there are limitations which everybody will admit in another direction. For example, we see abroad the Service of the Church of England performed in a Lutheran church, and we see hardly any incongruity and nothing wrong in the proceeding. Between these two points men differ very much in opinion, and in this city many things would be endured which in a more primitive population would be rejected. But it is certain, at all events, that if the more extreme forms of religious Dissent, whether they come within the noble Earl's definition of Christian or not—such as the Unitarians and many classes of Freethinkers —were to be allowed to have their prayers, their hymns, and their addresses admitted into the churchyard, this would be thought by numbers of Churchmen to be a deep and terrible profanation. There are others who would deem it to be so in some degree with respect to those sects of Dissenters who do not differ from us largely on any dogmatic question. I do not know how far that opinion exists, but I suspect it is much more widely spread than Members of this House have any conception of, and that the clergy would feel the presence of a minister whose Orders they do not recognize, and a service involving, even to a small extent, doctrines which they do not believe, to be an injury to their conscience and unsuited to the sanctity of the holy place in which they were introduced. Your Lordships must remember that of late years, while there has been a considerable feeling in favour of latitude, on the other hand, a school has grown up which attaches intense importance to these distinctions; that that school as time goes on, and as cohesion is lent to it by injudicious attacks, is becoming more coherent and more organized, and that in places where it is powerful it commands an intense devotion which would find its expression in deep and earnest resistance to the proceeding contemplated by the noble Earl. I desire as I go along to guard myself at every step by saying that I have studied these matters as phenomena. I am not expressing my own coincidence, much less the coincidence of my Colleagues, in the opinions 1893 I am endeavouring to describe. But I desire to draw your minds to the mere fact that although your Lordships may not agree with these opinions, this is no reason why you should ignore them. They are causes which will produce effects, and if you wound men in their tenderest feelings and in matters which they hold to be sacred, you will have resistance which will certainly be pushed in every legal and constitutional way—and I will not answer that it will not be pushed even to the extent of tumult. The noble Earl has told us that there have been great and beneficial reforms, that the clergy have always opposed those reforms, and that, therefore, we ought not to heed their opposition. But remember, my Lords, that the clergy are not as they were 40 years ago, and there is not now the same content as there was then to receive all that Parliament may do. In a measure the object of which is peace, the state of their opinions must be taken into account. So far for the considerations which have induced us to insert in this Bill provisions which we hope may, at no distant date, remove the causes of a controversy which we earnestly desire to arrest, and which we can see no other means of assuaging. We confidently recommend the measure to your Lordships. Its effect will certainly not be violent, but it will tend to remove the cause of conflict, so far as to bring those who are so bitterly opposed nearer to each other. We confidently recommend it to you in preference to a solution which would satisfy only one side, and, treading down the other, would create more bitterness and acrimony than it removes, while it would intrude upon and jeopardize ancient rights, and would, in the present state of men's minds, undoubtedly lend force to those who are banding themselves together for the suppression of our Established Church.
THE ARCHBISHOP OF CANTERBURY
My Lords, I do not know whether there is any possibility of inducing the noble Earl opposite (Earl Granville) to embody in some clause which he might introduce into this Bill the Resolution which he submitted to the House. Certainly, that would enable us better to decide whether his proposal is a practical one or not. I am afraid the noble Earl may think that any reputation I may have for good sense is endangered 1894 by my making this proposal to him; but, at the same time, as my most earnest desire is that this matter should be, if possible, settled, and if not settled, that we should come to the dearest possible approach to a solution, I think it would be far better to consider some amendment to the present Bill rather than a Resolution which, if carried, would practically cause the Bill to disappear. It is true the Bill might be proposed again to-morrow evening if the noble Earl's Resolution were adopted; but I do not expect that if his Resolution were adopted the Bill would thus re-appear. Therefore, I fear that if we adopt the Resolution we shall lose, perhaps, the last opportunity of settling this difficult question in an amicable spirit. I quite understand the noble Lord when he says that the Bill does not come up to the whole magnitude of the case. But it is not always possible to have the best solution, and we must often be content with what is possible, rather than with that which is in itself the most desirable. I cannot doubt that Tier Majesty's Ministers, looking to the state of public opinion—especially among their own Supporters—have gone as far as it was possible for them practically to go in the endeavour to obtain some solution of this difficulty. How far the Bill may be amended in Committee, and so made more palatable to the whole country, I am not at present prepared to say; but I think I should fail in my duty if I did not say that the measure ought to be read a second time, and that your Lordships should appoint a Committee with a view of endeavouring to make it as good a Bill as possible. With regard to the 74th clause, I am not sure it has been understood. On the first reading of this measure I expressed a hope that the grievance in this matter might be removed by some alteration of the law as it effects the existing services of the Church of England. I hold that everyone who is desirous of being buried in the churchyards of the Church of England, and who has no conscientious objection to the service of the Church of England, is entitled to be buried with that service. But, as the law stands, a large number of persons who desire to have their relatives interred with the service of the Church of England are prevented from having them so interred because that 1895 service cannot be read over those who die unbaptized. The noble Earl opposite mentioned the ease of Sir Morton Peto; and I must say I entirely agree with him in the opinion that it is a scandal to the Church of England that it should be necessary for a father who had built a church and given a churchyard to have his daughter's corpse carried to a great distance, in order that it might receive Christian burial with a religious service. I am not, however, without hope that some plan may be devised whereby that which is a real grievance may be removed, and that all persons who are desirous of having their dead interred within the churchyards of the Church of England, and have no conscientious objection to the words used in its service, may receive Christian burial there, the minister of the Church of England, the present custodian of the churchyard, reading the service. That there is a real grievance involved in this matter I think your Lordships will admit. We have within the last few days heard of the dreadful tragedy in South Wales. We have read with attention the account of the sufferings of those unfortunate persons who were shut up in darkness during those long days of misery. One boy is represented as endeavouring to sustain his spirits by singing the songs of Moody and Sankey, and another was crushed to death by a stone, which fell upon him and a man who was working with him. I do not know what was the religious persuasion of those two boys; but on looking at the hymns which were quoted in the newspapers, I am rather disposed to think that both were members of the Baptist denomination. Now, it seems to me that human nature would cry out if the body of either of those boys, when recovered, had been brought to the churchyard, and the clergyman was to find himself precluded, as he is by the present law, from giving Christian burial to one who, in the agonies of death, had shown that He was a real Christian. Now, my Lords, that is the reason why I am anxious that there should be some alteration in this matter of the sort of service which may be used by the Church of England in peculiar circumstances. I cannot say that the noble Earl or anyone else seems to afford any great encouragement to my desire that this change should be made. I do not, 1896 however, despair on that account, because I have full confidence that it is a change which the good feeling of the Church of England would approve—that there shall be in the case of persons who die unbaptized through no fault of their own, some means provided by which the minister of religion presiding over the parish may be enabled to commit their bodies to the grave with such consolatory words as their friends may desire should be uttered over their remains. But before I leave this branch of the subject, let me ask whether the 74th clause, which hints at silent burial, is altogether such an insult to Dissenters as it is represented to be in a very important paper which has been placed in my hands, and in, I believe, the hands of all your Lordships. A great many of the Dissenting bodies represent the old Westminster Confession. There is a large body who are intimately connected with the Established, or the Free, or the United Presbyterian Churches of Scotland and who do not, I apprehend, the moment they cross the border leave all their prejudices and feelings behind them. I hold in my hand the "Book of Discipline," which is not only the charter of the Established, the Free, and the United Presbyterian Churches of Scotland, but also of that English Kirk of Geneva whereof John Knox was minister, and which has received, and I think receives up to the present day, the sanction, if not the deliberate signature of a large number of the Dissenters of England. Now, nothing can be stronger than the expressions which that Book contains. For example, it is set forth in it that for the avoiding of all inconvenience—We judge it best that neither singing nor reading be at a burial, for although it may admonish some of the living to prepare themselves for death, yet it is the view of some superstitious persons that the singing and the reading of the living may benefit the dead. Therefore, we think it most expedient that the dead be conveyed to the place of burial without singing or reading—yea, without all kinds of ceremonies hitherto used, and that they be committed to the grave with gravity and sobriety.I am, my Lords, by no means anxious to see that system more largely introduced into England than at present; but I do not think that it is desired under the 74th clause to do so. What that clause says to any man who is a follower of John Knox or a Dissenter 1897 with the true principles Dissenters once maintained, is that if he desires to be buried without any religious service then that may be done which, according to the dictum of the noble Earl opposite, is now illegal. Such a burial is thus recognized, in the first place, as being decent, and, in the second place, is made legal. Now, I see no reason why some such Amendment should not be introduced into the Bill as that to which I have alluded;—and I may at once say that the Amendment was placed in my hands by the right rev. Prelate (the Bishop of Peterborough), whom I regret not to see in his place, for the purpose of enabling persons who have not been baptized and whose friends do not desire that they should be buried in silence, to be interred with some appropriate rites by the clergyman of the parish. The 74th clause, I maintain, makes room for such an arrangement, and I, for one, do not look upon it as hopeless. That is the reason why I am anxious that we should go into Committee on the Bill, in order that we may arrive there at something like a real solution of this question. The Bill, I am ready to admit, requires to be considered with great care; and nothing could in my opinion be more unfortunate than if through any mistake the liberty which we at present enjoy should be curtailed. The noble Earl alluded to the possibility under the Bill of the delivery of political and religious addresses at the grave. As to the burial which has been alluded to in the Brompton Cemetery, I hold in my hand a letter from the clergyman who officiated, who says he does not exactly know what occurred after he left the grave, but that he understands discourses suitable to the occasion were delivered. I do not know whether that is legal or illegal; but I do hope such liberty as now exists will not be diminished. There is another point to which I wish also to direct your Lordships' attention. The late respected Greek Chaplain of the Russian Embassy was buried in consecrated ground of the Church of England. He was buried by the present highly respected Chaplain of the Greek Embassy, and I hold in my hand a letter from that excellent person which describes the service at the burial, and states that a Greek service was celebrated in consecrated ground of the Church of England. If that is lawful 1898 at present, I hope care will be taken not to lessen the existing liberty. When this matter was brought before your Lordships last summer there was a good deal said about the burial of M. Guizot, and there seemed to be great difficulty in ascertaining what was the state of the case as to the service which had been used over M. Guizot's grave in France. It appears that he was buried in a Roman Catholic cemetery and that the Protestant service was said over his grave. Now, the law of France in country places, so far as I can understand it, does not allow this. I happened to mention the matter in conversation with an eminent Frenchman shortly after it was brought under your Lordships' notice, and he said—" I can give you the solution of that difficulty. M. Guizot was a very great man, and, therefore, his friends were entitled to bury him exactly as they pleased." I trust, my Lords, we shall not fall into the same mistake in this country. An eminent Greek, dying in London—in the midst of the enlightenment of London—is buried with the Greek ceremonial in a consecrated churchyard of the Church of England; but a poor Greek, dying at Shoreditch and carried off to some small cemetery in an unknown place, may be refused those rites which are gladly conceded, whether lawfully or unlawfully, to the man of wealth and consideration. These are cases which, I think, we ought carefully to consider in Committee. My Lords, the object of my ' speech is simply to induce your Lordships to give this Bill a second reading. It is not that I am enamoured of the Bill; but that I think the question ought to be settled. The Bill is, perhaps, a good Bill, considering the difficulties of the case. It is impossible in the present state of feeling which the noble Marquess has described to produce the best possible measure. That, however, is no reason for not producing a tolerably good measure—and certainly it is no reason for passing a set of Resolutions which will not allow us even to look at the present measure to find out whether it is good or bad. My Lords, I desire most earnestly that this question should be set at rest. I do not say that the noble Earl does not equally wish for a settlement, but there are eminent people who do not seem to desire it. It it a very convenient thing 1899 sometimes in political life to have a few questions of this kind in which we can show our extraordinary liberality without the necessity of coming to definite action. While I am sure the noble Earl wishes that the question should be settled, there are other persons, I believe, who deliberately desire to keep it open. With them I have no sort of sympathy. I wish to close it. I remember a great question closed in your Lordships' House after it had occupied the attention of Parliament—I cannot tell for how many years—the question of the admission of Jews into Parliament. How was that settled? Something was proposed by the noble Earl (the Earl of Lucan), and before anybody knew where we were the whole thing was settled, and we have not heard of it since. Perhaps the present question will come to a similar close. I most heartily support the second reading of this Bill.
