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Parliamentary Debates and Questions

S5W-16963: Rachael Hamilton (Ettrick, Roxburgh and Berwickshire)

Scottish Conservative and Unionist Party

Date lodged: 30 May 2018

To ask the Scottish Government what measures are in place to ensure that burial grounds are maintained and with the full consent and knowledge of anyone who may be affected by any actions such as the removal of headstones.

Answered by: Aileen Campbell 12 June 2018

Under the Health and Safety at Work etc. Act 1974 (as amended) statutory responsibility for ensuring burial ground safety rests with individual burial authorities. In contrast, the general maintenance and upkeep of headstones and memorials is the responsibility of the lair owner. If a headstone or memorial is deemed unsafe following an inspection, burial authorities will take immediate action to make that headstone or memorial safe.

It is for the burial authority to inform the lair owner of action that may be taken within the burial ground.

The Scottish Government accepted the recommendation made by Sheriff Ruxton following the Craigton Cemetery Fatal Accident Inquiry that the Scottish Government should develop and publish national guidance on memorial safety, to be used by local authorities. This guidance will assist local authority burial authorities to manage memorial safety more effectively. A short term working group is being assembled to take this work forward.

The Scottish Government is currently in the process of implementing the Burial and Cremation (Scotland) Act 2016. Under this Act Scottish Ministers have powers to appoint Inspectors of Burial and to make regulations about the management of burial grounds. It is expected that work to develop these regulations will begin in 2019.