1 THE ROYAL SANITARY INSTITUTE, FOUNDED Vatran H IS MAJESTY THE KING. CREMATION AND THE ADVANTAGES OF ITS ADOPTION BY LOCAL AUTHORITIES. 4n Address to the Conference of Representatives of Sanitary Authorities, Jubilee and London Congress, 1926, BY SIR THOMAS HORDER, Bart., K.C.V.O., M.D., F.R.C.P., B.Sc., Physician in Ord. to H.R.H. The Prince of Wales; Physician to St. Bartholemew's Hospital; Cancer Hospital, etc. OFFICES: 90, BUCKINGHAM PALACE ROAD, LONDON, S.W
2 [Excerpt from Vol. XLVII., No. 6 (1926) of the Journal of The Royal Sanitary Institute.] Cremation and the Advantages of its Adoption by Local Authorities, by SIR THOMAS HORDER, Bart., K.C.V.O., B.Sc., M.D. I N the time at my disposal it will not be possible to deal with all the points in which the science of sanitation is affected by the methods adopted for the disposal of the dead. The subject is a large one and, to those Who give time to it, one of great importance. To me personally it is a matter of surprise that so vital a consideration should thus far have aroused so little interest in those bodies and societies whose object is to safeguard the public health. For it must be admitted that at present the questions surrounding the treatment and disposal of the dead have only been dealt with seriously by individuals or by relatively small groups, and scarcely at all by re' sponsible institutions. I am here to-day to make as strong an appeal as I am able to the Royal Sanitary Institute to consider if the practice of cremation be not a matter Of prime hygienic importance, and therefore one which, in the interest of the public health, should not receive its strongest support. I propose to pass over the two notorious objections usually advanced to cremation, since they do not directly overlap with questions of sanitation. I refer to the alleged obstacles which the practice places in the way of detecting crime, and the matter of sentiment relative to the dead body of 3 departed friend. There are, in my belief, very adequate answers to both of these difficulties. I want to deal with quite a different aspect of the subject, and an aspect in which the living are very directly concerned. And I am thinking patticularly of this country, of its crowded cities and of the urgent claims made by those who serve the health of the people and its best interests. I have in, mind the increasing and the insistent demand that is being made for la for purposes that are closely associated with maintaining the national health and national efficiency, land is required for playing fields, for building sites; for allotments, for public gardens, and for all these purposes the land mus necessarily be situated within easy distance of the great centres of populati011. The proper spacing of dwelling houses, the growing popularity of " garde cities" and the desirable unpopularity of the "long unlovely street,'' evitably mean that more and more room is required for the health, the, happiness and the well-being of the living. And is not the sentiment that surrounds these things of greater moment than the sentiment that attach to the disposal of the dead? That is, if the two sentiments come into conflict' which, undoubtedly, they do. For those large tracts of land which are yearly
3 Cremation, Advantages of Adoption by Local Authorities. sequestrated for burial purposes, which are thereby entirely removed from further use, which are dedicated at least for many years to the dead, and which ultimately become a serious tax upon the living for their upkeep: these expensive areas compel us to stint the acquisition of land devoted to the important interests to which I have already referred. More and more certain do we become that, if the vitality of the nation is to be maintained and improved, our urban population must have open spaces for recreation, for fresh air and for sunlight. It may be advanced that burial grounds may be set apart well outside the city boundaries. But a city's boundaries to-day are by no means a City's boundaries in ten years' time, and thus it comes to pass that this fallacious arrangement quickly leads to a state of affairs which is thoroughly unsound, whether regarded from the economical or from the hygienic point of view. It has been computed that, with a death-rate of 500,000 per annum, the area occupied yearly for burial purposes would amount to 500 acres in this country, and this computation does not allow for means of approach to the burying grounds. As a matter of fact we are not using up land at this rate for earth burials, but the reason we are not doing so is only due to the practising of very undesirable economies, such as the existence of " pit " or communal burials," and, to a less extent, of the principle termed "limited tenure." In both of these practices the public health is jeopardised and, since I spoke in passing of sentiment, this latter consideration clearly goes by the board when either of these practices is followed. It is a strange, not to say a culpable anomaly, that in modern townplanning little or no thought is as a rule given to accommodation for the dead. The selection of a burial ground is often an after-thought, and is a duty not seldom thrust upon those who are not immediately responsible. Cremation provides a sanitary and a simple way out of this obvious and increasing difficulty, effecting an enormous saving in land, and thus offering a most valuable contribution to the health and vigour of the nation. Surely it is time that municipal authorities turned their attention to this 'node of disposing of the dead. Cremation, though rendered legal for the Past 50 years, is still hedged about by so many restrictions that any extension of the practice amongst the less wealthy and less public-minded of the people IS almost impossible. Cremation is not, as some appear to think, a fad; it is a serious proposition, with enormous economic and sanitary advantages. It should be made at least as easy as burial; it would then, with the weight of important sanitary institutions and public authorities behind it, quickly become as Popular.
