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Burial Facilities

Volume 461: debated on Tuesday 19 June 2007

24. If she will assess the implications of the Government's recently announced policy on burial law reform for the provision of burial facilities for the people of West Lancashire and other areas where there is a lack of burial space. (143370)

We understand the importance that many families attach to having a local cemetery. Our decision to enable the reuse of old burial grounds will provide local authorities with a further option when deciding how best to meet their communities’ needs at an affordable cost.

Does the Minister believe that West Lancashire district council should refund to its council tax payers the increased cost that they incur when burying their loved ones in cemeteries in neighbouring local authority areas? This is a tax on dying. It is being imposed on the council tax payers of West Lancashire with no regard to their ability to pay, while the local authority denies its responsibilities.

I know that my hon. Friend represents the considerable strength of feeling in her constituency of West Lancashire about the fact that local people are unable to bury loved ones in their own area. They have to incur the expense of travel, and are obliged to pay a higher price when they get to a burial ground outside their area. I know that she will continue to put pressure on West Lancashire district council. Under provisions announced in my written statement earlier this month, councils have additional options available to them, but there really is no excuse for not providing the burial services needed by local people.