HL Deb 18 June 1880 vol 253 cc285-91

said-there was a strong feeling throughout the country that, after the passing of that Bill, the cost of maintaining the burial-grounds should be put upon some public rate. He did not propose any Amendment in this direction himself; he thought there were obvious objections, which the noble and learned Lord upon the Woolsack would be able to adduce; but he had brought forward the question as it had been strongly pressed upon him by others.


said, he was not aware that the passing of this Bill would increase the expense of maintaining the churchyards, or that it could, therefore, be necessary to change the present system of providing for the cost. He did not say that, if it were necessary, Parliament might not be willing to provide for the maintenance of churchyards still in use, as well as of those which had been closed by public authority, though the cases were substantially different. But, before he could come to the conclusion that this was desirable, he must be satisfied that the conditions, on which alone Parliament could be expected to agree to it, would be generally acceptable to the clergy. If the cost of maintenance was put upon a public rate, the management of the churchyards must be taken out of the hands of the parochial clergy, who took a very great interest in them, and put in charge of a public body elected by the ratepayers, a course which he should not himself wish to see adopted, unless it could be proved to be necessary, or, at least, very generally desired by Church people, which he did not believe to be the case.


agreed with the noble and learned Lord on the Woolsack in thinking that it would be unwise to take any step which could have the effect of taking the management of the churchyards out of the hands of the parochial clergy.

Amendments reported (according to Order.

Clause 1 (After passing of Act, notice may be given that burial will take place in churchyard or graveyard without the rites of the Church of England. Graveyard to include cemetery).

On the Motion of The LORD CHAN-CELLOR, the following Amendments made:—

In page 1, leave out after ("writing") in line 10 to ("Act") in line 12 inclusive; after line 25 insert— Such notice shall be in writing, plainly signed with the name and stating the address of the person giving it, and shall he in the form or to the effect of Schedule (A.) annexed to this Act;

Page 2, line 2, at end of clause add— Save as herein provided, the word 'graveyard' in this Act shall mean any burial ground or cemetery vested in any burial board, or provided under any Act relating to the burial of the dead, in which the parishioners or inhabitants of any parish or ecclesiastical district have rights of burial, and of which no part is left un-consecrated; and in the case of any such burial ground or cemetery, if a chaplain is appointed to perform the burial service of the Church of England therein, such chaplain shall be deemed to be the incumbent or officiating minister, to whom notice is to be given under this Act; and such notice as aforesaid shall also be given to the clerk of the burial board, if any, in whom any such burial ground or cemetery may be vested.

Clause, as amended, agreed to.

Clause 3 (Time of burial to be stated, subject to variation).

On the Motion of The LORD CHANCELLOR, Amendment made in page 2, line 22, before ("usual"), by inserting ("address or").

Clause, as amended, agreed to.

Clause 6 (Burial may be without religious service).

Moved, in page 3, line 20, to leave out all the words after ("Christian") to the end of the clause, and re-insert them with the exception of the words ("Pro vided always") as a separate clause to follow Clause 6.—(The Lord Chancellor.')


said, he was still of opinion that the Amendment of the noble Earl (the Earl of Mount Edgcumbe) was objectionable, inasmuch as the Act containing it would not put an end to the difficulty, but would keep the question open in every parish where there was an unconsecrated burial ground, and cause an agitation for an unconsecrated burial ground where one did not now exist. Where there was no unconsecrated ground every effort would be made to get a little bit, in order to prevent Nonconformists being buried in the churchyards.


believed that the retention of the Amendment, instead of creating controversies as dreaded by the most rev. Primate, would promote good feeling and harmony between different denominations of Christians throughout the country. He therefore supported the Amendment.


also feared that the Amendment would perpetuate the grievance, because Dissenters having possessed and used the right of burial in the churchyards, would lose it when a cemetery was made, so that families would not be buried together.


thought that the Amendment would work well, and he hoped that it would be agreed to, subject to an alteration, that the Act in this respect should not come into operation until July 1881.


thought that some delay in bringing the Act into operation would be grateful to many members of the Church.


said, that he would consider the suggestion.

Amendment agreed to; words struck out accordingly.

Clause, as amended, agreed to.

New clause (Act to apply only to parish, &c, where no unconsecrated burial ground for parishioners) agreed to, and inserted in the Bill.

Clause 7 (Burials to be conducted in a decent and orderly manner, and without obstruction).

Moved, after clause, to insert the following clause:— (Powers for prevention of disorder.) All powers and authorities now existing by law for the preservation of order, and for the prevention and punishment of disorderly behaviour in any churchyard or graveyard may be exercised, in any case of burial under this Act, in the same manner and by the same persons as if the same had been a burial according to the rites of the Church of England."—(The Lord Chancellor.)

Amendment agreed to; clause inserted accordingly.

Clause 8 (Act not to give right of burial where no previous right existed).

Moved, That the following words be added to the clause:— Or without performance of any express condition on which, by the terms of any trust deed, any right of interment in any burial ground vested in trustees under such trust deed may have been granted."—(The lord Chancellor.)

Amendment agreed to; words added accordingly.

Clause, as amended, agreed to.

Clause 12 (Relief of clergy of Church of England from penalties in certain cases).

On the Motion of The LORD CHANCELLOR, the following Amendments made: — In page 5, line 17, after ("dead") insert ("the first six of which were"); line 21, leave out ("such of the same"), and after ("recommendations") leave out ("as are") and insert ("to the same effect with those"); line 27, leave out ("no") and insert ("it shall be lawful for any"); line 28, leave out from ("shall") to ("also") in line 35 inclusive, and insert— ("In any of the cases and matters provided for by the several forms of altered and additional rubrics contained in the said Schedule (C), to act in conformity therewith without being subject to any ecclesiastical or other censure or penalty: Provided always.")


