HL Deb 28 January 1980 vol 404 cc609-10

My Lords, I beg to move that this Bill be now read a second time.

Moved, That the Bill be now read 2a.—(Lord Aberdare.)


My Lords, may I say just a few words on this Bill? I remember—I think it must be 15 years ago—when in another place we had the St. George's (Hanover Square) Burial Ground Bill, and I took the opportunity to ask the then Minister who was replying whether it might not be for the general convenience of those who had to apply cemetery land for other purposes, and of the Church authorities, if consideration were given to a public general Act which laid down a procedure for relinquishing land within a shorter period of time than is laid down in the Disused Burial Grounds Act 1884, which I believe I am right in saying still regulates these matters. It is because the Disused Burial Grounds Act 1884 prescribes that no land may be taken for any other purpose within, I think, 100 years of the last interment in a cemetery, that these difficulties arise when land is required for some other essential purpose. In the case of St. George's, Hanover Square, it was for residential accommodation, but one can think of a great variety of really important uses to which burial grounds may be put, particularly in a built-up area such as Cane Hill, which is on the outer edges of Greater London. There ought to be some more expeditious procedure than a private Bill such as the one now before your Lordships by which this change of use can be made.

I never pursued the matter at that time, and I think we are still going through precisely the same motions in respect of private Acts in relation to disused burial grounds. I do not think there has been any change in the Disused Burial Grounds Act 1884, and I wondered whether I might take this opportunity to ask the Front Bench opposite whether this is not one of those aspects of the rigidity of our institutions which we might take the opportunity, during the lifetime of this Government, to rectify; or, at any rate, whether the Government might not consult with the Church authorities to see whether a public general Act could not be formulated which would be acceptable to all concerned and which would short-circuit this procedure.


My Lords, I am sure that the noble Lord the acting-Leader of the House has listened carefully to what the noble Lord has said, and that it will be taken into account. Of course, I have no influence in these matters. I should be delighted if there was public general legislation which would ease my problems with private Bills, but I can go no further than that.

On Question, Bill read 2a, and referred to the Examiners.