§ LORD SELBORNE
My Lords, we have just heard two remarkable speeches. The most rev. Prelate thinks that the course taken by my noble Friend (Earl Granville) is not the best adapted for the settlement of the question—and, doubtless, upon that and every other point whatever falls from the most rev. Prelate is entitled to our most respectful consideration. But the greater part of the speech of the most rev. Prelate was one series of arguments in favour of the principle of my noble Friend's Resolution. I was particularly struck by the observation in the latter part of his speech with regard to the risk there might be, if we adopted the 74th clause, of curtailing in certain respects a liberty which now exists. The most rev. Prelate referred to cases in which persons belonging to the Greek Church had been buried in churchyards of the Church of England with their own religious rites ' and it was impossible not to see that the most rev. Prelate would rejoice if that were allowed to all Christians of all denominations throughout the country, and that it was only because of the state of feeling among the clergy, that he hesitated to declare his unqualified approbation of the principle of my noble Friend's Resolution. The noble Marquess also (the Marquess of Salisbury) spoke of a clerical feeling which, whether we agreed with it or not, we could not ignore, and he seemed to regard the present measure as being, not 1900 the best that might be desired, but only the best possible in the present state of clerical feeling. He spoke of the noble Earl behind me (Earl Granville) as having laboured under a sense of some difficulties: but that was as to mere matters of form: and I think the noble Marquess felt throughout his own speech that the difficulties he had to deal with were difficulties in matters of substance. If it wore the case that the adoption of the Resolution would prevent or retard a settlement of the question, that would be a strong argument against it; but we believe that the Resolution expresses the only true principle on which the question can be settled: and we feel confident that the affirmance of that principle by your Lordships would lead at once, by the shortest and surest road, to a settlement. This is not one of those questions on which people can say there are "three courses" open. There are only two courses really —one is to maintain the status quo, the other to put an end to the grievance; and nothing short of what is proposed by my noble Friend's Resolution can put an end to the grievance. The noble Marquess spoke of keeping up the usage of 1,000 years; but the 74th clause as it stands would alter that usage, without, however, really putting an end to the difficulty. We are challenged to show how any Bill could possibly express the safeguards which the Resolution of my noble Friend affirms to be necessary. I shall have no difficulty whatever, at the proper time, in meeting that challenge. Of course you cannot define by Act of Parliament what is "Christian," what is "orderly," or what is "religious." But the honest good sense of the administrators of the law would easily say what was clearly not Christian, not orderly, or not religious; and, where doubt existed, penalties neither ought to be nor would be imposed. The law, as it is, does not trouble itself with definitions, for the purpose of dealing with a man who goes into a churchyard, and either before or after the service says something which is "irreligious" or "un-Christian," or does something which is "disorderly." In such cases the law would look to the character and quality of the act from a common sense and practical point of view, and if there was any reasonable doubt as to how it ought to be regarded, would give 1901 the man the benefit of that doubt. Nor is that my opinion only. I see that in the Convocation of York the other day the Dean of Manchester expressed a similar opinion. And it has been often suggested that permission should be given for the use of hymns and prayers—which means, I suppose, Christian hymns, and Christian prayers—with the reading of passages of Scripture. Judging from the recent discussion between Mr. Morley, as representing the religious Dissenters, and an eminent Member of your Lordships' House (the Earl of Shaftesbury), I believe there would have been no great difficulty in the acceptance by the general body of Dissenters, if the Government had seen their way to accept it, of an arrangement permitting those things and defining them in that manner. My Lords, there is no real difficulty whatever about those things. If they were sanctioned by law I undertake to say that there would not be one case in 10,000 in which any practical question would arise. All the arguments we hear about this grievance being a small one or a diminishing one are much sounder arguments for leaving things alone than for making changes which will unsettle everything and settle nothing. But are those arguments well founded? I ventured to say last year, and I repeat now after deliberate consideration, that there can be no greater fallacy than to suppose that this is a diminishing grievance or one likely to diminish. It is not a question of the number of churchyards or the number of cemeteries accessible. The question is as to the number of members of the community to whom it is, or may be, a grievance. Nobody knows better than noble Lords opposite what is the meaning of the term "political education." The noble Earl at the head of the Government, if he is not the author of that phrase, used it on one occasion in a way which history will record. Now, among other modes of political education one is to educate a grievance. Nothing is more easy than to make a grievance practical which before was not. ["Hear!"] You may do that in one way, which the noble Lords opposite who cheer appear to guess—namely, by agitation—by instilling into men's minds ideas which before they had not realized. That process has been going on for some time in this country, and is cer- 1902 tainly not likely to go on less if you postpone a settlement of the question. How does it work? Dissenters who have not thought much of these things are made to think more of them. They have a principle put before them in this way—"Do you or do you not wish to have religious liberty in the matter of burial? Do you think it consistent with your rights, as Dissenters, to be told that you cannot bury your dead in a place where the law gives you a right to bury them with any religious observances whatever, unless they are dictated to you by the Church or by Convocation?" A great many people who have never thought of this, as a practical grievance, will become sensible of it when it is put into their heads; and the more they dwell upon it the more their esprit de corps as Dissenters will be increased and the more their sense of the necessity of having their rights conceded to them. will become familiarized to their minds. Therefore, as long as this grievance remains unredressed, the number of persons will be found continually increasing, who from year to year or from month to month will claim to have their religious liberty, in this matter, respected by the law. Another mode of political education is the insisting upon your right to refuse other people the religious liberty which they claim. The more you refuse religious liberty in these matters to Nonconformists, the more certain it is that men who are in any sense at all Nonconformists will become united in treating the grievance as a practical one, and in demanding its removal. You must not forget that the law gives to Dissenters the right, which this Bill does not take away, of interment in churchyards. There may be many persons whose relatives and friends rest in the churchyard, and who would desire at their death to lie beside them; and it would be no answer to them to say—"You cannot have your legal right in the churchyard, your body cannot be laid there beside the bodies of your wife and children otherwise than by the service of the Church or by silent burial. But you may go to the cemetery somewhere else and have the interment there, with any observances which you please." 'I do not think you would entirely remove the grievance, even if you could offer universally such an alternative as that. Again, it appears to me that 1903 your attempt to deal in this grudging way with the religious question has very much prejudiced the sanitary and consolidation parts of your Bill. There is, no doubt, very good reason on sanitary grounds why some churchyards should be shut up; but that is a question which rests on its own merits, and when you mix it up with this endeavour to patch up a great political question, it cannot fail to be looked at from an invidious point of view. So with consolidation. If you had proposed consolidation apart from any great political question, I do not suppose you would have found Dissenters throughout the Kingdom using their utmost ingenuity to pick holes in the Acts which you want to consolidate, as is now the case. As it is, you have succeeded in opening new fields for agitation, and in raising questions about the consecration of parts of cemeteries, about chapels in cemeteries, and about the fees paid to the clergy for burials in them. So far as relates to the provisions of this Bill for the erection of new cemeteries where the churchyards are not closed, I do not believe you will find Dissenters availing themselves of them, or Churchmen exposing themselves to the great odium of taxing their neighbours for additional burying ground which is not wanted merely to aggravate, so to say, the feelings of their Dissenting countrymen, not to satisfy them. Therefore, that part of your Bill will really be a dead letter. It is possible that if sanitary considerations require it you may shut up some churchyards; but as to opening new cemeteries you will not do it at any greater rate than the real wants of the country require. Now, as regards the 74th clause it has been pointed out that it contains no safeguard whatever against either irreligious or other improper services. It simply provides that a burial may be made in the churchyard without the performance of any religious service or of any other ceremony. There is no penalty provided for the use of a religious or any other service or ceremony, however objectionable. In altering the conditions on which the legal right now rests, and yet not permitting it to be exercised upon terms satisfactory to those who are entitled to it, you will be challenging and provoking new experiments—especially after what we have heard from the most 1904 rev. Prelate; who appears to think it doubtful whether, even under the present law, Dissenters have not the right to use their own religious services, provided they do not interfere with the parish clergyman in the performance of his duty. The most rev. Prelate is not the only person by whom such anticipations have been expressed. I find that the other day in the Convocation of the Province of York, Canon Cundill objected to the concession of silent funerals. He is reported to have said—Very probably, if they granted silent funerals, they would not really be silent. Already, though the law was against them, Dissenters often had services of their own in the churchyards. It was not at all unusual, after the clergyman had retired, for them to say or do something in addition to the Church service ….. Sanction silent burials, and the Synod gave up the whole principle.But he met with no support, and the Synod did sanction silent burials. Supposing, however, that it is not the present state of the law that Dissenters, when the service of the Church is not imposed upon them by law, may satisfy their own natural feelings at the grave in a Christian way, what would happen if you attempted to prosecute them? You find that even clergymen of the Established Church, when they conduct services agreeably to their own ideas of duty, but not according to the interpretation which the Courts place on the law, are not always ready to submit to authority: and when the law is put in force against them a vast amount of clerical, and some lay, sympathy is expressed for them. Do you think there would be less sympathy with Dissenters who used prayers and read passages of Scripture at the grave if they were prosecuted for doing so? I venture to say that such a state of the law could never be enforced, and it would be far better to make it clear that such is not to be the state of the law. I will not pursue this subject further; but I wish to make a few comments on two stock arguments which are often introduced when this question is discussed. I mean the argument from the entrance which would be forced into the church, and the argument from the danger of disestablishment as a consequence of allowing Dissenters to use their own religious services in churchyards. In political questions, the noble Marquess said, logic is sometimes employed illogically; but I do not think 1905 I have often heard a more illogical use of the forms of logic than that which my noble Friend has to-night condescended to imitate—namely, as to the necessity of letting people use their own services in the church because you let them use their own services in the churchyard. The answer to that argument is trite. People must die and must also be buried; and in many instances the parish churchyard is the only place where they can be buried. They have no choice as to that, and the law gives them the right to be buried there. But the same thing does not apply to the church. It is said, why not apply the same principle to marriage, or to public worship, which may also be represented as necessary things? The cases are not really parallel:—if they were, the same principle ought to be applied. It is not so absolutely necessary for a man to be married as it is for him to die and to be buried—though every man is entitled to marry if he can get some one to accept him. But it would be wholly contrary to the principles of religious freedom to compel people to be married with the Service of the Church of England if they were obliged to be married in our churches and nowhere else. They can everywhere be married, either