Rosie Cooper, MP for West Lancashire, called for a Parliamentary debate on burial provision as part of her campaign for a new cemetery for West Lancashire. Rosie has campaigned along with the local clergy for a West Lancashire cemetery that would bring an end to families being forced into neighbouring Local Authorities areas to bury or cremate their loved ones.
At business questions on Thursday Rosie asked Leader of the House, Jack Straw, if he would consider a debate as the Department for Justice published its response to the Burial Law and Policy in the 21st Century consultation.
“As West Lancashire has very little burial space and no crematorium, local people are forced to pay neighbouring local authorities a high premium to use their burial plots or crematoriums. I would prefer there to be an obligation on local authorities to provide sufficient burial space for local residents. At the moment it is at the discretion of the local authority.”
“I asked for the Parliamentary debate to raise the difficult situation facing many West Lancashire families. I will continue to push ministers for this debate because we can’t allow this to drag on with no solution for local residents.”
“It is nearly fifty years since Skelmersdale new town was established, increasing the demand for burial plots in West Lancashire. Over the years people have had their hopes raised as planning permissions were granted and then those hopes have been dashed by the absence of any development on these sites.”
“My aim is to put pressure on West Lancashire District Council to fulfil its responsibility to local residents at a time of bereavement more seriously and stop hiding behind the fact they have no statutory obligation to provide such amenities.”
Rosie Cooper (West Lancashire) (Lab): The Government this week published “Burial Law and Policy in the 21st Century: The way forward”, their response to the consultation document on the issue. Will the Leader of the House consider having a debate on that subject? Unless we make it a duty on local authorities to provide facilities to bury the dead locally, my constituents will have to bury members of their families in adjacent local authorities at double the cost that the council tax payers of those authorities pay. That will mean an extra charge for residents of those local authorities that are not doing their duty.
Mr. Straw: I understand the concern that my hon. Friend raises. The Minister of State, Ministry of Justice, my right hon. and learned Friend the Member for Camberwell and Peckham (Ms Harman) has rightly published that consultative document and will certainly give consideration as to when and whether that can be debated.