Crematorium law to be updated following Mortonhall baby ashes scandal

Mortonhall crematorium in Edinburgh. December 2012 quality image
Mortonhall: Parents were not given their child's ashes back.SWNS

The laws governing cremations in Scotland are to be updated after revelations about Mortonhall Crematorium.

In December, it was revealed parents of new and stillborn babies who were cremated at the Edinburgh facility were told there were no ashes to collect. In reality, the remains were buried in the garden of remembrance.

An independent investigation is now under way, led by former Lord Advocate Elish Angiolini to look at the situation at Mortonhall and across the country.

Public Health Minister Michael Matheson said the Scottish Government had started to look at updating laws surrounding cremations, some of which are over 100 years old.

Answering a question from Labour MSP Kezia Dugdale in the parliament, Mr Matheson said the laws would be likely to be brought before parliament next year.

He said: "With regards to the wider issues around guidance and regulations for cremations we have already given a commitment to look at those issues in the coming year with a view to bringing forward further legislation, possibly into 2014, in order to update some of the laws in this area, some of which are over 100 years old.

"There’s already been some work undertaken in order to look at areas where we need to make further improvements."

The situation at Mortonhall was discovered by child bereavement charity Sands Lothians who are now struggling with the high demand on their services.

During the general questions session at parliament, Mr Matheson also confirmed the government have given Sands one-off funding, believed to be around £30,000.

He said: "I asked officials to explore what assistance we may be able to give Sands given the exceptional circumstances involved. As a result the Scottish Government has been able to provide the charity with some one-off funding to support their work with those affected by the former practices at Mortonhall Crematorium."

The government have also offered support to the City of Edinburgh Council who are in charged of the inquiry by Ms Angiolini.

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