Wednesday, 25 March 2020

Amendment to Burial Issue has been accepted

Amendment to Burial Issue Accepted

Dr. Mozammel Haque

As the Parliament went to debate on Monday, 23 March 2020 Muslim community was requested to contact or write to their political representative Member of Parliament to them to have a Muslim burial and not cremation. Muslims were also asked to write to their MPs to support *Naz Shah MP amendment Bill on concerns about religious *burials/cremations*.

Muslim Council of Britain (MCB)
The MCB held a Community Briefing with a number of experts to discuss the seriousness of the Coronavirus pandemic. It is not enough to talk about it, we must act now to save thousands of lives.

Amendment to the Burial issue has been accepted and nobody will be cremated against their wishes. Alhamdolillah.

Campaign Work
Following Campaign letter was distributed:
“I am writing to ask you to add your support to the below amendment which has been tabled by Naz Shah MP.

“These are exceptional times we live in which require exceptional measures to keep our country and our people from avoidable harm be that harm to people`s economic physical mental spiritual moral or general wellbeing . We fully support all necessary measures proposed by our Government to deal with the current Covid-19 emergency.

“The draft emergency bill is due for further consideration by our legislators on Monday the 23rd march. One element of the bill is causing particular alarm amongst some of our faith based communities for whom the treatment of a deceased person is part and parcel of the observance of their faith. It will also affect anybody of no faith who has expressed a wish to be buried after death. It is a fundamental human right for a person to be buried if that is what that person wishes. This right is enshrined in Article 9 of both the European Convention on Human Rights and the Human Rights Act 1998. This protects people`s freedom of thought conscience and religion including the right to practice and  observance. 

“I am concerned that the  bill proposes enforced cremation where that is seen to be necessary whether that is due to the shortage of storage space for dead bodies or lack of sufficient land for burial. I am concerned that enforcing  authorities will be given the power to override the wishes of the deceased their families and their religious obligation.

“For certain faith groups cremation of the body of a deceased person is specifically prohibited and a major sin. Any forced application of this law to cremate will cause untold trauma and spiritual and moral harm and anxiety at a time when people will already have had to deal with the grief of losing a loved one.  It will be the cause of major and lasting damage to community cohesion at a time when we need to come together more than ever. Given the above can you please add your support to this amendment.

“In the Coronavirus Bill
SCHEDULE 27 – PART 2 IN RELATION TO Disapplication of legislation relating to deceased’s wishes
Insert 5(d):
"In respect of sub-paragraphs 5 (a), (b), (c) where a deceased is to be cremated and it goes against their religious belief the designated authority must consult the next of kin or Power of Attorney or the relevant local faith institution in so far as reasonably possible to find a suitable alternative before proceeding with the cremation"
In Paragraph 6 (1), INSERT: “having had due regard to paragraph 5(d) of this Part”
Explanatory notes: Only in unprecedented circumstances, these clauses may be needed as the local authority has capacity issues and therefore the next of Kin, Power of Attorney or local faith institutions i.e. Church, Mosque, Synagogue can support in providing the relevant support, in order to respect an individual’s wishes.

1) Naz Shah MP
2) Wes Streeting MP
3) Steve Baker MP
4) Mohammed Yasin MP
5) Imran Khan MP
6) Christian Wakeford MP.”

Rt. Hon. Steve Reed MP
I have emailed letter to my MP in the light of the above campaign work for to support *Naz Shah MP amendment bill on concerns about religious *burials/cremations*. I received following letter from my MP Rt. Hon. Steve Reed OBE.

“Dear Dr Haque,
Thank you for taking the time to write to me about the Coronavirus Bill 2019-2021 that is currently urgently proceeding through the House of Commons and in particular the fact that as initially drafted it would have allowed designated local authorities to disregard section 46(3) of the Public Health (Control of Disease) Act 1984, which is designed to prevent a local authority from being able to cremate a body against the wishes of the deceased.

Led by my colleague Naz Shah MP, Members of Parliament from across the House raised concerns about how the Bill was initially drafted will affect those whose religion forbids cremation.

I am glad to report that the government has now listened to these concerns and bought forward their own amendment that will mean a Local Authority must consult next of kin and faith organisations before someone was cremated.

I hope that this a positive outcome and thank you once again for taking the time to raise this issue with me.

If in future there is any other issue with which I can be of assistance, please do not hesitate to write back to me and I will be happy to do what I can to help.