4 The Cremation Society of England. Founded in 1874 by the late Sir Henry Thompson. Incorporated in 1922 under the Companies Acts as a body limited by guarantee, without a share capital and not conducted for profit. A. E. I3ERNAYs, Esq. Professor A. BOSTOCK HII I, M.Sc., M.D., D.P.H. Hon. Mrs. SPENCER GRAVES. H. T. HERRING, Esq., ODE., M.B., B.S. (Hon. Secretary). F. H. SKEINS, Esq., F.R.Hist.S. COUNCIL: Sir THOMAS HORDER, M.D., F.R.C.P. Dr. P. CHAI MERS MITCHELL, C.B.E., F R S, LL.D. D.Sc. MURRAY T4 PHELPS, Esq., LL.B. Mrs. Ai EC T\xEEDIE. EVEFtARD R. M. SMITH, Esq. Burial in populous areas is insanitary, wasteful, a menace to the health of the living, and has been described as our chief relic of barbarism. CREMATION Safeguards the Living and provides for the permanent disposal of the dead with Reverence, Simplicity, Purity and Economy. Avoids dangers of attending graveside funerals in inclement weather, and offers facilities for a return to the ancient custom of Church burial. Cremation has become an established fact, not only in this country, but all over the civilised world, and is rapidly superseding burial in all large centres of population. ', The Council invite applications for free Registration or Membership. A single payment of five guineas qualifies as a Life Member and includes cremation at death. Write for free booklet about cremation. ', Capable speakers provided for lectures and debates, and lantern slides illustrating the modern cremation movement lent free of charge. The Crematoria at Woking, Manchester, Glasgow, Liverpool, Birmingham, Hull, Bradford, Leeds, Leicester, Sheffield, Darlington, Pontypridd, and in London at Golder's Green, Ilford. Norwood, and Hendon are open for inspection on application to the Superintendents. Full information, with booklet about Cremation, post free from the Secretary, GEORGE NOBLE, F.I.S.A., 52, NEW CAVENDISH STREET, LONDON, WA. Telephone: Ī "sham M ANCHESTER : 56, Mosley Street. BIRMINGHAM: King's Court, Colmore Row. RECENT PUBLICATIONS DEALING WITH CREMATION CREMATION AND THE PUBLIC HEALTH. By W. ALLEN DALEY, M.D., 13.A" B.Sc., Medical Officer of Health for the City of Hull. A Paper read at the Fifth Annual Conference of Cremation Authorities, Guildhall, Hull, October 20th, 1926; together with a Report of the Conference Proceedings. Sixpence' THE MEDICO-LEGAL ASPECT OF CREMATION. By RT. HON. l' F4D SALVESEN, K.C., late Judge of Court of Session, Scotland. Sixpence' TRANSACTIONS OF THE CREMATION SOCIETY OF ENGLAND (Published Annually in May). Contains Crematorium Reports and Statistics of the Movement at Home and Abroad. Price to Non-Subscribers: One Shilling & Sixpence' ABOUT CREMATION : Handbooks of the Woking, Manchester, Bradford (.112- matoria. TwoPence. THE GARDEN OF REST. Descriptive Booklet of the Golder's Green Crematorium, with Instructions for Arranging Cremation. TwoPenne' Any of the above will be forwarded post free on application to the Secretary : THE CREMATION SOCIETY OF ENGLAND'
5 2 THE DISPOSITION OF THE DEAD The Need for Co-operation Addresses given at the Second Joint Conference of the National Association of Cemetery and Crematorium Superintendents and the Federation of Cremation Authorities in Great Britain, held in London, July loth-13th, 1933, BY The RT. HON. LORD1HORDER OF ASHFORD, K.C.V.O., M.D., F.R.C.P. SIR PETER CHALMERS MITCHELL, C.B.E., D.Sc., LL.D., F.R.S. COUNCILLOR EDWARD DENNE, F.R.G.S. P. HERBERT JONES, M.C., B.A. Published by the NATIONAL COUNCIL FOR THE DISPOSITION OF THE DEAD 23, Nottingham Place, London, W, I.
