Government to amend emergency coronavirus bill to stop cremation against families' wishes

Exclusive: Amendment to be tabled to respect the strict laws around burial in Jewish and Muslim faiths


The Government will amend its Coronavirus Bill on Monday to address concerns raised over the prospect of forced cremations.

The JC understands that legislation around enforced cremation will now be amended to respect the strict laws around burial in the Jewish and Muslim faiths.

When it was unveiled last week as part of the Government’s emergency legislation to help tackle the spread of Covid-19, the Bill over-ruled the law that made it illegal for local Authorities to cremate bodies against their or their family's wishes.

But it the JC understands this section has been re-written to take into account the strict laws regarding burial in the Jewish and Muslim faiths.

Discussions took place on Monday morning to ensure that the Bill's language was acceptable to those on the Opposition front benches.

One Labour source confirmed to the JC that there was no opposition on the party’s frontbench to the amendment.

The Bill will be debated in the House of Commons on Monday afternoon.

Communal sources also praised the work of Conservative Ministers Robert Jenrick and Penny Mordaunt in listening to concerns over burial rights.

In a statement on Sunday, Board of Deputies President Marie van der Zyl had called for the Government to provide  such an exemption, saying a cremation against the deceased's and their family's wishes would "only add to the sorrow of grieving families and go against fundamental freedoms of religion and belief."

Labour's Naz Shah has led a campaign among MPs to back an amendment which would allow local authorities to consult with religious authorities over burial rules.

The Bradford West MP’s move was backed by more than 100 parliamentarians.

It is understood Ms Shah and the Board worked closely in recent days.

Mrs van der Zyl thanked Ms Shah, along with Health Secretary Matt Hancock and Communities Secretary Robert Jenrick.

"This has been an inspiring example of interfaith solidarity and responsive government. It shows, even in these difficult times for our nation, why we have so much reason to be proud of this wonderful country," she said.

Ms Shah said: ‘I'm so relieved that the Government have listened to what we've said about religious burials for Muslim and Jewish people and have brought forward an amendment to address our concerns."

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