Infant cremation under new Scottish Bill

Does Burial and Cremation (Scotland) Bill address the issues raised?

The Burial and Cremation (Scotland) Bill was published on 8 October following a detailed consultation of the current law relating to burial and cremation in Scotland. The Bill was further informed by the work of two groups:

– the Burial and Cremation Review Group, established in 2005 by the then Minister for Health: “[t]o review the Cremation Acts of 1902 and 1952 (and the Cremation (Scotland) Regulations 1935, as amended) and the Burial Grounds (Scotland) Act 1855 as amended, and to make recommendations on how the legislation could be changed in order to better serve the needs of the people of Scotland; and

– the Infant Cremation Commission, chaired by Lord Bonomy. This was established in April 2013 in response to concerns about previous practices in the cremation of infants, which initially focused on the Mortonhall crematorium, reviewed here, and here. Its report, published in June 2014, make 64 recommendations: all of these were accepted by the Scottish Government, and those requiring legislation have been taken forward in the Burial and Cremation (Scotland) Bill.

Two important legislative changes to the Scots law were proposed by the ICC with regard to the cremation of infants: there should be a statutory definition of “ashes”; and there should be statutory regulation of the cremation of babies of less than 24 weeks’ gestation. In addition, the consultation raised the possibility of other procedural changes to the law in this area, reviewed here. This post addresses the above two issues, and a review of other aspects of the Bill will be considered in a subsequent piece. Continue reading