at the Registrar's office, or in a Dissenting chapel; and the analogy between the case of marriage and the case of burial, therefore, wholly fails. Again, I should be sorry to disparage the necessity, to those of right mind, of public worship. But it is perfectly easy for them to worship elsewhere than in the parish church. They may worship in Nonconformist chapels or in their own houses—there is no natural necessity which is interfered with, and the freedom of worship is sufficient for all practical purposes. Worship is a thing, the need of which is continually recurring, to those who are sensible of it at all, during the whole of their lives; and therefore every religious community makes provision for it everywhere, and all religious communities prefer to conduct it in places set apart for their own exclusive use. Burial is wanted once only by every man, and that after his death. Therefore, the analogy sought to be drawn again fails here. The truth is that Nonconformists have never asked to go into the church. The Clergy have invented that argument to meet a danger which, except as 1906 an incident of disestablishment, is entirely one of their own imagination. Disestablishment is a different thing. I have not been converted to it. Since your Lordships discussed this question last year, a league of clergymen and laymen professing great attachment to the principles of the Church of England, has been formed in favour of disestablishment. I am as alive to the dangers of disestablishment as any of your Lordships. I admit that there are real dangers. It is a real danger when those whose duty in the Church is defined by law refuse to recognize the interpretations of the Courts of Law, and even the right of Parliament to give authority to adjudicate in Church questions to any tribunal. I do not know whether they are among those who think it their duty to keep Dissenters most strictly to the terms of the law with regard to the churchyards; but the course I have indicated seems to me to be a real danger in the direction of disestablishment. It is also a real danger when large associations of influential persons, including clergymen and laymen, circulate through the country resolutions which commend as a right and proper thing on the part of the clergy that kind of resistance to the law. Nor does it seem to me to be quite free from danger when we find that, beyond the sphere of those who either themselves break the law or invite and encourage others to break it, there is a much larger class of men whose sympathies, so far as they are publicly expressed, appear to flow much more freely towards those who suffer for breaking the law, than towards those whose duty it is to administer it. It is, I think, a danger, too, when we are told, apparently by influential persons, that they must have some new law to limit the Royal Supremacy; that legislation in Church matters is absolutely necessary; but that there shall be no such legislation, until Parliament limits its own powers to the function of giving a simple assent or dissent to provisions prepared for it either by Convocation or by some ecclesiastical assembly to be hereafter defined. These are real dangers, but dangers which those who are so sensitive to the risk of disestablishment from respecting the consciences of Dissenters seem to contemplate without much disturbance of mind. The Dissenters are, 1907 beyond all doubt, a very powerful political body. They are one of the forces which are banded together against the Established Church; but I am most afraid of them when they have a real grievance, as in this ease; and I think I am doing most to diminish their power of injuring the Church when I try to remove that grievance, and when, doing to others as I should wish to be done by, I ask your Lordships to settle this question—as I believe it only can be settled—on the terms proposed by my noble Friend who moved the Resolution.
§ THE EARL OF HARROWBY
admitted that this was a question which could not be approached without very considerable difficulty, and that what his noble Friend (the Marquess of Salisbury) had called the phenomena of the case were no slight matters. He could very well understand how many of the Clergy could look upon the demand of the Nonconformists for admission into the churchyards with apprehension and distrust. The Clergy were the custodians of the churchyards, which to them were 'cherished places, surrounded with the tenderest and most holy associations, and which brought them into the closest connection with their parishioners. They felt that they wore now labouring under attacks by a powerful and unrelenting body, and any encroachment upon the monopoly of that sacred ground, which they had hitherto possessed could not but be regarded with the greatest pain and almost the deepest resentment. But these were not the only considerations—the Clergy were not the only parties to be considered in the settlement of the question. He could not but think that without weakening the real basis of the Established Church, they ought to try to reconcile it to the wants and circumstances of the population. It was necessary to consider that though perhaps a third of the population had ceased to be within the pale of the Church of England, they had not lost altogether their parochial sympathies. One of the most important points, then, which their Lordships had to consider was how they could reconcile the peculiar connection of the churchyard with the Church of England with the feelings of that large portion of the population which did not belong to her communion. He could not think that the provisions of the Bill before the House as it now stood offered the 1908 slightest prospect of bringing about that reconciliation:—indeed, practically, the effect of it had been to rouse—even among those Dissenters who most sympathized with the Church of England on other points — a feeling of irritation, which the sooner it was put an end to the better. The Dissenters had proclaimed their dissatisfaction with the provisions of the Bill, and, whether rightly or wrongly—there was no use in arguing with sentiment—had even received the measure as an affront. He could not attach the same importance as had been attached by the most rev. Prelate to the proof that the Dissenters were mistaken. It was in vain to say that the Dissenters ought not to take the offer of silent burial as an affront—for if they received it as such it would leave the same wounded feelings behind—and when they remembered that by the proposal of a silent burial they associated Dissenters with the un-baptized, the excommunicated, and the suicide, it was not altogether surprising that it should be received as an affront, although misled by the analogy of Scotland, no affront but a measure of conciliation was intended. However, in his opinion it was better to amend the Bill which was before their Lordships than fetter themselves by the Resolution; and when the Bill was in Committee, if no one else should come forward to move an Amendment to the 74th clause he would do so. He thought it would be something nobler than standing on their rights if Churchmen were to say—" You Dissenters have certainly put yourselves out of Court very much for claiming access to churchyards which you have refused to support by rates, and by contending that the Church is not national, but sectarian; but, at the same time, we wish to show the comprehensiveness of the Church of England, we still claim for her the position of a National Church, and if you prefer to be buried under the shadow of the old parish church we will receive you with open arms, and allow you to bury your dead with any religious rights which may be Christian and orderly." For the interpretation of the words "Christian and orderly" he would, with the noble and learned Lord opposite (Lord Selborne), rely on common sense and good feeling. He did not want to see new cemeteries; what he wanted was to see the Dissen- 1909 ters still crowding round our churchyards, to which they clung from dear and old associations.
THE BISHOP OF WINCHESTER
said, the real question to-night was whether their Lordships would vote for the second reading of the Bill, which was intended, at least, to minimize a grievance of the Nonconformists; or whether they would adopt the Resolution of the noble Earl (Earl Granville), which would distinctly admit into our churchyards persons not in communion with the Church, not merely as mourners and to take part in the common rites of burial, but to administer their own special forms of worship. He sympathized entirely with the noble Earl who had just sat down (the Earl of Harrowby) when he spoke of the comprehensiveness of the Church and in his desire that they should lay aside all bitterness and act towards Nonconformists in the most Christian manner. But if he could not vote for the Resolution of the noble Earl, that was not the result of sectarian jealousy—there should be no such thing as sectarian feeling in respect to a question such as this—the Church was very comprehensive — and its Burial Service was the clearest proof of its comprehensiveness—all its services were open to all denominations—the only difference was as respected the unity of the Church. This was not merely a clerical question; nor was it uncharitableness on the part of the Clergy to take the view that the Church was essentially one body, distinct from all others—a view upon which the Reformation had proceeded. There was, in fact, a difference of theory between Nonconformists and Churchmen—Churchmen regarded the Church as one body, of which the several national Churches were distinct members; whereas the Nonconformists held that no such unity existed. With regard to the Church being national, one of the great arguments of the Nonconformists was that the Church was national—that, therefore, Churchmen had no exclusive right in the Churches, that Dissenters had an equal right, and that they had a common-law right to be buried in its churchyards. But the churchyards were only national in the same sense that the Church itself was national; and it was not to be assumed that persons not having a direct mission from the Church should officiate in the churchyards any more than they 1910 should officiate in the church buildings. Their Lordships' House was national; but it did not follow from that that any member of the community would be at liberty to walk in and take part in their deliberations. Again, the Army was a national Army, but it was not under the command of any but those who were commissioned by Her Majesty to assume that command. He had also a common-law right to be married in the church and to have his children baptized there; but there was no common-law right to have those rites solemnized in any other way than those approved by the Church. The rights of the public were limited, and the common-law right to be buried did not carry with it the right to use a service other than that of the Church. It certainly was the logical conclusion that if the Dissenters were to enter the churchyards with their own ministers and services they would be able to claim to enter the church with their own ministers and services. The noble Earl had said distinctly that they would take only one step at a time; and doubtless they knew the logical conclusion perfectly well. It would not be fair to charge the clergy with intolerance. The English clergy were always ready to approach the Nonconformists; but the plain intention on their part to force a way into the church as well as into the churchyard was an obstacle. Much had been said about the objection the Dissenters were said to entertain to the services of the Church; but he believed the feeling had been much exaggerated. He should not have thought that the Dissenters could have had any objection to the service of the Church. The usual objection was that its tone was too hopeful —an objection which he thought they would hardly feel as regarded themselves. It was not clear what the real objection was. He had been told that almost all the leading Nonconformists of a large town where there was a cemetary preferred to be buried in the consecrated part of it with the Church service. Yet a little while ago the special contention was against the consecration of the ground; and he himself had heard on one occasion that the Dissenters were determined that the Bishop should not so much as touch the portion of ground reserved to them—the idea being, apparently, that his touch would be desecration rather than consecration. All that 1911 the Clergy wished was to preserve these sacred burial-grounds, which had been the inheritance of the Church for 1,000 years, and not to exclude from them their fellow-Christians; but that the form of service should be in accordance with the ancient institutions of the country. In old times the sacred ground was part and parcel of the sacred building, and, so to speak, its equally closely connected with it, and not to be dissociated from it. The logical conclusion plainly was that, if strange services were admitted into the churchyard, they would have to be admitted into the church. He was willing to make any concession which did not interfere with the essential principle. He believed there was much more danger from internal disunion than from external foes; but it would be unwise to let the foes from without join with those already within the Church. The Church had existed in this country for more than 1,000 years. It had been the great civilizer of the nation in ages of barbarism, and from it had grown up all the great institutions of the land. The Church of England had been the heart of the nation, and if we tore out the heart of the nation we should in all probability destroy its life. The most dangerous way of disestablishing the Church would be to disestablish it indirectly and by slow degrees. He entreated their Lordships to regard this not as a mere question of bigotry on the part of the Clergy, and trusted they would see there was a possibility of a danger, and that unless that danger was dealt with very carefully it might lead to results which would prove fatal to themselves, and still more fatal to the country.
