The Private Burial Grounds and Cemeteries Bill [HL] is a private member’s bill introduced in the House of Lords by Baroness Hussein-Ece (Liberal Democrat).
Unlike local authority burial grounds which are regulated under the Local Authorities’ Cemeteries Order 1977 and the Local Government Act 1972, there are currently no statutory provisions governing private cemeteries.
Instead, a series of acts, referred to as the Burial Acts, govern certain aspects of how private burial grounds operate. Most of the Burial Acts date from the nineteenth century. For example, section 8 of the Burial Act 1855, as amended, allows the government to establish inspections of burial grounds, including private burial grounds. Section 25 of the Burial Act 1857, as amended, governs the exhumation of bodies from a burial ground. Private burial grounds and cemeteries may also be regulated by private acts of parliament.
The Private Burial Grounds and Cemeteries Bill [HL] would require the secretary of state to make provisions about the management, regulation and control of private burial grounds and cemeteries. It would require that these new regulations ensure owners of private cemeteries:
- Take all the steps the owner considers necessary for the proper management, regulation and control of a cemetery.
- Keep the cemetery in good order and repair.
- Do nothing in relation to any vaults, tombstones or other memorials other than what is necessary in order to remove a danger.
- Maintain a plan of the cemetery, allocate numbers to burial spaces and maintain accurate records.
- Maintain a register of all the burials in the cemetery and ensure they are publicly available. Under the bill, the cemetery owner would be able to charge a reasonable fee to the public in order to view this register.
- Maintain a record of any disinterments.
- Ensure any records are in a durable form, in order to preserve them from loss or damage.