6 NATIONAL COUNCIL FOR THE DISPOSITION OF THE DEAD. Vice-Presidents: THE RT. HON. LORD HORDER OF ASHFORD, K.C.V.O., M.D., F.R.C.P. SIR JOHN ROSE BRADFORD, BART., K.C.M.G., C.B.E., M.D., B.Sc., F.R.C.P., F.R.S. SIR PETER CHALMERS MITCHELL, C.B.E., D.Sc., LL.D., F. R.S. Chairman: MURRAY N. PHELPS, LL.B. Hon. Secretary: HERBERT T. HERRING, 0.B.E., M.B., B.S. OBJECTS. 1. The revision and codification of the laws governing the disposition of the dead. 2. The preservation of the land in the interests of the living. 3. The improvement of the status of those concerned with the disposition of the dead. 4. The safeguarding of the public interests in all matters affecting the disposition of the dead. Secretary: P. HERBERT JONES, M.C., B.A. 23, NOTTINGHAM PLACE, LONDON, W.I. Telephone: Welbeck 4168.
7 The Disposition of the Dead. The Need for Co-operation. Address by the RT. HON. LORD HORDER OF ASHFORD, K.C.V.O., M.D., F.R.C.P. This meeting, as we have already heard from the Lord Mayor, forms the first session of the Second Joint Conference of the National Association of Cemetery and Crematorium Superintendents and the Federation of Cremation Authorities in Great Britain. At this Conference there also attend r epresentatives of the British Undertakers' Association, who come by invitation of the two bodies just mentioned. We therefore have conferring to-day representatives of both the responsible associations which provide means for the dis- P sal of the dead, together with those who come into actual contact with the public and make the arrangements for this important office. Our business is to confer together concerning the various problems which arise from time to time in this connection. ITS IMPORTANCE AND NEED OF CLOSE CO-OPERATION OP THOSE CONCERNED. No one can question the importance of the subject which brings us here. It is a matter which concerns us all and is quite vital. I will not stop to discuss the appropriateness of a doctor being asked to address this meeting or being invited to lay before it certain general principles which are i nvolved. Suffice it to say that, after all, the doctor is undoubtedly the member of society most concerned. It is lie Who is present when the brother or sister draws the last breath of mortal life. It is the doctor who is legally responsible for the decision that life is actually extinct. It IS the doctor who sees to it on behalf of those who remain that respect and reverence are paid to the departed friend, and finally it is he whose special knowledge is able to protect society by the sanitary disposal of the body, so that it in no Way can ever be a danger to public health. But although the doctor can give much help and guidance in these matters, he cannot of himself ensure that they be determined in the way most fitting and most safe to all concerned. The practical issue of these things lies in the hands of those whose functions and interests are represented by the Associations Met together at this Conference. Close co-operation between those bodies is needed if the individual initiative, to which in 3
8 the past this important subject has been left, is to be replaced by more organized effort. It was on this account that Sir Peter Chalmers Mitchell, in his opening address of last year's Conference, emphasized the urgent necessity of setting up some responsible body of an advisory kind, which should represent not only the three associations which I have mentioned, but everybody who is directly or indirectly concerned in the disposal of the dead. Although those pioneers of public health, Simon and Chadwick, made it clear in the middle of last century that the sanitary disposal of the dead was a hygienic principle of fundamental importance, no body of persons has yet existed whose function it is to supervise and co-ordinate this primary duty towards society. The work has been left, as I have already said, entirely to individual effort. Since the days of those two pioneers, public health activities in other directions have advanced by leaps and bounds. Our houses, their drainage, the removal of offal, our water supply, ventilation, and a number of other things have received the most careful consideration. Town Planning on an extensive scale, with provision for open spaces, has been much to the fore. Innumerable societies have come into existence to combat this or counteract that, but the alleged object of all of them is to produce a happy and a healthy nation. THE HYGIENIC DISPOSAL OP THE DEAD. Yet this matter of the hygienic disposal of the dead, to which the fathers of Public Health attached so much importance, has been relegated entirely to private enterprise, and although not a few people criticize the methods of those private individuals when pursuing their avocations, no one has thought of giving them responsible guidance and of organizing tne contribution which they make to society. Let us face the reason for this. Can there be much doubt that the subject of the disposal of the dead is a lugubrious one, and its avoidance is due to that inherent tendency in all of us to shut our eyes to unpleasant matters. Respect and reverence for the dead are universal. The man in the street stands to attention and lifts his hat as the hearse passes, relatives and friends, whether of rich or poor, give their time and their substance in observing the last rites. The earthly remains are regarded with great reverence and treated with tender care. And now note this incongruity that at this very point when the solemn occasion evokes some of our deepest feelings, we hand over the body of the beloved dead not to men whom we regard as friends, but whom we dislike and to whom our manner too often 4
