HL Deb 27 January 1902 vol 101 cc904-6


Order of the Day for the Second Reading read.


My Lords, this is a Bill for the regulation of the burning of human remains, and to enable burial authorities to establish crematoria. There have been many private Acts passed for this purpose, and it is felt that the time has now come when the question of cremation ought to be under the general law and under uniform rules. There are various safeguards in this Bill. Clause 4, for instance, enacts that plans of any proposed crematorium must be approved by the Local Government Board; and Clause 7 enacts that the Secretary of State shall make regular tions prescribing with what cases and under what conditions the burning of any human remains may take place, and prescribing the forms of the notices, certificates, and declarations to be given or made. Clause 8 contains penalties for the contravention of such regulations, and Clause 9 authorises fees to be demanded by the burial authorities. It is provided in Clause 10 that nothing in this Act shall interfere with the jurisdiction of any Coroner, under the Coroners Act, 1887, or any Act amending the same, and that nothing in this Act shall authorise the burial authority to create or permit a nuisance. Clause 11 repeals all local Acts so that the whole country may be under a general law with regard to cremation. So far as I have explained it up to the present, the Bill is the same as that which passed your Lordship's House last year. But in the other House of Parliament three clauses were added, to two of which I think your Lordships will readily agree, one being of a restrictive and the other of an enabling character. I refer to Clauses 5 and 6, which provide that no crematoriums shall be constructed nearer to any dwelling house than two hundred yards, except with the consent, in writing, of the owner, lessee, and ocupier of such house, and that a burial authority may accept a donation of land for the purpose of a crematorium, and a donation of money or other property for enabling them to acquire, construct, or maintain a crematorium. The other clause which was added in the House of Commons was one which I would have been very glad to have inserted in the original Bill, but the noble Lord the Secretary for Scotland would not allow me. My noble friend said he desired that Scotland should be excluded, and in deference to his wishes I omitted the clause applying the Bill to Scotland. But in the House of Commons the question was again raised, and a clause applying the Act to Scotland inserted by a majority of 199 to 87. Thirty-seven Scottish Members of Parliament voted in the division, and of that number 29, including the Lord Advocate, voted for the inclusion of Scotland, and only eight against. I hope, therefore that the Secretary for Scotland will not object to the provisions of the Bill applying to Scotland. The Home Office is in favour of the measure, but wishes to make certain small drafting Amendments in Committee.

Moved that the Bill be now read. 2a (Lord Monkswell.)


The noble Lord stated that I would not allow him to include Scotland in the Bill of last session, but what actually passed was this: I pointed out to my noble friend that the Bill as drawn last year contained phraseology applicable to England which would not be applicable to Scotland, and that it must either be applied to Scotland in a special clause or Scotland had better be specifically excluded. I also said that so far as I knew, there was no demand for the Bill in Scotland, and that on the whole it would be better to put in a clause excluding Scotland from its operations, I have not had any representations on the subject since that time, but, accepting the statement of the noble lord with regard to what has passed in the other House, and having been communicated with the promoters of the Bill in the other House, through the Lord Advocate, I certainly shall not object to the insertion of a clause applying the Bill to Scotland. Of course, I do not intend to take any responsibility for the Bill, or to pledge myself to support it; but I shall offer no objection to it, so far as I am concerned. I may point out that the person who drafted the Bill has applied to me a title which I have not the honour to enjoy—namely that of "Secretary of State for Scotland." That, of course, can be put right, and it will have to be considered whether some of the powers proposed to be conferred on the Local Government Board in Scotland had not better remain in the hands of the Secretary for Scotland. In Scotland the law is different from that in England, because some of the powers which were formerly exercised by the Home Secretary, and which have been transferred to the Local Government Board in England, are still exercised in Scotland by the Secretery for Scotland, But I will look into the matter before the next stage is reached.


My Lords, I have been asked by the Home Secretary to state that he approves of the Bill in substance, but reserves to himself the right to bring forward Amendments in Committee.

On Question, agreed to; Bill read 2aaccordingly, and committed to a Committee of the whole House on Monday next.