The Burial and Cremation law may be an obscure area but it affects us all eventually. The Law Commission has just done final recommendations on some law changes. They include:
- Any person or group should be able to apply to the local authority for permission to establish a cemetery or for burial on private rural land;
Very sensible. Small family burial sites on a family farm can be quite appropriate – especially when the land has been with the family for generations.
- People providing funeral services must be registered or actively supervised by a registered person;
- There should be some basic prerequisite conditions to registration such as the absence of serious convictions and the achievement of a qualification;
- Funeral service providers should be required to provide an itemised statement of costs prior to entering a contract for services;
Getting costs upfront is a good idea, and sadly the few cowboys out there means registration is a good idea.But this should be industry regulation, not government.
- If a deceased person gave written directions about what should happen to their body after their death, those directions must be given effect to unless there is a compelling reason not to;
- Legislation should introduce the role of “deceased’s representative” to which, before their death, a deceased person could appoint a trusted person to make decisions about their body and the funeral after their death.
This may be the most important part. No more body stealing with disputes between family members. I’d go further and make it a criminal offence to move a body in contravention of the directions of the deceased or their representative.