Burial Rights Reform Debate

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Chris Bryant

Main Page: Chris Bryant (Labour - Rhondda)

Burial Rights Reform

Chris Bryant Excerpts
1st reading: House of Commons
Tuesday 17th January 2017

(7 years, 5 months ago)

Commons Chamber
Read Full debate Burial Rights Reform Bill 2016-17 View all Burial Rights Reform Bill 2016-17 Debates Read Hansard Text

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Chris Bryant Portrait Chris Bryant (Rhondda) (Lab)
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I pay tribute to the hon. Member for Enfield, Southgate (Mr Burrowes) for advancing this cause today, but I cannot agree with him, and I shall explain why. I have probably conducted more funerals than anybody else in this Chamber, when I was a curate at All Saints, High Wycombe. At the first funeral I did, the undertaker put his glasses in his top pocket as he leant over to let the coffin down into the grave and the glasses fell on top of the coffin, so he then had to clamber in on top. The second funeral I conducted was at the crematorium, where, unfortunately, the organist played “Smoke gets in your eyes” at the end of the service. As everybody else realised, that was somewhat inappropriate. At the last funeral I conducted the family was very divided and the ex-husband had not been invited. He suddenly appeared in the middle of the service and started shouting and screaming at me. The family all shouted, “How on earth did you get here? We locked you in the bathroom.” He said, “You didn’t lock the bathroom window, so I climbed out and down the ivy.”

I have seen a lot of funerals, so I know the pain and difficulty of which the hon. Gentleman speaks. My beef is not particularly with the remedy he is seeking, although I think that burial reform and funeral reform in general need to be conducted on the basis of a Law Commission proposal, so as to bind the whole of the legal profession and take the matter out of party political discussion. My beef is more to do with the fact that he started, as we start every ten-minute rule Bill debate, by begging leave to introduce his Bill, and I do not think we should give him that leave.

I say that for the simple reason that we have only five more Fridays when we will be sitting before the end of this Session, so any Bill will have to become law during those; it will have had to have gone through all the stages in this House and in the House of Lords, otherwise it will simply fall. There are 73 private Members’ Bills on the Order Paper already seeking a Second Reading on those five days. That is in addition to quite a lot of Bills that have already received their Second Reading, one of which, the Homelessness Reduction Bill, promoted by the hon. Member for Harrow East (Bob Blackman), is in Committee—I believe it will be coming out of Committee tomorrow. In the normal process, it should be the Awards for Valour (Protection) Bill, promoted by the hon. Member for Dartford (Gareth Johnson), that then goes into Committee, followed, one would have thought, by the Bill promoted by my hon. Friend the Member for North West Durham (Pat Glass), the Parliamentary Constituencies (Amendment) Bill. So far, the Government have not brought forward a money resolution for that and are not saying whether they are going to let that happen.

In addition, only this week the Government have said that they have turned their back on the reforms to the private Members’ Bills process that the Procedure Committee has called for in successive years and in successive Parliaments. So the truth of the matter is that even if every element of what the hon. Member for Enfield, Southgate is proposing were right, it is an act of deception for the House to send it on to its next stage, by allowing him to present his Bill, because it has absolutely no chance of getting anywhere. I make this speech for the simple reason that we could use our Friday mornings better. We should not have a system of private Members’ Bills that means we completely waste our time and deceive the public about the true process of what is happening in this House. Consequently, I say that I disagree with the hon. Gentleman but I applaud his motives.

Question put (Standing Order No. 23) and agreed to.

Ordered,

That Mr David Burrowes, Dr Matthew Offord, Robert Flello, Nusrat Ghani, Mr Ranil Jayawardena, Michael Tomlinson, Will Quince, Caroline Ansell, Mike Kane, Mims Davies, Frank Field and Stephen Timms present the Bill.

Mr David Burrowes accordingly presented the Bill.

Bill read the First time; to be read a Second time on Friday 24 March, and to be printed (Bill 124).