THE EARL OF MORLEY
said, that the speech of the most rev. Primate seemed to show that he ought to vote in favour of the Resolution; but if the argument of the right rev. Prelate who had just sat down were good for anything, it was in favour of keeping the churchyards precisely as they were at present. The argument told as much against the 74th clause of the Bill as it did against the noble Earl's Resolution. It had been said that the questions involved in the Resolution were questions of detail, and that they were bound to discuss on the second reading the principle of the Bill. He maintained, how- 1912 ever, that, although the Bill contained no fewer than 88 clauses, its principle was contained in those two against which the Resolution was directed. It was palpable and notorious that the evil complained of was an ecclesiastical and not a sanitary evil, though the measure was involved in a mass of sanitary verbiage. The sanitary provisions might be valuable in themselves, but the Bill would never have seen the light unless there had been an ecclesiastical grievance to be met. The manner in which it was met was the worst possible. Nonconformists objected to the common law right of burial in their own parish churchyards, which it was admitted they possessed, being fettered—he might almost say nullified—by the Ecclesiastical Law, which prevented their being buried by their own ministers, and with the rites they approved. How did the Bill deal with the question? By closing existing churchyards and opening new cemeteries. But the Dissenters did not ask for cemeteries to be set apart for themselves; they asked that their common law right to be buried in their parish churchyards should be freed from the present restrictions. The word "suitable" occurred several times, but there was no definition; but the speech of the noble Duke (the Duke of Richmond and Gordon) showed what was meant; it was meant that "religious considerations" were to be taken into account. This would throw on the Home Secretary all the petty village disputes which would arise out of this Bill. Although a churchyard might not be full, a small number of ratepayers or the Secretary of State were to create an unnecessary rate and an unnecessary cemetery, with, he supposed, those two mortuary chapels which were fit emblems of the love and charity that prevailed. It was strange to find noble Lords opposite, who professed to be so anxious to diminish local burdens, proposing to authorize the levying of a rate to provide a thing which was not asked for, and which would be disliked as much by Churchmen as by Dissenters. The 74th clause was of the essence, if indeed it were not the very essence, of the Bill. That clause said, in effect—" If you do not choose to provide cemeteries for yourselves, we will give you the privilege allowed to suicides and unbaptized persons." The Bill was said to be a 1913 concession to the Nonconformists; but he would venture to say that it was nothing less than an insult—and a deadly insult—from one Christian denomination to another. It was an insult to tell them that the remains of their dead might be buried in our churchyards, but that not a word of consolation to the living should be said over them at a most solemn moment. The Bill was, in fact, a measure of the bitterest kind, and it was neither, he contended, right nor Christian-like to refuse to conciliate those who, after all, were separated from the members of the Established Church only by comparatively small divisions. Year after year we had witnessed the progress of religious toleration, and he believed the time was near when we should look back with something akin to shame on the present state of the law in respect to burial, and with a feeling of astonishment at the way in which noble Lords proposed—he would not say to deal with, but to aggravate, the evils of the present system.
§ THE EARL OF DARTMOUTH
said, that many years ago, in a very large and populous parish with which he was connected (West Bromwich), a cemetery had been opened in which there was consecrated and unconsecrated ground; but, notwithstanding, lie had been applied to to give additional ground for two several additions to the old parish churchyard; nor had he ever heard a single objection made among the inhabitants, among whom every form of dissent was represented, to the use of the service of the Church of England at the burial of their dead. There was also a cemetery in the West Riding of Yorkshire which had been opened for a period of 14 years, and in the consecrated part of which there had been 1,791 burials, while the number of persons buried in the unconsecrated portion was only 229. With such facts before them, their Lordships had, He thought, some right to ask where was the terrible grievance of which so much had been heard of from the Nonconformists? His belief was, to use the words of one who was himself a Nonconformist, that it was all "a got-up grumblement." For his own part, he prided himself on being a member of the Church of England; but it was from no wish to promote ecclesiasticism or sacerdotalism within it, that he felt it his duty strongly to oppose the Resolu- 1914 tion of the noble Earl opposite. There was, he maintained, in that Amendment nothing which would prevent agitators being called in and delivering violent harangues over the graves of the dead; for although it was said to be intended to provide for Christian services, that provision would, in point of fact, be evaded. He had read a report last autumn in a Liberal Huddersfield paper of a burial which took place in the cemetery attached to that town, and at which the Unitarian minister who officiated having stated that he would divide the service into two parts, quoted first from the Bible and then from the works of Mr. Holyoako. That was a mode of proceeding which he was sure their Lordships would not like to see widely prevail; and, speaking for himself, if he were charged with the conduct of the funeral of his nearest and dearest relation, and he thought by solemnizing it in the churchyard of any religious denomination he should do violence to the religious scruples of those to whom that churchyard belonged, he should freely consent to have a silent service. In the interest of the peace and happiness of the country at large, he trusted that their Lordships would not consent to make any concession to this unfounded and, he believed, simply political demand.
§ EARL COWPER
hoped that before another year passed this controversy, which they all deplored, would be brought to a close. He could not consider the Bill in any respect a satisfactory measure. If it were passed it would amount to this—that Dissenters must be buried either apart or in silence, or with such a burial service read over them as they would probably object to. With respect to the proposal of silent burial, there was no doubt that, rightly or wrongly, it was regarded as an insult. It was argued that it could not be an insult, because some people preferred silent burial. Similarly it might have been said, if the demand had been one for freedom of speech or freedom of writing, that such freedom was quite unnecessary, inasmuch as there were sensible people who did not want to speak and did not want to write. It seemed to him that the plan of silent burial would have a tendency sometimes to promote disturbances. They could imagine that a body of mourners who were engaged in 1915 prayer till they came to the gate of the churchyard, and were in a state of religious excitement—and some people seemed to think the Dissenters were always in a state of excitement—would resent the enforcement of strict silence the moment they entered the gate. He hoped the 74th clause would not be pressed. It was sometimes said that nothing had been heard about this grievance till, at the most, some 50 years ago, although the present state of things had existed for about 1,000 years. It must be remembered, however, that a great change had come over the people since the days when it was a matter of course that children adhered through life to the religious principles which their parents taught them. Families were now divided against themselves. Men and women sacrificed friends and relations for the sake of what they deemed a higher form of belief than that in which they had been reared. But was it desirable that the bitterness of this separation should be aggravated by the feeling that even in the grave they were to be kept apart? It might be said that, after all, the grievance was only a sentimental one. However that might be, it was certainly true that the deepest feelings of human nature were aroused by matters of this kind. Moreover, it seemed to him that the real objection that was felt to the concession was itself merely sentimental. With regard to the fear that there might be demonstrations of an irreligious or blasphemous kind witnessed in our churchyards, similar to what occurred sometimes in France, he would remark that the sense of public decorum and the respect for the dead were in this country sufficiently strong to allay any such apprehensions. He would ask, also, whether a better opportunity of settling the question in such a manner as to prevent irreligious demonstrations was ever likely to occur in the future? The Protestant Dissenters were the allies of the Church of England against infidelity, and it seemed to him insanity to keep them aloof in such matters as this. They were anxious to be on our side; but He feared that unless some compromise was arrived at, and speedily, those who were now part of the garrison would be driven into the ranks of the assailants. Many of the speeches that were made in country places on this 1916 subject by members of the Church of England brought to his mind the old saying—" Quos Deus vult perdere, prius dementat."
