Burial Regulations Working Group minutes: January 2022

Minutes from the meeting of the group on 27 January 2022.

Attendees and apologies


  • Danny Maxwell, South Lanarkshire Council
  • David MacColl, Glasgow City Council
  • David MacLeod, Comhairle nan Eilean Siar (Western Isles Council)
  • Fiona Porter, North Ayrshire Council
  • Gordon Findlater, Inspector for Burial, Cremation and Funeral Directors
  • Ian Kearns, Federation of Burial and Cremation Authorities (FBCA)
  • Iain Campbell, Comhairle nan Eilean Siar (Western Isles Council)
  • James Morris, William Purves Funeral Directors and National Society of Allied & Independent Funeral Directors (SAIF) on behalf of Tim Purves
  • Jane Matheson, City of Edinburgh Council
  • John Downes, Glasgow City Council and the Scottish Bereavement Benchmarking Group (SBBG)
  • John MacLean, Highland Council
  • John Proffitt, Edinburgh Crematorium Ltd
  • Joseph  Murren, National Society of Allied & Independent Funeral Directors (SAIF)
  • Katie Huxtable, Commonwealth War Graves Commission (CWGC)
  • Liz Murphy, Fife Council
  • Mathew Crawley, Institute of Cemetery and Crematorium Management (ICCM)
  • Nick Britten, National Association of Funeral Directors (NAFD)
  • Nicola Welsh, Held in our Hearts
  • Robbie Beattie, City of Edinburgh Council
  • Robert Swanson, Senior Inspector of Burial, Cremation and Funeral Directors
  • Sam Harris, Orkney Islands Council
  • Shirley Bruce, Aberdeenshire Council
  • Susan Buckham, National Committee on Carved Stones in Scotland (NCCSS)
  • Yvonne Scott, Shetland Islands Council

Scottish Government

  • Cheryl Paris, Burial & Cremation, Anatomy and Death Certification
  • Euan Mcardle, Burial & Cremation, Anatomy and Death Certification
  • Kim Hunter, Burial & Cremation, Anatomy and Death Certification


  • Brendan Day, the Federation of Burial and Cremation Authorities (FBCA)
  • James Blackburn, National Association of Funeral Directors (NAFD)
  • Julie Dunk, Institute of Cemetery and Crematorium Management (ICCM)
  • Russell Brooks, National Association of Monumental Masons (NAMM)
  • Tim Purves, William Purves Funeral Directors

Items and actions

Welcome and introductions

The meeting was opened and members were thanked for their attendance at the fourth meeting of the Burial Regulations Working Group. Due to unforeseen circumstances this meeting had been postponed by two weeks.

An overview of the meeting agenda, apologies, and introductions to new members were provided. Organisations contacted for a representative were also listed for the Group’s awareness.

Review previous meetings minutes

Minutes of the burial regulations working group meetings will be published on the Scottish Government website once approved by the group. To align with GDPR, only current members would be listed and individuals no longer on the group would have their name redacted from minutes from the previous editions of the group.

Review of 2016 meeting minute: the group agreed they were content to publish the minute.

Review of 2020 meeting minute: the group agreed they were content to publish the minute.

Review of December 2021 meeting minute: the group noted minor changes to the content of the minute and agreed certain formatting changes to align better with the previous minutes.

Action: Scottish Government to arrange for website publication for the agreed minutes.

Action: Scottish Government to update the December 2021 minute and share with the group prior to publication.

Review decisions previously reached by the working group

An overview of the progress to date document on burial ground management was provided, which included decisions reached by previous editions of the working group.

Decision 1: acknowledgement that most burial authorities already have rules, regulations and standards of service for burial management. The group were content.

Decision 2: regulations should include a distinction for active, inactive and historical burial grounds and should allow flexibility in order to tailor the management rules for each. 

The potential meanings of active, inactive, closed and historical burial grounds were discussed in some detail. It was concluded that because of the functions burial grounds carry out, the nature of the sites and the rights of lair holders and family members these terms would be challenging to define in regulation. Examples were offered of formerly private cemeteries which fall into the hands of Local Authorities for a variety of reasons and which may end up functionally closed due to poor access, lack of space for internment, etc… It was generally agreed that any definitions decided could be included in guidance or Code of Practice.

