On April 16, 2013 the Minister for Public Health, Michael Matheson, announced in Parliament the creation of an independent Commission to examine the policies, practice and legislation related to the cremation of infants in Scotland.
This Commission, chaired by the Rt Hon Lord Bonomy, reported its recommendations to the Scottish Government during June 2014.
The recommendations made by the Infant Cremation Commission have been implemented by the National Committee on Infant Cremation.
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Text of Letter from the Rt Hon. Lord Bonomy to Michael Matheson, Minister for Public Health
June 12, 2014
Dear Mr Matheson,
NOTIFICATION OF COMPLETION OF THE REPORT OF THE INFANT CREMATION COMMISSION
In my capacity as Chair I am pleased to hand over to you the completed Report of the Infant Cremation Commission.
The role of the Commission has been to examine the policies, practice and legislation related to the cremation of infants in Scotland and, critically, to provide recommendations for the future which will ensure that no-one in Scotland ever again has to suffer the distresses that were highlighted by the Mortonhall Investigation Report. The Report contains 64 recommendations, including a number for Scottish Government as well as those more directly involved in the cremation of babies and infants, primarily the NHS, Funeral Directors and Cremation Authorities.
What the Commission have said about Aberdeen City Council must now be qualified in light of allegations made, immediately before finalisation of the Report, that, contrary to the ethical code followed by Cremation Authorities, babies were cremated along with adults and that was the real reason for the absence of ashes in the past at Hazlehead Crematorium. That news has come as yet another blow to many parents. However, for the moment it is no more than an allegation into which inquiries, which may take some time, must be made.
Meanwhile, the Commission do not consider that that should hold up publication of the Report which contains many positive recommendations designed to improve the practices surrounding baby and infant creation, which should be implemented sooner rather than later in the best interests of all who are affected by baby and infant bereavement and in the general public interest. The Report suggests a way in which the recommendations may be taken forward, but does not constrain anyone or any organisation from taking any necessary actions in the meantime.
I would also like to record the willingness of the Commission Members to work together to achieve consensus on the Report’s conclusions, and also my indebtedness to every individual and organisation that responded to the many queries and requests issued by the Commission in the course of its work. This is particularly true in the case of those parents who shared their experiences with me on several occasions.
It is my hope that everyone will continue to work quickly and collaboratively to achieve the desired ends.
The Rt Hon. Lord Bonomy