9 betrays distrust. If there is any justification for such feelings, it is high time the evils justifying them were remedied. But it is probable, of course, the evils do not exist except in imagination. Certain it is that there are many men associated with the responsibilities and holding the calling of undertaking whose knowledge, courtesy and kindness are of the greatest help to those whom grief places suddenly and entirely in their hands. REPRESENTATIVE CENTRAL CouNcIL. Since the suggestion of the formation of a central council Was made last year a great deal has been done. Things have Moved more rapidly than might have been anticipated. The three principal associations, the Cemetery and Crematorium Superintendents, the Pederation of Cremation Authorities, and the British Undertakers' Association, have agreed to set 013 such a central body as was visualized. It is intended that this central body shall represent not those three associations only, but all other societies and institutions directly or indirectly connected with the disposal of the dead. The title of this central body is the National Council for the Disposition of the Dead, and the aims of this new central body have been outlined, and its constitution has been framed. Mr. Herring, to whose energy in all these matters We owe so much, is acting as Honorary Secretary, and Mr. P. Herbert Jones, who takes part in one of the sessions of this Conference on Wednesday, as Secretary. Speaking as a medical man, but also as one who has for many years interested himself in the question of the disposal of the dead in such a manner as to satisfy the demands of IlYgiene on the one hand and the claims of sentiment on the Other, I welcome very heartily the inception of this national Council. I can foresee great and important work which it!an achieve by consolidating opinion, by regularizing practices In connection with what is, after all, an important national service. I have little doubt that those of you who have not Yet had time or opportunity to go fully into the claims and Possibilities of the National Council will, after this discussion, find themselves giving their utmost and enthusiastic support. Such a central body as this can secure recognition for undertakers, greatly improve their status, can remove the stigma under which, as I have already said, many of them find themselves to-day, and prevents their work from being recognized as possessing that value which it deserves. Given this improved status, the undertaker might be of the greatest assistance to the doctor, on whom at present the Govern- Ment chiefly relies for the detection of crimes in relation to death and burial. Closer liaison between -doctor and under- 5
10 taker is clearly needed if society is properly to be protected against crime and such co-operation will be rendered more easy and indeed obligatory if control is vested in this Council and it is recognized by the Government. This Conference, finally, may I say, is under the best possible auspices. A new movement that finds the support and sympathy of the Lord Mayor and the Corporation of the City of London cannot be other than a success, always provided this unique help is supplemented by hard work and a spirit of honest endeavour on the part of the delegates who are meeting here together. I wish this Conference every success. Address by Councillor EDW ARD DENNE, F.R.G.S. It is indeed a pleasing duty to propose this vote ol thanks to Lord Horder for his address. As he said, we are extremely grateful to the Lord Mayor for his presence with us this afternoon, which has stimulated the delegates, and I hope will have great results, but I have also great hopes that the presence of Lord Horder and the welcome that he has extended to us and to the new body which has been formed, will also be a landmark in our work. This suggestion of a National Council was inaugurated ill Brighton, and as I come from Brighton I feel rather proud of that, and of course as Lord Horder said, we have much to thank Dr. Herring for in the formation of it. Looking at it from our point of view as a municipality, we do find ourselves sometimes in difficulty with regard to the various regulations as to the disposal of the dead, and I think it is a great advantage for any municipality or any authority to be able to come, as they do, to our association and to find out how certain things should be done and to get advice in regard to it. It is, as Lord Horder said, a very serious matter as affecting health. It is a great public health work, and I think we all feel that perhaps that is not so much recognized as it should be. The difficulties we have in providing cemeteries and ill co-ordinating the regulations and laws relating to cremation and other branches of the work, all require very careful investigation, and I take it that the combination of the two authorities which we have present this afternoon will tend to help in that unification and simplification of the laws. It requires not only these two associations, but also the cooperation of the Undertakers' Association and all the other bodies that are interested in this work and the formation of this Council will give an opportunity for us to collect together information which will be useful throughout our country. 6
