Written statement to Parliament

Cremations

Written Ministerial Statement made by the Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for Women, Equalities and Family Justice, Caroline Dinenage.

Today I am launching a consultation which seeks views on proposals for a number of changes to the Cremation (England and Wales) Regulations 2008, and for improving other aspects of cremation practice.

On 1 June 2015 David Jenkins published his report into the way infant cremations were carried out at Emstrey Crematorium in Shropshire between 1996 and 2012. The report established that during this period Emstrey Crematorium failed to obtain ashes to return to parents following infant cremations.

Scotland had experienced similar problems. In June 2014 Lord Bonomy’s report of his Infant Cremation Commission (ICC) found that in some Scottish cases parents had been incorrectly told that there had been, or would be, no ashes from their babies’ cremations. I am clear that what happened at Emstrey, and sadly also at other crematoria, should never happen again. No other family should go through the pain of not having their baby’s ashes returned to them. That is why I am taking action to make sure that after a cremation infant ashes should always be returned to their families.

A majority of the 12 Emstrey report recommendations were for the Westminster government, including the recommendation that we consider the ICC’s 64 recommendations. In July, I announced our intention to consult on these recommendations and that consultation starts today.

The consultation will run for 12 weeks. I will be writing to families involved in these tragic events to invite them to take part. We will then carefully consider the responses we receive and will announce the changes that we will be making next year.

Copies of the consultation document will be placed in the Libraries of both Houses. The consultation is also available at https://consult.justice.gov.uk/digital-communications/consultation-on-cremation.