HC Deb 20 July 1972 vol 841 cc1042-5


Mr. Speed

I beg to move Amendment No. 794, in page 149, line 35, leave out from 'control' to 'contain' in line 36 and insert: 'of the cemeteries of burial authorities and any such order may—

  1. (a) an inhabitant of the place; or the order; and
  2. (b)'.

Mr. Deputy Speaker (Mr. E. L. Mallalieu)

With this Amendment we are to take Government Amendments Nos. 795, 805 to 819 and 796 to 804.

Mr. Speed

This series of Amendments deals with burial and cremation. By the end of this week afficionados of the Bill will be more than personally interested in the Amendments. Amendment No. 794 is intended to make it clearer that an order under Clause 208 (3) can embody not only powers required by burial authorities for the operation of their cemeteries but also provisions relating to good order, decency, and the carrying out of burials with a proper regard for public health. A penalty is required for breach of those provisions. They would supersede the cemetery bye-laws which some authorities now have and which they can enforce under penalty.

Amendment No. 795 would provide that it was necessary to continue to require consultation with local authority associations before the Secretary of State makes an order governing the management of burial authorities' cemeteries, but in regard to various other interested bodies the word "associations" is not appropriate and in that context the Amendment deletes it. There must, for example, be consultation with the Commonwealth War Graves Commission and many other bodies wish to be consulted. Amendments Nos. 805, 806 and 807 are drafting Amendments.

On Amendment No. 808 paragraph (1) of the Schedule provides for the transfer of burial functions from the authorities dissolved by Clause 208(l)(b), to two or more new burial authorities in those cases lettered (b) and (d) to (i) in the paragraph where the area for which a dissolved authority was responsible will fall in more than one local government area on 1st April, 1974.

Paragraph (2) of the Schedule requires the successor authorities to form a joint committee under Part VI of the Bill unless they establish a joint board under Section 6 of the Public Health Act, 1936. There are likely to be instances where one or more of the successor authorities might prefer to drop out or it would be more satisfactory for one of the authorities to take over completely. Where the matter is considered by the successor authorities before 1st April, 1974 and they inform the Department in time of their conclusion, the Secretary of State can suitably make appropriate provision in the order which will need to be made under Clause 244 to provide for the transfer of property and staff of the authorities which are to be dissolved.

Amendment No. 812 makes good two omissions. First, it applies the requirement under Section 2(2) of the Public Health (Interments) Act, 1879, as does the existing law, to the councils of London boroughs and the Common council as well as to a district council. Secondly, it applies this requirement to the provision of a crematorium by any of these authorities. Amendments Nos. 809, 810 and 811, 813, 814 and 815 are drafting Amendments.

On Amendment No. 816, the existing law in Part III of Schedule 5 of the Public Health Act, 1875, prohibits burials in any church built since 1848 in any urban district—that is, existing borough and urban districts. Paragraph 15 of the Schedule as printed adapts that provision to the new local government areas outside Greater London, which will not be classified as "urban" or "rural". The Amendment is necessary to make it clear that in Greater London the prohibition continues, as at present, to apply in the outer London boroughs. The prohibition has never applied in Inner London. These cases are dealt with by Order in Council under the Burial Act, 1852.

Amendment No. 817 concerns the new paragraph 15A which repeals the ministerial control which no longer serves any useful purpose. It relates to unconsecrated ground which is sometimes used by burial authorities in the interim period for allotments pending its use for burials. This is a matter which nowadays can be left to local discretion and planning control. The proposed paragraph 15B re-enacts the existing law with modifications made necessary by the Bill. Paragraph 15C enacts the new Section 9(1) of the Burial Act, 1900. It frees burial authorities from a requirement imposed by the existing Section 9 that the Home Secretarys sanction must be obtained for the allotment of an unconsecrated part of a cemetery to particular denominations or religious bodies. The Home Office regards this control as unnecessary.

10.15 p.m.

Paragraph 15D provides a necessary definition of the area subject to the Welsh Church Act. Amendments Nos. 818 and 819 are drafting.

Amendments Nos. 796 and 797 are linked. The change to the past tense makes it clear that a parochial church council's duty to maintain a closed churchyard extends to cases where the churchyard has been closed by Order in Council before the provisions m the present Bill come into force. This alteration reproduces the existing law in Section 18 of the Burial Act, 1855.

Amendments Nos. 798, 799, 801 and 802 are linked and enable a parochial church council to transfer responsibility for a churchyard closed by Order in Council to a parish meeting where there is no separate parish council; to a district council in Wales where there is no separate community council; and to a London borough council, but not to the Common Council of the City.

This is an improvement on the present law under which in a parish without a parish council, the parochial church council can repeatedly require reimbursement for maintenance work but cannot transfer responsibility for doing the work.

Amendments Nos. 800, 803 and 804 are drafting Amendments.

Amendment agreed to.

Amendment made:

No. 795, in page 149, line 43, leave out 'other associations representative of' and insert 'with'.—[Mr. Speed.]

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