11 I am very much obliged on your behalf to Lord Horder for coming here this afternoon. We welcome the address he has given to us, and thank him most cordially for it, and I sincerely hope that the result will be that all those present Will give the National Council for the Disposition of the Dead, which he says has now been formed, their hearty support and co-operation. The hygienic disposal of the dead was an apt phrase which Lord Horder used, which I feel we all agree with, because Whichever branch we belong to, we do consider that the dis- Posal of the dead is not only one that all the health authorities must take seriously into consideration, but one worthy of the consideration of all bodies concerned with health. Lord Horder, I tender very sincerely a vote of thanks to You for your address which you have given us this afternoon. Address by Mr. P. HERBERT JONES, M.C., B.A. It is fitting that a non-controversial subject such as My own should follow so acrimonious a discussion as the one I have had the pleasure of listening to. (Laughter.) We all may have our opinions on undertakers. We now have the satisfaction of knowing they have their opinions about us, too. I had the pleasure of being pushed on to my feet st what otherwise would have been a very pleasant gathering 0 the Florence Hotel the other night, in which I did my very best to disarm any personal criticism. I think that I sowed the seed in fertile soil, for I went out of my way to Point out that if there was any one better than an undertaker, it was probably a cemetery superintendent; and that if there could be in this world a person superior to a cemetery superintendent, I could only imagine it to be a c remation authority, and to put me right with all three I said we are all jolly good fellows. That being so, the subsequent time this morning will be spent very pleasantly and will no doubt end with a resolution which I hope will be carried unanimously this morning. As I was sitting here imbibing the breezes coming up the Thames my mind went back to Brighton, and it occurred t Ti nie that perhaps some of you are among the same people I ad the pleasure of meeting on that occasion. In that case You Will exonerate me completely from any prejudice or las, because you will recall that at Brighton, although put. ostensibly to give the cremation paper, I strongly criticised the cremation authorities. You recall it was SO, and so much so that most of my cremation friends afteryards cut me for about a fortnight, and I found myself "orning acceptable to the cemetery superintendents. 7
12 NEED POR ITS ESTABLISHMENT, I am asked this morning to cast a little light upon the subject of the need for a National Council. Lord Horder, in his remarks at the opening of the Conference and I may say his remarks were very well reported in the Press helped this cause very considerably and spoke on the matter from a completely unbiassed standpoint, as one of the leading medical men in the country, and what is more important to us, as a Privy Counsellor. Lord Horder, speaking as one who has concerned himself very deeply with many of the health problems associating themselves with society, asked you to consider whether it was not advisable that there should be a united effort on the part of all concerned for the disposition of the dead in order to escape certain evils. ITS FORMATION. This National Council that is the bone of contention at the moment was first brought about as a result of a paper given by our friend and colleague, Mr. Herring, at the British Undertakers' Association Conference. Mr. Herring's paper, which has been printed, can be obtained at 23, Nottingham Place. It was called, " Are we to let the dead bury the dead?" and under this rather ambiguous title (he suggested that there was a need for concerted action. This suggestion was followed up at the Conference at Brighton by Sir Peter Chalmers Mitchell, who, you will recall, addressed the Conference on that subject in the course of the remarks he made as the President of the Conference. Unlike most suggestions made at Conferences, something was done about it. We have not yet had a Royal Corr/- mission, so we are entitled to act. Following the Conference at Brighton, committees were held, in the first place at Loughborough, where the Federation of Cremation Authorities, in the course of Loughborough Health Week, met and discussed questions arising out of Sir Peter's paper. It was agreed to pursue the project and to invite delegates representative of the other two bodies, the British Undertakers' Association, and the Association of Cemetery and Crematoria Superintendents, to a further meeting. That meeting was ultimately called and was held in London. I was able there to follow the procedure very carefully, and at that meeting, which was called a meeting ef the Triple Committee, it was decided to consider seriously the formation of a National Council, and suggestions were made and submitted to the constituent bodies for their ratification. Subsequent confirmation was forthcoming, and at the next meeting, held in London on January it, at which were present representatives duly elected of the Cemetery 8
13 Superintendents'.Association, the British Undertakers' Association, and the Federation of Cremation Authorities, certain resolutions were carried. It is valuable that I should have told you all that, so that you will know that this National Council was brought into being by methods of a Perfectly open and public character. Your delegates met and they thrashed out what remains now as the first constitution of the National Council. OBJECTS OP THE COUNCIL. Let us now consider what those objects ate. The first object that your delegates laid down for this National Council was THE REVISION AND CODIPICATION OP THE LAWS GOVERNING THE DISPOSAL OP THE DEAD. It is normally said that to codify the law is an impossibility. It is said further, and has been said by authorities at this Conference, that the law is so clear and distinct that it needs no revision. thought the law was clear and distinct until, shall we say, Monday morning. Prior to then, I could not have put my finger on any spot where the law was other than precise. On Monday, however, and at subsequent meetings of this Conference, I