Schedule 14

Crossrail Bill – in a Public Bill Committee at on 27 November 2007.

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Burial grounds: removal of human remains and monuments

Amendment proposed [this day]: No. 60, in schedule 14, page 210, line 24, at end insert—

‘( ) If the remains were interred less than 25 years ago, the nominated undertaker shall make every reasonable effort to identify the relatives or personal representative of the deceased, and consult those people as to how the nominated undertaker proposes to carry out its functions under this Schedule with respect to the disposal of the remains or monument.’.—[Stephen Hammond.]

Question again proposed, That the amendment be made.

Photo of Tom Harris Tom Harris Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Transport)

Schedule 14 deals with moving human remains and monuments from burial grounds and re-interring or cremating the remains necessary to construct Crossrail. Before that happens, under the Bill the nominated undertaker, as it were, must publish the proposal twice in a local newspaper and erect a site notice unless the remains were interred more than 100 years ago and the Secretary of State considers that no relative or personal representative is likely to object. That will give relatives and personal representatives the opportunity to re-inter or cremate the remains themselves.

The provisions have a precedent in the Channel Tunnel Rail Link Act 1996, and have not proved controversial. Under the amendment, if the interment took place less than 25 years ago the nominated undertaker would have to seek out relatives or personal representatives, which would place substantial additional burdens on the nominated undertaker. In addition, the requirement in the amendment is open-ended, so that if no personal representative were found, every relative would have to be sought, which I am sure was not what the hon. Member for Wimbledon intended. Lawyers look at the exact wording of such proposals with great care, and it would be difficult to establish whether sufficient steps had been taken in any particular case and thus at what point the nominated undertaker could proceed with his work.

The amendment is also unlikely to have any substantive effect. As reported in the Crossrail environmental statement, Cross London Rail Links has carried out an archaeological assessment of the land affected by the project, expected scheme impacts and appropriate mitigation measures. The assessment indicated that the project is not expected to affect any interments made within the past 25 years. For those reasons, I do not support the amendment, and I hope that the hon. Gentleman will withdraw it.

Photo of Stephen Hammond Stephen Hammond Shadow Minister (Transport)

I welcome you back to the Chair, Lady Winterton.

I am not sure that I agree with the Minister that the amendment would place a substantial burden on the nominated undertaker. I was interested to learn that the Minister’s favourite profession advised him that we would have to try to identify every relative. Clearly, that is not my intention—perhaps the amendment should have said “a relative” rather than “the relatives”.

Photo of Stephen Hammond Stephen Hammond Shadow Minister (Transport)

There is a lot of gallows humour this afternoon. I did not intend that the amendment should impose considerable burdens on people, but as drafted it would do so. I therefore beg to ask leave to withdraw the amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Schedule 14 agreed to.

Clause 50 ordered to stand part of the Bill.