Steve Reed OBE MP
Member of Parliament for Croydon North”

Naz Shah MP
Government have put in an Amendment following the Amendment by Naz Shah MP to provide legal protection against cremation.

Naz Shah twittered: “I’m so relieved that the government have listened to what we’ve said about  religious burials for Muslim Jewish people and have brought forward an amendment to address our concerns. I don’t need to push my amendment to a vote. Thank you so much everyone for your support.”

Naz Shah MP Thanks Muslim community
On Monday 23 March 2020 Coronavirus Bill was debated in the House of Commons and during the debate Muslim burials/cremation was also debated.

House of Commons - Coronavirus Bill
Burial/Cremation Issue
Rt. Hon. Nick Thomas-Symonds MP (Torfaen) (Lab) said in the debate in the House of Commons: “The Issue of burial has clearly caused great controversy. I know that the Paymaster General is one of the people who have came up with the final version on this matter, and I thank her for the efforts that she has made. This issue is clearly vital for Muslims and those of the Jewish faith. Clearly, they need to be in a position where we respect their rights about burial as far as we possible can. The wording of Government amendment 52  is now much stronger, and I welcome that, but the Government could also communicate with local authorities as to how they want that measure to be interpreted in the days and weeks ahead.”

Rt. Hon. Naz Shah MP (Bradford West) (Lab) said, “Members have said that a 100% guarantee that nobody will be cremated against their wishes would be very welcome. Does my hon. Friend agree?”

Nick Thomas-Symonds said, “Yes, and I congratulate my hon. Friend on the work that she has been doing on this matter in recent days; it has been most welcome.

Naz Shah MP thanks MCB, MINAB, BBSI, Wifaqul Ulama and some individuals re their work during the campaign to make achieve an amendment to the Coronavirus Bill, which referenced Cremation.

Muslim community welcomed the amendment saying “Alhamdolillah the amendment to the burial issue has been accepted. Excellent work done by those tho have lobbied their MPs signed petitions. Our thanks to Rt. Hon. Naz Shah and all the other MPs who have supported the Amendment. Alhamdolillah. May Allah Subhanahu Wa Taala bless and protect us all in these difficult times and give Shifa to those who have been affected.”

Amendment to the Burial/Cremation 
Secretary Matt Hancock
Schedule 27, page 316, line 41, leave out paragraph 5
Member’s explanatory statement
This amendment removes paragraph 5 of Schedule 27, which is replaced by amendment 2.
Secretary Matt Hancock 2 Schedule 27, page 320, line 15, at end insert—
“13A(1) In carrying out functions under this Schedule local authorities and the appropriate national authorities must have regard to the desirability of disposing of a dead person’s body or other remains—
      (a) in accordance with the person’s wishes, if known, or
      (b) otherwise in a way that appears consistent with the person’s religion or beliefs, if known.

(2) In carrying out functions under the legislation listed in sub-paragraph (3), designated local authorities must have regard to the desirability of disposing of a dead person’s body or other remains—
      (a) in accordance with the person’s wishes, if known, or
       (b) otherwise in a way that appears consistent with the person’s religion or beliefs, if known.

(3) The legislation is—
      (a) section 46(1) or (2) of the Public Health (Control of Disease) Act 1984 (local authority to arrange burial or cremation where no other suitable arrangements being made);
       (b) section 25(1) of the Welfare Services Act (Northern Ireland) 1971 (corresponding provision for Northern Ireland).

(4) The following do not apply to a designated local authority—

         (a) section 46(3) of the Public Health (Control of Disease) Act 1984 (local authority not to cause body to be cremated under that section contrary to the wishes of the deceased);
         (b) in section 25(5) of the Welfare Services Act (Northern Ireland) 1971, the words from “and a body” to the end (corresponding provision for Northern Ireland);
         (c) regulation 6 and 13(a) of the Cremation (Belfast) Regulations (Northern Ireland) 1961 ((S.R. & O. (N.I.) 1961 No. 61) (which provides that it is unlawful to cremate the remains of a person who is known to have left a written direction to the contrary etc).

(5) The appropriate national authority must give guidance as to the discharge by local authorities of duties under this paragraph.

(6) Local authorities must have regard to any guidance given under subparagraph (5).

(7) In this paragraph “designated local authority” means a local authority for the time being designated under paragraph 4.”

Member’s explanatory statement

This amendment ensures that in carrying out functions under Schedule 27 and certain other legislation, local authorities and other public authorities have regard to the desirability of disposing of bodies in accordance with people’s wishes, religions and beliefs (if known).

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