, in moving, as an Amendment, to leave out the clause, and insert the following clause:— No minister in holy orders in the Church of England shall be subject to any censure or penalty for declining to officiate in any case with the service prescribed by law for the burial of the dead according to the rites of the said church in any churchyard, burial ground, or cemetery. It shall not be unlawful for the minister, at the request or with the consent of the kindred or friends of the deceased to use only the following service at the burial—prayers taken from the Book of Common Prayer and portions of Holy Scripture approved by the Ordinary, said, the schedule to which the clause referred was objectionable, in that it altered the rubrics in a partial manner. An alteration of the rubrics was an extreme course, not to be adopted without great care, and should make the rubric as perfect as possible. If this Amendment were accepted, he should move the omission of the schedule also. The grievances of the laity had to be considered, but he thought those of the clergy ought to be regarded. The Bill would authorize three or four different burial services. There was, first, the ordinary burial service; second, a shorter service, which was to be used in cases where the clergyman might object to use the present service, when, perhaps, the deceased had been a drunkard, or otherwise disreputable; thirdly, there was the service over excommunicated or unbaptized persons, or those who had laid violent hands on themselves. He objected to placing the unbaptized in the same category with the excommunicated or suicides; and as to the second kind of service, he thought difficulties would arise which his proposal would relieve the clergy of and transfer to the friends of the deceased. Both clause and schedule were designed to relieve the clergyman from the necessity of reading the service where he had conscientious objections to it, and he proposed to give him relief in a different way. His next objection to the schedule was that there was very little chance of its passing the House of Commons. The Bill would be sent back to their Lordships with all those clauses gone which relieved the consciences of the clergy, and simply that portion of the Bill retained which allowed other services than those of the Church of England to be performed in the churchyard. It would then, no doubt, be in their Lordships' discretion to deal with the Bill as they thought fit; but suppose they threw out the Bill, they would have this discussion renewed next year, and that he (the Earl of Camperdown) would be very sorry to see. If they were to give relief to the clergy, let them do it in a way that would be effectual, and in the way that the clergy wished. The clause he proposed would enable them to decline, if they chose, to perform the service over a deceased person. For the first time, ministers of other denominations, equally with the clergymen of the Church of England, were to be allowed to enter the churchyard and perform services. The responsibility for the conduct of the funerals was transferred from the clergyman to the friends of the deceased. Under these circumstances, he could not see any good reason why they should say to the clergyman of the Church of England alone that he must read the service whenever he was called upon. Any other clergyman could decline, and why should not the clergyman of the Church of England? In the second part of the clause he provided for the case of the unbaptized, where the clergyman might feel unwilling to read the whole service, but was perfectly ready to use a shorter form of service. He could not conceive that in the Commons there would be any difficulty in accepting the clause he proposed. He wished to deal with the clergy as reasonable and sensible men, and he could not help feeling that many of their difficulties had arisen from the rubrics. If Parliament enabled the clergy to exercise their discretion, he did not think the liberty would be abused. The noble Earl concluded by moving the Amendment.

Moved, to leave out Clause 12, and insert the following Clause:— No minister in holy orders of the Church of England shall be subject to any censure or penalty for declining to officiate in any case with the service prescribed by law for the burial of the dead according to the rites of the said church in any churchyard, burial ground, or cemetery. It shall not be unlawful for any minister, at the request or with the consent of the kindred or friends of the deceased, to use only the following service at the burial: Prayers taken from the Book of Common Prayer and portions of Holy Scripture approved by the Ordinary."—(The Earl of Camperdown.)


said, his noble Friend (the Earl of Camper-down) had made a very bold proposal. It amounted to nothing less than this— that every clergyman might refuse to perform the burial office whenever he pleased; that the laity no longer should have the right to the services of the clergy in the burial office. If Convocation did not see its way to propose anything of the kind, it could scarcely be thought probable that Parliament would be induced to pass it. The noble Earl seemed to fear that the other House would not agree to the clause as it stood. He hoped there was no sufficient reason for that fear. But, if there was, the more violent course proposed by the noble Earl would have still less likelihood to being agreed to. If they were to allow the parish clergyman to have a right to refuse to perform the service, there should, at least, be given a right to any other clergyman of the Church of England, who was ready to do so, to perform that service in the absence of the clergyman who originally refused. That, the noble Earl's Amendment did not give; but, on the contrary, it gave to the parish clergyman an unbounded discretion to do as he liked as to performing or not performing the service, and did not provide for any substitute, if he refused.


gave his noble Friend (the Earl of Camperdown) credit for desiring to confer a boon upon the clergy; but he was afraid it was one which the clergy would have serious difficulty in accepting. The noble and learned Lord on the Woolsack so fully expressed his (the Archbishop of Canterbury's) views, that he need not further refer to the clause.

On Question? Resolved in the Negative.

Clause, as amended, agreed to.

On the Motion of The LORD CHANCELLOR, the following clause was inserted, after Clause 12:?— (Saving as to Ministers of Church of England.) Save as in this Act expressly provided as to ministers of the Church of England, nothing herein contained shall authorise or enable any minister who shall not have become a declared member of any other Church or denomination, or have executed a deed of relinquishment under the "Clerical Disabilities Act, 1870,"to do any act which he would not by law have been authorised or enabled to do if this Act had not passed, or to exempt him from any censure or penalty in respect thereof.

On the Motion of The LORD CHANCELLOR, the following Amendment made:—In Schedule C, leave out paragraph 7.

Schedule, as amended, agreed to.

Bill to be read 3a on Thursday next, and to be printed as amended. (No. 89.)

House adjourned at half past Eight o'clock, to Monday next, Eleven o'clock.