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Churchyards And Cemeteries

Volume 389: debated on Wednesday 5 May 1943

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asked the Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of Works whether salvage committees acting under his Defence Regulation B 50 have been authorised to take away not only the iron railings round a burial ground but also the iron chains and bronzes on the gravestones themselves without asking the sanction of the relatives of those buried there or giving any notice to the caretaker of the graveyard, as was done recently at a place of which he has been informed; and whether he will issue immediate instructions to his salvage committees in England and Scot- land to stop further actions of this kind in consecrated burial grounds?

The removal from churchyards and cemeteries of iron railings and other metal fixtures, unless of artistic merit or historic interest, has, with the concurrence of the Church Authorities, been authorised under Defence Regulation 50B. In such cases a notice is served on the incumbent or caretaker as the case may be and is posted on the site. Where relatives desire to appeal against the proposed action their wishes are respected. Notice was given in this manner in the case referred to in the Question. It is not possible to take any further steps to ensure that the relatives, if any, are aware of the proposed removal. Instructions have recently been issued making it clear that chains forming part of the monument or memorial itself are not to be removed.

In view of this undertaking that memorials on graves are not to be touched, may I ask why the fixtures are not mentioned in the notices and why in this and other cases the metal has been taken from the graves?

If chains on graves are not to be taken, will the Minister see that the small railings on the graves are not taken away, because the position is exactly the same as in the case of chains?

I said in my answer that where relatives desire to appeal against the proposed action, their wishes are respected