Over the weekend I received a lot of emails from members of the Muslim and Jewish communities who were concerned about emergency measures to allow designated local authorities to disregard section 46(3) of the Public Health (Control of Disease) Act 1984 as part of the Coronavirus Bill. The proposed changes are designed to prevent a local authority from being able to cremate a body against the wishes of the deceased.

Many constituents raised concerns that the proposed changes did not take into account the integral role that religious burial plays in the practices of Muslims and Jews. Cremation is forbidden in both faiths and the possibility of forcing a cremation upon families from these communities would add further anguish and trauma to the recently bereaved.

I (and around 100 of my colleagues) co-sponsored an amendment to the bill, submitted by Naz Shah MP, which sought to guarantee that if the number of dead became unmanageable, next of kin and faith organisations would be consulted before someone was cremated.

On Monday afternoon the Government announced that it had agreed to amend its own bill to reflect these concerns so it was not necessary for ours to be moved.

Thank you once again to all those who got in touch to highlight this issue.

Coronavirus Bill
Coronavirus Bill
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