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Cemeteries Endowment Fund

Volume 671: debated on Thursday 6 February 2020

I announce today the transfer of the cemeteries endowment fund (“the fund”) from the High Commission in New Delhi to the British Association for Cemeteries in south Asia (“BACSA”), a UK based charity.

The fund was originally established in India in the late 19th century for the purpose of maintaining European graves and cemeteries. Any such cemeteries maintained by the Government of India could be endowed by friends or relatives of deceased persons and such endowments were credited to the fund.

After India gained independence in 1947, arrangements were made for the UK Government, through the High Commission, to take responsibility for the maintenance of the European graves and cemeteries. A parliamentary undertaking, in the form of answers to parliamentary questions in both Houses, was given on 15 March 1949, that the UK Government would be responsible for European cemeteries in India—and had been since April 1948. The Government of India authorised transfer of the fund to the High Commission in June 1949 and the Secretary of State for the Commonwealth Office inherited responsibility for the fund.

Over recent years, it has become apparent that administration of the fund requires dedicated resources. For this reason, the High Commission requested that the fund be transferred to BACSA, a UK-registered charity (charity no. 273422) which would be able to use the fund more effectively in accordance with the fund’s original purpose. BACSA has as its aim to promote the preservation, conservation and recording of former European cemeteries and isolated monuments in south Asia and elsewhere in Asia. It also seeks to promote education in the history of all places in south Asia and elsewhere in Asia associated with European residence, and in particular the territories formerly administered by the East India Company and the British Government of India. Its objectives therefore coincide with those of the fund.

Following appropriate consultation across Whitehall and with BACSA, the fund was transferred to BACSA on 15 March 2019 to the sum of £19,047.64.