heard references made to vagueness in the law. In the presence of so distinguished a forensic light as our Chairman, it is very difficult for me to retain my 'humility and at the same time explain to you how deep the sebisms go even among lawyers. I listened, for instance, to the Town Clerk of Battersea, a very able man, who gave a very able and illuminating Paper, listened intently to his paper because the was telling me with every word something I did not know, and he told 'Ile two things that were exceptionally valuable. He told Ine that he personally had discovered two examples of where the law was in conflict with itself. We were asked the other. t11 ruing to define a parishioner. You do not know. There 's not a man in this room, with the possible exception of Ur Chairman, who can explain to me precisely in other than a hundred volumes with index what a parishioner is. ( Laughter.) It is impossible to define it, so clear is the law on that subject. I understand, too, that some authorities have been in the habit of accepting lump sums of money for the tinceep of graves in perpetuity. This procedure is, I find, in e.untiict with many important legal authorities. Perhaps that s Putting it too harshly, so let me put it as he put it, that grave legal doubts have been expressed." From this gather that on those two points the law does not know Where it is. How do I know, with my incomplete knowledge Of the world and legal workings, that there are not other questions even more important? I can only suggest that 9
14 there might be, and since there might be, then being a fairly commonsense man of business, have come to the conclusion that I am going to guard against the might be, and I am going to suggest that it is better in the long run to assume the law is wholly bad than to sail along in the moonlight, whistling that all's well with the world, when somewhere on.the horizon is a cloud, perhaps no bigger than your fist, which ere long will burst and ultimately engulf us all. ( Laughter.) I do not want to make your flesh creep, because I understand that you are going to a cemetery this afternoon. I want to suggest that the first objective of the National Council, a codification of the law, is necessary, because it has never been codified. The second part of that objective, the need for new legislation, has been proved up to the hilt, and proved by the lawyers. The second objective was the PRESERVATION Olt THE LAND IN THE INTERESTS OP THE LIVING. I hear voices say, "I know where that will come from." You are quite right, but do not forget this: You may be a cemetery superintendent f.r an undertaker, but you are living, and apart from your daily round and common task you have a life to live as an ordinary citizen, and consequently you are bound to have an interest in the welfare of other citizens. We realise that witli the increase of population and the extension of building there is a need of some authoritative body able 10 say, "Thou shalt not go there." There is need for the preservation of certain ground wherever it is possible, not in the interests of those who are dead, but of those who have to carry on living, and this really has nothing particularly to do with cremation or burial, but it is a clause that enables us to bring within the National Council the weight other great public bodies that are particularly interested in the land, and will enable us to work band in hand with them for a common objective. The third objective we had in view was an IMPROVEMENT IN THE STATUS OF THOSE CONCERNED with the disposition of the dead. This is a subject that you have discussed to solne extent this morning in Mr. Crook's paper. We know Perfectly well, without my enlarging upon it, that the me" and women engaged in the disposing of the dead are people at whom for years the finger of scorn has been pointed, and it has been said, " They are awful people." Yet at the moment when the utmost reverence is called for, Ise hand over our beloved to the tender mercies of a man we have called the most despicable of men. We are the most illogical people on earth. I entirely subscribe to the sentiments expressed by Mr. Crook. I know the body he repre- 10
15 sents has it at heart that the status and therefore the type of man engaged in this work must be raised. Let us play the game in this; that is, what it amounts to I have spoken during the last two days to cemetery superintendents. They tell me that they have a fear. I have no time for fears. Live dangerously. Stop this ca' canny and safety first tendency. Try voyaging into undhartered land for a change instead of acting like a lot of old ladies at the seaside. (Laughter.) What do you fear? Do you fear that the privileges and status you have gained as a result of the efforts of your Association may be lost? May I suggest to you that the fight which, as cemetery superintendents, you have made to increase your own status and improve your conditions of labour is a fight yvi can help other people to wage.for themselves. There are Ibtiher people who want the help that can be given by you, who are organized and have obtained certain privileges and status. You can help other people I.vho are struggling. I am going to suggest that this clause is one of the most important of our objects; that the day When we can say as a result of all of us pulling together there is not a single man engaged in the disposal of the d ead who is not of the very highest and most reverent type Is the day when all criticism is disarmed, and it can honestly be said that really good work has been done on behalf or society. (Applause.) Without an organization of a national character representing all interests, how can any sectional interest go to a Government Department