Supplementary Memorandum by Dr Tony WalterLetter
to the Rt Hon Paul Boateng MP (CEM 45(a))
I heard your evidence given to the Sub-committee
on cemeteries on 23 January, and understood your concern about
your own, and potentially other people's, sensitivities over the
matter of re-use.
In the evidence I gave to the committee two
weeks earlier, I outlined and recommended the system in use throughout
the rest of Europe. Graves are leased for relatively short periods
(eight years is the shortest I know of, 50 the longest), and lessees
are notified a year before the lease is up, asking if they wish
to renew. They may renew as often as they like. If they want to
pay for a perpetual grave, they may also do this. In this kind
There is never any question of graves
being re-used without a family's permission
Families understand it is their responsibility
to renew the lease, should they wish to.
The problems with the longer lease periods (50-75
years) proposed by some in the UK cemetery industry are that
Families may not be contactable after
this period. Some years after the grave has been re-used, a distant
family member may turn up looking for the grave and find it no
After many decades of silence from
the burial authority, families may not realise they will eventually
need to renew the leasethe "culture" of renewing
grave leases will not get established.
This is why I strongly recommend that the Committee,
and the Home Office, look seriously at the continental framework
for re-use. Millions of Europeans are no less sensitive than the
British. They just have a system that works!