§ 15. Mr. Marlow
asked the Secretary of State for Social Services if he will clarify the system whereby the Government or local authorities can provide for the funeral expenses of those whose estates are insufficient.
§ The Minister for Social Security (Dr. Rhodes Boyson)
Single payments of supplementary benefit can be made to supplementary benefit claimants who have responsibility for the funeral or cremation of a close relative. [Interruption.] Local authorities have a statutory duty to arrange the funeral or cremation of the body of a person found dead in their area when no other suitable arrangements can be made.
§ Mr. Marlow
I thank my hon. Friend for that reply, which I am afraid I did not hear. Does he agree with me, as I am sure he does, that there is something distinctly distasteful about bodies remaining unburied and corpses not being interred until such time as second cousins or nephews, with no knowledge of their aunt or uncle, are caused by the DHSS to cough up money for their funerals? Would it not be better to have a more sensible system than the one we have at the moment?
§ Dr. Boyson
Clearly, it is a question of limiting expenditure where it is possible. If there is a relative, that relative will have the responsibility, and if the relative is poor we can make provision by single payments. If not, hospital authorities or local authorities are responsible for the burial.