Within this discussion, it was noted that Local Authorities are required to provide at least one burial ground which services their local authority area.

Decision 3: regulations should require each burial authority to have a management plan and list the broad areas to be included in the management plan. The group were content.

Decision 4: the management plan must be accessible for inspection by an Inspector of Burial, Cremation and Funeral Directors and also for any member of the public. The group were content.

Decision 5: the regulations should not set out any particular requirements around religion. It is for each burial authority to decide what provision to make for different faiths on a supplementary form. The group were content.

Decision 6: local authority burial grounds will be required to publish fees and private burial authorities will be encouraged to publish information about their fees.

When discussing fees, it was queried why only local authority burial grounds were mentioned in this decision, with the comparison drawn that private crematoria have to publish fees due to price transparency and so should the same not apply to private burial grounds. It was clarified that powers over private burial grounds sit with the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) and the 2016 Act only has provision to require local authority burial grounds to publish fees. 

To account for this difference, it was raised that the publication of fees could be added to the Code of Practice as ‘best practice’ to provide information about fees upfront. The group were generally content with this approach.

Decision 7: training of employees will be contained within the management plan. It will be up to the burial authority to satisfy themselves that staff are adequately trained and this should also be outlined in the management plan. 

There was significant discussion on the matter of training and whether some level should be required for burial authority staff. Disagreements were raised about this, where some members suggested that minimum training standards for burial authority staff should be included within the regulations, such as requiring a certain SVQ level to be attained. Other members felt that requirements for training were already covered by mandatory Health and Safety related training and rules.

On both sides it was acknowledged that there would need to be accredited training courses available for the whole industry if it were to be contained in the regulations, but more information was required to determine if such accredited training was [widely] available. Some members noted that staff at burial authorities may or in some cases already do have such training.

The discussion further extended into one about management plans, as some members believed that training should be contained in the management plans and be associated task specific. Some concerns were also raised about how training requirements might be inspected and that additional training might be unnecessary or hard to provision. Training would also need to align with the Health and Safety training that is already required in line with the Health and Safety Executives rules.

Decision 8: any conditions or restrictions on the design, standard or size of memorial will be for burial authority to decide and could be included within management plans and/or conditions of sale. The group were content.

Decision 9: it should be a requirement for the BA to have a scaled plan of the burial ground, accurate records would also be sufficient, however, the challenges around accurate records were evident.

The group agreed that this would be fine for new burial grounds, but not for older or historic burial grounds where current records might not be accurate and guidance might be more suitable instead of the regulations. The group were generally content with this approach.

Action: Scottish Government to research further into the uses of burial grounds. Scottish Government to look to see if decision 2 may fall under another act.

Action: Scottish Government to look into accredited training programmes available and circulate to come back to the group.

Action: burial ground management to be added to the next meeting’s agenda and the group to discuss from decision 10 onwards in the Progress to Date document.

Run through of actions progressed

The Scottish Government made updates to the membership list and remit and context within the terms of reference document.

The Scottish Government contacted suggested parties to ask for representatives to attend as working group members and that Scottish Government still needed to contact Crown Office and Procurator Fiscal Service (COPFS) for a representative.

The Scottish Government are having ongoing discussions with the Commonwealth War Graves Commission to confirm if their sites come under the term, ‘burial ground’. At this time, the CWGC does not consider itself a burial authority.

Action: Scottish Government to update the terms of reference document to ensure that organisations are listed accurately.

Action: Scottish Government to contact COPFS to ask for representatives to attend as working group member.

Next steps and closing remarks

The meeting was closed, and members were again thanked for their attendance. Scottish Government Officials’ reiterated that any unanswered questions could be sent to the secretariat and that those who would like to comment on the papers from the meeting should send the comments to the secretariat before the next meeting.

The next meeting will be held on 10 March via Microsoft Teams.

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