Peer leads fight to stop crematoria sale

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The Independent Online
Lord Young of Dartington is spearheading an attempt to head off the privatisation of council crematoria, writes Peter Victor.

The National Funerals College, which is writing to all the local authorities in Britain, claims the sale of council crematoria will lead to a mass takeover by one American funeral company.

Lord Young, a life peer and founding president of the funerals college, has laid down a motion in the House of Lords aimed at scuppering the Government's planned privatisation of Britain's 193 municipal crematoria. According to the funerals college, the Government plans to transfer these to the private sector "on as large a scale as possible".

It will offer councils a "bribe" to encourage them to sell, the college added. Under the new regulations councils will be able to keep 90 per cent of the proceeds of a sale, rather than the present 50 per cent.

The college said: "The inducement is to operate only for a period of 18 months from 1 January 1996. Privatisation is to be rushed through, it seems, before the general election."

The college is concerned that the Government would be helping to create a monopoly. It said: "The costs of funerals are already an awful burden to some people, and the burden could become much more so in the future."