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Law could lead to licensing

The Scottish Government’s new Burial and Cremation (Scotland) Bill could pave the way for a licensing scheme for funeral directors to be brought in in the future.

Ministers plan to introduce a legal definition of ashes and to require authorities to keep details indefinitely, including those involving a stillborn baby or lost pregnancy.

These, say the Government, will ensure a disaster such as the Mortonhall baby ashes scandal never happens again. But if passed, it will in effect give ministers the power to formally regulate the funeral industry and may lead to a licensing scheme for funeral directors.

The Scottish Government has already made changes to meet the recommendations of Lord Bonomy's Infant Cremation Commission, which was brought together after it emerged that staff at the Edinburgh crematorium had secretly buried the ashes of babies without their parents' knowledge.

The new Bill follows on from this and aims to regulate private burials. It also proposes allowing abandoned lairs (graves) to be restored for use in tightly-controlled circumstances and after at least 100 years have passed since the last interment.

The changes have been welcomed by industry bodies, with the ICCM saying it "wholeheartedly supports the Scottish Government's action in proposing new, fit-for-purpose burial, cremation and associated legislation that will meet the needs of a modern-day society”.

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