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Committee Progress 27Th May

Volume 203: debated on Wednesday 13 July 1870

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Bill considered in Committee.

(In the Committee.)

Clause 1 (After passing of Act notice may be given to incumbent of intention that burial shall take place in churchyard without the rites of Established Church, and either with or without any other religious service).

Amendment proposed,

In page 1, line 11, after the word "incumbent," to insert the words "of any parish or ecclesiastical district in which, or in the churchyard or graveyard of which, previously to the passing of this Act, such person would have had a right of interment."—(Mr. Goldney.)

Question put, "That those words be there inserted."

The Committee divided: — Ayes 89; Noes 143: Majority 54.

said, he would beg to move, in Clause 1, line 16, to leave out the words "or graveyard." His object was to carry out the compromise of the Committee on the Bill, by confining the operations of the Bill to churchyards, and not allowing them to extend to graveyards or cemeteries. It was evidently the intention of the Committee to confine the operation of the clause to parish churchyards.

said, he hoped the hon. Member would not press his Amendment. He would, however, consent to introduce a Proviso in Clause 11 to meet the object the hon. Member had in view—namely, to confine the operation of the Bill to parish churchyards.

said, he thought it very inconvenient to discuss a Proviso which was not before them.

Amendment negatived.

said, he had an Amendment to propose, which, however, he moved in no spirit of hostility to Dissenters. His earnest desire was that Dissenters should have free access to the church and churchyard—the more free the better; but the performance of Divine service within the churchyard by other than ministers of the Church of of England was a violation, he did not say of decency, but of good order, which he thought they ought not to sanction. There was really no practical distinction between the performance of Divine service in the churchyard and the church. He begged to move, in line 18, to leave out "either with or."

said, the Amendment, if carried, would have the effect of destroying the whole object and principle of the Bill. It would be most offensive to Dissenters, and he thought it would be far better for the hon. Member to meet the Bill with a direct negative rather than by such a side wind as his Amendment.

said, he hoped the Committee would accept the Amendment, as he believed that it was requisite in order to remove all danger of unseemly conflicts between ministers of different denominations within graveyards. He admitted that Nonconformists had reasonable grounds of complaint, which the Bill would remedy; but, having obtained the removal of the grievance they were exposed to, they were not justified in seeking to obtain any further concessions. Sir Morton Peto's Bill con- tained a restriction to the same effect as the Amendment.

said, it was proposed by the Bill to allow Roman Catholics and Dissenters generally to perform their religious services in those graveyards. If that claim were allowed great offence might be given and disturbances occasioned in many places In the South of England he knew of painful and dangerous riots arising day after day, in consequence of attempts to introduce into the parish churchyard the extravagant ceremonies of what was commonly called the Ritualistic party.

said, he could not accept the Amendment, because it would affect the whole principle of the Bill. The object of it was evidently to prevent Dissenters being buried with any religious services, unless that of the Church of England, or to place them on the same footing as suicides and malefactors.

said, the hon. Member (Mr. Osborne Morgan) had imputed to him sentiments which he had never uttered. He (Mr. Sclater-Booth) never wished Dissenters to be buried without the interposition of religious rites; but in many country places, as well as in Scotland, the religious services were performed at the residence of the deceased person.

said, the hon. Member for Leicestershire (Mr. Heygate) spoke of the Bill as removing the last objection of the Dissenters; but if the Amendment were adopted the Bill would leave the main objection to the existing state of things untouched.

said, the clergy had felt themselves conscientiously compelled by the canons to raise an objection to the clause.

said, the Dissenters were putting themselves in a wrong position. The Nonconformists were recognizing the superstition of reading prayers over the dead, which they had so long repudiated.

said, the hon. Member for Leeds (Mr. Baines) wished to throw out this Bill by a side wind. He (Colonel Barttelot) intended to support the Amendment of his hon. Friend (Mr. Sclater-Booth), and if they were beaten he would move the omission of the clause. He particulary disliked the Bill. All his constituents also disliked the Bill. The Bill touched them in a tender point. It was running a needle into his eye. He was not prepared to allow people to run the needle into his eye. He stood up for his church and his graveyard. If his Dissenting friends were willing to enter the graveyard in his way let them come, and he was willing to receive them. If they wished to come in their own way, he was not ready to receive them. He objected to the Bill; and if it did not pass this year, and if it was re-introduced next Session, he would do his best to turn it out again.

said, the hon. Member for Leeds (Mr. Baines) was, doubtless, acquainted with the details of his own religious communion and with those of the Church of Rome. He must, then, be aware that almost the whole of the religious observances were performed in the church, and that only a very slight ceremony was gone through at the grave. The Presbyterian community throughout the world performed the last offices of the dead in their houses. The same course was pursued in Scotland.

Committee report Progress; to sit again To-morrow.