THE ARCHBISHOP OF YORK
I have no hesitation in voting for the Bill under your Lordships' consideration. I desire to see it go into Committee, and to see it as much improved as possible, and when some points that have been referred to in the course of this debate may receive due consideration. I have, however, an objection to the Resolution of the noble Earl (Earl Granville), though if it be brought up in Committee in the shape of an Amendment it shall receive my most earnest consideration. It must be borne in mind that in some measure I hold a representative position. The Convocation of the Northern Province—at least the Lower House—has just discussed this Bill with great care, and made some suggestions of amendment, and it has expressed a desire that the Bill should pass the second reading in order that it may be further considered. I am anxious on this occasion to give effect to the deliberations over which I presided, and as I think these suggestions are of very great importance, I desire that your Lordships will give us the opportunity of considering them. It is admitted, I think, on the other side of the House that it is very desirable, on sanitary and other grounds, that the Burial Laws should be consolidated. I should like, for my part, to see a much greater facility given, when an addition is made to a churchyard, for the provision of a separate piece of ground in which services should be held at the burial of those who do not belong to our communion. I think the provisions of this Bill are very important from a sanitary point of view, and I should be glad to see them further considered. As to the other portion of the Bill, which is contained in only one or two clauses, I am not quite able to agree with it; because I do not think it would satisfy those whom it is intended to benefit, or that it would prove to be a final solution of the question. Here again, however, I have to remember that in both Convocations the plan of silent burial has received considerable support. On these grounds I am going to vote for the second reading of the Bill. At the risk of appearing inconsistent, I will now state what there is in the Resolution of 1917 the noble Earl which commends itself to me. The Resolution is not in itself a measure for dealing effectually with this question—such a measure should contain several points, and those I will venture to trouble your Lordships with very briefly. In the first place, it does not contain that assertion of rights and common law rights and what not with which all the Resolutions passed by different Dissenting bodies bristle from end to end. The common law right which they claim with regard to interments in churchyards never at any time had any existence whatsoever. It had no existence when the 68th Canon was drawn up—for it is vain to go back to remote antiquity where documents are wanting—it was not law when that Canon was drawn up which makes it the bounden duty of every clergyman to read a service over every dead body brought to the churchyard, sufficient notice having been given; it was not law in 1874 when the Public Worship Regulation Act was passed; for that Act makes the clergyman responsible for all that occurs at funerals, and consequently it is assumed that he has control of the funeral and is in every case officiating. Therefore, any Bill likely to pass your Lordships' House must abandon all those high claims which have not, I repeat, and never have had, any existence whatever. The next point is that account must be taken of the difficulty under which the Clergy of the Church of England labour. Very few of your Lordships, perhaps, will remember the funeral of a certain Mr. Carlile in the year 1843, where the sons of the deceased said to the chaplain of Kensal Green Cemetery—"Don't by any means read the service of the Church of England over the body of our relative. He had none of those hopes which that service expresses; he did not believe in a future state or a divine being. Don't read the service over him; we dispense you from it." The clergyman replied" I must do my duty," and, having no option, he road the service of the Church of England over the body of Mr. Carlile. Something has been said about the desecration of the churchyard; but I must confess it seems to me a desecration of the gravest character that the clergyman should have to say—for the chaplain was right in the view he took of the case—" I must proceed and do 1918 my duty by reading the service, full of sacred hopes and expressions of the highest belief, over one who does not desire it, and who if living would not believe a single syllable of it." Well, in any perfect measure that provision should be repealed. A Dissenting minister is not bound to read any service, but the clergyman of the Church of England is; and I know that conscientious clergymen all over the country are frequently obliged to read the Burial Service over the body of a man who has died in sin. If their scruples are not respected the Dissenting minister will have the power of steering clear of these cases, which the residuum is left to the clergyman, who will be bound to read the service. I think clergymen have a right to claim a revision of their obligations in this matter. I now come to the Resolution of the noble Earl; and, expressing here my own opinion, I must say it seems to me to embody the only principle upon which we can proceed in dealing successfully with this question. Silent burial we accord to the suicide, and I do not wonder that Dissenters should not be satisfied with it. I come next to the question of hymns; and I would appeal to the noble Earl (the Earl of Harrow by) who has addressed us so powerfully to-night, and who is a great authority on that subject, whether it is not the case that a man who can write very sensibly in prose is not sorely tempted when he gets under the shelter of the Muse to write something very like nonsense? In my own diocese lately there was a dispute with a committee of a Dissenting body in regard to the quoting of a portion of a hymn upon a tombstone by way of inscription; but the hymn on examination was found to be such absolute nonsense that the controversy fell through. Coming now to the question whether clergymen should approve the hymns to be used or not, I would ask your Lordships whether we should ask a clergyman to wade through volumes of hymns to see whether they are "orderly" or not? I say if we are not to read the service at the grave let us be free from responsibility. That is, to my mind, the essence of the whole transaction. We should not be at all touched by any ceremony which might there be performed provided it was orderly and decent. We should not be the persons who selected it or who have 1919 anything to do with it. The nature of the concession—for I regard it as a concession—must needs be this: whereas we should be ready to read the service where it is so desired, in cases where it is not desired we may leave the matter in the hands of the friends of the deceased, relying upon them to have an orderly, decent, and Christian service. On this account, then, I must say that I believe when this question is settled—and settled it will have to be before many years—the basis will be something like the Resolution of the noble Earl. With regard to the cry of Disestablishment, we ought to keep our minds easy. None of us can tell what may happen. It has been said that we should certainly be disestablished if the Public Worship Act were put into operation. It has also been said that we should certainly be disestablished if it were not put effectually into operation. To neither the one nor the other of these enchanting voices ought we to listen. The real question is whether there is a grievance, and whether you wish to have a constant controversy respecting it both in your Lordships' House and in every churchyard and parish in the Kingdom—whether you think any injustice exists and whether you think it expedient to take steps to remove it? These are the points we have to attend to, and not the ultimate consequences of any change which may be made. It is assumed by some persons that although we conduct our funerals very well ourselves, Dissenters, if left to themselves, would, some of them at least, indulge in all manner of wild proceedings in the churchyard. To that assumption I give an entire contradiction. When people go to the churchyard it is for a very different purpose. My Lords, I have spoken of the opinion of the Clergy being different from my own. I hold in my hand a Resolution passed by the Rural Deanery in the city of York on the 23rd instant, and I will make the noble Earl a humble present of it and so sit down. This Resolution was only passed by a majority of one, but passed it was, and it is to this effect—That Nonconformists be permitted, on application to the incumbent and payment of the necessary fees, to bury their own dead in the churchyard with the use of passages of Scripture and Scriptural prayers and hymns, and that the incumbent be relieved from the neces- 1920 sity of reading the Church Service on such occasions.
THE BISHOP OF OXFORD
differed, with great regret, from the conclusion of the most rev. Prelates who had addressed the House; but he had the satisfaction of feeling that it was from their conclusion that he differed rather than from their speeches. The arguments of the two most rev. Prelates seemed to point to this—that the Resolution did not come at the right time, and that it ought to have come as an amendment to the Bill. Now, he could not help thinking that, in the interests of the promoters of the Bill, the Resolution did come at the right time; because very many features of the Bill would be affected by the affirmation or denial of the principle contained in the Resolution. Although he was going to vote against the second reading of the Bill now, he ventured to offer his sincere thanks to the Government for introducing the measure. He would explain what he had just said. He could not at all agree with those who were trying to do what was called "minimize" the evil which had to be met in the present state of their churchyards. That it should be possible, as it was now, for a man to stand by the grave of his father or his mother and see their bones turned up to make room for another interment showed that they did need fresh powers to put an end to such things. He did hear constantly of gross scandals arising from the overcrowding of churchyards; and therefore he thanked the Government for introducing a Bill to consolidate and amend the present law. But it was very difficult to thank them for the way in which they had dealt with another question—the religious question. By the insertion of the 74th clause they had confessed that that other question must be dealt with now, but he did not think they were successful in their mode of treating it, because the 74th clause did not meet the case it professed to meet. It professed to meet the case of those who did not desire to have the Church service; but it was only permissive. Supposing a clergyman thought it his duty to perform the service, though requested to omit it, and supposing he pleaded that the Canon, which had not been repealed, 1921 required him to bury the corpse when brought to the churchyard with the service of the Church of England, it would be no answer to him to say that there was a request allowed by law to be made to omit the service. He was not obliged by the clause to omit it; and therefore he might feel it to be his duty to persist in reading that service which it was the very object of the clause to spare the relatives of the deceased. Of course, there was a much larger objection to it than that. There was one great, and only one, substantial grievance in the present state of the law, and it was that of those who held infant baptism to be wrong. When those persons brought their un-baptized children to be buried they could not have any service over them—the clergyman could use none—and the Bill, to meet that grievance, provided that they should have a silent service—which was exactly what they had now by law. For that reason he could not think the 74th clause met the difficulty it was intended to deal with. With regard to the other grievances spoken of, he did not see very much in them; but he admitted that when their Lordships began to deal with this question they must deal with it altogether—they must proceed on a general principle, and he knew no other than that contained in the Resolution of the noble Earl. That Resolution would affect the Bill more than was supposed. They must give to the Church a liberty corresponding to that which was given to the Dissenters. They could not hold that the Dissenters were entitled to say—"I will not have her service," and then turn round to the Church and say—"You must give the service to all that come; they belong to you." Then a word as to Church property. In the nonsense daily sent to him by post he read that the churchyards were national property. When did they become national property? Their Lordships or some others gave ground for churchyards; did they ever make it over to the nation? He would like to see such a deed of gift among the muniments of their Lordships. The ground was conveyed to the Ecclesiastical Commissioners, or to the incumbent, or to some other trustee, for the use of a particular parish. Further, they must deal with the question of consecration—a word which has an ill sound in some 1922 ears—possibly in the ears of some whom he addressed. What was consecration? The arguments on this subject seemed to be founded on inconceivable folly and ignorance. Consecration was an act of ecclesiastical jurisdiction declaring that a certain place or thing was set apart from ordinary uses, and that thenceforward the laws ecclesiastical applied to it. A clergyman, for instance, might bury a corpse in his own ground, and no one could oblige him to read the service; but once he entered a consecrated ground to inter a body he had a duty to perform by the laws of the Church. But it was said that was not all—there were prayers; and a gentleman who had taken a prominent part in the agitation of this question was reported to have spoken at a recent meeting about consecration in this way —"the Bishop mumbles a form of words." Their Lordships could judge whether all Bishops mumbled or not. When he consecrated a place he certainly assembled the people to pray, and to speak to them of the great truths connected with what he was going to do. But ought that to be described as "mumbling" by a gentleman who was a Christian and, he believed, a clergyman's son? Their Lordships must consider how the question before them had a bearing on consecration. When they were proposing to allow liberty of speech to all, they must allow some to the Church of England. He did not consider the receiving of the body of a Dissenter into consecrated ground as any desecration of that ground. He could, with a perfectly good conscience as a Churchman, welcome those who were altogether outside the Church into the ground which had been properly conveyed to the use of the Church of England; he could welcome them as a matter of charity, not of right, and allow them to say their service and sing their hymns, and do what seemed unto them good. But then Dissenters must accept conditions, just as he should be prepared to do if he were to bury his dead in their grounds; they must accept such conditions and regulations as the wisdom of Parliament should prescribe, and not such as might seem good to excited public meetings; and if they refused He would appeal to his countrymen against their intolerance and unreasonableness. Believing that in this way he should be acting in a 1923 spirit of charity, and that even as a matter of policy it was not the worst that could be pursued, he would vote for the Resolution.
