Harman to 'break taboo' and back double burials

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Indy Politics

Graves are to be opened up to allow more bodies to be buried in the same plot, the Government has signalled.

Harriet Harman, the minister responsible for cemeteries, said she was willing to tackle a "political taboo" by approving double burials, she told London's Evening Standard. The shortage of space in cemeteries could no longer be ignored.

A consultation earlier this year investigated introducing the moveacross England and Wales, but Ms Harman said the problem was particularly bad in London.

She told the newspaper: "We have now got to make some decisions that have been put off and put off. They have been put off because people do not want to make the decision about whether you do what is described as 'lift and deepen'.

"This is where you use space - I am phrasing this delicately - in a vertical as well as a horizontal way. It's the big political taboo, isn't it, and it has become quite complex with all the different cultural approaches to death." Untended graves more than 75 years old would be opened and the remains transferred to a smaller container, which would be buried deeper. Another coffin could be lowered into the original space.

Ms Harman said the Government was consulting with local authorities, churches and communities to find a "sensible solution".

The Mayor of London, Ken Livingstone, supports the idea, reportedly seeing it as "a matter of urgency".

Tim Morris, the chief executive of the Institute of Cemetery and Crematorium Management, said the re-using of graves was "desperately needed". He told the Standard a Commons committee had recommended it five years ago. "The public assume it already happens but no government has had the stomach to actually do it," he said.