and ask for Improved status? How can it be done? I have occasionally heard people say to me, " You will do nothing with a National Council going to a Government Department." You Will get less going separately; very much less. We happen to know, and we are convinced that it is true, that if a body can go to a Government Department and say, "We represent no sectarian interest, but we represent the interests of all who are concerned with the disposal of the dead," we can ask this, and suggest that. When that happens the Government Department concerned, the Home Office, and the Ministry of Health, will be perfectly willing to consider those suggestions. Finally, there is the last object, THE SAFEGUARDING Or PtTELIC INTERESTS. That is the vague clause, almost a legal "e whicili means a lot or nothing. It means, as those of You who have ever had much to do with a memorandum of `Issociation of a limited liability company, that it covers all objectives not previously defined, but any urgent future Problems may arise, and it is valuable at the very outset That we should have a clause which enables us to deal with a probleu when it does arise. That is what we are driving at there. 11
16 As to MEMBERSHIP OP THE NATIONAL COUNCIL, I have told you there are two delegates of the Standing Committee from each of the three associated bodies. The constitution provides for the Standing Committee, which is the Executive, and a National Council. The Standing Committee may from time to time co-opt to itself some member of the Natimial Council, who is able to assist in some particular expert way, but that person will remain a member of the Standing Committee only during the time when that problem is under discussion. This is important, because it was put to me by a friend of mine yesterday that there is a danger of swaniliing. Well, the EXECUTIVE POWER REMAINS IN THE HANDS OP THE THREE ASSOCIATIONS concerned, so for the life of me I cannot see how any swamping can take place. I have not yet heard that suggestion made by any delegate on the Committee; quite to the contrary. I have been delighted at the friendly way business has been done, and I have not heard anyone suggest that there is any pandering to this interest or that interest, but rather there is a discussion of questions on their merits. What I want to make clear is that this power is vested in the three constituent bodies; that is, the Executive. You may say to me that they may bring in some other important bodies on to the National Council, and are we to sit side by side with them, and is there not a danger that they will swamp us when they become members of the Standing Committee? The constitution has made it quite clear that any people, any bodies joining the National Council, join it as such, and they do not join the Standing Committee. They are invited to go on to the Standing Committee if there is a problem to be discussed of which they themselves have expert knowledge, but only during the time that that problem is under discussion. It is important I should make this clear, because it rankles in the minds of some people, and I am glad it has been raised. We have already extended invitations, and already I am not allowed, as secretary, to divulge secrets, before they have come before the Committee for ratification two of the greatest bodies in this country concerned with public health and sanitation have intimated their willingness to. join the National Council. We have also been able and We are delighted to be able to say so to have as our virst VICE- PRESIDENTS three men of national distinction in Lord Horde, Sir Peter Chalmers Mitchell, and Sir John Rose Bradford. Those gentlemen have not joined us with the hope f furthering the interests of cremation or of furthering the interests of cemetery superintendents or of undertakers, but they have joined us as public men who all' 12
17 Probably jealous of their own reputation, but concerned With helping to solve many grave and pressing public Problems, and it is in that spirit I think the work of the Council is going to proceed. THERE IS EARLY EVIDENCE OF THE NEED FOR THIS COUNCIL. The other day a member of Marylebone Borough Council read out to you a letter. I do not think time will permit me to read that letter, because I want to Have the longest possible discussion, but a letter has reached us from the Marylebone Borough Council pointing out a difficulty which they, as a Local Authority, are at the present moment experiencing. It concerns a desire on the part of that Council to erect a crematorium. They find, 13 you gentlemen will know, that the law forbids the erection of a crematorium within a certain radius of dwelling houses, and they discover that if they are going to comply With that law they will be forced to buy forty acres of ground, a problem of considerable difficulty in the congested a rea of London. They say in the letter, such is the tre- Mendous growth of cremation in this last year or so that they feel they ought to be making provision for it, and they feel they are in honour bound to make such provision, but the law as it stands prevents their making that provision unless something occurs. What that something is we are rather vague about at the moment, but the fact that an 'Portant public body like that is willing to come forward 140W and say, "Will you help us?" proves conclusively to my Committee, at least, that there is a need for such a Council, arid that no other body Can speak to the necessary Govern- Meat Department with the same weight or the same a uthority. I am going to suggest to you that if there was tlever any other case put before the National Council, the M arylebone Borough Council has proved conclusively that th ere is need for legal revision, and consequently there is heed for a great public authority that is going to institute t1:1 necessary proceedings that will result in the revision. -Mere is a letter also from one of the bodies which are "'tistituent members of the National Council dealing with ttẖ e PAYMENT OF CORONERS' FEES. That is a subject that 1, erests my Committee, and shows that a constituent body, on e of the associations represented on the Council, finds.at it has not of itself the power and authority to deal With that matter direct, and it simply says, " Can you any suggestion to us? Well, if anybody comes along to us and says, "Can you tlggest anything?" then it is our duty to make suggestions. Similarly, a question has been raised concerning the type of receptacle to be used in case of an exhumed body intended 13