§ THE MARQUESS OF LANSDOWNE
said, it had been remarked in the course of the debate that this question could not be settled without concession. The speeches of the right rev. Prelate who had just sat down and of the most rev. Prelate (the Archbishop of York) left no doubt as to the side from which the concession must come. As for the Bill of Her Majesty's Government, in spite of all the objections to which it was open, it seemed to him to recognize, for the first time, an important principle. If it became law, even in the shape in which it had been introduced, a Nonconformist would for the future be buried in his parish churchyard as a Nonconformist, and not as a member of the Church of England, in defiance of his own wishes and those of his friends. He was grateful even for this admission; but it was quite clear that Her Majesty's Government could not stop short at this point. There was an immense concurrence of testimony on the part of the great dignitaries of the Church in favour of a more complete settlement of this question. The most rev. Prelate (the Archbishop of York) had said that the Resolution of his noble Friend (Earl Granville) embodied the only principle upon which they could proceed, and scarcely a day passed without the same admission from distinguished ornaments of the Church. When such admissions as these were made on all sides, he was surprised when he found noble Lords opposite minimizing the extent of the grievance with which the Bill was intended to deal. When the noble Duke (the Duke of Richmond) introduced this Bill lie gave some statistics relating to the subject. The noble Duke said there were 14,000,000 of the population not affected by this grievance—namely, the inhabitants of districts already provided with cemeteries. He was perfectly surprised that the noble Duke should have struck his pen through these 14,000,000 of people. It was perfectly true that they might be the inhabitants of districts in which cemeteries were in existence; but did the noble Duke suppose that they had no friends or relatives who lived in parts of the country in which cemeteries 1924 were not provided, and who consequently were subject to this disability? The grievance was not the grievance of the dead, but the grievance of the survivors. But the question was one that could not be subjected to the numerical test—they had to deal with the principle involved, and with the intensity of the feelings evoked, and the numerical test was entirely inapplicable. How often had the attention of Parliament been occupied with the grievance of a very small class, or even of a single individual? Now, there were some arguments used against the Bill—the rusty weapons of the ecclesiastical armoury—which had been brought forward too frequently—there were others not unworthy of consideration. There was the well-worn argument that if the Nonconformists were admitted to the churchyards it would be impossible to exclude them from the church. That, he supposed, meant that if Parliament recognized their right to the churchyards Parliament would not be able to give any logical answer to their claim to be admitted to the church also. Now, it seemed to him that there was a logical distinction between the two cases—that, namely, which had been so clearly pointed out by the noble and learned Lord behind him. Should such a request be preferred by the Nonconformists, Parliament might rejoin—"We made this concession in respect of the churchyards, because it was necessary that you should be buried somewhere; because you had a right to be buried in the churchyards of your parishes; because, in many parts of England, those churchyards were the only places accessible to you; and because, under all those circumstances, we did not desire to impose upon the exercise of your undoubted right the condition that you should be compelled to use a form of burial service which shocked your religious feelings. But when you come to religious worship the case is different—you can no longer contend that in any part of England the church is the only place in which you can worship, for you have already places of worship of your own, and you can—and in fact you do—worship in schoolrooms and in private houses; whereas you could not be buried in either—there are, in a word, parts of the country in which you have to choose between burial in the churchyard and 1925 no burial at all; there are no parts of the country in which you have to choose between worship in the Church of England and no worship at all." Then there was the argument of the irregularities that might occur if the concessions suggested in the Resolution were made. The objection was a purely speculative one; and it was remarkable that scarcely any attempt had been made to show that the danger apprehended was likely to arise. Irreverence was not, as far as he was aware, habitual in Nonconformist burial grounds—and when they remembered the latitude which prevailed in the Established Church, he thought they ought not to be overcritical upon the latitude the Nonconformists might allow themselves in the burial of their friends. Again, there was the argument based upon consecration; but, after all, the real object of consecration was to dedicate the consecrated ground to holy and reverend uses, not to exclude from it the performance of any rites except those of the Church of England. He would give them an example of a historical consecration — that of the church of St. Catherine, by Archbishop Laud. The Archbishop concluded his prayer by these words—"We consecrate this church and separate it unto Thee as holy ground, not to be profaned any more;" then, at the Communion Table, he pronounced curses upon those who should hereafter profane that holy place by musters of soldiers, or keeping profane Law Courts, or carrying burdens through it. In all this there was not a word about the Established Church of the day and her exclusive privileges; but the solo object was to guard against irreverence or secular use. There was, he thought, only one argument of weight on the other side—namely, that much offence would be given to a large section of the clergy of the Church. He admitted the full force of that argument; but the question could not possibly be settled without offence being given to some one. He thought they ought to turn from the susceptibilities of the individual clergyman to the interests of the whole Church; and he was convinced that those interests would be best promoted by an endeavour to conciliate those who differed from them, and to consolidate those forces which made for religion and against 1926 irreligion and unbelief. It would be a step in this direction if they permitted Churchmen and Nonconformists, each buried reverently according to the rites of the faith which they professed while alive, to rest side by side beneath the shadow of the church at which their forefathers had worshipped, and within the walls of which their descendants might be united at last.
THE BISHOP OF LINCOLN
said: My Lords, the noble Earl (Earl Granville), in moving his Resolution, did me the honour of referring to me twice in the course of his opening speech, and represented me as conjuring up imaginary alarms, created by that Resolution, and as endeavouring to inspire others with those apprehensions. I plead guilty to the charge. I entertain serious fears for the consequences of its adoption. My Lords, in the year 1868 a measure similar to this Resolution was legalized in the case of the Church of Ireland, and in the following year the Church of Ireland was disestablished. The noble Earl has pleaded with much eloquence for the relief of certain grievances of our Nonconformist fellow - Christians. In common with the rest of my right rev. Brethren, I should thankfully cooperate in any judicious measures for the relief of any proved grievance of Nonconformists. But, my Lords, it is the part of wise legislation to take a large and comprehensive view of such a question as this. I venture to address your Lordships in the name of the parochial clergy of the Church of England, 20,000 in number, who are among the most loyal, intelligent, and learned of the citizens of England, and I entreat you not to inflict a grievance on them, and on the Church of which they are ministers. Do not wrong them by your desire to remove the scruples of others. The churchyards are by law the freeholds of the parochial clergy, and are held by them in trust for certain sacred uses, to which they have been solemnly set apart by a religious act of dedication. It has been alleged by our Nonconformist brethren that every parishioner has a common law right of burial in the churchyard of his parish. Be it so, but this common law right can only be legally exercised under certain conditions—namely, that the act of burial shall be performed by a minister of the Church of England, with ser- 1927 vices of the Church of England. The noble Earl's Resolution, so far from being grounded on a common law right, would, in fact, subvert the common law, and sot up a new law in its place. It is said in the noble Earl's Amendment that the burials under its provisions are to be orderly, Christian, and religious. I venture to think that these provisions will be inoperative, and will satisfy no one. They will not satisfy the Dissenters, because, as they stated in a recent conference of Nonconformists, they claim admission to our churchyards, not as religionists, but as citizens; and as citizens they claim a right of burial in our churchyards, which they say are national property, for every citizen, whatever his belief or unbelief may be, and by any minister or other person or persons, and with any services, whether religious or secular, which his friends and relations may choose; and, therefore, if the present Resolution is adopted it will open our churchyards in a very short time, not only to the religious services of Roman Catholies and Unitarians, but also of sceptics and secularists; and to such services as were in use in Republican France when her cemeteries were inscribed with the words —"Death is an eternal sleep." In the name of Christianity, I entreat your Lordships to protect our churchyards from such desecration as that. In the name of the clergy and the Church of England, I implore you not to inflict this grievous injury upon them. My Lords, it is earnestly to be hoped that Parliament will not proceed to legislate on religious services in our churches and churchyards without due consideration of the feelings and opinions of the clergy who are the guardians of them. I have the honour to be entrusted with the oversight of the largest diocese in England, the diocese of Lincoln, containing more than 50 rural deaneries and more than 1,000 clergy; and I have felt it my duty to endeavour to ascertain the opinions of the parochial clergy in those deaneries; and my belief is that they are almost unanimous in entreating your Lordships not to impose upon thorn such grievance as that with which they are threatened by the present Resolution. My Lords, in the present week the Convocation of the Bishops and the clergy of the province of Canterbury is sitting, and yesterday the clergy of the Lower House, 1928 who represent the clergy of this province, adopted a resolution, by a large majority, in which they expressed a very strong opinion adverse to the terms of the present Amendment, and which was received and read to-day to the Bishops in the Upper House of Convocation. My Lords, when the Public Worship Regulation Bill was debated in your Lordships' House in the year 1874, I, in common with others my noble Friends, ventured to implore your Lordships not to pass that Bill without reference to the opinions of the clergy represented by the synods of the Church. And now, my Lords, we have in the noble Earl's Amendment a proposal for the regulation—I might even call it for the revolution—of our public worship in our churchyards. A great deal of disquietude and distress now prevail in the Church of England; and many good men, especially many pious, devout, learned, and zealous clergymen, have been made impatient by a Parliamentary legislation on the worship of the Church, without any reference to the synods of the Church, and, still more, in opposition to their expressed and recorded opinions. Some among them, I regret to say, are eager for the disestablishment of the Church; and if the proposal contained in the present Amendment is adopted by Parliament in opposition to the vote of the clergy of this province in Convocation, I very much fear that the present disquietude and distress will be greatly intensified, and agitation for the disestablishment of the Church will become more violent. I therefore freely confess that I do feel very deeply the alarms which the noble Lord has ascribed to me; I look with great anxiety and apprehension on the probable consequences, national as well as religious, of the disestablishment of the English Church. History is not an old almanack. It reproduces itself. In the middle of the 17th century the Church of England was disestablished. And what followed? The rights and privileges of your Lordships' House were soon attacked and abolished. And what next ensued? The Monarchy itself was assailed and overthrown, and a time of anarchy and confusion succeeded, ending in a military despotism. I do not pretend to say that such calamitous disasters will occur again; but I venture to think that it is not folly and fanati- 1929 cism, as some persons seem to imagine, to forecast them, and to be warned and armed against them, and to reject any measure which may have any tendency to produce them. I, therefore, feel very thankful to Her Majesty's Government for the present Bill, and heartily wish it success; and I also earnestly entreat your Lordships not to accept the noble Earl's Resolution.
