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Cemeteries

Volume 461: debated on Monday 4 June 2007

To ask the Minister of State, Ministry of Justice (1) how many cases of (a) successful and (b) unsuccessful litigation there have been related to injuries and deaths caused by falling gravestones and memorials in council graveyards in the last 20 years; (140511)

(2) how many complaints there have been of unsafe gravestones and memorials in council graveyards in the last 20 years;

(3) how many church graveyards were safety inspected in (a) 2006 and (b) 2007;

(4) how many deaths there were in council graveyards in each of the last 20 years (a) in total and (b) from falling gravestones and memorials;

(5) how many council graveyards had areas closed for safety reasons during (a) 2006 and (b) 2007;

(6) how many non-members of the National Association of Memorial Masons are authorised to test and repair gravestones in council graveyards.

The information requested is not held or collated centrally. Responsibility for the management and safety of council burial grounds, including the competence of those authorised to test and repair gravestones, lies with individual burial authorities.

Recent advice to burial authorities has stressed the need for great sensitivity and careful planning in the way any memorials are tested or made safe.

To ask the Minister of State, Ministry of Justice (1) what involvement the National Association of Memorial Masons had in determining standards of health and safety in council graveyards; (140518)

(2) which external bodies were consulted over the system of gravestone testing now operated by local authorities.

I understand that the National Association of Memorial Masons were one of the bodies represented on the Technical Committee responsible for the preparation of the relevant British Standards Institution specifications published in 2005.

It is for individual local authorities to determine what testing of gravestones should be undertaken. Detailed advice and guidance on memorial and safety standards has been issued by various professional and representative bodies, including the National Association of Memorial Masons.