18 to be cremated. A suggestion is asked for to the Horne Office. There is nobody in the country at the present moment apart from the infant National Council that is able to make suggestions of that character, and the fact that those three cases are already forthcoming proves the necessity, if no other cases are forthcoming, for a National Council. I hope that during the next half hour I shall have some form of opposition. The real reason is I feel we have got hold here of a big idea, that is going to be the thing we want it to be. It is not the thing we want it to be unless we feel that it has been thoroughly aired in discussion by all the people concerned, and we have weighed the pros and cons that arise., I want you to say to me, "I do not think much of it,, but I do not think you are going to say that, because if you are honest I think you will say it is going to be a good idea. In any case, I want to ask you to consider that the National Council has been brought into being and is 10 existence now as a result of your delegates being members of the Standing Committee. Really, my appeal to you would not be so much for suppor to the National Council as support for your own delegates Support giem. They are your representatives elected by you. They are on that Standing Committee, and if you talk and work against it you are talking and working against your own men. I do not think you all realise that, but now I have pointed that out to you, you will accept it as Oat In the meantime, let those representatives know what your views are. Tell us what you think about it and ask us t help you out of any little difficulties which you have in miod Address by SIR PETER CHALMERS MITCHELL C.B.E., D.Sc., LL.D., F.R.S. (At the Luncheon in the Fellows' Room of the Zoological Society.) I am sorry that I have been unable to attend the meetings of the Conference, but I am glad to know that they have been so successful. At Brighton last year, opening the first Joint Conference of Cemetery and Crematoria Authorities, I put before Y011 the urgent need for co-operation between those who are cow cerned with the disposal of the dead and for giving that co-operation the national status and authority it requires hy the formation of a National Council. To-day, at the end of the Second Conference I have the honour and pleasure of congratulating you and the country as a whole on the practical accomplishment of a great scfheme. You have 14
19 tessed unanimously a resolution approving the formation of a National Council for the Disposal of the Dead, a Council that will combine Cemetery Authorities, Crematoria Authorities, and Undertakers. Important steps of this kind do not happen by themselves. However urgent may be the need for them, some person, or small group of persons, must take the active -part in bringing people together in dispelling doubts and exciting enthusiasm. You will agree that we are all deeply indebted to Mr. Herring. But for his tireless energy, his unswerving purpose, and his great gift of conciliation we should not be where we are. But we have to recognise also that the bodies now about to combine have shown foresight and public spirit of a high order. The British Undertakers' Association is a body of 114,h standing, and although as Lord Harder said on Monday, n nlertakers are not popular persons, they have organised their profession so as to command universal respect. But their co-operation is vital to the National Council. They are the intermediaries between the mourning relatives and those who have to dispose of the dead, on the one hand, and on the other, between the Public Authorities and the doctors, who have to give the certificate. It is unnecessary now to say anything about co-operation between Cemetery and Crematoria Authorities. The old Spirit of rivalry has gone. We who think that cremation is tihc ',est means of disposing of the dead, recognise that it InnY be long before our views are generally adopted, and the Cemetery Authorities also now recognise that Urn Burial albo conies within their sphere. The formation of the National Council for the Disposal ot tue Dead is a great step, but it is only a first step. Through it we shall be able to speak with a common and impressive voice. By our joint action we shall be able to influence Sanitary Authorities and those responsible for Town Planning schemes. We shall have a better prospect of securing many of the necessary changes in the laws relating to death ce rtificates and the detection and prevention of crime. Although, therefore, we must congratulate ourselves on lthe settling of our differences and on the establishment of a!ans of common action, we have to remember that a great task still lies before us. We have to conquer public apathy and make the community realise that the proper disposal nf.the dead is one of the most serious problems that the living have to face. 15
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