§ LORD BLACHFORD
maintained firmly the peculiar prospects of the English Church in her churches and churchyards, arising out of the legislative abolition of church rates. But this property was not merely given to the incumbent and churchwardens, but was held in trust—as to the Church, on trust to perform divine service according to the rites of the Church of England for those who chose to come there; as to the churchyard, to bury the whole population who must come there, as they have generally no right to be buried anywhere else. If they must be interred in the churchyard, they ought to be interred becomingly, not merely with decent words and movements, but in a manner of which a dying man might think with satisfaction, which his friends might see with satisfaction, and in which a clergyman might officiate with satisfaction. The present law erred both ways. In certain cases it required the clergyman to perform a solemn service, and it required a Dissenter or other person to submit to what they might think superstitious or otherwise repulsive. It was said that this was a question of politicians and ministers, not of congregations. This might be true on both sides. But he did not feel justified in imputing an illusory motive when there existed what, if the case were his own, he should consider a substantial one. Why, then, should not fitting ceremonies be always allowed? There was an objection of sentiment or principle, and an objection of consequences. An objection of sentiment was not capable of being met by argument. But he asked himself, reversing the case, whether if in a foreign country he were allowed to bury a friend with his own rights in a cemetery under Calvinist or Roman Catholic management, he would view this permission as a piece of lax latitudinarianism, or as a piece of generous and Christian consideration on the part of those who gave the permission? 1930 For himself, he held the latter, and consequently considered the sentiment on which the objection was founded as one deserving not countenance, but discouragement. With regard to the consequences, he maintained that the Church was entitled to exclude from the churchyards placed in its custody proceedings not befitting a Christian burying place. But the Resolution of the noble Earl (Earl Granville) did not exclude, but rather invited, such provisions for this purpose. He held that the conditions of satisfactory legislation were that Christian ceremonies, other than those of the English Church, should be admitted to churchyards; that un-Christian or indecent ceremonies should be excluded; that the Clergy should be relieved from the necessity of using the service in unfit cases, and that churchyards should not be opened to other than church services when a public cemetery was within reach.
said, he would mention two instances which showed this Bill to be necessary, and would read part of a letter, dated 24th October, 1866, to a visitor at a house near a churchyard.The clergyman will tell you that he never opens a grave without almost causing a riot among the people—the remains of whose relations he prematurely disturbs.Ho added—It would be best to close the present come tery and to form one half-a-mile from the village.With respect to a silent interment, he (Lord Denman) could not refrain from saying that, having witnessed the respectful and reverent way in which burials were silently conducted, after a religious service in the residence of deceased persons—members of the Church of Scotland—he could not think that anyone could complain of the 74th clause in the original Bill.
§ THE DUKE OF SOMERSET
(who was indistinctly heard) reminded their Lordships of the dislike with which he had always looked upon the discussion of religious subjects in the House; but he had heard so much of this subject for so many years that he desired to have it settled, and he thought that the settlement could only be arrived at by the adoption of the noble Earl's Resolution, or by some other equivalent in its terms. Much had been made of the argument 1931 that it was impossible to yield—that the admission of Dissenters into the churchyards would lead to the demand for admission into the churches. But he would remind their Lordships that in the case of Church-rates, the opening of the Universities to Dissenters, and other questions of the kind, concessions had, by the opponents of a change in the law, been declared to be inadmissible, and yet had been eventually made, and the Church was the better and stronger for it, and he had little doubt, after what had fallen from the most rev. Prelates opposite, that the grievance of which Dissenters complained with respect to the burial of their dead would before very long be settled, and settled, too, somewhat in accordance with the terms of the Resolution which his noble Friend near him had proposed. But a concession made tardily and without grace was usually accepted without gratitude. As to the Bill before the House, he should not on that occasion dwell upon any portion of it except the 74th clause. Under the operation of that clause Dissenters were to be admitted to burial in our churchyards, but there was to be no religious ceremony at the grave allowed. Now, let him suppose that at the moment the body of a Dissenter was about to be committed to the grave, some man, animated by strong religious feeling, were to come forward and say he would not permit a relative of his to be buried in that way, and that he would then and there proclaim his belief in eternal life, and offer his thanks to God—what was to be done should he violate the law? Was a police constable to be brought in to seize him? He thought not; for if that were done, the result would be to cause great excitement throughout the neighbourhood; and therefore, it being once resolved that Dissenters should be admitted to the churchyards, it was far better, in his opinion, that a service at the grave should be allowed to be performed by a duly recognized minister. By that means all danger of collision would be avoided, while he felt confident that the great body of Dissenters would respect the churchyards.
THE DUKE OF RICHMOND AND GORDON
The noble Duke (the Duke of Somerset) and other Speakers who preceded him have directed their arguments not so much against the second 1932 reading of the Bill, as against details—particularly the 74th clause—which more naturally fall to be considered in Committee. The noble Earl who moved the Resolution rightly anticipated that I should find fault with its form and with the manner in which it has been brought forward. Notwithstanding all he said, I do think he has adopted an inconvenient course. Although the adoption of the Resolution might have the effect of preventing the second reading this evening, the Bill might still be brought forward and discussed again to-morrow. It is a Resolution which might much more properly have been proposed in Committee, and which has the effect of diverting attention from the main features which ought to be discussed on the second reading. The noble and learned Lord who spoke early in the evening (Lord Selborne), thought there was an advantage in having this abstract Resolution moved upon the question of the second reading, because, he said, if your Lordships by a large majority affirmed the principle of the Resolution of the noble Earl, it would be impossible to avoid acting on the Resolution. I take exception to that ruling of the noble and learned Lord, and I think that in this instance his memory must be more fragile than I have generally found it to be, because he must have forgotten a very memorable occasion on which, when something of the same sort occurred, the result was not what lie expects it would be in the present case. On the second reading of the Bill for the Abolition of Purchase I moved a Resolution which, I think, I was justified in moving—for my object, unlike that of the noble Earl, was to defeat the second reading—to the effect that it was inexpedient to proceed with the further consideration of the Bill till your Lordships were fully possessed of the scheme of Her Majesty's Government. Your Lordships agreed to the Resolution; and what followed was the abolition of purchase by Royal Warrant by the exercise, as we say, of the Prerogative. The proposal, therefore, which I had the honour of submitting, although adopted by your Lordships, was not carried into effect—the Bill was withdrawn and another Bill was brought in afterwards.
§ VISCOUNT CARDWELL
My memory fails me altogether if the noble Duke 1933 is correct in that statement. According to my recollection, the Bill was not withdrawn, but was considerably amended in your Lordships' House.
THE DUKE OF RICHMOND AND GORDON
I may be obstinate, but I adhere to my statement. Notwithstanding that your Lordships had come to a decision that Purchase ought not to be abolished till the whole scheme of Army Retirement was before us, Purchase was abolished by a Royal Warrant, and the Army Regulation Bill was afterwards brought forward in an amended shape. In presenting the present Bill to your Lordships I stated that it was necessary on two grounds among others—first, on sanitary grounds; and, secondly, on grounds of consolidation. I have heard nothing to-night to gainsay either of those propositions. It is well known that for sanitary reasons an enormous number of the churchyards in the country ought to be closed. As there is no proper authority at present to cause this to be done, many churchyards remain in a state which is neither seemly nor decent. I received a letter only this morning from a rev. Friend of mine in the country, who says that if this Bill is passed, he will at once avail himself of its provisions, with the object of getting a vacant field for a new cemetery. That is an example of the improvements which would become possible under the Bill. I cannot believe for a moment that the expense attending any additions to churchyards would be anything like what the noble Earl has said. I know a case in which the addition of a quarter of an acre of land cost only £25, the land itself, of course, being free; and even in that case there were expenses of conveyancing which under the Bill might be avoided. With regard to consolidation, I can only repeat what I said on a former occasion, that some such step is necessary, inasmuch as the Judges have been totally unable to administer the law in its present form. Leaving these considerations, however, I may be permitted to observe that practically the noble Earl agrees to the second reading of the Bill, the Resolution he proposes being merely the expression of his opinion as to what ought to be done with regard to the burial of non-Churchmen. I am afraid that notwithstanding the arguments of the noble Earl, I must repeat that this 1934 grievance is confined to a small portion of the population, and that it is constantly decreasing. Nobody has ventured to say that it exists in any of the larger towns throughout the country, or where there are cemeteries and Burial Boards. I must still, after consideration, adhere to my statement that of the 22,000,000 of population in this country, 14,000,000 are provided with cemeteries and Burial Boards, and that of the remaining 8,000,000, a considerable proportion are Churchmen and Nonconformists who have no objection to be buried in churchyards. There are, I find, 4,952 unconsecrated burial-grounds in this country; which gives one unconsecrated burial-ground to every 4,586 of the population, and from that number we may deduct the members of the Established Church, and all those who do not object to the services of the Church. Then, is it so certain that all Nonconformists are desirous of the change proposed by this Resolution? Looking to the Marriage Returns, I find that the total number of marriages in England in 1873 was 205,615, and that of that number 154,581 were celebrated according to the service of the Church of England. In other words, in 1873, 75 per cent of all the marriages in England were solemnized according to the rites of the Established Church, 4 per cent according to Roman Catholic rites, 10 per cent according to the rites of other religious denominations, and 10 per cent at the registrars' offices. In 1874 and 1875 the proportions were very much the same. Therefore, as far as the marriage ceremony is concerned, we have proof that the Nonconformists do not object to benefit by the services of the Established Church. Only 11 per cent of the Dissenters in this country showed a desire to be married in their own churches. Then, on the question of burial, it is a fallacy to say that the whole of the Nonconformists of this country think that they labour under a grievance. I maintain that those who live in large towns and places of that kind have no such grievance. But I will take only a few cases to justify my statement that this is a grievance which applies to only a small proportion of the population. I find that in Stafford Cemetery, from the opening, in February, 1856, to September, 1875, there were 4,286 burials according to the rites of the Established 1935 Church, and the Nonconformist burials were only 489. In Haverfordwest, opened in 1858, in Wales, where I imagine Dissent is as rife as in most parts of the Kingdom, the average number of burials per annum in consecrated ground was 24 5–18 and in unconsecrated ground only 8 12–18th. In Ruabon, in Wales, the average from its opening in 1860 till the end of 1875 was 26 in consecrated, and five in unconsecrated ground; in West Houghton, in Lancashire, from 1858 to 1875, an annual average of 71.7 in consecrated, and only 6.5 in unconsecrated ground. That shows that in parts of the country where the option of availing themselves both of consecrated and unconsecrated ground exists, and even where there is a large body of Dissenters, they prefer to be buried in consecrated ground, with the services of the Established Church. I have other evidence of the same kind, with which I will not trouble your Lordships; but there is a remarkable case in London—namely, that of Hampstead—which I may mention. I am told that there is a large Roman Catholic population living there, and that they have been in the constant habit for many years of taking their dead to be buried in the parish churchyard. Though Hampstead is within an easy distance of Highgate Cemetery, they still do not object to be buried in Hampstead Churchyard; but, on the contrary, take their deceased relatives to be placed in the consecrated ground of the Church of England. The noble Earl said that that question had been in existence for many years, and he referred to a pamphlet or book about it which was published 40 years ago. The noble Earl stated that no doubt for a long time the subject had lain dormant—adding that we could not deal with all these matters at once, that we began with the Marriage Law and the Law of Registration; then we went on to the abolition of Church-rates; and having come down to this point, he looked about for another thing to take up, and he found the Burials Question. Now, my Lords, I object to this way of taking up these questions one by one, and never being satisfied so long as there is something of this kind to deal with. But if this is a subject that requires to be dealt with, why did not the noble Earl take it up before? Not only did he not take it up before, but by the conduct of those with whom 1936 he has acted he has perpetuated the grievance, as you call it. When an alteration in the law was made by the Burials Act, and when you were setting up cemeteries and Burial Boards, why did you allow this state of things to continue? To be consistent you ought to have said—"This is not a question now of the old churchyards. We think it is wrong to draw a distinction between the Churchman and the Dissenter, they ought all to be buried with their religious rites." But instead of that you did that of which you now complain; you perpetuated the state of things existing in consequence of there being consecrated and unconsecrated ground. I come now to that which has been more discussed in the course of this evening than anything else—namely, the 74th clause. Noble Lords opposite have discussed this clause as if it were the only one in the whole Bill. No doubt it is a clause which was introduced because it was imagined it would be accepted by those for whom it was intended. The noble Earl on the back benches (the Earl of Morley) spoke of the 74th clause in language stronger than he usually employs, and told us that it was a deadly insult to the Nonconformists and that they were treated as if they were suicides. Was that so? Were Nonconformists treated as if they were suicides by the 74th clause? On the contrary, they were treated by the clause as if before the body was brought to the cemetery to be interred some religious ceremony had been performed in the house or the chapel from which it came. The noble Earl said the clause was a deadly insult; but had He never heard of the clause before? One would have supposed, from what had been said, that the proposal to have persons interred without a service was heard for the first time on this occasion—as if we had been beating about the bush to see how we could insult our Nonconformist fellow-subjects, and at last had devised the plan which noble Lords opposite, but none on this side, have described as a "silent burial." I must remind your Lordships that in 1871 and 1872 Bills passed through your Lordships' House on which no division was taken, and in which there was a clause almost identical with the 74th clause of this Bill. That Bill passed your Lordships' House on two occasions, and on one occasion it was read a second time 1937 in the other House of Parliament. The first Bill when introduced did not contain such a clause. It was sent to a Select Committee, and upon reference to the proceedings of the Committee I find that a clause was inserted in the Committee providing for a burial without a burial service. The noble Earl himself was a Member of that Committee and never raised his voice against that clause. Therefore, what we are told now is an insult to the Nonconformists is a clause which received the assent of the noble Earl himself. But, my Lords, if I was astonished to find that that clause is now considered an insult, I was equally astonished to find that this question was being introduced into the arena of party politics. I will do the noble Earl the justice to say that he introduced the matter in a conciliatory tone, with which, indeed, no fault could be found; but I do say that it is a matter very much to be regretted that this question, involving as it does most solemn feelings, should be made the subject of political warfare. I should have thought in this country there was a sufficient variety of topics upon which we might disagree and bring our warlike spirit to bear without thinking it necessary to bring this question within the arena of Party strife; and when I am told that this is not only an insult to the Nonconformists, but to the Liberal Party, I think that Party must be very much at a loss for a subject upon which to reunite, I will not say their scattered followers, but to rally their friends. If this be indeed an insult to the Liberal Party, they must certainly have got very sensitive on a sudden and they need not have brought this question forward in this manner.
THE DUKE OF RICHMOND AND GORDON
Persons can violate the law now; you cannot prevent their doing so. There is the law against brawling; but if the wording of the clause is not sufficiently strong, it can be altered in Committee. My Lords, I have very little more to add; I believe that the Bill will carry out many useful reforms, that it will remove many grievances of which complaint is now made, and I trust your Lordships will give it a second reading.
1938 On Question, Whether the words proposed to be left out shall stand part of the Motion? Their Lordships divided:— Contents, 141; Not-Contents, 102: Majority, 39.
|Canterbury, Archp.||Hardinge, V.|
|Cairns, L. (L. Chancellor.)||Hawarden, V. [Teller.]|
|York, Archp.||Hutchinson, V. (E. Donoughmore.)|
|Beaufort, D.||Strathallan, V.|
|Manchester, D.||Bangor, Bp.|
|Richmond, D.||Bath and Wells, Bp.|
|Rutland, D.||Chichester, Bp.|
|Abergavenny, M.||Gloucester and Bristol, Bp.|
|Bristol M.||Hereford, Bp.|
|Exeter, M.||Lichfield, Bp.|
|Hertford, M.||Lincoln, Bp.|
|Salisbury, M.||London, Bp.|
|Beaconsfield, E.||Salisbury, Bp.|
|Beauchamp, E.||St. Asaph, Bp.|
|Bradford, E.||Winchester, Bp.|
|Carnarvon, E.||Airey, L.|
|Cawdor, E.||Ashford, L. (V. Bury.)|
|Dartmouth, E.||Aveland, L.|
|De La Warr, E.||Bagot, L.|
|Derby, E.||Balfour of Burley, L.|
|Dudley, E.||Bolton, L.|
|Ellesmere, E.||Brancepeth, L. (V. Boyne.)|
|Feversham, E.||Braybrooke, L.|
|Haddington, E.||Brodrick, L. (V. Midleton.)|
|Harewood, E.||Charlemont, L. (E. Charlemont.)|
|Lanesborough, E.||Churston, L.|
|Lonsdale, E.||Clanbrassill, L. (E. Roden.)|
|Manvers, E.||Clements, L. (E. Leitrim.)|
|Mar and Kellie, E.|
|Morton, E.||Clinton, L.|
|Mount Edgcumbe, E.||Colchester, L.|
|Nelson, E.||Crewe, L.|
|Onslow, E.||Delamere, L.|
|Orford, E.||De L'Isle and Dudley, L.|
|Pembroke and Montgomery, E.|
|Poulett, E.||de Ros, L.|
|Powis, E.||Duboyne, L.|
|Redesdale, E.||Dunmore, L. (E. Dunmore.)|
|Rosslyn, E.||Dunsany, L.|
|Selkirk, E.||Ellenborough, L.|
|Shrewsbury, E.||Elphinstone, L.|
|Stamford and Warrington, E.||Forbes, L.|
|Stanhope, E.||Gordon of Drumcarn, L.|
|Strathmore and King-horn, E.|
|Grey de Radcliffe, L.|
|Verulam, E.||(V. Grey de Wilton.)|
|Waldegrave, E.||Hampton, L.|
|Bridport, V.||Harris, L.|
|Gordon, V. (E. Aberdeen.)||Hartismere, L. (L. Henniker.)|
|Hastings, L. (E. Loudoun.)||Sackville, L.|
|Saltersford L. (E. Cour-town.)|
|Heytesbury, L.||Scarsdale, L.|
|Howard de Walden, L.||Silchester, L. (E. Long-ford)|
|Ker, L. (M. Lothian)||Skelmersdale, L. [Teller.]|
|Lovel and Holland, L.||Sondes, L.|
|(E. Egmont)||Stanley of Alderley, L.|
|Massy, L.||Stewart of Garlies, L.|
|Northwick, L.||(E. Galloway.)|
|Oranmore and Browne, L.||St. John of Bletso, L.|
|Oriel, L. (V. Massereene.)||Talbot de Malahide, L.|
|Penrhyn, L.||Tredegar, L.|
|Ramsay, L. (E. Dalhousie.)||Ventry, L.|
|Rayleigh, L.||Winmarleigh, L.|
|Rivers, L.||Zouche of Haryng-worth, L.|
|Ross, L. (E. Glasgow.)|
|Bedford, D.||Blachford, L.|
|Devonshire, D.||Boyle, L. (E. Cork &. Orrery.) [Teller.]|
|Saint Albans, D.||Breadalbane, L. (E. Breadalbane.)|
|Westminster, D.||Calthorpe, L.|
|Ailesbury, M.||Carew, L.|
|Lansdowne, M.||Carlingford, L.|
|Ripon, M.||Carrington, L.|
|Carysfort, L. (E. Carysfort)|
|Airlie, E.||Chesham, L.|
|Camperdown, E.||Coleridge, L.|
|Chichester, E.||Dacre, L.|
|Clarendon, E.||de Clifford, L.|
|Cottenham, E.||De Mauley, L.|
|Cowper, E.||De Tabley, L.|
|Dartrey, E.||Dinevor, L.|
|Ducie, E.||Dorchester, L.|
|Effingham, E.||Ebury, L.|
|Fortescue, E.||Elgin, L. (E. Elgin and Kincardine.)|
|Ilchester, E.||Ettrick, L. (L. Napier.)|
|Kimberley, E.||Fitzhardinge, L.|
|Morley, E.||Foley, L.|
|Northbrook, E.||Greville, L.|
|Portsmouth, E.||Hammond, L.|
|Spencer, E.||Hanmer, L.|
|Suffolk and Berkshire, E.||Hare, L. (E. Listowel.)|
|Sydney, E.||Houghton, L.|
|Zetland, E.||Keane, L.|
|Kenry, L. (E. Dun-raven and Mount-Earl.)|
|Falmouth, V.||Leigh, L.|
|Halifax, V.||Lovat, L.|
|Powerscourt, V.||Lyttelton, L.|
|Meldrum, L. (M. Huntly.)|
|Abercromby, L.||Moncreiff, L.|
|Aberdare, L.||Monson, L. [Teller.]|
|Acton, L.||Monteagle of Brandon, L.|
|Barrogill, L. (E. Caith-ness.)|
|Belper, L.||O'Hagan, L.|
|Penzance, L.||Sherborne, L.|
|Poltimore, L.||Somerton, L. (E. Normanton.)|
|Ponsonby, L. (E. Bessborough.)|
|Robartes, L.||Strafford, L. (V. Enfield.)|
|Rosebery, L. (E. Rosebery.)||Thurlow, L.|
|Vaux of Harrowden, L.|
|Sandhurst, L.||Vivian, L.|
|Sandys, L.||Waveney, L.|
|Seaton, L.||Wolverton, L.|
|Sefton, L. (E. Sefton.)||Wrottesley, L.|
§ Resolved in the Affirmative.
§ Then the original Motion was agreed to.
§ Bill read 2a accordingly, and committed to a Committee of the Whole House on Thursday, the 10th of Nay next.